Feat Strength Tiers

I ran a survey asking Dungeons & Dragon’s players to rank the feats of 5th Edition into tiers (broken, great, good, average, bad, junk).

Check Out the Results!

Feat Tiers

Observations

Overall Balance

The feats are generally well-balanced. Aside from three usual suspects, no other feat was voted broken. On the other end of the spectrum, only four feats were voted bad (2) or junk (2). The other 50 of the 57 feats were all voted great (10), good (22), or average (18).

Xanathar’s Guide to Everything Feats

It appears the developers did an even better job of balancing the racial feats presented in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. No feats were registered as broken, bad, or junk. Only two feats were registered as great. Only one feat was registered as average. The design team did a great job balancing the majority of the racial feats to “good”.

Admittedly, Elven Accuracy (great) is teetering towards broken:

Elven Accuracy

However, Prodigy (great/good) recorded the same number of votes for great and good, and thus could be placed into the good tier with the remaining feats:

Prodigy

Things DMs Nerf or Ban

Among the Tier 1 Feats, we find the usual suspects: Lucky (allowing you to reroll dice 3x/long rest), and Sharpshooter/Great Weapon Master (-5 to Hit/+10 Damage).

The developers have admitted that the Lucky feat is “maybe too good,” due in part to its interaction with disadvantage to cause “super advantage.” While you can homebrew around this, the official stance is to let your players pick from three dice.

With respect to Sharpshooter and Great Weapon Master, the primary gripe is the -5 Attack/+10 Damage mechanic. The problem is that it becomes advantageous to use this ability every round, resulting in an feat that enables characters to vastly outdamage their peers, without being restricted to situational usefulness. Various fixes have been suggested to nerf these feats, including: separating them from the other features provided by the feat, tying the -attack/+damage modifier to proficiency, setting level requirements, or just an outright ban.

 

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7 thoughts on “Feat Strength Tiers

  1. Regarding “Various fixes have been suggested to nerf these feats, including: separating them from the other features provided by the feat, tying the -attack/+damage modifier to proficiency, setting level requirements, or just an outright ban.”

    What do you mean by the first one? Creating a separate -5/+10 feat?

    Let me otherwise state the others doesn’t really work. Profiency and level requirements amount to the same thing – fixing the issue at low levels but doing nothing for the high levels where the problems are the greatest.

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    1. You got it, Cap! Creating separate feats for the -5/+10 and the Ignore Cover/Range mechanics. They’re both sufficiently good on their own, based on the numbers I’ve run (check the Sharpshooter or Elven Accuracy articles for those calcs).

      Normally, when I work on a problem, I arrive at a fix I like. When I haven’t figured out a perfect fix, I like to suggest a lot of options because different readers may like different solutions. That’s what happened here: I’m still not sure how to fix SS/GWM. Based on numbers I ran after writing this piece, splitting SS seems like a fair option. But I’m not sure it’s the best, because I haven’t tried all solutions.

      Personally, I need to do more testing with tying the -atk/+dmg to proficiency. I’ve seen people claim success with it. Mechanically, I like it because it’s elegant. Whether it fixes the balance at low or high level really depends on *how* you tie it to your proficiency bonus. I can think of several different implementations. Some implementations might be a better fix for a low level campaign (-prof/+2prof), and others better for a high-level campaign (-prof/+prof). It’s a concept you can tweak to fit the table. I do admit a Kantian inclination towards a fix that would work for all parties, which gives me the same concerns you’ve expressed. In any event, I still think it’s something worth mentioning for players looking for a GWM/SS fix.

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