Player Class

Choosing your basic class can be pretty daunting. 4E comes with the largest number of starting classes in any of the editions (I’m pretty sure), but they also come with more explicitly stated roles: Controllers, Defenders, Leaders and Strikers. This guide aims to help you determine what you would have the most fun playing, as well as give you some creation tips.

Also, after some consideration, I’ve decided to ban anything with the Psionic power source. There’s too much potential to become overpowered, and thus ruin the game for the non-Psionic players.

Controllers

This subset is, as the name suggests, focused on crowd control. Best for dealing weak damage to a large spread of enemies and/or debuffing them, Controllers thrive both offensively and defensively. They vary heavily from class to class, so there are a wealth of choices for the tactics-minded player.

Druid

Book: Player’s Handbook 2
Power Source: Primal
Primary Stat: WIS
Secondary Stats: DEX or CON
Best Races: Dwarf, Elf, Shifter, Wilden

Druids, as in the previous edition, can Wild Shape. It’s not overpowered anymore, but you can still have a lot of fun with it. You can emphasize your beast form and spend most of your time as the animal you chose, gaining special powers that damage and disable foes. Alternatively, you can lean towards a ranged play style that also buffs allies. Countries that respect their more savage roots are great for Druids; Ruuk, Dalpheria, Ur-Battos and possibly Ecjodu are all good fits.

Invoker

Book: Player’s Handbook 2
Power Source: Divine
Primary Stat: WIS
Secondary Stats: CON or INT
Best Races: Deva, Dwarf, Shardmind, Wilden

A pure avatar of their deity’s will, Invokers are exceptionally powerful priests. They enter a covenant with their deity and are sworn to uphold their ideals through action. Invokers must strictly play their choice of alignment, since it needs to stay the same as their deity’s. Their powers resemble a more offensive version of the Cleric’s, so the Invoker is a good choice if the party chose a non-Divine leader. Religion permeates every country’s way of life, so any land would call an Invoker ruler home.

Seeker

Book: Player’s Handbook 3
Power Source: Primal
Primary Stat: WIS
Secondary Stats: STR or DEX
Best Races: Elf, Githzerai, Shifter

The Seekers are very similar to Invokers, except with sacred duties to primal spirits rather than gods. Moreover, they more closely resemble Rangers than any other class, so if you like the Arcane Archer from 3.5E, this may be a good fit. Alternatively, you can specialize in using thrown weapons from both short range and melee, with a host of unique applications. Like the Druid, Seekers are best in Ruuk, Dalpheria, Ur-Battos and Ecjodu.

Wizard

Book: Player’s Handbook
Power Source: Arcane
Primary Stat: INT
Secondary Stats: DEX or WIS
Best Races: Deva, Eladrin, Shardmind

Frankly, Wizards little resemble the essential party members they once were. Gone are the massive lists of spells, making this class much more similar to the others. All is not lost, however: they can cast rituals outside of combat, and are the best Controllers at doing damage to multiple enemies. Unlike their peers, they can change their Daily spells after an extended rest, instead of having to ask the DM. With preparation, they are still the most versatile class in the entire game. As for country of origin, the most civilized countries welcome a Wizard leader; The Chyden Republic and Kopis are ideal fits.

Defenders

Tanks! Every party needs one, and there are enough variations between classes to make it fun. Better at dealing with damage received than dishing it out most of the time, but without a Defender in the group, battles would be short and costly. Defenders “mark” their enemies, forcing them to attack the people in your group most capable of shrugging it off.

Fighter

Book: Player’s Handbook
Power Source: Martial
Primary Stats: STR or DEX
Secondary Stats: Depends on weapon
Best Races: Dragonborn, Dwarf, Elf, Goliath, Half-Orc, Minotaur, Shifter

Choosing a Fighter means you want to do a lot of damage to a lot of people, and you don’t want to think too deeply about it. If you’ve always envisioned yourself wielding a certain weapon, there are abilities specifically tailored towards maximizing its use. You can be the purest representation of martial might and let your teammates do the thinking and talking. Fighters are great leaders anywhere, although having a good cabinet of advisors is highly recommended.

Paladin

Book: Player’s Handbook
Power Source: Divine
Primary Stat: STR
Secondary Stats: WIS or CHA
Best Races: Dragonborn, Dwarf

Don’t let the classic image of the Lawful Good knight-errant lead you astray; Paladins are simply champions of their deity. Thus, anyone looking to further the goals of their god without being a sissy Cleric or Invoker can plunge straight into battle with impunity. Paladins boast the best natural defense of any class, and their ability to heal helps take some heat off your party’s Leader. Like those sissy Clerics and Invokers, you’ll have to play your alignment pretty closely. Fortunately, every country loves Paladins, so take your pick.

Swordmage

Book: Forgotten Realms Player’s Guide
Power Source: Arcane
Primary Stat: INT
Secondary Stats: STR or CON
Best Races: Eladrin, Genasi

A somewhat challenging class to play, Swordmages are elemental warriors with limited teleportation abilities. If you think enemies will pick on your weaker allies a fair amount, being a Swordmage allows you to interrupt their attacks and come to your teammates’ aid. I don’t recommend having a Swordmage as the party’s only Defender; their best use is in a five or six person party. Swordmages are rare enough to be considered elite in any country, and are thus acceptable rulers anywhere.

