5E Class Analysis: Fighter and Bard

Psikerlord#

Explorer
This kind of analysis requires too many assumptions to be more than a very rough guidepost. Players and Dms have to balance the game at their kwn table. RPGs have always been this way. The fighter dominates combat. The bard is the most versatile class in the game. As intended. Play the one you prefer and work with yr table to keep everyone happy, bec if too many folks are unhappy you wont have a table at all.
 

Nebulous

Adventurer
What i want to know is if this perceived "problem" with the basic Fighter build, if it is generally agreed upon by many players AFTER actual consistent playthrough at higher levels....how can WotC address it? A new basic fighter build or subclass in PHB2?
 

Uskglass

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 think you nailed it. The game experience from mid-level onwards is likely going to be similar to 3.x - possibly not that extreme, but close enough. Spellcasters in the hands of players who know what they are doing will dominate the game pretty much all around. Actually it's not even that: it's that they play a different game with its own rules: it's like doing sport and have a way for some of the participants to ignore gravity.
And this is the 'classic D&D feel' for you, the one that this edition is setup to recapture to bring back PF players - which is a perfectly legitimate intent by the way.
That is not to say this is 'bad' per se. It's just an approach to the game, and it is a well consolidated one too. I personally moved away from it many years ago and have no interest in going back, but luckily there are options out there.
On the plus side, magic system aside, this edition seems solid and well laid out, so it could be a good platform for further development and alternatives moving forward.
 
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.
Do we have a list of what Wizard spells in 5E are rituals?

What i want to know is if this perceived "problem" with the basic Fighter build, if it is generally agreed upon by many players AFTER actual consistent playthrough at higher levels....how can WotC address it? A new basic fighter build or subclass in PHB2?
It's hard to address. One way would be to add an optional system that doesn't use existing resources, like RC-D&D-style Weapon Mastery, which helped Fighters etc. but not casters. Failing that, an "overpowered" (compared to default Fighter) subclass would be the best way.
 
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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.
Ack, sorry! I was hoping it was perversity but that's just depressing! To be fair, I don't think 5E is nearly as a bad as 3E was. It's just further away than it could have been. :(
 

Uskglass

Visitor
It's hard to address. One way would be to add an optional system that doesn't use existing resources, like RC-D&D-style Weapon Mastery, which helped Fighters etc. but not casters. Failing that, an "overpowered" (compared to default Fighter) subclass would be the best way.
I would try the other way around: keep the fighter as the baseline. Provide an option to strip out the magic system entirely and replace it with an alternative one which aligns with that. The game will get a more 'low-magic' feel (something alike SW probably), but would be more consistent all around, for those who care about that.
 
I would try the other way around: keep the fighter as the baseline. Provide an option to strip out the magic system entirely and replace it with an alternative one which aligns with that. The game will get a more 'low-magic' feel (something alike SW probably), but would be more consistent all around, for those who care about that.
Sounds like a potentially good role for a 3PP once they allow those formally.
 

Bluenose

Adventurer
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.
So what's the niche that the Wizard has that doesn't have other classes in it, and what niches do they have to stay out of because the spells that let them play in it will never exist?

I think you nailed it. The game experience from mid-level onwards is likely going to be similar to 3.x - possibly not that extreme, but close enough. Spellcasters in the hands of players who know what they are doing will dominate the game pretty much all around. Actually it's not even that: it's that they play a different game with its own rules: it's like doing sport and have a way for some of the participants to ignore gravity.
And this is the 'classic D&D feel' for you, the one that this edition is setup to recapture to bring back PF players - which is a perfectly legitimate intent by the way.
That is not to say this is 'bad' per se. It's just an approach to the game, and it is a well consolidated one too. I personally moved away from it many years ago and have no interest in going back, but luckily there are options out there.
On the plus side, magic system aside, this edition seems solid and well laid out, so it could be a good platform for further development and alternatives moving forward.
You'll note that this is the desired play-style for some people. Note elsewhere in the thread where it's explicitly said that everyone has access to magic and therefore this sort of imbalance is fine. Because by the definition of the person saying it, magic is expected to be superior to not-magic. It's not supposed to improve a person to the point where they can attempt something that they otherwise couldn't do, it's required to succeed - or at least to work at the caster end, although despite the heavily nerfed nature of saving throws compared to traditional D&D, they are available.

