5E Class Analysis: Fighter and Bard

Capricia

Visitor
A while back, I took a look at how the fighter compared to the cleric, using just the basic rules. Now that the player’s handbook is out, I thought I’d do this again. But, this time, I’ll be looking at the Bard and how it compares to the fighter. Bards are unique, in that they are the only class that have both full casting progression AND an extra attack. How good is this? Let’s find out. I’ll be doing this on a level by level basis, and comparing with the Champion archetype for the fighter and the College of Valor for the bard.

To stack the deck in the fighter’s favor, these comparisons will assume that the only buffs that matter target yourself, and area of effect damage is banned. As well, even though bards can cast their spells in any combination, I’ll divide half the spells to offense, and half to defense. I’ll break the adventuring day into 4 encounters, each about 4 rounds long, which means 3 short rests. For damage calculations, I’ll assume 15 AC, and for saving throws, I’ll assume the enemies have a +2 bonus. This gives the fighter a lot of advantages, because there's no guarantee that you'll get a rest after each encounter, or that you'll take three short rests before heading back for a long rest.


Let’s start. We’ll be using humans for this, and the non-feat ones too, with the standard array: 16, 15, 14, 13, 11, 9. The bard will focus on dexterity, charisma, and constitution. The fighter will go with strength, constitution, and then wisdom.


I’ll divide things into 3 categories. Total Health, Total Offense, and Total Utility.


Total Health is how much damage the class can shrug off a day. It includes max hp, healing from hitdice, class features like second wind, and of course, spellcasting.


Total Offense is how much damage the characters can deal through the adventuring day. Again, 4 encounters, each 4 rounds long. This is rather long, and favors the fighter. Further, only considering single target damage. This again heavily favors the fighter, because spells are rather fantastic at AoE damage, and fighters...don't really have AoE stuff.


Total Utility is most everything else. What the classes can do besides absorb hits and hit things.


The goal of this analysis isn’t really so much to see which class does the most damage or can heal itself the most, but to show just what both classes gain as they advance through the game, and how their character evolves.


Level 1:


At first level, the fighter can already wear heavy armor and use any weapon, has 2 extra hp, and second wind to restore a good chunk of health, and has a fighter style. In our case, Great Weapon Fighting . For her part, the bard can wield a rapier, knows two cantrips, four spells, and can cast them twice a day. She also has Bardic Inspiration, a rather handy feature that gives a floating d6 to be used on skill, attack, or saving throw you make in the next ten minutes. Also, it’s a bonus action to activate, making it rather handy in combat and out.


The fighter’s total healing is 12 from max hp, 1d10 from hitdice, and 4d10+4 from Second Wind. The averaged total is 43.5. The bard has 10 max hp, a 1d8 hitdie, and can use one spell slot to cast Cure Wounds for 1d8+2 extra, for a total of only 21.


On offense, the fighter swings a greatsword for 2d6+3 damage, rerolls 1s and 2s, and can do it each round, dealing 10.5 damage on an average hit, and 6.0 damage on an average swing . Over 16 rounds against our AC 15 enemies, that’s a whopping 96 damage. Our bard swings the much weaker rapier, does 1d8+3 damage on a hit, but has bardic inspiration for two chances to turn two misses into a hit, as well as one combat spell. For inspiration, we’ll assume the Bard uses it on any miss that’s by 6 or less. For the spell, Bard doesn’t have too many good options, so we’ll go with Dissonant Whispers, which does 3d6 on a failed save, and half as much on success, average of 7.8. Add it all together and you have 74.8

Now, utility. On the fighter’s side, we have proficiencies in heavy armor, shields, and martial weapons. For the bard, we have an extra skill proficiency, bardic inspiration, two other spells known aside from Cure Wounds and Dissonant Whisper, proficiency in three music instruments, the two cantrips, and Ritual Casting, which lets the bard cast spells for free. We don’t need to do damage with our cantrips, so we’ll go with Light and Mending, which are always handy. For our other two spells, let’s go with Faerie Fire, which is an AoE spell that makes all the targets that fail their save grant Advantage on all attacks against them, and Speak with Animals, which allows us to talk to animals.

