It had been a long day of hard-fought battles. The invading army had mistakenly thought their flank was covered by the harsh mountainscape – they were wrong. Your party spent hours scaling rock faces and traversing crumbling ledges until you were behind enemy lines. You wore the opposing force down with a series of hit and run conflicts, destroying one unit at a time, with scarce breaks in between to bandage your wounds and force down dry hardtack, until you were finally here, face to face with the general and their personal guard. What felt like an hour only took seconds, the warhammer of the invader crashed into your ribs, but with years of trained muscle memory you just breathed through the pain and pivoted on the balls of your feet. Pushing your body to the limits, you let fly a hailstorm of sword swings, cutting the legs out from under him with the first attack, the rest found their target easily, ending the entire war with nothing but the repeated flashing of your steel.
After a short montage countless hours in the sparring yard, endless miles ran, and hundreds of meals worth of cold meat punched, you’re finally ready to step out into the big, bad world. The local guard isn’t for you, you want to test your mettle, find fame and fortune, maybe even save the world whilst you declare your martial prowess for all to see and envy. You want to be a Fighter, but this class contains many choices to make along your path to glory, so here at Dice Cove we will take you by the hand and show you the way.
In this Fighter DnD 5E guide, we’ll train you on your options as a Fighter, as well as supportive choices you can make to build your character to achieve what you want. Whilst reading through this guide, you may find this article on jargon and this list of books (and their common abbreviations) helpful.
This guide will evaluate each option for the Fighter on a scale of 1-5– this is a rating of the abilities’ potency and overall usefulness, primarily focusing on combat where appropriate. That said, I will still evaluate everything, hopefully, to aid you to weigh any choices you might be considering at a glance, helping you know what to expect and make changes accordingly if desired. The rating scheme is:
1 – Usually a bad choice, to be avoided 2 – Below average, this can apply to powerful but very niche abilities 3 – Average to Good, you won’t go wrong with it 4 – Very good 5 – Amazing, a must-have if there is such a thing
This rating system exists to best help you understand the effectiveness of all the options available to the Fighter for you to build and enjoy your character. Remember though, your fun comes first; it’s actually very difficult to build a character that is entirely bad in 5E, so if you have a concept that doesn’t rate highly, you might still have fun playing it. This is a guide, not a contract written by Asmodeus. Let it advise you and not force you away from your own ideas.
It’s recommended to have your book/PDF/DnD Beyond page open to reference and follow along with the guide.
Hit Dice (4) – A d10 is the standard for most martials and almost as good as it gets, you’ll have a decent amount of HP for melee and a good amount for ranged.
Armor (5) – Much like a famous boy Wizard, you took the lot, giving you a variety of build options.
Weapons (5) – You can choose whatever weapon you like best, which supports the Fighter’s place as the most customizable martial.
Tools (1) – You get none, which is unfortunate but not needed for what you’re intended for.
Saving Throws (4) – Constitution saves are often damage effects combined with nasty debuffs like the poisoned condition and if you pick up spell casting, concentration saves. Strength saves may be classed as a weak save, but they’re prevalent among lower CR monsters and often result in being knocked prone, which leads to melee attacks against you having advantage. A strong pair of saves.
Skills (2) – Eh, you only get two but you at least have quite a broad list to choose from. The standout choices are Perception and Athletics, which you can leverage for grapple and shove-based tactics.
Fighting Style (5) – A customizable boost that facilitates, or enhances, whichever type of Fighter you want to be. We will go into each style more in-depth a little later on.
Second Wind (4) – A combat-compatible self-heal that does enough to shrug off a blow or two, no matter the level, and recharges on a short rest? That’s a fantastic ability; the only thing holding this back from being a 5 is how swingy the heal can be in Tier 1, when you’re more reliant on the roll of the d10.
Action Surge (5) – Everyone loves Action Surge, whether you’re using it to make ALL OF THE ATTACKS, or something else like using a magic item or dashing whilst still attacking; its power and utility are well-known. Fun fact: this is the only ability in the game to allow you to cast two leveled spells in a single turn, take that Quickened Spell! You get a second use of this ability per short rest at 17th level, which is a massive spike in power.
Ability Score Increase (5) – This is a feature universal to all classes, so it isn’t normally included in our guides, however, the Fighter gets two additional ASIs: one at 6th level and one at 14th level. That’s not only a lot of additional stat bumps or feats but the one at 6th level makes a lot of builds more viable as it comes in the levels that are most played.
Extra Attack (5) – Most martials get Extra Attack as a damage increase at 5th level, but the Fighter gets a third attack at 11th level, and a fourth attack at 20th level. This constitutes all of the main Fighter class’ damage increases and capstone and synergizes well with a number of different abilities and spells which trigger on attack hits.
Indomitable (3) – This feature usually gets a bad reputation, but is actually pretty good as long as you understand what it can achieve. It will make it unlikely for you to fail a save you’re strong at and give you a better chance at those you have mediocre modifiers in, you just need to recognize when it’s not worth using. For example, if the only way you could pass a save is with a roll of a 20, it’s probably not worth using Indomitable unless you think the consequences for failure would be very bad. Much like Extra Attack, this ability gets additional uses at later levels, specifically one at 13th and 17th level.
The contents in the following list of Fighting Styles are arranged alphabetically but divided by the books they are found in to make it easy to see what you can choose from if certain sources are not allowed at your table. Please note the styles found in TCoE are listed as optional class features, so be sure to check with your DM before choosing them.
Archery (5) – Dungeons & Dragons 5E uses a system called bounded accuracy, which means any bonus to your attack bonus is surprisingly potent as overall ACs don’t get very high. Part of what makes Archery so great is it can partially offset the to hit penalty the Sharpshooterfeat imposes for its +10 damage. Its intended purpose is likely to act as a counter for the +2 AC offered by half cover, so you can fire into melee without reduced accuracy.
Defense (4) – For the same bounded accuracy reasons which make Archer nice, a bonus to your AC is always going to be welcomed. This can either compensate for not carrying a shield, or push a plate and shield wearer’s AC up to 21!
Dueling (5) – A great flat damage increase that scales well with your increasing number of attacks. Whilst flat bonuses don’t multiply on crits like additional dice, they reliably raise the floor, average, and ceiling of your damage.
Great Weapon Fighting (2) – As long as you choose to reroll at appropriate times, whenever you roll under average damage, this is a boost to your average damage. However, it is not a large bonus, or even a guaranteed one, and the rerolling can be a little tedious in play. I would generally recommend Defense overtaking this, or Superior Technique if you’re looking for damage potential.
Protection (2) – This style can be a great defensive option if you’re looking to be a more tank or supportive Fighter. This only rates at a 2 as it relies on wearing a shield and having the ally you wish to protect within 5 feet of you, the latter of which you cannot control completely, whilst not guaranteeing they won’t get hit.
Two-Weapon Fighting (5) – TWF enables effective use of this kind of combat, the addition of the modifier to the bonus action attack makes TWF one of the best damage options for Tier 1 and remains competitive throughout Tier 2 and beyond.
Blind Fighting (3) – This is a very niche style: On the one hand, it allows melee Fighters to function virtually unhindered by visual problems like fog, darkness, and invisible creatures. On the other hand, it’s not very useful at all to ranged Fighters or anyone, if those circumstances don’t come up, unlike other styles which are more universally applicable. What makes this a 3 instead of a 2 is the potential for a party to build around spells like Fog Cloud and Darkness (particularly with Warlocks and Shadow Sorcerers) to gain advantage against enemies, and disadvantage against being attacked themselves.
Interception (4) – As a style, Interception is similar to Protection, but easier to use as you only need any kind of simple or martial weapon, not specifically a shield. What contributes mostly to the higher rating is the damage reduction triggered when a creature is hit, so you have no potential to waste your reaction. The only downside is unlike Protection, this can’t negate crits or turn a hit into a miss completely, although you can reduce the damage to 0 if you’re lucky.
Superior Technique (3) – A great way to introduce a little bit of variety and additional complexity into most Fighter subclasses; being a short rest resource synergizes with Second Wind and Action Surge so this feels intuitive to ration. Only a single d6 Superiority Die (SD) isn’t much, so choosing the right maneuvers and the right time to use them is important. Good maneuvers to choose include Precision Attack and Trip Attack. This goes up to a 4 for a Battle Master, as it will instead become part of your SD pool, increasing to a d8 to begin with, and growing further as you level. It also adds another maneuver to your options, helping you grab everything you want in earlier levels.
Thrown Weapon Fighting (5) – Much like TWF above, this style gets a 5 partially for enabling an entire style of play for your PC. RAW, you would have trouble building a character who specializes in throwing darts or daggers if you have Extra Attack, as you would be throwing more weapons than you could draw with your single object interaction. This style completely negates that problem by allowing you to draw a weapon with the thrown tag as part of the attack, much like you would draw an arrow as you fire it. In addition to that, it also adds a flat +2 damage like Dueling, however, this is more impactful on thrown weapons due to their smaller damage dice.
Unarmed Fighting (5) – Unlike some of our other styles, this one doesn’t necessarily enable unarmed combat, there’s plenty of races that give a 1d4 natural weapon, but it certainly makes it more effective. In fact, in tier 1 this makes your unarmed strike do more damage than a Monk’s, and this remains true until Tier 3 if you commit both hands to it. The additional action economy-free 1d4 damage to creatures you’re grappling is a nice bonus. A must-have if you want to play a pugilist Fighter.
Optional Class Features (TCoE)
The Fighter only gets additional features from Tasha’s, no substitution features. The additional Fighting Styles have already been covered above, and we will go through the additional maneuvers for the Battle Masterin this section.
Martial Versatility (3) – This is a nice get out of jail free card if you have made some build choices with your Fighter you regret. This only receives a 3 because it isn’t actually adding anything new or improving an existing feature, rather, it’s just codifying a ruling a lot of DMs would make if approached by their players about changing their choices.
Ambush (5) – This maneuver is great because the results of its use are wider-reaching than a single turn or attack. A single SD can change a Stealth roll from a failure into a success, or advance you multiple places up the initiative order. Overall a nice boost for Dex-based Fighters, but a lifeline to Str-based Fighters who would likely have poor modifiers, and perhaps even disadvantage on those rolls.
Bait and Switch (2) – This is similar to a monster ability, and can be nice for saving squishy or seriously injured party members from melee, however, that’s a very niche use given the positioning required.
Brace (3) – A nice option to have, this maneuver basically gives you the Polearm Master reaction attack. This only warrants a 3 because it’s nothing but damage and devotes your reaction to an attack also given by a popular feat.
Commanding Presence (5) – Out of combat utility is always welcome on a Fighter, and this supports the Fighter as a face character rather than just a killing machine.
Grappling Strike (3) – The rating for this is held back by it being rather niche: you have to be a melee character with a free hand and the creature needs to be of a size you can actually grapple. The good side of this is it significantly improves the popular tactic of shoving a hostile creature prone and grappling them to keep them that way. Normally (unless you took Tavern Brawler), that would consume two attacks and do no damage, but this allows you to not only keep some damage but makes your grapple check more likely to succeed.
Quick Toss (2) – This is a very cool maneuver that’s fairly narrow in scope; it provides a damage boost primarily for throwing builds, like those making use of Thrown Weapon Fighting, and potentially archers who are within range of an enemy to use a thrown weapon. However, a hidden strength of this maneuver is aiding melee Fighters in engaging distant enemies after defeating whomever they were already in melee with. Remember, a free hand is needed to use this maneuver.
Tactical Assessment (5) – Much the same as Commanding Presence, allowing the Fighter to have a larger impact on other pillars of play is a great maneuver.
Stats for Fighters
Fighters are typically SAD in either focusing on Strength or Dexterity as their primary stat, which usually also provides their AC. Many subclasses make use of different secondary stats, however, and as the Fighter is primarily SAD, with two additional ASIs, they can afford to have a more diverse array of stats than other classes. It’s important to consider your ability score array at character creation to make sure you have the numbers you need, where you need them for your build. Where you see a rating with two numbers separated with a /, the second number is the rating if you are not using this stat as your primary:
Strength (5/1) – This is essential for you if you want to use polearms, great weapons, and/or heavy armor and a big help if you want to shove and grapple. You should aim to start with a 16 and max as soon as possible, if Dex is your primary a 10 would suffice here, but a 12 would be nice if you can afford it. This is a stat essential for Cavaliers, as it dictates how many special attacks they can make.
