Module 14 State of Balance: Meta Tiers

Each module release usually affects class balance. Direct changes to powers or feats is the most obvious reason. But also content or itemization could favor some classes more than others. That’s why we periodically look at the PVE meta landscape and try to evaluate the current state. What classes top the DPS and support tiers? What specs will get you into groups? You’re about to find out!

It’s Still 4x Support / 1x DPS

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Actually, not a whole lot has changed compared to earlier modules. Neverwinter is still all about support classes. Your usual endgame group will consist of four support types and only one DPS. I would go as far as saying that in a “bis” group, the class of the damage dealer doesn’t even matter. It’s much more important to get enough buffs and support. Speaking of which, the support tier has a pretty distinctive “A” choice, but other classes and specs do not trail by too much. Generally having four supports and a potent DPS will comfortably get you through any dungeon (with Castle Ravenloft being the only notable exception). That’s why, for endgame purposes, we won’t use the classic trifecta of tank/heal/damage, but group builds into a support and DPS bracket.

The Support Bracket

First, let’s look at the support bracket and start with “tanks”. I’m putting this in quotes because the tank slot is already your first buffer. As such, pure tanking specs like a Protector Guardian Fighter do not make too much sense unless your group really needs the extra protection. I personally do no longer have such a loadout, but it really depends on the peeps you play with. Usually though you should be able to tank any content with a buffing or even damage tank spec. Modern tanks buff first, look at DPS second, and protection third. It might sound weird, but that’s actually the state of the game.

As for healers, it’s kind of the same story. Healing is hardly needed and the byproducts of buffing specs are sufficient to keep any endgame group alive. That’s why the role of Devotion Paladins is reduced to a “Bane-Bot” for example, and Clerics value spells like Exaltation or Break the Spirit over Astral Shield and Bastion of Health. Having a DO and AC/DC in the group that complement each other is the foundation of a strong team, but not mandatory to beat dungeons. Here’s the full support bracket tier list:

* both the HR and GF can spec into very potent DPS while losing little of their support capabilities. As pure buffers they are ranked lower than other specs, but surrounded by four support they can easily fill the DPS role and form some of the better compositions there are.

  • Devoted Cleric Divine Oracle
  • Devoted Cleric Anointed Champion
  • Oathbound Paladin Devotion
    • Oathbound Paladin Protection buffer
    • Scourge Warlock Temptation buffer
      • * Hunter Ranger Perma Longstrider build
      • * Guardian Fighter Tactician buff build
        • Control Wizard Master of Flame buffer (Oppressor / Renegade)

The DPS Bracket

I don’t think that there has been a time where DPS builds where so insignificant. I mean, any group still needs one, but at this point a random 12k pug with training weapons could kill Strahd. Ok, I was kidding there, but it’s actually not far away from the truth. The randomness is illustrated by the fact that pretty much all endgame DPS builds looks the same. 100% Crit, ArPen capped, as much power as you can get. There are slight variations now in Mod 14 based on the fact the some equipment enhances melee / ranged / encounters / dailies, but that’s it. Anyone with the right stat distribution and the right companion (Chultan Tiger etc.) will do great damage. That being said, there are still slight differences that start to show in less than optimal buff setups. Here’s the DPS bracket tier list:

  • Great Weapon Fighter
  • Trickster Rogue
  • Hunter Ranger
  • Guardian Fighter
    • Control Wizard
    • Scourge Warlock

However, like I said, the DPS tier hasn’t been so meaningless since forever. The Trickster Rogues probably made the biggest step compared to Mod 13, which catapulted the little stabbers right to the top of the first tier. That being said however, could have probably reversed the ranking and it wouldn’t even matter. If you know your class and run a solid build, you’re viable.

Optimal Group Composition

While all of the above sounds pretty definitive, questions about the optimal group composition aren’t as easy to answer. It depends on personal preference, play style, and also item levels of the specs. A Divine Oracle or Mof supporter get most if not all of their buffing capabilities from feats and powers, and need little gear to be effective. It’s different with power sharing Paladins or Anointed Champions, which are more effective on higher item levels. In content with more than five players another factor has to be considered: buff coverage. The Guardian Fighter’s powers mainly benefit members of its own group, while the benefits of other classes work for the full raid. So in specific situations a lesser rated specs might actually make more sense.

