top of page

Most effective character builds for D&D classes

Updated: Feb 13



Dungeons and Dragons is a game of endless possibilities, allowing players to create unique characters with their own personalities, skills, and abilities. However, choosing the right combination of class, race, skills, and equipment can be daunting, especially for new players. Character builds are essential to maximise the potential of your character and make them effective in combat and role-playing situations. In this article, we'll provide an overview of the most popular classes in Dungeons and Dragons and recommend the most effective character builds for each class. Whether you prefer a tanky fighter, a stealthy rogue, a versatile wizard, or any other class, we've got you covered with expert advice on building your character for maximum impact. Let's dive in!



I. Fighter


The Fighter is a versatile class that excels in close-quarters combat. With a focus on physical strength and martial prowess, the Fighter can take on a variety of roles in a party, from a frontline tank to a damage-dealing bruiser. There are several effective character builds for Fighters, depending on your preferred playstyle and role in the party.


A. Two-handed weapon wielder


If you enjoy dealing massive damage with a single blow, the two-handed weapon wielder build is for you. This build focuses on using weapons like greatswords or mauls to deal heavy damage to enemies. To maximize your damage output, choose the Great Weapon Fighting style, which allows you to reroll 1s and 2s on damage dice. The Great Weapon Master feat is also essential for this build, as it allows you to make an additional attack as a bonus action after a critical hit or a kill.


B. Sword and shield tank


If you prefer a more defensive playstyle, the sword and shield tank build is a great option. This build focuses on using a sword and shield to absorb damage and protect allies. Choose either the Defense or Protection Fighting style, which will grant you bonuses to your Armor Class (AC) or allow you to impose disadvantage on attacks against allies, respectively. The Shield Master feat is also useful for this build, as it allows you to use your shield to push enemies and knock them prone, giving you and your allies an advantage in combat.


C. Archery specialist


If you prefer to stay at a distance and deal damage from afar, the archery specialist build is perfect for you. This build focuses on using ranged weapons like longbows or crossbows to deal damage to enemies from a safe distance. Choose the Archery Fighting style, which grants you a +2 bonus to attack rolls with ranged weapons, and the Sharpshooter feat, which allows you to ignore cover and long range penalties, and deal extra damage on hits at the cost of a -5 penalty to your attack roll.


II. Rogue


The Rogue is a cunning class that excels in stealth and deception. With a focus on finesse and mobility, the Rogue can take on a variety of roles in a party, from a sneaky assassin to a skillful rogue. There are several effective character builds for Rogues, depending on your preferred playstyle and role in the party.


A. Stealthy assassin


If you enjoy dealing massive damage from the shadows, the stealthy assassin build is for you. This build focuses on using the Rogue's Sneak Attack feature to deal extra damage to enemies when you have advantage on the attack or when an ally is within 5 feet of the target. Choose the Assassin subclass, which grants you the ability to deal critical damage on surprise attacks, and expertise in Stealth and Thieves' Tools, which allows you to move silently and pick locks and traps.


B. Ranged attacker


If you prefer to stay at a distance and deal damage from afar, the ranged attacker build is a great option. This build focuses on using ranged weapons like shortbows or hand crossbows and ranged spells to deal damage to enemies from a safe distance. Choose the Arcane Trickster subclass, which grants you access to spells like Mage Hand and Find Familiar, and expertise in Sleight of Hand and Stealth, which allows you to pick locks and pockets and move silently.


C. Skill monkey


If you prefer to be a jack-of-all-trades and have a variety of skills at your disposal, the skill monkey build is perfect for you. This build focuses on using the Rogue's expertise feature to gain double proficiency in multiple skills, making you the go-to person for any situation. Choose the Thief subclass, which grants you the Fast Hands feature, allowing you to use objects as a bonus action, and the Skulker feat, which allows you to hide more effectively and make sneak attacks from hiding.



III. Wizard


The Wizard is a versatile class that excels in magic and intelligence. With a focus on spellcasting and knowledge, the Wizard can take on a variety of roles in a party, from a powerful blaster to a skilled controller. There are several effective character builds for Wizards, depending on your preferred playstyle and role in the party.


