Dungeons and Dragons (5th Edition) Class Tier List – 2019

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
This list is so bad I refuse to click on the link.

First of all, the balance in 5e is much more "narrow" than in 3.X/pathfinder. We have a few that are a bit strong (paladin I'm looking at you) and some that are a bit underwhelming (in the PHB, Ranger-beastmaster and Monk of the Elements are weak a bit, but no where near the "spread" of 3.X

The Class Tier lists that developed around 3e and PF1 mostly involved showing the class balance impact of full casting, prepared casting, and versatility to different encounters rather than some sort of MOBA-style tier list.
It bears in mind that the tiers were to be "challenged" by 3 tasks, which are roughly as follows:

1: A black dragon in a cavern is harassing the area. Deal with it.

2: A large army of orcs is coming to attack this town. You have one week to prepare, help the town resist the onslaught!

3: You must travel to the city-state of a tyrant (this city state is an enemy of our kingdom) and make contact and gain the trust of the underground leader of a potential slave rebellion.

So the tiers are not so much about raw power than versatility and problem solving.
 
One thing I have noticed with the swords bard. He uses inspiration for offense and defense a lot; doesn't have quite as much left for the rest of the group.
I feel that's kind of the point, the subclass is aimed at people who don't really like a support role (that's me to be honest). Mechanically it's a bit inferior, but if you are having fun swinging your sword then it doesn't matter.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
What bothers me about Valor Bard is that Lore Bard can get green-flame blade at 6th level and deal more melee damage than Valor for the next 4 to 8 levels (depending on when Valor Bard decides to pick up green-flame blade themselves, thereby improving their life but virtually eliminating their future usage of Extra Attack), while only needing Cha and Dex. Valor Bard additionally needs Str to wield a two-hander (sacrificing a shield) to get the most out of their damage.

Before someone says the problem is with *green-flame blade"--I understand why you would say that, but I think it needs to exist as an option in the game (for Lore Bard as well as others). Maybe Valor just needs a combat style like Swords.
The problem isn't Green Flame Blade, the problem is lack of analysis of what the valor bard gets.

Valor bard at the same level has medium armor proficiency, shield proficiency, martial weapon proficiency, and extra attack. They are much more the total melee package in having a much better AC so they can survive in melee, plus with Extra Attack that they are putting out similar focus fire damage to a lore bard with GFB in the 6-9 level range you are talking about. More if they did things like raise DEX instead of CHR at 4th, but trying to keep things even.

So, assume a 50% chance to hit, 18 CHR and 16 DEX, and a 50% chance there will be another foe adjacent:

Valor
Rapier (d8+3) = 7.5 avg per hit x 2 attacks x 50% hit chance = 7.5 expected DPR
AC 19 (Half plate, +2 dex, shield)

Lore
Rapier w/ GFB (d8+3+d8) = 12 avg per hit x 50% hit chance = 6 expected DPR
Non-focus fire damage= d8+4 = 8.5 avg x 50% hit x 50% chance of adjacent target = 2.16
Total = 8.16 split between two targets
AC 15 (Studded leather +3 DEX)

This is a apples to apples comparison - CHR first, DEX second finesse build. With rapier and shield. I have never seen a valor bard who wants to go two-handed weapon - there's just no natural synergies with the class. I know charop often focuses on DPR as a trackable number, but a little less damage for a lot more defense on a full caster who probably doesn't want to be hit and have their Concentration spell go away makes loads of sense.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
AC bump really only matters if you plan on being on the front lines.
First, this is incorrect. Anyone can get attacked, and casters with concentration spells up (as bards are wont to do) are often targeted first by intelligent foes.

Second, this is in response to the Lore Bard picking up Green Flame Blade, with is a melee cantrip. So the idea of begin on the front lines was already assumed.
 
Valor bard at the same level has medium armor proficiency, shield proficiency, martial weapon proficiency, and extra attack.
This is kind of the problem though - because MAD and the need to have a hand free for spellcasting a valour bard is better going archery, or failing that finesse. So they won't get a whole lot of use out medium armor or shields (unless you are playing a 4d6 rolled stats game).
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
This is kind of the problem though - because MAD and the need to have a hand free for spellcasting a valour bard is better going archery, or failing that finesse. So they won't get a whole lot of use out medium armor or shields (unless you are playing a 4d6 rolled stats game).
The specific thing that the response you quoted is about is that lore bards are better at melee in the 6-9 level range because they can get the SCAG cantrips (GFB / BB) sooner. So melee is assumed for what we are talking about. Sorry, while I love the new ENworld board software, I do miss the threaded replies so it was obvious what various sub-discussions are about.

But to talk more generally about what you said. Casting isn't a problem with rapier and shield. First, weapon damage is better than cantrip damage, but doesn't replace then being a full caster. So I'm assuming the first round or two is them casting their concentration spells or whatever with their much improved AC helping protect them from enemy ranged or skirmishers, and then if they want to do weapon damage they can draw for free and close. If you need to cast later a spell with S or M components, you sheath one turn, cast, and next turn you can draw again. The only thing that does is cost you the chance of an opportunity attack.

