Silver Age of D&D is an obsession with mathematics, using it for a wide variety of purposes, from determining the best way to model falling damage to proving if one's dice "be ill-wrought." In issue #69 (January 1983) of Dragon, Roger E. Moore offered up yet another new field for mathematical analysis: class "balance." Many old school gamers think worrying about such matters is a peculiarly modern notion, but it's not. For almost as long as I've played the game, I've known players who fretted over whether this class or that class was "overpowered" or "underpowered" compared to the others. It's a concern I've never really worried about myself, partially because I think all but the most egregious mechanical differences take a backseat to what actually happens at the table. Nitpicker and hair splitter I may be about many topics relating to D&D but this isn't one of them.
However, I'm hardly representative of anyone but myself and I expect that, when Moore wrote this article he was speaking on behalf a sizable number of gamers who had a sneaking suspicion that some AD&D character classes were better (or worse) than others -- and he was going to prove it. Moore's analysis hinges on comparing the classes according to accumulated experience points, not level. His thesis is that, by examining the relative strengths and weaknesses of each class at certain XP benchmarks, he might get a sense of which classes are more (or less) potent than others. In doing this, Moore discovers that, for the most part, AD&D's classes are reasonably balanced against one another, with two significant exceptions, along with a third point of discussion.
The first anomaly concerns druids, which Moore says are unusually tough compared to other classes. Compared to clerics, they advance very quickly and, more importantly, they continue to gain full hit dice all the way to 14th level, which also nets them more Constitution bonuses as well. Druids thus wind up being comparable to fighters at mid-levels and even surpassing them at higher levels. Consequently, he recommends increasing the druid's XP requirements to compensate. The second anomaly concerns monks, which Moore says are too weak in terms of hit points for a class that is supposed to fight hand-to-hand. He recommends that they have D6 hit points. Finally, Moore says -- along with nearly every AD&D player I knew back in the day -- that bard, as presented in the Players Handbook, needs to go. He recommends Jeff Goelz's bard as a replacement.
In the end, "Charting the Classes" is actually a very modest and limited analysis of AD&D's character classes and Moore's suggestions are all quite reasonable. I believe I even adopted his recommendation regarding druids, as I know from experience that they were more potent than they had any right to be. Still, I largely find the idea of "balance" between the classes a Quixotic obsession that's played a lot of mischief with D&D in its later incarnations. But it is, unfortunately, a long and deeply held concern of many gamers and I don't expect it to ever go away.