A. Blaster


If you enjoy dealing massive amounts of damage with spells, the blaster build is for you. This build focuses on using evocation spells like Fireball or Lightning Bolt to deal high damage to enemies. Choose spells that deal high damage in a wide area, such as Meteor Swarm or Chain Lightning, and consider taking the Empowered Evocation feature, which allows you to add your Intelligence modifier to the damage of your evocation spells.


B. Controller


If you prefer to control the battlefield and limit enemy movement, the controller build is a great option. This build focuses on using spells like Web or Hypnotic Pattern to restrict enemy movement and control the flow of combat. Choose spells that affect large areas or multiple enemies, such as Wall of Force or Cloudkill, and consider taking the Sculpt Spells feature, which allows you to protect your allies from the effects of your spells.


C. Summoner


If you prefer to have powerful creatures fight alongside you, the summoner build is perfect for you. This build focuses on using spells like Summon Monster to bring forth creatures to fight alongside the party. Choose spells that summon multiple creatures or creatures with powerful abilities, such as Conjure Elemental or Planar Binding, and consider taking the Improved Minor Illusion feature, which allows you to create realistic illusions to deceive enemies.


Remember, as a Wizard, your spell selection is key to your effectiveness. Make sure to choose spells that fit your playstyle and complement your party's strengths and weaknesses.




IV. Cleric


The Cleric is a divine class that excels in healing and support. With a focus on faith and devotion, the Cleric can take on a variety of roles in a party, from a dedicated healer to a formidable tank. There are several effective character builds for Clerics, depending on your preferred playstyle and role in the party.


A. Healer


If you enjoy keeping your allies alive and healthy, the healer build is for you. This build focuses on using spells like Cure Wounds or Mass Healing Word to restore health to allies. Choose spells that can heal multiple targets at once or heal large amounts of damage, such as Heal or Mass Cure Wounds, and consider taking the Disciple of Life feature, which allows you to add extra healing to your spells.


B. Tank


If you prefer to absorb damage and protect your allies, the tank build is a great option. This build focuses on using heavy armor and spells like Shield of Faith or Aura of Protection to protect allies and absorb damage. Choose spells that can grant temporary hit points or reduce damage taken, such as Aid or Protection from Energy, and consider taking the Blessed Healer feature, which allows you to heal yourself when you heal others.


C. Damage dealer


If you prefer to deal damage to enemies and support your allies, the damage dealer build is perfect for you. This build focuses on using spells like Guiding Bolt or Spiritual Weapon to deal damage to enemies. Choose spells that deal radiant or necrotic damage, as they are often effective against undead or fiendish enemies, and consider taking the Divine Strike feature, which allows you to deal extra damage with your weapon attacks.


Remember, as a Cleric, your choice of deity and domain can greatly affect your spells and abilities. Make sure to choose a deity and domain that fit your playstyle and complement your party's strengths and weaknesses.



V. Paladin


The Paladin is a divine class that excels in combat and righteousness. With a focus on faith and valor, the Paladin can take on a variety of roles in a party, from a devoted healer to a formidable damage dealer. There are several effective character builds for Paladins, depending on your preferred playstyle and role in the party.


A. Tank


If you prefer to absorb damage and protect your allies, the tank build is for you. This build focuses on using heavy armor, Lay on Hands, and spells like Shield of Faith or Aura of Protection to protect allies and absorb damage. Choose spells that can grant temporary hit points or reduce damage taken, such as Aid or Protection from Energy, and consider taking the Sentinel feat, which allows you to protect your allies by preventing enemies from moving past you.


B. Healer


If you enjoy keeping your allies alive and healthy, the healer build is a great option. This build focuses on using spells like Lay on Hands or Aura of Vitality to restore health to allies. Choose spells that can heal multiple targets at once or heal large amounts of damage, such as Mass Cure Wounds or Heal, and consider taking the Beacon of Hope feature, which allows you to maximize healing to all targets.


C. Damage dealer


If you prefer to deal damage to enemies and support your allies, the damage dealer build is perfect for you. This build focuses on using Divine Smite and spells like Thunderous Smite to deal massive damage to enemies. Choose spells that deal radiant or necrotic damage, as they are often effective against undead or fiendish enemies, and consider taking the Great Weapon Fighting style or Dual Wielder feat, which allows you to deal extra damage with your weapon attacks.


