Level Up (A5E) Fighter Playtest - Nitty Gritty Feedback


In this thread, I am going to do a nitty gritty review of the new Fighter Playtest packet. We are going to get detailed and nuanced, so buckle in!

For ease of reference, I'm going to use a quick rating system.

A - Perfect, solid, I love it.
B - A bit more niche than I would like, but probably in the right campaign it will be fine.
C - Needs some work, its on the weak side.
O - Overpowered, just too strong, needs a tone down.

Further, I do want to dig in to Flavor at bit as well, as that is an important part of the analysis, so I will also include a Flavor rating for certain abilities. If I don’t mention anything, I assume a base “good” rating, aka I think its perfectly fine and serviceable flavor.

F+ I love this flavor, I immediately thought of playing a character with X.
F- Something is lacking here, this idea is not jiving with me.

Overall Balance (A): So in theory, this fighter and the core fighter could sit at the same table. The question is, would the new fighter just overshadow the core fighter in terms of strength? I put my detailed look in the spoilers, with summary noted below.

I’m going to use a 6th level fighter as that’s a reasonable cutoff, both fighters have gotten a lot of their core abilities at this point. I am also assuming manuevers that I currently consider A ranking. Aka I am not using an O maneuver…as my assumption is that those maneuvers would be addressed before it hit the table.

Now if we consider that Steely Mein and the Exploration Knacks are mostly flavor extras (honestly they are useful abilities, but in terms of the “combat meat” we can mostly ignore them), this leaves us with the following key differences.

Core Fighter Has

  • Action Surge
  • 1 Extra Feat (technically an ASI but since we are going crunch here I think a feat is more likely)
  • Second Wind (effectively 11.5 hitpoints of healing on average).
Our Levelup Fighter has

  • 7 exertion worth of maneuvers (+3 prof x 2 + 1 for the fighter reserve benefit).

So do our maneuvers make up or exceed the core fighter benefits?

Second Wind

Mountains Might is a direct analogue to second wind, so that’s a good start. We heal ~8.5 for 2 exertion (assuming a 14 con). So to equal second wind, we would need to spend 2.7 exertion. That’s an annoying number, we could round to 3, but I will actually round to 2 because we have the advantage of flexibility. I don’t have to use mountain’s might if I don’t need the healing, whereas with second wind its use or lose. Further, I could spend 6 exertion on healing and get over double the benefit of second wind. So for those flexibilities we are going to simply say.

2 exertion = Second Wind. That leaves us 5 exertion for other things.

Action Surge

So if we assume the old 60% accuracy, sword board fighter with 18 str, and dueling as our default, Action Surge = 13.05 DPR. Obviously a magic sword might impact this number a bit.

So what would it take to make this up with maneuvers?

The Trained Swings maneuver seems close, it’s a simple +1d4 damage to all attacks until the next round, unless you have disadvantage. Also like action surge, you have to activate it before the attacks, so you may spend the point but gain no benefit if you don’t hit (unlike say paladin smite, which you can activate only when you know its going to be useful).

So adding this to a round = 3.25 DPR. So after 4 rounds of using Trained Swings, we could roughly equal Action Surges damage. I would say that the burst of Action Surge is still also a useful factor, but we are close enough to say:

4 exertion = Action Surge. That is 1 exertion left.


So in this very basic model we have 1 Feat compared to 1 Exertion (and maybe throw in the exploration knacks and steely mein in at this point). I would argue in most cases a Feat is going to be more generally useful and powerful than a 1 exertion maneuver and some general exploration abilities.

Overall Summary

So I’m using one very simple build here, but I think it highlights that the levelup 6th level fighter, for all its coolness, doesn’t seem to blow the old fighter out of the water. Action Surge and Second Wind are good abilities. As more stringent maneuver builds come out we will see what the crème of the crop looks like compared to the core fighter. But on paper with some napkin math, they honestly seem pretty balanced.

My assumption is that you will see Champion Vanilla fighters at the table with Battlemaster Levelup Fighters. The first one is simple but spikes really well, with action surge and big crits. The second is flexible and adaptable, always coming up with some strategy for the job at hand, but more complex to run.

