Last Updated on March 14, 2023
The Battle Master Fighter is a powerful subclass that uses Maneuvers — special combat abilities fueled by superiority dice — to deal additional damage, move around the battlefield, keep their allies safe, and more.
One of the most popular Battle Master Maneuvers is Feinting Attack, which allows you to put your opponent on the defensive, hopefully giving you an opening to get past their AC. But how does Feinting Attack work exactly? When should you use it? And how does it compare to other feats like Precision Strike?
You can expend one superiority die and use a bonus action on your turn to feint, choosing one creature within 5 feet of you as your target. You have advantage on your next attack roll against that creature this turn. If that attack hits, add the superiority die to the attack’s damage roll.
How Does Feinting Attack Work?
Feinting attack lets you burn a superiority die and your bonus action in order to give yourself advantage on your next attack roll. If the attack hits, you also get to roll the superiority die and increase the damage of the attack by the result.
When Should I Use Feinting Attack?
When you first start picking up maneuvers along with the Battle Master martial archetype at 3rd level (or if you choose to take the Martial Adept feat), you’ll only have 4d8 superiority dice to play with between short or long rests.
You can’t just throw out Feinting Attack (or any maneuver for that matter) every time you charge into a bunch of goblins; this maneuver both increases your chances of landing an attack and boosts the damage if you are successful, so saving it for an enemy with lots of hit points, with a high armor class, or who’s just about to do something you really don’t want them to do (imagine a cult leader about to sacrifice your favorite NPC) is probably the way to go.
Is Feinting Attack Good?
While there are no Battle Master Maneuvers that are truly bad (with the possible exception of Tactical Assessment), some are undeniably more equal than others.
Some can accomplish more with fewer resources (like Brace, which basically lets you trigger your own opportunity attack with extra damage using just a Superiority Die and your reaction) than Feinting Attack, while others might be integral to your character’s fighting style (if you want to play a badass throwing-weapon specialist, Quick Toss really is the candy apple on the little Swiss Boy’s head).
That being said, Feinting Attack might have a relatively heavy cost (it’s one of just five maneuvers that take up your bonus action), but it’s one of the only options out there that helps you hit your target and boosts your damage, which is pretty great.
Let’s look at the attack roll bonus and compare it to the most similar battle master maneuver: Precision Attack.
Now, advantage (rolling twice and taking the higher of the two results) increases your odds of success more the lower the target’s AC. Rolling with advantage against an enemy with 11 AC would turn a 50% chance of success (assuming no bonuses) into a 75% chance of success. However, attacking an enemy with an AC of 20 with advantage only turns a 5% chance of success into a 9.75% chance.
In real terms, Feinting Attack could give you a statistical bonus to hit of anywhere between 1 and 5.
By contrast, the benefits of rolling a superiority die for Precision Attack (which lets you add the result of the roll to your d20 roll to hit) range from 1 to 8 with an average of 4.5. Obviously, Precision Attack doesn’t increase your damage, and therein lies the trade-off. Also, if you fight at range, Precision Strike can help you there, while Feinting Attack is only for enemies within 5 feet.
This means that Feinting Attack is actually most effectively used against enemies with lower AC, which feel counterintuitive as high AC enemies feel like the ones you should be using your precious Superiority Dice to try and actually hit. Of course, you could use it to try and quickly eliminate squishy spellcasters, minions whose purpose it is to draw your attention away from the BBEG, and glass cannons from the enemy lineup.
Final Thoughts: Should I Pick Feinting Attack?
A Battle Master Fighter chooses three maneuvers at 3rd level and gains two more at 7th, 10th, and 15th level.
Because anyone playing a Battle Master is going to be slogging all the way from 3rd to 7th level with just a handful of maneuvers, picking the right ones is an important decision when leveling up your character. I personally like to select one maneuver for defense, one for control (or utility), and one for damage. Feinting Attack is obviously a strong contender for damage, and depending on your build (namely, whether you regularly like to use your bonus action for something like two-weapon fighting), it can be a great way to double down on an attack when it counts.
On balance, Feinting Attack is a nice way to up your chances of hitting an opponent and dealing some extra damage. The fact that you decide when to trigger it (rather than waiting for an enemy to come to you or miss you with an attack, like Brace and Riposte, respectively) makes it an especially inviting option as long as it doesn’t get in the way of other stuff you plan on doing with your bonus action.
Frequently Asked Questions: Feinting Attack
Can You Use More Than One Battle Master Maneuver per Turn?
Yes. The PHB states that you can use only one maneuver per attack, not Attack action. Therefore, a fighter with three attacks each round could apply a maneuver to each attack for an extra 3d8 damage across the whole round on top of the maneuvers’ different effects.
Be careful, however, as several maneuvers also require you to use your Bonus Action or Reaction, and you only have one of each per round. Feinting Attack is one of those maneuvers, and if you take, it you might want to consider avoiding maneuvers like Grappling Strike, Commander’s Strike, Quick Toss, or Rally.
How Many Maneuvers Can a Battle Master Have?
You can choose three maneuvers from the Battle Master list at 3rd level. At 7th, 10th, and 15th level, you can choose an additional maneuver (as well as swap out one maneuver you already have) for a total of six. If you take the Martial Adept Feat and the Superior Technique fighting style, you can add another three maneuvers to your roster.
What Are the Best Battle Master Maneuvers?
All Battle Master maneuvers are at least situationally good. However, maneuvers that combine damage with the potential to protect an ally, disable an opponent, or use your reaction/bonus action to make an attack – like Bait and Switch, Goading Attack, Menacing Attack, Quick Toss, and Riposte – are all worth consideration.
Can You Use Battle Master Maneuvers While Raging?
Yes. “Nothing in the barbarian’s Rage feature precludes the use of maneuvers,” according to D&D 5e lead designer, Jeremy Crawford.
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I played my first tabletop RPG (Pathfinder 1e, specifically) in college. I rocked up late to the first session with an unread rulebook and a human bard called Nick Jugger. It was a rocky start but I had a blast and now, the better part of a decade later, I play, write, and write about tabletop RPGs (mostly 5e, but also PBtA, Forged in the Dark and OSR) games for a living, which is wild.