Polearm Master 5e

Published on March 12, 2022, Last modified on December 23rd, 2022

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What Is Polearm Master 5e?

The polearm family of weapons was iconic throughout history and with good reason. They existed in nearly every early civilization and lasted on the battlefield for centuries.

While they aren’t as common in traditional fantasy, they get a spotlight in D&D because of the Polearm Master feat. Today we’ll cover this feat, why it’s good, and the best classes to capitalize on how incredible this feat is.

How Does Polearm Master Work?

If you pick up this feat, you get two stellar benefits:

  • While you’ve got a polearm in your hands, other creatures will provoke attacks of opportunity whenever they enter your reach, instead of just when they’re leaving.
  • If you make an attack action with a polearm, you can use your bonus action to attack with the opposite end of the weapon for 1d4 bludgeoning damage, using the same ability modifier as the initial attack.

It’s important to note that if you want to benefit from this feat, you need to be using one of the following as a weapon:

  • Glaive
  • Halberd
  • Quarterstaff
  • Spear

Additionally, if you are using a pike, you cannot benefit from the bonus action part of this feat. I can’t find a good reason for why it was omitted, aside from Jeremy Crawford (head of D&D Design) saying they’re “too unwieldy.

If you have a weapon equipped that isn’t one of the weapons listed above, you won’t be able to use the features granted by the feat.

Is Polearm Master Good?

We gave Polearm Master an S Tier rating In our 5e Feats Tier List, making it among the most potent feats in D&D 5e.

Polearm Master is one of those feats that entirely created a build archetype. The bonus action it grants allows you to add your attack bonus to the hit, stretching your damage per round. Taking an opportunity attack when creatures enter your reach is pure action economy and can be especially powerful when combined with the 10ft reach of a halberd or glaive.

Builds that get extra value added to their attacks make excellent use of this feat. For example, paladins, who can get more smite triggers; Battle Masters, who can use their maneuvers; and barbarians, who can add their Rage damage, are among some builds that make effective use of this feat. If combined with other feats like Sentinel, Polearm Master can get so good that it is now considered a faux pas to play a Polearm Master/Sentinel build.

Polearm Master 5e Interactions

Oddly enough, there are a few essential interactions that come up with this feat, such as:

  • If you wield a glaive or halberd, you can pair this feat with the Sentinel feat to great effect. When a creature enters your 10-foot reach, you are able to make an opportunity attack. If the attack hits, it drops the creature’s movement to zero. This means that creatures with 5-foot reach won’t be able to reach you with an attack. On your turn, you can back up without provoking an opportunity attack, rinse, and repeat.
  • If you cast shillelagh on your weapon, the blunt end’s bonus attack is still a d4, but you do get to add your WIS modifier.
  • Attacks of opportunity from this feat can trigger the War Caster feat’s ability to cast specific spells spell. However, you are still limited to that spell’s range (i.e., Booming Blade cannot be cast at 10ft, as the spell is only a 5ft range).

Which 5e Classes Make the Most of Polearm Master?

The color code below has been implemented to help you identify, at a glance, how good the Polearm Master 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

Polearm Master is a stellar feat for any character interested in melee combat. The most common builds looking for this feat are those that gain access to extra value from their attacks. Casters and ranged builds will want to look elsewhere as Polearm Master won’t provide any value.

Artificer: It’s hard to rank artificers because they have several distinct build possibilities. That said, most artificers would have no use for Polearm Master. The one subclass, in particular, that would be drawn to Polearm Master would be Battle Smiths. This is because they gain proficiency in martial weapons and can attack with their INT modifier. Battle Smiths can make better use of this feat because they can infuse it with Enhanced Weapon to increase their damage output. This benefit also extends to the 1d4 damage from the bonus attack.

Barbarian: Polearm users are usually defensive, patient, and precise. This doesn’t scream “barbarian,” but barbarians can still make great use of this feat. Their Rage ability gives them additional damage to each strike, so more attacks will always be better.

Bard: Most bards won’t find Polearm Master very useful, as they typically don’t want to be on the frontlines. The College of Valor bard can undoubtedly use the features provided to up their damage potential. College of Swords bards will want to stick with a spear or quarterstaff to make the most of their Dueling Fighting Style.

Cleric: Clerics don’t have any features that allow them to attack with their spellcasting modifier like the Battle Smith or Hexblade. This makes melee-oriented clerics multi-ability dependant right off the bat. If you want to play a build that makes the most of Polearm Master, you might want to look somewhere other than a cleric.

Druid: Won’t find a ton of use in this feat. They can use a quarterstaff as a weapon and a focus, but their playstyles don’t really mesh with Polearm Master. Most melee druids would prefer to be in Wild Shape over attacks with a staff.

Fighter: Fighters will love this feat, mainly because they get so many opportunities to combine its effects with other feats. Fighters get more ASIs than any other class, so picking up Great Weapon Master and Sentinel on top of Polearm Master is well within your reach. The fighter’s playstyle synergizes exceptionally well with Polearm Master. They get attacks for days, and having the extra reach is terrific. Polearms will work incredibly well with every subclass except for the Arcane Archer.

Monk: While this feat may be flavorful for quarterstaff-wielding monks, the features aren’t particularly optimized for the monk class. This is because monks usually want to keep their bonus attack for unarmed strikes to trigger specific class abilities. Way of the Kinsei monks will want to pick this up if they plan on using polearms as weapons but cannot use a glaive or halberd because they have are heavy weapons.

Paladin: Paladins love this feat because it provides significant extra attacks. Paladins can use the bonus action and the opportunity attacks to trigger extra smites. Polearm Master, paired with Sentinel and some heavy armor, makes paladins an even more terrifying presence on the battlefield.

Ranger: Melee-focused rangers can find some use for Polarm Master, especially with Favored Foe from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. Most rangers will forgo the Polearm Master’s bonus action in favor of Hunter’s Mark when needed, as they are both bonus actions.

Rogue: Rogues definitely won’t want this feat, as polearms can’t be used with Sneak Attack.

Sorcerer: Have no use for this feat.

Warlock: Typical warlock builds will want to give Polearm Master a pass. Hexblade warlocks, on the other hand, can make quite good use of Polearm Masters features.

Wizard: Have no use for this feat. Even Bladesingers can’t use it.

Polearm Master 5e FAQs

What’s the best weapon for Polearm Master?

Glaives and halberds are the most effective weapons if you want pure damage output as they have a d10 damage dice, are compatible with Great Weapon Master, and have the reach property. The only downside of these is the two-handed property which restricts access to a shield. If you want to go for a more defensive build, a spear combined with a shield is a great option. Remember that the spear won’t give you access to the 10ft reach, which makes the Polearm Maser + Sentinel combo so effective. Pikes are the least effective because they cannot be used to perform the bonus action attack.

Can a Pike be used with Polearm Master?

Pikes can benefit from the opportunity attack of this feat, including the range. However, they explicitly cannot use the bonus attack RAW. I would recommend speaking to your DM about pikes and this feat, as pikes are functionally the same as glaives, with the only difference being weight.

Can you use a Spear with Polearm Master?

Yep! Spears are weapons that benefit from both parts of this feat and are ideal in a polearm build if you prefer versatile weapons. Plus, you can use a spear as a one-handed weapon and still benefit from the feat.

Does a Scythe trigger Polearm Master?

Scythes don’t exist in D&D 5e. Well, there’s no official stat block for them, at least. You can talk to your DM and see if they would be okay with reflavoring a glaive or halberd as a scythe or try to create your own homebrew. Historically, war scythes did exist and were classified as pole weapons.

Jeff Nabors

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.

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