Are Martial Or Spellcasters Better In DnD?

There are a lot of decisions to make when it comes to creating a character for a game of Dungeons & Dragons. Even veterans of the game get caught up at some of the choices the game makes available to you.



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One of the biggest choices is a character’s class. There are a handful of options, but one of the best ways to narrow them down is to ask yourself, “do I want to play a martial class or a spellcaster?” There are solid options on either side of this dichotomy, and some actually mix them as well (sometimes called “half-casters”). Let’s look at some of the classes and see how they fare when considering this choice.


Male Human Fighter holding a sword and shield in D&D
Fighter Class via Wizards of the Coast

When you think of martial classes, you’ll probably first be thinking of the Fighter class. It’s the bread-and-butter martial class, and for good reason.

You can really make a Fighter however you want. There are plenty of different weapons to dive into, and skills allow you to further your specialty as you see fit. There are no spells available to you unless you take some extra feats or talk to your GM. If it’s your first time playing a martial class, this is probably the safest choice for you.


D&D: A Barbarian breaks down the door to a dungeon
Kick In The Door by Justine Cruz 

The Barbarian class is potentially the heaviest-hitting martial class in D&D, especially at lower levels.

The focus of the barbarian is about hitting hard and getting hit hard without dying. If you want a large amount of HP and to be able to do tremendous amounts of damage just by swinging a weapon, then this is the class. It’s a pretty simple class, but not one that should be overlooked if you don’t want to deal with many detailed abilities or the concept of spell slots makes your head hurt.

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With the addition of subclasses like Ancestral Guardian, you can get some light magic abilities that will let you feel like you’re connected to the world of spellcasters without having to do much work with it.


D&D Human Monk with glowing hands
Human Monk via Wizards of the Coast

Monks are one of those classes that are sort of a pseudo-spellcaster while still keeping a heavy martial class focus.

Your main weapons in combat will be your bare hands and feet, or if you want to establish a monk weapon, you can do that, too. But you also have Ki points as you gain levels. These can be used to do one of a series of different things on the battlefield, many of which have effects similar to some of the more common spells. Essentially, it’s a martial class with a little bit of magic-ish flair.


An Azorius knight holding a decree in MTG and D&D
Azorius Knight-Arbiter by Even Amundsen

Paladins are a class that toe the line between spellcaster and martial class pretty evenly, so if you are bad at making choices, this may appeal to you.

Paladins definitely hit as hard as any martial class with just the weapons they come with. And thanks to high strength scores, they can also be clad in some solid armor. But they also have a handful of spell slots available to them.

This means they can do a little bit of both, or, more importantly, they can use spell slots to smite foes. Which just feels like the best of both worlds.


A Druid proudly holds a mighty staff.
Circle of the Moon Druid by Nicholas Eliasy

Druids are another class that toe the line between martial and spellcaster, but they definitely lean more toward the spellcasting side.

Druids have plenty of different spells they’re able to cast, and they have the spell slots to do so often. They all have a focus on nature and some displeasure towards metal, which means that melee weapons and armor will be a bit harder to come across and use.

They do, however, have things like wild shape, which allows you to turn into things like bears and get up close using your claws and teeth as melee weapons. If you want a spellcaster with some backup in martial skills, Druids are built for that.


Dungeons & Dragons fearsome warrior brandishing dagger
Vanifer via Wizards of the Coast

Warlocks are definitely a more spell-focused class, but they aren’t incapable of doing some damage using martial weapons, either.

This class is similar to the Barbarian, although at the opposite end of the spectrum. You can easily make a Warlock with a melee weapon focus, thanks to subclasses like the hexblade. But unless you are making it a point to have more martial abilities, spells like Eldritch Blast will probably be your main stay in combat.


D&D Lost Mine Of Phandelver Cover Art of a party fighting a dragon in their lair
Lost Mine Of Phandelver Cover Art by Jaime Jones

Sorcerers are one of the most spell-oriented classes in the game. They have a plethora of spells to choose from and the spell slots to make them count.

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You’ll have a hard time winning a hand-to-hand fight as a Sorcerer, but with a bit of cleverness, you may find a way. Being a sorcerer in a party is to be a designated spellcaster in and out of combat, as there are plenty of utility spells you can make use of as well.


D&D A Human Wizard
via Wizards of the Coast

If you’re thinking of spellcasters, most will conjure up an image of a Wizard in their robes and big pointy hat.

Whether or not you want to play that trope, if you want to experience spellcasting at its fullest, you can’t go wrong with a Wizard. They have plenty of spells to choose from, and there are a lot of ways you can further amplify the spells you prefer to cast. It’s not a one-note class, either. Each wizard and their spellbook is quite different from their peers.


D&D 5e Adventuring Party Scaling CLiff
Strixhaven Adventuring Party via Wizards Of The Coast

All in all, it comes down to what you want to play. The divide between spellcasters and martial classes has been around since the beginning of the game, but thankfully, there are classes that also fall in between those gaps.

Each game of D&D is different from the rest, even in pre-made adventures. So each character you play will be tailored to fit your wants and that game itself. Whatever you prefer to play, there’s an option (or a few) for you to have fun with.

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