Why Tier 5s are in Tier 5.

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Gr1lledcheese:
It was brought up that there's no set explanation for why low tier classes are generally less effective. With that in mind, I figured I'd start one. I'll be doing one for each tiers, but I want to get the low tiers out of the way first, because most people know why classes like Wizards and Druids are above average. I'm looking for your input on the classes, and to make this a guide for people new to CO. Thanks to all who contribute in advance.

From JaronK's Tier System For Classes guide, the widely accepted Char Op base power description thread:
 
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 rest of the party is weak in that situation and 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.
Examples: Fighter, Monk, CA Ninja, Healer, Swashbuckler, Rokugan Ninja, Soulknife, Expert, Paladin, Knight

On the Tier 5 dips:
It's worth noting that very few of the T5 classes are as hopeless or completely useless as it would seem from being so low on the range: 1-2 levels of monk is often worthwhile, 2-4 levels of fighter (6 with dungeoncrasher, but that's listed rightfully as T4), 1-3 levels of swashbuckler (or even taking it for 17-20 levels with daring outlaw), 1-6 levels of paladin (I like the greater dispel magic or celestial mount ACFs at 6th) are all probably good choices in many builds.  

I wish I could cover the Healer a little more, but JaronK did a great job of summing up why it's T5 (though as it is his system, that's not entirely unexpected!)  It's quite good at what it does (healing and removing status effects), but what it does simply isn't all that exciting or necessary for a large part of the game (levels 5-11, pretty much).  It's not useless by any stretch, but its main competition, the cleric, is so powerful that the Healer ends up looking much worse than it deserves.  In a party when the Healer is the only character with healing and useful spells like remove paralysis, etc., he'll feel quite useful to the party, but put him in the same party as an optimized cleric and the DM will be highly challenged to make that player feel like he's contributing anything useful.
-Akalsaris

Why Tier 5s are Tier 5:

Fighter:

Cons: Feats are inferior to good class features. Rarely can one throw a bucket of feats at an enemy unless they are very strong feats...

... but strong feats can be taken by any other character as well. -Solo
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Note that the Fighter is actually quite high in Tier 5, bordering on Tier 4.  But one of the main markers of the low tiers is a lack of flexibility.  An archer Fighter is quite good as a damage dealer... not as good as an equivalently optimized Barbarian Charger, but still quite effective.  However, that's just about all he is.  His class makes him good at dealing damage with arrows, but when the situation calls for something else (i.e. there's not a clear shot, or it's not a combat situation) his class offers him critically few options.  The same is true of most other kinds of Fighter... though the class itself can make many builds, any one build is generally either inflexible (due to specializing in just one trick) or ineffective (due to not specializing in that one trick).

A further note about the Fighter is that a lot of his tricks (shooting, charging, tripping) can be accomplished by about level 6-8.  That's great when you get your first trick, but if you try to diversify (for example, adding Power Attack, Improved Bull Rush, Shock Trooper, and Leap Attack to an archer build) you're adding another trick that would be good at level 6-8... but now it's level 16.  Having two level 6-8 tricks at level 16 is as bad as a caster getting twice as many 4th level spells at 16.  It's not nearly as good as getting level appropriate abilities (in that metaphore, 8th level spells). -JaronK

Pros: One of the best non magical damage dealing classes, especially with regards to archery.  Though it requires a Barbarian dip to shine as a charger, their feats are useful for that too.  Fighters make excellent short dips for many non magic builds.  Fighters can also make very effective trippers, though Fighters can't really be effective at all of these at once (Fighters in general can be good trippers, chargers, and archers, but no one Fighter can be great at all of those).  Note that the Zhentarium Fighter is clearly Tier 4, mostly due to Imperious Command. -JaronK



Monk:

Cons: They aren't exceptional tanks due to lowish HD, medium BAB, multi-attribute dependency (and thus comparably lower combat stats than melee monsters; this also hurts their supposed strengths in Grapple, Tripping & other combat maneuvers, along with Stunning Fist; all of those heavily reward straightforward dedication to a single stat over all else, and a Monk really can't pull that off), the fact that you can't combine their movement speed with Flurry (Flurry requires full attack, movement allows only one) and lack of weapon proficiencies (unarmed strikes getting decent dice later on, but lacking in special abilities and enhancing them costs a fuckton; oh, and no reach, no AoO-builds). Flurry is needed for them to do decent damage forcing them to ignore their speed boost in combat.