Dexterity (5/3) – If you want to play a ranged character, a switch hitter, or use finesse weapons this is a must. Even if you use Strength as your primary stat, it’s very beneficial to have Dexterity as high as you can afford.
Constitution (4) –Hit points and saving throws against nasty effects, as a martial this is important for you and you should aim for a 16 here. The higher the better, but going over 16 should come after taking care of your attacking stat and any feats you may want. If you’re playing a Cavalier, Echo Knight, or Rune Knight, this stat is tied to your subclass abilities and should be as high as you can afford.
Intelligence (2) – This is primarily a roleplay stat for most Fighters. For Eldritch Knight, this is nice to have but not essential, a 14 or 16 would suffice. If you’re a Psi Warrior or Arcane Archer this should be as high as possible, at least a 16.
Wisdom (3) – A nice tertiary stat to have for Wisdom saving throws and related skills like Perception and Insight. If you’re a Samurai, this will also give you a bonus to your Persuasion checks.
Charisma (2) – There’s no subclass to make use of this ability score directly, so this is entirely based on how you view your character. If you want to be a party face, as a Fighter you can afford a decent score here.
Martial Archetypes (Subclasses)
The Fighter is, by design, essentially a blank slate that is customized into what you want to be using the subclass. Perhaps more so than most other classes, a Fighter is defined by the subclass you choose, so picking the right one is important for realizing your character concept and combat potential.
This subclass is intended to be a barebones Fighter that adds as little complexity as possible. It’s a great subclass for players new to the game or wanting to play a more simplified character for any reason. It will perform adequately, but is behind the power curve of other subclasses and requires you to build around getting more damage and effects when you land critical hits.
Improved Critical (3) – Getting crits is just plain fun, so an ability that increases your chance of critting from 5% to 10% per attack is pretty nice. This only warrants a 3 because how good this ability is, relies on how much you invest into it. A Champion should be looking to gain advantage as often as possible, as well as getting as many bonus dice to their critical hit damage as they can.
Remarkable Athlete (3) – This feature is like a more restrictive version of Jack of All Trades; it’s nice for patching up the physical skills you’re bad at, but what seals the rating for this ability is it applies to initiative rolls.
Additional Fighting Style (4) – At worst, this is a +1 AC or small damage bump, if you’re able to use the styles from Tasha’s, this feature opens up a variety of buffs to you, including blindsight and a Battle Master maneuver.
Superior Critical (3) – Much the same as Improved Critical, this is only as valuable as how much you put into your crits.
Survivor (3) – Although a significant boost to your survivability, ideally the formula would be more generous for this ability. This is held back by only taking you back up to half health, although the higher your overall hit points, the better this ability is.
A very popular subclass, especially for multiclass dips, this archetype diversifies what the Fighter can achieve using mundane maneuvers rather than adding magic. The short rest nature of the Battle Master allows for frequent use of your maneuvers, whilst also being forgiving if you burn through your pool of Superiority Dice too quickly. Two things to note here are a lot of the scaling of the Battle Master comes built into the early features, and the designers seem to have just forgotten to give them an 18th level capstone ability. The PHB maneuvers will be covered after the individual features.
Combat Superiority (5) – Here’s the core mechanic at the heart of this subclass and it’s a great core: you get enough maneuvers you won’t feel starved for choice but you’ll still need to wait to get all the ones you want, and you’ll get enough Superiority Dice to splurge on heavy novas or use conservatively throughout your entire day of adventuring with that short rest recharge. The scaling here feels appropriate, with more maneuvers and SD coming at 7th and 15th level, with additional maneuvers also at 10th. If that wasn’t great enough, your save DC scales off the physical stat of your choice, allowing you to be SAD. The real power of this ability is based on the maneuvers you choose and how you use them, but the potential is great.
Student of War (3) – It’s a ribbon, but it comes alongside the fantastic Combat Superiority; ideally it’d be a skill instead of a tool but this subclass can’t have everything.
Know Your Enemy – (2) – A very thematic ability, but incredibly niche in practical use and yields vague information at best. Especially in comparison to what some other subclasses get at this level, a poor ability. What saves this ability from being a 1 is it comes along with an additional SD and two additional maneuvers, so all is not lost.
Improved Combat Superiority (3) – Just some scaling for your SD and comes alongside two new maneuvers at 10th level. To put this increase into perspective, every increase in die size equates to +1 damage on average if the maneuver used adds the SD for damage. Okay, and necessary scaling, but we should have seen more at this level.
Relentless (5) – Your subclass is built around using maneuvers, guaranteeing you can do so at least once per combat is great, and allows you to spend SD to your heart’s content.
Maneuvers compatible with ranged attacks will be marked with *.
Commander’s Strike (1) – Potentially good damage if you have a Rogue in the party, or a Paladin willing and able to smite, but its downfall is being far too expensive. A Superiority Die, one of your attacks, your bonus action, and your ally’s reaction for a single attack? No, thank you.
Disarming Strike* (2) – Extra damage to the attack is nice, and the opportunity to disarm an opponent can completely change the course of a fight. This only gets a 2, however, as your enemy needs to use a weapon or focus for it to be useful when there’s plenty of monsters out there that use neither to make this a reliably useful maneuver.
Distracting Strike* (4) – Additional damage and setting up an ally with advantage to hit that creature? An excellent mix of supporting allies and buffing your own damage. The only thing holding this back from being a 5 is the potential for that advantage to go to waste if no one else in the party attacks that creature.
Evasive Footwork (2) – Potentially nice for escaping or getting to an ally in need without having to use the Disengage action. This is pretty niche though, ideally, this would have come with a 10ft or greater movement speed bonus, or the AC boost would have lasted until the start of your next turn.
Feinting Attack* (5) – Giving yourself advantage on an attack of your choosing and getting SD damage if you hit? This is great for high AC opponents, Great Weapon Master users, some Sharpshooter users, and countering disadvantage.
Goading Attack* (4) – A nice tanking option with added damage to sweeten the deal, what’s holding this back from a 5 is the chance of failure. There are multiple abilities in the game which allow this kind of effect without requiring a saving throw.
Lunging Attack (2) – Impossible to rate this as a 1 when it gives you more damage, but this is incredibly niche. Inappropriate for skirmishing unless you want to spend all of your SD doing nothing but this to cover all of your attacks. Best chosen at higher levels when you’ve already gotten what you want, and used to hit opponents you couldn’t quite reach that turn otherwise.
Maneuvering Attack* (4) – A great tool to have in your back pocket which could save the lives of your squishier comrades whilst hastening the death of your foes.
Menacing Attack* (4) – Damage and a good debuff as long as the enemy isn’t immune to Frightened? That adds up to one good maneuver; this doesn’t hit a 5, however, as a not insignificant number of monsters are immune to this condition.
Parry (5) – Only a 3 if you’re a Strength-based Fighter but for Dexterity Fighters, this is a good defensive option that could save your life.
Precision Attack* (5) – No added damage, but sometimes you just need to hit, y’know? This is best for those looking to leverage the additional damage from Sharpshooter and Great Weapon Master. Or those perpetually forsaken by the almighty dice gods.
Pushing Attack* (2) – Potentially valuable if you’re fighting near the edge of a drop or you have allies who use spells like Spike Growth, but a bit niche, especially with the restriction of Large and smaller creatures.
Rally (2) – If you’ve invested in a decent Cha modifier, this can keep some of your squishy associates from getting, well, squished. Two important things to note: You cannot use this maneuver on yourself, and as there is no listed expiry for the temp hp, they last until the ally takes a long rest. The latter makes this an excellent way to use unspent SD.
Riposte (4) – A great way to punish people for daring to strike at you, the harder you hit the more this is worth, the harder to hit you are, the more often you’ll have the chance to use this.
Sweeping Attack (2) – This is saved from being a 1 by adding some limited ability to deal with crowds, however, it’s so reliant on positioning for such little damage, I can’t recommend this for one of your initial three maneuvers.
Trip Attack* (4) – Additional damage and the opportunity to knock the enemy prone to prevent escape and enable advantage for melee party members, potentially including yourself, makes for an excellent maneuver. A limit of large or smaller holds this back from being a 5. For ranged weapon users, it should be used as your last attack so you don’t impose disadvantage on yourself. This can also be used to knock flying enemies out of the air as long as they lack the hover trait.
If you’re looking to play a gish then look no further, the Eldritch Knight combines Wizard-like spellcasting with the robust martial chassis of the Fighter. Whilst Intelligence isn’t a required stat for this subclass, it’s recommended to at least have a 14 so you’re not completely shut out from using spell attack and DC-based spells. Recommended spells for this subclass include Booming Blade, Absorb Elements, Magic Missile, Shield, Shadow Blade, and Fly.
Spellcasting (4) – Adding spellcasting to the Fighter was always going to be a great mix, this only gets a 4 due to the school restrictions and the extremely slow spell slot progression of being a three-quarter caster.
Weapon Bond (4) – Never being without your weapon is an excellent ribbon ability for a martial; great for infiltration, prison breaks, and keeping weapon-based artifacts away from bad guys. This would be a 5 if it allowed you to use a bonded weapon as a spellcasting focus.
War Magic (2) – A feature that can be worth taking if you try to make the best of it, combinations like Booming Blade and a melee attack are really the highlight of this feature.
Eldritch Strike (2) – To get the most out of this ability you really need to have a decent Intelligence and spend a free spell choice on a debuff like Blindness/Deafness. To use this with a damage AOE you’d really have to spread your attacks out amongst a group, which is less than ideal.
Arcane Charge (4) – The ability to teleport when you use your Action Surge is a nice bonus, especially as you can choose to teleport before or after the second action. This allows you to get in position to cast an AOE to benefit from Eldritch Strike, or to chase down enemies if you’ve already dealt with the ones near you.
Improved War Magic (3) – Significantly more versatile than War Magic, especially since you can potentially position yourself with Arcane Charge after having cast your spell. You have enough spell slots (10) at this level to potentially get a fair few bonus action attacks across the adventuring day.
Purple Dragon Knight (Banneret)
Often forgotten as it was published in the SCAG, but not republished in a later book, the Purple Dragon Knight (PDK) is intended to be a party support and face subclass. The features themselves are often regarded badly as they build on your existing abilities, without giving you additional uses of those abilities. As such, at times it can feel as if you don’t have a subclass at all. If you wish to play a PDK, it’s recommended you choose some feats to support being a pillar of the party, such as Inspiring Leader and Chef, and taking either the Protection or Interception Fighting Style so you have an at-will way of assisting your allies.
Rallying Cry (2) – The range of this ability is great, and if you’re only a party of four adventurers, it can work well. A good point of comparison for the amount of HP restored is the Aasimar’s Healing Hands ability, which restores your level to a single creature, as an action, once per long rest. The downside to this ability is being unable to revive someone that is at 0HP, and the chance of having party members injured that you can’t heal. This will be an issue in a party of five or more, a party that has companions such as familiars and Animal Companions, or one that travels and fights with NPCs, such as sidekicks.
Royal Envoy (4) – Gaining an additional skill and doubling your proficiency in Persuasion adds some out of combat utility to your Fighter, whilst supporting the fluff of the subclass.
Inspiring Surge (2) – The value of this ability heavily depends on the composition of your party, if you have a Rogue, Paladin, or a PC that uses Sharpshooter or Great Weapon Master this ability can add a significant amount of damage over the course of the adventuring day.
Bulwark (1) – This is the kind of ability that can completely turn a TPK situation around, unfortunately, however, it’s so niche in its application, it’s hard to give it anything higher than a 1. This would have been better if it applied to all saves, not just mental.
If you’re looking to play a nature-themed archer who weaves magic with their attacks, but don’t want to play a Ranger, this subclass is for you. The Arcane archer often receives criticism for having too few uses of its Arcane Shot and lack of scaling of the Arcane Shot options. How scarce the uses of the Arcane Shot feel to you will be dependent on your table; if you fall into the DMG guidelines of 6-8 encounters with 2 short rests per adventuring day, you can think of it as one Arcane Shot per encounter.
