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    Default Why Each Class Is In Its Tier (Rescued from MinMax)

    Why Each Class Is In Its Tier
    This thread was originally posted is intended as a companion piece to JaronK's Tier System for Classes. It was originally posted as a series of threads by BG user Gr1illedcheese at Brilliant Gameologists/MinMaxBoards here, but because that board has been down for a while, the original is currently inaccessible. But thanks to some work done by GitP user Larkas (thanks Larkas!), I have been able to compile the threads into one source for ease of reference so that this work isn't lost completely. These listings were also posted in JaronK's Tier System thread here on GitP, but I thought that it would be more appropriate to put this information in its own thread, rather than spoilered 10 pages into that thread.

    Additionally, thanks to the work of GitP forum members, I will be adding in analysis of classes that were not in the original posts. These new additions will be have their class names put in bold green font, like this, and you ought to find credit for who added the new material as it was in the original thread. If I haven't given someone credit where credit is due, if you want to contribute your own points, or if you notice anything wrong with my posts, please let me know in the thread!

    Without further ado, here is what you probably want to see:

    Why Tier 1s are Tier 1s
    It was brought up that there's no set explanation for why low tier classes are generally less effective. With that in mind, I figured I'd start one. I'll be doing one for each tiers, but I want to get the low tiers out of the way first, because most people know why classes like Wizards and Druids are above average. I'm looking for your input on the classes, and to make this a guide for people new to CO. Thanks to all who contribute in advance.

    From JaronK's Tier System For Classes guide, the widely accepted Char Op base power description thread:

    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. These guys, if played well, can break a campaign and can be very hard to challenge without extreme DM fiat, especially if Tier 3s and below are in the party.

    Examples: Wizard, Cleric, Druid, Archivist, Artificer, Erudite

    A note about an unlisted class: "Psionic" Artificer deserves a mention.
    No one has taken an extended look at it.
    Psi X / Magic interactions suck.
    Psi Recharge available at level 1, more a problem of recharge set-ups, than how Psi Arty does it better.
    Linked Power allows Wand-ificer cheese, but on the cheap ... I mean real cheap.
    Dorje is a Wand that can have higher than level 4s on it.
    Oh hey, Erudite Spell to Power puts spells into the psionics realm.
    Oh hey, Dragon #349 put Divine spells into the psionics realm.

    If there is a Tier Zero, Psi Arty deserves it, but again ... it's more a Psi X problem, than the class being anything anyone has looked at or bork't. -Awaken DM Golem


    Why Tier 1s are Tier 1:

    Wizard:
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    A quote from an old thread about wizards.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ongorth
    Another really funny party was Fighter, Wizard, Wizard, Nymph. Both of the wizards focused on control spells, with one favoring summons and the other favoring defensive stuff. Basically, this party was the exact opposite (even though the fighter in this party was one of the fighers in the other party) of the other. They simply did not so any damage, instead completely looking up the fight with stunning gaze, acid fog, wall of ________, trips, summoned elementals, etc. while slowly chipping the opponent away. Every combat took a long time to resolve, but usually it was a forgone conclusion early on. The opponents would get seperated and stalled while the fighter individually pounded them. For a powerful single opponent would be subjected to repeated save-or-abilities from behind barriers of spell created obstacles and the fighter. Probably the most "professional" party I'd ever been in, from the perspective that they always were able to solve every encounter they faced with a clear, efficient strategy that was often ad-libbed and always effective.

    It also helped convince me that the game is less fun with two wizards, because you really, really always have a solution to every problem as a standard action, even when both wizards are intentionally limiting their spell lists for thematic and balance concerns.
    This is more to silence those who would claim that wizards are really only powerful when they get to abuse supposed loopholes in the game, such as infinite wishes, spamming major creation or how they presumably always have the "perfect" spell for the job, despite having to prepare their spells beforehand. Even when playing them at a fraction of their capabilities, they should still be able to eclipse the rest of the non-casters. -Runestar

    Cons: You have to pay a trivial amount for spell knowledge above and beyond the stuff you gain for leveling. And if your GM is a major jackass, you may have to put a small amount of resources into protecting your spellbook - an eternal wand of hoard gullet, perhaps, or something similar. Your HP and BAB are fairly low, unless you buff your con. -The_Mad_Linguist
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    Your power starts slow. Unlike even many Rogues, at level 1 you're stuck in back judiciously using your small number of level 1 and 0 spells while the front-liners get to feel continually special. (Even tier 5s and 6s can shine at level 1 and laugh at the Wizard. Then the Wizard levels and outshines them brighter than Daylight.) Hopefully you packed Cloudy Conjuration or some means of giving your spells some extra oomf. At best, you have 5 level 1 slots at level 1 from being a 20+ INT Focused Specialist. More likely, you'll have 3 or 4.

    Managing until about level 5 when you can safely cast a spell or two every fight and not feel like you're wasting your resources is a challenge, if only to your patience. Things tend to get much easier from there, unless your DM is annoying and repeatedly targets your spellbook, imprisons you naked, sends Antimagic Field-generating creatures at you, or decides to "challenge" you by stripping you of your highest level spell slots on a whim.

    Another problem is spell selection: There are often too many good spells for me to choose at a given level. What spells do I pick when my Conjurer hits level 3: Mirror Image and Glitterdust; Invisibility and Web; Rope Trick and Cloud of Bewilderment? Complete Arcane's Collegiate Wizard and Races of the Wild's Elven Generalist increase the number of free spells known, but these aren't always available or optimal.

    Scrolls you want aren't guaranteed to be available on demand to pad your lean spellbook, but when you can Teleport across the world in minutes, your odds drastically improve. Cost is a significant factor unless your DM says you can use Secret Page to make spellbooks with every spell in the game at no charge, or you find another method. WotC assumes Wizards pay gold for their extra spells and don't use money tricks like spamming Water to Acid then selling the acid, or binding farms of Efreet for all the Wishes they want. (I'm not saying being a Wish farmer is necessarily a bad thing, but I am saying your DM is probably a reasonable person who disapproves of your trying to shortcut your way to divinity and ignoring his plot hooks. Your DM has feelings too, and he probably doesn't want to play alone.)

    Sometimes, Wizard players become rampantly annoying when they ask their DMs what sorts of limits he puts on their power. "Can I use Shadow Miracle? Can I make a Simulacrum of a Solar to keep in my Bag of Holding? How soon can I turn this peaceful farming village into a hooker/terrorist/necromancer/ludicrously profitable encampment? What do you mean I can't cast the spells of my new Polymorph form? What's so bad about using Genesis to create a plane of pure gold/platinum/diamond/obdurium that only I can access with a hole in the middle big enough for my construct army to mine out?"

    Playing a Wizard effectively requires preparation, planning, and the ability to anticipate your DM's actions out of character. Some people consider this cheating or unsporting, but if you weren't so smart out of character, why play a Wizard?

    Also, your spell selection is largely at the DM's whim. If your DM prevents you from expanding your spellbook, you're effectively an INT-based Sorcerer with less spontanaeity, stuck in the less comfortable realm between low tier 1 and high tier 2. This is especially true if your DM forbids Elven Generalist, Domain Wizard, Collegiate Wizard, or other means of cheaply expanding your spellbook.

    By comparison, if a typical Cleric or Druid loses access to a spell or domain, there's typically little problem since they know EVERY spell on their list. If the DM doesn't like Druids casting Flame Strike, it's no biggie; just Wild Shape and instead cast Flaming Sphere or Vortex of Teeth or Creeping Cold or... -Endarire

    Pros: At every level, you have an "I-win" button. From the lowly "Power word: Pain" to the mighty shapechange, and anywhere in between, you rule supreme. Your spellcasting stat, intelligence, is optimal (with the exception of a hypothetical constitution-based spellcaster). You only really have one ability score to raise, so even in low point buy you aren't going to be less powerful - just slightly squishier.

    A wide range of prestige class options are open to you, and the access to bonus feats makes it easier to qualify for them.

    At first level, you possess the most fungible assets of any party member, as well as scribe scroll.

    The single spell "Contact Other Plane" is so useful that it removes any downside for having prepared casting, and that's without truly abusing it.

    With access to wish, time stop, genesis, and ice assassin, there is absolutely nothing that a Wizard20 cannot do. Scry&fry is a trivial example.

    Basically, a wizard can learn any of the hundreds of spells that are broken in some circumstance or another. With divinations, you'll know which ones you'll need to prepare. -The_Mad_Linguist
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    One of the facets about wizards that I find the most broken is how much stronger he gets with a bit of forethought and prep-work.

    So many spells are of Permanent or Instantaneous duration that can be used and abused to the point of ridiculousness (and can generally be accessed far, far sooner than would generally be expected). Spells like astral projection, clone, simulacrum, and explosive runes (yes, I prepared them this morning) can be used in ways to make yourself nigh invincible, and there's definitely a reason why the last one I mentioned has the initials E.R.

    Unlike most other classes, who can generally only buffer themselves against most effects (such as improving their AC), wizards have access to so many spells that render them untouchable, with a bit of forethought. Simply telling someone, "no, you can't affect me 'cuz I'm 100% immune" is a sure way to survive an encounter with mundane and exotic critters alike. Protection from arrows, wind wall, ironguard, polymorph, mind blank, true seeing, protection from good/evil/law/chaos, protection from vermin, shapechange, and a whole host of other spells can render threats to entire campaign worlds null and void.

    Wizards also have myriad ways of increasing their spellcasting prowess both inside and out of combat: ioun stones, metamagic rods, pearls of power, rods of absorption, staves, wands, scrolls, rings of wizardry, spell-storing weapons, and a slew of other items are specifically designed to do horrible things to a given game (and those are just in Core). That's not even including the in-game strategies a wizard has access to. And Reserve Feats.

    Have I mentioned that even low-level spells can essentially take down encounters by themselves at near-epic levels? Properly utilized, even grease and silent image can render creatures of amazingly high CR down to mere trivialities to kill. I'm sure there's a way to do the same with prestidigitation, if someone really tried.

    Heck, four 4th level wizards, properly equipped, could take down the tarrasque. Fly + Melf's acid arrow for the win. -Lycanthromancer
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    Being able to kill people with your mind makes for an excellent scenario akin to Revenge of the Nerds. As the saying goes, a high level Fighter can hit stuff really hard. A high level Wizard can remake existence in less than a round's time on his chosen plane. As another saying goes, "In mortality, the shortest way to divinity is through wizardry."

    A level 15 Wizard worth his spells is effectively a demigod, able to turn X into Y, go where he pleases on this plane and that, blow stuff up because it doesn't belong there, give life to Simulacrums of his favorite dragons/outsiders, call his favorite deity via Contact Other Plane and get scooped on what spells to prepare for that time period, Clone himself a backup self, and enslave cities with Charm/Dominate >>all in the same day.<< (Really, a Wizard can access every spell if only indirectly. A Solar casts spells as a Cleric20. An Efreeti can emulate L6 Druid spells, and there's probably some extraplanar Archivist, Psion, Erudite, Artificer, <class name> who'd be willing to help you for a large enough bribe or a strong enough Charm/Dominate Monster. Gate one in and have a ball, or better yet, a Prismatic Sphere!)

    If someone uses the phrase, "A Wizard did it!" you can choose to take credit without speaking a word.

    A Wizard knows a lot. Potentially, he knows everything. More likely, he knows the relevant stats of any CR-appropriate fight and then some. A level 5 Wizard who boosts his INT and Knowledge checks could go to some random stranger, take 10, and tell them all their childhood secrets. Even the DM might be creeped out at that. -Endarire


    Cleric:
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    Cons: Often requires Divine Metamagic (Which is occasionally banned) and Nightsticks (may be banned or demoted to un-stackable). Needs to have some idea of domains chosen (although that's only at low levels).

    Undead Creation is often Evil, and thus banned for Good clerics. This also extends to other aligned spells. Rebuking is considered much stronger than turning undead.

    PrC'ing is a must. You really don't get anything by staying in Cleric.

    Just because you're a cleric, people will be expecting you to heal. This is a trap. Healing in combat has proved to be not as optimal as other actions.

    Feat heavy. Clerics usually require 3 feats (Extend spell, persist spell, and divine metamagic), and may require additional feats to qualify for PrC's.

    You have an aura. Specifically, you are a giant neon sign to anyone who uses the Detect alignment spells. -Chaos Josh

    Pros: Divine Metamagic: Persist is easily their best trick. The ability to make spells such as Divine Power, Righteous Wrath, Lesser Vigor, etc. etc. last all day is one of the best tricks for buffing and forgetting about it. This is especially useful for breaking the metamagic cap, and spontaneously using metamagic.

    If you need skill points, Cloistered Cleric is the ACF for you. You'll gain 4 skill points/level, a form of bardic knowledge, additional spells and free use of the Knowledge Domain, while only losing on average 1 hp and medium armor profs (which is made up by some PrCs) (The loss of BAB is covered by Divine Power).

    Clerics gain some of the best minion creation spells in the game. This includes the summon monster line, gate, planar ally, animate dead, etc. This is not including what a cleric may have by rebuking enemies, either.

    Domain spells, and also the domain powers can be very helpful. This also makes a one level dip in cleric good for almost any build. You could potentially gain 2 feats AND the ability to use all cleric scrolls/wands/staves including those of your domain spells. Heck, having the Magic domain for a 1 level dip means you net wizard/sorcerer magic items as well. You can even pick up Trap Finding, Uncanny Dodge, or many other class features through this dip. And lets not forget that some even give you a +1-2 to caster level on certain spells, or even the ability to turn additional creatures. This isn't including the Divine Magician class feature in Complete mage, giving you any 9 wizard spells (1 per level) from specific schools.

    Some devotion feats are strong, and are also powered by turning as well. These include using Travel devotion to move and full attack, animal devotions to gain flight/bonuses to Str, or additional hit/damage with Knowledge devotion. You get more devotion feats than the other classes as well. (potential of 3 as opposed to 2).

    You have effectively ALL cleric spells on your spell list. You are not some sissy with a book that he needs to protect, or loaded to the brim with scrolls/wands like the artificer. This is an advantage whenever a PrC says something like "Able to cast seven different divination spells, one of which must be 3rd level or higher." or similar.

    They get the very nice Divine Insight, which gives up to +15 insight to a single skill check (is discharged). This is powerful if you consider Knowledge devotion, and even without may replace the rogue (although going on that route may make the dungeon take more time).

    You get Quicken spell. This doesn't seem that much better than the other tier 1's, until you realize that you can take Divine Metamagic: Quicken, breaking the metacap as well.

    4 turning attempts are worth 7,500g. Hurrah for nightsticks.

    You can buy a +4 to CL for 10 mins. for 20,000g. And it's Core as well.

    Animate Dead Abuse: Combining Desecrate and animate dead could potentially net you a 10-headed Hydra zombie. At 5th level. Effectively a 75 hp tank with 10 attacks/round. Costs a bundle on Onyx though...

    There's a lot of broken things you can do with clerics as well. Sure, everyone knows that Druids have wildshape, and wizards can create different planes, but do they have spiffy names like the Twice Betrayer of Shar or the Cheater of Mystra. The main broken thing, unlike the Planar Shepard or Incantrix, is that they rely on not prestige classes, but a feat. Initiate of Mystra allows you the ability to cast in antimagic fields. You can cast antimagic field. With Ocular Spell, you can persist antimagic fields. There's also Greater Compulsive Field abuse (Gain +2 str, 1d8 hp, and +1 CL by killing 1 commoner. Run through the town!).

    There are so many GOOD cleric prestige classes. This adds to the variety of Cleric builds. Just going by the handbook here on BG's there is:
    Bone Knight
    Church Inquisitor
    Contemplative
    Divine Oracle
    Malconvoker
    Ordained Champion
    Prestige Paladin
    Radiant Servant
    Ruby Knight Vindicator
    Sacred Exorcist
    Sacred Fist
    Seeker of the Misty Isle
    Sovereign Speaker
    Thaumaturgist
    Dweomerkeeper

    Borderline SAD. You only really need Wis, as it's the main casting stat. Every other stat could be a 10, but it's handy to have them higher. Not as SAD as say, Druids, due to lacking transformation skills (Without domain choices, however. A cleric with the transformation domain can persist a Polymorph at 9th level.)

    The basic class is one of the best. Two good saves (being the important ones), a d8 HD, and 3/4 BAB are pretty good. The ability to cast regardless of armor, while also being proficient in it, is a sole feature of the Cleric in this tier (well, at lower levels anyhow). (For all it's worth, it's not important, but it is a pro).
    -Chaos Josh

    Druid:
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    The druid is a true powerhouse of a class due to the sheer versatility and power of its three main class features: wild shaping, spells, and animal companions. Able to function as a tank (or 2 tanks with wild shape and animal companion), summoner, battlefield controller, damage-dealer, scout (both with wildshape and with divinations), and healer, the druid is extremely flexible. -Akalsaris

    Cons: - Most prestige classes are traps for the druid, as very few advance the things a druid cares about. Nature's Warrior, Master of Many Forms, and Blighter are all far weaker than straight druid. Planar Shephard is the only PrC that possibly surpasses straight druid, while Moonspeaker and Contemplative both give some things and take away some things.

    - Very feat-tight. A druid gets 0 bonus feats and must take Natural Spell at 6th (don't argue this one), so every feat it takes must do a hell of a lot for the build, especially on a non-human. A summoner's feats are practically locked into Spell Focus (Conj), Ashbound/Greenbound, Augment Summoning, Natural Spell, Rapid Spell, and Elemental Summoning, for example.

    - Spells are alignment-limited and the druid must have a neutral component to her alignment, which can limit the spell list sometimes, especially for summoning. Neutral (True Neutral) is easily the safest alignment in this regard, completely sidestepping the restrictions.

    - Very few worthwhile alternative class features, unlike the wizard or cleric. The Shapeshift Druid is alright, but trades 2 good class features for one mediocre class feature. -Akalsaris

    Pros: - The chassis: Druids have medium-high hitpoints, medium BAB, medium skills/level, medium-low armor and weapon proficiencies, and high fort/will saves. All decent, but not particularly strong, though the saves are quite nice.

    - Spells: the most powerful tool in a druid's arsenal. First level starts off strong with Entangle, a very long-range battlefield control spell, and only gets better from there on. With a fast spell progression and wisdom based casting, the druid also has dozens of supplements' worth of spells to cherry-pick from, as she can cast any spell on her list with preparation. The ability to spontaneously cast Nature's Ally spells is another strong ability for summoning-focused druids, and can be helpful even to other kinds. Druid spells are typically either utility, battlefield control, or damaging, with a large sprinkling of divinations, healing, and buff spells. The Spell Compendium is notable for nerfing a lot of former druid staples, but introducing a ton of other excellent spells, especially self-buffs.

    - Wild Shape: The next most powerful tool a druid has, at its best, wild shape allows a druid to cherry-pick through a dozen sourcebooks for animal forms that are the best answer to any given situation. Even if only limited to the Monster Manual, wild shape gives tremendous flexibility and allows druids of 8th level or higher to completely ignore Str and Dex in character creation, freeing up points for other stats. It also makes the druid's weak armor and weapon proficiencies a non-issue.

    - Animal Companion: The linchpin to the druid's power, the animal companion is like having .5 more party members. At low levels it can function as a support tank, and at higher levels it can either be used to provide the party's less awesome members with flight, or it can become a tank in of itself. Dinosaurs especially are good at almost all levels. With 1 or 2 buffs such as a shared Bite of the Wereboar or an Animal Growth spell, the animal companion can easily match the party's fighter in tanking and damage output.

    - Other class features: To top it off, the other druid abilities are pretty solid as well. Nature Sense is effectively a +2/+2 skills feat, while Wild Empathy is like a free, albeit limited, Diplomacy score. Venom Immunity is useful for evil druids who want to use poisons, while Timeless Body means that a druid starting at high levels can begin with +3 to all mental stats without the physical drawbacks. -Akalsaris
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    More cons for druids: doesn't (easily) get access to time stop and wish. At this tier it's a consideration. If you're playing gamebreaking characters, not having access to a couple of gamebreaking techniques is significant especially when a lowly sorcerer CAN get those tricks. -Rebel7284

    Archivist:
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    Cons: Dual stat casting*: This is a real disadvantage, meaning you can'T truly focus on one stat, since your spell DC's are based on your intel, and your bonus spells per day are based on your wisdom.

    No domain access*: The domains are a great advantage, and the archivist does not, unfortunately, have access to them. At least, not without multiclassing. Domains are there for the spells, yes, but also for the domain powers!! Undeath grants extrat urning, planning grants extend spell, luck grants rerolls, travel grants freedom of movement, these are all awesome abilities.

    No turn undead.* A staple of the divine spellcasters is their ability to channel turn undead attempts into divine metamagic. Unfortunately, you can't do that if you'Re an archivist, again, some prestige classes grant it, but then it means you get them later.

