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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    MindFlayer

    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Gender
    Male

    Question Crossbow Fighter (PC formerly known as a switch hitter)

    What are your thoughts on allocating ability scores/taking feats to support different fighting styles (e.g. melee/ranged)? I plan to play this character at range until (or if) I get a Str magic item (Belt of Giant's Strength). It's beneficial for a few reasons. I will have a viable method to attack flying enemies (and can Trip Attack them and then run up and attack with advantage), I won't waste turns being out of range to attack due to 30ft speed (I can drop my halberd and pull out my hand crossbow), and I'll have a high Dex for skills/initiative/saving throws (synergizes well with Indomitable). This is my proposed build:

    Variant Human
    Battle Master Fighter
    Hand Crossbow/Halberd
    Light Armor
    Str-Dex-Con-Int-Wis-Cha
    8-16-16-8-15-8

    Crossbow Expert [Level 1], Sharpshooter [Level 4], +2 Dex [Level 6], +2 Dex [Level 8], Polearm Master [Level 12], Great Weapon Master [Level 14], Sentinel [Level 16], Resilient: Wisdom (+1 Wis) [Level 19]

    Any advice and/or criticism is welcome.
    Last edited by Expected; 2019-10-12 at 12:47 PM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Kobold

    Join Date
    Oct 2017

    Default Re: Switch Hitter

    It looks like a good character to start play with, but I would let it grow organically and see where it takes you. There's nothing wrong with having two or more skill sets, but breadth can compete with depth when you are working with limited resources.

    The biggest question to ask is how your GM and your table will respond to you min-maxing a build where you dump stat what will be your primary ability to fix it with a magic item. Some tables are fine with it, some will grumble, and some will have a GM that won't give you the magic item you need to complete the build.

    Nothing wrong with a pure dex fighter either. Crossbow expert + sharpshooter with high dex and archery fighting style can pile on a lot of hurt even in the late tier, and doesnt care who you are engaged with or what range they are at. You dont need to hit the decision point until late in your career, but having those 3 feats you were planning to spend on melee into other areas could help a lot.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    BloodSnake'sCha's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2016

    Default Re: Switch Hitter

    With CBE and SS you get the same effect as PAM and GFM without the OA and with better to-hit bonus.

    Why both when one do what you want?

    You can still attack from range zero with your ranged weapon.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    MindFlayer

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    Sep 2013
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    Male

    Default Re: Switch Hitter

    (Aside: I initially thought this thread was called 'Switch Hitler'.)

    Anyway, I think having an alternative/backup weapon is fine but I don't think I'd want to invest feats into two completely different fighting styles.

    Given that crossbow expert already lets you attack in melee without penalty, why do you need a melee weapon (let alone a polearm) at all?
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    “Plot” is what the DM does to amuse himself when the players aren’t talking.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

    Join Date
    Jul 2018

    Default Re: Switch Hitter

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Cliché View Post

    Given that crossbow expert already lets you attack in melee without penalty, why do you need a melee weapon (let alone a polearm) at all?
    Perhaps the DM will object to the character carrying sufficient ammunition to get through an entire adventure. Sure, the 5e rules allow a character to port around more arrows than a modern soldier can carry bullets, but that might just strain some people's suspension of disbelief far more than chucking spells.

    In fantasy movies (or even in Robin Hood), we usually see archers with 8-12 arrows in their quivers. In D&D5e, quivers hold 20 arrows and weighs 1 pound. Because of this, some players think it's reasonable to carry 20 or more quivers (400+ arrows).

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Flumph

    Join Date
    Aug 2016

    Default Re: Switch Hitter

    While I don't necessarily object to the switch hitter mentality (it works great on barbarians for instance who obviously have incentive to get into melee but often have a passable Dex and can switch to a bow when needs demand) I don't really see the benefits on your build.