So it looks like the promise, at least for now, has been held. I could see these two fighters sit at the same table and perform reasonable well against each other.

Exploration Knacks

Amphibious Combatant (B): It’s only that swimming tends to come up less for adventurers in your typical campaign. However, it’s very solid for what it is, and if the campaign did feature a decent amount of water I think this would be great to have.

Burst of Strength (A): This is the knack for a fighter that doesn’t really want a knack, they just want “more power”. But with a rest limitation, I think its contained and reasonable compared to the other abilities that are “always on”.

Campaigner (C): How often is carrying capacity really important for a fighter? The other issue is this isn’t the most party friendly ability. The ability to force march for long periods seems nice, but if the rest of your party can’t do it to keep up than it will see limited use.

Extreme Leap (A): Solid, useful, love it.

Mountaineer (A): Again, solid and useful.

Nightwatch (A, F+): Because rests are common as our watches, the ability for a fighter to “stand on guard” more could be a solid niche. Also I like the idea of an Elf Fighter that basically “sleep walks” and does light activity for its whole trance.

Steely Mein

Closed Helm (B, F+): The flavor of the fighter with the “mask of in scrutiny” is very common, so giving some lip service that motif is useful. That said, I don’t think fighters are making enough bluffs that this ability would come up all that often.

Dangerous Aura (A, F+): What fighter has not been pickpocketed by a rogue and would love some protection when there crap perception fails them? This is a solid and useful ability, however, I’m not sold on the mechanics. I would love to see an Intimidation check vs the Rogue’s wisdom save or something…. Letting the fighter make use of their skills is a nice way to let them show off a bit.

Watchful Eye (A): I like how this gives fighters a solid means of being a “watchman” without stealing the Rangers thunder as the master of perception. Fighters get a solid perception niche but will never beat a ranger at generally noticing things. I like it.

Reserves: My assumption is that this will be a fighter only thing, hard to say how good it is until we see more classes and maneuvers in action.

Martial Lore

Arms Merchant (C): I think the issue stems more from the fact that by this level, gold is not that important anymore. The buying and bartering of items is just not that big of a thing for a 6th level 5e character, so I don’t feel this adds much.

Evaluate Technique (B): It’s got some uses, but it also overlaps with the Battle Master a bit and I don’t think it will truly give that much useful info.

Weapon Lore (B, F+): I like the flavor of this one for a weapon master or weapon historian kind of guy, but again identify is already very easy in 5e, this doesn’t really add much to the table imo.


Intimidating (A, F+): Adds some mechanical punch to the notion that the “fighter is scary”. Again, I would like to see an intimidation roll incorporated in the mechanic, I think leaving it is doing a disservice, especially considering that you get advantage on those checks now.

Leadership (B): It’s got the potential to be useful, but its very much in the DMs hands, versus Intimidating which is just straight up good and handy. This is more of a background ability than a 10th level power.

Mysterious (C, F+): I like the motif you’re going for, but mechanically this does almost nothing. Its exceedingly fluffy, how often are the saving throws against divinations going to come up…and its not normally the PCs that are being divined for true information (And if it is its completely in DM fiat anyway).

Combat Traditions (C, F-): This is definitely the mechanic in the packet I straight up do not like. Flavorwise, its still got too much Asian Wuxia theme (and some players really don’t like want that).

Mechanically it feels overly clunky. There is a reason that spells in the core books are not organized by School, its just not how people look for spells….and neither do I want to look for maneuvers that way.

My assumption is that you intend to give some of the maneuvers to other classes (for example, the Mist and Shade tradition seems to scream “add me to the level up Rogue”). I could respect adding some tags to the maneuvers for that type of organization, but I don’t want to see things sorted that way.


