This guide showcases the popular Battle Master Fighter build, using the Great Weapon Master feat. It’s very simple and straightforward, but highly effective – in the end game you’ll be attacking up to 10 times per turn. Additionally, you get the solid defense a frontliner needs, some nice combat utility and quite a bit of versatility through additional feats.
The sections below will cover how to best progress a Battle Master through the levels, as well as equipment selection, character creation and some gameplay tips.
This build is centered around maximizing the number of attacks you can do per turn. That is also the reason why the build is so straightforward – you gain Improved Extra Attack at Level 11, as well as an extra feat at Level 12. This means you generally don’t want to multiclass and instead play a pure Fighter. If you want, you can dip into, for example, a caster class at Level 12, but in general the additional feat will be better.
The Battle Master also comes with several Manoeuvers you can perform by spending Superiority Dice, which are a Battle Master exclusive resource. These manoeuvers range from counter attacks and crowd control to party buffs, giving you access to a variety of situational combat utilities.
In general, there is no race that makes or breaks this build. However, there are some that stand out among the rest:
- Movement is always great, especially as a melee, so taking Wood Elf or Wood Half-Elf can be a good choice for the increased movement speed. You also gain some defenses against crowd control.
- Another option in that regard is the power race Githyanki, which gives you a free Misty Step at Level 5, as well as some nice utility with Astral Knowledge if you decide to be the face of the party.
- Half-Orc is also a great choice, increasing your critical damage (which is very relevant with how many attacks you are making) and getting you a Get Out of Jail Free card through Relentless Endurance.
Skill proficiencies and your background don’t matter too much for this build, so choose what fits your party or your character. Be aware though that if you choose Githyanki, you want to avoid spreading your proficiencies over all the different Ability categories, to maximize Astral Knowledge value.
For Ability Scores, you want to have 17 Strength for damage and 16 Constitution for survivability. After that, increasing Dexterity is a good choice – even though heavy armor ignores it, it still gives its bonus to everything else. Alternatively, you can also bring Dexterity down to 13 to spend two more points on either Wisdom or Charisma and use an Ability Improvement to bring Dexterity to 14.
Feats and Abilities
In this section, we’ll summarize what Feats and Abilities to pick while leveling up, as well as some gameplay tips related to them.
At Level 1 you can pick a Fighting Style. Since you will be playing primarily with a heavy melee weapon, there are really only two choices here. Choose whatever you prefer:
- Defence gives you +1 AC, which is a nice defensive option.
- Great Weapon Fighting increases your average damage slightly by rerolling a damage die if it rolls one or two.
At Level 3, you get to pick the Battle Master subclass. You will also get to choose your first three manoeuvers to spend your Superiority Dice on. At Level 7 and 10 you will get to choose two more. These are largely up to you and your playstyle. However, here are some recommendations:
- Riposte is a must-have, giving you a strong counter attack if an enemy misses you with a melee attack.
- Trip Attack can knock a target prone, which gives you Advantage while attacking. Use this as your first attack during your turn, so all your attacks that come after have Advantage.
- Menacing Attack, Disarming Attack and Pushing Attack all have great situational utility during combat.
- Sweeping Attack is good if you don’t use a weapon with a Cleave action on it.
As a Fighter, you will gain a feat at Level 6 in addition to your normal feats at Level 4, 8 and 12. Your first feat pick should be Great Weapon Master, giving you another attack if you land a Critical Hit or kill an enemy. Keep the toggleable passive Great Weapon Master: Bonus Damage in mind: having a big bonus or Advantage on your attack rolls negates the downside of it, essentially giving you 10 free damage.
After that, it gets a lot more dependent on how you are playing your playthrough. In general, you want to increase your Strength to at least 20 through a combination of Ability Improvements, Auntie Ethel’s hair and the Potion of Everlasting Vigour from Araj Oblodra. There are some other options though, which you can pick instead of the Ability Improvement, after getting the Gauntlets of Hill Giant Strength in Act 3, or if you’re using the Elixir of Hill/Cloud Giant Strength:
- Polearm Master + Sentinel can be a strong combination if you’re using a Polearm weapon.
