Ranking the classes of Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition is no easy feat and has formed the subject of many Mountain Dew-fueled debates amongst players for decades. How does your favorite class rank?
Making characters is one of the most fun parts of Dungeons & Dragons. Players largely have the freedom to create any kind of character they want.
But the choices can get overwhelming to new players who may have difficulty choosing what type of character they would like to play.
So how do they stack up against each other?
Well, seeking to answer that question, we developed a simple system for ranking each class.
Each ranking was based on their effectiveness, how fun they are to play, the general position of the moon, 627 unanswered emails to Matt Mercer, and whether or not the class has likely met an arcane purple weasel named Dave.
But we realized that that system made no sense and decided to just make a subjective list based on our own opinions.
In this article, we’re ranking all of the classes in D&D 5e!
Let’s dive in!
Number 13 – Ranger
Coming in last place we have the Ranger.
Hey… someone had to be last…
The Ranger has a very specific function in the party. Their ability to have favored enemies and preferred terrain means that they can get all kinds of sweet bonuses, but they greatly suffer if they aren’t fighting those favored enemies or in their preferred terrain.
Rangers are at their best when you know what to expect in the adventure ahead. If they can build around the type of terrain and enemies to be encountered, they become very important assets to the party.
In adventures where the Ranger won’t reliably be in their preferred terrain or fighting their favorite enemies, things get iffy.
For multi-classing, however, the Ranger is a very popular pick. This is especially true of Rogues who may prefer ranged combat over the typical “up close and personal” approach.
I’m certainly not trying to bash the Ranger class here, but their specific role in the party is based heavily on knowing what kind of adventure the group is playing.
Especially if you’re wanting to play a Ranger, make sure that your group has a Session Zero so you know how to build your character!
Number 12 – Artificer
Alchemists, tinkerers, and engineers rejoice as the Artificer class joins the official list of D&D classes since its release in 2019’s Eberron: Rising From the Last War campaign setting and republishing/expansion in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.
For inventive characters with a big focus on solving the party’s more practical problems, the Artificer offers a unique experience with a focus on using magic to create a wide array of arcane tools to aid the party.
The artificer knows one thing above all else: magic items are awesome.
What the Artificer lacks in a wide selection of spells, they make up for with their Arcane Infusion ability. With this, the Artificer is able to apply temporary magical effects to otherwise mundane items.
Itching for a particular item? Just make it!
See an opportunity to buff your party? The power is yours!
With the Artificer class and plenty of creativity, the sky is the limit.
The Artificer is at its best when you have a Dungeon Master who will help you take full advantage of your character’s creativity and craftsmanship. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything and the Dungeon Master’s Guide that relate to crafting magic items!
If your campaign features reasonable amounts of downtime for you to work on projects, the Artificer can be a miracle worker.
Number 11 – Monk
In a world full of swords, spells, and armor, the Monk stands out as an unconventional but lethal character class.
Using their Ki to unleash relentless flurries of attacks (and dodge attacks being sent their way), the Monk hones their body, mind, and spirit to become a one-person army.
This is usually through dishing out unarmed beatdowns, but the Monk also has bonuses when using monk weapons such as a quarterstaff or shortsword.
The monk’s speed is their greatest strength as they are able to quickly move about the battlefield.
As skirmishers, they can make quick work of smaller enemies and use the environment to their advantage. Using Ki points to tap into their abilities (like Stunning Strike or Flurry of Blows), the Monk is able to quickly adapt and overwhelm opponents.
In a game where the Dungeon Master encourages or provides dynamic combat descriptions, the Monk can really add a level of cinematic depth to the party’s combat encounters.
However, without awesome descriptions of what the Monk is doing in combat, it can admittedly get a bit stale. If you really get into interacting with the game world, taking every chance to do awesome Monk tricks that would make Bruce Lee proud is a great way to keep this class feeling fresh.
Number 10 – Barbarian
With their ability to both take and dish out massive amounts of damage, Barbarians come in at the number 10 spot in this ranking.
The Barbarian is a hulking front-line combatant who uses their Rage ability to enhance their combat abilities by reducing incoming damage and increasing the damage they deal.
Even more, the fact that the Barbarian gets bonuses from its Unarmored Defense means that the character doesn’t have to sacrifice dexterity to be a strong tank for their party.
In the higher levels of play, the Barbarian gets upgraded versions of their lower-level abilities.
These include being able to Rage indefinitely, automatically ace nearly any strength check, and potentially shrug off blows that would otherwise reduce them to 0 hit points!
This is a class that knows what it’s all about. They’re especially strong in the early and upper levels, though they can admittedly feel a little “one-note” in the mid-levels.
Nevertheless, few characters are as tough as Barbarians!
Number 9 – Sorcerer
Did you ever have that kid in one of your classes who just got it?