Level 2:

Total Healing: Both get more hp, more hitdice, Second Wind improves, and the bard gets another spell slot, which she’ll use to cast cure wounds, and Song of Rest. From this point on, the fighter won’t get any healing features all the way until level 18, with Survivor. They gain 17.5 total health per level, and each time their con bonus, that adds an extra 1/level. Song of Rest can be used each rest, so that’s an extra 3d6. Note: the bard’s song of rest would normally contribute extra healing to everyone. With with a party of 5 PCs, you could instead argue that it adds 3d6*5 extra hp over the day.

Total Offense: Fighter gets Action Surge, which gives a significant boost to damage. Rather than making 16 attacks over the adventuring day, it’s now 20. Bard gets nothing.

Utility: Bard gains Jack of All Trades and an extra spell known. Let’s go with Comprehend Languages, which allows us to now speak and read any language possible, even high level rogue ciphers.

Level 3:

Total Healing: The bard gains an extra 1st level slot, and two 2nd level slots. She’ll use one of the new 2nd level slots to cast a pumped up Cure Wounds.

Offense: The fighter gains Improved Critical, which boosts the power of each attack from an average of 6.0 to 6.5. The bard does enter the college of valor, but that’s not much use since we’re already using a rapier. She can cast Shatter now though, and cast Dissonant Whispers another time.

Utility: Bard gains proficiency with medium armor and martial weapons. They also get Expertise, which doubles their proficiency bonus with two skills.

Level 4:

Total Healing: Bard uses the new slot for another big Cure Wounds.

Offense: Both opt for an ability increase. Attacks are more accurate now, and do more damage.

Utility: Bard gains a new spell and a new cantrip. This time, we’ll go with Detect Thoughts, which lets us read minds, and go with Friends as a cantrip, a no-save ability that gives us Advantage on charisma checks vs someone for a minute, then forces them to become hostile after.

Level 5:

Total Healing: Bard gets two new 3rd level slots, and one will go for an even more pumped up Cure Wounds. This puts the bards total health above the fighter’s for the first time, and the disparity is only going to grow.

Offense: Fighter gets a new attack, literally doubling their damage output. Bards uses their other 3rd level slot on Shatter, since they have no 3rd level direct damage spells. Also, they get Font of Magic. This means that they get to use their Bardic Inspiration every encounter, giving a really, really significant boost to their accuracy. Further boosting it, the die size goes from d6 to d8. Both of them also benefit from the +1 increase to the proficiency bonus

Utility: Bard gains an extra spell. Speak with Dead seems handy. Let’s us solve nearly any murder mystery immediately.

Level 6:

Total Health: Bards get another slot, which goes to Cure Wounds.

Offense: Fighters get another ability boost, which will bring their strength to capped at 20. Meanwhile, bards gain an extra attack, which gives a very large boost to their output. It also means that they have no reason to use 1st or 2nd level slots to attack anymore, freeing those slots up for other things.

Utility: Bards gain a new spell, and the Countercharm ability. Let’s go with Leomund’s Tiny Hut. It creates a dome of pure force that only you and your allies can pass through. You can step outside the dome, fire some arrows, then step back into it. No magic can penetrate it either. It lasts 8 hours, and best of all, it’s a ritual, so it doesn’t even use a spell slot.

Level 7:

Total Health: Bards gain a 4th level slot, and since there are no direct damage 4th level spells, it goes to cure wounds.

Offense: Nothing changes!

Utility: Bards get an extra spell as per usual, but Fighters also get something! Remarkable Athlete. It’s a generally terrible, but does give a +1-3 bonus to initiative. That’s...something, I guess? For the Bard’s part, we’ll give him Dimension Door, which means we can teleport to anywhere within 500 feet. Good for escaping, exploring, and a thousand other things.

Level 8

Total Health: Not much to report here.

Offense: Fighter gets another ability score improvement, and takes Great Weapon Master. This lets the fighter take a -5 penalty for a +10 damage bonus. Even though the penalty is big, the payout is more than worth it. The bard uses their boost on their Dexterity, and the extra slot on a level 4 shatter.

Utility: Extra spell for the bard. This time, let’s go with Greater Invisibility. It lets you or someone you touch become invisible for a minute, and importantly, it doesn’t break when you attack or cast a spell. It’s handy for those times when you might want to beat up a fighter in 1v1 combat.

