D&D Best Classes, Ranked Best to Worst

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Facing off against a Dragon like THAT? Better hope everyone made strong character choices!

D&D Best Classes, Ranked Best to Worst

D&D, Playing the Best Class

I’m sure that if you’ve played any DnD, you’ve found that optimizing your builds, even if it’s really fun, isn’t quite necessary. After all, playing something fun that you will enjoy playing throughout your adventures is the whole purpose of the game. That being said, sometimes power gaming and just picking the best class and being the strongest character on the battlefield IS the fun.

This is my list of all the classes ranked Best to Worst, no class is DEFINITIVELY better than the other, other than the Ranger *sigh* (spoiler alert: Ranger is way at the bottom of the list) depending on how you play them. A creative Rogue player may far outshine a close-minded Wizard player but setting all players on an even playing field, this is how the class rankings stand!

 

Cleric (Rank: S)

Oh yea, Clerics can throw down the pain just as much as the healing!

With proficiency in heavy armor and shields, the Cleric can be a true tank and absorb hits from the big baddies. Their primary goal, however, is to keep their team of murder hobos alive! The beauty is, even if you prioritize healing spells, you can prepare so many spells that you will be able to pick up those “rain hell on your enemies” type of spells. From throwing lightning, to interrogating the dead, to calling holy fire down on their enemies, the cleric can do it all. 

I find that players rarely jump on the boat of wanting to “play the healer” because they envision it as someone who sits in the back just tossing healing to their allies but, in reality, the cleric can wield a large hammer, buckle down with plate male, and hurl magical bolts of energy at their enemies. The Cleric is a WEAPON, don’t mistake their kindness for weakness.

Cleric Strengths: 

  • High Armor Class!
  • YOU CAN SPEAK TO GODS!
  • Extremely versatile spell list, the cleric has access to ALL of their spells. You just have to pick which ones you believe you might need every day.
  • The only true healing class in the game.

Cleric Weaknesses:

  • From time to time, they’re expected to heal their allies instead of throwing more lightning. *Yawn*
  • They are the most difficult class to play.
  • Melee damage is disappointing (Don’t worry, you won’t need it).

 

Wizard (Rank: S)

Imagine if we all could read like this, just extract the words from the pages and consume an entire novel in minutes.

Master Caster and Uber Nerd but be careful, give this nerd a wedgie and you might live the rest of eternity as a hamster. The Wizard has the most expansive spell list in the game, giving them an abundance of variety with utility, damage, and control being their strong suits. They can bend reality to their will and most of Dungeons and Dragons History, you might find, has been shaped by powerful Wizards.

As a class, you might find yourself spending A LOT of gold just to build yourself into an unstoppable weapon. They have to pay to transcribe new spells in their spellbook, buy spell components, some magic requires monetary spending, and keep up with your favorite novels!

They won’t be wearing much in the way of armor but nothing else matters if you can throw giant exploding balls of fire or open black holes to consume all that oppose you. 

Wizard Strengths:

  • The largest variety of spells in the game and can, technically, learn every single one.
  • They can dish out the most damage or shape the flow of combat single-handedly.
  • They can make it through the Harry Potter series in one sitting.
  • The resources at the disposal are uncanny.

Wizard Weaknesses:

  • Low Armor class, they’ll be running around in onesies or bathrobes most of the time.
  • Spending an absurd amount of gold just to make yourself more powerful or resourceful.
  • Preparing certain spells from your spellbook can get a bit difficult.
  • Lowest Hit Points in the game.

 

Paladin (Rank: S)

What's up with these knights in shining armor always showing off? We get it, you smite bro.

The White Knight and the Party Buzzkill. They are considered half-casters, so they can use their magic as utility but what they want to be doing is using up all their spell slots TO SMITE THEIR ENEMIES AND SINNERS!! The damage a Paladin is capable of is absurd, I’ve spent WAY too much time calculating how much damage the party Paladin could dish out if they rolled a natural 20 and all max damage with a fully charged smite. 

Heavily armored tanks and a cannon. So, not a glass cannon but a metal… cannon? Can you do that? I thought that if you could do a lot of damage, you were supposed to be squishy but the Paladin is not. Slaughter a ton of enemies then turn around and heal up your friends. You got it.

Paladin Strengths:

  • The strongest martial class by far.
  • A tank, an explosive damage dealer, and a healer all rolled into one.
  • You got the whole “I’m the champion of a God” thing going for you.
  • Spell slots for utility and protection or to blow up faces.

Paladin Weaknesses:

  • The Party will never tell you what kind of mischievous things they are planning.  
  • Most of their smites are limited to melee attacks, limiting the type of builds they can focus on.
  • Limited spell slots making choosing when to use them difficult.

 

Druid (Rank: A)

Master Oogway out here stacking bodies.

