[Top 5] D&D Best Shield Builds That Are Fun To Play

None shall pass

An immovable object, the dwarven warrior withstands enemy after enemy with his trusty shield.

Sword in one hand, shield in the other, the gladiator charges through the field of battle as enemy blows bounce off of their guard.

While discovering never seen before vistas is certainly alluring, adventuring is a dangerous task. The world is filled with tenebrous monsters that force adventurers to hone their bottles to withstand the heat of battle.

The Trial of Steel.

5th edition Dugeons and Dragons pays a great deal of attention to the combat aspect of adventuring.

Characters are as varied as the combat styles they adopt when warding off evil, it can be daunting to decide whether to stick to the heaviest slab of metal you can find or focus on becoming a graceful duelist.

Worry not my valiant warrior, for tonight we divulge the secrets to master the art of the shield: Both for offense and defense!

Usually referred to as the “Sword and Board” style, a shield complements any warrior’s arsenal nicely.

We’ll be using options from the Player’s Handbook (PHB), Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide (SCAG), Xanathar’s Guide to Everything (XGtE),

1. The Speartan.

Withstanding a crashing wave of foes as they protect the path of the Thermopylae as they pierce the only hope of their enemies is where the “Speartan” shines the most.

The “Speartan” is a fun nickname for this powerful fighter build that focuses on locking down foes in melee combat, striking them to death with unrelenting strikes as they struggle to beat your Armor Class!

Class Details: http://dnd5e.wikidot.com/fighter, http://dnd5e.wikidot.com/fighter:battle-master

Race: Going Human will bump up all of your ability scores by 1. If your DM allows variant human, use that option instead.

Use the variant human free feat to pick up the Polearm master feat.

Class: For this build, you’ll only need to level up in the Fighter class. We recommend choosing the Battle Master archetype at level 3.

Ability Score Priority: Since we’ll need to give as much punishment as we can take, our priority should be as follows: Strength > Constitution > Everything else is interchangeable.

Equipment: We’ll make the most of our starting proficiencies and marry the shield with a spear while donning the best set of heavy armor we can find.

Build Overview.

If your Dungeon Master allows variant human, the “speartan” comes into full power as early as level 1!

Our heavy armor and shield combination gives us a sizeable Armor Class of 18, this can be even better by choosing the Defense Fighting Style.

With the Polearm Master feat, we can punish foes that enter our melee reach with an opportunity attack, and even use our bonus action to make an extra attack with the butt of our weapon.

This only becomes better and better by choosing the Battle Master archetype at level 3. Maneuvers broaden our combat versatility by turning our attacks into tools to dominate the battlefield.

Since we can only choose the Maneuvers are level 3, we recommend choosing Trip Attack, Goading Attack, and Bait and Switch since they complement the “Speartan” build nicely.

Once you reach level 4, the Sentinel field will turn you into the ultimate wall that your allies can rely on.

What the Speartan Excels in.

  • Locking Down foes: By combining the Polearm Master and Sentinel feats, you can deny foes access to allies you protect.
  • Early Fun: If your game uses feats and variant human, you can enjoy the core gist of this built as early as level 1!
  • Combat Versatility: Combat maneuvers give us an ocean of possibilities to alter the flow of battle.

2. The Divine Bulwark.

A living bastion of their faith. The “Divine Bulwark” brings the might of the gods to keep their allies safe.

We start our build by focusing on the Oath of the Crown from Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. Their channel divinity features are perfect to draw the enemy’s attention and turn the tide of battle!

Class Details: http://dnd5e.wikidot.com/paladin, http://dnd5e.wikidot.com/paladin:crown

Race: The Half-elf race

Class: For this build, we’ll focus solely on leveling up as the Paladin class.

Ability Score Priority: Since we’ll be embodying a holy marshal who protects their friends, our priorities are as follows: Strength, Constitution, Charisma > Everything else is interchangeable.

Equipment: The paladin’s starting proficiencies let us wear heavy armor and shields, we recommend doing just that!

Build Overview.

After joining the ranks of the paladins, we’ll choose the Interception Fighting Style at level 2. This lets us reduce the damage ranged attacks deal to our allies.

Once we reach level 3, we’ll dedicate ourselves to the Oath of the Crown. This means that we gain the ability to compel other creatures to do battle with us!

As if it weren’t enough, we can also bolster creatures, making them regain Hit Points if they have no more than half their hit points with our channel divinity.

If your game uses feats, take Shield Master and Inspiring Leader. Now we get more creative with the action economy and can compensate for our probably low Dexterity.

What the Divine Bulwark Excels in.

  • Battlefield Leader: All of the Oath of the Crown’s kit revolves around becoming the tank of the party, a trusty shield being our best ally.
  • Saving Grace: By adding our shield's AC bonus to any Dexterity saving throw that targets only us plus the paladin’s Aura of Protection, we more than makeup for this build’s low Dexterity.

3. The Dread Knight.

After sealing a pact with an eldritch entity, this warlock earned the power to manifest a magic weapon carved from the stuff of shadow.

By combining martial prowess with magic, the “Dread Knight” is a force to be reckoned with in the field of battle.

Class Details:  http://dnd5e.wikidot.com/warlock, http://dnd5e.wikidot.com/warlock:hexblade

Race: Tieflings make excellent Dread Knights thanks to their racial features.

Class: This build focuses on the Hexblade Patron from Xanathar's Guide to Everything for the warlock.

Ability Score Priority: Thanks to the Hex Warrior feature, our priorities are the following: Charisma, Constitution, Dexterity.

