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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    DruidGirl

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    Default Retiering the Classes: Duskblade, Hexblade, Paladin, Ranger, Sohei, Spellthief

    These six classes are notable because they have spellcasting, but a really small amount of it that tends to be secondary to other things. The duskblade has the most casting of the group, with 5th level spells, and the rest max out at 4th's. It's just about the least amount of casting you can have in the game, really, without just not having any casting at all.

    Duskblade (PHB II, 19): As noted, the duskblade has the best casting of anything on this list, with solid set of combat spells for the augmentation of face stabbing, along with the occasional piece of utility.

    Hexblade (CWar, 5): The list here is kinda interesting in places, but as is typical here you suffer from a ridiculously slow and weak progression. Besides that, you're doing some face stabbing and tossing about some minor curses.

    Paladin: The iconic goody two shoes, the paladin gets standard face stabbing capacity, a mount, some fancy defensive stuff, and their crappy casting. Notably, like any PHB class, the paladin gets a bunch from non-core sources, including highly potent ACFs and feats like battle blessing.

    Ranger: As paladins are to clerics, rangers are to druids. You subtract out a ton of casting and utility, add some combat capacity, and, as with the paladin, spread out a bunch of highly potent non-core material. The ranger is a bit different, however, as some of the better ranger stuff, like wild shape or mystic ranger, is so good that it needs to be pushed out of consideration for the base class, though those sources do also add some higher quality spells to the list.

    Sohei (OA, 27): The sohei gets pretty mediocre combat to go along with its mediocre casting, with a bit of a monk rage thing going on. The spell list isn't the worst, but it ain't great either.

    Spellthief (CAdv, 13): The spellthief is more on the rogue end of the spectrum, with some sneak attack and reasonable skill use. As is implied by the name of the class, you also get the ability to steal spells from casters, which is somewhat situational in nature. And, of course, you get some casting, though here it's off of a good subset of the wizard list, so the list is of good quality even if it's still super slow.



    What are the tiers?

    The simple answer here is that tier one is the best, the home of things on the approximate problem solving scale of wizards, and tier six is the worst, land of commoners. And problem solving capacity is what's being measured here. Considering the massive range of challenges a character is liable to be presented with across the levels, how much and how often does that character's class contribute to the defeat of those challenges? This value should be considered as a rough averaging across all levels, the center of the level range somewhat more than really low and really high level characters, and across all optimization levels (considering DM restrictiveness as a plausible downward acting factor on how optimized a character is), prioritizing moderate optimization somewhat more than low or high.

    A big issue with the original tier system is that, if anything, it was too specific, generating inflexible definitions for allowance into a tier which did not cover the broad spectrum of ways a class can operate. When an increase in versatility would seem to represent a decrease in tier, because tier two is supposed to be low versatility, it's obvious that we've become mired in something that'd be pointless to anyone trying to glean information from the tier system. Thus, I will be uncharacteristically word light here. The original tier system's tier descriptions are still good guidelines here, but they shouldn't be assumed to be the end all and be all for how classes get ranked.

    Consistent throughout these tiers is the notion of problems and the solving thereof. For the purposes of this tier system, the problem space can be said to be inclusive of combat, social interaction, and exploration, with the heaviest emphasis placed on combat. A problem could theoretically fall outside of that space, but things inside that space are definitely problems. Another way to view the idea of problem solving is through the lens of the niche ranking system. A niche filled tends to imply the capacity to solve a type of problem, whether it's a status condition in the case of healing, or an enemy that just has too many hit points in the case of melee combat. It's not a perfect measure, both because some niches have a lot of overlap in the kinds of problems they can solve and because, again, the niches aren't necessarily all inclusive, but they can act as a good tool for class evaluation.

    Tier one: Incredibly good at solving nearly all problems. This is the realm of clerics, druids, and wizards, classes that open up with strong combat spells backed up by utility, and then get massively stronger from there. If you're not keeping up with that core trio of tier one casters, then you probably don't belong here.

    Tier two: We're just a step below tier one here, in the land of classes around the sorcerer level of power. Generally speaking, this means relaxing one of the two tier one assumptions, either getting us to very good at solving nearly all problems, or incredibly good at solving most problems. But, as will continue to be the case as these tiers go on, there aren't necessarily these two simple categories for this tier. You gotta lose something compared to the tier one casters, but what you lose doesn't have to be in some really specific proportions.

    Tier three: Again, we gotta sacrifice something compared to tier two, here taking us to around the level of a swordsage. The usual outcome is that you are very good at solving a couple of problems and competent at solving a few more. Of course, there are other possibilities, for example that you might instead be competent at solving nearly all problems.

    Tier four: Here we're in ranger/barbarian territory (though the ranger should be considered largely absent of ACF's and stuff to hit this tier, as will be talked about later). Starting from that standard tier three position, the usual sweet spots here are very good at solving a few problems, or alright at solving many problems.

    Tier five
    : We're heading close to the dregs here. Tier five is the tier of monks, classes that are as bad as you can be without being an aristocrat or a commoner. Classes here are sometimes very good at solving nearly no problems, or alright at solving a few, or some other function thereof. It's weak, is the point.

    Tier six: And here we have commoner tier. Or, the bottom is commoner. The top is approximately aristocrat. You don't necessarily have nothing in this tier, but you have close enough to it.


    The Threads

    Tier System Home Base


    The Fixed List Casters: Beguiler, Dread Necromancer, and Warmage


    The Obvious Tier One Classes: Archivist, Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Sha'ir, and Wizard



    The Mundane Beat Sticks (part one): Barbarian, Fighter, Samurai (CW), and Samurai (OA)


    The Roguelikes: Ninja, Rogue, and Scout



    The Pseudo-Druids: Spirit Shaman, Spontaneous Druid, Urban Druid, and Wild Shape Ranger


    The Tome of Battlers: Crusader, Swordsage, and Warblade



    The Jacks of All Trades: Bard, Factotum, Jester, and Savant


    The NPCs: Adept, Aristocrat, Commoner, Expert, Magewright, and Warrior


    The Vaguely Supernatural Melee Folk: Battle Dancer, Monk, Mountebank, and Soulknife



    The Miscellaneous Full Casters: Death Master, Shaman, Shugenja, Sorcerer, and Wu Jen



    The Wacky Magicists: Binder, Dragonfire Adept, Shadowcaster, Truenamer, and Warlock

    The Rankings

    Duskblade: Tier three

    Hexblade: Tier five

    Paladin: Tier four

    Ranger: Tier four

    Sohei: Tier five

    Spellthief: Tier four

    And here's a link to the spreadsheet.
    Last edited by eggynack; 2017-04-22 at 07:44 AM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    GnomeWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Duskblade, Hexblade, Paladin, Ranger, Sohei, Spellthief

    Ok I'll start with the Hexblade, I say tier 3

    due to his unique abilities (like mettle) and his CHA to spell saves
    very decent spell list

    Level 1
    -charm person (social encounters, CHA based too so it's good)
    -unseen servant (utility)
    -protection from x (almost as good as mind blank)

    Level 2
    -alter self (too many uses to note them all)
    -mirror image (great defensive buff)
    -enthrall (social encounters)

    Level 3
    -hound of doom (surprisingly strong summon for a half caster, unique to this class too)
    -charm monster (again social)
    -wind wall (utility)
    -dispel magic (utility)
    -stinking cloud (only decent battlefield control you have)

