Persuasion Check: Unearthed Arcana 2020 – Feats

It’s that time again! This time Wizards of the Coast released a new Unearthed Arcana focusing on feats! Sixteen to be exact! That’s a lot of feats for us to dig into, but fear not, many of them can be clumped together in similar themes for us to take a look at.

As always, our Persuasion Check articles are less hardcore analysis and more commentary drawing insights and some light analysis where needed. If you want a more flavorful approach to opinions on playtest content backed up with some insights, this is the place for you! Now, follow along and let’s dig into these feats!

Weapon Enhancers
The Crusher, Piercer, and Slasher feats are what I’m collectively calling “Weapon Enhancers” as they make damage with bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing weapons even better. Each one works fundamentally the same with each granting an ability score increase to Strength or Dexterity, a once per turn effect with that damage type, and a special effect on a critical hit. For example, Crusher allows you to move a creature up to one size larger than you 5 feet into an empty space on a hit, and a critical hit with a bludgeoning weapon grants advantage on all attacks against that creature until the end of your next turn.

These are great for adding additional deadliness to a character or helping shape the idea of them being a master of a particular type of weapon, like a swordmaster. It also can help liven up a typical sword-and-board Fighter by adding extra functionality. Overall, I’m really liking these as small boosts for martial characters, and give them a big thumbs up!

Toe Dippers
Ah yes, the Toe Dippers; a way to get a taste of another class without committing to multiclassing into it. These include the Artificer Initiate, Eldritch Adept, Metamagic Adept, and Fighting Initiates (lots of initiates and adepts, huh?) I love the idea of these as there have been countless times where I or one of my players wanted an ability or feature of another class but didn’t want to give up the benefits of the next level of their current class. Some of these already exist in the Player’s Handbook, but these four continue to expand on that list.

Like the Weapon Enhancers, the Toe Dippers all work fundamentally the same; you get something from another class. Artificer Initiate grants you a proficiency, a cantrip, and a once per day 1st level spell. Eldritch Adept lets you take any Invocation without prerequisite (unless you’re already a Warlock, which you must meet it). Metamagic Adept gives you 2 sorcery points and two Metamagic options from the Sorcerer class. And finally, Fighting Initiate gives you a Fighting Style option. All pretty straightforward, but I think great for dipping your toe or enhancing the fluff around your character. A Wizard with Metamagic or a martial class taking advantage of additional Fighting Styles are nothing to be scoffed at, but also not game breaking, so I’m giving this lot thumbs up.

Martial Expertise
Next up is the Martial Expertise; feats that make you more effective in combat without directly enhancing a damage type. We have Gunner, Shield Training, and Tandem Tactician.

Gunner and Shield Training work similarly; increase an ability score by 1, proficiency with firearms or shields, and some additional benefits for those. For example, Gunner lets you ignore the loading property and disadvantage on attacking with ranged attacks in melee, where Shield Training lets you use the shield as a spellcasting focus and don/doff it as a free action.

Tandem Tactician on the other hand enhances the Help action by allowing you to use it as a Bonus action, giving it a range of 10 feet, and allowing you to help two creatures targeting the same creature. Not bad for a character that wants to enhance their teammates prowess with a simple bonus action! While I have no objections to these feats and like that Gunner opens up a gunslinger type character without making a full blown class or subclass I don’t think these are anything amazing, but still a thumb up from me!

Skill Expertise
Some of these feats give you mad skillz yo (the kids still say that, yeah?). These feats focus on proficiencies and putting those proficiencies to practical use. This list includes Chef, Poisoner, and Practiced Expert.

Chef is great; it grants an ability score increase, proficiency with cook’s utensils, and allows you to make treats as part of short and long rests (or an hour in game) that provide healing benefits! Poisoner, well, opens up poisoning capabilities. Coating a weapon as a bonus action, proficiency with a poisoner’s kit, and other benefits to overcoming resistance and a pretty effect poison! And lastly, Practiced Expert is the generic one here; increase to a ability score, proficiency with a skill or tool of choice, and double proficiency bonus to any one skill or tool you’re proficient it. It’s a way to get really good at something, but not cool added effects.

These could be a good way to enhance the character concept you have in mind through skills or some cool added features. I could see a mercenary type character wanting to be a poisons expert without dipping a toe into Rogue, or a Cleric who wants to infuse their healing powers into chocolate chip cookies! Overall, thumbs up again- we’re on a roll!

Magic Expertise
And lastly, we come to the last trio of Fey Touched, Shadow Touched, and Tracker, otherwise clumped together as Magic Expertise. Fey and Shadow Touched are very similar; both increase a spellcasting ability score by 1, teach two spells (misty step/darkness and a choice of any other first level spell), and the ability to cast either of those two spells once per day for free, and then again using a spell slot of an appropriate level. Overall, great for nabbing a spell from another spellcasting class (as that one spell you choose can be from any) or enhancing your character with a bit of magic mischief.

Tacking differs slightly in that it only increases Wisdom by 1 and only teaches hunter’s mark (similarly being cast once per day for free but also being able to be cast with other spell slots), but makes up for it by granting advantaged on Survival checks to track creatures. Definitely a toe-dipper into Ranger, a skill enhancer, and a great way to access a signature Ranger spell. I think this is great, again, for a Fighter or Barbarian or other character that wants to be Ranger-esque without spending levels to get there. I do like this one as it’s a bit of this and a bit of that, but I’m curious as to who would pick it over some of the other options here. That said, all three of these get a thumbs up for me!

Some great feats, wouldn’t you say? I’d say that this Unearthed Arcana is a victory for Wizards of the Coast and not a de-feat for them as all of these options look fluffy and useful from my point of view. Of course, I’m not in the business of doing hardcore analysis or making game-breaking characters, so entirely possible I missed some crazy combo here!

Be sure to give these feats a try and give Wizards of the Coast your feedback with their usual post-Unearthed Arcana surveys so that these options can get refined and added to the game!

What did you think about this Unearthed Arcana? Be sure to join in the discussion over on our Discord channel where we talk tabletop!

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