War Caster 5e
Published on March 12, 2022, Last modified on May 16th, 2022
The thought of wading into battle, casting powerful spells, and wielding a mighty weapon is a fantasy for many players. However, the rules of D&D 5e don’t make this dream easy. With the inclusion of concentration and spellcasting foci in 5e, spellcasting has become challenging in melee combat. That’s where War Caster comes in.
One of the most important ways to fulfill this playstyle is to boost your success on concentration checks. This is where War Caster comes in.
Linvala, Shield of Sea Gate - Wizards of the Coast - Wayne Reynolds
Table of Contents
How does War Caster work?
Once you pick up this feat, you get a couple of benefits:
- First, whenever you take damage while maintaining concentration, you gain advantage on that subsequent Constitution check.
- When casting a spell, you can perform the somatic (aka hand movements) of that spell, even if you’re wielding a shield or weapon in them.
- Whenever an enemy would provoke an opportunity attack from you, instead of attacking, you can opt to cast a spell at them instead. However, the spell has to target only that creature and must have a casting time of one action.
Essentially, it makes being up close and personal while spellcasting more viable.
Is War Caster good?
We gave War Caster an S Tier rating In our 5e Feats Tier List, making it among the most potent feats in D&D 5e.
War Caster is similar to Polearm Master because it enables a particular build rather than offering raw power to an already established build.
There are tons of characters that like to wield magic in combat, which can mean taking damage from multiple sources each turn. The last thing these casters want to do is lose concentration and waste an action, bonus action, or spell slot casting a spell again. Therefore, getting advantage on concentration checks is massive for these builds.
War Caster also negates the need for a free hand for somatic components and can allow you to cast a spell as an opportunity attack. Without this feat, melee spellcasters take a massive hit to their viability.
War Caster Interactions
Interestingly enough, War Caster ends up with a few neat interactions that you can experience while playing. Here are a few examples:
- You can cast green-flame blade or booming blade as your reaction for an opportunity attack, allowing additional damage if the creature continues to move. (However, it’s up to the DM’s discretion the creature wants to continue to move after the spell has been cast).
- If you have a reach weapon and your enemy provokes an opportunity attack, you cannot use the War Caster feat to cast green-flame blade or booming blade. This is because the range of the cantrips is limited to 5ft.
- This doesn’t mean that your reach is ignored for the opportunity attack, just that the spell is still limited to its range. If your reach is 10ft, you will still provoke opportunity attacks from that range.
- However, you can use green-flame blade or booming blade with a reach weapon if you have the Spell Sniper feat.
- If you are a Cleric or a Paladin, you can cast spells that require material and somatic components as long as your holy symbol is on your shield with this feat. Those who choose to forgo a shield will still need to hold onto their holy symbol to cast spells with material components.
War Caster FAQs
Which builds need War Caster?
Any class that wants to be knee-deep in bad guys while casting spells will love War Caster. Therefore, any melee-focused spellcaster that isn’t a divine caster (Cleric or Paladin) will want to pick this up ASAP.
How does War Caster interact with spellcasting foci?
Depending on the class you chose, the answer is a little different.
You can use the same hand for a spellcasting focus and perform somatic gestures when casting a spell. However, War Caster doesn’t omit the need for material components like a foci can. If your spell needs a material component, you’re better off doffing your shield or weapon and picking up those items or your focus to cast it.
The only exception to this is casters who use holy symbols. Because their spellcasting foci can be mounted to their shield, they don’t need to free a hand up for either component. This is why War Caster isn’t as beneficial for Clerics and Paladins.
Which Classes Make the Most of War Caster?
The color code below has been implemented to help you identify, at a glance, how good the War Caster feat is for a specific class/subclass. It’s not a hard rule, as there are plenty of sub-optimal builds for those who don’t want to min-max and prefer to have fun experiences.
- Red isn’t going to contribute to the effectiveness of your character build at all
- Orange is an OK option
- 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