    Basically, IMO, while the archivist is GREATLY versatile, way more than the cleric, he is someone lacking in other departments and this is why i have yet to play one (althought my next level 1 character might be an archivist...) -Alastar

    Sacred exorcist, while being very good for the archivist, is not ideal for all campaigns, as it requires you to be good, as well as :''Only characters judged by their church to be examplary in faith and devotion, strong of will and upright in morality, are made exorcists''

    I mean, it's not HARD to do, but maybe no everybody wants to be an exorcist/archivist.
    *-See JaronK's pro section.
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    The time factor allows DMs to stop Archivists from actually getting the good spells if you don't have access to magic marts or a Warlock. Also, the fact that you're a divine spellcaster may make your party want you to be a healbot. If so, make sure to dip Sacred Exorcist, then persist Lesser Mass Vigor or Vigorous Circle, and tell them to shut up. -JaronK

    Pros: Versatility: With his prayerbook giving him acccess to the whole armada of divine spells out there, the archivist, throught domains, prestige class lists, funky unearthed arcana spell lists and a slew of other things, can get virtually any spell he wants in his prayerbook, some of them at a lower level then a normal cleric!!! (I'm looking at you lesser restoration) This is a HUMONGOUS advantage in any game!!

    Good skills, with a focus on intelligence, means an archivist can easily take knowledge devotion. This synergises well with his dark knowledge ability. The Dark Knowledge ability is a huge boon to the whole party. -Alastar
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    I have to say, Archivist dual statting is NOT a serious disadvantage. If you look at it, the only "dual stat" issue is that they use Wisdom for bonus spells. This would be annoying, except that they actually get one more spell at a given level than Wizards, so they've effectively got plenty of bonus spells anyway. Very handy. As such, they really don't need to boost wisdom much, though it helps.

    Furthermore, while Archivists don't get domain abilities, they do get domain spells, which is often the important thing anyway.

    And finally, Sacred Exorcist 1 is all you need for Turn Undead, so that's hardly an issue.

    Archivists can cast almost any spell in existence, often at very low levels. Consider for a moment the Dragon Magic Favoured Soul variant that makes every 6th level and below Wizard/Sorc spell exist as a divine spell, and the divine Bard variant. In fact, I can't think of a single good Wizard/Sorc spell out there that isn't available to an Archivist (technically, you can actually get all Wizard/Sorc spells, but only because of the existance of a 3.0 PrC, the Hexer. But all the good ones can be gotten without 3.0 material). Furthermore, because the research rules allow you to research any spell that's a copy of an existing spell (without changing it at all) you can get all the spells you want, limited only by time. Or you can just have a Warlock make you some scrolls. Whatever floats your boat.

    Also, a lot of spells were created with slow casting progressions in mind (Adept, Ranger, Paladin) and the Archivist can therefor get these spells much faster than intended... and with a Sacred Exorcist dip, you can then pull off stunts like Persistant Swift Haste (Ranger 2).

    The Archivist even gets useful class features (namely Dark Knowledge). Because, you know, casting every divine spell ever just wasn't enough. -JaronK

    Artificier:
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    Cons: Really complicated. It needed the longest guide ever, just for regular game play ... see the Endymnion (sp?) threads. No CO-er ever made an easyplay or quickstart type guide, perhaps because you can't. -Awaken DM Golem

    Pros: Artificers can, effectively, cast any spell in the game. The only thing remotely as broken as magic spells is magic items. And the artificer is really good at making and using magic items. -The_Mad_Linguist
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    TWF with Wands means, you are two Wizards, but it's expensive. You can torque Caelic off, by just suggesting Artificers CAN'T do something. -Awaken DM Golem
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    An optimised craftificer can make magic items ridiculously cheaply (as in at about 2.05 percent of the market price). Furthermore, using a Spell Clock that casts the spell that extracts Ambrosia(from BoED), Leadership, an item of continuous Wrack, and the item that turns pain to pleasure (BoVD), they can have continuously regenerating crafting XP. -Bastian
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    As I recall with Artificers, there's a spell that gives you an action point every round... and an ability to cast a spell off wand using an action point instead of a charge. The first spell is persistable. Go wand wielding maniac, go! And don't forget to get your wands off the trapsmith list, so that the level 3 limit isn't as much of an issue. -JaronK

    Spell-to-Power Erudite:
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    Cons:
    Erudite Spell To Power option ONLY !!
    (I'm stretching here ) Not many multiclassing options, not that you need them. You need a party Wizard / Mage Of The Arcane Order, to learn all those yummy spells from, but you get to play the Experience Is A River shuffle. Permanent weakness of the class, is the limited spell/powers choices on round 1, but just round 1 and you get Contigency. No Magic 9s until after Epic Spells ... umm, how's this a problem?
    -Awaken DM Golem

    Note that Erudite can also get access to Mental Pinnacle, which means he essentially doesn't need to know any of the powers in the spell's description and has unlimited power points without needing to spend feats on it (except the EK for Mental Pinnacle). Note also that while the spell costs a caster his spellcasting ability, the Erudite's manifesting ability would be untouched. -Agita


    Pros:
    (Erudite Spell To Power option ONLY !!)
    Elemental Envoy feat at 1st level, is almost as good as Leadership, but only up to level 6 ... so you dismiss it. Linked Power feat and Imprint Powerstones feat, get around the Powers per day limit well enough. Then you get arcane spells without V or S components. Pay the equivalent to 1 spell level, to eliminate M components; which is superior to Eschew Materials feat. And you get to be a spell point Wizard. Better than any early entry cheese, for Mystic Theurge type builds. UrPriest 2 / Psychic Theurge 7 is an option (yawn). Psionic / Magic translation problems produce spooky actions not at a distance (physics reference). -Awaken DM Golem
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    The current summarization does not do justice to the Spell-to-Power variant, as it leaves out their most powerful ability. I'm speaking of Arcane Fusion.

    Why does this ability matter? Think of it this way; a Druid becomes pretty much all-powerful upon obtaining Natural Spell. Arcane Fusion is the Spell-to-Power variant Erudite's version of Natural Spell. Because the Erudite's power list is limited only by how willing you are to pay a 400 xp cost (that's for 9th level powers, lower level ones cost less), you can get nearly any spell from every class list.

    Now, if having 9th level Psionic Powers, 8th level Arcane Spells, and 7th level Divine Spells isn't enough to justify taking this class to 20th, Arcane Fusion is. Obtainable somewhere around 9th or 11th level, turning Arcane Fusion into a Psionic Power allows you to manifest any 4th level or lower Psionic Power you know for the price of a single 5th level power. This bypasses your Unique Powers/day limit. Great Arcane Fusion does the same thing, but for 7th level and lower powers and at the cost of an 8th level power.

    There is some gray area, such as Augmentations, but I'm not going to delve into that complicated mess.


    Also, by RAW, an Erudite does not need to prepare his Unique Powers/day; he simply manifests them, and they stick. -Sinfire Titan
    Last edited by Karnith; 2013-01-28 at 05:22 PM.

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    Default Re: Why Each Class Is In Its Tier (Rescued from MinMax)

    Why Tier 2s are Tier 2s
    It was brought up that there's no set explanation for why low tier classes are generally less effective. With that in mind, I figured I'd start one. I'll be doing one for each tiers, but I want to get the low tiers out of the way first, because most people know why classes like Wizards and Druids are above average. I'm looking for your input on the classes, and to make this a guide for people new to CO. Thanks to all who contribute in advance.

    From JaronK's Tier System For Classes guide, the widely accepted Char Op base power description thread:

    Tier 2: Has as much raw power as the Tier 1 classes, but can't pull off nearly as many tricks, and while the class itself is capable of anything, no one build can actually do nearly as much as the Tier 1 classes. Still potencially campaign smashers by using the right abilities, but at the same time are more predictable and can't always have the right tool for the job. If the Tier 1 classes are countries with 10,000 nuclear weapons in their arsenal, these guys are countries with 10 nukes. Still dangerous and world shattering, but not in quite so many ways. Note that the Tier 2 classes are often less flexible than Tier 3 classes... it's just that their incredible potential power overwhelms their lack in flexibility.

    Examples: Sorcerer, Favored Soul, Psion, Binder (with access to online vestiges), Ardent, Wilder

    Why Tier 2s are Tier 2:

    Sorcerer:
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    A note on Sorcerers: Well, the sorcerer and favored soul are obvious examples because they're spontaneous version of tier 1 classes (the wizard and cleric respectively). They get more spell slots per day, but they have far fewer spells known. Thus, any one trick of theirs can be just as powerful as a tier 1 caster, but they don't have as many tricks. Their sheer versatility drops compared to a tier 1 class. They can completely solo some encounters, but not all encounters.

    Of course, smart players will take very versatile spells to maximize each spell known. Spells like Alter Self/Polymorpth each cover a wide range of possibilities, as do the Summon Monster spells.

    Also, being able to spontaneously apply metamagic feats is nice, but the full round action cost really cuts into the action ecconomy. Being one level behind on their advancement also hurts their power a bit compared to the tier 1s. -Robbypants

    Cons: A Sorcerer gets shafted in nearly every way compared to a Wizard. A Sorcerer's only entry in its class feature table is a familiar which is often quickly traded for a better class feature while Wizards have a familiar, the ability to specialize, a larger skill list, and get a bonus feat every 5 levels. Regardless, a Sorcerer's primary strength lies in his spell selection which, with minor notable exceptions, is the same as the Wizard's.

    Sorcerers know few spells, and many would agree that their spells known list starts small and progresses abysmally slowly. While a Wizard can spend some cash and pad his repertoire, Sorcerers are meant to be balanced by casting more spells per day spontaneously and requiring less money to be effective. (If your DM allows you to buy Knowstones, Sorcerers may spend more than Wizards on new spells.) Were a Sorcerer's 'spells per day' table for each spell he knew instead of total, his stamina would make him a much greater contender for equality with a Wizard. As it stands, at each level a Sorcerer gains a new spell level, he knows exactly ONE spell of that level that he can cast thrice plus his bonus slots per day. Meanwhile, a specialist Wizard- the typical modern species- can cast the same number of spells per day and choose to allocate them as he sees fit, assuming the Wizard's INT equals the Sorcerer's CHA.

    A Sorcerer4 has more level 1 slots and can spontaneously cast Grease, Mage Armor, or Silent Image 7 times per day and Alter Self 4 times per day, but a level ago while the was Sorcerer fixated on exploiting Silent Image for all he could, the Conjurer was casting Alter Self and forcing Will saves with Glitterdust. Alter Self is still a spiffy spell, debatably broken, but it's annoyingly using my sole level 2 spell known at this point. Even if the Conjurer never buys a scroll, he knows 4 spells and has 3 general slots and 1 specialist slot to change on a daily basis. (If the Conjurer took Collegiate Wizard at level 1, he automatically knows more spells of a spell level than a Sorcerer ever will, unless the Sorcerer learns a buncha spells.) By the time the Sorcerer levels to 5 and gains another level 2 spell- Glitterdust in this case to keep up- the Conjurer is busy casting level 3 spells and gleefully screaming, "Haste makes waste of mine enemies!"

    A Sorcerer knows about as many spells as a specialist Wizard of 4 levels lower has slots. Assuming he starts with 18 INT, a Conjurer5 has 5 L1 slots, 4 L2s, and 3 L3s. A Sorcerer9 knows 5 L1s, 4 L2s, 3 L3s, and 2 L4s and can cast them more often, but in terms of L1-3 versatility, the Conjurer's probably ahead. As a Wizard rises in level and INT, the balance tips farther in his favor and away from the Sorcerer, especially if the Sorcerer isn't higher level. (In practice, most people only reliably cast spells from their highest 2 spells levels. Being able to look at my low level spell list, like levels 1 and 2 when I can cast level 5+ spells, and spontaneously cast these low level spells is handy. A high level Wizard in a similar situation may find it annoying he hasn't looked at this page of his spell list in months, or updated it for that time.)

    A Focused Specialist loses 1 more school but gains the casting stamina Sorcerers should have had. While this FS may only know 2 spells of a spell level, he can cast them so often that he makes the wee Sorcerers cry. It doesn't help that Andy Collins, one of third edition's designers, hated the Sorcerer class.

    Spontaneous casting is lovely and if you know the spell, you can cast it, instead of struggling in the moment and trying to guess the DM's plans. I strongly believe spontaneous casting is worth far less than what WotC demanded in return for it. Wizards can cast spontaneously via various tricks, like a Hathran1 with an Acorn of Far Travel granting full spontaneous casting to any prepped class. (If your DM allows you to preserve the Acorn by full submersion in Quintessence, so much the better.)

    A heavily optimized Sorcerer works well in a party with a full-time Wizard so the Sorcerer can learn the spells worth spamming while the Wizard focuses on more situational spells.

    With certain tricks, especially ones involving Dragonwrought Kobolds, Sorcerers can learn spells at least as soon as Wizards; however, being a spell level ahead of a Wizard is only meaningful if those spell picks are significantly better than the Wizard's selections.

    The Sorcerer class may have been made as a more newbie-friendly version of a Wizard, but it's more of a newbie trap. While Wizards demand careful planning to be effective on a daily basis and are harder to screw up long-term, Sorcerers demand more long-term optimization to be similarly effective but can spam buttons on a daily basis. If a Wizard is a person famous for creating marvelous works of original music, a Sorcerer is a band that remixes or plays many of the original songs as a tribute, perhaps adding some spice of their own, but always lurks in the background, hoping to be loved and appreciated just the same. -Endarire
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    Due to his small list of spells known, and his inability to shift his casting from day to day, the sorcerer is not as likely to have the best spell for any situation as the wizard. The fact that he is one spell level behind prepared casters through half of his progression means that he is always a little behind them on the power curve.

    Sorcerers have poor hit points and bad fortitude saves.

    Aside from their spell list, Sorcerers have no class features to speak of. They are greatly benefited by most full progression prestige classes. -Braithwaite
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    WotC hates sorcerers. Focused Abyssal Specialist Wizards get more spells known, more spell slots per day, and can spontaneously cast more than enough spells to be god in combat. Fact is, sorcerers were supposed to be comparable to wizards but with each book WotC printed the wizards got more ways to replace the sorcerer. The only boons tossed towards the sorcerer is the dragonspawn and Spellsurge. And one of those is pretty much banned from all games... -SorO_Lost
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    What the sorcerer has in raw power, he lacks in spell versitility without serious optimization. Don't get this wrong though: even with limited spells per day, he can still be far more flexible than any Fighter, assuming he picks versitile and powerful spells like Alter Self or Glitterdust. Also, his biggest weakness is being printed next to the Wizard in the PHB, which forces people to compare him to that monstrosity and thus makes him seem weak. Another big weakness is that a Sorcerer becomes much weaker if he's not allowed to use the spells that are both powerful and flexible, but those spells are often banned by DMs. While a Wizard can just pick a spell that's powerful and not flexible (since he can chose the spell for the occasion anyway) the Sorcerer is stuck with weaker spells, so Sorcerers are often weakened more noticeably by heavy handed DM nerfs than Wizards. -JaronK

    Pros: The sorcerer is a full caster, with one of the best available spell lists in the game. While limited by their spells known, a carefully built sorcerer has the potential for both game breaking power and significant flexibility. There are a few sorcerer only spells, or spells with added benefits when cast by sorcerers. The large class spell list means that sorcerers can get significant mileage from spell trigger items and runestaffs. Unlike the "specialist sorcerer" classes, a well built sorcerer can target will or fortitude saves, do battlefield control, buffs, or direct damage, and can be a formidable opponent even to foes with spell resistance or other defenses to certain types of magic.

    The sorcerer does not need to protect a spellbook. In circumstances where the party falsely guesses what to expect in a given day, the sorcerer with his varied list can temporarily surpass even prepared casters.

    With bluff on his class list, and his high charisma, the sorcerer can make an adequate party "Face" in the absence of better classes for this role. -Braithwaite
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    Sorcerer advantage is that they can cover the bases with their spells. At 20th level a sorcerer might have shades, shape change, wail of the banshee, greater shadow evocation, moment of prescience, greater planar binding, limited wish, mage's mansion, plane shift, mass suggestion, solid fog, teleport, true seeing, animate dead and some other stuff. This allows him to do every thing pretty good, but not at the awesome level that they could if they had a less restrictive spell selection.To get versatility a sorcerer has to take things that it can't spam, and spamming is what they do. Planar binding, shapechange, plane shift, the mansion and teleport are likely one slots in the daily scheme of things if that. -lians
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    Assuming your party has a wizard in it then your DM should allow you to whip out some dragon cheese on your sorcerer which leads to some major ass kicking. As a White Dragonspawn Abomination Dragonwought Kobold with Greater Draconic Rite you're casting three levels ahead of normal which has it's own goodies. Follow that up with the Arcane Spellsurge spell and Invisible Spell combo and your casting two spells per round. For your buffing round make both of those spells a greater arcane fusion that casts arcane fusion and poof, two 1st level spells and four 4th level spells per round at the cost of two 8th level spell slots.

    Sorcerer's also make better gishes than wizards, not because they have simple lame weapons proficiency, but because they can use the Spellsurge trick without caring about conserving spell slots. Thus they can nova out the first two or three encounters and just rely on standard combat and their lower level spells to get them though the day. Also Wings of Cover deserves it's own mentioning, as an immediate action you can gain full cover. This means the sorcerer can break the line of effect of a 9th level dominate monster spell cast on him at the cost of a mere 2nd level spell slot. -SorO_Lost
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    They have access to all the broken tricks of a Wizard... but no one Sorcerer can actually do very many of them. Nonetheless, a Sorcerer can still Alter Self into a Crucian or Dwarf Ancestor at level 4 (depending on his type). He can still Planar Bind rediculously powerful creatures, Shapechange into a Solar to become a Cleric, spam Explosive Runes all over the place, knock out dragons with a single Shivering Touch, and so on... if he chooses the right spells. Certainly, if played by RAW a higher level Sorcerer can absolutely break the game (Planar bound Efreetis, Flowing Time Genesis, Flesh to Salt on cows, etc). And of course there are ways around his spell limitations, such as Mage of the Arcane Order, Sand Shaper, and Runestaffs. Plus, Kobold Sorcerers can by raw get huge boosts to their effective level... with a liberal DM, you could quite possibly get +3 to Sorcerer level (Loredrake + Draconic Reserve + Greater Draconic Rite) for the cost of a single feat and some other more negligible costs. Even if your DM doesn't accept Loredrake, Greater Draconic Rite lets the Sorcerer keep up with the Wizard in spell levels... if you're cool with being a tiny dragon creature. -JaronK
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    Sorcerers become significantly more flexible if you allow Psychic Reformation, though the XP costs will mean that you can't use it very often.

    Of course, if you rebuild correctly, you shouldn't have to use it very often.

    One thing to keep in mind about sorcerers vs wizards is that in most games, wizards can't be played to their fullest extent, so the power gap narrows a little.

    Still, the class is poorly designed. There is no reason for the slower spell progression. –Solo

    Favored Soul:
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    A note on Favored Souls: Well, the sorcerer and favored soul are obvious examples because they're spontaneous version of tier 1 classes (the wizard and cleric respectively). They get more spell slots per day, but they have far fewer spells known. Thus, any one trick of theirs can be just as powerful as a tier 1 caster, but they don't have as many tricks. Their sheer versatility drops compared to a tier 1 class. They can completely solo some encounters, but not all encounters.

    Of course, smart players will take very versatile spells to maximize each spell known. Spells like Alter Self/Polymorpth each cover a wide range of possibilities, as do the Summon Monster spells.

    Also, being able to spontaneously apply metamagic feats is nice, but the full round action cost really cuts into the action ecconomy. Being one level behind on their advancement also hurts their power a bit compared to the tier 1s. -Robbypants

    Cons: Lacks Turn Undead (one of the reasons Clerics are tier 1), forcing the favored soul to multiclass in order to get it. The bonus feats it receives are sub par. Even the capstone could be better. And they are 1 level behind his Tier 1 counterpart. -Risada
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    Favored souls are sorcerers with a slightly worse spell list, MAD for spells, and somewhat underwhelming class features. -The_Mad_Linguist

    Pros: Favored souls have access to one of the best spell list in the game, including healing, buffs, debuffs, blasting and some battlefield control, with spontaneous casting to boot. They also have good saves and grant access to the Weapon Focus line of feats. -Risada


    Psion:
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    A note on Psions: Psions are very similar to arcanists in that they fulfill the same basic roles in a party (gish, mind control, summoner, battlefield control, blaster, divination specialist, and so on), though their class structure tends to restrict them in how many of these abilities they have access to at one time. It takes considerably more effort to build a truly varied psion than it does for a wizard or archivist, in large part because the enforced specialization they undergo due to the existence of psionic disciplines (also known colloquially as 'devotions' to avoid confusion, as 'discipline' means both psionic 'schools of magic' and psionic 'areas of specialization').

    Psions tend to be considerably more flexible in their area of expertise than sorcerers are, for the simple fact that their casting system was designed explicitly with spontaneous casting in mind (rather than being a class that was tacked-on to a system designed around the fire-n-forget mechanic that wizards, clerics, and druids are designed to fully exploit). However, the majority of their abilities are considerably less powerful than their arcane/divine counterparts, though their most 'broken' powers are actually direct analogues to stock-standard wizard spells.

    The base chassis for the psion class is as follows: d4 Hit Dice; poor BAB; proficiency in simple weapons (though they aren't proficient in armor or shields); Good Will saves; 2 skill points per level with a different skill list for each devotion; Int-based manifesting; one psionic, metapsionic, or psionic item creation bonus feat at levels 1, 5, and every 5 levels thereafter; enforced devotion specialization; and the best power progression and power point acquisition of any of the psionic classes. Psions also get access to psionic focus (both a boon and a bane) by virtue of having power points, which is covered briefly below:

    Psionic Focus

    Psionic focus is a mechanic unique to psionics, which is based around the Concentration skill. "Psionic focus" is an on/off state, depending on whether you've regained (as a full-round action and a DC 20 Concentration check) or expended (as part of another action) or otherwise lost your focus. You must have at least 1 pp in your pp pool in order to maintain psionic focus.