Level 9

Total Health: Another Cure Wounds spell for the bard, and her Song of Rest ability is upgraded.

Offense: Both benefit from the increase in the proficiency bonus. Bard is still stuck using Shatter, now as a 5th level spell.

Utility: The fighter gains the Indomitable ability, which lets them reroll a save once per day. The bard gains an extra spell. Let’s go with Raise Dead. It lets us bring people back to life. It’s kind of a big deal.

Level 10:

Total Health: Bard changes gears, now using all the third level and above spells for attacking rather than healing.

Offense: The bard gains access to Magical Secrets. This lets them learn 2 new spells from ANY class. Nice. Let’s go with Blinding Smite and Banishing Smite from the Paladin list. What’s really great about the Smite is that it’s a bonus action, and we can use it on top of our regular attacks. Score. Also, the Bard Inspiration Die goes up to d10. Even so, our single target, direct damage focused bard still can’t catch up with the fighter just yet. It’s important to remember at this point though this only if you go 4 encounters of 4 rounds each during the day and get an hour long rest in between. Say that you instead have 2 encounters, and no rest between either of them. The fighter would deal 169 damage, and the bard would deal 320.

Utility: Fighter gains a second fighting style. Nothing adds to the damage with a great weapon, but you can get +1 AC or +2 attack with bows. If you want. Bard gains two more skills that benefit from Expertise, so a +4 bonus to playing the guitar and investigation.

Level 11

Total Health: With the bard now focused on damage, the fighter pulls ahead once more.

Offense: The fighter gains a third attack. The bard gets another use of Banishing Smite.

Utility: The bard gets an extra spell. Let’s go with Find the Path. It lets us find our way to pretty much anything. It’s good for getting out of underground labyrinths, finding lost cities, locate secret vaults, all sort of things.

Level 12

Both classes only get an ability score improvement. The fighter will use his on a boost to constituition, while the bard uses hers on a charisma boost. This slightly increases the healing from cure wounds, and gives her another use of bardic inspiration between rests. The bard doesn’t actually learn a new spell this level.

Level 13

Bard gains a new spell. Let’s go with Forcecage. It lets you lock anyone away for an hour with absolutely no save. It’s kind of crazy. Bards also improve Song of Rest, for a bit more healing. Fighter gets to use Indomitable a second time each day. Both get a bump from the proficiency bonus going up.

Level 14

Fighter goes for more constitution, which gives him a lot more total health per day. The bard gets more Magical Secrets. It could go with Simulacrum to create a clone of the fighter that can heal itself using Second Wind. Conjure Celestial if we weant angel friends. Plane Shift if we want to start traveling the multiverse. Reverse Gravity can make a large chunk of encounter trivially easy. But hey, yeah, extra hp is cool too. Alsol, the bard gains the ability to cast a spell and make an attack in the same round. Not too useful since Smite spells are already bonus actions, but it’s the thought that counts.

Level 15

The fighter’s critical threat range increases from 19-20 to 18-20. The bardic inspiration die jump from a d10 to a d12. That means that if we only use it on attacks that miss by 6 or less, there’s a 79% chance we can turn that into a hit. Plus, we learn a new spell, and it’s 8th level! Let’s go with Feeblemind. It deals 4d6 psychic damage and targets the intelligence save, which very, very few things will be proficient in. And if you hit, it drops intelligence and charisma down to 1, and makes it so that they’re mostly a vegetable. It doesn’t have much effect on a fighter, but it absolutely cripples anything that relies on magic. Craziest of all is that it lasts 30 days, at which point you get to attempt a new save. If you don’t have proficiency, you’ll be making a d20-5 check against DC 18...so pray for a 20. Those with proficiency simply roll a d20 vs DC18, so they’ll recover within a year or two.

Level 16

The fighter goes for the Durable feat, to really own his recovery. It caps out his constitution, and also means that his hitdice now heal the maximum amount each time. Fighters really are pretty durable. The bard goes for some more constitution too. No new spells, and no new spell slots this level.

