Battle Master Optimization

General

Versatility for a fighter is ELITE

First fighter analysis that involved significant complexity, like casters

Had to group them in multiple ways to get full sense of ability strengths/weaknesses

So complex that I found A LOT of bad conventional wisdom in the space

Front loaded so excellent dip

Best gameplay in Tier 1 and 2

May want to consider Archetype change or dipping at/after level 11

Can apply SD to every attack of their turn plus their reaction

Ideal to proc SD on a critical to gain extra damage

One of the funner archetypes to play due to versatility and control options

Martial Adept Feat and Superior Technique Fighting Style viable to increase options

Die size increases to d10 with Improved Combat Superiority

So much better when adding to pool of SD

So much better when rounding out preexisting menu of combat options

Solid progression of uses, presuming at least 1 short rest

Procs on Hit & Doesn’t Require Your Bonus Action or Reaction

Disarming Attack – Use SD for Str Save vs. Disarm

Adds SD damage

Str Save is annoying

Can have devastating impact when facing fearsome weapon or item

Not restricted to weapons

Shield, Spell Focus, Component Bag, magic spellbook, etc.

However, few monsters in 5e carry weapons, so situational

Discuss with DM how easy it is to interact with dropped weapon

Weapon “falls at feet” of enemy (same space)

RAW one can use IWO to grab it or kick away if within reach

If done from range, must coordinate with party or summon to pick up

Wizard’s familiar good option

Psi Warrior’s Telekinetic Movement good option

Some DMs may find this “unrealistic” and make it difficult, so discuss in advance

May allow for OA

Better than standard Disarm Attack

Standard Disarm Attack is an optional rule and DM may ignore it

Standard Disarm is opposed check between Attack roll and Athletics/Acrobatics

Disarming Attack is triggered on hit (does damage) and imposes Str Save

Standard Disarm attacks  items held with 2 hands at disadvantage

Rating: Average***

Distracting Strike – Use SD to grant ally advantage on next attack

Adds SD damage

Can enable Sneak Attack

However, only allows for 1 attack at advantage

Maneuver inferior for melee relative to Trip Attack 

Prone allows ALL attacks at advantage until enemy turn

Still of some benefit if enabling ranged Sneak Attack

Rating: Poor**

Goading Attack – +SD for Wis Save vs. disadvantage to attack BM’s allies

Adds SD damage

Wis Save is annoying

Generally suboptimal relative to alternatives like Menacing Attack

MA has same effect + includes you + adds mobility penalty

However, it IS effective against enemies immune to Fear so situationally better

Most effective from range vs. enemy engaged with ally

Doesn’t require sight, unlike Menacing Attack

Good in Heavy Obscurement vs. enemy with Blindsight or similar

Rating:Poor** in Tier 1 and 2 when Menacing Attack clearly superior

Average*** if melee in Tier 3/4 when Menacing Attack often useless due to immunity 

Good**** if ranged in Tier 3/4 when Menacing Attack often useless due to immunity

Lunging Attack – Use SD for +5’ Reach

Adds SD damage if hit

Can enhance kiting tactic

However, problematic in that it affects only one attack

Some Resonance with Brace, but that’s not a good thing

Only procs the attack so can lose SD with no effect if attack is missed

Rating: Poor**

Maneuvering Attack – Use SD to grant ally Reaction for ? Move (no OA)

Adds SD damage

Also requires ally’s Reaction

Out of turn movement pretty rare in 5e

Doesn’t require sight as long as they can hear you

Combat position is sneaky important

Getting squishy allies out of harm’s way is extremely valuable when necessary

No OA so can reposition allies in melee

Can take ally out of AOE that procs at start of their turn (e.g. Cloudkill)

Can set up Flanking

Also useful if guarding an NPC or some such

Rating: Superior*****

Menacing Attack – Use SD for Wis Save vs. Fear

Adds SD damage

Wis Save is annoying

Fear is deadly condition forcing attacks/checks at disadvantage and can’t get closer

Not only blunts their offense but makes them vulnerable to Grapple/Shove

Rare and excellent control option for Fighters

However many stronger creatures are immune to Frightened so better in lower Tiers

Fear condition also requires line of sight so negative synergy with Heavy Obscurement

Nice synergy with PAM as quasi-Sentinel effect

Rating: Good****

Precision Attack – +SD to Attack Roll after roll but before determining hit

Synergy with SS/GWM results in superior DPR

Must have with those Feats or much less effective 

Stacks with similar effects like Bless or Bardic Inspiration

Great synergy with dip abilities dependent on hitting

e.g. Sneak Attack, Assassinate, Stunning Strike, Inflict Wounds, etc.

