Published on July 5, 2022, Last modified on March 6th, 2023
As a reliable way to increase damage on a variety of weapons, Piercer is solid feat for a wide range of builds in 5e.
Steve Argyle - Wizards of the Coast - Monastery Swiftspear
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What Is Piercer 5e?
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything brought a considerable slew of changes, new feats, and new subclasses. Three of the feats, in particular, were designed to help martial classes stay on par with casters without overshadowing them.
Today we’ll be talking about arguably the most powerful one, the Piercer feat.
How Does Piercer Work?
Like the two other weapon damage type feats, you gain three benefits from this feat:
You increase your STR or DEX by one to a max of 20.
When you hit a creature with an attack that dealt piercing damage, you can re-roll one of the damage dice and use that new roll instead. This only works once per turn.
If you score a critical hit on a creature with piercing damage, you may roll an extra damage die for that piercing damage.
Is Piercer Good?
In our 5e Feats Tier List, Piercer was given a B Tier rating, making it a niche feat that can improve some builds in D&D 5e.
Piercer is essentially the half-orc’s Brutal Critical combined with the Savage Attacker feat and you get to +1 STR or DEX which is a lot of value from one feat.
Something to keep in mind is that this damage isn’t restricted to melee combat, so this is a great feat to pick up for a ranged build as well.
Piercer 5e Interactions
Naturally, there are a few edge cases when discussing feats like this, such as:
Piercer does not require it to be a melee weapon that deals piercing damage, meaning you can benefit from this with ranged weapons and some spells.
The damage reroll is a little ambiguous, and there haven’t been any official errata, so talk to your DM to see how they interpret the feat.
Which 5e Classes Make the Most of Piercer?
The color code below has been implemented to help you identify, at a glance, how good the Piercer 5e feat is for a specific class/subclass.
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
Piercer is best on builds that:
Use mainly ranged weapons like bows, crossbows, and firearms
DEX-based builds that primarily use rapiers
Spear-wielders with the Polearm Master feat
This feat is stellar all-around, and for a good reason. It works with a wide variety of popular weapons and gives you a great damage bonus. It also works with a wide variety of builds.
Artificer: Another good pickup for the ranged artificer. If you will be dual-wielding hand crossbows you will get double the opportunity to get extra crit damage.
Barbarian: If you want to use a melee weapon with piercing, this feat works incredibly well. However, you’ll usually get better damage with two-handed weapons and Great Weapon Master, so stick to a spear if you want the most out of this.
Bard: DEX-based bards who want to stay at a range with crossbows should pick this feat up. The same goes for College of Swords or College of Valor since you can use rapiers for melee weapons.
Cleric: Most clerics will skip this, as dealing damage isn’t their priority. However, War Domain, Strength Domain, and Forge Domain will work wonders with this feat, as they want to deal heavy damage.
Druid: You’ll want to skip this for spellcasters since this only works with two spells. However, Circle of the Moon druids with a Wild Shape that deal piercing damage can work well (if you can find them).
Fighter: This is a stellar feat for most fighters, as there are a ton of weapons that you can use. Samurai and Champions are the best fits for this, as they can get crits a little more often than other classes. It's also a solid pickup for DEX fighter builds that will either be using a bow, crossbow, or rapier.
Monk: This works really well for the weapon-focused subclasses or for monks that want to use a short sword as their primary weapon. Way of the Kensei monk is the best subclass for this, as you can use melee and ranged weapons without losing your monk weapon benefits.
Paladin: An excellent addition to an already lethal kit. Your typical Great Weapon Master/Sentinel/Polearm Master paladin will want to add this feat in, as it works with spears (which are polearms!).
Ranger: Ranged rangers rejoice! This works incredibly well with bows and crossbows, making it fantastic for them. STR rangers need not apply here.
Rogue: This works well if you want to use shortswords or rapiers for your main hand and can also work with a dagger offhand attack. Arguably this is almost a must-have unless you don’t want to use these weapons.
Sorcerer: You don’t have access to the two spells that deal piercing damage, and you aren’t a DEX-based class. This is a definite skip.
Warlock: While you might gain access to some piercing spells, this feat is still a skip. The damage increase from this feat is minuscule when you can only cast one spell a turn.
Wizard: While you might gain access to the piercing spells, this feat is still a skip. The damage increase from this feat is minuscule when you can only cast one spell a turn.
Piercer 5e FAQs
Can spells trigger the 5e Piercer feat?
Only two spells in D&D 5e deal piercing damage, ice knife, and thorn whip. They can certainly benefit from this feat, but since spellcasters don’t get as many opportunities to deal damage compared to martial classes, it’s not a wise choice.
What's the best weapon to use with Piercer?
The spear is a great starting weapon for Piercer as it can be wielded with two hands to do 1d8 and can be thrown. DEX-based classes will likely want to use a rapier as it has the finesse property and does 1d8 damage. This feat really shines in conjunction with ranged weapons, like the longbow and heavy crossbow, as a way to reliably up your damage.
Piercing damage used to be fairly uncommon compared to the more popular slashing weapons, but not anymore. With the powerful 5e Piercer feat, you can deal some serious damage at a range or up close.
How do you feel about the Piercer feat? Do you like it more or less than its siblings, Crusher and Slasher? Let us know in the comments!
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Jeff Nabors has been playing D&D ever since he stumbled upon the 3.5E core books in his high school library. When he isn’t running a campaign or designing a game, you can find him on Twitch, writing about game design, or staring off into the endless abyss.