Level 17

Level 9 spells! Oh boy! The bard can go with Foresight, a spell that lasts 8 hours, requires no concentration, and gives Advantage on every single d20 roll you make. Or True Polymorph, which lets you permanently transform yourself or anyone else into...well, just about anything. We can permanently turn into a vampire and enjoy regeneration 20 and gain a powerful 4d6+3 bite attack that heals us at the same time as it deals damage which can, amazingly, be combined with our smite spells. Or something even more powerful, since the only limit is our level compared to the challenge level of creatures. Or we can pick up Power Word Kill, which lets us kill anything that has less than a hundred hit points without fail. It’s at this point that the math well and truly breaks down, because at this point the bard has options that disrupt the action economy and the idea of class features itself. Also, song of rest bumps up to a d12.

For the fighter, they get a second action surge and a third use of indomitable. Both classes gain the final +1 bonus to proficiency.

Level 18

The final round of magical secrets, in which we learn our final two spells. These spells can be from any list. Wish, Meteor Swarm, Shapechange, Timestop, Gate. The bard is now crazy loco powerful.

For his part, the fighter gains regeneration 10, but only when below half hp.

Level 19

Both gain a feat. The fighter goes with Linguist, letting him learn 3 new languages and the ability to create ciphers that the bard was able to decipher since level 2. The bard goes with Keen Mind, which lets him always know which way is north.

Level 20

The fighter gets a 4th attack. The bard gains Superior Inspiration, which gives you a new inspiration die each time you roll initiative if you’re at zero. Which is absolutely useless given our assumptions. Still, the bard won the game 3 levels ago.



LevelTotal Health
Total Offense
Total Utility

FighterBardFighterBardFighterBard
143.5219675Heavy Armor, Martial Weapons, ShieldsExtra skill, 3 instruments, 2 spells known, Light, Mending, Bardic Inspiration, Ritual Casting, Faerie Fire, Speak with Animals
2614912075
Jack of All Trades, Comprehend Languages
378.57013085
Extra Spell, Medium Armor and Martial Weapon Proficiency, Expertise
49690.515197
Detect Thoughts, Friends
5113117328164
Speak With Dead
6131144379225
Leomund’s Tiny Hut, Countercharm, Low Level spells not needed for damage anymore
7148176379225Remarkable AthleteDimension Door
8166183406275
Greater Invisibility
9183211452299IndomitableRaise Dead
10201190452444

11218202678471
Find the Path
12260220678498
Bard Inspiration (extra use)
13279235748514Indomitable (2nd use)Force Cage
14327243748541
Magical Secrets
15348254773568
Feeblemind
16506314773568

17536???941???
Level 9 insanity
18566???941???RegenerationTwo level 9 spells from any class, any of which makes things silly
19596???941???LinguistKeen Mind
20626???1309???
Superior Inspiration
Conclusions

Fighters are linear. They advance slowly and in fits and starts. A level 20 fighter has about 13 times the damage and 14 times the healing potential of a level 1 fighter. What the fighter can do, however, is static. His out of combat ability is defined by stats and proficiencies, and range from a maximum +5 bonus at level 1 to +11 at level 17. That 6 point difference is not the gap between expert and superhuman. It’s the gap between expert and also expert.

Meanwhile, the bard is just amazing. Even though she can’t prepare new spells each day like a wizard or cleric, the bard reliably gets new options that vastly, incredibly expand on just what it is that a bard can do. Talking to dead, understanding any language, teleporting...even from the first few levels, the bard is doing things that the fighter can’t no matter how many 20s they roll on checks, and they only get better at it. At the same time, they are well and truly gifted with skills. With bardic inspiration, a high level bard’s best skill is d12+6 better than a fighters. And AT THE SAME TIME, a bard that focuses only on buffing and healing herself, who never uses aoe spells on more than one enemy at a time, is still extremely competitive with the fighter in both of its niches, until you reach the point where even that breaks apart. And let’s be clear. The bard is not specialized in either of those things. Bardic Inspiration is much better when given to rogues and fighters. Song of Rest provides a massive amount of healing spread out over the whole party. They have a long list of control and support spells that can make the whole team more effective at once. The Bard’s niche is making an effective party incredible, but she can still do anything outside of that niche right along the best of them. The fighter’s niche is hitting things and soaking up damage, and they may be better at it than most other classes before level 14 or so, but they are stuck in that niche. Their numbers go up, but what they can do and what they are capable of remains sadly flat over all 20 levels.