Recommend activating only when within 2 points of hitting

Only procs on a miss so can lose SD with no effect if bump insufficient to hit

Rating: Superior***** with SS/GWM; Average*** otherwise

Pushing Attack – Use SD for Str Save vs. 15’ Push (L or smaller)

Adds SD damage

Only pushes “away from you”

Push can be situationally useful

Excellent with ally caster AOE or environmental hazards

Can create Disengages

Good when kiting

Good synergy with PAM Reaction attack

Somewhat redundant with Shove Attack but will add damage

Rating:Good**** if PAM or strong party synergy, and no one else can Push

Poor** otherwise

Sweeping Attack – Use SD to apply attack roll to 2nd adjacent enemy

Adds SD damage

Creates no additional effect besides typical extra damage, just spreads it out

Rating: Inferior*

Trip Attack – Use SD for Str Save vs. Prone (L or smaller)

Adds SD damage

Str save is annoying

Prone is deadly condition allowing melee attacks at advantage until enemy can get up

Fantastic against flying creatures to also inflict falling damage

Great party combo as allies can pile on melee attacks at advantage and/or Grapple

Nice synergy with PAM or Sentinel Reaction Attack if enemy has already used half their Move

Huge impact and a must have

Rating: Superior*****

Procs on Attack/Hit & Requires Your Bonus Action

Commander’s Strike – Use SD + 1 Attack to grant ally Reaction Attack

Adds SD damage if attack hits

Doesn’t require hit but must take Attack Action and does consume one of your attacks

Also requires ally’s Reaction

Also consumes your Bonus Action

Opportunity cost of your Bonus Action attack is very high if PAM/CE/TWF/etc.

Sacrificing 2x attacks to give ally 1x

Useful only if ally’s attack is SIGNIFICANTLY superior 

Can allow Rogue to do 2x Sneak Attacks per round

OK with T-Rex and its elite bite attack

OK with Summon Greater Demon (Chasme)

Massive line-of-sight range

Only procs the attack so can lose SD with no effect if attack is missed

Rating:Poor** if PAM/CE/TWF

Average*** if otherwise + party synergy provides sufficiently powerful attack to proc

Grappling Strike – Use SD on melee attack for Bonus Action Grapple + SD to Athletics

Can’t use with ranged attack

Bonus Action is huge opportunity cost for many if not most Fighter builds

However, to Grapple otherwise would cost an attack as well, so a wash

However, Grapple can be very powerful as part of party combo so may be worth it

e.g. Prone, Silence, persistent AOE

Only procs the attack so can lose SD with no effect if attack is missed

However, almost certain to go off when adding SD to your Athletics check

Athletics already offers big advantage over most monsters

Rating:Good**** if melee fighter

Inferior* if ranged attacker

Bonus Action Only

Feinting Attack – Use SD + Bonus Action for advantage on next attack

Adds SD damage if hits

Bonus Action is huge opportunity cost for many if not most Fighter builds

Applies only to YOUR next attack roll, so no help to allies

Must be within 5’ of target so can’t apply to ranged attacks

Only allows for 1 attack at advantage

Maneuver inferior for melee relative to Trip Attack 

Prone allows ALL attacks at advantage until enemy turn

Must proc before attack so can lose SD with no effect if attack is missed

Rating: Inferior*

Quick Toss – Use SD + Bonus Action for Throwing Attack

Adds SD damage if hits

Bonus Action is huge opportunity cost for many if not most Fighter builds

Adds nothing else to typical throwing weapons as already can throw as Bonus Action

Still require free hand and IWO to draw weapon

Unless you have Throwing Fighting Style

However, interesting with Net

Net suboptimal in Tier 2+ when using Action as it consumes all attacks

Offloading it to Bonus Action allows for Extra Attack with Action

Can combo with Crossbow Expert to eliminate range penalty

Cannot add damage to nets according to JC but check with DM 

Must proc before attack so can lose SD with no effect if attack is missed

Rating:Poor** 

Average*** with CE + Net

Rally – Use SD + Bonus Action to give ally SD + Cha modifier Temporary HP

Cha based which is likely to be a dump stat on a Fighter

Regardless, temporary HP mechanic rules make this sneaky powerful

Every single resource I found rates this badly

They are wrong

Temporary HP last until next Long Rest

BM can use all SD to confer Temporary HP to party right after Long Rest

Then, immediately Short Rest to regain all SD

Just extends duration of “Long Rest” to 9 hours 

Can also “dump” any remaining SD prior to Short Rest throughout day

Elite option that confers powerful effect at almost no opportunity cost (except versatility)

