The Top Tier 2: Son of Top Tier

March 30, 2009 at 6:00 am
filed under Roleplaying
Tagged , ,

With the advent of PHB2, I decided to update my database of races and classes. After wrangling an entertaining and subtle bug, I’ve got some new numbers. This time, I’ll even share them with you!

To review, I’ve entered the following books into my little database: PHB, FR PHB, Martial Power, and PHB2. I haven’t added any builds or content from Dungeon or Dragon, including the Artificer. I haven’t added the Dark Pact warlock, but I probably should.

Race Viable classes Viable builds Top tier builds
Dragonborn 18 35 6
Dwarf 19 27 3
Eladrin 15 22 1
Elf 17 27 3
Half-Elf 17 25 1
Halfling 15 25 4
Tiefling 16 27 2
Drow 15 25 4
Genasi 18 32 3
Deva 18 29 4
Gnome 16 27 2
Goliath 19 30 4
Half-Orc 17 30 2
Shifter, Long-tooth 20 37 5
Shifter, Razorclaw 17 27 3

Well, now! The long-tooth shifter seems to have cornered the market on the highest number of viable classes and builds. That’s in part because Strength remains king; the half-orc, goliath, and long-tooth are all within the top five most viable races, in no small part because PHB2 adds more Strength-based classes. What’s interesting is that now Wisdom narrowly beats Charisma as the second most valuable attribute.

Wisdom’s increased prominence means the dwarf has picked up three top tier classes and a bucketful of new builds due to Constitution appearing in a few classes. I still find it more than a little amusing that a dwarf is a viable bard, of all things. (It’s not that I can’t see the thematic possibilities— it’s that prior to 4e, it would’ve been a ridiculous, awful choice for a bunch of reasons.) What I find more amusing is the prospect of a goliath bard, a 7’5″ bard made of rocks. Think on that!

Speaking of the bard, half-elves now have a bard build as a top-tier choice! Eladrin still only have one, though, and dragonborn picked up two more top-tier builds, bringing them up to six (with the caveat that three of those are warlord builds).

Another thing I notice is that new classes are, at worst, on par with many of the races from PHB1 in terms of the sheer number of options. On average, PHB2 races have ~3.3 top tier builds, whereas PHB1 classes have more like ~2.8.  They have ~35 viable builds on average, compared to ~28 for PHB1 classes. I’m not going to read a whole lot into this, but it is vaguely interesting.

Again with the context

As I said in my previous post, this is based on a fairly simplistic analysis of what’s viable and what’s not. Some classes have racial abilities that complement classes nicely, whereas others are a poor choice for other reasons.

To wit, a dwarf avenger with an Execution Axe and Dwarven Weapon Training is quite terrifying. With 18 Wisdom, he’s rolling at least 9 damage on every attack! He’s also less mobile. And, since avengers start with Cloth only, it’ll cost feats to take advantage of dwarves’ “Speed 5 with heavy armor” schtick. It’s a tradeoff, in other words.

The other thing is that suboptimal builds have some recourse as of PHB2— now you can shore up your slightly lower to-hit with feats like Weapon or Implement Mastery. Of course optimal builds can take those, too, but that’s potentially at the cost of a feat that’s more interesting or relevant.

You’re a what now?

In the end, I like doing this analysis not in order to find the most optimal builds, but rather to find those that are unexpectedly viable and thus offer interesting ways to depart from the norm. The half-elf barbarian, goliath bard, half-orc cleric, and tiefling shaman are each combinations that are (by the above standard) viable as well as delightfully off the beaten path. I might have missed them if I hadn’t written this tool. Depending on whether or not I find time to polish my little app, I might be able to make it available, with this purpose chiefly in mind.

Thanks for reading!

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