And this is all part of a larger problem of 5e’s class design. The bard is one of least versatile casters, only ever knowing 22 spells. To compare, a wizard learns 44 spells just from leveling up, and can add more to their book for a small cost. The cleric knows every single spell on the cleric list and from their domain, and can pick and choose which ones to prepare each day. They have literally hundreds of choices as they level up, and each choice makes a significant impact on the game. Other classes don’t have choices. If you’re a fighter, you’re getting that Indomitable. If you’re a monk, you get that ageless ability that doesn’t actually do anything within the course of a campaign. And so on. And because these choices are at-will--a monk doesn’t have to cast Tongue of the Sun and Moon--they become available at much higher levels, and/or have weaker effects.

What you end up with is some classes that are locked into a few choices, and those choices aren’t very powerful, and some classes that have an amazing variety of choices, all of which are specialized in doing whatever it is they do extremely well. And that, even with the limit of daily resources, these options can dominate combat, and outside of combat, they steal the show and make others simply tag along. And that’s not just it. These classes also get the same kind of features that other classes do, on top of their spells. Imagine if you were to compare a bard with no spells to a rogue with no sneak attack, which do you think would have the better deal? It’s not an obvious choice. Clerics and Wizards and others also have these honestly great abilities that just make their spellcasting even better, and it only makes the disparity all the more glaring.
 
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Saelorn

Adventurer
I really think you're over-estimating the benefit of high-level spells. You only get one per long rest, and they can all do some pretty neat things, which means you're massively hurting your future utility if you ever actually cast something. While their theoretical power might be pretty high on paper, it's rare to see any of them used to peak efficiency.
 

Capricia

Visitor
I really think you're over-estimating the benefit of high-level spells. You only get one per long rest, and they can all do some pretty neat things, which means you're massively hurting your future utility if you ever actually cast something. While their theoretical power might be pretty high on paper, it's rare to see any of them used to peak efficiency.
If anything, I think I am underestimating spells. You only get one level 9 spell per long rest, but you still have a 6th, 7th, and 8th level spell. And all your other spells. Most games I've been in or run, there are only so many encounters you can have in a given day, and those utility spells are easy to manage with the flexible casting mechanic. The higher level you are, the harder it becomes to start running on fumes as a bard. Even with the assumptions I used for this thought experiment that are a lot more extreme than actual play, the bard is still able to be competitive with the fighter throughout a stressful day.
 

Uskglass

Visitor
Linear Fighter, quadratic... Bard!
(sorry, couldn't resist)

Jokes aside, this is one of my main concern about 5e. All seems nicely balanced on the math side when it comes down to damage and durability, but it's actually utility spells that may break the system down, for they cannot be measured, and thus balanced, mathematically.
The thing is, if some classes have ways to completely bypass the HP system (in combat) and the skills system (out of combat), then all of them should be able to.
 
The thing is, if some classes have ways to completely bypass the HP system (in combat) and the skills system (out of combat), then all of them should be able to.
That's an astoundingly succinct way of putting it. Bravo!

It's also what I've always (far more long-winded-ly!) been saying. It wouldn't even be hard to do, or require the Fighter to possess massive magical powers. Stuff like some kind of "Death Strike" for the Fighter which allowed them to simply kill enemies on some basis, ignoring most or all HP, would be a good start. Of course we see how pathetic that sort of thing is in practice with the Assassin, who gets a "Death" attack at 17th which can only be performed from surprise, allows a save, and yet still does less damage than versatile stuff like 6th-level Disintegrate (a daily, sure, but how many Death Strikes a day is an Assassin going to get off in a day? If it's more than 3-4, then it's probably a pretty unusual day). Other Rogues don't even get that! By 17th the full casters are casting 9th-level spells.

Hell, even worse, they WERE doing the right thing late in the Playtest to a large extent, when stuff Indomitable was really powerful, but it aaaaaall got nerfed in the end, because heaven forbid the non-casters be a menace!