    When you already have Sharpshooter and Crossbow Expert the gains of picking up Polearm Mastery and Great Weapon Master as well are just so marginal that the opportunity cost just doesn't add up.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

    Join Date
    Nov 2015

    Default Re: Switch Hitter

    My idea of a switch hitter is a hex blade warlock getting agonizing blast. PAM and GWM for the main fighting style. Lol.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    RangerGuy

    Join Date
    Oct 2019

    Default Re: Switch Hitter

    Quote Originally Posted by Expected View Post
    What are your thoughts on allocating ability scores/taking feats to support different fighting styles (e.g. melee/ranged)? I plan to play this character at range until (or if) I get a Str magic item (Belt of Giant's Strength). It's beneficial for a few reasons. I will have a viable method to attack flying enemies (and can Trip Attack them and then run up and attack with advantage), I won't waste turns being out of range to attack due to 30ft speed (I can drop my halberd and pull out my hand crossbow), and I'll have a high Dex for skills/initiative/saving throws (synergizes well with Indomitable). This is my proposed build:

    Variant Human
    Battle Master Fighter
    Hand Crossbow/Halberd
    Light Armor
    Str-Dex-Con-Int-Wis-Cha
    8-16-16-8-15-8

    Crossbow Expert [Level 1], Sharpshooter [Level 4], +2 Dex [Level 6], +2 Dex [Level 8], Polearm Master [Level 12], Great Weapon Master [Level 14], Sentinel [Level 16], Resilient: Wisdom (+1 Wis) [Level 19]

    Any advice and/or criticism is welcome.
    Well, that's precisely the kind of mindset Two-weapon fighting style is designed for. :)
    Just grab Sharpshooter + Dual Wielder (whichever order suits you best) and possibly Two-weapon fighting style and you're set.

    You can be a strong melee STR fighter without relying on finding a Str-powerup item. You can combine whatever tactics you fancy using Grapple/push, Manoeuvers, melee attacks, ranged attacks, all seamlessly.
    Grab Sentinel later and you're perfect.
    Basically the only situation where you're still strictly inferior to a bowman is fights where the main threat is aerial (because you'll be limited by the draw/sheathe rules, unless your DM would accept to waive it or otherwise provide you a workaround as a trade-off for another feature or a quest reward).

    Two-weapon guys can perfectly maintain a constant "effective reach of 20 feet" every turn as long as they don't make more than 2 thrown attacks on the same turn. While ALSO getting all the benefits of being a guy with a weapon in hand, including full power of a Sentinel reaction or Parry manoeuver.
    Put Sharpshooter in there and that becomes 60. Add Dual Wielder and that becomes 120.

    Trouble comes when you want to make 3 thrown attacks in a single turn. This can be done only every two turns unless you invest other levels in classes allowing to retrieve thrown weapons (or get the rare Dwarven Hammer).
    (I think there was some UA content released in the last months that boasted such a feature, but I don't remember).

    Honestly though, again, unless you have an encounter when most enemies are flyers, it should not be a problem: just Trip one and focus on him then switch to next target...

    Barring that specific use-case, you should be fine wielding your "main" magic weapon in one hand while occasionally throwing Javelins from other.

    Months ago some guy posted lengthy posts about how to build and play Two-weapon fighting style you could probably find its with a search. :)
    Last edited by HiveStriker; 2019-10-12 at 07:50 AM.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    DruidGirl

    Join Date
    Mar 2019

    Default Re: Switch Hitter

    The main thing about switch-hitters is that there's sort of three philosohpies: someone who's skilled at ranged, but can fight in melee when necessary; someone who's skilled at melee, but can fight at range when necessary; and someone who is effectively the same at both. The problem with your build is that you can't do enough with the melee side to make switching from the crossbow a good idea. Nevermind that you chose a ranged feat that makes melee a poor decision for you anyway; with 8 Strength, you can't effectively switch hit until you get an expensive magic item! By that point, any increase the belt would provide is cashews compared to the scale in AC and HP that monsters will have. If you want to fight in melee with a STR weapon, you simply a bigger investment in STR, probably at the cost of your WIS/CON.

