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5E [Poll] Are any of the base classes too weak?

Which of the classes are too weak / too underpowered?


  • Total voters
    131

Frozenstep

Explorer
and this is the champion who didn't do anything to help mitigate damage other than SnB + def style at 10.

If we're going to throw in a class feature to the fighter side, might we throw in one from the barbarian side? I mean, obviously everyone knows about bear totem at 3, but the temp hp that can come every turn from battlerager/storm herald are deceptively useful (even if they're not attached to amazing subclasses) at reducing damage taken throughout a combat. Ancestral Guardian can use spirit shield on themselves (crawford). All these features are also useful against critical hits.

Also let's not forget Relentless rage. Being able to stay up 1-4 hits longer then expected every short rest goes a long way when all the hits you're taking are big ones. Even if it just means the enemy doesn't down you on the first hit and then cause you to fail 4 death saving throws with their other 2 attacks.
 

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If we're going to throw in a class feature to the fighter side, might we throw in one from the barbarian side? I mean, obviously everyone knows about bear totem at 3, but the temp hp that can come every turn from battlerager/storm herald are deceptively useful (even if they're not attached to amazing subclasses) at reducing damage taken throughout a combat. Ancestral Guardian can use spirit shield on themselves (crawford). All these features are also useful against critical hits.

Also let's not forget Relentless rage. Being able to stay up 1-4 hits longer then expected every short rest goes a long way when all the hits you're taking are big ones. Even if it just means the enemy doesn't down you on the first hit and then cause you to fail 4 death saving throws with their other 2 attacks.
AG barbs are great. probably the best of the whole bunch I was using the totem because it's the one that is always quoted as the best at soaking up damage. AG works well with the base class and addresses a lot of the issues i have with it the same way the XGE rangers addressed problems for the rangers for some.

battlerager is pretty solid, just boring. it does something i thing the class should have done from the start by having a small pool of THP refresh every turn/round.

relentless rage is an odd one to gauge. when tables get to that point I've never seen them not heal the barb just because they may not go down.(excluding grave clerics). could see it working very well with zealot.
as far as giving it a value it could add ~1 round of survival for the barb past lv 11? maybe 2 depending on if we are looking at few hard hitting attacks vs lots of smaller ones.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
the barb is better, but not by any large amount. for most of each comparison the barb doesn't last much longer before going down. which is sad for a class propose built to take a lot of damage before going down vs a fighter subclass for players who don't want too many options to pick from round to round.

By your anydice script (fixed for proper half damage)

Damage Taken per Attack
1581137097973.png


It looks to me like on average that's 2/3 damage - that is barbarians take 2/3 the damage a fighter would take from similar attacks. That's significant. It's a large amount.
 

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By your anydice script (fixed for proper half damage)

Damage Taken per Attack
View attachment 118197

It looks to me like on average that's 2/3 damage - that is barbarians take 2/3 the damage a fighter would take from similar attacks. That's significant. It's a large amount.
So the totem barb can take 1/3 more damage than a champion as long as they never take damage while not raging, never use reckless attack and no feats.
I don't believe it's enough.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
So the totem barb can take 1/3 more damage than a champion as long as they never take damage while not raging, never use reckless attack and no feats.
I don't believe it's enough.

1. It's not 1/3 more damage than the champion. The totem barb can take 1/2 (50%) more damage than a champion as long as they never take damage while not raging. You are calculating your value incorrectly.

2. I've already explained the proper use of reckless attack for a defensive barbarian in party play. All your defense means nothing if you aren't being attacked. Reckless attack should be used for the times enemies aren't attacking you.

3. Let's have a fair comparison for the rest of the abilities allowing damage taking
  • Damage taken before raging (Barbarian) vs lack of non-attack defenses (Fighter)
  • Advantage on most dex saves (Barbarian) vs extra ASI's/Feats (Fighter)
  • Higher base hp (Barbarian) vs Second Wind (Fighter)
Worst case these roughly equal out over the course of the campaign.