    Psionic focus only does a single thing on its own; it allows you to 'take 15' on a Concentration check when you expend it. Otherwise, it fuels psionic feats, metapsionic feats, and certain class features (either by means of maintaining focus [for feats like Up the Walls] or by expending it [mostly for metapsionic feats]).

    This restricts what a psionic character can do, since most characters can only have a single psionic focus at one time, but it also allows them to use feats and abilities somewhat more powerful than most other characters. Thus, it's both an enabler and a restriction to psionic characters. -Lycanthromancer

    Cons: 1.) Psions pay for their versatility. Powers, unlike spells, don't generally auto-scale. Instead of expending a 3rd level spell-slot (the equivalent of 5 pp) for 10d6 points of damage at level 10, you must expend 10 pp for the same amount of damage (twice the resource expenditure for the same effect). This leads to issue #2:

    2.) Psions have nova issues, which means that it's fairly easy to run out of power points after a couple of encounters. You have to ration a psion's powers where they'll do the most good, without overextending yourself; otherwise you end up as little more than a commoner with a crossbow and a few tricks up his sleeves. The way to deal with this as a player is to ration yourself; as a DM, make sure there are an average of 4-5 equal-CR encounters per day (as the DMG itself suggests) to teach your psion player to practice self-restraint.

    3.) Psions are good at applying metapsionics on the fly, but the restraints on metapsionics are severe enough that it takes a good chunk of build-resources to overcome them. While they have considerably more flexibility when it comes to using them, pp spent on metapsionics steals pp away from augmentation (which is used in lieu of auto-scaling), a psion's numbers tend to be a bit smaller (sometimes quite a bit smaller) than a wizard's or sorcerer's.

    4.) Despite being considerably less broken than even core spellcasting, the horrible mechanics used pre-3.5, the Psionics Is Different Variant, and cheating players (along with DMs who don't understand the checks-and-balances on the system) have garnered 3.5 psionics a wholly undeserved reputation for being utterly broken, and so it won't be used in most games. Luckily the stigma seems to be wearing off, but quite unfortunately the blemish remains to this day. The biggest dent in their supreme might, the reason why they're not tier 1, and are still a step behind the sorcerer in utter power is they don't cast spells.

    Their power list simply isn't half as broken as what wizards and sorcerers get, even in Core-only.

    As I said before, the primary source of brokenness for psionics are the powers that are near-direct analogues of staple spells. Metamorphosis, for instance, is broken for a 4th level effect, but it's based wholly on polymorph. Psionic dominate is, as you probably guessed, based on dominate person/monster.

    Powers simply don't compare to the insane power of the Core spell-list, mostly because the really bad exploits have been weeded out by halfway-decent editing and playtesting. -Lycanthromancer
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    The low HD is worse than just being squishy, it prevents you from making full use of overchannel, the boot leg version of wild surge. This can be offset with talented or manifesting vigor before hand. Both have their limitations but not so bad once you get metamorphosis which in all likelihood heal any damage incurred when overchanneling.

    No mantled variant is kind of a downer since psywar and wilder both had those options.

    There are legal ways to effectively give yourself much more PP than you should which might prompt the DM to call foul on you. There is that temp PP trick in ToM and the old "make 50 manifesting bolts" trick (effectively giving you a free 250 PP to spend on L1-L3 powers). Both can do much to enhance your PP pool but may have your DM banning psionics as broken. Especially true if you had to beg your DM to give psionics a try in the first place. -Samb

    Pros: 1.) Power points are far easier to keep track of than spell-slots, and the system as a whole is considerably more streamlined and organic-feeling. You don't have to deal with clunky, chunky spell-slots, and you don't need to worry about which spells you've used that day. Simply subtract the pp you've used from your total, and you're golden.

    2.) Likewise, you aren't limited by which spell-slots you have available. Since power points are discrete, and can be used spontaneously, you can fire off a whole bunch of low-level powers, a smaller number of augmented low-level powers, or a few of your highest level powers, limited only by the action economy and how many power points you have left.

    3.) Psionic manifesting is inherently flexible, with most powers retaining their usefulness for multiple purposes throughout the manifester's career, due to augmentation and the inherent flexibility that psionic powers have. Many powers are generically-useful enough to have several (perhaps unintended) uses, meaning that even those that seem subpar can be amazingly useful in numerous situations. Psionic feats likewise tend toward being extremely flexible, with Psicrystal Affinity being one of the most useful low-level (and high-level) feats I've ever come across.

    4.) Due to the nature of psionics, manifesters get the Still Spell, Silent Spell, and a watered-down version of Heighten Spell, essentially for free. They can also manifest in armor with no inherent penalties (though psions aren't proficient in armor, so armor check penalties apply to attack rolls with weapons and powers).

    5.) Int-based manifesting and access to a (potentially) awesome skill list, dependent on discipline, means that psions make good skill-monkeys. All psions make good Knowledge-monkeys, while telepaths make excellent party faces and nomads and seers make decent scouts.

    6.) Psychic reformation was the original retraining ability, allowing manifesters (especially psions) to swap out their preexisting powers, skill points, feats, and possibly class levels (depending on interpretation). Since psions have no other mechanic for changing their builds (unlike wizards, clerics, and druids, which can swap their entire spell lists every day; and sorcerers and bards, which can swap out spells every other level), swapping out class abilities for a power known, some power points, a double-fistful of XP, and 10 minutes of manifesting time seems a decent alternative.

    7.) Psions aren't campaign-wreckers, meaning that any DM that has read the class abilities and understands game balance should have no problems keeping them in check; they have some good tricks, and an optimizer with a good understanding of the system can do some surprising things, but it's nothing like unto what any plain-vanilla wizard can do to a game. Psions ARE pretty powerful, and flexible.

    Their design schematic is better than the sorcerer's in every way. They're built as spontaneous 'casters' from the ground-up, and you actually get class features.

    They're the epitome of flexibility and elegance-in-design. -Lycanthromancer
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    Psychic reformation is a lot better than retraining in that it only requires you qualify for the feats and powers that you alter. So you can see psions with nothing but 9th powers (stupid but possible by RAW). There is another stricter interpretation of this, but by RAW it is possible.

    Researching a power can also offset a lot of restrictions on psions' power lists which is especially potent at higher levels when you have more XP to spare.

    Mind's eye provided a lot of PrCs that fit great for any type of psion, personal favorites are crystal master and arch psion. -Samb

    Binder (with access to online vestiges):
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    Binder online vestiges can be found here: http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/frcc/20070718

    Cons: See Binder description in Why Tier 3s Are Tier 3.

    Pros: One of the vestiges lets you cast Summon Monster as though you were a sorcerer of your binder level once per 5 rounds (so at Binder 16, you can cast Summon Monster VIII at caster level 16). This lets you keep up and endless stream of versitile minions up all the time, often with nifty spell like abilities to help out. They even get a template. Other vestiges make you an incredible item crafter as well. –JaronK


    Ardent:
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    Cons: The obvious comparison to Ardent is the Psion. Ardents get half as many powers known, and must choose them from a much smaller list. They don't get a bonus feat to spend on a psicrystal, and their Wisdom focus means fewer skills. Their skills also don't take advantage of their high Wisdom - Spot and Listen are nowhere to be found, nor is Sense Motive. Autohypnosis is the only one that synergizes and is also worth a damn. -Flickerdart

    Pros: A better BAB and HD than psions make Ardents better gish material. They get a whole bunch of unique powers in their mantles, and their Mind's Eye ACFs are downright amazing. The best thing about Ardents, however, is that they are only limited by what they can manifest when it comes to learning powers, so they can skip around other classes and then come back without losing access to high level powers. This sort of build versatility is hard to find, and is especially welcome since most psionic PrCs drop one or more manifester levels. -Flickerdart

    Wilder:
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    Cons: Make no mistake, the Wilder is the weakest of the tier 2s. You are definitionally up there with the big kids, but you have the worst number of powers(/equivalent) known of any full caster in the game. Assuming you keep up with new power levels gained (and you do), you will know a single power per power level until 20th level without feats, ACFs, or something similar. You will be extremely limited in what you can do, even if you do pick a bunch of generally-applicable powers. You'll probably going to have a bunch of gaps in what your powers will let you do. Also, Psychic Enervation means that the only reason to go Wilder over something else is probably going to get you killed. -Karnith
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    Look at your powers known and weep, Wilder. Know ye not that learning many powers is for better classes than thou? Also, taking more levels in this class makes you suck more thanks to Psychic Enervation. You also have a Sorcerer's power level progression, a crap stat for your powers to key off, and no access to discipline-exclusive goodies. -Flickerdart

    Pros: You get manifesting off of the Psion/Wilder power list, which is, you know, great - psionics may be, on the whole, weaker than conventional spellcasting, but that's not saying much. You are probably the most limited tier 2, but hey, that's still a lot of power. Wild Surge makes your powers pack even more of a punch (though Psychic Enervation is still the worst thing). You have access to silly tricks like infinite PP and Psychic Reformation-ing yourself during your downtime. Your chassis is also surprisingly good for a full caster. -Karnith
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    But hey, you still get 9th level powers, just like the big boys, and you can use them lots thanks to your PP and the free augmentation from Wild Surge. Mind's Eye ACFs give you more powers known. Light armor helps a bit. Wilders also get infinite PP in Core simply by hitting themselves with Bestow Power and using Wild Surge to turn the net loss into a net gain. The Wilder is pretty low T3 [editor's note: Flickerdart submitted his analysis arguing for the Wilder as a tier 3 class - Karnith], since it's basically a slightly better Warlock, but the sheer calibre of its powers means that even its first level pick can be useful at level 20. Wilders also have surprisingly good skills: Bluff, Intimidate, and Sense Motive all make an appearance, as do Spot and Listen. -Flickerdart
    Last edited by Karnith; 2015-07-12 at 08:27 PM.

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    Default Re: Why Each Class Is In Its Tier (Rescued from MinMax)

    Why Tier 3s are Tier 3s (Part 1)
    It was brought up that there's no set explanation for why low tier classes are generally less effective. With that in mind, I figured I'd start one. I'll be doing one for each tiers, but I want to get the low tiers out of the way first, because most people know why classes like Wizards and Druids are above average. I'm looking for your input on the classes, and to make this a guide for people new to CO. Thanks to all who contribute in advance.

    From JaronK's Tier System For Classes guide, the widely accepted Char Op base power description thread:

    Tier 3: Capable of doing one thing quite well, while still being useful when that one thing is inappropriate, or capable of doing all things, but not as well as classes that specialize in that area. Occasionally has a mechanical ability that can solve an encounter, but this is relatively rare and easy to deal with. Challenging such a character takes some thought from the DM, but isn't too difficult. Will outshine any Tier 5s in the party much of the time.

    Examples: Beguiler, Dread Necromancer, Crusader, Bard, Swordsage, Incarnate, Totemist, Binder (without access to the summon monster vestige), Wildshape Varient Ranger, Duskblade, Factotum, Warblade, Psychic Warrior

    A note on Tier 3s: I'd like to point out something.

    Being a tier 3 is NOTHING to be ashamed of. Tier 3 are the herald's of destruction, they can do humongously more damage in battle than tier 1 and 2 characters and are still immensely useful out of combat. Simply put, if you're a least bit intelligent, you won't be bored playing a tier 3 character.

    But you're not tier 2. Or tier 1.

    Tier 1 characters can BREAK THE GAME, litterally, all of them, that's why they are gods, that's why we are wary of the power we wield when we use them.

    Tier 2 characters can BREAK THE GAME, just a tad less obviously, or in a more limited way.

    So anyone who feels insulted their class is ''only tier 3'' when they play one in game, DON'T BE! It's still incredibly good. Heck, i played a game with 3 tier 1 and a tier 3, and the tier 3 was always useful in battle. Eventually, it got so easy it was boring!!! We had to tangle with actual GODS at level 21 just to keep it challenging! -Alastar

    Why Tier 3's are in tier 3:
    Beguiler:
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    Cons: A Beguiler, like a rogue, is very vulnerable to certain types of enemies unless they can cover their gaps with specialized magical items. Mindless creatures, those immune to Enchantments or Illusions, creatures with blindsight, true seeing, high SR, or even a high will save can be tough for Beguilers to beat.

    Illusions and Enchantments derive much of their power from the creativity of the player and the cooperation of the DM. A player who just wants to blast his enemies will not do well with a beguiler. A DM whose NPC's always attempt to subvert commands and who are all paranoid of illusions can cripple a Beguiler.

    While the Beguiler knows more spells than a sorcerer, and is absolutely better than a Sorcerer who takes only Enchantment and Illusion spells, it lacks the versatility of Sorcerers or Wizards to have the right tool on hand for every situation.

    While superior in mundane combat to low level sorcerers and wizards, the beguiler is still one of the weakest combatants in the game, and the Surprise Casting class feature is almost a trap to lure unsuspecting players near their enemies where they can be crushed. -Braithwaite

    Pros: Beguiler is probably the most flexible of the three "specialist Sorcerers", the other two being Dread Necromancer and Warmage.

    For an arcane caster, the beguiler is reasonably hardy. Light armor is roughly equal to a sorcerer's Mage Armor, without taking up a spell slot. Weapon proficiencies similar to a rogue and d6 hit points per level mean that at low level the Beguiler can be marginally better in combat than a wizard.

    The beguiler is a top of the line skill monkey. They really have more than 6 skill points per level, because Int is their casting stat, and they are almost obliged to keep it as high as possible anyway. They have trapfinding. If they decide to ignore parts of their excellent skill list, they can cover the gaps with their flexible spell list. For example, a beguiler with low hide can replace it with invisibility or silent image, or a beguiler with bad social skills can recover with charms, Suggestion, or Dominate. Use Magic Device can be used to mask some of their weaknesses.

    The beguiler is a full caster. They automatically know every spell on their spell list, and their spell list can be widened by a number of feats, prestige classes, and the advanced learning class feature. At each spell level their list includes a number of excellent spells. They get some free metamagic feats and their cloaked casting ability helps them overcome enemy defenses when casting on opponents who are denied their dex bonuses.

    The beguiler is capable of doing one thing quite well. It is excellent at neutralizing opponents with charms and illusions. When that is inappropriate, it can still contribute with Trapfinding, Use Magic Device, or a handful of buff spells. –Braithwaite

    Dread Necromancer:
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    Cons: I'm playing a Dread Necromancer right now, and I can assure you Planar Binding is FAR weaker on them than a Sorcerer or Wizard. Without magic circle, a Dread Necromancer has to kill and reanimate anyone they bind... they can't just use services or anything. And that can be a little hard to do. Once that's complete, they can only reanimate them as a Skeleton or Zombie if they want gaurenteed control, which is hardly impressive. If they want to control the creature, they could use Create Undead to make a Bone Creature... but it's DM fiat as to which version of Create Undead they need to use to get such a critter. And now they have to rebuke the creature... which is difficult if they don't have the items they need to make that work (Lyre of the Restful Soul, Rod of Defiance). And by the time they can actually make all this work, we're already in very high levels where the Sorcerer is about to start Shapechanging, usually.

    On paper it's great, but the DN version of Planar Binding isn't anywhere near the Wizard/Sorcerer version. I know... I'm using it in a game right now! -JaronK

    Pros: Assuming you have half a brain and take tomb-tainted soul at first level, you get unlimited free out of combat healing. You can pull off the same rainbow servant shenanigans as the warmage, but have less incentive to do so because your class features are better. The familiar you get is actually useful in combat, and you certainly have some good fear stacking synergy with it - plus, you can use it to extend your personal buffs to other party members if you choose the ghostly visage. -The_Mad_Linguist

    Crusader:
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    Opening up with the fact that this tank base class has the highest HP this side of a raging Barbarian (AKA, the side you want to be on), this class is a reasonably powerful cannon. It has some serious potential.
    -Sinfire Titan

    The penultimate Tank class, only Tier 1s and 2s task built exceed it. Even then it has a major advantage in staying power. -Keldar

    Cons: *Sigh*, Steely Resolve applies to pretty much 1 attack/round at the early-mid levels due to low absorption factor. No control over maneuvers granted makes combat unpredictable when you expand their options with PrCs. No control over the recovery mechanic means you can lose some options to the action economy. Only a d10 HD, when it should have had a d12 (seriously, this class is the most deserving of a d12 HD). Most limited access to the 9 disciplines. -Sinfire Titan
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    Highly melee focused, loosing most of its offense and defensive abilities without a foe to hit in melee. MAD to a lesser degree than many, serviceable with just good STR and CON, it also wants for WIS and CHA to shore up will saves, and DEX to take advantage of it's AoO related abilities. Many class abilities are pure filler. Feat starved due to all but needing Extra Granted Manuver and the highly desirable Stone Power. -Keldar

    Pros: Furious Counterstrike. Cha to Will saves. Access to 2 of the most powerful styles in the game (and Stone Dragon). Able to heal themselves reliably well. Full BAB. A recovery mechanic independent of the action economy (this would be 2nd only to the Warblade). Basically, if you want a tank this is the class to look into. Practically the easiest to optimize (2 feats, tops), its perfect to beginners. -Sinfire Titan
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    Can last all day long. Has the offensive and buffing abilities to make the character a threat unlike some other meat-shield oriented classes. The Crusader can even lend some of its resilience to others when it is ignored, and is basically the only class that can make good use of in combat healing. –Keldar


    Bard:
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    Cons: Inside core, the only real useful feat for a bard is Skill Focus. Maybe the Spring Attack chain. A bard doesn't get enough weapon proficiencies in class to make a very good meleer, the rogue out sneaks them, etc. Not an ideal replacement for any dedicated class, and are thusly relegated to the role of secondary whatever.

    Also, their low hit die and medium base attack bonus means that most people will outmatch them in a straight fight. -Woodenbandman
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    The main problem is that bards are too spread out. They can do several things and contribute to the party, but they don't excel anywhere.

    Again, spreading too much is a problem (bard's less stretched than lightning warrior unfortunately). No transmutations make me sad. Most of the songs need to be swapped for alternative ones. You just need inspire courage and inspire greatness (coupled with polymorph, yay!), really. Countersong is probably the worst class feature. Ever. No 7th and above spells (where the party starts). No spot skill is a minor detail, but it bugs me Tongue

    Last but not least, the biggest con is not being respected by your own party Tongue ("bards? meh! What, are you gonna, like, sing the monsters away?", "Nonono, i was able to hit that monster anyway, didn't need your +WTFOMFGPWND inspire courage mod") -Dictum Mortuum

    Pros: Great support outside of core in splatbooks. Feats that benefit multiclassed bards and prestige classes mean that a bard can cover any archetype of character adequately, whether it's Fighter, Tank (though illusionary defenses add up really well), sneak, face, magic user, healer, or buffer. They can even cover two of these roles at once, in many cases. Best at buffing, though (9d6 or however the hell much it is energy damage on each attack the party makes is awesome. Can make a strong case for using TWF if there's no rogue in the party already).

    Very decent spell list. Some bard specific spells (Glibness, Hymn of Praise) are awesome and make any party fawn over the thought of a bard. Some spells not limited to bards only (Alter Self, Grease, Haste, Greater Blink, Greater Mirror Image) are extremely awesome anyway.

    A great host of alternate class features, including songs that cause debuffs (that one that makes enemies attack each other is nice), the ability to use a fascinate effect with a DC based on a skill check (allowing you to often bypass a lot of hazards such as guards that must be snuck past), along with the ability to instill suggestions to a crowd at high levels, is awesome. -Woodenbandman
    ---------------------------------------------------

    They can buff, heal, speak, UMD, cast, scout, damage, summon. If there are martial characters in the group (or summoners) they're gonna love the bard, even if they don't optimize their inspire courage, as haste and displacement are equally spicy. Bardic music stacking with lingering song ftw. I love how they can cure a stupid amount of HPs using CLWs by chanting that healing hymn. I also love the half-elf substitution levels, especially coupled with deepwyrm half-drow. Actually, now that i think of it, bards have some quality alternative class features available. Take obtain/improved familiar and you have two of a character. A hasted power attacking (through heroics Tongue) bard who also inspires courage and wields a two handed weapon is scary -_-

    Also: whip proficiency, hell yeah \m/ i'm goddamn indiana jones baby! -Dictum Mortuum


    Swordsage:
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    Cons: IMO, the swordsage is probably the most well-balanced of the 3 martial classes (which also means that it is the weakest).

    For a melee class, the swordsage seems to be an anomaly in that it gets only a d8, 3/4 bab, light armour, no shield and has good reflex/will saves but poor fort saves. With a noticeable lack of ranged capabilities, you are clearly expected to wade into melee, but none of your class features seemed geared towards helping you survive a retributive full attack from the enemy. So you likely need to play your swordsage more conservatively, having him skulk around the sidelines, moving in to strike only when the foe is preoccupied with a more imminent threat like the party barb or warblade. And even then, you better have a good way of retreating in case things get ugly. Better get a flight speed + flyby attack, or try to simulate spring attack somehow (eg: move, strike, use quicksilver motion/shadow blink to move away as swift action).

    It appears to suffer from MAD. You are limited to light armour + no shield, so you will likely want to maintain a high dex score to boost your AC. Wis as well, since you add it to your AC, and it improves a variety of features, such as the save DCs of your maneuvers and the bonus damage from insightful strike. It has a fairly good skill list, so it is very tempting to invest in 12 int minimum to ensure you have sufficient skills. As with any class, a decent con is mandatory for sufficient hp. In addition, unless you wield a finessable weapon, you will likely want a good str score as well to boost your attack rolls. Cha remains a dump stat, but that is scant consolation for the fact that the class still leaves you with incentive to want to boost the other 5.

