Stoic stone-faced fighters stand in a line as a group of brigands charge, until sudden attacks hit with a whirl of blades, freezing the surprised and stunned attackers in their tracks. A cleric steps forward to call on his ancestral spirits, and when a hint of a smile appears on the fighters’ faces, the brigands know they are doomed.
Sentinel is a powerful feat that virtually every melee class is going to consider taking, and many should see it as an absolute must. Whether standing on its own or in the common pairing with polearm master this feat encourages a huge array of attacks, allows an attack on disengaging enemy rogues, and gives melee characters a degree of battlefield control as they stop attacking enemies dead in their tracks, making their own mobile party members that much more effective.
Is the Sentinel feat worth it?
TL;DR Is the Sentinel Feat worth it in 5th Edition? The Sentinel feat is one of the strongest melee feats in the game and is a great choice for any melee build in general and an excellent choice for fighters, barbarians, clerics, and paladins in particular. The sentinel feat counters the disengage action, creates opportunity attacks, and kills an enemy’s movement speed to zero.
This feat is one of the most popular in the game for a reason, so let’s jump in so you can see if it’s the right feat for your next build!
Breaking Down the Sentinel Feat
There are certain feats every magic caster looks at taking, and this is one of those feats that every melee-build character looks at taking. It’s a powerful feat on its own and even better when paired up with some others, but to learn more we need to deep dive into the text and break down what this feat is all about.
Let’s get to it!
Directly from the Player’s Handbook:
You have mastered techniques to take advantage of every drop in any enemy’s guard, gaining the following benefits:
- When you hit a creature with an opportunity attack the creature’s speed becomes 0 for the rest of the turn.
- Creatures provoke opportunity attacks from you even if they take the Disengage action before leaving your reach.
- When a creature within 5 feet of you makes an attack against a target other than you (and that target doesn’t have this feat), you can use your reaction to make a melee weapon attack against the attacking creature.
Player’s Handbook p.169-170
Sentinel is a powerful feat that quickly became a favorite among 5th Edition D&D players (especially when combined with the polearm master feat) so why don’t we break down those benefits to find out why.
Benefit #1: Hitting a creature with an opportunity attack immediately turns their speed to 0 for the rest of the turn.
This is an excellent benefit that really gives melee fighters a degree of battlefield control that is usually reserved to spellcasters like the bard, druid, or cleric. While they won’t be mistaken for a minstrel anytime soon, being able to prevent enemies from moving away allows you to tank an entire area, which puts enemies where you want them and doesn’t let them slip away.
Considering how many creatures have a reach of 5 to attack, you can see why the sentinel + polearm master combo easily makes the list of the most powerful feat combos in 5E, because hitting them 10 feet away and forcing them to stop – it’s powerful.
Benefit #2: Creatures moving away from you (out of your reach) invoke an opportunity attack EVEN if they take the Disengage action.
Oh those enemy rogues that were so infuriating. But not anymore! The disengage action has been used to withdrawal, to move to another part of the field, or with rogues as a bonus action to get out of harm’s way and reset for another surprise attack.
Benefit #3: When a creature within 5 feet of you attacks someone or something other than you, you can use your reaction to make a melee attack against the attacking creature so long as the target does not also have the sentinel feat.
Using an often unused reaction to get extra attacks on nearby enemies is just a great addition. This allows a frontline martial build to just pour in the extra attacks on any enemies stupid or unfortunate enough to get stuck in combat. Extra attacks given to fighters, barbarians, clerics, or paladins holding the frontline is never a bad thing!
Benefit #4: Stacks with polearm master for a devastating 1-2 combo with heavy reach weapons.
Yeah this combination is devastating. Especially with that extra reach if you go with a weapon that has a range of 10. It’s like the old cartoons where a character keeps another one from fighting by just putting an arm out so they can’t get any closer. There’s a reason that the polearm master + sentinel is one of the most popular feat combos (if not the most popular) in the entire game.
While plenty of other feats do well together, and there are many character builds that involve multiple feats, sentinel and polearm master go together like a hand in a perfectly fitting glove and the combo makes both already strong feats just that much stronger. Some would argue to the point of being busted (though I don’t necessarily agree with that one).
5E Classes That Should Take the Sentinel Feat
There are five classes that should always look at taking the sentinel feat. Four make sense and one comes as a surprise, but this powerful feat is a must-have or near must-have for most of these builds. Let’s start with the obvious ones.
Fighters. They have extra ability score improvements that can be used for extra feats, so any good melee feat is something a fighter should consider, and the sentinel feat is no exception. Whether low-level or high-level, being able to use a reaction (which fighters rarely use) to hit an enemy again…and keeping them from moving anywhere.
Barbarian. What’s better than raging all over the enemy? The enemy not being able to go anywhere, and being able to hit them off a reaction, which barbarians rarely use. It’s a good feat to add to a class that likes to hit, hit, and hit some more.
Paladin. A heavy armored fighter in the front line who uses almost all of his/her magic to add damage via Smite getting a chance to hit enemies on reaction or, if sentinel gets combined with polearm master, before the enemy even gets a chance to attack, that’s just awesome.
Cleric. We’ve gone over the polearm master + sentinel combination insanity in the hands of a cleric. If you want to know more about the specific build you can check out the articles we’ve done on the polearm master feat or most OP combos (both linked further below) but needless to say, this is pretty high on the average cleric’s shopping list.
Rogues should definitely take the sentinel feat. This may seem like a surprise at first, but it’s also the class that is most motivated to take the sentinel feat without taking polearm master. Why? Because the rules state clearly that the rogue can use sneak attack once per turn, NOT once per round. What does this mean?
