With the release of Volo’s Guide to Monsters, I’m ranking the potentially playable races from worst to best. I say that they are only potentially playable because AL has its own set of rules which govern play, but I’m really hoping to try some of these out. I’m going to go ahead and skip the Goliath, for obvious reasons. So, without further ado, here are the new playable races in Volo’s Guide to Monsters, out now at Wizards Premiere locations and November 15th at all other retailers.
Orc – I would say that orcs are at the bottom of the barrel here. The inherent stat changes seem decent until you see that INT takes a dip right off the bat. In exchange for the INT reduction, you get darkvision, the ability to move your speed closer to an enemy as a bonus action, intimidation as a skill, and powerful build. Much worse than even half-orc, though it might be fun to roleplay INT 6.
Kenku – I’m a bit disappointed in the Kenku. Their stat distribution isn’t bad, actually. DEX and WIS make for solid rogues and rangers. However, they don’t provide a lot else and even the class choices are somewhat limited. They don’t provide too much unique that would make them interesting to build around, but their RP hook seems like a fun challenge, and I personally just love Kenku. I’ll definitely build something fun with them.
Kobold – Kobolds are an interesting race. They get a bonus to DEX, but they get a penalty to STR. They get darkvision and pack tactics, but they also get sunlight sensitivity. They can also grovel, cower and beg, giving your allies advantage to attack enemies within 10 feet of you. I’m not entirely sure what to do with these guys, but they are certainly interesting to think about.
Triton – The stat increases here are solid, though I feel a bit random. STR, CON and CHA all get +1. You get, as you might expect, a swim speed and the ability to breathe water. You can cast a few elemental spells. You have cold resistance. You can live in and speak underwater. It’s all decent, but it feels a bit too much like a genasi to me.
Hobgoblin – They are an interesting race, for sure. You get CON and INT, which is pretty much just useful for wizards. Sure, you could use that stat distribution for some sort of eldritch knight or arcane trickster, but you’d be missing out on STR or DEX. You do get darkvision and proficiency with two martial weapons and light armor, as well as the unique ability to add a bonus to your failed attack, ability check or save equal to the number of allies around you. It’s fun to think about, but ultimately those stats being locked in that way is slightly off-putting.
Lizardfolk – These guys definitely offer some interesting stuff. First off, they get a bite attack, which is always fun. That replaces unarmed strikes, so it could be an interesting way to splash a level or two of monk while still having decent damage dice. Their natural armor ability is also very cool, along with their stats which would point me in a druid-y direction. You also get the bite attack as a bonus action once per short rest, and you’d get temps from that. The main problem is that for any non-druid class, you are stuck with an otherwise underwhelming stat increase in CON and WIS. Not ideal for the types of classes you might want to pursue with the cool abilities it gives.
Tabaxi – These cat-like creatures offer some interesting abilities. First off, DEX and CHA make for a solid base, usable by a lot of different classes. You also get darkvision, an unarmored attack and a climb speed. You also get two skills for free, and good ones at that. Their unique ability is very interesting and doesn’t require an action other than a move action. Definitely something worth considering for any class that could use the ability.
Firbolg – The stats are a bit limiting here. WIS and STR don’t make for the most interesting combination, but you do get some spells, powerful build, the ability to speak to plants and beasts, and a very interesting unique ability. It provides some interesting build challenges, I’m looking forward to playing around with it.
Goblin – I feel like I’m a little biased, because I kind of love these little dudes. They get both DEX and CON, which is a solid start, but also darkvision, the ability to disengage or hide as a bonus action for free, and the ability to deal a scaling amount of bonus damage to a larger creature once per short rest. On top of that, they are a small race that moves 30 feet.
Bugbear – While the stat distribution isn’t exactly ideal, there are certainly many classes that could use both STR and DEX. In addition, you get darkvision, the ability to add 5 feet to your reach, powerful build and the surprise attack ability. It’s certainly very interesting to me and definitely makes me want to build an assassin bugbear.
Yuan-Ti Pureblood – The one thing holding this race back is the somewhat odd stat changes. You get CHA and INT, similar to Tieflings, which doesn’t tend to be the most useful combination. However, you get darkvision, the ability to cast poison spray, animal friendship on snakes, and suggestion, as well as magic resistance and immunity to poison. I have some very interesting and unorthodox ideas for this race for sure.
Aasimar – The aasimar at least seem to be the most complete. It’s the only race with subraces, and it offers a lot. Right off the bat, there is darkvision, two resistances and the ability to heal, as well as giving you the light cantrip. Protector probably has the least useful stat increase combination, but Scourge and Fallen both have quite a few potential class uses. The level 3 ability of each at least seems very strong and scales with level.
Overall, a lot of really interesting options I’d like to play around with, and I’m already brimming with ideas. A couple of disappointments in there, but that’s almost inevitable. Definitely looking forward to playing these new races, hopefully they will be available for AL play.