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5E The Most Popular D&D Classes & Subclasses

D&D Beyond posted these stats on the most popular D&D subclasses by class based on the "high thirties" in millions of characters on the platform. This is a revisit from last year, with updated data, and only includes single-classed characters.

Fighter is the most-played class (as has always been the case with these stats), followed by rogues, warlocks, clerics, and wizards.

The 'free' (SRD) subclasses are the most popular subclasses on D&D Beyond, which is no surprise.

subclass.jpg
 
Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Now it doesn’t sound as interesting to me, but who knows maybe it would be totally rad.

Well I was being funny.

A large fantasy barbarian tribe isn't all berserkers.
You'd have berserkers as the elite barbarian warriors used for warfare.
Other barbarians could be totem barbarians, storm hearalds, or ancestral guardians.
Some other tribesmen might be fighters, rogues, and rangers.
You might have a druid or cleric for religious matters.
Maybe a wild wizard or sorcerer among the tribe somewhere.

A "thaneborn" barbarian would represent the chief and their family. Barbarians meant to lead as well as rage.

Playing a chief's son or daughter sent out to find themselves or be a liason with the civilized world is a great PC idea. Unfortunately D&D plays up all barbarians being crazed berserkers or spiritual psuedo-shaman.
 

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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Yeah, I would love that! I mean, I kinda feel like melee and ranged weapons should both add Dex to hit and Strength to damage, but that’s beyond the scope of this discussion. A horse archer barbarian who can use shortbows with Strength would be awesome.
Hell yes.
My only complaint is that I really want a horse archer ranger subclass, and it’s hard to justify both classes getting one, but if the Barbarian version can be made to work, I can always get my ranger simply by allowing the BM to pick horses as their companion regardless of the normal size restriction.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Yeah, I would love that! I mean, I kinda feel like melee and ranged weapons should both add Dex to hit and Strength to damage, but that’s beyond the scope of this discussion. A horse archer barbarian who can use shortbows with Strength would be awesome.

I have a mock-up homebrew of how a barbarian rider would look. It's both ranged and melee. Many of the features work off the mount..

If it were in the PHB, I'd suspect a barbarian horseman being 12%+ of barbarians as it is a more popular recently than cavalier knights.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Already exists for both of those in XGtE: seems like a concept that could make some alternative uses of Rage (the point of Barbarian Subclasses as is) without recourse to Magic.
Wait, which subclasses are you referring to. I can't think of anything that could be interpreted that way.
 


Ashrym

Hero
Anyone have a hypothesis why...

Interesting mechanics vs fighting abilities. People making weapon users make classes more focused on using weapons.

They aren't likely far behind with 23% left among the rest either.

I love this survey because a common post o. This and other forums is how the Champion Fighter is SO underpowered and unfun to play that the class should be erased. The champion fighter is the most popular subclass of the most popular class. Goes to show what forum posters know

Champions aren't even under-powered. A party working together instead of only running white room self buffing does better with crits by buffing the fighter compared to most fighter paths.

Battlemaster is front loaded and throws perspective off when it takes longer to blossom.

I have played champion for the second fighting style and survivor ability, but I usually find a battle master more appealing. Superiority dice and maneuvers are interesting, predictable, and don't require party hoops trying to compete for damage.

In both cases how I play is what makes it fun more than the mechanical difference, however.

The interesting thing is I've seem forum polls with plenty of sampling that disagree. Battlemaster wins those.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
The Kensai for the Monk, and the Samurai for the Fighter? Really the Battlemaster is fine for the idea, too, though.
I disagree that the Samurai works at all as a swordsaint for the fighter, and certainly isn’t an Int based fighter as I said I’d want a swordsaint to be, and the Kensei monk I guess fits in the loosest terms, but not satisfyingly.
 

A purely martial Barbarian is boring and has no reason to exist if we have the Fighter, plain and simple. I think it's way more interesting that the Barbarian is specifically a warrior in touch with primal spirits than just 'guy who gets angry', something that could be literally covered by any other class with access to big axes.

