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5E Cleric Tier Ratings

Zardnaar

Legend
I have decided to rate the cleric archetypes on a tier list. They ratings are S through to D tier.

The ratings are only comparing the clerics to other clerics.

The archetypes are mostly judged on levels 1-10, how effective they are in game and do the mechanics back up the theme of the archetype.

S tier. Best of the best.
A tier excellent archetype.
B good archetype
C. Below average archetype
D fails at what it's trying to achieve.

Note no cleric is truly bad done are just better than others.

I'll go through the PHB, then SCAG then Xanathars and list the archetypes here. I may do the Midgard Heroes Handbook as an added bonus.

S Tier: Death, Light

A: Tier Forge, Knowledge domain,Life Order,

B tier: Arcana, Nature, Tempest Domain.

C tier: Trickery.

D tier: War.
 
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Zardnaar

Legend
1st Up
Knowledge Domain.

The knowledge Domain kind of implies some sort of sage, Oracle or diviner type cleric.

The starting package is quite impressive IMHO. It's spell list has several wizard divination spells in its domain. Blessing of knowledge grants two languages and expertise of two skills from a pre selected list.

You channel divinity grants you proficiency in any tool or skill for 10 minutes.

I thought the Rogue was supposed to be the skill monkey? Throw in guidance and a typical knowledge cleric is a competitive skill monkey right out the gate.

At level 6 you can read minds via your channel divinity.
So far high marks thematically and mechanically.

At level 8 you get potent cantrip. This adds your wisdom modifier to cantrip damage. Since a smart cleric under the default array should probably focus on casting spells vs trying to fight with weapons.

Overall I would rate the knowledge cleric highly. I'm going to put it in A tier.
 
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Death Domain is a solid A tier. Potentially amazing cantrip damage, and strong nova potential. The only thing that slightly hinders it is some close combat features but only medium armor.
 

auburn2

Explorer
I think that is tough. I think most of them are pretty balanced and depends what kind of build you want. I will say I am not too fond of life but other than that they are all pretty good.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Death Domain is a solid A tier. Potentially amazing cantrip damage, and strong nova potential. The only thing that slightly hinders it is some close combat features but only medium armor.
Death cleric will get an A or S. They can melee fine, they can smite with inflict wounds.

Key to going melee with a cleric is key everything off wisdom;).
 

Mort

Hero
Supporter
I think that is tough. I think most of them are pretty balanced and depends what kind of build you want. I will say I am not too fond of life but other than that they are all pretty good.
Not to too fond because it's underpowered, overpowered, boring?

I've been in a group with a life cleric and currently DM for a group with a life cleric - the extra healing adds amazing staying power. It's not top tier, but it's not near the bottom either.
 

auburn2

Explorer
Not to too fond because it's underpowered, overpowered, boring?

I've been in a group with a life cleric and currently DM for a group with a life cleric - the extra healing adds amazing staying power. It's not top tier, but it's not near the bottom either.
Meh .... there is plenty of healing available without using the cleric. As such underpowered would be my assessment.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Life Domain.

The life domain is a great domain. It passes it's intended role of being good at healing. A single dip in this domain is also great for classes such as Druids and Valor bards due to disciple of life plus good berry and spirit guardians.

It's domain spells are full of healing type magic, unfortunately they're mostly clerical spells already. You also pick up heavy armor, probably better off not using it though without high score to back it up.

Disciple of life is a fairly big buff to healing magic and is abusable with Druid spells.

Preserve life is nice as it's more healing preserving your spell slots. Unfortunately you can only restore beings up to a maximum of half their hit points.

Blessed healer is also cute. Free healing for yourself if you heal others. Means you can risk yourself on the front lines occasionally.

Divine strike. I wish this was potent cantrip instead but it is what it is. Still it deals radiant damage which is great. Few creature resist it or are immune and various undead have issues with radiant damage.

Overall a great package specialized in healing with more healing. I'm going to rate it in A tier. Might be a little boring ymmv but mechanically not much wrong with the class except I would prefer potent cantrip over Divine Strike.
 

Are you including multi-classing potential in your ratings, or sticking with single class analysis? I prefer analyses that don't include multi-classing myself, but you brought up multi-classing, so I'm not sure which angle you're taking.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Are you including multi-classing potential in your ratings, or sticking with single class analysis? I prefer analyses that don't include multi-classing myself, but you brought up multi-classing, so I'm not sure which angle you're taking.
I'm not including multiclassing in my rating. I will mention something if it stands out in multiclassing but it doesn't effect the tier ranking.
 

Phazonfish

B-Rank Agent
If Grave Domain isn't S Tier, I'm unsubscribing. /s

Seriously though, Grave Domain best domain, change my view.
 

DeviousQuail

Explorer
I've only played a couple clerics but I've DMed for all but Trickery and Grave. Of the ones I've seen I don't think any are deserving of D tier. Even C tier feels like a stretch but when comparing across subclasses I do think some meet their thematic potential better and are deserving of the A tier. I would put Tempest as my only S tier but I know I'm biased towards it.
 

Mort

Hero
Supporter
I've only played a couple clerics but I've DMed for all but Trickery and Grave. Of the ones I've seen I don't think any are deserving of D tier. Even C tier feels like a stretch but when comparing across subclasses I do think some meet their thematic potential better and are deserving of the A tier. I would put Tempest as my only S tier but I know I'm biased towards it.
Light domain also deserves S tier!

