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5E Monk vs Warlock: Checking the Baseline

So the recent Monk thread had me wondering about Treantmonk's baseline. First of all, I wanted to check it from a scientific standpoint (peer review is important!). But I also wanted to see for myself how the monk looked when I thought about my own campaigns.

The Numbers are below. Here are the assumptions I used.

1) Monk starts with 16 dex. The warlock starts with Cha 16. Monk is using a quarterstaff.
2) The warlock takes agonizing blast (Cha to damage) at 2nd level.
3) Both the monk and warlock increase their attack stat at level 4. At 8th we will assume the monk bumps wisdom, and the warlock bumps Cha. People commonly say that Monks are MAD have to split their stat bumps to be effective, so we will do that here to see how it fares.
EDIT: Note in my original numbers warlocks had an 18 cha to start. Feedback was this was a poor assumption for a baseline, so the numbers were adjusted to have 16 cha as the starting point.
4) At level 5 I give both classes a magic item (while technically optional, I have never played a table that didn't give characters a basic weapon magic item by 5th level). Warlocks get a +1 rod of the pact keeper (+1 to attacks only). Monk gets a +1 quarterstaff (which does not affect unarmed strikes).
5) I assumed a 65% hit rate when no additional attack bonuses were applied and the stat was 16. This means that applying more attack stat and attack bonuses from magic items increased the to-hit rate beyond 65%.
6) The % Improvement column is for the Monk, so positive numbers is how much more DPR the monk is doing.
7) I look at levels 1-10, because WOTC research shows these are the actual levels that people play at (which also is similar to the levels my table plays at). Therefore, I don't consider any data passed 10th level to be of relevance to the discussion.
8) First table is at base, second table is full power (hex and flurry). Third table is hex but no flurry.

Summary
1) At base (no hex, no flurry), the monk shows superior DPR at all levels, a good amount in fact.
2) With full power (hex and flurry), the monk's DPR is remains superior at all levels.
3) At levels 2-4 (which are common levels for many tables), the monk is almost 50% over the warlock in DPR.
4) At low levels (1-4), a warlock basically has to use hex to keep up with a monk. A monk can ignore flurry and stay close to the baseline. Once at 5th, the monk needs flurry to keep up with hex.
5) The only real debate point then is how often the Monk can flurry vs the Warlock can hex. This comes down to rounds/combat, frequency of short rest, how often concentration is disrupted or warlocks wants to use other concentration spells, etc.
6) Honestly, these numbers seem good enough that I don't think the Monk has trouble "making the baseline". He seems quite capable of putting out equal or superior damage to a warlock.

LevelWarlockMonk%Improvement
1​
3.85​
8.8​
128.57%​
2​
5.8​
8.8​
51.72%​
3​
5.8​
8.8​
51.72%​
4​
6.925​
10.85​
56.68%​
5​
14.8​
20.125​
35.98%​
6​
14.8​
20.125​
35.98%​
7​
14.8​
20.125​
35.98%​
8​
17.35​
20.125​
15.99%​
9​
17.35​
20.125​
15.99%​
10​
17.35​
20.125​
15.99%​
LevelHexFlurry%Improvement
1​
6.3​
8.8​
39.68%​
2​
8.25​
12.5​
51.52%​
3​
8.25​
12.5​
51.52%​
4​
9.55​
15.525​
62.57%​
5​
20.4​
25.55​
25.25%​
6​
20.4​
25.55​
25.25%​
7​
20.4​
25.55​
25.25%​
8​
23.3​
25.55​
9.66%​
9​
23.3​
25.55​
9.66%​
10​
23.3​
25.55​
9.66%​
LevelHexMonk%Improvement
1​
6.3​
8.8​
39.68%​
2​
8.25​
8.8​
6.67%​
3​
8.25​
8.8​
6.67%​
4​
9.55​
10.85​
13.61%​
5​
20.4​
20.125​
-1.35%​
6​
20.4​
20.125​
-1.35%​
7​
20.4​
20.125​
-1.35%​
8​
23.3​
20.125​
-13.63%​
9​
23.3​
20.125​
-13.63%​
10​
23.3​
20.125​
-13.63%​
 
Last edited:

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Worrgrendel

Explorer
1) Monk starts with 16 dex and 16 wisdom (the build noted in Treantmonk's video). The warlock starts with Cha 18. Monk is using a quarterstaff.
How does the Warlock have a starting 18 CHA? Unless you are going off rolled stats (and no guarantee you will get a stat that high) the highest you can get out of the box is a 17 with point buy or the standard array. I guess this only makes the gap further for the monk.

