Would you like a little more fighter with your fighter, or do you want some of the training without multiple levels of multi-classing? Martial adept is an interesting feat that takes one of the more interesting potential builds of the fighter class and makes a small bit of that available to other classes without having to multi-class. But is this feat any good?
The marital adept feat in 5E is an interesting feat with good versatility and can be fairly good in the right circumstances. This isn’t an overpowering feat but it is a solid one that is easy to justify taking as it offers solid value that is even better when in a melee-heavy party.
So is the marital adept feat a good addition to your next build? Read on to find out!
Breaking Down the Martial Adept Feat
There are a lot of options for how to take advantage of the Martial Adept feat, but we need to break down the exact wording of the feat to really understand how to use it. Let’s get to it!
Directly from the Player’s Handbook:
You have a martial training that allows you to perform special combat maneuvers. You gain the following benefits:
- You learn two maneuvers of your choice from among those available to the Battle Master archetype in the fighter class. If a maneuver you use requires your target to make a saving throw to resist the maneuver’s effects, the saving throw DC equals 8 + you proficiency bonus + your Strength or Dexterity modifier (your choice).
- You gain one superiority die, which is a d6 (this die is added to any superiority dice you have from another source). This die is used to fuel your maneuvers. A superiority die is expended when you use it. You regain your expended superiority dice when you finish a short or long rest.
Let’s break down this fascinating feat a bit more thoroughly.
Benefit #1: Learn two maneuvers of your choice from Battle Master archetype of the fighter class.
This is a pretty cool benefit. Battle Master Fighters can even take it to get even more maneuvers in their array of abilities. Some of these maneuvers (found on page 74 of The Player’s Handbook) allow for really cool actions, especially from non-fighter classes, and creates a level of battlefield control that can make an already dangerous melee-heavy party even deadlier when working as a team.
Because of the wide array of options that maneuvers offer, it’s impossible to pigeonhole exactly how this will form. It may allow a stronger defense across the line…or letting the powerful paladin strike twice, or even imposing disadvantage on your opponents. Mixed with other melee characters as well as supporting bards, the battlefield control becomes incredible with enough players with this feat.
Benefit #2: You gain one d6 superiority die that is used to fuel those maneuvers. This d6 is regained after a short or long rest.
Adding extra dice to any roll is a powerful boost and because of the unique ways that superiority dice are used to fuel combat maneuvers, they are a solid bonus. The d6 is lower than the d8 that fighters usually get, but it’s still solid and for the fighter that d6 is not static.
Also there’s the fact that this die does actually upgrade for Battle Master fighters as they level up to Improved Combat Superiority.
Looking at Fighter Maneuvers
There’s no way to get a full sense of the martial adept feat without looking at some of the most powerful, popular, or versatile fighter maneuvers that are available because of this feat. These are found on page 74 of The Player’s Handbook and while I won’t go over all of them because of space, there are some not mentioned here that are still worth a look.
Whatever your martial/melee build, you can find some maneuvers that will work for you.
Some of the most popular fighter maneuvers picked with the martial initiate feat:
- Commander’s Strike: When you use the attack action you can surrender one of your attacks and instead use your bonus action to command a companion to strike. The party member, friendly creature, or friendly NPC then uses their reaction to make a weapon strike.
- Distracting Strike: This lets you add the superiority die on the damage to a hit, and gives all others attacking that same target advantage until your next turn. It’s a bad day to be them!
- Evasive Footwork: When you move you can spend your superiority die by rolling it and adding that to your AC until you stop moving (imagine this on a monk or barbarian looking to charge through a line to reach the squishy enemies behind them)
- Goading Attack: You add the superiority die to the damage of an attack roll and if you hit, the target makes a wisdom saving throw. If failed, it’s an effective taunt. If the target attacks anyone other than you on the next turn then he/she/it does so at disadvantage. Perfect for the tanky barbarian looking to take pressure off a party that could REALLY use a turn of healing!
- Maneuvering Attack: Talk about battlefield control! Long story short, you get to direct a teammate up to half their movement speed using their reaction to get to a better (flanking) position without any opportunity attacks being made.
- Precision Attack: Hit that heavily armored target by adding the superiority die to the attack roll to hit – and it can be used before or after the initial attack roll!
- Riposte: When a creature misses you with a melee attack use your reaction to attack it back. Classic!
As you can see, there’s a lot of versatility here. Give the others a look as there are others we haven’t covered here that still do really good things for the right build.
But even among these there are the ability to hit more, hit harder, give advantage to your teammates or disadvantage to enemies attacking anyone else. Move people into flanking position, or out of danger, and suddenly you have characters who add battlefield control that your bard would be proud of.
5E Classes That Should Take the Martial Adept Feat
Considering the fighter has multiple extra ability score improvements that can be traded for feats, it only makes sense that they take this feat. If they go the Battle Master sub-class route, which most will, then adding yet more superiority dice and more maneuvers makes your fighter that much more versatile.
