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Monday, 21st September, 2015, 01:25 AM #1
The Grand Druid (Lvl 20)
[GUIDE] The Art of War: A Fighter Guide
The Art of War: A Fighter Guide
As originally published by Koga395 on the Wizards of the Coast message boards.
"Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster."
-Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Table of Contents
- Proficiencies, Attributes, Backgrounds, and Class Features
- Martial Archetypes
- Maneuvers (Battle Master)
- Spells (Eldritch Knight)
- Builds and Combos
FormatThis guide will use the following ratings for choices made during character creation and while leveling up:
Red is dead. A trap that you will want to avoid at all costs, either because it's ineffective or because it's thoroughly outclassed by another option that accomplishes something similar.
Purple is a substandard choice. It might be useful in corner-case situations, but overall it's not worth the investment.
Black is average. You're not hurting your character by taking this, and it will probably help in some situations, but there are better choices.
Blue is a good choice. It definitely helps your character in the majority of cases.
Sky Blue indicates a fantastic choice, an option you should strongly consider against most others.
Gold is mandatory. It's a veryrare rating that denotes something that is so good that you must take it, or you can't call yourself optimized.
Access to the Player's Handbook is assumed, although the Fighter class is available in the Basic Rules. Much of the advice here applies to both; if you're using the Basic Rules and you see an option listed that you don't recognize, it's likely in the PHB.
The Dungeon Master's Guide includes lots of optional rules and a few additional. Most of these will not recieve consideration here because they are extremely DM-dependent. For example ,using the rules for flanking or facing changes combat significantly, but it's difficult to know exactly what. However, the DMG does include two optional races which are viable choices for creating Fighter characters. Options from the Dungeon Master's Guide will be denoted (DMG).
In March 2015, Wizards released a free character building supplement online: the Elemental Evil Player's Companion (available at the Wizards website and dndclassics.com). Use of this supplement is up to your DM, but if it's a viable option for your campaign, the races, feat, and additional spells within are worth consideration. Options from the Player's Companion will be marked (EE).
The Unearthed Arcana column releases monthly "playtest" rules content, which your DM may choose to add to your game. Currently two articles contain Fighter-relevant character building content: Eberron and Waterborne Adventures. Options from Unearthed Arcana will be denoted (UA).
I. IntroductionWell, what is a Fighter?
… it’s complicated.
In short, in D&D a Fighter is the class that is best at fighting with weapons and armor. This could be anything from a knight to a gladiator to a champion archer to an arcane warrior.
In First and Second Edition, the Fighter class was quite simple - proficiency with all armor and weapons, the highest hit points, extra attacks at higher levels, and the ability to specialize with certain weapons. Second Edition’s Combat and Tactics brought with it the ability for a Fighter to use special combat maneuvers, but even so the fighter’s options paled to those of a spell-casting Wizard or Cleric.
In Third Edition and 3.5, the Fighter gained a few more options. In addition to proficiencies and multiple attacks at higher levels, the Fighter became the master of combat feats, such as “Power Attack,” “Improved Trip,” and “Combat Reflexes.” In theory, this would allow the Fighter to become a master of martial combat. In practice, it often took the fighter half his or her career to become even moderately proficient at, say, grappling or tripping, and the character was often outclassed, in combat and out, by the sheer magical might of 3E’s super-powered spellcasters. The Tome of Battle later in 3E’s lifespan offered fighter-like classes with more superhuman powers and more effective combat maneuvers, a precursor to the huge revisions of Fourth Edition.
The 4E fighter, revamped to suit the power system of the new edition, was cast as a “Defender,” a class that specialized in soaking up damage and keeping the heat off of his or her more fragile party members. This Fighter received just as many special abilities and tactical tricks as the edition’s Wizards and Clerics. In the “Essentials” revision of 4E’s basic classes, a Fighter option called the Slayer was released to appeal to players wanting a simpler gameplay experience.
Now, in the game’s Fifth Edition, the Fighter attempts to strike a middle ground against the different parts of its legacy. The baseline Fighter gains high hit points, weapon and armor proficiencies, and multiple attacks at higher levels. At third level, Fighters can choose between three subclasses, each leaning toward a specific style of gameplay. The Champion offers simple options with no decision-making involved, appealing toward a player who wants a warrior character without having to make too many decisions. The Battle Master, on the other hand, can choose from a variety of maneuvers that recharge on a short rest, allowing much more tactical versatility. Finally, the Eldritch Knight gains limited spell-casting ability, allowing players to play a “gish” fighter and smoothing multiclassing options for a Fighter/Wizard.
Strengths and Weaknesses
- High, consistent damage output. Extra Attacks and Archetype features contribute toward a significant amount of reliable damage.
- Fighters are darned tough! Wearing the best armor combines well with a d10 hit die and the short rest-dependent Second Wind, allowing Fighters to take quite a lot of damage before they go down.
- Many viable build options. Fighters work well as two-handed damage dealers, archers, sword-and-board tanks, 4E-style polearm Defenders, and even have limited support abilities with the right Battle Master options. Eldritch Knights, especially when multiclassed, can be effective secondary spellcasters while retaining front-line durability.
- Good spike damage. Action Surge combined with multiple extra attacks can lead to some absolutely crazy attack rounds at higher levels.
- Reliance on Short Rests. Two of the Fighter’s baseline abilities, Second Wind and Action Surge, recharge on a short rest, as do the Battle Master’s superiority dice. Since 5E’s Short Rests are an hour long, they tend to depend on the adventure being played and thus are somewhat unreliable.
- Weak against hordes of enemies. At high levels, multiple Extra Attacks help with this problem to some degree, as do the Eldritch Knight’s Area of Effect spells, but in general the Fighter will just have to slice through enemies one by one.
- Limited out-of-combat versatility. Lack of access to spells (save for the EK, who mainly gets combat spells), as well as Strength and Constitution’s lack of associated skills (Dexterity fighters fare better), make the Fighter somewhat reliant on other classes to fill in gaps out of combat. Still, the Fighter rates higher here than its previous edition precursors.
A Note About OptimizationThe goal of this guide is not to construct the mathematically "perfect" Fighter. It is to provide a list of suggestions for players looking to build an interesting, powerful, and well-rounded character of the Fighter class. Certainly you can go through the guide picking all sky blue options as you go, and if you do so you'll likely end up with a powerful character that contributes to his or her party effectively.
On the other hand, don't underestimate the fun of sub-optimal choices. There are few "trap options" in 5E proper, and so long as you have the basics (14+ in Strength/Dexterity, 12+ in Constitution, a martial weapon*, and decent armor) you will likely be able to contribute to the party effectively. A Noble Fighter with a 16 in Charisma or a Hermit Champion dual-wielder are perfectly viable characters (that sound fun!) even though none of those options are rated above black.
Finally, if you're already playing a Fighter or you've already got your character concept down, this guide can still be useful. Read through and you might be able to find a feat, maneuver, or spell that will make your more effective when you level up, or maybe a better way of expressing the character you wanted to build. You don't have to take all the best options for this guide to be useful.
Have fun playing a Fighter! They're my favorite class and I hope this guide can make your experience with them that much better.
II. Proficiencies, Backgrounds, Attributes, and Class Features
ProficienciesArmor. You can’t ask for more than all armor and shields.
Weapons. Similarly, simple and martial weapons is where it’s at.
Tools. No tools! Well, unless your background grants them or you spend downtime and GP to learn them.
Saving Throws. Strength saves aren’t too common, but Constitution saves are and protect from some of the nastiest effects in the game (petrification, etc). If you go Eldritch Knight or multiclass into a spellcasting class, this will also greatly help your ability to hold on to Concentration spells.
Skills. Your class gives you two skill picks from the following list (your background will give you more skill proficiencies, as might your race):
- Acrobatics. More useful on a Dex-based Fighter, otherwise Athletics is probably your physical skill of choice - the two are useful in similar situations. Helps you avoid being grappled and shoved in combat (as does Athletics). Regardless, you probably don’t need both.
- Animal Handling. Unlikely to come up too often, but gets better if you are considering a mounted Fighter.
- Athletics. Very versatile skill! Useful in combat (perform/avoid grapples and shoves) as well as for climbing, jumping, or swimming. Less useful if you already have Acrobatics.
- History. Pretty situational, but even when this does come up your Intelligence is probably too average to use this to good effect. More viable for Eldritch Knights, who will likely have a better Intelligence score.
- Insight. Handy enough in social situations to gauge people’s intent, but if you only have room for one social skill the active ones might be a better pick.
- Intimidation. Useful if you want to interact in social situations, although you may have a low Charisma.
- Perception. Your Wisdom might not be the highest, but nevertheless this skill helps you avoid ambushes and contribute to the party’s group checks. A very solid pick.
- Survival. Handy for wilderness exploration games, but it’s possible to go an entire adventure without using this.
AttributesFor most Fighters, a point buy array with two 15s to put in your attack stat and Constitution is the best choice, but many DMs will have you choose the default array or roll for starting stats.
- StrengthORDexterity. Both are viable as a primary attack stat, but you'll want this attribute to maximize your ability to deal damage with weapons. Your ability score increases should be going toward this attribute at first. Strength is the best for a two-handed attacker, while Dexterity is obviously preferable for an archer; both are viable for dual wielding and sword-and-board fighting styles. Strength Fighters can deal more damage and end up with a higher AC, but Dexterity Fighters have better initiative, better saving throws, and can use Stealth and ranged weapons effectively. This should start at a 16-17 and hit 20 ASAP.
- Constitution. Most fighters are melee combatants, and more hit points lets them stay in combat for longer (and recover more HP with hit dice). In addition, Constitution saving throws allow you to avoid some of the nastiest effects in the game. For an archer, the value of this goes down a little but still remains relevant. Start with a 14-16 and aim for a 20, but if you really want feats you might be able to leave it around 16-18.
- Wisdom. This is most important for minimizing your vulnerability to mental saves - you don't want to get hit with something that takes you out of the fight or worse (dominated!). Better Perception helps too. This will probably sit at 12-14 for most of your career.
