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If a Wizard of the School of Abjuration takes the Martial Adept feat and chooses the Parry combat maneuver, how will it interact with their Arcane Ward?

Can the Wizard parry and reduce the need for their Arcane Ward to absorb the damage?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I have to say, I like the concept of taking the parry maneuver as a wizard. If you can reduce the damage of an attack to zero, you get bypass the concentration check. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 11 '19 at 6:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was thinking about creating a hobgoblin wizard with a martial background and came across this idea, the other manouvers that could be useful - rally, commanders strike, evasive footwork. Feinting attack interestingly can also be used with spell attacks. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 11 '19 at 6:40
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Both abilities trigger simultaneously

Parry says (emphasis added):

When another creature damages you with a melee attack, you can use your reaction and expend one superiority die to reduce the damage by the number you roll on your superiority die + your Dexterity modifier.

Arcane Ward says (again, emphasis added):

Whenever you take damage, the ward takes the damage instead. If this damage reduces the ward to 0 hit points, you take any remaining damage.

Both abilities trigger when you take damage, which means they are simultaneous effects. Neither the PHB or DMG specifies the order of resolution for simultaneous effects, so the DM must make a ruling. Xanathar's Guide to Everything provides an optional rule for resolving simultaneous effects, which your DM may choose to use:

If two or more things happen at the same time on a character or monster’s turn, the person at the game table — whether player or DM — who controls that creature decides the order in which those things happen. For example, if two effects occur at the end of a player character’s turn, the player decides which of the two effects happens first.

Unfortunately, if you're taking damage from a melee attack, it is most likely an enemy's turn (the most common exception being opportunity attacks), which means you are at the mercy of the DM. They might choose whatever is most beneficial to the attacking creature, in which case the ward would trigger first. Or if they are a generous DM, they might choose to let you activate your parry first and reduce the damage the ward takes.

You probably don't want to parry until your ward is down

As described above, it might be possible for you to protect your Arcane Ward by parrying an attack. However, I believe this would be a poor use of the parry. The best way to get additional value out of the parry is to reduce an attack's damage to zero and avoid having to make a concentration check. However, as long as your ward is absorbing damage, you don't have to make concentration checks anyway. So it would be best to use the parry when your ward is already down and you're about to take damage from a weak attack (or when you're about to take a small amount of overflow damage as the ward reaches 0 hit points), such that you maximize the chance of entirely eliminating a damage source (and with it a concentration check).

Naturally, this will vary by situation. For example, if there are few incoming melee attacks, it might be optimal to use the parry ASAP since you may not get another chance to use it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think it would be worth mentioning that reactions occur after their triggers, just the parry Maneuver somehow also lowers the damage... \$\endgroup\$
    – Medix2
    Dec 11 '19 at 6:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 That's only true for a readied action. Every reaction specifies its own timing. For example, the most common reaction, the opportunity attack, preempts its trigger, which is an enemy moving out of reach. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 11 '19 at 6:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ "Do reactions interrupt their triggers or not?", in general they occur after their trigger but Parry reducing the damage means it actually interrupts the trigger; taking damage \$\endgroup\$
    – Medix2
    Dec 11 '19 at 7:10

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