    The swordsage gets the most number of maneuvers known and readied. But this is a mixed blessing, since you cannot ready any maneuver more than once, so you are typically left with 1 of 2 options - either maintain a good mix of strikes, counters and boosts (which means that you cannot really excel in any one aspect), or fill your excess slots with suboptimal maneuvers after choosing the choice ones.

    He is also hampered by a very inefficient recharge mechanic (though to be fair, it can be mitigated with a single feat - adaptive style). I say "mitigated" rather than "solved" because spending one full round doing nothing to get all your maneuvers back is still quite a steep cost (though the upside is that you can also swap in useful maneuvers in place of less useful ones).

    One full round just to get back 1 maneuver. Given the average length of a typical encounter, don't bother. You are "encouraged" to ration and use them sparingly, to ensure that you have enough to see you through the entire fight (which ties back to my earlier point about filling excess slots with subpar maneuvers). Contrast this with a warblade, who can easily alternate between spamming his best maneuvers and full-attacking (as part of refreshing), or a crusader who automatically refreshes his maneuvers every 3 rounds.

    The array of disciplines don't seem all that stellar either. Desert wind and shadow hand are fairly weak, and it seems quite difficult to base a character build around them (a number of builds I see tend to revolve around specializing in diamond mind/tiger claw, while splashing in desert wind/shadow hand. No experience with setting sun.

    3/4 bab isn't necessarily as bad as it seems. Standard action strikes mean that you are making 1 attack each round at your highest attack roll, so you should still be able to hit fairly consistently. But you can't really afford to power attack, since you will unlikely have excess bab to "burn". -Runestar

    Pros: With so many flaws, you are likely wondering "Where are the good points"? Well, they would be the maneuvers! They let you be everything a fighter fails at, by allowing you more options, all the better to tackle the various challenges thrown your way by the DM.

    Your crappiest save assaulted by a save-or-die ability of impossibly high DC? It is the appropriate diamond mind save booster (moment of precise mind/mind over body/action before thought) to the rescue (and action before thought complements evasion quite nicely).

    Mobility hampered by difficult terrain? Teleport (shadow blink) or ignore it (setting sun 1st lv stance).

    Mobile foes giving you fits by constantly moving, thus denying you the full attack? Strike maneuvers let you move and still be able to deal respectable damage (and since the bonus damage is usually independent of the weapon you wield, you can still lay out the hurt even if you are armed with a puny dagger instead of a greatsword, since its damage dice comprises only a small portion of the total damage dealt). Sometimes, you want to do more than just damage. There are quite a few maneuvers which rider-effects that allow you to debuff a foe in a variety of ways (such as negative lvs, restricting their movement or preventing them from full-attacking).

    And thanks to martial study, you can also access cross-class maneuvers. Hit by a pesky status effect like wave of exhaustion? Remove it with iron heart surge. Only problem is that the swordsage does not really get that many feats, and quite a few will probably be tied up in the form of adaptive style, weapon finesse and possibly shadow blade (which also has the drawback of locking you in a shadow hand stance), so again, you only have so many feats to play around with.

    Simply put, maneuvers help make melee fun again, and this is no exception even for the swordsage.

    I would rate it as a tad inferior to the warblade (or in the very least, it would be more more tricky to play effectively), but the sheer utility of maneuvers more than suffices in letting it stay in the tier3 range. -Runestar
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    As was noted for many of the lower tier classes, and as is always true for ToB classes, Swordsage makes a handy 1 or 2 level dip. If you are a caster and only expect to swing a weapon if cornered or for a few rounds every combat after you have finished your party buffs or battlefield control, the crummy recharge mechanic won't hurt you. Likewise, if you are a meleer and plan on doing mostly full attacks except for the few rounds when you are moving or otherwise prevented, the recharge mechanic isn't a problem.

    For Wisdom using classes, the Swordsage Wisdom to AC in light armor is much better than the similar Monk/Ninja ability. Even a simple chain shirt with the +4 from an 18 wisdom comes out the same as plate mail, and a high level Swordsage with a magic mithral breastplate and high wisdom is likely to have the highest AC in the party, as well as a good touch AC. Unfortunately, boosting AC is usually not as effective as other build strategies, but if you decide that you want to build a high AC character, Swordsage + any wisdom based full casting class will probably outperform lower tier classes more typically thought of as "tanks", like Knight, Paladin, or sword & shield Fighter. –Braithwaite

    Incarnate:
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    Cons: 1/2 BAB, limited Skill Points and Skill list, d6 hit die, limited weapons and armor, Wisdom based Save DC's, and a ridiculously difficult to understand class abilities, and those class abilities are fairly limited at very high levels (15+). -Person_Man

    Pros: A misunderstood class, people often try to make the Incarnate into a melee or archery build, which it comparatively sucks at. But it shines best as a defense and battlefield control oriented tank with excellent Skill buffs, and can change out it's soulmelds every morning to fill niche rolls (Trapfinding, scouting, party face, etc) as needed. Take a look at Necrocarnum Circlet (at will super Animate Dead with no cost), Vitality Belt (massive bonus hit points), Spellward Shirt (high Spell Resistance), Wind Cloak (Deflect Arrows multiple times per round), Mantle of Flame (retributive Fire Damage), and Astral Vembraces (high DR/magic).-Person Man

    I think that incarnates are also solidly tier 3, although they don't work quite as well out of the box as totemists. I would call them more versatile than the totemist, and way less predictable from day to day, but with fewer ways to deal damage. Most people compare the sick combat numbers a totemist can put out to the far more modest ones of an incarnate, and assume that the totemist is better - but the incarnate can do a lot more than the totemist, even if the totemist is a lot better at its main schtick. -Piggy Knowles

    Totemist:
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    Con: Your selection of non-melee abilities are fairly limited compared to Tier 1 and 2 options. They exist and they're pretty decent, they're just not as amazing or varied. -Person_Man

    Pro: Easy access to a ton of natural weapons, with a good mix of buffs, mobility, breath weapon, and Save or lose abilities. You can also change out your soulmelds every morning to try out different tactics, but they will usually be some variation on the them of mauling your enemies to death more effective. -Person_Man

    Totemist has pretty tremendous skill bonuses, especially to the stealth and scouting skills (the Spot soulmelds in particular mostly stack with each other, giving you pretty outrageous bonuses to your Spot checks - take a look at Rusty to see this taken to its extreme). They can easily switch between melee or ranged, and do quite well at either (although they are especially good at natural attack omni-mauling, as you mentioned). They get save-or-loses, are excellent at grappling, tripping and other combat maneuvers, and more. They can pick up telepathy, etherealness, teleportation, flight, tremorsense/blindsight, wild empathy, and a variety of resistances and immunities. And they can switch out their abilities completely from day to day, without costing them any additional resources. -Piggy_Knowles
    Last edited by Karnith; 2015-07-12 at 08:22 PM.

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    Jan 2013

    Default Re: Why Each Class Is In Its Tier (Rescued from MinMax)

    Why Tier 3s are Tier 3s (Part 2)
    Binder:
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    Cons: Can only use most of the cool things like imprisonment or what have you every 5 rounds, which is all right when you can cycle through 5 options, but at first though 8th level it really sucks. -lans
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    Whilst any good player have plenty of options when playing a binder, fact remains that it is less versatile than a tier 1 or 2 spellcaster. It has already been stated that "around the clock" powers are only stronger than the "use and loose" type of powers (i.e spells) when you have more than 4 encounters a day.
    Basically, if you have a wizard in your team, you'll probably rest after four encounters anyway unless you like to put your team in jeopardy since one of it's members now is a viablility instead of a reliability. That rarely happens.
    On a round-by-round basis, spellcasters have more powerful options than Binders. Add to that the fact that most of the binders most powerfull abilites are once every five rounds, the action economy versus optimum preformance doesn't ad up all that well to the binders favor.

    Thus, under normal circumstances (rest after 4 encounters), a spellcaster have more juice than a Binder. -Shadowhunter


    Pros: Binders get a variety of options with 5 round cool downs, including save or sucks, penalties to everything, smites, turning, rerolls, cure light wounds and others. It can get spirited charge and mount, imprisonment at 15th level, phantasmal killer at 10th, get huge bonuses to a variety of skills, +16 to hide and move silently at 13th level for example with 4d6 sneak attack and sudden strike, punch like a monk, walk around and attack everybody you walk by which is kind of cool if you can punch like a monk, move an ally as a swift action, 20% concealment at 6th level unless they can see in darkness like you can.

    The pact augmentation allows it to get a bonus on initiative, ac, saves, hp damage reduction, or damage.
    Gets immunity to energy drain, and mind blank. –lans

    Wildshape Variant Ranger:
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    The wildshape ranger trades his combat style feats for fast movement (as a barbarian) and wildshape (as a druid, small and medium animals only). This is generally considered a step up from the normal ranger. -Ninjarabbit


    Cons: The wildshape ranger is pretty much a liability before level 5, assuming str and dex were dumped. He's limited to small and medium animals when wildshaping, limiting combat option when compared to the druid. Also since you aren't going to get any more wildshape forms after level 5, it severely limits the incentive to keep taking ranger levels. The wildshape ranger still has the sucky animal companion. -Ninjarabbit

    Pros: The wildshape ranger is able to dump his str and dex scores, getting rid of the MAD that rangers normally have. Wildshaping creates much more flexibility in combat: pouncing as a leopard, tripping as a riding dog, grappling as a black bear, constrictor snake, or crocodile, weapons and armor as a baboon, and more. He still gets the normal ranger goodies like 2 bonus feats, spellcasting, 6 skill points/level, and evasion. The wildshape ranger can qualify for PrCs like Master of Many Forms and Warshaper. -Ninjarabbit

    Duskblade:
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    A note about Duskblades: The duskblade is basically an arcane barbarian with a few more tricks thrown in, capable of doing high amounts of damage in melee thanks to arcane channeling and good feat selection. -Ninjarabbit


    Cons: The duskblade's spell list is very limited, lacks buffs, battlefield control, and utility spells, and doesn't get that many top tier spells. The duskblade doesn't get any touch attack spells to channel past the 3rd level and he only has a handful of good spells that can be channeled. The duskblade only gets up to 5th level spells (though some of it's spells are higher level on other spell lists like polar ray and disintigrate). The duskblade can be a borderline one-trick pony and is really tight on feats. A d8 hit dice makes it a little more frail than most other melee types, though a channeled vampric touch helps with this. -Ninjarabbit


    Pros: The duskblade can really dish out the damage in melee with arcane channeling and feats like power attack, knowledge devotion, and arcane strike. The duskblade does get a handful of debuffs like ray of enfeeblement, touch of idiocy, ray of exhaustion, and enervation. The duskblade does get quite a few spells per day and combined with a ring of wizardry or two he can arcane channel/arcane strike for a long time. The duskblade effectively get sudden quicken up to 4 times a day. The duskblade can cast in armor, partially making up for his lack of defensive spells. A d8 hit dice and full BAB make obtain familiar/improved familiar viable feat choices. -Ninjarabbit

    Factotum:
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    Factotum, or Fiction?: The following is part of an argument I was having as to which is stronger, the Rogue or the Factotum, and it sums up why the Factotum is T3 pretty nicely (though it doesn't cover everything... their "duplicate class abilities" thing is INSANE).

    Here's how combat went the first time a friend of mine picked up a Factotum (never having played before). He was just released from being captured (plot point to get him into the game) and thus had absolutely no gear at all, just the mundane clothes on his back. If he was anything like a Rogue, he should have been unable to fight, but he was thrown directly into combat, and here's what he did, and note that this is an 8th level Tiefling Factotum:

    First, he made a rediculously high Escape Artist check to get out of his bindings (he was supposed to be just waiting for us to rescue him). Then he sneaks down the hall. Coming around the corner, he saw a bad guy right in front of him at the opening to a courtyard where the rest of the party was battling. So, on his initiative (it was an ongoing battle) he gets a free standard action with his Factotum abilities and Alter Selfs into an Advespa, which he had learned about with a quick google search for "Alter Self Forms." This gives him 5 natural attacks, 7 Natural Armour, and a flight speed. Then he full attacks the bad guy in front of him, getting a little sneak attack in for good measure. Next round, as our party is cleaning up pretty good and the Sorcereress just glitterdusted the guy and an enemy near him, the guy ran, getting away around a corner... but the Factotum just used an extra standard action to get to the corner, then charged him and used sneak attack to finish him off.

    Now, this is simply not something a naked Rogue does.

    Now, you can call an 8th level character using Alter Self to gain natural AC and natural attacks TO, but since it was used in game, it's clearly not, nor is it even overpowered (it's still light duty Wild Shape). Yes, Wizards using Alter Self at level 3 to get +8 Natural AC for 30 minutes is overpowered. But Factotums can't do that sort of thing until 5, at which point the Druid already has Wild Shape, which is an equivalent ability at level 5 and continues to get far better, outpacing Alter Self dramatically as the levels increase.

    So yeah, really potent, really flexible class that can REALLY surprise a DM.-JaronK

    Cons: Low IP means anyone not using the Font of Inspiration feat is going to fall behind fast. And they get about 5 to 7 spells/day, and only up to 7th level spells. And their metamagic option is rather weak. -Sinfire Titan

    Pros: There's a reason this class is considered a better skill monkey than the Rogue. 7th level SLAs, and up to 5 or 6 6th level spells/day (at the cost of lower level spells). Int to damn near everything in the book. Extra actions/round. Int to AC constantly (that stacks!) at mid-levels. Able to emulate any EX class feature below 15th level from any base class (arguably the most redeeming quality of Factotum 20). Every skill as a class skill. Access to the Sor/Wis list without UMD or PrCs. The list may be short, but it is devastating. There's a reason to take the class over Rogue. -Sinfire Titan
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    Factotums do get access to Empower/Maximize/Quicken Spell-Like Ability (as well as any other SLA feats), which you can apply on-the-fly 3/day (each). They don't increase the effective level of your SLAs, and so can be used in tandem.These are in addition to regular metamagic feats and Spontaneous Metamagic feats that you can apply as normal (since the SLAs also count as regular magic spells for that purpose). -Lycanthromancer
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    Meanwhile, there's the old Iajuitsu Focus thing. Yes, OA was updated for 3.5, and yes, Factotums have ALL skills as class skills, including Autohypnosis and IF. The ability to take extra standard actions and, when you need, add your Factotum level to your check once in a while makes this incredibly potent. You can draw a weapon (usually with the eager enchantment if you can get it, since generally speaking Factotums have a better place to spend feats) in the surprise round (gained through hiding, or casting invisibility, or whatever), partial action charge the enemy, and deal IF damage. Then, if you want, use an extra standard action to hit them again. Then, if you win initiative, use an extra standard action to sheath your weapon while you move up to another enemy, then draw it and full attack, dealing IF damage a second time (and if you want to add sneak attack damage, you could do that too). I don't know why some people don't think IF should count... that's exactly what the Factotum's forte is (using any skill he wants). And of course an item that gives Sapphire Nightmare Blade is exceptionally cheap.

    And then of course there's the spellcasting. While he has few spells per day and they're way behind a Wizard, he's got four big advantages here.

    First and formost, he can gain extra standard actions, and can do it a LOT if he takes the Factotum only feat that, well, he almost certainly will take. Saying that feat doesn't count because it's in a weird place is silly, since the Factotum itself is in a weird place so you're already looking through weird places, and the "weird place" is the Class Chronicals about Factotums anyway. That's not hugely weird. The result is that he can combo spells together, which can be extremely useful.

    The second advantage Factotums get with spells is that unlike Wizards, they can use the entire list without needing a spellbook. That means that if a Factotum suddenly realizes he needs spell X, that's exactly what he's going to have ready for the next day... plus he doesn't have to spend tons of his wealth by level on a spellbook. This is huge in games like World's Largest Dungeon, or just games where the situation changes a lot.

    And third, he can ignore SR whenever he wants, starting from level 11. Just think about that one for a second. Consider how many spells are balanced by the fact that at least SR can stop them, and then realize that when a Factotum does it, he can ignore that. Cast Spectral Hand and Shivering Touch in the surprise round, touch attack the dragon with it, and ignore his SR for the purpose, which would be his only defense? Sure. And you've even got the Factotum's advantages in sneaking up on him, just stay out of the range of his Blindsense (unless you have Darkstalker of course).

    So, another way a Factotum could fight (we've been through two already, turning into a powerful combat form and using Iajuitsu Focus for damage boosting) would be to combo useful spells together. One easy example is Cloudkill with Solid Fog, making a fog of death that enemies can't escape from quickly enough. And remember, you can cast the whole combo in the surprise round if you want. Very nasty. No one ever expects the skillmonkey to pull that move off. And the above mentioned combination of Spectral Hand with any potent touch attack. All this and the ability to ignore SR whenever it suits you is pretty darn incredible.

    The important point is that everything I've stated here is just a Factotum with a few Fonts of Inspiration. That's it. I haven't discussed gear other than the side note about using Sapphire Nightmare Blade, or race (though the Advespi thing only works if you're an outsider... that particular character happens to be a Tiefling... but you can use other forms if you're another race). And those were just some examples of what a Factotum can do (I haven't even gone into Turn Undead or his healing abilties or his ability to ignore DR, or his ability to eventually mimic any three Ex class abilities from 15th level characters... how about 10d6 sneak attack, 10d6 sudden strike, and full flurry of blows? Or would you prefer Pounce? You know what else is Ex? A Fighter's Bonus Feats, and you probably just gained 10 of them because you just gained the bonus feats ability of a fighter of your Factotum level. Now, technically spellcasting itself is Ex, but we'll ignore that for now). I haven't gone into his defense either... the ability to simply ignore any damage that would take him to 0 or less hitpoints for 4 Inspiration Points is pretty freaking awesome, as as Int to AC in any armour if he needs it (though his later version of the ability requires light armour). And who doesn't like the ability to add your class level to any save when you want it?

    And of course, all of that was just combat. We haven't even gotten started on out of combat.

    Out of combat you're much like a Rogue, except that unlike a Rogue you can pump Int without worrying (Rogues have to care about their Dex a lot more if they want to survive, and their poorer defense makes Con that much more critical). This means your higher int will make up for the skill point difference. Then you've got both Int and Dex (and both Int and Str) to skills that require Str or Dex, the ability to add your Factotum level once per day to any skill you've got a point in already, and of course the ability to cast nearly any Wizard/Sorc spell, though admittedly a few spell levels behind the big boys. This can mean scouting an area while Alter Selfed into a Whispergnome or Skulk for better hide and move silently, using Autohypnosis to automatically memorize every detail you see, and then sneaking back. Or just using a divination spell. You've got such spells as Knock and Silence to help out too. And that's just the scouting aspect.

    There's a reason Factotums are in Tier 3 in my system, and in fact they're pretty high in Tier 3. They've got so much innate flexibility it's obscene... unexperienced DMs thinking they're weaker could get VERY surprised but how much a Factotum can alter himself to suit a situation perfectly. Put a Factotum in a group with a Rogue and that Rogue ends up looking like dead weight plenty of the time (any time where the situation calls for one skill monkey to do something). And the Fighter? The Factotum can often outclass him too, sometimes dropping whole encounters in the surprise round and start of the first round. And he can do all of it without warning, adapting on the fly to the situation in front of him. Certainly, when I watch the one that's currently grouped with my Dread Necromancer (plus a Sorcerer, Cleric, Swordsage, and Paladin of Tyranny/Hexblade) there's no way he's the weak link. –JaronK

    Warblade:
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    A note on the Warblade: Warblades are tier 3 only because 9th level spells are better than the rule books and not because the monster manuals are packed full of monsters that can kill them. Being the horseman War is great and all, but it will always be second best to a god. -SorO_Lost


    Cons: They don't have ranged attacks and always have to use mithral as their armor's material if they want to use full-plate. That's it. -SorO_Lost

    Pros: Warblades are simply the best melee class ever.

    Ok to reiterate, Warblades pack a d12 hit dice, full BAB, proficiency with all melee martial weapons, and up to medium armor as their basic class stats meaning they are meant for melee combat. From there things go uphill at a staggering pace.

    For one thing they are the smart fighter, none of that 'Thorg smash puppies' stuff fighters do. Warblades get bonuses for having intelligence such as adding their int bonus to reflex saves, crit confirmation, damage rolls when flanking, all those combat maneuvers in the PHB, and finally attack and damage rolls for AOOs. Oh and did I mention they sport 4 skill points per level and can pick up skills like balance,tumble and intimidate?

    Another thing to mention is Weapon Aptitude which not only lets you have access to but lets you swap your Weapon Focus chain of feats on the fly. Did you focus on longswords but find this awesome mace? Spend an hour playing with it and poof, instant retraining with no XP cost!

    By the 6th level a warblade has improved uncanny dodge and a bonus feat. Later on they will pick up an additional three bonus feats from a limited but useful list. It's kinda like stealing class abilities from the Barbarian and Fighter at the same time.

    Then there is the maneuver system the ToB introduced of course, the warblade gets the best recovery mechanic of all the classes. When you run out of maneuvers just attack someone. Yes I said attack them. I mean in a boring no maneuvers used sort of way, but it's the same exact (full) attack actions that you are used to using and the monsters still are. Walk over and beat the every living crap out of something to recover your maneuvers to beat the remaining blood out of them next round. Fun times.