Impose disadvantage to an attack roll (Wis times per day) is strong early. by 6th level, do it to any ally within 30'.

A 30' AoE that's ally friendly starting at 2nd level.

Strong domain spells. Faerie Fire is excellent, and they even get fireball.

And it may be boring but Wisdom to cantrip damage is a decent buff (though 8th level is a bit late).

Overall very strong.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Light domain also deserves S tier!

Impose disadvantage to an attack roll (Wis times per day) is strong early. by 6th level, do it to any ally within 30'.

A 30' AoE that's ally friendly starting at 2nd level.

Strong domain spells. Faerie Fire is excellent, and they even get fireball.

And it may be boring but Wisdom to cantrip damage is a decent buff (though 8th level is a bit late).

Overall very strong.
Light domain is indeed A tier, preaching to the converted.
 

DeviousQuail

Explorer
Light domain also deserves S tier!

Impose disadvantage to an attack roll (Wis times per day) is strong early. by 6th level, do it to any ally within 30'.

A 30' AoE that's ally friendly starting at 2nd level.

Strong domain spells. Faerie Fire is excellent, and they even get fireball.

And it may be boring but Wisdom to cantrip damage is a decent buff (though 8th level is a bit late).

Overall very strong.
I figured if S tier is "best of the best", as OP puts it, then I can only give it to one and for me that's Tempest (I shouldn't have included the "my only" bit of my original post since it doesn't accurately reflect what I meant to say). However, you wouldn't find me disagreeing if you put Light as S tier. I see it as one of the best examples of theme and mechanics coming together in 5e.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Light Domain.

Spoiled at S tier for all the reasons mentioned above.

The subclass is basically fire and radiant damage with virtually every ability being good to great.

It has a lot of the best fire damage spells along with the typical cleric radiant options so resistance to fire isn't hard to get around.

A useful bonus cantrip and warding flare is a decent defensive ability.

Channel Divinity is also a great ability. It's true it doesn't scale that great but consider when you get it. 2d10 damage+cleric level that refreshes on a short rest (twice at level 6). It's also radiant damage.

In effect it's roughly equivalent to a level 2 spell that ignores spell resistance.


And you get potent cantrip. Due to the way cantrips scale by level 8 you're better off using them vs weapons anyway. This just solidifies.

The stupid thing is despite being built as a blaster it's no slouch in melee. You're just better off in melee using spells and abilities vs weapons.

For these reasons light domain thematically and mechanically the light cleric goes into S tier.
 
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Zardnaar

Legend
Nature Domain

The nature domain received high marks thematically. It's spell list has several druid spells and a druid cantrip. Your channel divinity can charm plants. Thematically great, probably won't use it much in a real game.

Dampen elements is a great ability. It's an at will absorb elements but better as you can use it in allies and it can't be dispelled.

Finally it's Divine strike is versatile. You have the choice if three elemental types. Useful for getting around resistances.

Surprisingly the nature cleric is one of the few I consider that can wade into melee with a weapon and do alright. This is because you can pick up shillagh via the druid list and key all your attacks off wisdom which is great with the usual cleric spells spiritual guardians/weapon.

So thematically and mechanically the nature cleric stacks up. It's let down a bit by it's spells and channel divinity. Overall it's a B tier domain.
 
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Zardnaar

Legend
Tempest Domain.

At first glance Tempest domain is great. It has a decent spell list, martial weapons and is full of thematically appropriate things to do. High marks for it's theme.

However it's a hot mess mechanically and doesn't know what to do with itself. It's a hybrid between melee and a blaster cleric. Overall it tends more towards melee IMHO.

Wrath of the storm it a reasonably small amount of damage situational on being hit. When combined with martial weapons and heavy armor it leans heavily towards this IMHO. It also doesn't scale.

The tempest cleric gets destructive wrath as it's channel divinity. You can maximise any thunder or lightning damage. This is best used on you spells which for the most part means thunder wave, shatter or call lightning.

Call lightning doesn't work outside, thunder wave not the best and loud, this mostly means shatter. It's a blaster ability but you can it use it on somewhat weak spells. Pity you got call lightning instead if lightning bolt.

It's a blaster ability while your other abilities lean towards melee. MAD here we come. Thunderbolt strike is ok, you can push something 10' when you deal lightning damage. Then you realise you only have two sources of lightning damage, call lightning and wrath if the storm. Derp.

Your Divine strike is thunder damage, one of the better damage types to deal. The problem being MAD. You will want a decent constitution, wisdom and strength to have an effective tempest cleric.

Overall I would rate this as a B tier domain. If you use rolled stats and have high ability scores or gauntlets of ogre power this domain can sneak up to A tier. However you are still outclassed by the S tier domains with the same ability scores.
 

Tempest Domain.


Overall I would rate this as a B tier domain.
I agree. On paper Tempest seems stupidly awesome. But I have seen two Tempest clerics in my time, and though they are "fine", the maximize power is not as juicy as it might look, and meanwhile other domains get a lot of nice stuff.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I agree. On paper Tempest seems stupidly awesome. But I have seen two Tempest clerics in my time, and though they are "fine", the maximize power is not as juicy as it might look, and meanwhile other domains get a lot of nice stuff.
That's why I gave it B. Looks great, plays ok.
 

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