D&D 5E Arcane Archer is underated due to grasping arrow

ECMO3

Hero
Most of the consensus seems to indicate that Arcane Archer is weak and a Ranger or Battlemaster would make a better Archer.

After playing with grasping arrow I would have to disagree. This ability is far, far better than any of the battlemaster maneuvers. The big negative is it is usable twice per short rest, but it is more than 3x better than the maneuvers. It is better than HM or the spells a Ranger is going to use to boost damage too. Here is why:

No saving throw. Hit an enemy with legendary actions and he is automatically effected.

The 2d6 poision damage is automatic, no save. That is ok, not great because poison is not the best damage.

-10 movement, again ok not great.

The 2d6 Magic slashing damage can affect it every single turn if it moves, not just on its turns. If your allies hit it with thorn whip or lightning lure or crusher or swarmkeeper, it takes the 2d6 damage every single time! If your party all have force movement options this could be an extra 8d6 or so per round, with no save. - Now we are talking, this is really good

It takes an action and a contested strength check to remove it and it is an action the enemy can easily fail. So it is a minimum of one lost action and potentially 2, 3 or 4. While it is being damaged every turn. Even if you dump intelligence it is still at least 1 lost action to remove it. This scales really well because when you get incredible enemies with multiattack they still use their whole action. Also since it it an ability check and not a save, throwing something like Hex will give him disadvantage on getting out of it - Awesome

So with 1 arcane shot you get good to awesome damage with no save and at least 1 entire action lost, more if he can't easily beat your DC with a strength check.
 
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By and large AA is fine mechanically it just fails to fulfill it's thematic niche and is uneventful in play. Coupled with race limit, slight MaDness, weapon choice limits, and slow progression it just comes across and miss aligned with the rest of the archer fighter options. Grasping is a neat trick and curving shot both keep it relevant but ready shot comes online so late as does the small damage boost at 18.

Compare it to the RK who has similar types of effects and uses per SR/LR and you can see the issues. The AA has one effect that is better but the RKs controlling options are taking up about 1/5 of it's feature budget. About the time AA starts falling off the RK gets 2 amazing options with storm and hill that pushes them further along. When they finally get ready shot the RK doubles all of their rune charges per SR.
 


I don't think this works the way you think it works.

Grasping arrow does the 2d6 slashing damage when IT (the creature) moves 1 foot or more, not when it is forced to move. So, other PCs moving it around as you suggest won't deal the damage to it. It is the same as if a creature is force to move, it doesn't provoke opportunity attacks.

Now, if a PC knocks it prone, and the DM decides the creature stands up (spending half its speed), then it would certainly take the 2d6 slashing damage.

Otherwise, I have found AA to be meh, but certainly not weak IME.
Forced movement should work based on the wording. Compare it to to BB that uses the language to differentiate willing/unwilling movement. Same with all the other blender effects like spike growth, cloud of daggers, wall of fire, and so on.

It's noticable worse than a lot of those even with the better action economy thanks to the damage limit per turn and the fact the slashing damage might not even be magical and the other damage is poison. If the subclass has one good trick it should at least be as impactful as a first lv spell.
 
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EDIT: I just found JC's ruling, so I stand corrected.


FWIW, I am surprised by the ruling. If JC feels it should damage the target, then there is really no reason why moving a creature forcibly wouldn't provoke an opportunity attack.
For "Balance" reasons really.

If anything AO shouldn't be triggered when moving away to begin with seeing how that is the hardest time to land a meaningful strike on someone unless they are moving into the arch of threat from a reach weapon but for all weapons but lances it doesn't matter.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
If anything AO shouldn't be triggered when moving away to begin with seeing how that is the hardest time to land a meaningful strike on someone unless they are moving into the arch of threat from a reach weapon but for all weapons but lances it doesn't matter.
Agreed. We've made disengage a move action (along with others) so you can break from combat and move up to half your speed without provoking an opportunity attack.

To balance it, if you "charge" (i.e. move more than half your speed) to engage a creature, you provoke an OA when you enter its reach.

But I don't want to get off-topic so I'll leave it at that.
 

