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Darkest Dungeon Tier List – Best Classes For Your First Adventure
Our Darkest Dungeon tier list explores the best classes for each area in this brutal roguelike adventure where you will find yourself constantly throwing parties of heroes together to face varied threats. With 16 hero classes in the base game and an additional 2 added through DLC players have a wealth of choices to design their ultimate party of 4 heroes for the next expedition to progress your Hamlet. As a result there are many combinations players can utilise although most heroes have a preferred position they want to occupy in your roster based on their intended role that will drive your decisions.
While players might have their own preferences and playstyles that influence the design of a team there are some heroes in Darkest Dungeon that will give you an easier time when consistently used in specific team roles. Note that while the strength of individual heroes is important to consider it’s often the team as a whole that determines just how effective you’ll be at adventuring and while a hero is strong that does not automatically make 4 of them the ultimate team. This Darkest Dungeon tier list guide is intended for newer players that want a quick reference guide for their first few playthroughs on Darkest or Radiant Mode difficulty to establish a foothold while you are still building up game knowledge, trinkets and general playthrough upgrades which can have a dramatic impact on the effectiveness of some heroes.
For those players that already understand the Darkest Dungeon basics I highly recommend the YouTube videos of ShuffleFM (shown below) for his in depth analysis of heroes and broader Darkest Dungeon content that will be invaluable for those wanting to transition into late game party setups (where you have game knowledge, hero levels and trinkets available) or dive into the higher difficulties that Darkest Dungeon has to offer (Stygian or Bloodmoon).
Darkest Dungeon Tier List – Ranking Factors
The following factors are the primary considerations for this tier list to determine the best class for your first few Darkest Dungeon adventures:
- Base Stats/Skills: Strong starting positions of heroes are favoured on this tier list given it’s intended to help newer players gain a foothold at the start of a playthrough on Darkest and Radiant mode at which point you’ll have the necessary game knowledge and resources to utilise some of the harder heroes that may be stronger provided they have a certain level of investment. This considers raw stats at lower resolve levels such as maximum health, damage, dodge, speed, protection, accuracy and critical while also factoring in your combat and camping skills that define how a hero plays and their contributions to your cause. While some heroes reach an entirely new power level with the best trinkets for them they have been rated in this tier list based on what you’ll have available primarily at the common or uncommon levels during the early game. Base stats can also help overcome the abundance of negative quirks you might have to manage early before it is feasible to remove them on your core adventurer party.
- Flexibility: Flexibility is key to a Darkest Dungeon party with heroes that are effective in more than one position and situation thriving in the randomisation that the various game areas offer (note that some heroes do also shine in particular expedition areas based on the types of enemies you’ll encounter). Flexible heroes are ones that don’t mind getting shuffled a position or two when surprised by monsters (or by yourself during attacks), can be paired with many other heroes and have a range of skills to be able to damage most enemy positions to adjust to your current needs are powerful for beginner players to reduce overall planning and forethought while you learn the various intricacies of Darkest Dungeon mechanics. Ease of use has also been considered within this factor with heroes that are simple to use and a clear role in the team rated higher given this helps the beginner player understand the role they are meant to fill.
- Utility: Other utility can make the difference between a good hero and a top tier hero with utility such as HP healing, stuns, stress healing and debuffs (e.g. bleed or blight) all having an important role in the team and can come from both combat and camping skills.
Based on the above factors the following tier ratings are used, as with all tier lists even the lowest tier of heroes can win with enough game knowledge and in the right hands although your path to victory will be significantly harder.
- S Tier: The top tier of Darkest Dungeon heroes that are always worth having in your early team compositions (and generally beyond). These heroes are strong from the moment they are hired from the Stage Coach and bring fantastic flexibility and utility to a team that make them staple early game heroes in their preferred positions.
- A Tier: Strong additions to your team these heroes don’t quite reach the power levels of S tier but still hold their own during an adventurer and are only limited by a weakness or two that players need to be aware of when utilising these heroes.
- B Tier: If your team is built with these heroes in mind you’ll still be able to find some early game success in Darkest Dungeons although it will be tougher than a team of S and A tier heroes. This tier is reserved for the heroes with niche uses for which they are effective provided they are only used for this purpose or there might be another hero that fills their intended role better.
Darkest Dungeon Tier List – Best Classes
The table below provides a quick reference for new players to Darkest Dungeon on which heroes to favour for recruitment and within their party structure. Heroes are presented in alphabetical order:
|Hero||Hero Tier Rating||Notes|
A unique hero based around transformation that needs a specific team design focused on mitigating the stress this hero inflicts on allies and usage of their own self stress heal. In this transformed beast state the Abomination is designed to be used as a fast high damage dealing hero of which there are simply several other options without the drawbacks as stress can quickly derail an adventure. Similarly while the transformation element can be ignored to focus on the Blight and stun effects of the human mode there are other heroes to fill that role that offer more in terms of extra utility or camping skills.
