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What is the best class to play as a beginner in D&D 5e?
If you’re new to Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, you may want to know which classes are easiest to play and which to avoid (for now). Each class comes with their own complexities and intricacies. So, understanding which is best for someone new to the hobby may help you decide which class you want to play.
Let me preface this by saying play what you want to play. If you’re new to D&D 5e and really want to play a Wizard, go for it. And, if you’re unsure what you want to play, there’s a neat chart for What Fifth Edition Character Class Should You Play to help you decide.
The ranked list of the best beginner D&D classes is as follows:
So, without further ado; let’s look at the best beginner D&D classes ranked by how easy they are to learn and play.
The Fighter is one of the easiest classes to play in D&D 5e. It focuses almost solely on martial prowess. Its simplicity doesn’t stop it from being one of the most versatile and capable classes in the game.
At its core, playing the Fighter class means playing a combat-focused character. What makes it a fantastic class for beginners is its simplicity. Most of the time, a Fighter’s decisions in combat are "what weapon do I attack with?"
But, the simplicity of the Fighter doesn’t overshadow just how capable they are.
Since Fighters focus primarily on combat in D&D 5e, they still hold their own among the various other classes. Despite their lack of spellcasting (usually) and relatively few mechanics to understand, Fighter in D&D 5e stand as one of the most versatile classes you can play.
Now, some Fighter subclasses, called Martial Archetypes, complicate the mix. For example, Battle Masters introduce a deeper level of customization with Maneuvers and resource management with their Superiority Dice. But, the Champion Martial Archetype stands as the absolute easiest class to play for beginners. It literally just makes your attacks a bit more effective.
Honestly, even from character creation, Fighters are a pure numbers game. You follow how much a piece of armor increases your Armor Class and follow the normal rules there. You use a weapon and follow all the usual mechanics that go into determining your Attack and Damage modifiers. It’s just easy.
So, Fighters are by far the best class to play for beginners new to D&D 5e. A frequent joke about them is how often "I hit it with my sword" shows up at the table. Without the management involved in spellcasting and relatively few miscellaneous mechanics to remember, Fighters are great for starting D&D players.
Barbarians make for a great beginner class in D&D 5e. Being a combat-focused class, they have relatively few features that cause complications. That said, the Barbarian does introduce resource management early on and it complicates some other basic mechanics like damage and Armor Class calculation.
Basically, Barbarians bash baddies with big bludgeoning belongings (it’s not always bludgeoning, I just wanted the alliteration).
Meaning, this class prioritizes dealing damage with mundane weapons and the strength of their own bodies. One of the martial classes, Barbarians lack spellcasting. That said, they do introduce a few features that make things a bit more complicated for players new to D&D.
For example, their Unarmored Defense feature shirks the typical Armor Class rules in exchange for a custom calculation based on the Barbarian’s Constitution and Dexterity modifiers. Already, the class plays slightly differently from other player characters.
Also, the Barbarian introduces resource management as a sort of meta-mechanic in their Rage feature. Any player now needs to understand how many uses they have and when they get those uses back.
This all said, playing a Barbarian in D&D 5e is about as easy as it gets. Without spellcasting dragging them down and their relatively easy mechanics, they boil down to "I hit it".
This relative ease-of-play makes Barbarians a great class for beginning D&D 5e players.
Rangers fall somewhere in-between the martial and spellcasting classes. The class is a good choice for beginner D&D players with relatively straightforward features. But, the Ranger complicates things with a bit of customization and spellcasting.
The Ranger class fulfills so many people’s desires to play the cool, outdoorsperson the likes of Aragorn from the Lord of the Rings or Geralt from The Witcher series.
It’s a pretty solid beginner D&D class too. The martial aspects of the Ranger basically come to a stripped-down version of the Fighter but with a few additional features to differentiate the two.
That said, the Ranger complicates things by mixing in a bit of spellcasting.
Rangers fall under the classification of "half-casters". Basically, when you look at the number of spells they end up with by 20th level, they get roughly half of the spells as a full caster like Wizards or Warlocks. This introduction of spellcasting may complicate things for beginner D&D players, making the Ranger a bit tougher to play.
Additionally, some of the core mechanics (i.e. casting hunter’s mark) to the Ranger rely on using their comparatively few spells. This becomes frustrating for some players and may make playing the class more complicated as you need to determine when the best time to cast a spell is.
This all said, the basic play of a Ranger is easy and straighforward. They play in much the same way as the other martial classes and they can stand on their own fairly well.
At the end of the day, Rangers make for a good beginner D&D 5e class. But, the introduction of spellcasting and management of their spells makes things a bit more complicated.
