Be simple and happy!

Sadly no fighter today, no time, no motivation. So I just randomly picked a short topic from my memory and ended up with: The easiest subclasses in the PHB!

Sometimes there will be a player, who either doesn’t have much experience (D&D or P&P generally) or simply just fails in the organization/memorization/etc. department. But there is no need to fear, since the PHB actually got it covered. Some classes are more difficult to play than others (like the druid, who isn’t bad at all, but need some cautiousness), but generally no class just makes you better: Most features are situational and restrictive, so even with the easiest combo (feature-wise) it’s still more complicated than other systems. I’d like to say, that class-feature-wise, the 5e is even the most complex edition of D&D so far.

This is simple a list of the easiest class – subclass combos from the most difficult to the most easiest one. I assume the basic care of the specific class (to read and understand all the spells, decide between several options, etc.) and don’t add the basic playability to this, since the complexity of the fighter-class and the complexity of playing a fighter are different matters (since a fighter as a front-character have a lot to worry about and one or two wrong choices might get your teammates killed).

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12.) Druid – Circle of the Land: This might not be surprising, but the situationality of the spells and the wide variety of spells and wide-shape makes even the more easier druid a quite complex class, as long as you do even care a bit.

11.) Bard – College of Valor: The bard is a monster in terms of utility and variety, so of course he’s more complex. If the druid wouldn’t have wild shape which meant to look into a lot of additional future rulebooks (like the MMs), than the bard would be definitely up high. And it helps that other classes do have some spells so great, that you don’t actually research that much when hitting a Magical Secret.

10.) Paladin – Oath of Devotion: Being a paladin is an ordeal. Not only the vast spell-list, but so many options and choices you have to face every turn and often even outside of combat makes it simply hard to actually play the paladin, while his features are a tad lighter in terms of complexity. Some are kind of forgettable, but might be useful too often to do it with a clear conscious.
9.) Wizard – Evocation: While the wizard class itself is easy, the spell-list is humongous. Reading every spell might take a while and you can even prepare them…

8.) Warlock – The Great Old One: Down to it, the Warlock is almost easy in comparison in terms of complexity, since after choosing your stuff, you’re pretty much stuck with it, while only the selection procedure will take time. But since there are pretty much options here, that aren’t played by the same rules (when to regain, how often to use, etc.) it isn’t as easy as the next one imo.

7.) Cleric – Life: Since this domain only applies to one aspect, it’s much easier as a cleric. But still, the spell variety kicks in.

6.) Sorcerer – Dragon Ancestry: From all the main-casters, the dragon sorcerer makes up with easy to understand features and a not too complicated spell-list. Even though you still need to read a lot of them.

5.) Ranger – Beastmaster: After the initial decision, the Beastmaster is easy to handle, you got your companions hardstats and if it weren’t for the spells, he would even jump right ahead to 1st place.

4.) Rogue – Assassin: Now we’re down to the no-spell class choices. The rogue comes as third, because even though his features are much easier than reading a lot of spells, you’ve them all over the categories. The assassin was picked, because two of his features are so situational, that they might be forgot and/or never used.

3.) Barbarian – Berserker: The Barbarian should be a simple class, but most features remembers to the rogue, some variety and even if you don’t have much choices to make, remembering advantage on DEX-throws,

2.) Monk – Way of the Open Hand: The monk isn’t easy to play, but easy as a class. The only resource you actually have to manage is KI, but somehow the class still has some options to use these points and how which feature interacts with another one.

1.) Fighter – Champion: Some might suspected it already, but the reasons are really easy to understand. A lot of straight features which applies any time, while the rest is almost every time about when things get tight. It just does what it does and is almost every time easy to apply.

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My first impression of 5e

After reading the Basic Rules for the first time, I was kinda impressed, that most of the things I liked about the playtest could fit in. The Basic Rules remained simple, easy to learn and thus staying flexible on customizing them to situations without house rules.
The power level dropped, but since I’m about always the DM and I got enough save-or-suck, powergaming-to-the-max and too-many-buffs-to-penetrate for a life time, I’m kinda glad that I might only get those occasionally for now on. I can see, that the customizing options and the search for the best stats is interesting in its own way, but DMs don’t tend to like them, since it just makes things more difficult. At least I rather concentrate on things like storytelling, designing death traps and character development, than searching all day in rulebooks to consider, what my PCs can and will bring to the table or to worry how I can hit an AC of 40, if my monsters only have about +5 to hit.

After getting the Starter Set and thus the first monsters, I could gladly see that they weren’t as boring than most 3e monsters, even though they lacked the punch of most 4e monsters. But that’s a compromise I can live with, since the power of the PCs dropped and some of them are real pearls (like the Bugbears, the new Chuck Norris of the goblins).

The PHB (Player’s Handbook; hardcover on its way, pdf got leaked) was quite impressive in its own way. Even though I miss the warlord of 4e (even though you could get a fighter as a Battle Master part of that way, he can’t replace a genuine healer), most other classes were there and some better than ever before imo (like the warlock).
Every class had some options to customize, like the archetypes, and even though there was always an easy version of the class, there was a more complicated but not less powerful option. It’s easy to play a fighter as a champion, getting deadlier with every trait and score critical hits more often than any other class, but as an eldritch knight you get actually magic, without even multiclassing and thus more options outside your expertise.

To not overload the first post of the blog, I summarize my overall impressions so far:

  • Lower power-level for PCs and most monsters, some antagonists are as deadly as they should be
  • less customization-options as before, but first there is always space of making new archetypes and thus new traits and combinations for classes
  • design space for campaign specific class-options (like “war wizard of cormyr” as an arcane tradition instead a school of magic), which is imo better than adding new rule sets or even whole classes
  • I didn’t like the spells of 3e and am glad that spellcasting is less variable, depending on the stuff a caster has

I’m going into the 5e with a positive attitude, I don’t think it’s a perfect system, but it’ll definitely work for me! If you like 5e, too, I hope that you’ll find this blog interesting.

There is a lot to talk about, next time I’ll pick one specific thing and elaborate it. Stay tuned!

This is the illustration of Mordenkaine's Sword in the PHB. If the wizard's 'sword' is too short, he have to use magic to make a bigger one! ;)