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D&D 5E Do Assassins suck?

GungHo

Explorer
If your intention as an assassin is to one-shot HP sinks that are staring right at you... yes, it sucks at that. Assassins, like older versions of paladins, sometimes need things built around them for them to shine. They're not going to do well in an arena.
 

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DND_Reborn

I don't debate opinions.
Quick reply to the OP (@auburn2) for now:

Until level 9, nope, they are great. After level 9--can't tell you.

So, the best Assassin I've seen was a Half-Orc Fighter (Samurai)/ Rogue (Assassin) 11/9. With Extra Attack and Fighting Sprit to give himself advantage, he often went first and could easily get the drop on enemies to gain surprise. Even at lower levels he went through a complex/ hide-out and took out all the sentries along the way so they were never alerted to us coming. Frankly, it was a brutally efficient combination with you add in Action Surge.

I love the Scout, personally, as my favorite Rogue subclass, but Assassins can be very good. I find their later features lack-luster, though.
 
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The major problem with Assassinate, the surprise part of it, especially, is that it carried over from earlier playtest versions of 5e where there actually was such a thing as a surprise round. So now, in actual 5e, you're stuck with an Assassin who has to succeed at stealth AND the attack roll AND the initiative roll on your target to get the auto-crit. And even if you expertise Stealth and have the advantage on the attack roll you'd expect in that situation, it's quite possible the initiative roll will screw you. Unfortunately, the Assassin was given no native initiative boost to compensate for this. Alert helps a ton, but that means your Assassin is effectively feat-taxed. I feel it should've AT LEAST been given its proficiency bonus to initiative (which would play very nicely at Lv. 11 with Reliable Talent).

I also feel like Disguise and Poisoner's Kit proficiencies should've also granted Expertise for free in those, as well. Follow the Scout's model there.

Giving the Assassin access to a Fighting Style at Lv. 3 would've also been appropriate. A small combat boost that other Rogue subclasses can't get without a feat.

The Lv. 9 and 13 features ... while I actually like those features, and understand their purpose, they are also very clearly what we consider to be ribbon features at this point in 5e's life cycle. They would definitely benefit from having a more combat-applicable feature added on top of those at both of those levels. Maybe something related to poisons. Like at Lv. 9 being able to quick-craft any poison you are familiar with from the DMG list at the end of any long rest, and that poison remains effective as long as you use it until your next long rest.
 

TheSword

Legend
The major problem with Assassinate, the surprise part of it, especially, is that it carried over from earlier playtest versions of 5e where there actually was such a thing as a surprise round. So now, in actual 5e, you're stuck with an Assassin who has to succeed at stealth AND the attack roll AND the initiative roll on your target to get the auto-crit. And even if you expertise Stealth and have the advantage on the attack roll you'd expect in that situation, it's quite possible the initiative roll will screw you. Unfortunately, the Assassin was given no native initiative boost to compensate for this. Alert helps a ton, but that means your Assassin is effectively feat-taxed. I feel it should've AT LEAST been given its proficiency bonus to initiative (which would play very nicely at Lv. 11 with Reliable Talent).

I also feel like Disguse and Poisoner's Kit proficiencies should've also granted Expertise for free in those, as well. Follow the Scout's model there.

The Lv. 9 and 13 features ... while I actually like those features, and understand their purpose, they are also very clearly what we consider to be ribbon features at this point in 5e's life cycle. They would definitely benefit from having a more combat-applicable feature added on top of those at both of those levels. Maybe something related to poisons. Like at Lv. 9 being able to quick-craft any poison you are familiar with from the DMG list at the end of any long rest, and that poison lasts until your next long rest.
I think also. Everyone in the party has to succeed in stealth otherwise the enemy wouldn’t be surprised. It’s a tough ask. A lot will depend on encounter set up.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
The major problem with Assassinate, the surprise part of it, especially, is that it carried over from earlier playtest versions of 5e where there actually was such a thing as a surprise round.
There wasn’t a surprise round in the playtest. Being surprised gave you -10 to Initiative.
 

There wasn’t a surprise round in the playtest. Being surprised gave you -10 to Initiative.
I want to say there was in some early versions of it, but it got changed to -10 to initiative later on?

Regardless, -10 to initiative for surprise would still have put the Assassin in a much better place than it is now. Point was the Assassin gets nothing to compensate for surprised enemies rolling normal initiative.
 

