Hello all! So I decided to look at the Barbarian and all the sub-classes for it. Now I have not really ever played a barbarian to any true degree so therefore, my knowledge is limited to only what I have reviewed by building a character in D&D Beyond and comparing. At this time, it appears the sub-class options for barbarian are:
Path of Wild Magic
Path of Beast
Now in my review it is only my opinion that I would not want to play a Battlerager or a Berserker barbarian. These two seem the most boring and seem to offer the least to make me want to play either.
First off, the Battlerager is supposed to be limited to Dwarves only. Also most of your special benefits for this sub-class is due to you wearing battlerager armor (studded leather). So with this sub-class you get the following benefits:
- Battlerager Armor: you may use your bonus action to make an attack with the spikes of your armor dealing 1d4+ damage as you increase in level.
-Reckless abandon: if you reckless attack while raging then you receive temp HP.
-Battlerager Charge: while raging you can use your bonus action to dash.
-Spiked Retribution: when you are hit by a creature within 5 ft. and you are raging then the attacker takes 3 piercing damage.
That's it, the above is the benefits for Battlerager, so you have armor that will do damage automatically when you are hit, once you reach the appropriate level and you can use your bonus action to do a little more damage from your spiked armor which never get more than 1d4+7. I just don't feel like this path offers very much to make me want to play a barbarian.
-Frenzy: as a bonus action once raging you can make a melee attack. When your rage ends then you suffer a level of exhaustion.
-Mindless Rage: when raging you cannot be charmed or frightened.
-Intimidating Presence: You use your action to intimidate a creature, the creature must make a wisdom save of DC11 or be frightened of you. (This DC does increase as you go up in levels)
-Retaliation: when you are hit by a creature within 5 ft. of you, you can use your reaction to make a melee attack against the creature.
These are the benefits for berserker. Yes you can get up to 3 attacks per round when raging and you are immune to charm and frightened while raging, but in the end you are slammed with a level of exhaustion for these benefits. I personally don't feel as if the trade is worth it.
Ancestral Guardian, now this is a path of barbarian I feel is about the party you are with. If you are wanting to tank by protecting your party while taking the hits, then this is a worthy path, but it doesn't look like it is built for damage dealing. Benefits are:
-Ancestral Protectors: while raging, the first creature that you hit has disadvantage if it tries to attack any other creature than you. And if it does attack and hit another creature other than you, then the creature hit has resistance to the damage being dealt.
-Spirit Shield: while raging, if another creature within 30 ft. of you is hit, you may use your reaction to reduce the damage dealt by 3d6. (Will later increase to 4d6)
-Vengeful Ancestors: when you use your spirit shield, the attacker takes an amount of of force damage equal to the damage you prevented being dealt.
-This path also allows the barbarian once per long rest to cast Augury and Clairvoyance as a ritual.
My opinion, this path is definitely built to try and keep you as the target of enemies and if that fails then still give some protection to the rest of your party.
Path of Wild Magic, this is a newer sub-class option and it definitely has some intrigue. Benefits:
-Magic Awareness: as an action you may use this and it allows you to know the location and magic school of any spell or magic item that is within 60 ft. of you that is not behind total coverage.
-Wild Surge: upon raging you roll to determine the effect produced as provided on the Wild Magic table in this class. (The DC for this benefit does increase with levels)
-Bolstering Magic: as an action you may touch any creature (including self) and bestow one of the following effects [1. for next 10 minutes this creature may roll a d3 when attacking or making ability checks and add the d3 roll to the d20 total; or 2. the creature is granted a d3 roll to regain expended spell slots up to the number rolled. Once this benefit is used, this creature may not receive the benefit again until after a long rest.]
-Unstable Backlash: Immediately after taking damage or failing a saving throw, you can roll on the wild magic table to have a new effect occur, this new affect replaces the current effect.
-Controlled Surge: when rolling on the wild magic table you may now roll twice and choose the effect you unleash.
I think this path would be interesting and again could be a party protection tank.
Path of the Beast, another new sub-class and again an interesting creative path. Benefits:
-Form of the Beast: when you enter a rage you can reveal your inner beast form which changes your attacks from your weapon to natural beast attacks of bite, claws, and tail.
-Bestial Soul: your form of beast is now magical attacks. You can also alter your beast form to adapt to your surroundings, such as climbing; jumping; or swimming and at each short rest you can select which benefit you want active until the next rest.
-Infectious Fury: when you hit a creature in your beast form then the creature must make a wisdom save DC15 (will increase with levels) or suffer an effect.
-Call the Hunt: when you enter a rage, you can choose a certain number of willing creatures within 30 ft. (3 or 6, depending on barbarian level) The chosen creatures can then use this benefit once, they get to add 1d6 damage to a hit that they make. You also gain 5 temp HP for each creature you cast this on.
This is actually a barbarian path I want to try. So far this is probably one of the most appealing to me. Not a strong damage dealer, but I still would be fun.
Storm Herald, now this I believe would be a damage dealer as well as interesting and depending on the path you take, might even be over powered somewhat. Benefits:
-Storm Aura: you gain a 10ft aura effect when you enter rage and you may use this effect as a bonus action thereafter. There are three aura options to choose from. Each with different effects and damage which increases with levels.
-Storm Soul: you gain benefits from your storm aura even when your storm aura is not active.
-Shielding Storm: each creature of choice while in your storm aura gains damage resistance reflective of your storm soul.
-Raging Storm: your storm aura becomes more powerful with more effects.
I think that this path could be very interesting to role play and to be honest probably need a little more in-depth reflection to clearly understand the power of this choice.
Totem Barbarian, this is the sub-class path that is thought to be the ultimate tank path. You are able to take damage and deal damage, so this is for those who want to be upfront without thought and hard hitting. Benefits:
-Spirit Seeker: can cast beast sense and speak with animals as rituals.
-Totem Spirit: you adopt a totem spirit, there are many choice not just the 3 in the players handbook.
-Aspect of the Beast: again you gain magical benefits based on totem animal path chosen.
-Spirit Walker: you are able to cast commune with nature as a ritual.
-Totemic Attunement: again you gain magical benefits based on totem animal.
In my opinion this is a barbarian class that I would only play if I was going to multiclass.
Zealot, this is a barbarian path that again I believe would be a good tank and party protector. Benefits:
-Divine Fury: while raging, the first creature you hit on each of your turns take extra damage, either necrotic or radiant and the damage increases with levels.
-Warrior of the Gods: if you fall in battle and a spell is used to restore your life, then the caster does not need any of the material components for the spell as would normally be needed.
-Fanatical Focus: if you fail a saving throw while raging, you can reroll the save once per rage.
-Zealous Presence: once per rest as a bonus action you can release a battle cry, this allows 10 creatures of your choice within 60ft to gain advantage on attack rolls and saving throws until the start of your next turn.
-Rage Beyond Death- if you are knocked below 0 Hp while raging, you do not fall until after your rage ends.
This is a tank that would be hard to kill.
In summary, I do believe that Totem Barbarian and Storm Herald are both paths that probably need a more in-depth look. I also believe that the only two paths that I personally would not want to play at all is the Berserker and the Battlerager.