4. Keep in mind I've chosen to have the defensive barbarian not use a shield for this comparison. With the shield the barbarian only has 1 less AC than the fighter. In fact, let's go back to anydice and look at a barbarian with a shield.

Barbarian with a shield
1581180643392.png


Overall he's taking about 56% of the damage of the fighter. That means he can take 79% more damage than the fighter.

Do you still not believe this is enough?
 

1. It's not 1/3 more damage than the champion. The totem barb can take 1/2 (50%) more damage than a champion as long as they never take damage while not raging. You are calculating your value incorrectly.

2. I've already explained the proper use of reckless attack for a defensive barbarian in party play. All your defense means nothing if you aren't being attacked. Reckless attack should be used for the times enemies aren't attacking you.

3. Let's have a fair comparison for the rest of the abilities allowing damage taking
  • Damage taken before raging (Barbarian) vs lack of non-attack defenses (Fighter)
  • Advantage on most dex saves (Barbarian) vs extra ASI's/Feats (Fighter)
  • Higher base hp (Barbarian) vs Second Wind (Fighter)
Worst case these roughly equal out over the course of the campaign.

4. Keep in mind I've chosen to have the defensive barbarian not use a shield for this comparison. With the shield the barbarian only has 1 less AC than the fighter. In fact, let's go back to anydice and look at a barbarian with a shield.

Barbarian with a shield
View attachment 118211

Overall he's taking about 56% of the damage of the fighter. That means he can take 79% more damage than the fighter.

Do you still not believe this is enough?
No I don't believe so. I believe the barb should be able to take roughly double what they can now by level 20 if that is going to be their core defense mechanism.
The fact that in any scenario the champion fighter who spends little to no opportunity cost could ever be considered as tough as the barb is a problem in my opinion.
All it would take is one or two encounter more than the barb has rages or the rage ending early for whatever reason to set them back.
 

Frozenstep

Explorer
No I don't believe so. I believe the barb should be able to take roughly double what they can now by level 20 if that is going to be their core defense mechanism.
The fact that in any scenario the champion fighter who spends little to no opportunity cost could ever be considered as tough as the barb is a problem in my opinion.
All it would take is one or two encounter more than the barb has rages or the rage ending early for whatever reason to set them back.

A barbarian should be twice as tanky as the second highest health class wearing the heaviest armor and using the most defensive weapon choice possible with a class feature for further defense?

You gotta realize there is some serious opportunity cost here that's happening, and it's also only one way to look at tankiness. How many enemy attacks you can endure throughout a day is one thing, but staying up through spikes of damage (crits. Always crits) is extremely meaningful so you don't put your party in difficult positions.

Speaking of looking at tankiness another way, you're really focused on AC, but a barbarian's defense still works the same where AC struggles (taking attacks at advantage, for example). How much that situation comes up is going to depend on what you fight, but having a defense that's more widely applicable is a serious boon.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
The level 5 model assumed 3 encounters, with short rests between them. Usong DMG guidelines, it should be 6-8 encounters with 3 rests (1 of them long).

That halves the ROI of rage. Well not quite, as the barbarian uses rage on the tougher encounters.

At higher levels, barb rages approach ecery encounter.

Ignoring action surge is a bit unfair. At least give the fighter a dodge round!

Also, by level 6, defensive fighters can match barbarian HP; on top of the fact they don't need dex, their extra ASI at 6 is +2 con or a +2 HP/level feat.

An EK spamming shield / absorb elements is a fair comparison with a Totem bear barb spamming rage.

We should assume enchanted armor and shields and defensive style; AC returns are hyperbolic. The unshielded barb gets +1-3 AC to the fighter's +3 to +6 at same item rarity tier. Throw on EK shield casts and the fighter's tankiness explodes.

