Class Tier List 2.0, SCAG+ Xanathars

Zardnaar

Hero
My only question so far is, are Bards really inherently A/B tier in the 1-4 level range? Because my feeling is that, aside from Lore Bards (who get Cutting Words at 3, which is a fight-winner), at this level range, they're basically like Clerics with worse armour and no shield. They've got he same number of spells, far fewer to choose from (though I guess they do have stuff like Tasha's), weapon selection is similar - slightly better because you have rapier so if going DEX that works (but really that's 1 point ahead of the mighty Shortsword, D&D weapon of choice of so many people since the 1980s - man I must have had more characters wielding a Shortsword at L1 than any other weapon). WIS and CHA are similar in value at 1-4.

It just feels weird to me to see a Cleric getting a C rating and barely getting that, when a Bard is getting an A and I'm not sure that I really get it. I say this as a professional Bard-player too, so I generally have a pro-Bard bias (playing a Lore Bard right now and they're definitely A at L1-4 but only because of Cutting Words being like "You are NOT going to save against that!").

Once you get into 5+ I am pretty sure Bards are inherently B+ (and Lore goes to S once you start getting secrets at 6 imho) but I just wonder at this level.
It's not just spells, bard dice, sing of rest, extra skill, expertise.

Using the light cleric as an example I rated it high. That's because radiance of the dawn which is roughly a 2nd level spell. Compare with an upcast burning hands spell for example. Plus flair plus armor plus still a cleric plus great domain spells.
 
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Zardnaar

Hero
One thing I'll say for Arcana Domain once you hit level 5 is that if you have Booming Blade, Warcaster, and are using Spirit Guardians, you get to put enemies into no-win situations and I like that. Still limited to a d6 weapon die if you want a shield, or a d8 if you go two-handed, though.
This you can also cheese an arcana cleric into getting shillelagh.

With default array you can add in warcaster and have 18 wisdom by level 8 along with 14 Dex and con.

Get an 18 via rolling (you need to roll a 17) and you have 20 wisdom and 2 feats level 8.

Any melee cleric worth a damn is using spiritual guardians which is wisdom based.

A pure caster arcana cleric with default array can use a dagger, spiritual guardians/weapons and still do alright in melee via gfb.
 

Esker

Explorer
One thing I'll say for Arcana Domain once you hit level 5 is that if you have Booming Blade, Warcaster, and are using Spirit Guardians, you get to put enemies into no-win situations and I like that. Still limited to a d6 weapon die if you want a shield, or a d8 if you go two-handed, though.
You can already pretty much guarantee spirit guardians damage on one target per round though, since they take the damage at the start of their turn. You just have to follow them if they move. Booming blade just makes it a bit less likely that they'll take an AoO to make you chase them (but IME that doesn't happen that often anyway).
 

Esker

Explorer
My only question so far is, are Bards really inherently A/B tier in the 1-4 level range? Because my feeling is that, aside from Lore Bards (who get Cutting Words at 3, which is a fight-winner), at this level range, they're basically like Clerics with worse armour and no shield.
I agree that bards are a class that takes awhile to pick up steam. Bardic inspiration is nice, but is too limited in uses before font of inspiration.

I think their spell list is better than the cleric list though (apart from standouts like Bless and Spiritual Weapon). At levels 1-2, Sleep is the best spell in the game. Faerie Fire is also very nice, and stays useful (though Light Clerics get that one too). Tasha's is probably the best single target spell at 1st level. Heat Metal is pretty nice at levels 3-4, when you're still facing a lot of humanoids.

And that's just the combat pillar. Bards are the champions of the social pillar.

On the other hand, if all you ever cast in tier 1 was Bless and Spiritual Weapon, you'd be doing pretty well.

I think for me, bards are the stronger class overall, but despite everything I just said, I would put clerics ahead in tier 1.

I generally have a pro-Bard bias (playing a Lore Bard right now and they're definitely A at L1-4 but only because of Cutting Words being like "You are NOT going to save against that!").
You can't apply cutting words to saves though. The lore bard would be absolutely runaway insanely good if you could.
 