More than that, the difference between the best composition and the worst is slim. Going with our tier lists from above, a group consisting of a GF(buff)/SW(temp)/CW(mof)/DC(whatever)/DPS will still stomp through Castle Ravenloft in close to 30 minutes. Don’t forget meta talk is always elitist talk and the absolute best might only be marginally better than alternatives. As rule of the thumb you probably want to build current groups around at least a DC and an OP. The rest, quite frankly, is pretty whatever for your daily needs.

It’s too difficult to go through all the different scenarios. But if you’ve clicked on this article, I assume you’re interested in deeper class theory anyway, will be able to do the research yourself, and adjust on the fly. I don’t want to leave you without the best current compositions in my opinion though.  The best standard 5-team composition seems to be OP/DC(AC)/DC(DO)/HR/GF(dps). For trials you want GWF/HR/GF(dps/buff)/SW(temp)/DC(DO) in the first group and OP(Prot)/OP(Devo)/DC(AC)/DC(AC)/CW(mof) in the second. The only real downside of having so few DPS in a raid is that you don’t have backup when your main DPS dies. So there are actually weird situations in which you have to consider wiping although 7-8 players are still standing.

Castle Ravenloft

The only notable exception is Castle Ravenloft. The “Disarm” ability of Strahd might require a second potent DPS in your group in case the first one gets abducted. In a pure support setup the chance of wiping, should your main DPS get targeted, is very high. Here is where hybrid builds or those that can switch between loadouts depending on the situation come in handy. You could run a buffing DO that switches to more DPS for the final fight for example. Same with a SW or CW.

It’s nice to see that the devs try to force groups out of their comfort zones in Ravenloft. That said though, I still see most parties running with a classic setup (and generally succeeding). In a potent endgame group Strahd won’t even have too many “Disarm” phases to really cause trouble anyway… Groups however that have to grind through the end boss are advised to take a second DPS.

What’s your take on the current PVE meta? Do you agree with my tier list or do you rank the classes and specs differently? What’s your take on this topic? Share your thoughts and experience on our social channels, in the comments below, or visit our message board!

Neverwinter UN:Blogged is always looking for writers to contribute to the blog. If you are an active player and search for a way to spread your opinions, analysis, diaries or reviews to more than 75,000 regular visitors, then don’t hesitate and get in touch with us on our contact page or message board! We are currently especially looking for console and PVP content, but that’s not exclusive. There is no frequency requirement, you post how often you want.


j0Shi plays the Neverwinter MMORPG since the open BETA in 2013 and is a regular contributor to the blog and the whole UN:Project. Originally a Guardian Fighter, he has built up ALTs of all classes and plays on BIS/near-BIS level.

23 thoughts on “Module 14 State of Balance: Meta Tiers

  • April 19, 2018 at 7:23 am

    The current meta (much like the past) is why I quit playing NVW. The GF is suggested as the 3rd best DPS tier… ugh. No need for clerics to heal… ugh. Four support and one DPS… ugh. All content easy for current (any) meta… ugh.
    Where are the dungeons that require actual roles to be played? Pick any class and it can tank, dps, buff, etc… is quite ridiculous IMO. There needs to be specific individual roles that each player is required to fill in order for end-game content to be completed.
    I rant, because I loved the game and was an avid supporter of NVW until a couple of months ago. Had high hopes for revisions of classes but I see from your blogs that nothing is truly being done to change the state of the game, which is very disappointing.

  • April 19, 2018 at 8:31 am

    Any class but CW it is still as fragile as it can be and can’t dps at all now

  • April 19, 2018 at 9:42 am


  • April 19, 2018 at 1:45 pm

    I don’t play any content above mod 9, so I have not experienced this Epic meta directly, but I’ve seen it in eDemo and CN since mod 8.

    I don’t actually think that it’s true that most classes do not play their “traditional” role, except maybe the GF and the SW. A lot of fixes and balances are needed.

    GF Tactician/Protector Buffer/Tank and Protector/Tactician Tank/Buffer hybrids were screwed when mod 6 inserted the new feats at Tier 3, so we could no longer have both the old Tier 3 from Protector and Tactician. That’s why most are Conqueror now. Or quit forever when they also saw the OP do its Perma-Bubble thing.

    SW was nerfed so bad in Mod 5 and beyond it could never achieve what it was touted as being – supreme dps. The DoTs just don’t have time to build up.

    Oh, and there’s no “Control” from the so-called Control Wizard, which is really an Elemental Ice Mage.

    My DCs only use Heals that also have built-in buff/debuff, APG gifting or proc Feats etc.