A force of nature that can use the majesty and unforgiving nature of the wild and bend it to their will. The Druid is the Wizard of the Forest focusing their magic on bending the elements to their needs calling upon lightning storms, causing the ground to ice over, or use swarms of insects to tear the flesh from their enemies. Their key ability is transforming into animals which, during the early levels, is extremely powerful but falls off at the higher level becoming better used for stealth or scouting. 

They have a large variety of spells that they don’t need to lock themselves into because they prepare their spells each day. When your party needs someone to commune with nature or to help them find out which berries are poisonous, the druid is the go-to.

Druid Strengths:

  • Large variety of spells with access to their entire spell list.
  • Transform into creatures to gain the upper hand in battle or gain intel on the enemy.
  • Powerful damage dealers with a ton of utility.
  • By Transforming into animals they can become a bit tankier.

Druid Weaknesses:

  • Most of the more powerful druid spells require concentration, forcing you to choose which ones to focus on.
  • Choosing spells each day from a huge spell list can be difficult. 
  • Wildshape’s usefulness falls off at mid-high tier play.

 

Sorcerer (Rank: A)

Wings, Katana, and Lightning magic? Oh my.

When you want all the benefits of being a powerful caster but none of the studying, the Sorcerer is the one for the job. They are often supernovas of elemental energy just waiting to be unleashed or sometimes they are stuck as potted plants, you never know. The Sorcerer uses Charisma instead of Intelligence for their casting, so they can double as a party face if need be.

They are the definition of a glass cannon though, so they need to use some of their limited spell list to focus on defense as well. Their key resource is their sorcery points that they can use to turn into additional spell slots or to do a number of other things with their spells like doubling them, making them more powerful, allowing them to reach further, or cast their magic silently. 

Sorcerer Strengths:

  • Extremely powerful caster with the potential to out damage every other class.
  • Their use of Charisma as their casting ability allows them to double as a party’s face and specialize in key skills like persuasion and deception.
  • Sorcery points allow for so much versatility it almost feels like you are customizing every spell.

Sorcerer Weaknesses:

  • They have poor AC and low hit points.
  • Their biggest drawback is their limit on the number of spells they can learn. They can’t just pick new spells each day or copy down spells in their spellbook. They know what they know.
  • Their resources run out quickly, forcing them to be a lot more careful with their abilities.

 

Bard (Rank: A)

Antennas for eyes, I bet that bard is glad that creature has ears to listen to his music.

The Charismatic spell slinger but also brings the beat to a dreary world, kind of like the plot of “Footloose”. They are the swiss-army knife of DnD with their Jack of All Trades ability giving them bonuses to every skill check they make, not just the ones they are proficient in. They also have an expertise ability allowing them to double their proficiency bonus for certain skills making them a master at whatever they choose. It’ll probably be persuasion or deception and they will convince a goblin to kill his friends like the bard in my group did.

They have a mechanic called inspiration that allows them to give bonuses to their allies’ checks, attack rolls, and saves making them a fantastic support class. You won’t quite be able to do massive damage like the other spellcasters, you won’t quite be able to heal like a cleric, and you won’t be able to wield a blade like a fighter but the Bard can do OK at everything making them super versatile.

Bard Strengths:

  • Jack of All Trades makes the Bard formidable at everything they do.
  • Bards can use their cunning to fake their way through just about anything.
  • Bards’ spell casting list is heavily geared towards buffing and debuffing, any party is glad to have one on their side!

Bard Weaknesses:

  • Low Armor class and overall low survivability.
  • Bards find themselves on the run from some blacksmith, usually, for sleeping with their daughter.
  • Damage dealing is not their strong suit but they are OK.
  • Mostly seen as a support class and will likely need assistance from their party to complete tasks.

 

Artificer (Rank: B)

Steampunk blue man group meets dungeons and dragons. What could go wrong?

An Artificer is only as good as their gear, which is going to be pretty fantastic considering build sweet gear is what they do. Rather than focusing on martial prowess or heavy spellcasting, the Artificer focuses their attention on their enchantments which could up their damage or improve their survivability as well as helping them solve situational issues. The resourcefulness of the Artificer is unrivaled as, even out of combat, they create what they need to solve problems from traps, to powerful weapons, to a sick watch.

Their damage won’t be as impressive as most other classes but their utility is what rockets them higher in the tier list. The most fun out of playing one is coming up with cool designs and making your tinkering rolls to carry them out. The Artificer is only limited by their player’s imagination.

Artificer Strengths:

  • Gear creation is near infinite, only being limited by player imagination.
  • Using enchantments to boost their combat ability.
  • Creating traps to aid in ambushing enemies.
  • Using their gear to traverse any challenge that arises.
  • Make robots, make them fight, bet on them, profit.

Artificer Weaknesses:

  • Not the most effective in combat as they are out-damaged by most other classes.
  • AC is moderate but hit points are a bit on the low side.
  • They must dump a TON of gold into their inventions.

