I'm new to D&D 4e and I am an illusionist Wizard. We have 3 PCs playing, but one of our players should do a lot of damage.

Which class does the most damage?


2 Answers 2


Any class can, so long as they can find a sufficient edge case to break (charging, frostcheese, zone-overlapping, crit-fishing, and multi-attacking all feature). At present, Invokers and dragonborn lead in the epic tier, Sorcerers and Battleminds in paragon, and Elementalists and (thieves) chargers in heroic.

Good question, and the answer changes significantly by level. The "damagers" tend to be strikers. The easiest "lots of damage" strikers are an Essentials Thief and a Twin-Strike Ranger. My recommendation is for essentials thief, as they provide interesting play and tactics, without being the boring "twang-twang" of ranger. The other significant advantage of ranger and thief is that they don't require significant optimization to get damage out of.

For ranger: static-mod is king. Get bonuses to damage rolls as fast as you can, and your damage output will be astronomical. For thief, charging is king. Take a look at the lovely combination provided by cunning stalker and surprising charge for "I'm going to do a tremendous amount of damage to you."

Check out this link for the theoretical optima of strikers and damage output. Be advised that most DPR specced builds are insane glass cannons.

If you have more specific requirements: party composition, races, level, and expected monsters, we can help you with a specific build.

At present, a Dragonbreath Sorcerer | Shaman has the highest theoretical damage in the game, being able (at level 30) to kill 14 standard enemies per round. These numbers are considered silly and will cause your game to fail for one of many reasons.

Or, how to optimize a slash-slash ranger.

First, a note of warning. Rangers are boring. For the next 30 levels, your two-weapon ranger will be spamming twin-strike. It's just that good. However, you can get interesting RP out of them, so all hope is not lost. (Just make sure the player isn't interested in making interesting tactical choices).

For a look at how to build a ranger, check out the ranger link here, which goes into far more detail. If you just want a level by level build, here's one by LDB. (LDB is lordduskblade, one of the more notable pepole on the wizards forums.) It's hard to go wrong building on those lines. And, on a happy note, he'll be throwing lots of dice around every given round. On a less happy note, melee rangers tend to be a bit ... fragile. Make sure he's very good buddies with your paladin.

Another important factor is what books and errata you're using.

Rough metrics of effectiveness:

  1. Does each character have one and only one primary stat? Primary stat is determined by "my powers use this stat to attack." While it is... theoretically possible to make a "balanced" paladin (between STR and CHA) it's a lot easier to really really mess up a balanced paladin. (I've done that. It kinda sucked.). Is the stat 16 or better? 16 means they'll be missing often, 18 is usually the norm (means a 16 pre-racial) and 20 is best for strikers (usually)

  2. Does each character know who they'll buddy with? Generally you want the defender to buddy with the melee leader if you have one, or with the melee striker if you don't.

  3. Without getting into character design theory in the middle of a post, D&D has roughly 3 axes of design-space: Damage-done, Damage-received, and Damage-mitigated. With a ranger and a barb in your party you'll be very very good at damage-done* (probably) soso at damage-recieved (paladin is decent) and absolutely pants at damage-mitigated, as you're relaying on your paladin for healing.

    • Looking at your party composition, and noting that leader tends to be the hardest (and to myself most rewarding if done well, and most frustrating if done poorly) class to play, insure either that everyone in your party can do a bit of healing (MC leader), or, if they're not interested, have the person who likes tactical thinking the best play the leader. It is possible to get through a quest without a leader, but just make sure you've got a lot of healing potions.

Also, ranged monsters are going to be real problem. Not a whole lot you can do about it, though it sounds like with brutes and minions (minions are your job, BTW, make sure you have Area bursts) the party is well equipped to deal with them.

Summary: check out the forums for help in finding the traps in character builds, the handbooks are excellent and well maintained.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I am very unfamiliar with 4e but aren't there characters that can grant extra rounds or attacks or somehow manipulate other characters? I think that should also be taken into consideration. For example a summoner or mind controller would do tons of damage through practicing their respective craft. \$\endgroup\$
    – Discipol
    Commented Dec 2, 2013 at 13:20
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ No, not really. There are significant party synergies possible, but that is far outside the scope of the question. Attack-granting classes are a series of questions unto themselves and generally do very poor damage unless you account for their actions properly. (Most people desiring an answer to this question won't like the kind of accounting-at-one-remove necessary to favour leaders.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 2, 2013 at 13:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Discipol, Some classes can do something like "and my buddy Steve gets to make an attack," but those are generally basic attacks only (there are very few builds where basic attacks are worth using over at-will powers). There is also the Dominate condition which can let a character take control of another, but only at-will powers can be used, and Dominate is basically nonexistent at Heroic tier and uncommon at Paragon tier. \$\endgroup\$
    – Brian S
    Commented Dec 2, 2013 at 18:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think @Discipol is thinking of builds like the LazyLord or other Warlord or Shaman hybrids, where they focus on granting At-Will attacks to other party members with significant hit/damage bonuses. While these designs are great Leaders to help with 3a above, they are not great damage dealers themselves, and are still dependent on another high "Damage-Done" character, and thus should not be a valid answer for this question. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 2, 2013 at 18:47

Without going into very specialized builds and situations I'd say that the most damage delivery is done by the Essentials Theif.

In our game, even from first level he tends to hit on a roll of 4-20 and does 18-30 damage, partially due to continual combat advantage. This is just from gameplay, not statistical.

With the Backstabber feat he does 3d8+ every single round by getting CA from at-will tricks. I was just looking at a build where he can do 5d8+Dex every round. If you don't need the trick for CA, another will grant you extra damage.

That said, this is the most boring class I've played. The only reason I play it is as a second character when not everyone shows up. It deals great damage and takes absolutely no thought to play--I just set her in the corner, pick an enemy and it's one roll every turn.


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