Tag Archives: Optimization

On Fighter Options

I was asked about this, and what was a short email became a blog post. Fighters in D&D 5 have a number of choices to make quite early in their character development, so let’s examine them in a bit more detail.

Fighting Style

The first choice is what fighting style to take. For the sake of this particular discussion, I’m ignoring the fighting styles that don’t boost damage in some way, although they’re certainly worth considering (Protection in particular is rather powerful). We’re going to be examining these using Kodra’s assumption of 15 AC as a decent target, and a 16 in the primary attack stat.

  • Archery: This is a +2 to hit, or a flat 10% increase in your chance to hit (advantage/disadvantage can mess with that a bit). Longbow damage is therefore going to be .6(7.5)+.05(12) = 5.1 DPR at level 1. Fighters don’t get any thing that directly boosts this until their subclass choice, but that’s for later. No other style provides a boost to hit, so this one provides the most consistent damage.
  • Dueling: This would seem to be the default choice, but our DM has ruled that it doesn’t apply to sword and board. Anyway, at +2 to damage modeling this is also pretty straightforward: .5(9.5)+.05(14) = 5.45 DPR. Not bad, and it gives you a free hand to work with (which might be important depending on later choices).
  • Great Weapon Fighting: The important note here is that if you’re in this category, you’re probably planning to use the King of Weapons, the Greatsword, as it’s the objectively most damaging weapon in the book (although the Maul got moved up to match it). As such, this would come out ahead of the Dueling numbers without taking the style (5.85) but the style is another damage boost on top of this. The end result (assuming that you always reroll an initial roll of 1 or 2) is 6.65 DPR.
  • Two-Weapon Fighting: This should probably be evaluated differently because hitting with both hands requires your bonus action, but as a low-level fighter you don’t have any other uses for that anyway. This also requires light melee weapons (without a feat), which means you’re down to shortswords (or similar). Final damage is (.5(6.5) + .05(10))*2 = 7.5. This lead decreases when Extra Attack comes into play.

Martial Archetype

The choice between these really depends on what you want to do with your fighter. One thing to keep in mind is that fighters are still mostly supposed to use their weapons on things, and this remains true even if you’re a Battle Master or Eldritch Knight.


This one’s definitely the most straightforward. More criticals, another fighting style, and some bonuses to checks you’re probably not doing a lot (although it’s worth noting Remarkable Athlete does cover stealth checks if you don’t have proficiency). I don’t quite have Kodra’s patience for calculations, so I’ll trust him when he says that the critical bonus isn’t worth that much at low levels. The additional fighting style can be used either for defense or versatility. This archetype gives nothing that uses a bonus action, so TWF works fine with it.

Battle Master

All of the things people liked about the 4e Warlord ended up here, except constrained by a limited pool of superiority dice (which are recovered in a short or long rest). Many of the maneuvers you can pick from allow you to add the superiority die roll to the damage of an attack, making it better for damage than Improved Critical (as long as your dice last). Some of these require you to use a bonus action, making TWF a less attractive option for this archetype. There are other interesting things you can do in this one, like getting an off-turn sneak attack out of a rogue in the party if you have one (requires your bonus action and the target’s reaction). Once you run out of superiority dice, this archetype doesn’t have much to offer, but I know it’s Kodra’s favorite.

Eldritch Knight

This one’s a bit odd. The paragraph at the start of the archetype description hints at where this one is going, and what it gives you. While it does grant cantrips, they’re less likely to hit than weapon attacks unless your INT is abnormally high for a fighter (maybe you rolled for stats; consider Blade Ward if you’re more… typical) and will also do less damage in most cases (especially if you’re using a greatsword). The primary power here is access to one of the better Wizard defensive spells (Shield is very good) and some AOE that other fighters cannot duplicate (look for spells that still deal half-damage on a successful save like Burning Hands, or later, Fireball). At much later levels, you can start taking other wizard buffs, like Haste or Stoneskin. Spell slots are limited, so the primary thing you’ll be doing is still using your weapon. Because casting most spells requires a free hand, and later features do use your bonus action, TWF is a no-go for this archetype. Jury’s still out on if you can cast spells with a two-hander, so check with your DM. (I’d say yes, but it’s not entirely clear.) I personally think this might be the best archetype for “tank” type fighters.