General Notes

  • Several of the maneuvers mention needing a Heavy Weapon or Ranged Weapon, etc. It would be nice to have a tag there on the title to say that.
  • I like Stances in general a lot. You require a little bit of exertion so you can’t just flip stances around willy nilly, but you still allow them to give Fighters’ some general passive abilities. However, I do think stances should be lost on a short rest. Otherwise you get the “adopt a stance, take a short rest, have full exertion again” as an oddity.
  • Several maneuvers have the “reaction” tag, and then also say “as a reaction”. That’s needlessly wordy.
  • There are several maneuvers from different traditions that do roughly the same thing (Lean Into It vs Trained Swing for example). I feel this is needless duplication; again my assumption is you’re doing this because when certain classes only get certain traditions you want to ensure they have access to certain abilities. But again this is a clunky way to do it.
  • For maneuvers that consume attacks, so I assume I can still use my bonus action to get an extra attack and use the maneuver? That has weird flavor for several of them (stunning assault, leaping strike)
  • I am seeing a severe lack of love for Two Weapon Fighting in general. A lot of bonus action use which remove TWF, and not a lot of maneuvers to help it.
  • A lot of maneuvers seem to effectively be replacements or augments to Opportunity Attacks, but your using a lot of words in them due to your limited technique types (aka you’re having to reexplain in the technique that this is an opportunity attack). I think it would be fine to add some technique type that “activates whenever you take an OA”
  • I am sure that you are trying many different maneuver types to see what people like and which ones stick. My overall hope is that the total number of maneuvers presented for these 3 tiers is ¼ to ½ the number when all is said and done. I think many of the maneuvers are too close to each other, just slight tweaks on the same dial. It’s unnecessary, give me 20 flavorful, tight as a drum maneuvers, and I will be able to make dozens of different motifs. We don’t need to recreate spells for fighters.
  • You use weapon range a lot for ranged weapons. You need to specify which range, the normal range, long range, etc.
  • The “miss by X or more” mechanics are a big pain for a DM to run. Right now, DMs simply go “Bob the Fighter I hit you….or I miss you”. But as soon as Bob picks up one of those maneuvers, for now until the end of time it will be “Bob I missed you…..well hold on, how much did you miss me by?” It adds way too much on the DM for little benefit, that mechanic should be dropped wholesale from all maneuvers.
  • I was surprised by the lack of grappling, I thought that would be prominent in the manuevers.
  • I mentioned for Improvised Throw the notion of a 0 exertion mechanic. I think that is a design space worth considering....some abilities are so minor that when you consider I am using one of my precious slots, and I lose the ability to apply other techniques at the same time...that prevents abuse from these add ons.

1st Tier

Heavy Combat Stance (O) – Effectively doubling the crit the range of your first attack, and a +3 effective bonus to boot. I could take 1 level of fighter and have this forever. I did a comparison with trained swings, and most of the time this results in just about the same amount of DPS, but it’s on every round. It’s too good.

Heavy Swing (A) – A minor cleave, seems good.

Lean Into It (A):

Mountain’s Might (A, F+) – The ability seems reasonable and also helps create compatibility of replacing the old fighter with this one but not increasing the healing burden on the party.

Covering Fire (B) – Its niche, but since you have a lot of maneuvers that can be okay. However, the mechanics here are clunky. I would just say something like “spend 5 pieces of ammunition and choose an ally within your weapon range. That ally has the benefits of the Disengage action against all enemies you can see”

Doubleshot (B) – When I did some napkin math, it seems to add about ~1 DPS, whereas Trained Swing adds 1.6. I feel like this maneuver is needless, Trained Swing seems good enough to handle this mechanic.

Farshot Combat Stance (B or C) – Probably a C in most cases, but if you’re a group that does a lot of long range tactical combat, maybe the range difference will come up enough that this will matter.

Guarded Draw (C) – I think this would work better as a stance. Something like “Stance – Your ranged attacks are no longer at disadvantage when you are adjacent to a hostile creature. Your ranged weapons can be used for Opportunity Attacks, and count as a range of 5 ft for that purpose.”

Intuitive Combat Stance (A, F+) – I like this a lot. Gives fighter’s some non fighting skill but not in an excessive way.

Knockdown Assault (B) – I think the 8 damage threshold is needless, as 8 damage could be crippling to a 1st level character, and not even a scratch to a 10th level. You may wish to consider a size limit though.

Leading Throw (A, F+) – Strong and Fun! I would add a size limit to it though.