    Level 4
    -polymorph (see alter self but better)
    -dominate person (see charm person but better)
    -solid fog (again battlefield control)
    -greater invisibility (great utility)

    his curse and his unusually powerful familiar

    It feels too versatile for a tier 4 class. Mettle is just like evasion but for FORT and WILL saves, negating just about every status effect you're likely to face except damage. If your CHA is at least halfway decent then your saves should be plenty high to deal with the DC you're likely to encounter

    taking improved familiar (or similar feat) gives you something akin to a potent animal companion (though it has less feats it'll probably have better HP and BAB)

    by level 8 you can abuse alter self, assuming you picked a good race for it this can be pretty strong (say an aberration, a construct or an outsider)

    by level 11 you get hound of doom (which is a pretty powerful summon that lasts minutes)

    finally by level 14 you get polymorph which is really powerful for a fighter type

    In short

    Your defensive abilities are pretty good (mettle, CHA to saves)
    You have an adequate chassis for combat (good BAB, decent hitpoints)
    You have a decent pet and summon (familiar + hound of doom)
    You have access to very potent utility spells (charm person, charm monster, dominate person, alter self, polymorph)
    Finally your half caster status doesn't really change much of anything (most of your spells don't care too much about it)
    Your signature ability (your curse) reduces saves which is always useful

    all in all you have something to contribute to most fights and things to do outside of them

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Duskblade, Hexblade, Paladin, Ranger, Sohei, Spellthief

    I'd place Duskblade at Tier 3, at worst 4. I've had them in my party before on multiple occasions and I've not seen a bad one. They have a full BAB, stong hit die, good casting for their chassis, and a list of very usable skills. Sure, they aren't going to be picking locks, doing trap finding, or teleporting the party across continents, but they are going to be a solid melee combatant with a lot of mobility.

    Paladins
    are Tier 5. They have massive restrictions on their actions that no other class has to deal with (or at least, 90% of classes don't have to deal with), they are front loaded with decent abilities, but they just aren't that good at what they are supposed to be doing. Having great saves (from class ability), a good hit die, and a full base attack bonus seems like a good chassis, but I haven't seen paladins in play doing a very good job of paladining. They only have a handful of spells, and most of them are very late to be useful (cure wounds at level 4, IF you have enough wisdom to get bonus spells of that level). Even some of their best spells, like Holy Sword, are very late to the game and severely hampered by low caster levels making for low durations. They get turn undead, but it sucks. They get casting, but suck at it. They get the ability to remove diseases, but for some godforsaken reason it's on a per week recharge timer. They have potentially good abilities, but are hampered by their MAD-ness, needing 14 wisdom to cast their spells by level 16, needing as much charisma as they can scrounge to benefit from some of their best class abilities, needing strength to do damage, and like everyone constitution to take hits. And it's a bad idea for them to dump stat dexterity or intelligence, because they get a pittance of skill points and they need all the ac they can get if they're going to be the front liner for the party (which they are probably going to want to be, so they can smite things). If we were talking pathfinder, then I'd see it being tier 4, maybe 3 with the right optimization. But 3.5's leaves a lot to be desired.

    Spellthief- Tier 5, I might be convinced of 4 if someone can explain how to do one well. I have only seen one person ever try to play a spellthief and the campaign was definitely not suited for it. They need people to steal spells from, otherwise they have nothing to cast. While I think it has potential, it's going to have a hard time excelling at combat compared to a rogue in generalized situations. Instead of consistent damage (from sneak attacking) the spellthief has caster-hate. Caster-hate is a pretty good thing to have, in theory. But if the enemy doesn't have caster's to hate on, the spellthief is left with sub-par combat abilities as compared to an equivalent level rogue. That said, you're running into the same problems that rogues do against undead, constructs, and so on. Stealing resistance, spell resistance, and potentially absorbing incoming spells are all theoretically nice, but I'm not seeing them as being particularly great debuffs for most of the spellthief's career.

    Ranger I don't know about these fancy alternate class features or any of that. As far as I know, Rangers can be almost as effective as Fighters in combat (bear in mind, I've seen Fighters dominating combat, so this isn't an insult) so add in the ability to effectively scout with the party rogue, feed the party with survival, and have a regular supply of animal companions to call upon to get eaten by the enemy so that the party can get the drop on them, and I'd say Ranger edit: Lands at tier 4. I'm going to assume other people know this class much better and know enough useful Ranger spells and things that it rolls over to tier 4.

    Hexblade Tier 5. The Hex blade has a decent chassis, with full bab, a good hit die, a slightly weaker version of the paladin's grace that only works against spells, Mettle (which is like evasion, but for the other Two saving throws), and...a very limited use curse. In it's favor: the curse upgrades, eventually, to be like a high dc bestow curse spell. It can deploy as a free action. Against it- it doesn't have the fun part of bestow curse, and is limited to a very specific set of penalties, in addition you only get a handful of uses per day of it across 20 levels. They get bonus feats, which is almost never a bad thing. Except the hexblade's bonus feats try to prop up it's casting, which is like trying to duct tape a flaming hole on the Hindenburg closed. If there were some combat feat options on that list, if it was even half as many feats as the fighter feat list, then it might make for a decent bonus feat list. But instead it's focused narrowing on improving the very limited casting ability of this class. If you need a tough guy that won't be charmed easily to stand in front of you and trade blows with people, this is your man. Other than that, you're probably going to want a fighter. They do have some decent 3rd and 4th level spells, With Greater Magic Weapon and Vampiric Touch as 3rd level spells, and Cursed Blade as a 4th level spell. But if you wanted to spam vampiric touch, you shoulda gone duskblade. They get it earlier and do it better. You could maybe be a decent vehicle for a Winter Wolf if you take Improved Familiar and grab one at level 7. But then your main use in combat is going to be supplanted by you casting Augment Familiar on your Winter Wolf and watching it fight instead of doing something yourself. I could be talked into this being Tier 6 if people can make a sufficient case for awfulness.

    Sohei- I have never seen someone try to play one of these. Two strong saves, a good hit die, medium BAB, Mettle, actual damage reduction, holy **** is that immunity to STUNNING at level 5!? Okay, that's probably not enough to move it from Tier 5 to Tier 4, but damn. The Sohei may not be great at hitting things, and it's frenzy might be kind of meh, it's mettle and other extra defenses may come online a little late. But being able to slap the crap out of a mindflayer because it can't stun you is amazing. Oh, and the Sohei can ignore some of the cheapest tricks in the game that rely on stun, like one that I can only vaguely recall where a warblade acts first because they have a maneuver that says so, then stunlocks the opponent every round until they die. The sohei ignores that and starts slapping the maneuver user around while screaming about honor or what have you. Like most of the classes presented here, they get subpar casting too late for it to be really good. Remain Conscious and Defensive strike for free are also not something to ignore out of hand, as they are skipping a lot of feat taxes and getting them for free. Also, since OA is from 3.0, doesn't Remain Conscious get replaced by Diehard? Even if we're ignoring that part, it's not a bad feat to get for free. edit: They have terrible skill points, but a decent list of spells. I think they land somewhere around Tier 4, if only from the various Useful immunities they can bring to bear, and having Mettle while also having both fort and will as Good saves.
    Last edited by Sagetim; 2017-04-15 at 10:45 PM.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Beholder