    Warblades can choose from any of the unsupernatural style of schools. They are realistic and in your face. They don't care about such things like fire, ghosting people, or purifying the wicked. Keep it simple, the pointy end goes into the foe a dozen times or the sharp edge slices them into pieces. Expect your average warblade to ignore save or die effects, to break battle control effects cast at them, to set the battle field in favorable conditions and exploit it, and to be seen helping the entire party's melee capabilities.

    Finally, even those high nosed RPers will love the warblade. Now they have rules and effects backing such stories as 'I leap up and slice the snake's head clean off'. Even the most boring of players will find them selves shouting out the names of their attacks and bragging about how cool their character looks while swinging his sword. No more boring 'I attack..." comments. Ever. Well, unless it's part of a small joke, such as 'I attack... With my Finishing Move after flash stepping behind them and my blade lights up resembling molten lava to burn away their very soul!'. Maneuvers are so flavorful...
    -SorO_Lost

    Psychic Warrior:
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    Cons: Psychic Warriors are most obviously compared to Bards. They're both gishes in a can, but Bards have the advantage of arcane spells and great splat support. Psychic Warriors also know fewer powers than Bards know spells, have crap skills, and don't really have class features. -Flickerdart

    Pros: Heavy armour makes Psychic Warriors much better on the front lines than Bards, and their fat stack of bonus feats lets them pick up all those fancy combat feat chains that nobody has time for. Their powers are also much better suited for combat, and they can snap up powers from the better Psion list through their bonus feats. Psychic Warriors are even more mobile than ToB classes thanks to various powers like Hustle and Psionic Lion's Charge, and can evade magical detection using various others. -Flickerdart
    Last edited by Karnith; 2015-07-12 at 08:07 PM.

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    Jan 2013

    Default Re: Why Each Class Is In Its Tier (Rescued from MinMax)

    Why Tier 4s are Tier 4s
    It was brought up that there's no set explanation for why low tier classes are generally less effective. With that in mind, I figured I'd start one. I'll be doing one for each tiers, but I want to get the low tiers out of the way first, because most people know why classes like Wizards and Druids are above average. I'm looking for your input on the classes, and to make this a guide for people new to CO. Thanks to all who contribute in advance.

    From JaronK's Tier System For Classes guide, the widely accepted Char Op base power description thread:

    Tier 4: Capable of doing one thing quite well, but often useless when encounters require other areas of expertise, or capable of doing many things to a reasonable degree of competance without truly shining. Rarely has any abilities that can outright handle an encounter unless that encounter plays directly to the class's main strength. DMs may sometimes need to work to make sure Tier 4s can contribue to an encounter, as their abilities may sometimes leave them useless. Won't outshine anyone except Tier 6s except in specific circumstances that play to their strengths. Cannot compete effectively with Tier 1s that are played well.

    Examples: Rogue, Barbarian, Warlock, Warmage, Scout, Ranger, Hexblade, Adept, Spellthief, Marshal, Fighter (Dungeoncrasher Variant), Psychic Rogue

    Why Tier 4's are Tier 4:
    Rogue:
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    Cons: Sneak Attack fails against huge or larger creatures because you have to reach their vitals. Also Sneak Attack fails if the target has any kind of concealment, which is sold in items easily enough. Without special feats of skill tricks the Rogue has to party up with what will probably be an already high damager in order to flank and thus use their Sneak Attack ability. Finally another failure in Sneak Attack comes from the fact that the rogue isn't really meant to be in the middle of combat and using Sneak Attack with ranged attacks requires a lot of effort.

    Rogues primary shine outside of combat, such as interacting with NPCs, scouting, digging for loot, you know, those mundane things people just talk about at the gaming table. Most of the roles the Rogue preforms anyone could find a way to do if needed. Such as the entire trap finding role is rendered obsolete but a single reserve feat that any spellcaster can take or are simply based on skill bonuses which can be brought and paid for with magical items.

    The fact is a Rogue is your 4th party member, an Indian tossed in to avoid having to many chiefs. He fits in filling the lesser roles of a party's teamwork that everyone else is too busy to bother with. _SorO_Lost
    -------------------------------------------

    The real reason that rogue is tier four is that factotum is just plain better. As a skill monkey, a factotum has no cross class skills and most likely has more skill points as well given its emphasis on INT. A straight rogue is also pretty MAD, or must use precious feats to make himself more SAD. Not so with a factotum, INT all the way and anything else is a bonus (brains over brawn is a prefect example). A party with a rogue and factotum would make it very hard for the rogue to feel useful. -Samb
    -------------------------------------------

    Beguiler also steals virtually all the Rogue's thunder, while getting full 20 level spellcasting at Tier 3. Beguiler really gets as many skills as a rogue does, because Int is its casting stat.

    A rogue that really wants to be versatile can actually have MAD problems. Dex and Int need to be high, Con for survivability, Wisdom for will saves and skills and Cha if you want to be social or UMD, and Strength for melee combat -Braithwaite

    Pros: The rogue is a solid class, part of the must have four for a team. It's the second best skill monkey class out there with it's 8 points per level and easy ability room to pick up a good score in int.

    Trapfinding, Trap Sense, high Reflex, (Improved) Evasion, Search and Spot lead the rogue to be the goto trap finder. It's always better to toss a d20 then to walk into a trap and kill the party. Where as Hide & Move Silently come in adding the role of scout to the rogue. Access to Diplomacy, Apprise, and Sleight of Hand coupled with their stealth they can pretty much steal and sell anything that isn't nailed down and on fire. And finally Sneak Attack is their signature class ability. They can load up with SA bonuses and TWF dealing massive amounts of damage that would hit Final Fantasy's damage cap.

    Thanks to Drow of The Underdark, a rogue can both sicken and shaken a foe at the same time making them a valuable ally to a save or die spell caster. Theres also a dozen other debuff Ambush feats that increase their usefulness of SA outside of sheer damage and Crippling Strike & Wounding Weapons also means your not just going after an HP total. -SorO_Lost
    -------------------------------------------
    By itself it is solid class that is able to handle anything with use of skill, the right equipment and judicious use of Use Magic Device/Use Psionic Device. Use a dorje of expansion to make yourself big against huge-large foes, or just grease them with a wand. Constructs and undead are easily bypassed with a true death/ demolition augment crystal, so to say that sneak attack is a con is not accurate. UMD/UPD can usually allow a rogue (or any class with UMD/UPD as a class skill) to fill many roles in combat although not really equaling the dedicated classes. -Samb

    Barbarian:
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    Cons: Many of its features are fairly lackluster, though with enough splatbooks, I expect you should be able to find something worthwhile to swap them out for. Rage doesn't really scale quickly enough to sustain my interest in it (you wait for 10 lvs to get a marginal improvement in it, then wait for another 9 lvs for the next bump). Is it any wonder why most deem barbarian a 1-2 lv dip? The opportunity cost of going straight barb is simply too high. You just don't get anything interesting past lv2 to justify staying in it.

    As with other melee classes, your higher lv options are still pretty much limited to 5-ft+full attack and move+attack, though the barbarian gets an extra boost with pounce (assuming your DM allows complete champion). But many limitations plaguing melee classes in general tend to affect the barb as well.

    Your limited feat slots invariably get locked into extra rage (1st lv) and power attack. If you have PHB2, anywhere from 2-5 more feats may get set aside for steadfast determination (and perhaps indomitable will, if you are really paranoid), plus mad foam rager as a poor man's iron heart surge. Or you could go leap attack/shock-trooper, or 3 mountains, or bounding assault feat tree or whatever combo catches your fancy (but you can likely afford only 1). So you are for most part a 1-trick pony (though arguably an extremely effective one), spamming the same 1 attack routine each round. -Runestar

    Pros: Fairly easy to build, and unlike the fighter, is very hard to screw up, since rage is a class feature (you will always have it to fall back on regardless of how subpar your other build decisions such as feat/stat choices may be). So the learning curve is quite low. Good for beginning players who are not interested/lack the expertise to wade through hundreds (or is it thousands?) of feats to find out which synergize well with the others and which are stinkers not worth the paper they are printed on.

    Fairly SAD as well, simply put 14-16 in con, the rest in str, and pump them every chance you get (but with more emphasis on str over con). With steadfast determination, wis is a dump stat now, you don't actually get that many useful skills to warrant boosting int past 10, and the benefits of dex seem fairly minimal (base10+6 from gloves meets the cap from mithral fullplate just nicely).

    Just wield the best 2-handed weapon you can find, rage in the 1st round of combat, move and swing. The bonuses from rage are actually fairly substantial at lower lvs, and unlike conventional melee classes, the barb actually stands a chance against attacks which target his will save (vital in 3e since those are invariably save-or-die/tantamount to dying). -Runestar
    --------------------------------------------

    Just like fighters, they can intimidate (from the barb handbook):

    Imperious Command + Instantaneous Rage + Intimidating rage (optional + Skill Trick never outnumbered) : This combo I cannot say enough about. It's the barbarian equivalent to a mage with celerity. You basically can cut off someones action and shut them down for a round making them drop what they were doing and well (die to your charge) add never outnumbered and charge the opposing force, leap attack into the midst of them then rage while mid-air. Potentially cowering their whole team. -Cru


    Warlock:
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    Note about Warlocks: Warlocks can get very good when Prestige Classes are added, and the fact that they can eventually (like, level 17) give creatures negative levels, in an area, with damage, make them great for killing low-level mooks. In theory, warlocks have access to many sorcerer/wizard spells, like baleful polymorph, see invisibility, wall of flame, evards black tentacles, summon swarm, and so on. However, at 20th level, they only get 12 invocations out of their large list, and usually, 2 of those are Utterdark Blast (for negative levels) and Eldritch Doom (for the AoE). Maybe add in Eldritch Spear for long range...

    They are good 5th party members, assuming you have the 4 basic roles filled. They also get a bunch of class abilities relating to UMD, the best skill ever. And Cha synergy! -Generic_PC

    Cons: Their best invocations are equivalent to sixth level spells. Spells double in power every two levels or so. A warlock, therefore, is shooting bullets that are far less effective than the wizard's. Staying power really doesn't matter at higher levels because at that point each attack is essentially save or die - would you rather like a bucket of rocks or one rocket launcher?

    Time stop renders the warlock completely irrelevant for combat - the wizard already summoned a bunch of monsters in one turn, and is now shapechanged into a monster with better abilities and attacks than the lower tiers. -The_Mad_Linguist
    --------------------------------------------

    Make a warlock, an archer and a specialist wizard at the same level. Pick 4 (or eight) different monsters of that ECL. Have the monsters stand there while the ranged damage guys hurt them. See how many rounds it takes each class to kill the monsters. If you pick 8 monsters, let the wizard rememorise spells after 4 (usually 4 encounters per day).

    Warlock will probably be last for most levels between about 6 and 20.

    So a warlock is a (stand at range and put hurt on the target guy). The 2 most common classes at that role are both better at it than him. Argument over.

    If an arguement starts about how many more things the warlock can do than the archer, calculate the cost to duplicate the warlocks abilities. Ring of Invisibility-20 k, Flying carpet... eyes of charming ... Now ask them how much it will cost them to raise the warlocks damage to an amount equal to the archer. They cant. Priceless... -Braithwaite
    --------------------------------------------

    9d6 damage at level 20 with a standard action is just pathetic, especially if it's subject to spell resistance. Even 1d6 damage at level 1 isn't that good.

    One limiting factor for invocations is that a warlock is only going to know 12 of them at the most through out his whole career, unless he wants to burn feats on extra invocation. Knowing only a handful of tricks gives you no flexibility when it comes to dealing with situations. -Ninjarabbit
    --------------------------------------------
    After about level 6, your damage just drops off until it takes 15 or so hits to kill something, even though you are rolling 9 dice each hit. Meanwhile that Barbarian is doing x4 damage, and getting x6 on power attack, rolling 2 dice and getting 100 damage. But ultimately, you lack the damage to be a focused ranged attacker, and the versatility to make up for that, so you don't get to be a high tier. -Generic_PC

    Pros: The damage portion of the class has been fixed since the Fiendish Codex II came out. Unless you are a Theurgic build there is no reason not to take Hellfire Warlock, which gives +6d6 damage to your EB and allows you to fire it as an immediate action when someone hits you. With a Greater Chasuble of Fell Power adding a further +2d6 your looking at a 17d6 ray, or about 59 damage. This of course can be done as part of a cone shaped blast to several foes and it also bestows two negative levels on a failed save. And if someone were to attack you then you could further add another 17d6 damage to the list. The Eldritch Glaive shape and Empower/Maximize Spell-Like Ability feats shoves those numbers into the range of an uber charger only better. It requires less feats (just maximize really), only an item or two (grab a rod for +5d6 damage), can be implanted into any non-theurgic build with very little effort (one least invocation slot) and has an almost guaranteed chance to hit even on the last attack where most pounce builds tend to miss. -SorO_Lost
    --------------------------------------------

    Warlocks are flavourful characters. They seem great at first glance, with unlimited SLAs and a ranged touch attack which adds d6 every 2 levels (or something). At early levels, they are great characters too. +6 to Bluff, Diplomacy and Intimidate is probably going to raise your check to higher than +10 at first level. Charisma based DCs help with social skills even more, and the invocations are great. But... Only at early levels. 2d6 every round isn't bad at level 3, where that Barbarian is still doing 2d6+1.5Str, but it won't last. At least you still have Invisibility, Flight, Negative Levels (In an area, +9d6 damage), whenever you want. -Generic_PC

    Warmage:
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    Cons: Damage spells are generally the weakest type of combat spells and that's the majority of the warmage's spell list, a tool box only needs so many different types of hammers. And like fighter, warmages have almost no class abilities that do anything outside of combat. Warmage edge is almost completely useless outside of the first couple of levels.

    Pros: Warmages however do have a few save-or-die and battlefield control spells on their spell list like some various cloud spells, sleet storm, Evard's black tentacles, wail of the banshee, and prismatic wall. Warmages can also cast in armor and with light shields, partially making up for their lack of defensive spells. The warmage also have a mechanical advantage of automanically being able to cast any spell on his spell list, useful for things like the Arcane Disciple feat. Warmages do get a few sudden metamagic feats, which is better than nothing I guess.

    Warmages are good for beginner players or someone who doesn't want to take the time to mess around with a spell list, like a DM making a character on the fly. -Ninjarabbit

    Scout:
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    A note on the Scout: The class works very well when multiclassed with ranger, due to the swift hunter feat, which makes ranger and scout levels stack for determining skirmish and favored enemies. Also it allows skirmish damage to be done to the favored enemies regardless of immunity, which reduces the weaknesses of the class. There is also a great deal of synergy between the two classes. -Havok4

    Cons: A very large number of creatures are immune to skirmish which limits its viability. It also takes a significant investment to full attack and activate skirmish and that is usually necessary to do a large amount of damage. Most of the class abilities are done by spells much earlier then the scout gets them. An example is true seeing as it is actually better in some ways then the scout's capstone ability and clerics have been using that spell since level 9. Another big issue is that lack of use magic device on the scout's skill list which limits the options of the class and often keeps it from being viable at higher levels. To be effective as a class you usually need to focus on a specific combat style and this limits your options. The biggest issue with the scout is that their primary purpose, Scouting, can be done from the safety of home with the right divination magic, making their whole purpose somewhat redundant. -Havok4

    Pros: The main source of damage for this class is skirmish which can be easier to consistently activate than sneak attack. Also you get defensive buffs as part of skirmish as well. The entire class is based around movement and it gets many ability such as fast movement and eventually continuous freedom of movement. The class makes for a good trap finder and has 8+int skill points per level and a good skill list. You also get very nice stealth bonuses such as hide in plain sight and camouflage, which are identical to the ranger features but come much earlier. The bonus feats help keep the class versatile and also for greater flexibility when building the character. Also it is tougher then the closest equivalent class, the rogue, due to battle fortitude and a d8 hit die. And the capstone ability of the class is blind sight which is very nice. Also all abilities are extraordinary which makes them very hard to shut down. All in all they fit a very similar role to that of a rogue in the party. -Havok4

    Ranger:
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    The ranger might be the most average class in D&D. It doesn't suck but it doesn't really do anything too well. I'd generally avoid the two weapon fighting combat style and stick to the archery combat style to be an effective ranger. -Ninjarabbit

    Cons: Rangers are limited to light armor and only have a d8 hit dice, a problem to those who went the two weapon fighting route. Rangers by themselves don't have a high damage output, especially when fighting against non-favored enemies. Rangers suffer from MAD: needing a decent dex, con, wis, int, and str to be effective. The ranger's animal companion is way too weak to even consider using in combat. Rangers are half-casters so their spells won't be too reliable in combat without a few tricks. -Ninjarabbit

    Pros: Rangers get 5 bonus feats total and they don't have to meet any prequisites for their combat feats. 6 skill points/level and a pretty good set of class skills are a very nice thing. Rangers have enough class variants across many splatbooks to keep things interesting. Rangers multiclass well with scouts, paladins, and monks thanks to the class-combo feats. Rangers do have a solid spell list, especially if you have access to certain splatbooks. –Ninjarabbit

    Hexblade:
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    Overall the hexblade fills the niche of a debuffing warrior decently and would make a good bodyguard/cohort/tank for a spellcaster who uses quite a few save-or-x spells. It does take a moderate level of optimization skill and quite a few splatbooks to make a hexblade work since there isn't much of a margin of error in most hexblade
    builds. -Ninjarabbit

    Cons: The hexblade's signature abilty, the curse, is pretty weaksauce by itself and you can only use it a few timesper day. Hexblades can only cast a handful of spells per day and it's a half-caster, meaning you'll have to blow a feat on practiced spellcaster. Speaking of feats most hexblade builds are tight on feats and skill points. The bonus feats a hexblade gets are almost worthless. Hexblades are limited to light armor, not good for a class expected to be on the frontlines. -Ninjarabbit

    Pros: The hexblade's spell list has quite a few gems on it like charm person, alter self, glitterdust, invisibility, slow, hound of doom, and polymorph (which qualifies the hexblade for the Minor Shapeshift reserve feat). The hexblade gets better action economy than most melee-types since many of it's abilites are free and swift actions. And since the hexblade has d10 hit dice and full BAB that means it's familiar is pretty durable, making improved familiar a viable feat choice. Arcane resistance is almost as good as divine grace and dark blessing and stacks with those so it's something to consider when multiclassing.

    The hexblade is one of the few classes that gets mettle. Hexblades have a pretty good set of class skills, including all the social skills, ride (good for an improved familiar), and the main arcane spellcasting skills. The dark companion variant is an easy and free way to start debuffing a foe. Many of the debuffing feats and abilities like dreadful wrath and frightful presence are cha-based so it synergizes well with the hexblade.
    -Ninjarabbit
    -------------------------------------

    The level 4 Hexblade ACF is worth mentioning. Dark Companion is AWESOME and makes Hexblade 4 a great combination with Paladin of Tyranny 3 or Binder. -4 (or even -6) to all saves around you is incredibly potent, especially combined with charisma to saves multiple times. Consider something like Factotum 1/Hexblade 4/Paladin of Tyranny 4/Ur Priest 1/Bone Knight 10, for example (Factotum's there mostly to get the skill points needed for the PrCs). -JaronK

    Adept:
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    Cons: The poor class features and limited number of spells a day holds it back. It also has a terrible spell progression. It does not get 5th level spells until level 16.

    Pros: The reason for the adepts placement is that it actually has a fairly good spell list. Look at it here.
    Spoiler
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    Adepts choose their spells from the following list.
    0 Level

    create water, cure minor wounds, detect magic, ghost sound, guidance, light, mending, purify food and drink, read magic, touch of fatigue.
    1st Level

    bless, burning hands, cause fear, command, comprehend languages, cure light wounds, detect chaos, detect evil, detect good, detect law, endure elements, obscuring mist, protection from chaos, protection from evil, protection from good, protection from law, sleep.
    2nd Level

    aid, animal trance, bear’s endurance, bull’s strength, cat’s grace, cure moderate wounds, darkness, delay poison, invisibility, mirror image, resist energy, scorching ray, see invisibility, web.
    3rd Level

    animate dead, bestow curse, contagion, continual flame, cure serious wounds, daylight, deeper darkness, lightning bolt, neutralize poison, remove curse, remove disease, tongues.
    4th Level

    cure critical wounds, minor creation, polymorph, restoration, stoneskin, wall of fire.
    5th Level

    baleful polymorph, break enchantment, commune, heal, major creation, raise dead, true seeing, wall of stone.
    All of which can be used to great effect on a battle field. It knows every spell on that list ansd they are all useful. Some of these spells are very useful for classes that can draw from other class lists such as the chameleon or the archivist. -Havok4

    Spellthief:
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    Spellthief: A skillmonkey with minor magical ability that can steal his foe's (or friend's) abilities. Like the hexblade, the spellthief is a low level tier 4 who's main saving grace is being able to cast alter self and polymorph. -Ninjarabbit

    Cons: He only gets 5d6 sneak attack damage. The spellthief is only a half caster and probably will burn a feat on practiced spellcaster. He has MAD, needing int, cha, dex, con, and maybe even str due to limited combat options. All of his Steal X abilities require being able to sneak attack his foe, much easier said than done. The spellthief will have fewer skill points than a rogue, beguiler, and factotum doe to only getting 6 skill points/level and int not being a priority stat. -Ninjarabbit
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    Remember with Master Spellthief that you still need at least 9 spellthief levels to actually store 9th level spells after you steal them. With that said, Master Spellthief does help a lot, as builds like Spellthief 9/Mindbender 1/Shadowcraft Mage 5/Earth Dreamer 5 become viable. But without such powerful PrCs, the Spellthief can't make good use of the spell stealing ability. They're basically a weak Rogue that has to get the drop on Wizards and the like to be useful. If you can pull this off, it's awesome, but without that you're rather poor. Stealing spells from party mates usually just means you're burning through more slots than necessary for your party, but if you weren't doing that many encounters anyway it basically is like quickening other people's spells for free (since you're not wasting the action of the Wizard when you cast his spell). -JaronK
    -----------------------------------------------

    Spell Thieves suffer from some trope I don't know the name of. Yet. We all want it to be great and try to find reasons to play it or to convince others to try it out, but it sucks. SA is too low to be useful, the rogue packs twice as much and better skills and none of us are saying the rogue should be in the center of combat.

