To carry on the torch for Seekers' 1.8 starter tier list (found here), I'm making my own. Mine will differ from his, because pre-2.0 it was fine to consider 120 as roughly the relevant endgame. I will be extending that a little by making the initial ratings for Fauztinville, but also giving a Scosglen viability rating with a little bit more investment to the build you're playing.
The TL;DR version that gives no explanation behind every build can be found here. Do note that these overall ratings do not match the tiers below 1:1, as I spread them out with more leveling emphasis than the overall rating depicts.
Quick Tier List
The overall tiers are made by considering a few different criteria:
- Farming up to 125 rifts with below 200tg investment into the build overall
- Bossing (singletarget damage) with below 200tg investment into the build overall
- Survivability with below 200tg investment into the build overall
- Leveling with the gear you find along the way
Additional ratings will be given in the build specific descriptions, that aren't included in the overall rating: Solo self found (SSF) and Scosglen farming. Scosglen considers an okay farm speed to be around 25 minutes with 300-500tg investment. Link to these ratings under
TIER 1 builds are fast and comfortable, perfect starters. They can possibly run even Fauztinville with just TU/early RW
TIER 2 builds are good starters that need a bit more investment to get closer to the tier 1 builds
TIER 3 builds are the average builds, that might need full set or at least one sacred unique to properly function
TIER 4 builds are below average, generally needing much more than previous tier
TIER 5 builds are hopeless, can only salvage them with relics or UMOs
First 2 tiers should be able to content up to 125 without needing a full set or a specific sacred unique. Getting those might help immensely, but generally skills/passives give enough damage and survivability to make it that far.
Firstly, these ratings are highly subjective and the context for them varies within very specific criteria. They are peer-reviewed ratings from more experienced players and are given the "starter" treatment, which means less investment than your typical experienced player puts into them.
Secondly, some builds are left out. By default, only relevant trees and oskills with guides/showcases are mentioned here. Also possible they are just outside of the criteria, i.e. might need a rare runeword or sacred unique to function.
Thirdly, your mileage may vary. As with most guides, it is assumed you are somewhat familiar with Diablo 2 or other ARPGs. Previous Median experience is not required. If you plan to avoid trading with other players, I highly suggest you look at the SSF-rating in the in-depth section before making a decision.
Quick Tier List
Order is random within tiers. Build wrapped in  (square brackets) dictates oskill builds that might not be able to level as that skill. * means nuance where the build becomes significantly better with an oskill later on, for example when you can shrinecraft an item with the oskill. ** means harder oskill access, either through 1 specific unique, set item or enchanted runeword. !!! means this build gets the free set from Mirror Temple.
Bow - Physical Amazon, Blood - Fire Amazon*, Javelin Amazon!!!, Claw Assassin**, Naginata Assassin!!!, Psionic Assassin, Earthquake Barbarian, Werewolf Druid, Poison Druid, Summoner Necromancer, Unholy Melee Paladin, Cold Sorceress!!!, Melee Sorceress
Storm - Caster Amazon, Blood - Magic Missiles Amazon, Throwing - Scorpion Blade Assassin, Trap Assassin, Elementalist Barb, Whirlwind Poison Barbarian, Summon Barbarian!!!, Werebear Druid!!!, Wereowl Druid, Bow Druid, Totem Necromancer, Neutral Paladin, Holy Caster Paladin, Holy Melee Paladin**!!!, Unholy Caster Paladin*, [Rising Dawn Paladin], Lightning Sorceress, Fire Sorceress
Warmonger Barbarian, Whirlwind Physical Barbarian, [War Cry Barbarian], Malice Necromancer!!!, Crossbow Necromancer, Melee Necromancer, Seer - Cold Druid**, Poison Sorceress
Storm - Hammer Amazon, Spear Amazon, Throwing - Storm Crows Assassin, [Guard Tower Barbarian], [Orb of Annihilation Necromancer], Arcane Sorceress, Seer - Fire Druid
Seer - Hurricane Druid
The ratings have been given for a few different categories and can be viewed here. Do note that the overall rating does not match the tier 1:1, as the above tiers were given with more emphasis on the leveling. Sheet only calculates the overall rating based on the first 4 ratings given equally.