Warning Strike (A) – A lot of fighters want something like this.

Deceptive Combat Stance (A, F+)

Deft Feint (A) – An honest to god good feint action? Who would have thought!

Feinting Assault (A, F+) – This one really feels like a fun feint one. Check me, it looks possible to stack Deft Feint and Feinting Assault…or does the one technique per attack action apply here?

Painful Pickpocket (A) – I personally have a rogue who loves to pickpocket, so I could definitely see this one being fun for a thiefy fighter type.

Charge (C) – This ability at best….does absolutely nothing. AT worse, it denies an attack to a player with Extra Attack.

Eye Slash (O) – This one is too good for 1st tier. This gives you advantage on the rest of your attacks this round, all of your attacks next round, and all of your allies attacks for this round. Too much I think. Maybe at Tier 3 with double the exertion cost.

Speed over Strength (O) – Large Creatures are common enough that this is going to come up a lot, and you are effectively giving the dex fighter an extra attack most of the time, when they already do the same damage as a strength fighter. This is one that in some games will be “just really good” and in others “laughably overpowered”.

Swift Combat Stance (A)

Dangerous Strikes (X) – I’m not sure about this one. With a base fighter, I think Trained Swings actually does more damage, but if you get advantage, and have a lot of crit fishing type things, this might be good. Its probably at least fun enough that people will like it.

Disciplined Combat Stance (B) – So unlike the other stances, it mentions checks in combat. That weakens this compared to the other stances that are more generally useful outside of of combat.

Exploit Footing (X, F-) – Mechanically I don’t like the fact that I now have to tell the player how much I missed them by on every attack…that’s just no fun for the DM. Second, the power level of this is hugely variable depending on the Monster’s movement. If the opponent has half their movement left…this ability is worthless, as the monster can simply stand up. If it doesn’t, then its power level is similar to Eye Slash. So I think this one needs a rework.

Iron Will (A, F+) – I like this one a lot. To me this highlights the best parts of the maneuver system. This is a niche benefit, but I get enough maneuvers that I can pick up a few niche ones and rely on my mainstays most of the time. This is good in combat, but also useful out of combat sometimes.

Doubleteam (B, F+) – Good flavor (effectively recreating flanking of a sorts), but I think the range requirement is unneeded. I would simply say “Choose a creature in your reach. The next ally to attack the creature gets minor advantage on their first attack roll).

Legion Combat Stance (O) – Just like Heavy Combat Stance, its too good for this low an ability, and the ally reach requirements doesn’t fix that to me.

Shield Wall (A, F+) – This is a “teamwork feat” I can get behind. To me the best use would be if both you and your ally used it, giving you a +4 AC, which is huge, and fitting of the “shield wall” concept.

Shoulder Check (A)

Imposing Glare (A, F+) – I like the flavor of this one.

Reckless Combat Stance (A) – I think by using Minor Advantage/Dis, it won’t step on the barbarians toes too much, we will have to see.

Striding Swings (A, F+) – I like this one a lot, you get damage and maneuverability but at the cost of less defense.

Zealous Grab (B, F-) – Its pretty niche, both in use and in flavor. What is “zealous” about grabbing spell casters? Why it is only spell attacks, and not spells in general? Why can’t I grab ranged attackers in my reach?

Bounding Steps (O, F+) – What Fighter doesn’t like the old “jump on something and kill it?” That said, there is some clunkiness here. First off, normally long jumps don’t have athletics checks, you simply jump your strength score. So even a 12 strength fighter is getting advantage every time he uses it…which is too good. The 15 foot movement restriction doesn’t really hold this up, because in 5e rules I can move around targets and not provoke AOOs. Even if you increase the distance threshold…you get wonkiness, an example is the Extreme Leap knack just went from a “cool little ability” into “turns Bounding steps into a super power”.

I would recommend basing this off the Athletics check. If you get a DC 25+, you get full advantage (it needs to be high to ensure you’re not getting it all the time).

Natural Counter (O) – Not quite as good as speed over strength, but still way too variable to be given out, especially at 1st tier. Extra attacks are very very very powerful.

