Nov 072013

Solo class attributes
Doing the Math on Soloing Classes

This is (or at least used to be) a fairly common topic for forum threads by new players: what is the best class for soloing?

As the game has evolved, the answer has changed, and in fact is probably no longer one single class at all but rather a multi-class polyglot, each class added to the mix to bring in one of the required soloing character attributes.

That last paragraph implies that we ought to first spend a moment agreeing on what the exactly the required soloing character attributes are. I suggest:

  • The ability to damage your enemies, much faster than they damage you (damage per second, or DPS)
  • The ability to withstand larger numbers of enemies (defense)
  • The ability to cure yourself when you take damage (heals)
  • The ability to resist or withstand enemy crowd-control spells (saves)
  • The ability to open locks (locks)
  • The ability to remove or survive traps (Traps)

Did I miss anything?

The latter two, traps and locks, are less important than the first four. You can complete almost all of the quests in DDO without opening any locks, although in a few quests you may miss optionals or the occasional chest of loot. Also, self-healing is a trap survival strategy, meaning if you have one you also have the other, more or less, although there are a handful of traps in the game that (while on elite at least) are too deadly to survive even with self-healing.

There is probably no way to remove opinion from this question, but we can reduce the impact of opinion by providing at least some quantitative analysis. Especially if we agree on the required attributes, which of course I do, as I created them. You may not, and if so, please let me know in the comments.

Once one has a common set of attributes it becomes a much more straightforward task to rank each class within each attribute on a standardized scale. A quick run through of the available classes should give us some actual metrics (or at least narrow the field a bit):

Class DPS Defense Heals Saves Locks Traps
Artificer Good Poor (1) Adequate (2) Poor High High
Barbarian High Poor None Poor None None
Bard Poor Good (3) Good Good None None
Cleric Adequate Good High Good None None
Druid High Good High Good None None
Favored Soul Good Good High Good None None
Fighter High Good None Poor None None
Monk Good High Poor (5) High None None
Paladin Adequate High Adequate High None None
Ranger High Adequate Adequate Adequate(4) None None
Rogue Adequate Adequate None Adequate High High
Sorcerer High Poor None Good None None
Wizard Good Poor None Good Good None

(1) assumes rune-arm and no shield
(2) assumes Construct Essence feat
(3) assumes Fascinate
(4) assumes high Dexterity
(5) assumes Fists of Light

These ratings are subjective and assume an average, stereotypical build. Some of them can be changed with character design, especially Heals. For instance a fighter could have Halfling dragonmarks, UMD rogues can cast Heal scrolls, monks can be built for adequate self-healing, and any class can buy Cure pots and heal up between fights. But most Fighters, Rogues and Monks do not self-heal.

I can add math to this by applying a scale of 0 to 4 (none, poor, adequate, good, high) for each rating. But I am going to add only half-value for the last two attributes as DPS, Defense, Heals and Saves are required in every quest while Locks and Traps are usually not.

Artificer: 11
Barbarian: 6
Bard: 10
Cleric: 12
Druid: 14
Favored Soul: 13
Fighter: 8
Monk: 12
Paladin: 12
Ranger: 10
Rogue: 10
Sorcerer: 8
Wizard: 8.5

Glancing at the results, they match up pretty well with the ways I would have ranked the classes even without doing the math; a vindication of the methodology.

Clearly this does not take into account the way that the stealth play style boosts rogue soloing, or extreme long-distance ranged attacks boosting ranger soloing, and other similar play style varieties. The fact is, it is possible to solo with any class.

But with some, it is easier. And now we know which ones.

πŸ™‚ πŸ˜€ πŸ™‚

p.s. I believe it would be possible to quantify multi-classes too, by figuring out how many levels of each class provide what rating in each of the six categories. But that will have to wait for another day.

  43 Responses to “Doing the Math: the Best Class For Soloing”

Comments (43)
  1. Interesting post. I’d like to see the multi class ratings too – maybe just a few examples and a rating system to allow us to work out our own multi classes (for those that have them) πŸ˜€

  2. As you might expect, I’ll question the healing score for Monks–all of them. A Monk is different than any other class in that they get an unlimited resource: ki. It’s fully renewable, regenerates, is not dependent on potions or other party members. Every level 7 Monk gains the ability to use 10 ki to all but fully restore their HP every two minutes. Now, depending on play style, if you go in charging without minding your Monk’s design (this would be true for any class, really), you’re in for some hurt that exceeds your ability to heal. All pure Monks with experienced players work in some level of healing amplification through gear and abilities. The Shintao is best at it: My tanker has a 400+% amp.