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Duskblade, Hexblade, Paladin, Ranger, Sohei, Spellthief

    Do keep in mind that Spellthieves get access to the Godsblood feat and the Trickster ACF, which might improve its tier (Bard spellcasting alone might bump it up a tier, and still being able to "steal" some great personal-range buff spells from the party's casters (even if they're the unwanted lower-level spells) is just gravy).
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  5. - Top - End - #5
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    DruidGirl

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Duskblade, Hexblade, Paladin, Ranger, Sohei, Spellthief

    Quote Originally Posted by Sagetim View Post

    Paladins
    are Tier 5. They have massive restrictions on their actions that no other class has to deal with (or at least, 90% of classes don't have to deal with), they are front loaded with decent abilities, but they just aren't that good at what they are supposed to be doing. Having great saves (from class ability), a good hit die, and a full base attack bonus seems like a good chassis, but I haven't seen paladins in play doing a very good job of paladining. They only have a handful of spells, and most of them are very late to be useful (cure wounds at level 4, IF you have enough wisdom to get bonus spells of that level). Even some of their best spells, like Holy Sword, are very late to the game and severely hampered by low caster levels making for low durations. They get turn undead, but it sucks. They get casting, but suck at it. They get the ability to remove diseases, but for some godforsaken reason it's on a per week recharge timer. They have potentially good abilities, but are hampered by their MAD-ness, needing 14 wisdom to cast their spells by level 16, needing as much charisma as they can scrounge to benefit from some of their best class abilities, needing strength to do damage, and like everyone constitution to take hits. And it's a bad idea for them to dump stat dexterity or intelligence, because they get a pittance of skill points and they need all the ac they can get if they're going to be the front liner for the party (which they are probably going to want to be, so they can smite things). If we were talking pathfinder, then I'd see it being tier 4, maybe 3 with the right optimization. But 3.5's leaves a lot to be desi
    Ranger I don't know about these fancy alternate class features or any of that. As far as I know, Rangers can be almost as effective as Fighters in combat (bear in mind, I've seen Fighters dominating combat, so this isn't an insult) so add in the ability to effectively scout with the party rogue, feed the party with survival, and have a regular supply of animal companions to call upon to get eaten by the enemy so that the party can get the drop on them, and I'd say Ranger edit: Lands at tier 4. I'm going to assume other people know this class much better and know enough useful Ranger spells and things that it rolls over to tier 4.
    As I noted, you may want to check out splat book stuff. Paladins have access to battle blessing, which lets you cast their spells as a swift action, mystic fire knight, which improves casting in general, charging smite, which gives you some extra damage for the mount, curse breaker, which trades remove disease for remove curse and break enchantment, harmonious knight and from smite to song, which both grant some inspire courage, divine spirit, which loses the mount for some interesting stuff, and underdark knight, which, again, loses the mount, but eventually gets spike stones, earth glide, and dimension door, along with some low-light vision and minor skill bonuses. It's a lot of stuff.

    Rangers are simultaneously better and worse along these lines. Wild shape ranger is great, but we already covered it separately, for separately it must be covered (it's a great ACF), and mystic ranger is amazing, but we're liable to either cover it separately, or skip it if it seems too wonky (we might wind up separately ranking different level ranges, which is so weird). Still, you get those cityscape web enhancement ACFs, and the spell list gets somewhat better out of core.

    Also, both classes have access to sword of the arcane order, which straight up makes your list the wizard list, albeit still with their slow progression. Honestly not sure whether that's singularly tier raising. It might be, especially if the alternative is a tier five paladin. Core classes respond really well to optimization, just because every book afterwards knew that those classes exist and cared about making said classes better.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Duskblade, Hexblade, Paladin, Ranger, Sohei, Spellthief

    This should be fun.

    Duskblade: This seems like a fairly easy T3. Low T3, mind you, but I think it's on par with the martial adepts. It's got more magic than the average non-caster, but it doesn't have the real gamebreaking power of a full caster. It's mostly good at hitting things, and like the martial adepts, it's got enough way of hitting things in new ways (or of augmenting ways to hit things) that it's got a leg up on the Barbarian and the Rogue (and it's difficult to make it entirely useless).

    Duskblade spells aren't great at solving out-of-combat problems, and they don't have a native equivalent to Advanced Learning (though the old standby tricks of Arcane Disciple—WIS permitting—and similar list-expanders do work). That said, they get short-range teleportation, Dispel Magic (at a late level, but at least they have no baked-in penalty to CL), Disintegrate (aka Make Hole), Spider Climb, and See Invisibility, which is more than many non-casters can say. They also actually get a halfway decent number of spells per day, which is rarer than it has any right to be.

    Duskblades also have a reasonably high optimization floor. As long as you take Shocking Grasp early on, you've got your combat capabilities more or less covered for the early levels, and it doesn't take much optimization to get in melee with something and cast a channeled touch spell at it. They're never going to rise above the level of extra-flashy beatstick, but they've got damage, minor utility, a decent bit of self-reliance (Swift Fly, f'rinstance), and enough variety to approach problems in more ways than the Scout can. Seems like a fairly textbook low T3.

    Hexblade: I desperately want to like Hexblades. I love the idea of a melee debuffer. I've actually brought multiple different Hexblades to the table, which is rare for me (although, full disclosure, both Hexblades had some degree of homebrew tweaks applied—but since both utterly failed to perform even with homebrew designed to make them more effective, the unaltered base class is pretty sad). But as I gave away just there, they didn't work. I couldn't pull off the debuffing reliably, and when I did, it usually wasn't enough.

    The Hexblade is obviously the result of some developer taking a PHB Paladin and "inverting" it. Arcane instead of divine. Edgy nongood alignment requirement instead of stick-up-the LG code of conduct. Curses instead of smiting evildoers. A familiar instead of a horse (?). Etc. The problem is that the PHB Paladin (meaning no splat support, since the Hexblade gets very little of that) is totally underpowered to begin with, and then the Hexblade's base features are even weaker (contrast Arcane Resistance to Divine Grace), and then they got minimal splat support. So you end up with this class that doesn't actually do what it claims to do.

    First off, unmodified Hexblade's Curse is embarrassing. You do not get it nearly often enough per day to justify allowing a save to negate it, and even if that save is failed, the penalties scale way too slowly to be game-changing. Their spells are feeble, and they definitely suffer from having spells known (in contrast to the Paladin getting PHB divine-style access to their whole list). Actually, I mean, being honest, they get some decent spells on the list (Glitterdust, See Inviz, Dispel, Mirror Image, Dim Door, Solid Fog, Polymorph, Slow, etc.) that are fine when taken on, like, a Sorcerer, but they're honestly fairly embarrassing when they come a million levels too late, are only usable like once per day ever, and have a CL penalty to boot. Arcane Resistance is good on a dip build, and it's not to be ignored completely, but it's fairly minor when you look at 20 whole levels. The familiar is usually best traded out for the Dark Companion, which I genuinely like, even if it's usually (again) best as part of a package character rather than something you're relying on for 20 levels.

    Basically, between the anemic spells per day and the minimal number of curses per day, a Hexblade has to spend a lot of rounds every day not doing Hexblade things. That's going to be a theme this round, I think. The Hexblade just doesn't get to feel like a Hexblade very often, and even when they do get to do Hexblade things, there's a good chance that they just won't work.

