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After my first combat playing D&D 5E, I noticed how much trouble spellcasters can get into when making ranged spell attacks, vs ranged spells:

Aiming a ranged attack is more difficult when a foe is next to you. When you make a ranged attack with a weapon, a spell, or some other means, you have disadvantage on the attack roll if you are within 5 feet of a hostile creature who can see you and who isn’t incapacitated. (BD&D p73)

emphasis added

I've long since heard that the go to 'solution' is to get the feat Crossbow Expert because of this effect:

Being within 5 feet of a hostile creature doesn’t impose disadvantage on your ranged attack rolls.

Which covers ranged spell attacks.

But it feels like a real waste of a feat to get that when I don't plan on using crossbows, hand or otherwise, ever, with this character. And I'm doing my level best to keep this character out of close-combat.

I came across Feint Attack from the Battlemaster class:

You can expend one superiority die and use a bonus action on your turn to feint, choosing one creature within 5 feet of you as your target. You have advantage on your next attack roll against that creature this turn. If that attack hits, add the superiority die to the attack’s damage roll.

So the advantage granted would cancel out the disadvantage, and potentially add a small amount of damage. It also looks like it would work with a ranged spell attack, as this maneuver does not specify weapon attack like many of the other options.

I could hypothetically get this via a feat (Martial Adept) or a (3 level!) multiclass dip.

Assuming I have access to this maneuver, and ignoring any other benefits of either ability (like crossbow reloading, or the other maneuver(s) granted by feats and multiclassing, or making melee attacks instead of my planned spell usage), do they function the same when I'm 5ft away from an enemy and cast a ranged spell attack (like eldritch blast)?

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They are similar, though not identical; Crossbow Expert is much better for close-quarters spellcasting

Crossbow Expert means all of your ranged spells attack wouldn't have disadvantage. A notable benefit of this is that if you then got advantage, you would actually have advantage. Now let's go through Feint Attack.

You're correct, it works with ranged spell attacks because it never says it requires a weapon or anything else. However, it works in far less cases.

It is limited in uses by your superiority dice and your bonus action. Meanwhile, it doesn't negate disadvantage, but grants advantage, so having two sources of advantage gives you nothing extra. It also only helps when you actually want to attack the creature who is within 5 feet of you, and not when you want to attack anybody else. Finally, it only impacts your next attack roll, so when casting a spell such as eldritch blast - a spell that involves multiple attack rolls - you would only get advantage on the first attack.


In summary, the differences are:

  • Negating disadvantage vs granting advantage
  • Unlimited use vs limited use
  • All targets vs one nearby target
  • All attacks vs one attack
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No

I'm having a bit of difficulty parsing your exact question from the final paragraph, but I think the title of this question is the heart of what you're trying to get a handle on, which is, "Does my warlock get the close combat benefits of crossbow expert by using Feinting Attack?"

And the answer is definitely no.

To illustrate, consider the following key differences:

  • Feinting attack will require the expenditure of your Bonus Action to grant yourself Advantage against one creature. This will net a canceling effect resulting in a straight roll, so it will only seem similar. However, if you had Crossbow Expert, then you wouldn't have Disadvantage at all and thus you would be in a situation where you could gain Advantage.
  • Feinting attack will only help on your next attack roll, not all attack rolls. So if you were to use a spell with multiple attack rolls like Eldritch Blast, you'd only be able to cancel the Disadvantage for the first one.
  • Feinting attack is directed towards a single opponent. If you're engaged with 2 opponents (Alice and Bob) and you feint Alice, but attack Bob, your attack against Bob is still at Disadvantage.
  • Feinting attack has limited usage compared to Crossbow Expert's all the time usage.
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