Steady Aim is a supplementary Rogue class feature presented as an optional rule in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. It allows the Rogue to spend a bonus action to give themselves advantage on an attack roll, so long as they stay still. Here’s how it works:
How Good Is It?
Steady Aim has grabbed attention for a few reasons:
Power Creep. This 3rd level feature is not swapped for any existing feature. It’s is just a straight power boost (at the discretion of your DM).
Ranged/Melee Split. Ranged rogues are already better than melee rogues. Especially when accounting for the feats that work with a rogue’s proficient weapons (Sharpshooter, Crossbow Expert). The boost tends to benefit ranged rogues, since melee rogues typically spend their bonus action on two-weapon fighting, disengage, or a handful of subclass features at their disposal.
Advantage. People love advantage. They go wild for it. The nice thing for Rogues is that it guarantees that your Sneak Attack procs.
But, is Steady Aim really that good?
There’s a lot of competition for your bonus action as a rogue. For melee rogues, two-weapon fighting is the main candidate. Since rogues don’t get extra attack, the bonus action attack is a critical to their damage output. While getting weapon damage a second time is nice, getting a second bite at proccing Sneak Attack becomes more important as you level up. If you lock up that Sneak Attack on the first hit, your next best option may be to disengage.
So, why use Steady Aim? You’re better attacking twice than you are attacking once with advantage. It’s relatively simple when you think about it:
- You’re rolling the same number of dice to attack.
- Only two attacks can deal damage twice.
There’s narrow room for exception, which we’ll cover when we get into the math.
Ranged attackers already had a trick to gain advantage with Cunning Action: bonus action Hide.
Hide isn’t as foolproof as Steady Aim in terms of granting advantage. You need to break line of sight, and you need to make a successful Dexterity (Stealth) check. But that’s all stuff you should want to be doing as a ranged attacker anyhow. Taking cover is good tactics. Investing proficiency (or expertise) in the Stealth skill is common for rogues.
It’s not sure advantage, like Steady Aim. But Steady Aim doesn’t come without its drawbacks. It leaves you doing all the things Rogues don’t want to do. Standing still. Not moving between cover. Not hiding. Steady Aim is certain, at the cost of exposure.
If you’re going to be relying heavily on advantage, you will benefit from the Elven Accuracy feat, which expands your critical hit odds. In terms of trading an attack to obtain advantage, this expanded critical range is essential, because it increases your chance to double all your Sneak Attack dice.
Note that if you can get the Dexterity bump along with Elven Accuracy, the benefit becomes much better. Here’s the damage benefit for a character that starts with 17 Dexterity before they take the feat:
Unless you’re hitting those crits, you’re not keeping up with the player making two attacks (and you probably aren’t anyhow). That’s why many rogues like to pick up Crossbow Expert.
Here’s a comparison for a player considering Elven Accuracy vs. Crossbow Expert at level 4. Since Tasha’s has opened up racial weapon proficiencies, you can have different charts for each ranged die size. Remember that as the weapon size changes across these charts, Crossbow Expert stays at d6 because it works with Hand Crossbows.
Here’s some higher-level comparisons (sticking with the d6).
Don’t forget that the Rogue has other ways to get advantage that they can potentially apply to both Crossbow Expert shows.
When we add everyone’s favorite ranged feat, the damage tips towards additional attacks. That’s because critical hits only double damage dice. That +10 damage doesn’t care about your critical hit chance.
Here’s your feat choices assuming you took Sharpshooter first at level 4.
Archery Fighting Style
Since you can also multiclass or take the new Fighting Initiate feat from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything to get access to the Archery fighting style, that’s also included in the chart.