Also, I really feel like you should include Agonizing Blast in these calculations. I'm not saying every Warlock takes it (mine didn't), but it is a substantial boost to Warlock DPR that is available at level 2 for a paltry cost of one invocation which I feel is a cheaper investment than Hex for sustained DPR since no concentration is required.
 

How does the Warlock have a starting 18 CHA?
Also, I really feel like you should include Agonizing Blast in these calculations.
I did 18 cha due to any combos or races I simply wasn't aware of that people would use to "prove" how much better the warlock was.

Agonizing Blast is in fact in the calculation (I should note that). In fact, I had forgotten you didn't get it at 1st, so I will update my numbers.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
How does the Warlock have a starting 18 CHA? Unless you are going off rolled stats (and no guarantee you will get a stat that high) the highest you can get out of the box is a 17 with point buy or the standard array. I guess this only makes the gap further for the monk.
I was going to say the same, although there is one way to start off with an 18 Cha with point buy (Changeling from Eberron: Rising from the Last War). Still, I wouldn't assume it for a baseline calculation.

Also, I really feel like you should include Agonizing Blast in these calculations. I'm not saying every Warlock takes it (mine didn't), but it is a substantial boost to Warlock DPR that is available at level 2 for a paltry cost of one invocation which I feel is a cheaper investment than Hex for sustained DPR since no concentration is required.
There's no way those numbers are being generated without Agonizing Blast. They're too high since they are factoring in hit rate.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
1) Monk starts with 16 dex and 16 wisdom (the build noted in Treantmonk's video). The warlock starts with Cha 18. Monk is using a quarterstaff.
2) Both the monk and warlock increase their attack stat at level 4. At 8th we will assume the monk bumps wisdom, and the warlock does something else as his stat is already a 20.
These seem like unusual assumptions to me. How would the warlock start with 18 Cha? Highest possible with array or point buy is 17. Also, why does the monk increase Wisdom to 18 at 8th level instead of Dexterity to 20?
 

These seem like unusual assumptions to me. How would the warlock start with 18 Cha? Highest possible with array or point buy is 17. Also, why does the monk increase Wisdom to 18 at 8th level instead of Dexterity to 20?
Alright, it looks like 18 cha is considered a poor assumption so I will change it . The reason I went wisdom at 8th was because the Monk thread is constantly talking about whether to put points in wisdom for stunning or dex for damage. I decided to split the difference to see if a Monk that wasn't solely focused on his damage stat was keeping up reasonably well. This helps reduce the concern that the Monk is too MAD of a class.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Alright, it looks like 18 cha is considered a poor assumption so I will change it . The reason I went wisdom at 8th was because the Monk thread is constantly talking about whether to put points in wisdom for stunning or dex for damage. I decided to split the difference to see if a Monk that wasn't solely focused on his damage stat was keeping up reasonably well. This helps reduce the concern that the Monk is too MAD of a class.
Ok, that makes sense to me.
 

ad_hoc

Hero
You're comparing a full caster using cantrips vs a non-caster and just talking about how much damage they deal over extended periods of time.

The comparison is meaningless. Conclusions cannot be drawn from looking at these numbers to see how these classes will actually play and whether they live up to their promised themes.
 

Al2O3

Explorer
You're comparing a full caster using cantrips vs a non-caster and just talking about how much damage they deal over extended periods of time.

The comparison is meaningless. Conclusions cannot be drawn from looking at these numbers to see how these classes will actually play and whether they live up to their promised themes.
It is very useful for checking the recently made argument that monks are way behind on dealing damage over extended periods of time. Warlock is also a good comparison since both they and monk have a clearly limited resource per short rest and obvious ways to convert the resource into damage.

While both classes obviously have strong themes and should be evaluated based on those, this thread is clearly for the discussion of the damage aspect in the context of other discussions.
 

ccs

40th lv DM
It is very useful for checking the recently made argument that monks are way behind on dealing damage over extended periods of time. Warlock is also a good comparison since both they and monk have a clearly limited resource per short rest and obvious ways to convert the resource into damage.
Ok, so the Monk, depending upon what #s & assumptions you plug into your equation, wins the DPR race against the Warlock.
Can't most classes can do that?
 

ad_hoc

Hero
It is very useful for checking the recently made argument that monks are way behind on dealing damage over extended periods of time. Warlock is also a good comparison since both they and monk have a clearly limited resource per short rest and obvious ways to convert the resource into damage.

While both classes obviously have strong themes and should be evaluated based on those, this thread is clearly for the discussion of the damage aspect in the context of other discussions.
And I think that entire discussion is useless.

It's a fools' errand. Nothing to be gained by it.
 