Raking Strike (O) – This is OP before you have Extra Attacks, and then once you do you will swap this out and never look back. I’m not a fan of this one.

Springing Combat Stance (A)

Dangerous Signature (A, F+) – Z is for ZORRO!!

Focused Combat Stance (A) – Its very good, but it also consumes that precious stance slot.

Trained Swings (A) – This to me is the baseline 1st level maneuver, simple and effective. I somewhat judged everything else based on this.

Wounding Strike – (B, F+) – I feel like bleeding wounds has been woefully underpresented in general, so I am glad to see its inclusion. I see no reason this should cost 2 points….it might do more damage than Trained Swings…but delayed damage is weaker than direct damage, and once you have 2 attacks it gets even weaker. In fact, I would love to see it go a bit deeper, let me apply the wound from every attack that hits…but use one save to remove all of the wounds.

2nd Tier

Imposing Trip – (A) – My only note here, you’re missing the “in a direction of your choice” that you had for leading throw. Otherwise its unclear how the movement actually works.

Shrug it Off (A, F-) – Now I think this is where its good to add to the martials power, if casters can dish it out, than make martials good at taking it. That said, I think the combination of abilities here is weird. The three abilities are very different….frightened is mental and poisoned physical for example. I could for example understand Stunned and Paralyzed together, as those are similar conditions. I would reconsider the actual conditions this removes….but I like the concept a lot.

Warding Wield (B) – I am always loathe of the AC bonus that you activate and might never use. Now Shield wall is the same way, but that ability comes with really nice flavor, helping both yourself and a teammate, and can scale up to +4 AC in the right conditions. I would rather see this as a reaction.

Countershot (A, F+) – What a keeper, I love this one!

Quickdraw (A, F+) – I like the flavor, and as a 2 tier I can start to get behind a weak extra attack…that is theoretically only going to be used once in a fight. Now, you know there are going to be cheese monkeys that (put away their bow every round and then quick draw it back out)…but hopefully most DMs wouldn’t allow that.

Trickshot (X, F-) – The only reason I give this an F- is because I see what you’re going for, but I don’t think that is what players will use it for. This is not a trick shot, this is a sniper shot. So I can sneak up on a person with a longbow and hit them at advantage from 1200 feet away? Which brings me to my next point, “twice your weapon range” needs to be clarified. Twice my base range, twice the long range?

Assisted Roll (B) – It has its uses, though I think reactions are going to become so precious to Levelup fighters that I don’t know if this is one I want to spend it on normally. But its decent.

Off-Balancing Strikes (X) – I’m having trouble ranking this one. On the one hand, there are so many abilities that let a fighter do damage AND an effect, that I think a lot of people will avoid this one. On the other, there are very very few things in the game that can generate a saving throw disadvantage….the fact that you can just do it, no save…. Combine this with the right caster and it may be insanely strong. So I’m not sure what I think yet.

Redirect Momentum (C) – There is a reason that true strike is considered a crappy cantrip. Even if this was a stance, it wouldn’t be that great. Even if you removed the “creature that attacked you” condition, still not great. Losing your whole action to get a bonus for next round is simply not worth it in the fast paced combat of 5e.

Forced Hesitation (B, F-) – So again we have to be very careful about “mind control” maneuvers (or invoke the specter of 4e criticism). A lot of players and DMs are irked by nonmagical means that dictate their actions. If this was disadvantage on attacks other than you or something like that…I think its more palatable to people. That said, giving up your whole action is already painful…its doesn’t need to be 2 exertion as well. 1 exertion is fine.

Lead On (X, F-) – No! Die in a fire! First, another mind control one. But its also confusing, so it repeats every movement I made? So the DM has to remember the exact route the PC took 4 initiative counts later so he can recreate it for the monster? Its clunky, highly abusable, and not great flavor. To the trash pile with you!

Smart Feint (B, F-) – We already have Deft Feint, which is cool and flavorful. This is a copy cat, and a bad one. There is no reason for this to exist imo, they have plenty of feinting manuevers already.