Equipment: Making good use of the gifts of our patron, we recommend wielding a sturdy shield and the best medium armor we can find.

Build Overview.

Burdened by our soul-rending pact, our “Dread Knight” is ready to take the front lines. With the hexblade’s Expanded Spell List and our shield, our AC can reliably keep us from danger.

Once we reach level 3, the Pact of the blade is a must-have, now we’ll never be too far from our carnage device!

For eldritch invocations, we recommend Devil’s Sight and Improved Pact Weapon. Thirsting Blade is a must-have.

By combining defense spells like Armor Agathys and Shield, we’ll naturally complement our frontline kit, turning foes into nothing in the blink of an eye.

If your game uses feats, take War Caster as soon as you can.

What the Dread Knight Excels in.

  • Combining martial options with magic: The “Dread Knight” can cast spells to improve their battle prowess and provide a solution to problems raw steel usually can’t solve.
  • Having Excellent Defense: Proficiency with medium armor and shield greatly improves your Armor Class, letting you tear into your foes with glee, deflecting their blows with your arcane powers if they ever get through your guard.

4. The Iron Warrior.

Once a humble blacksmith, our cleric found enlightenment in the fire of the gods of the forge.

When a cleric takes the mantle of the designated tank, the “Iron Warrior” is a powerful choice to keep your Armor Class high throughout adventures.

Our approach for this build revolves around the Forge Domain from Xanathar's Guide to Everything for the Cleric.

Class Details: http://dnd5e.wikidot.com/cleric, http://dnd5e.wikidot.com/cleric:forge

Race: Dwarves make excellent clerics thanks to their racial features. We recommend picking the Hill Dwarf subrace.

Class: All the “Iron Warrior” needs is to level up in the Cleric class, choosing the Forge Domain.

Ability Score Priority: Since we’ll don heavy armor, our priorities are: Wisdom > Strength > Constitution > Everything else is interchangeable.

Equipment: To honor our gods we’ll don heavy armor. Since clerics can use shields as their divine symbol, we shall proudly wield them!

Build Overview.

Enjoying the boons of our faith from level 1, the “Iron Warrior” can use the Blessing of the Forge feature to grant their shield a +1 bonus to AC.

As you gain in power, your faith gains you divine boons that bolster your prowess:

With divine insight, you can use your Channel Divinity to craft a non-magical item that includes metal.
Eventually, your work at the forge grants resistance to fire damage, and wearing heavy armor gives you a +1 to AC!
As you reach the pinnacle of your power, you’ll gain immunity to fire damage and resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from non-magical attacks.

If your game allows feats, take Shield Master. This goes particularly well with the Forge Domain’s ability to enchant their shield.

The beauty of this build is its ability to fill several roles at once: that of a tank, a healer, and a damage dealer.

Thanks to spells like Spiritual Weapon and Spiritual Guardians, you will always be a threat your enemies just can’t ignore.

What the Iron Warrior Excels in.

  • Superb AC: By stacking the effects of the Shield of Faith spell, the Blessing of the Forge, Heavy Armor, and wielding a shield, we’re looking at an Armor Class of 19 and higher!
  • Healing and Utility: By being a cleric, the “Iron Warrior” can heal and buff, becoming a force multiplier in combat.

5. The Arcane Knight.

Trained in the art of warfare and magic, this warrior has reached the pinnacle of defense, becoming an unbreakable wall.

With their large number of attacks, ability score increases, and versatile kit, it’s not surprising that there are more than one Fighter builds in this list.

The “Arcane Knight” focuses on attaining the highest Armor Class it can while still dishing out punishment, playing around with the Eldritch Knight archetype from the Player’s Handbook.

Class Details: http://dnd5e.wikidot.com/fighter, http://dnd5e.wikidot.com/fighter:eldritch-knight

Race: Half-orc’s racial features are perfect for someone who aspires to be the vanguard of their team.

Class: We’ll level up solely as Fighter for this build.

Ability Score Priority: Given our purpose, our priorities are the following: Strength > Constitution > Intelligence > Everything else is interchangeable.

Equipment: To withstand the ceaseless onslaught of foes, we’ll pair up a shield with heavy armor thanks to our starting proficiencies.

Build Overview.

Starting at level 1, we’ll choose the Defense Fighting Style. This means that with our shield and heavy armor we’ll be looking at an Armor Class of 19.

Once we reach level 3, our studies in the arcane will deepen with the Eldritch Knight archetype. This gives us access to spells like Booming Blade, Shield, and Absorb Elements, broadening our array of tools.

If your game uses feats, consider taking War Caster, Shield Master, and Sentinel.

As you grow in power more powerful spells will become available, like Shadow blade and Mirror Image as well as the ability to follow up a cantrip with a slash of your blade!

What the Arcane Knight Excels in.

  • Maintaining concentration on spells: Since fighters are proficient in Constitution saving throws, you’re more likely to sustain your concentration spells, which will usually be buffs or battlefield control.
  • Being durable: A big Hit die paired up with an insanely high Armor Class turn the “Arcane Knight” into a perfect tank that can respond to any threat appropriately.

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Born in a land where the sun forever blazes comes a man with an undying love for gaming, Jose enjoys nothing more than spinning tales about the multiverse of creativity to captivate and inspire.
Gamer Since: 2008
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: World of Warcraft
Top 3 Favorite Games:Dragon Age: Origins, Dark Souls: Prepare To Die Edition, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dragonborn

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