    But even with a Dark Monk, lacking the capacity to heal while in battle as the Light Monk, can be played indefinitely with the right play style. No shrines required. No hirelings. Ki is that versatile. Potions run out, and shrines get depleted. What then? The Monk’s got it covered.

    With that, I’d say that the Monk, especially a Light Monk, should be in the top three for soloing. I can’t see how a Favored Soul can be higher than a Paladin, which would get my vote for the most durable class in solo play.

    Still, it’s a fascinating examination–but play style doesn’t appear factored in. If you play a Dark Monk like a Light Monk, yeah, the chart will vindicate itself. But experienced players of all classes should know their limits. The Rogue, despite its versatility in our game, should have the lowest score. DDO is combat oriented and they can’t deliver as well without a lot of help.

    • Monks and Pallys seem to be the last men standing in a lot of fights, so I’d be inclined to agree with you, maybe people should make more Plonk[sic] builds…

      • Or just keep pure. Funny you mentioned the last man standing thing: My guild ran an Elite Shroud and were in a losing posture. It was just me (a pure L23 Mystic) and a L26 Paladin holding our own in part 4. I might have held longer if I didn’t ignore a poison warning (Pit Fiend poison will kill you with a 1000 point dose). The Paladin had to fully drop his defenses just to recall out–he was THAT good. Monks and Paladins have the best saves, but a Paladin’s defenses are top notch.

        • Before the new epic levels I had a Hunter of the Dead paladin as last man standing in an elite Shroud, who’d have thunk it?

    • Monks _are_ rated in the top three, tied with clerics and pallys. Also, I strongly disagree with your rogue statement.

      • They’re versatile. But I’m one guy who really loved his Rogue but has had a very hard time soloing it past level 14, while the Light Monks sailed by. I’ve only got a grip on Dark Monk soloing once I remembered to play their role. Yeah, I did see that rank, although it looked closer to four. But Druid? Aren’t they going to run out of spell points as any other? Or is their power in a persistent summons that keeps them going? Haven’t played one, so I’m ignorant there. Will have to re-read.

        • Essence of the shrike gives temporary spellpoints on a crit in wolf form.. that adds a chunk of SP conservation.

          Also contributing to the SP, though they can’t necessarily heal large amount of HP at once so well until high levels, they can just pop a regenerate/ when they’re in the midpoint or so then when they get damaged again, instead of needing a new spell cast the next tick simply tops it back up πŸ™‚

          Some cheap & effective SLAs, creeping cold especially, boosted by metas, is horrifically powerful, just cast & kite, they have no save or spell resistance against it. Word of Balance has a spell resistance check, but if it gets through (or they dont have any), so long as theyre not true neutral it can hit for some tasty numbers with no save.

          Sleet storm plus FoM means sneak-attack vulnerable mobs, moving more slowly, that you can tear apart. For large numbers of enemies (possibly gathered up specially) combine sleet with ice storm, storm of vengeance, lightning storm & earthquake active all at once & just sit in the middle blocking with regenerate running & scream I AM THOR, GOD OF THE STORM! FEAR MY MIGHTY WRATH! Don’t feel embarassed, you’re soloing the only ones who will see it are your enemies (who will die soon) & your wolf, who will simply look at you quizzically with a “rowf?” then go back to biting things.

  3. Interesting, I wouldn’t have thought that a druid would top it, although they do offer the huge advantage of never really having to be alone πŸ™‚ I too am curious about the picture when putting up some multi-class builds.
    Some form of Druid-Rogue? The only thing they will have going for themselves in synergy will be that they don’t do heavy armor though. Maybe an acrobat-wolf thing – making use of the staff and using the enhancements to sneak and bluff?
    Can an artificer – druid build even work? I guess you would be horribly missing all sorts of feats and have a serious lack of enough AP to take every enhancement you would like.

    • I’d suspect a rogue-druid type thing would kick some solo butt, druids kick enough butt as it is, or is that bite butt?

      I’ve started a couple, I really should play them more…

  4. How are a rogues saves just “adequate”?!

    I thought I had too much spare time, contemplating multi-class builds… The whole system for single/multi-classing is out of whack now anyway, I’m thinking we’re going to see a whole lot more 3-class builds.

    P.S. I don’t quite get the obsession with soloing. Soloing in an MMO: you’re neither playing multi-player, nor massively so, you’re just on-line.

    P.P.S. Didn’t you already make a post like this?

    P.P.P.S People make dexterity rangers? πŸ˜‰

    • Just a thought, since all builds can bring a cleric (or psycho FvS) with them, can we use that assumption to up all the heal scores to superb (auto healing whilst you DPS, win)?

