Weaksauce: An Overview of Class Deficiencies

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An Overview Of Class Deficiencies

What this guide is:


A lot of posters as of late have come to the boards wondering why Vampires suck, why we hate hexblades so much, and why single class Swordmages fell out of favor back in PHB3. This will attempt to outline simply and effectively where each class fails at its job.

What this guide isn't:



A class comparison, an in-depth overview of strengths and weakness, a build guide, a class guide, etc. This isn't going to help you make some uber build, but it will hopefully help elucidate where class fall off the rails. 
 
 

Stipulations


Just because a class has weakness in particular areas doesn't mean the class is bad. For example Swordmages don't have great class features for defending, but their powers and PPs make up for this.

Core Critiques


Can't Fulfill Its Role


This is the most grevious of failures, it describes a class whose combinations of class features and powers result in a class which as a whole struggles to adaquetely meet baselines for its role.

Lackluster Powers


Fairly self explanatory, this describes a class where for the most part its powers just don't get the job done.

Lackluster Class Features


The opposite side of the above, this describes a class whose class features just simply aren't that good.

Non-Existant Feat Support


Feat taxes suck, but some classes have an incredible amount of flexibility and power from their feats. Others don't have feats and so are noticeably weaker. This describes the latter.

Strictly Inferior


In their eternal wisdom WoTC made a few classes that are pretty much worse on every level compared to other classes (often their parent class).

Poor Class Design


The whole package just doesn't fit well together.

Hybrids Too Well


Some classes leave you wondering when you should ever really play the pure class: they're just better in almost every way as a Hybrid.

Restricted Multiclassing


Some classes really badly need feats and/or powers from other classes, and thus have their multiclass generally already deteremined for them in a lot of cases.

Lack of Innate PPs


A number of classes have PPs that just don't get the job done in one manner or another, and are thus forced to look elsewhere (usually through multiclassing) for Paragon Paths

Weaker at Certain Tiers


Most classes are fully playable in an optimized sense across all levels, but some classes just don't function that well at particular tiers, either because they lose steam later on, or because they take a considerable time to get going.

Useless Builds


Some classes have entire builds, often based around "multiple choice" class features that are absolutely terrible, and probably shouldn't exist.

One True Path


A few classes have so little support that they really only have one acceptable power choice at each level, and frequently have little to no in class feat support. 

RAW/ETV Issues


Some classes have poorly written features/powers that cause disagreement over their true implementation. Certain classes rely heavily on interpretations, and can be severely weakened depending on the side of the fence the DM rules.

Weapon and Implement


In theory because NADs are in general 2 lower this shouldn't be a big problem, but because the optimization avenues are often mutually exclusive, this can be a bit detrimental.


Psionic Class


Let's be honest, Psionics was horribly implemented in 4e. The current way to succeed at the Psion, Battlemind, and Ardent to take a few of the best powers and spam them. This leads something similar to the One True Path and No Flexibility arguements. All the failings and issues with Psionics and Psionic power selections fall under this umbrella.


 

10/10 Would Flame Again: An Elite Paladin|Warlock The Elemental Man (or Woman): A Genasi Handbook The Warlord, Or How to Wield a Barbarian One-Handed The Bookish Barbarian Fardiz: RAI is fairly clear, but RAZ is different That's right. Rules According to Zelink!
Broken Blades: Striker Failures

Failure Overview:


Lack of Multi-Taps


Lack of Striker PPs


Poor Striker Features


Lack of MBA/RBA



The Failures


Assassins


Show

-Lackluster Powers
-Restricted Multiclassing
-Lack of Striker PPs
-One True Path
-Poor Striker Support
-RAW/ETV issues*

Depending on interpretation of the Assassins Powers (ruling against the multi attacks) and the Assassin's Shroud feature (that it isn't its own damage roll) the following also may apply:

