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5E Cleric Tier Ratings


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DeviousQuail

Explorer
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.
I always figured they didn't put lightning bolt on the Tempest spell list because it would be too good when paired with destructive wrath. Still, destructive wrath is good because it helps balance the blaster side with the melee side of the Tempest. Boosting Strength (or Dex, I won't judge) has the opportunity cost of not increasing Wisdom and your save DC. So a feature that maxes an aoe damage spell once per short rest, twice at 6th and three times at 18, was a nice way to balance the increased likelihood of enemies making their saves.

Thunderbolt Strike is annoying because it should've been called Lightning Bolt Strike! Terribly misleading. That said, it can combine well with wrath of the storm, call lightning, and any lightning damage items. Keep an eye out for a javelin of lightning, wand of lightning bolts, spell scrolls, or staff of thunder and lightning. Very fun.

The lack of resistance to thunder and lightning compared to other damage types helps divine strike. Definitely a class that can do great things in melee thanks to the cleric chassis and subclass features. Finding a way to get booming blade wouldn't hurt.

From my experience if you go Tempest you should embrace the melee and not worry about getting Wisdom or Strength to 20. Use your concentration to control the battlefield, blast enemies that are silly enough to stand near each other, and smack around the unworthy (I guess you can heal too if you want).

I already said earlier that Tempest is S tier for me but for others that don't share my particular tastes, B tier seems appropriate. Keep them coming, Zardnaar.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I always figured they didn't put lightning bolt on the Tempest spell list because it would be too good when paired with destructive wrath. Still, destructive wrath is good because it helps balance the blaster side with the melee side of the Tempest. Boosting Strength (or Dex, I won't judge) has the opportunity cost of not increasing Wisdom and your save DC. So a feature that maxes an aoe damage spell once per short rest, twice at 6th and three times at 18, was a nice way to balance the increased likelihood of enemies making their saves.

Thunderbolt Strike is annoying because it should've been called Lightning Bolt Strike! Terribly misleading. That said, it can combine well with wrath of the storm, call lightning, and any lightning damage items. Keep an eye out for a javelin of lightning, wand of lightning bolts, spell scrolls, or staff of thunder and lightning. Very fun.

The lack of resistance to thunder and lightning compared to other damage types helps divine strike. Definitely a class that can do great things in melee thanks to the cleric chassis and subclass features. Finding a way to get booming blade wouldn't hurt.

From my experience if you go Tempest you should embrace the melee and not worry about getting Wisdom or Strength to 20. Use your concentration to control the battlefield, blast enemies that are silly enough to stand near each other, and smack around the unworthy (I guess you can heal too if you want).

I already said earlier that Tempest is S tier for me but for others that don't share my particular tastes, B tier seems appropriate. Keep them coming, Zardnaar.
If it had lightning bolt and potent cantrip yeah possible S tier. Even then still probably outclassed by light.
 

Voadam

Hero
You also pick up heavy armor, probably better off not using it though without high score to back it up.
I am wondering on your thinking here.

When I played a life domain cleric the decision to go 15, 15, 15, 8, 8, 8 for high wisdom, strength, and con and tank up in heavy armor seemed an easy call to dump stat dex and have a decent AC. Even if you wanted a better than 8 int or cha, a standard array 15, 14, 13 for wisdom, con, str, would still get you starting chain mail at AC 16 versus a 17 with 750 gp half plate and dex 14.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I am wondering on your thinking here.

When I played a life domain cleric the decision to go 15, 15, 15, 8, 8, 8 for high wisdom, strength, and con and tank up in heavy armor seemed an easy call to dump stat dex and have a decent AC. Even if you wanted a better than 8 int or cha, a standard array 15, 14, 13 for wisdom, con, str, would still get you starting chain mail at AC 16 versus a 17 with 750 gp half plate and dex 14.
The trade off there is 3 dump stats. Also as you level up you still have to make the trade off with buffing wisdom or your attack stat.

All for +1 AC.

And you'll end up with a cleric stats inferior at melee than one who focused on buffing wisdom and makes a half decent skill monkey with better rounded stats that you can use with guidance.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Trickery domain.

