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I have a Fighter in my game trying to use a Magic Missile Wand as a One-Handed Weapon Attack to get the benefit of the Crossbow Expert Feat. The Crossbow Expert Feat requires that the player make an Attack action with a 1-Handed Weapon. I ruled that the Wand of Magic Missiles (from the DMG) is neither a weapon nor using an "Attack" action.

My reasoning is that the wand is specifically classified outside of the "Weapons" section of the Magic Items guide, and I believe activating it is similar to other magic items that have spell effects. Activation of a magic item does not make for an Attack action as defined in the PHB, if anything it would fall under the "Cast a Spell", or "Use an Object" action.

If my ruling is correct, looking ahead, the Extra Attack class feature of a fighter will not allow him to use the wand (or similar item) as an Extra Attack.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, but only if you stick the pointy bit in someone's eye; not if you use it to fire a magic missile. \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Apr 6 '16 at 0:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ [typo in the last comment, sorry] to be perfectly clear, is the fighter trying to Magic Missile someone via the wand and then fire off the hand x-bow, or is the fighter trying to hit someone with a stick (that happens to fire off Magic Missiles if used properly) and then fire off the hand x-bow? \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Apr 6 '16 at 1:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ He was trying to use the Magic Missile Wand, and then use a bonus action to fire his hand-xbow. \$\endgroup\$ – Smorpheus Apr 6 '16 at 18:45
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Under no circumstances is a wand classified as a one-handed weapon. It does not appear on the weapons table, and all it is capable of doing is letting the user cast the spell contained within:

This wand has 7 charges. While holding it, you can use an action to expend 1 or more of its charges to cast the magic missile spell from it.

The question is, does casting magic missile count as making a one-handed weapon attack? The answer is a resounding "No."

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you explain what is required of something to be considered an attack or not? \$\endgroup\$ – Premier Bromanov Apr 6 '16 at 2:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PremierBromanov An attack is anything that requires an attack roll (e.g. What counts as an attack?). Casting spells don't use attack rolls, and therefore are not attacks. \$\endgroup\$ – phyrfox Apr 6 '16 at 4:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @phyrfox That's not always true - many spells do use attack rolls (called a "ranged spell attack") and are therefore attacks. Magic Missile does not, however, and wouldn't be a weapon attack in any case. \$\endgroup\$ – SirTechSpec Aug 29 '16 at 15:46
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No

The crossbow expertise feat benefit triggers "[w]hen you use the Attack action". However, the wand of magic missile allows you to "…expend 1 or more of its charges to cast the magic missile spell from it. That is the Cast a Spell action, not the Attack action.

Since you're not using the Attack action, the benefits don't apply.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Maybe it's the Use a Magic Item action, but yeah. \$\endgroup\$ – El Suscriptor Justiciero Apr 20 '17 at 18:43
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As per the DMG, activating a magic item does not fall under "Use an Item" (it cannot, for example, be used with Fast Hands). The game doesn't specify exactly what it is classed as, so I just call it the "Activate a Magic Item" action. On the other hand, some magic items let you cast a spell, in which case it comes under the "Cast a Spell" action. (Hat-tip Dale M).

For example, from Lost Mine of Phandelver:

The Staff of Defense and the Spider staff use the phrasing "you can use your action to cast one of the following spells … if the spell is on your class's spell list", so they would be the "Cast a Spell Action".

The Wand of Magic Missiles, however, uses the phrasing "you can use your action to fire the magic missile spell" and doesn't require it to be on your class's spell list. I think it would be OK for a GM to rule either way - "Cast a Spell" or "Activate a Magic Item".

In any case, using a wand of magic missiles is certainly not the "Attack" action (you are not rolling a d20) so the Extra Attack feature does not apply.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Actually, it uses the "Cast a Spell" action because you "... cast the magic missile spell ...". This matters because you couldn't then use a bonus action (assuming you have one) to cast anything but a cantrip. \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Apr 6 '16 at 0:42

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