War Caster 5E | D&D 5E War Caster Guide
Picture this: There’s but one lone monster remaining on the battlefield. He frantically looks hither and thither and finally decides to make a run for it, unwilling to succumb to the fatal fate. You sense the urgency in the monster’s attempt to flee and ceremoniously raise your maul above your head to make an opportunity attack. This is not your everyday opportunity attack; as your maul glows, you cast a spell, and a thunderous burst of energy strikes the monster, ending him within seconds.
This is an ability granted by the DnD 5E Warcaster feat, a significantly powerful addition to the arsenal of anyone looking to maximize their combat efficiency further.
DnD Warcaster Feat Explained
The Warcaster is a rather interesting feat that has the potential to make you feel omnipotent on the battlefield, if employed judiciously. But, before we delve deep into what the War Caster feat entails, let’s take a look at what the Player’s Handbook has to say about it:
Prerequisite: The ability to cast at least one spell
You have practiced casting spells in the midst of combat, learning techniques that grant you the following benefits:
- You have advantage on Constitution saving throws that you make to maintain your concentration on a spell when you take damage.
- You can perform the somatic components of spells even when you have weapons or a shield in one or both hands.
- When a hostile creature’s movement provokes an opportunity attack from you, you can use your reaction to cast a spell at the creature, rather than making an opportunity attack. The spell must have a casting time of 1 action and must target only that creature.
Simply put, if you are a spellcasting character, the 5E Warcaster will transform you into a mighty combat-focused mage. It will allow you to sustain an unshakable focus on spell-casting while you are in the middle of a battle. The War Caster feat allows you to use your weapons as extensions of your hands as you cast away somatic spells. Want to respond to a threat within seconds with a lightning-fast spell? This feat has you covered!
Classes with low ACs, such as Sorcerers and Druids, can benefit greatly from the 5E Warcaster feat. It can help maintain a few inches of steel and wood between a ravening bugbear and their characters as they cast a slew of offensive spells.
For classes such as Clerics, who are traditionally known to walk straight into battle carrying a sword or the two-handed Warhammer and shield, and wearing protective armor, the War Caster feat offers the opportunity to maneuver around the limitations of requiring a free hand to wield their wands, holy symbols, or any other spellcasting focus.
Since the War Caster feat does away with the somatic components of spellcasting, your character can still cast Hold Person or, better, calm a guard’s emotions at situations where you find yourself tied up awaiting execution or held back by a grappling enemy.
Yet another interesting advantage offered by the 5E Warcaster is the option to cast a spell as an opportunity attack, in turn saving your melee attacking prowess from taking a hit, as would happen while playing a full spellcaster. That, coupled with the ability to cast a Hold Person spell on a fleeing target right before they escape your grasp, adds quite a few brownie points to the Warcaster’s appeal.
One of the most potent components of the War Caster feat is the advantage offered on saving throws to circumvent breaking concentration. This becomes crucial when you consider that there are no less than 230 spells that demand concentration to manifest their effect. By offering an advantage on saving throws, this feat allows you to sustain concentration as you cast your target away.
Essentially, the War Caster feat is the most beneficial for those classes that want to get involved in melee combat while also being able to cast spells to disarm and slay enemies on the battlefield. So, if you are a Wizard, hiding away in the backline while throwing fireballs, you are not going to find much use for the good ol’ Warcaster. In such cases, you are better off taking up the Resilience feat and going for Constitution for the stat bump and added proficiency.
Which Classes Should Use the DnD 5E War Caster Feat?
If you ever find yourself to be your party’s primary frontliner, chances are, you could benefit from the War Caster feat. Let’s take a look at the different classes that should use the 5E Warcaster feat:
1. Arcane Tricksters
Much like the Eldritch Knights, Arcane Tricksters are a spell-casting subclass of a martial class. However, instead of evoking the Eldritch Knight, the Arcane Trickers focus more on enchanting and illusionary magic. If you are playing as an Arcane Tricker, the War Caster feat can prove to be quite a treat.
The 5E Warcaster allows Arcane Trickers to cast Booming Blade as a reaction, triggering its additional damage as well as your character’s sneak attack damage. Generally, sneak attacks are usable not once per round but once per turn. So, if there’s a target lurking within 5 feet, your character has the potential to deal hefty damage.
If you are playing as an Artificer, you ought to have proficiency in Constitution-saving throws, so you can bid adieu to choosing between the War Caster feat and the Resilient feat to achieve the concentration bonus.
