I didn’t come into D&D until 5th Edition, but I heard stories from 3.5 about the insanity that was the Mounted Combatant build and how some of these could just run over any enemy put in front of them. This was heavily nerfed by the time that 5E came around, and I can honestly say that although there were battles on horse, there was nothing that would be considered actual mounted combat.
Still, the mounted combatant feat exists, and it’s there to give at least some options and benefits when engaging in mounted combat like the jousting knights of old.
The One DnD Mounted Combatant Feat gives a player a +1 to Strength, Dexterity, or Wisdom (player’s choice), gives advantage to Animal Handling checks made on animals used as mounts, advantage on attack rolls (when mounted) against creatures a smaller size than the mount within 5 feet, use a reaction to take a hit meant for your mount, and a bonus on Dexterity saving throws against area effects so a success is no damage and failure is only half damage.
Whew, that’s a mouthful, but does it really all add up to a feat worth taking?
Let’s dive in and see what this feat has to offer!
Mounted Combatant Feat One DnD Review
The best way to break down a feat is to check out the exact wording.
From Unearthed Arcana:
Prerequisite: Proficiency with Any Martial Weapon
You have developed a bond with your mounts, granting you the following benefits:
Ability Score Increase. Increase your Strength, Dexterity, or Wisdom score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
Mount Handler. You have Advantage on Wisdom Checks (Animal handling) made to handle or train horses and other Beasts employed as mounts.
Mounted Strike. While mounted, you have Advantage on Attack Rolls against any creature that is within 5 feet of your mount and at least one Size smaller than it.
Leap Aside. If your mount is subjected to an effect that allows it to make a Dexterity Saving Throw to take only half damage, it instead takes no damage if it succeeds on the Saving Throw, and only half damage if it fails. For your mount to gain this benefit, you must be riding it, and neither of you can be Incapacitated.
Veer. While mounted, you can use your Reaction to force an attack that hits your mount to hit you instead.
Unearthed Arcana, Expert Classes 2022
Let’s break down the many benefits of the One DnD Mounted Combatant feat and see what they bring to the table.
Benefit #1: Increase your Strength, Dexterity, or Wisdom by +1 up to a maximum of 20.
This is the standard +1 that comes with half feats, and most feats in One DnD seem to be moving in this directions as there are very few that don’t give a +1 at this point. The STR, DEX, or WIS is a really interesting combination of choices, and should give something of use for almost any build. The WIS as an option really does open up things nicely for the ability score improvement section of this feat.
Benefit #2: You have advantage on animal handling Wisdom checks made to handle or train horses and other animals/beasts trained as mounts.
Not bad as far as theming goes. This makes sense, it works with the feat, it’s pretty meh from a mere practicality standpoint. I don’t know any DMs who force animal handling rolls on a common mount. Maybe in some extreme situations, like preventing them from panicking, but this makes a bit more sense on handling animals you’re not familiar with, but have some degree of training as a mount.
Situational and nothing special, but nothing too bad either.
Benefit #3: When mounted you have Advantage on attack rolls against any creature that is both within 5 feet of your mount and at least one size smaller than it.
This should be a good benefit, but the changes here are at the heart of nerfing the feat. A man on horseback in combat is in better shape than someone on the ground in the overwhelming amount of situations. There’s a reason heavy cavalry charges were so feared. But the restrictions on this mechanic do a couple of things:
- Takes away any benefit of using a Lance (which doesn’t make sense for a mounted combatant feat, IMO)
- Takes away advantage from most battles as you will generally be on a medium mount versus medium or larger creatures
I get not getting advantage charging into a dragon or Ogre, but not against a bandit? But you would against a goblin…when it seems their small size would make them more likely to dodge?
It’s a weird mechanic that not only robs the taker of advantage in many circumstances where they should arguably have it, but it creates a cognitive dissonance for those of us who can’t stop thinking about it.