-Lack of Striker Features

-Lack of Multitaps
-Can't Fulfill Its Role
-Lack of Nova


Avengers


[sblock
-Lackluster Daily Powers
-Restricted Multiclassing
-Lack of Striker PPs
-Useless Builds
-Weapon and Implement
-Lack of MBA*

*Overwhelming Strike can be used as one, but it's diety and feat locked
[/sblock] 

Barbarians


Show

-Perhaps Hybrids too Well
-Multiclass Restricted
-Lack of Striker PPs
-Useless Builds
-Lackluster Daily Powers

Berzerkers


Show

-Multiclass Restricted
-Lack of Striker PPs
-Useless Builds
-Lackluster Daily Powers
-Role Confused

Blackguards


Show

-Multiclass Restricted
-Lack of Striker PPs
-Lack of Multitaps
-Lack of Powers
-Struggles at Certain Tiers
-Hybrids too Well
-Lack of Nova
-Lack of Flexibility

Elementalists


Show

-Lack of Multitaps
-Lack of Powers
-Struggles at Certain Tiers
-Lack of Nova

Executioners


Show

-Lack of Multitaps
-Lack of Powers
-Struggles at Certain Tiers
-Hybrids too Well
-Lack of Nova
-Lack of Flexibility

Hexblades


Show

-Lack of Multitaps
-Lack of Powers
-Struggles at Certain Tiers
-Useless Builds
-Lack of Nova
-Lack of Flexibility

Monks


Show

-Lack of Multitaps
-Struggles at Certain Tiers
-Weapon and Implement
-Lack of MBA
-Lack of Nova

Rangers


Show

-Useless Builds
-Melee often has AC issues

Rogues


Show

-Useless Builds
-Lack of MBA

Scouts


Show

-Struggles at Certain Tiers
-Lack of Powers
-Lack of Flexibility

Slayers


Show

-Struggles at Certain Tiers
-Lack of Powers
-Lack of Flexibility

Sorcerers


Show

-Useless Builds
-Weapon and Implement

Thieves


Show

-Struggles at Certain Tiers
-Lack of Powers
-Lack of Flexibility
-Lack of Striker PPs

Warlocks


Show

-Struggles at Certain Tiers
-Lack of Multi-taps
-Struggles to Fulfill Role Without Effort
-Useless Builds


Vampires


Show

-Cannot Fulfill Role
-Lack of Striker PPs
-Lack of Striker Powers
-Lack of Multi-taps
-Lack of Powers
-Lack of Flexibility

 

Substandard Spells: Controller Failures

Failure Overview:



Lack of Controller Powers


No Controller Class Features


No Controller PPs


The Failures:


Binders


Show

-Struggles at Certain Tiers
-Strictly Inferior (Warlock)
-Struggles to Fulfill Role
-Lack of +Control class Features
-Lack of Innate Controller PPs

Bladesingers


Show

-Cannot Fulfill Role
-Lack of +Control class Features
-Lack of Innate Controller PPs
-Lack of Controller Powers
-Lack of Powers
-Lack of Flexibility

Druids


Show

-Useless Builds
-Struggles at Certain Tiers (Epic)
-Lack of +Control class Features
-Lack of Innate Controller PPs

Hunters


Show

-Cannot Fulfill Role
-Lack of +Control class Features
-Lack of Innate Controller PPs
-Lack of Controller Powers
-Lack of Powers
-Lack of Flexibility

Invokers



Psions


Show

-Useless Builds
-Lack of +Control class Features
-Lack of Innate Controller PPs
-Psionic Class

Seekers


Show

-Useless Builds
-One True Path
-Lack of Control Class Features
-Lack of Innate Controller PPs

Wizards


Show

-Useless Builds 
-Strictly Inferior Alternative Features (Sha'ir, Witch)
-Lack of Innate Controller PPs
-Somewhat Restricted Multiclassing