Gammadoodler

Explorer
So the recent Monk thread had me wondering about Treantmonk's baseline. First of all, I wanted to check it from a scientific standpoint (peer review is important!). But I also wanted to see for myself how the monk looked when I thought about my own campaigns.

The Numbers are below. Here are the assumptions I used.

1) Monk starts with 16 dex. The warlock starts with Cha 16. Monk is using a quarterstaff.
2) The warlock takes agonizing blast (Cha to damage) at 2nd level.
3) Both the monk and warlock increase their attack stat at level 4. At 8th we will assume the monk bumps wisdom, and the warlock bumps Cha. People commonly say that Monks are MAD have to split their stat bumps to be effective, so we will do that here to see how it fares.
EDIT: Note in my original numbers warlocks had an 18 cha to start. Feedback was this was a poor assumption for a baseline, so the numbers were adjusted to have 16 cha as the starting point.
4) At level 5 I give both classes a magic item (while technically optional, I have never played a table that didn't give characters a basic weapon magic item by 5th level). Warlocks get a +1 rod of the pact keeper (+1 to attacks only). Monk gets a +1 quarterstaff (which does not affect unarmed strikes).
5) I assumed a 65% hit rate when no additional attack bonuses were applied and the stat was 16. This means that applying more attack stat and attack bonuses from magic items increased the to-hit rate beyond 65%.
6) The % Improvement column is for the Monk, so positive numbers is how much more DPR the monk is doing.
7) I look at levels 1-10, because WOTC research shows these are the actual levels that people play at (which also is similar to the levels my table plays at). Therefore, I don't consider any data passed 10th level to be of relevance to the discussion.
8) First table is at base, second table is full power (hex and flurry). Third table is hex but no flurry.

Summary
1) At base (no hex, no flurry), the monk shows superior DPR at all levels, a good amount in fact.
2) With full power (hex and flurry), the monk's DPR is remains superior at all levels.
3) At levels 2-4 (which are common levels for many tables), the monk is almost 50% over the warlock in DPR.
4) At low levels (1-4), a warlock basically has to use hex to keep up with a monk. A monk can ignore flurry and stay close to the baseline. Once at 5th, the monk needs flurry to keep up with hex.
5) The only real debate point then is how often the Monk can flurry vs the Warlock can hex. This comes down to rounds/combat, frequency of short rest, how often concentration is disrupted or warlocks wants to use other concentration spells, etc.
6) Honestly, these numbers seem good enough that I don't think the Monk has trouble "making the baseline". He seems quite capable of putting out equal or superior damage to a warlock.

LevelWarlockMonk%Improvement
1​
3.85​
8.8​
128.57%​
2​
5.8​
8.8​
51.72%​
3​
5.8​
8.8​
51.72%​
4​
6.925​
10.85​
56.68%​
5​
14.8​
20.125​
35.98%​
6​
14.8​
20.125​
35.98%​
7​
14.8​
20.125​
35.98%​
8​
17.35​
20.125​
15.99%​
9​
17.35​
20.125​
15.99%​
10​
17.35​
20.125​
15.99%​
LevelHexFlurry%Improvement
1​
6.3​
8.8​
39.68%​
2​
8.25​
12.5​
51.52%​
3​
8.25​
12.5​
51.52%​
4​
9.55​
15.525​
62.57%​
5​
20.4​
25.55​
25.25%​
6​
20.4​
25.55​
25.25%​
7​
20.4​
25.55​
25.25%​
8​
23.3​
25.55​
9.66%​
9​
23.3​
25.55​
9.66%​
10​
23.3​
25.55​
9.66%​
LevelHexMonk%Improvement
1​
6.3​
8.8​
39.68%​
2​
8.25​
8.8​
6.67%​
3​
8.25​
8.8​
6.67%​
4​
9.55​
10.85​
13.61%​
5​
20.4​
20.125​
-1.35%​
6​
20.4​
20.125​
-1.35%​
7​
20.4​
20.125​
-1.35%​
8​
23.3​
20.125​
-13.63%​
9​
23.3​
20.125​
-13.63%​
10​
23.3​
20.125​
-13.63%​
In fairness, I don't believe there was any contention that low level monk damage was bad, so much as that it is not the best, and comparatively worse if you pull in feats and magic items.

Also, in this exercise, we've elected to set the cutoff at level 10, which is a pretty key break point since a number of +damage abilities come online between class abilities and cantrip scaling at level 11. So this is where I'd expect to see the damage balance tip away from the monk.
 

Humorously, I think a monk spending ki on flurry of blows is flushing their potential down the toilet, unless they are fishing for a fourth attempt on a stun.
 

jgsugden

Legend
Humorously, I think a monk spending ki on flurry of blows is flushing their potential down the toilet, unless they are fishing for a fourth attempt on a stun.
You have to decide to spend the Ki before you make the unarmed strike, so that is often not a great gambit.

