Overview – Cleric

Finally after 2 days of delay, we got the cleric’s overview. The cleric is one of the most diverse classes in this edition now, since we got access to 7 domains/subclasses in the PHB and another one in the DMG. And since the old days, developers were always looking for ways to make clerics cool, so they got a lot of features in the newer editions, which makes them often somehow overpowered. But still not enough to ensure that every party have a cleric. Maybe this post of mine helps.

Again just copy-paste with minor adjustments:

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 the cleric’s case: Death, Knowledge, Life, Light, Nature, Tempest, Trickery, War). And red features means there is a flaw or a minus in said category.

:

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Multiclass-Strength:

    • A main-caster, so every cleric-level is progression in a 1:1 rate spellslot-wise; additionally no spells known means much diversity on all accessible spell-levels.
    • most 1st and 2nd level domain features are strong and the most basic heal spell which will accompany you a long time (Cure Wounds) is granted as a 1st level spell. This way it’s possible to get heavy armor proficiency with multiclassing along with other strong features
    • 3rd level alone is not worth picking up, unless you need specific 2nd level spells. 4th is a bit better with Ability Score Improvement, but if possible, 2 level clerics as a dip is enough
    • 6th and 8th level features are somehow nice (depending on domain) but often not worth sticking in that class that long
    • Divine Intervention at 10th level is nice, but only benefits from cleric levels…
    • Strong features at 17th level, so main-cleric might be good, while dipping the last level in another class
    • an above average capstone. Less reliable since only once a week, but when shit hits the fan, you’ll be happy to have it.

Offensive:

  • Spellcasting: The spell-list doesn’t have as much offensive spells as other classes, but most of them are good enough. But still no wizard, druid or sorcerer.
  • Destroy Undead: You might think this will never come into play and maybe you’re right. But since in 5e a hoard of simple skeletons can still be darn dangerous and it’s easy for the DM to enhance the difficulty of an encounter by putting more critters into it, at least the undead ones won’t be a problem.
  • Bonus Proficiency (martial weapons; D, Te, W): Better weapons means better damage.
  • Reaper (D): Since Chill Touch is the only cantrip which actually benefits enough from this feature to be valuable: Hello you two creatures who are gonna chill-touched!
  • Channel Divinity: Touch of the Death (D): You hit with an melee attack, you can add quite some damage only by spending a short rest resource.
  • Inescapable Destruction (D): Bye-bye resistance for the damage type I’m going mostly to deal. Seriously, don’t mess with the Death Cleric!
  • Divine Strike (D, Lf, N, Te, Tr, W): Instead of two attacks, just make one and hit a bit harder.
  • Improved Reaper (D): More targets for your weaker, but well-used spell-levels? Of course!
  • Potent Spellcasting (K, Lg): More damage for cantrips at least.
  • Channel Divinity: Radiance of the Dawn (Lg): AoE damage which doesn’t hurt your allies? Damage might be on the lower side, but it’s still only Channel Divinity.
  • Corona of Light (Lg): Since it only applies to fire and radiant damage, it’s mainly for offense (even though some secondary effects might kick in).
  • Wrath of the Storm (Te): Hurt those fools who dared to hurt you!
  • Channel Divinity: Destructive Wrath (Te): Max damage with thunder and/or lightning means ‘ouch’!
  • Channel Divinity: Invoke Duplicity (Tr): You can actually grant yourself advantage to attack rolls? Means more hits and higher critical hit chance.
  • War Priest (W): More attacks means more damage.
  • Channel Divinity: Guided Strike (W): More accuracy means more hits means more damage.