Also, Fighters can't have nice things, because they can do them At Will and that wouldn't be fair when the casters don't get to do everything they have as At Will effects. So forget crippling people with weapons, it's hit points or nothing and dead or fully functional, except Magic! can override that the way it's supposed to.
 

evilbob

Visitor
I'm not really sure I see the full problem here, either. 9th level spells break the game: yes. But how many games even get to 17th level? And at 20th level nearly every class is insane somehow. Druids pretty much cannot die from HP loss at that point; that's a fun one to compare.

For the sweet spot of >90% of games - levels ~3-6 - the two classes seem pretty even. Well, actually the bard seems like it couldn't quite keep up with the fighter if all it wanted to do was be a fighter. But it CAN be very effective in making the entire party better. So that seems good.

Will casters start to dominate at high levels? Yup. Is that a playstyle that a lot of people want anyway? I think so. Is that a level range very, very few people ever see? Pretty sure.

I am curious what this Indomitable feature that got nerfed was and is: can anyone paraphrase what it is now and also say what it was before?
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
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.

What I meant when I said niche protection is that a lot of people are not only OK with, but prefer a style of gaming where each class can do their own things really well, which was in contrast to the statement I quoted which said that if one class can do something cool, all classes should be able to. To me, all that is, is making every class pretty much the same with the same abilities, just with the serial numbers filed off and named something else. And I find that boring.

And often, when those types of arguments are made (the wizard can cast a spell to get past challenge X automatically, so everyone else should too), it almost always dependent on a white room scenario. I don't need to explain the numerous ways using a white room scenario is flawed to use as analysis in that way.
 
What I meant when I said niche protection is that a lot of people are not only OK with, but prefer a style of gaming where each class can do their own things really well, which was in contrast to the statement I quoted which said that if one class can do something cool, all classes should be able to. To me, all that is, is making every class pretty much the same with the same abilities, just with the serial numbers filed off and named something else. And I find that boring.
To you, huh? Yeah, because that's not what he was implying, nor anyone else. So maybe question rather than assume the worst on zero evidence? :)
 

Andor

Visitor
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.
Well, I'll admit indomitable is underwhelming. Remarkable athlete is not a fighter feature thought, it's a champion feature. And again, Champion is the choice of the options/complexity averse player. Now I know that making no options "balanced" with options was an explicit design goal, but it's an impossible one. This is due to the fact that the guy with more options (strategy dice, spells, ki powers) has control over when to apply them. Therefore when well applied the more complex character will always be more effective/ efficient then the simple character, if only because he isn't wasting his crit on a mook. The only way to avoid that is to rig the game so that at best the complex character can only hope to equal the simple character. Sound like fun? The correct design goal is to try to make sure that the player of the simple character is as satisfied by his play experience as the more complex player. This is why so many of the more complex options are geared towards boosting the simpler character. That advantage the Bards faerie fire provides doubles the Champions chance to crit. So yes Faerie fire is a damned effective spell, but it is so because it helps the guys this analysis frames as the competition.

When did you ever hear a 3e fighter complain that he only dropped the Dragon because of the Bards damage boost, and therefore he felt like a 3rd wheel?

Could Remarkable Athlete be better? Yep. And if you feel it needs to be better, house rule it. Maybe make it grant advantage to proficient physical skill checks?
 

