Tiers?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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I often read about classes being Tier 1 or Tier 2 or what have you, but I don't know where the list of Tiers is.

Can someone point me in that general direction? Thanks.


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From here.

The Tier System wrote:

Tier 1: Capable of doing absolutely everything, often better than classes that specialize in that thing. Often capable of solving encounters with a single mechanical ability and little thought from the player. Has world changing powers at high levels. These guys, if played with skill, can easily break a campaign and can be very hard to challenge without extreme DM fiat or plenty of house rules, especially if Tier 3s and below are in the party.

Tier 2: Has as much raw power as the Tier 1 classes, but can't pull off nearly as many tricks, and while the class itself is capable of anything, no one build can actually do nearly as much as the Tier 1 classes. Still potentially campaign smashers by using the right abilities, but at the same time are more predictable and can't always have the right tool for the job. If the Tier 1 classes are countries with 10,000 nuclear weapons in their arsenal, these guys are countries with 10 nukes. Still dangerous and easily world shattering, but not in quite so many ways. Note that the Tier 2 classes are often less flexible than Tier 3 classes... it's just that their incredible potential power overwhelms their lack in flexibility.

Tier 3: Capable of doing one thing quite well, while still being useful when that one thing is inappropriate, or capable of doing all things, but not as well as classes that specialize in that area. Occasionally has a mechanical ability that can solve an encounter, but this is relatively rare and easy to deal with. Can be game breaking only with specific intent to do so. Challenging such a character takes some thought from the DM, but isn't too difficult. Will outshine any Tier 5s in the party much of the time.

Tier 4: Capable of doing one thing quite well, but often useless when encounters require other areas of expertise, or capable of doing many things to a reasonable degree of competance without truly shining. Rarely has any abilities that can outright handle an encounter unless that encounter plays directly to the class's main strength. DMs may sometimes need to work to make sure Tier 4s can contribute to an encounter, as their abilities may sometimes leave them useless. Won't outshine anyone except Tier 6s except in specific circumstances that play to their strengths. Cannot compete effectively with Tier 1s that are played well.

Tier 5: Capable of doing only one thing, and not necessarily all that well, or so unfocused that they have trouble mastering anything, and in many types of encounters the character cannot contribute. In some cases, can do one thing very well, but that one thing is very often not needed. Has trouble shining in any encounter unless the encounter matches their strengths. DMs may have to work to avoid the player feeling that their character is worthless unless the entire party is Tier 4 and below. Characters in this tier will often feel like one trick ponies if they do well, or just feel like they have no tricks at all if they build the class poorly.

Tier 6: Not even capable of shining in their own area of expertise. DMs will need to work hard to make encounters that this sort of character can contribute in with their mechanical abilities. Will often feel worthless unless the character is seriously powergamed beyond belief, and even then won't be terribly impressive. Needs to fight enemies of lower than normal CR. Class is often completely unsynergized or with almost no abilities of merit. Avoid allowing PCs to play these characters.

You can start a fight with just this (people seem to miss "This post is NOT intended to state which class is 'best' or 'sucks.' It is only a measure of the power and versitliity of classes for balance purposes.", or you can start a giant fight by arguing about class goes in what tier. Let me know if you need more, I've seen it all (several times).


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Has there been a new analysis for Pathfinder? For example, 3.5 smite evil is way different.


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Nope, interestingly this is the first time this has ever come up.


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This is possibly the best description of tier one.

wall of text:
Gevaudan wrote:

...