They aren't exceptional scouts due to lacking Trapfinding and having relatively low skill points and being unable to afford decent Int thanks to multi-attribute dependency (Hide/Move Silently/Tumble is all good, but if you don't have Trapfinding, scouting ahead in a hostile environment is like to get you killed).

They aren't exceptional mage killers (*chuckle*) because they really have nothing to especially threaten mages with. Just like every other warrior type, their movement is inferior to teleportation (once-per-day Dimension Door doesn't cut it), they have few if any ways to locate the mage and penetrate magical defenses (Mirror Image + Displacement + Blink: good luck hitting... Or Wall of Force) and they can't even reasonably use bows so their ability to act at range is infinitely diminished. Oh, and if they somehow manage to plop an Anti-Magic Field around themselves? They just gave up like 70% of their class features. Thanks to Greater Spell Penetration (in Core)/Assay Resistance (out of Core), their multi-attribute dependency, spells that ignore saves (even just good ol' Rays like Enervation/Scorching Ray/whatever, or Forcecages or something dumb), spells that trivialize touch AC (hello, True Strike!) and so on, all their magical defenses really add up to jack shit.

They aren't exceptional skirmishers due to not being able to Flurry with standard action and their speed bonus being enhancement thus, while probably being able to somewhat remain out of the harm's way with Spring Attack, not reducing the damage their allies take one bit and dealing negligible damage themselves. Indeed, this is the worst thing a Monk can do since it means the people who do the fighting are now taking all the beatdown while the Monk isn't contributing to the team's damage in any meaningful way either. In other words, the Monk isn't taking any hits and he isn't dealing any damage this way; thus he's as good as an empty slot in the party.


And overall, their class features kinda suck. Mostly, you can look at 'em like this:
-Flurry? That's nice! Now if only I were able to focus on one stat and have full BAB, I'd be doing a lot with my extra attacks on highest bonus!
-Improved Grapple/Trip/Stunning Fist/whatever? Nice! Now, if I only were able to focus on one stat and have full BAB, I could be landing these and winning the opposed checks!
-Speed boost? That's nice! Now, if I only could move and attack with my Flurry (which "almost" makes me equal to full BAB types), I could be doing something! Oh, and if this only stacked with magical speed boosts I'd actually be faster than the other classes.
-Unarmed Strikes? That's nice! Now, if I only got size increases or something so the damage dice would actually add up to something, and got 2x Power Attack returns and full BAB, this could add up to something!
-Ki Strikes? Nice, my unarmed strikes pretend to be weapons and get some minor abilities that almost replicate what my 1000gp weapon does! If only my WPL wasn't 100000...
-Slow Fall? So I get to replicate a 1st level spell by level 20? No? It only works next to walls? Well, almost replicate a 1st level spell!
-All this nice stuff, Abundant Step, Quivering Palm, Empty Body, I can replicate many kinds of spells poorly...once per DAY! Oh, make it Once per WEEK for that scary scary, broken Finger of Death With Save DC Derived Off Secondary Stat That Requires An Attack To Hit To Be Used.
-Oh, there's more? I get to replicate few more random low level spells? Cool. Oh, and Evasion? Yeah, nice, my Reflex-saves actually matter something! That's like...25k saved on the Ring.
-I get Spell Resistance? Just to ensure my team can't waste a Heal on me when I'm about to die? Cool!