Arcane Archer Lore (5) – A choice of skill and cantrip, even if the choice is rather limited, is a very good ribbon ability that supports the theme of the subclass.
Arcane Shot (4) – Ideally this would be three uses per short rest instead of just the two, but this feature gives the Fighter access to magical effects, including AoEs which is nice. Important note: Arcane Shot originally required you to use a magic arrow, this was later changed via errata to work with any arrow. The individual shot options will be covered after the main subclass features.
Magic Arrow (5) – Not flashy but important; this means you’re not reliant on a supply of magic arrows or finding a magic bow when faced with monsters who have resistance, or maybe even immunity, to non-magical BPS.
Curving Shot (4) – An excellent accuracy boost, especially if you’re picking up Sharpshooter. This is only a 4 as it won’t help you against single enemies or in combats where enemies are spread out far between.
Ever-Ready Shot (5) – Given you only get two shots to begin with, this ability is sent by the god of archery!
Arcane Shot Options
Banishing Arrow (4) – Literally a mini-Banishment spell, this can give the party a valuable round to deal with other monsters, or just prepare for the return of a big bad.
Beguiling Arrow (4) – Bonus damage mixed in with a protective rider gives you a very potent shot option. The downside here is the PC protected by this arrow will lose its protection the moment they do anything to the target, but at least the healer won’t die, right?
Bursting Arrow (5) – Not only does this give you an AOE option that uses force damage, but there’s also no save! It’s not a lot of damage for an AOE, but considering there’s no save for half and the arrow’s normal damage will still apply it is appropriate.
Enfeebling Arrow (4) – The damage is nice as always and the reduced attack damage can save your party members from a world of hurt. Unfortunately, it only applies to weapon attacks and targets a traditionally strong monster save, which keeps this from being a 5.
Grasping Arrow (5) – This is an excellent shot option for locking down an opponent, not only are you reducing their speed but you’re giving them their own personal Spike Growth-like effect to encourage them to stand still. Be aware the poison damage is fairly likely to be resisted, or completely ignored by a lot of creatures, but the poison is more a bonus to the control effect and piercing damage.
Piercing Arrow (4) – A very situational shot option, but the ability to target Dex instead of AC can be valuable, this also gives you the option of hitting multiple enemies and ignoring cover. It should be noted that this is all cover, not just half and three-quarters cover like Sharpshooter would allow you to ignore.
Seeking Arrow (2) – If you are dealing with an enemy that is successfully hiding from you this can be valuable, however needing to have seen them within the last minute, needing a path to the creature, and being stopped by full cover for only an additional 1d6 damage is just bad. The situation where you’d want to use this arrow is very niche to begin with, I’d certainly recommend against taking it as one of your starting options.
Shadow Arrow (3) – So close to being a great option, yet so far. As this only restricts the target’s vision further than 5ft it won’t be of help to any melee party members, or any members that get chased into melee by the creature. If it instead just imposed the Blinded condition this would easily be a 4 if not 5.
A subclass themed as riding a mount, and is certainly better at it than most, but doesn’t actually require it. This is a Fighter who excels at tanking, with multiple options for drawing attacks towards them instead of their allies and to punish others for ignoring them. If you want to play this subclass, you’ll need a high Strength and as high a Constitution score as you can afford, it’s also advised to use a weapon with the reach property.
Bonus Proficiency (5) – Gaining another skill (or language) is always a nice ribbon ability, especially when you’re already getting so much at this level.
Born to the Saddle (4) – Another ribbon, but an essential one, after all, how much of a Cavalier would you be if you didn’t ride a mount better than the average PC? Only a 4 because Mounted Combatant is still a desirable feat if you want to keep your mount around, ideally this ability would have allowed you to protect your mount.
Unwavering Mark (5) – This ability gives enemies a real incentive to attack the Fighter rather than anyone else, and adds some damage across the day to boot. As you mark a creature with a hit, but there is no limit to the number of creatures you can mark; this ability scales in usefulness as you gain more attacks as a Fighter and as you increase your Strength score. This is a fantastic ability, partly because it keys off of a physical stat, it’s just a shame it locks all cavaliers into being Str focused if they want to make the most of it.
Warding Maneuver (4) – A reaction bonus to AC when someone is hit, with a worst-case scenario of resistance to the damage? This is a great feature only held back by needing to be within 5ft of your allies and using your Con modifier. On the one hand, this is a good thing: the higher your Con, the more HP you have to tank with! On the other, this is a secondary stat that isn’t flashy to increase, unlike stats that use attacks or skills.
Hold the Line (5) – This feature contains a part of the Sentinel feat and allows you to take a swipe at someone trying to run past you, or maneuver around you. This is fantastic not only as a tool to keep people from passing you, but also to give you an opportunity to mark a monster who’s just trying to run past you to the squishy allies you’re protecting.
Ferocious Charger (2) – Very thematic for a subclass themed around being mounted, but it doesn’t make the cut. You won’t always have the opportunity/space/movement to move ten feet before an attack, that attack won’t always hit, and even if it does, Strength is typically a strong monster save. When you pull this off, it can be combat-changing as you would follow it with at least two attacks at advantage, but in general, this isn’t an ability you can reliably use, and that makes it bad.
Vigilant Defender (3) – Potentially this is a lot of damage in a single round, but it requires multiple monsters moving within five feet of you in a turn, which doesn’t seem likely unless you primarily adventure in ten-foot-wide corridors.
Interested in playing a Fighter who can mingle with nobility whilst standing fast in the face of impossible odds to defeat your enemies? Then the Samurai is for you! This subclass offers a significant increase in accuracy, durability, and social ability. Wisdom is advised as a secondary stat to get the most out of the 7th level feature but isn’t required.
Bonus Proficiency (5) – Skills to round out a Fighter’s out of combat toolbox are always a welcome addition.
Fighting Spirit (4) – Being able to give yourself advantage on your weapon attacks and temporary hit points is a match made in martial heaven. It’s advised to use this ability in conjunction with your Action Surge to make as many attacks at advantage as possible. The limiting factor holding this back from being a 5 is only having three uses, this makes it difficult to ration throughout the day and the temp hp could do with some scaling between 3rd and 10th level.
Elegant Courtier (5) – A bonus to a social skill and proficiency in a save that becomes increasingly important as levels increase, an excellent feature.
Tireless Spirit (5) – Always having at least one use of Fighting Spirit is a huge boost to your accuracy and durability, as well as a weight off your mind as you no longer have to use it sparingly!
Rapid Strike (5) – An additional attack that only costs your advantage? That’s a lot of damage, especially for users of Sharpshooter and Great Weapon Master. What makes this ability great is it doesn’t need to be advantage from your Fighting Spirit, it can come from anywhere including shoving a target prone. It’s important to note if you are using this with Fighting Spirit, whilst you lose advantage from one of your attacks, the attack you gain can still benefit from the advantage you get that turn. This means at 15th level a Samurai can use Fighting Spirit to make four attacks, three of them with advantage.
Strength Before Death (5) – Getting an entire turn, in the middle of someone else’s, is certainly better than laying down to die! I advise against using Fighting Spirit if this feature is triggered, as the temp hp won’t stop you from going down again. Once you hit this level, you should try and conserve Second Wind so you can heal yourself on your bonus turn.
Born from the ever-popular Critical Role, this archetype allows you to make a double of yourself using time magic. This subclass offers a lot of mobility and options not commonly available to a Fighter, whilst maintaining a solid base of damage. Increasing your Con modifier as high as you can is heavily recommended for this subclass.
Manifest Echo (5) – This feature is really a whole mix of abilities your Echo delivers for you, the most significant for a Fighter is at-will short-range teleportation. That said, the meat of this feature is the ability to attack from somewhere you’re not and control the battlefield with distant opportunity attacks. This allows you to take advantage of cover, beneficial auras of your allies, and so on, whilst not compromising your ability to deliver attacks. This ability having no limit easily carries this to a 5.
Unleash Incarnation (4) – If getting your echo wasn’t enough, you also get additional attacks from it! This is only a 4 as it’s tied to a secondary stat which will realistically be a +3 or even a +2 for most Fighters for a while.
Echo Avatar (5) – Getting to use your echo as a familiar, but with ten times the range is great for scouting. It’s worth noting that RAW, there’s no reason why you can’t teleport yourself a greater distance when using this ability, however, it has been stated this is not the RAI, so buyer beware.
Shadow Martyr (4) – Being able to take an attack on behalf of an ally with your Echo is a great tanking ability, but this only gets a 4 as it’s only once per short or long rest and ensures your Echo will eat up even more of your bonus actions.
Reclaim Potential (4) – Getting temp HP from someone destroying your echo is great, however, at this level, the formula isn’t great compared to other sources of temp hp. For context, this would give you on average 10 or 11 temp HP per use depending on your Con mod; at this level, a Samurai is getting a reliable 15. Tying this to your Con, along with the mediocre amount of temp HP holds this back from being a 5.
Legion of One (4) – Trust me, I understand this feature sounds cool, but mostly amounts to not needing to use your bonus action quite as often, as well as giving you some additional angles of attack and greater potential of opportunity attack. The main benefit here really is extra use of Unleash Incarnation when you roll initiative.
If you want to play a Jedi, this is the way to do it! A subclass heavily based on using Psionics to achieve telekinetic effects like damage, protection, forced movement, and increased mobility. Due to the reliance of the subclass on proficiency bonus for scaling, this is multiclass friendly, but I would advise against multiclassing too heavily as increasing the size of your Psionic Energy Dice is important for your scaling too. Intelligence is needed for this subclass; it’s recommended you start out with a +3 if possible and aim to max it out at some point in your progression. If you start with lower than a +3, then you should aim to get it to that point at least before level 10. Now, as far as joining the dark side, you’re on your own with that!
Psionic Power (5) – Your pool of Psionic Energy Dice might feel a bit small at first until you get to 5th level, but should see you through your adventuring day as long as you remember to use the bonus action recharge every short rest. Protective Field offers a significant protective ability for yourself and your allies, Psionic Strike offers a nice burst of force damage and Telekinetic Movement offers some utility and protective options. The strength of Telekinetic Movement is being able to pull a party member out of the reach of a monster without provoking an attack of opportunity, oh, and retrieving your lightsaber sun blade. The reliance on Intelligence is unfortunate, but does give a great deal of reliability to your abilities, rather than trusting your offering to the dice gods was enough that week.
Telekinetic Adept (5) – Adding a couple of control options to Psionic Strike is a nice upgrade; having such a high flying speed, even if it is only for your turn, is a huge boost to a Fighter’s mobility and out of combat problem-solving. What ensures this feature is a 5 is efficiency, it’s not just adding more cost to your limited pool of Psionic Energy Dice: One ability improves the value of spending a die on an existing ability, whilst the other is free once per short or long rest, with the option of spending dice to do it more often.
Guarded Mind (3) – This is pretty niche, but charmed and frightened are fairly common monster-imposed conditions that can be very debilitating, so it warrants more than just a 2.
Bulwark of Force (5) – A bonus action to give yourself and your party +2 to your AC and Dex saves for a minute, without needing concentration, is a fantastic party buff.
Telekinetic Master (5) – Gaining access to a thematic 5th level spell as a Fighter is already great and a higher level spell than Eldritch Knights will ever gain access to. Allowing you to make a bonus action weapon attack every turn you’re concentrating on Telekinesis makes this an amazing ability that allows you to balance offense with control. The fact you can spend a single Psionic Energy Die to recast this 5th level spell is just the big, juicy cherry on top. Note: This ability using Intelligence is no longer considered a negative, as by the time you gain this feature, you would have had six ASIs, and this is plenty to max your attack stat, grab whichever feats you want, and still get Int to a +4 if not +5.
In Dungeons and Dragons, runes have long had an association with giants. This subclass allows you access to a variety of effects using runes, from control to social interaction. It also provides a moderate damage increase, whilst making you more and more of a giant yourself. Soon enough, your party won’t stop asking how the weather is up there, so be warned! Increasing Constitution to at least a +4 is heavily recommended with this subclass.