There are 3 filters to gain entry to tier 1.
Filter #1:
We are creating a vacuum in which we evaluate only class skills, features and 20 point buy stats; no race, no general level feats or general level bonuses, no money, no equipment. All class features are from the base class only. We'll level the PC's in question to level 10, so we can look at class features.
The we make a bunch of challenges:
1.) fly over or bypass a lake of lava with no rim
2.) go unseen through a crowded plaza in broad daylight
3.) defeat a CR 10 monster in combat (yes this is not APL for a single 10th level PC)
4.) defeat a lethal trap
5.) Deduce a series of skill based binary answers
6.) detect several hidden things
7.) detect several magically hidden things
8.) defeat a horde of minions
9.) cure or avoid 10 random inflictions of CR -2 to +2, delivered 1 per minute.
10.) heal or negate 100 points of hp damage dealt 1 a round for 100 rounds. the damage is untyped.
11.) Travel across 100 miles in 8 hours.
Then we ask the question: Who can do all 11 at 10th level with just their class skills, stats and abilities. Then we ask who can do all of them without foreknowledge and in 2 days. Finally in 1 day and the encounters are random.
Finally, we ask if you can do 5 of the 10 better than the class designed to do the thing without magic.
You are a well built tier 1 or the best classes in the game if you can blindly, randomly bypass these challenges back to back.
You are tier 1 if you can do all 10 in 2 days without foreknowledge and you did 5 out of 10 better than the specialized class (or are the specialized class).
You are tier 2 if you can do all 10 with foreknowledge and 5 out of 10 better than the specialized class.
Initial thoughts:
remember, no gear, no feats, no race.
All non-casters fall away immediately. Their class abilities cannot bypass several of these challenges. They can't do all 10. This is the bulk of playable classes.
All of the full casters can qualify for tier 2 immediately. Several of the partial casters will pass as well.
There's actually a good chance the full spontaneous casters and the memorized casters will qualify for tier 1. I can think of common designs for several classes that would get the job done. Unless their spells are weird, the cleric has this locked up. Some partial casters will make it.
Filter 2:
one question: can your default class abilities break the game system wide open? If yes, tier 1 or 2. If no, tier 3. Clerics have miracle. That's all you need to wish engine (they have other stuff as well earlier. planar ally is a great example). this step filters out most of the partial casters. they can kick ass in reasonable challenges all day long, but they cannot break the game.
Filter 3:
Can you, without changing your character sheet, but with time, now duplicate 8 out of every 10 other ways other classes can break the game?
Clerics can absolutely copy almost every way to break the game. This step filters out most of the spontaneous casters, because their spell selections are locked.
If yes, tier 1. If no, tier 2.
The interesting discussion is weird classes like the Master Summoner, who uses depth of action economy and a ridiculous amount of maximum level SLA's to try to brute force the gap between tier 2 and tier 1.


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There are several different versions of the PF tier list, depending on what the person writing the list thinks. As I already said though, that is one of the easiest ways to start a giant turd-flinging flame war. Or bring out people who (intentionally or otherwise) entirely miss the point of the tier system. Or like a dozen other ways it can go horribly, horribly wrong. Paladin falls or alignment wrong.

The short answer is:

Tier 1: 9th level caster who can get access to any of their spells with minimal work (always prepared casters?). Also known as "can break the game accidentally".

Tier 2: 9th level casters with limited spells known (always spontaneous?). Also known as "can break the game, but you'll see it coming".

Tier 3-4: Every class people refer to as "well balanced". I think all 6th level casters and 4th level casters fall in here somewhere, and the better designed non-casters as well.

Tier 5: Every class many people complain about.

Tier 6: The ones everyone agrees are bad.


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Buri Reborn wrote:
Has there been a new analysis for Pathfinder? For example, 3.5 smite evil is way different.

There is this one here


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Honestly, I think the tier system has done give huge amounts of harm to the easy the game is thought about.


Air0r wrote:
Buri Reborn wrote:
Has there been a new analysis for Pathfinder? For example, 3.5 smite evil is way different.
There is this one here

Interesting. Going back to paladin, I'd bump it up to tier 3. I think a lot of people discount its spell capability which has only kept growing. Yes, they're still locked into their one thing for doing something well, but they can be quite adaptable without factoring feats and whatnot. Even the original test of stuff they have at level10, that's when paladins get level 3 spells which includes the angelic aspect ability of fly 30, for instance.

Liberty's Edge

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I must admit - whenever I see someone bring up the whole Tier thing, I start to twitch. Thankfully, you don't see it come up nearly as often anymore.

There is just no such thing as a rigid, accurate categorization for classes and I really would love to see the whole Tier quasi theory just fade away once and for all. It's such an over-simplistic, completely arbitrary and, frankly, meaningless attempt at trying to quantify something that just doesn't need quantifying.

The very fact that the people who subscribe to the Tier quasi theory can never seem to agree on which classes go into each tier is a good indication of how meaningless it really is.

As pointed out above, the one thing it IS good for is starting pointless arguments ...


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Hi mark, can you explain further why you think it is only a theory that asymmetric things in a game cant be better or worse than each other?


I always felt it was more of an out of combat issues then an in combat issue most examples i see show how they use magic to bypass obstacles with spells. I feel there is plenty a character can do that is not on the character sheet (through role play and creative thinking using tools etc.) that make up for not just having the spell on the sheet, but some people are going to think one way and others their own no matter what is said.


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Vidmaster7 wrote:
I always felt it was more of an out of combat issues then an in combat issue most examples i see show how they use magic to bypass obstacles with spells.

It's both; it's simply that the out of combat differences are more obvious for discussion purposes.

The big difference (IMHO) in combat is that creatures have multiple attack surfaces. That is to say, I can in theory make an attack targeting armor class (as is typical), but also touch AC, CMD, and any of three saving throws -- in extreme cases, I can even bypass the actual "attack" part and go directly to damage. Similarly, damaging hit points is typical, but I can also damage any of the stats, or simply impose a losing condition (stone to flesh, for instance).

