Faerun Foreign Legion – D&D 5E Fighter Optimisation Guide


This 5E Fighter guide covers the latest fighting styles and subclasses from the Players Handbook to Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.

Grab a weapon and and choose your style because we’ll be covering everything you need to know to make the best fighter in 5e Dungeons & Dragons.

We also have guides to the other classes (from us and externally) find the other great character optimisation guides for D&D here.


A Weapon for Every Occasion: The Core of the Fighter in 5th Edition

“If fighting is sure to result in victory, then you must fight! Sun Tzu said that… and I’d say he knows a little more about fighting than you do pal, because he invented it. And then he perfected it so that no living man could best him in the ring of honour!”
– TF2 Soldier

D&D Party with Fighter

Traditionally the front line with the most weapons and a simple motto, “I hit with my [Weapon]”. Since the early days of D&D, ‘Fighting-Man’ was all about reliable damage output and being hard to put down.

Over the course of editions the Fighter has evolved to include more combat techniques and maneuvers. Ranging from skills in archery and light armour to a heavily armoured greatsword Knight.

In brief, the D&D Fighter in 5e is a master of weapons and armour.

While Barbarians use raw strength and risk/reward to inflict massive damage when they can, the Fighter is more consistent with their output.

With the Fighter you’ll want to think ahead to what kind of weapon you’ll build around. There are a great many viable build options to optimise. Fighters work with: Two-Hander Damage, Ranged Archery, Sword-and-Board, Polearm Defender and even some support utility with certain sub-classes.

From this point forward, the common colour coding is being used:

Sky Blue = Top of the line choice. Fighter optimisation starts here.
Blue = Very strong choice for Fighter, but not amazing.
Black = Solid choice. There are better options, but this is more than serviceable
= Not top tier. It may have niche use, but better options exist
= Mechanically weak. If you feel it fits your concept, go for it, but you will likely be less effective

Remember that this is a Fighter optimisation guide. We’re looking at what is strong or effective for your basic Fighter build. Where we can there will be specific information for one sub-class over the other..

That said, if you have a fun idea for your character that isn’t based around ‘charop’, don’t be afraid to put fun ahead of numbers.

You know your game better than me, after all.


Fighter Guide to Class Features

  • Hit Dice: 1d10 per level is second only to the Barbarian. You’re up there with Rangers and Paladins, just what you want if you’re going to be in the thick of things..
  • Armour Proficiency: You have Armour proficiency in everything including shields. Doesn’t get better than this.
  • Weapon Proficiency: If there’s a simple or martial weapon you can wield it. You’re likely not changing weapon types often, but you get to pick from the entire buffet here.
  • Skills: You aren’t going to be getting a ton of skills with proficiency. You get two from being a Fighter. We’ll discuss the best skills for a Fighter in a seciton below because your Background and Race can add more skills.
  • Tools: You get no tool proficiency from your class. Fret not, there are other ways to get tool proficiency through Backgrounds though it doesn’t often come up so don’t worry.
  • Saving Throws: Strength is a bit boring and doesn’t come up often, Constitution on the other hand is huge against poison, necrotic, drinking booze and more.
  • Equipment, not a bad way to start the game. Plenty of weapon options so you should have an idea by now the path you’ll be taking.
  • (a) chain mail or (b) leather armor, longbow, and 20 arrows
    (a) a martial weapon and a shield or (b) two martial weapons
    (a) a light crossbow and 20 bolts or (b) two handaxes
    (a) a dungeoneer’s pack or (b) an explorer’s pack
  • Fighting Style – Here’s where you begin to choose your niche, You get one now and Champions will get another one at level 10. You can’t take a Fighting Style option more than once.
    • Archery: +2 bonus to attack rolls make this amazing for ranged builds.
    • Defense: There aren’t too many ways to get a flat bonus to AC. Combine this with solid armour and you’re crazy hard to hit.
    • Dueling: Extra damage when you’ve got a one-handed weapon and nothing else. So a fencing fighter or a sword-and-board style fighter.
    • Great Weapon Fighting: For when you want two hands on your weapon. Works better with weapons that have multiple dice like Greatswords and Maul.
    • Protection: Another good style for you shield users. Uses your reaction to impose disadvantage so will fight with your opportunity attacks.
    • Two-Weapon Fighting: A little extra damage on your second attack. Not bad, but you’ll want to pair it with the Dual Wielder feat.
    • Mariner. (UA: Waterborne Adventures): An option for Dex fighters who want more AC. Worthwhile if you see yourself climbing rigging and swimming in the oceans.
  • Second Wind (1st Level): This feels much better in early levels. While it somewhat scales with Fighter level you’ll find it’s less useful later. Free healing is nice, though it’ll start competiting with bonus action attacks.
  • Action Surge (2nd Level): An extra action once per short rest, that means all that goes with it including more attacks. Action surge bends the action economy massivley in your favour.
  • Martial Archetype (3rd Level): Here you pick what Fighter subclass to go with. We’ll go into more detail further down. The archetype you choose grants you features at 3rd level and again at 7th, 10th, 15th, and 18th level.
  • Ability Score Improvement (4th, 6th, 8th, 12th, 14th, 16th, and 19th level): These are great, the more the better and you’re getting a bunch of them. Max out your primary stats and then take a some feats.
  • Extra Attack (5th, 11th, 20th): More attacks means more incredible damage. These extra attacks go well with your Action Surge
  • Indomitable (9th, 13th, 17th): – Reroll a failed save every dayBeginning at 9th level, you can reroll a saving throw that you fail. If you do so, you must use the new roll, and you can’t use this feature again until you finish a long rest. You can use this feature twice between long rests starting at 13th level and three times between long rests starting at 17th level.


  • Str: Unless you’re going for a DEX based build, you’ll want to pump this up. Strength is the best for a two-handed attacker, both are viable for dual wielding and sword-and-board fighting styles. If you’re a big strength fighter you’ll want some Dexterity for initiative too.
  • Dex: Dexterity is obviously preferable for an archer; though you can also look to dual wielding and finese weapons here. You’ll be better at Stealth and initiative than a Strength fighter, though a little easier to hit. If you’re going down the dex path you can let Strength slide.
  • Con: Another top tier stat. Hit points are just too important to let slide. Most fighters are melee combatants, and more hit points lets them stay in combat for longer (and recover more HP with hit dice). In addition, Constitution saving throws allow you to avoid some of the nastiest effects in the game. For an archer, the value of this goes down a little but still remains relevant. Start with a 14-16 and aim for a 20, but if you really want feats you might be able to leave it around 16-18.
  • Int: When people talk about the, “Big Stupid Fighter” they’re talking about you, dump Intelligence…. unless…. Eldritch Knights and Arcane Archers find this much more useful.
  • Wis: Seeing the enemy before they see you is important but beyond Perception, Wisdom helps with widom saves that come up pretty often.
  • Cha: Unless it fits into the kind of skills you’re after you can leave the ‘face’ stuff to a Bard. Battlemaster Fighters may favour this a little more if they’re taking the Rally maneuver.