    Spell thieves lack knowledge divine/nature/planes/dungeoneering which means no spell thief knows what monster can cast what until the 13th level. Also, not everything casts spells, or is wholly dependent on casting spells to kill stuff when it comes to monsters. Stealing spells from the party is outright stupid. Who would beg the wizard in the party to give up his spell slots so you can cast something? Here's an idea, play a wizard and double the spells your entire party can cast instead. Let's just avoid the whole 'but warlocks can use the SLAs all day' thing, it's not like playing a spell thief is any better than playing a warlock.

    SR lowering abilities come in feat form and don't require 15 levels in a poor class to get it. Stealing energy resistance might be useful, but if you have a blaster in the party they probably already have a way to ignore resistance. Like Wings of Flurry (does anything really have force resistance?), Maw of Chaos, Hellfire, etc. And if there isn't enough shame listed so far, just look at PrCs. Nothing the spell thief has scales with PrCs, you want to continue your spell stealing progression you'll have to forgo the more powerful option of PrCing out unless you take a PrC such as Sublime Chord or Ur Priest. But keep in mind it's not the spell thief that makes the build work, it's the PrC.

    If you want the flavor of spell stealing pick up the Fiendish Codex II and read the Hellbreaker class. It grants HiPS, steal spells up to the 4th level, with clever use of TWF it can block ever single SLA a creature has within a round or two, and it can steal supernatural abilities. All within 8 levels.

    Steal-Spell Effect works great against the wizard BBEG. The spell theif can give up damage to end the BBEG's spell's one by one. Except the effects come back in a few rounds, and dispel can end them all at once making it a far better choice. Hmm you know what, I can't think of a single pro for a spell thief... -SorO_Lost


    Pros: The spellthief has a good spell list, being able to cast any sorcerer/wizard spell from the following schools: abjuration, divination, enchantment, illusion, and transmutation, which inclues polymorph. Can take a wide range of reserve feats, which go a long way in giving the spellthief more staying power. Spell grace does give the spellthief slightly better saving throws. He can cast spells in light armor. The spellthief has the potential to steal high level spells and SLAs. Absorb spell is potentially useful (but it requires being targeted by a foe's spell to begin with). -Ninjarabbit
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    Also Master Spellthief + wizard or sorceror dip = much better. That one feat gives them a full caster level (for both classes, I think), and they lose almost nothing. -Woodenbandman
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    Of course, the Spellthief does have a few fun advantages. Being able to steal once a day spell like abilities and cast them without burning the ability can be very useful (how about a paladin's mount?). Spellthieves combine quite nicely with Warlocks for similar reasons. And of course with Obtain Familiar they can have a lot of fun. Still, at the end of the day you're likely to end up feeling like a low budget version of a Factotum. –JaronK
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    Spellthieves combine beautifully with any allied casters or pseudo-casters, and most adventuring parties have at least one. Any Warlocks or Dragonfire Adepts can effectively "share" all their 24-hour buff invocations with the Spellthief, including Fell Flight, Energy Resistance, See the Unseen, and the like. And, since the Spellthief has far more skillpoints and its own slew of special abilities, this often means that the Spellthief can put those buffs to greater use than the original class, without denying them the use as well. And since SLAs stolen don't count against uses per day, anyone who has or can generate (say, through use of Summon spells) allies with SLAs can lead to wonderful things. A single unicorn becomes a font of healing, and a friendly neighbourhood Factotum can start spamming freely off the Sor/Wiz list. Even a traditional caster combos well the Spellthief, since a little coordination can effectively result in a free "quicken" every round for the spellcasting ally of the Spellthief's choice, until if and when they find better things to do, like actually apply their abilities offensively. And unlike with the Rogue, the Spellthief generally only needs to connect with one SA to have a big impact on the battle. - sonofzeal

    Marshal:
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    Marshal 1 is a classic dip for Diplomancers (combined with Binder 1 for Naberius and Warlock 1 for their charming invocation). Marshal is also incredible in low level army situations... a one or two Marshal 2s leading a group of Crusader 1s makes for a devastating low level unit. -JaronK

    Cons: Outranked by Clerics (of course), but also by Bards (Basically auras with caster levels), Factotums (get int/level to certain skills per encounter), and most ToB classes (White Raven does it better). Has no way of swapping out useless auras. Very little support in outside books. Approximately 5 dead levels (including levels where only 1 aura is gained) (6, 10, 11, 13, and 18). Low number of Auras known if multiclassing. Auras are somewhat restricted (60', must hear/understand, int above 3 (problems occur with animals/mindless undead, etc.), and is canceled if she is dazed, unconscious, stunned, paralyzed, or otherwise unable to be heard or understood by his allies.) Circumstance bonuses on skills are common, and much higher than what you can probably give. -Chaos Josh

    Pros: Mid Bab, d8 HD, 2 good saves, and the ability to use any Martial weapon, shield (but tower), and armor make it an adequate front line fighter (not the best, mind, but adequate). Auras are activated by a swift action (handy). Diplomacy on a Cha-based class, including free Skill focus (Diplomacy) and an aura adding Cha twice to those checks is nifty. Can grant move actions (which is very useful on a group of Melee classes). Free Skill Focus also means that Exemplar builds are plausible, especially depending on the Auras chosen. Intimidate is a class skill and it's a Cha-based class, although not as good as being able to do it swiftly. Circumstance bonuses on things other than skills are handy. -Chaos Josh

    Dungeoncrasher Fighter:
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    A note on the Dungeon Crasher Variant Fighter: Note that the Dungeoncrasher Fighter is only in that position (Tier 4) for levels the Dungeoncrasher variant actually applies to (until level 6). It drops back to Tier 5 after that. It's just so darn useful with Knockback and whatnot, and the Fighter was already at the edge of Tier 4/5 anyway. Zhentarium Fighter is absolutely Tier 4, mostly because the level 9 ability when combined with Imperious Command gives Fighters a whole other way to attack (target will saves instead of AC). Intimidate is easy to raise, so eventually any opponent who isn't outright immune is going to be helpless. -JaronK

    Psychic Rogue:
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    Cons: Mind powers don't boost the Rogue to T3. Two skill points have gone away, and UMD is replaced by the much less useful UPD. Low powers known from a heavily restricted list and absolutely miserly PP. The lack of Trap Sense means that Penetrating Strike is off the table, and the SA dice are fewer in number. Uncanny Dodge and IUD come in much later and only while psionically focused. -Flickerdart

    Pros: Mind Cripple is a lot deadlier against dumb brute opponents than Crippling Strike was. While they are few, its powers are very useful, and by dumping its PP into powers like the Precognitions, a Psychic Rogue can aspire to be better in combat than its mundane cousin. -Flickerdart
    Last edited by Karnith; 2014-01-12 at 09:38 AM.

  6. - Top - End - #6
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    Jan 2013

    Default Re: Why Each Class Is In Its Tier (Rescued from MinMax)

    Why Tier 5s are Tier 5s
    It was brought up that there's no set explanation for why low tier classes are generally less effective. With that in mind, I figured I'd start one. I'll be doing one for each tiers, but I want to get the low tiers out of the way first, because most people know why classes like Wizards and Druids are above average. I'm looking for your input on the classes, and to make this a guide for people new to CO. Thanks to all who contribute in advance.

    From JaronK's Tier System For Classes guide, the widely accepted Char Op base power description thread:

    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. DMs may have to work to avoid the player feeling that their character is worthless unless the entire party is Tier 4 and below. Characters in this tier will often feel like one trick ponies if they do well, or just feel like they have no tricks at all if they build the class poorly.
    Examples: Fighter, Monk, CA Ninja, Healer, Swashbuckler, Rokugan Ninja, Soulknife, Expert, Paladin, Knight, Soulborn

    On the Tier 5 dips:
    It's worth noting that very few of the T5 classes are as hopeless or completely useless as it would seem from being so low on the range: 1-2 levels of monk is often worthwhile, 2-4 levels of fighter (6 with dungeoncrasher, but that's listed rightfully as T4), 1-3 levels of swashbuckler (or even taking it for 17-20 levels with daring outlaw), 1-6 levels of paladin (I like the greater dispel magic or celestial mount ACFs at 6th) are all probably good choices in many builds.

    I wish I could cover the Healer a little more, but JaronK did a great job of summing up why it's T5 (though as it is his system, that's not entirely unexpected!) It's quite good at what it does (healing and removing status effects), but what it does simply isn't all that exciting or necessary for a large part of the game (levels 5-11, pretty much). It's not useless by any stretch, but its main competition, the cleric, is so powerful that the Healer ends up looking much worse than it deserves. In a party when the Healer is the only character with healing and useful spells like remove paralysis, etc., he'll feel quite useful to the party, but put him in the same party as an optimized cleric and the DM will be highly challenged to make that player feel like he's contributing anything useful.
    -Akalsaris

    Why Tier 5s are Tier 5:
    Fighter:
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    Cons: Feats are inferior to good class features. Rarely can one throw a bucket of feats at an enemy unless they are very strong feats...

    ... but strong feats can be taken by any other character as well. -Solo
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    Note that the Fighter is actually quite high in Tier 5, bordering on Tier 4. But one of the main markers of the low tiers is a lack of flexibility. An archer Fighter is quite good as a damage dealer... not as good as an equivalently optimized Barbarian Charger, but still quite effective. However, that's just about all he is. His class makes him good at dealing damage with arrows, but when the situation calls for something else (i.e. there's not a clear shot, or it's not a combat situation) his class offers him critically few options. The same is true of most other kinds of Fighter... though the class itself can make many builds, any one build is generally either inflexible (due to specializing in just one trick) or ineffective (due to not specializing in that one trick).

    A further note about the Fighter is that a lot of his tricks (shooting, charging, tripping) can be accomplished by about level 6-8. That's great when you get your first trick, but if you try to diversify (for example, adding Power Attack, Improved Bull Rush, Shock Trooper, and Leap Attack to an archer build) you're adding another trick that would be good at level 6-8... but now it's level 16. Having two level 6-8 tricks at level 16 is as bad as a caster getting twice as many 4th level spells at 16. It's not nearly as good as getting level appropriate abilities (in that metaphore, 8th level spells). -JaronK

    Pros: One of the best non magical damage dealing classes, especially with regards to archery. Though it requires a Barbarian dip to shine as a charger, their feats are useful for that too. Fighters make excellent short dips for many non magic builds. Fighters can also make very effective trippers, though Fighters can't really be effective at all of these at once (Fighters in general can be good trippers, chargers, and archers, but no one Fighter can be great at all of those). Note that the Zhentarium Fighter is clearly Tier 4, mostly due to Imperious Command. -JaronK

    Monk:
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    Cons: They aren't exceptional tanks due to lowish HD, medium BAB, multi-attribute dependency (and thus comparably lower combat stats than melee monsters; this also hurts their supposed strengths in Grapple, Tripping & other combat maneuvers, along with Stunning Fist; all of those heavily reward straightforward dedication to a single stat over all else, and a Monk really can't pull that off), the fact that you can't combine their movement speed with Flurry (Flurry requires full attack, movement allows only one) and lack of weapon proficiencies (unarmed strikes getting decent dice later on, but lacking in special abilities and enhancing them costs a ****ton; oh, and no reach, no AoO-builds). Flurry is needed for them to do decent damage forcing them to ignore their speed boost in combat.

    They aren't exceptional scouts due to lacking Trapfinding and having relatively low skill points and being unable to afford decent Int thanks to multi-attribute dependency (Hide/Move Silently/Tumble is all good, but if you don't have Trapfinding, scouting ahead in a hostile environment is like to get you killed).

    They aren't exceptional mage killers (*chuckle*) because they really have nothing to especially threaten mages with. Just like every other warrior type, their movement is inferior to teleportation (once-per-day Dimension Door doesn't cut it), they have few if any ways to locate the mage and penetrate magical defenses (Mirror Image + Displacement + Blink: good luck hitting... Or Wall of Force) and they can't even reasonably use bows so their ability to act at range is infinitely diminished. Oh, and if they somehow manage to plop an Anti-Magic Field around themselves? They just gave up like 70% of their class features. Thanks to Greater Spell Penetration (in Core)/Assay Resistance (out of Core), their multi-attribute dependency, spells that ignore saves (even just good ol' Rays like Enervation/Scorching Ray/whatever, or Forcecages or something dumb), spells that trivialize touch AC (hello, True Strike!) and so on, all their magical defenses really add up to jack ****.

    They aren't exceptional skirmishers due to not being able to Flurry with standard action and their speed bonus being enhancement thus, while probably being able to somewhat remain out of the harm's way with Spring Attack, not reducing the damage their allies take one bit and dealing negligible damage themselves. Indeed, this is the worst thing a Monk can do since it means the people who do the fighting are now taking all the beatdown while the Monk isn't contributing to the team's damage in any meaningful way either. In other words, the Monk isn't taking any hits and he isn't dealing any damage this way; thus he's as good as an empty slot in the party.


    And overall, their class features kinda suck. Mostly, you can look at 'em like this:
    -Flurry? That's nice! Now if only I were able to focus on one stat and have full BAB, I'd be doing a lot with my extra attacks on highest bonus!
    -Improved Grapple/Trip/Stunning Fist/whatever? Nice! Now, if I only were able to focus on one stat and have full BAB, I could be landing these and winning the opposed checks!
    -Speed boost? That's nice! Now, if I only could move and attack with my Flurry (which "almost" makes me equal to full BAB types), I could be doing something! Oh, and if this only stacked with magical speed boosts I'd actually be faster than the other classes.
    -Unarmed Strikes? That's nice! Now, if I only got size increases or something so the damage dice would actually add up to something, and got 2x Power Attack returns and full BAB, this could add up to something!
    -Ki Strikes? Nice, my unarmed strikes pretend to be weapons and get some minor abilities that almost replicate what my 1000gp weapon does! If only my WPL wasn't 100000...
    -Slow Fall? So I get to replicate a 1st level spell by level 20? No? It only works next to walls? Well, almost replicate a 1st level spell!
    -All this nice stuff, Abundant Step, Quivering Palm, Empty Body, I can replicate many kinds of spells poorly...once per DAY! Oh, make it Once per WEEK for that scary scary, broken Finger of Death With Save DC Derived Off Secondary Stat That Requires An Attack To Hit To Be Used.
    -Oh, there's more? I get to replicate few more random low level spells? Cool. Oh, and Evasion? Yeah, nice, my Reflex-saves actually matter something! That's like...25k saved on the Ring.
    -I get Spell Resistance? Just to ensure my team can't waste a Heal on me when I'm about to die? Cool!


    Lack of synergy and multi-attribute dependency pretty much screw Monks up. Oh, and the good class features being limited to Very Few Uses Per Day. Seriously, if Monks had the ability to use Flurry whenever making an attack, if they got like Wis x uses of their now-daily abilities and the ability to use Dex for combat maneuvers, and Wis/Dex for damage, they'd be just fine. Grab Weapon Finesse/Intuitive Attack and they'd be able to go to town. As all those things are ****ed up though, they don't. As I mentioned above, those multiclass builds easily sidestep these issues. Mono-classed Monks don't though. -Eldariel
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    Monk 2 with Tashalatora feat / Ardent 18 , is waayyy superior to Monk 20. It's not even close. -Awaken DM Golem

    Pros: Though horrible as a long class, these guys are an awesome dip. Monk 1, Monk 2, and Monk 6 are all solid break points, providing many bonus feats, full saves, and Wis to AC (which Carmendine Monk or Kung Fu Genius can turn into Int to AC). This class goes great with Shou Disciple, which progresses flurry and gives full BAB. The class is heavily upstaged by the Unarmed Variant Swordsage, but it's still a solid dip. Consider Monk 6/Shou Disciple 5/Kensai 9 or Monk 6/Shou Disciple 5/Unarmed Swordsage 9 as solid examples of a fighting monk build. Monk 1/OA Samurai 1/Warblade 8/Shou Disciple 5/Iajuitsu Master 5 is another solid build. The combination of Sense Motive and Diplomacy on a wisdom based class can be very handy... our party will often back up the skill monkeys with a Monk during social encounters, with the monk using Sense Motive to watch the interaction. Monk is also a solid dip with Druid, since you can use iterative attacks with your unarmed strikes while Wild Shaping, and Wis to AC is handy if you can't purchase a Monk's Belt. –JaronK

    Complete Adventurer Ninja:
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    Cons: The weakest of the skillmonkeys, tied with the Expert. Sudden Strike is simply not as good as Sneak Attack. His invisibility powers are handy at low levels, but at those levels he can't use them very often, and at high levels too many things have Blindsight or can see invisibility. His MAD problems are nasty, making it hard for him to have enough skill points to truly be a skill monkey, and this combined with his more limited skill list and only 6+ skills (low for a skill monkey) combine to make him inferior at that role. Poison Use is cute, but to make poisons effective you need to be able to generate them yourself (as a Factotum with Minor Creation can) and you'd want the Master of Poisons feat anyway. And too many of his neat abilities are easily created via cheap magic items, such that any class can have those abilities anyway. In the end, it's just a weak version of an Unarmed Swordsage or Factotum, and putting this class next to those two classes makes it clear the class is far behind (and it's distinctly worse than a Rogue, too). -JaronK

    Pros: They've got a few very cool class abilities... they're just upstaged by most of the other skill monkeys and have too many downsides. But stuff like Ghost Mind is pretty cool, and if you don't have ToB their ability to phase through walls when needed is pretty handy for an infiltrator. If you do have ToB, the Swordsage just does this better. –JaronK

    Healer:
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    Cons: The thing is, Healers are only good at one thing for the first 16 or so levels... healing. Specifically, in combat healing, because a lot of other classes are much better out of combat healers (Clerics and Druids with the Vigor line, Dread Necromancers in groups healed by negative energy, Binders with Buer, Crusaders, etc). In combat healing, however, isn't terribly useful... as a rule, it's better to spend that spell getting the enemy dead faster and then healing later than wasting actions healing with spot heals while your enemies use their actions to deal more damage than your cure spell. Obviously the Heal spell changes that, but until that point in combat healing tends to be a bad idea (Crusaders obviously are a strong exception). As such, Healers fall in the catagory of "In some cases, can do one thing very well, but that one thing is very often not needed." They do in combat healing very well, but in combat healing usually isn't the best idea anyway. They're like Monks in that respect... sure, Monk run speed is incredible, but high ground run speed is not something most parties actually need.

    So yeah, the only thing they really do well is in combat healing, which isn't important. As general healers, they're not as good as the guys that can do more efficient long term heals... and that's actually a lot of classes these days.

    Now, when a healer hits level 17 and gets Gate, the whole ballgame changes... but so few games are actually played in the 17-20 range that I didn't want to rank them higher just for those few levels. -JaronK

    Pros: Hey, they get Gate. That's awesome when you finally get it. -JaronK
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    They also get some spells earlier than other classes, like Mass Heal at 8th, Greater Restoration at 6th, Stone to Flesh at 5th, and Restoration at 3rd, which is nice. Mostly having Mass Heal in 8th level slots is the best part, since that leaves 9th level slots open for Gate. –Akalsaris

    Swashbuckler:
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    Cons: The Swashbuckler, as has been stated before, is a three level class. (Although there is some back and forth about the usefulness of their 4th level ability. Beyond that point, you gain abilities you could have received elsewhere (Slippery Mind, Skill Mastery). Swashbucklers also suck majorly against anything immune to critical hits, because they just lost a primary source of damage (Insightful Strike) and any chance to swing the battle in their favor by damaging the enemy's attributes. Their class features are, a majority of the time, simply improved numbers (higher flanking bonuses/bonuses to AC against one enemy/Reflex saves), and they have just a dash of MAD. -Bozwevial
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    Summary
    A Swashbuckler is a more focused Fighter with 2 more skill points per level and different class skills. They get social skills (Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, and Sense Motive), but none of their class abilities rely on WIS or CHA. Their class abilities require them to be unencumbered and wearing light or no armor, which might be OK were Hide and Move Silently class skills! A Swordsage gets 3/4 BAB, but 2 good saves, Evasion, more skill points, stealth skills as class, maneuvers, and their WIS bonus to AC while in light armor (and maybe no armor, depending on your interpretation). Even a core-only Rogue can fill a Swashbuckler's roles at least as well, save for the BAB, but Rogue16/Ranger2/Fighter2 functions similarly.