Bonus Proficiencies (4) – Extra proficiencies are always welcome to round out a Fighter out of combat, Giant is a bit of a niche language depending on your table.
Rune Carver (5) – The bread and butter of the subclass, this gets a 5 based on all runes giving an active and passive benefit, as well as the number of runes scaling at a reasonable pace, and it being one of three features at this level. The individual runes will be reviewed after all the subclass features, I will note it is a shame there isn’t better higher-level support, with the level-gated runes becoming available at 7th level and no new runes gained after 15th.
Giant’s Might (5) – A very thematic ability that provides a small damage bump, as well as improves your ability to grapple. The number of uses scales throughout your progression with proficiency, making this ability friendly toward those of you who are multiclass fiends. It’s a nice touch that this ability doesn’t rely on you having the space to become large, avoiding making it dependent on your environment.
Runic Shield (5) – A great tanking ability with which to protect your party members, which gets a decent number of uses. As this cannot be used on yourself this would normally be a 4, but it’s supported by gaining another rune at this level, as well as gaining access to the level restricted runes.
Great Stature (2) – A damage increase which is worth an average of 1 additional point of damage a turn is very anemic. The only thing saving this from being a 1 is the gaining of an additional rune at this level.
Master of Runes (5) – A huge power boost that comes alongside your 5th and final rune, a great ability that should make you feel like a powerhouse and true master of your runes.
Runic Juggernaut (4) – The damage increase is incredibly meager, and there’s no balance reason why it couldn’t have been 1d12 at least at 18th level. The real power of this ability is becoming Huge (if size allows), and the increased reach. Great for handsy Fighters who like to grapple, and particularly nice for those already using reach weapons. Strength Fighters definitely get more opportunities out of this feature than Dexterity-based Fighters. On an amusing note, the Enlarge/Reduce spell could make a Rune Knight at this level Gargantuan in size, talk about getting too big for your boots.
Cloud Rune (4) – A good tanking ability that can allow you to redirect attacks, including nasty crits, back at other enemies, or towards the PC best equipped to handle it if no other monsters are available as targets. The passive bonuses would be nice for a Fighter going for a bit of a Roguish feel or looking to actually take levels in Rogue.
Fire Rune (5) – A nice bit of damage added to your hit, with the potential for both control and damage over time. Whilst fire is a fairly common resistance and immunity, the fact this rune can still restrain a creature immune to fire, allows it to be universally useful. It targets a strong save, so if you’re interested in this one, prioritize your Con progression. The passive ability is very niche in general but can be extremely useful if you pick up Thieves’ Tools proficiency from your background.
Frost Rune (2) – Good for grappling and if you know a monster has a nasty effect that targets your Strength or Constitution saves, although they should both be high saves already. The passive is mostly useful for the intimidation aspect, but even with that, this entire rune is just too niche to be worth a higher rating.
Stone Rune (5) – The active ability is like a single target Hypnotic Pattern spell, except there’s no way to end the effect without making a successful saving throw. This is a great control ability that only takes your reaction to trigger, and comes packaged with superior darkvision and a good social buff. To get the most out of this rune play a race that lacks natural darkvision; a Goliath would fit this and be very appropriate to the giant theme.
Hill Rune (5) – Resistance to a common damage type at all times, and a bonus action to gain resistance to the most common forms of damage? Excellent durability buff, not as tempting on a dwarven Rune Knight.
Storm Rune (5) – Immunity to being surprised is a nice way to stay alive, the advantage on Arcana checks is not of much use unless you have a positive Int or get Arcana proficiency from somewhere. The active ability is very nice, however, allowing you to balance buffing allies, with debuffing enemies as you see fit.
In this section, I’ll review all of the racial options based on how well they complement the Fighter as a whole, commenting where specific features may benefit certain subclasses. Races are good places to pick up abilities for certain character concepts, so if you’re thinking about playing a Fighter build but that race isn’t rated well here, it doesn’t mean your particular combination wouldn’t work or be fun to play. Like I said previously, it’s actually pretty difficult to make a truly bad character in 5e.
Subraces and variants will be listed under the central race rating, indented to the right, and noted by italics.
If your DM allows the TCoE optional rules for reassigning racial stat bumps, then every race becomes a minimum rating of 3 and you should decide entirely based on the other benefits they give. The only exceptions to this, are races that give more points to stats than is typical, like the half-elf or mountain dwarf, which would be at least a 3.5 before features are considered.
The player race options offered by Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse will be separated in their own section instead of being listed alphabetically. This is to make them more distinct on the list as they stand out as primarily revisions of existing races. If a race option from this book doesn’t have any changes from an entry already covered in this section, it will be omitted.
Aarakocra (5) – A great choice for Dex-based Fighters, particularly those wanting to use ranged attacks primarily. The Wis bump favors Samurais slightly, but any subclass which doesn’t rely on a secondary stat would work extremely well. Forget Polly wants a cracker, Polly wants to kick butt!
Aasimar (3) – +2 to Cha is only good for face Fighters, this rating primarily comes from access to healing, a cantrip, and resistances which the Fighter would not necessarily have access to otherwise. The Fighter is one of the best classes to make use of the Aasimar’s special form, being able to trigger it using Action Surge to avoid wasted turns.
Protector (1) – Flying on occasion is nice, but having no physical stat bumps will hurt and eat up your ASIs to correct it.
Scourge (3) – +1 to Con is good for a Fighter in general, but also essential for multiple subclasses. With a D10 hit die and Second Wind, the Fighter can afford to get in close and make the most out of the aura damage.
Fallen (2) – Str is great to have, but the Frightened effect being capable of Friendly Fire and a single ‘save or suck’ opportunity is unappealing.
Astral Elf (4) – All the good base features of being an elf, combined with flexible stats, make for a strong base. The addition of a cantrip and bonus action teleport add up to a solid 4, the floating proficiency from Astral Trance also helps with the utility of playing a Fighter. This doesn’t hit a 5 as the cantrip list is a bit weak, and the teleport isn’t as potent as other elves, with some Fighter subclasses getting access to teleportation at varying points. Autognome (5) – A good unarmored AC formula for Dex-based builds, a good suite of defensive buffs from Mechanical Nature, and even some ribbons too. What pushes this to a 5 is the Built for Success feature, which not only helps those Sharpshooter and Great Weapon Master builds land their power attacks, but which works perfectly with Indomitable to meaningfully enhance your defenses.
Bugbear (4) – Good stats and an additional 5ft of reach on every weapon make for an excellent melee Fighter, particularly if using a reach weapon. A Bugbear would excel at being a Cavalier and benefit greatly from a combination of Sentinel and Polearm Master, stopping most monsters before they get close enough to hit you.
Centaur (4) – Great for Strength-based melee Fighters, the 40ft move speed helps ensure you can get to the creatures you want to hit, whilst Charge gives you an opportunity for a bonus action attack, the additional skill is a nice bonus. The negatives of being a Fey and climbing costing you extra movement are very situational, but shouldn’t hinder you for the most part.
Changeling (3) – If you put the floating stat into Str or Dex, then this makes a passable Fighter in combat with a lot of out-of-combat value with the Shapechanger ability and social skills.
Dhampir (4) – Whatever stats you want, great mobility, and a natural attack which you can actually leverage if you need or want to. This is best for Cavaliers, Echo Knights, and Rune Knights, as they’re the subclasses who benefit the most from a higher Con mod for the bite.
Dragonborn (3) – Decent stats, a damage resistance, and for a Fighter, the breath weapon adds a useful tool for certain occasions. Not a bad choice at all, and just like the Dhampir above, Cavalier, Echo, and Rune Knights will get the most out of the breath weapon.
Draconblood (1) – Only if you have a roleplay reason, the stats are terrible, and Forceful Presence is only good for face Fighters, like Purple Dragon Knights and Samurai.
Ravenite (4) – Better stats than the PHB version and a reliable way to give yourself a reaction attack, solid choice.
Dragonborn (FToD Version) (5) – This Fizban’s rework of the dragonborn divides the race into three subraces, meaning the only thing to really evaluate here is the stats. Well, choosing your own stat bumps is terrific, so how could it not be a 5?
Chromatic (4) – The new style of breath weapon is great for a Fighter, replacing only a single attack means you can still hit things as hard as you like, whilst being able to mix in elemental damage in an AOE form factor. The resistance is very nice, but the immunity ability is very niche depending on the damage type you chose. If the 5th level ability were more generally applicable this would be a 5.
Metallic (5) – Largely the same as above, however, you get a second breath weapon usable once per day that gives you some great options. The ability to just incapacitate a group of enemies is potentially very, very potent. Note: Once you hit 5th level, you can use both breath weapons in a single turn, as there is no restriction preventing this, and you have two attacks to replace, but bear in mind, you can’t use the primary breath weapon twice in the same turn unless you use Action Surge and take the Attack action again.
Gem (5) – Whilst the resistance will become more niche, the damage types available for your breath weapon are well-worth the trade-off, with standout choices being force and radiant. The ability to fly once a day is a welcome addition to any Fighter’s tool kit, allowing more maneuverability to ranged Fighters, and allowing melee Fighters to close on flying enemies effectively.
Dwarf (2) – The weapon and armor are redundant, and the movement penalty isn’t great, however, the Con bonus is useful and the poison resistance is a great defense. If you’ve chosen to build a Dexterity-based Fighter this is a good way to still make use of heavy armor.
Hill (2) – Extra hp is great for a tank, but the lack of a Str or Dex boost is felt.
Mountain (4) – Another redundant proficiency, but getting +2 to your Str and Con is a great head start on stat progression. This suits the Con using subclasses well as you can start with 17 in both Str and Con, then at 4th level bring both up to 18.
Duergar (5) – The sunlight sensitivity might be a problem depending on your table, but good stats, advantage against a couple of nasty effects, and racial access to Enlarge and Invisibility are fantastic. Style points go to Rune Knight Duergar who can make themselves gargantuan in Tier 4.
Mark of Warding (2) – Whilst Intelligence could be nice for a Psi Warrior or Eldritch Knight, the spells are very niche and you’d need to get proficiency in Thieves’ Tools somewhere else to make real use of Warder’s Intuition. This is mostly being carried by the core Dwarf race.
Elf (5) – Darkvision, a Dex bump, Fey Ancestry, and Trance make a solid package for any Dexterity-based Fighter, particularly an archer with the potential for Elven Accuracy.
High Elf (2) – Best for Eldritch Knights and Psi Warriors, the cantrip is best used for a utility spell which doesn’t require your Int.
Wood Elf (3) – 35ft movement speed and a Wis bump is nice; the hiding ability is going to be rarely used by you, however.
Drow (2) – If the spells really interest you then maybe, but there isn’t much here for the average Fighter.
Eladrin (4) – A bonus action teleport with a short rest recharge is a fantastic tool for this class, but I wouldn’t rely too much on the riders as they key off of Cha however.
Sea (3) – Good stats, but woefully niche abilities.
Shadar-kai (5) – Great stats, a good resistance, and a bonus action teleport that will also make you more durable? Excellent choice.
Mark of Shadow (3) – If you want to build a stealthy Fighter this is a great choice.
Pallid (3) – The stats are okay, Incisive Sense and Invisibility add some out of combat utility to the Fighter, keep in mind Sleep won’t age well.
Fairy (4) – A 30 ft fly speed is very nice; the stats are entirely customizable and there’s some useful casting available that will work with whatever mental stat you prefer. Be aware that you are a Fey if you play this race, which can make you vulnerable to some subclass’ turn abilities, and vulnerable to certain spells other PCs won’t be. This is only really viable if you want to play a Dex-based Fighter, as the flight restricts you from using medium or heavy armor.
Firbolg (3) – The stats are okay at best, but the collection of abilities you get really fleshes out a Fighter, with Hidden Step being a good way to get advantage on an attack or escape melee if you’re an archer.
Genasi (3) – +2 Con is good for a Fighter in general, and great for certain subclasses, but all the meat is in the subraces.