Best Fighter Races:

Anything with +STR/DEX and CON is good. Defensive bonuses are also useful early though some options may be less effective later.

Player’s Handbook Races [PHB]

  • Dwarf: [+2 Con] Dwarves make a sturdy Fighter race with +2 CON, Darkvision and advantage against and resistance to poison. Thematically you’re looking at Axes and Hammers but of course you can break the mold… ideally with an Axe or Hammer.
    • Mountain Dwarf [+2 Str] This one is a no-brainer… much like the Strength fighter iteself. +2 STR and +2CON is one of the best race combinations in 5E.
    • Hill Dwarf [+1 Wis] An -OK choice for a Dwarf considering a DEX build, though you’ll get more value elsewhere. STR-Fighters already saw the best Dwarf option in Mountain.
    • Duergar [+1 Str] A standard strength boost plus, Superior Darkvision; advantage against illusions, charms and paralysis; free Enlarge/Reduce and Invisibility. Enlarge gives you advantage on STR checks and saves, plus an extra d4 damage on each attack. The sunlight sensitivity could be a drawback if you’ll be outside during the day a lot. [SCAG]
  • Elf [+2 Dex] The Elf Fighter lends itself to an Arcane archer or any build going for DEX weapons bows/finesse. They gets Darkvision, advantage against charm and immunity to sleep.
    • Wood Elf [+1 Wis] While the basic Elf package is OK, the Wood-specific features aren’t terribly helpful. It’s a slight improvement on the High Elf.
    • Drow [+1 Cha] Boosted darkvision and Faerie Fire can help in an ongoing underground campaign, the CHA doesn’t help too much and the sunlight sensitivity hurts if you go outside. Maybe you can wear a big fancy hat like Jarlaxxle.
    • High Elf [+1 Int] A free wizard cantrip lines up with the Arcane Archer and a DEX/INT Eldritch Knight really well. Like all Elves, High Elves get Trance, proficiency with Perception checks, and the DEX boost.
    • Eladrin [+1 Int] High Elf with a teleport spell. You can be an Eldritch knight or an Arcane Archer easily with these.  [DMG]
  • Halfling [+2 Dex] You get the increase in Dexterity like the Elf, but you get the Lucky Racial feature with the limitation of having to go with finsesse weapons, shortbows and crossbows.
    • Stout Halfling [+1 Con] The boost to CON can be useful though you’ll be wanting to stay out of the front line as a dex fighter anyway.
    • Lightfoot Halflings[+1 Cha] Hiding behind people may be useful especially if you’re a Warlord style Rally Battle Master. Otherwise it’s not amazing.
    • Ghostwise Halflings [+1 Wis] Wisdom and speaking telepathically can be useful for a fighter, though it’s only to one creature at a time. [SCAG]
  • Human [+1 to All scores],  Rather boring for a fighter, The more dump-stats you have the worse this looks. If you’re a generalist this can be OK.
    • Variant Human [+1 to ??? and ??? and a feat] If Human Variant is allowed, that’s a whole different story. Get a head start on your character concept with a feat! You’ll be getting a lot of ASIs latter but a Feat (See Feats section) that can bring a Fighter concept online at level 1 is great.
  • Dragonborn [+2 Str, +1 Cha] You get a boost to CHA, some thematic damage resistance, and a breath attack.
  • Gnome [+2 Int] Similar to the Halfling though the INT isn’t great unless you’re looking at a Dex-Eldritch Knight or Arcane Archer, the small size but without the benefits of Lucky or the Dex Bonus.
    • Forest Gnome [+1 Dex] The DEX is nice-ish for a Dex build and illusion could help anDex-Eldritch Knight, TheArcane Archercould see some value in here too.
    • Rock Gnome [+ 1 Con] Not bringing much to the table with this subrace, Eldritch Knights may find some value though the other options are better optimised for you.
    • Deep Gnome [ +1 Dex] Ah the…svirfneblin… Superiour darkvision can be tasty if you’re underground a lot, though there are better options. Goes a little further with Eldritch Knights.. [SCAG]
  • Half-Elf: [+2 Cha, and +1 to ???] Here are some of those good elf features along with a plus to CHA and one other.
  • Half-Orc: [+2 Str, and +1 Con] Darkvision, deadlier crits, avoid a KO once a day and free Intimidation proficiency. Doesn’t get much better for STR-Fighters.
  • Tiefling [+1 Int and +2 Cha] It’s a +2 to CHA which is not ideal, you could do something with the Int if you’re the right subclass. The Feral Tiefling variant has a little more appeal with the +2 Dex.
    • Tiefling Variant [+1 Int and +2 Dex] An interesting option especially with winged. [SCAG]

Dungeon Master’s Guide Races [DMG]

  • Aasimar: [+2 Cha] Charisma and resistance are great, but the spells are kind of crappy. [DMG]]
  • Eladrin: A fancy version of the Elf with a teleport ‘Misty Step’. [DMG]

Volo’s Guide to Monsters [VOLO] 

  • Aasimar [+1 Wis & +2 Cha] These are mostly your dump stats. The other features look fun but not really optimal for fighters [VOLO] 
  • Firbolg: [+2 Wis, & +1Str] The wisdom isn’t particularly helpful, though the strength is nice. The rest of the abilities are a bit hap-hazard for a fighter. [VOLO] 
  • Goliath: [+2 Str, & +1 Con] This is much better. A big strong Goliath is similar to a Half-Orc where you get Athletics for free instead of Intimidation. Stone’s endurance is helpful at lower levels until you’re an unkillable badass. [VOLO] 
  • Kenku [+2 Dex, and +1 Wis] An interesting roleplay choice and abilities more suited to rogues. There’s potential for a Dex fighter though. [VOLO] 
  • Lizardfolk: [+2 Con, and +1 Wis] A Bite attack and Natural armour make this a potential choice for a Dex fighter. Remember that Natural Armour and worn armour don’t stack so this is less appealing for STR fighters looking for Plate. [VOLO] 
  • Tabaxi: [+2 DEX and +1 CHA] A nice set of features for a Dex Fighter. Tabaxi get Darkvision, extra movement, built in weapons, and free proficiency in Stealth and Perception. The Cha boost is mostly wasted, but that’s fine. [VOLO] 
  • Triton: [+1 to STR, CON and CHA] Two of those stat bonuses are relevant. Aside from that, swim speed, breathe water and air, talk to water creatures, and cold resistance. Also note that of the three racial spells, only Gust of Wind actually uses your CHA for anything, so feel free to cast Fog Cloud or Wall of Water instead. Good all around. [VOLO] 

Volo’s Monstrous Races [VOLO] 

