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D&D 5E Zard's S Tier Archetypes

Zardnaar

Legend
This thread is about what I consider to be the S tier archetypes for 5E. There's a few archtypes that are A tier that can easily be S tier in the right campaign or using rules from Tasha's.

I may forget no phb versions but I'll try

Artificer: None (Battlesmith maybe A tier)

Barbarian: Totem Warrior.

Bard: Inspiration, Lore

Cleric: death, light, life, twilight

Druid: Moon

Fighter: Battlemaster (debateable),
Eldritch Knight (high level)

Monk: None (open hand A)

Paladin: Vengeance

Ranger: Gloom stalker

Rogue: Arcane Trickster (high level)

Sorcerer: Divine Soul

Warlock: build your own (fiend tomelock)

Wizard: Abjurer, Bladedancer, Diviner, Evocation, War
 

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What personal metrics are you rating the archetypes by? Pure combat performance? Just damage dealing? All tiers of play in a 6-8 encounters per long rest game?
If you are ranking classes and subclasses I'd argue that you can't assume the 6-8 encounters (or the more accurate 3-18). Especially, as so many games don't keep to that schedule

You have to take some account of the versatility of the class across a range of different encounter days, but probably trending toward low.

It's one reason the Paladin is such an effective class. The Paladin can always use all of their resources in any length encounter day above 0. The Fighter needs effectively at least 3 encounters to do the same.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
What personal metrics are you rating the archetypes by? Pure combat performance? Just damage dealing? All tiers of play in a 6-8 encounters per long rest game?

Generally overall most classes have an S tier archetypes imho.

It's an overall rating with more focus on earlier levels and probably slightly less than the official guidelines for encounters. Not that it changes much.
 

The problem is that the word tier is used to denote something that is a whole level better than the alternatives.

For the most part that isn't the case.

I think it's only the case really for the Arcane Trickster, which is so much better than the other rogues I would never play them. (Maybe the Moon Druid - I don't know I strongly discourage excessive shapeshifting and summoning at the table these days)

I think a case can also be made for the Battlemaster simply because they access to a range of versatility while the other subclasses are all more specialised. (And the Battlemaster can generally do their specialty well enough if they want to - especially with feats).

And the tier system was supposed to denote wide ranging effectiveness across a range of challenges. For the most part there just isn't that kind of difference. The Vengeance Paladin is your best choice if you want to do DPS, but other Paladins are better at lock down and tanking.
 



Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I thought maybe that was it but it doesn't make any sense in context.

IF 5 wizard subclasses are S tier than logically none are.

If Battlemaster is S tier than there should be no argument about whether Eldritch Knight is comparable.
Tiers are a way of organizing options, especially by competitive viability. S is simply the category above A, and is usually the highest, though sometimes you see tier lists with an SS category as well. Point is, there can be multiple options in the highest tier, provided those options are seen as being of roughly equal viability, and that level of viability is the highest in the competitive field.
 

Tiers are a way of organizing options, especially by competitive viability. S is simply the category above A, and is usually the highest, though sometimes you see tier lists with an SS category as well. Point is, there can be multiple options in the highest tier, provided those options are seen as being of roughly equal viability, and that level of viability is the highest in the competitive field.
The tiers for 3.5 weren't just an ordered ranking. They were ways of indicating entire categories of power/versatility.

I don't think 5e subclasses are generally in different categories.

The Tier System

Tier 1: Capable of doing absolutely everything, often better than classes that specialize in that thing. Often capable of solving encounters with a single mechanical ability and little thought from the player. Has world changing powers at high levels. These guys, if played with skill, can easily break a campaign and can be very hard to challenge without extreme DM fiat or plenty of house rules, especially if Tier 3s and below are in the party.