    A Swashbuckler has its place in a game. A 1-level dip provides Weapon Finesse and more skill points than Fighter1, and Swashbuckler3 grants Insightful Strike, but unless your character has a super high INT, you love finessable/light weapons, and you aren't sure where to go the next 3 levels, avoid this class!

    For comparison purposes, I earnestly believe a Soulknife, Fighter, or Healer is significantly ahead of a Swashbuckler, putting ol' swashy near the bottom of tier 5. It's like the class designer looked at the Fighter table, gutted the thing, and slapped on some minor patches just before deadline.

    I wish there were something... redeeming about this class, but it's a waste of space that should have been made into a PrC of no more than 3 levels, or have Insightful Strike be a feat.

    Abilities
    Weapon Finesse [1] - A Fighter can also get this at level 1 but a Rogue or Swordsage must wait 'til 3 or multiclass.

    Grace [2, 11, 20] - At best, you get a minor bonus to your Reflex save (+1 at L2, +2 at L11, +3 at L20), if you're light enough. You don't get Evasion, which even Monks, Rangers, and Rogues get in core and Swordsages get in Tome of Battle..

    Insightful Strike [3] - You get your INT bonus to damage with light or finessable weapons against anything not crit immune, but that's your only redeeming feature. This stacks with your STR bonus, but a multi-hander with Power Attack easily do better with less MAD, or a Swordsage with the Shadow Blade feat can even multi-wield with less of a problem. This seems most useful with a spiked chain wielder who wants more damage.

    Dodge [5, 10, 15, 20] - You get Dodge as the feat, but it improves slightly as you level. Dodge is one of the weakest feats around and the AC bonus is minor at best.

    Acrobatic Charge [7] - You can avoid rough terrain when charging, but any character with a high enough Jump and Tumble can do that. Oops! Psionic characters can use Up the Walls to do similar things from level 1, and a Hood, if properly built, doesn't care what terrain "blocks" her path; she circumnavigates it by jumping or flying.

    Improved Flanking [8] - You and only you get +4 instead of +2 when flanking. Accuracy bonuses are cheap. Buy one.

    Lucky [11] - A Cleric of Luck can do this at level 1. You're only 10 levels behind.

    Acrobatic Skill Mastery [13] - You can always take 10 on Jump or Tumble checks. At this level, you can probably easily afford items to boost these skills enough you won't notice. Really; you're level 13. The Wizard just got plane shift and reverse gravity. In a fully logical world, he'd be binding efreet by now for wish loops. You can take 10 on Jump checks. Do the math.

    Weakening Critical [14] - Against targets vulnerable to crits, you also do 2 STR damage when you crit. I do at least that much at level 1 with a ray of enfeeblement. To be fair, the party Wizard probably banned Necromancy long ago, but foes at this level who are crit immune probably aren't fazed by losing 2 STR. Unless you seriously pump your crit range and accuracy, you'll be critting on a 15 at best, and more likely on a 17 or 19.

    Slippery Mind [17] - One round after you fail a save against a mind-affecting Enchantment effect, you can reroll your save. A Warblade or Swordsage can do similar things from level 1 with Moment of Perfect Mind, potentially auto-saving. (A +40 Concentration is possible, even likely, by level 15ish.) Alternatively, a Rogue could get this at level 10, or at level 13 if he took Improved Evasion at 10, which he probably did.

    Wounding Critical [19] - You also do 2 CON damage when you crit something- and mind you, many things at this level aren't crittable. This would be handy, possibly very spiffy, around level 6. A Wounding weapon (+2) does 1 CON damage per hit. A Spell Storing weapon could store a Clerical bestow curse for a similar effect. -Endarire

    Pros:the Daring Outlaw feat almost redeems the swashbuckler. A rogue4/swashbuckler16 has almost full BAB, full sneak attack, and trapfinding with a good number of skill points. –Ninjarabbit

    Rokugan Ninja:
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    Cons: A level 20 Rokugan Ninja is Tier 5 because its class features don't give it any more real options then an NPC Warrior. It can move faster than a Rogue and hit as hard, but with only 4+int skills and a worse skill list and a d6 hit die a Rokugan Ninja can't bring anything special to the table at higher levels. -Juton

    Pros: As a dip class it can be wonderful, full BAB and an increase to sneak attack or Int to Initiative at level 4. –Juton

    Soulknife:
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    Cons: It's "magic" weapon scales slower than normal magic weapons. It looks like a sneaky class, but Psychic Strike requires ditching your Move action; defeating the purpose. It's overall structure ends up about the same as the NPC Warrior class ... not good. Oriental Adventure's Samurai 1 is superior to the whole class, except for the (su) self generating blade. Mind's Eye updated the Psychic Warrior, to have 1 power effectively replace almost the whole class of Soulknife. Wow ... or Why?! Warrior 18 / Psychic Warrior 2 or Adept 2, is better and more versatile. Soulknife 1 / Wilder or PsyWar 19 , is waayyy superior to Soulknife 20. It's not even close. But hey, you can still act important and sneaky. -Awaken DM Golem

    Pros:

    Expert:
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    Cons: Before the factotum, the expert had an extremely niche use of being able to pick 10 class skills. After the factotum came out with all skills as class skills, class features, and greater than or equal to features for everything else, the expert became strictly suboptimal. One thing the expert can do pretty well - pump up charisma, and deal damage with Iajutsu focus while using UMD for spells. -The_Mad_Linguist
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    Expert 1 vs. Rogue 1 , an argument could be made for Expert 1, in very very rare circumstances.
    Expert 3+ vs. Rogue 3+ ... it's not even close. -Awaken DM Golem

    Pros: Iajuitsu Focus makes these guys shockingly effective in combat for an NPC skillmonkey class. Bust out the Gnomish Quickrazors and go to town... these guys can actually show up the CA Ninja at combat with some work (and party support). Diplomacy and UMD can be very useful (if campaign dependent) skills. And Autohypnosis is likewise a very handy skill to throw in there. Sure, Factotums are pretty much strictly better, but if you wanted to play as an NPC class, this is one of the best (the Adept is better, but the Expert is still solid). –JaronK

    Paladin:
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    Cons: Paladins suck due to almost the same conditions that make a fighter suck. They are 1~2 trick ponys and every single one of those tricks is considerably lesser than what other classes can do.

    First off a Paladin requires four abilities which leads them to having very low scores overall in point buy or to have poor scores in key abilities from low rolls. They have very little to offer skill wise outside of diplomacy, but to even take that a Paladin would require 12 int since their two skill points would be spent in Handle Animal and Ride.

    As for their other abilities they are mostly flavorful. Detect Evil for example is pretty moot. If it's attacking then attack back. If it's an evil guy undercover then his alignment is likewise hidden for a handful of coin. Smite Evil is one of the Paladin's signature abilities it's per day usage renders it worthless. By the 20th level you can smite five times per day. Comparatively a Fist of Raziel gives five smites over a ten level period and Ordained Champion gives you 3 + cha mod on the first level. Secondly, the damage bonus isn't all that great. Most people tend to PrC out by the 6th level for better class abilities which means your smite damage is only a mere +6 bonus which is something you could dig up for less than 5k on magical items. Unlike a touch attack spell if you miss with smite it is still expended and don't expect to gain much of an attack bonus with that low charisma. Even new players will see how worthless Remove Disease is so I won't comment on that one. The Code of Conduct is mostly there for players to argue what is allowed or not.

    The Charging Smite is a useful and fixes the miss problem with smite and helps them turn into an ubercharger but it costs the Paladin their other signature class ability. The mount. I consider the Mount to be the best Paladin class ability, which in a way tells you just how badly they suck. When you first get it at the 5th level all you can do is replicate a first level spell once per day. Later on it it's worse than the effect of a 3rd level spell called Phantom Steed. At least that steed won't impose a month long penalty to your combat when it gets fireballed.

    The spell list too limited to be useful and casting uses up the Paladin's standard action for a minor buff or a cure effect no one has any use for. There is a class substitution to replace the list with wizard spells. But a duskblade is a much, much better choice. So is a sorcerer/fighter/eldritch knight...

    Finally anything a Paladin can do a Cleric can do better. Clerics are better at healing, turning, spell casting, summoning pets, and are not that far behind a Paladin combat wise. Divine Power quickly makes up for that. For an added insult there are PrCs that give full Paladin-like flavor and abilities in less levels. A Paladin's build choices are actually more limited than a fighters' who at least has thousands of feats to choose from and are all subpar in the same way JaronK says the fighter's abilities are.
    -SorO_Lost

    Pros: The base class is quite lacking, but the variant Paladins can be quite useful. Paladin of Tyranny is an awesome 3 level dip, for example, and combined well with Hexblade 4 (with Dark Companion). Standard Paladin 2 is a lot of fun for Kobold Sorcerer gishes, who can take those levels and still have full caster progression (via Loredrake and the Greater Draconic Rite). Note that the PrC Paladin is far stronger than the regular Paladin, though that's partly because it gives all of the useful Paladin abilities in just three levels while losing you only one caster level. And Detect Evil at will can be very handy in some specific sorts of campaigns. -JaronK
    ---------------------------------------
    I know it isn't a huge deal, but I believe the splat books and, specifically, the Spell Compendium added some noteworthy spells for Paladins. Some of them can be quite cool and useful. I'm not trying to say they bring the Paladin out o this tier, but I feel they are worth mentioning in the Pros section. -Optimator

    Knight:
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    Cons: Like the Healer, the Knight was designed to only fill a single role: tanking. Unlike the Healer, tanking is at least a solid and useful role for the party from levels 1-20. However, tanking is the only role that the Knight can fill well, as he has almost no damage-related abilities and no social skills except for Intimidate (like a fighter) and Knowledge (Nobility). If he had been given 4 skills/level and Bluff, Diplomacy, and Sense Motive, the Knight's natural Charisma synergy would have helped him to be on par in that role with a paladin or a crusader - but unfortunately he isn't. So he fits into T5 by virtue of lack of versatility - he does one thing quite well, but very little else.

    Many of his feats and abilities are also slightly unfocused - he gets Mounted Combat and Ride, but no other mounted-related abilities; and he gets Shield Block but is unable to use tower shields. In any encounter that needs a solid tank, he'll shine - unless that party already has a crusader, warblade, druid, binder, etc. In encounters that don't require a tank (spell-casting opponents, archers, mass combat, traps, anything RP-related), the Knight will generally be of little help to the party as well. -Akalsaris

    Pros: Bulwark of Defense is awesome. Too bad there's a maneuver that does basically the same thing, and most of the rest of their abilities are poor. But Bulwark is awesome, and don't forget Diplomacy as a class skill. –JaronK

    Divine Mind:
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    Pro/Con (can't really tell) - Swift 1 Linked Psychic Reformation, allows a complete rebooting of the class during the second round of combat. Any other manifester class can do this sooner. But it does open the whole range of the class, at a steep experience price. Broken use of a broken power, to emulate a Marshal 1 with big tricks. Is this a Pro or a Con ?! -Awaken DM Golem

    Cons: Ubernoob was right, the original didn't work. An awful late WotC edit of the Ardent spawned this monstrosity. Slow Marshall 1 plus Slow Adept 16 is better. Marshall 1 / Warrior 1 / Commoner 2 / Adept 16 outpaces the original. Mind's Eye updates are MANDATORY. Least expandability of any class WotC has published. Original is Tier 6, but really only because the design was screwy. -Awaken DM Golem

    Pros: Mind's Eye updates save the class a little bit. Substitute Powers saves the power choices. The Turn Undead option make some Auras more useable. Hidden Talent on Wisdom, secret stacks with the Soulknife Hidden Talent; if you think 1st level powers are worth writing home about. Hey anybody want yet another Astral Construct? Divine Mind now has too much of them. Recharge Power Points available right off the bat. Hi level aura can locate any Outsider ... you'd call it broken if it was a Tier 1 with this. Limited enough list of powers, that you could allow the borkt Power Stone trick, and you still wouldn't be a Tier 2 caster. This is a "pro" because broken that isn't broken is fun. -Awaken DM Golem

    Soulborn:
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    Pros: Full BAB, d10 hit dice on a class that's supposed to pump Con, fear immunity, and access to a soulmeld that is normally good enough to spend a feat to get. Thunderstep Boots are brutal if you can get pounce from somewhere. Bonus feats, so Cobalt Power could really do a number on your enemies, and you have more essentia than you look like you do. Access to handy skill bonuses, in a pinch. -Kazyan

    Cons: Horrible skills, and your MAD is outrageous. Con to fuel your incarnum, Str to not suck in combat, Cha for smiting and party-facing...well, WotC thinks you're a party face, but in practice, you need more skill points, so that's Int you need, but then you're dumping the stats you need to cover your poor saves, and...you're so MAD, you need a run-on sentence. Wouldn't be so bad if you weren't a half-caster, so you don't get any binds until level 8 (seriously?) or soulmelds until the levels where you're no longer squishy. Your incarnum is very easy to suppress with a dispel, and the list you pick from is narrow, which seriously crimps your versatility. That you don't have until level 4. And can't effectively use until high levels, because if you change your melds, you become a Warrior in combat until you switch them back.

    You're also just...not the most efficient at making the monsters' HP go down in the first place, even if you do have Thunderstorms Boots running. -Kazyan
    Last edited by Karnith; 2014-01-12 at 09:39 AM.

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    Default Re: Why Each Class Is In Its Tier (Rescued from MinMax)

    Why Tier 6s are Tier 6s
    It was brought up that there's no set explanation for why low tier classes are generally less effective. With that in mind, I figured I'd start one. I'll be doing one for each tiers, but I want to get the low tiers out of the way first, because most people know why classes like Wizards and Druids are above average. I'm looking for your input on the classes, and to make this a guide for people new to CO. Thanks to all who contribute in advance.

    From JaronK's Tier System For Classes guide, the widely accepted Char Op base power description thread:

    Tier 6: Not even capable of shining in their own area of expertise. DMs will need to work hard to make encounters that this sort of character can contribute in with their mechanical abilities. Will often feel worthless unless the character is seriously powergamed beyond belief, and even then won't be terribly impressive. Needs to fight enemies of lower than normal CR. Class is often completely unsynergized or with almost no abilities of merit. Avoid allowing PCs to play these characters.

    Examples: CW Samurai, Aristocrat, Warrior, Commoner, Divine Mind (before Mind's Eye updates)

    Why Tier 6s are Tier 6:
    CW Samurai:
    Spoiler
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    Cons: Oh, where to start? It has 2+Int skills so its skill list is just as useful as the Paladin's (except instead of having to max out Ride, you have to max out Intimidate, which requires notably more work to make work and higher base stat to be worth anything). It has limited alignments and indeed, like a Paladin, you can fall (although thanks to Ronin, that's actually the best thing about the class!), which is something the class doesn't need. It has a bunch of bonus feats, yes, but look at the feats:
    Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Bastard Sword (level 1): Bastard Sword is the worst weapon in game being a poor two-hander and one-handing being just bad, not to mention the +1 average damage compared to Longsword just isn't worth it.
    Two-Weapon Fighting (level 2): Extremely limited, only usable with Samurai weapons
    Quick Draw (level 6): Extremely limited and only normally useful for some niché thrower builds
    Improved Initiative (level cool: Actually useful!
    Improved Two-Weapon Fighting (level 11): Notice the level!! Still limited and this is a level 6 feat.
    Greater Two-Weapon Fighting (level 16): Again 5 levels late and only usable with the two ****ty weapons.
    Frightful Presence (level 20): Bad feat in the first place ('cause it only works on opponents with lower HD) and it's your capstone. Go home and cry. Now. Whatever isn't immune by now is going to make the save 'cause you can't focus on Cha since you need Str to attack.

    In other words, you get one useful feat and a bunch of feats late, that could be useful if they weren't forced to be used with his two ****ty daishos. He also has quite some MAD being only able to dump Int (which kills the one good thing about it, the slightly-better-than-Fighter skill list) and maybe Wis if he burns two feats on Steadfast Determination with Dex ~12 being workable.

    In short, 20 levels of Samurai get you:
    One decent feat
    4 Smite-attacks per day
    Move-action Intimidate out to 30'

    Sounds like fun? Oh, and you have a friggin' Code of Conduct to deal with which counterbalances the slight advantages you have over the Warrior listed below. Would be good for focused Intimidators if...y'know, Fighter, Barbarian, Paladin, Bard, Cleric and company didn't do it better and if Intimidating was actually worth 10 class levels. -Eldariel
    -------------------------------------------------
    Mass Staredown is awesome when combined with Imperious Command. Well, maybe not awesome, but pretty cool. Unfortunately, Zhentarium Fighter does it better (Swift Action, so you can still attack), and the Dread Pirate and Scarlet Corsair PrCs both provide far superior versions of this ability. -JaronK

    Pros: It has full BAB, d10 HD & good Fortitude-save. It also has Sense Motive and Diplomacy in class as notable advantages over Fighter. It also has few bonus feats and one class feature in Mass/Improved Staredown; being able to Intimidate multiple creatures with one move action and at range is actually kinda useful (if you didn't need the actions to...y'know, full attack). Oh, and he has Smite which is still usable...once per day most of the time.

    Seriously, the absolute best thing about this class is that you can fall after level 11 to become an Ex-Samurai 1/Ronin 10 with actual class features! -Eldariel
    -------------------------------------------------
    I like the samurai's Staredown ability, since it gives a different attack option than simply DMG and AC. A 14th level samurai can intimidate 2/R (double move action), or 3/R with a Belt of battle (MIC), so in 1 round he can send all opponents within 30ft to frightened or panicked. Zhentarim Fighter does this better, but it's a web enhancement to a campaign-specific book, so it won't always be available to PCs.

    Samurai 10 with the Fearsome Armor enhancement (DoTU) and the Imperious Command feat can do the double intimidate 4 levels sooner than normal, and send foes cowering for 1 round first. Of course, at that level a Zhentarim fighter with that armor can do a triple intimidate, but whatever.

    The samurai is better than the NPC Warrior class - it actually has class features and a higher HD. Even if you break the code of honor (which is simple: don't be dishonorable or chaotic), all you lose are the Cha-based class features, so you would still keep Improved Initiative, etc. You could even be LE and just strive to be evil without being dishonorable, like Lord Soth or something.

    Decent prestige classes for the samurai:
    Exotic Weapon Master: 1 level gets the Exotic Blow ability, which is very solid PA damage.
    Ronin: Mentioned earlier.
    Kensai: The Samurai is one of the few classes with all Kensai class skills, and the oath of service meshes well with the samurai's vow. It's not THAT exciting, but it is a very flavorful class, and choosing your own weapon enhancements is a lot of fun. Also, you can return to Samurai after completing kensai (But why would you??)
    Knight Protector: This will make you more of a tank, though none of the features are awesome (as a sidenote, you gain Tower Shield proficiency without knowing any other shields! Weird, huh?). Also, you can return to Samurai after completing Knight Protector (But why would you??)
    Knight of the Iron Glacier (FB): C'mon. It already requires EWP: Bastard Sword, and you KNOW you want to ride a giant rhinoceros!
    Bloodstorm Blade (TOB): First, it requires MCing into warblade, which is better than samurai. Second, it will let you change your EWP: Bastard Sword to any other weapon - and the same should apply to your other subpar feats that specify only a bastard sword and short sword. Besides, throwing weapons as a full melee attack is just awesome. –Akalsaris

    Aristocrat:
    Spoiler
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    Cons: It has a slightly worse frame than a Druid, Binder, or Cleric (lacking the good Fort save)... but it has no class features, spells etc. whatsoever. Nada. And the high starting gold doesn't matter if you start higher than level 1. -Agita

    Pros: It gets the highest starting gold of all classes (4d8x10 gp), and it has average basic stats (Medium BAB, good Will save, d8 hit dice). Has Diplomacy and all synergy-relevant skills as class skills, so it can be a mean diplomancer in a NPC class-only campaign. -Agita

    Warrior:
    Spoiler
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    Cons: No class features, only a d8 hit dice, worst set of class skills in the game -Ninjarabbit

    Pros: Full BAB and proficient with martial weapons and all armors and shields -Ninjarabbit
    ----------------------------------------------
    If you want to play as an ex-paladin, you can't advance in the class any further. Levels in warrior will advance you just as if you had taken more levels of ex-paladin. -The_Mad_Linguist
    ----------------------------------------------
    One pro for the Warrior is that if you build him as a charger, you can very easily be strong enough to take out enemies above your CR. Something like Orc Warrior with Power Attack, Improved Bull Rush, Shock Trooper, Mounted Combat, Ride By Attack, Spirited Charge, and Headlong Rush, riding any random flying creature, with a Valorous Lance... you should have little trouble doing 350+ damage per hit by level 20. If you want to try and actually look powerful as an NPC class, and it's a very combat heavy campaign, the Warrior can get the job done. –JaronK

    Commoner:
    Spoiler
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    Cons: d4 hit dice, poor BAB, poor saves, no class features, only proficent in one simple weapon. -Ninjarabbit

    Pros: Ummm....ummmm...... oh yeah it can qualify for the Survivor PrC after level 1 and can take the chicken-infested flaw, has spot and listen as class skill so it's better than the fighter in that respect. –Ninjarabbit

    Divine Mind (before the Mind’s Eye updates):
    Spoiler
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    Cons: Aristocrat with Mercantile feat, is better and more versatile. That's all you need to beat it. Half way to Paladin's roleplaying restrictions, and bad flavor combo with psi. Worst "spell" access in the game. Very bad "spell" list until around 10th level, and possibly useless on some levels before that. Auras are the main class feature and they are almost not an aura at the start. Some auras are useless before 10th level. Psi-focus vs Expend Psi-focus problems are a possible bad combo early on. A CO-built and run Wizard 2 can probably beat any Divine Mind build that isn't an Initiative build. Ouch. -Awaken DM Golem


    Pros:
    Divine Mind can have Epic Spells at level 30, the same level it gets Free Aura switching. Might be a difficult BBEG for level 15 delayed casters (not 8s). See the Mind's Eye and all the Psi stuff, other psi-classes aren't supposed to use , and you have a Tier 5 or better. Even a Divine Mind can do a pun-pun + pazuzu power up, just not right away. -Awaken DM Golem
    Last edited by Karnith; 2013-01-27 at 08:32 PM.

