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I tend to play Wizards, almost exclusively, though I have branched out and played Clerics, Druids, Sorcerers, and, at some point each other core class. I would like to play something different for my next character, but don't want to be underpowered. I would very much like to play something on the same power level as the Wizard, but I'm having trouble.

I once saw a forum post in which someone separated a list of classes into "tiers", with Wizards/Clerics/Druids being Tier 1, and others being lower tiers.

Can someone point me to a similar list, or list classes from at least the following sources by power level?

Sources:

  • Player's Handbook
  • Player's Handbook 2
  • Complete Adventurer
  • Complete Arcane
  • Complete Divine
  • Complete Warrior
  • Heroes of Horror
  • Magic of Incarnum
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1 Answer 1

up vote 33 down vote accepted

What are tiers?

Tiers are a ranking of how "powerful" the various 3.5 base classes, with low numbered tiers being considered more capable than high numbered tiers. It's important to remember that certain caveats apply to the rankings:

  • Tiers assume similar levels of optimization. Someone playing an optimized "weak" class (like a fighter) and using its abilities well may be a lot more effective than a poorly built wizard played by someone who doesn't know how to make use of its options.
  • Tiers attempt to describe power over levels 1-20. Classes will generally be in their listed tiers immediately, though the gaps between tiers tend to be a bit smaller at lower levels.
  • Tiers are based on published material only. Homebrew and house rules can and will modify the rankings of some classes or even just negate the entire ranking system.
  • Tiers are based on relatively high-magic games. In a low-magic setting the rankings will be mostly the same, but the gaps between tiers will get a lot bigger, because magic items tend to be the best way for less powerful classes to cover up their weak spots.

We frown on link-only answers, so I'll go ahead and summarize the full tier list of all published classes, originally from here. Fuller descriptions of why each class is in its tier can be found here.

Tier 1: Wizard, Cleric, Druid, Archivist, Artificer, Erudite (Spell to Power variant) — Can do anything and everything, often better than lower-tier classes that supposedly specialize in that thing.

Tier 2: Sorcerer, Favored Soul, Psion, Binder (w/ online vestiges), Erudite — As powerful as tier 1, but no one build can do everything.

Tier 3: Beguiler, Dread Necromancer, Crusader, Bard, Swordsage, Binder, Ranger (Wildshape variant), Duskblade, Factotum, Warblade, Psychic Warrior, Incarnate, Totemist — Good at one thing & useful outside that, or moderately useful at most things.

Tier 4: Rogue, Barbarian, Warlock, Warmage, Scout, Ranger, Hexblade, Adept, Spellthief, Marshal, Fighter (Zhentarium variant) — Good at one thing but useless at everything else, or mediocre at many things.

Tier 5: Fighter, Monk, Ninja (both CA & Rokugan versions), Healer, Swashbuckler, Soulknife, Expert, OA Samurai, Paladin, Knight, CW Samurai (with Imperious Command), Soulborn — Good at one rarely applicable thing, or mediocre at one thing, or simply too unfocused.

Tier 6: CW Samurai, Aristocrat, Warrior, Commoner — Objectively worse at their specialty than another (often Tier 5) class, without anything else to show for it.

Tier 7: Truenamer — Apparently received no actual playtesting, mechanics as written simply don't work.

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@SlatzG Our concern is that whatever is being linked to might disappear, then we have an apparently good answer that actually provides no information whatsoever. It's OK to provide a link for an answer, but you should always summarize the important bits in the answer as well, just in case. –  Oblivious Sage May 27 at 4:10
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Comments deleted. Please take chat to Role-playing Games Chat. I would, in fact, encourage the creation of a chat room as this question has historically generated reams of discussion. –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton May 27 at 12:37
    
I think it would make sense to explicitly discuss where this concept originated. –  starwed May 28 at 1:24
    
@starwed I'm not familiar with its origins, if you have a link where I can read about them I can add a summary to this answer. –  Oblivious Sage May 28 at 12:31
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Sounds like time for a new question... –  Bobson May 28 at 19:00

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