I mean, I was re-reading RC D&D today, and it was fascinating, because back then, whilst a lot of spells were more powerful (and some were less!) and casters got a lot of them, they actually had more problems actually casting them in a fight, or getting them back after casting, and further, with Weapon Mastery, which was open to just about every melee combatant, Fighters and their ilk actually WERE getting to do stuff like at-will hard Stuns, disarms, and so on, even causing Death in some cases! They were doing huge amounts more damage than AD&D Fighters, too. It's strange to look at that, and see that, in many ways, Fighters and the like are less powerful than they once were.

(Also hilarious that after all the "OMG NO NON-LG PALLIES!", we see the Chaotic "Avenger" Fighter advanced-class (and Chaos is linked with evil by book), who has ALL the abilities the Paladin has and then some, and pretty much none of the restrictions (if I am reading correctly), and hell, the book even advocates him pretending to be a Knight to get the one pathetic benefit Knights get (hospitality), and says it might well work!)

Oh, RC D&D, it's sad that you were wiped out by 2E, because I'm pretty sure you were a superior evolutionary path in many ways.
 

Evenglare

Adventurer
All of these topics about who's better and math and all of this pointing out flaws really suck the excitement out of me wanting to play anymore.
 
All of these topics about who's better and math and all of this pointing out flaws really suck the excitement out of me wanting to play anymore.
Why are you reading them, then, can you explain? :confused: It's not like this thread wasn't very clearly labelled. This sort of thing reminds me of those people who come out of horror movies complaining that it was so violent and scary and upsetting. It's like... that's the point.

Personally, I find that questionable rules-design choices are what sucks the fun out of playing for me, not just having those pointed out. It's not like I won't notice them pretty quick when playing.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
The thing is, if some classes have ways to completely bypass the HP system (in combat) and the skills system (out of combat), then all of them should be able to.
Why? A lot of people view niche protection as a good thing. That's more of a subjective opinion. Especially when things like "how often can a class do X" is very relevant to the discussion because no game I've ever played takes place in a white room with a reset button after every combat.
 

Joe Liker

Visitor
There is nothing fair about this comparison, and nothing truly analytical about these arguments. It's all math without context and side-by-side lists of things we already knew, constrained to a set of premises that don't even make sense, as the primary assumption seems to be that each character exists in a vacuum.

If you put the simplest archetype of the simplest class in the game up against what is arguably the most complex class, of course you're going to end up with a lot fewer options and a lot less versatility. You also failed to comment on the huge differences in hit points and AC, which are not negligible. If you think the bard's healing makes up for that, fine, but then you have to factor in the opportunity cost of all those utility spells since you are spending so many spell slots to heal yourself, not to mention actions.

The main thrust of this post seems to be "High-level magic sure is powerful!" But I think you might want to actually play the high-level game with the classes in question before making such sweeping assertions as you have here. Real gameplay can uncover a lot of subtleties that simply will not show up in lists of numbers and class features.
 
There is nothing fair about this comparison, and nothing truly analytical about these arguments. It's all math without context and side-by-side lists of things we already knew, constrained to a set of premises that don't even make sense, as the primary assumption seems to be that each character exists in a vacuum.

If you put the simplest archetype of the simplest class in the game up against what is arguably the most complex class, of course you're going to end up with a lot fewer options and a lot less versatility. You also failed to comment on the huge differences in hit points and AC, which are not negligible. If you think the bard's healing makes up for that, fine, but then you have to factor in the opportunity cost of all those utility spells since you are spending so many spell slots to heal yourself, not to mention actions.

The main thrust of this post seems to be "High-level magic sure is powerful!" But I think you might want to actually play the high-level game with the classes in question before making such sweeping assertions as you have here. Real gameplay can uncover a lot of subtleties that simply will not show up in lists of numbers and class features.
It's a perfectly fair comparison. They're two classes which exist in D&D 5E, and it is alleged that the classes in 5E are basically balanced with each other. Yet it's fairly clear that the Bard is likely to have vastly more influence on the outcome of any given situation, assuming each is a member of an adventuring party.

This whole complex vs. simple deal is a total red-herring/non-argument. It's meaningless.

Further, the whole "Well you need to play it at high level to say this!" stuff is really tiresome and unconvincing when we have people who've played it at high levels saying the exact same things (see [MENTION=6777377]Jack the Lad[/MENTION]'s posts) and, frankly, well all know how D&D works. It's very obvious that Fighters are going to slip further and further behind at high levels.

