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In the basic rules the The Adventuring Day is described as follows:

Assuming typical adventuring conditions and average luck, most adventuring parties can handle about six to eight medium or hard encounters in a day. If the adventure has more easy encounters, the adventurers can get through more. If it has more deadly encounters, they can handle fewer.

In reality many home games, mine included, often don't have as many as six to eight encounters, covering a range of difficulties, between long rests.

The 'five minute adventuring day' takes this to the extreme and describes a situation where PCs are allowed to long rest between pretty much every encounter, and thus don't have to worry about the ongoing effects of resource depletion from one encounter to another.

It is fairly well established that this is bad for game balance and makes the PCs much stronger (see Are there rules for shortening the adventuring day and reducing the number encounters without unbalancing them? amongst others). However, this question is not about game balance (i.e. PCs v DM game balance).

I'd like to know how the five minute adventuring day affects intra-party class balance specifically.

For example:

  1. It's well established that Paladins have extremely powerful burst damage but which other classes benefit most from a shorter adventuring day?
  2. Which classes are most adversely affected?
  3. Are all non-spellcasting classes going to be out-damaged by all spellcasting classes under these conditions?
  4. Does the answer to this question vary much from low to high level play?

For the purposes of this question please assume two hard / deadly encounters, lasting three - five rounds each, and no short rests in an adventuring day - a not uncommon occurrence in my home games. Consider basic class features but don't worry about archetypes.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Why do I have a feeling this is going to be a min-maxers guide to picking a class at most tables :D \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jun 28 at 16:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ For what it's worth, I've always thought 6-8 medium-to-hard encounters is a little ridiculous at most tables, especially in the lower levels. \$\endgroup\$ – Darth Pseudonym Jun 28 at 18:10
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I'll step through each of the classes individually, but first the broad strokes:

[Most] Spellcasters will fare much better than everyone else

The main check on the power of a Spellcaster is their limited resources. If a Level 9 character uses a 5th Level Spell Slot, that's it: that's the only fifth level spell they'll get for the whole day. Wizards and Land Circle Druids can recover some of their spell slots, once per day, on a Short Rest, but in general, once spell slots are used, they're gone for the day.

This means that if a spellcaster enters combat for the day and does not expect any other combat for the rest of the day, they can blow their most powerful spells with impunity, and not really think about conserving them just for the possible scenario that they might need a really powerful spell later.

Conversely, classes that don't have resources, or have resources that recharge on a Short Rest (most Martial Classes; also Warlocks) will not gain this benefit. Their resources are designed to be expendable in this manner in normal circumstances, so being able to do so in a "Five Minute Adventuring Day" does not benefit them—and from their perspective, the change will feel like a Nerf, since they'll probably go from using their features 4-12 times a day to 1-3 times a day, depending on the feature. Concentrated into a single fight, that may not be such a big deal, but it can make those features more precious and more valuable, making them harder to justify using.

Barbarian

Barbarians nominally benefit from this playstyle. Barbarians get a limited number of Rages per day (before level 20) and each Rage lasts a minute (longer than the typical duration of a non-boss fight).

Because a regular Adventuring day as defined in the Dungeon Master's Guide will last about 6-8 Combat Encounters, a Barbarian would only really be able to Rage for 20%-60% of those encounters, depending on their level (lower for lower level characters, higher for higher level characters). And if they drop out of Rage due to missing damage or for some other reason, it's potentially discouraging to try to refresh the Rage.

In the Five Minute Adventuring Day, they can stay enraged 100% of all time they spend in combat, and feel a lot better about Refreshing Rage in the situation where their Rage drops on accident. That's pretty good, offering a substantial reduction in overall damage taken, but only a marginal improvement to damage output.

Still, of the Martial classes, they probably benefit the most substantially.

Bard

There's not a lot to say here: Bards are full spellcasters, so they gain a tremendous benefit from this playstyle. There's not much benefit to saving the Dominate Person 5th level spell slot if you know that there's not much else in the day, and dominating a critical enemy creature might drastically shift the balance of the fight.

One thing worth pointing out though is that Bards do have quite a few features that recharge on Short Rests, like Bardic Inspiration (after level 5) and Song of Rest, the latter becoming nearly completely useless in this kind of playstyle. So a Bard might feel nerfed compared to other spellcasters because of this. But overall, they're still generally benefitting.

Cleric

Same deal as a Bard, except swap Bardic Inspiration/Song of Rest with Channel Divinity.

For a Cleric, the Channel Divinity nerf might feel harsher, but it's still the same overall picture, with their Spellcasting features standing out more prominently.

Druid

Same as Cleric, swap Channel Divinity with Wild Shape.

Moon Druids are going to feel less inconvenienced than other Druids, just because their one Short-Rest feature, Wild Shape, is going to feel more consequential than it would for other Druids. But otherwise, they're mostly going to enjoy the ability to spam high-level Moonbeams or Healing Spirits.

Fighter

This is going to depend a little more on the Archetype, but in general, Fighters are the first class where this playstyle hurts more than it helps.

