For DnD enthusiasts, combat is a big thing; the chaos and whirlwind of events that follow sets into motion an adrenaline rush that drives them to sit down for one more round. If you are a combat lover, there’s nothing better than taking up a long-handled weapon and going for the DnD 5E Polearm Master feat.
Be it a whirling dervish of pain bringing the fight straight to the enemies or a defensive bulwark who can halt a charging foe in their track; you can make use of the 5E Polearm Master feat for any build.
Polearm Master 5E Explained
Want a good balance between control, defense, and damage? The DnD Polearm Master lets you capitalize on the reach and size of long weapons, from halberds and spears to glaives and quarterstaffs.
Here’s what the Player’s Handbook has to say about the benefits of the Polearm Master feat:
“You can keep your enemies at bay with reach weapons.
When you take the Attack action and attack with only a glaive, halberd, quarterstaff, or spear, you can use a bonus action to make a melee attack with the opposite end of the weapon.
This attack uses the same ability modifier as the primary attack. The weapon’s damage die for this attack is a d4, and it deals bludgeoning damage.
While you are wielding a glaive, halberd, pike, quarterstaff, or spear, other creatures provoke an opportunity attack from you when they enter your reach.”
First off, the fact that you can use your bonus action for an off-hand attack that will instantaneously apply your ability modifier to the damage and attack roll is an inexplicably advantageous treat. It offers you the exciting two-weapon fighting style without imposing the rule of picking a style. So, you have the liberty to grab something like Great Weapon Fighting or Defense.
As for control and defense, the D&D 5E Polearm Master allows you to use your opportunity attack to potentially strike any target that comes within the long reach of your weapon. You can use your reaction to hit enemies 10 feet away with long-range weapons, even before they come close enough to hit you.
While at face value, the ability to use reactions to amp up damage output every round sounds great, the synergy of the Polearm Master feat with other abilities and feats reveals the sinister hiding behind it, which makes it perfect for ruining encounters, and naturally, the DM’s favorite.
Best Classes For Polearm Master
The D&D 5E Polearm Master feat is a feat that is closely associated with melee combat, especially getting better at it; therefore, it is not for spellcasting-centric builds. Sure, wizards with quarterstaffs could benefit from it, but there will inevitably be other things you would want to prioritize if you are a caster.
However, the D&D 5E Polearm Master feat would be perfect for the martial class itching to plant themselves among enemies and the squishy backline of their party or to walk right into a melee. So, make sure you know your build, its strength, weaknesses, affinity, and dismissals before you choose feats. The feats you choose must complement the build you play with.
Best Feats to Combine With Polearm Master
As it goes, no feat makes you omnipotent, and no class has the power to be the all powerful one. There are always certain feats that go well with a few classes, and the rest don’t gel. The same rings true for feats: some feats go hand in hand with the D&D Polearm Master, but others don’t. That adds to the essence of the game. Here are the best feats to pair with the Polearm Master feat:
It is essential to pair the sentinel feat with the 5E Polearm Master. What does Sentinel mean? Simply put, with this feat, creatures hit with an opportunity attack have their speed brought down to 0 for the rest of their turn. Now, imagine coupling this with the 10 feet range of the Polearm Master feat, and bam- you can now strike enemies with an opportunity attack while they try to get near you and catch you within melee range.
Right afterward, you can move 5 feet back, in turn coercing them to proc the effect yet again on their next turn. You can potentially become somewhat of a God-tier controller with this combo. This lets you keep kiting one enemy on the battlefield forever.
2. Great Weapon Master
The 5E Polearm Master and the Great Weapon Master feat can use up your bonus action and expect some overlapping. But, with the off-hand bonus attack that accompanies the Polearm Master feat, you can only deal 1d4 of damage.
Gambling a less probable hit in exchange for extra damage worth some 10 points is arguably a great way to boost damage output without having to put the success of your primary weapon attack on the line.
Why You Shouldn’t Use Polearm Master
The one big drawback of the DnD 5E Polearm Master feat is the weapon’s length since, unlike a dagger or a bow, you cannot just tuck it in. Imagine carrying it around when you are trying to get over a wall or need to have both your hands-free. However, the extent to which the weapon’s length feels like a disadvantage to you depends on your DM. Sometimes, if the odds are not in your favor, DMs might call you out for using your long weapon in tight spaces.
The second let-down is that a significant number of polearm weapons lack magic, so if you are using it as your primary weapon, don’t expect to own a magical halberd or glaive. There are always homebrew weapons, though.
Tips to Get the Most Out of Polearm Master
If you feel like your Polearm Master feat is not being well-utilized, we have a few tips lined up for you that will come to aid. Here’s how to get the most out of your Polearm Master:
- Combine: Always combine this feat with a Sentinel and a long-reach weapon. Throw in a Great Weapon Master, and you are golden!
- Bonus actions: Never forget to acknowledge the boon that is the bonus action offered by this feat. Optimizing damage by ensuring you have a critical hit multiplayer or investing in strength will pack in more damage into every attack you make.
- Inform your DM: Make sure you talk it out with your DMs before entering the game. Since this is not one of the most commonly used feats, the DM might need your help with the choice of enemies to go up against your Sentinel, Great Weapon Master, and long-range weapons.
- Think your weapons through: Note that some weapons will be two-handed, so forget shields to boost your AC. At that point, the only options left are to kill your targets before they reach you or keep them away with a halberd or something similar.
- Fight defensively: If you have combined this feat with the Sentinel, it will pay off to play defensively. If you are planning to attack, the distance won’t come to any use. With the Sentinel, your need to be defensive lessens as your tanking ability gets lower.
The bottom line is if you are planning to get into melee combat, and if you have a thing for long weapons, the D&D 5E Polearm Master is the feat for you. Yes, it has its pros and cons, but which feat doesn’t? It’s all about taking both good and bad in stride and making the most out of it.