[Top 5] D&D Best Fighter Builds of All Time

D&D Best Fighter Builds
A magically enhanced fighter, ready to strike down an incoming foe.

Fighters are the most popular D&D class. Some would argue that this is a result of the class being very newbie friendly. This can be true. I believe it has a lot more to do with the potential inside of every fighter. The wide range of abilities and subclasses to choose from makes every fighter unique. It also means every fighter can be made incredibly strong. You want a class that can take a licking and deal lots of damage? The fighter is for you. Here are five of the best fighter builds, designed to get the most out of their abilities.

Number 5: The Raider

A Half-Orc makes great starting races for just about any combat-orientated class.

It’s a certified classic, a newbie special, and adored by players who love to gamble. Simple, but effective, it’s a Half-Orc champion with a maul. Every attack roll has you at the edge of your seat, because if you crit, you’re sending your target directly to the hereafter.

Half-Orc characters have a trait called “savage attacks.” This means, when they crit, they roll an additional damage die, making critical hits even stronger. Match this with the champion’s ability to crit on a 19 or 20, the “savage attacker” and “crusher” feat, and the fighting style “great weapon fighting,” and you have a damage-dealing machine.

Build details

  • Race: Half-Orc.
  • Stats: Make strength your highest stat, try to keep dexterity and constitution relatively high.
  • Skills: From the fighter list, take athletics. I recommend taking perception.
  • Recommended background: Any background will do.
  • Subclass: Champion
  • Equipment: Heavy armor, a maul, the rest is up to you
  • Feats: Savage attacker, crusher.


  • Your critical hits are amazing, and your critical hit chance doubles at third level
  • Consistently high damage even without critical hits. The “savage attacker” feat lets you re-roll damage dice and take the higher roll. The “great weapon master” fighting style lets you reroll 1’s and 2’s on damage dice, though you do have to take the new roll, even if it is a 1 or a 2.
  • The half-orcs bonus to constitution and their “relentless endurance” ability means you can stay in the fight longer, and take more damage than most fighters. “Relentless Endurance” allows you to come back on 1 hit point if you are reduced to 0 but not killed outright, but you can only use the ability once per short rest.


  • Simplistic to the point of potentially being a little boring.
  • One trick pony with little utility outside of combat.


  • Typically, a greataxe is the weapon used with this build because “savage attacks” only lets you add one damage die. So an additional D12 compared to an additional d6 with a maul. However, the “crusher” feat grants you advantage on your next turn when you roll a critical hit against a target, maximizing your chance of back to back critical hits.
  • Find any way you can to get advantage on your attack rolls. Use a shove check to knock your enemy prone. If your table allows flanking, then flank every time.
  • Pick up the “great weapon fighting” fighting style at first level, to boost your damage whether or not you land a critical hit.


Number 4: The Spellsword

Tieflings can really pack a punch, with most subraces offering some additional, innate, spellcasting.

The Tiefling carefully studies the field of battle before making their choice. Will their enemies fall by the edge of their blade, or by arcane force?

The Spellsword is light and agile, using one handed weapons, so that the other is free to cast a spell when necessary. Their spellcasting makes them versatile, expanding your options beyond the typical fighter go to of “I roll to hit.” Know what damage type a creature is vulnerable to? Cast Firebolt rather than slashing them with a sword. Know the creature has a high AC? Force a saving throw by casting Frost Fingers. That enemy wizard is concentrating on a spell? Cast Magic Missile to force them to make three concentration checks.
And with the right spells, you can expand your utility beyond combat. Cantrips like mending or message, and spells like find familiar, all make you more useful than the average fighter once the combat stops.

Build details

  • Race: Tiefling, Bloodline of Mephistopheles.
  • Stats: Keep dexterity and intelligence high.
  • Skills: From the fighter list, take acrobatics and history.
  • Recommended background: Select a background that takes advantage of your high dexterity, like criminal, or unusually high intelligence, like “cloistered scholar.”
  • Subclass: Eldritch Knight
  • Equipment: Rapier, light armor.
  • Feats: Magic Initiate, and your choice of “Fey Touched” or “Shadow Touched.”


  • Versatile play style! Spellcasting gives you more options in combat than just hitting things.
  • Being a dexterity based fighter means you’ll most likely be wearing light armor, meaning you won't have disadvantage on stealth checks.
  • Full of flavor! Why is your fighter so smart, where did they learn their abilities?
  • Out of combat utility. Picking a handful of spells that are not combat related, and some intelligence based skills like history makes you more useful outside of combat than your average fighter.
  • A D10 hit die means you have higher hitpoints than your average spellcaster.
  • Constitution saving throw proficiency means you’re much more likely to maintain concentration.