  • Bugbear: The long arms mean you get extra reach on your turn, The stat bonuses also line up nicely, better for Str Fighters though not terrible for Dex fighters. Also gets Darkvision, free Stealth proficiency and 2d6 extra damage when attacking from surprise. [VOLO] 
  • Goblin: A nimble Archer Fighter with great disengage potential and hiding. [VOLO] 
  • Hobgoblin: [+2 CON, +1 INT] Supposed to be excellent shield wall style fighters. The Int may be less useful for you though. The Saving-Face ability is great in a big party. [VOLO] 
  • Kobold:[-2 Str, and +2 Dex] You’re not going for Strength Fighter with these bonuses, the advantage on any attack as long as an ally is next to your target is glorious for Sharpshooter/Crossbow Expert builds. In campaigns where Sunlight Sensitivity doesn’t come into play it’s even better. [VOLO] 
  • Orc: [+2 Str, and +1 Con, -2 Int] You loose Int so Arcane Archer and Eldritch Knight aren’t as viable, but the bonus action movement, darkvision and intimidation are solid pickups. [VOLO] 
  • Yuan-Ti Pureblood: These creatures aren’t cut out for fighting. Poison immunity is nice though it’s not worth it here. [VOLO] 

Elemental Evil Races [EEPC]

  • Aarakocra: [+2 Dex] Fly above the battlefield and deliver a rain of arrows. [EEPC]
  • Genasi: [+2 Con] A con boost is nice which is what every Genasi gets. [EEPC]
    • Air Genasi: [+1 Dex] Another flying archer… though with Levitate? Not bad. [EEPC]
    • Earth Genasi: [+1 Str] Pass without Trace is a powerful stealth ability, and Earth Walk helps your mobility. Heavily armored Fighters can use the Strength bonus. [EEPC]
    • Fire Genasi: [+1 Int] You don’t have much use for the Intelligence, a Dragonborn gets a lot of similar stuff with better stats. Eldritch Knights might want a look in though. [EEPC]
    • Water Genasi: [+1 Wis] In a water based campaign this gets a small boost, though you may want to look at Triton instead. [EEPC]

Eberron Races [WGtE]

  • Changeling: CHA and DEX boosts don’t give you much to work with. Disguising yourself is a nice trick in more social campaigns. [WGtE]
  • Shifters:[+1 Dex] These shifters are more rough and ready physical races. Darkvison isn’t bad, and the temporary HP bonus from shifting makes for a durable Fighter. [WGtE]
    • Beasthide Shifter: The bonuses to AC, CON, and DEX make a decent Dex Fighter. [WGtE]
    • Cliffwalk Shifter: Your DEX is good, and you get the shifter temp HP, but other shifter options are simply better. [WGtE]
    • Longstride: Another pure Dex option, with a mobility option. No need to poach Longstrider. [WGtE]
    • Longtooth Shifter: A little STR and DEX isn’t a great combo, though a Strength Fighter or grappler gets more out of it. [WGtE]
    • Razorclaw Shifter: Pure DEX with a bonus attack. Not terrible, but it’s also not amazing. [WGtE]
    • Wildhunt Shifter: WIS is a dump stat. [WGtE]
  • Warforged: [+1 Con] Change your Armour composition during a long rest, resistance to poison and immunity to disease. A lot of cool stuff here for a fighter, you can’t wear armour but you might be able to convince your DM to convey magic armour effects onto your construction. [WGtE]
    • Envoy [+1 ???, and +1 ???] Good potential for a fighter with some leeway on what the tool you’re integrated with can be. [WGtE]
    • Juggernaut: [+2 Str] Your typical living weapon of war. The extra damage to unarmed attacks isn’t particularly useful unless you see yourself getting disarmed often. [WGtE]
    • Skirmisher: [+2 Dex] Extra movement and some scouting utility. [WGtE]

Ravnica Races [GGtR]

Minotaur: Charging into battle with horns already sounds awesome. You’ll generally want to choose the additional +1 STR here (for a total bonus of +2), but things only get better from here. Your horns mean you can wield a shield while attacking for d10 damage (hint: choose the Dueling fighting style), and the Goring Rush (bonus action attack while dashing) and Hammering Horns (bonus action shove 5′ while attacking) abilies give you a ton of combat flexibility. Navigational skills never hurt anyone either. Now you can look forward to building a labrynth too. [GGtR]

More to consider on the best Fighter Races

Now that that’s said and done, here’s the thing about racial abilities: Later in the game, they won’t matter as much. At 15th level, that +1 to your stat has less impact in overall performance.

At lower levels though, the difference is much more noticeable. 5e is flat out a harder game at low level than either 3.x or 4e were. It is less forgiving, and getting dropped is really, really easy.

Keep that in mind when looking at races. Some races might not have the “oomph” when it comes to doing to damage, but a lot of the survivability perks that they do have will come in really handy during those difficult low levels.  

Fighter Martial Archetypes: Fighter Subclasses

Arcane Archer [XGE]

An Arcane Archer studies a unique elven method of archery that weaves magic into attacks to produce supernatural effects. These ‘Arcane Shots’ can provide more damage or a level of utility and you’ll gain access to more options as you level up.

Those shots all have their DCs based on INTELLIGENCE, which means you’ll be putting points in to INT if you want to stay relevant. These Arcane Shots only work with Shortbows and Longbows, ideally longbows.

  • Arcane Archer Lore (3rd level), Free Arcana or Nature skill (both INT-based, so you’ll be good at either one) and free cantrip of Prestidigitation or Druidcraft, either of which have their uses. Fair enough.
  • Arcane Shot (3rd level): (2 options) Pretty much the Arcane Archer’s equivalent of Combat Superiority. However, you’re forever limited to 2 uses of this per short rest, so you have to be a lot more conservative than the Battle Master does. You start with 2 Shot options initially and get a few more as you gain more levels (see below), eventually winding up with a decent amount.
  • Curving Shot (7th level) At 7th level, you learn how to direct an errant arrow toward a new target. When you make an attack roll with a magic arrow and miss, you can use a bonus action to reroll the attack roll against a different target within 60 feet of the original target.
  • Magic Arrow, (7th level) Whenever you fire a nonmagical arrow from a shortbow or longbow, you can make it magical for the purpose of overcoming resistance and immunity to nonmagical attacks and damage. The magic fades from the arrow immediately after it hits or misses its target.
  • Arcane Shot (3 options) (7th level):
  • Arcane Shot (4 options) (10th level):
  • Ever-Ready Shot (15th level): Starting at 15th level, your magical archery is available whenever battle starts. If you roll initiative and have no uses of Arcane Shot remaining, you regain one use of it.
  • Arcane Shot (5 options)
  • Arcane Shot (6 options, improved shots) (18th level):
  • Note that at 18th level your Arcane Shots all get an upgrade (just more damage on most of them).
  • Arcane Shots: Some nice ones in here and some duds. All the saving throws are DC 8+ Proficiency + Intelligence modifier.
    • Banishing Arrow: Taking a heavy hitting brute out of a fight for a turn can save your party. Be aware that the enemy will be making a Charisma saving throw so try and go for low CHA enemies. After you reach 18th level in this class, a target also takes 2d6 force damage when the arrow hits it.
    • Beguiling Arrow: Weirdly makes one of your allies charm the enemy, so I guess that makes you cupid? Essentially stops one ally from getting attacked by one creature. Targets Wisdom as the saving throw, less impressive than Banishing though it does damage. The psychic damage increases to 4d6 when you reach 18th level in this class.
    • Bursting Arrow: An AoE attack that does a small amount of damage. Unless you’re up against minions tightly packed in this is weak.
    • Enfeebling Arrow: This sounds great, weakening an enemy and cutting its weapon damage in half. On closer insepction CON is usually a strong stat for most monsters with a strong weapon attack, plus Necrotic damage is often easily mitigated by nasty monsters.
    • Grasping Arrow: Similar to Ensnaring Strike but not restraining completley (or costing concentration). This one’s great in setting up some ongoing damage. The initial poison damage is ok (Poison is commonly resisted), slowing by 10ft is nice, and extra damage every time they move (Intentional or not). To remove this the target or an ally must waste an entire action making an Athletics check. If it can’t teleport, it’s in for a world of hurt, or at the very least a loss of a turn.
    • Piercing Arrow: It isn’t often that enemies line up neatly, plus they still get a Dex saving throw regardless of how good your attack roll was. Ignoring cover is interesting but the Sharpshooter feat ignores 1/2 and 3/4 cover already.
    • Seeking Arrow: Another way to shoot around corners or track someone you’ve seen (very) recently. May be useful, especially against a recently stealthed or invisible target.
    • Shadow Arrow: A great Arcane Shot to pick up early and use often. Blinding an enemy beyond 5ft is very strong. Open up with this and your later attacks (and those of your ranged allies) will have advantage.