Action Surge and Second Wind, both features that recharge on Short Rests, will now only be available once (or for Action Surge at later levels, twice) per day. For most Fighter Archetypes that have expendable resources, like Battlemaster and Arcane Archer (and on technicality, the Banneret archetype), their archetype features also recharge on a Short Rest, meaning they'll only get those features a minimal amount of times in a day. That will feel like a substantial nerf.

Conversely, the Cavalier and Eldritch Knight archetypes will feel a little better, with their Long Rest-based resources being more freely usable, but the Cavalier tends to see only niche play, and the Eldritch Knight's spellcasting is only 1/3 that of a normal spellcaster, so it'll be much less substantial than a regular spellcaster.

Monk

As Monks' only major resource is their Ki points, which recharge on a Short Rest, Monks will be hit the worst by this playstyle. Monks have no features that recharge on a Long Rest, and even of the archetypes, the only Long-Rest based feature available is the Open Hand Monk's Sanctuary effect, whose effect in combat is minimal.

So whatever Ki points a Monk gets at their level, is all they get for the whole day. They can spend them very quickly with judicious use of their features that consume Ki points, but none of those features are as game-changing as the spellcasting that other classes get, at least before the highest tier of play.

Paladin

Paladins probably benefit the most from this playstyle, excepting maybe Sorcerers. They're only half-spellcasters, so they can't spam out max-damage spells with the same deadliness as other spellcasters, but they do have Divine Smites they can more freely deal out as they fish for Critical hits, and a Paladin who times their smites well can brutalize many encounters. And of the spells they do get, Paladin spells often hit way above their paygrade for the level of slot they consume.

Like Clerics, they're going to suffer for not being able to use their Channel Divinity more than once a day, but also like Clerics, they'll appreciate being able to spam out their most powerful features otherwise.

Ranger

Rangers are ostensibly in the same boat as Paladins, but they lack the especially powerful smiting abilities that Paladins have, and some of the most powerful Ranger features don't have resource costs attached, so their advantage is less pronounced. They will enjoy getting to use their most powerful Ranger spells with wild abandon, though.

Rogue

Strangely enough, Rogues generally don't have resource costs associated with their features. Assassins have a de facto limit on their features because they generally only activate on Surprised creatures (which can only occur once per combat), so they will feel a nominal nerf to their abilities, but other than the Arcane Trickster (which can be lumped in with the Eldritch Knight as receiving a nominal buff), Rogues won't feel many changes from this playstyle.

Sorcerer

Sorcerers rival Paladins in terms of power gained from this playstyle. Not only do they have the same benefits as other Spellcasters in gaining the ability to spam out their most powerful features with wild abandon, Sorcerers also have features like Twinned Spell and Quickened Spell (or Font of Magic) that will let them use their Action Economy more efficiently, pumping out their deadliest spells faster and more dangerously than other spellcasters can. I think it's fair to argue that Sorcerers benefit the absolute most from this playstyle.

And unlike other spellcasters, their only major Short Rest based feature is gained as their Level 20 Capstone ability and In mY OpInIoN, it kind of sucks anyways, and is easily one of the worst level 20 capstone features, so they're not even going to feel any nerfs from this playstyle. For Sorcerers, this playstyle is pretty strictly all upsides.

Wizard

Wizards have the Arcane Recovery feature, so they'll experience a small nerf compared to other spellcasters, but otherwise this playstyle continues to be mostly upsides, with the gained ability to spam out powerful spells with impunity, attached to a very large Spell List that gives them a tremendous amount of flexibility.

Warlock

Warlocks will feel a heavy nerf in this playstyle. It won't be as bad as it is for Monks, because Warlocks do gain quite a few Long Rest features, whether from Invocations, Archetype features, or Mystic Arcanums, but their primary spellcasting will only permit a few spells a day, only up to four even at level 17. That simply will not favorably compare to a Wizard or Sorcerer spamming out their highest spells, especially considering the very limited list a Warlock has to choose their Mystic Arcanums from—and it should not be left unstated that the Mystic Arcanums only start coming online after level 11, meaning they won't benefit players in the level range that spans the majority of campaigns.

Conclusion

\begin{array}{l|lr} \text{Class} & \text{Effect of the Five Minute Adventuring Day} & \kern 15em \\ \hline \text{Barbarian} & \text{Buff} \\ \text{Bard} & \text{Major Buff} \\ \text{Cleric} & \text{Major Buff} \\ \text{Druid} & \text{Major Buff} \\ \text{Fighter} & \text{Nerf} \\ \text{Monk} & \text{Major Nerf} \\ \text{Paladin} & \text{Major Buff} \\ \text{Ranger} & \text{Buff} \\ \text{Rogue} & \text{No Impact, maybe Minor Nerf} \\ \text{Sorcerer} & \text{Major Buff} \\ \text{Wizard} & \text{Major Buff} \\ \text{Warlock} & \text{Major Nerf} \\ \end{array}