      • well can add +1 perhaps.. more than that is turning a very blind eye indeed to their typical braindead behaviour πŸ™‚

        • kekeke, I will admit every 2nd update/patch their lobotomised state yo-yos, I also am very bad at managing hirelings, which contributes greatly to this…

  5. I solo almost exclusively so this was particularly intriguing. Part of the formula I believe is an intangible aspect too: what play style is most comfortable. For example, I feel really in tune with artificer so my solo experience with that class goes more smoothly.
    At the same time there’s no easy way to quantify stuff like that.
    I am happy to see the druid ranks high on the list. That’ll be my next life so I’m hoping for a fun ride to 20.

  6. ranger DPS is higher than rogue and monk DPS? I think not.

    • Not average DPS perhaps, but manyshot gives huge hurst dps.. taking advantage of that with tactical placement (eg. backwards kiting to line enemies up) for short bursts of heavy combat interspersed with lighter combat & maybe sneaking past encounters or just resting up to renew the cooldown between encounters can make a lot of difference.

    • Yes, especially since update 19. But it’s totally cool if we disagree, and interestingly even using your DPS suggestion the three class’ overall ranking are not substantially changed.

      • Whatever my opinion, it is an interesting thing to consider. I personally enjoy soloing on any class, but some are definitely easier than others.

    • Higher than rogue, certainly. Higher than monk… very questionable. The new enhancements were very good to rangers (at least with the reincarnation to optimize for them). Rogues are great DPS, but not solo where often their sneak attack is not consistently applicable.

      Monks are perhaps the best DPS in game if you include-inta kill moves, I’d say a step up from pure rangers.

      • Rogues can instakill pretty often too. It may be difficult to learn to do it solo, but that is more about learning curve than actual ability. As far as DPS, personally I think rogues and rangers are about equal, especially with how easy it is to get deception/improved deception. But that is just my opinion, I don’t have hard facts to back it up.

  7. I think you didn’t factor in evasion when looking at Rogue and Ranger saves. I would say Evasion makes there saves good.

  8. “…[A] vindication of the methodology.” Or it shows your methodology is biased (hehehe). Mind you, I’m not saying it is/was, just pointing out another possible interpretation. πŸ˜‰

    I do take exception to your lising of bard DPS as “poor”. If a cleric is “adequate” and a rogue is “adequate” then I would propose that a bard is also “adequate” as they have the same “to hit” progression scale as a cleric and rogue (and FvS, Arty, etc.). Now, granted, a cleric has some damage spells which help, but unless you’re counting TWF rogues (a common build, yes, but there’s nothing that says a bard can’t TWF also) or rogue wand use for damage, I’m not sure how you came to the conclusion that bards have “poor” DPS. Now, if you’re including rogue SA with DPS, OK – that might make some sense, but remember – you’re talking solo-ability; it gets harder to SA when you’re the only one giving damamge (as all eyes are on YOU). I suppose if you add in ENs…

    I would also take exception to palains be listed as “adequate”. As a fighter sub-class, they should at least be listed as “good” (and not JUST for pun reasons).

    But then, I may be a little biased.

    • I learned early in my career to always put analysis results through a sanity check before publishing. Always. Except what is “sanity” besides our preexisting knowledge and prejudice?

      P.S. sorry about your pally, but lovely as he/she is in many ways, she/he hits like cotton candy πŸ™‚

    • I’d rate clerics as poor except for blade barrier… or the new light based SLAs… bards sadly don’t get good damage SLAs so they just have melee. They have better melee than clerics, but melee isn’t how clerics get a decent DPS rating. Bard DPS is best in groups where they add to everyone else’s damage output. Still you can make decent melee characters out of any class, but typical bards tend to be pretty modest DPS. Used to be they were pretty decent but almost everyone else got a DPS boost recently and bards not quite so much.

  9. There are all kinds of things that factor into a particular toon’s solo-ability. IMHO the skill of the player behind the toon is THE single most important attribute. A character’s level makes a difference; at heroic levels my bard’s DPS was even worse than my pally’s (and that’s pretty bad), but now the bard is level 25 and has Dirge, Siren’s Song, some other cool Fatesinger stuff I can’t think of offhand, and nearly 400 sonic spellpower, which makes her Soundbursts and Greater Shouts mean something. Path also matters; a “live” wizard is probably not going to have great self-healing, while a decently-built PM can keep him/herself up nicely.

    I could sit here and come up with points to argue with, but let’s not forget the intention of this post – to give us a great overall view of, IN GENERAL, which classes are inherently best for soloing. And in that, it succeeds admirably.