I'm not super versed on the history of the Barbarian class but I'm pretty sure 4e is where the unarmored defense feature popped up? So there's a whole swath of Barbarians with crappy AC to stay in leather to match the 'image' of the class?

Whenever a Warlord gets brought up there's always someone to say "It should just be a Fighter subclass!", well a martial only Barbarian probably should be that too. The Barbarian only gets enough legs to be a full class (unlike a Warlord, IMO) by adding the Primal aspect into it.

In 4e I have no problem at all with the martial barbarian - largely because the fighter got moved off-center into the role of protector, opening up the "simple smasher"; for those who never played 4e the 5e Sentinel feat is basically the 4e fighter's level 1 class features. A better "simple smasher" turned up with the Essentials line and the Slayer (that was actually simple) but the barbarian took that role for a whole.

Indeed the absence of the simple smasher in the 4e PHB is one of the weaknesses of the book as a starting point. There's also no thematic reason you couldn't handle rage and the rest of the Barbarian's thin 3.X ability list as a simple subclass, putting it on a level with Champion and Battlemaster. It's the primal features that give it the design space for its own class.

Unarmoured defense as a class feature is an option that appeared in late-4e, although the option to use armour and your con instead of your dex showed up IIRC with the Barbarian itself, and the ability to take a feat (actually intended for wizards, monks, et al) that provided a leather-like level of protection while unarmoured showed up a little later; you got a free feat every even level and one at 1st in 4e.

As for the main AD&D barbarian I'm aware of, no one I've ever heard of is asking for that mess of a class back. It literally was based around not playing well with others to the point one could only knowingly associate with magic users at level 6.
 

I could see a "Sword-Saint" Ronin type for the Barbarian, who is entering a Zen trance for the"Rage" feature.
That's actually one of the ways Adventures in Middle Earth describes the Slayer's Fury(Rage) basically. You can either have it the typical "Hulk Smash!!!" or a kind of calm, Zen-like clarity. (everything slowing down in Bullet Time as your character becomes one with their weapon.)

It's a nice way of flavoring Rage without pigeoning holing a player from a RP perspective.
 
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Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
In 4e I have no problem at all with the martial barbarian - largely because the fighter got moved off-center into the role of protector, opening up the "simple smasher"; for those who never played 4e the 5e Sentinel feat is basically the 4e fighter's level 1 class features. A better "simple smasher" turned up with the Essentials line and the Slayer (that was actually simple) but the barbarian took that role for a whole.

Indeed the absence of the simple smasher in the 4e PHB is one of the weaknesses of the book as a starting point. There's also no thematic reason you couldn't handle rage and the rest of the Barbarian's thin 3.X ability list as a simple subclass, putting it on a level with Champion and Battlemaster. It's the primal features that give it the design space for its own class.

Unarmoured defense as a class feature is an option that appeared in late-4e, although the option to use armour and your con instead of your dex showed up IIRC with the Barbarian itself, and the ability to take a feat (actually intended for wizards, monks, et al) that provided a leather-like level of protection while unarmoured showed up a little later; you got a free feat every even level and one at 1st in 4e.

As for the main AD&D barbarian I'm aware of, no one I've ever heard of is asking for that mess of a class back. It literally was based around not playing well with others to the point one could only knowingly associate with magic users at level 6.

Yeah, one of the weaknesses of 4e is that it more or less split up Fighting Styles and called them classes. That's why it got so many call it's MMOish.

The Fighter got the Defensive bonuses plus S&S/GWF/TWF. Ranger got Offensive TWF/ThrWF plus Archery. And Rogue took all types of Duelist. So there was no Offensive Sword and Shielder not Great Weapon warrior. Having no Offensive Greataxe user at release is weird.

With 5e ditching outright power labels for noncasters, a pure martial barbarian could still work. The Berserker is one. I could see a Barbarian Chief/Thane one for a leadery barbarian. And I could see a calm, MCU-GrayHulk barbarian that represents elder barbarians who make short precise bursts of rage.

I mean ifwe are going to still call them barbarians, we should start including other warriors of the "barbarian" tribe. The Cheif. The Elders. The Mothers. The Riders. The "Shaman", The "Spirttalkers" The "Normal" Barbarian warriors.. They can't all be berserkers.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Yeah, one of the weaknesses of 4e is that it more or less split up Fighting Styles and called them classes. That's why it got so many call it's MMOish.