On the other hand if you go with another sub-class of fighter, this feat is still great because it adds two maneuvers from the Battle Master sub-class into your sub-class’s series of benefits. More versatility with the already versatile fighter class is only going to make whatever iteration of the fighter you create all the better.
While a very good argument can be made for 5th edition’s martial adept feat as being an excellent option for any melee-based class, there’s no argument that every fighter should take a serious look at this feat and what it adds to their build.
5th Ed Classes that should always take the Martial Adept Feat:
5E Classes That Should Consider Taking the Martial Adept Feat
While the martial adept feat makes complete sense for a 5E fighter, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good pick for other classes. While this isn’t as overpowering as other OP feats, it is a strong and versatile one that fits in really well with classes that are melee-based.
In fact, the biggest hamper with most of these classes taking martial adept is the need for high multiple stats or other feats that are created for those builds. Because if there is enough space this feat makes a lot of sense for a lot of builds.
Barbarian is one class that can do well here. Rage, tank, and when the next turn comes around use one of those extra attacks and the bonus action to make the paladin attack again. Not only do they get to attack with that superiority die added to damage, but if they crit, they can then choose to SMITE with that extra attack.
Barbarian is a tank that sometimes gets flak for not doing the same level of damage, but this feat is a great way to push the one-hit wonders to doing what they do best…an extra time in battle.
Clerics tend to be the heavy armored melee units directing the front line and the ability to make the barbarian attack again, move the monk free of attacks of opportunity to the backlines, or cause a fighter to attack yet again is powerful, making martial adept a good feat for them when it can be fit into the always tight monk build.
Monks already play an interesting role in the battlefield because of their special class abilities and next level mobility. Add in a good maneuver and they can raise even more havoc on the battlefield than they already do.
Rangers generally won’t need this particular feat, and they have a use for their bonus action, however if you build a melee-based ranger instead of an archery-based ranger, then the martial adept feat is a great addition to give the ranger that extra little edge that helps them stay at least in the same realm as other more conventional martial class builds.
Paladins are another class that just make sense for this feat. With heavy armor, strong weapons, and the faith to hammer out an impressive SMITE they are a great class to use the benefits of the marital initiate feat, and will often find themselves on the receiving end of it from other party members, as well.
5th Ed Classes that should consider taking the Martial Adept Feat:
5E Classes That Should NEVER Take the Martial Adept Feat
There are multiple classes that just don’t make sense with the martial adept feat. These are casting classes, classes that don’t have multiple melee attacks, and those that are better in the middle to back line. Or from a distance (hello Sharpshooter rangers!). Rogues would seem like a decent choice for this until you realize without that second attack action, sacrificing the sneak attack just doesn’t make a lot of sense.
The Druid’s power comes from a combination of casting spells and abusing the Wild Shape feature. Spellcasters master spells to be major movers in battle, or the glue that let’s everyone do their things even better and that is with further investing in their class, not going the martial adept feat, as good as it is in 5th edition.
With that in mind the seven classes that should almost never take the martial adept feat are artificer, bard, druid, rogue, sorcerer, warlock, and wizard. You could throw the conventional archery-build ranger into that, though there are arguments for keeping it out.
5th Ed classes that should almost never take the Martial Adept Feat:
Final Feat Grade for 5E Martial Adept
Martial Adept Feat Grade: B+
Is the 5E Martial Adept Feat Worth It?
For frontline melee units the martial adept feat is an interesting and versatile feat that allows you to build in lot of different bonuses for you or your teammates depending on what maneuver you choose. This is a very solid and versatile feat that gets most of its power from being good for most melee classes and a very natural pickup by the fighter.
It’s not as strong in pure power the way that most B+ feats are, but there is tons of potential here and it’s rarely a bad pickup, especially for those frontline melee classes that can use it.
Martial Adept Feat FAQ
Why should I take the martial adept feat instead of multi-classing?
For non-fighters dipping into 2 levels of fighter is a pretty common way to supercharge many builds. However, if you’re looking for superiority dice and Battle Master maneuvers you need to go 3 levels into fighter. This also can really mess up your ability score increases as these go by class level and not by total level, meaning you can fall behind.
For epic level campaigns that go to level 20, some classes won’t want to give up their level 17 and higher buffs. Even for the common 5E campaign stopping points of
Can fighters take the martial adept feat?
Yes. Fighters can all take the martial adept feat once, even fighters who take the Battle Master subclass.
Can you take the marital adept feat more than once?
You can not take the martial adept feat more than once. At least as of now Elemental Adept is the only feat that a player is allowed to take more than once without adding custom homebrew D&D rules.
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Proud to embrace the locally created moniker of “Corrupt Overlord” from one of the all time great Lords of Waterdeep runs, Shane is one member of the Assorted Meeples crew and will be hard at work creating awesome content for the website. He is a long-time player of board games, one time semi-professional poker player, and tends to run to the quirky or RPG side of things when it comes to playing video games. He loves tabletop roleplaying systems like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Werewolf, Fate, and others, and not only has been a player but has run games as DM for years. You can find his other work in publications like Level Skip or Hobby Lark.