10/10 Would Flame Again: An Elite Paladin|Warlock The Elemental Man (or Woman): A Genasi Handbook The Warlord, Or How to Wield a Barbarian One-Handed The Bookish Barbarian Fardiz: RAI is fairly clear, but RAZ is different That's right. Rules According to Zelink!
Shattered Shields: Defender Failures

Failure Overview:


Lack of "Stickiness"


Reliance on Powers


Inability to Multi-Mark


Inability to Multi-Punish


The Failures:


Battleminds


Show

-Lack of Stickiness
-Hybrids too Well
-No MBA
-Inability to Multi-Punish
-Ineffective at Role at Certain Tiers

Cavaliers


Show

-Lack of Stickiness
-Hybrids too Well
-No Powers
-Inability to Multi-Punish
-Can't Fulfill Role
-Aura Defender

Knights


Show

-No Powers
-Struggles at Certain Tiers
-No Flexibility
-Aura Defender

Fighters


Paladins


Show

-Lackluster Daily Powers
-Perhaps Hybrids Too Well
-Useless Builds
-Struggles at Certain Levels (Heroic, early Paragon)
-V-Class (Strength and Charisma)
-MAD (Strength, Consitution, Wisdom, Charisma)
-Implement and Weapon

Swordmages



Show

-Lackluster Daily Powers
-Hybrids too Well
-Relies on Powers for Punishment
-Lack of MBA without Intelligent Blasdemaster (Feat)
-Useless Builds
-Struggles at Certain Levels (early heroic)

Wardens


Show

-Lack of Stickiness
-Relies on Powers for Stickiness
-Useless Builds
-Struggles at Certain Tiers (Early Heroic, Late Paragon, Epic)



Harmful Heals: Leader Failures

Failure Overview:


Lack of Leader Powers


Lack of Leader Features


Lack of Enabling


Lack of Range Powers


The Failures:


Ardents


Artificers


Bards


Clerics


Runepriests


Sentinels


Shamans


Warlords


Warpriests


10/10 Would Flame Again: An Elite Paladin|Warlock The Elemental Man (or Woman): A Genasi Handbook The Warlord, Or How to Wield a Barbarian One-Handed The Bookish Barbarian Fardiz: RAI is fairly clear, but RAZ is different That's right. Rules According to Zelink!
Post 3: Whatever else. Feel free to shoot suggestions, I'm hoping this can effectively summarize general views. Ignore the **** formatting for now please ;)
10/10 Would Flame Again: An Elite Paladin|Warlock The Elemental Man (or Woman): A Genasi Handbook The Warlord, Or How to Wield a Barbarian One-Handed The Bookish Barbarian Fardiz: RAI is fairly clear, but RAZ is different That's right. Rules According to Zelink!
Not a suggestions but a simple commendation: what a great idea for a guide!
Looks good to me, but you're missing some classes- Binder and Vampire, off the top of my head.

Edited: Also Elementalists (which are significantly different from Sorcerers in the way they play).  Not sure if you want a note in about Witch and Sha'ir, which are both Wizard subclasses but inferior to Arcanist/Mage.

One thing you might want to do at some point- provide a sample calculation showing why multi-taps are so awesome.  That helps to get rid of the person arguing that their single tap whatever an do enough damage to equal a multi-tapper.
Interesting idea. Good luck with it.

I find it pretty humorous how the current makeup suggests that you feel every single class fails at its job
Let Us Complain About All The Things: The Thread.
It might be interesting to point out some common resolutions to a missing feature. As an example, Rogues are an easy 'get a minor action attack' for Dex-based strikers. MC'ing Paladin and loading up on Sanction+Weakening Challenge can make Epic Defenders worthwhile as Defenders.

Etc... 
Botched Spells? I demand alliteration!

