Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Race/Class Synergy in 4e: Revised Analysis

At less than a week old, Race/Class Synergy in 4e: An Analysis is already the second-most-viewed post in my blog's history. That probably means I should take a break from my riveting campaign logs and write a followup. Also, Incredible Vehicle has posted a followup to the article that inspired my first article. Interestingly, his definitions of top, second and bottom tiers exactly match the definitions used in my first post.

What I call a top tier combination is where a race’s bonus attributes map directly to a class’ primary and secondary. ... A second tier combo is one where a race has one attribute that maps to a primary or secondary. ... When a race has no attributes, or only a tertiary attribute, it’s third tier.

Matthew at I.V. also analyzes "the preview/playtest classes (bard, barbarian, druid, invoker, and warden), Martial Power, and the Forgotten Realms Player’s Guide". I find analysis of the preview classes premature and I don't own Martial Power or the FRPG, so I won't be adding these classes. When I get PHB2 (which I plan on picking up as soon as it's out) I plan to post similar analysis of its classes and races.

Matthew has also done what xero commented on my first post to say I should do, which is to consider Wisdom the secondary ability for rangers instead of the tertiary as stated in the PHB. Matthew also made Wisdom the secondary ability for both paladin builds, which robs the dragonborn of their 3-top-tier-build status. I'm going to redo my table with these changes, since they make sense to me. Again, I'll color every top tier match green and bottom tier red, leaving second tier white. I'm also removing the human column because it's boring.


Str, ChaCon, WisDex, IntDex, WisCon, ChaDex, ChaInt, Cha
ClericStr, Wis1101000

Wis, Cha1101111
FighterStr, Con1100100

Str, Dex or Wis*1111010
PaladinStr, Wis1101000

Cha, Wis1101111
RangerDex, Wis0112010

Str, Wis1101000
RogueDex, Str1011010

Dex, Cha1011121
WarlockCha, Int1010112

Con, Int0110101
WarlordStr, Cha2000111

Str, Int1010001
WizardInt, Wis0111001

Int, Dex0021011

Synergy "score"131010127

That simple change made a drastic difference. Dwarves, eladrin, halflings and tieflings are suddenly dead even in their synergy, with the dwarves leaping over the poor half-elves (who were second-lowest in the first analysis anyway and had their score drop as Cha became Wis for the avenging paladin). The elven wisdom bonus and the new emphasis on wisdom make them now second only to the dragonborn instead of third from the bottom in the first analysis.

Another thing I find interesting here is that even though no race is first tier for the laser cleric or pretty paladin build (Wis/Cha), every race except eladrin is second tier for them. Also, every race but dwarf is at least second tier for artful dodger rogue.

* I should have noted before: The PHB is clear about which abilities are primary/secondary/tertiary for every build except the guardian fighter. After strength as primary it just says "prioritize your Dexterity to take advantage of weapons that can be improved by Dexterity-based feats, or your Wisdom to make the most of the combat superiority class feature." For this reason I've awarded any race with a bonus in either Dex or Wis with a point for mapping to a secondary. However, the elf only gets one point** because Dex and Wis can't both be the secondary.

** I've also abandoned the fractional points I used in the first post as useless*** and nitpicky.

*** About as useless as all these endnotes.


Jay said...

Like you said in your first try at this, attempting something like this with other racial bonuses in mind might be in order.

Half elves make super Charisma Paladins, since the secondary boost to Con fits the defender role well. Not to mention the ability to take eyebite for free, which is pretty handy in a pinch.

I believe you already mentioned the Tiefling Wizard being better than the analysis suggests, and I am sure there are more. It might be worth exploring.


greywulf said...

Excellent work, as ever. Be interesting to see where the Swordmage and Barbarian classes fall into the mix.

The Swordmage is INT,STR or INT,CON meaning no PHB race is a perfect fit for all races except the Elf and Halfling scoring a point. Odd to think of Elf being sub-optimal for a Swordmage, but there you go. Even a Dwarf Swordmage is better. Ick!

The Barbarian is STR,CON or (presumably) STR,CHA meaning it's another 2 for the Dragonborn poster-children. I'd have preferred a STR,WIS shamanistic build personally, and that would suit the image of Berserker Dwarves perfectly. As it is, it's yet another "almost" class for the beardy race.

Keep up the good work :D

Gregor LeBlaque said...

"Odd to think of Elf being sub-optimal for a Swordmage, but there you go."

But if you read "elf" as "wood elf" and "eladrin" as "high elf", it's not really so weird. The eladrin is in a tie (with tiefling) for best match for either build thanks to the Int bonus, and that's the elf race I'd expect to be the swordmages.

PezJunkie said...

Along the lines of what Jay posted about "other racial bonuses"-

In both of my 4e groups, the Dragonborn racial feature of adding CON bonus to healing surge value seems to make them the hands-down favorite for the "tank" classes.