Is using a familiar in combat to grant advantage a common tactic?
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  1. #1
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    Is using a familiar in combat to grant advantage a common tactic?

    Im thinking of either an eldritch knight or arcane trickster build where some kind of bird familiar swoops in and grants advantage.

    This would be especially useful for a rogue who will get sneak attack virtually every turn this way.

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    Yes, it's quite common in my experience and that familiar is always an owl (or a reskinned owl).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Minsc View Post
    Im thinking of either an eldritch knight or arcane trickster build where some kind of bird familiar swoops in and grants advantage.

    This would be especially useful for a rogue who will get sneak attack virtually every turn this way.
    Yes it is.


    Its tougher then you think, the familiar gets it own place in initiative, there is a timing issue.
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    Does directing the familiar to attack a foe use up an action? I thought it did. You could use it for the help action and save your action economy. It's more or less the same - granting your PC advantage, but you do not get an actual attack from the familiar.

    Feel free to correct me -- I am by no means a rules expert.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Minsc View Post
    Im thinking of either an eldritch knight or arcane trickster build where some kind of bird familiar swoops in and grants advantage.

    This would be especially useful for a rogue who will get sneak attack virtually every turn this way.
    It's pretty common.

    But then so is killing familiars in combat who do it. It has to get to 5' then even if it flies out, it's still within range of a lot of easy range attacks.

    So, it's a trade-off. Using it this way a lot likely means needing to re-cast it and so you are risking its immediate benefits as scout etc vs the short term gain.

    Diverting one dart from a MM is well worth it if the familiar is impacting the combat.
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    As far as I'm considered, it's the main reason to get a familiar. Yeah, you have a scout, but scouts often die, and that only helps so much. Sure, there are some with interesting features with some, like the bat being able to see in darkness with echolocation, but the main thing to use it for is gaining advantage in combat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pogre View Post
    Does directing the familiar to attack a foe use up an action? I thought it did. You could use it for the help action and save your action economy. It's more or less the same - granting your PC advantage, but you do not get an actual attack from the familiar.

    Feel free to correct me -- I am by no means a rules expert.
    It doesn't take up an action. Standard familiars can't attack. You send it to perform the Help action to grant advantage. But as @smbakeresq notes it can be tricky depending on the initiative order. Many DMs often have the familiar act on the caster's turn, but that's not technically what the rules say to do.
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    "Is using a familiar in combat to grant advantage a common tactic?"

    I'm not sure ... I am not .... familiar ... with this tactic.



    THANK YOU! I'M HERE ALL DAY!


    S'pose it depends. I mean, is the individual in question kind of like, "Hey, I need to exterminate a lot of owls." If so, why not?
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  9. #9
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    Yeah, scouting and getting advantage in combat seem to be the main uses of familiars. I do tend to throw in some AOE attacks that'll peg the familiar, if the PC overuses this tactic.

    Part of me thinks losing a familiar should be more of a detriment, like the old days, so that PCs would be more cautious about sending a familiar ahead on its own, or spamming the help action in combat.
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    The Help Action generously gives your ally an entire turn to make their attack. The two notable concerns are:

    1) The familiar rolls initiative and sometimes goes after you, so you don't get the benefit until next turn.
    2) The monster might get a turn between the familiar and you, which means the monster can wander off. This can include the monster going to attack someone else, weaving between its own allies to make you suffer attacks of opportunity to reach it, or just ending its turn around a corner.

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