Well the trickery domain scores reasonable marks for the theme. Mechanically it's a bit of a mess.

Blessing of the trickster is potentially useful, depends on how much stealth scouting your PC can do. It's at will but it's a bit situational. Sometimes brilliant, other times useless as it also relies on the DMs take on stealth.

It's spell list quite good with several spells outside the cleric list to use. This is the highlight of the class.

Channel Divinity invoke duplicity.
This ability looks great but it requires an action and is very short duration. It doesn't do a lot that going defensive doesn't achieve.

Could be useful out of combat to sneak across a road or alley since you can activate it and make a stealth check the next round.

Divine strike

Very typical cleric ability. The downside is poison is the worst bonus damage in the game due to the sheer quantities of poison resistance and immunity in the game. It's worse than fire.

Overall the class is C tier. It's a Hodge pidge of lots of random abilities that a creative player and DM could have a lot of fun with. How useful those abilities will be seems to be very ymmv based on the campaign and DM.

High marks for fun factor and theme but not a fan of it mechanically.
 

The 3rd edition trickery domain had many of the same problems. But one feature of 3e was clerics was the gained proficiency in a deity's favoured weapon. It wouldn't be broken to grant this on a 5e trickery cleric.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
War Cleric.

Wrapping up the PHB. At first glance the war cleric looks amazing. Heavy armor, martial weapons,some paladin spells and a great looking channel divinity. Overall top marks on the phb for themes for most of the clerics.

The war cleric however gas a large glaring flaw. That is MAD. To use your heavy armor effectively and to melee you need a high strength. And a decent constitution and you're still a cleric so wisdom is useful.

You could go dex based and go ranged but you still get MAD and you may as well play a different cleric if you're going ranged. New Gish type archetypes are getting to use their spellcasting stats to key weapon attacks off as the designers have figured this out.

On the plus side mist if your abilities function with spelks but once again play a different cleric.

High rolled stats or fauntlets can make these problems go away and function as intended IMHO. Several other clerics are strangely competitive even in the niche a war cleric seems designed for.

Be a better cleric IMHO than trying to be a bad fighter. Still heavy armor and martial weapons can be useful.

The war cleric gets a decent spell list. Most are cleric spells with a sprinkling of paladin and wizard spells.

War Priest.
A nice ability that can be used with ranged or melee weapons. Extra attacks as a bonus action are always useful but you don't get many of them and it's keyed off wisdom. See previous comments about MAD.

Guided Strike.
This is a great ability that it best used to make sure a spell connects such as guiding bolt. This feature interacts well with the -5/+10 feats but is so limited I think I would prefer to use it to make sure you hit with a spell. At least this ability is always useful in combat.

Divine strike.

Extra damage typical cleric ability. This is based on the weapon you are using. It's weaker than some of the other cleric weapon damage however IMHO such as radiant or nature clerics choice of elemental damage.

Overall the war cleric is a disappointment IMHO. It's the closest thing to a trap option due to MAD. Even with good to great rolled stats it's still outclassed by the Tempest cleric IMHO. Sure you can take one of the -5/+10 feats but I would rather take say warcaster.

For this reason the war cleric is going to be the first cleric ranked D. Even with the best stats rolled (eg 18,18,16 or similar) it's no higher than B as with stats that high there's still better options.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
The 3rd edition trickery domain had many of the same problems. But one feature of 3e was clerics was the gained proficiency in a deity's favoured weapon. It wouldn't be broken to grant this on a 5e trickery cleric.
3E had better buff spells so any cleric was potentially great.

5E has some good ones as well but they are different in application.
 