Tier 2: Has as much raw power as the Tier 1 classes, but can't pull off nearly as many tricks, and while the class itself is capable of anything, no one build can actually do nearly as much as the Tier 1 classes. Still potentially campaign smashers by using the right abilities, but at the same time are more predictable and can't always have the right tool for the job. If the Tier 1 classes are countries with 10,000 nuclear weapons in their arsenal, these guys are countries with 10 nukes. Still dangerous and easily world shattering, but not in quite so many ways. Note that the Tier 2 classes are often less flexible than Tier 3 classes... it's just that their incredible potential power overwhelms their lack in flexibility.

Tier 3: Capable of doing one thing quite well, while still being useful when that one thing is inappropriate, or capable of doing all things, but not as well as classes that specialize in that area. Occasionally has a mechanical ability that can solve an encounter, but this is relatively rare and easy to deal with. Can be game breaking only with specific intent to do so. Challenging such a character takes some thought from the DM, but isn't too difficult. Will outshine any Tier 5s in the party much of the time.

Tier 4: Capable of doing one thing quite well, but often useless when encounters require other areas of expertise, or capable of doing many things to a reasonable degree of competence without truly shining. Rarely has any abilities that can outright handle an encounter unless that encounter plays directly to the class's main strength. DMs may sometimes need to work to make sure Tier 4s can contribute to an encounter, as their abilities may sometimes leave them useless. Won't outshine anyone except Tier 6s except in specific circumstances that play to their strengths. Cannot compete effectively with Tier 1s that are played well.

Tier 5: Capable of doing only one thing, and not necessarily all that well, or so unfocused that they have trouble mastering anything, and in many types of encounters the character cannot contribute. In some cases, can do one thing very well, but that one thing is very often not needed. Has trouble shining in any encounter unless the encounter matches their strengths. DMs may have to work to avoid the player feeling that their character is worthless unless the entire party is Tier 4 and below. Characters in this tier will often feel like one trick ponies if they do well, or just feel like they have no tricks at all if they build the class poorly

Tier 6: Not even capable of shining in their own area of expertise. DMs will need to work hard to make encounters that this sort of character can contribute in with their mechanical abilities. Will often feel worthless unless the character is seriously powergamed beyond belief, and even then won't be terribly impressive. Needs to fight enemies of lower than normal CR. Class is often completely unsynergized or with almost no abilities of merit. Avoid allowing PCs to play these characters.
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I doubt some who uses rolled stats and allows paladins to avoid MAD has a clear grasp on relative strengths.

Need to invent a tier higher than S and put all paladins in it.
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
The tiers for 3.5 weren't just an ordered ranking. They were ways of indicating entire categories of power/versatility.
Ok? It’s still the same concept, 3e just had a much greater power delta. You could easily just change the tier names to S and A-E instead of 1-6.
I don't think 5e subclasses are generally in different categories.
You can break anything up into tiers, 5e would just have a very narrow delta, with the difference between tiers being very small.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I refer to what I said about jargon in the other thread.
I’m not sure what thread you’re referring to or what you said in it, but I assume it was probably pretty accurate. I mostly just found the idea that “almost nobody knows what S tier means” funny when tier lists are like their own genre of YouTube video.
 

(Maybe the Moon Druid - I don't know I strongly discourage excessive shapeshifting and summoning at the table these days)
The Stars druid can dish out insanely high single target damage averaged over about 6 rounds (especially with elven accuracy). But you are not comparing like with like since the moon druid's strength is survivability. And the effectiveness of summoning spells is held back by the inconvenience factor, which you can't really figure into any kind of mathematical ranking. But all druids do very well out of the new Tasha's spells.
 

I’m not sure what thread you’re referring to or what you said in it, but I assume it was probably pretty accurate. I mostly just found the idea that “almost nobody knows what S tier means” funny when tier lists are like their own genre of YouTube video.
  • People use jargon because they assume the people they are talking too understand the same jargon;
  • It takes a lot of courage to say "I don't know what you are talking about". People usually just pretend they understand;
  • People often use jargon without properly understanding it's origin and meaning. How are the tiers defined? Is it only within a class? Why is S the top? In this case I would say it's more a list of "the subclasses I think are best in my game" than any sort of formal tier system.
 

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