Warden

Book: Player’s Handbook 2
Power Source: Primal
Primary Stat: STR
Secondary Stats: CON or WIS
Best Races: Goliath, Minotaur, Shifter

Wardens are the tankiest class in existence. No one shrugs off damage quite like a Warden, and you get additional saving throws every round to get rid of detrimental status effects. Your abilities tend to do less damage than other Defenders, but you can increase your AC, add temporary hit points, and knock people prone basically at will. You can also transform into representations of nature’s fury, giving you additional abilities per round like extra movement, health regeneration, or flying. Based on their imposing presence, Wardens can be the rulers of any country, even the ones that typically turn their noses at Primal classes.

Leaders

Rather than all but requiring a Cleric in every party, 4E focused on expanding the healer and protector role to create more for such a player to do. All Leaders can heal people with a minor action, but the similarities between different classes within this subset often end there. You’ll often find each has a secondary role akin to one of the other three sections in this guide, making you the party’s favorite member without sacrificing your own enjoyment of the game.

Bard

Book: Player’s Handbook 2
Power Source: Arcane
Primary Stat: CHA
Secondary Stats: CON or INT
Best Races: Gnome, Half-Elf, Tiefling

Ah, the Bard. Once a mere singing buff machine, it’s now a fearsome battle caster that uses the power of deadly poetry. The choice ends up being between making your allies infuriatingly hard to kill for enemies, or debuffing enemies to make them easier to kill. In many ways, the Bard is a healing Wizard, an idea reinforced by their ability to cast rituals in the form of songs. Bards are most welcome in lands of subtlety like the Chyden Republic, Kopis and Ecjodu, though any country would be happy to have a charismatic storyteller on the throne.

Cleric

Book: Player’s Handbook
Power Source: Divine
Primary Stat: WIS
Secondary Stats: STR or CHA
Best Races: Deva, Dwarf

Clerics are the best pure healers in the game. Beyond that, they can either function as another frontline combatant, or sit in the back firing radiant spells at their enemies. They can turn undead, as in other games, and their ritual casting allows them to cast useful spells out of battle as well. Clerics are welcome rulers in any land, and welcome additions to any party.

Runepriest

Shaman

Warlord

Book: Player’s Handbook
Power Source: Martial
Primary Stat: STR
Secondary Stats: INT or CHA
Best Races: Dragonborn, Eladrin, Genasi

True frontline leaders, the Warlords are master melee tacticians. No Leader is better suited for battle, though their abilities outside of combat are fairly lacking. You can buff your allies, move them into advantageous position, do surprising amounts of damage outright, or even let your most powerful ally attack for the second time in the round. If your party needs a Leader but you wanted to be a Defender or Striker, this is the class for you. Warlords are well-suited in any country, since everyone loves a winning general.

Strikers

Finally, we have the heavy damage dealers. Strikers are great at taking down individual targets, but tend to suffer against large groups of weak enemies. In a five or six player group, there are almost always two Strikers, though this is by no means a requirement. Many of the “classic” classes are here, in case you’re scared of change.

Avenger

Barbarian

Book: Player’s Handbook 2
Power Source: Primal
Primary Stat: STR
Secondary Stats: CON or CHA
Best Races: Dragonborn, Half-Orc, Goliath, Minotaur

Fearsome damage-dealing machines, Barbarians are arguably the most powerful melee class. They can either fight with surprising longevity or terrify their enemies into submission. Their primary downside is their inability to wear heavy armor, despite being on the front lines all the time. Additionally, a Barbarian ruler is going to be a pretty tough roleplaying job, so you should consider how invested you are before picking one. Also, if you pick broken abilities (and boy does this class have some), you will find yourself the target of unfair attention from enemies. Can’t say I didn’t warn you.

Ranger

Book: Player’s Handbook
Power Source: Martial
Primary Stats: STR or DEX
Secondary Stat: WIS
Best Races: Drow, Elf, Githzerai, Half-Orc, Shifter

As in the other editions, the primary choice for Rangers is whether you want to specialize with double wielding (STR) or bows (DEX). After that, you more or less follow the path of a frenzied melee character or a sniper. Before you think you’ll be as ridiculous as Jon’s character in our last campaign, the days of requiring an Excel spreadsheet to figure out damage are long gone. There are more fun archer characters now, though probably none do as much damage as the Ranger. You can justify having a Ranger leader in any country, though the Chyden Republic likely considers itself above such a savage choice.

Rogue

Book: Player’s Handbook
Power Source: Martial
Primary Stat: DEX
Secondary Stats: STR or CHA
Best Races: Drow, Eladrin, Half-Orc, Halfling

Another classic, the Rogue is that lovable ol’ backstabber. The familiar way of playing is to hide in the shadows, then release a critical sneak attack or ranged strike. However, there is a more combat-focused way of play that relies on flanking and dealing brutal amounts of damage to cripple foes. So while the Rogue is no longer the damage machine it once was, it has a more robust “thug” play style that syncs very well with a player who’s not afraid to fight dirty. Rogues make good leaders in pragmatic countries, with Kopis being a perfect fit, though anyone would accept a silver-tongued leader.

Sorcerer

Book: Player’s Handbook 2
Power Source: Arcane
Primary Stat: CHA
Secondary Stats: STR or DEX
Best Races: Drow, Dragonborn, Gnome, Halfling

Once a Wizard with a tiny range of spells but the ability to cast them whenever they felt like it, the Sorcerer has morphed into more of a hedge mage. Specializing in either Dragon or Wild magic, Sorcerers are chaotic battle casters that rely on the elements for power. Dragon mages fight from the front lines with a wide variety of breath powers, while Wild mages have chaotic spell effects based on whether they rolled odd or even. Based on their nature as outcasts, Sorcerer rulers are best suited for Ecjodu, Ur-Battos, Dalpheria, or even Ruuk. A chaotic character from any nation could make it an interesting character twist though.

Warlock

Player Class

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