D&D 5E [Guide] How to Win Fights and Intimidate People (Another Barbarian Primer)

Frankie1969

Adventurer
  1. ... I would give a much higher rating to the Berserker’s Mindless Rage ability. It all but cancels out this weakness, and it’s really the Berserker’s main attraction for me. For similar reasons, I would give a higher rating to Resilient (Wisdom).
  2. Two-weapon fighting is the most damaging fighting style only at the lowest levels of play. Once you hit level 5 and have the GWF feat, you are far better off switching to a two-handed weapon for damage. ...
1: That's a good point.
2: Interesting. I've only tried 2WF with Rogue & Ranger, so I relied on the ratings from this guide's predecessors. Does anyone know a source that compares the math for Barbarian in more detail? Can 2WF keep up after Extra Attack cuts its relative value in half?
 

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Feldspar

Explorer
Sword & Board (d8 one-hander + shield): Increased AC at a small cost to damage, good for tanking. Shield Master feat is decent, but it costs a bonus action and only after attacking. Fighter is probably better at this than Barbarian.
I like the idea of a Sword & Board Barbarian synergizing the Dex save related parts of Shield Master with Resilient (Dex) and advantage on Dex saves from Danger Sense. Go Path of the Ancestral Guardian and you have a sticky and hard to kill tank.

Start with 15's in Str, Con, and Dex and go Variant Human or Mountain Dwarf. At level 20 you would have those two feats, Str 24, Con 24, and Dex 16.

Your damage isn't such that you draw fire in a "we have to kill that guy first" way, but with Ancestral Protectors you disincentivize your target attacking someone else so much (disadvantage and half damage? and you get this at level 3?!?) they don't really have the option of attacking anyone else.

Of course, the low Wisdom score is your Achilles' heel. Actually, that might be a whole leg worth of vulnerability. But as this is a build you mostly be running in a melee centric group (because prone), hopefully one of those is a Paladin (Aura of Courage at 10). If they're Oath of Devotion, that's even better (anti-charm Aura of Devotion at 7).

Having Shield Master's shove as your only (besides triggering rage) bonus action is less than ideal since there will be fights were the opponents are too big (and a friendly Enlarge from an ally would require their concentration). This is countered somewhat by the fact that you should be getting your reaction pretty much every round. If you didn't, it means the enemies missed all their attacks or they all attacked you. We consider either case a win.

To recap, you've got a big health pool, good AC, taking half damage from physical attacks and often avoiding all Dex save based damage, forcing one target to focus on you, bonus action shoves made with advantage to give your allies advantage versus a prone target, and mitigating/inflicting damage every round with your reaction.

Sword and Board fighter can do more damage, but can they be a better tank than that?
 

Frankie1969

Adventurer
I like the idea of a Sword & Board Barbarian synergizing the Dex save related parts of Shield Master with Resilient (Dex) and advantage on Dex saves from Danger Sense. Go Path of the Ancestral Guardian and you have a sticky and hard to kill tank.
. . .
To recap, you've got a big health pool, good AC, taking half damage from physical attacks and often avoiding all Dex save based damage, forcing one target to focus on you, bonus action shoves made with advantage to give your allies advantage versus a prone target, and mitigating/inflicting damage every round with your reaction.

Sword and Board fighter can do more damage, but can they be a better tank than that?
Not better, but fighters can make use of feat combos a lot earlier. A point-buy Var Human barbarian reaches 20 Str plus two feats at 12th level, vs 8th level for a fighter.
Given that most campaigns end around 10th-14th level, that's an important difference.
 

Frankie1969

Adventurer
One of my campaigns is finally in Tier 4, and I'm seeing that Barbarians don't scale nearly enough.
I'll revise my ratings soon, and add the new Paths from Tasha's Cauldron of Everything.
 

One of my campaigns is finally in Tier 4, and I'm seeing that Barbarians don't scale nearly enough.
I'll revise my ratings soon, and add the new Paths from Tasha's Cauldron of Everything.

My Barbarian only got to level 10 but higher level Barbarian abilities didn’t look great (at least until Lvl 20). I took the decision to multiclass to fighter.
 




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