    I think T5 is a reasonably fair place to put the Hexblade. They have a few tricks, but they're very limited in scope (and/or they come online way too late), and they just end up generically attacking a lot of the time (without any features that make that actually powerful or interesting). I also noticed some fragility issues in my own experiences (you're MAD and in light armor, and you're using tricks that generally piss off enemies and make you a target, which ends up with you drawing a lot of fire that you can't always take), which certainly isn't a good thing. T5 seems about right.

    Paladin: This one's hard. The PHB Paladin is blatantly underpowered over the course of 20 levels, but they have a lot of splat support, as has already been mentioned. I'm sure we've all looked at the A-Game Paladin, which is entertaining as hell (even if I wouldn't necessarily play it myself).

    Like the other half-casters, the Paladin's spells are at a CL disadvantage, and most of them come too late to be fun. That said, that's more true for PHB spells (which are mostly like Cleric spells only way later than they would be useful) than for non-PHB spells, and Battle Blessing makes up a hell of a lot of ground. Of course, spells per day are a huge issue, and the fact that Battle Blessing on a pure Paladin is "useful" rather than "zomg totally OP" says a lot, considering that an equivalent feat on any non-half-caster would be ridiculously OP.

    Smiting is weak, especially if the GM rules that, as a Su ability without a stated activation time, it's a standard action (rather than something that one can simply apply to a melee attack). It's possible to make a goofy Smite-focused build, but it ends up being gimmicky at best most of the time. It might be almost interesting if it worked on an encounter basis instead of a daily basis, but of course that would just be silly and OP.

    I don't know how to grade the horse. I know that there's allegedly some degree of optimization potential to be had there (and since it's an intelligent and scaling ally, there SHOULD be), but I've never actually seen it in play, and I'm not sure how much mount optimization is possible without dips and PrCs. Dealing with the mounted combat rules is annoying enough that I've never bothered, and of course having an extra Large critter on the battlefield is a nontrivial consideration at times. That said, intelligent and scaling ally, so I know that it's not entirely useless.

    Overall, I've never been sufficiently impressed with any of the Paladin's native abilities to feel like it's worth the effort to play one. I do recognize that there's more potential there than there is for, like, the Hexblade, but I can never shake the "is that all you can do?" feeling when I look at them. The PHB Paladin is an easy T5, but I think splat support prooooobably brings it up a bit? I'm not convinced that it's as good as the Rogue and the Scout and the Barb, all of which have a much better baseline than the Pally does. I would MUCH rather have a PHB Rogue or even a PHB Barb in the party than a PHB Paladin, and I think you have to go even above "mid-op" (not necessarily all the way to full-on high-op, but close) before the Pally starts poking its head unequivocally higher than the Fighter's. I'm staying with T5. I could possibly be persuaded to nudge them up half a tier at most, but no higher than that, I think.

    Ranger: I do not like the Ranger. I never have. I've never gotten what its niche is supposed to be. Like, yeah, yeah, "vaguely naturey guy what's better at fightan than the Druid" or something, but seriously, what's the Ranger supposed to be good for, aside from tracking? What does being an outdoorsy type have to do with ineffectually waving two weapons around? Why do they seem to get a nerfed and underpowered (or simply way the hell late, like their Evasion or Woodland Stride) version of practically everything? From the perspective of the original devs, why would anyone bother putting a Ranger in a party? I consider the Scout to be the fixed version of the Ranger overall (yeah, yeah, Swift Hunter, whatevs), but that isn't the question at hand, I suppose.

    I will admit that the Ranger has a damn fine chassis. D8 HD (acceptable), two good saves (nice), full BAB, 6 + INT skills? Doesn't get much better than that, in the absence of any context. Of course, that skill list is weirdly lacking in places (no Balance? No Tumble without the Skilled City Dweller ACF?), but it's more than a lot of classes have. So that's worth something, I guess. It's nicer in the context of using it as dip fuel for an Iron Chef build or something, but I suppose it's still something.

    Like the Paladin, the Ranger spells in the PHB mostly suck (and they pretty much entirely suck at the level you have access to them, since they all come so late), but their non-PHB spells are decent. I feel like pretty much all of them are wasted on an actual Ranger, of course, and the farther away you are from being an actual Ranger, the better you'll find Ranger spells to be (so Archivist, Mystic Ranger [which isn't included in this discussion], something arcane with Unseen Seer or Wyrm Wizard or whatever, etc.), if for no other reason than the crippling lack of spells per day. (I get uncomfortable with the number of spells per day a friggin' Cleric gets half the time, so these half-casters put me in full-on "I CAN NEVER USE THIS RESOURCE WITHOUT RUNNING OUT OF IT" panic mode. Even without me panicking, though, the Ranger straight up does not have enough spells per day to feel magical all day long, and that's true for basically all of the half-casters here other than the Duskblade, which isn't a typical half-caster.)

    Favored Enemy blows. I literally forget it exists half the time, and I'm not joking about that. It's a minor bonus when it even triggers at all, and it's so GM-dependent that you may as well assume that it'll never trigger. It's useful on a Swift Hunter in that the text of Swift Hunter allows you to Skirmish precision-immune FEs, but that's not relevant on a pure Ranger.

    If we're banned from discussing Mystic and or Wild Shape, the Ranger's ACFs mostly fall in the "useful toy" category rather than the "game-changing" category, which is a little disappointing.

    I'm never really sure what a pure Ranger is expected to be doing in combat. I get that they have the whole combat style thing, but neither TWF nor archery are especially effective with nothing more than the resources granted by the Ranger's class features. I distinctly remember my (yes, you knew I'd drop this in somewhere) old Binder/Incarnate character making the actual Ranger in the party feel underpowered by binding Leraje and taking a meld or two that boosted ranged attack rolls. As in, they complained to the GM that I was making them look bad despite not even basing my character around that sort of thing. (And that's not because Leraje + a few soulmelds is really that potent of a combination, mind you—it's because unadorned archery is profoundly underwhelming.)

    The animal companion is a joke that is best ignored. And that's terrible.

    Overall, I really want to chuck the Ranger in with the Paladin. They get better skills, and that counts for a lot, but I feel like (if we're ignoring Wild Shape), any edge they get from their skills is canceled out by Battle Blessing, and while they don't get nearly enough uses per day, the Paladin is more likely to find a generic evil monster to Smite than the Ranger is to find a specific type of enemy against whom to be racist. There's potential in the Ranger, but I don't think there's anything that can be done with a (non-Wild Shape) Ranger 20 that measures up to the A-Game Paladin, for example. So let's stay with T5. I think they're on par with the Fighter and the Paladin.

    Sohei: Weird class is weird. Haven't spent a whole lot of time looking at it, to be honest. I think I should likely abstain.

    Spellthief: I'm going to try not to be biased here, because I really do like Spellthieves.

    So, let's start with the bad. Spellthieves mostly have the same spells-per-day problem of their peers on this list, but that's made up for slightly by the fact that they can burn stolen spells to cast their own. While Spellthieves have the nicest skill list of anyone in this bracket, they do still have some gaps in their skill list, and MADness prevents them from devoting a lot to their INT score, so their skill points are insanely tight. They're hella feat-starved. And perhaps worst of all, they're insanely dependent on their campaign environment. At their best, Spellthieves can pull hilarious reversals on enemy magic-users (not to say casters, since Steal Spell Effect and Steal SLA are things), and they can also act as force multipliers by allowing allied full casters to get their best spells on the field in fewer rounds (it's often a good idea to devote the Spellthief's turn to casting an A-list spell borrowed from a friendly full caster, after all), but at their worst, they're basically nerfed Rogues who can't find any magic to steal.