Air (3) – Good stats for a Dex Fighter and Levitate adds some out of combat utility and in combat mobility/debuffing. It’s okay, ideally, one more usable feature would have been nice.
Earth (3) – A pretty good pick for a Str Fighter, Pass without Trace is a great spell and not only helps the entire party, but would make up for the usually poor Stealth score of a Strength-based character.
Fire (2) – Darkvision and Fire Resistance are nice, but the casting won’t age well and Int isn’t generally useful.
Water (1) – Don’t jump off the deep end. Very niche abilities, best chosen for roleplay purposes or aquatic campaigns.
Giff (4) – Only really recommended for games with access to firearms, this race provides a minor damage bump for any Fighter, as well as a substantial boost to grappling builds. If you do have access to firearms, then Firearms Mastery is of some benefit, but a little redundant if you pick up Sharpshooter.
Gith (1) – +1 Int is a bad start for all except the Psi Warrior and Eldritch Knight, but most of the mechanics are in the subraces.
Githyanki (3) – For every Fighter, the psionic spell casting and Decadent Mastery represent a huge boost in out of combat utility, with Misty Step also adding valuable mobility in combat. If you want to play a Str-based Psi Warrior, this easily goes up to a 4 for the great stat matchup and abilities which are not just thematic, but synergistic.
Githzerai (1) – The stats are a very bad start for this class, and whilst Shield is nice, only having it once per long rest combined with the other features, doesn’t make this a compelling choice.
Gnome (1) – A rough start with the +2 Int, but a martial character is going to really feel the lower movement speed, and being small would make any heavy weapon have disadvantage. Gnome Cunning can really help out a martial with poor mental saves, but only applying to magic makes even this niche.
Forest (2) – Dex makes this more viable, but Minor Illusion and Speak with Small Beasts aren’t compelling at all in light of the main race features.
Rock (1) – +1 Con is nice, but this option still sinks like a stone.
Deep (2) – A bit more universally applicable than the Forest Gnome due to the Superior Darkvision without the Sunlight Sensitivity.
Mark of Scribing (1) – Sure, sure. If you want to start your adventuring career by retiring to the admin desk of the guild then, why not?
Goblin (5) – Excellent stats for a Dex build, Fury of the Small adds a nice short rest nova ability which fits well with your other tools and Nimble Escape gives a lot of mobility and versatility.
Goliath (5) – Great stats for an Str Fighter, a short rest defense which, when combined with Second Wind, makes you very hard to take down, a decent resistance, and some nice ribbons.
Hadozee (4) – A very low 4, the primary attraction here is the damage reduction, however, most Fighters won’t be using their concentration, and the formula for reduction isn’t very generous for preserving your hit points. The Glide ability can save you some fall damage and allow you to cover some distance on occasion, but overall this is a mixed bag that comes out just enough ahead for its rating. If you’re primarily interested in the damage reduction, then consider the MotM version of the Goliath, if available.
Half-Elf (4) – No matter the class, a half-elf will always be a pretty good fit with their floating stats. In this case, you can either use the +2 Cha for a face Fighter, or you can dump Cha and let the bump ensure you at least don’t have a negative. The skills are an excellent addition to a Fighter’s out of combat versatility and Fey Ancestry is a nice, if situational, defense.
Aquatic Descent (2) – A downgrade unless you’re playing a very water heavy campaign.
Drow Descent (4) – A side-grade compared to the standard half-elf, if the spellcasting interests you, go for it.
Moon/Sun Descent (3) – If you really want a utility cantrip or have a decent Int this is an okay choice.
Wood Descent (4) – The higher movement speed can be a boon to melee Fighters, helping ensure they can close distance at the start of combat and switch to the next target reliably.
Mark of Detection (1) – This is just a worse choice for a Fighter compared to the PHB half-elf in every way, at least the Aquatic version kept the same stats. If you can make the stats work there’s some out of combat utility to be had. Some.
Mark of the Storm (2) – A similar story to the Mark of Detection, but at least you get a damage resistance.
Half-Orc (5) – Good stats, better crits, and even better durability.
Mark of Finding (2) – Bad stats, but with the number of attacks you can make, Hunter’s Mark has some promise, and Hunter’s Intuition can be useful.
Halfling (5) – Excellent choice for Dex-based melee, and non-longbow using archers. You can roll a lot of d20s in a turn, especially when using Action Surge so insurance against 1s is very nice. The reduced speed is somewhat compensated by being able to move through the spaces of larger creatures and frightened is common enough from monsters for Brave to be a boon.
Lightfoot (2) – Face characters would benefit from the Charisma, though Naturally Stealthy is unlikely to be useful to you.
Stout (5) – Con is great for a martial and resistance against poison damage and the poisoned condition will certainly save you a lot of damage in some encounters.
Ghostwise (4) – Wis is a nice tertiary stat to have and telepathy is always cool.
Mark of Healing (4) – A good base if you want to make your Fighter a bit of a Healer or take care of your own healing a little more. Best for an Eldritch Knight.
Mark of Hospitality (2) – Entirely out of combat abilities and stat bump, this could still be of interest to you as a Fighter, as the core Halfling is so strong.
Harengon (5) – The stats you want, a scaling bonus to your initiative, an at-will bonus to a common save you’re not proficient in, and to top it all off, a bonus action to help your maneuverability or even allow you to skirmish! This is all carrot, no stick and you’d be hopping mad to think this wasn’t worth a look!
Hexblood (4) – You choose the stats and the out of combat abilities are supported by Hex once a day for tough fights. A solid, if creepy, choice for any Fighter.
Hobgoblin (2) – An alright choice for most, the Int sits best on Psi Warriors and Eldritch Knights. Martial Training is completely redundant but Saving Face can be nice, especially if you use Great Weapon Master or Sharpshooter.
Human (1) – If you rolled an array composed mostly of odd numbers, or have a really MAD character idea, then go for it. If neither of those applies you should probably choose a variant option if you’re able to.
Variant Human PHB (5) – Bump Str or Dex and Con and grab a skill you like and a feat to help you along. This option is popular, and sometimes essential, for bringing online a feat heavy build within a reasonable timeframe, or without sacrificing bumps to your attacking stat.
Mark of Finding (2) – The same as the half-orc version.
Mark of Handling (2) – Incredibly niche, a fun roleplay concept though.
Mark of Making (4) – The stats are just okay for most, but valuable for Psi Warriors and Eldritch Knights. The big thing here is being able to use Magic Weapon without concentration, this is a huge boon for early play and tables with DMs who don’t hand out many magic items.
Mark of Passage (5) – Amazing stats for a Dex build, higher movement speed and Misty Step, excellent option!
Mark of Sentinel (3) – Good potential for a tanking build, giving you a +2 Con and access to both Shield and a way to take a hit for the team.
Kalashtar (1) – No physical stats and only out of combat abilities besides an uncommon damage type. Telepathy is still neat if you want it, but there are better ways to get it.
Kenku (3) – Okay stats and a good boost to your skills, mostly a roleplaying choice.
Kobold (3) – There’s only one stat bump here, but Pack Tactics is a very powerful feature and you can potentially use Cower, Grovel, and Beg with Action Surge for everyone to have advantage. If direct sunlight
Leonin (5) – Good stats, higher movement speed, a skill, and a weapon they can’t take away from you. The real gem here is the Daunting Roar ability, with no risk of friendly fire and a DC-based on your Con, this is a great short rest debuff for any Fighter.
Lizardfolk (2) – You’ll have to invest in your attack stat more, but for Dex-based builds the Natural Armor calculation is equivalent to +1 studded leather armor and the out-of-combat abilities are very flavourful. The standout ability here, primarily for an Str Fighter, is Hungry Jaws because bonus action attacks are often sought after for martials. Whilst it’s only once per rest, getting temporary hit points from that attack is very nice icing on this amphibious cake.
Locathah (1) – Only if you’re constantly around water, in which case Leviathan Will is a great defensive feature.
Loxodon (2) – The Con is at least useful, the Natural Armor is bad, but Loxodon Serenity is a decent defense.
Minotaur (3) – Solid stats with some control in the form of Hammering Horns and a skill. Goring Rush likely won’t be used much, but it can minimize waste when you start combat too far away from the nearest monster.
Orc (3) – The stats are nice and Aggressive mitigates any distance issues you might face, but this race ideally needs at least one more usable feature. This is an okay choice, but the half-orc is better.
Owlin (3) – There’s a lot of good here, especially a way to fly on a Fighter, unfortunately, limiting you to only light armor makes this impractical for the majority of Fighters. If you were planning on a light armor build anyway then this is easily at least a 4 for you.
Plasmoid (4) – Besides the flexible stats and resistances, there are enough ribbon features here to warrant a low 4, however, there isn’t much here to enhance your Fighter unless you want to play a grappler build. This race is also held back by Amorphous being partially reliant on you leaving your armor and weapons behind, something everyone but the Eldritch Knight in the corner is concerned about.
Reborn (3) – The stats are good by default unless you pick poorly, and Deathless Nature is a good durability feature. You won’t go wrong with this, but nothing here really stands out for a Fighter.
Satyr (4) – Magic Resistance, a higher movement speed, and some ribbon abilities with a Dex bump for attacking with. If magical effects are very uncommon in your games this drops to a 3.
Beasthide Shifter (5) – If you’re looking for a very durable build this is a great option, giving you temp HP and an AC bump once per short rest whilst giving you the stats you need.
Longtooth Shifter (5) – A bonus action attack every round, one combat per short rest can add a substantial amount of damage to your Fighter.
Swiftstride Shifter (3) – The stats aren’t ideal, but some temp hp and an increased movement speed are useful, the reaction movement is great for archers who want to keep their distance.
Wildhunt Shifter (4) – Only +1 to Dex, however denying enemies close to you advantage against you is too great a defense to not rate well, especially when it’s coming with temp hp.
Simic Hybrid (3) – You can get stats you want with access to some very useful adaptations, particularly the Carapace option, solid choice.
Tabaxi (4) – Excellent mobility, good skills, and some nice extras. The only thing holding this back from being a 5 is the Cha bump and no direct offensive or defensive boost.
Thri-kreen (5) – A great unarmored AC calculation for Dex Fighters, the ability to give yourself advantage on Stealth checks at will, and the ribbons of not needing to sleep and telepathy nice bonuses. The star of this show is the Secondary Arms feature, allowing you to wield a shield along with a wide variety of other things. Getting the AC of a shield, with the damage of two-weapon fighting is the best of both worlds, or carry a hand crossbow for the times your rapier isn’t close enough to get the job done.
Tiefling (PHB aka Asmodeus) (2) – Bad stats but fire resistance and an upcast Hellish Rebuke is nice and Darkness has some potential.
Baalzebul (1) – Same as above, except the spells got worse, pulling the rating down with them.
Dispater (2) – Some out of combat utility which is nice to have, but importantly at least a +1 to a physical stat.
Fierna (1) – Just bad for a Fighter.
Glasya (2) – Much the same as Dispater, but with Invisibility.
Levistus (2) – Con isn’t as good as Str or Dex, but an upcast Armor of Agathys is really nice for a melee Fighter.
Mammon (1) – There are better ways to get Mage Hand.
Mephistopheles (1) – You’d have to use Charisma with Flame Blade, and it doesn’t even work with Extra Attack.
Zariel (3) – A Str bump and access to two smite spells per day is a great base for a Fighter.
Tortle (4) – You can have an AC of 19 from level 1, without getting disadvantage on Stealth checks, with a +2 Str and some ribbons, what’s not to love here? This is only not a 5 because the AC becomes less important as you level up, in Tier 1 and 2 this could be a 5.
Triton (3) – A good set of stats with an eclectic set of abilities, if you’re playing a game with water areas every now and then, or take the Blind Fighting style to take advantage of Fog Cloud, this can go up to a 4.
Vedalken (1) – This isn’t quite as bad as possible, as Vedalken Dispassion is a powerful feature, but the stats are too terrible
Warforged (5) – Great stats, an AC boost, a skill, and Constructed Resilience makes for a great package. They can take your armor off of your cold dead body.
Yuan-Ti Pureblood (2) – Awful stats and casting you likely won’t get much out of, but Magic Resistance and Poison Immunity are too powerful to not be at least a 2.
Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse
As mentioned previously any races that are republished without changes won’t be included in this section. In addition, following previously mentioned guidance, there won’t be any ratings lower than a 3 in this section due to all races being able to assign stats to taste.
Note: Spells will be rated more highly here than they may appear above because all spells given can be cast with any spell slots you may have. This is a significant boost for an Artificer, giving them access to spells they may not otherwise have and freeing up their number of prepared spells.
Note: The Fey Ancestry and Trance traits listed in these races differ significantly from the versions published in other books like the PHB.
Aarakocra (4) – This is still a great option for a Dex-based Fighter, especially now that the walking speed has increased to 30 ft. However, the lower flight speed in exchange for Gust of Wind and more flexible stats does knock this down from a 5 to a 4. The stats don’t really matter much, as you will be a Dex-based character to use the flight, and you’re unlikely to have a great DC for the spell, which you’re not likely to give up an Attack action to cast to begin with.
Aasimar (5) – Two resistances, darkvision, a small healing ability, and a bonus action transformation for more damage and an additional effect? With pick your own stats this is easily a 5, though it is worth noting here that the change to Healing Hands makes it worse on average and less reliable, whilst the damage you gain from the transformation has dropped from your level to your proficiency bonus, so if those things bother you then you may want to consider the original. Each transformation will be reviewed below as if it was a subrace:
Necrotic Shroud (2) – Unfortunately this still relies on your Charisma modifier for the DC for reasons unknown, which reduces the score to a 2. If this does interest you, then at least take solace in the fact that this can no longer affect your allies accidentally, so there’s that.
Radiant Consumption (5) – Damaging yourself isn’t great, but with a d10 Hit Die and Second Wind to compensate, it’s well worth it to gain an auto-hitting AOE to ratchet your damage up even further. This is particularly great for forcing concentration saves from enemy casters, just be wary of friendly fire forcing the same from your party.
Radiant Soul (5) – Gaining a fly speed as a bonus action, that can be increased through bumps to your walk speed, is a huge boon for a Fighter that may normally struggle to take to the air otherwise.
Bugbear (5) – Adding 5ft reach to any melee attack you use on your turn is a fantastic boon to a melee Fighter, allowing you to skirmish, threaten a wider area if you’re a tank, and just reducing the chance of you not being able to reach your next target because they’re too far away. Combine this with Fey Ancestry, Stealth proficiency, and the ribbon of Powerful Build and you have a strong race. What tips this firmly into 5 territory is the greatly improved Surprise Attack that now only requires you to attack a creature that hasn’t taken a turn in the combat yet. This means that winning initiative gives you an additional 2d6 damage per attack, a crazy damage boost that you can leverage superbly between your various Extra Attack enhancements and Action Surge. Using Action Surge at 5th level against a creature that hasn’t acted yet would net you an impressive 8d6 additional damage, that’s the same as a casting of Fireball! Note: The Ambush maneuver particularly benefits this race, as does the Alert feat.
Centaur (3) – If you’re after a higher movement speed then this could be a decent choice for you, with the highest base speed of any race. However, the Charge ability’s required distance is too high to be used reliably and your only payoff is a bonus action hooves attack. There’s nothing compelling here besides the movement speed.
Changeling (3) – A fun choice that gives you a lot of social utility, but there’s nothing here that makes you a better Fighter.
Deep Gnome (4) – With 120ft of darkvision, and Gnomish Magic Resistance helping your mental defenses against spells, there is enough here to warrant a 4, especially with Disguise Self providing some utility. Nondetection is such a niche spell that it isn’t worth mentioning as a bonus. The improved Snirfneblin Camouflage is also a great ability.
Duergar (5) – This race has excellent defenses between Dwarven Resilience and Psionic Fortitude, with Enlarge/Reduce providing not only a damage boost to melee Fighters but also allows grappling of larger monsters. Invisibility adds a nice bit of utility and can make Dex-based Fighters very stealthy.
Eladrin (5) – A handful of bonus action teleports with rider effects, Fey Ancestry, the new Trance, and Perception proficiency is a great package of abilities. The only downside here is that the DC for some of the Fey Step riders will rely on a mental stat. For some subclasses, this won’t be a problem, but for others, it will either be lackluster or require active investment in a stat you wouldn’t otherwise invest in.
Firbolg (4) – There’s enough here to warrant a 4, with Detect Magic and Disguise Self adding some utility and Hidden Step adding some short-duration invisibility. What holds this back from a 5 is that you become visible again when you attack, this isn’t a problem for a Rogue that makes a single big attack. Fighters, on the other hand, make lots of medium attacks decreasing the offensive value of the ability.
Genasi, Air (3) – The spells offered by Mingle with the Wind are overall rather niche and rely on a mental stat that a lot of Fighters have no reason to invest much in. Otherwise, the other abilities are too niche to warrant bumping this up to a 4.
Genasi, Earth (5) – Being able to case Blade Ward as a bonus action is a significant boost to your defenses against the most common damage types, giving you Barbarian-esque levels of durability, one round at a time. Combine that with the excellent Pass without Trace, darkvision, and a situational ribbon and this easily cruises into a 5.
Genasi, Fire (4) – Fire is common enough of a damage type that this limps into a 4, but barely. The spells given by Reach to the Blaze are pretty bad in general, made worse by your likely middling-to-poor spellcasting modifier. Produce Flame does provide some degree of utility and darkvision is always helpful, but the spells are just disappointing.
Genasi, Water (3) – Holy niche Aquaman! There is a lot here, it’s just all so niche that unless you’re playing an aquatic game, or at least one you’re near some water frequently, it just isn’t worth it.
Githyanki (5) – A great option to build upon what most Fighters lack, this race not only offers Misty Step and Mage Hand, but offers them without any components, and the latter is even invisible! Astral Knowledge helps patch your otherwise mediocre skill set, whilst psychic resistance won’t be the most commonly used feature but will be nice in some nastier fights.
Githzerai (5) – Shield is a great spell to have access to, with Detect Thoughts being far more useful without components. What carries this to a 5 is Mental Discipline, with charmed and frightened being very common monster-imposed conditions.
Goblin (5) – Fury of the Small was nerfed in terms of damage, now equaling your proficiency bonus, but also increasing in how often and how flexibly you can use it. This combined with Fey Ancestry is a wash at worst compared to the original, and maybe even a small improvement, definitely a 5.
Goliath (5) – Stone’s Endurance can now be used turn-after-turn, allowing you to tank massive amounts of damage in a single combat, whilst the stats become flexible meaning the Goliath is now a good durable choice for Str-based or Dex-based Fighters.
Hobgoblin (5) – Fey Gift provides not only a good support ability for your Fighter but also provides a self-buff or enemy debuff. The temporary hit points are the most generally useful option to choose, but Spite can be compelling especially if the affected ally has other accuracy boosting abilities. Fortune from Many relies on having allies within 30 feet of you, but being able to potentially make an important save or attack is too valuable to discount entirely.
Kenku (4) – This is a fantastic option if you want to make a skill monkey out of your Fighter.
Kobold (5) – Draconic Cry is like the Samurai’s Fighting Spirit as long as the enemy is within 10 feet of you, trading the temp hp for giving your allies advantage too. With how many attacks you can potentially make as a Fighter, and the value you can get out of Sharpshooter or Great Weapon Master, this is a great ability. Kobold Legacy provides a good way to customize your Fighter, with Defiance and Draconic Sorcery, to pick up a utility cantrip, being the best options.
Lizardfolk (4) – Hungry Jaws has been upgraded to a number of times per long rest equal to your proficiency bonus, making it far more flexible. Being able to use it multiple times in a combat can significantly increase your durability and damage if you lack a bonus action attack normally. Whilst the Natural Armor is good for Dex-based Fighters, they won’t be able to effectively use Hungry Jaws, which is the main draw here.
Minotaur (3) – This isn’t really a good option in general, with Goring Rush being just bad altogether, but Hammering Horns at least provides an interesting control option for Str Fighters.
Orc (5) – A bonus action Dash that gives you temp hp, combined with Relentless Endurance adds up to a huge amount of durability, if you’re looking to take some hits as a melee Fighter this is a fine choice.
Satyr (4) – This just about scrapes a 4 thanks to the 35ft movement speed, the nerfed version of Magic Resistance can still prove valuable, but there are a wide variety of monster abilities that are magic, but not spells.
Sea-Elf (3) – Child of the Sea and Friend of the Sea are both still very niche, while the new and improved Trance combined with darkvision, Fey Ancestry, and Perception proficiency are just not enough to move this up to a 4. Warning: outside of an aquatic campaign this is not recommended and you may find it a bit boring.
Shadar-Kai (5) – Bonus action teleports that make you resistant to all damage for a turn? This was great on the original, but being able to do it a number of times per day equal to your proficiency bonus is absolutely fantastic. Throw in Necrotic resistance, Perception, Fey Ancestry, and the improved Trance and you have an easy 5.
Shifter (3) – The number of times you can shift has now been changed to equal your proficiency bonus, however, the number of temporary hit points you gain has been significantly nerfed from level+Con to just twice your proficiency modifier. This is is better at 1st level, and then never catches back up to the original formula. However, bonus action temporary hit points can be a huge boost to your Fighter, as long as you haven’t built around a regular bonus action attack like Polearm Master. The individual shifting features will be reviewed below:
Beasthide (4) – +1 AC is always nice and adding 1d6 to your temp hp makes them more worthwhile, but still fairly low.
Longtooth (3) – For Str-based Fighters, this is actually better than the bonus action attack provided by Polearm Master, it only warrants a 3, however, as it has no way of dealing with resistance or immunity to nonmagical damage.
Swiftstride (3) – A good option for skirmishing or ranged Fighters, but not particularly compelling.
Wildhunt (5) – Denying advantage against you is a fantastic boost to your defenses, this notably improves anything that would give the enemy disadvantage on attacking you, as it can no longer be balanced out to a straight roll.
Tabaxi (5) – There’s enough improvement here, between the flexible stats, increased climb speed, and improved claw damage to nudge this feline to a 5.
Tortle (4) – The flexible stats make this more build friendly than its original version, making it a good option for stealth orientated Fighters, but there just isn’t enough here for a 5.
Triton (4) – There are enough features here to push the Triton to a 4, but keep in mind that they’re largely either situational or will require a mental stat.
Yuan-ti (4) – Magic Resilience and Poison Resilience are what carry this option to a 4, with the spells on offer not being particularly attractive to you as a Fighter.
With more ASIs than any other class and a low dependency overall on secondary stats, the Fighter is the ideal class to make use of feats. This can be either to increase your damage potential, reinforce your role in the party, or just pick up fun new things which you couldn’t do normally. Anything that requires spell casting as a prerequisite or involves a stat the Fighter has no reason to have particularly high, like Int on most Fighters, will be rated lower with this in mind.
The following list of feats is arranged alphabetically but divided by the books they are found in, to make it easy to see what you can choose from if certain sources are not allowed at your table. If a feat has a race prerequisite it is denoted in [brackets]. Other prerequisites may apply, such as minimum stats, or the ability to cast a spell so be sure to check the book text when choosing feats.
Alert (4) – This is a great feat for both Str and Dex Fighters alike, making up for the low initiative score of the former and increasing the already respectable score of the latter. By reliably starting higher in initiative it gives the Fighter more control over their positioning, closing into melee to engage the enemy, putting themselves in a position to protect their allies, or even getting further away if they’re playing ranged characters. The immunity to surprise helps reinforce this and denying advantage to those you can’t see is a good defense, especially to any Fighters without darkvision.
Athlete (3) – A decent mobility feat if you have an odd primary stat you need to round out, better for melee Fighters to ensure they can get where they need to go. Not the best half feat for rounding Str or Dex, but can be useful.
Actor (1) – No subclass relies on Charisma, purely for roleplay purposes best taken by face Fighters after boosting their attack stat.
Charger (2) – This is very niche, but reducing the opportunity cost of Dashing into position is a nice perk for a melee build, and Action Surge could make this a reliable tactic.
