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D&D 5E Is the imbalance between classes in 5e accidental or by design?

Which of these do you believe is closer to the truth?

  • Any imbalance between the classes is accidental

    Votes: 65 57.0%
  • Any imbalance between the classes is on purpose

    Votes: 49 43.0%

  • Poll closed .

Oofta

Legend
Star Craft is repeatedly held up as a great example of asymmetrical balance. Like, this is something all over the internet. "They get pretty close" is exactly what I'm talking about.

Because you keep raising this strawman of perfection. That it must be perfect balance, utterly unassailable under any context no matter how bizarre. That is false, and always has been.

It's not a matter of disliking the argument. It's a matter of you saying that balance demands perfection when it doesn't and never has.
A quick google search reveals that it's not quite a clean cut as all that. The species are different with unique strengths and weaknesses. Some are more difficult to play effectively than others and in order to win a competition you need to have the correct strategy for the chosen species.

Kind of like how D&D classes are different and have unique strengths and weaknesses. Unlike Starcraft of course, D&D is a team game and not a competition so it's also comparing apples to oranges.
 

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Alzrius

The EN World kitten
I was not attempting to demonstrate HOW to balance D&D. Yes, it is a different thing, working by different rules. I was demonstrating that balance is not impossible in the generic, which was the argument presented.

You can either assert--hopefully, with more than just the bald assertion--that TTRPGs or D&D specifically are somehow special, and thus it's irrelevant that other kinds of games can be balanced, or you can assert that I'm simply wrong and that my example fails to actually refute the impossibility of game design balance.

But to respond to an argument about whether it is possible to make game balance at all with "well that doesn't help us figure out how to do it with D&D!" is a non sequitur at best.
Well, as I've pointed out previously, I haven't read over the entire thread. If a point was put forward that there's no way to balance any game at all, in any medium, in any regard, ever...then I'm not sure I agree with that. Checkers certainly looks balanced to me, for instance, though I suppose as the game goes on it becomes less balanced for one side versus the other?

But that seems like a fairly pointless debate to have; I'd say stick to balance in D&D, since the OP for this thread is about class design in 5E. If you want to try and figure out whether or not it's possible to (perfectly) balance a game, any game, at all, you're probably better off starting a new thread.
 
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Oofta

Legend
Well, as I've pointed out previously, I haven't read over the entire thread. If a point was put forward that there's no way to balance any game at all, ever, in any regard, in any medium...then I'm not sure I agree with that. Checkers certainly looks balanced to me, for instance, though I suppose as the game goes on it becomes less balanced for one side versus the other?

But that seems like a fairly pointless debate to have; I'd say stick to balance in D&D, since the OP for this thread is about class design in 5E. If you want to try and figure out whether or not it's possible to (perfectly) balance a game, any game, at all, you're probably better off starting a new thread.

I don't think it's possible to perfectly balance a TTRPG like D&D. With video games the devs can constantly patch and fix as often as they want and they have very tight control over the actual gameplay. In addition, most video games balance along the lines of PvP issues not balancing units that are working together on the same team.

I think if there is an imbalance* it's inevitable. There are just too many variables. But like you said, that's a different thread, this one is just yet another instance of the Wizards Rule Fighters Drool argument.

*Depending on how people interpret the word, it's not like there is one true way.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
Eeeh... I feel like those facts are used too easily to excuse bad design. The DM shouldn't have to do home work to make sure the game doesn't fall apart, especially as there is barely no guidance on magic items attribution in the DMG. If the game came out 'Hey, all your non-casters should have a magical weapon by level X' I would probably be more forgiving of this attitude. It's one thing to give tools, it's another to properly train them to use it, ya know?
That is the wrong conclusion.

I can make a fighter that makes an unoptimized wizard unfairy weak.

The tools DMs have iis for the general problem. A structural imbalance in optimization is within their scope.

And perfect balance is hard and not worth the cost. So you need to provide those tools.

The baseline "random" build is, in a sense, more important to balance.
 