Battle Master [PHB]

This is the fighter who likes to prevision and is more tactical. Not quite a Warlord from 4e but with a few options that let you control the battlefield.

The maneurvers you use inthe right place and time can have great control over the tempo of a battle.

A downside of the Battle Master is that you wont be throwing around maneuvers every turn, you’ll have to wait for the right time. You’re reliant on short rests to keep your extra abilities topped up, much like the Monk or Warlock.

  • Combat Superiority: (3rd, 7th, 10th, 15th Level) This is what the Battle Master is all about. Three maneuvers at Lv. 3, plus 4 superiority dice every short rest. You can spend the superiority dice to use various maneuvers, many of which add damage and some other effect to a successful attack. Others give you special abilities, like letting an ally make an attack or letting you parry a blow. You learn three manuevers when you get this feature and gain more at higher levels. For information on maneuvers, see section 6 of this guide – note that many are useable with ranged weapons, so this isn’t a melee-only Archetype.
  • Student of War (3rd Level): Mostly flavour, though depending on your campaign tool proficiency could come in handy. Often you’ll find little to do with your tools.
  • Know Your Enemy (7th Level): Observe a creature for one minute and learn its capabilities comapred to yours. Similar to the “Consider” command in old text MUDs. No other class has a feature like this, it’ll stay usefull for the entire campaign. Use this to plan suss out if they have a weakness, or if the old lady is actually an assassin in disguise.
  • Improved Combat Superiority (10th, 18th Level) Your Superiority Dice get bigger, your maneuvers get more impressive. Not bad.
  • Relentless (15th Level) Means you’ll always get at least one maneuver in combat. Unfortunatley this only kicks in if you don’t have any superiority dice when you roll initiative. Comes in in handy if you’re burning all your surperiority dice. Incentivises you to end a fight with nothing left.
  • Maneuvers
    • Commander’s Strike – Directing an ally to attack in nice until you see that it’s costing you one of your attacks PLUS your bonus action. Helpful if you have a Rogue in your party who can sneak attack, even better if they will have advantage on the attack. Otherwise you may as well just hit the enemy.
    • Disarming Attack – A good way to get back the maguffin the enemy is holding. Even better if their wielding a weapon or a magic focus. Disarm them and use your free object interaction to pick up their item, or kick it back to an ally. Targets strength so can be a good way to disarm feeble mages if you’re confident they can’t cast without their magic staff. Not terribly useful if you’re fighting beasts who carry nothing.
    • Distracting Strike – Advantage is nice but this only grants advantage to the next attack from an ally on this creature. Good for Rogues in your party but only when they’re the next one to target the creature. It becomes a bit situational.
    • Evasive Footwork – This maneuver raises your AC against opportunity attacks because it ends when you stop moving. Either step away from a tough enemy or charge past some towards their back line. Both choices are solid when you can’t afford to disengage.
    • Feinting Attack – Expend one superiority die and your bonus action to get advantage against one enemy within 5ft of you. Battle Masters. Usually for when you REALLY need to hit, a bit lacklustre.
    • Goading Attack – A great looking Defender maneuver. Great for keeping the attention on you if the enemy has poor Wisdom. Menacing attack is stronger but this works against targets immune to fear. Consider getting this at higher levels when enemies start getting immunities to fear or are huge.
    • Lunging Attack – Increase your reach by 5ft, can you not move closer… or wield a Polearm? Very situational.
    • Maneuvering Attack – A very ‘Warlord’ style ability that lets you move an ally around. The best part is that it lets the target move half their speed without provoking opportunity attacks. Use this to get the Wizard or Archer out of danger. Or in a pinch, move a melee ally within charging distance so they don’t need to dash on their turn.
    • Menacing Attack – Inflicting the firghten condition on an enemy is incredibly powerful. Put yourself between your allies and the enemy to prevent your foe from being effective. Pair this up with allies who force enemies to make ability checks (not saving throws) such as grappling. Be aware that some creatures are immune to fear so use this wisely.
    • Parry – Reduce damage based on the your Dex modifer and what you roll on the superiority dice. Only kind of helpful for a Dex Build and even then, loses some shine if you take Defensive Duelist because you’ll already have a defensive ability using up your reaction.
    • Precision Attack – Similar to Bardic Inspiration (and stacks with it). Overcoming a near miss with a small bost means you’re doing damage where you would have failed. Often theres an attack you absolutely must hit. Becomes even better if you’re running Sentinel and must stop an enemy from getting past you. You can use this maneuver before or after making the attack roll, but before any effects of the attack are applied.
    • Pushing Attack – When you hit a creature with a weapon attack, you can expend one superiority die to attempt to drive the target back. You add the superiority die to the attack’s damage roll, and if the target is Large or smaller, it must make a Strength saving throw. On a failed save, you push the target up to 15 feet away from you.
    • Rally – Another ‘Warlord’ style ability, this time temporary hit points based on Charisma modifier and the superiority die roll. If you’re going this direction you might consider looking to the Inspiring Leader feat to start each fight with temp hitpoints, then top them up with a rally later on. Just remember that temporary hit points don’t stack, so wait for the first points to be used up before giving more.
    • Riposte (Melee Only) – When a creature misses you with a melee attack, you can use your reaction and expend one superiority die to make a melee weapon attack against the creature. If you hit, you add the superiority die to the attack’s damage roll.
    • Sweeping Attack – Unless you’re fighting minions this ‘Cleave’ style attack falls really short.
    • Trip Attack – An ideal way to grant advantage to all melee allies. Works on Large or smaller which is a large portion of enemies. Theoretically works if you’re ranged but it means you’re setting yourself (and other ranged allies) up for disadvantage.