Capricia

Visitor
This kind of analysis requires too many assumptions to be more than a very rough guidepost. Players and Dms have to balance the game at their kwn table. RPGs have always been this way. The fighter dominates combat. The bard is the most versatile class in the game. As intended. Play the one you prefer and work with yr table to keep everyone happy, bec if too many folks are unhappy you wont have a table at all.
Yes, it requires assumptions. I was very upfront with the assumptions I made, and I purposefully biased those assumptions in favor of the fighter. Even with those assumptions, even with the bard forced to run out of spells every day and run on fumes instead of being able to nova and rest after five minutes, the bard was still well ahead.

I'm not really sure I see the full problem here, either. 9th level spells break the game: yes. But how many games even get to 17th level? And at 20th level nearly every class is insane somehow. Druids pretty much cannot die from HP loss at that point; that's a fun one to compare.

For the sweet spot of >90% of games - levels ~3-6 - the two classes seem pretty even. Well, actually the bard seems like it couldn't quite keep up with the fighter if all it wanted to do was be a fighter. But it CAN be very effective in making the entire party better. So that seems good.

Will casters start to dominate at high levels? Yup. Is that a playstyle that a lot of people want anyway? I think so. Is that a level range very, very few people ever see? Pretty sure.

I am curious what this Indomitable feature that got nerfed was and is: can anyone paraphrase what it is now and also say what it was before?
Every class breaking the game in some way sounds awesome. Only the fullcasters breaking the game while other classes get more feats and +1 bonuses? Not so awesome. As for the sweet spot being levels 3-6...that's an assumption from 3e, and I see it as a general failure of the game that 80% of the content is inferior. 5e is not the second edition of third edition, no matter how much people might want to be, including its own designers. The game having a four level sweetspot is not something you should assume.

As for what the fighter used to have...Indomitable used to be "you have advantage on every single save". It was simple and it was powerful. They also had Defy Death, which let them resist dropping past 1 hp by passing a con save, which they had proficiency and advantage on. Both abilities were powerful, both scaled with level, and both fit the flavor of the fighter while still being mechanically effective and fun. And wotc got rid of them. Then buffed the wizards.


What I meant when I said niche protection is that a lot of people are not only OK with, but prefer a style of gaming where each class can do their own things really well, which was in contrast to the statement I quoted which said that if one class can do something cool, all classes should be able to. To me, all that is, is making every class pretty much the same with the same abilities, just with the serial numbers filed off and named something else. And I find that boring.

And often, when those types of arguments are made (the wizard can cast a spell to get past challenge X automatically, so everyone else should too), it almost always dependent on a white room scenario. I don't need to explain the numerous ways using a white room scenario is flawed to use as analysis in that way.
There are ways to make each class extremely unique and still powerful. If you think that "fighter as powerful as a wizard" is incapable of being anything but "fighter that is actually a wizard" though, I don't think there's anything that anyone could say to change your mind.
 
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Cybit

Visitor
[MENTION=6777135]Capricia[/MENTION]

Two comments

1) I'm not sure going till 9th level spells is necessarily the best assumption. There has been a lot of work done about how long games go, and I think they said something like less than 1% of games even get to level 16. So I'd personally cap the levels at 16, as I think that's where the Tiamat storyline ends up (The first one is 1-8, so guessing second one is 9-16).

2) Concentration, concentration, concentration. Of those spells you have taken, how many can be used at the same time, or for more than one round? (Lent out my PHB to friends, so I am alas without it) The thing about playing a spellcaster that is different in 5E than in 3.5E is that concentration ends up meaning casters don't get to use all of their spells in a given day. Because many of the spells that work well for utility and duration are either used for a single round and used in a very inefficient way, or casters keep concentrating and are unable to use all of their spells in a given day.