Remember, as a Paladin, your Oath can greatly affect your spells and abilities. Make sure to choose an Oath that fits your playstyle and complements your party's strengths and weaknesses.



VI. Barbarian


The Barbarian is a fierce class that excels in physical strength and endurance. With a focus on rage and primal instincts, the Barbarian can take on a variety of roles in a party, from a frontline tank to a relentless damage dealer. There are several effective character builds for Barbarians, depending on your preferred playstyle and role in the party.


A. Tank


If you prefer to absorb damage and protect your allies, the tank build is for you. This build focuses on using heavy armor and the Barbarian's high hit points to absorb damage. Choose the Path of the Ancestral Guardian subclass, which allows you to protect allies by reducing enemy damage or the Path of the Totem Warrior subclass, which allows you to choose an animal spirit totem for added abilities, such as resistance to damage.


B. Two-handed weapon wielder


If you enjoy dealing massive damage with a single blow, the two-handed weapon wielder build is a great option. This build focuses on using weapons like greataxes or mauls to deal heavy damage to enemies. Choose the Path of the Zealot subclass, which grants you the ability to deal extra damage on critical hits or the Path of the Totem Warrior subclass, which allows you to choose an animal spirit totem for added abilities, such as increased damage or speed.


C. Mobile striker


If you prefer to move quickly around the battlefield and deal damage, the mobile striker build is perfect for you. This build focuses on using the Barbarian's high movement speed and abilities like Frenzy or Reckless Attack to deal damage to enemies. Choose the Path of the Berserker subclass, which grants you the ability to attack multiple times in a turn or the Path of the Totem Warrior subclass, which allows you to choose an animal spirit totem for added abilities, such as increased speed or manoeuvrability.


Remember, as a Barbarian, your rage and abilities can greatly affect your combat effectiveness. Make sure to choose a subclass that fits your playstyle and complements your party's strengths and weaknesses.



VII. Ranger


The Ranger is a versatile class that excels in tracking and wilderness survival. With a focus on ranged combat and nature magic, the Ranger can take on a variety of roles in a party, from a skilled scout to a formidable hunter. There are several effective character builds for Rangers, depending on your preferred playstyle and role in the party.


A. Archery specialist


If you prefer to stay at a distance and deal damage from afar, the archery specialist build is for you. This build focuses on using ranged weapons like longbows or crossbows to deal damage to enemies from a safe distance. Choose the Hunter subclass, which grants you the ability to deal extra damage to marked targets or the Gloom Stalker subclass, which grants you the ability to see in the dark and deal extra damage on the first round of combat.


B. Two-weapon fighter


If you enjoy dealing damage up close with two weapons, the two-weapon fighter build is a great option. This build focuses on using two weapons like shortswords or daggers to deal quick and consistent damage to enemies. Choose the Hunter subclass, which grants you the ability to make an extra attack as a bonus action or the Beast Master subclass, which allows you to have a loyal animal companion to fight alongside you.


C. Stealthy scout


If you prefer to move silently and gather information, the stealthy scout build is perfect for you. This build focuses on using the Ranger's expertise in Survival and Stealth to navigate the wilderness and gather information about enemies. Choose the Hunter subclass, which grants you the ability to mark and track enemies or the Horizon Walker subclass, which grants you the ability to teleport short distances and deal extra damage to marked targets.


Remember, as a Ranger, your choice of favored enemy and terrain can greatly affect your combat effectiveness. Make sure to choose a favored enemy and terrain that fit your playstyle and complement your party's strengths and weaknesses.




VIII. Sorcerer


The Sorcerer is a magical class that excels in spellcasting and raw power. With a focus on innate magical abilities and charisma, the Sorcerer can take on a variety of roles in a party, from a versatile spellcaster to a devastating blaster. There are several effective character builds for Sorcerers, depending on your preferred playstyle and role in the party.


A. Blaster


If you enjoy dealing massive amounts of damage with spells, the blaster build is for you. This build focuses on using spells like Fireball or Lightning Bolt to deal high damage to enemies. Choose the Draconic Bloodline subclass, which grants you resistance to damage of a certain type and additional damage to your spells of that type, or the Wild Magic subclass, which allows you to roll on a table for a random effect when you cast a spell.