- Savage Attacker increases your damage by quite a bit.
- Alert will make sure you’re one of the first to go once combat starts, which can be a significant advantage.
At Level 5, you get an Extra Attack per action. On Level 11, this increases to two extra attacks through Improved Extra Attack. This means you benefit a lot from Haste effects. Generally, you want someone else to cast Haste on you, so you don’t get your concentration broken when getting attacked, but there are also Potions of Speed you can use and several items which grant you Haste.
Doing this means that on Level 11 with Haste and Action Surge you have 3 actions available, letting you do 9 attacks. This will usually trigger your Great Weapon Master: Bonus Attack, resulting in 10 attacks per turn. This is why you benefit so much from effects that give you flat damage, Advantage on attacks, or interact with Critical Hits.
Your choice of equipment is pretty open, as long as you are always wielding a heavy melee weapon. Having a bow is also a good idea, especially in the early game where you can’t always close the gap reliably immediately. As mentioned above, equipment that gives you Advantage is very strong, alongside equipment that gives a flat damage or attack roll bonus.
- This is a strong +1 glaive that has extra reach and a nice bonus action attack stapled onto it.
- If you steal it from the Emerald Grove, you can get this extremely early.
- Sword of Justice
- A +1 greatsword, which gives you the Shield of Faith spell.
- This can also be obtained very early from the fake Tyr Paladins in the Risen Road Toll House.
- Sussur Greatsword
- A +1 greatsword. The silence on hit makes it a strong option against casters.
- Can be chosen as one of the masterwork weapons for the “Finish the Masterwork Weapon” quest.
- Unseen Menace
- A very strong +1 pike that has extra reach and routinely gives you Disarm immunity, Advantage on attack rolls and Critical Hits at 19.
- You can buy this from A’jak’nir Jeera in the Githyanki Creche.
- Gloves of the Growling Underdog
- These gloves give you Advantage on your attack rolls if you are surrounded by two or more enemies, as well as +1 to Strength saving throws.
- They can be found in the Goblin Temple in one of Dror Ragzlin’s treasure chests.
- Adamantine Splint Armour
- This is very strong heavy armour that will probably last you until Act 3. It has a variety of effects, like reducing all damage by 2, affecting attackers with Reeling and giving immunity to Critical Hits, on top of a strong AC.
- Can be forged at the Adamantine Forge in the Grymforge.
- Amulet of Misty Step
- If you are not playing Githyanki (or don’t want to wait for Level 5), this gives you Misty Step.
- Can be found in the Goblin Temple, guarded by the priestess’ bodyguard, Polma.
- Disintegrating Night Walkers
- These boots give you immunity against being Enwebbed, Entangled, Ensnared and slipping on surfaces.
- They are another source for Misty Step and can be obtained from Nere in the Grymforge.
- Drakethroat Glaive
- A +2 glaive that can be bought from Roah Moonglow in the Moonrise Towers.
- With its buff Draconic Elemental Weapon, it’s really a +3 weapon with an extra 1d4 damage.
- Moonlight Glaive
- Another +2 glaive with an additional 1d4 radiant damage.
- Has a spell on it that creates an AoE that deals damage and gives you Advantage on attacks against targets in it.
- Acquired after freeing the Nightsong.
- Halberd of Vigilance
- A +2 halberd with an additional 1d4 force damage.
- Gives you Advantage on attacks made as reactions, making it a very strong choice for Polearm Master players.
- Sold by (or looted from) Lann Tarv in the Moonrise Towers.
- Darkfire Shortbow
- This is more of a stat stick, giving you resistance to Fire and Cold damage and Haste once per long rest.
- Sold by Dammon at the Last Light Inn.
- Killer’s Sweetheart
- This ring makes your next attack a Critical Hit, after you kill a creature.
- Found by doing the Self-Same Trial in the Gauntlet of Shar.
- Risky Ring
- A very strong ring, giving you unconditional Advantage on all attacks, at the expense of also getting Disadvantage on all saving throws.
- Sold by Araj Oblodra in the Moonrise Towers.