- Dexterity OR Strength. The attribute you didn't pick for your attack stat. Note that Dexterity is still useful for Strength-based characters (initiative) but the reverse is not true - Strength only really governs Athletics and carrying capacity, neither of which will be priorities. Dexterity is probably a 10-12; Strength can be easily dumped to an 8.
- IntelligenceORCharisma. Which one depends on your subclass and the skills you are interested in. For Eldritch Knights the value of Intelligence might be higher*, as it's a secondary attack stat for you; for Battlemaster Fighters who plan to take the Rally maneuver Charisma becomes better. Otherwise, pick based on the skills you want to be good at (Int: knowledge, Cha: social) - neither stat is used much for saving throws. Don't expect higher than a 12 here.
- CharismaORIntelligence. Whatever you didn't pick to be higher. Should be 8-10 for your career.
*Note: Not all Eldritch Knights use Intelligence. If you plan to take attack spells or other spells that require a saving throw (such as illusions and enchantments), then Intelligence is important - if you're just planning to buff yourself with spells like Shield and Misty Step, then it's not very valuable.
BackgroundsNote that apart from the skills they grant, backgrounds play a relatively small role in CharOp. Compared to choice of feats, archetype, spells, etc. making a “bad” background choice won’t make a huge difference in your character’s effectiveness.
Also note that backgrounds are very flexible and that your DM might be willing to let you swap out a not-so-great skill option.
- Acolyte. Insight is pretty good, Religion is not. Languages probably won't come up that much, although free healing and support from temples is handy.
- Charlatan. Alright for a Dex-based Fighter. but Deception and the tools require good Intelligence and Charisma to be useful. False Identity might or might not come up.
- Criminal/Spy. Stealth is a great skill for a Dex-Fighter, and thieves' tools are an awesome proficiency. The rest requires good social skills to really be applicable, although Criminal Contact could be useful at some point.
- Entertainer/Gladiator. Gladiator is thematically appropriate, and Acrobatics could be good for the Dex-fighter, but the rest won't see a ton of use.
- Folk Hero. Thematic for a Fighter, and Animal Handling/Survival are useful and key off Wisdom, which is likely a decent stat.
- Guild Artisan/Guild Merchant. Insight and Persuasion is a solid social package, although the usual caveat about relevant ability scores comes up. Tools and languages are blah, though.
- Hermit.Medicine and Religion could be the two least useful skills in the game (Medicine is mostly superseded by a Healer’s Kit), and Discovery doesn’t really offer any tangible benefits (great plot hook, though!). A fun flavor choice, but mechanically it’s a dud.
- Noble/Knight. Persuasion is a good skill, but History is often less relevant. Some nice social perks in the language and feature - or if you want a squire to carry your caddy of weapons, this is the background to pick.
- Outlander. Athletics and Survival are good skill picks, and the feature makes you essentially a mini-ranger.
- Sage. Leave this for the high-Intelligence characters in your party - Arcana and History aren’t going to be your forte, and Researcher is pretty situational. Makes more sense for an Eldritch Knight.
- Sailor/Pirate. Athletics and Perception are probably the two best skills for you. The actual sailing-based abilities are more campaign-dependent, though, so you might want to check with your DM before you take this. Also note the Pirate’s Bad Reputation for the chance to be a murderhobo and get away with it.
- Soldier. Athletics and a social skill is a solid foundation, and this is perfectly themed for your abilities as a Fighter.
- Urchin. Great for the Dex-fighter, with Stealth and Thieves’ Tools - this essentially allows you to be a mini-Rogue. Less useful for anyone wearing heavy armor, as this nullifies the benefits of Stealth.
Fighting Style. The Fighter gains several options for fighting style, and you can choose one:
- Archery. A +2 bonus to hit is fantastic, especially with 5E’s Bounded Accuracy and makes this the obvious choice for anyone specializing in ranged weapons.
- Defense. The AC bonus is nice and “always on,” but you only get one pick and the Fighter already has great resilience.
- Dueling. A fantastic damage boost for sword-and-board style Fighters. Despite the name’s implications, this is totally compatible with using a shield.
- Great Weapon Fighting. Also a great damage boost, but for polearm and two-handed weapon users. Note that is more powerful mathematically when you’re rolling 2d6 as opposed to 1d12 (putting the Greatsword and Maul ahead of the Greataxe).
- Protection. This one depends on the party composition, as well as if you have anything else (various Battlemaster maneuvers, Polearm Master/). If you have a vulnerable melee character like a Rogue in your party, this gets better; if you're using your reaction for something else it gets worse. Dueling is more generally useful for shield-bearers, however.
- Two-Weapon Fighting. This is a necessity for Fighters wielding two weapons. However, the damage output of this style starts to fall behind at higher levels and it eats up your bonus action.
- Mariner. (UA: Waterborne Adventures) Although it's not as strong in combat as Archery or Dueling for Dexterity fighters, having a swim and climb speed is really helpful outside of combat; this is a good second pick for Champions with those styles.
Second Wind. This feature greatly increases your resilience at lower levels, but doesn't scale well at higher levels. If you haven't used this when you take a Short Rest, make sure you do so before spending Hit Dice - it'll regenerate at the end.
Action Surge.Taking an extra action once per short rest (twice at 17th level) is incredibly powerful, especially with the extra attacks you gain at higher levels, and allows for incredible spike damage.
Extra Attack. The signature feature of the Fighter class. Most martial classes get one extra attack at fifth level, but you're the only one to get another at 11th, and a ridiculous fourth at 20th level.
Indomitable. Rerolling a saving throw is nice, but having it happen only once per long rest (gets better as you level up, but so do monsters' abilities) is a little less valuable. Make sure to save this for effects that'll take you out of the fight entirely or kill you.
III. Martial ArchetypesThe fifth edition Fighter is a very versatile class, with the ability to play in several different ways. Your choice of Martial Archetype at level 3 can make a serious difference in your playstyle - Champions are easy to play and deal good consistent damage, Battle Masters are versatile and powerful, and Eldritch Knights can cast spells and be effective Fighters.
Champion. For those who primarily enjoy playing a Fighter for the ability to hit things and aren't fond of round-by-round combat decisions, the Champion is the way to go. You get more powerful critical hits, a few skill boosts, a second Fighting Style, and eventually the ability to regenerate hit points - all useful, and none requiring extensive tracking.
- Improved Critical. Critting on a 19-20 instead of a 20 is essentially a small boost to your average damage. It's always on and always useful, but there are specific ways to maximize the effects of this ability - most notably getting Advantage, having better crits (higher weapon damage dice, the Half-Orc's Savage Attacks, Great Weapon Master feat...) and making extra attacks (Two-Weapon Fighting, the haste spell, Polearm Master feat, etc).
- Remarkable Athlete. This feature doesn't seem particularly notable until you realize that initiative is a Dexterity check, so this gives you +2 that goes up to +3 at L13. Other than that, half proficiency on Athletics,Acrobatics, Stealth, etc (you're likely already proficient in some of it). and increased jump distance is pretty meh.
- Additional Fighting Style. You have a few options here. If you don't have the accuracy/damage boosting style (Archery, Dueling, Great Weapon, 2WF) that matches your style, grab it now (sky blue), but if you do, your best bet is probaby Defense. A Dex-fighter might want to consider picking up whichever of Dueling or Archery they haven't already picked for melee/ranged versatility. If you haven't found anything to do with your reaction yet and you use a shield, Protection might be a good choice depending on party composition.
- Superior Critical. Crit on a 18-20 - the Improved Improved Critical. The same goes as for that feature - you can
- Survivor. You can regenerate 5+CON HP on your turn if you're "bloodied" (below half HP). At 18th level, you'll likely have 150+ hit points, so this isn't really strong in combat, but it does ensure you'll enter every fight with at least half health and saves the Cleric some higher-level healing slots.
Battle Master. For those who prefer a more tactical Fighter, the Battle Master offers the option to specialize in several special maneuvers. On the upside, most of the time you'll have better damage and control of a fight than the Champion; on the downside, your resources are still pretty limited (don't expect to include a maneuver with every attack) and you're heavily reliant on Short Rests to use your abilities.
- Combat Superiority. The reason to choose the Battle Master. Let's break it down a little bit: You start with four superiority dice, which refresh on a short or long rest. You can spend the superiority dice to use various maneuvers, many of which add damage and some other effect to a successful attack. Others give you special abilities, like letting an ally make an attack or letting you parry a blow. You learn three manuevers when you get this feature and gain more at higher levels. For information on maneuvers, see section 6 of this guide - note that many are useable with ranged weapons, so this isn't a melee-only Archetype.
- Student of War. A flavor feature only, especially considering Artisan's tool proficiency can be picked up with downtime and money. Pick Calligrapher's supplies for style points.
- Know Your Enemy. Now THIS is a utility feature! You can spend 1 minute sizing someone up, learning whether they're equal, better, or worse than you in their physical abilities, AC, hit points, class levels, or Fighter levels. No other class can do anything like this, and it's useful indefinitely. Always worthwile to determine how powerful your oppostion is before starting a fight, or to learn whether your new butler is actually a highly trained assassin.
- Improved Combat Superiority. Your Superiority Dice get bigger, so your maneuvers get a little better. Not bad.
- Relentless. You start every fight with a minimum of one Superiority Die - this doesn't help much if you like rationing your dice throughout the day, but it does let you "nova" knowing that you'll have dice left over for another fight.
Eldritch Knight. This is the first time the Fighter's had anything like this as a core option - the Eldritch Knight essentially allows you to play a "gish" (warrior/spellcaster hybrid) within. Your spell selection and slots will be limited, but you'll have better AoE options and some really potent defensive spells as well as quite a bit of potential utility. The main disadvantage of the Eldritch Knight is that it requires you to have a good Intelligence score to make good use of your offensive spells, making the fighter more MAD (multiple attribute dependent).
Note also that this subclass lends itself really well to multiclassing with Wizard or another spellcaster, as with it every three Fighter levels counts as a regular spellcaster level. Thus a Figher 12/Wizard 8 has the slots of a 12th level Wizard and the abilities of a 12th level Fighter (2 Extra Attacks, etc.).
