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In tonight's session my fighter just leveled to 3rd and declared as a Battlemaster; he selected Commander's Strike as one of his combat superiority maneuvers:

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.

He is a Dex-based ranged support fighter with Archery fighting style, so most of the time he will be forgoing his single crossbow shot in order to give the rogue a chance at a second sneak attack per round.

However, when he needs to enter melee, he does so with shortsword and dagger, and thus even at 3rd level he can get two attacks per turn, with the shortsword as his Attack action attack and the dagger as a bonus action attack with Two Weapon Fighting.

He would like to be able to take the Attack action with his shortsword to make his own attack, and then use Commander's Strike to forgo his dagger attack and allow the Rogue to make an attack.

However, it is not clear to me what "forgo" means, and how it interacts with the (bonus) action economy, since he might need to spend a bonus action to get the dagger attack, and also spend a bonus action to initiate the Commander's Strike. With a limit of one bonus action per round, perhaps this is not possible.

If "forgo" means 'pay for the dagger attack (with a bonus action), but don't take it', then he cannot do a Commander's Strike off of the dagger.

But if "forgo" means 'have the potential to do something but choose not to do it', then he could claim that he could use his bonus action for the dagger attack, but is instead forgoing that option to use his bonus action for Commander's Strike.

I am assuming, as this answer does, that so long as he does take the Attack action, the attack that is forgone does not have to be one generated by the Attack action, just an attack that he could have made at some point subsequent to taking the Attack action. You might disagree with those assumptions, but you need only elaborate on that if you think your answer is more persuasive or covers more ground than the competing answers to those questions already do. Instead, I would prefer that answers to this question focus on the meaning of "forgo". Ideally they would identify other uses of "forgo" in the rules that provide a clear meaning from context.

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2 Answers 2

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The attack you give up has to be part of the attack action.

The maneuver says "When you take the Attack action on your turn, you can forgo one of your attacks" -- it's talking about specifically the attacks you get from taking an Attack action, not any additional attacks you might be able to make as a bonus action, or a reaction, or whatever else. You're taking the Attack action, then forgoing one of those attacks to use Commander's Strike.

The attack you can make by using Two Weapon Fighting is not eligible to be given up for Commander's Strike because it's a separate bonus action enabled by taking an attack action, but it isn't happening when you take the attack action on your turn.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This doesn't seem to add anything beyond what is argued in Can you use Commander's Strike to forgo an attack granted by Horde Breaker?, where stack opinion is pretty evenly split. Is there any difference between that case and this one? \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Feb 10, 2023 at 15:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ They seem entirely different to me. The TWF attack is explicitly outside the realm of the Attack action as it is a separate bonus action enabled by taking an Attack action under the correct circumstances. Horde Breaker doesn't call out whether the additional attack is part of the Attack action or not, thus the split. Extra Attack is clear that you attack twice as part of the Attack action. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 10, 2023 at 15:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ Horde Breaker allows you to make a second attack as part of your action. It's not a Bonus Action effect like two-weapon fighting. \$\endgroup\$
    – Doc
    Feb 10, 2023 at 15:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DarthPseudonym I think you're taking allows too strictly. Sure, Horde Breaker can be used in many places, but for people wanting to trigger Commander's Strike, Horde Breaker allows you to make an extra attack as part of your action. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 10, 2023 at 19:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @OwenReynolds That's certainly one interpretation. It's an interpretation that I personally agree with. But the question at hand was why this answer is different from the one about Horde Breaker, and my answer is the difference is HB isn't a clear and unambiguous yes or no on "is this part of the attack action" while TWF is clearly not. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 10, 2023 at 19:47
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You cannot "forgo" an attack you cannot make

The rules for Two-Weapon Fighting state the following :

Two-Weapon Fighting: When you take the Attack action and attack with a light melee weapon that you're holding in one hand, you can use a bonus action to attack with a different light melee weapon that you're holding in the other hand.

As you've correctly noted, you need to use your bonus action to initiate the second attack. This means that if you do not have your bonus action available, you are unable to make a second attack.

The part of the rules you've quoted for Commander's Strike that are important here are the following :

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.

While at first glance it could be a pain to determine which one of those triggers take precedence over the other, it actually does not matter, since neither of the possible orders makes it possible to use both.

If you use your bonus action to get your second melee strike through Two-Weapon Fighting, you do not have a bonus action left to initiate Commander's Strike.

If you use your bonus action to initiate Commander's Strike, you do not have a bonus action to get your second melee attack, and thus have no attack to forgo.

As such, there is no way to use both abilities at once (unless you found a way to get two bonus actions on your turn, but I've never heard of something like that).

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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt, you can only have the dessert to forgo if you take the "Eat entree" action first. But you can't have dessert and a milkshake on the side as they both use the "Bonus Calories" action. \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    Feb 10, 2023 at 17:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt that's forgoing dessert, but it's not forgoing your dessert. It's not yours until you order it. \$\endgroup\$
    – MJD
    Feb 10, 2023 at 17:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt - The correct analogy here is that when ordering a multi-course meal, you have the choice of getting a bonus dessert at the end, or delivering one your courses to another person in the neighborhood, where the delivery cost is covered by the cost of the dessert. At level 3, the Battlemaster only gets a one-course meal, and adds additional courses at levels 6, 11 and 16, so they can then still have most of their main-course while also sending part of it to someone else. \$\endgroup\$
    – RisingZan
    Feb 10, 2023 at 19:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt All of the possible meanings of forgo mean roughly the same thing: "decline to take; omit; go without; refrain from". The rules for Commander's Strike are really simple. A) You must take an attack action. B) You must forgo one of the attacks you get from that attack action. C) You must spend your bonus action and a superiority die to direct an ally D) That ally must be able to either see or hear you E) That ally must be able to take a reaction and then choose to use that reaction to make a single weapon attack. Continuing in next comment... \$\endgroup\$
    – RisingZan
    Feb 10, 2023 at 23:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ To put it in fewer words : if you do not have a bonus action, you are unable to perform an attack. You can't say "I forgo this attack" if you do not have the ability to perform said attack. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthieu
    Feb 11, 2023 at 11:03

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