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Question is about Battle Master maneuver. From PHB (74):

Commander's Strike. When you take the Attack action on your turn, you can forgo one of your attacks and use a bonus action to direct one of your companions to strike. When you do so, choose a friendly creature who can see or hear you and expend one superiority die. That creature can immediately use its reaction to make one weapon attack, adding the superiority die to the attack's damage roll.

Archetype is acquired at 3rd level and fighter, in general, will have only one attack. If attack is used for maneuver, would it be an attack at all?

From attack description, PHB(192):

The most common action to take in combat is the Attack action, whether you are swinging a sword, firing an arrow from a bow, or brawling with your fists. With this action, you make one melee or ranged attack.

But in this case fighter will not, say, swing his sword. So it doesn't fit with description.

If a fighter has only one attack, can he forgo it to use commander's strike?

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

Yes

You appear to be confusing the Attack action with an attack.

The Attack action is one of the things you can choose to do with your action; others include the Dash action, the Cast a Spell action and the Use an Object action.

An attack is anything you do that causes you to roll a die to overcome someone's AC. Trying to hit with a weapon is an attack but so is using a spell that rolls against AC like Erdrich Blast. You can make attacks without taking the Attack action e.g. attack with a spell using the Cast a Spell action, attack with a magic item using the Use an Object action, attack with a weapon using a Reaction (Ready action, Opportunity Attack) or Bonus Action (Two-weapon fighting).

The prerequisites for Commander's strike are:

  • take the Attack action which always allows at least one attack
  • forego one of those attacks, even if it is the only one

The rules for grapple and shove are similar.

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1  
Does this mean that taking Attack action is just simply declaring it? – RollingFeles Jan 23 at 10:36
1  
Well yeah. "What do you do?" "I attack" = Attack action, "I hide" = Hide action etc. – Dale M Jan 23 at 11:05

Yes

It says you can forgo one attack out of your pool of attacks.

Every turn you get one action. When you use your action to attack, you can make one (melee or ranged) attack (more as fighter and other fighter-y classes at later levels). You can then sacrifice that single attack to gain the described bonus action. Keep in mind you get only one bonus action per turn.

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What bothers me is that it doesn't fit attack description. Attack action is the making attack itself and in this case there is none. – RollingFeles Jan 22 at 18:15
1  
There is one, just not made by the fighter. – Derek Stucki Jan 22 at 18:53
5  
@RollingFeles the distinction is that "Attack" is an action you can choose on your turn, whereas "attack" is a thing you can do during that action. Commander's Strike lets you swap one attack which is part of your Attack to let someone else attack. That's why it says "when you take the Attack action" and not "when you attack". – anaximander Jan 22 at 21:51
    
@DerekStucki I think that's the case :) – RollingFeles Jan 23 at 4:32

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