L 5: Plate, uncommon items. AC 17/20 vs 22. 3 shields/day
L 11: Rare items. AC 18/22 vs 24. 7 shields/day
L 16: Very rare items. AC 19/24 vs 26. 10 shields/day
L 20: Legendary items. AC 20/25 vs 27. 11 shields/day

Key: AC Barb 2H/Barb with Shield vs Defensive Figher with Shield

Items are vanilla +X shields and armor of increasing rarity.

The 2H barb, even with 1/2 damage, starts looking less and less viable.

Big damage spells have indomidable and absorb elements, or both.
 

Frozenstep

Explorer
The level 5 model assumed 3 encounters, with short rests between them. Usong DMG guidelines, it should be 6-8 encounters with 3 rests (1 of them long).

That halves the ROI of rage. Well not quite, as the barbarian uses rage on the tougher encounters.

At higher levels, barb rages approach ecery encounter.

Ignoring action surge is a bit unfair. At least give the fighter a dodge round!

The DMG guidelines also specify that not all encounters need to be combat based, even those that result in monsters showing up. It gives two examples, one with a young dragon that can be solved through stealth or negotiation, and one with a stone giant that will actively shy away from the party.

Additionally, there's not that much room for many tougher encounters, if we follow those same guidelines, which give each adventuring day an exp budget. 4 hard encounters basically almost fully fills the budget at most levels.

I feel like ignoring action surge isn't totally unfair, but it really starts getting into "wait, what are we talking about here?"

The chart was being used for comparing a barbarian against someone who really didn't invest much into defense and compare their tankiness. Now we're starting to get into "If you used literally every possible class feature and item on making yourself tankier, would it be more effective on barbarian or fighter?"

Speaking of which...

An EK spamming shield / absorb elements is a fair comparison with a Totem bear barb spamming rage.

We could get into a whole discussion about it, but even now I'll say EK is an incredibly good fighter class with some shockingly good defense if they try.

But I'm not sure it's a great comparison. That's always the problem with spellcasting vs something more
sustainable. 3 shields a day at level 5 means 3 rounds of protection, and only against either AC-based attacks or one element each round. Meanwhile bear totem gets 30 rounds of protection from almost anything. But that's not really fair to say either, because very few combats go for anywhere near that amount of time.

Getting into items is probably even worse in terms of trying to figure out a fair comparison point. Unless we use AL rules or something.

Honestly though, this whole comparison with AC and damage taken, to me, feels odd. AC is important, but for a barbarian, not as much. This means the opportunity cost of using a two handed weapon is lower, and the payout higher (reckless attack and GWM are a perfect match, but of course it's important to judge when the payout is higher for you then for the enemy). It's more practical to look at a barbarian that only took defensive things in their build when they didn't come at the cost of offensive choices (except maybe for the subclass, probably no need for further complications), and see how that holds up against a similar fighter. And maybe against a more defensive fighter, while seeing what kind of offense is lost.
 
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What a thread!
The ranger is fine. I think that people finds it weak is because of the beast master. The fix is simple, make it a bonus action to order your pet to attack. It will attack the target until either it or its target drops dead. An other bonus will be required for your pet to change/attack a new target. Using the bonus action to make the pet do anything (even the help and dodge actions and whatever else) is a simple fix that works quite well at my table. The Hunter ranger and the Gloom stalker are good.

The barbarian is also nothing to sniff at. He's rough and tough. Nothing prevents him from using breast plate and shield for quite a good AC. I see the Dex + Con to calculate AC as a small boost at low level for a good AC on a budget. But it is quite a boon when the group is resting. No one can rest in plate. Our heavy armored characters are in a bad spot whenever they are attacked in the middle of their long rest when they are without armor. The barb just smiles and jumps into the fray. And the barb isn't afraid of rust monsters. Well... maybe a little as that beautiful sword can rust... You do carry a wooden maul don't you? The only weakness of the Barb is its Multiple Ability Dependency. If it had been Strength and Constitution for its unarmored defense... Ok... enough dreaming. Time to go on next class.