- Spellcasting. Again, this feature is the reason to pick Eldritch Knight. You cast spells like a Wizard (i.e. Intelligence), but instead of preparing them ahead of time you can cast from a very limited list of known spells. Your spell slots start out at first level and go to second when you hit level 7, third when you hit level 13, and fourth at level 19. Note that two-thirds of your spells known must come from the Aburation (defense) and Evocation (blasty) schools; however, you can swap out a spell known every level for more versatility. For information on spell selection, see section 7 of this guide.
- Weapon Bond. Looks cool, and you can't be disarmed or have your weapon stolen, but the real value is for any Eldritch Knight without the War Caster feat. You can drop your weapon, cast any spell with a somatic component, and then summon it back to your hand for the cost of only a bonus action!
- War Magic. You can cast a cantrip and make a single weapon attack as a bonus action - this can boost your damage (remember, cantrip damage scale with level) or enable some situational combos such as blade ward + an attack.
- Eldritch Strike. This feature would be better if you had more powerful save-or-suck type spells; as is, it can compensate for your lower Intelligence by giving your opponents disadvantage on their spell saves.
- Arcane Charge. Teleporting when you use Action Surge is a quite nice ability and helps your manuverability. Shame it's only once per short rest.
- Improved War Magic. It's always nice to throw in a weapon attack after casting one of your big spells.
Common RacesDwarf. In general, Dwarves make good Fighters, with +2 to CON being the main attraction and Darkvision/buffs against poison as bonuses.
Hill Dwarf. An extra hit point each level looks tempting, and +1 WIS isn't bad, but this is only really viable for a Dexterity-based character, because...
Mountain Dwarf. +2 STR, +2 CON is just amazing for any Strength-based fighter. A top-tier option for sure.
Elf. +2 to DEX makes this race a pretty good pick for a finesse or ranged fighter, and Darkvision, Perception proficiency, and buffs against sleep/charm aren't bad.
High Elf. This race can actually be a good pick for Dex-based Eldritch Knights, but for everyone else the +1 INT and cantrip will largely go to waste.
Wood Elf. (Blue) On the other hand, +1 WIS is useful as is a speed increase and hiding buff. Solid choice for Dex-fighters.
Drow. If your game spends any time adventuring outdoors at all, Sunlight Sensitivity (near-constant Disadvantage on attack rolls) kills this as a racial choice. Still not amazing in a campaign limited to dungeons, as +1 CHA and the spells (you have better uses for your action) aren't very useful as well. Superior Darkvision is great for ambushes, though!
Eladrin. (DMG) Misty step every short rest will vastly help your mobility; the Intelligence bonus hardly matters (though it's nice for Eldritch Knights).
Halfling. Also a good choice for a Dex-based fighter. Aside from the +2 DEX, Lucky is the main attraction - rerolling 1s is quite powerful especially with multiple attacks a round.
Lightfoot Halfling. +1 CHA and a Stealth buff (only really useful in combat, and you can't hide except with your action) will won't be used often.
Stout Halfling. On the other hand, +1 CON is quite useful as well as the same poison resistance Dwarves get.
Human. Depends on your GM, but given the right options Humans can be fantastically versatile for any class, including Fighters.
Regular Human. Unfortunately, the "default" human is pretty underwhelming. +1 across the board is almost the same as +1 to your top 2-3 scores - the others just won't make a big difference. Having no other features makes this a suboptimal pick.
Variant Human. On the other hand, if your DM allows feats (which most will), this is a fantastic choice. You don't get +2 to a stat, but you do get your +1 bonuses where you need them, and a feat at first level is an amazing boost (see the Feats section for suggestions). An extra skill is just gravy.
Uncommon RacesDragonborn. +2 to Strength is a fantastic place to start, and a breath weapon keying off Constitution shores up one of our biggest weaknesses - hordes - by letting us make an effective AoE attack every short rest. Resistance and +1 CHA is nice as well.
Gnome. Gnomes don't have a great chassis for Fighters, as +2 INT doesn't do much for us. However, advantage on saves against magic does help our defenses, and Darkvision ain't bad.
Forest Gnome. +1 DEX can help out for a Dex-fighter and while at-will minor illusion and the Speak to Small Animals abilities don't play to our strengths, they provide a lot of utility. Better for Dex-based Eldritch Knights, as they can use the INT bonus.
Rock Gnome. +1 CON isn't awful, but the tinker's tools aren't nearly as versatile as the Forest Gnome's features. Goes up a little bit for Eldritch Knights.
Deep Gnome. (EE) Similar to the Forest Gnome; Superior Darkvision is a nice ability (and Stone Camoflague can help occasionally), but the ability score bonuses don't line up too well (better for Eldritch Knights though!).
Half-Elf. +1 to two abilitiy scores of our choice is handy, but the other features (even +2 CHA and two skills) don't match up to the impact the Variant Human's feat can have on our build.
Half-Orc. Now here's a solid option! +2 STR and +1 CON is perfectly placed, and Relentless Endurance is an excellent feature for surviving a tough battle. Better crits (combos with the Champion!) and free Intimidation proficiency are great as well.
Tiefling. Ability score bonuses are really bad (+1 INT, +2 CHA), and the other features aren't enough to make up for it. Save Tieflings for your Wizards and Warlocks.
Aasimar. (DMG) The Tielfing's angelic counterpart is hardly better; you're unlikely to use the ability bonuses (+1 WIS, +2 CHA) much and the rest doesn't make up for it. Try the Paladin instead if you want to play this race as a warrior.
Aarakocra. (EE) Flight is an amazing ability for any ranged Fighter (just don't get knocked out and fall!), and the Dexterity bonus synergizes perfectly; the rest is gravy. Suboptimal for a Strength-based Fighter, due to the armor restriction on flight.
Genasi. (EE) A +2 Constitution bonus is a great start for any Fighter, but that's all the base race gets.
Air Genasi. Levitate once per short rest is great, and unlimited breathing doesn't hurt. The Dexterity bonus means this is a pretty good choice for Dex-Fighters.
Earth Genasi. Pass without Trace is a powerful stealth ability, and Earth Walk helps your mobility. Heavily armored Fighters can use the Strength bonus.
Fire Genasi. You don't have as much use for Intelligence, although resistance, darkvision, and a free cantrip are all nice. Once you hit third level, a Constitution-based burning hands spell will help clear out weak foes.
Water Genasi. Similarly, Wisdom doesn't help you much, but the swimming speed gives you superior mobility and acid resistance is nice. You might be able to get some use out of shape water and create or destroy water... occasionally.
Goliath. (EE) Similar to the Half-Orc, your ability score bonuses (+2 STR, +1 CON) are great and it only gets better. Athletics is a great skill to get for free, Stone's Endurance helps your resiliance at lower levels, and if your DM cares about encumberance, you'll never be affected by it.
Changeling. (UA: Eberron) Disguising yourself at will is a neat trick, and the +1 DEX means you gain some fighting ability. This would be a good race for a social Fighter in Eberron.
Shifter. (UA: Eberron) A +1 DEX bonus and Darkvison isn't bad, and the temporary HP bonus from shifting makes for a durable Fighter.
Beasthide.+1 CON and an AC bonus while shifting makes this a great choice for a Dex-fighter, especially one that wants to mix it up in melee.
Cliffwalk. An additional +1 DEX isn't bad, but the climb speed while shifting won't always matter.
Longstride. Dashing as a bonus action while shifting makes this race very manuverable, and the additional +1 DEX supports a ranged Fighter well.
Longtooth. A +1 STR is a bit mismatched with the +1 DEX, and the bite attack is only strong for grappling builds. Still, the baseline shifter makes this an OK choice.
Razorclaw. Attacking with your bonus action is great, although a base of 1 damage won't get you very far. Still, a decent choice for Dexterity fighters that don't plan to use their bonus action for anything else.
Wildhunt. This race is built for trackers; the +1 WIS won't help you too much in combat. Not bad for a skills-based build, though.
Warforged. (UA: Eberron) +1 STR and +1 CON are a nice start, and the constant +1 AC bonus isn't bad. That's all you get, though, so this is a bit of a boring (but solid) choice.
Minotaur. (UA: Waterborne Adventures) You'll generally want to choose the additional +1 STR here (for a total bonus of +2), but things only get better from here. Your horns mean you can wield a shield while attacking for d10 damage (hint: choose the Dueling fighting style), and the Goring Rush (bonus action attack while dashing) and Hammering Horns (bonus action shove 5' while attacking) abilies give you a ton of combat flexibility. Navigational skills never hurt anyone either.
V. FeatsThe Fighter actually gets more Ability Score Improvements than any other class - one at levels 4, 6, 8, 12, 14, 16, and 19. This means you can get the stat bonuses you need early on while having some room.
Generally speaking, increasing your attack stat is a great option compared to taking most feats and increasing Constitution is pretty good. The other scores basically go down one rating compared to their rating in Section II as well. This means that the optimal path is generally to focus on taking your attack stat to 20 (with a possible "fighting style" feat like Great Weapon Master or Sentinel mixed in), then rounding out your build with various feats with Constitution increases mixed in. This is also why the Variant Human is so good - you can get a head start on build-related feats without sacrificing your attack stat.
Alert. An improved Improved Initiative is already solid, and immunity to surprise plus defense against hidden attacks helps you quite a lot. Probably not the first feat you take, but sure to be a good, helpful pick.
Athlete. You'll only ever want this if you have an odd Strength or Dexterity, and while the mobility benefits are a nice perk they pale in comparison to Heavy Armor Master or Resilient (Dex).
Actor. The secondary benefits are nice but the Charisma bonus is largely a waste unless you're playing a particularly social fighter.
Charger. This won't come into play often, and the damage bonus or shove pales in comparison to your Extra Attacks and Action Surge.
Crossbow Expert. This feat lets you use your multiple attacks with crossbows and helps for the archer who gets engaged in melee, but that's not why we take it. It gives a bonus action attack when wielding a hand crossbow - kind of like Two-Weapon fighting, except you get your ability score modifier by default (freeing up your Fighting Style) and you can wield a shield in your other hand. The final straw? This is compatible with Sharpshooter's damage bonus, making it amazing all-around for anyone pursuing this build.
