I'm possibly going to play a variant human fighter in my next campaign with the GWM feat at level 1. I'm going to specialize Champion and I'm not sure when I should go for reckless attacks. Should I do it before level 5 or after?

I'm either leaning towards fighter 3/barbarian 2 or fighter 5/barbarian 2. My thoughts are this:

If I go fighter 3/barbarian 2, I get access to very early GWM + improved crits + reckless attacks. However, I am sacrificing the extra attack for two levels, which could possibly hamper my damage output for quite a large number of fights as leveling gets harder.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This question will probably get flagged as too opinion based, it would probably help if you rephrased it to listing pro's/con's of the 2 options. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 21, 2017 at 22:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ A metric to judge the best option would help as well. Are you looking for max DPR? Best burst damage? Something else? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 21, 2017 at 22:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ My plan was to go Sentinel level 4, so I suppose that I am looking for optimal burst damage in this case. \$\endgroup\$
    – BlueStork
    Commented Jul 21, 2017 at 22:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BlueStork increasing your Str would give you much better DPR and more reliably than any feat \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Commented Jul 21, 2017 at 22:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think the question is fine after the edit. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 22, 2017 at 4:37

2 Answers 2


Fighter 5/barbarian 2

One attack with Advantage is worse than two without, unless you have Sneak Attack*.

Damage comparison

In both cases, you roll 2d20:

  • If neither is high enough to hit, the result is the same
  • If only one is high enough, the result is still the same
  • If both would hit, 2 attacks do twice as much damage

As you can see, Advantage is identical in some cases, clearly worse in others, but never better.

Reckless Attack is not free

Providing Advantage yourself is quite a steep price

Other sources of Advantage exist

If your enemy is prone, restrained or provides Advantage for any other reason, your two attacks just got that much better. In the other case you DPR does not improve, you just don't provide Advantage.

tl;dr: Even if a 2nd level barbarian always had Advantage and without a cost, Fighter 5 would still have better DPR than Fighter 3/Barbarian 2

*If one of your allies is standing next to the target, two attacks are better than Advantage on one, even if you have Sneak Attack


To confirm Andras's answer, here's the damage per round comparing both paths up to 7th-level:

\begin{array}{r|ll} \text{Character-level} & \text{Fgt3/Barb2} & \text{Fgt5} \\ \hline 1st & 7.883\bar{3} & 7.883\bar{3} \\ 2nd & 7.883\bar{3} & 7.883\bar{3} \\ 3rd & 8.3000 & 8.3000 \\ 4th & 9.000 & 9.7667 \\ 5th & 15.058 & 19.53\bar{3} \\ 6th & 17.1567 & 21.13\bar{3} \\ 7th & 34.313\bar{3} & 34.313\bar{3} \end{array}


  • 60% chance to hit, regardless of strength. Increased to 65% when the ASI is taken at Fighter 4
  • +2 strength at 4th-level
  • Always using Great Weapon Master
  • No Advantage from external sources

From a pure DPR stand-point, the Fighter 5 hands-down wins across all levels up to 7th.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I am assuming the OP is going fighter 3 first then either (a) barb 1, or (b) fighter 4 (hence the same numbers for the first 3 levels). F3B1 is slightly higher because rage adds +2 damage, ASI only +1. I agree +1 to hit is strong, but also assume that creatures increase AC as they level. I'll try to calculate again later with the increased hit chance \$\endgroup\$
    – daze413
    Commented Jul 22, 2017 at 14:29

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