    Alternately, why not pick up a finesse weapon instead? You wouldn't need to stretch yourself thin by investing in STR, and your DEX would already be helping you from the get-go, on top of whatever boosts your choice of feats would give you. If you want to go the STR/halberd route, I would design the build around that with your ranged weapon as a backup. Personally, I'm not sure why you'd bother with a melee reach weapon at all for a switch-hitter. The whole point of a switch-hitter is that you can use your ranged to hit something that's out of melee, after all!

    I'm a little rusty on 5E tactics, but those are my two cents.
    feed the crows

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    NinjaGirl

    Join Date
    May 2018

    Default Re: Switch Hitter

    Before making a character like this, you should check with your DM on the rules for drawing weapons. By RAW you can only draw or sheath one weapon per turn without using your action to do it. If you stick to one-handed weapons, you can manage to switch between them without too much trouble, but if you move to two-handed ones, you're going to have to drop one of them on the ground to be able to switch efficiently.

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Flumph

    Join Date
    Aug 2019

    Default Re: Switch Hitter

    I'm going to chime in on the fact that Crossbow master, alone, turns "ranged" characters into switch hitters, as shooting in melee range is no longer at disadvantage. So they can "melee" just as well as they "range". Slap in Sharpshooter, and it basically overtakes the need for Great Weapon master as you can SS each hand crossbow shot. At that point, you dont need Pole Arm Master, because instead of wanting a reach of 10 feet and a bonus action of 1d4+STR, you can have a reach of 120 with a bonus action of 1d6+DEX. And you dont need Great Weapon Master as again, bonus action is taken up, and you can use SS with your crossbow far more effectively than your heavy weapon by then.

    Not to mention it takes a bunch of feats, and requires an excess of magic items. Crossbow master "melee" needs only one magic item: a magic crossbow. Pole arm master "ranged" requires a magical pole arm, a magical bow/crossbow, and an item to set STR to at least 19. A belt of giant strength would be icing, but let's assume an ogre gauntlet for now.

    Considering there is no as written magical polearm or magical crossbow, this already requires homebrew. A "set DEX of 19" item also doesn't exist, so would also require homebrew.

    As such, a "switch hitting" CBM/SS character needs a lot less magical items to work, and a lot less feats to work, so you can still grab all the cool feats or ASIs like lucky or resilient, and now any magical items you get can be interesting items instead of one "required" for your build.

    Not to mention that at DEX of 20 and STR of 19, your crossbow will be dealing 1d6+5+10, for each attack, an average of 18.5 per attack, while a glaive would deal 1d10+4+10, but a bonus hit of 1d4+4+10. The glaive deals an average of 19.5 per normal hit, and 16.5 on the bonus action. So the glaive barely eeks out when you are level 11. On top of the fact that as a Fighter, you get a fighting style, so Archery makes attacks almost guaranteed to hit with no cover penalty, no melee penalty, making more consistent damage. The polearm master can reroll low damage, but nothing saves you from a roll of 3, for example. And still has a less chance to hit.

    And once you drop your glaive, then what? If the get into melee, then you need to... go back and grab the glaive. Which takes movement, and an object interaction to either stow your hand crossbow or pick up the glaive. So now you have to drop the hand crossbow. Who in their right mind would be dropping these magic weapons left and right?

    DEX based fighters are extremely powerful, especially with Crossbow master, because they can already switch hit. Needing to spend additional feats and magic items can work, and be fun, but a simple CBM/SS vuman fighter will come online by level 4, and is maximally effective with a single magic item, instead of past level 11 for enough attacks to even make enough melee on top of this worth it, on top of a magic item tax, on top of having no fighting style for one form of fighting.

    It is a lot of cost, for little gain, and most of that cost casually assumes an ogre gauntlet. If you did have a Giant Belt, then yes, it would do more damage. But, so would finding the manual of fitness for Dexterity, which would not only boost your ranged and melee (because CBM), but also your AC, and initiative, and so on and so forth.