The nerfing here just makes this way weaker a benefit than it should be. Unless you’re riding an elephant as a mount, in which case you’re already D&D homebrewing and are slightly OP anyway, this isn’t going to be that useful of a benefit.
Benefit #4: When your mount is being hit by an effect that allows a Dexterity Saving Throw for half damage, instead it takes no damage on a success and only half damage if it fails. You must be riding it at the time and neither of you can be incapacitated.
This is the best overall benefit of this feat. It’s a pretty cool idea that horse and rider, or mount and rider, are so in tune they have the ability to skim past damaging area effects. This can be incredibly effective, and in the theater of the mind edging out fireballs all across the battlefield just looks ridiculously cool.
Benefit #5: While mounted you can use your reaction to force an attack that hits your mount to hit you instead.
Not a fan of this. Arguments of players getting attached to imaginary animals more than party mates and forcing the DM to pull punches aside, choosing to take damage in a life or death struggle so the animal not in combat can survive is a strange decision. I know there are situations where this works but it just feels really meh like it missed the point of builds that want to focus on mounted combat.
How Does Mounted Combatant Feat Measure Up?
Honestly, if you feel a little let down because the One DnD Mounted Combatant feat is lacking, you’re not the only one. This feat doesn’t work well with a lance (and arguably nerfs it) which is weird for a mounted combatant, and a +1 is okay but at the end of the day there are a LOT of ways to get a +1 to your Ability Score.
The advantage in combat sounds great until you see the size restrictions that make it rarely fire up, though the area effect is a pretty good effect in normal circumstances.
Is it enough to make this a really strong feat? Not really. It’s great in several circumstances, the other benefits are nominal to niche, and they add together but the biggest sin is that all of this together makes you feel like you have some skills riding but you don’t feel like a next-level horse fighter or skilled knight.
And that means it’s a feat that doesn’t deliver on its promise, and that is unfortunate at best and a gaming sin at worst.
Mounted Combatant Feat: DnD One Vs 5E
Look I wasn’t a fan of the enemy needing to be smaller than your mount to get advantage in 5E and to make that part of the feat even more restrictive in One DnD, that’s not great. The two feats are very similar with a lot of overlap. One DnD basically gives the +1 to an Ability Score while making the advantage even harder to get while in combat.
Related Article: 5E Mounted Combatant Feat Guide
This feels like a minor nerf. The +1 Core Stat might be more consistent but nerfing the situational advantage even more makes this feel even less than a feat for mounted fighters.
I’d personally give the edge to the 5E version of this feat, but could see an argument for either. Wouldn’t be especially impressive by either, though.
Who Should Take the Mounted Combatant Feat in DnD One?
A Fighter who wants to focus on being a mounted combatant, or a Paladin building themselves around a mounted Viking Warrior type build. I prefer Fighter because they have extra feats so they can pick up the benefits of this one and still level up, take other feats, and not have their build wrecked because they went underpowered with a mounted combatant build that just didn’t give them enough to stick out.
DnD One Mounted Combatant Feat Final Grade
The final grade here just can’t be too good. If you’re going to be in mounted combat a lot the ability to dodge area effects is nothing to sneeze at. A +1 is okay, and while sometimes you might get advantage on very specific animal handling checks or attacks at close range, it’s not going to happen often.
If you play with a DM who already improvs rules based on what makes sense to him/her, there’s a chance you got advantage attacking more often from your DM’s rulings than the rules and this feat would even give you. I don’t know whether to give this a C or a D but it feels like it’s probably a C. There’s extra disappointment because how could a feat with so many pieces still not deliver a devastating mounted combatant build and make you feel let down,
Other Articles of Interest
- Dungeons & Dragons Core Stats Guide
- Dungeons & Dragons Damage Types
- 5E DnD Expertise Guide
- Best Feats for Fighters DnD
- One DnD Heavy Armor Master Feat Guide
- One DnD Medium Armor Master Feat Guide
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.