Paladins fulfill the "holy knight in shining armor" archetype. Primarily a martial class, they focus on combating their foes with a variety of weapons. But, they introduce spellcasting and a few class features that complicate things.
For most players new to D&D 5e, the Paladin serves as a good class choice.
The Paladin class plays in much the same way as other, frontline martial classes like the Fighter or Ranger. They focus on boosting their defenses with various armors and wield weapons as their primary source of damage.
But, Paladins may complicate things for new players by introducing a few features; spellcasting, Lay on Hands, and Divine Smite.
Paladins qualify as "half-casters". Honestly, the concept of a half-caster in-itself is more complicated than spellcasting on its own. But, this gets offset by the fact that Paladin’s get relatively few spell options compared with the full casters.
…But, then things get more complicated with their Divine Smite feature which uses a spell slot when activated. Now, you need to track your spell usage not only for the spells you cast but also if you use them for Divine Smite.
Then, the Paladin has Lay on Hands, another class feature with a set number of uses. This feature gives the Paladin of bit of healing that doesn’t rely on spells. But, it’s just another thing to track.
This all said, once you get the hang of resource management, this all becomes remarkably easy. Paladin’s get very few spells. And honestly, you’ll most likely end up saving your spell slots for when you want to activate Divine Smite which is a phenomenal class feature. And, the healing from Lay on Hands means your Paladin has a bank of hit points when you need them.
Overall, the Paladin is a good beginner D&D 5e class. But, some of the resource management may turn off new players.
Rogues claim the title as one of the more popular classes for beginner D&D players. They usually play as scouts, thieves, or assassins, making them an attractive pick for those new to the hobby. The Rogue class is a good pick, but it requires some knowledge of game mechanics to work to its fullest.
At its core, the Rogue is a martial class. The difference is they usually only use specific weapons because of their core class feature; Sneak Attack.
Basically, Sneak Attack lets a Rogue deal extra damage once per turn. But, it has a couple prerequisites to work. The Rogue must either have advantage on the attack or have an ally with five feet of their target. Otherwise, they can’t use Sneak Attack.
This is what makes Rogues a bit tricky to play. Anyone playing a Rogue needs to understand how to get advantage in D&D 5e often in order to optimally play their character in combat.
The flipside to this is if you’re playing in a group with other martial characters (Fighter, Barbarian, Paladin, etc), then things become much simpler. And, by extension, playing a Rogue to the fullest in these parties becomes much easier.
That said, Rogues also have a hurdle in terms of survivability and remembering their many action options.
Most Rogues lack heavy armor both mechanically and practically. You can’t sneak up on your target with clanging armor, after all. So, they get a number of class features to offset this detriment.
The trick is remembering you have these features.
Anecdotally, I’ve played with a few Rogues, mostly newer players, who completely forget they have these options in combat. That or, they forget what these actions do.
This misunderstanding of the features and actions makes Rogues a bit trickier for beginner D&D players. Which is why Rogues make for an alright choice, but they do require a bit more understanding of the rules to play them best.
Monks are one of the martial classes. They utilize a combination of weapons and unarmed strikes in combat. The Monk class is an alright choice for new D&D players, but they require a bit more resource management than other classes.
Essentially, the Monk class comes with one hurdle for beginner D&D players; Ki.
The Ki class feature grants Monks a set number of points to use for various abilities. From getting additional attacks to moving farther, a Monk’s ki points let them modify their actions in combat more so than some of the other classes.
But, therein lies the problem.
Not only do you need to track how many ki points you have as a Monk, you need to understand what each feature does. This requires a bit more knowledge of how actions work in D&D 5e and what those actions actually do.
For example, typically, if a Monk takes the Attack action, they may attempt an unarmed strike as a bonus action. But, their Flurry of Blows, which requires one ki point and gives you two unarmed strikes, uses your bonus action as well. So, you can’t get your singular, unarmed strike bonus action AND Flurry of Blows on the same turn.
I’ve seen a number of Monk players think they get four attacks and that’s simply not the case.
Then, there’s the matter of resource management. Monks need to track their ki points so they don’t under- or over-utilize their core class feature.
The point is, playing a Monk requires a deeper understanding of D&D 5e’s rules than some of the other classes. They’re still an okay class choice for beginner players since they lack the complications of typical spellcasting. But, any new D&D player looking to play a Monk should thoroughly read through their features and how 5e’s actions work.
Warlocks are one of the full spellcasters. They’re one of the easier magic users for beginners to play with their relatively few spell options and spell slots. But, by nature of being a full caster, they’re a bit more complicated than the martial classes.
The Warlock class draws its magic from an Otherworldly Patron, some entity that exists within or without the world but is certifiably inhumanoid.