Resource-Management:

  • Spellcasting: Buffing and control spells will help in bringing down the critters much faster or protect the hp’s by making it harder to deplete them. And of course one of the best healing spells resource-wise: Prayer of Healing!
  • Channel Divinity: Turn undead: If undead stays away, they won’t get your hp’s down. Or those of your allies within 30 feet of you.
  • Channel Divinity: Touch of Death (D): Using Channel Divinity after confirming a hit with no loss unless necrotic immunity (or resistance until 6th level) comes into play!
  • Improved Reaper (D): Two targets instead of one? This makes your 1st to 5th level spells pretty valuable.
  • Disciple of Life (Lf): Gain more hp with every 1st+ level spell. Means less spells for healing.
  • Channel Divinity: Preserve Life (Lf): Sometimes an AoE will hurt the party as hell and brings everyone to low hitpoints. When facing this situation, letting all allies under half hps regain some is a great way to safe not only lives, but resources in actions, spells and time.
  • Blessed Healer (Lf): Heal yourself while healing allies with no further costs.
  • Supreme Healing (Lf): To give your enemy the one finger salute. One healing spell, maxed hps.
  • Dampen Elements (N): Granting resistance for some common magic damage types for one damage? Half damage means less wasted resources, especially if this feature only uses your reaction and nothing else.
  • Improved Duplicity (Tr): More duplicates with only one channel.
  • Channel Divinity: Guided Strike (W): Don’t waste actions with certain misses. Especially after some time, since you get a feeling or guess for your enemy’s AC. And of course it can save your spell slots by not missing with spell attack rolls.
  • Channel Divinity: War God’s Blessing (W): Same for your allies. Especially some of them will have even greater resources they want to burn efficiently.
  • Channel Divinity (general): The fact that the domain grants new ways to use it, makes this a versatile tool. But since it uses up the same pool, the particular ways to use it are more limited. But at least you regain the uses after a short rest.

Support:

  • Spellcasting: The cleric has a lot of support spells, beginning with buffs, excelling in healing and some vital control spells, which makes it easier for your allies to survive an encounter.
  • Channel Divinity: Turn Undead: Protects allies from undead, as long as the undead failed the save and your allies are near you.
  • Improved Reaper (D): Necromancy do have quite some debuff spells, and targeting two enemies instead of one with a bestow curse or a contagion can be pretty nasty and very supportive.
  • Channel Divinity: Radiance of the Dawn (Lg): Magical Darkness is a cheap way to make your party suffer greatly.
  • Improved Flare (Lg): Helps your ally by debuffing the enemy when needed.
  • Dampen Elements (N): Works on allies in 30ft.
  • Blessing of the Trickster (Tr): To be sure that your scout won’t be detect.
  • Channel Divinity: War God’s Blessing (W): Who doesn’t like a grant bonus to hit after seeing the die result (even though before knowing if it hit)?

Survivability:

  • Armor Proficiency: Shields keeps you alive and medium armor helps with a decent DEX score.
  • Spellcasting: If you’re normally the best healer in the party, that means that you have the best heal spells at your hands. Use them, since no one is helped if the healer is down. And protection spells are your forte, too!
  • Channel Divinity: Turn undead: Stay away from me!
  • Bonus Proficiency (heavy armor; Lf, N, Te, W): Thicker armor means more protection, especially if DEX can’t keep up.
  • Blessed Healer (Lf): Makes it a lot easier to stay in the game. Especially important for healers, since if they fall, the party most likely will, too.
  • Warding Flare (Lg): Nice one, even though it costs the reaction.
  • Dampen Elements (N): You are a creature in 30ft range.
  • Channel Divinity: Charm Animals and Plants (N): Helps only with 2 enemy types, but everything is fair at that point.
  • Master of Nature (N): See above, just better because you can use them for further protection.
  • Wrath of the Storm (Te): They dared once, but will they strike again, if you can hurt them at the same time?
  • Stormborn (Te): Better to be out of range if you want to be. In the sky!
  • Channel Divinity: Invoke Duplicity (Tr): As long your enemy doesn’t know which one is real, this might take at least one attack away from you. Better get stealth proficiency to hide away, while your fake will catch the attention.
  • Channel Divinity: Cloak of Shadows (Tr): If you run into trouble, make yourself invisible and walk away. Walk further next turn and heal yourself. Great thing!
  • Improved Duplicity (Tr): When you begin combat with that many duplicates, it means that there are higher chances that they might miss you the first few times.
  • Avatar of Battle (W): Nonmagical weapons only, but since many creatures don’t have those, it should come in handy often.

