In order to be the most efficient you can be in Dungeons & Dragons 5E, your race choice is critical. Having a good start for low-level encounters can be the difference between life and death. And, having a good foundation for your future will increase your power significantly. So, if you’re new to D&D 5E and want a good start, our Best Race-Class 5E guide will be a useful baseline.
D&D Best Race Class Combinations 5E Guide
A few notes before we begin. First of all, this is entirely subjective. There are many races in 5E, and many classes can use them to their best potential. This guide attempts to capture both the heart (lore) of the class, and use the race in a powerful way. So, of course there’s a little subjectivity here!
Second, I put an arbitrary limitation on myself; I may only use a single race on this list once. This includes subraces. If I didn’t put that on, this list could be all Human… And that’d be reasonable! Alternatively, I could make a ton of Aaracokras and that’d also be fine.
Finally, please post a comment if your favorite race didn’t make it onto this list! I’m no mastermind of 5E, so I might not have seen a great combo or fantastic flavor that would make some stuff work. My favorite race (Lizardfolk) didn’t quite make the list because I thought there were better options… But it totally could!
Artificer – Rock Gnome
The Artificer was made for gnomes, and what better gnome to choose than the Rock Gnome! Since all Artificer classes are based on Intelligence, all you really need is Constitution to boost your hitpoints. Then, you have the powerful spellcasting and basic attacks, mixed with the Gnome’s actually fairly tanky statline.
Rock gnomes are artificers at heart. They get Artificer’s Lore to double proficiency on artificer stuff, and tinker to make their own little devices! That’s both adorable, and can be useful if you’re creative.
Gnomes also have Gnome Cunning, which gives advantage on all mental saves against magic. A ridiculously powerful ability!
Barbarian – Goliath
Barbarians adore any race with high Strength and Constitution, which quite a few races have. Of all of them, Goliath seemed to have the best flavor and racial ability.
Goliaths live and breath Barbarians; they are an isolationist race that live high in the mountains and are highly competitive. Seems like a good fit! Add in free Athletics proficiency, extreme carrying capacity, and the ability to shrug off damage once per rest… Dang, does Goliath make Barbarian look good! You won’t be disappointed with this combo.
Bard – Half-Elf
Half-Elves are the race of diplomacy and peaceful intervention, and are naturally skilled in things. Perfect for a bard! Half-Elves are also great Sorcerers and Warlocks, but their Charisma and highly-skilled nature works perfectly for a Bard.
With the ability to gain +1 Dexterity, +1 Constitution, a Half-Elf can build a ton of different types of bards. Darkvision is great for highly-skilled classes… and highly skilled classes with two more skill proficiencies? That’s almost insane! It just works too perfectly. If you don’t care about the bonus skill proficiencies, you can get 35 ft movement speed or weapon proficiencies instead!
Cleric – Dwarf
Cleric is another choice I had to think about quite hard. However, in the end, the classic Cleric is a dwarf for a reason! Flavorwise, Dwarves are deeply religious, and their god is the god of the Forge. Perfect for a Forge Cleric, I would think! Clerics care a lot about Wisdom, but can wander onto the frontlines if they want to. Dwarves give the cleric durability, with +2 Constitution and some great resistances. A Hill Dwarf adds +1 HP every level, almost giving this cleric a +4 bonus to Constitution! That’s great, because the Healer needs to stay alive for as long as possible in a given fight. Throw on a +1 to Wisdom and you’ll keep up with your fellow spellcasters just fine!
If you don’t care about your spells having a high DC (so, buffing or healing your allies instead), the Mountain Dwarf is ridiculous. +2 Strength, +2 Constitution is brutally efficient. You’ll be wasting Armor Proficiency, but the stats speak for themselves. If your cleric is desperate to use a weapon to beat the crap out of people, this dwarf can work.
Druid – Firbolg
Druids are… weird. Wild Shape Druids literally only care about Wisdom, since their physical scores are swapped with an animal. Otherwise, Druids are medium-armor characters who prefer Wisdom but can use weapons when needed. For that reason, the Firbolg tends to be the most generally useful.
Firbolgs are one of two races that can get a racial +2 Bonus to Wisdom. That’s important, since it makes them a good choice for any Wisdom caster. However, their Fey flavor and +1 to Strength makes them reasonable for any druid! They have the ability to turn briefly invisible for a quick escape, or quickly teleport if necessary. These guys are just too Druidic to not be our choice for Druid!
Fighter – Variant Human
Yep, turning in my Human card on Fighter.
Fighters are too versatile to be locked down to any specific race. A Strength Fighter can terrorize a battlefield, while a Dexterity fighter can either snipe from miles away or backstab pretty dang hard.
