In the following guide I will be using the color coding that I introduced during the days of 3.5e in the wizards’ of the coast optimization forum. Unfortunately that guide is now lost, because the forum is defunct, but a forum poster named Clockwerk66 has posted it here. Normally, I prefer three colors and a fourth one that’s there to denote the best choices.
navy: this is a no-brainer. I use this sparingly. blue: this is a good choice. I use this more often.
- black: this is ok. Most items fall into this category.
red: this is bad. I use this often.
The character optimization community has picked up the color coding technique and it is now used in almost every optimization guide on the Internet, but every time I feel that people are not using it correctly.
My first issue, is too many colors. Three is easy to keep in your head. Some people are using 5 or 6 colors and this makes me scroll between the color code explanation and the item that I’m currently reading. Often, the order doesn’t make any sense, too: recently I was reading a guide where best was yellow, orange was next to worst and red was worst, but orange, yellow and red are really close in the color scale!
My second issue is lack of sufficient explanation. I’m guilty of this myself a lot of times - sometimes the guide writer grades an item with a color, but the explanation is different - e.g. bad items described positively, which puts the reader off.
My third and final issue is not picking colors that are friendly to colorblind people. I am colorblind myself and I can’t distinguish between green and red fonts - larger areas are much easier to figure out the color, but fonts requires a lot of concentration and I’m still not 100% sure. This is why I chose blue, red and navy for those rare class staples - they are easy to read (compared to yellow or light green fonts) and work for everyone, even colorblind people!