Zardnaar

Hero
I agree that bards are a class that takes awhile to pick up steam. Bardic inspiration is nice, but is too limited in uses before font of inspiration.

I think their spell list is better than the cleric list though (apart from standouts like Bless and Spiritual Weapon). At levels 1-2, Sleep is the best spell in the game. Faerie Fire is also very nice, and stays useful (though Light Clerics get that one too). Tasha's is probably the best single target spell at 1st level. Heat Metal is pretty nice at levels 3-4, when you're still facing a lot of humanoids.

And that's just the combat pillar. Bards are the champions of the social pillar.

On the other hand, if all you ever cast in tier 1 was Bless and Spiritual Weapon, you'd be doing pretty well.

I think for me, bards are the stronger class overall, but despite everything I just said, I would put clerics ahead in tier 1.



You can't apply cutting words to saves though. The lore bard would be absolutely runaway insanely good if you could.
Neither can any other bard. The lore bard still gets to use normal bard dice mechanics, they don't have to use cutting words.
 

Esker

Explorer
Neither can any other bard. The lore bard still gets to use normal bard dice mechanics, they don't have to use cutting words.
I realize that. I wasn't commenting on the lore bard vs other bards, just pointing out a limitation of cutting words.
 

Ashrym

Adventurer
they're basically like Clerics with worse armour and no shield. They've got he same number of spells, far fewer to choose...
I would agree except bards have some solid choices in the spell list not available to clerics. Sleep has no save while a 13 DC makes a lot of spells look better than they are (until later), for example.

Which is more effective -- sleep or bless? There's a lot of opinion in a question like that. Especially given the premise of limited spell slots mentioned regarding other classes. ;)

I would argue 1st level spells vs 1st level spells is roughly equal but applied in different areas.

they're definitely A at L1-4 but only because of Cutting Words being like "You are NOT going to save against that!").
This was already mentioned but in case anyone misses it, cutting words doesn't apply to saves.

It's not just spells, bard dice, sing of rest, extra skill, expertise.
Clerics get channel divinity and better armor matters more than +2 on from another skill or expertise in this tier, imo. And guidance says hi. ;)

It's not like clerics don't have benefits. 3 inspiration dice per day doesn't beat 3 channel divinities based on the 2 short rest assumption.

Clerics also have more prepped spells than any other class preps or knows at a time when this is the most restricted.

Neither can any other bard. The lore bard still gets to use normal bard dice mechanics, they don't have to use cutting words.
Cutting words creates a lot more competition for those dice. So do the flourishes.

I don't agree that swords obsoletes valor except for the shield either. Valor gains martial weapon proficiency that swords does not. I can build GWM into a valor bard and not use a shield but swords is TWF or dueling without a shield.
 

Zardnaar

Hero
I would agree except bards have some solid choices in the spell list not available to clerics. Sleep has no save while a 13 DC makes a lot of spells look better than they are (until later), for example.

Which is more effective -- sleep or bless? There's a lot of opinion in a question like that. Especially given the premise of limited spell slots mentioned regarding other classes. ;)

I would argue 1st level spells vs 1st level spells is roughly equal but applied in different areas.



This was already mentioned but in case anyone misses it, cutting words doesn't apply to saves.



Clerics get channel divinity and better armor matters more than +2 on from another skill or expertise in this tier, imo. And guidance says hi. ;)

It's not like clerics don't have benefits. 3 inspiration dice per day doesn't beat 3 channel divinities based on the 2 short rest assumption.

Clerics also have more prepped spells than any other class preps or knows at a time when this is the most restricted.



Cutting words creates a lot more competition for those dice. So do the flourishes.

I don't agree that swords obsoletes valor except for the shield either. Valor gains martial weapon proficiency that swords does not. I can build GWM into a valor bard and not use a shield but swords is TWF or dueling without a shield.
A great weapon valor bard is going to inflict roughly the same amount if damage as a sword bard using dueling.