Parrying Counter – (B, F+) – Unlike Warding Wield, the extra at the end at least makes this a bit more palatable. Still a lot of the same criticisms apply.

Rapid Drink – (X, F-) – This is exactly the kind of maneuver that I don’t want to see. I feel like this is like what 3.5 feats became….things that DMs used to just allow suddenly became “you have to have the feat to do that”. The “use an object” as a free thing is one of 5e’s little gems, and I don’t want to see anything push on it. A lot of times, you can just let people drink a potion, doesn’t need to be some special maneuver to do it.

Rolling Strike (B) – Its close, but I think you can take it up just one more notch. Allow the movement to also go through other creatures (but most end in your own space). Suddenly that becomes COOL.

Enhanced Critical (A, F-) – Its useful, but I think its hard to swallow flavor wise. My crit with a dagger normally does 2.5 extra….now it does 12.5! You could go for something like “the weapon dice on a crit are maximized”

Painful Counter (B) – Decent, but crits aren’t common enough that I think most players would take this.

Practiced Roll (A) – This one is solid. You might change it to “move your speed”. It fixes weird issues like “what if my speed is halved” or “what if I’m in difficult terrain” or “can this really let me just escape a wall of thorns no issue?”

Back to Back (A or O, F+) – I like this one a lot. The extra reaction may be too abusable, I’d have to see it in play.

Pack Hit (A) – Solid

Pile On (A, F+) – Great one. Its definitely a pile on, and the 2 exertion cost reigns it in a bit.

Faith Within (A) – A good saving throw booster that feels right.

Gaze of Conviction (B) – Now flavorwise I can get behind this one. While it does have a “mind control” element, its not too much…and I could buy that this one person holds me interest enough to give me “minor penalties” on other people. Strengthwise, I think at 2 points its too costly, it would see some use but there are a lot of good manuevers for only 1 cost.

Stunning Assault (C – A) – No one gets use of this until you get 3 attacks, so this shouldn’t be a Tier 2 maneuver…unless your supposed to use a TWF bonus action to attack…which has weird flavor. Now once you do, I can get behind it, but as written its going to be a “trap” for a long time.

Leaping Strike (X) I am not sure what this one is about. Am I trading in 2 attacks to get a 40 feet move? If so…that has some merit. Otherwise, like Stunning Assault…this has no value until a fighter gets more attacks.

Reflexive Strike (A or O) – So this is the actual, true honest to god reposte ability. No muss, no fuss. Now it costs 2 exertion compared to things like Painful Counter or Parrying Counter….but on the other hand its going to come up MUCH MUCH more often than of those. My gut tells me this will be the go to maneuver for this tier, it’s just straight up adds more pain with a minimal of fuss…even if it does burn your exertion quickly. Playtest will tell…but this is definitely on my O watchlist.

Tumble (A, F-) – I would choose a different name, as Tumble has some historic DND flavor your not jiving with. Practiced Roll’s mechanic is much closer to the historic “tumble” ability than this one. So the other thing, is you have to be clearer on what constitutes “move your full speed”. For example, by 5e rules I can move back and forth, never provoking an OA, and that would consume my movement…which I don’t think is your intent.

Improvised Throw (C) – Needs more to be competitive….honestly I think this would be better as a stance that allows you to just throw everything you got if that’s what you are going for. Or….you might actual consider a 0 exertion manuever….because if I use this ability I can’t use any other maneuvers on the weapon anyway….so your giving me some flexibility but not really any power at the cost of one of my manuever slots. That honestly doesn’t sound OP at all.

Parry (O) – So when you first get this, you can reduce an attack by 10.5 damage on average. That is damn fine for 1 exertion….and it just works. So many other manuevers look gimmicky in comparison…this one is just raw unfettered awesome. Similar to how Parry is such a strong Battle master Manuever…I feel like this one is going to be very very common…too common.

Preternatural Strikes (O, F…X?) – My rating may surprise people on this one. I would say in a typical dnd game that usually has some amount of magic weapons…this is hot garbage, never to see the light of day. But….if your campaign doesn’t have magic weapons….there is probably no stronger ability I have seen in the list. So many monsters at mid (and especially high) tier have resistance to nonmagical weapons…that this is basically doubling your damage. And flavorwise…I don’t know how DMs are going to respond to this in their games. If you’re consciously going for the no magic setting…I would think it might upset a DM whose player can just get the best value that a magic weapon has with no magic. I’m really not sure about this one.