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    Default Re: Why Each Class Is In Its Tier (Rescued from MinMax)

    What about incarnate, totemist, and soulborn all from Magic of Incarnum?

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    Default Re: Why Each Class Is In Its Tier (Rescued from MinMax)

    Quote Originally Posted by 8wGremlin View Post
    What about incarnate, totemist, and soulborn all from Magic of Incarnum?
    AFAIK, JaronK didn't have access to the book those classes are in when he made the Tier List, so he couldn't analyze them.

    That said, both totemist and incarnate are at least kinda viable, while soulborn is completely borked.
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    Default Re: Why Each Class Is In Its Tier (Rescued from MinMax)

    Quote Originally Posted by ScrambledBrains View Post
    AFAIK, JaronK didn't have access to the book those classes are in when he made the Tier List, so he couldn't analyze them.

    That said, both totemist and incarnate are at least kinda viable, while soulborn is completely borked.
    Typical consensus, from what I've seen? Incarnate is low T3 or a T4, Totemist is T3 (personally, I can't figure out how to make it do much more than natural attack omni-mauling, which fits T4), and Soulborn is low T5.

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    Default Re: Why Each Class Is In Its Tier (Rescued from MinMax)

    Quote Originally Posted by Kazyan View Post
    Typical consensus, from what I've seen? Incarnate is low T3 or a T4, Totemist is T3 (personally, I can't figure out how to make it do much more than natural attack omni-mauling, which fits T4), and Soulborn is low T5.
    Totemist has pretty tremendous skill bonuses, especially to the stealth and scouting skills (the Spot soulmelds in particular mostly stack with each other, giving you pretty outrageous bonuses to your Spot checks - take a look at Rusty to see this taken to its extreme). They can easily switch between melee or ranged, and do quite well at either (although they are especially good at natural attack omni-mauling, as you mentioned). They get save-or-loses, are excellent at grappling, tripping and other combat maneuvers, and more. They can pick up telepathy, etherealness, teleportation, flight, tremorsense/blindsight, wild empathy, and a variety of resistances and immunities. And they can switch out their abilities completely from day to day, without costing them any additional resources.

    So yeah, I'd say that they can do more than just maul.

    That being said, I think that incarnates are also solidly tier 3, although they don't work quite as well out of the box as totemists. I would call them more versatile than the totemist, and way less predictable from day to day, but with fewer ways to deal damage. Most people compare the sick combat numbers a totemist can put out to the far more modest ones of an incarnate, and assume that the totemist is better - but the incarnate can do a lot more than the totemist, even if the totemist is a lot better at its main schtick.
    Last edited by Piggy Knowles; 2013-01-27 at 09:50 PM.
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    Default Re: Why Each Class Is In Its Tier (Rescued from MinMax)

    Just popping in to update any stray MinMaxers who might not know yet that the community has set up a refugee camp/recovery site on the Rule of Cool boards.

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    Default Re: Why Each Class Is In Its Tier (Rescued from MinMax)

    How would the Factotum fair without Iajutsu Focus? There is a huge paragraph dedicated to it, and it seems like a fairly important (almost necessary?) thing to take advantage of to stay relevant in battles.

    I assume you could just load up on inspiration points using Font of Inspiration and just fill the Battlefield Control route (or use other spells like Polymorph?) and still be able to solidly contribute to battle, right?

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    Default Re: Why Each Class Is In Its Tier (Rescued from MinMax)

    Quote Originally Posted by Con_Brio1993 View Post
    How would the Factotum fair without Iajutsu Focus? There is a huge paragraph dedicated to it, and it seems like a fairly important (almost necessary?) thing to take advantage of to stay relevant in battles.

    I assume you could just load up on inspiration points using Font of Inspiration and just fill the Battlefield Control route (or use other spells like Polymorph?) and still be able to solidly contribute to battle, right?
    There's still all the other skills (and skill tricks) and spells, not to mention extra actions, so they should do pretty well. Iaijutsu Focus is just one of the easiest ways to deal good damage, and the one most "factotum" way, since it uses the skills.
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    Default Re: Why Each Class Is In Its Tier (Rescued from MinMax)

    Quote Originally Posted by Piggy Knowles View Post
    Totemist has pretty tremendous skill bonuses, especially to the stealth and scouting skills (the Spot soulmelds in particular mostly stack with each other, giving you pretty outrageous bonuses to your Spot checks - take a look at Rusty to see this taken to its extreme). They can easily switch between melee or ranged, and do quite well at either (although they are especially good at natural attack omni-mauling, as you mentioned). They get save-or-loses, are excellent at grappling, tripping and other combat maneuvers, and more. They can pick up telepathy, etherealness, teleportation, flight, tremorsense/blindsight, wild empathy, and a variety of resistances and immunities. And they can switch out their abilities completely from day to day, without costing them any additional resources.

    So yeah, I'd say that they can do more than just maul.

    That being said, I think that incarnates are also solidly tier 3, although they don't work quite as well out of the box as totemists. I would call them more versatile than the totemist, and way less predictable from day to day, but with fewer ways to deal damage. Most people compare the sick combat numbers a totemist can put out to the far more modest ones of an incarnate, and assume that the totemist is better - but the incarnate can do a lot more than the totemist, even if the totemist is a lot better at its main schtick.
    Now that's convincing. I couldn't figure everything out on my first try...ended up using teleporting, grappling ("Okay...you grapple the bear...") one of the resistances, and Spot+Listen+Survival, plus Hide+MS'ing occasionally as an afterthought, picking up flight through feats. Hmm. It just didn't feel like T3 at the time, standing next to a theurge and ubercharger.

    Also, I am disappointed in Rusty not having Mindsight. It's just so...obvious, with a Shedu Crown bind.

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    Default Re: Why Each Class Is In Its Tier (Rescued from MinMax)

    Quote Originally Posted by Con_Brio1993 View Post
    How would the Factotum fair without Iajutsu Focus? There is a huge paragraph dedicated to it, and it seems like a fairly important (almost necessary?) thing to take advantage of to stay relevant in battles.

    I assume you could just load up on inspiration points using Font of Inspiration and just fill the Battlefield Control route (or use other spells like Polymorph?) and still be able to solidly contribute to battle, right?
    You can still stomp all over the action economy, make good use of lesser used skills (Forgery can be used to devastating effect with just one rank), and you've still got (admittedly slower) access to nearly the whole Wizard/Sorcerer spell list. That means rocking out with Alter Self forms and animated undead and who knows what else. You just don't get to feel like that guy from Assassin's Creed, which would be a shame.

    JaronK

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    Default Re: Why Each Class Is In Its Tier (Rescued from MinMax)

    I note that the psionic classes don't have much representation here. So, why not?

    T2:
    Ardent
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    Cons: The obvious comparison to Ardent is the Psion. Ardents get half as many powers known, and must choose them from a much smaller list. They don't get a bonus feat to spend on a psicrystal, and their Wisdom focus means fewer skills. Their skills also don't take advantage of their high Wisdom - Spot and Listen are nowhere to be found, nor is Sense Motive. Autohypnosis is the only one that synergizes and is also worth a damn.

    Pros: A better BAB and HD than psions make Ardents better gish material. They get a whole bunch of unique powers in their mantles, and their Mind's Eye ACFs are downright amazing. The best thing about Ardents, however, is that they are only limited by what they can manifest when it comes to learning powers, so they can skip around other classes and then come back without losing access to high level powers. This sort of build versatility is hard to find, and is especially welcome since most psionic PrCs drop one or more manifester levels.



    T3:
    Psychic Warrior
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    Cons: Psychic Warriors are most obviously compared to Bards. They're both gishes in a can, but Bards have the advantage of arcane spells and great splat support. Psychic Warriors also know fewer powers than Bards know spells, have crap skills, and don't really have class features.

    Pros: Heavy armour makes Psychic Warriors much better on the front lines than Bards, and their fat stack of bonus feats lets them pick up all those fancy combat feat chains that nobody has time for. Their powers are also much better suited for combat, and they can snap up powers from the better Psion list through their bonus feats. Psychic Warriors are even more mobile than ToB classes thanks to various powers like Hustle and Psionic Lion's Charge, and can evade magical detection using various others.



    Wilder:
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    Cons: Look at your powers known and weep, Wilder. Know ye not that learning many powers is for better classes than thou? Also, taking more levels in this class makes you suck more thanks to Psychic Enervation. You also have a Sorcerer's power level progression, a crap stat for your powers to key off, and no access to discipline-exclusive goodies.

    Pros: But hey, you still get 9th level powers, just like the big boys, and you can use them lots thanks to your PP and the free augmentation from Wild Surge. Mind's Eye ACFs give you more powers known. Light armor helps a bit. Wilders also get infinite PP in Core simply by hitting themselves with Bestow Power and using Wild Surge to turn the net loss into a net gain. The Wilder is pretty low T3, since it's basically a slightly better Warlock, but the sheer calibre of its powers means that even its first level pick can be useful at level 20. Wilders also have surprisingly good skills: Bluff, Intimidate, and Sense Motive all make an appearance, as do Spot and Listen.


    T4:

    Psychic Rogue
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    Cons: Mind powers don't boost the Rogue to T3. Two skill points have gone away, and UMD is replaced by the much less useful UPD. Low powers known from a heavily restricted list and absolutely miserly PP. The lack of Trap Sense means that Penetrating Strike is off the table, and the SA dice are fewer in number. Uncanny Dodge and IUD come in much later and only while psionically focused.

    Pros: Mind Cripple is a lot deadlier against dumb brute opponents than Crippling Strike was. While they are few, its powers are very useful, and by dumping its PP into powers like the Precognitions, a Psychic Rogue can aspire to be better in combat than its mundane cousin.
    Quote Originally Posted by Telok View Post
    Imagine if the combat system was as well thought out and explained as the skill system. You could cut it down to a page and a half, monsters would be about three sentences long. Best of all you don't have to remember any tables for conditions or detail the special abilities because you've got rulings instead of rules.
    Quote Originally Posted by Artanis View Post
    I'm going to be honest, "the Welsh became a Great Power and conquered Germany" is almost exactly the opposite of the explanation I was expecting

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    Default Re: Why Each Class Is In Its Tier (Rescued from MinMax)

    Quote Originally Posted by Kazyan View Post
    Now that's convincing. I couldn't figure everything out on my first try...ended up using teleporting, grappling ("Okay...you grapple the bear...") one of the resistances, and Spot+Listen+Survival, plus Hide+MS'ing occasionally as an afterthought, picking up flight through feats. Hmm. It just didn't feel like T3 at the time, standing next to a theurge and ubercharger.

    Also, I am disappointed in Rusty not having Mindsight. It's just so...obvious, with a Shedu Crown bind.
    Manticore belt means flight without a feat, although not nearly as soon as Shape Soulmeld (Airstep Sandals) gets you. I still think the phase cloak is its strongest chakra bind for the level, though. At-will etherealness circumvents so much it hurts, especially at level 9.

    And yeah, Mindsight would be hugely helpful for Rusty - I pointed it out a while back, and RadicalTaoist added it in later.
    Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus: Shadowcaster Handbook
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    IC LXXV: Alphonse Louise Constant
    IC XLIX: Babalon, Queen of Bones
    IC XLV: Dead Mists
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    IC XXXV: Parsifal the Fool
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    Default Re: Why Each Class Is In Its Tier (Rescued from MinMax)

    This is of course missing one of the most important benefits to being a Commoner... if you actually win at anything, you get to taunt everyone else because you won as a Commoner. Also, the DM is more likely to let you play some weird race if you started as a Commoner. Plus, Chicken Infested isn't the only really hilarious Commoner only flaw... Pig is incredible. In fact, Commoners make the best followers with Leadership if you build them yourself... get a bunch of Dragonborn Water Orc Commoners with Pig and Infested with Chickens. They'll die soon enough, but they make decent zombies, and more to the point it lets you summon Orcus whenever you want (and have lots of chicken!).

    JaronK

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    Default Re: Why Each Class Is In Its Tier (Rescued from MinMax)

    For the record, Muggins salvaged the Tier System for Prestige Classes back at RoC's board, in case anyone's interested.

    Quote Originally Posted by Karnith View Post
    (thanks Larkas!)
    My pleasure!
    Quote Originally Posted by cerin616 View Post
    I just like to think that Smaug's "cry of pain" was "OH GOD, MY PRETTY! YOU HIT MY RIGHT IN THE PRETTY."
    Metal Perfection - a template for creatures born on Mirrodin.
    True Ferocity - a simple fix for Orcs and Half-Orcs.
    Monastic Magus - a spiritual successor to the Unarmed Swordsage.
    Pathfinder-ish Synthesist - a simple fix making Synthesist Summoners follow polymorph rules.
    Sword & Sorcery for Sneaky Scoundrels - rogue archetypes/fixes that aim to turn the rogue into a warrior/caster.

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    Default Re: Why Each Class Is In Its Tier (Rescued from MinMax)

    Quote Originally Posted by Piggy Knowles View Post
    Manticore belt means flight without a feat, although not nearly as soon as Shape Soulmeld (Airstep Sandals) gets you. I still think the phase cloak is its strongest chakra bind for the level, though. At-will etherealness circumvents so much it hurts, especially at level 9.
    Plus it (Phase Cloak) generates random encounters, which you can sometimes use to turn into a mini-Malconvoker (imagine stealthing circles around an enemy camp while blinking back and forth until the percentage chance actually works).

    The Basilisk Mask (or whichever one that was that gave you a Petrifying "Gaze Attack") is also amazing at most levels of play. Very difficult to resist a Con-based save DC on a class that is encouraged to pump Con more than normal.

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    Default Re: Why Each Class Is In Its Tier (Rescued from MinMax)

    Holy crap, I've been needing this for days now. A thousand thanks, Karnith.
    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Grod's Law: You cannot and should not balance bad mechanics by making them annoying to use
    Major Works

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    Default Re: Why Each Class Is In Its Tier (Rescued from MinMax)

    If anyone is willing to add information on other classes, like Flickerdart has done with psionic classes or Piggy Knowles on the incarnum ones, I'll be happy to add them to the op. But I want to differentiate the new stuff from the old; does red text sound like a good way of doing so?
    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Holy crap, I've been needing this for days now. A thousand thanks, Karnith.
    You're welcome, though you should thank Larkas since he found everything. All I did was copy-pasting.
    Tier System for Classes | Why Each Class Is In Its Tier

    On the use of the tier system:
    Quote Originally Posted by Darius Kane View Post
    "What's this? A TV Guide? How dare you tell me what movies I should watch! Fitness guide? Burn it, I can take care of my health by myself, thank you very much!"

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    Default Re: Why Each Class Is In Its Tier (Rescued from MinMax)

    Red text is normally used only by mods, so I would use another, dark blue or something else is more appropiate I think, or perhaps using italics?
    Just call me Dusk
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    Default Re: Why Each Class Is In Its Tier (Rescued from MinMax)

    Use Green text. Blue has a connotation of sarcasm all ready.

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    Default Re: Why Each Class Is In Its Tier (Rescued from MinMax)

    Quote Originally Posted by Karnith View Post
    If anyone is willing to add information on other classes, like Flickerdart has done with psionic classes or Piggy Knowles on the incarnum ones, I'll be happy to add them to the op. But I want to differentiate the new stuff from the old; does red text sound like a good way of doing so?
    Hmmm, I think green might be better, red is too... Aggravating?

    Quote Originally Posted by Karnith View Post
    You're welcome, though you should thank Larkas since he found everything. All I did was copy-pasting.
    Nah, it wasn't that hard. All I did was use Google Cache creatively! You did the hard part, that is, salvaging and organizing all the information.
    Quote Originally Posted by cerin616 View Post
    I just like to think that Smaug's "cry of pain" was "OH GOD, MY PRETTY! YOU HIT MY RIGHT IN THE PRETTY."
    Metal Perfection - a template for creatures born on Mirrodin.
    True Ferocity - a simple fix for Orcs and Half-Orcs.
    Monastic Magus - a spiritual successor to the Unarmed Swordsage.
    Pathfinder-ish Synthesist - a simple fix making Synthesist Summoners follow polymorph rules.
    Sword & Sorcery for Sneaky Scoundrels - rogue archetypes/fixes that aim to turn the rogue into a warrior/caster.

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    Default Re: Why Each Class Is In Its Tier (Rescued from MinMax)

    There's a thread on Rule of Cool that has all the instructions and links for Google cache for anyone who wants to try to save things, by the way.

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    Default Re: Why Each Class Is In Its Tier (Rescued from MinMax)

    Quote Originally Posted by Karnith View Post
    If anyone is willing to add information on other classes, like Flickerdart has done with psionic classes or Piggy Knowles on the incarnum ones, I'll be happy to add them to the op.
    We didn't talk about the Soulborn, did we?

    Pros: Full BAB, d10 hit dice on a class that's supposed to pump Con, fear immunity, and access to a soulmeld that is normally good enough to spend a feat to get. Thunderstep Boots are brutal if you can get pounce from somewhere. Bonus feats, so Cobalt Power could really do a number on your enemies, and you have more essentia than you look like you do. Access to handy skill bonuses, in a pinch.

    Cons: Horrible skills, and your MAD is outrageous. Con to fuel your incarnum, Str to not suck in combat, Cha for smiting and party-facing...well, WotC thinks you're a party face, but in practice, you need more skill points, so that's Int you need, but then you're dumping the stats you need to cover your poor saves, and...you're so MAD, you need a run-on sentence. Wouldn't be so bad if you weren't a half-caster, so you don't get any binds until level 8 (seriously?) or soulmelds until the levels where you're no longer squishy. Your incarnum is very easy to suppress with a dispel, and the list you pick from is narrow, which seriously crimps your versatility. That you don't have until level 4. And can't effectively use until high levels, because if you change your melds, you become a Warrior in combat until you switch them back.

    You're also just...not the most efficient at making the monsters' HP go down in the first place, even if you do have Thunderstorms Boots running.

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    Default Re: Why Each Class Is In Its Tier (Rescued from MinMax)

    Green it is, then!

    Before I add in anything, I just want to make sure that there's no dispute on where the classes lie, tier-wise. So the additions would look something like this:

    Tier 1: Nothing!

    Tier 2: Ardent

    Tier 3: Incarnate, Psychic Warrior, Totemist, Wilder

    Tier 4: Psychic Rogue

    Tier 5: Soulborn

    Tier 6: Nothing (though JaronK's comments on commoners are tempting)!
    Tier System for Classes | Why Each Class Is In Its Tier

    On the use of the tier system:
    Quote Originally Posted by Darius Kane View Post
    "What's this? A TV Guide? How dare you tell me what movies I should watch! Fitness guide? Burn it, I can take care of my health by myself, thank you very much!"

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    Default Re: Why Each Class Is In Its Tier (Rescued from MinMax)

    Quote Originally Posted by Answerer View Post
    There's a thread on Rule of Cool that has all the instructions and links for Google cache for anyone who wants to try to save things, by the way.
    Yep. It's not hard to do at all! As I detail there, however, you sometimes have to be creative and tweak the address to retrieve anything formatted (or, at times, anything at all). For example, the address I could find using Google Cache to the Tier 1s explanations was:

    http://brilliantgameologists.com/boa...ic=4938.0;wap2

    When put in Google Cache, that will return a crummy wap page. Knowing a bit of Simple Machines Forums' syntax, however, I know that the print page for that address would be:

    http://brilliantgameologists.com/boa...e;topic=4938.0

    Which, for some reason, Google also archived. Now, that isn't the case for all the pages: Pell asked me to retrieve the Complete McGyver handbook for him, and that one was only available in wap form. But it works frequently enough.

    Now, a bit of a warning: there was a link that used to retrieve a full copy of the original thread (http://brilliantgameologists.com/boa...p?topic=4938.0), not only the plain text version we see now. It no longer does. It seems that Google Cache has a timer on pages, and usually keep larger, heavier pages for shorter periods of time. I don't know what is Google's policy on the subject, but I recommend trying to fetch everything you consider important from the cache at once, copy it and save it into a more permanent form, before the Google Cache's "lease time" runs out.
    Last edited by Larkas; 2013-01-28 at 01:05 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by cerin616 View Post
    I just like to think that Smaug's "cry of pain" was "OH GOD, MY PRETTY! YOU HIT MY RIGHT IN THE PRETTY."
    Metal Perfection - a template for creatures born on Mirrodin.
    True Ferocity - a simple fix for Orcs and Half-Orcs.
    Monastic Magus - a spiritual successor to the Unarmed Swordsage.
    Pathfinder-ish Synthesist - a simple fix making Synthesist Summoners follow polymorph rules.
    Sword & Sorcery for Sneaky Scoundrels - rogue archetypes/fixes that aim to turn the rogue into a warrior/caster.

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