Tier 1 characters can more or less trivially attack anything they like. A first level wizard can attack AC, CMD, touch AC (acid splash), Reflex (burning hands or grease), Will (sleep), or Fort saves (ray of enfeeblement) -- or bypass altogether with magic missile. Even a high-level ranger has difficulty making useful attacks against Reflex saves.

A low-level monk can attack Fortitude save, but the save DC is very low (and hard to boost), and he needs to attack AC before forcing the Fort save.

And it's extremely difficult for a low tier character to put persistent status effects -- effects that last more than a few rounds -- onto their opponent. Charm person lasts a minimum of an hour -- the dirty trick maneuver lasts a few rounds and can be turned off by the opponent.

Sovereign Court

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I will say - the tier issues mostly crop up at levels 11+ (Yes - there are some issues before that, but they aren't all that bad.)

For Pathfinder, I've always found the sweet-spot to be levels 3-8ish. I think I've only ever played in one campaign which got into the teens (Up to 16 or 17) back in 3.5, and it didn't have the same issues because the only primary caster was an MT.


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Vidmaster7 wrote:
I always felt it was more of an out of combat issues then an in combat issue (...)

Both.

Tier 5 and 6 classes often have problems contributing to combat in a meaningful way unless the encounter plays directly to the build's strength. Tier 3 and 4 fare generally well in a standard combat but might have problems with certain obstacles (e.g. invisible enemies, flying enemies, weather conditions, or terrain obstacles). The hier the tier, the easier it is to have an answer to those problems (e.g. ranged abilities, detection or unveiling methods, and the ability to ignore most terrain).

Likewise, lower tier classes often have a hard time solving out of combat problems (e.g. terrain obstacles like chasms or walls, tasks requiering stealth, or social encounters). The higher the tier, the easier it is for a character to aquire mostly magical means of overcoming such problems (e.g. other modes of movement, invisibility/polymorph/scrying effects for stealth/infiltration, or charm effects).

Of course if depends on the campaign. If all you do every day is fighter a small number of enemies on plain ground in fair weather, the upper four tiers are pretty close together. On the other hand, if you have to handle status effects, well armed guard posts, and invisible flying enemies 24/7, people playing lower tier characters will feel completly useless. Also, the tiers only exist if you actually follow the rules - if your GM handles every social encounter by pure roleplaying and completely ignores stuff like Charm Person or Diplomacy, of course you don't notice any differences.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

In many campaigns, the difference between "Tier 1" and "Tier 2" is pretty small (IMO) and usually falls within the range of PC optimization, player skill, and is dependent on campaign pacing, house rules, etc. The distinction was larger in 3.x, because of the differences in class features, feats, and spells. In general, any 9-level caster in Pathfinder can be considered "top tier."

"Tier 3," "Tier 4," and "Tier 5" are fuzzier now than a couple years ago, with many "lower tier" classes gaining archetypes and other options that significantly add to their "power" and versatility; even to the point of adding spellcasting to "non-casting" classes (child of Acavna and Amaznen, eldritch scoundrel). Generally, 6-level casters (or classes like the medium that can gain 6-level casting, as well as "casters" with extracts like the alchemist and investigator) can be considered "Tier 3;" 4-level casters (and the kineticist, IMO) are generally "Tier 3" or "Tier 4," depending on the same factors above*; non-casters are generally "Tier 4" or "Tier 5." Personally, I find the distinction between "Tier 4" and "Tier 5" to be similar to the one between "Tier 1" and "Tier 2:" in practice, not as significant as other factors.*

"Tier 6" arguably does not exist in Pathfinder; especially with the more recent options. At least among base classes; if assigning tiers to base classes is contentious, it's even worse when it comes to prestige classes!

*- PC optimization, player skill, campaign pacing, house rules, etc.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

One other thing to keep in mind, as others have mentioned, is that the whole "Tier" structure is based over the entire length of a campaign going from 1st to 20th level. Many campaigns do not progress that high and the distinctions between the "Tiers" are smallest at lower levels and greatest at higher levels.


Dragonchess Player wrote:
In many campaigns, the difference between "Tier 1" and "Tier 2" is pretty small (IMO) and usually falls within the range of PC optimization, player skill, and is dependent on campaign pacing, house rules, etc.

There are also a few magic items that blur the difference because they let tier 2 casters cast out of a more or less unlimited list; for example, the mnemonic vestment lets sorcerers cast out of a wizard's spellbook (once per day), which in turn means that the sorcerer has access to the versatility of the situational spells that define a wizard as tier 1 and a sorcerer as tier 2.


