There are a total of 13 character classes to choose from in Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition (D&D 5e), with something to suit every players’ taste: whether you’re looking to harness destructive arcane magic, channel the divine power of the gods, stomp around in the heaviest armor and swing the biggest weapons, or slink stealthily through the shadows.
Each class grants your player character (PC) special talents and unique class abilities, which will affect how you play in your game and how your character progresses throughout your campaign. Your class is probably the most important decision you make when creating a new character. With D&D 5E campaigns potentially lasting months, or even years, it pays to consider each class’s strengths and weaknesses since you’ll be putting so much time into this character.
As such, we have put together the D&D class tier list below for you to consider to serve as a guide and help you evaluate your options before making this vital decision. There is no “wrong” choice, as any class can be fun and effective, but honestly, some classes are just a step above the others.
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Dungeons & Dragons 5e class tiers description:
S Tier: The top choice; these classes are all remarkable and extremely potent. Each one would be a welcome addition to almost any party, and it’s hard not to have a good time playing when you just keep being awesome all of the time.
A Tier: These are a strong pick, with few weaknesses to hold you back. While not as dramatically powerful as the next tier, you will nonetheless be more than able to handle most challenges your Dungeon Master (DM) throws your way.
B Tier: Middle of the road, these classes are consistent and dependable, they may be outshone by the higher tiers, but you will find your character to be reliably successful in their role in the party.
C Tier: These classes lack the raw power or outright versatility offered by the more powerful classes, but in the right circumstances can be a lot of fun and quite strong depending on the situation.
D Tier: Underpowered, outclassed, or just difficult to play. In this tier, extra effort is required to become effective in the game, and as such, it is not recommended for first-time players.
The iconic arcane spellcaster, the indisputable master of magic, with access to the largest and most varied spell list in D&D 5e Wizards, can do pretty much anything in the game. A clever Wizard with the right spells in their spellbook and enough spell slots can help their party handle almost any challenge.
With a variety of subclasses available that range from focussing on specific schools of magic, such as Evocation or Necromancy to newer ones that change how the core Wizard plays in interesting ways, like Bladesinging or Order of Scribes, you’ll be the resident magical genius at the table.
With their charm, confidence, and performance skills, Bards are full spellcasters that bring more than just magic and music to the table. Bards are fantastically versatile and a lot of fun to play – they can greatly aid the whole party when it comes to all three core pillars of gameplay in D&D 5e: combat, roleplaying, and exploration.
As a Bard, you can perform as a terrific supportive team player, with Bardic Inspiration and buff spells to aid your allies and some great illusion and enchantment magic to disrupt and disorient your foes. In later levels, you even get the chance to learn spells from other classes thanks to the Bard’s Magical Secrets feature, so if you want to borrow some of the Wizard’s most destructive spells, you can.
You will also find out why Bards serve as the best “Face” of their party: High Charisma for your spells combined with Expertise and the “Jack of All Trades” means you’ll dominate in most social scenarios. You’ll also be able to handle most ability checks even outside of social roleplaying.
The mighty magical servants of the gods, Clerics, are among the most flexible and interesting of the D&D 5e classes due to how your choice of Divine Domain subclass so dramatically impacts your abilities. You can wade into the front-line as a martial warrior, serve as a durable support caster or healer, or focus on destroying your foes with divine magic.
Depending on your choice of subclass as a Cleric, you can fill a great variety of different roles at the table, each with varying styles of play. Clerics are the best healers in Dungeons & Dragons 5e and also have some of the best support and utility spells as well, along with plenty of interesting offensive options to deal necrotic and radiant damage to your enemies.
With an unyielding dedication to a sacred oath, the Paladin brings so many benefits for any party. A hybrid class that deals in both melee combat and spellcasting, the Paladin is probably the toughest, most self-sufficient class in the game: With access to heavy armor, they can avoid taking a lot of extra damage. They have d10 hit dice, so it’s not an immediate problem if they get hit, and with their Lay On Hands feature and access to healing spells, they can handle the injuries they suffer anyway.
