In Dungeons & Dragons, the Cleric class is powerful, capable of healing, buffing, taking hits and dealing damage all before even choosing a domain. The class is a full spellcaster with a powerful and versatile spell list, capable of wearing medium armor and using a shield. Each domain option either strengthens one of the core aspects of the class or covers up for its weaknesses, from adding heavy armor or skill proficiencies, spells from other spell lists, or entirely unique abilities.
While narratively, a Cleric’s choice of domain will be closely tied to their choice of deity or higher power, it’s important to pick one that satisfies a player’s mechanical desires as well. Domains can turn Clerics into melee monsters, fonts of life capable of outhealing damage taken, skilled explorers, magical artillery and anything in between. However, not all domains are equally useful or interesting.
14. Death Domain Clerics Channel Necrotic Damage
The Death domain, like many of the example player options in the Dungeon Master’s Guide, is a bit unpolished and unfocused. Martial weapon proficiency without heavy armor proficiency is unusual, and the domain’s first and 17th level abilities are focused on spellcasting, while the weapon proficiencies, sixth and eight level features are built around weapon attacks. The domain’s Channel Divinity option allows for huge bursts of necrotic damage, and at sixth level, that damage can’t be resisted. There are some decent domain spells, but in the end, the Death domain is surpassed by others that do the same things but better.
13. The Nature Domain Cleric’s Abilities Aren’t Reliable
The Nature domain has abilities that can be good under the right circumstances, but these aren’t reliable. Heavy armor is useful, but it clashes with the Druidic theming of the domain. The Druid cantrip gives access to Shillelagh, allowing the Cleric to attack in melee with their Divine Strike. They can stay close to other targets to give resistance to one of several types of damage, making Nature a decent frontliner. However, this build lacks scaling for support or for personal power. The domain spells have some useful options that fall off later in the game, and many of the good choices compete for concentration. The Nature domain can be strong, but it can’t compete with better domains.
12. Knowledge Domain Clerics Have Skill Versatility
The Knowledge domain provides skill versatility, giving a Cleric some fixed proficiencies and letting them use their Channel Divinity to gain temporary ones. It also comes with some useful domain spells. They excel at gathering information from both creatures and environments, however, the value of that information is entirely dependent on the Dungeon Master. A Knowledge cleric good at investigating, but the value of information varies from game to game. A player considering the Knowledge domain should ask their DM first to gauge whether these special features will be worth taking.
11. Light Domain Clerics Lack Strong Damage Spells
Light Clerics gain one thing the Cleric spell list tends to lack: strong direct damage spells. This adds versatility to the class. The supporting features allow the Light Cleric to impose disadvantage on nearby attackers and give enemies disadvantages against certain spells. However, this domain’s blasting ability competes directly with its support spells, taking up both valuable spell slots and dominating the action economy in a fight where the Cleric uses them. This domain lacks synergy with the way Clerics are normally designed. For a player who doesn’t mind the opportunity cost, though, being a Cleric who can throw a Fireball can be reason enough to take this domain.
10. War Domain Cleric Weapons’ Capability Is Limited
The War domain makes for a pretty good mid-line combatant, staying near the front lines to capitalize on their limited extra attacks while near enough to the back lines to support weaker characters and intercept enemies. Its domain spells offer strong boosts to weapon combat, and its Channel Divinity allows it to make sure those big damage dealers manage to hit their targets. That said, the War Cleric’s capability with weapons is oddly limited by the long-rest cooldown on their extra attack option. Plus, being dependent on a high attacking and casting stat complicates builds. The War domain can do it all, but it can’t do anything better than a specialist of another class can.
9. The Trickery Domain Cleric’s Flaws and Strengths Counter Each Other
The Trickery domain is strong, but it has some serious flaws that counter its strength. It has an incredible list of domain spells, offering strong defense and mobility options with a few spells that help in noncombat scenarios as well. It can give any one creature at a time advantage on stealth rolls, patching up a party’s weak link or supercharging the Rogue’s infiltration. However, Trickery Clerics suffer from a generally weak Channel Divinity. A “perfect illusion of yourself” that you control can be useful depending on how the DM interprets “perfect,” and concentration makes it compete with stronger options. That, plus the addition poison damage to attacks in a domain that doesn’t thrive in melee, bring the Trickery domain down a few notches.
8. Life Domain Clerics Are Intense Healers
The Life domain is the poster child for the healer-Cleric, and one of the only builds whose healing can potentially keep up with damage dealt in combat. Between increased healing, self-healing when targeting other creatures, damage mitigation via Warding Bond and heavy armor to keep them safe, a Life Cleric can keep allies (and themselves) in a fight. That said, even with all the boosts, in-combat healing is typically inefficient. Plus, while it doesn’t hurt, the radiant damage boost to weapon attacks via Divine Strike will go largely unused in a Life Cleric build. The Life domain is a strong choice for a player who wants to play a healer, but it’s limited by the design of the game.