    I would never stop you from making this build, but the opportunity cost, wonky action economy of switch hitting, coming online so late into the game, and requirement of many magic items to effectively work, I'd just stick to CBM/SS. It's a staple for a reason.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    MindFlayer

    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Crossbow Fighter (PC formerly known as a switch hitter)

    Thank you so much for all of the constructive feedback. I have decided on a CBX+Sharpshooter Fighter. Now that I've decided that, I have a question regarding subclass and I'll propose another build.

    Wood Elf
    Samurai Fighter
    Custom Noble
    Hand Crossbow
    Str-Dex-Con-Int-Wis-Cha
    8-17-14-8-16-10
    Feats: Crossbow Expert, Elven Accuracy, Sharpshooter, +2 Dex

    OR

    Variant Human
    Battle Master Fighter
    Hand Crossbow
    Str-Dex-Con-Int-Wis-Cha
    8-16-16-8-15-8
    Feats: Crossbow Expert [Level 1], Sharpshooter [Level 4], +2 Dex [Level 6], +2 Dex [Level 8]

    For the Samurai Fighter, I know Fighting Spirit competes for the bonus action. Is it worthwhile to use a longbow instead and not take Crossbow Expert at all?

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Flumph

    Join Date
    Aug 2019

    Default Re: Crossbow Fighter (PC formerly known as a switch hitter)

    Personally, I enjoy the Vuman Battle Master. Battlemaster has more "things" to do than the Samurai, as in options in combat. Though it usually revolves around options like Trip attack, Goading/Menacing Attack, and Precision (to really nail those SS empowered attacks) it's still a choice of 3+ things compared to "I guess I am going full nova now" and go full Action Surge + Fighting Spirit for max advantage attacks as the Samurai. The damage output of Elven Accuracy/SS with AS+FS makes for one super strong turn, and it does it very well, but that's it, that's what it does. And remember, you have a party. If your party is good at giving you advantage, then Battlemater all the way. But you can return the favor with "tanking" via Menacing or Goading attack as a Battle Master, as enemies can't even move toward you (via Menacing), or otherwise NEED to attack you, or otherwise all their attacks against your allies are at disadvantage. This kinda fulfills the niche of what Polearm Master+Sentinel did, which was the only real benefit I saw from trying to use that form of switch hitting, battle field control.

    Samurai is straight damage and REALLY big nova. Battle Master is more battlefield control and, well, it's still a Fighter, so it has pretty big nova. Just not SUPERnova like Elven Accuracy Samurai.

    Further, Samurai is "long rest" based, because the Fighting Spirit charges only recharge on long rests. If you are doing more of the "one big fight" style campaigns, where long resters tend to dominate, then Samurai can do very well, because you gan do a lot in a single combat with three turns of auto advantage. However, if your campaign is more the 6-8 medium encounter style, or something small scale like Curse of Strahd for instance, then the short rest based Battle Master might do better.

    They both have their place. Expect allies to have battlefield control of the wazoo, or are "one big fight" campaign? Samurai. Expect allies to generate advantage for you, or many small encounters per day? BattleMaster. Both, or neither? You gotta weigh the options based on your vision.

    Edit: Especially in the "one big fight" style campaign, you don't NEED Crossbow Master for the Samurai, as all your bonus actions can be taken by Fighting Spirit, and a cursory Second Wind. However, if your whole goal was "switch hitting", then CBM is still needed as a feat (to shoot into melee), but a hand crossbow as your weapon can be swapped for a longbow, or even a heavy crossbow. You won't be needing the bonus action attack as much when you get entire turns of advantage. But again, the more fights or longer a fight is drawn out, the more you'd want a hand crossbow over a weapon that deals on average 1 or 2 more damage per attack, when an extra attack per turn (when you have bonus actions to spare) can give you 15+ bonus damage instead. It's a numbers game.
    Last edited by Protolisk; 2019-10-12 at 04:09 PM.

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