Lack of synergy and multi-attribute dependency pretty much screw Monks up. Oh, and the good class features being limited to Very Few Uses Per Day. Seriously, if Monks had the ability to use Flurry whenever making an attack, if they got like Wis x uses of their now-daily abilities and the ability to use Dex for combat maneuvers, and Wis/Dex for damage, they'd be just fine. Grab Weapon Finesse/Intuitive Attack and they'd be able to go to town. As all those things are fucked up though, they don't. As I mentioned above, those multiclass builds easily sidestep these issues. Mono-classed Monks don't though. -Eldariel
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Monk 2 with Tashalatora feat / Ardent 18 , is waayyy superior to Monk 20. It's not even close. -Awaken DM Golem

Pros: Though horrible as a long class, these guys are an awesome dip.  Monk 1, Monk 2, and Monk 6 are all solid break points, providing many bonus feats, full saves, and Wis to AC (which Carmendine Monk or Kung Fu Genius can turn into Int to AC).  This class goes great with Shou Disciple, which progresses flurry and gives full BAB.  The class is heavily upstaged by the Unarmed Variant Swordsage, but it's still a solid dip.  Consider Monk 6/Shou Disciple 5/Kensai 9 or Monk 6/Shou Disciple 5/Unarmed Swordsage 9 as solid examples of a fighting monk build.  Monk 1/OA Samurai 1/Warblade 8/Shou Disciple 5/Iajuitsu Master 5 is another solid build.  The combination of Sense Motive and Diplomacy on a wisdom based class can be very handy... our party will often back up the skill monkeys with a Monk during social encounters, with the monk using Sense Motive to watch the interaction.  Monk is also a solid dip with Druid, since you can use iterative attacks with your unarmed strikes while Wild Shaping, and Wis to AC is handy if you can't purchase a Monk's Belt. -JaronK



CA Ninja:

Cons: The weakest of the skillmonkeys, tied with the Expert.  Sudden Strike is simply not as good as Sneak Attack.  His invisibility powers are handy at low levels, but at those levels he can't use them very often, and at high levels too many things have Blindsight or can see invisibility.  His MAD problems are nasty, making it hard for him to have enough skill points to truly be a skill monkey, and this combined with his more limited skill list and only 6+ skills (low for a skill monkey) combine to make him inferior at that role.  Poison Use is cute, but to make poisons effective you need to be able to generate them yourself (as a Factotum with Minor Creation can) and you'd want the Master of Poisons feat anyway.  And too many of his neat abilities are easily created via cheap magic items, such that any class can have those abilities anyway.  In the end, it's just a weak version of an Unarmed Swordsage or Factotum, and putting this class next to those two classes makes it clear the class is far behind (and it's distinctly worse than a Rogue, too). -JaronK

Pros: They've got a few very cool class abilities... they're just upstaged by most of the other skill monkeys and have too many downsides.  But stuff like Ghost Mind is pretty cool, and if you don't have ToB their ability to phase through walls when needed is pretty handy for an infiltrator.  If you do have ToB, the Swordsage just does this better. -JaronK



Healer:

Cons: The thing is, Healers are only good at one thing for the first 16 or so levels... healing.  Specifically, in combat healing, because a lot of other classes are much better out of combat healers (Clerics and Druids with the Vigor line, Dread Necromancers in groups healed by negative energy, Binders with Buer, Crusaders, etc).  In combat healing, however, isn't terribly useful... as a rule, it's better to spend that spell getting the enemy dead faster and then healing later than wasting actions healing with spot heals while your enemies use their actions to deal more damage than your cure spell.  Obviously the Heal spell changes that, but until that point in combat healing tends to be a bad idea (Crusaders obviously are a strong exception).  As such, Healers fall in the catagory of "In some cases, can do one thing very well, but that one thing is very often not needed."  They do in combat healing very well, but in combat healing usually isn't the best idea anyway.  They're like Monks in that respect... sure, Monk run speed is incredible, but high ground run speed is not something most parties actually need.

So yeah, the only thing they really do well is in combat healing, which isn't important.  As general healers, they're not as good as the guys that can do more efficient long term heals... and that's actually a lot of classes these days.

Now, when a healer hits level 17 and gets Gate, the whole ballgame changes... but so few games are actually played in the 17-20 range that I didn't want to rank them higher just for those few levels. -JaronK

Pros: Hey, they get Gate.  That's awesome when you finally get it. -JaronK
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They also get some spells earlier than other classes, like Mass Heal at 8th, Greater Restoration at 6th, Stone to Flesh at 5th, and Restoration at 3rd, which is nice.  Mostly having Mass Heal in 8th level slots is the best part, since that leaves 9th level slots open for Gate. -Akalsaris



Swashbuckler:


Cons: The Swashbuckler, as has been stated before, is a three level class. (Although there is some back and forth about the usefulness of their 4th level ability. Beyond that point, you gain abilities you could have received elsewhere (Slippery Mind, Skill Mastery). Swashbucklers also suck majorly against anything immune to critical hits, because they just lost a primary source of damage (Insightful Strike) and any chance to swing the battle in their favor by damaging the enemy's attributes. Their class features are, a majority of the time, simply improved numbers (higher flanking bonuses/bonuses to AC against one enemy/Reflex saves), and they have just a dash of MAD. -Bozwevial
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Summary
A Swashbuckler is a more focused Fighter with 2 more skill points per level and different class skills.  They get social skills (Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, and Sense Motive), but none of their class abilities rely on WIS or CHA.  Their class abilities require them to be unencumbered and wearing light or no armor, which might be OK were Hide and Move Silently class skills!   A Swordsage gets 3/4 BAB, but 2 good saves, Evasion, more skill points, stealth skills as class, maneuvers, and their WIS bonus to AC while in light armor (and maybe no armor, depending on your interpretation).  Even a core-only Rogue can fill a Swashbuckler's roles at least as well, save for the BAB, but Rogue16/Ranger2/Fighter2 functions similarly.

A Swashbuckler has its place in a game.  A 1-level dip provides Weapon Finesse and more skill points than Fighter1, and Swashbuckler3 grants Insightful Strike, but unless your character has a super high INT, you love finessable/light weapons, and you aren't sure where to go the next 3 levels, avoid this class!

For comparison purposes, I earnestly believe a Soulknife, Fighter, or Healer is significantly ahead of a Swashbuckler, putting ol' swashy near the bottom of tier 5.  It's like the class designer looked at the Fighter table, gutted the thing, and slapped on some minor patches just before deadline.

I wish there were something... redeeming about this class, but it's a waste of space that should have been made into a PrC of no more than 3 levels, or have Insightful Strike be a feat.

Abilities
Weapon Finesse [1] -  A Fighter can also get this at level 1 but a Rogue or Swordsage must wait 'til 3 or multiclass.

Grace [2, 11, 20] - At best, you get a minor bonus to your Reflex save (+1 at L2, +2 at L11, +3 at L20), if you're light enough.  You don't get Evasion, which even Monks, Rangers, and Rogues get in core and Swordsages get in Tome of Battle..

Insightful Strike [3] - You get your INT bonus to damage with light or finessable weapons against anything not crit immune, but that's your only redeeming feature.  This stacks with your STR bonus, but a multi-hander with Power Attack easily do better with less MAD, or a Swordsage with the Shadow Blade feat can even multi-wield with less of a problem.  This seems most useful with a spiked chain wielder who wants more damage.

Dodge [5, 10, 15, 20] - You get Dodge as the feat, but it improves slightly as you level.  Dodge is one of the weakest feats around and the AC bonus is minor at best.

Acrobatic Charge [7] - You can avoid rough terrain when charging, but any character with a high enough Jump and Tumble can do that.  Oops!  Psionic characters can use Up the Walls to do similar things from level 1, and a Hood, if properly built, doesn't care what terrain "blocks" her path; she circumnavigates it by jumping or flying.

Improved Flanking [8] - You and only you get +4 instead of +2 when flanking.  Accuracy bonuses are cheap.  Buy one.

Lucky [11] - A Cleric of Luck can do this at level 1.  You're only 10 levels behind.

Acrobatic Skill Mastery [13] - You can always take 10 on Jump or Tumble checks.  At this level, you can probably easily afford items to boost these skills enough you won't notice.  Really; you're level 13.  The Wizard just got plane shift and reverse gravity.  In a fully logical world, he'd be binding efreet by now for wish loops.  You can take 10 on Jump checks.  Do the math.

Weakening Critical [14] - Against targets vulnerable to crits, you also do 2 STR damage when you crit.  I do at least that much at level 1 with a ray of enfeeblement.  To be fair, the party Wizard probably banned Necromancy long ago, but foes at this level who are crit immune probably aren't fazed by losing 2 STR.  Unless you seriously pump your crit range and accuracy, you'll be critting on a 15 at best, and more likely on a 17 or 19.

