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5E [Poll] Are any of the subclasses underpowered?

Are any of the subclasses underpowered?


  • Total voters
    80

Merudo

Explorer
Do any of the available subclasses need a buff? If so, which ones?

I've made a list of subclasses often depicted as underwhelming. Vote for those you think are actually underpowered.

If you think I left out some weak subclasses, please tell me and I'll add them to the list.
 

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Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
it doesn't play the way people think it will play out so it becomes a problem

Honestly thats the problem with most of these.

The only one I selected from this list is Four-Elements Monk. They're just not good.

Beastmaster Ranger is doing pretty well with the Class Features UA, so I think they're good. They would have been my #2 choice on this list.
 


ad_hoc

Hero
I don't know if that's here or there in a discussion about power levels.

People's enjoyment is the only thing that matters.

D&D is not a competitive game and the parameters of the challenges are all over the place.

Determining power within a broad range is very hard to do. Most people can't actually do it in actual strategy games where there are winners and losers.
 

I don't know if that's here or there in a discussion about power levels.
I suppose it gets into the power level experienced at the table? If you expect a class to play one way, and it doesn't, you may well underperform. The Wild Sorcerer might suffer from that a bit, too, for instance.

Also, a sub-class being underwhelming as an example of a given class is not necessarily the same thing as underpowered.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
People's enjoyment is the only thing that matters.

D&D is not a competitive game and the parameters of the challenges are all over the place.

Determining power within a broad range is very hard to do. Most people can't actually do it in actual strategy games where there are winners and losers.
I agree completely, but, then again, this isn't a thread about what's fun to play, which I find often isn't the same at all as what's the most optimal. Viewing the game through the lens of optimization tends to focus the conversation on combat, both through DPR, nova damage, and battlefield control. Actual games of D&D aren't played in a whiteroom, and aren't solely focused on combat though. Depending on the campaign, and the amount of and importance placed on non-combat encounters of various sort really change the notion of both power and player enjoyment.

I'm assuming that this thread indexes more the mechanical and optimized element of 'power', as a yardstick with which to compare subclasses.
 

RogueJK

It's not "Rouge"... That's makeup.
Not surprising that Beastmaster is topping the poll. Even WOTC halfway acknowledges it as such. However, the Revised Ranger and/or Variant Class Features UAs have done a good job of propping it back up.

As for the others, some are certainly the least appealing/interesting subclasses within that specific class, but they still have their niches where they'd shine, and aren't noticeably underpowered overall.

I used to think Four Elements was underpowered, until I read an explanation (I think it was here) of how it aligns near-perfectly to the Spell Point variant system in the DMG. When you view them through the lens of a Spell Point half-caster, with all of the usual Monk abilities, they're actually just fine. It just takes looking at it from a different perspective.
 
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Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I think 'performs as expected' is a different question than 'underpowered'. They are related, certainly, but not equivalent. It's an interesting conversation though.
 

Wiseblood

Adventurer
I went with wild magic sorcerer. Using it’s abilities can really mess you up.

In the case of other sub classes, they might not be optimal, wild magic is detrimental. Some subclasses might underperform based on setting or campaign conceits.
 

ad_hoc

Hero
I agree completely, but, then again, this isn't a thread about what's fun to play, which I find often isn't the same at all as what's the most optimal. Viewing the game through the lens of optimization tends to focus the conversation on combat, both through DPR, nova damage, and battlefield control. Actual games of D&D aren't played in a whiteroom, and aren't solely focused on combat though. Depending on the campaign, and the amount of and importance placed on non-combat encounters of various sort really change the notion of both power and player enjoyment.

I'm assuming that this thread indexes more the mechanical and optimized element of 'power', as a yardstick with which to compare subclasses.

I guess where I differ is that I think most people can't tell what is optimal and what isn't beyond the basics like 2 is more than 1. Is A better than B though is a whole other problem. Like I said before, people can't even agree on what is better in a strategy game where people can actually win. I've had people swear up and down and construct detailed arguments about why they are right about a certain strategy while losing often.