  • The Eldritch Knight doesn’t get that many spells, meaning you will have to invest in feats like “magic initiate,” “shadow touched,” “fey touched,” and “ritual caster” to get access to more spells.
  • The Spellsword is a very jack-of-all-trades build. It can fight, it can take some hits, and can cast spells, but does none of those things as well as other builds.


  • The Mephistopheles bloodline is the best tiefling option. All the spells are combat related, mage hand is a helpful cantrip, and you gain a bonus to intelligence
  • “Fey Touched” and “Shadow Touched” are great options for feats, because they give your intelligence a slight boost, as well as giving you more spell options.
  • If you plan on using a lot of concentration spells, “War Caster” is a must have feat, because it gives you advantage on concentration checks.
  • Pick up the “duelist” fighting style to get the most out of your one handed attacks, adding a +2 to damage with weapons wielded in one hand when you aren’t carrying a shield or additional weapon.


Number 3: The Bastion

You wan't a tank of a character? Play the race that is literally made out of metal - the Warforged!

A clanking warforged, eyes glowing with an arcane fire, clicking and whirring like a grandfather clock with  a mean temper. Spells, ballistae bolts, sword thrusts, all bounce off his metallic form and shield the size of a castle door. He stands at the front and doesn’t have to say a thing, the message is clear.
If you want to hurt his friends, you’ll have to go through him. And no one gets through him alive.
The typical image of a cavalier fighter is of a noble knight upon his steed or friendly neighborhood druid wild shaped into a slavering animal. This strategy works well with this build too. But what it does best is protect allies while avoiding damage.
A warforged gains a +1 to their AC. The “defense” fighting style at level one of fighter also adds a +1 to AC. Take chainmail and a shield from the fighters starting equipment, and you have an AC of 20 at first level. Pair this with “unwavering mark” to encourage enemies to try to hit you, as well as the higher level cavalier abilities like “hold the line” to keep them near you. Your hardest hitting melee enemies won't ever make it to your allies.

Build details

  • Race: Warforged.
  • Stats: Keep strength and constitution high.
  • Skills: From the fighter list, take athletics. I recommend taking perception.
  • Recommended background: Any background will do.
  • Subclass: Cavalier
  • Equipment: Heavy armor, shield, any one handed melee weapon.
  • Feats: “Sentinel.” Other great options include “Heavy Armor Master,” “Shield Master” and “Mounted Combatant.”


  • Protect your friends! This build is one of the best at keeping your fellow party members safe, particularly from melee based enemies.
  • High AC and the warforged’s bonus to constitution makes you hard to hurt.
  • The warforged’s additional skill and tool proficiency gives you flavor and things to do outside of combat, a rarity for fighters!
  • The warforged “sentry’s rest” ability means you’re able to keep watch and rest at the same time.


  • Warforged aren’t available in every D&D setting, talk to your dungeon master before playing this one.
  • You’ll likely have a lower damage output than fighter builds that prioritize big damage with two handed weapons.
  • You have a hard time stopping ranged attacks from hitting your allies.
  • It’s not just your enemies who’ll have a hard time killing your player character. Don’t get charmed if you can help it.
  • Heavy armor means you are loud, disrupting group stealth checks.


  • Keep your constitution high to maximize your tankiness. You’re likely to be taking a lot of damage even with a high AC.
  • Mounts are a great way to maneuver into positions where you’ll attract the most attention. If you take the “mounted combatant” feat, you’ll be even more effective in combat against most enemies who are medium or smaller in size. Team up and ride your party druid into battle for double the fun!
  • Sentinel is a great feat for this build. Dropping the speed of enemies to 0 keeps them near you and away from allies.
  • If an enemy is looking flighty, don’t be afraid to trade one of your attacks for a “shove,” potentially knocking them prone, which requires half their movement speed to get up again. Then, chase them down and make them pay!


Number 2: The Warrior

Your party's Warrior crossing blades with a heavily armed foe is a showstopping event in any campaign.

An individual clad head to foot in armor made from heavy metal plates. Marching into a fray filled with arcane destruction and unknowable horrors. They bring with them no magic, and no special tricks. Just determination, a heavy weapon, and a lifetime of experience to master it. This is the quintessential fighter.

This character uses their strength to wield crushing melee weapons in close combat, and wears the best armor they can find to protect them. They’re at their best where the fighting is thickest. This is the build for high damage in melee.

Variant human or custom lineage allows you to take a feat at first level. “Polearm Master” gives you a bonus action attack. This is all just set up for the next feat. “Great Weapon Master,” allows you to take a -5 on your attack roll, for a +10 to damage. Use your battlemaster maneuvers to gain advantage and net yourself some extra damage to boot. At fifth level, you could potentially do 73 damage in a single turn, assuming you have a +3 to strength and roll a one on all your damage die. Even without expending your maneuver dice or your action surge, you can still output a base 42 points of damage a round assuming you have a +3 in strength.