    • If not running in fury of the wild, twist in primal scream & don’t jsut “waste” it as a purely buffing tool, wait till you’re in the middle of the fight πŸ™‚ Similarly, when you get to level 28 you can (assuming you have both divine destinies capped) get forced escape, it’s nice on my druid but on a bard with that level of sonic spellpower it should be very, very nice indeed.

    • How did you get 400 spell power?

  10. Wizard no self heal? how about palemaster? Rogue better solo class then arcanes? This list is ridiculous

    • Maybe I should have said “easier” rather than “better”? Also, the list is not ridiculous, it is inane. That has already been established.

  11. Hehehe – you’ve obviously not seen my STR-based pally…(except – I don’t have one on DDO…yet.)

  12. Interesting analysis indeed!! I haven’t played all of the classes yet (still have yet to get access to the Arti, haven’t rolled up a druid yet either) but of the classes I have played I have found it easier for me to solo (or duo with a hireling) with my paladins, monks, clerics, and fighters. In my experience, my barbarians seems to dish out a lot of damage but they also gather take a lot damage as well, my rogues and rangers tend to be squishy requiring me to move quests more slowly to make sure I don’t overwhelmed.

    My casters tend to be “ok” but I haven’t ever mastered the casters best abilities and still consider my playing style more suited to melees.

    I do think that some of the changes in the enhancements might make the scores vary a little (examples of pale masters being able to heal themselves very easily). Also, race selection could be influential with things such as warforged arcane casters who have a strong ability to heal and deal out a bunch of damage.

  13. I think an issue with talking solo these days is you can always bring along a hireling and you can make up for whatever your character is lacking. Mind you if you are running very challenging quests, the hirelings tend to die a lot and can’t be relied on, but at that point you need excellent or better traits to have any hope.

    Still, I think the list came out about right if you make it a push comes to shove kind of list. My personal experience with these matches well. To improve the ranking you might cap some skills value. for instance while clerics are masters of healing, being able to mass heal for 1K doesn’t matter solo. You really want reliable spot heals and a way to re-gen cheaply between fights. And traps/locks are pretty much all or nothing, you can either do them or you can’t. A high there isn’t worth a high in DPS or Healing.

    Also DPS is tricky in that there is trash DPS and single target and often they aren’t quite the same. Single target can count burst and is key for some quests, while trash needs to be sustained output and is key for other quests.

    And multiclassing…. well then you are really into the realm of builds rather than classes. Generally though you can pick up advantages from one class and push them into another so multi’s almost always make better soloists than pure class characters. There are few solo builds that aren’t better with two monk levels thrown in.

    You might want to throw in a bonus factor for WF (Arti,Sorc,Wiz) and Palemaster Wiz as those options really change the self sufficiency picture for those classes and yet keep them pure.

    Some of the Multi Class solo kings are likely casters with Monk splashes and certain Self Healing focused Melee characters.

    • On the note of sustained DPS, anyone that doesn’t rely on SP, has awesome DOTs, left and right, sometimes both together!

      Imagine if they added a stamina score to the game πŸ˜›

  14. Interesting idea, though I hope people aren’t taking this too seriously. Taking a subjective, nonscientific problem and breaking it down into more subjective, nonscientific problems doesn’t accomplish anything, but I imagine this chart could be helpful in at least pointing new solo players in the right direction.

  15. Speaking from personal experience, a warforged paladin with a big two handed sword does some pretty great damage πŸ˜‰

  16. Very good chart. However, I think a few things could be added in, such as:

    – Favored Soul should be slightly lower in heals than clerics due to the fact that their cure spells are not automatically memorized and that they have no enhancements in boosting the effective level of their cure/heal spells.
    – Sorcerer should have a bit into locks, though maybe not as much as wizards since they are less likely to have a boost to their knock DC.
    – Rogues should have a higher DPS. I can understand it being on the low side due to sneak attack, but there are abilities and items that can enable them to sneak attack a opponent, especially at higher level.
    – Barbarians should have the highest DPS of any class, not being tied with fighter.

    Otherwise, good chart, I liked looking at it!

  17. epic fail on the rankings. A Wizard has 0 self healing? You’ve never heard of pale master enhancements or reconstruction? Sorcs can also self heal very well if you play WF. Also, you gave a 0 to Sorcs for locks. You don’t realize they get the Knock spell? How can you rank Fighter and Ranger equivalent to Sorc for DPS? That is laughable. I guess you’ve never played with a good Sorc before (in heroic levels the SLAs are god like and in epic they get Shiradi).

What do you think?

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