    That said, I love them when they work. Steal Spell Effect is even cooler than a dispelling effect (and I do so like making sure that my opponents are less magical than I am), and they do have nice variety in their skills. Many of their abilities are either unique or functionally unique, and as I said, acting as a force multiplier by spending your actions on your allied Wizard's spells is awesome. (The Spellthief is happy because they get to cast cool spells, and the Wizard is happy because they have to spend fewer actions to achieve the same effects—the reason that this is more interesting than the Spellthief simply being a second Wizard is because the Spellthief doesn't have to have this be their only trick.) The fact that their spell list is directly based off of the Wizard list gives their native spells a little bit more flexibility than the other halfsies, even if the "why did I have to wait so long for this?" effect is still very much in play.

    I'm inclined to put them at a low T4 (I could maybe even be talked into T4½). I think that even if they don't get to use their best abilities, they still have something close to as much skill tomfoolery and Sneak Attack as an equal-level Rogue does (the Rogue is better, yes, but not in an entirely different universe), and their native access to spells, even though highly limited in scope, helps them solve some problems that Rogues need assistance to solve, even if they aren't stealing magic. And when they do get to bring out their best toys, they get to do things that no other class can do in quite the same way, and that's a good feeling. Let's say T4 for now, possibly reviewing later.
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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Duskblade, Hexblade, Paladin, Ranger, Sohei, Spellthief

    Quote Originally Posted by eggynack View Post
    As I noted, you may want to check out splat book stuff. Paladins have access to battle blessing, which lets you cast their spells as a swift action, mystic fire knight, which improves casting in general, charging smite, which gives you some extra damage for the mount, curse breaker, which trades remove disease for remove curse and break enchantment, harmonious knight and from smite to song, which both grant some inspire courage, divine spirit, which loses the mount for some interesting stuff, and underdark knight, which, again, loses the mount, but eventually gets spike stones, earth glide, and dimension door, along with some low-light vision and minor skill bonuses. It's a lot of stuff.

    Rangers are simultaneously better and worse along these lines. Wild shape ranger is great, but we already covered it separately, for separately it must be covered (it's a great ACF), and mystic ranger is amazing, but we're liable to either cover it separately, or skip it if it seems too wonky (we might wind up separately ranking different level ranges, which is so weird). Still, you get those cityscape web enhancement ACFs, and the spell list gets somewhat better out of core.

    Also, both classes have access to sword of the arcane order, which straight up makes your list the wizard list, albeit still with their slow progression. Honestly not sure whether that's singularly tier raising. It might be, especially if the alternative is a tier five paladin. Core classes respond really well to optimization, just because every book afterwards knew that those classes exist and cared about making said classes better.
    Smite to Song makes them Tier 4 by itself. SotAO also makes them t4, IMO. But they both don't push it to t3. I figure that this guy is maybe tier 3 if you can get the DM to let you do everything. I can see a DM balking at that build though, so I'll put out that paladins are solid t4 if you have splat support and barely t3 if you can pull off the linked build.

    Ranger is t4. Mystic ranger (I have never seen this allowed) is weird. It's like t1 until 11-13th-ish level when is drops to 3 because spells stop advancing. I dunno how to rate that. Especially with SotAO on it, it's a better wizard for have the game.

    Duskblade is t4. Good at one thing. If the curse stayed relevant, maybe t3, but it doesn't. Hexblade is t4 with familiar shenanigans. d10 HD on a full familiar makes for a tough little cat or toad or whatever. Spells leave a lot to be desired and they are MAD.

    Haven't played the others at all.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Duskblade, Hexblade, Paladin, Ranger, Sohei, Spellthief

    Quote Originally Posted by Kitsuneymg View Post
    Smite to Song makes them Tier 4 by itself. SotAO also makes them t4, IMO. But they both don't push it to t3. I figure that this guy is maybe tier 3 if you can get the DM to let you do everything. I can see a DM balking at that build though, so I'll put out that paladins are solid t4 if you have splat support and barely t3 if you can pull off the linked build.
    I'm a bit doubtful on from smite to song on its own. Inspire courage is nice, but tier four on its own, when you're losing a feat for it, seems like a stretch. Sword of the arcane order is way more plausible for that, I think. In my opinion, there're a few subsets of paladin things that are in consideration such that the tier is four. That's my vote for the class, incidentally. I'ma do other ones later. As for the A-game paladin in the specific, I still question the legality of battle blessing combined with SotAO, given that the objects you're working with might be wizard/sorcerer spells rather than paladin spells. There might be other questionable elements too. I recall some of it not being above board, and I'm not sure if it was just that or a few different things.
    Mystic ranger (I have never seen this allowed) is weird. It's like t1 until 11-13th-ish level when is drops to 3 because spells stop advancing. I dunno how to rate that. Especially with SotAO on it, it's a better wizard for have the game.
    Yeah, I have no idea how we're running it, if we're running it at all. Quite possibly the hardest class to fit into the tier system in the entire game.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Duskblade, Hexblade, Paladin, Ranger, Sohei, Spellthief

    Duskblades can do one thing well, and that is combat. Although getting lots of spells per day, their spell list is surprisingly narrow on anything that isn't about dealing damage in combat. That makes it a solid tier 4; they lack the versatility and diversity of the tier 3 classes.

    Hexblade is, effectively, obsolete: as I recall, because of issues with the (overly conservative) hexblade design, the duskblade was an attempt to rewrite it from scratch. They end up being pretty bad at a number of things, and don't have the ability to rise above that. Tier 5. Note that I'm talking about the class from the book; there's a fair number of "fixes" on the 'net, including one by the book author who tried to improve it after printing.

    Paladin is probably tier 4 due to splatbook support. The baseline PHB1 paladin is clearly not. I don't see how an alignment restriction has anything to do with tier.

    Ranger is tier 5, basically the same as the fighter. The main problem it has is that its iconic ability, favored enemy, is rather unreliable in most campaigns (because you'll only rarely be facing your fave enemy unless the campaign explicitly focuses on it). Ranger is probably the core class least seen at any game table, that's a strong indication there's something wrong here.

    Sohei, haven't seen one in action. Skipping this one. (edit) actually, since several posters here haven't seen an effective one in action and it's being compared to a monk now, I think that makes a fair case for putting it in tier 5 as well.

    Spellthief is great in concept, and fails in execution because of its core ability of stealing monster powers and using them against the monster. Too many enemies either don't have anything worth stealing, or are mostly immune to their own shtick, or are hard to steal from for a variety of reasons. I've tried building one several times and it never got to work satisfactorily, so we've got another tier 5 here.
    Last edited by Kurald Galain; 2017-04-16 at 01:28 AM.
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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Duskblade, Hexblade, Paladin, Ranger, Sohei, Spellthief

    Mystic Ranger and Trickster Spellthief need to be tiered separately. They're substantially different enough AND they're also just waaay more powerful, raising their respective classes by at LEAST a full tier.

