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5E Worst Classes Level 1.

Undrave

Hero
And mockery is a top tier cantrip at level 1. I'd argue the best combat cantrip actually.
Certainly the best in the PHB. If you pull in Xanathar's you got Toll the Dead as a good candidate for top tier... but then you also move Sorcerers up a few tiers with the addition of the other subclasses.
 

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CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
The morale is, I should not try to a “funny guy” on the topic of monks..gets me in trouble each time.....
I didn't mean to cause a ruckus, either. I wrote, "the least amount of fun I've had at 1st level was when I played a monk," and that's still true even after a dozen pages of discussion. I never said it was "bad" or "unbalanced," I only said that I didn't have fun.

I am thinking about giving it another go, however.

Previously I went with Human because I rolled a lot of odd-numbered ability scores and I wanted the +1 to everything. But I think that if I had chosen a more interesting race, I could have started with better weapon proficiencies, or maybe a cantrip, maybe a breath weapon. Heck, even darkvision or hellish rebuke would have been an improvement. I just need a little more variety than what the monk class alone can offer. Good stats alone do not a good character make.

So yeah. If I had it to do all over again, I'd have gone with the Human (Variant), and grab the Magic Initiate feat. Two cantrips and a 1st level spell would go a long way to making a monk more fun to play. For me and my play style, that is.
 
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dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
I didn't mean to cause a ruckus, either. I wrote, "the least amount of fun I've had at 1st level was when I played a monk," and that's still true even after a dozen pages of discussion. I never said it was "bad" or "unbalanced," I only said that I didn't have fun.
We just started a new game yesterday with three players, all playing Monks. We have a Way of the Long Death, a Drunken Master, and a Way of Tranquility (UA, my PC). We started at level 3 since the monks have been together for a while already, and so far it has been a lot of fun! Now, the other part is race because we have a Tortle (long death), Tabaxi (drunken master), and I play an Aarakocra (tranquility)-- so we have a turtle, cat, and bird monk. Just makes it that much more fun IMO.

(FYI the campaign world literally has an "Animal" kingdom with all sorts of animal-humanoid-types (think D&D meets Zootopia). :) )
 

If you pull in Xanathar's you got Toll the Dead as a good candidate for top tier..
I have had horrible luck with Toll the Dead on my cleric character. The DM keeps making the Saving Throw, even with creatures with negative Wisdom modifiers.

I have had the Cantrip work a measly 8%......it has worked just 4 times, and the failure to success ratio has not been close to evening out.

I started with a 17 Wisdom, now a 18. From a Role Play perspective I think my character would just give up on it.

I have cantrip envy for any one of the Attack Role Cantrips the Wizard has.🧙🏻

Also, Way of the Long Death is a very good subclass. I’ve seen a Wizard PC sanction the slaying of their familiar in a tough jam, so the Monk can get Temp HP.

Hour of Reaping is a solid at will ability and works well with Booming Blade or Conquest Paladin.

Mastery of Death is a clutch power. Sometimes too clutch. The player of the death monk plays MC Hammer’s music for “Can’t Touch This” but overdubbed himself singing “Can’t Kill Me” in a funny voice.....sigh playing with comedians can be exhausting 😉 ( but super funny).

He does this everytime the ability is used.
 
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Undrave

Hero
I have had horrible luck with Toll the Dead on my cleric character. The DM keeps making the Saving Throw, even with creatures with negative Wisdom modifiers.

I have had the Cantrip work a measly 8%......it has worked just 4 times, and the failure to success ratio has not been close to evening out.

I started with a 17 Wisdom, now a 18. From a Role Play perspective I think my character would just give up on it.

I have cantrip for any one of the Attack Role Cantrips the Wizard has.🧙🏻
Yeah I would really like an Attack Roll cantrip for the Cleric. There's just so little variety for Cleric. I don't think it would have been out of theme to give them Produce Flame.
 

Certainly the best in the PHB. If you pull in Xanathar's you got Toll the Dead as a good candidate for top tier... but then you also move Sorcerers up a few tiers with the addition of the other subclasses.
Sure, that one is also a compeditor.

Thing is, toll the dead is no better than a short sword swing when it lands at level 1, while mockery is a life saver against many low level brutes.

Saving throw spells also are inaccurate at low levels. The "virtual AC" they have is 14 plus the stat; high AC is rarer at low levels.

