That's interesting data to me.
I don't use DDB at all. Anecdotally, dwarves are among the most popular choices I've seen in face-to-face games for both 4E and 5E.
Personally, I rarely play them, but I've seen a lot of people who do.
Yeah. In fact, it seems my numbers are slightly out of date, as several websites have reported dragonborn overtaking elves
as well, though they may not be combining subraces together. Multiple sites have reported the top 10 as:
Whereas, IIRC, if you lump together all subraces (which I do, even if DDB does not), the most popular options are (as of the most recent data, which was post-Tasha's but pre-Fizban's), in order:
- Dwarf (? Might have these two switched in my head)
Human, elf, and half-elf are all super plausible top picks. Standard human is the literal everyman, variant human was the only feat-giver before Custom Lineage, half-elf is massively OP and supremely flexible (and pretty), and elves offer lots of solid bonuses (and are pretty.) Dragonborn have shot up the ranks, rising even to 3rd place in some rankings, which shocks the hell out of me, I never expected it to ever overtake the sexy, powerful elves, when dragonborn are not at all powerful (seriously, 5e PHB dragonborn are one of the weakest races in the game) and nowhere near as...universally visually appealing, shall we say. Tiefling used to be above dragonborn, and again I can understand why. Mechanically stronger, more traditional, and that sexy edgelord implied story? It would be odd if it wasn't
at least moderately popular.
Dwarves just have a number of characteristics working against them in the grand scheme (obviously not here, where they're winning.) As noted, humans like being tall. Dwarves are one of the least played races in most MMOs because they are short, but not as short as the really
short ones (gnomes, halflings, etc.) so they fail to get the benefits of committing to either really short or average-to-tall. They're very
heavily stereotyped as hard-drinking, hard-talking, hard-fighting Scottish laborer-engineer-warrior-brewers who hate elves and love being hypertraditional and insular, which can make people feel they have limited RP potential (e.g., "you've seen one dwarf, you've seen them all.") And, finally, while they can be mechanically potent for certain things (e.g. Barbarian), their mechanical features aren't especially
potent in most cases, meaning someone thinking about optimization is not going to gun for them like they would (say) any Cha class to Half-Elf or any person wanting a feat to Variant Human/Custom Lineage.
Dwarves aren't bad. I'm not surprised one made it to the Great Eight. But there is at least some
truth to the claim that the only reason they are an obligatory PHB option is Tolkien's legacy, not because they are played by a consistently large portion of the fan base. As I said above, dwarf is still often in the top 10, so that may be enough to say it still deserves its place...or maybe it just shows its PHB privilege.