High marks for fun factor and theme but not a fan of it mechanically.
That is fair. I felt the same way, until I started playing one. Mechanically it holds up better then I thought it would.
Blessing of the trickster is potentially useful, depends on how much stealth scouting your PC can do. It's at will but it's a bit situational. Sometimes brilliant, other times useless as it also relies on the DMs take on stealth.
Even the most hard hearted, can't ignore Advantage. Since you can't self buff with it, it truly is a blessing for others. I use it on the Wizard's Familiar before it scouts. I use it on the Rogue.
I use it on the heavy armor wearing Fighter to negate Disadvantage.
Blessing of the Trickster is a nice tool to have and lasts just as long as a Pass W/O Trace spell.
Channel Divinity invoke duplicity.
This ability looks great but it requires an action and is very short duration. It doesn't do a lot that going defensive doesn't achieve.
Invoke Duplicity lasts a minute, so it lasts longer the a Warpriest's Guided Strike.😉
It does require an action, which is unfortunate, especially given an Echo Knight's Echo only costs a Bonus Action, but as a CoT, being able to pre-cast it and surprise someone is a viable option.
Invoke Duplicity with the Elven Accuracy feat can be a beast. 6d10 damage with a Critical Hit with Inflict Wounds is good damage at 4th level. It also can be useful to draw enemy fire, and as a spell range extender since you can cast spells through the perfect illusion.

One side benefit, is that since Invoke Duplicity requires your Concentration to use, it enforces a sort of spell use discipline, which is useful. A CoT can burn through spells very quickly, as they have magic for each Pillar of Play.

Between Mirror Image and Invoke Duplicity, I often wonder if I should take the Sentinel feat down the line just for the extra attacks the feat will grant.
I will admit having 4 duplicates at 17 level strikes me a a micromanagement hassle, but I am nowhere near that level yet..so time might tell a different tale.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Death Domain.

At first glance the death cleric is an odd bird. It gets martial weapons proficiency but not heavy armor.

It's spell list is suitably thematic but lacks any obvious hard hitters.

Looks can be a bit deceptive and the death cleric is now one of the best in the game and perhaps the best melee cleric.

So how does one figure that. Well Xanathars introduced toll the dead to the game. This combos with the reaper ability. This let's you target two creatures with it if they're within 5' of each other. This ability fires enough to make it great. It's also not to hard to hurt died with spelks like spiritual guardians/weapons. With the ability to deal d12 damage to multiple targets it's a winner. Added tidbit the ability also works for a cleric 1/Divine Soul XYZ and you can select it with you divine Soul levels and key it off charisma.

Touch of death.
This ability is basically a smite. It deals 5 damage plus twice your cleric level with a melee attack. This adds up to a lot of damage as you can use it with spells. This means you can use it with inflict wounds. It also works with vampiric touch the the extra damage stacks with the spell effect for restoring hit points to you. Notice the death cleric also gets vampiric touch. Damage translation a lot.

Inescapable destruction.
This ability let's you ignore resistance to necrotic energy. Surprisingly not that much has resistance anyway and it's one of the better damage types to inflict. This reduces it to necrotic immunity only matters which is mostly certain types of undead. You deal a lot of necrotic damage.

Divine strike.

This would be so much better as potent cantrip but oh well. With a moderate dexterity score you can use a rapier. An ideal death cleric probably won't want to use weapons at all but hey it's an option.

And here we have it. Overall since Xanathars IMHO the death cleric rockets to the top of the cleric power table. If you want to be a melee cleric convince your DM to allow this archetype. Play up the Raven Queen.

Thatically and mechanically this cleric is great. One of the best melee clerics IMHO even if you never use a weapon. Gets back to the key everything off wisdom idea I suggested. With high rolled states you can use a greatsword if you feel the need.

Zardnaar top tip. If you want to melee don't play a war cleric!!!!. Strange but true.

Core books dine. Next up SCAG.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
That is fair. I felt the same way, until I started playing one. Mechanically it holds up better then I thought it would.

Even the most hard hearted, can't ignore Advantage. Since you can't self buff with it, it truly is a blessing for others. I use it on the Wizard's Familiar before it scouts. I use it on the Rogue.
I use it on the heavy armor wearing Fighter to negate Disadvantage.
Blessing of the Trickster is a nice tool to have and lasts just as long as a Pass W/O Trace spell.

Invoke Duplicity lasts a minute, so it lasts longer the a Warpriest's Guided Strike.😉
It does require an action, which is unfortunate, especially given an Echo Knight's Echo only costs a Bonus Action, but as a CoT, being able to pre-cast it and surprise someone is a viable option.
Invoke Duplicity with the Elven Accuracy feat can be a beast. 6d10 damage with a Critical Hit with Inflict Wounds is good damage at 4th level. It also can be useful to draw enemy fire, and as a spell range extender since you can cast spells through the perfect illusion.

