Tactics and Tips05/30/2005

Tactical Feats

A relatively new development in feat technology is the tactical feat. Wizards of the Coast has published tactical feats in a number of recent books, so let's examine what they are and how you can take advantage of this new option.

What Are They?

Tactical feats are all about setting up combinations of action in sequence for a greater benefit. For the most part they require you to take an action and follow it up in a specific manner. In general, they give you three different options, such as new maneuvers for you to take in combat. A few offer movement or interaction perks.

Are Tactical Feats Right for Me?

Are you always searching for the best way to set up your charge? Do you enjoy the special combat actions such as Bull Rush or Trip? Do you want to develop specific fighting styles based on maneuvers? Do you like the feats that you can fine tune, such as Combat Expertise and Power Attack? Do you tweak your Power Attack and know how hard to swing at that lightly armored barbarian versus that full-plate wearing blackguard? You'll love tactical feats. They'll give you another set of options and enhance what you're already doing.

If you don't like feats you have to remember to use, such as Power Attack or Dodge, you're unlikely to enjoy tactical feats. No only do you have to remember you have them, but also, for most of them, you actively have to set up situations to benefit from them.

A few give you more general bonuses or abilities that don't require a set-up phase. These tend to fall into the noncombat focus.


Let's take a look at one tactical feat and see how it works. This feat is from Complete Warrior.

Combat Brute [Tactical]

You employ strength and leverage to great effect in battle.

Prerequisites: Improved Sunder, Power Attack, base attack bonus +6.

Benefit: The Combat Brute feat enables the use of three tactical maneuvers.

Advancing Blows: To use this maneuver, you must make a successful bull rush attempt against a foe. During the next round, all your attacks against that foe gain a +1 bonus on attack and damage rolls for each square your bull rush moved that foe. For example, if you pushed an orc back 10 (2 squares) feet with a bull rush, you would gain a +2 bonus on attack and damage rolls against that orc on the following round.

Sundering Cleave: To use this maneuver, you must destroy a foe's weapon or shield with a successful sunder attempt (see page 158 of the Player's Handbook). If you do so, you gain an immediate additional melee attack against the foe. The additional attack is with the same weapon and at the same attack bonus as the attack that destroyed the weapon or shield.

Momentum Swing: To use this maneuver, you must charge a foe in the first round, and you must make an attack using your Power Attack feat in the second round. The penalty you take on your attack roll must be -5 or worse. Your attacks during the second round gain a bonus equal to your attack roll penalty x1-1/2, or x3 if you're using a two-handed weapon or a one-handed weapon wielded in two hands. For instance, if you choose to take a -6 penalty on your attack roll, you can deal an extra 9 points of damage, or an extra 18 points if you're using a two-handed weapon or a one-handed weapon wielded in two hands.

Special: A fighter may select Combat Brute as one of his fighter bonus feats.

So, to use each of these features of Combat Brute, you need to set up a sequence for yourself.

  • If you want to use Advancing Blows, you bull rush. If you succeed, you get a bonus against that target based on how successful you were.

  • If you want to use Sundering Cleave, you must successfully sunder a foe's weapon or shield. If you do, you get to attack it again immediately.

  • If you want to use Momentum Swing, you must charge an enemy and then use a strong Power Attack in the following round. This lets you add a substantial amount of damage if you hit.

Do you already bull rush, sunder, or charge and Power Attack? If so, the Combat Brute feat gives you bonuses for doing what you already like to do. It's a good choice. You'll feel more effective and like you have more options associated with your preferred combat style. If you don't usually do any of these things, the Combat Brute feat is not likely to provide enough incentive to change your style of play.

Look for tactical feats that emphasize what you already like to do.

Where Can I Find Tactical Feats?

They debuted in Complete Warrior. Other books that feature them include Race of Destiny, Races of the Wild, and Races of Eberron. A number of upcoming books published after this date (April 2005) also have interesting tactical feat choices.

Focus on Offense
I Like . . . Consider
Bull Rush Brute Fighting* (Races of Eberron), Combat Brute (Complete Warrior), Shock Trooper (Complete Warrior)
Charge Brute Fighting* (Races of Eberron), Combat Brute (Complete Warrior), Ragewild Fighting* (Races of Eberron), Raptor School (Complete Warrior), Shock Trooper (Complete Warrior)
Fighting Bigger Foes Confound the Big Folk (Races of the Wild), Giantbane (Complete Warrior)
Focusing on One Foe Combat Brute (Complete Warrior), Confound the Big Folk (Races of the Wild), Disturbing Visage* (Races of Eberron), Giantbane (Complete Warrior), Kalashtar Thoughtshifter* (Races of Eberron), Ragewild Fighting* (Races of Eberron), Wolfpack (Races of the Wild)
Mounted Combat Cavalry Charger (Complete Warrior)
Power Attack Brute Fighting* (Races of Eberron), Combat Brute (Complete Warrior), Shock Trooper (Complete Warrior)
Ranged Attacks Woodland Archer (Races of the Wild)
Relying on Allies Wolfpack (Races of the Wild)
Sundering Weapons Combat Brute (Complete Warrior)
Using Monk Abilities Sun School (Complete Warrior)

Focus on Defense
I Like . . . Consider
Dodge Crowd Tactics (Races of Destiny)
Combat Expertise Battleshifter* (Races of Eberron), Dancing with Shadows* (Races of Eberron)
Concealment Winged Warrior* (Races of the Wild)
Fighting Bigger Foes Giantbane (Complete Warrior)
Maneuvering Among Foes Elusive Target (Complete Warrior)
Relying on Allies Formation Expert (Complete Warrior), Wolfpack (Races of the Wild)

Focus on Noncombat Situations
I Like . . . Consider
Maneuvering Roofwalker (Races of Destiny), Winged Warrior* (Races of the Wild)
Talking (Bluff, Diplomacy, or Intimidate) Crowd Tactics (Races of Destiny), Disturbing Visage* (Races of Eberron)

*Has racial requirement or specific anatomy, such as wings.

Game Resources: To use the material in this article to its fullest, check out the following resources: Dungeon Master's Guide, Monster Manual, Player's Handbook, Races of Destiny, Races of Eberron, Races of the Wild.

About the Author

Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel works full-time as a game designer for Wizards of the Coast. Recent and upcoming books include d20 Past, Races of Eberron, and Planar Handbook. She simultaneously leads the lives of an avid gamer, Ph.D. student, trio of birds of prey, and a hedonistic cat.

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