I ran a survey asking Dungeons & Dragon’s players to rank the feats of 5th Edition into tiers (broken, great, good, average, bad, junk).
Check Out the Results!
The feats are generally well-balanced. Aside from three usual suspects, no other feat was voted broken. On the other end of the spectrum, only four feats were voted bad (2) or junk (2). The other 50 of the 57 feats were all voted great (10), good (22), or average (18).
Xanathar’s Guide to Everything Feats
It appears the developers did an even better job of balancing the racial feats presented in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. No feats were registered as broken, bad, or junk. Only two feats were registered as great. Only one feat was registered as average. The design team did a great job balancing the majority of the racial feats to “good”.
Admittedly, Elven Accuracy (great) is teetering towards broken:
However, Prodigy (great/good) recorded the same number of votes for great and good, and thus could be placed into the good tier with the remaining feats:
Things DMs Nerf or Ban
Among the Tier 1 Feats, we find the usual suspects: Lucky (allowing you to reroll dice 3x/long rest), and Sharpshooter/Great Weapon Master (-5 to Hit/+10 Damage).
The developers have admitted that the Lucky feat is “maybe too good,” due in part to its interaction with disadvantage to cause “super advantage.” While you can homebrew around this, the official stance is to let your players pick from three dice.
With respect to Sharpshooter and Great Weapon Master, the primary gripe is the -5 Attack/+10 Damage mechanic. The problem is that it becomes advantageous to use this ability every round, resulting in an feat that enables characters to vastly outdamage their peers, without being restricted to situational usefulness. Various fixes have been suggested to nerf these feats, including: separating them from the other features provided by the feat, tying the -attack/+damage modifier to proficiency, setting level requirements, or just an outright ban.
15 thoughts on “Feat Strength Tiers”
Regarding “Various fixes have been suggested to nerf these feats, including: separating them from the other features provided by the feat, tying the -attack/+damage modifier to proficiency, setting level requirements, or just an outright ban.”
What do you mean by the first one? Creating a separate -5/+10 feat?
Let me otherwise state the others doesn’t really work. Profiency and level requirements amount to the same thing – fixing the issue at low levels but doing nothing for the high levels where the problems are the greatest.
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You got it, Cap! Creating separate feats for the -5/+10 and the Ignore Cover/Range mechanics. They’re both sufficiently good on their own, based on the numbers I’ve run (check the Sharpshooter or Elven Accuracy articles for those calcs).
Normally, when I work on a problem, I arrive at a fix I like. When I haven’t figured out a perfect fix, I like to suggest a lot of options because different readers may like different solutions. That’s what happened here: I’m still not sure how to fix SS/GWM. Based on numbers I ran after writing this piece, splitting SS seems like a fair option. But I’m not sure it’s the best, because I haven’t tried all solutions.
Personally, I need to do more testing with tying the -atk/+dmg to proficiency. I’ve seen people claim success with it. Mechanically, I like it because it’s elegant. Whether it fixes the balance at low or high level really depends on *how* you tie it to your proficiency bonus. I can think of several different implementations. Some implementations might be a better fix for a low level campaign (-prof/+2prof), and others better for a high-level campaign (-prof/+prof). It’s a concept you can tweak to fit the table. I do admit a Kantian inclination towards a fix that would work for all parties, which gives me the same concerns you’ve expressed. In any event, I still think it’s something worth mentioning for players looking for a GWM/SS fix.
For something that draws conclusions from this, see: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?642978-Feat-Points
May I download the complete chat with the pool votes?
It’s all there in the chart! I suggest making a copy so you can edit it. Then check the tabs.
You example of Lucky + Disadvantage granting super advantage, allowing the player to pick from three dice, misinterprets what J. Crawford says there. He says “Lucky feat + disadvantage = Roll 2 d20s (disadvantage), roll an extra d20 (Lucky), keep it or one of the others, use lowest”, the key phrase there being “use lowest” at the end. Roll with disadvantage, then roll an extra d20 (Lucky), keep it or use whichever die of the disadvantage roll was lowest.
It doesn’t create super advantage, it creates a slightly sub-optimal advantage (that also can’t trigger Sneak Attack). Using Lucky in conjunction with an Advantage roll would create super advantage.
Jeremy clarified that the interpretation above is correct on a Sage Advice podcast in December 2016. Check the second link below, where I transcribed his explanation and ran the numbers on RAW vs. RAI. The average difference across all rolls is about 16.7% over RAI, with the difference generally becoming more pronounced the higher the roll needed.
Panic around GWM imo comes from the fact that most campaigns are played at lower levels, where 10 dmg makes a serious boost in % dmg output. At higher levels its just one of many parts of your dps and comes much closer to other factors. Also against higher AC threats where secondary utility comming from effects your attacks can have can decide tempo of the fight, its not always optimal to just try boost your damage and sacrifice other options. GWM is great high damage, low utility feat in vacuum. With these limitations imo its far from broken. Lucky on the other hand… And elven accuracy >>> GWM as well, which is reversed in the poll.
I’d say this is again just a complaining coming from caster players crying about martial classes having options or doin sth better in specific situations while they cant be stronger at every thing at all times like testers wanted when they screwed up martials and made them into simple beating sticks. Which is a bit of a hypocrisy, since exactly because martial classes can mostly only hit, ofc they take feat that helps them hit harder. And then players with hundreds of spells and much stornger feats complain about damage just because they are lazy to read their own spellbook.
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Any thought about coming back to this after TCoE?