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D&D (2024) Ranking the Weapon Mastery

Shiroiken

Legend
I'm sure people have preferences, but from a power level how do people feel about the different mastery options? My rankings below.

Top Tier - always use when available
  • Vex - this is too good IMO, since it creates a cascade, where each hit increases the chance of another hit.
  • Cleave - a "free" attack with some limitations.
  • Sap - would be too good if it wasn't limited to 3 weapons.

Middle Tier - situational usefulness

  • Nick - personally preferred no bonus action as core, but I understand why they did it. Makes it possible to use class ability BA with TWF.
  • Topple - the only one with a saving throw, which weakens it. Prone can be really useful depending on the character, group dynamics, and initiative order. Works really well with the initiative swap from Alert.
  • Shove - slightly better than Slow, as it takes away opportunity attacks and breaks grapples.
  • Slow - solid combat control to keep an enemy at range. Very good with a ranged weapon to shoot and retreat.
Bottom Tier - better than nothing
  • Graze - it's useful when fighting something with high AC, but the opportunity cost makes it weak. I suspect it will be one of the two options level 13+ fighters choose, in case they get a low roll.
  • Flex - basically about +1 damage to your attacks.
Despite the fact that I think Graze and Flex are weak choices, I suspect they'll be popular ones. They're easy to resolve and will active far more often than the situational ones. Sap probably won't be very popular because of the severe weapon limitation. Unless nerfed in some way, I suspect weapons with Vex or Cleave will become the "default" option for a lot of characters.
 

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Yaarel

He-Mage
There is clever use of Nick, involving swapping weapons during a turn, stepping back, and throwing daggers with Nick, for enormous average damage.
 

Graze vs Cleave is class-dependent because graze scales with your number of attacks, and I think you seriously under-rate Graze on a PAM fighter because of it. Meanwhile Graze on a barbarian who always uses Reckless so they very rarely miss is very little use. Cleave on a raging barbarian using a flametongue greataxe on the other hand is pretty good (15.5 average extra damage if the cleave hits), but the numbers don't look remotely as good on a L11 PAM fighter with a +2 halberd who's already doing a base 3+1 attacks (7.5 average extra damage if the cleave hits while each graze would be 5 damage). I think you're overrating one and underrating the other.

Shove and Cleave are both very DM dependent; shove depends a lot on hazardous terrain.

Vex would be fine if it wasn't on the hand crossbow and rapier. Those are already the best light weapon and arguably the best ranged weapon once you're feated up.

Sap thank goodness doesn't stack which keeps it out of top tier. But it's perfect for the defensive sword and board (or flail & board) fighter, enabling them to wade into the middle of the foes and hit multiple of them. It's not so much an always take as a build and playstyle enabler because AC gets less useful as you level.

Topple - if only it wasn't a Con save...
 


Horwath

Legend
Graze is better than you think.
40% chance to miss * 5 str
= +2 damage per attack.

Flex is the only garbage one with only +1 damage.

Really, versatile weapons should have 2 different masteries. Use a long sword in one hand for slow, and two hands for vex. It makes it... versatile.
This is something. Problem with Versatile is that is basically a non-property. No one uses it in 99% of the time. It's a desperate mechanic, like, here have something if you are unable to get a shield or a proper 2Handed weapon.
And in damage terms, it is valued as finesse, a property that gives you option to use pick better of two stats for combat.

If I were an army quartermaster, I would only order rapiers en masse, that would surely cut cost in bulk purchase, only have one set of scabbards as for sword and board fighters, rangers, barbarians or paladins(unless some corner case of piercing resistance) it's completely the same having rapier or battleax, sword, hammer.
And it can be used also for the best by rogues, bards or dex rangers.

longsword, battleaxe and similar weapons need d10(V d12).
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Cleave is actually weaker than you think because

  1. You need 2 enemies in reach. Something you have no control over
  2. Spreading damage is VERY weak once enemies have more that 10 HP.

Unless your DM is using orcs, goblins, and other CR 1/2s for 20 levels, cleave is very meh or bad.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
My main problem with weapon masteries is that those features only let you use specific weapons. It would be great if you could just pick Sap mastery instead of having to pick Flail mastery. If it was formatted that way, you could even balance some of the weaker masteries by having them on a wider range of weapons.
 

Shiroiken

Legend
Cleave is actually weaker than you think because

  1. You need 2 enemies in reach. Something you have no control over
  2. Spreading damage is VERY weak once enemies have more that 10 HP.

Unless your DM is using orcs, goblins, and other CR 1/2s for 20 levels, cleave is very meh or bad.
  1. Obviously it's situational when it comes up, but you'll use it every time you can. It's similar to Nick in the this regard, which I only rated lower because TWF is generally weaker.
  2. How is this "spreading damage?" You are doing the same amount of damage to the original target while dealing damage to an additional target. You continue to focus fire on the original target, but afterwards its dead you have a new target for your focus fire that's already taken damage.
 

mellored

Legend
  1. Obviously it's situational when it comes up, but you'll use it every time you can. It's similar to Nick in the this regard, which I only rated lower because TWF is generally weaker.
  2. How is this "spreading damage?" You are doing the same amount of damage to the original target while dealing damage to an additional target. You continue to focus fire on the original target, but afterwards its dead you have a new target for your focus fire that's already taken damage.
1: Nick doesn't have targeting restrictions.
2. You do less damage to the main target compared to the other ones. Vex for even Flex will help kill the main target quicker. Cleave will not.

Also, you can get both nick, cleave, and polearm master bonus in the same round.
 
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Gorck

Prince of Dorkness
This is something. Problem with Versatile is that is basically a non-property. No one uses it in 99% of the time. It's a desperate mechanic, like, here have something if you are unable to get a shield or a proper 2Handed weapon.
And in damage terms, it is valued as finesse, a property that gives you option to use pick better of two stats for combat.

If I were an army quartermaster, I would only order rapiers en masse, that would surely cut cost in bulk purchase, only have one set of scabbards as for sword and board fighters, rangers, barbarians or paladins(unless some corner case of piercing resistance) it's completely the same having rapier or battleax, sword, hammer.
And it can be used also for the best by rogues, bards or dex rangers.

longsword, battleaxe and similar weapons need d10(V d12).
I wonder if Versatile (and thereby Flex) would be more attractive if using a weapon in 2 hands allowed you to add 1.5x STR like it did in 3e (and Flex could allow 1.5x STR despite using the weapon in only 1 hand)? But, alas, a lot of people don't find math fun, even though most smartphones come with a calculator app).
 

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