Utility:

  • Spellcasting: Ritual Caster and some of the most useful exploration and enchantment spells to help you outside of combat. Especially Divination proofs super-useful when facing a wall of having-no-clue-what-to-do.
  • Domain Spells: Having two additional spells prepared for 1st to 5th spell level and some of them from different spell-lists can help you out in many ways.
  • Divine Intervention: It could be anything, but even though it’s kinda unreliable until 20th level and you ask your deity to assist you in pretty anything, it’s foremost an utility-tool.
  • Blessing of Knowledge (K): More skills are more ways to shine outside combat. Or in knowledge skills even inside combat…
  • Channel Divinity: Knowledge of the Ages (K): Granting yourself a skill or tool proficiency when needed? Kinda unfair.
  • Channel Divinity: Read Thoughts (K): Even though it can be used in combat, it’s real power lies outside of it.
  • Visions of the Past (K): Sure you aren’t a psion? Reading thoughts first and now psychometry? At least investigation shouldn’t be much problem at this point.
  • Bonus Cantrip (Lg): Light itself isn’t much of a problem most of the time, but don’t hurt to have this one.
  • Acolyte of Nature (N): One of three skills which are no class skill, one cantrip of the druid lists opens up some potential you normally won’t have.
  • Channel Divinity: Charm Animals and Plants (N): Definitely nice, even though quite limited. At least until you’re fighting against a mad druid, something even scarier than a mad wizard. Mad wizard will send golems, demons and other creatures out, that are definitely enemy. A mad druid will use beasts and plants… but they are everywhere and you won’t be able to distinguish – until it’s too late!
  • Master of Nature (N): Hah! Now they’re yours!
  • Thunderbolt Strike (Te): A feature with different usages, defensively after using Wrath of the Storm, preventing by delaying a slow enemy by pushing it back, offensive by pushing the enemy over an edge or supporting by pushing the enemy to your front-characters. But in the end an utility tool and too less of everything else to list it there.
  • Stormborn (Te): Flying speed outdoors. Says everything.
  • Blessing of the Trickster (Tr): Allows to be stealthy even without any talent.
  • Channel Divinity: Invoke Duplicity (Tr): Use your illusionary self to do bunch of trickery. Ambush those who thinks they can get you alone, distract someone while sneaking past him or behind him to knock him out. And adds to the range of spells, since the origin of the spell can be the duplicate. Means touch range, too, by the way.
  • Channel Divinity: Cloak of Shadows (Tr): Turn invisible for a round. Limited use, great ways to work with your imagination.
  • Improved Duplicity (Tr): More duplicates means a bit more utility.

Grading:

Multiclass: Great as dip, bad as more
Offense: Decent to good (D, Lg, Te, W)
Resource Management: Decent to great (Lf)
Support: good
Survivability: good
Utility: great to fantastic (K)

Overall: good

Even though my overall is good, it’s more for the cleric class itself, because the possibilities are often quite strong and cool, but if I had to tell a player how good the cleric class is, I would say with one word ‘good’ and two words ‘it depends’. No choice is actually bad, but having this many subclasses makes it hard to narrow it down. When a cleric domain provides something, it’s like out of scale, but only for said domain and its aspects.

This makes the cleric much harder to analyze, since a Tempest Cleric can be a powerful offense caster, but for now only few high level lightning/thunder spells and the lack of control an evoker would have. The Trickery Cleric provides some trickery, but the field is narrow and the domain spells impresses me more. The Life Cleric is a healing monster, but nothing more. And a Death Cleric is a powerhouse, who can dish out quite an amount of damage when needed.

But he has always a more than stable base, the domain will either specialize him in one category or build up on multiple categories to be more versatile. The field the cleric is really awesome (outside healing) is his utility, most domains gives great out of combat features and some for creative use, while the spell-list completes the build perfectly.

The support features are mostly his spells, but since the cleric has such a broad base, he can pretty much support by filling in everywhere someone needs him.

But in the end the true strength of the cleric lies in his player and its ability to make use of the features the cleric has. Only the fact that his base is so broad with great healing, while his peaks are solely domain dependent kept him away from ‘great’. In overviews I tend to see the whole class and some domains are harder to pull of efficiently (like Nature and Trickery) than others. But if you’re up to the challenge, try it. It’s by no means weaker, but you have to be more aware of the strengths of the domain.

Next days might getting tight again, so I might get to the druid not until next week.

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