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Paradozen wrote:
This is possibly the best description of tier one. ** spoiler omitted **
...

ZOMG! I got quoted across threads! This may be my finest forum achievement! Woot!

Silver Crusade

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Marc Radle wrote:


The very fact that the people who subscribe to the Tier quasi theory can never seem to agree on which classes go into each tier is a good indication of how meaningless it really is.

I'd disagree. It has a meaning, just not a perfectly well defined one.

I've seen multiple tier systems with different definitions. Very definitely, individual classes vary A LITTLE in different attempts to categorize tiers.

But I don't think that I've ever seen a class vary by more than a single tier (assuming same number of tiers and assuming class hasn't changed substantially with new rules).

So, for example, all the full casters are always tier 1 or 2 in any tier system I've seen.

Silver Crusade

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Marc Radle wrote:
The very fact that the people who subscribe to the Tier quasi theory can never seem to agree on which classes go into each tier is a good indication of how meaningless it really is.

I don't see your point here, the tier list is a subjective theory, so of course there's going to be debate on where classes belong. Discussing placement on the tier list is pretty fun too, especially seeing new perspectives on a class in those discussions.

To me, the tier system is a good guide. Taking it too seriously is bad, and yet so is completely dismissing it, as it's a good way to gauge the assumed power of both a class and what is being brought into a game.

Leaving aside that everyone can roleplay and that roleplaying can't be quantified in game terms, comparing a fighter to a wizard is going to be rather unfavorable in respect to what the two can do to solve problems. It's among the reasons people like the vigilante so much (myself included), as for 1 less hp a level, I can pick up an avenger vigilante, get 2 good saves, and get abilities that are worth 2 feats minimum as often as a fighter gains a bonus feat.

I think in that respect, it's helpful for players to know what class each other is playing. A rogue in a party with a fighter, brawler, and swashbuckler is going to feel more like a team player than in a party of an alchemist, wizard, and spiritualist.

As long as people just use it as a guideline and not some kind of iron clad rule, it's a useful tool for party composition, design, and game mastering.


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Alright, since we're already hitting the bingo high points, I guess I'll address the most common misunderstandings.

"Cannot categorize classes": Of course we can. People may disagree on the number of categories, the criteria for classification, etc. but we can absolutely do it.

"Categorizing classes is bad": Why? Knowledge is neither good nor evil, only how you use it. Someone who uses the tier system to be a @#$% would be a @#$% anyway, regardless. Other people clearly find it useful so it has a use.

"Player ingenuity can change this": Unless your ideas uses a class feature, every other class could do the same thing. Tiers are ranking of classes, not players.

"Optimization can change this": Tiers are supposed to be general rankings of a class' power and therefore assume the optimization level of the two classes are equal. Occasionally there is some perfect combination of archetypes/feats/whatever that will bump a class up a tier, and it should be noted as such on the list.

"This only applies at high levels": A 1st level wizard can target AC, CMD, Fort, Reflex, Will, ability scores, and just HP directly. Probably not all at the same time, but they're all possible options for a 1st level wizard to have taken. A fighter gets two of those, maybe three.

Am I missing any other big ones?


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Marc Radle wrote:

The very fact that the people who subscribe to the Tier quasi theory can never seem to agree on which classes go into each tier is a good indication of how meaningless it really is.

I see this brought up a lot and I always think the idea is kind of absurd. Because people disagree the whole system is broken by default? The logic just doesn't seem to hold up. Like somehow something only works if there's no controversy or contention whatsoever? How?


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i think the real reason behind marc's post is not his disagreement with tiers, it is the fact that if you compare the classes, it is wildly imbalanced to the point of being literally broken.

Generally if you like something, and someone points out "hey thing x is bad", a lot of people take that personally and respond without crtically thinking about the issue.


I find tiers useful guideline from a design perspective (as a DM who has players who want to play things that are sometimes hard to replicate with current classes). I would be interested in seeing Powers tier list expanded to include 3PP stuff, particularly Dreamscarred Press, LPJ, and few others.


I've found the 3.5 tiers system pretty useful l, especially for players who are new or don't know much and intend on playing for a long-haul campaign. No one wants to have a character start to fall behind and not contribute to the party's goals just because the rules have penalized them.


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Power differentials encoded in rules are a major component of RPG play. The tiers help people understand the basic reach of their character mechanically. They are particularly important when playing a weaker class, because players recognize they're under-performing, long before the understand why.

I don't expect the tiers to dictate what I play, just help inform it in relationship to what other players bright to the table.


Squiggit wrote:
Marc Radle wrote:

The very fact that the people who subscribe to the Tier quasi theory can never seem to agree on which classes go into each tier is a good indication of how meaningless it really is.