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Frankly, this isn't going to be a guide of suggestions. Too many of these efforts have gotten unwieldly due to the desire to constantly suggest things. This will merely be outlining weaknesses
10/10 Would Flame Again: An Elite Paladin|Warlock The Elemental Man (or Woman): A Genasi Handbook The Warlord, Or How to Wield a Barbarian One-Handed The Bookish Barbarian Fardiz: RAI is fairly clear, but RAZ is different That's right. Rules According to Zelink!
You probably ought to include Berserkers under Defenders as well as strikers, since they're nominally both.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
You probably ought to include Berserkers under Defenders as well as strikers, since they're nominally both.


or at least claim to be
Your missing a type of failure, 

One True Way : Similar to lackluster powers, but this type of class has just enough useful powers or a single racial affinity to make one good build. Examples : Sorcerer, Swordmage.
Your examples are inaccurate and that's not a class failure anyway, it's passing with a C.
It enough to merit mention, but its really only true for Runepriests and Seekers, who've had non-existant support.
10/10 Would Flame Again: An Elite Paladin|Warlock The Elemental Man (or Woman): A Genasi Handbook The Warlord, Or How to Wield a Barbarian One-Handed The Bookish Barbarian Fardiz: RAI is fairly clear, but RAZ is different That's right. Rules According to Zelink!
Every optimized Seeker taking the same powers is a little lame, but that is still lackluster powers. The other half, a class that has one build that works but is race dependent, doesn't exist as far as I know. Sure you are stronger as some races (Half-Orc Straladin, Tiefling Elementalist, Tiefling RM Bard, Dragonborn Dragon Sorc, Genasi melee anything), but any race that has the right stats is decent for every class, except for perhaps Shade, if the class can do its job.

Assassins


DPR is pathetic as a striker and it's spike damage is sup par at best.

Avengers


There is no reason for this class not to use a radiant weapon.

Monks


Doesn't do that great of damage. Feels more like a controller/defender hybrid.

Rogues


Frost cheese is way too good on this class. Ranged builds aren't that viable.

Sorcerers


Dragon breath cheese is fantastic with this class. In fact, it's a little too good. 

Warlocks


Should have a good pact that has dex as a secondary to support the shadow walk power.

Druids


Even though they are the best summoner it seems as if still summons aren't that worthwhile to invest in.

Swordmages


Pretty boy paladins beat this class at its own game.

Wardens


 Mark isn't punishing and their damage is weak.

Clerics


Everyone and their mom hybrids as a cleric.



 



Not sure why you bothered posting this, but half of it is wrong.
More than half... I think we're all probably glad Apollo isn't writing this handbook.
Gotta love these huge, badly formatted lists without spoiler blocks that then get quoted just to clog up everything even more. 
As of right now its just the outline, and I don't intend to put entire roles in spoiler blocks. My current problem is  the HTML doesn't seem to want to let me put bullets in spoiler blocks, so I'm trying to remedy that before progressing.
10/10 Would Flame Again: An Elite Paladin|Warlock The Elemental Man (or Woman): A Genasi Handbook The Warlord, Or How to Wield a Barbarian One-Handed The Bookish Barbarian Fardiz: RAI is fairly clear, but RAZ is different That's right. Rules According to Zelink!
It's perfectly fine for the posts that make up the handbook, I was referring to the suggestions on the last page. Putting a giant list that can't be spoilered out in the middle of the discussion is irritating and it gets worse when people start to quote it. On the other hand, the first couple of posts on the first page don't have this issue, so they get a pass.
Why would anyone quote the entire OP posts? You'd have to be a huge idiot to do that, and I've not even seen our local huge idiots make that mistake.
Why would anyone quote the entire OP posts? You'd have to be a huge idiot to do that, and I've not even seen our local huge idiots make that mistake.

Didn't Bajat used to do that in his own threads?
I like the idea of this thread, it would provide a useful summary of class issues that many players aren't aware of.

It strikes me that for categories like Strictly Inferior, Restricted Multiclassing, Weaker At Certain Tiers, and especially Useless Builds, you should write down in one or two words which ones.
Echoing the above comment: for Restricted MCing and Useless Builds, please post what MCs and builds you mean. 
I suppose, though, if you say take all of this into consideration then build around the weaknesses then it's still okay to play the class, right?

