Now I had some time to read the PHB, process my impressions and after making an Index-page, I saw that this blog became kinda unbalanced. Even though I don’t care much about it, I thought maybe it’s time to talk about some game aspects in a more specific way. And I will cover the classes first (even tough I won’t be able to do it only if I find the time and make some other stuff when I have less time).
Alphabetically the barbarian comes first. This is an overview, so I’ll just categorize each class in certain categories to see how it cuts and give a personal grading. The end-grading won’t count the multiclass-strength in (for obvious reasons) and is more like an overall impression than a mathematical derivation.
Any feature in italic is from a subclass and a abbreviation will say which one (in barbarian’s case BR for Berserker and TW for Totem Warrior). And red features means there is a flaw or a minus in said category.
- The first three levels gives a lot of powerful features, so you can take them with any melee based build and may aim for 4th and 5th level for Ability Score Improvement and Extra Attack
- The levels 6-9 aren’t as powerful in the curve considering that you’re a multiclass character, but somehow doable, when you want to be more barbaric
- When aiming for a main-barbarian, you might plan for 16th level for an Ability Score Improvement Level, even though 15th level is enough feature-wise
- A great capstone, so when aiming for a long-term campaign, a pure-class barbarian is a good choice
- Weapon Proficiency: Martial Weapons included to always have the better option available.
- Rage: Plus to damage. To every hit.
- Reckless Attack: Rises your accuracy and even more interesting: The chance to get a critical hit.
- Extra Attack: Two attacks are better than one.
- Brutal Critical: When you hit hard, hit harder than the rest. Great Axe is the weapon of choice, since you only roll an additional die, not dice.
- Primal Champion: More STR = more accuracy and damage bonus = more damage total
- Frenzy (BR): More attacks are always better!
- Retaliation (BR): More attacks leads to more damage.
- Totemic Attunement [Eagle] (TW): More angles to start an offense.
- Totemic Attunement [Wolf] (TW): When the first one hits, you can make the second one against a prone target. Bonus actions doesn’t have a specific timing, so they can be used at every moment, as long the premises are met. Even between attacks.
- Persistent Rage: Never get out of Rage!
- Rage Duration: But before getting Persistent Rage, you have trouble in keeping in Rage.
- Rages per Day: Means you need to consider twice before using a rage. But if you’re confident in keeping the rage alive, you might be able to use it for every larger encounter.
- Frenzy (BR): Being exhausted afterwards doesn’t help.
- Rage: Don’t forget advantage to all Strength checks.
- Fast Movement: Someone needs help? Even 10ft more can determine if you can go to the place you belong to. And when playing the decoy, the ability to get ahead after luring the enemies to follow you is golden.
- Feral Instinct: Being able to get at least one of your allies safe in time, before the surprise bombardment begins.
- Indomitable Might: Strength checks (and therefore Athletic, too) with some level of reliability? Makes you a better grappler and helps in some cases, nice feature (even though not worth the waiting).
- Intimidating Presence (BR): Creates a somewhat save buffer zone for the frightened enemies.
- Totem Spirit [Eagle] (TW): Get where you are needed with less attacks and greater area.
- Totem Spirit [Wolf] (TW): Gives advantage to every ally who makes melee attacks on enemies next to you… focused damage classes yell in joy.
- Aspect of the Beast [Bear] (TW): Carrying more and all-time advantage to strength ability checks to break or move objects make it much easier to make those things fast. Sometimes it can even come in handy for combat.
- Totemic Attunement [Bear] (TW): Helps you in binding opponents.
- Totemic Attunement [Eagle] (TW): Harder to get cut off from your friends.
- Totemic Attunement [Wolf] (TW): It’s prone! And now all together!!!
- Retaliation (BR): Costs your reaction, makes it harder to actually bind enemies to you.
- d12 hit dice: Highest base hit points of the game.
- Armor Proficiency: Medium Armor might be not enough to get the AC really high, since DEX might not even get to +2, since STR and CON wants some attention. But wearing a shield can definitely help.
- Rage: Resistance to slashing, piercing and bludgeoning damage will make it much harder to come by with normal weapon or natural attacks. And don’t forget the advantage to saving throws.
- Unarmored Defense: While armor may rise your stats higher, you’ll always have a buffer in case you don’t have your armor or should proceed without it (like in stealth-situations, infiltrating, etc.) and if you rolled your ability scores and had a lot of luck, you may even exceed non-magical armor with this feature.
- Danger Sense: Advantage in Dex Saving Throws makes you a long time more happy than a proficiency. Even though you have to see and hear it and isn’t always applicable therefore.
- Feral Instinct: Surprise the surprisers, as long you enter Rage first and your turn is earlier… while having always advantage to initiative.
- Relentless Rage: Be unstoppable… at least for a while and be sure to have your healer near you.
- Primal Champion: More CON = more hit points and possible higher AC. And CON-saves.
- Mindless Rage (BR): Less conditions to worry about.
- Intimidating Presence (BR): More frightened enemies means less attacks.
- Totem Spirit [Bear] (TW): Resist more kind of damage.
- Totem Spirit [Eagle] (TW): Less hits due opportunity attacks.
- Reckless Attack: An actual minus to your survivability is the use of Reckless Attack. How much depends on attack quantity and accuracy.
- Unarmored Defense: Be able to act decently protected with or without armor.
- Spirit Seeker (TW): More options for the fauna-filled parts of the world.
- Aspect of the Beast [Eagle] (TW): Barbarian can go scouting. Without problems.
- Aspect of the Beast [Wolf] (TW): The ability to track someone by its smell. No ranger required.
- Spirit Walker (TW): Be able to gain information in nature. Sweet.
- Totemic Attunement [Eagle] (TW): Almost flying, but opening new options.
Offense: good (TW) to great (BR)
Resource Management: Bad
Support: good (BR) to great (TW)
Utility: bad (BR) to decent (TW)
Like I said in a previous post, the barbarian makes a great defender and only fulfills the striker as a secondary role. His survivability and the support he has to offer is the core of his build, while he only dishes enough damage out to be dangerous for the enemies, after other classes get away due sheer number of attacks or other great damage in one attack.
He is certainly more useful than the fighter outside combat, but in the end he won’t ever reach a ranger or a druid for the forte the barbarian can cover (more outside environment than cities or dungeons). But having a barbarian at your side means to have it easier at STR-focused tasks, while his combat strengths will take the aggro away from you.
His resource management makes him more befitting for fast-paced campaign, where short rests aren’t that numerous, while he really needs a healer, since even though he can survive a lot, he simply doesn’t have the abilities to replenish his hit points or other resources himself.