I see this brought up a lot and I always think the idea is kind of absurd. Because people disagree the whole system is broken by default? The logic just doesn't seem to hold up. Like somehow something only works if there's no controversy or contention whatsoever? How?

By that same line of reasoning, holding elections for anything is meaningless since people can't agree on a candidate or position.

Guess we might as well go back to monarchies....


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I think categorizing characters into a tier list is like comparing apples and oranges.

You know, that idiom people use to claim two things are incomparible? Except those people actually use the idiom as an excuse because they don't want to compare two things? After all, it's totally possible to compare apples and oranges, you just need to find a common point (like for instance the amount of vitamin C contained). After all, the same is true for campoaring to things from the same group, like two cars. You cannot possible say which of two cars is better if you don't define a point of comparison (like top speed, boot space, fuel efficiency, or how well the color goes together with your favourite purse).
Most of the hate the tier list gets is the same reason for almost every situation people use the "apples and oranges" idiom: Because a comparison would force them to acknowledge that their favourite thing isn't the best thing ever.

Bob Bob Bob wrote:
Am I missing any other big ones?

The "I once played a barbarian who was more useful than the party's wizard (who refuses to cast any spell that doesn't do fire damage), therefor the tier list must be wrong!!!!11" one?


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Derklord wrote:
Bob Bob Bob wrote:
Am I missing any other big ones?
The "I once played a barbarian who was more useful than the party's wizard (who refuses to cast any spell that doesn't do fire damage), therefor the tier list must be wrong!!!!11" one?

Player ability contributes more to class effectiveness than any single class ability.

The tier system assumes Shrodinger's wizard, and makes all comparisons based on that assumption while removing context provided by the rest of the game system. i.e. the current tier system was designed to support a predetermined result, not to objectively analyze in-game functionality.


Snowlilly wrote:


Player ability contributes more to class effectiveness than any single class ability.

Which doesn't really have any bearing on whether or not there are differences between classes.

Quote:
The tier system assumes Shrodinger's wizard, and makes all comparisons based on that assumption while removing context provided by the rest of the game system. i.e. the current tier system was designed to support a predetermined result, not to objectively analyze in-game functionality.

I can't really agree with that. 'Schrodinger's wizard' is a term people like to throw around a lot, but it doesn't really hold up, because you don't need one to still dominate encounters.

And it seems a little silly to assume there's some ulterior motive just because you don't like someone's opinion on which classes are better.


The tier lists are useful for analyzing the classes(and builds)if used at their full potential.

However with lots of different levels of optimisation, sytem mastery, player inegnuinity and playstyles the tiers will only reflect a small percentage of gaming tables.
What I would be interested in would be incorporating optimisation floor and optimisation ceiling.
The wizard that only shoots non-metamagiced magic missiles and later on fireballs would likely be a Tier 6, while a wizard that abuses Simulacra with Blood Money to have a near infinite army of planetas could be considered Tier 0. A Pathfinder Paladin will always have smite and Lay on Hands, which will make it hard for him to fall below Tier4, while some builds might reach Tier 3.


Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
I3igAl wrote:
The wizard that only shoots non-metamagiced magic missiles and later on fireballs would likely be a Tier 6, while a wizard that abuses Simulacra with Blood Money to have a near infinite army of planetas could be considered Tier 0. A Pathfinder Paladin will always have smite and Lay on Hands, which will make it hard for him to fall below Tier4, while some builds might reach Tier 3.

A wizard that intentionally gimps his character will be bad yes, but the class itself will still be Tier 1. After all, choosing what spells to cast is a gameplay decision, not an inherent limitation of the class.

By your logic a Paladin could also be Tier 6 if he chooses to never use smite or LoH and uses CON and CHA as his dump stats. Obviously every class can be terrible if you build or play them that way. Tier is not an artifact of play decisions but a way to compare the potential of each class.


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Snowlilly wrote:
Derklord wrote:
Bob Bob Bob wrote:
Am I missing any other big ones?
The "I once played a barbarian who was more useful than the party's wizard (who refuses to cast any spell that doesn't do fire damage), therefor the tier list must be wrong!!!!11" one?

Player ability contributes more to class effectiveness than any single class ability.

The tier system assumes Shrodinger's wizard, and makes all comparisons based on that assumption while removing context provided by the rest of the game system. i.e. the current tier system was designed to support a predetermined result, not to objectively analyze in-game functionality.

Your missing the point of the Tier system; it isn't comparing player ingenuity but rather classes as they are ON THEIR OWN. Flexibility of class features to accomplish tasks before a player is even added to the equation.

the tiers aren't measuring fun, they are measuring the raw possibilities of a class mechanically (before feats, items, race, or even players and etc.) between each other.
If used as JUST a guideline and nothing more, then it is neat little tool. though if you are making a class, it is potentially more than just neat.