As for the sorcerer... The sorcerer got a bit of a nerf compared to previous editions. But the fix is again very simple. Give it additional sorcery points from high charisma. These few points goes a long way to give it back the punch it needs. Also, adding his charisma to the damage he does is a nice benefits. Almost every sorcerer (and strangely Bards too) I've had at my table took Arcane initiate to get one cantrip and one spell from the warlock list. Can you guess which ones?

The same goes for the monk. I allow wisdom bonuses to add to ki. This gives the player an interesting dilemma. Raise Dex to max, then what? A feat, raise CN or raise Wis? I even have a monk raising wisdom before maxing Dex. And it works out quite well. She even took mobility. The monk can use ki to dodge after attacking as a bonus action. This is, in essence, a +5 bonus to AC. Which can put the monk on par with some of the best AC available (without magic that is). Give the monk a ring of protection, a pair of bracers and his AC goes up to 20 (assuming 20 dex and wis at 14). Such an AC is hard to hit with disadvantage. With feats in mind mobility is a no brainer and if the monk is lucky enough to find an amulet of health, then the HP weakness of the monk is negated. This leaves the monk one more feat to take and I would either take sentinel or mage killer (toughness would be a close contender). If the mobility feat is taken, then the monk can pretty much attack anyone without being hit in return. From my experience, all monks are taking the mobility feat. Not being hit is better than anything else. A Sun Soul monk can even attack at range!
 

Our heavy armored characters are in a bad spot whenever they are attacked in the middle of their long rest when they are without armor. The barb just smiles and jumps into the fray. And the barb isn't afraid of rust monsters. Well... maybe a little as that beautiful sword can rust... You do carry a wooden maul don't you? The only weakness of the Barb is its Multiple Ability Dependency. If it had been Strength and Constitution for its unarmored defense... Ok... enough dreaming. Time to go on next class.
I always feel it's better to just handwave this and let them have their armour. Otherwise, it feels like your just unfairly punishing heavy armour PC for the limits of the system - it's not like all classes are even playing by the same rules here.

In any case, it's not the sort of thing that really makes for a good balancing factor.
 

Quite the contrary. I do implement the random encounters if the 6-8 encounters between long rests have not been met. This gives short rest characters their chance to use their abilities as intended. It prevents the 5 MWD and Daily classes are still relevant. And getting caught with your pants down once in while gives a good boost to your friends ego.
 

A barbarian should be twice as tanky as the second highest health class wearing the heaviest armor and using the most defensive weapon choice possible with a class feature for further defense?

You gotta realize there is some serious opportunity cost here that's happening, and it's also only one way to look at tankiness. How many enemy attacks you can endure throughout a day is one thing, but staying up through spikes of damage (crits. Always crits) is extremely meaningful so you don't put your party in difficult positions.

Speaking of looking at tankiness another way, you're really focused on AC, but a barbarian's defense still works the same where AC struggles (taking attacks at advantage, for example). How much that situation comes up is going to depend on what you fight, but having a defense that's more widely applicable is a serious boon.

there really isn't any opportunity cost for the champion fighter take duelist and defense because in the above example of a feat less/single class game it's the best option other than archery which is a whole different problem that Barbarian has but that is a separate topic.
duelist practically matches two weapon fighting once the second attack comes online and great weapon fighting is well garbage. Duelist also has the potential to work with thrown weapons so overall it's the most general pick for the first fighting style for the champion then for the second, defense.

I also look at AC based defense primarily because a character is going to be attacked a lot and when and how much are each saving throw an individual table sees varies greatly. The saving throws also don't work in The barbarians favor. Sure they take way less damage on Dex saves but I'm more likely to bomb a wisdom intelligence or charisma save which could lead to action denial or worse. Both the fighter and the Barbarian suffers in this regard but at least the fighter has some more wiggle room to shore up those saves. in my games the ratio is about 50% AC/ and 12 % each for the ability checks/saves from the get go but i know that is rare.

