One of the most overwhelming parts of learning to play Dungeon & Dragons are the choices new players have to make up front.
What weapons should I use? What spells should I have readied? What race should I be? To assist those new players bewildered by their options, we’ve broken down the 12 basic classes into three general categories based on our opinion of their overall complexity. The easier classes are at the top and the more challenging classes are toward the bottom. This doesn’t mean a brand new player shouldn’t play a wizard; they should, however, be aware wizards may have more choices and mechanics to juggle than say, barbarians.
Moreover, simplified class choices and mechanics gives you more bandwidth to focus on roleplaying elements, character backstory and other integral elements of roleplaying.
We made these selections based on a few different criteria. Classes with a very specific role in combat were more likely to be classified as easier because that cuts down on the choices a new player has to make in play. Creation choices were another element that factored into our ranking. Spellcasting classes have additional choices to make right away with spell lists and their subclass choice right away. Presenting more choices for someone that’s never played before might be overwhelming, so simplified choices can help them focus on the experience and fun.
EASY TO PLAY CLASSES
- Fighter: There’s a reason that a recent analysis of popular classes marked the human fighter as the most popular. It’s something that we can all imagine doing; picking up a sword and laying down some orcs with it. The fighter is pretty straightforward in combat, so it’s a good choice for brand new players.
- Barbarian: This class is also pretty straightforward; put a big axe into the bad guys, repeat as needed. No armor is even needed. There’s a little tactical consideration here. Popping barbarian rage is a lot like using a showy special move in a fighting game. Use it well, and it devastates an opponent. Use it poorly, and the fight becomes a much longer haul.
- Paladin: This class is known for its tank-like love of heavy armor and healing support. Some veteran players write it off as a class for annoying players and goodie-two-shoes, but there are some great options for players who don’t want to be entirely squeaky clean. Remember: Lawful good doesn’t mean lawful nice.
- Ranger: This class focuses a lot on pet management and ranged attacks. Players love to shoot bad guys from afar, and if that appeals, ranger is the best class to do it with. This class also dips into picking spells, but not too many.
- Rogue: This class is very popular. It requires knowing how and where to get advantage on opponents to effectively sneak attack opponents. Knowing when to hide and knowing when to strike can sometimes be difficult for a new player to figure out.
- Cleric: Being a healer is a good choice for a new player since it means they have a clear duty on the battlefield, the other players will generally protect the cleric, and saving lives is a good way to start generating stories that hook people into playing. It also means choosing and using a full suite of spells, which can take some time getting used to.
- Monk: This class offers a lot of small attacks, which makes it very useful against lesser opponents. Managing ki points make this class effective, so knowing when to spend them to lay into an opponent with multiple small attacks is the best way to play a monk.
- Warlock: The warlock offers a lot of spells and a lot of choices to make at the beginning but plays solidly once those choices are made. Plus, the patron a warlock chooses can also function as a way for the Dungeon Master to guide new players toward interesting decisions.
- Bard: Bards are excellent at support, so they have to manage when to hand out that support and also when to cast spells. Bards make everyone else better but they rarely shine on their own.
- Druid: Druid Wild Shape ability is awesome, but it’s helpful to know the CRs of the animals the character is available to shift into. That requires a little study of the Monster Manual as well as being able to adapt in battle to new animals as needed.
- Sorcerer: The key to a good sorcerer is magical flexibility beyond just spell points. Sorcery points allow for more spells and special abilities depending on the subclass. Flexibility often means versatility which might be challenging for a new player.
- Wizard: Wizards have to make a lot of choices up front and inside the game. Most solutions to puzzles and combat come out of the spell book. Someone great at lateral thinking is a good choice to play a wizard right off the bat.
Images: Wizards of the Coast
Rob Wieland is an author, game designer and professional nerd. He writes about kaiju, Jedi, gangsters, elves and is a writer for the Star Trek Adventures RPG line. His blog is here, where he is currently reviewing classic Star Wars RPG adventures. His Twitter is here. His meat body can be found in scenic Milwaukee, WI.
This article was originally published on Geek & Sundry.