 

Warlock (Rank: B)

This guy has way too many skulls attached to his body to make anyone laugh at his punchlines.

The edge-lord of DnD who will get sick of saying, “I’m going to cast Eldritch Blast”. There’s nothing wrong with Eldritch Blast though, maybe it is just TOO strong as it will out damage most anything else you can do on your turn in combat. On the other hand, the Warlock is one of the most customizable classes from their Patron, to the subclass, then even to their invocations that allow them to specialize further. The challenge is: DON’T JUST GRAB INVOCATIONS FOR ELDRITCH BLAST!

The Warlocks draw their power from a powerful being, their patron, who, on occasion, may ask them to do something not-so-good for them. It’s up to the DM but if the Warlock turns down their patron’s requests, they could have their powers revoked. When they do have their powers though, everyone will be totally jelly of all the insane things they are capable of.

Warlock Strengths:

  • Highly customizable, varying their playstyle between players.
  • Their spells are often powerful and always cast at the highest spell slot the Warlock has available.
  • Invocations will make the Warlock’s utility increase dramatically, greatly increase their battlefield control, or give their damage a significant boost.

Warlock Weaknesses:

  • They must serve their patron at times if they know what’s good for them.
  • They are limited on spell slots, even if they recharge on a short rest, you will find you need to take a lot of them.
  • Each turn may feel repetitive as most of the time you’re just going to be deciding who to hit with Eldritch Blast.

 

Rogue (Rank: B)

I hope this guy is close to the enemy he's staring down because I dont think he's going to get much damage in with only 3 arrows.

The sneaky, stabby class that can double as an impressive skill monkey. If the party faces an issue and they aren’t quite sure how to solve it, the Rogue probably has just the tool for the job. Their ability to sneak attack their enemies gives them explosive damage potential.

The Rogue is the most mobile class in the game with the ability to dash, disengage, or hide as a bonus action that gives them, just about, free rein on the entire battlefield. They also have an abundance of abilities focused on allowing them to avoid damage, increasing their sustainability. They are a bit difficult to strategize with and their players will often face the decision on if they should stay in close or retreat to hide behind something for later ambush.

Rogue Strengths:

  • They can become an expert in multiple abilities making them insanely reliable in what they choose to specialize in.
  • Their sneak attack ability allows for explosive damage.
  • Impressive mobility to move around the battlefield targeting weaker enemies while avoiding the brunt of the damage from the bulky ones.
  • Unlocking doors, finding and disarming traps, and finding secret passages are the top reasons to want one in your party.
  • Master the art of pranking your party with your stealth ability, Mwuahhahaha!

Rogue Weaknesses:

  • Heavy reliance on sneak attacks to keep up with the damage curve of other classes, forcing them to take risks to ensure they will have that sneak attack potential.
  • They never get multi-attack, so unless they’re dual-wielding, they will only get to attack once per turn.
  • They have a heavy reliance on many ability scores to cover all their bases and cover their party’s needs.

 

Monk (Rank: C)

You get a game filled with magic, knights, dragons, and otherworldly beings but "Jackie Chan" is still a viable character option.

If you’re looking for an easy class to pick up that can just Jackie Chan people directly in the jugular, look no further. When you play a Monk everything you do will feel like it’s out of some Kung Fu Movie. They have a resource called “Ki” that allows them to make extra attacks, avoid damage, stun their enemies, or even throw arrows back at their enemies after they catch them out of the air.

Monks are the simplest class to play in the game with no real reliance on armor, weapons, or gear of any kind. They even get the ability to run straight up walls, goodbye grappling hooks. They are most useful as a backline fighter, especially when they step into combat, dish out their damage, then disengage back out of range but their damage will never be that impressive once they get higher in levels and all the other classes begin to out-damage them.

Monk Strengths: 

  • Nearly no reliance on gear making them the cheapest and easiest class to play.
  • If all the other players have their gear taken from them, they will be jealous of how powerful the Monk is, despite having nothing.
  • The Monk’s Ki Points give players a lot of options in combat.
  • Their speed is unmatched in the game, especially if they take their movement, action to dash, and bonus action to dash. Be the Flash without any magic.

Monk Weaknesses:

  • Out-damaged by most other classes.
  • Players need to get creative if they want to use a Monk for any sort of utility.
  • Without any sort of magic, combat will begin to feel a bit lackluster.
  • You have classes on this list that can bend the very fabric of reality but this guy just karate chops stuff. I mean, comeon.

 

Barbarian (Rank: C)

His power level is over 9000!!

The unstoppable, frothing at the mouth, tank will leave an impression of pure fear at their feet on the battlefield. With their Rage ability allowing them to half some incoming damage and highest hit dice in the game, the Barbarian will be able to take the most abuse of any class. Even though they have no access to spell casting, they can do some un-Godly things with an ax.