Defensive Duelist. If you're a finesse melee fighter with no other uses for your reaction, this can provide a situational but strong survivability boost. Not good against multiattackers or hordes, but wonderful against high-damage solo monsters.
Dual Wielder. Dual wielding still isn't competitive damage-wise with two-handed or dueling styles, but this feat helps while boosting your AC and letting you play the double-longsword wielder you've always dreamed of.
Dungeon Delver. Can be better in the right (dungeon-y) adventure/campaign or worse in the wrong one. Even so, you're probably not the party member to deal with traps - leave it to the high Intelligence and Wisdom characters with Expertise.
Durable. If you have an odd score in Constitution, the perk from this feat isn't bad, especially if you take a lot of short rests. If you have a really high Constitution anyway - 17 or 19 - this gets better
Elemental Adept. 100% useless for everyone except Eldritch Knights, but they won't have enough spells to make this work at all anyway.
Grappler. Obviously useless if you're Dexterity-based or don't plan on grappling. For the grappler fighter, though, the ability to take on bigger creatures* and advantage on grappling checks can help out. Note that Restrained is totally superceded by Shoving your enemy prone (they can't get up while you're grappling them). You'll probably want Tavern Brawler first, though.
Great Weapon Master. A free bonus action attack on a kill/crit is great. The ability to increase your damage by decreasing your accuracy is awesome (if somewhat situational)! Many monsters in 5E have a low AC but high HP; this allows you to take advantage of that. Together, this feat is near mandantory for a two-handed weapon wielder at some point.
Healer. Though it doesn't help you do your job in a fight, this feat really helps party survivability at low levels. Not bad if you want to fill a secondary support role.
Heavily Armored. The only way this could possibly be relevant is if you didn't start as a Fighter... in which case this isn't a bad pick if you're Strength-based.
Heavy Armor Master. Resisting three damage from every nonmagical weapon hit is ridonkulous early on (particularly as a Human Variant bonus at first level), but gets worse as you level up. However, the Strength bonus means this is a great pick if you are Strength-based and have an odd Strength score. Also note this is better for two-weapon wielders, as they tend to get hit more and don't have many other defensive options.
Inspiring Leader. If you have a good Charisma, this can help power up your party with a "pep talk" before battles - not the strongest, but very flavorful.
Keen Mind. Boosts Intelligence, making this questionable in the first place, but the benefits here are so situational as to be almost useless even for character that use INT.
Lightly Armored. Literally useless - you're already proficient.
Linguist. In the right campaign it can be useful to know extra languages and create written cyphers, but you probably won't have a great use for the INT bonus.
Lucky. Luck points give you a "panic button" when things aren't going well, and since you make a lot of attack rolls you'll be able to get full use out of this feat. Limited uses per day are the biggest drawback here, so make them count!
Mage Slayer. Somewhat campaign-dependent, but can be overpowering against the right opponents. Eldritch Knights with Counterspell and Dispel Magic (along with Misty Step/Arcane Charge to get in close) can use this to utterly shut down enemy spellcasters.
Magic Initiate. The main attraction here is the ability to pick up a first-level spell like Hex, which boosts your damage per round by quite a bit; your ranged attacks will probably supercede any attack cantrips. Limited use per day makes this less appealing, however.
Martial Adept. Gives you extra maneuvers and one more Superiority Die, which is a d6 if you're not a Battle Master. Gives you some tactical versatility, but there are better options.
Medium Armor Master. This is only really good for characters with a 16 Dexterity that isn't increasing who really want to sneak around... who won't be very common. Mixing Strength and Dexterity isn't very optimal, although if you choose to do so this feat is pretty helpful.
Mobile. Does what it says on the tin by allowing you to attack many different creatures without drawing opportunity attacks when you move away, along with a movement speed bonus. With 5E's lack of focus on a grid, this isn't as useful as it could be.
Moderately Armored. You already are.
Mounted Combatant. Strong effects if you plan on fighting on a mount (constant advantage is fantastic!), but in many typical D&D adventures
Observant. If you want to bump your Intelligence or Wisdom by 1 and you already have Resilient (Wisdom), this would probably be the pick - better passive Perception and Investigation helps a fair bit and reading lips isn't useless.
Polearm Master. This gives you a d4 Bonus Action attack with a polearm that adds your ability modifier - that's a big boost to damage. The ability to provoke opportunity attacks from creatures within 10 feet is also incredibly strong and gives you a great use for your reaction.
Resilient (Wisdom). Shoring up your mental defenses is extremely important and the +1 to Wisdom might not hurt either.
Resilient (Dexterity). Though Dexterity saves are less likely to cripple you in a fight should you fail them, helping your defenses here and getting a +1 bonus is a good option.
Resilient (Intelligence, Charisma). These saves and scores don't come up often enough to be useful, but if you're stuck for a way to even up that odd score there are worse ways to do it.
Ritual Caster. The ability to use rituals can be quite strong but is also campaign-dependent - Alarm, Detect Magic, Find Familiar, and Unseen Servant can all be useful at lower levels, and at higher ones you get stuff like Leomund's Tiny Hut and Water Walk. Choose Wizard for utility spells or Cleric for divination abilities. Becomes pretty bad if your DM isn't cooperative with letting you pick up more rituals while you adventure.
Savage Attacker. Your reliance on multiattacking makes this a fairly lackluster damage booster.
Sentinel. If you want to play a "Defender" style Fighter from 4E, this is the way to do it. Shutting down enemies' mobility and punishing them for attacking your allies helps you deal damage and keeps your party alive. This probably ties with Polearm Master as the best use of your reaction.
Sharpshooter. The damage boost at the expense of accuracy here is just as good as it is on Great Weapon Master, and the other features (ignoring long rance and cover) aren't half bad either.
Shield Master. The shield bonuses on Dexterity saves here are comparable with proficiency in that save, and knocking an enemy prone/back with a bonus action is fantastic (and boosts your damage)**. Also very strong in the grappler build.
Skilled. Skill proficiencies are hard to come by, but there are often better options for your feat. Can go a long way toward increasing your versatility if you choose carefully, though.
Skulker. Not bad for the stealthy Dex-based ranged/ambush Fighter, letting you "hide in shadows" and snipe repetedly from hiding. Not as good if you already have darkvision, which many races do.
Spell Sniper. You're better off using a ranged or thrown weapon. Better for the Eldritch Knight who has a reason to attack with cantrips.
Tavern Brawler. The Strength bonus isn't bad but the real feature here is the ability to grapple as a bonus action while dealing decent fist damage. Obviously bad if you aren't making a grappler, although proficiency with improvised weapons might come up.
Tough. A bonus to Constitution is probably better because it boosts saves, but if you don't find yourself being targeted by a lot of Con-save effects or your Consitution is already 20 this gives you plenty more hit points.
War Caster. Obviously useless for non-casting Fighters, but the Eldritch Knight can use the ability to hold on to Concentration spells and casting spells as opportunity attacks, as well as wielding a shield with his or her other hand and retaining somatic spellcasting.
Weapon Master. You're already proficient in all weapons.
Svirfneblin Magic (EE; only available to Deep Gnome characters). Nondetection is nearly useless most of the time, but blur is a great in-combat buff, and blindness/deafness and disguise self are also solid spells you can make use of.
*As written, the third part of the feat is useless as you can grapple Large-size creatures by default anyway without their automatically escaping.Your DM might rule that it allows you to grapple even bigger creatures, in which case this becomes great.
**Some debate exists on whether you can use this before actually taking the Attack action. Ask your DM.
VI. Maneuvers (Battle Master)Maneuvers are the bread and butter of the Battle Master subclass. You gain three when you first pick up the archetype, and two more at seventh, tenth, and fifteenth level. That gives you some freedom with your picks, as most maneuvers are inherently situational, but you'll still want to have something you can use in any given situation.
One thing that's important to consider when picking maneuvers is the action they'll use, if any. If you already have a use for your bonus action (two-weapon fighting) or reaction (Protection style, Polearm Master feat) then it's best to pick manuevers that don't compete for that action. On the other hand, if you don't have a use for either of those actions, feel free to take a manuever that uses one of those - it makes better use of your action economy.
Maneuvers which only work with in melee are marked with a star* beside them. Generally speaking, the Battle Master can be a great archer Archetype - you gain all kinds of cool trick shots, and with careful selection you can gain the best of the maneuver list.
One final note - maneuver damage dice are doubled on critical hits! If you crit, it might be a great time to spend a Superiority Die.
Commander's Strike. The value of this maneuver ranges quite a bit - it goes from nearly useless if the party has no weapon attackers other than you to amazing with a great single-target damage dealer like a Rogue in the party. Keep in mind that it takes up one of your attacks, your bonus action, and the target's reaction, so by default this isn't a great option - it just offers a lot of versatility.
Disarming Attack. Shutting down a single melee attacker can be a strong way to use a Superiority Die. Make sure to use your free "interacting with an object" action to kick away the target's weapon (or pick it up if you have a free hand), otherwise they can pick it up on their next turn without having to Disengage or take opportunity attacks. If your DM rules that this is ineffective for some reason, this maneuver becomes nearly useless.
Distracting Strike. You set an ally up for advantage on their next attack. Can be quite strong, particularly with a Rogue (auto-Sneak Attack) in the party, but its usefulness drops as you gain levels and most of your allies have more attacks.
Evasive Footwork. This helps you evade opportunity attacks, but it's no guarantee and eats up your extra damage. Better for archers who find themselves stuck in melee.
Feinting Attack.* Advantage on your next attack is nice, but this uses your bonus action and doesn't guarantee damage. You're better off with Trip Attack, especially with multiple attacks at higher levels or Action Surge. On the off chance you're multiclassing from a spell-casting class, this can help your powerful attack roll spells like Contagion hit.
Goading Attack. Would be a strong choice, but it's usually worse than Menacing Attack, which protects you as well and restricts the target's movement. Does have some value against creatures immune or resistant to fear - also note that this is effective at range if the target can't get to you.
Lunging Attack.* Five feet of reach on your turn is too situational to be useful - a little better when you already have a polearm but still not very good.
Maneuvering Attack. Very useful when you need to pull an ally out of a bad situation, and can help move them into attacking position as well.