Another way of saying it is this - The power levels in 5e are close enough as to not be worth talking about. Where they are important is how they affect the fun of the game. I don't think the Purple Dragon Knight is fun because their abilities are not impactful enough to represent the flavour of the subclass.

The Ranger Beastmaster is a great example of fun vs power and why they can't be separated in a game like this.

The Beastmaster is powerful enough. It is quite good. It just 'feels' underpowered to people because it isn't what they want.

The same thing happens to Assassins. They want autocrits but that isn't what the subclass does. The subclass grants advantage on winning initiative. The subclass also doesn't turn the game into a solo game for the Assassin (rightfully so) which is also something those players often want.
 

ad_hoc

Hero
I went with wild magic sorcerer. Using it’s abilities can really mess you up.

In the case of other sub classes, they might not be optimal, wild magic is detrimental. Some subclasses might underperform based on setting or campaign conceits.

I think Wild Magic Sorcerer is the most powerful Sorcerer subclass.

They get advantage on everything and most of the surges are very good. There is a 2% chance of hitting a fireball. That's bad, but then there are chances of all sorts of bad things happening in a combat.
 


ad_hoc

Hero
Not surprising that Beastmaster is topping the poll. Even WOTC halfway acknowledges it as such. However, the Revised Ranger and/or Variant Class Features UAs have done a good job of propping it back up.

As for the others, some are certainly the least appealing/interesting subclasses within that specific class, but they still have their niches where they'd shine, and aren't noticeably underpowered overall.

I used to think Four Elements was underpowered, until I read an explanation (I think it was here) of how it aligns near-perfectly to the Spell Point variant system in the DMG. When you view them through the lens of a Spell Point half-caster, with all of the usual Monk abilities, they're actually just fine. It just takes looking at it from a different perspective.

The problem with the 4E Monk though is that to get that power they must use up their Ki.

Other half casters get to have their spells and their class abilities.

Other Monk subclasses add on to the power of the Monk.

The Sun Soul is the 4E Monk done right. They get useful powers that don't cost Ki and their Burning Hands is a bonus action so they still get to attack like a Monk.
 


Gadget

Adventurer
I'm not as familiar with many of the non-PHB sub-classes, but I often hear (and partially agree with) the idea that the blade'lock is under-powered (especially barring multiclassing), and the Hexblade seems to bare this out.

Beyond that, Wild Magic Sorcerer at least needs a clearer explanation of the expected uses of Tides of Chaos, and Purple Dragon Knight & WO4E Monk seem a bit under powered. The 4e monk could use more elemental powers and probably a reduced Ki cost on Powers; also something to do that does not cost Ki.
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
blade'lock

To be fair, Blade-lock isn't technically a Subclass. You could have a Pact of the Blade for any Patron after all. That's also game dependent a bit. A Pact of the Chain Warlock isn't going to feel like their choice was super good if the game only does Social situations so the familiar can't Help in combat or Explore areas, etc.

Wild Magic is super fun... if your table is ok with the potential for party harm.

Tides of Chaos is completely DM dependent. My tables DM's let a WM sorcerer roll on the table at least 2 times per session just so the player felt like they were getting some "use" out the ability. That seemed to work well.
 

Gadget

Adventurer
Tides of Chaos is completely DM dependent. My tables DM's let a WM sorcerer roll on the table at least 2 times per session just so the player felt like they were getting some "use" out the ability. That seemed to work well.
This is exactly my point. I think it could have been done better rather than make it so DM dependent.
 

Alchemist is really unpowered compared to the other two subclasses offered to this class. It can have some redeeming value with clever multiclassing, but most of the abilities have minimal impact on your adventuring day compared to alternatives.

Storm Herald is often overlooked because Barbarian is such a capable core class, but Storm Herald itself adds almost nothing to the Barbarian.
 

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