D&D 5E Fivethirtyeight Article About D&D Race and Class Combos

Of the four most popular classes, three are noncasters (meaning they don't have spellcasting as part of the base class, though they might have a caster subclass). Considering there are only four noncaster classes in the game, that's pretty substantial.
They're also the three classes that even have an option of not using magic, at all (Monk has one non-caster sub-class, but it's still using magic, as Ki is explicitly magical in 5e). I guess a further test would be sub-class: Are there a lot of Totem Barbarians, EKs, & ATs, or a lot of Champions, Berserkers, and Assassins?

I'm surprised to see Druid so underplayed. Too weak due to design-level over-reaction to CoDzilla in 3e, maybe?
That was the 4e Druid ("XOMG! That Druid! Let's cut it up into three pieces, so that no one Druid PC gets more than one Cool Thing to do, yeah, that'll learn 'em!"). The pendulum's swung back the other way.
No, it's just never been a popular concept. Too 'tree hugger,' maybe, or too obscure?

I mean, I didn't start playing Druids because I saw it and went "awesome! a class for the ancient-Celtic priest/judge/seer history knows next to nothing about!" No, I read "the Druid is what the ancient Celtic Druids might have become had they survived..." in the PH, got curious, and that grew into a fascination with Cletic mythology. It also turned out to be a pretty amazing class in 1e, in certain ways - some of which are (finally) back in 5e.

Long-term data from our own 1e games shows closer to a 40-25-15-15-5 split Fighter-Cleric-Thief-MU-Other.
Lanefan
Clerics were more obligatory in 1e, and armor a more decided advantage. Could have had something to do with the Cleric ranking.
 
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kenmarable

Adventurer
This sort of thing always catches my interest...but what I'd really like to know is how much of that data is tainted by multiclassing. Anyone know if there's a version of this data that either strips out multiclass characters or gives a % of each total that comes from multis?

Not sure if someone else mentioned this, but at a rough estimate (if my off the top of my head math is right), there is about a 9% increase in the numbers due to multiclassing. There's about 109,000 per 100,000 characters. So at least [-]81[/-] 91% of characters are not multiclass.

(If there are only 2 class multiclassers, than it's [-]81[/-] 91/9, but with multiclassers with 3+ classes, it shifts even more. However, I'd imagine - completely anecdotally - that 3 classes are less common, and 4+ are very rare.)

The other thing to note - many of the totals are wrong and are off slightly. So these numbers are quite likely rounded (although some are off by 2 which makes less sense of rounding??). So when they say "per 100,000" that does seem accurate and there are likely at least an order of magnitude more PCs in the data and then rounded off here.

Edited: Fixing a brain fart caught by Dausuul. Thanks! *facepalm* Is it the weekend yet? ;)
 
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Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
Worth mentioning:
that graph said:
Among races available for free. Characters with multiple classes count once for each class.

I wonder how many of those human fighters were made just so that people could use them to argue about GWM/SS/PM :p
Partially a jab, but look at that insanely lop-sided the race distribution when compared to every other combination, and remember that variant humans get a feat at level one, which makes them ideal for both low level feat testing and circumventing the main penalty when multi-classing (which is not getting ASI on time)

More interestingly:

The Cleric has been knocked out of the "core 4".

Aasimar are the rarest of all characters, even more rare than birdmen. Though it doesn't specify if this is the DMG's or the Volo's Guide's take of the race.
 
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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
The second is that I tried to explain that there are those of us who really, genuinely, enjoy having the simple martial character. I use it both for the games I run for kids to introduce them to D&D (simplicity to learn) and the grognard campaigns (because they prefer gameplay to fiddly bits). I think that there are many people that enjoy a simple martial option. That doesn't mean that the Fighter is the best class ever, or the best design of a martial class. But it definitely appeals to people not in spite of, but because of the simplicity. Personally, I prefer the monk when I get to play because it is (very slightly) more complex.

You can add me to the camp that likes simple fighters. I always play Champions and turn my nose up at those other subclasses. Having said that, warlord was my favorite class in D&D 4e. So something is clearly wrong with me.
 

Broadly, probably not very different, given that this mostly matches with WotC previous shared findings.

But time shall tell.


That is true. I am mostly curious about changes in the lesser-used races and classes after XGtE comes out. If aasimar sorcerers go up after the divine soul gets on Beyond and tiefling paladins go up after the conquest paladin gets on Beyond and that sort of thing. One thing that did catch my eye was genasi monk, especially given how much disdain (much of it justified in my opinion) that the elemental monk gets on the forums (assuming that most genasi monks are elemental). If they decide to go deeper into racial feats, genasi feats that have good synergy with the monk seem appropriate.
 


Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
A few observations stand out for me:

1. I'm really impressed with the number of halforc bards and sorcerers. The clearly unoptimized builds for a low-popularity phb race are substantial (the numbers aren't that much lower than the halforc rangers, which is a completely viable build). Cynically, we could say that even they're not being played, that gives a good benchmark of the #s that may be experimenting with builds, or trying to bend the system. But I am heartened by the dwarf wizards and halforc bards.

2. Compare that with the goliath barbarian -- the best represented barbarian race (38% of barbs made, with a non-php race). That's huge, and suggests that a substantial number of users are looking for straightforward optimization.

3. Genasi are popular and spread almost equally across classes. That reflects something of their design -- the apparent equality comes (I'll bet) because players can choose which of four main stats to add a point (though, to be fair, the charisma-classes are not underrepresented in this distribution; a fact that I find encouraging).

4. I'm surprised how well Tieflings do, until I see that over a quarter of them are warlocks (and they are almost a quarter of all warlocks), which skews the numbers.

5. Half of all clerics are humans or dwarves. The only similar clustering among two races is with fighters (also human and dwarf) and wizards (human and elf)

6. Low- or no-spellcasting classes (fighter, barb, rogue) represent 34% of all characters made (less with multiclassing). That's substantial.
 

kenmarable

Adventurer
Guess my next character will be an Aasimar Druid.

But, yes, I imagine that this result is because humans are the most powerful race and fighter is the most powerful class, at least at lower levels before options really start opening up for the others.

Unfortunately, there's really no telling why. Given my experience with all the gamers I know, I would presume it's because humans are more "normal" and fits their concept and has zero to do with how powerful they are.

In face-to-face gaming, I have met 1 maybe 2 gamers who made decisions based on what's powerful. Even the level-dippers were just going for a way to mechanically express a prior concept they had for a character. Nothing wrong with picking what you want for any reason at all, of course! I just wouldn't presume one or the other (or a third or a combination or...) is the norm across all players.

There are all sorts of different reasons why certain options will be more popular, and if I had to bet, I'd say there is no ONE reason why. It's likely humans and fighters have more than one reason going for them and it's the alignment of reasons that causes them to rise.

i.e.
Those interested in more power numbers-wise might gravitate towards options A, C, D, and G.
Those who are interested in ease of use might go towards B, C, and F.
Those who like characters similar to ones in books, movies, games, etc. might tend towards A, C, and F.
(etc. for other reasons we could imagine)

So C might really stand out, with A & F in second, and E almost ignored. When people ask why so many like C but not E, all three reasons are, in some way, correct but also miss the points the others make.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
That was the 4e Druid ("XOMG! That Druid! Let's cut it up into three pieces, so that no one Druid PC gets more than one Cool Thing to do, yeah, that'll learn 'em!"). The pendulum's swung back the other way.
No, it's just never been a popular concept. Too 'tree hugger,' maybe, or too obscure?
I imagine it's more implementation, at least for 5e. Druid gets Wild Shape, spellcasting, and not much else. Wildshape is powerful, but can be confusing. It has poor multiclass synergy with almost everything, and has virtually zero potential as a dip class. It only has two subclasses, and they're both pretty boring. (Imagine if they had expanded Land into 6 or 7 regional circles instead, with bonus spells and wildshape bonuses into specific beasts.)

Contrast with WoW, where the druid has a deserved reputation as a powerful, flexible class, and is the 2nd most played class. (I reference WoW primarily because I'm extremely familiar with it, and it provides an enormous data set for contemporary but classic fantasy tropes.)
 

Who would have thought that Halflings were so unpopular? People like them for Rogues but little else. The reason why is unclear, but maybe people just don't like playing small guys as the Gnome is also quite low down.

Half Elves, as an uncommon race, are so popular is because their design is overpowered (+2 Cha, +1 to two other Abilities, extra skill, language, elf-ey abilities, etc). Personally, I prefer players not to choose Half Elves unless they have a very good back-story - otherwise I think they are powergaming. They obviously seem an iconic fit for Bards, but when people are preferring their use for Paladins, Warlocks, Sorcerers, etc, I think they could have pruned out some of the inherit bonuses all Half Elves get and toned it down some.

The Race/Class combo I would highlight as underpowered is the Dragonborn Sorcerer - which seems to have initially been built up as an iconic combination (in the art, and the Dragon-blooded archetype) but just doesn't mesh that well as a combo.

I can understand the appeal of Humans, but most people I know prefer the Human Variant option which counts out the '+1 on all Abilitiies' argument. I think that Humans are just the easiest to relate to for most players, with the various other races often ending up as stereotypes in play.