Slippery Mind [17] - One round after you fail a save against a mind-affecting Enchantment effect, you can reroll your save.  A Warblade or Swordsage can do similar things from level 1 with Moment of Perfect Mind, potentially auto-saving.  (A +40 Concentration is possible, even likely, by level 15ish.)  Alternatively, a Rogue could get this at level 10, or at level 13 if he took Improved Evasion at 10, which he probably did.

Wounding Critical [19] - You also do 2 CON damage when you crit something- and mind you, many things at this level aren't crittable.  This would be handy, possibly very spiffy, around level 6.  A Wounding weapon (+2) does 1 CON damage per hit.  A Spell Storing weapon could store a Clerical bestow curse for a similar effect. -Endarire

Pros:the Daring Outlaw feat almost redeems the swashbuckler. A rogue4/swashbuckler16 has almost full BAB, full sneak attack, and trapfinding with a good number of skill points. -Ninjarabbit



Rokugan Ninja:

Cons: A level 20 Rokugan Ninja is Tier 5 because its class features don't give it any more real options then an NPC Warrior. It can move faster than a Rogue and hit as hard, but with only 4+int skills and a worse skill list and a d6 hit die a Rokugan Ninja can't bring anything special to the table at higher levels. -Juton

Pros: As a dip class it can be wonderful, full BAB and an increase to sneak attack or Int to Initiative at level 4. -Juton




Soulknife:

Cons: It's "magic" weapon scales slower than normal magic weapons. It looks like a sneaky class, but Psychic Strike requires ditching your Move action; defeating the purpose. It's overall structure ends up about the same as the NPC Warrior class ... not good. Oriental Adventure's Samurai 1 is superior to the whole class, except for the (su) self generating blade. Mind's Eye updated the Psychic Warrior, to have 1 power effectively replace almost the whole class of Soulknife. Wow ... or Why?! Warrior 18 / Psychic Warrior 2 or Adept 2, is better and more versatile. Soulknife 1 / Wilder or PsyWar 19 , is waayyy superior to Soulknife 20. It's not even close. But hey, you can still act important and sneaky. -Awaken DM Golem

Pros:




Expert:


Cons: Before the factotum, the expert had an extremely niche use of being able to pick 10 class skills.  After the factotum came out with all skills as class skills, class features, and greater than or equal to features for everything else, the expert became strictly suboptimal. One thing the expert can do pretty well - pump up charisma, and deal damage with Iajutsu focus while using UMD for spells. -The_Mad_Linguist
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Expert 1 vs. Rogue 1 , an argument could be made for Expert 1, in very very rare circumstances.
Expert 3+ vs. Rogue 3+ ... it's not even close. -Awaken DM Golem

Pros: Iajuitsu Focus makes these guys shockingly effective in combat for an NPC skillmonkey class.  Bust out the Gnomish Quickrazors and go to town... these guys can actually show up the CA Ninja at combat with some work (and party support).  Diplomacy and UMD can be very useful (if campaign dependent) skills.  And Autohypnosis is likewise a very handy skill to throw in there.  Sure, Factotums are pretty much strictly better, but if you wanted to play as an NPC class, this is one of the best (the Adept is better, but the Expert is still solid). -JaronK



Paladin:


Cons: Paladins suck due to almost the same conditions that make a fighter suck. They are 1~2 trick ponys and every single one of those tricks is considerably lesser than what other classes can do.

First off a Paladin requires four abilities which leads them to having very low scores overall in point buy or to have poor scores in key abilities from low rolls. They have very little to offer skill wise outside of diplomacy, but to even take that a Paladin would require 12 int since their two skill points would be spent in Handle Animal and Ride.

As for their other abilities they are mostly flavorful. Detect Evil for example is pretty moot. If it's attacking then attack back. If it's an evil guy undercover then his alignment is likewise hidden for a handful of coin. Smite Evil is one of the Paladin's signature abilities it's per day usage renders it worthless. By the 20th level you can smite five times per day. Comparatively a Fist of Raziel gives five smites over a ten level period and Ordained Champion gives you 3 + cha mod on the first level. Secondly, the damage bonus isn't all that great. Most people tend to PrC out by the 6th level for better class abilities which means your smite damage is only a mere +6 bonus which is something you could dig up for less than 5k on magical items. Unlike a touch attack spell if you miss with smite it is still expended and don't expect to gain much of an attack bonus with that low charisma. Even new players will see how worthless Remove Disease is so I won't comment on that one. The Code of Conduct is mostly there for players to argue what is allowed or not.