3rd Tier
Immovable – (C, F+) – The flavor is perfect, and the effects you chose work perfectly with the flavor. But most of the time these are weak conditions…spending 2 exertion and a bonus action to “maybe” negate some effects that aren’t usually that strong….its weak. This could be a stance at Tier 3….and I still don’t think it would be OP, that’s how little these effects matter on PCs most of the time.

Paralyzing Blow (A, F+) – Perfect! This feels like a perfect Tier 3 ability. Its very strong, but with a cost in attacks and exertion worthy of the cost. Also, by having it use the Heavy weapon property, it removes the weird “TWF…maybe” flavor that plagues things like Stunning Assault at the moment. Its clean, its brutal, its awesome!

Punishing Heft (B) – The first tier Lean into It will often do more damage (if you hit with 2 attacks), and doesn’t use your precious reaction. Now there is something to be said for a manuever that you can apply on a confirmed hit (or a crit to make it 2d6)…but I also feel that reactions are going to be so precious to a fighter of this level… I honestly don’t think this maneuver is needed, Lean into It is good and solid.

Blindshot (C) – At this point, if your going to spend exertion and a bonus action to attack an invisible target (and you still have to know what square the target is in, as nothing in the manuever helps with that), I think you can just remove the disadvantage. Its too niche to give such a minor improvement.

Ricochet (A, F+) – This one is cool, and honestly does everything Blindshot does and more. I would dump Blindshot in the dumpster and keeps this one.

Volley (A, F+) – A lot of archers want this type of ability. In most cases, you’re gaining 2-3 extra attacks (which is a lot!) but at the cost of spreading out your damage, which in most 5e fights is very inefficient. For 2 exertion that seems like a reasonable tradeoff.

Flowing Form (B) – This one seems decent for the times I actually want to turtle up and be defensive, but at 2 exertion may still be overpriced. I also think you can drop the disadvantage to perception…thats weird flavor and honestly changes nothing in 99% of situations where this will come up.

Heightened Reflexes (O) – Too much nova potential here….there are probably innumerable broken combos that will arise, all starting with this maneuver. Even if it’s balanced now…every new maneuver you come up with will have to balance against this guy. Save yourself the trouble and drop it in a fire

Redirect (O, F-) – It’s the ultimate parry in certain situations, its weird that huge creatures actually have an advantage to the save, it includes some mind control type elements…I don’t like this one. If you wanted to go with some kind of actual parry (like an opposed attack roll) to redirect it, that could work and be more balanced.

Canny Footing (A) – At first I thought it was very weak, but I realized that in situations where you are surrounded by a number of people…then it could be pretty good.

Deceptive Strike (C) - The only person who would even consider this is a rogue desperate for a sneak attack (and at these levels there are many other good ways to get in a sneak attack)…otherwise you are giving up 1 or even 2 attacks for this…not worth it.

Pickpocket (A)

Rapid Strike (A) – This is a strong, solid way to get Advantage…but doesn’t apply to the first attack to balance it out a bit.

Disarming Counter (A)

Whirlwind Strike (A, F+) – Weaker than Volley but not so much that I would lower its rating, they are both good at what they do.

Deadly Reflex (O) – This is the maneuver that most fighters will use…period. More attacks are just too good….it means that all other reaction maneuver will be foresworn in service of this maneuver. It just limits the design space so much, I would drop it.

Follow Through (C) – I can already use the shove action to move something back 5 feet…yes this can move much bigger foes a little bit farther…but I am consuming a high tier maneuver slot, 1 exertion, and 2 attacks (instead of 1 for shove). Just feels anemic for the cost.

Mind over Body (B, F+) – My gut tells me there will be the rare situations where this would be really good….like taking 20 archer shots or getting flanked by two mariliths and tanking 14 damage. By I think those will be rare. It’s cool, but I think probably niche.