Most spellcasting classes in D&D 5e gain spell slots, the resource for casting spells, as they gain levels and improve their spellcasting Ability Scores. But, Warlocks stay locked at a determined amount based on their level.
This restriction actually makes things both easier and harder for new D&D players.
That may sound contradictory. But, hear me out.
It makes it easier because a Warlock knows they have a specific number of spells they may cast per short rest. This means resource management becomes less of an issue as once a Warlock uses up their slots, that’s it. No more leveled spells and it’s all cantrips from then until they can take a break for an hour.
On the flipside, this makes things more difficult as now a Warlock needs to decide when to use their spell slots. What if they need them later? What if the party doesn’t take a short rest? What if the party does take a short rest and you didn’t use your spells?
This sort of analysis paralysis is something I see a lot of Warlocks deal with.
There’s also the matter of determining which spells to take which is a complication all spellcasters deal with. The bright side when it comes to Warlocks is they have a comparatively short list of spells to take.
Now, something else to consider as a beginner D&D player is the Eldritch Invocations. These are basically additional features Warlock players choose to customize their character. It’s another added level of complexity that some newer players may find overwhelming.
Basically, the Warlock is a good class and it’s one of the better spellcasting D&D classes for beginner players.
Clerics usually get pigeonholed as the healer of the group being one of the best healing classes in D&D. As a full caster, they have a variety of spells at their disposal. For beginner players, the Cleric isn’t a bad choice to start with. But, it can get complicated.
The Cleric class is the most versatile class in D&D 5e. It has options for martial combat, ranged combat, spell combat, healing, tanking, social encounters, exploration, the full gamut of what D&D 5e has to offer.
…But, that’s the problem.
For new players, the overwhelming number of options available to Clerics may seem intimidating. Being a full spellcaster, they have a wealth of options available to them.
Then, there’s the sheer number of subclasses, called Domains, to choose from; each Domain focusing on a different aspect of playing a Cleric.
As with any spellcaster, you’ll deal with resource management in your spell slots (and figuring out when’s best to use them) and choosing the best spells for your adventure.
Finally, there’s the expectation. Most players think of Clerics as filling the Healer party role, stuck healing your party members over and over and over. But, D&D 5e isn’t actually optimized around healing. So, you’ll feel like you’re contributing less and less to the group as time goes on.
You may even pigeonhole yourself there.
The point is, Clerics come with a lot of baggage. You need to understand how actions work (because a good number of Cleric spells use a bonus action, but you can’t cast two leveled spells on the same turn), when it’s best to heal or cast a different spell, how spellcasting works when you’re holding a weapon and shield, and a number of other things.
If you’re playing a basic healing Cleric. That’s a great choice for starting D&D players. But, anything else and the Cleric could become an overwhelming experience for anyone new to the hobby.
The Druid class is one of the full caster classes. It’s not an ideal beginner D&D class due to the fact that you need to handle all the usual spellcaster difficulties and have an understanding of D&D 5e’s Challenge Rating (CR) system.
Most classes in D&D can get away with only understanding what’s in the Player’s Handbook. This includes spells, racial traits, and class features. But, playing a Druid in 5e means having an understanding of the Beast creature type and what CR is.
Yes, there are some basic Beasts included in the back of the Player’s Handbook. But, to experience the full breadth of what the Druid’s Wild Shape feature offers, you’ll benefit from reading through the Monster Manual and other sourcebooks.
The core Druid class feature is Wild Shape which allows them to transform into different creatures belonging to the Beast monster type based on their CR. This already is more information than what some other classes deal with. You need to understand what a Beast is and if you are of a level to turn into it based on its CR. Even then, the Druid has restrictions based on level on what kind of creatures you may turn into by restricting creatures with swim and fly speeds.
Then, there’s the matter of the usual spellcaster issues with calculating how many spell slots you have and for what level, how many spells you can prepare, and the number of spells available to Druids.
I think Druids appeal to a lot of players. Who hasn’t dreamt of becoming different animals at some point in their life? Unfortunately, the Druid class is a bit unfriendly to beginner D&D 5e players.
The Wizard class is the quintessential spellcaster. It has the largest spell selection available to them making them one of the more versatile spellcasters (short of healing). Which might make it overwhelming for new players.
When most people think of a magic user, they probably think of the Wizard. The classic, learned spellcaster who studies and practices a variety of magics.
But, this wide selection of spells makes the Wizard class a poor choice for beginner D&D players.
Wizards have by far the largest selection of spells at their disposal. So, if you’re just starting out playing D&D 5e, that means going through and learning what each spell does, what level you get it, and when it would be most useful. And honestly, there are a lot of spells.