    But then, “Healer” has always been a specialised Cleric build of a specific deity in all editions of AD&D. They really are more to do with buff/debuff. And we only have two pure healing Encounters. Slotting just those would be insane. PAH! Only the losers need healing! And I know who would lose if I slotted only Healing Word, Bastion of Health and Warding Flare.

    My SWs can tank better than my GFs due to their Life Steal.

    My GFs do far more damage than my SWs, when their shield is not up, but lose threat and aggro to a passing pigeon.

    My HRs do good dps and the PF Trappers can root mobs, but they attract all the treat and aggro for miles around in HEs and are squishier than a warm blancmange.

    My CWs aren’t so bad, actually, with Lightning or Feytouched and the new SS, but CC much worse than my HR Trappers in Demonics, even the Thaum/Oppressor with Icy Veins. And trying Icy Tourette’s in a Draconic Herald run would get squeals of protest for the lag.

    My OP Protectors are almost immortal and do better dps now with a Feytouched. Most of the OP Devotions I meet are dps-based buffers more than Healers.

    My GWFs are incomprehensibly tanky for their gear, and kill things faster than anything when solo, and they are my least well-developed characters, least well-geared and have the fewest boons.


    But don’t forget, most of these End-Game, Uber-BIS Meta users also have 5 Legendary BIS companions, 3 Rank 14 Bondings, Loyal Avenger gear, 5 Legendary BIS Mounts and 15 Epic Insignia slotted.

    You can’t get around all that by tweaking little things here and there in the basic class design. That just screws over less geared characters and the Meta will never die.


  • April 20, 2018 at 7:19 am

    Lol these posts are always so bad, they provide some factual info and then opinionate it to twist things around and make people believe your crap.

    From this post alone i am fairly certain whoever wrote this doesn’t even play a “meta” group, maybe even the game at this point.

    When you listen to all of the big heads like sharp and viraal you tend to get bias answers, as both of them twist their math to make certain classes look bad. It is easy to make people believe it when you give then false numbers that they don’t understand.

    Your support tier list actually made me laugh too, you first put dodc above acdc, who is always the #1 most important person in the group…then you put pally so high up and protector above templock? Lmao do you know what a buff is?

    The best thing i saw there was you put cw “opp/ren” at the bottom in its own tree lmfao first off, that is not the “full support” spec, that isnt any spec id recommend for anything. Renegade/opp would technically be full support for aoe, and even that i dont recommend. A good cw provides either:

    1) ca, 24% debuff in every mob and one rotate mob groups, fury (30% buff) 66.6% of the time or more, and about 70%+ of the main dps’s damage outside of t9, about 50-60% in t9 due to bloody curse and orcus simply having so much hp.

    2) typically single target, 10% buff from controlled momentum, 55% debuff, and roughly 80% of the main dps’s damage on bosses, if not more simply because of how much our single target is getting buffed in 13.

    Most control wizards are really bad, because they simply do not understand how to play it properly, or utilize every little thing that makes them broken.
    The few good cw’s can support a group at the same level if not better than an hr, and in mod 13 way more than a dodc as they are reduced to less support more dps.

    The last post i saw destroyed the cw because of an enchant that isnt even good now in 12b, it is only a little better in aoe, which doesnt even matter as you as the best aoe class can one rotate every mob anyway. Then it went on to talk about how storm spell is being nerfed when really it is getting buffed.

    I just don’t think you should make posts like this anymore, unless you want to actually provide something useful to the community.

    • April 20, 2018 at 9:00 am

      Hey C., thanks for your comment!

      First of all, let’s get some misconceptions out of the way. All posted classes and specs on the same level are equal. I didn’t put “DO over AC”, nor “SW over OP”, they are in the same tier and equally important. Also the support CW spec I was referring to wasn’t an Opp/Ren, but the usual Opp or Ren variants. I would agree that the wording is irritating, but to be fair it also feels like you’re really trying to find dirt to throw around.

      In regards to OP Prot vs. SW: If there’s no OP already in the group, I’d take any OP over SW, yes. If you already have a Devo Banedin in your group from the first tier, you can take the SW to avoid some redundancy. In various articles I’ve clearly stated though that the differences in most cases are slim and very situational. Why you try to make this absolute is beyond me, and nothing the article is suggesting. Unless you just want to rage at all cost of course.