Fighters are also the most basic class, if people choose Champions especially, so again this may be the appeal. Honestly though, my experience has more and more players opting for more exotic choices - Paladins rather than Fighters, etc. However, the broad picture may be different.

I note that Dwarf Clerics are now more popular than Dwarf Fighters. This reflects that the combo is that potent, and will probably become even more so with the Forge Clerics about to emerge.
 
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Oofta

Legend
You can add me to the camp that likes simple fighters. I always play Champions and turn my nose up at those other subclasses. Having said that, warlord was my favorite class in D&D 4e. So something is clearly wrong with me.

The good news is that it's not just because you like warlords. Ummm ... wait ... that didn't come out right. :-S

But I agree on the simple fighter bit. It was one of my biggest gripes about 4E - that until 4.5 there was no "simple" fighter. Sometimes I just want to sit, roll some dice and make fun of enjoy the company of my friends.
 


Oofta

Legend
It will be interesting to see what the numbers are six months or a year from now. I know when I first created a character I started with something simple just to get the hang of the interface and to see what the character sheet looked like. While my next character may be a champion fighter (or a gnomish dual-rapier wielding paladin Sir Stabs-a-Lot), they were also the first one I built because I had fewer choices as I leveled them up to 20.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
The good news is that it's not just because you like warlords. Ummm ... wait ... that didn't come out right. :-S

But I agree on the simple fighter bit. It was one of my biggest gripes about 4E - that until 4.5 there was no "simple" fighter. Sometimes I just want to sit, roll some dice and make fun of enjoy the company of my friends.

I think it's back to expectations. I wanted and expected my D&D 4e to be complex. I want and expect my D&D 5e to be simpler. I can play either depending on my mood. I don't need them to mix to be happy.
 

Dausuul

Legend
Not sure if someone else mentioned this, but at a rough estimate (if my off the top of my head math is right), there is about a 9% increase in the numbers due to multiclassing. There's about 109,000 per 100,000 characters. So at least 81% of characters are not multiclass.
That would be 91%, not 81%. Otherwise your math is correct.
 

JesterOC

Explorer
Human fighters are the go to beginning character. It feels that we are getting more and more new players. That can account for the uneven distribution.
 

I imagine it's more implementation, at least for 5e.
I always got the impression that the Druid was very unpopular in 1e - it was one of the last classes I tried out, myself, and the only thing in the PH I never played at all was the Monk - and the implementation is back closer to the 1e version than ever. Lovely for me, maybe not so much for everyone else.

There's certainly room for more Circles, though.

Who would have thought that Halflings were so unpopular? People like them for Rogues but little else. The reason why is unclear, but maybe people just don't like playing small guys as the Gnome is also quite low down.
Again, seems to be perenial dislike. The Gnome was the least popular race for a long time - why it was initially dropped from 4e.

The Race/Class combo I would highlight as underpowered is the Dragonborn Sorcerer - which seems to have initially been built up as an iconic combination
The Sorcerer in 4e had a 'Dragon Sorcerer' build that was very effective with the Dragonborn race (intuitive, too, I suppose). The 4e Dragonborn was also all over the Paladin class both in stat synergy and flavor text, the race being all honorable and worshipping Bahamut, strongly associeated with pallies in that ed.

I can understand the appeal of Humans, ...I think that Humans are just the easiest to relate to for most players, with the various other races often ending up as stereotypes in play.
I agree that's key, yes...

Fighters are also the most basic class, if people choose Champions especially, so again this may be the appeal.
They're also the most relatable class, just as human is the most relatable race.
But, yes, sub-class data would be interesting to see. If it's more about simplicity, the Champion will trounce the BM & EK who will be about equal. If it's more about relatability, the Champion should still come out well ahead, but the BM should trounce the EK.
 

jgsugden

Legend
Faulty data - I made dozens of sample characters just to test out the technology. Just because I made a character does not mean I am playing it.

For those that want to see them in order from most common to least common combination:

[sblock=List]
# Race Class
4,888 Human Fighter
3,076 Elf Ranger
2,744 Elf Wizard
2,568 Human Wizard
2,542 Human Rogue
2,339 Human Cleric
2,326 Human Paladin
2,257 Elf Rogue
2,199 Dwarf Cleric
2,188 Tiefling Warlock
2,009 Dwarf Fighter
1,946 Human Monk
1,808 Half-Elf Bard
1,797 Halfling Rogue
1,779 Elf Druid
1,729 Goliath Barbarian
1,715 Human Ranger
1,714 Human Warlock
1,709 Half-Orc Barbarian
1,688 Dragonborn Paladin
1,454 Human Bard
1,435 Human Barbarian
1,401 Half-Elf Warlock
1,360 Gnome Wizard
1,349 Elf Monk
1,335 Dragonborn Fighter
1,325 Half-Elf Rogue
1,324 Human Sorcerer
1,323 Dwarf Barbarian
1,258 Half-Elf Sorcerer
1,242 Elf Fighter
1,062 Tiefling Sorcerer
1,031 Dragonborn Sorcerer
996 Human Druid
976 Half-Orc Fighter
971 Dwarf Paladin
921 Elf Cleric
891 Half-Elf Ranger
875 Dragonborn Barbarian
865 Goliath Fighter
841 Elf Sorcerer
835 Aarakocra Monk
817 Half-Elf Paladin
806 Tiefling Bard
801 Halfling Bard
798 Tiefling Rogue
755 Elf Warlock
750 Genasi Monk
651 Elf Bard
648 Genasi Sorcerer
646 Half-Elf Fighter
628 Half-Elf Cleric
611 Half-Elf Wizard
600 Gnome Rogue
584 Dragonborn Warlock
584 Genasi Druid
580 Genasi Fighter
572 Aarakocra Ranger
558 Genasi Wizard
551 Halfling Monk
516 Tiefling Wizard
516 Half-Elf Druid
510 Dragonborn Cleric
495 Genasi Rogue
492 Elf Paladin
484 Dwarf Druid
473 Tiefling Paladin
459 Genasi Cleric
457 Dragonborn Monk
440 Halfling Ranger
429 Aasimar Paladin
427 Half-Orc Paladin
420 Genasi Ranger
415 Dwarf Ranger
415 Genasi Warlock
405 Dwarf Monk
400 Gnome Bard
399 Half-Elf Monk
395 Dwarf Wizard
394 Dwarf Bard
389 Goliath Paladin
388 Genasi Barbarian
379 Tiefling Fighter
371 Dragonborn Bard
362 Dwarf Rogue
362 Aarakocra Rogue
355 Dragonborn Ranger
353 Tiefling Cleric
352 Genasi Bard
346 Dragonborn Wizard
339 Halfling Fighter
336 Elf Barbarian
332 Gnome Druid
326 Goliath Monk
325 Dragonborn Rogue
322 Genasi Paladin
313 Aarakocra Barbarian
311 Gnome Warlock
310 Halfling Sorcerer
309 Tiefling Monk
309 Dragonborn Druid
308 Halfling Cleric
306 Halfling Barbarian
304 Gnome Cleric
302 Halfling Druid
296 Halfling Warlock
286 Dwarf Warlock
284 Half-Orc Monk
281 Tiefling Druid
279 Aarakocra Bard
275 Aarakocra Druid
274 Aasimar Cleric
273 Aarakocra Fighter
272 Half-Orc Cleric
272 Tiefling Ranger
264 Dwarf Sorcerer
257 Gnome Fighter
257 Halfling Wizard
257 Gnome Sorcerer
249 Aarakocra Cleric
245 Half-Orc Ranger
238 Gnome Ranger
233 Half-Orc Rogue
227 Gnome Barbarian
215 Half-Orc Druid
212 Half-Orc Warlock
210 Aasimar Warlock
207 Halfling Paladin
203 Aarakocra Warlock
199 Half-Orc Bard
198 Tiefling Barbarian
196 Gnome Monk
192 Goliath Cleric
190 Goliath Druid
187 Goliath Ranger
181 Aarakocra Wizard
177 Aarakocra Sorcerer
174 Aasimar Sorcerer
153 Half-Elf Barbarian
151 Gnome Paladin
149 Aarakocra Paladin
144 Goliath Bard
144 Aasimar Bard
143 Half-Orc Wizard
139 Goliath Rogue
136 Goliath Warlock
126 Half-Orc Sorcerer
116 Aasimar Fighter
114 Goliath Sorcerer
109 Goliath Wizard
87 Aasimar Monk
71 Aasimar Rogue
70 Aasimar Barbarian
67 Aasimar Wizard
65 Aasimar Druid
60 Aasimar Ranger[/sblock]
 
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The unpopularity of the sorcerer is surprising to me, but the druid, bard, and monk have long been the most niche classes, with their appeal only for players who have a fairly specific character concept in mind.

Overall, I'm doubtful that any of these results is a strong indicator about a race or class' mechanical implementation. Echoing what [MENTION=6799753]lowkey13[/MENTION] said early on in the thread, in my experience the majority of players care far less about those kinds of details than we obsessives here at EN World do. The only question is how many of that majority of players are likely to use D&D Beyond.
 

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