I guess my real problem is rage. too much of the class is wrapped up into a resource that is limited for most of the game and without it the class suffers where just about every other class has a few more options to bring out for encounters when they want to be more useful but not go all out.
 

Frozenstep

Explorer
there really isn't any opportunity cost for the champion fighter take duelist and defense because in the above example of a feat less/single class game it's the best option other than archery which is a whole different problem that Barbarian has but that is a separate topic.
duelist practically matches two weapon fighting once the second attack comes online and great weapon fighting is well garbage. Duelist also has the potential to work with thrown weapons so overall it's the most general pick for the first fighting style for the champion then for the second, defense.

I also look at AC based defense primarily because a character is going to be attacked a lot and when and how much are each saving throw an individual table sees varies greatly. The saving throws also don't work in The barbarians favor. Sure they take way less damage on Dex saves but I'm more likely to bomb a wisdom intelligence or charisma save which could lead to action denial or worse. Both the fighter and the Barbarian suffers in this regard but at least the fighter has some more wiggle room to shore up those saves. in my games the ratio is about 50% AC/ and 12 % each for the ability checks/saves from the get go but i know that is rare.

I guess my real problem is rage. too much of the class is wrapped up into a resource that is limited for most of the game and without it the class suffers where just about every other class has a few more options to bring out for encounters when they want to be more useful but not go all out.

Using a longsword instead of a greatsword is already an opportunity cost. Heck, using a longsword instead of a rapier is already an opportunity cost. You chose a class that gives more freedom in how you build them, and you used that freedom to take many defensive options when you could have taken options that provide more damage and more versatility (such as being able to still use a bow pretty well by choosing dex). It's an opportunity cost.

My argument with AC wasn't that "saving throws exist", but that you should also take a look at cases where you're taking attacks at advantage, because that's more favorable to the barbarian. Also that bad luck happens, crits sometimes happen in quick succession, but a barbarian's form of tankiness is more effective at dealing with that.

But beyond that, as I've already said in my other comment, the fact that a barbarian's defense isn't so much tied up in AC means they can still use a two-handed weapon and do more damage while retaining more defensive power then a fighter would have if they chose to give up a shield. And looking through the anydice chart, with barbarian AC being put as 17...so you were already comparing a barbarian using a two handed weapon against a fighter with a shield? And the barbarian was still able to take a good deal more damage?

As for rages, yeah, it's a serious downside, but one that matters on a more longer term scale. Taking a bit of extra damage in encounters not worth raging in is a problem, but one that can be solved with health potions, healing spells, and short rests. That's a cost, but what the cost pays for is having rage up for difficult fights to keep you alive...and if you don't survive the difficult fight, the macro-level management of hp wasn't going to matter anyway.
 

Using a longsword instead of a greatsword is already an opportunity cost. Heck, using a longsword instead of a rapier is already an opportunity cost. You chose a class that gives more freedom in how you build them, and you used that freedom to take many defensive options when you could have taken options that provide more damage and more versatility (such as being able to still use a bow pretty well by choosing dex). It's an opportunity cost.

My argument with AC wasn't that "saving throws exist", but that you should also take a look at cases where you're taking attacks at advantage, because that's more favorable to the barbarian. Also that bad luck happens, crits sometimes happen in quick succession, but a barbarian's form of tankiness is more effective at dealing with that.

But beyond that, as I've already said in my other comment, the fact that a barbarian's defense isn't so much tied up in AC means they can still use a two-handed weapon and do more damage while retaining more defensive power then a fighter would have if they chose to give up a shield. And looking through the anydice chart, with barbarian AC being put as 17...so you were already comparing a barbarian using a two handed weapon against a fighter with a shield? And the barbarian was still able to take a good deal more damage?