Undrave

Legend
So: Yes. I 100% believe that this was "designed intentionally," but I do not believe that "intentionally" there means "we explicitly want wizards to be the best class in the game." I think that what it actually means is powering up individual spells without heed for how that powers up magic generally. That it means underestimating the power gap in past editions, and thus barely shifting casters down or non-casters up. That it reflects (long-standing) unwarranted skepticism of "always-on" power, and (likewise long-standing) unwarranted permissiveness with power gated by daily resources. That it comes from not understanding the math/stats behind features (e.g. Champion's crit range bonus is horribly weak.)

As a result, I was forced to vote "any imbalance between the classes is on purpose," even though I DON'T believe it was conscious purpose. Instead, I believe that their explicit and genuine intent was NOT to make unbalanced classes, but their subconscious impulses pushed them continuously away from balance in a way that favored spellcasters over non-spellcasters.

Which brings me to something I said I would cover later: wizards as the "specialist in magic" (or, rather, specialist in spellcasting.) Only Land druids can match wizards for daily spells cast. This results in de-flavoring the wizard (it gets essentially zero features to support its bookish, academia-driven, "ivory tower researcher" theme) while at the same time empowering it, which is the worst of both worlds. Spellcasting has always been very powerful. 5e very, very slightly blunted that power, without meaningfully addressing the real issue, which is that non-spellcasting characters are simply not capable of affecting the world on the same level as spellcasting characters, especially full casters.
thank you for this well thought out post! I think I can see your point. And I totally agree that the Wizard is bland AF. It's pretty annoying how boring it is yet so powerful.
 

Undrave

Legend
Because it gets close. Close does not equate to balanced.

Perfection is what balance means. Go to a business where weight matters and see if it's okay that the scales just be close in weight, or whether balanced means exactly the same weight on both sides. Hint: it's exact.

Once we understand that balance is a pipe dream, we can discuss how much imbalance is acceptable.

It doesn't become a Strawman unless I am explicitly altering a specific person's arguments. Making an argument that disagrees with what you believe doesn't make my argument a Strawman. It makes it a dissenting opinion. I disagree with the position that balance = not balanced, which is what "That it must be perfect balance, utterly unassailable under any context no matter how bizarre" means. You are arguing that something that is not balanced still qualifies as balanced.

Balance = perfect balance. Period. It cannot mean anything else and still meet the definition of balanced.
There's no such thing as a perfect game, even Chess has a first player advantage.

Balance in a boardgame isn't a point, it's a range, a ballpark. And I happen to find the 5e ballpark too big.
 

Undrave

Legend
It's an alternate rule from the DMG, which I already pointed out here.
If the alternate rules work better than the baseline, why aren't they the baseline? Switching rules is just admittng the basic ones don't work.
That is the wrong conclusion.

I can make a fighter that makes an unoptimized wizard unfairy weak.

The tools DMs have iis for the general problem. A structural imbalance in optimization is within their scope.

And perfect balance is hard and not worth the cost. So you need to provide those tools.

The baseline "random" build is, in a sense, more important to balance.
I'm not sure I follow? that doesn't adress my issue with the lack of guidelines on how to distribute magic items. The game basically lies by saying you don't really need them, but then the game is littered with monsters who resist non-magical damage.
 

ECMO3

Hero
If I consider that a class has less abilities to impact the game than another, I don’t know why I wouldn’t call it negative? I’m not like ECMO3, I don’t think having a class superior to others in a class-based game is a good design or, somehow, fun.
5E is very, very fun IMO and it is by far the most popular version of the game inbalance and all.

I think having wizards as the most powerful class is fun, and such a design clearly does not hurt popularity and anecdotally that would indicate it is "fun" for many, many people. Certainly many celebs claim it is fun.

I do not think it would be as fun if wizards were nerfed like they were in 1E. That kind of imbalance would be less fun, although to be fair I did play 1E and I did like it. No one liked playing Wizards, Rogues or clerics though unless they were multiclassed non-humans.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
There's no such thing as a perfect game, even Chess has a first player advantage.

Balance in a boardgame isn't a point, it's a range, a ballpark. And I happen to find the 5e ballpark too big.
Exactly, it's not balance. It's "What level of imbalance do I prefer?" 5e's level of imbalance is too large. For me it's not really large enough. I find 5e balance too confining, but not confining enough to seriously impact my enjoyment of it, so I continue to play.
 

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