So Toll is mediocre damage at low levels, while Mockery is a save or suck at-will.
 

Ashrym

Hero
Divine and Shadow sorcerers sound cool... But out of the PHB options though?
Draconic has free AC and HP. It's a passive benefit but useful in saving using mage armor for an active slot use.

4 cantrips at 1st level is good in any case for extra utility. Too few slots to make up the difference and CHA also tends to be more interactive than INT.

Wild magic has a useful ability but the recharge method tends to be DM reliant.

Specifically (and only) at first level, how is it that bards haven't been mentioned yet? Bad AC, few spell slots, few cantrips (and none particularly damaging), inspiration still a long rest resource, no expertise on the skills they have.
TWF is similar damage to several classes, the spell list is decent, they have the most versatility in skill proficiency selection, and bardic inspiration is useful.

I find it's higher levels where other classes / subclasses add weapon / combat / spell benefits that bards fall behind in direct combat. They always help indirectly.

Todd Roybark said:
I’m curious, has anyone not advanced to 2nd level by the end of the first adventure in 5e?
I had a DM who used awarded levels when he wanted instead of XP advancement. He liked low power so low levels lasted a while.

Starting with the last part. At this level a bard is likely exactly as good at social interaction as any other charisma caster and worse than any rogue who's chosen it as an expertised skill.

Their spell list is fine, but it's generally comparable with the other spellcasters, except that bards get to use those spells less and they can only choose 4 of them.

Bardic inspiration is fine. Not sure it's adequate compensation for the missing cantrips, spell slots, armor proficiencies, etc. that the other classes get.
Honestly think bards just get a pass because they get so much better so quickly.
Only 4 spells is more than most spells known casters. With limited slots one good spell is all that's needed either way.

Only clerics prep more than bards know at 1st level.

Not having expertise doesn't mean much because most classes don't have expertise and 2 cantrips is also pretty typical.

A poor standing doesn't come from not having the highest level of ability. It comes from low ability while bards are rather middle road at 1st level but with a few choice options.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
FWIW, Druids and Wizards with +3 mods (common enough at level 1) will prepare 4 spells each day, so often have just as many spells available as Bards.

Anyway, I agree with others the Bards are at least middle or higher towards player satisfaction as far as usefulness, etc. is concerned.
 

FWIW, Druids and Wizards with +3 mods (common enough at level 1) will prepare 4 spells each day, so often have just as many spells available as Bards.

Anyway, I agree with others the Bards are at least middle or higher towards player satisfaction as far as usefulness, etc. is concerned.
Yes, Bards are tied at level 1. And with level 2 a day's adventure away, the ability to swap isn't high value.
 

I was disappointed with the monk that I made at lvl 1 but I don't think it was level 1's fault. At higher levels he continued to struggle to pull his weight against enemies in combat. I enjoyed some features but he was just fragile. The warlock, I've really liked even at low levels. If you want straight combat ability at low levels, the fighter or barbarian is your guy. paladin is also good so is druid, but even the less tough classes get things that others don't. I'd say sorcerer, wizard and monk are harder to keep alive to reach the higher levels, but not that they inherently suck.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
Yes, Bards are tied at level 1. And with level 2 a day's adventure away, the ability to swap isn't high value.
Sure, but level 2 doesn't matter really. Bards gain a new known spell but Wizards learn 2 (or more) and can prepare one more as well. Druids (and Clerics of course) can also prepare another spell at level 2, keeping pace automatically with Bards. Versatility is versatility--at any level. Bards certainly have other features that balance that out, especially as they get to higher levels and learn magical secrets.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
It's strange that wizards are rated so much better than sorcerers at level 1, and why? Because they can prepare 4 spells? But look at what's actually going on in probably most games:

  • 4 prepared spells does not equal 4 cast spells
  • both classes have 2 spell slots
  • one of those slots is probably going to be used for something like mage armor, leaving 1
  • spell slots regen on a long rest, so during an adventuring day, you're probably casting cantrips 10-20x more often than an actual level 1 spell.
  • sorcerers get an extra cantrip

So in actual game play, for a typical adventuring day, you're getting much more flexibility out of that extra cantrip than you are out of the ability to prepare 2 extra types of spells. I.e, let's say you casts 15 cantrip spells and 2 spell slots an adventuring day. Having 4 options 15 times a day (cantrip) plus 2 options twice a day (spells known) is more than 3 options 15 times a day plus 4 options twice a day. 64 to 53 to be exact.