Why? A lot of people view niche protection as a good thing. That's more of a subjective opinion. Especially when things like "how often can a class do X" is very relevant to the discussion because no game I've ever played takes place in a white room with a reset button after every combat.
The idea that "My character is allowed to do stuff without rolling and is generally powerful!" is mere "niche protection" is an absolutely fascinatingly bizarre one.
 
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Capricia

Visitor
Isn't inspiration only usable on others?
Ah, yep, totally right.

There is nothing fair about this comparison, and nothing truly analytical about these arguments. It's all math without context and side-by-side lists of things we already knew, constrained to a set of premises that don't even make sense, as the primary assumption seems to be that each character exists in a vacuum.

If you put the simplest archetype of the simplest class in the game up against what is arguably the most complex class, of course you're going to end up with a lot fewer options and a lot less versatility. You also failed to comment on the huge differences in hit points and AC, which are not negligible. If you think the bard's healing makes up for that, fine, but then you have to factor in the opportunity cost of all those utility spells since you are spending so many spell slots to heal yourself, not to mention actions.

The main thrust of this post seems to be "High-level magic sure is powerful!" But I think you might want to actually play the high-level game with the classes in question before making such sweeping assertions as you have here. Real gameplay can uncover a lot of subtleties that simply will not show up in lists of numbers and class features.
You are exactly right. As I said at the start, the analysis is extremely biased. In the fighter's favor. Most days aren't going to run through 16 rounds, and they aren't going to let the PCs have 3 short rests. Most bards aren't going to rely on extremely inefficient direct damage spells like Dissonant Whisper. They're going to use things like Faerie Fire that boost the damage output of every single class, which provides a 37% damage increase for the entire party for the entire combat. That's a single spell contributing as much damage to an encounter as the fighter does through the entire combat.

Song of Rest isn't something that applies to just the bard. If we had assumed that they didn't exist in a vacuum, but were together in a party of 5, Song of Rest would provide 52.5 points of healing a day, not just 10.5.

If we assume that the bard is throwing out her inspiration to the fighter and rogue during combat, it's providing a massive increase in the damage the party deals.

Now, huge difference in hp and AC? The fighter has a d10 hitdie. The bard's is d8. Gaining 1 extra hp per level is not what I would call "huge". The difference between a bard in Studded Leather and a Fighter in Full Plate with the Defense fighting style is...17 vs 19. Again, not quite dramatic enough to be what I'd call "huge".

And yes, real gameplay does reveal a lot of things. My own experiences at the table and reading through on my own are what inform me of these kinds of disparities. I think that "well you must have not played it" arguments have about as much credibility as Donanld Trump's demand to see Obama's birth certificate. It's an attack on whether someone is a "real" member of the community and a pointless distraction.

Real gameplay shows that the bard is really a fantastic support class that can be great at just about anything. And I honestly have no issue with that. The issue is that what the fighter gets--particularly what the fighter gets after level 5--quickly falls behind. Each level makes the fighter less effective relative to the threats the party might face and the scope of the stories that can be told. We were told that classes wouldn't have this problem, that the fighter--and by extension the rogue, monk, barbarian, etc--would be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with every other class, and this turned out to an empty promise. That's my view. I've shown my work, my thought process here. Bard gets this at X level, Fighter gets Y. I compare the two. My conclusion was that abilities like being able to summon down a firestorm or turn into a dragon or teleport around the world or create a clone of the fighter are all more impressive and more useful than getting a +1 bonus to your critical threat range.

You're free to disagree with me, but if you want to contribute, then show me how I'm wrong, rather than accusing me of somehow being a fake gamer.
 

Joe Liker

Visitor
You're free to disagree with me, but if you want to contribute, then show me how I'm wrong, rather than accusing me of somehow being a fake gamer.
I certainly did not mean to imply you're a fake gamer; I apologize if that's the impression I gave. I'm sure you wouldn't have been able to compile the lists you did if you didn't have the experience to give you some idea of which numbers and abilities were valid.

However, I'm reasonably certain you do not have any direct experience with real gameplay involving both of these classes, especially at high level, and I maintain that any so-called analysis or comparison of the two is bound to be largely flawed until that has happened.