Additionally, if your Artificer character spends some time in melee, such as the Battle Smith, you don’t ever have to stow and draw your weapons to cast spells, thereby losing out on valuable time and risking your fate.
There are quite a few Bard spells that require concentration, while martial Bards, including the College of Swords or College of Valor, can ensure the other abilities.
The College of Swords martial Bards employ their razor-sharp blade as their unique spellcasting focus, thus negating the need for a somatic and material component.
Note that Bards have access solely to Vicious Mockery as a damage-dealing cantrip. However, that can be a great opportunity attack option, as they hurl insults at targets fleeing from their reach.
The Cleric classes circumvent the shortcomings of somatic components in spellcasting by embellishing their holy symbol on the shield.
With the War Caster feat, your Cleric character can do away with the material component of it, as well. Thus, the 5E Warcaster is a great feat choice for the Clerics.
When coupled with Potent Spellcasting that makes cantrips considerably more powerful than attacking with a mace, this feat can be a great addition to the Cleric’s arsenal.
The concentration boost that accompanies the War Caster feat can be highly beneficial for the Druid classes. Circle of the Shepherd Druids rely on their concentration power to employ their summoning spells. So, with the 5E Warcaster, their chances of winning are amplified by a few notches.
However, note that opportunity attacks will have to take a hit if you play as a Druid with the Warcaster feat. For example, Circle of the Moon Druids will expectedly spend much of their encounters in the Wild Shape form, thereby negating the possibility of casting cantrips as effective opportunity checks. Many other subclasses usually remain in the backline of combat.
6. Eldritch Knights
Eldritch Knight is a class that benefits greatly from the War Caster feat. As a fighting class, they are already equipped with proficiency in Constitution-saving throws. Thus, the added benefit from the Warcaster feat further ameliorates their concentration checks.
Imagine carrying a beefy two-handed weapon, or just a simple sword and a shield, and still possessing the ability to cast spells.
That’s exactly the power this feat grants. Moreover, the Eldritch Knights prefer casting Booming Blade rather than choosing the attack action. So, if cast as an opportunity attack, this spell will trigger more damage as the target tries to flee.
Keep in mind that this feat won’t be available to Eldritch Knights until they can cast at least one spell. So, if you are a Custom Lineage or a Variant Human, you need to wait it out till you reach level 4 to take up the War Caster feat.
Much like martial-based Cleric classes, the Paladins can wade right into battle with their holy symbol embellished on their shield. If Paladins wish to cast the Shield of Faith or Heroism, the concentration boost comes to their aid.
The opportunity attacks of Paladins are usually wielded with their weapons, thus often deterring them from learning cantrips at all.
However, the War Caster feat would be rendered useless unless they learn and use cantrips elsewhere. Quite like the Eldritch Knight, it is not available for level 1 characters, so you have to wait to finish level 1, before you can take up this feat.
If you are playing as a Ranger, the concentration boost granted by the 5E Warcaster will prove to be extremely helpful. You will possibly be able to retain the ability to perform somatic components of the spell, and you will not need to learn cantrips (unless, of course, you are a Druid Warrior), so the concentration aspect of the feat pays off.
Note that this feat is not available to level 1 players either. You have to wait till level 2, since that is when you are offered access to spellcasting.
The sole arcane class that boasts proficiency in Constitution-saving throws, the Sorcerer can immensely benefit from the War Caster feat.
Gaining advantage, alongside the proficiency in Constitution-saving throws, makes their concentration checks that much more reliable across all levels.
If you play as a Sorcerer, chances are, the somatic components of spellcasting will not quite be a bother for you. If given a choice between employing a melee attack and casting a cantrip, you will choose the latter, in all likelihood. But, since you have a d6 hit die, you do not want your character so deep into combat that you try to make opportunity attacks against just about anyone. If a target is trying to flee, that should work in your favor.
The concentration boost is the most and only beneficial aspect of the War Caster feat for Wizards. You will neither juggle multiple weapons that would make you unable to perform the somatic component of spellcasting nor will you be close enough to the target to make an opportunity attack.
Of course, Bladesingers are an exception to this, for they would want to sustain concentration in melee. Having your hands full to perform somatic components would never be an issue. Moreover, casting Booming Blade as an opportunity attack is as powerful to the Wizard class as it is for Eldritch Knights.
Here’s the final takeaway: If you want to add a bit of martial prowess to your magical D&D 5E character, the War Caster feat is a good way to make the most of the spell-casting abilities while still compensating for the shortcomings inherent to having one of your feet in each camp. Know your character well, and play by your strengths. Happy questing!