One side benefit, is that since Invoke Duplicity requires your Concentration to use, it enforces a sort of spell use discipline, which is useful. A CoT can burn through spells very quickly, as they have magic for each Pillar of Play.

Between Mirror Image and Invoke Duplicity, I often wonder if I should take the Sentinel feat down the line just for the extra attacks the feat will grant.
I will admit having 4 duplicates at 17 level strikes me a a micromanagement hassle, but I am nowhere near that level yet..so time might tell a different tale.
It's not a bad class but I think it's inferior to mist if the other archetypes.

Do you use the default array or rolled stats?
 

But one feature of 3e was clerics was the gained proficiency in a deity's favoured weapon. It wouldn't be broken to grant this on a 5e trickery cleric.
I'm not sure it is needed. As a high Dex CoT, I use a shortbow or daggers if I want to add my Dex mod to damage or spells are problematic. An extra point or two of damage with a weapon is not going to significantly change the way I play it.
Overall the war cleric is a disappointment IMHO.
The subclass is good at lower levels, but once other classes get Extra Attack, the warpriest starts pivoting to spells.
The 6th level subclass ability is great, and scales up well. A war priest does not strictly need a high CON score...Heavy Armor plus SoF and Aid can give you some protection.
I do wonder why play this instead of a Paladin of Conquest? ( short answer Spirit Guardians)
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I'm not sure it is needed. As a high Dex CoT, I use a shortbow or daggers if I want to add my Dex mod to damage or spells are problematic. An extra point or two of damage with a weapon is not going to significantly change the way I play it.

The subclass is good at lower levels, but once other classes get Extra Attack, the warpriest starts pivoting to spells.
The 6th level subclass ability is great, and scales up well. A war priest does not strictly need a high CON score...Heavy Armor plus SoF and Aid can give you some protection.
I do wonder why play this instead of a Paladin of Conquest? ( short answer Spirit Guardians)
True but if you're going to pivot to spelks play a different cleric IMHO.

See Light/death in particular.
 

Do you use the default array or rolled stats?
Rolled Stats....but I will say, that while I rolled better then the Default Array, it was not much better....instead of a 15 and a 14 in the default array it was two 16s instead.
My DEX score is higher then my WIS score!

As an aside, a Death priest/Monk of the Long Death M/C combo could be quite effective.
Reaper is too good an ability for the cost of an one level dip.
 

Once Spirt Guardians arrives, how often are clerics meaningfully dealing damage through their weapon attacks?

The classes damage comes through upcasting their spells.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Once Spirt Guardians arrives, how often are clerics meaningfully dealing damage through their weapon attacks?

The classes damage comes through upcasting their spells.
Smart clerics probably not a lot although they can stack weapon damage with spirit guardians or if they nova weapon plus spirit guardians plus weapon.

Weapon damage doesn't scale that well relative to cantrips though with a few exceptions coming up.

Yes if your stats are high enough weapon damage can still be useful though. Potent cantrip tends to obsolete it though.
 

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.
i think boring and dont bring a whole lot in versatility or extra abilites. extra healing is not really a big boon imo. between short rests, potions and other classes (including other clerics) there is alredy plenty of healing available. a lot more than in previous additions.
 

Dausuul

Legend
Question: How critical is it for a cleric to pump Wisdom?

I ask because it seems like Strength-first is a perfectly viable option if you're playing a Divine Smite domain. Arcane casters rely heavily on their casting stat because they throw a lot of damage spells and debuffs, which require saving throws. But heals and buffs, which are (in theory at least) the cleric's bread and butter, don't require saves and so are not much affected by Wisdom.

Weapon damage for a Strength cleric with Divine Smite should be comparable to cantrip damage for a Wisdom cleric with Potent Spellcasting at most levels. (Assuming 1d8 base damage in both cases, you have a substantial advantage from levels 1-4, do about equal damage from 5-10, fall behind at 11-13, regain equality from 14-16, and after level 17 how much do you really care anyway?)
 

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