Likewise, I'm not in any position to give you counterexamples or hard evidence that the two classes are commensurate. First of all, that is not my position nor the point I was trying to make. And secondly, I haven't played these classes to level 20, either, so it would be jumping the gun for me to try to make this analysis.
 

Andor

Visitor
There is an important point you ignore here. If you reach 20th level and have no mojo that was a deliberate choice on your part as a player, not a system screw job.

There are 0 classes in the game which cannot ever use magic, there are merely some subclasses which allow player who don't like magic to actively avoid it. You choose the Champion, but the Eldritch Knight was sitting right next to him. There is also the Paladin (whose spells your Bard borrowed), Ranger, Barbarian with mystic totem, and various Monk options available for players who want to hit things and have Mojo.

Oh, and multi classing.

To ignore that and focus on a class comparison that is only valid as a personal choice of someone deciding to eschew magic for whatever in or out of character reason is disingenuous at best. it's like playing in a modern era GURPs game and complaining the system is broken because your TL 2 caveman is ineffective compared to people who use guns and cars.
 

Evenglare

Adventurer
Why are you reading them, then, can you explain? :confused: It's not like this thread wasn't very clearly labelled. This sort of thing reminds me of those people who come out of horror movies complaining that it was so violent and scary and upsetting. It's like... that's the point.

Personally, I find that questionable rules-design choices are what sucks the fun out of playing for me, not just having those pointed out. It's not like I won't notice them pretty quick when playing.
Why am I reading them? Because I like to know how the game works. It sucks because I expected a decently balanced game and now everyone is completely destroying the game, and showing it's no better than 3.x when I had such high expectations. It's not because I don't like knowing, it's the fact that knowing makes me realize the game is just as terrible as the other ones :/ . Maybe 6th edition I guess.
 

Andor

Visitor
Why am I reading them? Because I like to know how the game works. It sucks because I expected a decently balanced game and now everyone is completely destroying the game, and showing it's no better than 3.x when I had such high expectations. It's not because I don't like knowing, it's the fact that knowing makes me realize the game is just as terrible as the other ones :/ . Maybe 6th edition I guess.
I really don't think that's what this thread shows though. What it shows it that a player who correctly optimizes one of the most complex classes is generally more effective than one who picks the simplest version of the simplest class. That comes as a surprise to whom?

Balance is good, but it's not the holy grail of game design some hold it out to be. And frankly balance of fun is far more important than balance of power.

Consider Capricas point that with Faerie fire the Bard does more damage than the fighter does in the whole combat. Which is technically and statistically true. But it ignores that the actual play experience will be that the damage boost is both invisible and will actually be excersied by the very fighter whose thunder the Bard was supposedly stealing. And the rogue. :) So the bard can beam with pride as his friends cut down their glowing foes, but the fighter will not feel like he was left in the dust.

I think it's far too early to throw 5e under the balance bus. Let's play a few sessions first.
 

pemerton

Legend
What it shows it that a player who correctly optimizes one of the most complex classes is generally more effective than one who picks the simplest version of the simplest class. That comes as a surprise to whom?
I wouldn't say I'm surprised. I'm a bit disappointed, though.

The two things that stand out for me in the final design of the fighter is remarkable athlete - which seems to utterly fail to live up to its name - and the nerfing of indomitable. Pre-nerf, indomitable looked like a way to return fighters to their classic status of having the best saves at mid-to-high levels, within the stat-based save paradigm of post AD&D-editions.
 
I'm betting bards stealing smite wasn't fully intended. Ah well.

I do like how I can skim the op's chart and say to myself, "Hmm, fighter has better health and damage almost throughout. Looks legit," while the op's description makes it sound like the fighter is crying in the corner.

You know what you might consider doing to level the playing field a bit in the utility section? Have the fighter spend his two extra feats on Ritual Caster and Skilled. Bam, more skills than the bard (though no expertise, thanks Obama), and plenty of utility spells.

Additionally, you could consider the Battlemaster instead of the Champion, and keep up those short rests every 2-3 fights. If you're assuming 16 rounds of combat and 3 short rests a day (which I believe you said), that's a short rest every... 4 rounds? Jeez, at that rate the Battlemaster gets an extra d8 of damage every single round starting at level 3, plus additional pushing or tripping or whatever for a bit more combat utility.
 

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