BattleMasters maneuvers vs Sword Bard Blade Flourish

delph

Explorer
I just read about Bard and College of Sword and his Blade Flourish. And immediately I started comparing with BM maneuvers. Blade Flourishes are just 3 versions but everyone is useful, BM have 4 maneuvers from 3rd lvl and (if you have good charisma) both of them have 3 use. But fighter per SR, Bard per LR. and it started from d6, maneuvers started from d8, both of them finished with d12.

Blade Flourish is little bit weaker then maneuvers, so it make it Sword bard weaker vs Battlemaster. But it changes on 14th level. When Bard can take d6 for every turn and isn't limited by a number of inspirations dies he has. When he take defensive flourish every turn and have a defensive duelant feat, he can boost his AC so high, he is almost untouchable.
 
Having a amazing AC at level 4 makes you "untouchable". At level 14? No. It means you get nailed by a spell or ability not a melee attack.
 

Esker

Explorer
Blade Flourish is little bit weaker then maneuvers, so it make it Sword bard weaker vs Battlemaster.
Well... I don't think that follows. The blade flourishes are weaker overall (although Battlemaster doesn't get anything AC-boosting effect, which can be huge; on the other hand, Swords bard doesn't have shield proficiency, so unless they're multiclassed, needs the defensive flourish just to keep up), but that doesn't mean the class is weaker. Battlemaster is all about fighting and using those maneuvers; Swords Bard is a full caster on top of getting the flourishes.
 

Esker

Explorer
When he take defensive flourish every turn and have a defensive duelant feat, he can boost his AC so high, he is almost untouchable.
He is still wearing medium armor and has no shield. So even after the feat, at level 14 we're still only talking about an 18 base AC, up to about 21-22 when using those d6 flourishes. That's really not even that high for level 14 (now I guess he might have magic armor by then, but that's another story). Even a group of kobolds will have a 1 in 4 chance or so of hitting you. Plus, as @Ruin Explorer pointed out, it doesn't stop things that don't target AC. It also doesn't stop crits. And worse, you need to hit with at least one attack to get the benefit of the flourish.

Edit: Sorry, I was thinking about dual wielder, not defensive duelist. DD gives your proficiency bonus, not a flat +1. So it's a much different story, with a base AC by level 14 of 22, up to 25-26 with defensive flourish. Still, by that level you're likely dealing with creatures that have attack bonuses of +12 or so. So they only need to roll a 13-14 to hit you. And everything else (anyone hits you on a crit; non-AC effects are still a problem) still stands.
 
Last edited:

Mort

Community Supporter
Defensive duelist applies to only 1 attack per round (at the cost of a reaction).

By 14th level it's going to be rare for monsters to have less than 2-3 attacks per round.
 

Mort

Community Supporter
A sword bard may be better off grabbing shield (10th level) if he's constantly wading into serious melee.
 

Esker

Explorer
A sword bard may be better off grabbing shield (10th level) if he's constantly wading into serious melee.
I knew there was a reason I never looked seriously at Defensive Duelist. I overlooked the one attack bit.

Having access to the Shield spell seems crucial. My solution with the Swords Bard I'm playing now was the old one level of Hexblade. That gives Shield spell, physical shield proficiency, and the ability to focus solely on CHA. Delays all the bard stuff by a level, obvs, which hurts, and you really need war caster to use both Shield and a shield; but let's be honest, you wanted that anyway, and the benefit is tremendous.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
I knew there was a reason I never looked seriously at Defensive Duelist. I overlooked the one attack bit.

Having access to the Shield spell seems crucial. My solution with the Swords Bard I'm playing now was the old one level of Hexblade. That gives Shield spell, physical shield proficiency, and the ability to focus solely on CHA. Delays all the bard stuff by a level, obvs, which hurts, and you really need war caster to use both Shield and a shield; but let's be honest, you wanted that anyway, and the benefit is tremendous.
To be fair, DD is triggered on a hit, not an attack, so if you have a decent AC, that's the equivalent of maybe 2-3 attacks worth of flat bonus.

But on the more general topic, to me the battle maneuvers and flourishes seem to only be cosmetically similar. The flourishes are more just bonuses as numbers. The maneuvers are more about inflicting conditions or new opportunities. The former is a buff, the latter more control or debuff.
 

Mort

Community Supporter
To be fair, DD is triggered on a hit, not an attack, so if you have a decent AC, that's the equivalent of maybe 2-3 attacks worth of flat bonus.