They also have a natural armor ability that boosts their AC while they run around bare-chested, showing off their battle scars like trophies. Despite their usefulness in combat, their out-of-combat utility is non-existent along with their lack of ranged abilities. But, if someone gets into swinging range of their giant sword, they will undoubtedly regret it. 

Barbarian Strengths:

  • With all their damage bonuses, especially at lower levels, their damage capability is quite high.
  • They have the greatest sustainability in the game with the highest HP and ability to gain resistance to damage.
  • They can give themselves constant advantage to hit but with the tradeoff of making themselves easier to hit. No big deal though because their hits will barely faze you.

Barbarian Weaknesses: 

  • They have a heavy reliance on being in melee range and without the ability to fly, at times they may have nothing to target with their attacks.
  • Their out-of-combat use is negligible, leaving their player just waiting on the next combat so they can shine again.
  • Solving crossword puzzles or any math at all can be a real struggle for the big guy.

 

Fighter (Rank: C)

Better hope that shield can't block those missles because if this guy gets ahold of you with that lightning sword, it's over.

The Fighter is the all-around combat expert of DnD. They can pick up just about any weapon and focus their build in just about any direction that all Fighters will feel like a completely different class. Fun fact: my current group is almost all fighters and they didn’t realize they were playing the same class until multiple sessions into the campaign. Compared to the fantastic abilities of spellcasting though, hitting things in the face with a sword over and over can get a bit boring unless you’re really into that kind of thing.

The fighter has a ton of abilities to sustain itself and is one of the most self-reliant classes in the game with their second wind ability to heal themselves or their action surge to get a whole other turn.

Despite their usefulness, most of their cool abilities come at level 1 making them one of the best multi-class options to dip into but, on their own, they will feel like they are just missing something that might make them a lot more fun.

Fighter Strengths:

  • One of the easiest classes to take a multiclass in as their key abilities are unlocked at level 1.
  • They get the most opportunities to pick up feats or ability score improvements of any class.
  • They can master any weapon, making all fighter builds unique in some way.
  • They can give themselves a high AC and have their own, personal sustainability built-in.
  • One of the best Multiclass options because of their minimum investment to have powerful abilities.

Fighter Weaknesses:

  • Their use may begin to feel repetitive quickly as their options in combat are not vast.
  • Their lack of magical ability is a bit depressing.
  • They don’t have much in the way of support to offer their party.

 

Ranger (Rank: D)

A gun and a bear. The two things in the world that I would be terrified to see working together.

Everything I write after this first sentence would be vastly different and the Ranger would sit near the top of this list if Wizards of the Coast had just made their revised ranger class official which fixed almost every problem the Ranger currently has. BUT NOOOOO it was never made official, whether that be because it would be too expensive to heavily errata the player’s handbook or because they found it to be unbalanced in playtesting. Either way, I must carry on with all my complaints with the Ranger class.

Don’t get me wrong, the Ranger is not TERRIBLE. If you want to play a Ranger, play one! But, a rogue with a bow, a fighter with a bow, or maybe even just any Wood Elf of any class using a bow will perform better, overall, than the Ranger. They get highly situational abilities like favored terrain or favored enemy giving them situational bonuses that won’t come up often throughout a campaign and they get abilities that destroy a bit of immersion like immunity to getting lost and the ability to always find food despite where they are.

Even the coolest subclass, the Beastmaster, is limited because they have to choose to use their action to act themselves or to give their action to their pet, otherwise the animal just sits there and does nothing. Despite all of this, the Ranger does have some high damage output ability by combining their arrows with buffs like hunter’s mark coupled with spells like hail of thorns or even their giant slayer ability!

Ranger Strengths:

  • High damage output, especially at lower levels.
  • They have the ability to cast spells and feel a bit like a hybrid between the Fighter and the Druid.
  • Out-of-combat, having a Ranger in the party is useful. Ensuring your group never goes hungry, never gets lost, and can reliably follow tracks left by the enemy.
  • If your DM lets you play the Unearthed Arcana Ranger, then you’re in luck!

Ranger Weaknesses:

  • They are outclassed by most other characters in combat and out-of-combat capabilities.
  • They are limited in their special abilities because most of them are completely situational and may never see use depending on the campaign.

 

That’s my take on the classes ranked best to worst! If you see your favorite class towards the bottom tell me why I’m wrong, I would love to hear about some of the crazy shenanigans that you’ve pulled off with one of these weaker classes. Also, let me know how many of you are playing the Unearthed Arcana Ranger rather than the Player’s Handbook Ranger, it’s definitely more fun!

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These fingers have written many adventures to thwart heroes and pressed many buttons pretending to be one. Raised in the swamps of Louisiana by Necromancers. I gain a d12 inspiration from a good book.
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