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    \$\begingroup\$ While this is a good look at how classes will feel in the new system...it doesn't seem to consider the inter-class balance that comes from Nukers getting to Nuke all the time, while the 'steady reliable' classes don't get the time when the Nukers are conserving ammo to catch up in damage output. \$\endgroup\$ – guildsbounty Jun 28 at 17:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @guildsbounty Could you elaborate on what you want me to include? The reason I evaluated each of these classes the way I did was specifically because of that consideration: Spellcasters were almost universally rated as receiving major buffs specifically because of their ability to use their most powerful spells at wild abandon, whereas other classes are relegated to their normal power levels (which in most cases I'm calling a nerf by comparison). So it's not clear to me what you're advocating I add. \$\endgroup\$ – Xirema Jun 28 at 18:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd like to add from experience that Barbarians feel much more powerful during a 5 minute day, because they can easily burn multiple Rages per encounter. Being able to use a new Rage after enemies used powerful abilities to force "no attack/no damage" really helps alleviate one of their main downsides. Also, Frenzy is suddenly a bunch of free attacks with no downsides, which is another huge up. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Jun 28 at 18:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Erik That's a good point. I've added that to their section and bumped them up to Buff to better reflect those advantages. \$\endgroup\$ – Xirema Jun 28 at 18:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think another thing worth noting is that, IIRC, druid spells are by and large concentration spells (at least, their damage-oriented ones). They get a few non-concentration options, but they overall have a much harder time usefully 'dumping' spells in a small timespan than other full casters since they don't get too many 'instant' options. \$\endgroup\$ – CTWind Jun 28 at 22:10
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The question is broad, so I will be giving a broad answer, without entering the specifics of each one of your sub-questions (as I feel that actually requiring an answer to each would result in closing the question). The general answer is: reliability gets punished, bursty stuff gets rewarded. With that in mind...

Which classes are most affected?

Classes that rely on short rest-based mechanics, such as Fighter (which most, if not all, features reset on short rests), Monk and Warlocks get severely weaker. Classes such as Rogue, which don't actually have (relevant) "expendable resources" (which should mean that they are usually more reliable but with less burst power) are obviously weakened as well.

On the other hand, classes that rely heavily in strong few-uses high-reward long rest-based mechanics, such as Paladin, Barbarian (which will be able to consistently use Rage every encounter at low levels, when he shouldn't be able to, and tank damage insanely well because of that) and Sorcerer, get most benefits.

Spellcasting Classes that are mostly long rest dependent, but have some kind of recovery from short rests, such as Wizards (Arcane Recovery) and Druids (Wild Shape) get stronger, but not as much, since their burst output is not as high due to part of their features focusing on short rest recovery. Still, at medium-range levels (higher than 7), they already get the benefits from being able to cast spells that they should only be able to cast once every 6-8 encounters way more often (e.g., at 7 they have only one 4th level spell slot).

Note that, while most spell casting classes are long rest-based, and martial classes are usually short rest-based or simply constantly reliable (rogues), there are exceptions such as Barbarian and Warlock.

Higher levels benefit Spellcasters heavily

The higher your level, the more the "reliable" classes (such as Fighter and Rogue) get less resources than "bursty" classes. You don't get extra Action Surges for Fighters, you don't get options to spend 10 ki in one turn as Monk, and fighting 1 or 6 encounters is basically the same for the Rogue, except for their HP.

The burst from Paladins gets slightly relevant - Divine smite is 2d8 at 2nd level and 5d8 at 15th level (using 4th level spell slot). Enemies go from 100 HP to 300, thus the 13.5 extra average damage on hit (from increasing 3d8) isn't that relevant any more. However, with long rests all over the place, you will be able to spend essentially all your high level spell slots consistently, making it still better than Fighters or Monks.

Similarly, Barbarians would naturally get more reliable (as their rage uses increase and even get Persistent Rage at 15th level), thus the impact of recovering the rage uses more frequently is heavily diminished, and at 2 encounters/day, you are almost certainly not using your 6 uses of rage.

On the other hand, Full Spellcasters get 8th and 9th level spells that should only be castable once a day. Giving them the power to use these high level spells at every other encounter will make them insanely stronger than classes that don't possess such high-reward resources. Not necessarily this means spellcasters will outdamage martial classes (although spamming Meteor Swarm... oh god.), but they surely will have higher utility value (and mostly outdamage, especially if you are fighting multiple enemies, instead of a single target high CR enemy).

Again, Sorcerers seem to be the most rewarded class, as they will have lots of sorcery points to spend besides their high level spells. Aside Warlocks, Wizards are possibly the less-improved spellcasting class, as many of their features are about making them more reliable (Arcane Recovery, Spell Mastery, Signature Spells). Note that subclasses such as Divination School (Portent feature) get considerably stronger as well, with the power to influence all the relevant major rolls.

TL;DR

At lower levels, Barbarians and Paladins are the most rewarded martial classes in this playstyle. Sorcerer is possibly the most rewarded spellcaster at any level.

Later on, martial classes become weaker and spellcasters become significantly stronger. Warlocks are severely impaired. For the martial classes, Paladins are still the best choices, clearly outperforming Fighters, Monks and Rogues.

Rangers are not mentioned overall because, although they can benefit from the spells, most of their features are reliability-based, but not as much as Fighters/Monks/Rogues. I.e., they are not as nerfed as the latter, but not as buffed as Paladins. Besides, my experience and feeling is that Rangers are generally weak, sadly.

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