What do you think is the best designed variant of each class from each edition of D&D? Please note this is not supposed to be an edition war so I would rather not have any declarations of XYZ being the best version. Best designed also does not have to be the most powerful as you can mention what edition captures the essence of the class or whatever. The question is subjective an there is no right and wrong answer. In the warlords case bear in mind that it was only in one edition so 4th ed wins by default there.
Most people think of the barbarian as a rage based class probably due to 3rd ed. It was originally in Unearthed Arcana IIRC in 1st ed. Overall I liked the 2nd ed Barbarian the best as you were a barbarian using inferior weapons of stone and you had a lot of options via kits. Not a berzerker fan of 3rd ed and the ping pong version of 4th ed as they were both built around uber damage. A barbarian to me could also be a horselord or beastmaster.
Another funny class as 1st through 4th ed have all had a different bard class. 1st ed it was a dual class, 2nd ed a wizard, 3rd ed a skill monkey with a few spells and in 4th ed is was a leader. Overall I thought the 3.5 version was the most interesting one and it was one of the better classes without being mind numbingly broken. The 4th ed one also stood out to e even though I did not like the AEDU power structure but I never got to play 4th ed just DM it but it looks like an interesting class.
Kind of a boring class in pre 3rd ed versions of D&D and often one you had to beg someone into playing. Specialty priests inn 2nd ed however, various non broken builds in 3rd ed and the 4th ed one whoever all offer interesting takes on the Cleric. I do not have a favorite one here but the D&DN ones look to be interesting without being borked like 3rd ed clerics.
Broken as hell in core 3.5 the class was broken up in 4th ed and I am not a fan of that versions Druids. Probably also broken in 1st ed due to getting level 3 spells at level 3 and having very interesting abilities in a basic game. Overall I think the 2nd ed Druid was the best on in terms of balance and flavor and the 2nd ed Complete Druids Handbook was quite good.
Very boring class pre 2nd ed and it started to have interesting options in that editions cycle. 3rd ed added feats and 4th ed added powers. Overall I prefer the 3.5 fighter in design but it was overshadowed by spellcasters. The basic design of the Fighter was converted to Star Wars Saga which added talents and more skills to the class and it removed the spell casters. The 4th ed Fighter was interesting but was ultimately limited in styles compared to the 2nd and 3rd ed fighters. Adding talents and power type options via fighter feats helps the class out alot. The 3.5 concept and design was good, execution in that sytem was wonky however although it was a popular class it seemed.
My most hated class. More or less sucked until 4th ed. The less said the better as I hate this class. 4th ed version wins.
One of the most controversial classes in the games history. The 4th ed Paladin was to different to the 1st to 3rd ed Paladins so it kind of failed to capture the essence of the class. The class also needed help from Divine Power source book. Hard to pick a winner but leaning toward the 3.5 version of the class as Pathfinder kind of borked the class up IMHO. A class less said about the better due to edition and alignment based wars. Next.
This class was changed al ot in 4th ed and it strayed away form the "classic" ranger of 1st to 3rd ed although the class has actually changed in every edition. Probably overpowered in 1st in was the only way to dual wield in 2nd ed core books. Hard t pick a winner as it is purely a personal preference but the archetype of a woodlands warrior is a difficult one to ignore.
Rogue/Thief in pre 3rd ed.
Pre 3rd ed this was one of those classes that was similar to the cleric. It could be hard to get someone to play a thief and the class could be ignored in a non dungeon setting. 3.0 made some interesting changes and Pathfinder beefed the class up. I did like the changes 4th ed made to the class though such as sneak attack and the dagger thing. While it is difficult to translate the mechanics directly the D&DN one seems to have a 4th ed legacy about it. Overall I'll give this one to the 4th ed Rogue.
Usually used a a blaster in 3rd ed and as a striker in 4th ed and outclassed by the wizard in both. Pathfinder may have the best sorcerer yet but being brutally honest none of them are that good or interesting. Pathfinder or 4th ed wins this one take your pick. I give the class a big meh.
In 3rd and 4th ed. A lack of experience with either class makes it hard for me to judge. I do not really like either version YMMV.
The most powerful class in pre 3rd ed CoDzilla gave it a good run for the money in 3rd ed. The 4th ed one I found to be quite interesting but it lacked the traditional wizard feel or essence of the class and from what I hear the class was slightly overpowered out of combat and compared with other controllers. I liked the 2nd ed version of the class and the 4th ed venison. The basic 2nd ed class had the most interesting vancian options in the Tome of Magic and Spells and Powers with wild mages and shadow mages making an appearance. I liked the 4th ed one because it didn't wreck games.
Fear is the Mind Killer