[Top 10] D&D Best Fighter Fighting Styles 5e (Ranked)

Best Fighting Styles
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What Are The Best Fighter Fighting Styles in D&D 5e?


Fighting Styles are a staple of the fighter class in fifth edition dungeons and dragons. They are one of the primary reasons why fighters are better at fighting than other classes. It is critical for a fighter to choose a fighting style that not only fits their character but also plays to their statistical strengths. Any class can attack an enemy with a weapon or wear armor, but fighting styles give characters unique and powerful buffs and bonuses.

10. Great Weapon Fighting (PHB) (Good)

There are a few weapons that this fighting style applies to, including but not limited to longswords and greataxes. A lot of fighters choose weapons that require two hands to wield, and for good reason. These weapons deal significantly more damage per hit, not to mention that they make for very cinematic and dramatic fight scenes from a roleplay point of view. The great weapon fighting fighting style means that you are much less likely to critically fail a role. With this fighting style, you are allowed to reroll any 1’s or 2’s that you roll. This means that there is a one in four hundred chance that you will roll a critical fail and suffer whatever consequences your DM deems appropriate as opposed to the one in twenty chance a normal roll has.


Choose great weapon fighting if:

  • You want that extra security against a critical fail. With great weapon fighting, you get to reroll and critical fails you might get and use the new roll.
  • You’re a fan of big weapons. This is a must have fighting style for fighters using two handed weapons.
  • You like dramatic, cinematic combat scenes. This feature plays right into every roll player's combat fantasies, with heroic attacks and few missteps on behalf of the good guys.


9. Thrown Weapon Fighting (TCE) (Good) 

Thrown weapon fighting is a useful fighting style if you’re in the habit of giving the enemy weapons. With this fighting style, you gain +2 to damage rolls on hits with a thrown weapon such as a handaxe, throwing knife or boomerang. On average, this will double your damage output with these thrown weapons. For characters who carry this type of weapon instead of a bow, this fighting style is an easy way to increase the capability of your few ranged weapons. Not to mention that throwing an ax into the last enemy fleeing from your party might keep you from being detected by powers you wish to avoid.


Choose thrown weapon fighting if:

  • Having a handaxe on your belt is much easier than carrying a bow and a quiver. This feat allows you to match bow damage with any thrown weapon.
  • You don’t take prisoners. Throwing a weapon is the only range some fighters have, and increasing your ranged damage might be the difference between letting a foe live and finishing them off.
  • You don’t want to risk losing your thrown weapons. For instance, if instead of sticking into a fleeing wererat who then stole the ax, the extra two points of damage had killed the darn thing.


8. Two Weapon Fighting (PHB) (Excellent)

According to the PHB, when you are fighting with a light weapon in one hand, you can make another attack as a bonus action with another light weapon in your other hand. The downside is that you do not get to add positive modifiers to this bonus attack. With the two weapon fighting style, You get to add your modifiers. Depending on your modifiers, this could add up to 7 to your attack roll and 5 to your damage roll at first level, much more at higher levels and with magic items or weapons. This changes your dual wielder into the reason your party survived your sadistic DM’s last encounter. Fighting with two weapons is super cool, and this fighting style is one of the few game mechanics that addresses it and makes it feasible in terms of damage output. 


Choose two weapon fighting if:

  • You’re a rogue using two daggers. Simply multiclass into fighter, take this fighting style and your second dagger is actually useful now.
  • You’ve always wanted to use two weapons but couldn’t find the rules for them. There are only three paragraphs that deal with two weapon fighting in the PHB, and this is one of them.
  • Your party is low on frontliners and needs melee damage. This fighting style provides one of the best damage outputs for frontliners at low levels.


7. Unarmed Fighting (TCE) (Excellent)

Unarmed fighting provides three main benefits. The first is that you can deal 1d4 damage to anything that is grappling you at the start of your turn. The second is that you can deal 1d6 damage with your fist when you are holding a weapon or shield and thirdly, you can deal 1d8 damage with your fist if you are not holding any weapons or shields. This fighting style is perfect for bar fights, brawls or ambushes in which you do not have your weapons to hand. For reference, 1d8 is more damage than most characters deal with a shortsword. This fighting style turns you into a physical powerhouse with monk multiclass potential that is beyond my current comprehension.


Choose unarmed fighting if:

  • You are frequently in situations where you need to fight without your weapons. As the name suggests, this fighting style makes fighting without weapons as effective as fighting with them.
  • You’re looking at a fighter/monk multiclass. Monks are all about punching. This fighting style makes punches twice as powerful. It’s an easy decision.
  • You’re the kind of player who likes a good bar fight. You’ll easily win without killing anyone and without drawing a weapon. 


6. Tunnel Fighter (UA) (Good)

Tunnel fighter is a bit of a misnomer, as the fighting style has applications far beyond simple tunnel defense. In essence, it is a buff to opportunity attacks. It allows you to make opportunity attacks without using your reaction while allowing you to use your reaction to make an attack against any creature that moves five feet while within your range. One of the many uses of this fighting style is the defense of a tunnel or narrow passageway, as any enemies attempting to pass you will be subject to your plethora of attacks, but it has its uses in general combat as well. If you are fighting fast-moving enemies with high dexterity, this fighting style will allow you to make attacks that might otherwise miss.