Cavalier: [XGE]

Mount up and roll out!

The Vavalier excels at mounted combat but that’s not all you’re good at. While you definatley want to get into a saddle every chance you get, you’re also a great defender that can hold a front line.

Prioritise Strength and Constitution to make the most of what this archetype can do.

  • Bonus Proficiency (3rd Level) Take proficiency in one of: Animal Handling, History, Insight, Performance, or Persuasion. Or you get an extra language. Unless you know you’re really going to need a specific language, go for the skill. Ideally Animal Handling if you’ll be mounted a lot, otherwise Insight or Persuasion are solid choices.
  • Born to the Saddle (3rd Level) The feature that makes you great mounted. Advantage on saving throws made to avoid falling off your mount. Plus its faster to mount and dismount. Useless outside of riding around but will be very useful if the DM lets you get on that horse.
  • Unwavering Mark (3rd Level) Those who played 4th edition may recognise this. Marking an enemy when you hit it and imposing disadvantage on attacks other than you (while within 5ft). Plus, there’s the bonus-action attack (with advantage) you get on your next turn when the enemy hurts one of your allies. You can mark more than one creature but the special attack is limited to your STR-mod number of times per long rest. So you should be building up that Strength to get the most of this feature. Note this is also, in fact, not redundant with the Sentinel feat, since the attack from that uses your reaction.
  • Warding Maneuver (7th Level) Similar to a Lore Bard’s Cutting Words, as a reaction, you add +1d8 to a nearby ally’s AC vs. one attack. This works on yourself or a creature within 5 ft (including your mount). Even if the attack still hits, its damage is cut in half making this a great defender feature. Number of uses per long rest is governed by your CON-mod, which is why you want a good CON as a Cavalier. Competes with the Protection fighting style for that reaction.
  • Hold the Line (10th Level) Typically an enemy doesn’t provoke opportunity attacks until they leave your reach. This feature prevents an enemy from moving around WITHIN your reach at all. A great combination is the Sentinel feat’s ability to opportunity attack even when enemies have taken the disengage action.
  • Ferocious Charger(15th Level) The saving throw DC is based on your Str, just in case you needed more reasons to be Strength based. Not limited to melee attacks though so you can throw a javelin if you must. There are no size limitations on the enemy you can knock prone, though do keep in mind Giant and Gargantuan creatures often have a massive Strength save. Feel free to move 10 feet in a straight line before chucking a javelin at that Gargantuan flying dragon to try sending it crashing to the ground.
  • Vigilant Defender: (18th Level) A special reaction just for making opportunity attacks. This way you can make one OA per creature instead of just once per round. Combined with Hold the Line and Sentinel, you’re stopping more enemies than a jelatonous cube.

Champion: [PHB]

For those who primarily enjoy playing a Fighter for the ability to hit things and aren’t fond of round-by-round combat decisions, the Champion is the way to go.

You get more powerful critical hits, a few skill boosts, a second Fighting Style, and eventually the ability to regenerate hit points – all useful, and none requiring extensive tracking.

  • Improved Critical (3rd Level) Critting on a 19-20 instead of a 20 is essentially a small boost to your average damage. More effective if you have ways to gain advantage to make the most of the improved odds. The other side is trying to boost the number of dice you’re throwing to make your crits even better like the Half-Orc’s Savage Attacks, Great Weapon Master feat, etc.
  • Remarkable Athlete. (7th Level) This feature doesn’t seem particularly notable until you realize that initiative is a Dexterity check, so this gives you +2 that goes up to +3 at L13. Other than that, half proficiency on Athletics, Acrobatics, Stealth, etc (you’re likely already proficient in some of it). and increased jump distance is pretty meh.
  • Additional Fighting Style (10th Level) If for some reason you didn’t take the Fighting style you needed before get it now. Grab an accuracy/damage boosting style (Archery, Dueling, Great Weapon, 2WF) that matches your style, grab it now, but if you do, your best bet is Defense. A Dex-fighter might want to consider picking up whichever of Dueling or Archery they haven’t already picked for melee/ranged versatility. If you haven’t found anything to do with your reaction yet and you use a shield, Protection might be a good choice depending on party composition.
  • Superior Critical (15th Level) Crit on a 18-20 – Annoyingly this is a smaller boost than Improved critical because that was doubling your crit chance, this is only boosting it by 50%.
  • Survivor (18th Level) Regenerate 5 + Con hp every turn if you are ‘bloodied’ (Half health or less). At 18th level, you’ll likely have 150+ hit points, so this isn’t really strong in combat, but it does ensure you’ll enter every fight with at least half health and saves the Cleric some higher-level healing slots.


Eldritch Knight: [PHB]

For the Fighter who wants to sling Wizard spells and have a decent Intelligence score.

Your spell selection and slots will be limited, but you’ll have better AoE options and some really potent defensive spells as well as quite a bit of potential utility.

  • Spellcasting(3rd Level) You are a 1/3 caster, and you learn a set number of cantrips and spells from the Wizard list similar to how the Sorcerer, Bard and Warlock learn them. Most of your spells are limited to just two schools, the defensive Abjuration and the offensive Evocation, though you get a pick from any school at Lv. 3, 8, 14 and 20. Despite the limitations, this spellcasting will still let you do things other Fighters can only shake their heads at.
  • Weapon Bond(3rd Level) Actually a little better than mere fluff. If you have to drop your weapon somewhere and already used your free item interaction that round, using a bonus action to teleport it back in your hands is better for the action economy.
  • War Magic(7th Level) Amazing with the advent of the SCAG cantrips like Booming Blade and Green-Flame Blade. Booming Blade + attack with anything short of Great Weapon Master does more single-target damage than the typical 3-attack routine past Lv. 11, actually. (Though if you Action Surge, you’ll still want to use the 3 attacks for that extra action.) Great Weapon Masters won’t use this as consistently, but certain situations can still call for it.
  • Eldritch Strike: (10th Level) Disadvantage on spell save up until the end of your next turn after hitting them with an attack. Only useful for EKs who actually care about their INT score.
  • Arcane Charge(15th Level) Free teleportation right before an Action Surge nova, woo! A good boost to mobility to get to the enemy you want to tear up.
  • Improved War Magic(18th Level) Now you get the bonus-action attack after any spell you cast. Great for, say, still getting two attacks in the same round you Haste yourself.

Eldritch Knight Spellcasting


You learn two cantrips of your choice from the wizard spell list. You learn an additional wizard cantrip of your choice at 10th level.

Spell Slots

The Eldritch Knight Spellcasting table shows how many spell slots you have to cast your wizard spells of 1st level and higher. To cast one of these spells, you must expend a slot of the spell’s level or higher. You regain all expended spell slots when you finish a long rest.

For example, if you know the 1st-level spell shield and have a 1st-level and a 2nd-level spell slot available, you can cast shield using either slot.