...seriously?

RECURSION! wrote:

"Player ingenuity can change this": Unless your ideas uses a class feature, every other class could do the same thing. Tiers are ranking of classes, not players.

"Optimization can change this": Tiers are supposed to be general rankings of a class' power and therefore assume the optimization level of the two classes are equal. Occasionally there is some perfect combination of archetypes/feats/whatever that will bump a class up a tier, and it should be noted as such on the list.

Oh, and the ceiling/floor thing as been suggested before. A couple of threads on the subject. This one is even more contentious than tiers in general, as in addition to the usual problems you also need to decide how bad a "floor" can be. 8 Str 8 Dex on a fighter? 9 Int on a wizard?

Sovereign Court

Bob Bob Bob wrote:

...seriously?

RECURSION! wrote:

"Player ingenuity can change this": Unless your ideas uses a class feature, every other class could do the same thing. Tiers are ranking of classes, not players.

"Optimization can change this": Tiers are supposed to be general rankings of a class' power and therefore assume the optimization level of the two classes are equal. Occasionally there is some perfect combination of archetypes/feats/whatever that will bump a class up a tier, and it should be noted as such on the list.

Oh, and the ceiling/floor thing as been suggested before. A couple of threads on the subject. This one is even more contentious than tiers in general, as in addition to the usual problems you also need to decide how bad a "floor" can be. 8 Str 8 Dex on a fighter? 9 Int on a wizard?

I always figured that the floor was someone who just picked up the rule-book, stated how the class description recommends without looking too much at the mechanics (no 8 Str fighters or 9 Int wizards), and then picked feats & spells which looked cool. (Fireball! Sweet!) There's no exact level for the floor, but you can ballpark it.


I'm not saying you can't do the ceiling/floor thing, I'm just saying it's one more thing for people to argue about. So all the fun of doing tiers, with the added bonus of even more arguing!


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Is it time to break out the bingo board again?

(And yes, an incompetent player or a bad build can greatly diminish the actual power of a class, but that's not what the tier system's supposed to measure. It's hard to think of any amount of ingenuity a fighter or a rogue can bring to bear that can lock down a teleporting opponent as well as a Dimensional Anchor, to use just one example...)


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CWheezy wrote:
Snowlilly wrote:


The tier system assumes Shrodinger's wizard, and makes all comparisons based on that assumption while removing context provided by the rest of the game system. i.e. the current tier system was designed to support a predetermined result, not to objectively analyze in-game functionality.

Hi, multiple wizards have been built to show that they actually do have access to everything and are all powerful.

schodinger's wizard is a term used by someone who doesnt actually know what they are talking about

I know enough to break the game with nearly any class. You don't need a wizard, or even a caster.

Being able to break the game is merely a question of player skill. Choosing not to do so is good etiquette.

Paradozen wrote:

This is possibly the best description of tier one.

Spoiler:
Gevaudan wrote:

...
There are 3 filters to gain entry to tier 1.
Filter #1:
We are creating a vacuum in which we evaluate only class skills, features and 20 point buy stats; no race, no general level feats or general level bonuses, no money, no equipment. All class features are from the base class only. We'll level the PC's in question to level 10, so we can look at class features.
The we make a bunch of challenges:
1.) fly over or bypass a lake of lava with no rim
2.) go unseen through a crowded plaza in broad daylight
3.) defeat a CR 10 monster in combat (yes this is not APL for a single 10th level PC)
4.) defeat a lethal trap
5.) Deduce a series of skill based binary answers
6.) detect several hidden things
7.) detect several magically hidden things
8.) defeat a horde of minions
9.) cure or avoid 10 random inflictions of CR -2 to +2, delivered 1 per minute.
10.) heal or negate 100 points of hp damage dealt 1 a round for 100 rounds. the damage is untyped.
11.) Travel across 100 miles in 8 hours.
Then we ask the question: Who can do all 11 at 10th level with just their class skills, stats and abilities. Then we ask who can do all of them without foreknowledge and in 2 days. Finally in 1 day and the encounters are random.
Finally, we ask if you can do 5 of the 10 better than the class designed to do the thing without magic.
You are a well built tier 1 or the best classes in the game if you can blindly, randomly bypass these challenges back to back.
You are tier 1 if you can do all 10 in 2 days without foreknowledge and you did 5 out of 10 better than the specialized class (or are the specialized class).
You are tier 2 if you can do all 10 with foreknowledge and 5 out of 10 better than the specialized class.
Initial thoughts:
remember, no gear, no feats, no race.
All non-casters fall away immediately. Their class abilities cannot bypass several of these challenges. They can't do all 10. This is the bulk of playable classes.
All of the full casters can qualify for tier 2 immediately. Several of the partial casters will pass as well.
There's actually a good chance the full spontaneous casters and the memorized casters will qualify for tier 1. I can think of common designs for several classes that would get the job done. Unless their spells are weird, the cleric has this locked up. Some partial casters will make it.
Filter 2:
one question: can your default class abilities break the game system wide open? If yes, tier 1 or 2. If no, tier 3. Clerics have miracle. That's all you need to wish engine (they have other stuff as well earlier. planar ally is a great example). this step filters out most of the partial casters. they can kick ass in reasonable challenges all day long, but they cannot break the game.
Filter 3:
Can you, without changing your character sheet, but with time, now duplicate 8 out of every 10 other ways other classes can break the game?
Clerics can absolutely copy almost every way to break the game. This step filters out most of the spontaneous casters, because their spell selections are locked.
If yes, tier 1. If no, tier 2.
The interesting discussion is weird classes like the Master Summoner, who uses depth of action economy and a ridiculous amount of maximum level SLA's to try to brute force the gap between tier 2 and tier 1.