Then, the Wizard subclasses make things more complicated by having a choice for each school of magic. Which is then another thing players yearning to play a Wizard need to understand; what the different magic schools are and how they affect their chosen subclass.
What’s more, Wizards are the least survivable by virtue of having the lowest hit die available (d6). This means if you play a Wizard wrong or don’t acknowledge surrounding dangers, chances are your character will die before too long.
All this makes playing a Wizard difficult for people new to 5e. And, which is why it’s not a good class for beginner D&D players.
Sorcerers are another full caster class. They come with a much smaller spell list than some of the other spellcasters. But, they make up for that with their Font of Magic and Metamagic class features…which makes playing a Sorcerer well tricky.
As a spellcaster, a Sorcerer character is one of the easier to play. They have a relatively small selection of spells available to them which makes choosing prepared spells less daunting.
The difficulties for new D&D players arise at 2nd and 3rd levels with the Font of Magic and Metamagic class features.
Font of Magic introduces Sorcery Points. Basically, a number of points you may use to either gain additional spell slots or to convert spell slots back into Sorcery Points. Which already sounds more complicated than it needs to be.
But then, you get Metamagic options which let you manipulate and alter your spells. Now, casting a spell already requires understanding many of the core rules in D&D 5e and now a Sorcerer can bend or outright break some of those rules.
The whole process of converting spells into Sorcery Points and then using those points to either generate lower level Spell Slots or for use in a Metamagic is central to playing a Sorcerer well. And, it’s hard to do. It’s a lot of calculations outside of the normal rules and requires an understanding of D&D’s action economy.
Sorcerers are a lot of fun to play. I won’t deny that. But, it is not a good beginner class for new D&D 5e players.
Bard is one of the full caster classes in D&D 5e. Its theme revolves around music and performance to cast their spells and primarily serves as a support class. For people new to D&D, it’s not a great beginner class.
At its surface, the Bard doesn’t seem too different from the other spellcasters. It has the same drawbacks concerning resource management as other magic users. But, the difference is how Bards typically play.
The core class feature for Bards is Bardic Inspiration. This lets them grant a die (dependent on level) to another creature. But, therein lies the difficulty.
You see, Bards don’t get a lot of uses in Bardic Inspiration. So, to be an effective member of the party, they need to know when the best time to grant this die to another is. Which adds a tricky puzzle concerning resource management for new players.
Another reason Bards don’t stand as a great class for beginner players is their faux-versatility.
In the right hands, the Bard is a strong class with a wide range of capabilities in combat, social encounters, puzzle solving, and exploration. But, unlocking that potential requires a deep understanding of the core rules of D&D 5e and the class itself. Something beginner players might not have.
Bards vary from straight support to healing to combat in their roles. But, because of Bardic Inspiration, they always come back to more of a support class. And support classes are some of the more tricky to play.
On top of this, that very versatility makes decision making for spells and timing of Bardic Inspiration (and the other uses from their subclasses) makes playing a Bard well tough.
As a spellcaster, Bards aren’t any more difficult to play than any other class. But, the utilization of Bardic Inspiration and knowing when to use it or not makes Bards a less than great first class choice for beginner D&D players.
Artificers are a strange bending of the typical spellcasters. They get roughly half of the spells as full casters and they tend to rely more heavily on their class features than actual spell casting.
The Artificer appears in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, so I do factor that into putting this as one of the worst beginner classes in D&D 5e by fact that it exists outside of the Player’s Handbook and even the Basic Rules.
Basically, Artificers create something be that potions, armor, weapons, or constructs and use their magic in that creation process. It’s a complicated class that requires a good understanding of spellcasting and the interaction with class features.
Now, is it more complicated than, say, the Sorcerer?
I’d say probably not. But, the biggest thing against the Artificer as far as a beginner D&D class is that fact that it’s not in the Player’s Handbook. For those just starting out in the hobby, you don’t want to buy another book if you’re not even sure how committed you are to playing yet.
Aside from that, it does have other complications that make it less than ideal for a starting player.
For example, Artificers get Infusions that create or modify items kind of like how the Warlock’s Eldritch Invocations work. This added customization is great but may overwhelm some beginner players.
Then, there’s the usual spellcaster problems of resource management.
Considering all this, the Artificer is a really cool class. But, it’s not a great class choice for beginning 5e players.
Conclusion on the Best Beginner D&D 5e Classes
There you have it. My take on the best beginner D&D classes ranked by how easy they are to learn and play.
Let me reiterate; this is my opinion. And just because I include classes further down the list doesn’t mean they’re bad classes. I love Sorcerers despite their problems. But, they may be too complicated for someone just starting to learn and play about Dungeons & Dragons.
What do you think is the best beginner D&D 5e class? Leave a comment below and let me know!
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