ECMO3

Hero
It's noticable worse than a lot of those even with the better action economy thanks to the damage limit per turn and the fact the slashing damage might not even be magical and the other damage is poison. If the subclass has one good trick it should at least be as impactful as a first lv spell.
The slashing damage is magical because it is a from spell, RAW that is pretty clear.

The damage is per turn, not per round, so every time an ally moves the enemy it takes damage. This makes the damage turn after turn really good.

Lost movement + lost action + automatic damage with no save is a lot better than any 1st level spell. Heck it is better than its most comparable 2nd level spell (tasha's mind whip) which damages once and takes a reaction and one of move/bonus/action, will only work for a single round and TMW gets a save where this does not.
 

The issue is it's limited to once per turn max unlike something like spike growth that has a massive ceiling for damage or ensnaring strike that has the restrainded condition on it which is both a better debuff and buff for damage. It's good but at once per SR it's not enough to move it out of the meh category for me. If you have a ton of players with forced movement then maybe but even then I'd take a BM or RK.
 

ECMO3

Hero
The issue is it's limited to once per turn max unlike something like spike growth that has a massive ceiling for damage or ensnaring strike that has the restrainded condition on it which is both a better debuff and buff for damage. It's good but at once per SR it's not enough to move it out of the meh category for me. If you have a ton of players with forced movement then maybe but even then I'd take a BM or RK.
Spike Growth is once per turn too unless you can move an enemy more than once on during your turn. Further it is an AOE and the enemy needs to be moved inside the AOE, not just moved anywhere, you take damage if you go inside it to move an enemy. This makes a lot of movement options less viable. If the enemy is standing at the far edge of spike growth, for example you have to circle around behind him to push him into it with repelling blast.

Ensnaring strike requires a bonus action and more importantly gets a save. Further that save is with advantage on a large creature. There no save on grasping arrow, it is automatic. This is a BIG difference.

Both Spike Growth and Ensnaring Strike also require concentration.

Finally Grasping Arrow is not a spell, so aside from the fact you do not need to concentrate, I could hit the same enemy with a second Grasping Arrow on the very same turn and essentially double everything and require 2 saves to break free.
 

Weiley31

Legend
I always thought people's main issue with the 5E Arcane Archer was simply for the fact that it's main "gimmick" that it has runs out too quickly and then your stuck with an Archer that hits/takes hits like a fighter and has Action Surge.
 

Spike Growth is once per turn too unless you can move an enemy more than once on during your turn. Further it is an AOE and the enemy needs to be moved inside the AOE, not just moved anywhere, you take damage if you go inside it to move an enemy. This makes a lot of movement options less viable. If the enemy is standing at the far edge of spike growth, for example you have to circle around behind him to push him into it with repelling blast.

Ensnaring strike requires a bonus action and more importantly gets a save. Further that save is with advantage on a large creature. There no save on grasping arrow, it is automatic. This is a BIG difference.

Both Spike Growth and Ensnaring Strike also require concentration.

Finally Grasping Arrow is not a spell, so aside from the fact you do not need to concentrate, I could hit the same enemy with a second Grasping Arrow on the very same turn and essentially double everything and require 2 saves to break free.
But it's 2 per SR until lv 15 and can only hit one arrow per turn max and if you use it again the first one disappears. You can't even use it on two different targets at once even if you take 2 turn to do it.

Then on top of that unless the 10ft movement penalty prevents them from reaching someone it's just 2d6 damage which most NPCs will willingly eat over spending can action to attempt to pull them off. It's a delayed smite that can add some extra damage and if your party has forced movement you could get some use out it. Enough to matter maybe but most likely not.

The reason why spike growth is better is it's damage is determined by distances so even something like thornwhip could add as much additional damage and the whole grasping shot does and if they have anything other type of feature they can double tap. Swarm rangers, telekinesis feat, and so on. Could even drop them off so a party member can drag them around the outside of it before showing them back in the middle which is difficult terrain so it could eat up more movement then grasping as well.

One place it shines is flying targets but just knocking them prone would probably add more damage and plenty of features do that and can be done more than once every 1-4 encounters.