      For your specific hint about DO vs. AC: Although it seems you’re not a great fan of his work, Sharpedge has posted a comparison here: There’s nothing to “twist”, you can simply download the sheet. That being said, on endgame item levels, both Cleric specs are equally great and the difference is marginal. Please note that this is only talking about group support in terms of buffs/debuffs. The AC does add a whole lot of protection as well, which is indeed important or at least convenient to some. Most groups run with both specs anyway, so this argument feel a little moot.

      The main issue with CWs in the support tier is that they are Master Debuffers, and those are additive (up to 114% DR reduction) and subject to diminishing returns. In an endgame group you can lose up to 30%+ of your debuff value whereas other classes bring direct damage buffs that are multiplicative. Since you brought up the DO DC as comparison: In the usual rotation is adds +96% damage alone, which is already pretty close to the undiminished Mof values. But that typically gets multiplied by AC buffs and power share, GF Into the Fray, OP Power Share, etc. With this synergy of multiplying and stacking buffs, the debuffing Mof simply can’t compete. Even if you add the Fury buff, which many players do not like due to its unreliability, it’s not close. In case you’re interested: Here’s a sheet to calculate the benefits of different group compositions:

      CW as DPS: It’s not that CWs aren’t viable any longer, they are. As said talking meta tiers is always elitist talk and even if it’s just a few %, the CW does not belong into the same tier as GWF/HR/GF. You’re acting like I buried CWs, stop it.

    • April 27, 2018 at 1:29 am

      Bige heads like Sharp? lol.
      Let me see your tests then. Prove them wrong! These guys doing this in their free time witout any payment.

      At least we have quality material and posts on the forums. Which are worth to read.
      Before these tester guys arrived I remember GWFs and SWs QQ choir were all over the place whose complaining about any little change on their precious. And killing goats before their precious Lia Knowles(banned because of botting) and Lazalia.
      Now no one cares about these guys. Because we can read things worth to take our time with it!
      Is it your problem maybe? Former GWf QQer…?

    • September 21, 2018 at 12:04 am

      Calling Sharp and Viraal “big head”.
      Meawhile begging to test and analyze your own class elsewhere…

  • April 20, 2018 at 7:43 am

    LOL! An entertaining post from “That guy”.

    Maybe you’d like to write your own CW Guide?

    And redo j0Shi’s lists with your own priorities and party compositions?


  • April 20, 2018 at 11:06 am

    The problem with the comparison link is that it is based on one set number for each class, which simply is wrong. The relative damage for “mof” is 40% on every one, and hr is 80%, there is no way a good cw does half the relative damage an hr does. There are different loadouts that are needed for a cw and different powers needed for hr, it does not include any of that.

    Playing the numbers is good until a point, when you have cw’s hitting 50-80m in 4 seconds without bane or exalt, while still buffing in 12b it becomes a much different ball game, especially when recieving multiple buffs in a few days (console)

    I am not trying to “find dirt to throw” i am simply aggrivated at some of the opinionated things written here, as it gets posted on the fb groups then we have to go and debunk it with both number and video proof.

    I also like sharp and his work, i just dont think he puts everything into consideration, which is fine hes only one guy lol. Even the most knowledgeable people overlook things, especially when there are so many different factors that come into play.

    • April 21, 2018 at 12:38 pm

      yes diferent factors like the following:
      – Bugs
      – Types of enemies
      – Effective DPS
      – Managing distance
      – Using actual weapons that you will use in a fight, instead of fixed damage numbers which are not part of it.
      – Buffs

  • April 20, 2018 at 1:22 pm

    @ that guy. i understand your point but i believe you are on console, never assume anything you were told without trying, as things stand in mod13, cw is the lowest in dps, not even sure why its above sw here lol, i run with every single class in the game and i know that for sure, its not about using broken or not broken stuff, its just the state of the game, also you missed a few points, as the OP stated, this is for “meta” fury isn’t 66% my dear, its random, yes, completely random, u can get it back to back and sometimes only see it once in a 2 mins boss fight, thats how stupid it is to assume a % when its only a probability, dont let aoc fool you, there’s nowhere in neverwinter that states fury being 66%, in some runs if u are lucky u can have it, in others, not, and for the 10% from CM, u actually need 2 cws to make that happen, Also in mod13 renegade buff is the only path people want for runs, so the OP is right there aswel, cw dps in mod13 is not viable, even as a cw, i would take hr/gf/gwf over cw all day, even in a 5 man content, the debate is take sw or cw, yh thats how the class has been left with, i know alot of you dont want to agree, but you cant compare a cw with gf/gwf/hr in dps, not unless the devs decide to fix their shit, i also stopped playing too, due to this, too much investment in the game, all went to my cw, and mod13, still no love, i dont know where u got SS buff, but u can do the maths all day, due to the fact SS is really only viable for Aoe, lightning loss reduces that effectiveness, fey is nice, but lightning alone on cw was about 35% of the dps in aoe. so yes, it may be a buff for you, certainly not for me. their’s something called a playtest, which i dont see the devs ever do. when you look at how a 14k IL gf/hr can rape orcus in seconds and a 18k cw cant kill orcus in less than 1min, there’s ur difference. we can argue this all day. but you need to calm down and face reality. there’s no such thing as class balance in this game, the meta is still 2 dcs, 1 OP, 1 GF/gwf/hr dps and any other support, which would be between sw, cw, hr or even a second OP, 1 prot, and 1 devo, yes, its a thing, its mainly due to bane having different roles in both paragons. well thats how the game is, take it or leave it, i personally dont have much patience with it anymore so therefore moved to tera which is alot better IMO.