Menacing Attack. Fear gives your enemy disadvantage on attacks (and ability checks) as long as they can see you, and prevents them from moving closer to you as well. Protects you and your party!
Parry.* Helps mitigate damage - a good one to pull out if your back is to the wall. Relies on Dexterity, so not a good choice for Fighters without it.
Precision Attack. This one doesn't appear to add extra damage, but then you realize it can be used to turn misses into hits. Even better for Sentinels that stop movement on a successful opportunity attack.
Pushing Attack. Shoving an enemy 15 feet is a useful tool to have in your box, particularly if your DM loves precipices and lava pits. Note that you can always give up an attack to take the Shove action, which moves them 5 feet. Less useful if you have the Shield Master feat, but still shoves much farther.
Rally. Damage mitigation for the squishies (or other tank) on your team, and the only good reason for the Battle Master to have a solid Charisma. It does tie up your bonus action, though.
Riposte.* An extra attack - plus Superiority Die damage - on a reaction is amazing and useful in just about any fight. Obviously competes for other uses of your reaction.
Sweeping Attack.* Helps against hordes, but there are much better characters for dealing AoE damage and your superiority die alone won't drop most CR 1/2 creatures or higher. Can take down an already injured creature, however.
Trip Attack. Mediocre until you get your second attack, but Advantage on an entire attack routine, especially an Action Surged one, adds loads to your damage while restricting mobility and possibly helping a teammate. Serves a different purpose for Archers - you'll want to finish your routine with this, as it'll give you disadvantage on ranged attacks but slow down anyone trying to reach you. Any fighter can give up an attack to Shove and knock a creature prone, but this is much more efficient. Note that this is mostly redundant for fighters with the Shield Master feat and the Strength/Athletics bonus to use it.
VII. Spells (Eldritch Knight)Fighters who choose the Eldritch Knight subclass gain the ability to learn a limited number of spells from the Wizard spell list. Most of these spells are required to come from the Abjuration (protection) and Evocation (blast-y) schools, but over the EK's career that character can learn up to four spells from non-Abjuration and Evocation schools. At third level, an Eldritch Knight picks up two cantrips (from any school) and three first-level spells (one of which can be from another school), learning another spell roughly every other level and another cantrip at level 10. Spell slots start with two level 1 slots at third level and increase to one level 4 slot at 20th level - hardly an amazing progression! The character can swap out a spell known for another one every level, granting the EK some versatility, but an EK is still guaranteed to be very limited in both slots and spells known.
When building an Eldritch Knight, you can choose to either ignore or prioritize Intelligence. Having a good Intelligence score makes your saving throw and attack roll spells more powerful, but will make you less effective in other areas if you have to move points or a good roll to Intelligence. On the other hand, building an EK that dumps INT is a perfectly acceptable choice but makes some spell options less viable. To this end, spells that rely on your Intelligence score (usually, they use a save or an attack roll) are marked with an asterisk (*) next to them. These spells might not be a good choice if your Intelligence score is low, as they are less likely to be effective. A few spells are marked with a double asterisk (**) - this means they may have a save DC or attack roll involved, but the spell's utility doesn't hinge on that score.
When picking spells, it's important to compare them to your baseline Fighter features. Single-target attack spells are usually not worth taking, as your baseline melee attacks should be nearly as powerful and there's no reason to spend a spell slot doing what you can already manage without it. Bonus action spells are something to look for, as you can use them while making your regular Extra Attacks. Concentration spells are a little worse for a melee EK, as you are likely to get hit a lot, but many of the best buff spells are Concentration, so they might be worth picking anyway - your good Constitution saves will help here as well. Finally, keep an eye out for cantrips that will work with your War Magic feature and, later in your career, spells that you'll want to cast with Eldritch Strike (imposing disadvantage on saving throws) or Improved War Magic.
CantripsIn general, damage cantrips are inferior to your regular attacks, but with the War Magic feature some become viable options - especially those that call for saving throws, as they benefit from Eldritch Strike. Having a ranged cantrip can increase the effective range of a Strength-based character (100' is a long distance), but they'll deal less damage than a javelin or handaxe attack at medium range. Dexterity-based EKs should have a bow or crossbow, so ranged cantrips have limited utility.
Utility cantrips are typically okay picks, especially because many EKs don't want to be using War Magic (especially those who didn't prioritize Intelligence).
Acid Splash.* Dealing damage to two creatures is good, and you can cast this while in melee without incurring damage. A solid pick for War Magic.
Blade Ward. A turn's resistance to weapon damage as an action is usually terrible, but with War Magic you can cast this while still dealing damage - good if you plan on taking a lot of damage one round. Obviouslynot as useful for primarily ranged characters.
Chill Touch.* This has situational benefits against undead and regenerating creatures. The damage is inferior to your regular weapon attacks, though, so unless you plan on fighting lots of undead and trolls there are better choices.
Dancing Lights. Most races have Darkvision, Light is more effective at illuminating an area, Minor Illusion can serve the same purpose as a distraction, this requires Concentration, and it isn't even useful in combat. Pick something else.
Fire Bolt.* The ranged damage from this won't outmatch a bow or crossbow wielded by a Dex-based character, but it can be a decent backup for long-ranged fights.
Friends. Doesn't call for a saving throw, but the drawback means it's only good in situations where you don't mind the target being hostile later. Still has a lot of utility for interrogating prisoners or quick social checks.
Light. A useful effect with good duration, but most races have Darkvision anyway. Given your low number of cantrips, you should probably pick something else.
Mage Hand. Short-range telekinesis is a good utility effect to have around - it'll come in handy for navigating trapped situations or circumnavigating movement restrictions (pulling a lever on the far side of a chasm).
Mending. You can fix things if you take a minute to cast this, but the effect is limited enough that it'll very rarely come up. Pick something else.
Message. Sending short-ranged messages is useful, but the Fighter is unlikely to be a scout or spy who will use this. If you are, this is better.
Minor Illusion. The ability to create small illusions or ghost sounds has endless applications for a creative player.
Poison Spray.* Probably the best option for a War Magic melee character. This can actually increase your damage a fair bit once you get Eldritch Strike, and the 10 foot range helps out too.
Prestidigitation. Lots of utility effect options, but most won't come up much outside of flavor. Still, a creative player can accomplish a fair bit with the many effects this spell has to choose from.
Ray of Frost.* Slowing an enemy's movement can be useful, but your weapon attacks will deal more damage at anything but long range.
Shocking Grasp.* Depriving certain enemies of their reaction can be quite useful, but Poison Spray deals more damage in melee. If your game centers on fighting armored enemies, this becomes a better War Magic option.
True Strike. Advantage is usually worse than the 2+ attacks you're giving up, and the delayed effect combined with Concentration makes this practically worthless even with War Magic.
Level 1 Spells
Abjuration/Evocation (Available at L3)Alarm. Warding a campsite can come in handy, and it's a rare utility spell in the Abjuration/Evocation options. If you have a ritual caster in the party that can use this, let them take it.
Burning Hands.* A decent area of effect that can damage multiple creatures and scales. Be careful where you cast this, however - you don't want to hurt your allies.
Chromatic Orb.* Requires an expensive material component, and the variable damage doesn't compensate for this being more-or-less inferior to your standard attacks.
Mage Armor. This is better than studded leather for Dexterity-based EKs, but ties up a spell slot. A better option as you level up and have more slots to spare, although you'll want to swap it out if you ever find +1 armor or better. Useless for anyone who wears medium or heavy armor.
Magic Missile. Auto-damage that can target anyone on the battlefield looks tempting, but unfortunately it's just not worth it compared to standard weapon attacks.
Protection from Evil and Good. This is a concentration buff and very specific - it's totally useless when you aren't fighting abberations, celestials, elementals, fey, fiends, and undead. However, the effect when fighting those creatures (disadvantage to hit the targeted creature and immunity to several conditions) is extremely strong. Your best option is probably to learn this when you level up if you suspect you'll need it in an upcoming adventure, and then "retrain" it once you are done with that adventure.
Shield. Gaining +5 to your armor class as a reaction is very strong, and this is one of the better reasons to be an Eldritch Knight at low levels. However, note that without the War Magic feat you'll need to have a hand empty to cast this, meaning you need to stow either a shield (-2 AC) or your weapon (giving up the chance to make opportunity attacks) to use it. If you know you're about to take a big hit or multiple small ones, it's worth it - just remember that this won't always be the best option.
Thunderwave.* This can hit your allies, but you're durable enough to wade into a thicket of creatures and cast this to destroy their positioning. Also good as a backup option for archers who get surrounded. If you plan to do a lot of sneaking, this could be a bad choice as it makes a loud noise and gives away your position.
Witch Bolt.* The initial damage from this isn't going to beat your weapon attack, and the concentration effect is a terrible use of your concentration (and liable to be broken easily).
Non-Abjuration/Evocation (Available at L3)Charm Person.* This can be a potent spell for social interaction - just keep in mind that the creature will know it's been charmed afterwards.
Color Spray.* The effect here is not strong and you can already get Area of Effect evocation spells.
Comprehend Languages. Not worth your slot - this just won't come up often enough, and it can be done by ritual casters for virtually free.
Detect Magic. Nearly every caster can do this for a lower opportunity cost than you can. If there isn't a Bard, Cleric, Druid, Sorceror, or Wizard in your party, it's a handy effect to have around.
Disguise Self. This allows all kinds of tricksterism, but unless you have a high Charisma you won't be able to do too much with it.
Expeditious Retreat. Concentration hurts this spell, but a bonus action to move your speed can really boost your manuverability. Worse if you already have a bonus action that you use regularly (ex. Two-Weapon Fighting, Polearm Master).
False Life. The temporary hit points from this don't scale fast enough to be remotely effective.
Feather Fall. Situational, but when you need it you really need it.
Find Familiar. A scout that you can communicate with telepathically is pretty strong, and it can even deliver touch spells for you!
Fog Cloud. The cover from this can hurt you as well as help you, and Concentration isn't great. You might be able to find a use for this, though, particularly if you do a lot of hiding.
Grease.* Gives you some area control, and knocking enemies prone certainly helps your ability to hit. On the other hand, your evocations can cover AoE and this takes up your utility slot.