Spells Known of 1st-Level and Higher

You know three 1st-level wizard spells of your choice, two of which you must choose from the abjuration and evocation spells on the wizard spell list.

The Spells Known column of the Eldritch Knight Spellcasting table shows when you learn more wizard spells of 1st level or higher. Each of these spells must be an abjuration or evocation spell of your choice, and must be of a level for which you have spell slots. For instance, when you reach 7th level in this class, you can learn one new spell of 1st or 2nd level.

The spells you learn at 8th, 14th, and 20th level can come from any school of magic.

Whenever you gain a level in this class, you can replace one of the wizard spells you know with another spell of your choice from the wizard spell list. The new spell must be of a level for which you have spell slots, and it must be an abjuration or evocation spell, unless you’re replacing the spell you gained at 3rd, 8th, 14th, or 20th level from any school of magic.

Alternately check out our other 5E Class Guides to take a gander at the other classes. 


Purple Dragon Knight (Banneret): [SCAG]

Kind of a Warlord-ish “Rally to Me” kind of fighter. You’ll be looking to have a decent Charisma modifier to key off. This archetype has some issues with being a bit weak early on, as well as feeling a bit messy.

Gets better after level 10 so you might consider avoiding this if you’re not expecting the campaign to make it there.

  • Rallying Cry(3rd Level) When you use your Second Wind feature, you can choose up to three creatures within 60 feet of you that are allied with you. Each one regains hit points equal to your fighter level, provided that the creature can see or hear you. Heals up to 3 allies your Fighter level when you Second Wind. Starts off weak, but actually scales pretty well; compares favorably to a Mass Healing Word spell (another bonus-action heal) at Lv. 10. Most agree this would be a better feature to get at level 10 instead of level 3.
  • Royal Envoy(7th Level) Effectively Expertise in Persuasion. You get that skill proficiency, too, if you didn’t have it before; and if you did, you get a choice that should go to Insight if you didn’t have it already. Intimidation, Animal Handling and Performance are also possible choices. As you’ll likely have a decent Charisma already this helps you become the party ‘face’.
  • Inspiring Surge(10th, 18th Level) Grant a free melee or ranged weapon attack to an ally when you use your Action Surge feature. This is an incredible ability and feels very thematic for a Warlord leader. Already a great tool when you’re trying to dish out a ton of damage in one turn, works even better with a Rogue, Paladin or Barbarian ally. At Lvl 18, two allies get to join in.
  • Bulwark:  (15th Level) Extends Indomitable (Reroll a saving throw that you fail) onto an ally when you use it to make an Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma saving throw. This only works if they’re suffering the same effect as you. Unfortunately, it’s much more restrictive than it needed to be. You can’t use this feature against incapacitating effects … which are the types of effects you are most likely to use Indomitable against.


Samurai: [XGE]

A simple archetype than can lend itself to all kinds of fighter builds. Don’t assume you’re stuck with a katana based on the name ‘Samurai’.

Fighters favouring Str weapons, Dex weapons, even ranged weapons will find good use here.

The Samurai is a pensive and wise warrior who gains some bonuses for having a positive Wisdom modifier.

  • Bonus Proficiency (3rd Level) An extra language or skill proficiency. The extra language is only useful in certain highly social campaigns, the extra skill proficiency will almost always come in handy more often. I reccommend taking Insight or Persuasion with Persuasion getting a boost later at 7th level.
  • Fighting Spirit(3rd Level) This is what he Samurai is all about. Bonus action to give yourself advantage on attacks for the rest of your turn, along with some level-scaling temporary hit points. You’ll get 3 uses of this per day which ties well into the number of Action Surges you can typically expect to use per day. Use this before you begin attacking to get the best use of fighting spirit.
  • Elegant Courtier(7th Level) Gain Wisdom save proficiency, which means you don’t have to burn a feat on Resilient (WIS)! Wisdom is a pretty common save so this is a great buff. Additionally, you now get to add your WIS mod to Persuasion checks, which means you can actually be a viable party face with Persuasion proficiency, decent WIS and a non-negative CHA. Also nice.
  • Tireless Spirit(10th Level) When you roll initiative and have no uses of Fighting Spirit remaining, you regain one use. A massive boost to your offense capabilities.
  • Rapid Strike(15th Level) You can give up advantage on one of your attacks during your Attack action to make two attacks without advantage in its place. This works out to be better especially if you’re confident you can hit both attacks. It’s always better to be rolling twice for two attacks’ worth of damage than just rolling twice and fishing for a crit. Note: You cannot use this feature twice on your turn if you Action Surged, which holds it back slightly.
  • Strength before Death(18th Level) An incredible capstone ability that lets you feel badass. You get an entire turn (that interrupts whoever’s turn it was) when you get knocked down to 0 hit points. Using your reaction you can use this new turn you have to heal up, or go full nova and dish out another turn’s worth of incredible damage. Be careful about moving though because taking damage (from Opportunity attacks or anything else) could see you receive death saving throw failures.



The Fighter doesn’t fill the skill monkey role all that well, but they are more than capable of offering good party support in this regard.

Don’t be afraid to use your skill choices to customize your character a bit. Even mechanically weaker skills can still offer a good benefit to the party as a whole.

Fighter Class Skills:

  • Acrobatics: Less important than Athletics, unless you’re going for a Dex fighter. You’ll need this for escaping grapples or resisting shoves.
  • Animal Handling: Unlikely to come up too often, but gets better if you are considering a mounted Fighter or Cavalier.
  • Athletics: Highly desirable. Climbing alone can be a scary thing. You’ll likely be the one sprinting after things, climbing stuff, hoisting allies up.
  • History: Doesn’t play to your strengths, may be more interesting for an Eldritch knight or Arcane Archer who has points in Intelligence.
  • Insight: Might be thematically appropriate and is a useful tool for the party. A good ability for gagueing other’s intent or truthfulness.
  • Intimidation: Cha is unlikely to be a great stat for you, unless you’re going for a Purple Dragon Knight. Remember there are ways to do a ‘Strength-based intimidation check’ so you want to be proficient in this and speak with your DM.
  • Perception: This is close to a “must have”, simply because there are no real diminishing returns for it being covered by multiple characters. It’s that important.
  • Survival: Very campaign specific, but thematically relevant and nice to have regardless.

Non Class Skills:

  • Sleight of Hand: A fun option, though not traditionally paired with the Fighter unless you’re acting like the party Rogue.
  • Stealth: Slightly party specific, if you’re a Dex-Fighter it’s well worth getting. Especially if you’ve got some sneaky allies who would love surprise rounds.
  • Arcana: Not your strong suit, and somewhat atypical for a Fighter unless you’re going for Arcane Archer or Eldritch Knight.
  • Investigation: Also atypical and outside your comfort zone.
  • Religion: If you wanted to be religious I imagine you would have chosen a Cleric or Paladin (or Wizard).
  • Nature: Depending on your character story this could be thematically appropriate, but it doens’t lend to your strengths.
  • Medicine: Made somewhat irrelevant by the Healer’s Kit. Leave this to the party Cleric.
  • Deception: Nice to have, but others in your group are probably better at it.
  • Performance: Fun roleplaying opportunities but it’s unlikely you’ll do well, so the opportunities are to make a fool of yourself.
  • Persuasion: Unless you’re looking at Samurai or Purple Dragon Knight you can probably leave this to someone else in the party.