Like, you’d stay up all night studying and doing trigonometry problems while hoping for a B on the test only to find out that this person just walked in and aced it with no studying.
That person is the Sorcerer.
Unlike Wizards (who spend their time studying the arcane) or Warlocks (who basically just slipped the teacher $20 before the test), the Sorcerer’s power comes to them naturally.
While their power is unpredictable at times, this also allows them to use Sorcery Points to achieve a number of crazy effects.
Sorcery Points can be used to recover spell slots, enhance their spells with powerful Metamagic options, or other abilities depending on their subclass.
While the sorcerer may not have the arcane diversity of their more studious Wizard counterpart, they prove that the rules are just more like guidelines when it comes to magic.
Number 8 – Warlock
Next up is the Warlock.
Warlocks gain their magical abilities through making a deal with some powerful entity. This entity may be some manner of fiend, fey, celestial, or something else entirely.
As a part of the deal, the Warlock’s patron grants them magical abilities and some pretty nifty abilities called Eldritch Invocations. To sweeten the deal, Warlocks also get extra benefits based on the nature of the pact they make!
For roleplaying, the Warlock adds an excellent way to introduce the characters to whatever entity the Warlock player has chosen and really adds to their immersion in the world.
Between the sheer number of options available to Warlocks for patrons (subclasses), invocations, and pact boons, there are tons of ways that you can build a Warlock character.
Blasters, Melee combatants, tricksters, healers, and more can all be found within the Warlock class.
That said, they are quite possibly the trickiest class to play. With so many unique mechanics, they can be overwhelming to new players who are just learning how D&D 5e works.
You’ll definitely want to check out my Warlock guides if you’re considering playing one of these characters!
Number 7 – Fighter
The Fighter is the archetypal hero in many ways.
Fighters have a huge spread of weapons, armor, and skills that they can take advantage of to make for a powerful combatant. They make for incredible sword-and-shield front-line combatants but can just as easily shine bright with a bow or polearm.
However you want to build your Fighter, they are sure to be an invaluable addition to the party.
In the Fighter’s first two levels, they get the incredible Second Wind and Action Surge abilities. These allow them to heal themselves in a pinch and take extra actions.
As the Fighter levels up, their ability to take damage and punish enemies with multiple attacks increases exponentially. Even if you aren’t looking to exclusively play Fighter, few characters wouldn’t benefit from a few Fighter levels for multiclassing!
Plus, there’s no shortage of inspiration when making a Fighter class character. Nearly every book, movie, comic, or other medium featuring fantasy action is FULL of Fighters.
You may take inspiration from figures such as Leonidas of Sparta, Legolas from Lord of the Rings (as an example of a ranged Fighter), or many others.
There’s a virtually limitless number of ways that you can build a Fighter!
Number 6 – Rogue
It’s hard not to love the Rogue class!
In combat, Rogues can pump out tons of damage with their Sneak Attack feature. Outside of combat, their skill in finding/disarming traps and general cunning is vital for navigating dangerous situations and environments.
Even better,the Rogue class has a ton of unique and interesting subclasses to choose from!
From classics like the brooding assassin or master thief to swashbuckling duelists and arcane tricksters, Rogues can take many forms!
All in all, Rogues really focus on using their wits and dexterity to solve practical problems.
Whether that problem is a cleverly placed trap, a social situation that might turn sour for the party, or a particularly dangerous enemy that needs to be dealt with ASAP, the Rogue can typically offer a solution.
If things get bad, their quick thinking and reflexes are dependable enough to help them avoid damage and get out of the enemy’s sight. From there, they can reposition to strike again when the opportunity presents itself!
Whether infiltrating, assassinating, doing recon, or disarming traps, every party is better for having a Rogue!
Number 5 – Druid
Drawing on the power of nature, Druids are a powerful and flexible class with a particularly wide range of abilities. Nothing highlights this quite as well as their most well-known ability: Wild Shape.
Need some extra muscle on the front line? Turn into a bear!
Need to do some recon? Turn into a bird!
The item you’re looking for is at the bottom of the lake? It’s octopus time baby!
Druids really shine by being able to fill any holes in your party’s composition reasonably well. Especially with some creativity, there’s not much that Druids can’t do!
The shillelagh cantrip is a must-have and helps your Druid function well in combat without their Wild Shape ability. But they also have access to a great selection of spells for healing, conjuring allies, and unleashing massive Area of Effect spells to transform the entire battlefield.
The Druid’s subclass options only enhance these abilities and make your character a true force of nature.
I have to confess, the Druid is my personal favorite and most-played class!
Number 4 – Bard
Ahh, the Bard. Many a D&D story is made possible by the inevitable antics of the Bard.
As what is likely the most charismatic and outspoken member of a party, the Bard is bound to be the catalyst for many of your group’s most-remembered moments.
