Champion Barbarian

As a follow-up to last week’s post comparing Greatsword vs. Greataxe damage, this week we’re looking into Champion (Fighter) dips for Barbarians looking to increase their damage capacity with large weapons.


When considering whether your Barbarian should take a dip into Champion (Fighter), there are a number of countervailing factors that can affect your damage at any given level.

  • At Level 1, the Champion (Fighter) gains access to Great Weapon Fighting.
    • This allows the player to re-roll 1s and 2s on damage dice.
    • The Greatsword user gains 1.33 damage on average.
    • The Greataxe user gains 0.83 damage on average.
  • At Level 3, the Champion (Fighter) expands its critical hit range to 19-20.
    • This favors the Greataxe user, who gains more damage from critical hits when accounting for the additional d12 damage dice from Brutal Critical.
  • A multiclass “dip” will delay Ability Score Improvements (ASIs).
    • ASIs to primary attack score favor the Greatsword over the Greataxe.
    • Delaying your ASI will favor the Greataxe.
  • Proficiency bonus continues to scale regardless of which class you take.
    • Proficiency bonus increases favor the Greatsword over the Greataxe.
  • A multiclass “dip” will prevent the character from obtaining the Barbarian’s capstone of 24 Strength, but will not infringe upon max Brutal Criticals.


Top Tier

What’s the best when we red-line these concepts? We’ll be comparing two Level 20 characters. The left is a pure Barbarian with the benefit of the 24 Strength capstone. The right is a Champion Barbarian with 20 Strength, plus Great Weapon Fighting and an expanded critical hit range. We’re assuming that both have the benefit of a +3 weapon, since they’re in the final tier of play.

Even with the expanded critical range, the Greatsword comes out a little bit ahead in this comparison. However, take a look at what happens when you apply advantage from Reckless Attack:

When using Reckless Attack, the Greataxe pulls into the lead. The numbers are still very close, but the Champion Barbarian experiences a higher overall damage output, except against the highest ranges of Armor Class (AC).


Let’s keep the same assumptions, except our character is a Half-Orc. As we know from last week, Half-Orcs favor the Greataxe, due to the Savage Attacks racial feature. Is that enough to make the Greataxe better when not using Reckless Attack?

The Greatsword and the Greataxe perform relatively the same. However, there is a damage variance between the classes. While the Champion Barbarian has a higher damage capacity, the pure Barbarian actually outdamages the Champion Barbarian vs. opponents with AC 17 or higher.

Finally, we see some separation when advantage from Reckless Attack is applied:

When we apply Reckless Attack, the Champion Barbarian comes out in the lead against virtually every Armor Class, especially when equipped with a Greataxe.

Run Your Own Numbers

Since your damage scaling will depend on when you decide to take your “dip” into the Champion (Fighter) class, take some time to play with the numbers and plan out your class progression:

Champion Barbarian
Champion Barbarian

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