Your background generally gives you 2 skills, maybe a language or two, maybe a tool or two, a special perk, and a small amount of goods/gold.

They can help flesh out your character a bit, offer some mechanical help, and help you better define where your Fighter is coming from.

PHB backgrounds

Acolyte: [insight/religion] An atypical choice that may make for an interesting backstory. Religion as a skill isn’t the greatest, but Insight is decent. The extra languages can be useful, though it is not a traditional Fighter specialty. The perk is fun and flavourful, though possibly campaign/DM specific.

Charlatan: [deception/sleight of hand] Another odd choice, but potentially fun. The two tool kits can add a really strange layer to your arbarian. The perk can add some fun roleplaying opportunities. This takes most Barbarians out of their comfort zone, but it isn’t a bad choice.

Criminal: [deception/stealth] Stealth and Thieves Tools are very solid mechanical choices, especially if you are running without a Rogue in your party. The perk of having a criminal contact is campaign dependant, but not something to be ignored.

Entertainer: [acrobatics/performance] Mentally, I always think of something like the circus strongman with this combo. Acrobatics and Performance aren’t bad skills to have, but they don’t really hit the typical Fighter. The perk does offer some fun character building opportunities.

Folk Hero: [animal handling/survival] Both skills are on your class list, but the Vehicle proficiency can be useful. It’s a fun choice from a character standpoint, but it doesn’t wow with the mechanics.

Guild Artisan: [insight/persuasion] The sort of choice that can help define a character and offer some fun options. The rules on crafting things though make this very campaign specific. Without a lot of downtime, well…

Hermit: [medicine/religion] Mechanically, this is probably the weakest Background for you. The skills don’t compliment your abilities and the perk is barely defined. If I were to stay away from 1 Background, it would be this one.

Noble: [history/persuasion] Thematically fit for a number of Fighter types. Some retainers to water and hold your mount could be helpful. The skills don’t mesh that well with you, but access to the Gaming Kit could be fun.

Outlander:  [athletics/survival] A wandering mercenary from the outlands could be a great fit for a low of fighters. The perk is nice, though it does step on the toes of the Survival skill a little.

Sage: [arcana/history] Like the Hermit, pretty atypical for a Fighter. The two languages are nice if you expect them to be useful, but the rest is rather “meh”.

Sailor: [athletics/perception] Two of the best skills for you. Add in a free Ship passage is great. The perk is campaign specific, but potentially useful. If you use the Pirate Variant, much fun can be had!

Soldier: [athletics/intimidation] This fits a lot of Fighters well. The perk may be a little restrictive depending on you DM. Running into old Soldier mates can be a great boon for more social scenarios. Military rank’s benefits are great, letting you give orders to guards and other soldier NPCs.

Urchin: [stealth/sleight of hand] Who knew Urchins were this good? Stealth as a skill is great, and both Thieves Tools and the Disguise Kit are fun options. The perk is also pretty great, with tons of opportunity for it to shine in many campaigns.

Fighter Feats:

You’re probably best off taking a +2 STR/DEX over a feat if you already have an even number in that stat.

The Fighter actually gets more Ability Score Improvements than any other class – one at levels 4, 6, 8, 12, 14, 16, and 19. This means you can get the stat bonuses you need early on while having some room.

If the modifier you’re looking to boost is an odd number, then a feat that provides +1 can help bump it up to even and give a perk.