    From Smite to Song is not even that good. It's just an okay feat. Most Paladins probably can't take it (because you have to worship a specific deity and take cross-class skill ranks in an otherwise useless skill), and most probably don't even want to, because the class is already feat-starved enough. As for the A-Game Paladin...it has some very questionable build decisions, and it's not even rules-legal, so, .

    Duskblade is a fairly low 3, sitting somewhere near the Psychic Warrior, I think. Probably like 3.3 or so.

    Hexblade is just a straight 5. Bad class is bad. The spells are too slow and weak to bump it up significantly, and the other class features basically all suck. It just doesn't do enough. I guess I could go up to 4.75 since it's at least better than some of the really bad ones like Swashbuckler. I think it is legit worse than Fighter though.

    Paladin is underrated, IMO. I think it crosses the line to T4. Special mount is legit, spellcasting gives you a little scaling...there's some stuff there. I peg it at like 4.25 or so.

    Ranger is a solid 4 at the baseline. It does a lot of things without doing any of them especially well, but on the whole it compares reasonably well with other classes in the tier.

    Spellthief is also a solid 4, and lines up well against Ranger and Rogue. Basically, compared to a Rogue, you're losing some stuff in order to gain casting that is so painfully slow that it's actually a pretty even tradeoff.

    Sohei has a spell list that is comically small and generally unimpressive. It has a better flurry than a Monk, but it has a use limit, and it turns off ALL your class skills, so the fact that you get Iaijutsu Focus means little, as you can't actually use it much of the time. Are you worse than a Monk? Eh, maybe. I think you can debate it. Which is not a good thing for its rankings. I'm going to give it the same score I gave the Monk, which is...I don't remember, but it's on there somewhere.
    Last edited by Troacctid; 2017-04-16 at 01:00 AM.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Duskblade, Hexblade, Paladin, Ranger, Sohei, Spellthief

    Quote Originally Posted by eggynack View Post
    As I noted, you may want to check out splat book stuff. Paladins have access to battle blessing, which lets you cast their spells as a swift action, mystic fire knight, which improves casting in general, charging smite, which gives you some extra damage for the mount, curse breaker, which trades remove disease for remove curse and break enchantment, harmonious knight and from smite to song, which both grant some inspire courage, divine spirit, which loses the mount for some interesting stuff, and underdark knight, which, again, loses the mount, but eventually gets spike stones, earth glide, and dimension door, along with some low-light vision and minor skill bonuses. It's a lot of stuff.

    Rangers are simultaneously better and worse along these lines. Wild shape ranger is great, but we already covered it separately, for separately it must be covered (it's a great ACF), and mystic ranger is amazing, but we're liable to either cover it separately, or skip it if it seems too wonky (we might wind up separately ranking different level ranges, which is so weird). Still, you get those cityscape web enhancement ACFs, and the spell list gets somewhat better out of core.

    Also, both classes have access to sword of the arcane order, which straight up makes your list the wizard list, albeit still with their slow progression. Honestly not sure whether that's singularly tier raising. It might be, especially if the alternative is a tier five paladin. Core classes respond really well to optimization, just because every book afterwards knew that those classes exist and cared about making said classes better.
    I mean, I could. Or I could be lazy and willing to accept that with the right amount of optimization that Paladin hits Tier 4. Just trading out remove disease for break enchantment is a damn fine trade off for Paladin, and I'm more than willing to believe that it's got good prestige classes out there somewhere (if only from getting so much splatbook support). So, I think Tier 5 if we're talking just phb paladin (which we're not) so Tier 4 with optimization and a lot of noncore support.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Duskblade, Hexblade, Paladin, Ranger, Sohei, Spellthief

    We're not considering prestige classes, just the base class. Otherwise nobody would be below Tier 3.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Duskblade, Hexblade, Paladin, Ranger, Sohei, Spellthief

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    I don't see how an alignment restriction has anything to do with tier.
    I don't put too much stock in this as an element, but I can see how it'd factor in. Even a straightforward, "You need to be this alignment," requirement could hurt somewhat, depending on how much you need to keep taking levels (this is more of a problem for clerics or druids than it is for paladins). Already, such a thing is constraining your actions at least a little. If something could turn your alignment, it's a bit dangerous. Paladins have a lot more mechanical force working against them along these lines than a simple, "You can't be too much of a jerk," thing. For one thing, a bunch of game objects are inaccessible to you. Even a lawful good wizard can use corrupt spells and poisons without any real risk. Both of these things are largely inaccessible to the paladin.

    The code of conduct just generally puts a lot of stipulations on how you can approach a problem, and if the approaches you're limited from are good ones, then that's practically the definition of tier impacting. Any time you see someone debating whether a paladin would fall in one scenario or another, that's a scenario that a paladin would have trouble with. Anything like a trolley problem is going to be really hard for a paladin to resolve. Is this stuff sufficient to actually reduce the paladin's tier, or even make a serious difference? I would argue no, that most problems are not of this sort, that the game objects you're limited from are not nearly so meaningful here as the ones you have access to. But it does have something to do with tier, I think.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Duskblade, Hexblade, Paladin, Ranger, Sohei, Spellthief

    As multiple people have said, there's a lot of upward motility here based on ACFs, and some of them should perhaps be considered separately.

    Zaq and Sagetim gave excellent analyses for these, and I agree pretty strongly with most of the points made there.

    Duskblade: Compare it to a magical counterpart to a warblade for a low T3.

    Hexblade: An paladin foil from the early days of 3.5, its amazingly flavorful abilities are nonetheless lacking in crunchy power. T5. The "unofficial official" fix is actually pretty handy without dramatically changing the hexblade, and probably bumps it up to a good T4.5, but I wouldn't think it's being considered, since, you know, it's not official.

    Paladin: Holy splat support, Batman! With splat support, you can play a Holy batman (wizard)! Not really, but there are several big-deal ACFs and feats, including Battle Blessing, SotAO, and From Smite to Song. I agree with eggynack that the A-Game Paladin has some issues that are iffy at best, but there's still enough versatility and new abilities to bring this up to T4. Core paladin may be the T5 others described.

    Ranger: Another one with no shortage of options - even if core ranger would be a mere T5, splat support brings ACFs, spells, and feats to let the ranger be at least comparable to a fighter in combat and a rogue in scouting, while still offering surprising utility, bringing this to T4. I'm with the group that thinks Mystic Ranger should be considered separately, if at all.

    Spellthief: Comparing it to a rogue, you get "worse at being a rogue, but with some crummy spellcasting and a really cool, if underwhelming, shtick". I'll admit it can be difficult to get the hang of getting good use out of their abilities, but their power and versatility is still more likely comparable to a rogue than a paladin. If they weren't already a low T4, having Godsblood Spelltheft on the table should give them the oomph to escape T5.

    Trickster Spellthief ACF: I think this one should be considered separately. Even with the nerf to its other abilities, the massive upgrade to bardic spellcasting alone arguably bumps this up to a low T3 before you even consider the fact that you still have your signature abilities.
    Last edited by MHCD; 2017-04-16 at 01:36 AM.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Duskblade, Hexblade, Paladin, Ranger, Sohei, Spellthief

    Sophie: Sad case because of lacking support besides Bear Warrior. By design, it´s a neat defensive class that can actually stay relevant during a fight. I´d rate it a low T4.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Duskblade, Hexblade, Paladin, Ranger, Sohei, Spellthief

    The duskblade, tier 3

    In combat a duskblade is reasonably useful and isn't really hampered by terrain.