It's just not enough to bring it up to snuff. It's not bad but it's not good and for the subclass with Archer in it's name it doesn't even make the top 3 for being and archer. Pushing for top 5 even.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
You know, this thread got me thinking a sorcerer-style "arcane archer" would be cool. Instead of metamagics you'd get magical shots, which would cost "spell points" or whatever.

I do agree with many people the extremely limited uses of shots is the weak point in the subclass.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I always thought people's main issue with the 5E Arcane Archer was simply for the fact that it's main "gimmick" that it has runs out too quickly and then your stuck with an Archer that hits/takes hits like a fighter and has Action Surge.
🤷‍♀️ Two uses between short rests should work out to one use per encounter. Using one special arrow per fight sounds about right for the concept to me. I suppose if people aren’t getting enough short rests, changing it to 6 uses between long rests would give you the same number per adventuring day.
 

ECMO3

Hero
But it's 2 per SR until lv 15 and can only hit one arrow per turn max and if you use it again the first one disappears. You can't even use it on two different targets at once even if you take 2 turn to do it.
Yes. But that is the same number of spell slots a Warlock gets per SR. It is hald of the 1st level slots any caster gets per LR.

Also people are comparing it to spike growth, you get 2 arrows per SHORT rest at level 3. A Ranger can cast spike growth 2 times per LONG rest at 5th level.

Then on top of that unless the 10ft movement penalty prevents them from reaching someone it's just 2d6 damage which most NPCs will willingly eat over spending can action to attempt to pull them off. It's a delayed smite that can add some extra damage and if your party has forced movement you could get some use out it. Enough to matter maybe but most likely not.

No it is 2d6 per turn, not per round. So if you have a party of 6 and all have enemy movement options that is potentially 12d6 per round.

If you have a 5th level warlock with releppling blast for example can add 4d6 by moving it twice, on top of the EB damage. Thorn Whip, Lightning Lure, Crusher Feat swarmkeeper. All those do an extra 2d6 damage every time you hit it with one of them.

The reason why spike growth is better is it's damage is determined by distances so even something like thornwhip could add as much additional damage and the whole grasping shot does.

No. Thorn Whip will do 4d4 (10 points) extra when you cast it on an enemy and pulls him through 10' of growth. That assumes he is already in or standing on the edge and it assumes there is at least 10' of skpike growth between you and it. If there is 5 feet between him and the spiked area it is 2d4 (5) or if he is already in it and there is more than 5 but less then 10' it is again 2d4. Further you can do 4d4 a maximum of 2 turns in a row at which point he will be entirely through the spiked area unless someone else was moving him in another direction, this assumes he does not move at all himself.

Hit a enemy affected by grasping arrow with thorn whip and it does 2d6 (7). So it is three points less extra damage IF you can drag him through a full 10 feet of spikes. If you only can drag him through 9 feet of spikes it is actually less damage. You can continue to do this 2d6 hitting him with thorn whip every single turn, regardless of his positioning.

Moreover the enemy can misty step or teleport out of or around spike growth and once he moves out of it he can avoid it unless someone can put him back in it. Finally you can fly over it or dispell it. You can't do any of this with grasping arrow. If you get hit with it you are affected until you make your strength check or a minute passes. You can move by teleport with grasping arrow, but you are still under its effects after you teleport.

Finally it does not impede allies like spike growth does. You can damage enemies with spike growth, and they can damage you with it too.
 

You can't trigger the grasping arrows movement damage more than once per turn so you can't get more than the 2d6 each one regardless of times they are moved.
 

Unwise

Adventurer
The best Arcane Archer is a Warlock. Just some minor reskinning to hammer home the theme. They use a bow as a focus and fire off eldritch blasts like the kid from the D&D cartoon. They can then twice per short rest fire an arrow that has a devastating effect. Hex works well as sharpshooting for extra damage. It does not require any feats, but you could get Spell Sniper if you wanted the long range.

My group feels that Warlocks fail as a caster class, because of their expectations. Playing them as an archer with the occasional devastating magic arrow makes the lack of spell slots feel far more OK. In fact we were in our 6th session of a game before the party realized that the Arcane Archer in the group was in fact a Warlock. It came up over a discussion about why they were not taking the Sharpshooter feat.
 

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