Choose tunnel fighter if:

  • You have a defensively focused fighter build. Its primary purpose is defending a set point while enemies are moving towards you or what you are defending.
  • You have a pet or party mascot that cannot be allowed to be damaged during combat. Stand in front of your little friends and they will remain safe because of this fighting style.
  • You like hitting things. This fighting style allows you to hit things. Like, a lot of things. As long as they are moving.


5. Mariner (UA) (Good)

The mariner fighting style can be quite good in the right conditions. Its primary bonuses are a swimming and climbing speed equal to your normal speed while you are not wearing armor (as opposed to the normal swim/climb speed which is half your normal speed rounded down). Because of this, it is a good one for heists or ambushes around water or cliffs where you need to move quickly. The secondary bonus is a +1 to your armor class while you are not wearing armor. This works well with a monk or barbarian multiclass as an add-on to unarmored defense.


Choose mariner if:

  • You’re playing a campaign next to a large body of water such as an ocean. Having a good swimming speed may be the difference between life and death.
  • You’re looking at a barbarian or monk multiclass. The extra +1 to your unarmored armor class will come in handy.
  • Your backstory involves a lot of time at sea. It would be only natural for someone who has spent their whole life on board a ship to have the mariner fighting style.


4. Archery (PHB) (Excellent)

Although basic, the archer fighting style is functionally quite good, and its simplicity has its benefits as well. Archery gives you a +2 to all attack rolls made with ranged weapons. That would include all bows, crossbows, javelins and the like. Depending on interpretation, it would also include thrown weapons such as handaxes or knives. As a base bonus, it turns a potential +7 into a potential +9 at first level, which means you will almost never miss a shot. All in all, the archery fighting style is a simple but effective bonus. Its simplicity means that it is great for new players who need a little bit less to consider during combat and the bonus means whoever uses it is almost guaranteed to hit their target. 


Choose archery if:

  • You have a bow or crossbow based fighter. The +2 this fighting style gives is a must have for ranged fighter builds. 
  • You are a new player looking for a simple fighting style. Archery is as simple as they come and still has a significant bonus.
  • You hate needing to recover all of your arrows after a battle. If you neve miss, all your arrows will be in the bodies you left them in and you will have a higher arrow recovery rate.


3. Dueling

Dueling is another simple yet powerful fighting style that is built for characters who fight with one hand empty. Dueling gives your character a +2 to all damage rolls while one of your hands is empty (no weapon, no shield, no two handed weapons). Given, this bonus means you cannot use a shield, so it comes with a hit to your armor class, but nevertheless, it is worth having. One example I can think of is a barbarian/fighter multiclass, combining dueling with rage for a total of +4 to your damage rolls. It also works well with characters following a rapier duelist kind of build.


Choose dueling if:

  • You’re looking at a barbarian/fighter multiclass. This fighting style changes your potential modifier from +9 to +11 in melee combat while using rage at first level.
  • You’re playing a pirates of the caribbean type character. Rapier duels are a staple of this kind of character and this fighting style was built for duels. 
  • You don’t mind losing the shield. Your off hand needs to be empty for this fighting style, so as long as you don’t mind losing the AC, take the extra damage output!


2. Defense (PHB) (Excellent)

Defense has to be one of my favorite fighting styles. As the name suggests, it boosts your defense by adding an extra +1 to your armor class. For first level characters starting with chain armor and a shield, that makes a total armor class of 19, meaning you are practically immune to the kinds of attacks you will face at first level. This is another fighting style that is quite simple and intuitive, making it another great one for new players or people who just like to keep the game a little bit simpler. 


Choose defense if:

  • You’re playing a heavily armored tank. This fighting style is critical to boosting your AC and making your tank a little bit tankier.
  • You like to keep things simple. It’s a very basic fighting style with very little to consider in terms of game mechanics.
  • Your fighter is a little bit squishier than you would like. The extra boost to your AC should fix that.


1. Superior Technique (TCE) (Best)

Given that the battle master is my favorite fighter subclass, this was an obvious pick for the best fighting style out there. The superior technique fighting style allows you to pick one battle master maneuver and provides you with one superiority die. This makes either a great boost to the battle master subclass or a great addition to any other fighter subclass as the battle master maneuvers are extremely powerful when used correctly, providing additional attacks under certain circumstances, buffing your allies or adding additional effects to your attacks. Even one battle master maneuver at first level puts you head and shoulders above all of your enemies in melee combat. 


Choose superior technique if:

  • You like being a better fighter than everyone else. Maneuvers make fighters better at fighting, and isn’t that the whole point of a fighting style?
  • You want to boost the effectiveness of your battle master fighter. This fighting style basically makes you an abnormally good battle master.
  • You chose eldritch knight and realized that you should have chosen battle master (because you should have, it’s the best subclass). Using this fighting style will partially make up for your mistake.

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