That’s a lot of words to say “different choices work better in different situations”. Unlike Ranger, where I firmly believe one of the archetypes is weaker than the other, the fighter ones are all good in their own way. The Fighting style question is a little easier, as Great Weapon is great unless you have compelling reason not to use it (dex-based fighter, want protection style, etc.). Hope this helps anyone who’s intending to play a fighter in an upcoming game!

You know what this link is by now. Also, you have until the end of the weekend to finish the Four Job Fiesta. I apparently owe another $10 now.

On Terrible Ideas, Re-examined

Wrapping up a week of posts primarily about D&D, I think I’ll take another look at that evoker from earlier.

Actually a Bad Idea

Overchannel does let you use it on spells from 1st to 5th level, but there really are limits to this sort of thing. Using it on Cone Of Cold is nice for your first maximized spell of the day, but as the second it will do 10d12 damage to you. At level 14 on average rolls you would have 80 hit points as a wizard (Con 14 assumed, which might be generous), so this is 65 damage to yourself on average and has a roughly 10% chance of dropping you from full HP. Fireball isn’t quite so bad, but 39 damage is a rather high number to be doing to yourself. If cast in a 5th level spell slot (the highest number for which you have more than 1/day). This represents a ~25 damage increase over casting it normally per target that doesn’t save, so you’re technically doing more damage out than you’re taking if you can catch two or more targets. It’s still a bad idea except in the most desperate of circumstances. Don’t do this.


Maximizing Potential

A generally better idea is to maximize something big for the one you get for free, and spend the rest on something like Chromatic Orb. As a first level spell, you only take 2d12 damage (average 13) from overchannelling this. It does 7d8 damage in a 5th level spell slot (4 points less when maximized than Fireball), but only hits a single target, and uses an attack roll instead of a DEX save (which is better for hitting monks/rogues and worse for hitting heavily armored fighters/paladins). Burning Hands (7d6) or Thunderwave (6d8) are other first level spells worth considering for use with this feature if you are a bit too close to a few too many enemies.

Since Concentration rules make CC in general worse than it used to be, I don’t think evoker is as much of a noob trap as Kodra makes it out to be. It just requires not overdoing it, and being aware that Fireball is not the only spell on your spell list.

For more posts about… everything, check out the Blaugust initiative. For a quick look at Divinity: Original Sin, check out Stargrace’s post from yesterday.


Now that I’m getting more into WildStar, I started seeking more information about it, and I’ve found an annoyance with some of the class guides I’m seeing. I found a few that completely dismiss a number of skills that “don’t do enough damage”. Specifically DoT skills, like Annihilation, Devastator Probes and Ignite. These spells get ignored in favor of spells that cause big numbers, like Gamma Rays and Charged Shot. There are some problems with this approach, and I’ll be specifically focusing on Medic here. Spellslinger math gets weird because of their innate.

When I was playing an Affliction Warlock in World of Warcraft (this is back when Soul shards were items in your bag, and Siphon life was a spell that you could actually cast), I was introduced to the concept of Damage Per Execute Time (DPET), a metric used to determine if an ability is worth casting, or in what order to prioritize things in cases where multiple abilities come up at once. The basic idea is that you want to spend the most time casting the things that do the most damage, so you can use this metric to make that decision.

When looking at raw numbers, the Medic’s best skills in terms of DPET are Devastator Probes, Annihilation, Gamma Rays, Nullifier, and Quantum Cascade, in that order. Gamma Rays and Quantum Cascade have the additional consideration of their actuator cost, forcing you to (usually) use the very low DPET skill Discharge in order to continue to cast them, so this must be taken into consideration.

It’s not completely cut and dry, since AMPs and ability points can change this significantly. Also, because you have to decide which abilities you want to take, the total amount of damage an ability can do over a fight is also worth considering. I don’t have any great advice on how to set up a level 50 bar (except that it probably needs Paralytic Surge on it), but I’m just trying to fix the perception that the DoT skills are a “waste of a GCD”, when most of them do more damage than the medic’s premier single-target ability.

Fiesta Time

I managed to finish my playthrough of FF5 for the draft group (I was second to finish, behind Tam), but I’ve been a bit lazy about uploading the videos for it. This is just in time for the actual Fiesta, where my party is Knight/Berserker/White Mage/Berserker. Hopefully this goes smoothly; I think I have enough experience in the game to carry even this physical-heavy party through the whole thing.