Identify. You won't use this much and the effect generally isn't useful in any case, as you can identify an item simply by spending a short rest with it by default. Take Ritual Caster if nobody else in your party can cast this and you want it.
Illusory Script. Not worth your limited slots, particularly without a spellbook to protect. Save it for the Wizards or Ritual Casters.
Jump. With a high Strength, this will let you Long Jump something like 25' and high jump 10'+, or double that given a 10' running start. Obviously this helps your manuverability, but remember that jumping costs movement, so you'll have to Dash to take advantage of it. Concentration doesn't help much either.
Longstrider. Adding ten feet to your speed for an hour isn't likely to matter much, although no Concentration is a boost over Expeditious Retreat if it matters.
Ray of Sickness.* Debuffs a single target... maybe. The damage and effect from this isn't worth it.
Silent Image.** This has endless applications for a creative player - setting up ambushes (hide behing an illusory wall!), tricking (stupid) creatures, "adding" to your forces in battle...
Sleep. This is actually very powerful for a Wizard, but since you're a few spellcasting levels behind the hit point scaling doesn't hold up and you're unlikely to hit more than one creature - which could be an ally! Stick to evocation spells.
Tasha's Hideous Laughter.* Single-target debuff that requires Concentration... stick to your damage spells. Better for an archer, as you're less likely to get hit and this lets you tie one creature down while attacking another.
Tenser's Floating Disk. Not a terrible utility, but situational - better for Wizards or Ritual Casters who have the spellbook space to spare.
Unseen Servant. This is a pretty versatile utility spell. It can set off traps from a distance (Servant, open that probably-trapped chest over there!) or just help you out in roleplaying situations. This overlaps some with Mage Hand and Prestidigitation, so if you already have one of those two cantrips the value of this is diminished.
Level 2 Spells
Abjuration/Evocation (Available at L7)Arcane Lock. This is technically a utility spell in your abjuration/evocation slots, but locking things will almost certainly not come up often enough to make this worth it.
Continual Flame. Again, this is technically a utility spell, but the effect costs 50 GP to produce and isn't any better for you than the light cantrip (which some characters and parties won't want anyway). However, if you don't have that cantrip it might be worth taking this for one level to produce a bunch of continual flames, since they never go away.
Darkness. This can occasionally shut down archers and other ranged creatures (until they move out of it), but without a way to function in the darkness yourself, it's not that useful.
Gust of Wind.* This... actually isn't bad. It's not the strongest combat spell, but the applications of clearing airborne effects and pushing (and keeping) away creatures and objects in a wide line are widespread, and you can keep it up for a minute. Given the other options available at this level, it's worth considering.
Melf's Acid Arrow.* This suffers from the same problem as other single-target damage spells - it just isn't as good as your standard attacks. Nice to have against trolls, but a torch will do in a pinch.
Scorching Ray.* Despite the good, splittable damage this spell deals, it's (as usual) typically inferior to weapon attacks. Great for Sorcerors and Wizards (who get this at level 3!), but us Fighters have better options.
Shatter.* Not a terrible area-of-effect damage spell, and easier to position than a level-equivalent Thunderwave - plus, this is powerful against pesky inorganic objects like some traps (firebreathing statues, anyone?) and Gargoyles. On the downside, it has the same drawback as Thunderwave (makes a loud noise) and doesn't deal tons of damage at this level, so you'll only really want it against big groups of creatures.
Non-Abjuration/Evocation (Available at L8)Alter Self. This is essentially a more versatile but higher level verson of Disguise Self, which allows swimming and a backup natural weapon (which won't come up often, given that you are very hard to disarm). Given that you can swap out a spell every level, this one might be a good choice if you anticipate an aquatic adventure.
Blindness/Deafness.* This competes with Hold Person as the single-target debuff of choice for level 2. This can target any creature that needs its senses to function and doesn't require concentration, but Hold Person is a more powerful effect and fewer monsters will resist it. Given that at levels 8+ you probably won't fight many powerful humanoids, this is probably the better choice. That said, shutting down a single target may not be the best use of your single non-Abjuration/Evocation spell for this level.
Blur. It requires your concentration to maintain, but disadvantage on attacks against you is a fantastic bonus for you given your likely high armor class in the first place. Cast this before a battle and laugh as the monsters whiff over and over.
Cloud of Daggers. This is one of the few no-save (or attack roll) damage spells, and it could potentially combo with grappling (hold them in the cloud!), but taking a damage spell here (that uses Concentration, to boot!) is just not worth it when so many Evocation options are available.
Crown of Madness.* This takes a humanoid creature out of the fight, but ties up your actions and Concentration. Not worth it - choose Blindness/Deafness or Hold Person if you want this effect.
Darkvision. If you're a human or another creature without Darkvision, this isn't a bad spell, but you don't have enough picks to make it worth it unless you really need to be stealthy in the dark. Take Light as a cantrip or poach off another party member with more known spells.
Detect Thoughts.** This is actually a really handy utility effect to have around - it can scan an area for creatures or function as a lie detector/trump card in roleplaying scenes (who will suspect the Fighter of reading minds?). Plus, it's really handy for solving mysteries. Keep in mind that this doesn't need
Enlarge/Reduce.** As a combat buff, this spell is fairly unimpressive (and requires concentration) - but if you're planning to Grapple, it's absolutely amazing, giving you advantage on checks as well as the ability to grapple Huge creatures (like adult dragons!) Reduce isn't bad for utility, but if you're planning to sneak you'll want Invisibility and there are much better debuffs. In short, the spell is versatile but mediocre in all of its applications except grappling.
Flaming Sphere.* This would be great if it were a Evocation spell. As is, it can add to your damage (moving the sphere is a bonus action) while helping to deal with multiple opponents - but the opportunity cost here is too high, given that you can deal AoE damage with your evocations and this uses concentration.
Gentle Repose. Save it for the Wizard, Cleric, or ritual caster. You've got better things to do with your known spells than preserve corpses.
Hold Person.* This can shut down a single opponent and make it easy for you (and your team) to lay into them, but you first recieve it at eighth level, where it's less likely that you'll be fighting powerful humanoid creatures. This also requires concentration, so most of the time Blindness/Deafness is better for you - and that's if you want a single-target debuff at all.
Invisibility. Whether you cast this on yourself or someone else, invisibility is a powerful effect to have around for scouting, spying, or setting up an ambush.
Knock. Opening locks isn't bad, but this spell gives away your position. Might be taking if you think it'll come up and no one else in your party can handle locks, but there are plenty of better options.
Levitate.** Vertical mobility is handy to have around, and could be especially useful for an archer character who wants to "get above it all," or for springing an ambush (no one ever looks up!). In a pinch, this can also take a melee-focused monster out of a fight in the right circumstances.
Locate Object. This is a neat spell, but it's not likely to be useful in a lot of situations. You might be better off letting the Wizard handle this one, or making some good old-fashioned Investigation rolls. On the other hand, if you know you'll need it, there's nothing wrong with picking this up for one level..
Magic Mouth. Magical messages just aren't the best use of your limited known spells. Save this for the Wizards and ritual casters.
Magic Weapon. Obviously, this spell is pretty useless if your weapon is already magical. That said, if you don't have a magic weapon and you're fighting the right kind of creature, this can be a godsend. Just don't forget to retrain it when you pick up an actual magic weapon.
Mirror Image. This competes with Blur as one of the best defensive spells an Eldritch Knight can pick up - it can absorb several attacks completely, and it doesn't require concentration. Not so good against multiattackers, however - Blur is better in those situations.
Misty Step. This is a fantastic spell for mobility in the middle of combat. You can hop to the right side of a crowded battle, escape a grapple, catch a fleeing enemy, "jump" to hit or grapple a flying foe (DM permitting), teleport past the enemy's front line into the middle of their archers, or bypass an impassable obstacle like a chasm. Don't forget that this uses your bonus action, so you can still take a regular move before or after the teleport.
Nystul's Magic Aura. Fighters aren't meant to be magic item con artists. This spell is unlikely to be useful often - let the Wizard take it if you absolutely have to make that old boot detect as magical.
Phantasmal Force.* For a straightforward way to shut down a single foe in combat, look at Blindness/Deafness or Hold Person. For a fun way to shut down an enemy in combat (or anywhere else), take this spell. You can be very creative with the illusions thus created - set off a false alarm in a different part of the guarded fortress, or make the villain think the cliff face extends further back than it really does. And best of all, you can even deal damage with the spell itself without using your action (though it does take concentration).
Ray of Enfeeblement.* This makes a target's attacks weaker - or you can just kill it with your weapons. Not a great use of your action or Concentration.
Rope Trick. This essentially lets the party take a short rest or hide for an hour - anywhere, anytime. It also functions as a "poor man's Levitate," creating a suspended climbing rope. Not a bad trick to have in your back pocket, although it's not the most exciting use of your spells.
See Invisibility. It's not bad to be able to see invisible creatures, but there are really better things to do with your spells and this probably won't come up too often.
Spider Climb. You can walk on ceilings! Levitate is probably better most of the time, but this does give you better manuverability in odd environments.
Suggestion.* This spell can be very powerful if used creatively. It can take out an easily-tricked foe entirely ("Take a swim in that lake of acid - I mean, water!") or push minions into irrational decisions that can throw a whole plot, lair, or organization into chaos ("The boss needs you to let all the prisoners out of their cells! No, I don't know why - he's just been very irrational lately.").
Web.* This spell can control a battlefield quite effectively if placed correctly, locking down large groups of creatures (sometimes for multiple rounds). Requires concentration, but the effect can turn the tide of a battle.
Level 3 Spells
Abjuration/Evocation (Available at L13)Counterspell.* Although you will be less effective at this then a Wizard, the ability to shut down a spellcasting enemy with just your reaction is still extremely powerful, and at the level you recieve this many enemies will be casting spells. The Eldritch Knight can be one of the most effective "mage slayers" in the game because of this spell and Dispel Magic.
Dispel Magic.* Though buff spells aren't as strong in this edition, the ability to disrupt an enemy's magical bonuses is pretty valuable. Though you'll use it less often in combat than the comparable Counterspell, this spell also shines when disarming magical traps and ending other dangerous or inconveniencing magical effects.