But on the more general topic, to me the battle maneuvers and flourishes seem to only be cosmetically similar. The flourishes are more just bonuses as numbers. The maneuvers are more about inflicting conditions or new opportunities. The former is a buff, the latter more control or debuff.
I'll definitely agree.

My group has both a BM fighter and a college of swords bard. Both like melee - yet they don't come off as remotely similar.
 

Esker

Explorer
To be fair, DD is triggered on a hit, not an attack, so if you have a decent AC, that's the equivalent of maybe 2-3 attacks worth of flat bonus.
Yeah, good point.

But on the more general topic, to me the battle maneuvers and flourishes seem to only be cosmetically similar. The flourishes are more just bonuses as numbers. The maneuvers are more about inflicting conditions or new opportunities. The former is a buff, the latter more control or debuff.
I dunno, Slashing Flourish is very similar to Sweeping Attack (slightly better, since you get the bonus damage twice: once to the main target and once to the secondary one), and Mobile Flourish is very similar to Pushing Attack, only better b/c there's no save (the push isn't quite as far, but I'll gladly take that trade), plus you can follow if you choose. Battlemaster has options that could make them fight similarly to the Swords Bard; but those don't tend to be the bread and butter maneuvers that Battlemasters use often. Meanwhile, Swords Bards tend to use Defensive Flourish, which is just a buff.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
Yeah, good point.



I dunno, Slashing Flourish is very similar to Sweeping Attack (slightly better, since you get the bonus damage twice: once to the main target and once to the secondary one), and Mobile Flourish is very similar to Pushing Attack, only better b/c there's no save (the push isn't quite as far, but I'll gladly take that trade), plus you can follow if you choose. Battlemaster has options that could make them fight similarly to the Swords Bard; but those don't tend to be the bread and butter maneuvers that Battlemasters use often. Meanwhile, Swords Bards tend to use Defensive Flourish, which is just a buff.
Exactly, a BM can choose to go the buff route similar to the flourish, but the maneuvers more likely used and effective are not those.
 

delph

Explorer
I knew there was a reason I never looked seriously at Defensive Duelist. I overlooked the one attack bit.

Having access to the Shield spell seems crucial. My solution with the Swords Bard I'm playing now was the old one level of Hexblade. That gives Shield spell, physical shield proficiency, and the ability to focus solely on CHA. Delays all the bard stuff by a level, obvs, which hurts, and you really need war caster to use both Shield and a shield; but let's be honest, you wanted that anyway, and the benefit is tremendous.
that's great solution and 1 lvl of hexblade solve many troubles or save feats...

And here is ONE POINT I'm pointing - yes, maneuvers are better, they can do more than flourish, but after 14th lvl bard can use it EVERY TURN. Battlemaster have 5 use (and on 15th lvl 6)

if I compare 15 lvl char - Battlemaster (15) / Hexblade (1)+Sword Bard (14) / Sword Bard 15

BM (dex)
6 d10 dices
5 ASI/Feats (+2 Dex +1 HalfFeat +1 dex, defensive duelist, Medium armor master)
15 (Halfplate) + 3 (dex) + 2 shield +1 Defensive fighting style = 21 AC + once per turn +5 by DD (or 1d10 by evasion footwork, but it work only when you move) -> 26 AC

HB+SB

5 d10 dice + unlimited d6
3 ASI/Feats (+2 Char, some HalfFeat +1 Char, defensive duelist)
15 (Halfplate) + 2 (dex) + 2 shield + 3,5 by Flourish = 22,5 AC + once per turn +5 by DD or Shield spell + 2 (when doesn't use d6 to flouris, but Binspiration d10)
+(Can cast Haste +2 AC) -> 31,5 AC

SB
5 d12 + unlimited d6
3 ASI/Feats (+2 Char, some HalfFeat +1 Char, moderately armored)
5 (Halfplate) + 2 (dex) + 2 shield + 3,5 by Flourish = 22,5 AC+ 3 (when doesn't use d6 to flouris, but Binspiration d12) + (Can cast Haste +2 AC) -> 27,5 AC

__
I'm short of time in work, maybe (probably) I missed something

__
Edit: can't use Shield spell without warcaster feat - but it's same +5 bonus as Defensive duelist to single hit. But warcaster is better for bard to help cast spell in battle with shield and sword and for keeping concentration
 
Last edited:

Ashrym

Hero
I just read about Bard and College of Sword and his Blade Flourish. And immediately I started comparing with BM maneuvers. Blade Flourishes are just 3 versions but everyone is useful, BM have 4 maneuvers from 3rd lvl and (if you have good charisma) both of them have 3 use. But fighter per SR, Bard per LR. and it started from d6, maneuvers started from d8, both of them finished with d12.