  • Alert: Going first means you can disable enemies before they act, or get some buffs on allies before they charge in.
  • Athlete: You’d think this would be good for the +1 to Strength or Dexterity. The movement perks aren’t anything too exciting.
  • Actor: Unless you’re in a particularly social campaign or are looking for the +1 Charisma for a Purple Dragon Knight.
  • Charger: Charging in may be useful for closing some distance but you won’t be seeing it too often.
  • Crossbow Expert: Mandatory if you’re using crossbows, especially hand crossbows. Ignoring loading means you can execute your full Extra Attacks with a crossbow. Adds some damage and works well with the Sharpshooter feat.
  • Defensive Duelist: Great for any melee build that uses finesse weapons. Provides a solid amount of survivability against a single attack each round.
  • Dual Wielder: +1 to AC when dual-wielding … but dual-wielding is weak for single-class Fighters. Might be worth it if multiclassing Rogue, in which case using 2 rapiers, or rapier + dagger might be appealing.
  • Dungeon Delver: Can be better in the right (dungeon-y) adventure/campaign. Even so, you’re probably not the party member to deal with traps – leave it to the high Intelligence and Wisdom characters with Expertise.
  • Durable: f you have an odd score in Constitution, the perk from this feat isn’t bad, especially if you take a lot of short rests. If you have a really high Constitution anyway – 17 or 19 – this gets better
  • Elemental Adept: 100% useless for everyone except Eldritch Knights, but they won’t have enough spells to make this work at all anyway.
  • Grappler: Not all that great. Maybe if you’re all about wrestling but even then it feels weak. Note that Restrained is totally superceded by Shoving your enemy prone (they can’t get up while you’re grappling them).
  • Great Weapon Master: A free bonus action attack on a kill/crit is great. The ability to increase your damage by decreasing your accuracy is awesome (if somewhat situational)! Many monsters in 5E have a low AC but high HP; this allows you to take advantage of that. Together, this feat is near mandantory for a two-handed weapon wielder at some point.
  • Healer: If you’re a support your party may look to you for this. Slightly better than inspiring leader, the money cost is tiny long term.
  • Heavily Armored: The only way this could possibly be relevant is if you didn’t start as a Fighter… in which case this isn’t a bad pick if you’re Strength-based.
  • Heavy Armor Master: Fantastic at early levels (ESPECIALLY if a Variant Human takes it at Lv. 1). The damage reduction’s impact lessens somewhat as you get higher level, but it’s never a waste even then. You also get +1 STR.
  • Inspiring Leader: If you have a good Charisma, especially if you’re a Purple Dragon Knight or a Battle Master with Rally, This can help give your party a bit of a shield before battles – not the strongest, but very flavorful.
  • Keen Mind: The INT isn’t useful but depending on the campaign this can be worth it. Maybe ask the Wizard to take this.
  • Lightly Armored: You don’t need this.
  • Linguist: The other odd bump for Int, but still likely your dump stat and Languages aren’t often useful.
  • Lucky: A good all around bonus. These lucky points can counter disadvantage and work with advantage so can make features of the Champion and Samurai a lot stronger.
  • Mage Slayer: Somewhat campaign-dependent, but can be overpowering against the right opponents. Eldritch Knights with Counterspell and Dispel Magic (along with Misty Step/Arcane Charge to get in close) can use this to utterly shut down enemy spellcasters.
  • Magic Initiate: A good way for a non-Eldritch Knight to get a useful cantrip. Taking Warlock is appealing for a 1 per day casting of Hex, which adds d6s of damage to all hits and penalizes enemy ability checks. Or take Wizard for Find Familiar.
  • Martial Adept: Gives you extra maneuvers and one more Superiority Die, which is a d6 if you’re not a Battle Master. Better for Battle Masters who need even more tactical versatility.
  • Medium Armor Master: If you happen to be at 16 Dex you get +2 AC.
  • Mobile: Extra speed and free disengagement from enemies you attack. Often you’re the wall stopping others not the other way around.
  • Moderately Armored: You already have the benefit.
  • Mounted Combatant: If you’re mounted a lot on something large this is great. Cavaliers will certainly want to take a look.
  • Observant: Someone should have this, but it may not neceserily be you. The insight is useful for a ‘Face’ and Passive Perception can keep you alive.
  • Polearm Master: If a Polearm is your weapon of choice, you already know you want this.
  • Resilient (Wis): For a single feat point, you gain a save proficiency. That’s awesome! Samurai get the Wisdom version of this at level 7.
  • Ritual Caster: Rituals can be a great boon you your party. Somewhat depends on if your DM will let you learn more rituals as you go. Choose Wizard for utility spells or Cleric for divination abilities.
  • Savage Attacker: With all your multi attacks you’ll struggle to make the best use of this.
  • Sentinel: If you want to play a “Defender” style of Fighter and stop enemies getting past this is your ticket. This is a great way to shut down enemies movement and punish them for even considering attack your allies. Melee Battle Master fighters should get this and the Riposte maneuver as soon as it was available, all but guaranteeing an extra reaction attack against an enemy. This also has fantastic synergy with Polearm Master, letting you stop enemies at reach with OAs.
  • Sharpshooter: If you’re going ranged you’ll want to pick up this one. Damage boost at the expense of accuracy, this is the equivilent of the Great Weapon master, plus ignoring all but full cover is nice.
  • Shield Master: A key feat for the grapple fighter as you can shove with a bonus action. the shield bonuses on Dex saves is helpful.
  • Skilled: You’re not really supposed to be a ‘Skill monkey’ leave that to Bards and Rogues. If you must get skilled go for the skills not the tool proficiency because tools can be trained during downtime.
  • Skulker: Potential for a sneaky Dex Fighter who shoots from range, less useful if you already have Dark-vision. could pair well with Sharpshooter.
  • Spell Sniper: You don’t really have spells, and even an Eldritch Knight has too many Attributes to worry about to go this deep on feats.
  • Tavern Brawler: An alternative for the shield master for grapple fighters. If you have an odd Str/Con. For everyone else it’s a hard pass.
  • Tough: Not bad, but you’re probably better off taking the +2 Con for saves AND health if that’s a concern. If your Consitution is already at 20 this gives you plenty more hit points.
  • War Caster: I don’t need to tell you this is useless for non-caster fighters right? But for sword and shield Eldritch Knights it’s mandatory so you can cast with both hands full. Not nearly a necessity for other EKs, though the advantage on concentration saves and ability to use Booming Blade on Opportunity Attacks will always be welcome.
  • Weapon Master: You don’t need this.

Fighter Multi-classing:

Here, I want to make just a quick look at some options, along with the concept of a “dip” to grab some goodies from another class.

I’m going to leave some of the finer points of multiclassing up to the individual though, especially anything that takes away from the character being majority Fighter.

The Fighter gets solid features every level, from 1 to 20, so unless you’re pursuing a specific build or concept you’re probably better off staying a single-classed Fighter. That said, there are a lot of multiclass options

While there is a colour grade in this section remember that other options may fall into your character concept side of things than true optimisation.

  • Barbarian : Any STR-Fighter might be interested here, Rage for more damage and if you take 2 levels you’ll get reckless attack to force advantage.
  • Bard: A Purple Dragon Knight may consider looking here since they’ll likely have the 13 Cha required. If you do go 3 levels in go for Lore bard and get Cutting Words.
  • Cleric: Depending on the domain you could get some nice bonuses. Being based on WIS hurts you depending on spell choice.
  • Druid: Similar problems to Cleric but more so. WIS isn’t where you should be looking.
  • Monk: Nothing for you here because Martial arts requires you to take your armour off.
  • Paladin: CHA being the spellcasting ability makes this a match for a Purple Dragon Knight or possible an Eldritch Knight.
  • Ranger: Not a bad choice for an archer build tho you’ll need to sink at least 2 levels if not 3 into Ranger to get to the good stuff. The Gloom Stalker (XGTE) for its Dread Ambusher is fire.
  • Rogue: Sneak attack is solid for the Dex fighter. Cunning Action will is a solid feature that makes you versitile like nothing else.
  • Sorcerer: A very attractive option for Eldritch Knights thanks to Metamagic, a top prize for any caster in general. Obviously, don’t bother with just a dip if you’re not an EK.
  • Warlock: Could be something here for archetypes other than Eldritch Knight. Spell slots recharge on a short rest and the Eldritch Blast Cantrip or Booming Blade are solid choices.
  • Wizard: Pairs well with an Eldritch Knight looking to and become a little more magicky. Other archetypes don’t need to bother.



  1. This may very well be the best guide for Fighters I’ve seen. I *did* notice the missing Sharpshooter, but the rest is well-rounded and simply presented. You have my thanks.

  2. Hermit could reveal the location of a religious weapon or mount or a secreat treasure ( good for fighters this guide is bad because it says don’t be hermit) who ever wrote this guy clearly hates fighter hermits and showed biased towards a great fighter background out of ignorance

  3. Playing a Sorlock for the last 18 months, first character after a 30 year hiatus. And have one session with a Vengeance Paladin (to be) last week. I have been forever drawn to the “Battlemaster” description in PHB, because it sounds like you get to play chess (with your Maneuvers) while also beating enemies into a pulp. No spell-slot management required!

    Great read, top to bottom. Thanks for doing all of the mental legwork. I rolled up a Fighter before finding this page (just to have, in case a character dies lol)(and because creating charaters is fun!), and you helped focus me on the major dont’s and do’s for the class/races/feats, etc.

    One day my Half-Orc Fighter will rise from this piece of paper and start slaying — and doing it well — thanks to you! 🙂

  4. “Don’t assume you’re stuck with a katana based on the name ‘Samurai’”
    Why woud I assume such a thing when samurai historicly is a mounted archers who use bow first, spear second and only use swords as “oh, shit” option? 😉

  5. Medium Armor Master: If you happen to be at 16 Dex you get +2 AC.
    This is not correct. The effect gives totally only +1 AC. Because it does just increase the armor restriction from +2 Dex to +3 Dex.
    And Weapon Mastery can be more useful for a Battlemaster because it allows another application of one of his manoeuvers and it adds more manoeuvres to his list. He can as an example use the d6 dice for a disarm.


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