I mean the barbarian isn't terrible is it?

You can probably pass off just fine if you follow the One True Build and get the DM ruling in your favor with an Assassin right?

Sometimes I get the feeling in Char OP if you aren't playing a Cleric or a Warlord or a Ranger or a Wizard then what you're trying to play is trash, and if you aren't a Half-Orc/Pixie/Dwarf/Tiefling/Genasi/Dragonborn/Revenant you should reroll your race too.
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What forum have you been reading? I have no idea how you would get those impressions. 
Sometimes I get the feeling in Char OP if you aren't playing a Cleric or a Warlord or a Ranger or a Wizard then what you're trying to play is trash, and if you aren't a Half-Orc/Pixie/Dwarf/Tiefling/Genasi/Dragonborn/Revenant you should reroll your race too.

I play non-op stuff all the time. A real CharOp build would blow up the encounters in my game. CharOp is great for understanding the rules, finding tricks, and getting a good understanding of how all the moving parts in 4e can be combined, but most of us do not take it as the final word in what is playable. There are only a few builds that can't meet baseline, and even those could probably be optimized enough for a med-low op heroic/paragon campaign - which is probably 85-95% of actual 4e games.
This thread is long overdue. I DM more than I play, and I'm more than willing to houserule some changes to the more lacklustre classes when someone wants to play one, but (as MwaO demonstrated a few days ago re the Vampire), I don't always 'get' what the actual problem is. If I had made changes to the Vampire to make it more serviceable, I'd probably have changed precisely the wrong things. Being able to come here and see exactly what's wrong with a given class will enable me to make changes that actually work to fix the problems in my home game. That's pretty darn useful.
"There's an old saying that all it takes for evil to triumph is that good people do nothing. I've always had a problem with that. If you do nothing to oppose evil, then how are you 'good'? To turn aside and allow evil to flourish is to collaborate with it. You ask for mercy. You claim you have done nothing. That 'nothing' is why you deserve no mercy." - Lorian Karthfaerr, drow paladin of Avandra Robin Laws says I'm a Storyteller:
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if you aren't playing a Cleric



lol. Nobody suggests playing Cleric. Fighter, Bard, and Invoker are way higher up there.

Nobody really suggests Half-Orc either.
Here is my quick take on what is wrong with the cleric, warpriest, and shaman.

flaws

Cleric


Hybrids Too Well


With battle clerics lore, is one of the best hybrid choices.  It can hybrid with almost any class well and looses almost nothing in hybrid.


Lack of Enabling


Only has a handful of enabling powers and no at will enabling.  Can get quasi enabling with a few lower level encounter powers, but only for wisdom implement builds.


Useless Build


Pacifist is a possibly the most popular trap option in the game.


One true path/Lack of Good powers


Has unique flaw of about 40% of utility powers being standard actions, which dramatically limits the number of utility powers clerics should even consider.


Healer’s Lore is not an acceptable option and neither is Divine Fortune.
 


Warpriest


Lackluster Powers


Most warpriests should use novice power or reserve manuever and some need both  A few have some bad at wills as well.


Lack of Enabling


Same as templar clerics, though Oghma gets healing word enabling at 16.


Restricted Mulitclassing


You usually need novice power to pick up a good encounter power from a small list of classes.  Oghma has to go fighter for dizzying mace. 


Useless Builds


Death
Corellon
 


Shaman 


Hybrids too well


Doesn’t lose much and gets a lot out of it.  Most of the time you should be hybridding.


Lackluster Powers


Has struggles with encounter power attacks for some builds.  A few levels don’t have stand out dailies.  Healing Spirits is probably the least useful of the “Healing Word” powers since it spreads out the healing too much and has placement issues.


Class Features


Lack of decent armor proficiency is a big deal for con shamans and those builds require you to invest in strengh and chain proficiency right away or somehow get battle clerics lore.  The class normally has the worst AC of any leader.  Totems are one of the worst implements and its the only one they start out with.