A wizard might get one damage cantrip and two utility cantrips like minor illusion and prestidigitation. And hope you're not fighting a creature that is resistant to your one damage cantrip. A sorcerer can do that, and get another damage cantrip for a different type, or add mage hand or message or mending on top of that--all things used more often the 2 spell slots.

I'm not saying the sorcerer is objectively better, I'm just saying it shouldn't be this big gap that some are presenting it as, and probably comes down to subjective personal preference.
 

Gammadoodler

Explorer
Sure, +5 will be under a rogue's +6. But not far.

"Only?"
Wizards can prep 4 spells at level 1. Bards are tied for the most spells to pick from when casting a spell at level 1.

They get 1 less 1st level spell than a wizard after arcane recovery, and are otherwise tied with every other non-pact spellcaster for slots. What does "use them less" mean?

[Quite]Bardic inspiration is fine. Not sure it's adequate compensation for the missing cantrips, spell slots, armor proficiencies, etc. that the other classes get.
The only heavier armored full caster is the cleric.

The only spellcaster with more slots per day is the warlock (with 2+ short rests) and the wizard.

I mean, if you add up every other spellcaster into a megaclass they make the bard look bad.

And mockery is a top tier cantrip at level 1. I'd argue the best combat cantrip actually.
[/QUOTE]

And +5 will be the same modifier the other charisma casters would be bringing to the table. So the bard holds no social advantage over the other charisma casters at level 1.

The caster list vs. bard minus bardic inspiration.

Clerics- same slots. More cantrips. More prepped spells. More known spells. Med armor, shields, domain stuff.

Druids- same slots. More cantrips. Same prepped spells More known spells. Med armor, Shields.

Sorcerer- same slots. More cantrips. Fewer spells known. Sorcerous origin stuff of varying utility. (Ok. This one's worse than I thought. Lotta pressure on those cantrips and origin benefits. Maybe con save proficiency balances this better?)

Warlock- slots equal or better with at least 1 short rest. Same cantrips. Fewer spells known. Varying patron benefits.

Wizard- more slots with a short rest. More cantrips. Same prepped spells. More known spells. Less-ish AC (depends on use of mage armor which would counter balance slot difference).

Do bards get the best of most of these trades after factoring in inspiration?
  • Cleric..lol no
  • Druid..regular no
  • Sorcerer.. I guess probably, but some variation based on subclass features
  • Warlock..even more subclass variation to stack onto table variation(how many short rests). Inclined to call it a push leaning toward warlocks.
  • Wizards.. Closer than I'd guessed it would be. Think it depends on how 'necessary' mage armor is. The more necessary, the more in bards' favor.

tl&dr
Seems some classes were worse than I thought. Maybe bards aren't at the very bottom.
 

Seramus

Adventurer
I have been engaged in many a conversation where a participant makes a religious exclamation like “God Willing” and so forth........this could very well be the verbal component of the Guidance spell.
Whatever V and S components you decide on for Guidance, it shouldn't hide the fact you are casting a spell. A DM might allow a roll to hide the casting, like stealth or sleight of hand though.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
FWIW, here is my spellcaster summary at level 1 since it seems to be the "hot" topic:

1593467562890.png


IMO, (as much as I dislike them in general), Bards rate well. More skills, good known spells, ritual casting, medium or better in all three pillars potentially, and bardic inspiration

Clerics rate well due to high number of prep spells (even if some are predetermined), ritual casting, medium or better in all three pillars potentially, and subclass features.

Druids rate a bit lower, but still have a good prep spell list, ritual casting, two strong pillars potentially, but Druidic is valued lower IMO.

Note: all three have ritual casting, but to use it a spell must be known or prepared, which makes their ritual casting underpowered compared to wizards.

Sorcerers rate a bit lower even though they have great cantrips, but are weak typically in two pillars. However subclass selection can be huge for them in bumping them up!

Warlocks also rate a bit lower despite having potentially 3 spell slots or more depending on short rest availability and being decent at combat. I don't find their subclass choices as powerful at level 1 and wish their Expanded Spells were automatically known to them (we use this house-rule actually) as it would definitely bump them up.