    • April 21, 2018 at 2:50 pm

      Sorry i couldnt resist to respond.
      “cw is the lowest in dps”
      “when you look at how a 14k IL gf/hr can rape orcus in seconds and a 18k cw cant kill orcus in less than 1min”

      Pretty sure that they can kill it in under 1 min but thats not the point, what i wanted to say with this comment is that u should actually focus on learning how the game works, just because u dont know how bloody death works doesn’t mean u r right, learning such things helps u make more accurate statements,
      Here im gonna do a statement with the same logic as urs, a 14k gwf with lightning enchant does more dmg then a 18k tr with lightning. in case u cant seem to find whats wrong here im going to help u (all weapon dmg enchants ll benefit the gwf more then the tr since it has more buffs overall to compensate for the lower base dmg and the higher weapon dmg is a bonus)

      As homework u ll have to find out how bloody death works, its not hard, gl.

  • April 20, 2018 at 1:54 pm

    I will probably move to Bless Online when it releases in May on Steam, I’m also hesitant in trying Tera and/or buying TESO. 😀

    • September 20, 2018 at 10:30 am

      Bless Online is already released on Steam, under Early Access, though sometime soon they are closing their Korean servers, so be careful with that :/ Tera is also having server merges, and it is free so maybe you should check it out before it dies (?). Dont know if TESO has free weekends, but if it has, those are nice ways to try the game.

  • April 20, 2018 at 1:57 pm

    Debunk with video proof. On FB.

    We have tiger tests without tigers.
    We have enchantment comparison that is triggered by encounters (fey) done with only at-wills.
    We have ‘visual’ comparison of enchants, like vorpal on non crits.
    We have screenshots of orange floaters as proof. Don’t ask me proof of what thought.

    And now this…
    BTW My Bard does 100m in 3 seconds!

  • July 10, 2018 at 2:45 pm

    As a 16.7k TR, I find it very to believe that we are that low on the DPS list. It has been a long time since anyone has out damaged me. Maybe there are just not enough higher IL players on PS4? There is nothing in this game that is not easy.

    • September 20, 2018 at 10:32 am

      I think j0shi said it on a comment above, but the tiers are not organized from more damage to less damage, they just mean every class on the tier provides similar dps (or buffs, depending on chart :P)

  • September 20, 2018 at 9:54 am

    pass the popcorn!

  • September 20, 2018 at 12:11 pm

    Being a newer player, I haven’t bothered diving deeper into endgame content because these imbalance issues were here before I was. What I’m not seeing here is any ideas aimed towards fixing things. The only obvious solution I can see is to make all these buffs no longer stack and multiply, so you’d really need 3 dps if you want to kill anything and having more than one buffer would be a redundant waste of space. But since the game has been this way for so long, with multiple expansions and opportunities for the devs to fix things, they clearly just don’t want to.

    • September 23, 2018 at 2:12 am

      That would be diminishing returns. There are diminishing returns on debuffs which was discussed earlier, but there are not diminishing returns on buffs and diminishing returns on power are nowhere near strong enough to discourage multiple power buffers in party.

      In theory diminishing returns on stats, buffs, and debuffs would encourage more party diversity and uniqueness to stat priorities. However, properly implementing diminishing returns requires significant upfront effort (although I would argue that the long term effort is lower do to less time spent on nerfing power creep) in the module 6 implementation they made the decision to not implement diminishing returns on most stats and mechanics because of limited resources. A decision that cost the game dearly the last 9 modules

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