Crossbow Expert (5) – Essential if you want to use a crossbow as your primary weapon after level 4, the additional attack and removing disadvantage within five feet raise your damage and keep it high. This is often used in combination with Sharpshooter.
Defensive Duelist (4) – An excellent defensive option for a Dex-based Fighter, especially one who fights with a shield, the at-will nature fits very well in the overall class design. This is only not a 5 because it not only has multiple requirements but only protects you against a single melee attack.
Dual Wielder (3) – If you like to use the two-weapon fighting rules this feat provides a nice incremental boost in damage by allowing you to use d8 weapons, a nice AC boost, and smoothes the drawing process. If you normally dual wield and your DM keep careful track of object interactions or doesn’t agree with you always having at least one weapon in hand, this is at least a 4.
Dungeon Delver (2) – Very niche, but invaluable in a dungeoneering environment, the game isn’t Dining Rooms and Dragons after all.
Durable (1) – Only if you’re in a difficult game with high amounts of attrition or variant rules like Gritty Realism.
Elemental Adept (1) – Whilst a surprising amount of Fighters could take this spell, it isn’t worth it to any of them.
Grappler (1) – This feat doesn’t actually make you better at grappling, unlike other feats, and the restrained benefit is not worth restraining yourself. The advantage is nice but can be gotten by spending an additional action to shove your target prone. I’d only consider this on a grapple build once you’ve got everything else you want.
Great Weapon Master (5) – Opportunities to get bonus action attacks with a large die weapon is nice, the +10 damage is often relied upon by a lot of Str builds to pump their damage through the roof. If you choose this feat you should only do so once your Str is at minimum +4, unless you take it as a Variant Human, and you should seek ways to boost your chances of hitting. Avoid using the additional damage against higher AC targets, you’ll often be better off not taking the -5 penalty and just hitting more often.
Healer (4) – This feat is a lot of healing and with the extra ASIs the Fighter is the perfect candidate to pick it up if you so choose. In a party that lacks any dedicated healers, or has high attrition, this can be a 5.
Heavily Armored (1) – You are already proficient in all armors.
Heavy Armor Master (4) – A great half feat for Str-based tanks, most monsters that have melee attacks do non-magical damage so this saves you from taking a large amount of damage over the day. This is best in encounters with a lot of attacks, like goblins, rather than encounters with a small number of heavier hits, like an Ettin.
Inspiring Leader (2) – This is a really good feat, but there are better characters to be taking it. If you are already intending to play a face Fighter, this becomes a 4.
Keen Mind (2) – Neat ribbon abilities, only recommended for Psi Warriors and Eldritch Knights looking for flavor.
Lightly Armored (1) – You still have proficiency in all armors already.
Linguist (2) – Similar to Keen Mind, but more niche in its everyday usefulness.
Lucky (4) – A good feat for everyone, but a bit bland. I’d recommend picking this up in later levels once you’ve got the stats and playstyle-related feats you want.
Mage Slayer (2) – Only recommendable for melee Fighters in games where enemy spellcasters are very common.
Magic Initiate (3) – A decent way of adding some magic onto the Fighter, I would recommend choosing utility cantrips unless you have a +2 or +3 in the casting stat of the class you choose. Recommended spells include Mage Hand, Light, Guidance, Shield, Find Familiar and if you want a little healing, either Cure Wounds or Healing Word.
Martial Adept (3) – With the extra ASIs this is more tempting for a Fighter, especially a Battle Master looking for more dice, or another subclass who took Superior Technique as a Fighting Style aiming to be a Battle Master-lite.
Medium Armor Master (4) – An AC upgrade for Dex-based builds which doesn’t sacrifice stealth, a good option.
Mobile (4) – Good for all melee Fighters and facilitates a skirmishing style of play which would be harder, or more unreliable, for a Fighter otherwise.
Moderately Armored (1) – Did you fall asleep at the fighting academy? You already have proficiency in medium armor and shields.
Mounted Combatant (1) – If you have a mount you’re fond of then this is for you and most thematically appropriate for a Cavalier, but not useful generally.
Observant (2) – A nice out-of-combat boost, but no Fighters have a particular need for a higher Wisdom, except perhaps the Samurai.
Polearm Master (5) – A slightly lower damage bonus action attack, and the extra opportunity for, well opportunity attacks is great. This can be used with a shield if you wield a quarterstaff, spear, or trident as your weapon.
Resilient (3) – A good way to round out an odd stat and sure up your saves, taking Wisdom for this is generally recommended unless you’re a Samurai.
Ritual Caster (2) – Ritual magic can be a great boon, but a lot of Fighters may not qualify. A nice addition to an Eldritch Knight and Psi Warriors would also be eligible.
Savage Attacker (1) – Whilst this feat can yield a damage increase, it’s only applicable on a single attack per turn. If this was a half feat it would be more compelling but as written it just isn’t worth it.
Sentinel (4) – An excellent feat for any tank, being able to punish a monster for not attacking you and locking down anyone trying to rush past you is an excellent set of abilities.
Sharpshooter (5) – Whilst the +10 damage is what most people think of with this feat, and it is very nice, the ability to ignore most cover and fire at long range without disadvantage are the unsung heroes of this feat. It means a ranged Fighter will be consistent in their ability to hit enemies, even in a cover-strewn battlefield, and the Archery style makes getting the +10 damage more reliable than its great weapon cousin.
Shield Master (4) – This is best for Strength-based Fighters, they need the boost to Dex saves the most and will have the Athletics modifier to make reliable use of the Shove part of this feat. This can save a Fighter from a significant amount of damage and also increase their ability to control the battlefield without sacrificing their attacks.
Skilled (2) – This is a bit niche for a Fighter, but if you want to spend an additional ASI on rounding out your skills then sure, you’ve got enough ASIs after all.
Skulker (2) – Incredibly niche, best suited for ranged Fighters going for a sniper aesthetic or who find themselves in frequent dungeon delves.
Spell Sniper (1) – Most Fighters don’t cast spells, and if they did they still wouldn’t want this.
Tavern Brawler (3) – The release of the Unarmed Fighting Style both decreased and increased the value of this feat at the same time. Whilst you wouldn’t care about the 1d4 damage for your unarmed strikes, you would be able to make greater use of the bonus action grapple with the free grapple damage the feat provides. This being an Str half feat makes this a great choice for those looking to make unarmed grapple builds.
Tough (4) – This is worth more hit points than just increasing your Con with the same ASI, the only drawback here is that you’re getting more HP, but you’ll still be getting the same amount back from short rests.
War Caster (2) – A good choice for an Eldritch Knight, but no one else.
Weapon Master (1) – You already know how to use all of the weapons.
Bountiful Luck [Halfling] (1) – Good for everyone else, bad for you.
Dragon Fear [Dragonborn] (2) – If you’re an Str-based Dragonborn this can add some variety to your toolkit, but the Charisma-based DC is a letdown.
Dragon Hide [Dragonborn] (2) – Very niche, but built into a half feat so the cost is extremely little if you’re rounding out an odd Str or Con. You can think of this as ensuring that you’re never unarmed or unarmored, which is a cool theme for many characters.
Drow High Magic [Drow] (2) – This would make even non-Eldritch Knights into decent mages, niche but worth an extra ASI if getting access to (more) spellcasting interests you.
Dwarven Fortitude [Dwarf] (1) – Without a way to bonus action dodge, this is too niche to really be worthwhile.
Elven Accuracy [Elf or Half-Elf] (5) – An excellent feat for ranged Fighters and melee crit fishing builds.
Fade Away [Gnome] (3) – Unfortunately this won’t protect you in the first place but can help you avoid subsequent hits and even sets you up for a single attack at advantage on your next turn. A good half feat for Dex-based gnomish Fighters.
Fey Teleportation [High Elf] (2) – Misty Step is a great spell, and this is a respectable choice for a Face Fighter, Psi Warrior, or Eldritch Knight, but it’s overall an inferior option compared to Fey Touched.
Flames of Phlegethos [Tiefling] (1) – Maybe for an Eldritch Knight using Green Flame Blade, but that’s incredibly niche.
Infernal Constitution [Tiefling] (4) – An excellent feat for those looking to be more durable, a standout option for bumping an odd Con for a subclass that uses it as a secondary stat.
Orcish Fury [Half-Orc] (5) – Enhancing the already great Relentless Endurance, a small smite-like ability once per rest for nova potential or crit fishing, and you get to bump Str or Con! A must-have for any Str-based half-orc Fighter, and exceedingly tempting for a Dex-based one too.
Prodigy [Half-Orc, Half-Elf, Human] (3) – This can add a lot of utility to a Fighter, or enhance the reliability of a grappling build by gaining Expertise in Athletics.
Second Chance [Halfling] (4) – A good defensive option for Dex builds or Str builds with an odd Con, especially if you’re playing a Fighter who doesn’t have a regular use of their reaction.
Squat Nimbleness [Dwarf] (3) – If you qualify for this feat this is a nice boost you can pick up whilst advancing your main stat, but it isn’t particularly flashy or needed.
Wood Elf Magic [Wood Elf] (4) – A great feat for wood elf Fighters, Longstrider is a nice mobility bump, and Pass without Trace is a fantastic spell for the whole party, especially Fighters with poor Stealth scores.
Eberron: RftLW Feats
Aberrant Dragonmark [non-dragonmarked race] (4) – A good option for rounding an odd Con, this would allow you to pick up Shield once per short or long rest as a defensive option as well as a cantrip of your choice.
Revenant Blade [Elf] (3) – This allows you to progress your main stat with a modest AC bump, however, this does allow you to make use of Defensive Duelist and opens up the possibility of a Rogue dip if a double-bladed scimitar is your main weapon.
Artificer Initiate (1) – An okay choice for a Fighter with a decent Int modifier, but there’s better ways to get the same magic.
Chef (2) – The benefits are okay, this is more a fun way of boosting your Con than anything else. The extra healing on a short rest can be useful for high attrition or Gritty Realism games
Crusher (5) – If your weapon of choice does bludgeoning damage, this is a great way to add control and debuff to your build for very little opportunity cost.
Eldritch Adept (1) – Only applicable to Eldritch Knights, of the available invocations Devil’s Sight is a strong choice. Too niche to warrant a higher score.
Fey Touched (3) – The best way to grab Misty Step as a feat, giving you more versatility in what mental stat you can boost and what race you can be, with an added spell on top.
Fighting Initiate (5) – Double dipping Fighting Styles can be very appealing, allowing you to grab a maneuver, some extra damage, blindsight, or perhaps just a little AC boost. Especially useful for optimising throwing builds.
Gunner (3) – If you’re a ranged Fighter with no interest in crossbows, or you just want access to those kinda-safe firearms your DM just introduced, this is a solid choice.
Metamagic Adept (1) – Much the same as Eldritch Adept, Quickened or Twinned Spell are appealing if you’re playing an Eldritch Knight who does want this.
Piercer (5) – Not quite as flashy as the other weapon feats, but you get to raise your average damage and crit a bit harder, whilst raising your main stat. If you’re going to be using a piercing weapon anyway, why not be better with it?
Poisoner (3) – If you want to use poison as part of your character concept, then this is a must. The poison it allows you to create can add a significant amount of damage over the course of the many attacks you can potentially make.
Shadow Touched (3) – If you have a decent Stealth modifier this is a nice way to grab Invisibility to make the most of it, best taken on a Fighter with a reason to increase a mental stat. Stand out options for the 1st level spell include Disguise Self, False Life, and Silent Image.
Skill Expert (4) – An excellent way to add more versatility to your Fighter or grab double proficiency in Athletics for grapple builds.
Slasher (5) – Like to use longswords, scimitars, glaives, or maybe great axes? This adds a great mobility debuff to the Fighter, with an even better debuff on a crit, whilst fitting into your normal main stat progression! Excellent choice for Cavaliers using Glaives for the reach.
Telekinetic (2) – A nice addition to a Psi Warrior, and an easy way to pick up some utility or control on any Fighter with a decent mental score to their name.
Telepathic (1) – More niche in its usefulness compared to Telekinetic, if you want to play a telepathic character but didn’t pick a race that gave you telepathy this is an okay choice.