7. Forge Domain Clerics Gain Major Armor Class Boosts
Forge clerics have many powerful, simple abilities. They gain significant boosts to AC, as well as resistance (and eventually immunity) to fire, a very common damage type. These Clerics also have strong domain spells, useful item-crafting abilities and the proficiency they need to do all the forging the party could ask for. Sadly, though their resistance to fire is strong, it’s a double edged sword: many enemies also use fire, and much of the domain’s spell list (as well as its Divine Strike) deal fire damage. This means that, in fights where the Cleric can make the most of their durability, they will likely also be unable to make the most of their damage or control options.
6. Tempest Domain Clerics Gain Excellent Damage Types
The Tempest domain is roughly even with the War domain in melee ability, but it trades limited extra attacks for unique and useful domain spells that are further boosted by their other features. With a good damage type on its Divine Strike, strong battlefield control by pushing enemies or summoning fog clouds, and huge burst damage potential by using Channel Divinity to maximize the damage of Shatter or Destructive Wave, the Tempest Cleric thrives in melee. While casting spells and making attacks are generally mutually exclusive, Tempest Clerics are able to embrace versatility, take hits, retaliate and eventually even gain flight as long as they’re outdoors.
5. Grave Domain Clerics Are Efficient Healers and Buffers
Healing is most efficient when done to a character with 0 HP, and that’s what the Grave domain does best. Grave Clerics focus on healing, damage mitigation and boosting allies’ damage — and it does so in ways that don’t impact your own action economy. At high levels, they can heal the party for free just for killing a nearby enemy. Plus, the ability to give an enemy vulnerability to the next damage it takes is huge for Rogues, Paladins and Barbarians. Effective at all levels, deceptively tanky due to their ability to nullify critical hits and the ability to facilitate massive bursts of damage with allies, the Grave domain is a strong support option that can’t go wrong.
4. Arcana Domain Clerics Gain Access to Wizard Spells
The Arcana domain has some exceptional abilities and spells. Though the Channel Divinity is situational, widening the Cleric’s cantrip selection, dispelling spells on targets they heal, boosting the damage of cantrips gained from the Wizard list and gaining the cleric’s choice of a sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth level spell from the Wizard’s spell list are more than enough to make up for that. While Spell Breaker is the only ability that allows the Cleric to do something unique, that alone is extremely strong without impeding the Cleric’s action economy. The sheer versatility a caster gains by getting high level spells from another list makes this domain worth considering.
3. Peace Domain Clerics Get Outstanding Buffs Without Spell Slots
The Peace domain can transform a party from a disparate group of adventurers into a well-oiled combat machine. Though the domain spells are nothing major, Peace Clerics provide long-lasting buffs without spending spell slots from first level. As they progress that core ability only gets more impressive. The Emboldening Bond does suffer somewhat in that it forces the party to stick together, making them prime targets for area damage. However, the Peace Cleric’s Channel Divinity counters that weakness by allowing the Cleric to move without fear of attack, heal any ally they pass by and still have their normal movement remaining to reposition. When the Bond expands to a 60-foot limit at 17th level, that weakness is minimized and this already-good domain becomes truly great.
2. Order Domain Clerics are Effective Leaders
The Order domain’s features all in tandem to accomplish one thing: bossing around everyone in the vicinity. Able to provide extra attacks to allies from level one, charm and disarm creatures within 30 feet, cast enchantment spells as a bonus action a few times a day and curse enemies to take more damage from the next ally’s attack, an Order Cleric commands the battlefield. The domain’s specialization in enchantment spells gives these Clerics useful exploration and interaction tools as well, though the vast majority of this subclass’ features are centered around making allies deal more damage and locking down enemies in combat. Still, dealing damage is the most efficient way to end a fight, and controlling enemies the second-best — this domain does both.
1. Twilight Domain Clerics Are DnD’s Strongest
Twilight Clerics enjoy a great selection of domain spells, extremely good darkvision that they can share with the party an amazing number of times, the ability to grant advantage on initiative rolls and healing and debuff removal that doesn’t take the Cleric’s action economy. On top of all that, these Clerics can fly as long as they’re in dim light or darkness. Not a single feature of the Twilight domain is a dud, as even the most basic — armor and weapon proficiencies — are useful and work for a frontline, backline or in-between strategy. Though all Clerics are strong by virtue of the base class alone, the addition of Twilight’s abilities and spells elevate characters to greatness.