Fireball.* AoE damage still isn't amazing for you, but when you're confronted by a horde of angry orcs a good old-fashioned ball of flame is often the best response.
Glyph of Warding.* Warding an area or object (which must remain stationary, so the "I prepared Explosive Runes today" tactic is ineffective) is unlikely to come up often, and the spell is expensive to cast. There are better options at this level.
Leomund's Tiny Hut. This spell lets you safely take a Long Rest in adverse conditions or in enemy territory - a good effect to have around! If you use this in a place where you can be discovered, though, beware of creatures who will set an ambush for you when the spell ends. Also note that you can snipe creatures safely from within the dome with missile weapons, although your DM may rule otherwise.
Lightning Bolt.* Again, AoE damage isn't always amazing for you, but it's not bad to have around. Although fewer creatures resist lightning damage, this spell is much harder to catch multiple creatures in than Fireball (hence its lower rating).
Magic Circle.* This spell lets you ward an area from the same categories of creatures as described in the Protection from Evil and Good spell. Unfortunately, it takes a minute to set up and has the potential to be totally useless for many of your adventures. Might be worth learning for a level if you're taking a trip to Hell or somewhere similar, though.
Nondetection. Hiding someone from divination magic promises to be very situational, which you can't really afford given your limited spells known. If you need it, you can retrain into it, but unless your campaign features lots of evil diviners, this isn't worth taking for the most part.
Protection from Energy. If you know what you're up against (prime example: dragons!), this spell can shut down some foes' best attacks. Although it uses Concentration, this spell is versatile enough that it's worth taking at some point.
Remove Curse. This is, again, a very situational spell. If you or a party member gets cursed, you can learn this the next level - or just let the Cleric, Warlock, or Wizard in your party handle it.
Sending. This is a potent utility spell that's essentially functions as a text message. Communication over any distance (even different planes) is a powerful tool to have access to, whether you're splitting the party, calling for help, or negotiating with a distant enemy.
Non-Abjuration/Evocation (Available at L14)Animate Dead. At 14th level when you learn this spell, the few skeletons and zombies you can create with it will get torn apart with the barest effort by the monsters you'll face, and their attacks will be largely ineffective. Plus, controlling them continuously ties up your spell slots, keeping you from using them for other important effects. This spell just isn't worth it.
Bestow Curse.* This spell is less powerful at shutting down a single opponent than second-level options like Blindness/Deafness, and you don't have the spell slot levels to curse someone for longer than the duration of a fight. Take something else.
Blink. Despite its randomness, this spell does a great job at keeping you from taking damage - half the time, you're simply not available as a target, and the spell doesn't even require Concentration! Unfortunately, this just means that monsters will target the squishier members of your party more (dealing the same total amount of damage), and you won't be able to stop them with opportunity attacks and other reactions. If you're not typically on the front lines for your party (an archer), or you happen to be squishy yourself, then this spell becomes better, and for the rare Fighter in a solo game, it's amazing.
Clairvoyance. Scrying within a mile can be pretty useful in a variety of situations, although this spell can't target areas that you don't know about. Great for spy-Fighters (that is, Fighters who are spies, not those who fight spies)!
Fear.* This scares creatures within an area, making them flee and denying them their actions. Not a bad spell, but you might have better choices.
Feign Death. You can play dead. Big whoop. Try not losing instead?
Fly. Flight is a particularly powerful ability, and doubly so for you - being able to engage creatures like dragons in melee on their "home turf" takes away their positional advantage, and archer EKs become even more deadly when they can fire at melee creatures without fear of retaliation. This spell has tons of utility outside of combat as well. Just beware of losing Concentration on this spell, as you'll likely end up taking a lot of falling damage.
Gaseous Form. This lets you (or a party member) be effective as a scout or infiltrator - a nice capibility to have around.
Haste. This could be the best combat buff in the game until seventeenth level characters can cast Foresight. An additional attack (that doesn't use your bonus action) is powerful enough, but a boost to AC, Dexterity saving throws, and speed solidifies this as an incredibly potent boost to your effectiveness in combat. Beware losing your concentration on this one, though - a round of ineffectiveness in a fight can spell your doom.
Hypnotic Pattern.* This serves a similar function as Fear, pacifying and charming a large group of creatures, which can knock them out of the fight. Note, however, that non-pacified enemies can shake their allies out of the spell - given that you're not likely to hit as many creatures with this given your (likely) lower save DC anyway, this spell could prove to be totally ineffective. It's not bad in noncombat situations, though.
Major Image.** Creating illusions that cover four of the five senses (of course, they still disappear when touched) is a pretty potent effect with uses in a variety of situations.
Phantom Steed. This spell essentially lets you quadruple your movement speed for an hour, traveling 13 miles instead of the usual three. Unfortunately, the effect is pretty narrow, doesn't really last long enough, and affects only you - there's no way to extend this to the rest of your party. Also, you could, you know, buy a horse. A Wizard or Ritual Caster might find a better use for this.
Sleet Storm.* This spell is essentially an upgraded grease with a larger area and additional effects. It lets you shut down movement in an area, obscure the vision of enemy archers, knock creatures already in the area prone, and stop enemy casters from concentrating. Useful effects, but Concentration makes this a little less effective.
Slow.* This is a brutal debuffing spell that hits a group of creatures, wrecking their action economy, speed, defenses, and spellcasting ability. Although individual creatures can recover from it rather easily, this can still turn the tide of a battle heavily in your favor. Unfortunately it's Concentration and relies on a high saving throw DC, but if you want to minor in de-buffing this spell is worth considering.
Stinking Cloud.* This spell functions as action and area denial for a large group of creatures - which, unfortunately, can easily include your allies or yourself. Reliance on Concentration and spell save DCs, along with a restrictive set of targets (immunity to poison or lack of need to breathe nullify its effects), makes this spell less than idea for you.
Tongues. This spell lets you speak any language, but language barriers are unlikely to come up that often and probably won't be crucial to an adventure even if they do.
Vampiric Touch.* Single-target damage spells are bad for you, and while this one offers self-healing it's not nearly enough to make this spell worth taking.
Water Breathing. This spell can make your entire party able to breathe underwater, but that ability is situational enough that you'll only ever want to take this spell if you plan to swap it out immediately afterwards.
Level 4 Spells
Abjuration/Evocation (Available at L19)Banishment
Mordenkainen's Private Sanctum
Otiluke's Resilient Sphere
Wall of Fire
Non-Abjuration/Evocation (Available L20)Arcane Eye
Conjure Minor Elementals
Evard's Black Tentacles
Leomund's Secret Chest
Mordenkainen's Faithful Hound
VIII. EquipmentThe fighter class is defined largely by its ability to fight using weapons and armor. Choosing your equipment properly, therefore, can make a big difference in your effectiveness.
Choosing your ArmorThe thing about armor in 5E is there are really only four types of it. They are stratified by their gold piece cost, and the armors higher up the chain tend to be unreachable by first level characters. As soon as you have enough gold to pick up better armor, do it! Armor is one of the few ways to directly improve your character's combat abilities by spending gold in 5E and will make a big impact on your survivability.
Also note that you'll virtually never want the padded, hide, or ring mail armor types unless you have no other choice. These are just inferior to other armor types - you can do better.
Leather -> Studded Leather.This is the way to go for Dexterity-based Fighters, as these armor types let you add your full Dexterity bonus to AC. Depending on your financial priorities, Studded Leather might actually purchasable at the start of the game, so make sure you check - that +1 to AC can go a long way!
Chain Shirt -> Breastplate. This armor type doesn't give disadvantage on Stealth rolls, so if you're interested in sneaking around but your Dexterity isn't your main stat you may want to consider these armor types. Totally inferior if you have the Medium Armor Master feat - pick scale mail or half plate instead!
Scale Mail -> Half Plate. As a Fighter with access to heavy armor (which imposes the same disadvantage on Stealth rolls and gives a higher AC overall), you probably don't want this (Strength-based Fighters will be able to move in heavy armor just fine, while Dexterity-based fighters should be in Studded Leather anyway). However, if you have the Medium Armor Mastery feat, scale mail and half plate both improve.
Chain Mail -> Splint -> Plate. For Strength-based Figthers, this armor set is the best although it kills your Stealth rolls. Note that this doesn't apply your Dexterity even if it is negative, so this is especially appealing for low-Dex characters. The situation where this actually impedes your movement will probably never happen, as if your Strength isn't high enough, you should be playing a Dexterity-based Fighter anyway!
Should I use a shield? Are you using a one-handed weapon? Yes, always - there's no reason not to. Are you using a two-handed weapon or fighting with two weapons? No (the rules won't let you).
Choosing your WeaponsWeapon choice in 5E is dependent on your character's fighting style, and most weapons are deliberately similar - in general, if you're picking from the Martial Weapon list you'll be good. Still, some choices are slightly better than others.
"Weapon and Shield." Strength-based characters wielding a shield have numerous options - the battleaxe, longsword, and warhammer come out on top because of their Versatile property, but the flailand war pick are perfectly fine choices (and darned cool) as you'll rarely want to go Versatile. Dexterity-based characters really only have one good option, the rapier.
Two-Handed Fighters. The greatsword and maul deal better damage than the greataxe, but the glaive and halberd work with Polearm Master and have the Reach ability. This path is off-limits for Dexterity fighters.
Dual Wielding. Dexterity-based dual wielders are best off with short swords or scimitars, while Strength-based characters are best with handaxes (which can be thrown!). Once you pick up the Dual Wielder feat, you'll want to pick from the "weapon and shield" list, as those weapons deal the best one-handed damage.
Ranged Combat. The longbow has the best range, but the heavy crossbowdeals more damage (although it requires the Crossbow Expert feat to be usable with Extra Attack). Surprisingly, the hand crossbow becomes a great option with the Crossbow Expert feat, as you can deal good damage at any range while wielding a shield. Strength-based characters will want javelins - they have longer range than other thrown weapons and deal the best damage.
Mounted Combat.If you're riding a horse, you'll want a lance.
