College of Valor 5e Guide
Published on March 24, 2022, Last modified on June 26th, 2023
What is the College of Valor Bard?
The College of Valor bard is a subclass that emphasizes the bard’s role as a warrior and a scholar. They gain access to abilities that allow them to inspire their allies not just with their music and words, but also with their deeds on the battlefield.
Their core feature, Combat Inspiration, allows them to use their Bardic Inspiration to boost their allies’ damage or AC, making them more effective in combat. They also gain proficiency with medium armor, shields, and martial weapons, allowing them to hold their own in a fight.
The College of Valor makes the bard class more versatile and adaptable, able to handle a variety of roles in a party. Their Combat Inspiration feature makes them excellent support characters, able to boost their allies’ effectiveness in combat. Their proficiency with martial weapons and armor also makes them capable combatants, able to dish out damage and take hits.
In addition, their Battle Magic ability allows them to cast a spell and make a weapon attack as a bonus action, significantly increasing their damage output and making them a threat on the battlefield.
As is fitting with a bard, the College of Valor subclass kind of makes them a “Jack of all trades, master of none.” Their support features are still top-notch, but their new martial playstyle will interfere with their ability to help their team mates. For example, instead of using an action to heal a team mate, they may need to make a weapon attack against the monster in front of them because they’ve charged into combat.
College of Valor 5e Guide Rating Scheme
This guide is meant as a deep dive into the College of Valor Bard subclass. For a full overview of the Bard class, check out our bard 5e Guide.
For our full class guides, we use the following color rating scheme:
- Red isn’t going to contribute to the effectiveness of your character build at all
- Orange Situationally good, but a below-average option otherwise
- Green is a good option
- Blue is a great option, you should strongly consider this option for your character
- Sky Blue is an amazing option. If you do not take this option your character would not be optimized
For our subclass guides, we focus mainly on the Blue and Sky Blue options, because the other options are discussed in the parent guide or other subclass guides. We also discuss options that normally would be good for a typical build, but underperform when used in a subclass.
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College of Valor Bard Features
- Combat Inspiration: This takes your Bardic Inspiration to the next level by increasing its versatility in combat. Party members you give this to will likely want to hang on to it for attack rolls over damage rolls, but avoiding nasty hits can be a solid use.
- Bonus Proficiencies: Getting proficiencies with shields allows this College to already become more viable in combat than Swords. Make sure you pick up the War Caster feat.
- Extra Attack: Valor still suffers from the fact they don’t get their extra attack until 6th level but somewhat make up for it with Battle Magic.
- Battle Magic: This has solid upsides and some small downsides. It allows you access to a full spell + melee attack bonus action 4 levels earlier than Eldritch Knight’s War Magic AND bards will be able to cast 7th level spells by this point. The downside is that Bardic Inspiration takes a bonus action so it can sometimes get in the way of getting your bonus attack in. To provide context, by this point, you will likely have 5 Bardic Inspirations to give out per Short Rest.
The Basics of Playing a College of Valor Bard
As a bard, you’re going to be a versatile member of your party, able to fill a variety of roles as needed. You’ll be casting spells, using your Bardic Inspiration to boost your allies, and stepping into the fray with your weapon when necessary.
The College of Valor’s features enhance your combat abilities, making you a more formidable opponent. Your Combat Inspiration can turn the tide of a battle, and your Extra Attack and Battle Magic features allow you to dish out significant damage.
College of Valor Bard Playstyles
Frontline Fighter: College of Valor bards can hold their own in a fight, thanks to their proficiency with medium armor, shields, and martial weapons. They can use their Combat Inspiration to boost their own attacks or to help their allies, and their Extra Attack and Battle Magic features allow them to dish out significant damage.
Support: College of Valor bards can also serve as excellent support characters, using their Bardic Inspiration to boost their allies’ abilities. They can also use their spells to heal their allies, control the battlefield, and debuff their enemies.
Maxing for College of Valor Bard
Bards in the College of Valor gain proficiency with medium armor and shields, which can significantly boost their Armor Class. With a decent Dexterity score and a shield, a College of Valor bard can achieve an Armor Class of 19 (15 from half plate armor + 2 from Dexterity + 2 from a shield), making them quite durable in combat.
College of Valor bards can dish out a decent amount of damage, thanks to their Extra Attack and Battle Magic features. With a martial weapon and a good Dexterity score, they can deal significant damage with their weapon attacks. They can also use their spells to deal damage, control the battlefield, and debuff their enemies.
College of Valor bards gain Ability Score Increases (ASI) at 4th, 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level. Because their class and features rely on Charisma, they will want to prioritize this first.
Charisma: Even though you’ll be a frontline fighter, you’re still a bard and as a bard, your bread and butter will be your Charisma. It determines the power of your spells, the saving throw DCs for your spells, and the number of times you can use Bardic Inspiration.
Constitution: Constitution is important for all classes due to it determining your hit points. This is especially important for College of Valor bards who are likely to be in the thick of combat more often than other bard subclasses. Additionally, Constitution helps with concentration checks for maintaining spells.
Dexterity: Usually, Valor bards will stack into Dexterity, rather than strength because of its versatility. Dexterity is not only important for ranged weapons and melee weapons with the finesse property, but it also impacts your Armor Class, your initiative in combat, Dexterity saving throws, and is the key ability for several useful skills.
Strength: Because you won’t be relying on heavy armor, it’s best to invest in Dexterity for all the benefits noted above. That said, if you want to go for more of a martial build, Valor bards get access to martial weapons, so you can easily go invest into Strength and use a greatsword or the like.
Wisdom: Wisdom is used for several important saving throws and skills. While it’s not a primary ability for bards, having a decent Wisdom score can still be beneficial, especially for Perception checks and Wisdom saving throws.
Intelligence: Intelligence can be useful for certain skills, but it doesn’t contribute much to the bard’s class features or playstyle.
Sources Used in This Guide
- BR: Basic Rules
- : Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants
- SotDQ: Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen
- ERLW: Eberron: Rising from the Last War
- EEPC: Elemental Evil Player’s Companion
- EGtW: Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount
- FToD: Fizban's Treasury of Dragon
- GGtR: Guildmasters' Guide to Ravnica
- MotM: Monsters of the Multiverse
- MToF: Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes
- MOoT: Mythic Odyessys of Theros
- PHB: Player's Handbook
- SAiS: Spelljammer: Adventures in Space
- SCoC: Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos
- SCAG: Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide
- TCoE: Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
- TTP: The Tortle Package
- WBtW: The Wild Beyond The Witchlight
- VRGtR: Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft
- VGtM: Volo's Guide to Monsters
- XGtE: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything