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Dungeons & Dragons: Ranking All Of The Base Classes, From Least To Most Powerful

From Barbarians to Paladins and everything in between, here's all you need to know about the player classes in Dungeons and Dragons.

With shows like Stranger Things and webseries like Critical Role becoming increasingly more popular, one thing has become clear: Dungeons & Dragons is actually pretty cool. For those who’ve only heard of the game in passing, it’s essentially a collaborative roleplaying game. A few friends create characters that exist in a world created by the narrator, or Dungeon Master. The DM guides them through an adventure, but essentially, characters can do whatever the hell they want (usually to the dismay of the DM). Success or failure is based on rolling dice and how forgiving the DM is.

But for players just starting out, even the first step of creating a character can be daunting. But fear not! We’re here to help. While each of the classes are good in their own right, we’ve decided to try and rank them as best we can. It’s all subjective of course, but here is our ranking of All the Dungeons & Dragons 5e Base Classes, from Least to Most Powerful.

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12 Ranger

The Ranger class is sort of like Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings. They're good at tracking and survival, at least in theory. The reason this class gets the lowest ranking is because it forces players to be kind of specific. Being able to have a favored enemy and terrain is kind of cool because the character gets all sorts of bonuses, but if the Ranger is good, say, in the Underdark fighting aberrations, but the DM has set the adventure in a desert ruin somewhere, well, those bonuses won't do much good.

That being said, the Revised Ranger stats help balance this out a little bit. Players don't have to be as specific, but still. It might be a better choice to go with a Fighter class or a Druid class; something a bit more specialized.

11 Monk

Not that we need an example, but these are the Danny Rands of the group, minus all the whining (unless that’s the chosen character flaw or something). Monks are really, really good at punching things and punching them a lot of times, but that’s sort of it, unfortunately. There are some fun features like being able to catch projectiles and throw them back, but the Monk class just isn’t as versatile as it could be.

On the other hand, one of the new subclasses, Drunken Master, is fun as hell, but if in terms of raw power, a Fighter or Barbarian would be better. Alternatively, a Rogue would work for players who want a class that's fast like a Monk with cooler features.

10 Druid

In simple terms, Druids are nature wizards. They’re connected to life and to the natural world and have the ability to harness that power. Think Poison Ivy, but with not just plants. The greatest strength for Druids is their Wild Shape feature, which enables them to turn into animals. It sounds pretty cool and it is. It also sounds super useful, and it sure is. But there are limitations to Wild Shape, so it’s not like at level 2 a Druid can turn into a T-Rex, unfortunately. More like a wolf or maybe a giant rat.

That isn’t to say that this class isn’t still good and useful, because Druids can be a great help when there's some nature stuff involved. Also, Wild Shape has some fun roleplaying potential. Is it the most powerful class though? No, probably not.

9 Bard

Bards are a bit harder to find a good pop culture reference for, but Peter Quill might fit the bill. Bards are the face of their adventuring party. They’re charismatic and inspirational, but also have a reputation for getting their groups into avoidable trouble. Roleplay-wise, Bards are a blast to play. There is no greater joy than to watch the frustration build on a DM's face as a Bard successfully charms their way out of what was supposed to be a difficult battle.

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Strength-wise, they have a little bit of everything, from magic to attack-power and support abilities, but everything is a bit spread out. Being able to give out inspiration dice is nice and the Cutting Words feature is also a good help. They don't hit super hard, but they can attach when needed. Bards even have a feature called Jack of All Trades, which is a very suiting title for this class.

8 Barbarian

There are so many options to choose when trying to come up with a pop culture reference for Barbarians, but let’s go with The Mountain from Game of Thrones. This class is pure strength, so for players who want to make a character whose sole purpose is just to hit stuff really hard, the Barbarian is the best bet. With the ability to fly into a rage, the Barbarian class has the most brute strength, but it’s not at the top of the list because that’s sort of it.

Still, it’s pretty cool to not have to wear armor and that resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage while raging is pretty sweet. So even while this class is in the bottom half of our list, this class does wonders in a fight and serves its purpose as a tank.

7 Warlock

Like Barbarians, Warlocks are good at the one thing they do, which is blast things. An example of a Warlock would be Light from the manga/anime/movie/TV show Death Note. Warlocks are spellcasters who receive their abilities from making a pact with some higher power, whether it be some sort of fiend or maybe even a celestial. In theory and in roleplay, it’s a pretty cool concept, but when it comes to straight up power and versatility, there isn’t much there. Warlocks pretty much have one move, which is to hex and blast.

The different patrons a Warlock can make pacts with adds a little diversity, but not enough. While these spellcasters can pack a punch, having to rely mostly on cantrips can get old. After all, what's the point of having cool spells if the character still only has 2 spell slots?

6 Rogue

Loki is probably the most obvious example of a Rogue. This class relies on stealth and deception to achieve their ends, and they do it well. Being able to have expertise in skills comes in handy quite a bit, as does being able to disengage, hide, or dash as a bonus action. Rogues, after all, don’t exactly have the highest armor class. But they can deal a surprising amount of damage with their Sneak Attack feature, which more than makes up for it.

The different archetypes to choose from are varied and useful in their own ways and allows players to tailor their Rogue. For a more Loki-type character, a player can make them an Arcane Trickster who can do magic. For a more, “You killed my father. Prepare to die,” approach, then the Swashbuckler subclass will do wonders in a duel.

5 Sorcerer

Sorcerers are magic-users who are born with the ability, unlike Warlocks or Wizards. Any number of characters from the X-Men franchise would fit in this category. Like a lot of straight-up casters, Sorcerers do not have armor class on their side, but they more than make up for it in firepower. And sometimes literal firepower. Depending on the Sorcerous Origin of a player's choosing, the character’s abilities can be divine in nature or maybe from dragons. There are plenty to choose from, each offering a diverse set of features.

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What is especially useful about Sorcerers is the fact that they have Sorcery Points. Players can use these to replenish spell slots or add effects to their character's spells. Both of these things are a definite plus during difficult battles.

4 Paladin

This might be cheating, but our example is Shiro, an actual Paladin, from Voltron: Legendary Defender. They are devout warriors who gain their abilities from an oath they’ve made to some power somewhere. They’re fighters with some divine magic behind them, which makes them a force to be reckoned with. They have access to all armor types to beef up that armor class and can throw in a divine smite with their attack to do some pretty hefty damage. Their ability to do some minor healing without expending spell slots is pretty nice, too.

And while the Paladin gets stereotyped as lawful good, there are options to create a less righteous Paladin. Instead of inspiring courage and compassion in people, if a player wants to inspire fear and terror in their enemies, well, there’s an oath for that. There's an oath for just about anything.

3 Cleric

For an example of a Cleric, how about Lady Melisandre from Game of Thrones? Sure, she isn’t what we typically expect, but her powers come from some form of divine source and she can heal people. She also kills them, but Clerics in D&D are also good at that. While they are definitely the strongest healer class, Clerics can also pack a punch. They have a wide assortment of spells at their disposal and enough spell slots to make them count.

Some people are reluctant to play Clerics because they see them as only a support class, but that isn't the case. Players can choose from any number of Divine Domains, which can give their Clerics abilities ranging from forms of necromancy to powers over the weather. These tough cookies aren’t just here to heal and buff.

2 Fighter

Pick any main character in any action-adventure franchise, and nine times out of time, that's a Fighter class. We gave Fighters the second place slot because it’s an easy class to play, but it doesn’t sacrifice power or diversity. A player wants a character that can swing a sword and do magic? Fighters have that covered. They want a character who is learned in the art of battle? Got it. But what about someone who just want to just make a dude who can do a bunch of trick shots with a bow and arrow? That’s covered, too.

Fighters might be sort of the typical character type when for an adventuring hero, but D&D makes it so they’re not boring. As long as a player has the desire to make them interesting, these characters can be incredibly fun to play.

1 Wizard

The squishiest of all classes gets the number one slot. Who’da thought? But while it’s true that a gentle breeze could knock over a wizard, with the number of spells they have, their ability to strike back more than makes up for it. Doctor Strange is a prime example of this class, and just as he has quite a few different tricks up his sleeve, so do the Wizards of D&D. Playing a Wizard can be a bit complicated at first, but with their ability to learn pretty much any spell, it’s worth it.

Players wanting to play these cats should keep in mind that one of the most important things about playing Wizards is just making sure they have the right spells prepared. That’s probably half of the battle with this class. But Wizards are essentially the nerds of the D&D world, and nerds are smart. They'll figure it out. And if all else fails, just Magic Missile.

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What are your favorite Dungeons and Dragons classes? Let us know in the comments!

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