I think also. Everyone in the party has to succeed in stealth otherwise the enemy wouldn’t be surprised. It’s a tough ask. A lot will depend on encounter set up.

You can either do group stealth checks or give some distance behind which you don't need to make the check. At my table, the rule is whomever is being sneaky needs to stay 30' in front of the tin cans.
 


they are little bit weaker than they should be.

we housedruled surprise so that Assassin gets crit on a surprised target even if they lost on initiative and have advantage on all attacks in 2nd round if they have higher initiative then surprised target. So Alert feat still have big impact for subclass.

Is there a need for that though? A special abilitiy that grants advantage AND auto-crits is insanely powerful.

Limiting it to only surprised creatures, that have yet to take a turn, is a reasonable limiter on it.

All it requires is set up, and a decent initiative roll.
 

Is there a need for that though? A special abilitiy that grants advantage AND auto-crits is insanely powerful.

Limiting it to only surprised creatures, that have yet to take a turn, is a reasonable limiter on it.

All it requires is set up, and a decent initiative roll.
The problem with it, even when you do set it up, is simple math:

Just a typical situation off the top of my head, you may get a 60% chance to hide, 84% chance to hit (advantage accounted for), 60% chance to win initiative:

.6*.84*.6 = .3024

So you do everything right, and you'll still get only roughly a 30% chance of getting your auto-crit. That's hardly "insanely powerful." And I may have been generous as far as how often you'll win initiative.
 

The problem with it, even when you do set it up, is simple math:

Just a typical situation off the top of my head, you may get a 60% chance to hide, 84% chance to hit (advantage accounted for), 60% chance to win initiative:

An Assasin will have expertise to Stealth, and presuming feats, have Alert by 4th level (granting a +8-9 to initiative), and +9 or so to Stealth).

It's the set-up that is the harder part.
 



Zardnaar

Legend
MCing Gloomstalker ranger.

Adds +Wis to initiative, grants an extra attack in the first round, an extra 1d8 damage (2d8 on a crit), a fighting style, favored foe, invisibility in darkness, darkvision, plus spellcasting for 3 levels.

I exclude MC because while great PCs it's not because of the assassin at least by itself.

And yeah MCing can create better PCs.
 

guachi

Adventurer
Others have hit on why the Assassin is weak. It doesn't scratch the Assassin itch enough.

My faves are Scout and Swashbuckler. They feel like what it says on the tin.
 

Horwath

Hero
MCing Gloomstalker ranger.

Adds +Wis to initiative, grants an extra attack in the first round, an extra 1d8 damage (2d8 on a crit), a fighting style, favored foe, invisibility in darkness, darkvision, plus spellcasting for 3 levels.
and there lies the problem. Feat tax, MC tax. That is not good design.

Is there a need for that though? A special abilitiy that grants advantage AND auto-crits is insanely powerful.

Limiting it to only surprised creatures, that have yet to take a turn, is a reasonable limiter on it.

All it requires is set up, and a decent initiative roll.
Yes.

If you set up your surprise, you should not count on initiative to get that crit attack. Winning initiative should be just extra on top.
That is why I said that in 2nd round(if you act before your SURPRISED target), you get advantage to attacks(NO auto crits in this round). But that just saves you bonus action to hide.
 


Horwath

Hero
I disagree. We're talking about advantage AND automatic crits.

It should require both set up AND an ability check to pull off.
at 3rd level, ONCE per encounter, for 11 extra damage you should pass; 1st ability check(stealth), 2nd ability check(initiative), 3rd attack roll.

3 rolls for extra 11 damage? Isn't 2 checks(stealth+attack roll) enough?
 

S'mon

Legend
If you set up your surprise, you should not count on initiative to get that crit attack.

I GM it that if the opponent is completely unaware of the attack or any other threat, then the attack happens pre-combat, before init is rolled; and they count as Surprised. I don't have characters rolling init when they're unaware of any danger. That helps out Assassins in effect.
 

Horwath

Hero
I GM it that if the opponent is completely unaware of the attack or any other threat, then the attack happens pre-combat, before init is rolled; and they count as Surprised. I don't have characters rolling init when they're unaware of any danger. That helps out Assassins in effect.
that is how we roll also.

Either you invest in Perception or get trashed in ambushes.
 

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