Playing as a Paladin, you will find that your character excels on the frontlines, in melee with the enemy, bearing the brunt of attacks and protecting your party. The Paladin’s Divine Smite feature and unique melee smite spells mean that you’ll likely be using your spell slots to give your attacks a significant boost. Combined with the auras you emanate at later levels, which can buff your allies, you’ll find that you’ll be coming out on top through the thickest of fights.
The Druid fills a similar role in the party to the Cleric, sharing the Wisdom-based spellcasting and focus on healing and support spells, but instead of drawing power from a single god or deity, Druid’s channel the power of nature itself.
You’ll find that the Druid is very versatile, with their Wild Shape feature allowing your character to transform into beasts you have spotted and serve as a scout or a tank while also having access to a full spell list. The Druid brings lots of unique options with their spells; you’ll be casting lots of area control spells or summoning spells to shape the battlefield and slow down your enemies or fill it with conjured beasts to draw aggro and dish out damage.
Out of all the classes that cast spells in Dungeons & Dragons 5E, Warlock is completely unique. Their Pact Magic feature gives you only a handful of spell slots, which all level up simultaneously, and you regain them on a short rest. They can cast a lot of high-level slots relative to the other casters, and they may be able to use 4-6 level 4 and 5 spells per day with two short rests. They are also greatly customizable, as they not only choose a subclass and their spells. Warlocks also get a Pact Boon that affects how they use their powers, along with multiple Eldritch Invocations that provide them with a great variety of very powerful options.
The Warlock is a potent combat spellcaster; their spell list is full of options to take your enemies off the map, either with straight blast damage or through debilitating Area Of Effect spells that can hit whole groups of enemies in one go. With only a couple of spell slots available at a time, you need to make them count, so in between your big spells, you can always fall back to the excellent Eldritch Blast to pick off enemies while your party members work on the rest.
Any warlock’s effectiveness on any given day is more down to player skill since they have less baked-in-class abilities than the other classes.
Warlocks are also a role-playing goldmine, as your character gains their power through a bargain made with an Otherworldly Patron. The terms and goals of the bargain for the involved parties are up to you and your Dungeon Master. Together, you can work out the relationship between your character and their chosen Patron and what it means for the future of your adventure.
The one class on this list that they did not print in the Player’s Handbook, we first saw the Artificer published in Eberron: Rising from the Last War and subsequently updated in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. The class provides a tool to meet every task and a solution for every problem. While they truly excel as a supporting character, providing magic items and crafting for the party, with their spellcasting and infusions set upright, they can fulfill pretty much any role, making them almost as versatile as the Bard.
However, this comes at the price of being easily the most complicated class in the D&D Fifth Edition. Every time they finish a long rest, upright, the Artificer can change their prepared spells, adjust their Infusions and change their magic items. This does mean you can tailor the class’ toolkit and abilities on a day-to-day basis to meet the challenges you are expecting to face, but it also requires a lot of effort to micromanage your character’s myriad of options.
Gaining their ability to cast spells as a result of a magical bloodline, the Sorcerer is an exciting class that fits somewhere between the Wizard and the Warlock. They have d6 hit dice like the Wizard and share many of the same spells on their spell list. They are a Charisma-based spellcaster, like the Warlock, and must make do with a limited number of known spells. The Sorcerer’s versatility comes from their Metamagic, which boosts their few spells and shapes them to fit the moment’s needs.
This class offers a unique playstyle, as you have to work to make use of your limited spells and decide when to use Metamagic or cast using a higher-level spell slot to the best effect. It will reward you for thinking creatively, as using Metamagic at the right moment can completely shift an encounter in your party’s favor.
The classic warrior archetype, the Fighter excels in dealing damage in combat while protecting itself. This is probably the most popular of the martial classes amongst new players.
Fighters get more Ability Score Increases than any other class, meaning they can more easily invest in Feats to specialize in their preferred method of combat. The variety of weapons, armor, corresponding feats, and Fighter subclass options available means that no two Fighters are the same: Lightly armored archery or dual-wielding scimitars, classic sword, and shield or heavy maul in chain mail, mounted lancer or defensive halberdier, the options go on.
The Fighter can be as simple or as complex as you want it, which is greatly affected by your subclass choice. The Champion is a straight-up physical bruiser, whereas the Battlemaster offers a variety of tactical maneuvers to bring combat to a close, and the various magical subclasses like the Eldritch Knight and Rune Knight give you extraordinary abilities to use alongside mundane weapon attacks. The right subclass is often key to keep the Fighter entertaining because there are only so many times you can keep on repeatedly hitting things until they go down.
It’s often argued that every party needs a Rogue, someone to sneak and stab and handle locks, traps, guards, and many other challenges. Sneak Attack can deal a massive pile of damage in one attack – if it hits – and the Rogue gets such a hefty bundle of important skill and tool proficiencies that it’s easy to see why it’s so popular. Rogues are great in combat, with their Cunning Action always giving them a Bonus Action to use and the flexibility of high Dexterity, meaning they can easily switch between melee and ranged when needed.
However, if the Rogue doesn’t land their Sneak Attack, their damage flatlines completely. Unless you pick a subclass that provides alternative options, like the spellcasting of the Arcane Trickster, you’ll be stuck with shooting or stabbing for a long time. It’s also worth pointing out that the Bard serves as a better skill-focussed character, as they get more proficiencies, Expertise as well, and Jack of All Trades propping up whatever they aren’t proficient in.
The Ranger is here in C Tier, assuming that you would not be crazy enough to play it without the Optional Class Features published in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. Otherwise, it’s a D Tier class. The original Ranger suffered from too many of its core features being wholly situational and often totally irrelevant, but after Tasha’s, it’s become much more playable.
As it stands, it’s in C Tier even after the fixes. Ranger offers a blend of the Fighter’s combat prowess, the Rogue’s skill mastery, and the Druid’s spellcasting. As a result, it’s an acceptable damage dealer who can serve as an adequate stealthy scout and cast a few spells in support. To get the best out of the Ranger, you are advised to pick one of the powerful subclasses from Tasha’s or Xanathar’s Guide – steer clear of the Player’s Handbook options.
Brawn over brains, the Barbarian lives to hit things in melee combat really, really hard. With Rage making them harder to kill and deal more damage, and Reckless Attack making them more likely to hit at the cost of being easier to hit, the Barbarian is perfect for the player who wants to be the Person, Too Angry To Die. Your subclass won’t change how you play your character, but it will give you some extra skill options or effects while you Rage, which can be fun.
There are a few problems with the class, however. Firstly, they are locked into melee and can do very little to enemies outside of melee range, apart from throwing things.
Secondly, they are dependent on having three good Ability Scores – Strength, Constitution, and Dexterity – meaning to make a viable Barbarian, you have to dump all of your other ability scores. Thirdly, the Barbarian has very little to offer outside of combat unless your character race or subclass choice gives you some extra options the core Barbarian does not contribute. Lastly, they can get truly repetitive – unlike the Fighter or Rogue, there’s not much in the way of different tactics or getting a subclass that changes things up: The Barbarian rages, runs up, and hits the thing until it dies, then moves on to the next one.
The sole resident of D Tier, the Monk is an interesting class with a unique theme, but in practice, it’s held back by numerous issues that seem to conflict with its intended purpose.
- It is supposed to be a damage dealer, yet it’s restricted to simple weapons and unarmed strikes, and it deals damage that scales much too slowly.
- Its core abilities force the Monk into melee combat while unarmored, yet it only has d8 hit dice, and its Armor Class scales very slowly.
- Its pool of Ki Points is depleted very quickly, just for the core features – once subclass features are introduced, which also depend on Ki, the Monk runs out very quickly and is then left unable to use their class or subclass features at all.
The Monk is meant to be a highly mobile martial artist, zipping around the battlefield dodging attacks and raining down blows, but it simply struggles to fulfill that dream and manages to be outmatched by every other class in some way. The Monk is a fun class but dependent on being in the right campaign with the right Dungeon Master. Otherwise, you may feel underwhelmed with your choice. The one up point of the class is that flurry of blows is comparable to action surge, with some thinking it better. You can do it a lot more times than action surge, and short of the -5/+10 feats, the Monk is better at dealing damage than the fighters.