B. Support caster


If you prefer to buff allies and hinder enemies, the support caster build is a great option. This build focuses on using spells like Haste or Slow to give your allies an advantage or disadvantage in combat. Choose the Divine Soul subclass, which grants you access to cleric spells and the ability to heal allies, or the Shadow Magic subclass, which grants you the ability to see in the dark and manipulate shadows.


C. Versatile spellcaster


If you prefer to have a wide variety of spells at your disposal, the versatile spellcaster build is perfect for you. This build focuses on choosing a mix of offensive, defensive, and utility spells to adapt to any situation. Choose the Stone Sorcery subclass, which grants you access to earth-based spells and the ability to manipulate stone, or the Phoenix Sorcery subclass, which grants you the ability to resurrect yourself and deal fire damage to enemies.


Remember, as a Sorcerer, your choice of metamagic and spells can greatly affect your spellcasting effectiveness. Make sure to choose metamagic that fit your playstyle and complement your party's strengths and weaknesses, and select spells that suit your character's theme and purpose.


IX. Warlock


The Warlock is a mysterious class that excels in dark magic and eldritch power. With a focus on a pact with a powerful entity, the Warlock can take on a variety of roles in a party, from a formidable blaster to a skilled trickster. There are several effective character builds for Warlocks, depending on your preferred playstyle and role in the party.


A. Blaster


If you enjoy dealing massive amounts of damage with spells, the blaster build is for you. This build focuses on using spells like Eldritch Blast or Fireball to deal high damage to enemies. Choose the Fiend patron, which grants you additional damage to your spells and the ability to gain temporary hit points by defeating enemies, or the Hexblade patron, which allows you to use Charisma as your attack stat and grants you access to melee weapons.


B. Skillful trickster


If you prefer to deceive and manipulate enemies, the skillful trickster build is a great option. This build focuses on using spells like Charm Person or Invisibility to deceive enemies and gain an advantage in combat. Choose the Archfey patron, which grants you access to spells like Misty Step and Faerie Fire, or the Great Old One patron, which grants you access to spells like Detect Thoughts and Telepathy.


C. Summoner


If you prefer to have powerful creatures fight alongside you, the summoner build is perfect for you. This build focuses on using spells like Summon Lesser Demons or Summon Elemental to bring forth creatures to fight alongside the party. Choose the Celestial patron, which grants you the ability to heal allies and deal radiant damage to enemies, or the Undying patron, which grants you the ability to resist death and the ability to speak with undead creatures.


Remember, as a Warlock, your pact and spells can greatly affect your effectiveness in combat and roleplaying. Make sure to choose a patron that fits your playstyle and complements your party's strengths and weaknesses, and select spells that suit your character's theme and purpose.


X. Bard

The Bard is a versatile class that excels in music, magic, and charm. With a focus on performance and creativity, the Bard can take on a variety of roles in a party, from a skilled support to a deadly damage dealer. There are several effective character builds for Bards, depending on your preferred playstyle and role in the party.

A. Support

If you enjoy buffing your allies and debuffing your enemies, the support build is for you. This build focuses on using spells like Bless or Bane to improve or hinder the rolls of allies and enemies. Choose spells that can grant bonuses to attack rolls or ability checks, such as Guidance or Enhance Ability, and consider taking the Bardic Inspiration feature, which allows you to grant extra dice to allies' rolls.

B. Control

If you prefer to manipulate the battlefield and restrict enemy movements, the control build is a great option. This build focuses on using spells like Sleep or Hypnotic Pattern to incapacitate or distract enemies. Choose spells that can impose conditions or movement restrictions, such as Fear or Hold Person, and consider taking the Cutting Words feature, which allows you to subtract from enemy attack rolls or ability checks.

C. Damage dealer

If you prefer to deal damage to enemies and support your allies, the damage dealer build is perfect for you. This build focuses on using spells like Fireball or Thunderwave to deal damage to enemies. Choose spells that deal fire or lightning damage, as they are often effective against a variety of enemies, and consider taking the College of Valor or College of Swords, which allows you to deal extra damage with weapon attacks.

Remember, as a Bard, your choice of instrument and College can greatly affect your spells and abilities. Make sure to choose an instrument and College that fit your playstyle and complement your party's strengths and weaknesses.