Wizards rate well for decent cantrips and prepared spells. Arcane Recovery can help if a short rest is available. Despite their weak ratings in physical combat, exploration, and social, they stand out (for me) because of their strong ritual casting. With 6 spells initially, they can cast ritual spells without having them prepped, so depending on spell selection they potentially could have all 6 spells available to them. Only the cleric has the potential (with WIS 16+) to match that.

Now, all this is my personal take on how I rate things. For enjoyability, I like Wizards the most and Druids second. This is just because I prefer the flavor of those classes. I can recognize Bards and Clerics as good (and play Clerics 3rd most out of casters), but don't generally like the flavor of bards and find clerics a bit one-dimensional (maybe that is just how I play them?). Sorcerers can be great depending on subclass selection (without XGtE, they fall IMO), and Warlocks are just lack-luster at Level 1 for me.

I know we all have our favourites and personal preferences, so I think they can all be enjoyable depending on what you want.
 

it shouldn't hide the fact you are casting a spell.
I wasn’t claiming that casting Guidance was hidden, but that it is a prayer....a prayer for guidance.

If behavior like this is often not controversial in the real world, or at least does engender violence against the person issuing the prayer.....the same could very well be true in a D&D world.
 

Seramus

Adventurer
If behavior like this is often not controversial in the real world, or at least does engender violence against the person issuing the prayer.....the same could very well be true in a D&D world.
Everyone is going to react differently to an obvious spell being cast in front of them. Some might accept it as a normal part of an organization blessing themselves (they always bless themselves before speaking to us). Others might hold up a hand and ask everyone to wait until the blessing passes. And some might get angry and claim it's trickery (your magic tongue isn't welcome here).

It's not a guaranteed negative reaction, but it's pretty reasonable for many people to be suspicious at least. Of course, lies are always on the table (I was just healing her, I swear).
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Sure, that one is also a compeditor.

Thing is, toll the dead is no better than a short sword swing when it lands at level 1, while mockery is a life saver against many low level brutes.

Saving throw spells also are inaccurate at low levels. The "virtual AC" they have is 14 plus the stat; high AC is rarer at low levels.

So Toll is mediocre damage at low levels, while Mockery is a save or suck at-will.
Depends on what you are fighting I suppose. Toll is better vs a goblin or an orc IMO. Mockery is better vs an Ogre. But really, even at low level a single attack creature isn't much of a threat as long as someone in the party has healing word...
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
FWIW, here is my spellcaster summary at level 1 since it seems to be the "hot" topic:

View attachment 123322

IMO, (as much as I dislike them in general), Bards rate well. More skills, good known spells, ritual casting, medium or better in all three pillars potentially, and bardic inspiration

Clerics rate well due to high number of prep spells (even if some are predetermined), ritual casting, medium or better in all three pillars potentially, and subclass features.

Druids rate a bit lower, but still have a good prep spell list, ritual casting, two strong pillars potentially, but Druidic is valued lower IMO.

Note: all three have ritual casting, but to use it a spell must be known or prepared, which makes their ritual casting underpowered compared to wizards.

Sorcerers rate a bit lower even though they have great cantrips, but are weak typically in two pillars. However subclass selection can be huge for them in bumping them up!

Warlocks also rate a bit lower despite having potentially 3 spell slots or more depending on short rest availability and being decent at combat. I don't find their subclass choices as powerful at level 1 and wish their Expanded Spells were automatically known to them (we use this house-rule actually) as it would definitely bump them up.

Wizards rate well for decent cantrips and prepared spells. Arcane Recovery can help if a short rest is available. Despite their weak ratings in physical combat, exploration, and social, they stand out (for me) because of their strong ritual casting. With 6 spells initially, they can cast ritual spells without having them prepped, so depending on spell selection they potentially could have all 6 spells available to them. Only the cleric has the potential (with WIS 16+) to match that.

Now, all this is my personal take on how I rate things. For enjoyability, I like Wizards the most and Druids second. This is just because I prefer the flavor of those classes. I can recognize Bards and Clerics as good (and play Clerics 3rd most out of casters), but don't generally like the flavor of bards and find clerics a bit one-dimensional (maybe that is just how I play them?). Sorcerers can be great depending on subclass selection (without XGtE, they fall IMO), and Warlocks are just lack-luster at Level 1 for me.

I know we all have our favourites and personal preferences, so I think they can all be enjoyable depending on what you want.
You definitely have a different take than how I would rank things.
 


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