The Charging Smite is a useful and fixes the miss problem with smite and helps them turn into an ubercharger but it costs the Paladin their other signature class ability. The mount. I consider the Mount to be the best Paladin class ability, which in a way tells you just how badly they suck. When you first get it at the 5th level all you can do is replicate a first level spell once per day. Later on it it's worse than the effect of a 3rd level spell called Phantom Steed. At least that steed won't impose a month long penalty to your combat when it gets fireballed.

The spell list too limited to be useful and casting uses up the Paladin's standard action for a minor buff or a cure effect no one has any use for. There is a class substitution to replace the list with wizard spells. But a duskblade is a much, much better choice. So is a sorcerer/fighter/eldritch knight...

Finally anything a Paladin can do a Cleric can do better. Clerics are better at healing, turning, spell casting, summoning pets, and are not that far behind a Paladin combat wise. Divine Power quickly makes up for that. For an added insult there are PrCs that give full Paladin-like flavor and abilities in less levels. A Paladin's build choices are actually more limited than a fighters' who at least has thousands of feats to choose from and are all subpar in the same way JaronK says the fighter's abilities are.
-SorO_Lost

Pros: The base class is quite lacking, but the variant Paladins can be quite useful.  Paladin of Tyranny is an awesome 3 level dip, for example, and combined well with Hexblade 4 (with Dark Companion).  Standard Paladin 2 is a lot of fun for Kobold Sorcerer gishes, who can take those levels and still have full caster progression (via Loredrake and the Greater Draconic Rite).  Note that the PrC Paladin is far stronger than the regular Paladin, though that's partly because it gives all of the useful Paladin abilities in just three levels while losing you only one caster level.  And Detect Evil at will can be very handy in some specific sorts of campaigns. -JaronK
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I know it isn't a huge deal, but I believe the splat books and, specifically, the Spell Compendium added some noteworthy spells for Paladins.  Some of them can be quite cool and useful.  I'm not trying to say they bring the Paladin out o this tier, but I feel they are worth mentioning in the Pros section. -Optimator



Knight:


Cons: Like the Healer, the Knight was designed to only fill a single role: tanking.  Unlike the Healer, tanking is at least a solid and useful role for the party from levels 1-20.  However, tanking is the only role that the Knight can fill well, as he has almost no damage-related abilities and no social skills except for Intimidate (like a fighter) and Knowledge (Nobility).  If he had been given 4 skills/level and Bluff, Diplomacy, and Sense Motive, the Knight's natural Charisma synergy would have helped him to be on par in that role with a paladin or a crusader - but unfortunately he isn't.  So he fits into T5 by virtue of lack of versatility - he does one thing quite well, but very little else.

Many of his feats and abilities are also slightly unfocused - he gets Mounted Combat and Ride, but no other mounted-related abilities; and he gets Shield Block but is unable to use tower shields.  In any encounter that needs a solid tank, he'll shine - unless that party already has a crusader, warblade, druid, binder, etc.  In encounters that don't require a tank (spell-casting opponents, archers, mass combat, traps, anything RP-related), the Knight will generally be of little help to the party as well. -Akalsaris

Pros: Bulwark of Defense is awesome.  Too bad there's a maneuver that does basically the same thing, and most of the rest of their abilities are poor.  But Bulwark is awesome, and don't forget Diplomacy as a class skill. -JaronK



Divine Mind:

Pro/Con (can't really tell) - Swift 1 Linked Psychic Reformation, allows a complete rebooting of the class during the second round of combat. Any other manifester class can do this sooner. But it does open the whole range of the class, at a steep experience price. Broken use of a broken power, to emulate a Marshal 1 with big tricks. Is this a Pro or a Con ?! -Awaken DM Golem