This means a rogue can use sneak attack TWICE per round, once on their attack action and once using their reaction via attack of opportunity provided by the sentinel feat since that attack takes place on another player’s or NPC’s turn within the round. This has been confirmed by 5E Dungeons & Dragons rules creator Jeremy Crawford.
That means a mid to high level rogue can start doing sneak attack damage twice, and those d6’s start adding up at a stunning rate, especially when the enemy is forced to engage with the fighter, monk, paladin, barbarian, or cleric you are almost certainly skulking around.
Rogues get one more feat/ability score improvement than all but the fighter class, making sentinel a perfect devastating option to slip into the fray. And if you find yourself one-on-one in battle with an enemy rogue, that attack you get when the other rogue tries to disengage will be hilarious, and as a bard-loving D&D player I am of the opinion trash talking should follow 🙂
5th Ed Classes that should always take the Sentinel Feat:
5E Classes That Should Consider Taking the Sentinel Feat
Honestly when it comes to these classes the sentinel feat would still be a good feat. It’s just other considerations surrounding the common builds of these characters that can make a difference, especially when there are stat blocks that must be maxed out or certain feats that are almost a “must-take” for the class.
Druids could make special use of the sentinel feat and the idea of a druid taking a bear or great ape or TRex in wild shape form and the enemy not being able to move is pretty freaking great. Whether the sentinel feat makes sense depends on whether the Druid is often used to engage the enemy as part of the frontline, uses their mobility to move around, or are stuck being the magic healer and support.
Monks could make very good use of the sentinel feat, especially with their mobility and various class abilities that allow for a lot of troublemaking and versatility. The biggest problem is that monks need two stats (WIS & DEX) and a lot of people are of the opinion they need at least some boost in Constitution, as well.
Monks also are a class that have tons of uses for bonus actions and reactions, making the other benefits sentinel opens up less useful to the monk than other melee classes. Add in the fact that feats like Mobile and Fey Touched add to the Monk’s natural strengths and play styles means there’s just not a lot of room left.
Melee builds of Rangers and Warlocks need all the additional buffs they can get. Sentinel can definitely be an intriguing pickup, and one that can fit into multiple styles of builds if the room is there.
5th Ed Classes that should consider taking the Sentinel Feat:
- Ranger (melee build)
- Warlock (melee build)
5E Classes That Should NEVER Take the Sentinel Feat
Sentinel is very much a melee-based feat. This isn’t for spellcasters, it isn’t for archers and distance martial fighters. Because of that you get your usual 2nd-line and back line classes as the ones who really don’t have a need for the sentinel feat.
This means artificers, bards, rangers, sorcerers, warlocks, and wizards should not take the sentinel feat and should instead focus on ability score improvements and other feats that are focused on magic users the way that sentinel is focused on melee and martial based PCs.
5th Ed classes that should never take the Sentinel Feat:
Final Feat Grade for 5E Sentinel
Sentinel Feat Grade: A
Again, this is so hard to grade because this feat almost always ends up with polearm master, which shoves both feats up to the solid A/A+ grade. But even as a standalone feat, Sentinel holds up and does some serious heavy lifting and among the Polearm Master/Sentinel grouping, it is the one that does the most work.
Sentinel stands as one of the best feats in the game for melee martial classes because of all the extra attacks and giving a chance at a reaction virtually every round. Stopping enemies in their tracks, creating additional attack opportunities, giving useful results to reactions to classes that generally don’t have them, this combines in a very powerful way and it’s strong enough to get the rare solid A for a feat grade.
Is the 5E Sentinel Feat Worth It?
The Sentinel Feat is worth taking for almost every melee class. Especially since many of them don’t have much (or anything) to do with their reaction and now this feat not only gives them all kinds of opportunities for extra attacks, but lets them stop the enemy cold from getting away or moving on a weaker teammate when they do.
This is an outstanding feat that can be paired up or it actually does well standing alone.
Sentinel Feat FAQ
What is better, the mobile feat or sentinel feat?
This depends on the build. From a battlefield maneuverability standpoint in 5E these both give you freedom of movement in different ways. Mobility just lets you move more further, faster, while sentinel gives you more mobility by stopping enemy characters around you when you hit them, and giving you more chances to do so.
In a vacuum I’d say sentinel is better because it gives the ability to stop problematic enemies from moving and gives damage via more attacks, though in a practical build I understand the monk who uses their “one feat” on mobile instead.
Does sentinel stop the mobile feat?
This almost certainly refers to the part of the mobile feat that refers to not making opportunity attacks. The answer is that sentinel does NOT override the mobile feat. Why? Because sentinel gives and extra attack of opportunity that comes from cancelling disengage. Since mobile’s bonus doesn’t mention disengage, it is separate from the mechanic that sentinel uses.
Why does everyone take polearm master + sentinel in 5E?
Because the combination is devastating. Especially because polearm master allows an opportunity attack for enemies approaching you. That’s useful period, especially with everything Sentinel piles on. If you use a weapon with 10 foot reach that means it’s often possible to hit an enemy before they can get close enough to attack back, and then Sentinel means they can’t move closer to hit you. As long as you keep hitting them, they can’t close in to attack.
It’s an incredible combo.
Does sentinel use reaction?
Yes. If you take the opportunity attack, that uses your reaction. You don’t have to use it when presented, you can wait for your moment but you can’t ret-con so pick carefully.
Does sentinel work with ranged attacks?
No. Sentinel is meant to work with melee weapons only, so it doesn’t work with crossbows, bows, or other ranged weapons.
Other DnD Articles You Might Enjoy
- 5E Fighting Initiate Feat
- 5E Martial Adept
- Fey Touched Feat 5E
- Fighter Vs Barbarian 5E
- 5E Medium Armor Master
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.