Restricted Multiclassing


If your DM allows BCL through multiclassing, there goes your multiclass spot for con shamans.


RAW/ETV


It has its own stickied rules FAQ on how the companion works.

Zelink, I ain't proud of this personal failure of mine but it may save you some trouble: community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758...
Why is wizard even in that list? ^^

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Why is wizard even in that list? ^^



No in-class paragon paths for controllers?
Why is wizard even in that list? ^^



No in-class paragon paths for controllers?



Blood Mage? Spellstorm Mage? Planeshifter?

In my "wizard guide days" i even learnt someone likes Hermetic Saboteur. But those are really solid options. 

Chauntea/Lathander/Torm Cleric since 1995 My husband married a DM - καλὸς καὶ ἀγαθός

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I think he just put every class in the list and is going to go through them. I mean there is a possibility that even a top tier class could have a deficiency in a given build or feature. Handbooks rate some builds red. Just depends on the level of granularity he is going for.
Top Tier wizards look elsewhere for PPs. Melee Rangers often do too. They also have Useless Builds. They have deficiencies, just not many. Again this isn't a comparison, merely outlining flaws each class has. They all have flaws.
10/10 Would Flame Again: An Elite Paladin|Warlock The Elemental Man (or Woman): A Genasi Handbook The Warlord, Or How to Wield a Barbarian One-Handed The Bookish Barbarian Fardiz: RAI is fairly clear, but RAZ is different That's right. Rules According to Zelink!
There is a pretty big difference between not having a top tier in-class PP and "not being able to get the job done" (from your first post) with an in-class PP. The former applies to Wizards (none of their in-class PPs are really above Blue), the latter does not. Neither applies to Rangers, who have so many strong in-class PPs that LDB made a build around each one and stuck them in a handbook, just to demonstrate the fact.

You have to be clear in what you mean. Wizards don't need to MC to fulfill their role at a mark well above the minimum. They do need to MC to have a "lock down a solo so it can't make its saves" build (Entrancing Mystic). If your criteria is going to be "Can't be an absolute top tier build without MCing" then that is going to apply to basically everyone, because the MC feats themselves often provide such a nice benefit that they are worth it, even if you take nothing else from MCed class.
Wizard PPs don't get the job done, none are really impressive Controller PPs. Planeshaper MAYBE and then its main feature is more +leader than +Controller. If you need to MC to access PPs that are +role, your MC is more locked down than it should be.

Rangers I've always been meh on their PPs too, but I will grant you it. 
10/10 Would Flame Again: An Elite Paladin|Warlock The Elemental Man (or Woman): A Genasi Handbook The Warlord, Or How to Wield a Barbarian One-Handed The Bookish Barbarian Fardiz: RAI is fairly clear, but RAZ is different That's right. Rules According to Zelink!
There is a pretty big difference between not having a top tier in-class PP and "not being able to get the job done" (from your first post) with an in-class PP. The former applies to Wizards (none of their in-class PPs are really above Blue), the latter does not. Neither applies to Rangers, who have so many strong in-class PPs that LDB made a build around each one and stuck them in a handbook, just to demonstrate the fact.


I agree. If a class has no good in-class PPs, that is a deficiency of the class. If a class's best PP happens to be from another class, that's not a deficiency of the first - remember how all strikers used to take Daggermaster or Student of Caiphon before they got errata'ed?

And wizards? Walls and zones are battlefield control and clearly belong with the controller role. Summons are also one of the controller's shticks. Now I grant that walls/zones/summons are not the optimal best strategy ever, but they are control - and the wizard has solid in-class PPs for battlefield control and for summoning. They might not be Divine Oracle, but if you want to play a summoner or a wall-caster, the wizard and his PPs do the job. If you're going to call everything except the topmost tier "deficient" then this handbook becomes pretty pointless.