Where this gets hard is when you get magical secrets at level 10 if you want to pick up reaction cast spells like shield or absorb elements. That rapier and shield does get in the way of. But there, a shield for +2 AC all the time for no spell slots is likely better than Shield spell for +5 at times at a spell slot cost. But at 10th your cantrips get better again and you mght just be hanging back as a full caster with shield and a free hand, so you can have both shield and Shield for +7 AC when you need it.

I'm confused about MAD. CHR + DEX are same things any other bard needs. No more MAD than any other bard. As a matter of fact, is you aren't as focused on weapons they are less MAD because their max DEX to AC caps at two. So this either no different or better for valor bard, depending on if you want to play them full caster or weapon-replace-cantrip.
 

Sword of Spirit

Adventurer
The problem isn't Green Flame Blade, the problem is lack of analysis of what the valor bard gets.

...

This is a apples to apples comparison - CHR first, DEX second finesse build. With rapier and shield. I have never seen a valor bard who wants to go two-handed weapon - there's just no natural synergies with the class. I know charop often focuses on DPR as a trackable number, but a little less damage for a lot more defense on a full caster who probably doesn't want to be hit and have their Concentration spell go away makes loads of sense.
Okay, that's a good analysis. I like it. I guess the point I would still have about that level range is that I'm not sure the AC boost makes up for what I see as the Lore Bard's still superior features. They get a additional spell up to third level from anywhere (haste, hex, fireball, whatever awesome option you want). They get extra skill proficiencies, which are always nice, and they get Cutting Words. Outside of the armor bonuses, the Valor Bard gets martial weapon proficiency (which we both think they are better served overall by not using) and Combat Inspiration. Adding Bardic Inspiration to damage feels completely underwhelming compared to other uses. The ability to add it to your AC is great, but it's only a little better than Lore Bard's Cutting Words, which can effectively do the same thing for you if they are within 60' of you (though they can't do it for more than one person a round). I'll admit that Combat Inspiration is better than I recall (I had somehow forgotten the second option). I still think the Lore Bard package is by far superior in that range. Valor Bard is awesome once they get Battle Magic at 14th level, but I'd rather have a more satisfying road getting there.
 

Mort

Community Supporter
Okay, that's a good analysis. I like it. I guess the point I would still have about that level range is that I'm not sure the AC boost makes up for what I see as the Lore Bard's still superior features. They get a additional spell up to third level from anywhere (haste, hex, fireball, whatever awesome option you want). They get extra skill proficiencies, which are always nice, and they get Cutting Words. Outside of the armor bonuses, the Valor Bard gets martial weapon proficiency (which we both think they are better served overall by not using) and Combat Inspiration. Adding Bardic Inspiration to damage feels completely underwhelming compared to other uses. The ability to add it to your AC is great, but it's only a little better than Lore Bard's Cutting Words, which can effectively do the same thing for you if they are within 60' of you (though they can't do it for more than one person a round). I'll admit that Combat Inspiration is better than I recall (I had somehow forgotten the second option). I still think the Lore Bard package is by far superior in that range. Valor Bard is awesome once they get Battle Magic at 14th level, but I'd rather have a more satisfying road getting there.
I just re-looked at Valor bard (we have a swords bard in my group so haven't looked at valor for a while). And, yeah, combat inspiration is a lot better than I remembered.

1. You can preload it - that's huge for big fights!

2. Every DM I've ever seen gives the total number immediately when they roll to hit (it just saves time). As such, and yes this is contrary to RAW, you're much more likely to turn a hit into a miss (though the range is quite large).

I think I'm going to develop a valor bard and whispers bard team as antagonists for the PCs!
 
Half of his favorites are UA (revised ranger, hinted at by the user of "enclave", stone sorc, tranquility monk, Raven Queen warlock) not to mention artificer (which isn't properly out yet) means most of these choices are for stuff that isn't offical material.

I think this guide can be safely disregarded.
 

Retreater

Adventurer
The monk I DM for is regularly the MVP. Highest AC in the party, lots of attacks. Ki points that refresh on short rests (unlike the paladin's smites). Honestly, the party's cleric is the one who gets the fewest epic moments (partially due to the player's personality).
 

Ashrym

Adventurer
I'm /signing bardic inspiration as a solid ability. It becomes a high reactive bonus that doesn't need concentration in a game where bonuses are restrictive and not common. Using them to prevent a failed save or prevent missing a high impact attack is strong. Or lore bards can just hoard them for cutting words. ;-)

I also prefer valor to swords. The AC is nice and combat inspiration is useful, and extra attack is always nice. Battle magic is awesome, however, and the real draw.

I also continue to use the 1 tier ranking system. The criteria is...
  • Can I make a character that works for me with this class?
  • Can I have fun playing with the character I made with this class?
So far, every class meets my criteria for the top rank in my 1 tier system. ;-)
 

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