6.5 vs 7.
 

Ashrym

Adventurer
A great weapon valor bard is going to inflict roughly the same amount if damage as a sword bard using dueling.

6.5 vs 7.
I said GWM because bards have several options for bonuses or advantage. The only issue is it's a bit more MAD.

I would also take battle magic over free d6 flourishes too, although obvously not in the first tier of play.

Valor bards granting AC bonus to others is also good. It's just not a personal use of inspiration.
 

Zardnaar

Hero
I said GWM because bards have several options for bonuses or advantage. The only issue is it's a bit more MAD.

I would also take battle magic over free d6 flourishes too, although obvously not in the first tier of play.

Valor bards granting AC bonus to others is also good. It's just not a personal use of inspiration.
Sword bards can also do that. It's another option.

Battle Magic is level 14 iirc.

That's probably to far away.
 

Zardnaar

Hero
Sword bards don't get the weapon proficiency to pull off GWM.
I know, the feats good not the class.

Under the default array you will have to give up something that matters to use a greatsword. You can only wear medium armor so take your pick from dexterity, con or charisma.

With higher rolled stats you can make a decent valor bard but it's more mad IMHO.

In my OP I said specific builds and higher stats can push some archetypes up. Valor bard is decent with stats of 14,14,16,16 or higher.
 

Esker

Explorer
I know, the feats good not the class.

Under the default array you will have to give up something that matters to use a greatsword. You can only wear medium armor so take your pick from dexterity, con or charisma.

With higher rolled stats you can make a decent valor bard but it's more mad IMHO.
I think you're both missing the main use case of being a valor bard, which is being a support-focused character with good AC. Weapons are a red herring.
 

Zardnaar

Hero
I think you're both missing the main use case of being a valor bard, which is being a support-focused character with good AC. Weapons are a red herring.
I'm aware of that, but the lore bards gonna be better on that role and is more likely to get played as a wizard type so isn't to likely to be near the front lines.

What's dumb even with higher rolled stats the lore bard can go Dex based steal gfb and spiritual guardians and have a similar ac and do the support thing and probably outfight the valor bard.

Using dual wielding it will outdamage a greatweapon valor bard and you're comparing a valor bard with feat to other bards no feat.
 

Ashrym

Adventurer
I know, the feats good not the class.
It's your OP that says you are taking feats into consideration. Valor is the way to go for that good feat.

Under the default array you will have to give up something that matters to use a greatsword. You can only wear medium armor so take your pick from dexterity, con or charisma.

With higher rolled stats you can make a decent valor bard but it's more mad IMHO.
That's why I said it's a bit more MAD but the only difference is in stopping investing in DEX that a swords bard continues to build and taking STR instead.

I think you're both missing the main use case of being a valor bard, which is being a support-focused character with good AC. Weapons are a red herring.
I can do both. It's hard to call weapons a red herring when weapon benefits apply at every level college abilities are gained. Martial weapons, extra attack, cast and attack.

Neglecting support and thinking the option is about damage is a mistake, but adding some damge isn't.

I'm aware of that, but the lore bards gonna be better on that role and is more likely to get played as a wizard type so isn't to likely to be near the front lines.

What's dumb even with higher rolled stats the lore bard can go Dex based steal gfb and spiritual guardians and have a similar ac and do the support thing and probably outfight the valor bard.
No, because extra attack is better than cantrips earlier and battle magic is better later.

A valor bard can pick up GFB and spiritual weapon at 10th level then swap out spiritual weapon at 14th when battle magic takes up the bonus action.

Lore bards are not good damage compared to weapon users.
 

Zardnaar

Hero
It's your OP that says you are taking feats into consideration. Valor is the way to go for that good feat.



That's why I said it's a bit more MAD but the only difference is in stopping investing in DEX that a swords bard continues to build and taking STR instead.



I can do both. It's hard to call weapons a red herring when weapon benefits apply at every level college abilities are gained. Martial weapons, extra attack, cast and attack.