As for rages, yeah, it's a serious downside, but one that matters on a more longer term scale. Taking a bit of extra damage in encounters not worth raging in is a problem, but one that can be solved with health potions, healing spells, and short rests. That's a cost, but what the cost pays for is having rage up for difficult fights to keep you alive...and if you don't survive the difficult fight, the macro-level management of hp wasn't going to matter anyway.
The sword and board duelist/defense champion is the generalist approach. That was the point. it could just have been as well defense and protection style or whatever. duelist is always attractive because it raises both the lowest and highest damage range and a large selection of weapons.

We could also look at cases where each was being attacked by hordes of low CR NPCs when the champion is practically immortal but that doesn't do much good for an overview.

The totem barbarian using a shield is a much larger opportunity cost. They rely on damage to be considered a target at all.

You also quickly disregard the resources needed for the barbarian if they see alot of fights without the ablity to rage. Healing potions are not automatically giving and spell slots are spell slots.
Then there is the question of if the players recognize a hard/easy fight early enough to call it before it's 1/2 over. The barbarian could rage and that hill giant could end up being a illusion.

Risk/reward is only a rewarding play style if the choices made are informed. If not, it is gambling.
 
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Frozenstep

Explorer
The sword and board duelist/defense champion is the generalist approach. That was the point. it could just have been as well defense and protection style or whatever. duelist is always attractive because it raises both the lowest and highest damage range and a large selection of weapons.

We could also look at cases where each was being attacked by hordes of low CR NPCs when the champion is practically immortal but that doesn't do much good for an overview.

The totem barbarian using a shield is a much larger opportunity cost. They rely on damage to be considered a target at all.

You also quickly disregard the resources needed for the barbarian if they see alot of fights without the ablity to rage. Healing potions are not automatically giving and spell slots are spell slots.
Then there is the question of if the players recognize a hard/easy fight early enough to call it before it's 1/2 over. The barbarian could rage and that hill giant could end up being a illusion.

Risk/reward is only a rewarding play style if the choices made are informed. If not, it is gambling.

You say it's a generalist approach, but it's still an approach that is highly defensive in nature. It's the classic heavily armored warrior with a shield, it'd be really weird if it was only half as good as the barbarian with a greataxe at taking damage.

Don't...both of them rely on damage to be a target at all? The point was that a barbarian can go ahead and focus on damage with their two handed weapon, but I guess if you're playing a featless game then the benefit of that quickly drops. But at least the barbarian can easily switch weapons and pick up a shield if they need to, since they don't have a fighting style to worry about. Heck, they can use a shield in those rageless combats.

Yeah, resources are not guaranteed, but neither is surviving a difficult fight. We can get into a whole argument over whether being good 100% of the time is better then being able to spend a resource to become better when it really matters is worth it or not, but it's really going to come down to your party and campaign. Sometimes one or the other is better.
 

You say it's a generalist approach, but it's still an approach that is highly defensive in nature. It's the classic heavily armored warrior with a shield, it'd be really weird if it was only half as good as the barbarian with a greataxe at taking damage.

Don't...both of them rely on damage to be a target at all? The point was that a barbarian can go ahead and focus on damage with their two handed weapon, but I guess if you're playing a featless game then the benefit of that quickly drops. But at least the barbarian can easily switch weapons and pick up a shield if they need to, since they don't have a fighting style to worry about. Heck, they can use a shield in those rageless combats.

Yeah, resources are not guaranteed, but neither is surviving a difficult fight. We can get into a whole argument over whether being good 100% of the time is better then being able to spend a resource to become better when it really matters is worth it or not, but it's really going to come down to your party and campaign. Sometimes one or the other is better.
I just feel barbs as a whole are tied to a single resource that is both limit and narrow.
AG is amazing but you could easily transplant it onto ranger or fighter with little effort and it stays amazing.(Number of uses equal to CON or WiS? I rename champion works well with the Barbarian chassis. Just a passing thought)
The margin of difference in 5e is so much smaller than other editions most people don't see a problem with any of the class options other than the lack of fulfilling a certain image or When tables are playing in the margin as far as the number of encounters they are seeing per short or long rest.

Barbarians have the potential to fall into both of those categories.
 

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