Of course, sometimes these moments are fondly cherished tales of epic feats or hilarity, and others… well… you did warn them against attempting to seduce the dragon…
The Bard is often characterized as a “jack of all trades, master of none” with their colossal repertoire of skills and ability to acquire new talents at the drop of a hat.
Bards are at their best when buffing their allies and inflicting debuffs on enemies with a myriad of spells and their Bardic Inspiration feature. It’s often in those tense moments where a Bard is able to pull off some kind of clutch maneuver to save the day.
The Bard’s subclasses make them even more versatile. Options spread from enhancing their combat abilities to making them powerful and magically charming battlefield controllers.
While the Bard may have a tendency to get the party into some… err… awkward situations… they are just as equally adept at getting their party out!
Number 3 – Paladin
The Paladin is as powerful as it is iconic.
Characters that choose to walk the path of the Paladin have sworn Sacred Oaths that guide them on their quest. These Oaths might be sworn to a deity, a ruler, or to a specific duty and role.
Whatever the case, the Oath is the Paladin’s guiding principle and the source of their power.
The Paladin doesn’t just stand as a martial powerhouse on the battlefield, they also make for great leaders for the party given their convictions and high Charisma score.
While the Paladin typically favors Strength as their primary ability, Charisma typically comes in at a very close second.
As a “half-caster”, the Paladin isn’t just limited to the use of their physical prowess in punishing evil. Calling upon their deity, the Paladin gets access to numerous spells and features to help them and their allies on their quest like Bless, Sanctuary, and the class-defining Divine Smite.
But we can’t forget to mention the powerful auras that Paladins also gain. These auras give the Paladin and their nearby allies even more bonuses in certain situations depending on the aura.
For their ability to deal colossal bursts of damage, overall theme, and bonuses out the wazoo, the Paladin takes the #3 spot.
Number 2 – Wizard
Nerds of the world, rejoice!
The Wizard class takes the #2 spot for their simply huge selection of spells and subclasses/schools.
From blasting spells like Fireball to control and utility spells like Wall of Force or Fly, Wizards find their strength in growing their spell list and using it to properly prepare for the journey ahead.
Many of the most powerful characters in Dungeons & Dragons lore are Wizards and many of them have signature spells that your Wizard may take an interest in.
Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Mansion, Tasha’s Hideous Laughter, and Bigby’s Hand are just a few of these spells that were crafted by the Arcane giants on whose shoulders your character seeks to stand.
With some creativity and help from your Dungeon Master, your Wizard may soon fast find their name on some signature spells of their own design.
Most Wizards choose to specialize in a specific school of magic and gain extra bonuses related to that discipline. However, they are still capable of learning and using nearly any spell in the game!
For every situation, there is a spell to overcome it. Whether your Wizard favors blasting, controlling, or utility spells, the class is a Swiss Army knife among casters with the ability to prepare for any eventuality.
Number 1 – Cleric
Finally, we come to our #1 spot with the Cleric.
Where the Wizard is a glass cannon with the ability to unleash powerful spells at the cost of being the squishiest class, the Cleric has no such fears.
With the ability to wear armor and stand toe-to-toe with even the most fearsome foes, the Cleric becomes the perfect instrument of their deity’s will.
While Clerics are often thought of as the group’s healer (and don’t get me wrong, Clerics are the undisputed CEOs of healing), that doesn’t mean that they’re the typical “squishy, hiding-in-the-backline-and-hoping-the-enemy-doesn’t-see-them” type of healer.
Just as the Cleric’s deity of choice giveth HP, so doth they taketh away with brutal spells like Spirit Guardians and Inflict Wounds.
Oh, they also get extra bonuses based on their domain with their Channel Divinity ability!
Need an extra-strength dose of healing for one of your party members? Channel Divinity as a Life Cleric. Want to pull some shenanigans and confuse your enemies? Channel Divinity as a Trickery Cleric.
The Cleric has more options for their subclass/domain than any other class which gives them one of the largest kits to choose from.
Though we also can’t forget their Turn Undead ability. At lower levels, you can send all kinds of zombies, ghouls, and ghosts running (err… shambling? floating?) for the hills. At higher levels, you just outright destroy them.
Still not satisfied? Okay, what about the ability to call on your deity for some good, old-fashioned Divine Intervention?
Need more? Okay!
At level 20, your Divine Intervention works every time.
Just like that.
With an incredibly powerful spell list, amazing class and subclass features, and the support of their chosen deity on their side, the Cleric takes the #1 spot on this list!
Conclusion – Ranking the Classes of D&D 5e
But that’s about it for this ranking.
Once again, this is largely just personal preference and a kind of general overview of each class. The ranking aspect of it is really meant mostly for fun.
Trying to do an “apples to apples” comparison is difficult since each class really brings their own unique strengths to the table. At the end of the day, it’s important to play the character that you want to play!
But what do you think of this ranking? Would you change anything? Share your own class ranking in the comments!
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