Gift of the Chromatic Dragon (4) – An excellent defensive ability against elemental damage and a damage bonus for one encounter per day. This would be worthy of a 5 if the damage ability could be used more often, or maybe if the damage die was larger.
Gift of the Metallic Dragon (4) – The reaction bonus to your AC is the gravy here, it will scale with you in both uses, and the bonus granted. The free casting of Cure Wounds is a nice way to top your hit points up between combats or to provide emergency healing to your party. This is held back by the tying to your proficiency bonus; whilst this means the feat will scale with you, it also means the bonus to your AC will be only +2 in tier 1, and only +3 in tier 2. This feat will be more valuable to an Eldritch Knight, who can cast an Int-based Cure Wounds with their spell slots.
Gift of the Gem Dragon (4) – A fantastic retributive reaction, but the mental stat bump and corresponding DC used for the ability hold this back from being a 5 for Fighters in general. Best for Fighters making use of their mental scores, like the Psi Warrior, Eldritch Knight, and possibly the Samurai. This feat is particularly thematic for a Psi Warrior, as both use psionics.
Note: More so than the Eberron feats, the following feats are designed explicitly for the high magic Strixhaven setting and this is reflected in the balance of the feats.
Strixhaven Initiate (4) – A great way to pick up some utility and support magic from multiple spell lists, this feat is best for Eldritch Knights that will have spell slots to use the 1st level spell more than once per day, but useful for all Fighters. Quandrix is a stand-out choice for Mage Hand, Guidance, Shield, or Cure Wounds.
Strixhaven Mascot (2) – With the most ASIs, attacks, and very limited native access to Find Familiar and teleportation FIghter is in a lot of ways the strongest candidate for this feat. That said, the need to have Strixhaven Initiate first makes this a good choice for those looking to build around a powerful familiar, but a hard sell for anyone else.
Multiclassing Your Fighter
In this section, we’ll review each class in terms of how good of a multiclass option they are for a Fighter, mentioning how many levels and what subclass (if any) would work best. The ratings take multiclassing prerequisites into consideration; if a multiclass will require you to have a 13 in a stat other than Str or Dex, it will likely receive a lower score unless the stat is one you would already have at 13 or higher, for example Intelligence for an Eldritch Knight or Psi Warrior, or Wisdom for anyone wanting good Perception.
General multiclass tips for the Fighter:
As an Extra Attack class, you ideally should wait until you have your 5th level in Fighter before multiclassing out, to ensure your general damage will be on par with other martials, and that your Second Wind has a decent flat bonus to it. If you are aiming for a feat or stat heavy build, you may want to hit the additional ASI at 6th level first, this will greatly offset the slower ASI progression most multiclasses suffer from.
As a rule of thumb, you should look for things which apply to each hit, rather than just once per turn. This is because you have the potential to make 3 or 4 attacks regularly as a multiclassed Fighter, and up to 6 or 7 when using Action Surge.
If you are using a class with a smaller Hit Die, and will be taking a significant amount of levels in that class, you should be aware your general durability is going to be lower as a result unless you have specifically corrected for this.
Try to avoid abilities which rely heavily on a secondary stat you are not already well invested in.
Classes which offer short rest recharge abilities will be more intuitive to use with some of your other Fighter abilities and allow you to nova more often. Long rest abilities will need to be rationed more carefully, but may provide more power when used.
If magical weapons are not common at your table, then you should seek one of the many ways to give yourself one.
Artificer (3) – Access to spellcasting is nice, but the real goal here is to get access to your own magic items, stand out choices for infusions are: Returning Weapon for adding range to shield builds, Repeating Weapon for using a hand crossbow with a shield, and Repulsion Shield for using with those other things! For subclass it depends on your primary stat and how high your Int is, Alchemist gives you a random buff for any build, Armorer lets you ignore the Str requirement and Stealth penalty of heavy armor, whilst having a decent damage laser in your chest. One of those options does sound cooler than the other, admittedly.
Barbarian (5) – More HP, more damage, and resistance to the most common forms of damage you’ll come across, what’s Barbarian for oh yeah? OH YEAH! Rage should be conserved for tougher fights, as you likely won’t have enough to use it every combat. Reckless Attack should primarily be used to counter disadvantage, and preferably only whilst raging or you have access to defenses to mitigate the attacks. I would not advise going further than 4th level of Barbarian, unless the higher movement speed strongly appeals to you. The only subclass to really avoid is the Berserker because of the exhaustion penalty, otherwise you should pick based on what you want to enhance: Those looking for damage should look at the Zealot, for durability the Path of the Totem (Bear), for tanking the Ancestral Guardian and for versatility the Path of the Beast.
Bard (2) – To get the most out of this class you really need a higher Charisma score, especially as Font of Inspiration doesn’t come online until the 5th level of Bard, meaning you could be stuck with only one or two Bardic Inspiration Dice for the entire adventuring day. This class is best used as a skills and initiative boost with a two or three level dip.If going for three levels College of Lore gives you a huge skill boost and a decent defensive option, whilst College of Swords gives you another Fighting Style, a maneuver-like ability, and a 10 feet speed boost every time you take the Attack action. Bard spells which would be of use to you include Mage Hand, Healing Word, Unseen Servant, Heat Metal, and Invisibility.
Cleric (4) – The high rating for the Cleric comes from a combination of Wisdom being a desirable tertiary stat in general, and the Cleric gaining its subclasses at first level. This is best used as a one level dip unless there’s a Channel Divinity option that particularly interests you, like the War Domain’s Guided Strike if you use Great Weapon Master or Sharpshooter. The spells vary based on why you’re taking this dip, but Healing Word is a good in combat option, whilst Cure Wounds is better for out of combat recovery, and Bless being a good support option. Guidance is heavily recommended for the cantrip, as it’s stat agnostic and can help patch some of your skill weaknesses. Domains that stand out include Forge to make your own +1 weapon, the War Domain to get bonus action attacks, and the Twilight Domain to get an initiative oost.
Druid (2) – Whilst the prerequisite may be the same as the Cleric, you really need at least two levels in Druid to get something you wouldn’t be better off getting from the Cleric, unless you really like Goodberry. Wild Shape is a great scouting feature, though you’ll only have access to land based forms it should still come in handy. The two level investment makes this harder to recommend, especially as a lot of the Druid Circle abilities are heavily tied to total Druid level for scaling. If you do take two levels in this class Circle of the Land is the best option to get the most spellcasting, Circle of Spores can give a bit of added durability and damage (though you would really have to set up Symbiotic Entity before combat), and Circle of Stars can allow you to get the most out of any healing spell you pick up.
Monk (2) – Very niche for a dip, as this would shut down your ability to wear armor and lock out a lot of weapon choices for you, whilst a lot of the benefits of Monk are tied very heavily to staying Monk. This would be best on a Fighter who uses the Unarmed Fighting Style, preferably one which uses a racial source of AC, so that you can take advantage of the bonus action unarmed strike. If you are dipping Monk, two levels would be worth it for having the options of Flurry of Blows, Patient Defense, and Step of the Wind. It’s not really advised to go further than two levels, but if you do get a subclass, Open Hand would be a good option for the improved Flurry, or if you’re a weapon user the at-will abilities and looser weapon restrictions of the Kensei would be best.
Paladin (4) – This is a minimum of a two level dip, and the first level will be rough, and needing at least a 13 Cha also isn’t great, but for Str Fighters this can be a great dip to take. You’re not losing any HP, and you gain access to another Fighting Style, some prepared spell type spellcasting, Lay on Hands and what most people want here, Divine Smite. This can add a decent amount of nova damage and the ability to top off your own HP or pick up someone else. What holds this back from being a 5 is the pretty dead first level, and the heavy dependence on Paladin levels to scale Lay on Hands and spell slots. An Eldritch Knight will be able to get more out of this multiclass than other Fighters, but you should really multiclass out of Fighter at a level which is a multiple of 3 in that case, because of how spellcasting can round down. If you take 3 levels, the Oath of Vengeance is an exceptional choice for giving you advantage on all attacks against a single enemy once per short rest. Taking the 3rd level is more appealing if you can use the Tasha’s optional rule Harness Divine Power to regain a spell slot back from an unused Channel Divinity.
Ranger (4) – This is similar to Paladin in that you really need at least two levels to get any real benefit from it, however Wisdom is generally a better tertiary stat to have and it’s much more tempting to take a 3rd level for a subclass. For spells you should pick up Cure Wounds, Longstrider, Darkvision if you lack it, and Hunter’s Mark, which can give you a significant damage boost. If you go three levels deep into Ranger there’s a stand out choice in the Gloomstalker, giving you an initiative bonus, darkvision if you don’t have it, further darkvision if you do, situational invisibility, and most importantly for you as a Fighter, an extra 10ft of movement and additional attack on the first round of every combat. The additional attack gets doubled by Action Surge and even comes with an extra 1d8 damage if it hits. Other good choices are the Hunter for damage and Swarmkeeper for versatility.
Rogue (5) – Additional damage if you’re any kind of Dex build in the form of Sneak Attack, an additional skill, Expertise, and Thieves’ Tools is a fantastic first level dip. Taking a second level for Cunning Action can be a great at-will boon to your character, particularly if you play a melee Fighter. You ideally map out how many levels of Rogue you would like to take, as it can be a slippery slope especially, as unlike other martials, there’s no Extra Attack redundancy. 5th level Rogue can be appealing for Uncanny Dodge and, depending on your build, maybe even recommended. Subclasses of note for a Fighter include Swashbuckler for the initiative boost and more reliable Sneak Attack, and Arcane trickster for the spellcasting.
Sorcerer (4) – Whilst the downgrade to a d6 Hit Die is more significant, the ability to access great defensive options like Shield and Absorb Elements, as well as gaining subclass features at first level makes this a very appealing one level dip. Unless you’re an Eldritch Knight looking for Metamagic and more slots, I wouldn’t recommend more than one level. Subclasses you should look at first are the Divine Soul for the excellent Favored by the Gods and access to the Cleric spell list, which means you can grab Guidance as a cantrip. Clockwork Soul is also an interesting choice, Restore Balance can be a very useful ability and scales entirely with your proficiency bonus.
Warlock (4) – Well, this is more like a 4.5 as the Warlock is a better multiclass in most ways than the Sorcerer, but needing Charisma and primarily offering casting does hold it back from being a 5. The Warlock is great because you can grab your patron and a short rest recharging spell slot in a single level dip, but invocations and pact options give you compelling options for various builds if you want to go deeper. For patrons The Fiend should be avoided unless you have at least a +3 or higher Charisma modifier, Dark One’s Blessing isn’t very compelling on a dip without a good Cha mod. Hexblade can give you access to Shield and a damage bump in Hexblade’s Curse, whilst The Celestial can make you a decent emergency medic with excellent scaling on additional Warlock levels. The best option for most Fighters may be The Genie however, as you can deal additional damage which scales off of your proficiency bonus once per turn, as well as getting the positively nifty Bottle Respite. Invocations of interest include Devil’s Sight, Fiendish Vigor, and if you take Pact of the Blade, Improved Pact Weapon to give yourself a +1 weapon.
Wizard (4) – As the Fighter has two different subclasses which can benefit from Intelligence this is a good dip to pick up some utility and defensive options. You should primarily choose ritual spells that interest you, along with Shield, Absorb Elements and maybe Magic Missile for your spells. Going two levels in is recommended if you can afford to, as this gives you Arcane Recovery and your Wizard subclass. Subclasses that stand out for a Fighter are Divination for Portent, Chronurgist for the initiative boost and rerolls, but the best options for combat are the Baldesinger’s suite of buffs and the War Wizard’s excellent Arcane Deflection and initiative boost. The number of uses of Bladesong now scale based on your proficiency bonus, whilst the no levelled spell restriction of Arcane Deflection doesn’t really impact most Fighters, whilst giving you a very powerful defensive buff. It’s not recommended to go further than second level, unless you really want Misty Step and Shadow Blade.
What say you? Are you up in arms about his guide, or ready to take up arms because of it? Should you choose the path of the Fighter may your blades be sharp and your build choices true. If you enjoyed this guide then check out our other class guides, until next time, good luck out there soldier.