ConsUbernoob was right, the original didn't work. An awful late WotC edit of the Ardent spawned this monstrosity. Slow Marshall 1 plus Slow Adept 16 is better. Marshall 1 / Warrior 1 / Commoner 2 / Adept 16 outpaces the original. Mind's Eye updates are MANDATORY. Least expandability of any class WotC has published. Original is Tier 6, but really only because the design was screwy. -Awaken DM Golem

ProsMind's Eye updates save the class a little bit. Substitute Powers saves the power choices. The Turn Undead option make some Auras more useable. Hidden Talent on Wisdom, secret stacks with the Soulknife Hidden Talent; if you think 1st level powers are worth writing home about. Hey anybody want yet another Astral Construct? Divine Mind now has too much of them. Recharge Power Points available right off the bat. Hi level aura can locate any Outsider ... you'd call it broken if it was a Tier 1 with this. Limited enough list of powers, that you could allow the borkt Power Stone trick, and you still wouldn't be a Tier 2 caster. This is a "pro" because broken that isn't broken is fun. -Awaken DM Golem



Solo:
Fighter:

Feats are inferior to good class features. Rarely can one throw a bucket of feats at an enemy unless they are very strong feats...

... but strong feats can be taken by any other character as well.

JaronK:
I suppose I'm obligated to answer here.

Fighter:  Note that the Fighter is actually quite high in Tier 5, bordering on Tier 4.  But one of the main markers of the low tiers is a lack of flexibility.  An archer Fighter is quite good as a damage dealer... not as good as an equivalently optimized Barbarian Charger, but still quite effective.  However, that's just about all he is.  His class makes him good at dealing damage with arrows, but when the situation calls for something else (i.e. there's not a clear shot, or it's not a combat situation) his class offers him critically few options.  The same is true of most other kinds of Fighter... though the class itself can make many builds, any one build is generally either inflexible (due to specializing in just one trick) or ineffective (due to not specializing in that one trick).

A further note about the Fighter is that a lot of his tricks (shooting, charging, tripping) can be accomplished by about level 6-8.  That's great when you get your first trick, but if you try to diversify (for example, adding Power Attack, Improved Bull Rush, Shock Trooper, and Leap Attack to an archer build) you're adding another trick that would be good at level 6-8... but now it's level 16.  Having two level 6-8 tricks at level 16 is as bad as a caster getting twice as many 4th level spells at 16.  It's not nearly as good as getting level appropriate abilities (in that metaphore, 8th level spells).

Monk:  There's another thread that sums this one up nicely, so see that thread.

CA Ninja:  The weakest of the skillmonkeys, tied with the Expert.  Sudden Strike is simply not as good as Sneak Attack.  His invisibility powers are handy at low levels, but at those levels he can't use them very often, and at high levels too many things have Blindsight or can see invisibility.  His MAD problems are nasty, making it hard for him to have enough skill points to truly be a skill monkey, and this combined with his more limited skill list and only 6+ skills (low for a skill monkey) combine to make him inferior at that role.  Poison Use is cute, but to make poisons effective you need to be able to generate them yourself (as a Factotum with Minor Creation can) and you'd want the Master of Poisons feat anyway.  And too many of his neat abilities are easily created via cheap magic items, such that any class can have those abilities anyway.  In the end, it's just a weak version of an Unarmed Swordsage or Factotum, and putting this class next to those two classes makes it clear the class is far behind (and it's distinctly worse than a Rogue, too).

Healer:  Oh, the healer.  In combat healing is not a great plan anyway, and most of the Healer's abilities are geared toward that.  The worst part?  Other classes (with access to better healing spells, such as the Vigor line) actually do it better anyway.  Out of combat healing is far better done by a Binder, Crusader, Cleric, or Dread Necromancer.  Healers do get Gate at level 17, but that's not going to be a factor for most players because so few players actually play at that level.

...to be continued.

Gr1lledcheese:
Solo and JaronK's replies have been added.

Jaron, I didn't put in your description of the healer from this thread because I used the one from the Tier system for classes thread. If you'd like me to include the one you posted here also, let me know.

The_Mad_Linguist:
Expert: Before the factotum, the expert had an extremely niche use of being able to pick 10 class skills.  After the factotum came out with all skills as class skills, class features, and greater than or equal to features for everything else, the expert became strictly suboptimal.

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