Doubletime (A, F-) – A solid “get the hell out of here” ability…but why does using a halbeard suddenly let me get allies out of here better than a longsword…that flavor is strange to me.

Gang Up (B) – Decently useful, but giving advantage is not all it once was at this level range.

Toppling Strike (X, F-) – Weird flavor, what does my ally have anything to do with the knocking prone effect? I will note that this one is probably extremely niche but also extremely powerful at the same time. If your ally has a reach weapon, you can trip up creatures that only have a 5 foot reach, and if they don’t have enough movement left you deny them all of their attacks…and then your allies get advantage on all attacks against it. But by the time this comes around a lot of monsters have 10 foot or bigger reaches and several are prone immune. So I’m not sure how often the ideal scenario will trigger, but again you don’t have to use this maneuver until its optimal.

Counterpunch (A, F-) – This is mage slayer in maneuver form….counterpunch is a terrible name (most of the time you’re not even punching). Call it “mage breaker” or “Sage Slayer” or something.

Defy Magic (A, F+) – I like this one a lot. It’s the classic “Conan tanking the magic like a champ” power. The mechanic might not jive with some people, but it works for me.

Devoted Assault (O) – I like it, but it’s probably too good. The restriction is not that restrictive, the majority of the time my attacks are going to a single target.

Ferocity Unleashed (B, F+) – This one is cool, and it works a bit differently and more flexibly than Whirlwind attack, so there is enough design space to keep both. I don’t know if the extra damage is worth spreading out your attacks, but I like that it gives me flexibility, I could attack the same guy with 2 attacks, but a third guy for the bonus. Or scatter all of my attacks of extra damage. Yeah I like the flexibility of this one.

Gut Strike (B, F+) – If we assume I would only use it on a crit… exhaustion becomes very powerful if it stacks, but only at 2 exhaustion its not that great. But if you had the perfect team combo, sickening radiance + this attack, well suddenly you could apply 3-4 exhaustion, and NOW this becomes mighty. Probably super niche, but it could be a fun niche. It’s probably cool enough to stay as is. I would definitely want to see what high level parties could do with this…is there some exhaustion combo stack that could just nerf CR 20 creatures into oblivion, I don’t know.

Rake (A) – This seems like really good damage potential, and my god it actually works with TWF! The wording is funny though, I think if you literally just said every attack after the first hit does +1d8 damage, it amounts to the same thing.

Disarming Assault (A) – It’s pretty strong in the right niche, but most of the creatures you would try to disarm are going to be strong people. Dms might get annoyed about the mountain of strength saves they will need to make every round with one of these builds

Expert Parry (B) – Its nice…or I could just use regular Parry and definitely reduce damage for half the exertion cost.

Honed Strike (B) – Its simple and it works…though I think it’s too pricey for 2 exertion at this point…I don’t think its twice as good as Rapid Strike.
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Mike Myler

Have you been to LevelUp5E.com yet?
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So I've made several different characters (posted a few in the sample fighters thread). One thing that's becoming noticeable to me....2 exertion is a big cost...it feels right now that I would never want more than one 2 exertion ability....unless the ability was a true get out of jail card, like Shrug it Off.

I'm hoping to try some of these out this week and see if actual changes my mind, but yeah it just seems that the 1 exertion maneuvers, even though they are a little weaker, just give you way more mileage over than the 2 exertion.


Morkus from Orkus
Good appraisal of the Fighter. The only thing I'd add is that with this one, "Arms Merchant (C): I think the issue stems more from the fact that by this level, gold is not that important anymore. The buying and bartering of items is just not that big of a thing for a 6th level 5e character, so I don’t feel this adds much. " I think it's highly likely that this team will be giving us ways to spend money. They seem very thorough and the lack of things to spend gold on(agree or not) is a pretty common complaint.


Josh Gentry - Author, Minister in Training
Combat Traditions (C, F-): This is definitely the mechanic in the packet I straight up do not like. Flavorwise, its still got too much Asian Wuxia theme (and some players really don’t like want that).
What does it look like for a combat maneuver system not to present as Wuxia?

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