The Fighter got the Defensive bonuses plus S&S/GWF/TWF. Ranger got Offensive TWF/ThrWF plus Archery. And Rogue took all types of Duelist. So there was no Offensive Sword and Shielder not Great Weapon warrior. Having no Offensive Greataxe user at release is weird.

With 5e ditching outright power labels for noncasters, a pure martial barbarian could still work. The Berserker is one. I could see a Barbarian Chief/Thane one for a leadery barbarian. And I could see a calm, MCU-GrayHulk barbarian that represents elder barbarians who make short precise bursts of rage.

I mean ifwe are going to still call them barbarians, we should start including other warriors of the "barbarian" tribe. The Cheif. The Elders. The Mothers. The Riders. The "Shaman", The "Spirttalkers" The "Normal" Barbarian warriors.. They can't all be berserkers.
To be fair, you could basically keep up in DPR with all but the most optimized strikers in 4e as a Fighter with a maul or great sword. The first fighter I played with was a dwarf with a maul, and my ranger (not super optimized) was in competition for damage dealing/enemies killed with him.

The fighter’s thing is basically Make the enemy stick to me, hit them very hard, then hit them even harder when they do literally anything.
 

To be fair, you could basically keep up in DPR with all but the most optimized strikers in 4e as a Fighter with a maul or great sword. The first fighter I played with was a dwarf with a maul, and my ranger (not super optimized) was in competition for damage dealing/enemies killed with him.

The fighter’s thing is basically Make the enemy stick to me, hit them very hard, then hit them even harder when they do literally anything.

Yup. My description of the fighter is "someone who will take any opportunity you give them and will run you through if your concentration wanders even for an instant". The fighter is more intimidating than the barbarian in combat even if the barbarian technically hits slightly harder.

Of course although I would consider a fighter very much offensive the 4e PHB did a terrible job of showing you how to translate its mechanics back into fiction.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Yup. My description of the fighter is "someone who will take any opportunity you give them and will run you through if your concentration wanders even for an instant". The fighter is more intimidating than the barbarian in combat even if the barbarian technically hits slightly harder.

Of course although I would consider a fighter very much offensive the 4e PHB did a terrible job of showing you how to translate its mechanics back into fiction.
the 4e phb, in terms of presentation especially, carries a lot of the "blame" for why 4e had a hard time being well received.

I've been saying since the first 4e books came out that DMG pg 42 should have been several pages in the PHB, and the "card" format of powers was a bad idea. Star Wars saga has the same powers in the form of Force Powers, but the formatting of them feels more like classic dnd that 4e Powers, at a glance. There's other stuff, but we don't need to commiserate on all the things 4e could have done differently while remaining the same game.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I talked about this in the Reddit thread that popped up a couple of days ago:

I stated in the stream that this provides a look at what is being played most using D&D Beyond. We're not saying that this data is representative of D&D as a whole, but it is representative of what happens on DDB.

This does indeed include free accounts, accounts with only partial options unlocked, and accounts will all options unlocked - all accounts on DDB. We could share the data from those individual buckets, but for an overall look at what is being played using DDB across the 35m+ characters on the platform, this is accurate.

I can also confirm, that if we look at any of those three groups (free only, partial only, all), the ranking of subclasses is the same. Across all classes, the top subclass you see in the full image on this post holds true. So Path of the Berserker is still the top for Barbarians, College of Lore for Bards, etc. The only thing that changes by separating the groups is the overall percentage of the top subclasses.

Additionally, since this comes up a good bit, we do make a reasonable effort to cull "theoretical" characters by only pulling in "active" ones - which we define as those having made hit point adjustments, leveling up on different days, using features and spells, and taking rests. I know it's not perfect, but it is, as I said, reasonable.


Hopefully that will alleviate some of the speculation about how the data looks within those other parameters.

Thanks!

Do you know what are they recorded as by default before 3rd level? Or were these numbers only after the choices are made?

Thanks!
 

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