Example: feats are not permitted. A major class feature most non-caster classes rely upon, bonus feats, are removed from consideration. This greatly favors pure spellcasters while downplaying classes that get 5 - 10 bonus feats that would allow them to accomplish most of the items on a list that was written while looking at specific spells.

Example: all gear is removed. The ability to wear armor and use weapons is removed from all characters - a major class ability for most classes. This imposes the authors presumption that all problems must be solved with spells, even though the game assumes all characters start with access to basic weapons and armor.

Schrodinger in invoked here because all written spells are available to choose from, instead of the much smaller list of spells a wizard will actually have in his spellbook. The subset of spells actually memorized at any given time is even smaller, and also not taken into consideration. Further, access to a greater number of spells than 2xlevel+int bonus presumes expenditure of WBL, an expenditure not permitted to other classes in the support of their class features.


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I'd generally sum up the tier system as:

Tier 1: Prepared 1-9 spellcasters.

Tier 2: Spontaneous 1-9 spellcasters (and classes that are 1-9 casters in 1-6 clothing, like the APG summoner)

Tier 3: 1-6 casters

Tier 4: 1-4 casters and non-casters (aside: certain really strong classes, such as paladin, can probably be treated as tier 3 instead)

Tier 5: Tier 4 classes that the list writer doesn't like

I've enjoyed playing characters of every tier, but many players do not.

But do take the tier system with a grain of salt.

After all, Batman's only a tier 4 at best =P


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

A reliable tier system would be very difficult to hash out simply because there are way too many variables between experiences. Simple conventions at individual tables change the way any class can interact, and opinions vary wildly on what constitutes power, or potential in game.

I don't think the attempt at categorizing the classes as such is a bad thing though. I think its important to look over what the potential of different classes are to help shake out aspects of both designing and playing the game.

For example its really discussions over something akin to the tier system that have lead to my understanding of narrative power and how it impacts the game, which is the foundation of my current understanding of pathfinder and how different aspects of the game lead to the 'feelings' of power or weakness most people have.

Ultimately Tiers will be opinions not objective facts. But its not like opinions are irrelevant in a game meant as entertainment.

For me the Tiers break out as follows:

1. Classes that have a wide variety of supernatural abilities at their disposal that can not just interact with encounters and at higher levels the campaign, but actually change the circumstances. This isn't exclusively the perspective of spells nor do I think only 9 level casters should be in this list. Best Examples (in my opinion) are the Druid and the Summoner along with classic prepared casters of the Wizard and Cleric.

2. Classes that Have access to a limited variety of supernatural abilities that can with preparation be used to a wide variety of aims. Best examples for me there are the Sorceror, Oracle, and any other 9 level casters that don't fit into Tier 1. Probably the Hunter two as its abilities along with its capable pet which messes with action economy.

3. Classes that are extremely flexible in the situations they can interact with but with limited ability to change the circumstances. Most of the 6 level 3/4 bab classes fit here as well.

4. Classes with that are good at handling a limited variety of situations and contributing to them. This is the good combat classes (paladin, barbarian, ranger) as well as the ninja and unchained rogue/monk.

5. Everything else.

Obviously this is exclusively a measure of potential of the class. System mastery, convventions within a group and a whole lot of other things can modify this. But based in my years of play in pathfinder this is where I am at at the moment.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
Snowlilly wrote:

Example: feats are not permitted. A major class feature most non-caster classes rely upon, bonus feats, are removed from consideration. This greatly favors pure spellcasters while downplaying classes that get 5 - 10 bonus feats that would allow them to accomplish most of the items on a list that was written while looking at specific spells.