|Antiquarian||B||Highly effective at Antiquarian runs for gold where they interact with every curio you encounter to acquire antiques to sell. The trade off for this is that they have low base stats that lower their overall combat contribution to the team compared to other support focused heroes. The Antiquarian does still have some basics in the way of enemy accuracy debuffs, Blight damage and ally dodge buffs so isn’t a complete dead weight in a party.|
|Arbalest||B||Reasonably flexible across damage and support although takes some investment to achieve their combat power potential. On the support side they can play as your main healing hero when you consider both their combat and camping skills while equally lowering the accuracy/critical chance of the enemy backline. Meanwhile on the offensive side they can hit all enemy positions across their attack skills so you can always attack when necessary.|
|Bounty Hunter||A||High flexibility with stuns, pull and damaging attacks that can be used from a range of positions on a range of target positions. This flexibility allows the Bounty Hunter to slot into many team compositions and roles while also adjusting to any shuffling that happens during combat with sufficient base states for all of these roles as well.|
|Crusader||S||A hero that can do it all in a party with damage across enemy ranks, healing, stun, stress management and the base stats to be a tank. The Crusader is a huge asset to your early progression as they need little attention to be effective and likely part of the reason why it is a tutorial character in Darkest Dungeon.|
|Flagellant (DLC)||B||An interesting DLC hero designed for players with a good grasp of mechanics given your skills are focused around bleeding and healing in order to walk a fine line. This bleed focus means they are not effective against Unholy enemies in The Ruins that are an early game staple expedition area. Overall this is a high skill cap adventurer that can easily underperform for newer players so is best avoided until you feel confident in mechanics.|
|Grave Robber||A||A powerful damage dealer with investment but suffers from a niche damage role that other heroes can often do better for beginners that places them on the lower end of the A tier. The damage is definitely there if you opt to bring the Grave Robber along (primarily through Lunge attack skill) but requires setup and they lack flexibility in combat to do much else. The Grave Robber camping skills do compensate somewhat with a decent mix of stress management and scouting utility.|
|Hellion||S||Flexible damage dealer that can stun and hit each enemy rank with some form of attack when in the first two positions that is supported by the likes of bleed and good base stats. A dual frontline stun is one of your greatest assets of note as it allows you to drag out a fight safely to patch up your other heroes with combat skills while a notable weakness is your selfish camp skills that need to be mitigated with other heroes.|
|Highwayman||A||Another tutorial hero the Highwayman is a damage focused hero that has a simple combo of Duellist’s Advance and Point Blank Shot that have you dance between positions effortlessly. Combined with a bleed and a ranged attack the Highwayman can hit every rank necessary although lacks notable party combat utility given the selfish rogue design of this character.|
|Houndmaster||S||Highly flexible at any position this character can fulfil many team roles in combat and camping. Houndmaster has an attack all enemy bleed, stun, enemy protection reduction, self heal and a stress reduction for all heroes that allow them to be a great asset to your team survival and damage output. These themes continue across the camping skills where you can prevent night time ambush and remove some accumulated stress across the party with therapy dog. The Houndmaster is also unique for bringing their own dog treats that can buff damage and accuracy for a few rounds but don’t make the mistake of never using them as they do use one of your limited inventory slots.|
|Jester||B||Can be a complex character if players want to utilise their full kit potential but is still highly effective if focusing solely on buffs and the occasional attack from position 3. In this support mode their Battle Ballad and Inspiring Tune are some of the strongest you’ll find although this turns them into a single track hero without the flexibility of some other support classes.|
|Leper||A||A hard hitting character that sacrifices some accuracy compared to other heroes although this can be easily overcome by even basic trinkets (or skills). The Leper also includes a combined self HP and stress heal that are two things new players may struggle with that make them a reliable front position hero.|
|Man-at-Arms||B||A simple hero that can stun and crush enemies with damage but is outclassed by other heroes that can bring extra utility or raw damage with much of their strength coming from camping and boss fights which are few and far between for new players. In these situations though the Man-at-Arms kit stands strong so don’t be afraid to experiment with this hero when the time is right.|
|Musketeer||B||A reskinned Arbalest that was added as free DLC in 2018 and as a result is in the same position as the Arbalest with similar strengths and weaknesses (note trinkets are unique between Arbalest and Musketeer).|
|Occultist||B||A hero on the low side of damage output the Occultist is intended to fulfil a support role in your team with a heal, stun, pull and mark. Notably their heal can roll 0 and inflicts bleed so it is not as reliable as some other healing support heroes available. Despite this the Occultist can always do something (particularly against Eldritch enemies) regardless of position and does become a decent adventurer later in your progression.|
|Plague Doctor||A||One of the best support heroes in the game once you have a foundation of trinkets the Plague Doctor’s speciality is the double stun in Blinding Gas while also inflicting or curing Blight or Bleed to slowly lower enemy HP with each turn they make. For a new player you’ll still benefit from most of this utility with them being an above average backline character with them only getting better over time as your knowledge and trinket assets grow along with them.|
|Shieldbreaker (DLC)||B||A hero that starts out in a weak state but like the Plague Doctor can reach impressive levels of power with the right team, upgrades and trinkets. Before this point the Shieldbreaker does offer decent attack flexibility through Pierce and Puncture although their unique camp nightmare mechanic may cause more problems for new players than they are worth.|
|Vestal||S||The Vestal is a fantastic support character for newcomers given her reliable heals and ability to stun enemies although she offers little outside of this role. As you progress in the game and with your own Darkest Dungeon knowledge you’ll often be better served by another support hero that offers more than just healing though so beware of getting overly attached to these healing specialists.|