From this and this, I get that there are some (official?) tiers for classes in D&D 3.5e.

Is there such a thing for D&D 5e? If there are, at least I expect them to be separated across class archtypes, not just classes.

For reference, I'm using the tiers from 3.5e. For example, Tiers 1 and 5 are:

Tier 1: Capable of doing absolutely everything, often better than classes that specialize in that thing. Often capable of solving encounters with a single mechanical ability and little thought from the player. Has world changing powers at high levels.

Tier 5: Capable of doing only one thing, and not necessarily all that well, or so unfocused that they have trouble mastering anything, and in many types of encounters the character cannot contribute. In some cases, can do one thing very well, but that one thing is very often not needed. Has trouble shining in any encounter unless the rest of the party is weak in that situation and the encounter matches their strengths.


3 Answers 3


5e doesn't have official tiers. 5e material is play tested a lot before content is released for official books. WoTC balanced 5e much better, hinging a lot of choices on the concept of bounded accuracy. Typically, UA play test material is overpowered to start with, then dialed back before official release.

Some unbalances do exist: a prominent example is that the original Ranger Beast Master was underpowered.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The beast master being underpowered is a popular opinion, but is hardly an undisputed fact. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 22, 2017 at 21:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ To be fair, 3.5e doesn't have "official" tiers, either. Class tier is a concept made up by the playing community. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 22, 2017 at 23:20

Sort of. As we can see from this answer clerics and wizards are still more exponential than fighters and rogues, and end up distinctly better at level 20. However, the path to that point has drastically changed, and there are now levels where it is best to be a fighter! It's certainly still reasonable to talk about tiers of power, and the old tier definitions still make meaningful discriminations between classes, at a given level. What's different is that "tiers 1, 5, and 6 at this time don't exist" and that the 'flatter' power curve of 5e makes cross-tier play less awful.


5e does use the term "Tiers", but in a different way.

Instead of a gauge for the relative strength between classes, Fifth Edition uses the term to refer to the overall strength of characters at different levels—what amount of power they typically wield and the sort of threats they are likely to encounter.

Chapter One of the PHB lists four tiers of play, under the header, "Tiers of Play". To paraphrase, since the section is too lengthy to quote:

Tier 1 is levels 1-4.Characters are effectively apprentice adventurers, and face minor threats to local farm steads or villages.

Tier 2 is levels 5-10. Spell casters are more powerful, fighting classes get extra attacks. Characters face dangers that threaten cities and kingdoms.

Tier 3 is levels 11-16. Characters are high above the ordinary populace. They have powers that create previously impossible effects, or the ability to do very impressive things with their attacks. They confront threats to whole regions and continents.

Tier 4 is levels 17-20. Characters achieve pinnacle of class features, becoming archetypes. They confront threats to the world or even the multiverse.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Two down votes? Did I misunderstand the question? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 22, 2017 at 19:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, there's been a misunderstanding here. Class tiers tend to refer to relative power level between classes even with characters of equal level. For example, in D&D 3.5e, it's widely considered that wizards and druids (tier 1) are far more powerful than bards and rangers (tier 3) who are, in turn, far more powerful than monks and fighters (tier 5). You can read more about that in this answer. Although there is a concept called "tiers" that you've described, it isn't the concept being asked about. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 22, 2017 at 20:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ The notion of ranking different classes into "tiers" to express capacity for power has always been a community-generated construct. To my knowledge there has never been an official equivalent. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 23, 2017 at 20:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ (also to be clear it's not based on just "a forum post", i.e. that one forum post didn't originate the idea — it's based on years of discussion within and between various player communities which the one forum post has summarised accessibly) \$\endgroup\$ Feb 23, 2017 at 23:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ Giving this an upvote because I believe it does help to answer the question, or at least prevent repeated questions, from those of us unfamiliar with the tiers from previous editions, but who have seen the tiers as referred to in 5e. It's a confusing bit of terminology re-use, and I'm glad to have it explained. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cooper
    Nov 24, 2018 at 23:06

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