Open handed monk, with their ability to knock prone, push and negate reactions, have plenty of reason to flurry against an enemy rather than save the Ki for a stun. Why stun when you can knock off a cliff, into a pit, into the rea of a damage spell, etc... For exmple, if the enemy attacks right before the monk, a flurry allows you to knock the enemy prone and give all your allies advantage on melee attacks - just as if it was stunned - which can often allow you to bring the enemy down without the stun ever being relevant. In those situations, the potential extra damage from the extra flurry and two shots to prone the enemy is a better bet than one stun attempt.
 

Mistwell

Legend
And I think that entire discussion is useless.

It's a fools' errand. Nothing to be gained by it.
I think it sucks that someone forced you to read and respond to a thread you think is useless like this. You should give whoever did that to you a kung fu punch followed by an eldritch blast! :)
 

Al2O3

Explorer
Ok, so the Monk, depending upon what #s & assumptions you plug into your equation, wins the DPR race against the Warlock.
Can't most classes can do that?
While I didn't follow the "Monks suck" thread closely, it did seem to claim that monks were way behind warlocks in terms of DPR. This thread seems to be all about checking that (apparent) claim.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
@Stalker0

My calculations actually show Warlocks have a slight edge over Monks, but there are so many factors involved (short rests, number of rounds in a battle, how frequent the battles are, use of ki for non-flurry of blows, use of slots for other than hex or if concentration is broken, etc.).

IMO the difference is so slight that by bumping up the monk's martial arts damage die one stage they are nearly identical.

So, while I don't think monks are ahead in DPR as your calculations show, they certainly aren't far behind warlocks as others think. shrug
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
I don't think Tier 1-2 damage between Warlocks and Monks is really the problem. (And I agree that the calculations show Monks keep up just fine.) The "problem" with Monks compared to Warlocks is that they don't have a comparable bump in power to the 3rd and 4th beam of Eldritch Blast at levels 11 and 17.

The other problem with Monk relative to other Martial classes is that they don't have an obvious path to leverage the two power feats for damage, GWM and SS, and that their features have no synergies to make those kind of attacks better.
 

jgsugden

Legend
There are countless threads out there that check the DPR of the different options at different levels under different assumptions. In the end, there are a few heavy hitters that deal more damage and a lot of lighter hitters that deal less, but have more tricks up their sleeves to make up for it. The balance of all the classes - even the much maligned ranger - is fine.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
Warlocks at level 2 get 2 hour-long Hex's. They refresh these Hex's on a short rest, which takes an hour.

For a Warlock not to have Hex up, it requires they lose concentration, feel they have better uses for concentration/spell slots, or have a multiple-hour period with no rests and lots of combat.

By level 5, the Warlock's hex lasts 8 hours. They can wake up an hour early, cast Hex on a frog, kill the frog, then take an hour rest to get the slot back.

Hex at that point only costs concentration. If you have a 6+ hour day with no short rests they start having to spend actual slots on it.

Again, Hex is baseline.

---

I like using a fixed AC as my baseline. Both 16 and 18 AC are reasonable to me.

65% means hitting on an 8, which or an AC of 13-15 over that range, which is really low to me. That will value accuracy really low.

Level 8 monk with 18 dex and a +1 staff:
+4 (prof)+4(dex) = +8 to hit fists for 1d6+4 (x1)
+9 with staff for 1d8+5 (x2)

On 18 AC, 55% hit chance with fists and 60 % with staff.

2Staff+1Fist is then 16.15 damage. Each Ki is +4.3 damage, and has 8 Ki for 34.4 damage over a short rest.

Level 8 Warlock with 20 cha and +1 rod and hex
+10 to hit for 1d10+1d6+5 x2 (28)
65% hit chance (18.2) 5% crit (0.45) is 18.65 damage per round.

And has 2 4th level spell slots per short rest, which I think most people will accept is worth more than 34.4 damage.

So the Monk is 13.5% under the Warlock by level 8.

And while you chose to ignore it, at level 11 just round the corner the Warlock is getting +50% damage output, while the Monk's level 11 subclass features are nowhere near that strong.

---

TL;DR Hex isn't an "all out" option for a 2nd level warlock, let alone a 5th level warlock.

Your AC assumption was low, which means that the improved accuracy of the warlock wasn't all that valuable. At level 1, you assumed foes have 13 AC, which is almost the floor of ACs you'll run into. Even your level 10 model is assumed to be only fighting AC 15 enemies.

Starting at level 5 and increasing at level 8, the Warlock gets an increasing edge against higher AC foes compared to your Monk model.
 

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