    Outside combat the ability to teleport (even a little), fly, dispel magic, disintegrate, spiderclimb
    You also have all knowledge skills so it's a reasonable idea to use knowledge devotion and serve as a walking library
    there are some ways to expand your spell list and you have so many spell slots it's not hard to fit in a few utility spells in there

    all in all the duskblade bring a lot more to the table than a barbarian


    The paladin, tier 4

    -Can be optimized to solve many problems through splatbooks but his roleplay requirements are often an issue, I forget how often I heard the words : ''what is the paladin going to think of this?''

    -still you have turn undead for divine feats, from smite to song, sword of the arcane order and the very good warforged substitution levels. Can go up a tier with the right build.

    The ranger, tier 4

    -since wildshaped was considered a separate entry, I'll have to go for tier 4 in most cases. There are specific non wildshape builds that can bump it up to tier 3 IMO but they require some game mastery.

    Spellthief, tier 3

    Again, this is the same opinion I have of the Hexblade. Their spells are good enough to bring them here IMO without ACF or feats. However, much like the factotum, this is a fairly difficult class to play and build well and it can feel underwhelming unless you have a decent understanding of what to do with it.

    Sohei, tier 5

    The spell list is crap but the class features are ok. You get a weird pseudo barbarian/monk that has Iaijutsu focus as a class skill.

    Defensive wise you get mettle, immunity to stunning and sleep effects + some DR, not bad but nothing truly shines. The lack of splat support hurts.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Duskblade, Hexblade, Paladin, Ranger, Sohei, Spellthief

    I definitely agree that the Mystic Ranger should be tiered separately. I do think that there should be some kind of tiering for it, though, but I'm not sure how it should be handled.

    The way I see it, there are four periods to the Mystic Ranger that can have separate distinct tiers:
    Level 1-5, when you're a Ranger with fast-advancing spellcasting;
    Level 6-10, when you're a Generalist Wizard with full BAB and a few less spells (-1 2nd, 4th, 5th);
    Level 20, when you're a Full-BAB class with 5th-level Sor/Wiz spells (+Ranger spells, 5 1st-3rd, 4 4th-5th);
    Level 11-19, when you're somewhere in-between.

    The last one is the tricky one, IMHO. If you're Tier 1 at level 10 and (let's say) Tier 3 at level 20, at what point do you drop in tier? At level 11 you're clearly down a spell level from the Wizard, but you're still on-par with the Sorcerer. At level 12 you're down a level even from the Sorcerer. When exactly do you drop from Tier 1 to Tier 2, if ever? At what point do fifth-level spells become irrelevant enough to drop you below the worst of Tier 2 and into Tier 3? Do you drop straight from Tier 1 to Tier 3 the second you hit level 11 (I disagree with this notion)?

    Also, you probably need to consider the possibility of a Mystic Ranger who doesn't have Sword of the Arcane Order. What tier are they in? Do they even change tier as they level up beyond 10th?

    That might be where I'd start, actually - split it even further into tiering the Wildshape Ranger, vanilla Ranger, Mystic Ranger, and Mystic Ranger+SotAO.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Duskblade, Hexblade, Paladin, Ranger, Sohei, Spellthief

    I don't think Mystic Ranger ever hits Tier One. Your casting progression is slower, and you get fewer spells per day. You get to exploit the utility spells the Wizard does to essentially the same effect, but in a fight you're not meaningfully better than a Sorcerer or a Dread Necromancer.

    That said, I agree that it fits very poorly into a system that gives each class a single ranking. It can live in a party with a Wizard, a Beguiler, and an Artificer at low to mid levels without overshadowing or being overshadowed by anyone else, but at high levels it fits much better with the Warblades, Bards, and Factotums of the world.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Duskblade, Hexblade, Paladin, Ranger, Sohei, Spellthief

    Quote Originally Posted by Troacctid View Post
    Mystic Ranger and Trickster Spellthief need to be tiered separately. They're substantially different enough AND they're also just waaay more powerful, raising their respective classes by at LEAST a full tier.
    Sure. Former is tricky, but it seems like a thing worth doing. Weird thing is, if Gemini's model, or one approximating it, is one we end up using, we might end up with a whole thread for just that one class. Not as crazy as it sounds. A possible approach could even be just setting that up as a thread, and then kinda combining the different ways the class is voted for such that we have reasonable partitions of the class after analysis. I haven't looked at the latter, but the asserted tier is three and the current spellthief tier is four, so I don't see why not.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Duskblade, Hexblade, Paladin, Ranger, Sohei, Spellthief

    Quote Originally Posted by eggynack View Post
    Sure. Former is tricky, but it seems like a thing worth doing. Weird thing is, if Gemini's model, or one approximating it, is one we end up using, we might end up with a whole thread for just that one class. Not as crazy as it sounds.
    If you're worried about that happening, I'd probably just wait for the end and have a thread for "everything else". I'm sure that you'll end up with a least a couple other classes that don't fit anywhere.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Duskblade, Hexblade, Paladin, Ranger, Sohei, Spellthief

    Quote Originally Posted by Cosi View Post
    If you're worried about that happening, I'd probably just wait for the end and have a thread for "everything else". I'm sure that you'll end up with a least a couple other classes that don't fit anywhere.
    The issue is more that the mystic ranger is possibly impossible to tier. I'm pretty inevitably going to run some class piles without particularly cool or analytically useful themes. I can always toss mystic ranger into some sorta variant stack if necessary.

  22. - Top - End - #22
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Duskblade, Hexblade, Paladin, Ranger, Sohei, Spellthief

    I second the notion that the 3.5 Paladin is very hard to rate, as it all depends on what kind of splat support your game features.

    PHB Baseline: Tier 5, and not high in it, either. Extremely MAD, Spellcasting of the "too little, too late" variety, horrible CL, class features mostly ranging between "grossly underpowered" (Smite Evil) and "pure ribbon" (Cure Disease). Some good stuff, like Divine Grace, but not enough to salvage it on its own.

    With Splat material like Battle Blessing, Harmonious Knight, Divine Spirit: up to High Tier 4.

    The notorious A-Game Paladin with some Wizard spellcasting and reduced MADness, I'd put at Low Tier 3 (and Low only because the Spell Levels come online so late).

    PF Paladin would be an entirely different story, of course.
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  23. - Top - End - #23
    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Duskblade, Hexblade, Paladin, Ranger, Sohei, Spellthief

    I agree that it's highly likely that Mystic Ranger is going to be difficult to boil down to a single number.

    I mean, there are other classes where viability and apparent tier are fairly different over a 20 level career (if nothing else, the Spirit Shaman's apparent tier seems way lower at low levels than at high levels, as I discussed in my vote for it back in that thread), but the Mystic Ranger is a worse case than most. It's pretty poorly designed, to be honest, unless the creator in question really didn't expect you to go 20 levels before prestiging out (and even then, it's still bumpy).

    There are other frontloaded classes, of course. SotAO is the real wrinkle, though I'm not saying anything new.