Humans are just as versatile and skilled as a Fighter. Variant Humans gain a +1 in two ability scores of your choice (so, either Dexterity or Strength and then probably Constitution). Then, you gain a skill proficiency and a Feat Proficiency. That’s wild! The Fighter has a limited supply of skill proficiencies, so that shores up a weakness. Then, you can get a feat! Sharpshooter is fantastic for ranged weapon users. Great Weapon Master can cleave planets in half. Dual Wielder is a pretty good increase in offense and defense for any dual wielder. There’s so many options, that it makes sense for the most varied class (in terms of ability score options).
Monk – Lotusden Halfling
Monks have a ton of choices. +2 Dexterity and +1 Wisdom is just a popular statline! And theoretically any race can become disciplined enough to become a legitimate Monk.
The Lotusden Halfling is my choice almost strictly due to Child of the Wood. Using Entangle on an enemy encounter is so useful, especially for a melee damage dealer who can lock a ton of enemies out of a fight. Lucky is crazy strong in general, preventing critical failures from rolling a 1, and Halfling Nimbleness is a vast boost to your mobility. If you’ve ever wanted to play a Halfling, I honestly think this might be your best choice.
Paladin – Triton
Tritons are the noble people of the sea, protectors of the surface realm from evil. Of course they make great Paladins! They gain +1 Strength, +1 Constitution, and +1 Charisma; fantastic! Paladins love all three of those stats, since they are forced to lean towards Strength builds. The Triton is one of the few races in the game that gains access to all three of them. And, unlike the other options that gain this, Tritons also gain pretty useful utility magic. Control Air and Water is helpful for fights, Emissary of the Sea can be good… if you’re in underwater campaigns. Guardian of the Depths is actually useful, since cold damage is fairly common.
Ranger – Aarakocra
And this is where I turn in my Aarakocra card. While they can make good Clerics or Druids, few classes make Aarakocra’s +2 Dexterity, +1 Wisdom work as well as a Ranger.
Being able to fly allows Aarakocra to find great angles to hammer enemies with arrows, or target a creature with important spells. Add that to the fact that Aarakocra are planar warriors who have specific foes that they wish to hunt, and you’ve got yourself a ranger that legends are written about.
Rogue – Eladrin Elf
Elves are appropriate in far too many races, but a Rogue seems to fit them far too well. Rogues are basically Dexterity Incarnate, so your +2 Dexterity is just too great. A High Elf can be good for an Eldritch Trickster, with extra cantrips and more Intelligence. However, your standard Rogue should be Eladrin. Eladrins are able to teleport as a bonus action once per short rest. That’s huge, since Rogues have trouble repositioning before a fight. Now, you can get into the perfect hiding spot before a fight begins. Later on, your teleport gains an additional effect based on yoru season… Which is awesome! For a chaotic, fey mastermind, Eladrin are perfect!
Sorcerer – Yuan-Ti Pureblood
Any race with +2 Charisma can make a powerful sorcerer. The Yuan-Ti combine perfect flavor with devastating stats. They get the fabled +2 Charisma, along with a small boost in Intelligence… Unfortunate. However, the Yuan-Ti gain extra spells, Magic Resistance (advantage against all spells) and immunity to poison. That’s crazy efficient! The flavor pushes them over the edge as the best Sorcerer race.
Warlock – Tiefling
Warlocks are often formed by desperate pacts with entities, a last-minute bid for power. If a Tiefling isn’t the most optimal choice for that flavor, I’m not too sure what is!
Tieflings gain +2 Charisma, which is critical for every type of Warlock. Hellish Resistance is powerful no matter what, but if you can, I’d recommend finding a bloodline. The Bloodline of Dispater or Glasya allow you to gain +1 Dexterity, boosting your AC. Levistus is a great boost to your Constitution. If you can somehow combine any bloodline with the Winged Variant, that gives you a flight speed, which is awesome!
Any tiefling can be a great Sorcerer (or even a Paladin), but their desperate condition in most societies makes them more likely to seek the power of a patron.
Wizard – Vedalken
I will admit; once Gnome and Elf were off the list, I wrote myself into a corner here.
Wizards care about one thing; Intelligence. Intelligence is so critical for a Wizard to work well, and Wizards hates giving races +2 Intelligence. While there are plenty of +1 Intelligence options that work great for Wizards, the Vedalken are my choice. They have +2 Intelligence (and +1 Wisdom to pad out your Wisdom saves). Vedalken Dispassion basically makes you immune to Intelligence and Wisdom saves. Tireless Precision is actually really cool, giving the Wizard some non-spell-based Utility.
For flavor… these guys live for 500 years and are constantly working for knowledge; perfect Wizards!