Unearthed Arcana: Fighter Martial Archetypes Analysis

This week the D&D Team provides four new Martial Archetypes for the Fighter.

Arcane Archer

The first Arcane Archers were elite elven warriors who used to watch over the fringes of the elven domains. They imbued their arrows with magic to produce supernatural effects. Over the centuries, other races managed to use these powers.

  • Arcane Arrow. As a bonus action you can create a magic arrow that can be fired from a shortbow or longbow. It is considered a magic weapon and deals an additional 2d6 force damage. You can use this feature two times between a short or long rest. In addition to that, you also learn two Arcane Shot options and you can use one when you attack with a magic arrow. You learn more of them as you level up. I really like this feature. It makes some of your attacks count as magic weapon attacks, boosts their damage and also produce some pretty good effects. The Arcane Shot options are really good. There are eight available and can create a variety of offensive and defensive effects.
  • Archer’s Lore. You gain proficiency with two additional skills, choosing from Arcana, Athletics, Nature, Perception, Stealth and Survival. I like this feature mechanic and flavor wise. Gaining proficiency to extra skills is nice and also the skills you can pick from fit perfectly the theme of the Archetype.
  • Conjure Arrows. The feature itself says it. It’s a minor but useful magical effect. This pretty much solves the “where are you getting all those arrows from?” problem. Also, since it does not require you to conjure the arrows in a quiver, it could help you in some situations where a sharp object would be needed.
  • Ever-Ready Arrows. One minute after you have spent all your Arcane Arrows you can conjure another one. There is no limit to how many times you can do that. I guess this feature can be useful if you don’t take that many short rests or a battle takes too long.
  • Deadly Arrow. The Arcane Arrow bonus damage goes from 2d6 to 4d6. Personally, it feels a bit underwhelming flavor wise. I don’t know damage wise how it would fare at level 18 but that’s not my primary problem here.

Overall, I really like the Arcane Archer. The features are mechanic and flavor wise pretty good. I don’t mind that the class doesn’t cast spells. In fact, I like the team’s approach on this Archetype.


So the Knights are more or less tanks. They are there to take on the biggest and meanest enemy while protecting their allies.

  • Born to the Saddle. It’s easy for you to fight while on a mount. That’s good, I guess. I’m glad that the rest of Knight’s features are not about using a mount in battle. There’s the Cavalier for that and, to be honest, it didn’t really impress me.
  • Implacable Mark. So that’s an upgraded Mark with a hint of the Sentinel feat. The marked creature also has disadvantage on attack rolls against anyone who hasn’t marked it. You can get an attack of opportunity if it’s close to you and moves or attacks someone that will make this feature give it disadvantage on the attack. This attack deals extra damage equal to your Fighter level. Moreover, if you have used your reaction this round, but not this turn, you can still use it for an attack of opportunity. You can use this feature three times between a long or short rest. This feature isn’t bad. It also fits the theme of the Archetype quite well.
  • Noble Cavalry. As I said before, more skill proficiencies are good. In case you are proficient in all of the skills this feature lets you pick, you can choose a language instead.
  • Hold the Line. When an enemy within 5 feet of you moves, you can attack them. If you hit, their speed is reduced to 0 and you also deal extra damage equal to half your Fighter level. I believe it’s a good feature and it fits the theme of the Archetype quite well. Being able to control the enemy’s movement can prove to be a big advantage.
  • Rapid Strike. You can trade your advantage on an attack for another attack. Theoretically, with this Archetype, you will be able to get advantage on enough attacks to get value from this feature.
  • Defender’s Blade. You gain +1 to your AC when wearing heavy armor. Well, that’s what a Knight should wear. Also, it more or less lets you have one attack of opportunity on each round. So this takes the reaction part of the Implacable Mark feature and makes it available all the time. More attacks of opportunity are nice, right?

Overall, the Knight is okay. It reminded me a little bit of the Battlemaster but it’s much more focused. Born to the Saddle seems a bit out of place. I’d be much better if it was replaced with something else.


The Samurai’s fighting spirit is second to none. This makes them fearsome enemies and trustworthy allies.

  • Fighting Spirit. As a bonus action you can gain advantage on all attack rolls and resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage until the end of your next turn. You can use this feature three times before you have to have a short or long rest. Not much to say about that. It’s a solid feature. Especially since it can be combined with two other features of the Samurai.

  • Elegant Courtier. You can add your Wisdom modifier to Charisma checks you make to persuade or please a noble or anyone else of high social station. This, while very specific, can be useful. You also gain proficiency in the History, Insight or Persuasion skill. If you don’t want that or already have proficiency in all three of them, you can learn one language of your choice. So, because of their discipline, Samurais are good with interacting with nobility. I guess that’s acceptable.
  • Unbreakable Will. You gain proficiency in Wisdom saving throws. If you already have this proficiency, you can choose Intelligence or Charisma. Proficiency in saving throws is always good.
  • Rapid Strike. That’s exactly the same feature the Knight has. This archetype can get value from this feature because of the Fighting Spirit feature. It’s not bad. My only problem is that the Knight, the Samurai and the Sharpshooter have the exact same feature.
  • Strength Before Death. If you take damage that would reduce you to 0 hit points, you take a bonus turn instead. It interrupts the current turn and the damage isn’t applied until its end. It is specifically stated that you can take actions that negate or reduce the damage. This feature “refreshes” after a long rest. That’s a pretty good feature, especially since you have the ability to apply resistances to yourself.

Overall, the Samurai is good. It has some very good features that fit the theme of the Archetype very well.


The Sharpshooters are masters of ranged combat.

  • Steady Aim. As a bonus action, you pick an enemy you can see and is within your weapon’s range. Your attacks against that enemy ignore half and three-quarters cover and, if they hit, they deal extra damage equal 2 + half your Fighter level. You have these benefits until the end of this turn and you must be using a ranged weapon. This feature can be used three times before you have to have a short or long rest.
  • Careful Eyes. You can take the Search action using a bonus action. And, just like in the other three Archetypes, you can pick an extra skill to be proficient with. You can choose from Perception, Investigation and Survival.
  • Close-Quarters Shooting. This feature turns one of the biggest disadvantages of ranged attacks into an advantage. You don’t have disadvantage when making a ranged attack while having an enemy within 5 feet of you. More over, if you hit an enemy within 5 feet of you with a ranged attack, they can’t take reactions until the end of this turn. So not only an enemy close to you can’t cause you trouble, but you can also move away from them if you hit them.
  • Rapid Strike. Again with this feature. In this case I believe it’s not that good. Both the Knight and the Samurai have a way to get advantage on attacks easily but in this case you don’t.
  • Snap Shot. If you take the Attack action on your first turn of a combat, you get one extra ranged attack. This means that, at level 18, you can make four attacks(one has to be ranged) on your first turn. If you want, you can double that amount by using the Action Surge feature. That’s a lot of attacks!

Overall, the Sharpshooter is really good. I’d be even better if the Rapid Strike feature was replaced with something better for this Archetype but I guess that’s why this playtest material. Flavor wise, it’s my second favorite of the four, with the Arcane Archer being first.

All four of the Archetypes look good. Of course, some changes are needed, in my opinion. What do you think and which one did you like the most? Also, shouldn’t the Arcane Archer or the Sharpshooter be a Ranger Archetype instead of a Fighter one? What do you believe?

You can read the full article here and download the PDF here. And don’t forget, the survey about the Druid Circles and the optional Wild Shape rules can be found here.

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