Neglecting support and thinking the option is about damage is a mistake, but adding some damge isn't.



No, because extra attack is better than cantrips earlier and battle magic is better later.

A valor bard can pick up GFB and spiritual weapon at 10th level then swap out spiritual weapon at 14th when battle magic takes up the bonus action.

Lore bards are not good damage compared to weapon users.
Once again aware if that it's tier 1-4, valor bard takes a while to get going.

Lore bard can get the same spells plus spiritual guardians and mage armor. AC 15 vs 17, and war magic is long way off.

Otherwise I agree valor bards are better latter. Much like clerics as a general rule I think bards should focus on primary caster.

Lore bard can take magic initiate mage armor and two sorcerer cantrips instead of gwm and then pick spiritual guardians and weapon level 6.

And yes with higher scores valor bard starts looking a lot more attractive. My one used shield master and expertise in athletics.
 

Ashrym

Adventurer
Valor bard does take a while to get going. Pointing out that it's tier 1 and then mentioning the lore bard 6th ability contradicts the fact that it's tier 1.

Your human lore bard who takes cantrips still fails at damage compared to weapon users. That doesn't matter what kind of weapon user in the 1st tier.

My point started with a comparison between valor and swords bards that you seem to be refuting by ignoring the point and bringing up lore bards? How does what a lore bard can or cannot do have any relevance to the fact that GWM is an option for valor bards unavailable to swords bards?

Valor bards continue to be relevant because they have better weapon options and not just shields, and combat inspiration supports the party better than flourishes. That's the original point of dispute.
 

Zardnaar

Hero
Valor bard does take a while to get going. Pointing out that it's tier 1 and then mentioning the lore bard 6th ability contradicts the fact that it's tier 1.

Your human lore bard who takes cantrips still fails at damage compared to weapon users. That doesn't matter what kind of weapon user in the 1st tier.

My point started with a comparison between valor and swords bards that you seem to be refuting by ignoring the point and bringing up lore bards? How does what a lore bard can or cannot do have any relevance to the fact that GWM is an option for valor bards unavailable to swords bards?

Valor bards continue to be relevant because they have better weapon options and not just shields, and combat inspiration supports the party better than flourishes. That's the original point of dispute.
Sword bard can take the twf style and feat.

Uses two rapiers. ACs one higher than greatsword user.

Default array 14 Dex, con, 16 Cha. You can swap charisma and Dex around if you like.

Valor bard what stat are you cutting to squeeze in strength?
 

Esker

Explorer
It's hard to call weapons a red herring when weapon benefits apply at every level college abilities are gained. Martial weapons, extra attack, cast and attack.
I call it a red herring precisely because all those things tend to lead one down a weapon-focused path (things like taking weapon feats), which is a mistake, IMO. That's what a red herring is.

Neglecting support and thinking the option is about damage is a mistake, but adding some damge isn't.
But you're not talking about just adding some damage, you're talking about devoting a whole feat and tossing out 2 AC to add damage. That sounds like neglecting support, if you ask me. To focus on support, you want to maximize CHA, take a feat to help maintain concentration, probably take Alert... Where do you fit GWM?
 

Esker

Explorer
I'm aware of that, but the lore bards gonna be better on that role and is more likely to get played as a wizard type so isn't to likely to be near the front lines.
It's campaign/DM dependent, I think. If the enemies are intelligent, they'll target the caster in the back, so having better self-defense serves your support role. Plus, if you don't have to use cutting words for yourself, you can be handing out more inspiration dice, which for a valor bard are the same dice as their bonus option, so they become more versatile.

What's dumb even with higher rolled stats the lore bard can go Dex based steal gfb and spiritual guardians and have a similar ac and do the support thing and probably outfight the valor bard.
Even with magic initiate for mage armor and maxed DEX, the lore bard can get to 18. If the valor bard takes the feat you spent for mage armor and takes medium armor master, they would have a 20, without putting anything into DEX after chargen.
 

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