Build details

  • Race: Variant human or custom lineage.
  • Stats: Make strength your highest stat, and keep constitution high for extra hit points. You can dump intelligence or charisma. Maybe wisdom in a pinch.
  • Skills: From the fighter list, take athletics. I recommend taking perception.
  • Recommended background: Any background will do.
  • Subclass: Battle Master
  • Equipment: Heavy armor, a heavy, two handed weapon.
  • Feats: Polearm Master, Great Weapon Master.


  • High damage. “Great Weapon Master,” and a bonus action attack means you can be doing upwards of 30 points of damage a round at fifth level, plus extra damage from your superiority die.
  • Battlemaster maneuvers provide excellent utility in combat. Frighten enemies, launch them away from you, disarm them, even buff allies by giving them temporary hit points.
  • Seriously, the damage is silly, and you feel like a god of war when you start obliterating enemies at close range.
  • Great tank potential. Being dangerous and in the face of the enemy can draw them away from the squishier members of your party.


  • Melee combat is inherently riskier than ranged combat, because it puts you closer to the enemies, and you’re potentially punished for moving away.
  • It is very hard to be stealthy in heavy armor, which can affect the entire party.


  • Pick maneuvers that give you advantage, especially “tripping attack.” The strategy is simple. Knock them prone with your first hit, granting you advantage on melee weapon attacks if you’re within 5ft of the target. Then smash them with great weapon master attacks, using the advantage to offset the negative to attack rolls.
  • Party composition and tactics make all the difference. If you knock an enemy prone, and another party member grapples that target, then that target can’t get up from prone, and you can continue to pummel them. The party cleric casting “bless,” can make it more likely to land those risky attacks, and having “haste” cast on you makes you a fast killing machine with an extra attack.


Number 1: The Boltslinger

With the right built, a hand-crossbow fighter is as lethal at close range as they are from 120ft away.

A noble duelist, one hand behind her back, she squints through her monocle, aims her hand crossbow and looses a carefully aimed shot. A swashbuckling pirate sprints across the deck of his  ship, laughing merrily as he lets off bolt after bolt. A charming bounty hunter quick-draws his foe,shooting four bolts at his target before the mark has time to draw his own weapon.

The boltslinger is another variant human fighter, but unlike the Warrior, the boltslinger prefers dexterity over strength, and hand crossbows over any other weapon. From a power building perspective, it’s the ultimate fighter build with many strengths and few weaknesses. It’s capable of smashing out massive amounts of damage over distance, keeping you further away from the risk, while gaining all the utility of a melee battlemaster.

Build Details

  • Race: Variant human or custom lineage.
  • Stats: Make dexterity your highest stat. You can dump strength.
  • Skills: From the fighter list, take acrobatics and perception.
  • Recommended background: criminal or urban bounty hunter for stealth proficiency and proficiency in thieves tools.
  • Subclass: Battle Master
  • Equipment: Light armor, hand crossbow, heavy crossbow, rapier.
  • Feats: Crossbow expert, sharpshooter


  • Fighting over range keeps you away from melee enemies so you take less damage.
  • Melee based characters are anchored to their enemies location. Ranged fighters have the whole environment available to them.
  • Sharpshooter + battle master maneuvers + bonus action attack = great damage output.
  • You can effectively use light armor. No more fully armored fighter rattling away the group stealth check.
  • Dexterity saving throws are some of the most common saving throws in the game, and prioritizing dexterity makes you more likely to pass them.
  • Proficient in all weapons. Out of ammo? Pick up a rapier!
  • D10 hit die. You’ll still have a lot of hit points.


  • Less ways to gain advantage than other builds.
  • The playstyle means you’re in less of a position to soak up damage for squishier party members.
  • Slightly less damage output than some other builds.


  • Take the archery fighting style for a +2 bonus to ranged attacks at first level.
  • For your starting feat, I would recommend taking “crossbow expert.” The bonus action attack means you essentially have multiattack from the start of the game. Take “sharpshooter” later.
  • Most battlemaster maneuvers work well with the boltslinger, but avoid “tripping attack.” You have disadvantage to hit prone enemies with ranged attacks under most circumstances. 

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I first learned to dodge roll to avoid sketchy characters on west sydney train platforms, A skill I have since applied to many a videogame. A lifelong writer, gamer and player of tabletop RPGs.
Gamer Since: 2005
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Baldur's Gate 3, Slay the Spire,
Top 3 Favorite Games:Baldur's Gate, Mass Effect 3, Fallout: New Vegas

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