Blade Flourish is little bit weaker then maneuvers, so it make it Sword bard weaker vs Battlemaster. But it changes on 14th level. When Bard can take d6 for every turn and isn't limited by a number of inspirations dies he has. When he take defensive flourish every turn and have a defensive duelant feat, he can boost his AC so high, he is almost untouchable.
Bardic inspiration was already comparable to battle master maneuvers because 5th level for font of inspiration isn't a high bar. Inspiration is available earlier but maneuvers recover on a short rest sooner. The only real difference is inspiration is used on others unless a subclass moves it to the bard. Swords just makes the comparison more direct.

It's not those features that makes a sword bard weaker or stronger than a battle master in the levels mentioned. Battle masters aren't also bumping up a caster stat to get more dice. Battle masters have more hit points, better armor options, better weapon options, more feats, more attacks, and are typically better suited to front line combat.

Bards are major spell casters. Bardic inspiration plus spells is better than battle master maneuvers. Front line combat laying out the damage along with the maneuvers is what the battle master does. They have different strengths altogether and those dice are just a small piece of the final character.

As for 14th level and dropping to d6's, that's a nice ability but I think battle magic still beats it. ;) I would argue that all fighters at 11th level are capable of swapping out from 3 attacks for the shove action to knock prone or push for some combos beyond swords bards regardless of dice, and at 15th level battle masters are always guaranteed a full die in any given encounter. Defensive flourish doesn't have an equivalent in the battle master maneuvers, but parry is still an option if needed and disarming attack can situationally prevent more damage than the AC bonus (especially on an archer disarming a spell focus with a bow shot -- shot to disarm, shot to push the focus out of reach, extra shot in case either misses or damage attack).

The other thing to note is the swords bard is allowed 1 flourish per turn. Using it for AC all the time shuts out the other options. Maneuvers or ki (the other short rest combat pool) don't have that restriction. A battle master can choose to "nova" his superiority dice between 3 attacks and an action surge. That 3rd attack and ability to use multiple maneuvers per turn is a definite advantage.
 
Last edited:
I just read about Bard and College of Sword and his Blade Flourish. And immediately I started comparing with BM maneuvers. Blade Flourishes are just 3 versions but everyone is useful, BM have 4 maneuvers from 3rd lvl and (if you have good charisma) both of them have 3 use. But fighter per SR, Bard per LR. and it started from d6, maneuvers started from d8, both of them finished with d12.

Blade Flourish is little bit weaker then maneuvers, so it make it Sword bard weaker vs Battlemaster. But it changes on 14th level. When Bard can take d6 for every turn and isn't limited by a number of inspirations dies he has. When he take defensive flourish every turn and have a defensive duelant feat, he can boost his AC so high, he is almost untouchable.
The fighters is better because he can use his all on the same turn.
 

Esker

Explorer
Edit: can't use Shield spell without warcaster feat - but it's same +5 bonus as Defensive duelist to single hit. But warcaster is better for bard to help cast spell in battle with shield and sword and for keeping concentration
Shield lasts the whole round, so it's much better than DD. With the other benefits of War Caster, there's no reason to take DD, really, if you have that Hexblade level.

But I agree with @Paul Farquhar that by 14th level you have enough spell slots that there's little reason to be attacking very often any more (shame though that defensive flourish requires the attack action)
 
Shield lasts the whole round, so it's much better than DD. With the other benefits of War Caster, there's no reason to take DD, really, if you have that Hexblade level.

But I agree with @Paul Farquhar that by 14th level you have enough spell slots that there's little reason to be attacking very often any more (shame though that defensive flourish requires the attack action)
Spells can be a bit iffy on anything with legendary resistance. Attacking is a fine option at that point IMO.
 

Esker

Explorer
Spells can be a bit iffy on anything with legendary resistance. Attacking is a fine option at that point IMO.
That's what Animate Objects / Forcecage / Wall of Force/Telekinesis (via Magical Secrets) are for. But Spiritual Weapon is also a solid pick, and doesn't compete with attacking after you've got a concentration spell up (if not using it together with Telekinesis, and when not using Animate Objects).
 
That's what Animate Objects / Forcecage / Wall of Force/Telekinesis (via Magical Secrets) are for. But Spiritual Weapon is also a solid pick, and doesn't compete with attacking after you've got a concentration spell up (if not using it together with Telekinesis, and when not using Animate Objects).
Assuming you even took those spells that nearly all use your magical secrets...
 

Advertisement

Top