Blood - Fire: Eldritch storm good farming skill, lava pit serviceable bossing skill. Can use fire oskills to get better singletarget. Regen, PR, tanky minions. Winner of 2.4 reworks. 2.4 Guide
Bow - Physical: Even better farmer than 2.4, since damage was increased and enemy resistances lowered. Got a new bow to play around with. Old 1.8 Guide
Javelin: Medium investment jack of all trades, master of none. Very tanky and okay defenses for harder content, but not AFK tanky like unholy melee. Competes for expensive gear with other builds. 2.4 Guide
Storm - Caster: Absolutely bonkers singletarget, with good farming once you get okay gear. Very glasscannony and popular, so might be expensive to play after midgame. 2.3 "Miniguide"
Blood - Magic Missiles: Jack of all trades, master of none. Good farmer, but damage is autohoming and delayed, which isn't always optimal. Guide needed.
Storm - Hammer: Probably the best amazon leveling build to 120-125. You get a lot of damage from your passives and don't need that much gear to break into some midgame ubers because of that. Guide needed.
Spear: Medium-to-high investment character than can farm at good speeds. Very tanky, but sometimes mechanically clunky for singletarget. Guide needed.
Claw: Fastest assassin leveling build. You can go up to 130 with fairly basic gear. You have the best of all defenses that assassin gets, although they might not be enough to AFK in the middle of mobs. 2.2 Guide
Naginata: The build that's known as piano sin. It's not so much playing a piano nowadays, but some playstyles requires maintaining your innate to do damage. Very good leveler and one of the best endgame builds. 2.3 Guide
Psionic: A great starter. Mind Ripple has a conversion mechanic that some might not enjoy, but they do work like reanimates that tank for you. I recommend you ignore them and just blast past so your clear doesn't suffer. Psionic storm also a variant of the build that has an interesting scaling: only skill levels and amount of total energy matter, nothing else. 2.0 Guide
Throwing - Scorpion Blade: One of the best all-arounders. Lategame you can invest into vitality, and with assassin defense layers, you are very tanky but also deal good damage. Showcase.
Trap: Tankiness lowered a little, big damage buff to storm trap. Means we don't need catalyst anymore to clear but our singletarget is much better off with it still. 2.1 Guide
Throwing - Storm Crows: I only say one skill here but it's actually 3. You sometimes need to use Wychwind for stationary targets and Maelstrom for bosses with minions. Guide needed.
Earthquake: Best barbarian leveling build. Slap on TU Balanced Axe + Gilded Shield and go ham until 110, if not more. Falls off at Fauztinville. 2.0 Guide
Whirlwind - Poison: A very good starter since you don't need much to do fast farming. Bossing is a weakness of this build, like most other poison builds, but Demhe RW can help with that in 2.4. 2.3 Guide
Elementalist: Tanky melee that stacks stats and does rainbow elemental damage. Farming can be janky since Primordial Strike damage depends on positioning. Good bosser. 2.0 Guide
Summon: Second best barbarian leveling. Doesn't need much to get going and can get to hell with low investment, even do some early ubers. Loves farming Teganze. 2.4 Guide
Whirlwind - Physical: Gale Force was buffed big time, but doesn't fix all of the issues (mainly singletarget). 2.0 Guide
War Cry: Oskill build that shouts to kill enemies. Probably turn off sound if you're going to play this for long periods of time. One of the best budget farmers that can get 500mf without compromising on damage/survivability too much. Loves the shrine reroll in 2.4. 2.0 Guide
Warmonger: Ranged throwbarb, can do phys or poison but both are somewhat lackluster in later ubers. 2.2 Guide
Guard Tower: WDM was gutted, mainly because of the resist changes of 2.5. Far worse at farming Scosglen. 2.3 Guide
Werewolf: Solid starter with the flat value increase on skills AND 750% EWD from hunter tree. Can transition into mana wolf that's probably the most expensive build right now. 2.4 Guide
Poison: Poison caster druid. A new farming skill and infected roots now singletarget. New set, should be great. Likely a good starter, but struggles with poison mechanics and survivability, since poison doesn't instantly kill enemies and you're kinda squishy. Guide needed.