Example: all gear is removed. The ability to wear armor and use weapons is removed from all characters - a major class ability for most classes. This imposes the authors presumption that all problems must be solved with spells, even though the game assumes all characters start with access to basic weapons and armor.

Schrodinger in invoked here because all written spells are available to choose from, instead of the much smaller list of spells a wizard will actually have in his spellbook. The subset of spells actually memorized at any given time is even smaller, and also not taken into consideration. Further, access to a greater number of spells than 2xlevel+int bonus presumes expenditure of WBL, an expenditure not permitted to other classes in the support of their class features.

Read Gevaudan's specifications again. Only general level feats (odd level feats) are neglected. The intention is to consider only the elements of each class that vary between the classes. I'm also curious which 5-10 feats allow you to reach the degree of flexibility + problem solving power exhibited by 9th level spellcasters.

Maybe some others can chime in, but my understanding of those equipment restrictions is to avoid "silver bullet" arguments. Everyone can spend their wealth to pick up Goggles of Night to deal with darkness, so you can't use the existence of such equipment as an argument for low tier classes being more capable than their class features would indicate.

Not all problems *must* be solved with spells (and in regular games you will probably use a combination of spells, equipment/tools, skills, and RP to navigate various obstacles) but spellcasters have access to spell-based solutions in addition to all other avenues of solving problems. Where all tiers may have access to X problem solving methods, high tier classes have access to X+1 or X+2 methods. It doesn't hurt that the "+1" method for problem solving is also typically the easiest and most foolproof (ex. Invisibility + Fly for sneaking around at low levels vs. the universally accessible alternatives).

You don't need more than 10 spells to deal with almost all of the items on Gevaudan's list: Fly (vs 1,3,4), Invisibility (vs 2,3), Summon Monster (almost all), Detect Magic (6,7), Fireball (8), Teleport (11). Other, more specialized spells can make you even better at many of these tasks, but many 9th level casters are surprisingly competent even with a narrow selection of spells.


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The tier list linked by Air0r in an excellent tool for unseasoned DM's to use for balance in uncooperative groups and to make less work for him when trying to ensure that nobody at the table outshines the rest.

Rule of thumb is to have players be within two tiers of each other, 4 if they know what they're doing. It's also great at helping to balance experience between players. For example, if you have a veteran player at the same table as some new guys have the veteran play a tier 4 class, it helps a little to balance out the skill levels.

Once you have an experienced group and a DM that knows how to tailor the game for the class's strengths and weaknesses you don't really need the tier list anymore.

Dark Archive

Snowlilly wrote:
CWheezy wrote:
Snowlilly wrote:


The tier system assumes Shrodinger's wizard, and makes all comparisons based on that assumption while removing context provided by the rest of the game system. i.e. the current tier system was designed to support a predetermined result, not to objectively analyze in-game functionality.

Hi, multiple wizards have been built to show that they actually do have access to everything and are all powerful.

schodinger's wizard is a term used by someone who doesnt actually know what they are talking about

I know enough to break the game with nearly any class. You don't need a wizard, or even a caster.

Being able to break the game is merely a question of player skill. Choosing not to do so is good etiquette.

Paradozen wrote:

This is possibly the best description of tier one.

** spoiler omitted **
...

+1


SmiloDan, what have you done!?!

Shadow Lodge

Added another C/MD thread to the sea of similar ones on the forum. Why?


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Tiers are the polite way of saying that something is bogus. C/M D is codeword for" this is too deeply an emotional issue to ever be solvable."

Use these words as warning signs to flee the scene.


Arbane the Terrible wrote:
Is it time to break out the bingo board again?

I was indeed purposely making fun of O3.

Zhangar wrote:
After all, Batman's only a tier 4 at best =P

I'd say as normally written, Batman is at least Tier 3 - but that's only because he is what you might call "Schrödinger's Superhero". he always has the perfect solution is utility belt, even though he would have to carry a ton around to actually have the stuff he is shown using. He also always finds and always remembers every single important detail, no matter how rediculously unlikely that is.


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The feats/equipment thing is partly to prevent the "UMD Wizard" (character who solves all the obstacles with scrolls/wands/magic items) but also because those are not class features. All characters get a feat at level 1, 3, 5, etc. All characters have a certain amount of wealth by level. If one character can do it, so can every other character.

We can all agree Commoner is the worst, right? Worst BAB, worst saves, worst skill points (though some might say better class skills than a fighter), worst proficiencies, and zero class features. If we include magic items and general feats, the commoner can do anything that only requires those. So any solution using them is also "possible to do with a commoner". That's bad.

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