    I will note that it is amusing just how insanely OP a Wild Shape Mystic Ranger with SotAO is in E6, but E6 is kind of the exact opposite of a general case.
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  24. - Top - End - #24
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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Duskblade, Hexblade, Paladin, Ranger, Sohei, Spellthief

    Quote Originally Posted by Zaq View Post
    I agree that it's highly likely that Mystic Ranger is going to be difficult to boil down to a single number.
    The Mystic Ranger is just the most blatant example of having a single tier for twenty levels being a bad plan. Other classes have big swings between low and high levels, even if it's not as blatant. The Artificer is pretty disappointing at low levels when it's making 50/50 UMD checks to activate DC 11 scrolls, but much better at high levels. The Warblade is pretty good at low levels, but at high levels it falls pretty far behind.

    That's not to say every class is this way (the Wizard is always pretty good and the Truenamer is always terrible), but it's enough of a concern that a system should probably have two or three breakpoints.

  25. - Top - End - #25
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Duskblade, Hexblade, Paladin, Ranger, Sohei, Spellthief

    Paladin: Tier 5 on average

    They're roughly on par with a Fighter, but with much higher variance.

    The bad: They aren't very strong out of the box. They're WIS/CHA MAD from class features, and also need some mix of Dex, Str and Con to function in combat. And a lot of the class features lack power; Smite would be a decent bonus if it worked on more than one attack per use, or on more than 1/3 of potential targets. Remove Disease is highly situational. Lay On Hands can't even refill a same-level character's health pool. And Turn Undead's lower effective level means a paladin has trouble turning even zombies of half their CR, much less level-appropriate enemies.

    The good: Paladins have an easier time playing uptier, thanks to multiple ACFs. They can copy bits of the Bard's schtick, although sadly not the T3 bits. They can also do a cut-rate gish routine with Battle Blessing and/or expand their spell list for utility. They also get Turn Undead to power Devotion feats. In Core, they do the mounted charger routine competently by having a more resilient mount than normal. Very high op can potentially put them fairly high in tier 4, except...

    The ugly: Paladins self-sabotage more than any other base class. Their code of conduct means there are certain tasks they literally can't contribute to. Worse, they drag down the rest of the party - the encounter becomes "someone keep the paladin busy while the rest of us do the dirty work" at best.

    And then there's the association bar - even working around the paladin only works so many times before they are compelled to leave the party. Also, remember the paladin's signature at-will Detect Evil? They'd better be very careful where they point it, or else they might need to leave. In some campaigns, this relegates the Paladin to tier 6 no matter how they optimize. More likely, though, it merely bars them from tier 3 - the party plays around the code of conduct and the Paladin ends up absent and thus non-contributing when necessary.

    The self-sabotage extends to the mount too - where normal mounts are somewhat disposable, Paladins take an arbitrary penalty when theirs dies.
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  26. - Top - End - #26
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Duskblade, Hexblade, Paladin, Ranger, Sohei, Spellthief

    On a Spellthief, the primary value of stealing spells is "stealing" from the party not from monsters.

    In a party of Fighter and Monk they are probably T4 due to modest spellcasting from a good list and occasionally stealing from monsters effectively.

    In a party with an Archivist and Wizard they are T2. It's like Mage of the Arcane Order buffed to apply to all spells, uncapped to be used many times / day, and entered from level 1. Try it---pick a problem for the spellthief to solve in the context of that kind of spell access. All the versatility and power necessary for T1 exists in predictable situations. They don't get there because the Spellthief can't handle unpredictable situations well and is reliant on the good will of the Archivist and Wizard.

    There is a question of agency here. Is the Spellthief casting a Wizard spell acting as an agent of the Wizard or as a Spellthief? From the viewpoint of the Wizard, the Spellthief is extra actions per round in any predictable situation. From the viewpoint of the party the Spellthief doubles a primary caster's actions. Overall, a Spellthief is more accurately thought of as party dependent and is one of the few classes like this. White Raven Tactics, Simulacrum, Body-Outside-Body, Chronotyryn, and Ice Assassin are other abilities along these lines. If forced to pick a single tier, probably T3? But this seems much less accurate than T<maximum{4, party caster tier-1}>.

    Trickster Spellthief is T3 minumum scaling to T2 in the presence of T1 casters.
    Trickster Spellthief 9/Heartfire Fanner 1/Sublime Chord 10 would be T2 always.

  27. - Top - End - #27
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    Kurald Galain's Avatar

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Duskblade, Hexblade, Paladin, Ranger, Sohei, Spellthief

    Quote Originally Posted by Anthrowhale View Post
    There is a question of agency here. Is the Spellthief casting a Wizard spell acting as an agent of the Wizard or as a Spellthief?
    That makes the spellthief comparable to the wizard's familiar. It's really not flattering to the class to be so reliant on another party member.
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  28. - Top - End - #28
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Duskblade, Hexblade, Paladin, Ranger, Sohei, Spellthief

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    That makes the spellthief comparable to the wizard's familiar. It's really not flattering to the class to be so reliant on another party member.
    "Flattering" is not a requirement for any tier.

    However, a spellthief is way better than a familiar:
    1. Spellthief comes online at level 1 rather than level 11 (Imbue familiar with Spell ability).
    2. Spellthief isn't stuck hanging out within a 5' radius under share spells.
    3. Spellthief can cast L9 spells rather than an L5 limit for Imbue Familiar. And it doesn't cost a wasted L6 spell to achieve this.
    4. You don't lose XP if your Spellthief dies.
    5. The Spellthief works for the entire party, not just the Wizard.
    6. The Spellthief has more hp, hands, UMD, and some modestly useful other class features.


    We also haven't discussed Absorb Spell which can be easily used to cast a free spell every other round via something like Arcane Thesis[Charm Monster] Twin Easy[Twin] Invisible Charm Monster. The capstone ability moves this up to a free spell every round.

  29. - Top - End - #29
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Devil

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Duskblade, Hexblade, Paladin, Ranger, Sohei, Spellthief

    Duskblade: A solid class with a good mix of spells and martial prowess. 3.25

    Hexblade: Another class that seems good on paper but falls short due to lack of splat support, lack of a solid spell list, etc. 4.50

    Spellthief: I actually really like the spellthief, while it's spell casting isn't the best, it does have some access to solid spells. If you have a spellcaster in the party and especially if you're going up against enemy casters the spellthief only gets better from there. I'll say Tier 4.

    Sohei: Not familiar enough with this one, pass.

    Ranger: Tier 4.

    Paladin: A lot of people knock the paladin but with sword of the arcane order, a ton of splat support, special mount, or the dungeonscape variant if you want to ignore the mount entirely, and really great ACF such as harmonious knight and mystic fire knight.. going to give this one Tier 3.75. So high Tier 4.

  30. - Top - End - #30
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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Duskblade, Hexblade, Paladin, Ranger, Sohei, Spellthief

    Oh, I also have a question about Sohei. Are we Only considering the 3.0 Oriental Adventures version of the class, or are we going to take into account the 3.5 update it apparently got. I could only find a 3.5 update for it on greyhawkonline.com (thank you google), so I'm not sure if it counts as official or not. It's not like it gives the class anything completely ridiculous, but at the very least ki frenzy scales properly, the dr is spread out over more levels, and the class gets the Diehard feat (you know, one that actually exists) instead of Remain Conscious. I think the updated version of the class has enough properly going on for it that it reaches out of the Tier 5 range and into Tier 4, even if it's just as a weird, kung fu alternate barbarian.

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