This example shows very clearly the difference between OC analysis that takes into 

account action economy vs. shallow analysis that looks only at effects

Rating: Superior*****

Reaction

Brace – Use SD for OA Reaction attack when visible enemy enters reach

Adds SD damage if hits

Reaction attack must be melee attack

Can’t use when initiating offense; situational use when attacked only

Replicates one of the PAM riders so negative synergy

Check with DM but RAW doesn’t require “willing” movement

Can proc with Push effect to gain Reaction attack while enemy is already within reach

e.g. Crusher attack to Push out of reach, Lunge Attack + Crusher to Push back 

       into reach, which procs the Reaction Brace attack

Only single attack so the heavier the weapon, the better

Must proc before attack so can lose SD with no effect if attack is missed

Rating:Poor** for melee

Inferior* for ranged

Parry – Use SD + Reaction when hit to reduce damage by SD + Dex modifier

Only works against melee attacks and is ineffective vs. ranged

Yet is based on Dex for negative synergy

Good for managing concentration or effects that end with damage (e.g. Armor of Agathys)

Interesting for build with/as caster dip

Bladesinger is intriguing

Better at lower Tiers as doesn’t scale well with higher CR monster attacks

Only viable Reaction Maneuver for ranged BMs

Rating:Poor** with ranged BM with concentration/temp-HP abilities and Dex build

Inferior* otherwise

Riposte – Use SD + Reaction for melee attack

Adds SD damage if hits

Only procs vs. melee attacks

Reaction attack must be melee attack

Similar to Brace but better situational value

Proc condition will come up more times per battle relative to Brace

Better synergy with PAM than Brace, which clogs with it

Only single attack so the heavier the weapon, the better

JC says Reaction attack cannot stack on another Maneuver, but ask DM

Must proc before attack so can lose SD with no effect if attack is missed

Rating:Average*** for melee

Inferior* for ranged

Free Action

Ambush – Add SD to Initiative or Stealth check

Dex is likely to be a good stat on Fighters

Able to bump initiative is sneaky good

Stealth bump actually matters in many cases as well

Rating: Average***

Bait and Switch – Use SD to swap positions with adjacent creature + SD to either’s AC

Not viable for ranged attacks

Not quite “free action” as it requires 5’ of movement

Can only be used on your turn

Extremely situational

Can remove ally from choke point

AC bump is very strong in Bounded Accuracy

Rating: Poor**

Commanding Presence – Add SD to Intimidation, Performance, or Persuasion checks

Cha likely to be a dump stat on a Fighter

Skill bump a waste given limited Maneuvers

Rating: Inferior*

Evasive Footwork – +SD to AC while moving until you first stop moving

Somewhat risky way to Disengage relative to Disengage Action, Pushing Attack or Shove

Allows for BM to retain Action for attacking

Only lasts until end of your move

Can’t break up movement to, say, attack without ending effect

Rating: Poor** 

Tactical Assessment – +SD to Investigation, History, or Insight checks

Int and Wis likely to be dump stats on a Fighter

Skill bump a waste given limited Maneuvers

Rating: Inferior*

By Action Economy

Procs on Hit & Doesn’t Require Your Bonus Action or Reaction

Disarming Attack***

Distracting Strike**

Goading Attack**/***/****

Lunging Attack**

Maneuvering Attack*****

Menacing Attack****

Precision Attack*****/***

Pushing Attack****/**

Sweeping Attack*

Trip Attack*****

Procs on Hit & Requires Your Bonus Action

Commander’s Strike**/***

Grappling Strike****/*

Bonus Action Only

Feinting Attack*

Quick Toss**/***

Rally*****

Reaction Only

Brace**/*

Parry**/**

Riposte***/*

Free Action Only

Ambush***

Bait & Switch**

Commanding Presence*

Evasive Footwork**

Tactical Assessment*

By Rating

Note: some Maneuvers have multiple ratings but this chart reflects best possible scenario

Superior*****

Maneuvering Attack

Precision Attack (if optimized)

Rally

Trip Attack

Good****

Goading Attack (if optimized)

Grappling Strike (if optimized)

Menacing Attack

Pushing Attack (if optimized)

Average***

Ambush

Commander’s Strike (if optimized)

Disarming Attack

Quick Toss (if optimized)

Riposte (if optimized)

Poor**

Bait & Switch

Brace (if optimized)

Evasive Footwork

Distracting Strike

Lunging Attack

Parry (if optimized)

Inferior*

Sweeping Attack

Feinting Attack

Commanding Presence

Tactical Assessment

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