That would be my perspective; while on paper spells can be used in an optimal way, in practice, the unpredictability of a given day as well as the limitations of the spell slots and concentration rules hamper casters rather dramatically.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
To you, huh? Yeah, because that's not what he was implying, nor anyone else. So maybe question rather than assume the worst on zero evidence? :)
When someone says that "if one class can do X, everyone should be able to do X", it's not unreasonable to interpret that as doing the same thing from a mechanical perspective. That's not assuming the worst, that's replying to what was actually said.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
There are ways to make each class extremely unique and still powerful. If you think that "fighter as powerful as a wizard" is incapable of being anything but "fighter that is actually a wizard" though, I don't think there's anything that anyone could say to change your mind.
This is a strawman. I don't think I ever implied that "fighter as powerful as wizard" = "fighter is actually wizard." The closest I came was the reference to the serial numbers thing. For example, if a wizard can cast a spell that bypasses AC to deal direct damage and a fighter has a maneuver that bypass AC to deal direct damage, the only real difference is the name of the spell/maneuver and fluff. To me that's boring because there's no difference between the two other than fluff. And to go back to my niche protection comment, I don't like a game where every character type is just as effective as every other one in combat, at skill challenges, etc. Again, to me that feels like the same car with just a different name and paint job. I like characters to have that diversity, where they are better than any other class at a specialty, but might not be as good as others in another field. And I'm positive I'm not the only one who feels this way.

Additionally, you're doing the exact thing I was cautioning at earlier. I.e. it seems you're looking at classes through a lens of how powerful they are as if "power" is some universally agreed upon metric, and possibly only considering white room scenarios. What is "powerful"? DPR measurement? Instant win abilities? Does it factor in things like environment? You might consider a spell like fireball to be really powerful, but if it can only be cast a very limited amount of times, it's really not in the context of the entire game.
 

Uskglass

Visitor
I don't like a game where every character type is just as effective as every other one in combat, at skill challenges, etc.
Me neither. But obviously that's not what we are talking about here. Being better in a field is something, being able to ignore restriction and challenge factors in a field is something else.
The OP analysis shows how, beyond low level, the spellcaster class progressively outmatches the martial class in pretty much every area. And that's without even trying hard: there is no attempt towards optimisation in the examples used, just sensible choices along progression. So much for the 'balance across pillars' intent (which I also find debatable, but we are not even getting that one here).
Now, we can say we don't care about the problem, that 90% of the players are going to play low level only anyway, that this is actually 'fun' or 'classic' or both. Still the issue exists, and it will be bothering for a number of players till some alternatives will be made available to them (if ever).
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Me neither. But obviously that's not what we are talking about here. Being better in a field is something, being able to ignore restriction and challenge factors in a field is something else.
The OP analysis shows how, beyond low level, the spellcaster class progressively outmatches the martial class in pretty much every area. And that's without even trying hard: there is no attempt towards optimisation in the examples used, just sensible choices along progression. So much for the 'balance across pillars' intent (which I also find debatable, but we are not even getting that one here).
Now, we can say we don't care about the problem, that 90% of the players are going to play low level only anyway, that this is actually 'fun' or 'classic' or both. Still the issue exists, and it will be bothering for a number of players till some alternatives will be made available to them (if ever).
Which prompts me to repeat my earlier question: Is this just in a white room scenario? Actual game play hardly ever (I would say never but I can't speak for everyone) occurs in a white room. Using white room analysis to compare "power levels" between classes is extremely flawed for obvious reasons.
 

Uskglass

Visitor
Which prompts me to repeat my earlier question: Is this just in a white room scenario? Actual game play hardly ever (I would say never but I can't speak for everyone) occurs in a white room. Using white room analysis to compare "power levels" between classes is extremely flawed for obvious reasons.
That's a good question. I can only give my opinion on that, which is I don't think so. Actually in my experience in 'real play' things tend to get worse, as the weaknesses of the system become magnified. The white room scenario actually works in favour of the martial class, which operates pretty much the same regardless of the context, not having much of an option to adapt and cope otherwise.
 

ThirdWizard

Visitor
[MENTION=6777135]Capricia[/MENTION] Would you remove formatting on your post? It looks like this to anyone using the dark background.

 

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