What weapons should I carry in addition to my primary combat style? Well, if you're a melee character you'll definitely want a ranged attack option based off your primary score - javelin or handaxe for Strength-based characters and a heavy crossbow (lower levels; you won't be able to make Extra attacks with it later on) or longbow for Dexterity-based characters. Ranged characters will probably want an effective melee option (making ranged attacks in melee grants disadvantage without the right feats) - since you're almost certainly Dexterity-based, a rapier is a good pick.
In addition, you might want some form of small "concealable" weapon like a dagger - handy to have around in case your movement is restricted or you need to smuggle yourself into a "weapon-less" situation (a rulers' presence, for example).
What if I'm in a situation where I don't have access to my regular weapons? You're probably best off trying to improvise a weapon similar to a regular one so you can use your proficiency bonus on attacks. For example, a shard of glass in a barfight could be a makeshift dagger, which would be more effective than using a mug as a weapon. If you have the Tavern Brawler feat, all bets are off - use whatever you want!
IX. MulticlassingOne thing that's changed in 5E compared to previous editions is that often the best path is to take 20 levels in your starting class. The Fighter gets solid features every level, from 1 to 20, so unless you're pursuing a specific build or concept you're probably better off staying a single-classed Fighter. That said, there are a lot of multiclass options
Note that multiclassing as a Fighter requires you
Level DippingBarbarian (Requires: Strength 13)
As another martial combat-based class, the Barbarian's focus on raw power (rather than your skill) can give your character some extra juice.
Barbarian 1. (Blue) Rage, even twice per day, is a great feature and greatly increases your resiliance when you need it, as well as helping your Strength-based damage. Where this level really shines (sky blue) is for Dexterity-based fighters, as adding your Constitution bonus to AC is usually better than Studded Leather and lets you boost AC and HP at the same time.
Barbarian 2. (Blue) Reckless Attack doesn't mesh as well with the Fighter's "shtick" of making multiple attacks (and without lots of Rage to fall back on, you'll have more trouble surviving the blowback), but Danger Sense really helps shore up your Dexterity saves.
Bard (Requires: Charisma 13)
Bard 1. (Black) You gain access to a few spells which help your utility, but without a solid Charisma you won't be able to make effective use of Bardic Inspiration.
Bard 2. (Black) Jack of All Trades certainly helps you with skills, and Song of Rest will help boost your party, but ultimately this falls short of more Fighter levels.
X. FAQUnder construction.
XI. Builds and Combos
BuildsThe builds in this section offer a quick way to create an effective Fighter character and serve as examples to inspire.
Defensive Fighter, Basic Rules OnlyWhy play this build? The Fighter is arguably the toughest class in the game. Using just the Basic Rules, one can build a Fighter that can take plenty of hits and dish them right back out.
Point Buy Stats: Str 15, Dex 10, Con 15, Int 8, Wis 14, Cha 8
Race: Mountain Dwarf
Background/Proficiencies/Languages: Soldier, Athletics/Insight/Intimidation/Perception, Gaming Set, Common/Dwarvish/Extra language (your choice)
Fighter Class Choices:
- Fighting Style: Dueling
- Martial Archetype: Champion
- Ability Score Improvements: +1 Str/+1 Con, +2 Str, +2 Con, +2 Wis, +2 Dex, +2 Wis, +2 Dex
- Additional Fighting Style: Defense
Armor & Weapons: Chain/Splint/Plate Mail (upgrade as available), Shield, Battleaxe, Javelins
Possible Alterations: Any race with a Strength or Constitution bonus should work, as should nearly any Background. One might consider the Protection fighting style instead of Defense. Any one-handed weapon should be fine as well.
With the Player's Handbook available, one might consider making this build as a Battle Master (Precision Attack, Riposte and Trip Attack boost your damage, Parry increases your defenses, and Disarming Attack, Manuevering Attack, and Menacing Attack help protect your party). The Shield Master, Heavy Armor Master and Sentinel feats should be heavily considered, and the Resilient (Wisdom) feat is probably better than applying ASIs to Wisdom. You're probably better off staying single classed for this one, as the Fighter delivers staying power for all 20 levels.
Archer, Basic Rules OnlyWhy play this build? Archery in 5E is better than ever. You can target anyone on the battlefield, and with a Fighter's defenses you'll be a tough target yourself. Making use of finesse weapons means you'll be effective in melee too, and your great Dexterity lets you sneak around and use Thieves' Tools.
Point Buy Stats: Str 8, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 15, Cha 12
Race: Wood Elf
Background/Proficiencies/Languages: Criminal, Acrobatics/Deception/Perception/Stealth, Gaming Set/Thieves' Tools, Common/Elvish
Fighter Class Choices:
- Fighting Style: Archery
- Martial Archetype: Champion
- Ability Score Improvements: +2 Dex, +2 Dex, +2 Con, +2 Con, +2 Con, +2 Wis
- Additional Fighting Style: Dueling
Armor & Weapons: Leather/Studded leather armor (upgrade as available), Heavy Crossbow (levels 1-4)/Longbow (level 5+), Rapier
Possible Alterations: Any race with a Dexterity bonus is fine, and the Urchin background gives nearly the same benefits (although any background could work). If you don't find yourself in melee often, you could take the Defense style instead of Dueling.
With Player's Handbook options, this build could work as a Battle Master - the Disarming Attack, Goading/Menacing Attack, Precision Attack, Pushing Attack, and Trip Attack maneuvers work just fine at range and make you into an effective single-target controller. The Sharpshooter feat will boost your damage enormously if you're playing with feats, and Crossbow Expert will increase your damage after level 4 by letting you use a Heavy Crossbow with Extra Attack. Resilient (Wisdom) might be a better alternative to boosting your Wisdom. To emphasize the stealthy aspects of the build, one might consider multiclassing in Rogue for Expertise and Cunning Action (remember, hiding grants you Advantage on your first attack!).
Wednesday, 18th November, 2015, 10:32 PM #2
About that new Fighting Style "Tunnel Fighter" in Unearthed Arcana: Light, Dark, Underdark. Would this one in conjunction with the Polearm Master and Sentinel feats be as gold as it can possibly be? Or is there a catch?
Wednesday, 18th November, 2015, 10:37 PM #3
Novice (Lvl 1)
Nice summary!! Thanks!!
Thursday, 19th November, 2015, 04:20 AM #4
Novice (Lvl 1)
Thursday, 19th November, 2015, 08:31 AM #5
Novice (Lvl 1)
I'm playing an EK at the moment, and i would like to suggest a couple of updates.
The new cantrips from the SCAG were designed with EKs and Hexblades in mind (also bladesinger, to a lesser degree). Especially booming blade, and greenflame blade.
- Booming Blade is easily the best: you get one normal melee attack that also "locks" in place one enemy (under the threat of an opportunity attack + d8 or more). After 5th level the damage also increases on the first normal attack! it's really good, even when INT is a dump stat, because nothing depends on it. It's simply a no-brainer until level 5 (it really loses nothing over a normal attack action), then at level 5 and 6 you may want the normal 2 attacks (if you know the target won't move, at least), and from lv 7 with war magic it becames a no-brainer again. From lv 11 it depends, but to a tank i would suggest to use it, since it scales with level and it's a cantrip EKs cast better than wizards.
- Greenflame Blade really depends on our INT modifier, and is only worth the cantrip slot if that mod is significant. But it's a good "horde" spell if we can pull it off, especially against low-level mobs.
- Lighting lure could be good, but also need a decent modifier to be effective. It does have a good interaction with war magic though, because it de facto increases our melee range, enabling the EK to attack enemies within a range of 30ft movement + 10ft LL.
As for the new spells from POA, i found the lv1 "Absorb Element" very useful, especially against elemental attacks/damage spells that require a saving throw (dragon breath, fireballs, cone of ice, etc). It's a reaction, and abiuration, therefore easily avaiable from the start.
This is a great guide, that i used when creating the fighter pc, my thanks to its creator! and to enworld for saving it of course.
Thursday, 19th November, 2015, 10:50 PM #6
Monday, 7th December, 2015, 09:15 PM #7
No thoughts on the new Purple Dragon Knight...?
Well here is mine:
It starts out bad compared to the other options. Rallying Cry is just decent, and nothing more than that. Both Battle Master and Eldritch Knight got better features. Royal Envy at level 7 is nice fluff, and I can imagine some players would enjoy this. Just too bad charisma has NO benefits for a PDK. Would be nice if he just had something like, Rally of the Battle Master. It feels like it is missing a feature here.
Inspiring Surge. Well finally something to truly talk about. Starts out decent, but once at 17 level, you can target two allies, and you get to use action surge twice. It means that only at level 17 does a PDK get to compete with say, Battle Master. Bulwark at level 15 is just/barely decent, since you cant use it that often.
From my perspective, Purple Dragon Knight is the complete opposite to Battle Master, in the regard that it starts out bad, but from level 17, it gets really good, thanks to some nice nova with action surge. Before that, I think the class is a bit beyond the others. All in all I would rate it black, and maybe blue from level 17 and forth. Most of its features just gives little bit less than it should, or simply cant use it enough.
An interesting archetype that many would like, but just a little bit lacking when it comes to features.
Tuesday, 8th December, 2015, 07:57 PM #8
I felt like PDK could have used a limited maneuver selection or something similar to spice up the lower levels. Like 2 dice at d6, maybe getting one extra die but no size increases over levels and having only some maneuvers available to learn (the teamwork ones like commander's). That and/or making rallying cry stronger. Like you said, the class doesn't really seem very good until later levels. This is an issue since many games never survive long enough to make it there (or are designed to end before).
Concerning the guide generally, I don't know if the original maker of the guide posts on ENWorld (or other gaming sites), so we may never see an update.
Sunday, 13th December, 2015, 09:08 PM #9
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
PDK needs Inspiring Surge to be Lv. 3, then Rallying Cry bumped to Lv. 10 and made a little bit stronger (I'd suggest maybe ally heals at 1d4 + fighter level, or your allies heal your second wind value instead of you).
Friday, 25th December, 2015, 05:49 PM #10
The Tavern Brawler feat does make a shield usable as an improvised weapon. Does this cancel the Dueling feat, even if it is not used as weapon during a turn?
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