- Gloves of the Automaton
- If you don’t want to play with the Risky Ring, this is another great source for Advantage using your bonus action once per short rest.
- Can be bought from Barcus Wroot in the Last Light Inn, if you saved him from the goblins and then the Grymforge in Act 1.
- Flawed Helldusk Gloves
- A good alternative to the Automaton gloves, giving you a flat 1d4 damage bonus and +1 to Strength saving throws.
- Dammon can craft this for you at the Last Light Inn if given an Infernal Iron.
- Cloak of Protection
- Just a very solid cloak, giving you +1 to your AC and saving throws.
- Can be bought from Quartermaster Talli at the Last Light Inn.
The last Act has an abundance of very strong items, so the below suggestions are only a small selection of them. If you get the items which set your Strength or Constitution to 23, consider respeccing after equipping them to increase your other abilities, or to pick up some additional feats.
- Balduran’s Giantslayer
- A +3 legendary greatsword that doubles the damage from your Strength modifier, making it probably the strongest option for this build.
- You also gain Advantage against bigger creatures, which is relevant here and there in Act 3. Additionally, it gives you a spell that increases your damage, gets you some temporary hit points and Advantage on Strength checks and saving throws.
- Acquired by defeating Ansur in the Wyrmway trials.
- Silver Sword of the Astral Plane
- If you’re Githyanki, this +3 legendary greatsword is another strong option, giving you various damage and Advantage boni.
- You get it from either doing Kith’rak Voss’ quest, or killing him.
- Amulet of Greater Health
- This amulet increases your Constitution to 23 and gives you Advantage on Constitution saving throws.
- You can steal it from the House of Hope’s archive.
- Gauntlets of Hill Giant Strength
- These gloves increase your Strength to 23 and give you +1 on Strength saving throws.
- You can also steal it from the House of Hope’s archive.
- Helldusk Boots
- These are kinda like the Night Walkers on steroids. You ignore difficult terrain and can’t be moved by enemy spells or actions.
- You can also use a reaction to succeed any failed saving throw.
- On top of that, they also grant a spell that lets you teleport to an area and deal AoE damage wherever you land.
- They can be obtained from a Gilded Chest on the top floor of Wyrm’s Rock Fortress.
- Helldusk Armor
- This legendary armor has 21 AC and resistance to Fire damage and burning immunity.
- It also reduces any damage you take by 3 and sets the enemy caster on fire after succeeding a saving throw.
- Grants the Fly spell.
- It can be obtained by killing our all-time favorite devil Raphael in the House of Hope.
- Helldusk Helmet
- This helmet gives you blind immunity, +2 on saving throws against spells and immunity against Critical Hits.
- Acquired from the vault in the House of Hope.
- Elixir of Hill Giant Strength
- This is a great elixir in the early game, increasing your Strength to 21.
- You can buy 3 of these per Long Rest from Auntie Ethel in the Grove, so you can stock up on them in Act 1.
- Elixir of Cloud Giant Strength
- The big brother of the Hill Giant Strength elixir, increasing your Strength to 27.
- These are only available in Act 3 though and a bit harder to come by.
- Elixir of Bloodlust
- This elixir gives you temporary hit points and an additional action every time you kill an enemy.
- Potion of Speed
- A nice alternative to casting Haste yourself, since it doesn’t require concentration. The downside is the effect only lasts 3 turns.
This build is extremely simple: you just press left click as much as possible — up to 9 times in a turn, with the bonus attack from Great Weapon Master on top making it 10. This is accomplished via Extra Attack, and then by Improved Extra Attack, combined with Haste effects from another character, plus the Action Surge action. Sadly, Action Surge will only be available once per battle, but that still leaves you able to attack 4-6 (+1) times per turn, so long as you’re Hastening your Fighter every turn.
Because ideally you want to gain the extra action from Haste before the fighter takes its turn, you may want to pre-cast Haste if you know you’re about to enter combat. However, given that the first turn is usually spend dashing into position anyway, it’s not essential that you find ways to Hasten your Fighter for their initial turn.