Bow: Cascade fixed! Physical likely better now compared to elemental 1.8 Guide
Werebear: Strong starter since it's really tanky and good bosser, but farming is absolutely terrible and there is no salvaging that. You will hate doing bosses that teleport and you don't really have any oskills to bridge the gaps in your farming toolkit. Feral IAS mechanic was removed in 2.1 (attack speed on weapon more important than anything) and it now mostly plays like any other attack build. Guide doesn't reflect this change, so be wary. 2.0 Guide
Wereowl: Medium-to-high investment with average output. Somewhat tanky too, has a better farming toolkit than bear. Doesn't enjoy teleporting bosses. 2.3 Guide
Seer - Cold: Cold caster druid, hunting banshee for singletarget, avalanche for clear. Pay attention to what Avalanche requires. Showcase
Seer - Fire: Ember Spirit not abusable with Banish anymore, but it's better off against singletarget without it. Guide needed.
Seer - Hurricane: no
Summoner: You can do most content with just 2 sets. Satanic Mantra for farming, Archbishop Lazarus set for bossing. Double Veil Kings really good bossing. 2.3 Guide
Totem: No more meat shields. Good farmer still, one of the best. Playstyle can be boring, since all you do is blink around and stuff dies around you. 2.2 Guide
Crossbow: Good singletarget, okayish farming toolkit. Got some life and fire pierce, meaning going Crucible is likely the play. Guide needed.
Melee: Good singletarget, below average farming toolkit. You can get some good oskills to farm, mostly through relics. Very tanky. Guide needed.
Malice: Okay bosser but farming toolkit is below average. A solid starter for new season. 2.2 Guide
Orb of Annihilation: A fun oskill that shoots an orb that autotargets piercing light at everything. High mana cost, scales only from +skill levels pretty much. Old 1.2 Guide
Ritualist: One of the best SSF starters. Can go either Blood Thorns or Lemures. They act a bit different, but gear is mostly the same. For more specifics, look up the respective guides. Blood Thorns Lemures
Incarnation: Big buff to Dragon Jaws and Annhilation scaling, which means early and migame are a lot more comfortable. 2.1 Guide
Nephalem: The lazy farming option. Just run past everything, throw your noodle at them if they don't die. 2.3 Guide
Templar: Holy melee, a solid starter, good singletarget, decent clear. Not high gear requirement and somewhat tanky. 2.0 Guide
Warlock: Unholy caster, a really solid build and has a great oskill option for farming, if Mind Flay doesn't cut it (Chaotic Spark oskill). A bit glasscannony, but damage is there with proper gear. 2.4 Guide
Rising Dawn: One of the oskill staples in Sigma. Paladin has good support for this type of play. 2.3 Guide
Cold: Battlemage playstyle, where you can use melee devotion and still use your spells (but not ice elementals). Not the tankiest, but solid starter. 2.0 Guide
Melee: Big buffs to an already amazing character. 2.4 Guide
Lightning: Good farmer, as close to 0 cooldown teleport as you can get in Median. Okay bossing and good farming toolkit. 2.0 Guide
Fire: Very good farmer with Habacalva's or Holy Wars (SU/SSU Eagle Orb). Good boss damage, and access to good fire oskills for better farming and singletarget. Showcase
Poison: Good farming and okay-ish bossing capabilities. Sorceress runewords really strong for this build. 2.0 Guide
Arcane: Good old mana sorc. Fun scaling but kind of left in the dust with the recent reworks. Damage is capped and can't realistically make it to Scosglen. Very fun to play before that, though. Old Guide
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Seekers for help with formatting and NotCube for coming up with it.
midknight, Lynderika, NotCube, Ben- for helping with the tier list.
Guide creators for making builds easier for people.
Median XL developers for amazing patches every season.