Two months ago we began this rollercoaster ride by asking the simple question “What are the best feats in 4e D&D?”. Today we end the speculation and share the results that you helped us collect. We are ready to announce the findings and provide our commentary on the results.
The poll is now closed. We had 353 people cast 1151 votes. Although this is clearly just a small sampling of gamers, I think we can safely say that the trending we saw was indicative of many, if not most gamers.
Let’s begin with the results. For the past month our active poll asked our readers to choose the top four feats from a list of 10 provided. Here are the results.
|Feat Name||% of Total Vote||Votes cast|
|Weapon Expertise (and variations)||50%||177 Votes|
|Backstabber / Killing Curse / Lethal Hunter||43%||152 Votes|
|Improved Defenses||36%||127 Votes|
|Multi-class feat||34%||120 Votes|
|Dwarven Weapon Training||33%||117 Votes|
|Improved Initiative||30%||104 Votes|
|Superior Will||26%||92 Votes|
|Master At Arms||24%||85 Votes|
|Total Voters: 353|
The Gold Goes To…
I don’t think it was any real surprise that Weapon Expertise topped the poll. Exactly 50% of all votes went to the feat that provides +1 to attacks. What did surprise me is that more people voted for Weapon Expertise than Master at Arms (at a 2:1 ratio). Both feats proved the same +1 to attack but Master at Arms lets you stow and then draw a weapon as a single minor action rather than one minor to stow and another minor to draw.
I realize that the new Weapon Expertise feats from D&D Essentials also provide some other benefit on top of the +1 to attack, but it’s been my experience that those bonuses don’t come into play nearly as often as the need to stow and draw items during combat. Maybe it’s just the kind of characters I’m seeing at my game tables.
The Silver Goes To…
If you’re playing a striker your job is to inflict as much damage as possible as quickly and as often as possible. The feats that increase the extra damage dice from d6s to d8s came in second place with 43% of the vote. I suspect that people who didn’t vote for the increased damage dice feats rarely or never play strikers. Among those who do it’s usually a tough choice whether to pick Backstabber / Killing Curse / Lethal Hunter to increase their damage output before Weapon Expertise or after. In almost all cases these are the 1-2 feat selections for strikers, and with more strikers in the game than any of the other three roles it makes sense that these feats came in second.
The Bronze Goes To…
Step one is to improve your chances of hitting, step two is to improve your damage output and step three is to find a way to avoid getting hit. Rounding out the top three is Improved Defenses. In early heroic tier I agree that this is a fantastic feat, however as PCs earn a few levels I’ve found that this feat is not nearly as useful as the Superior variations. Most of the time one of your Fort, Ref and Will defenses is really good to begin with and the extra +1 makes little difference. Going with the Superior feat that improves just one defense (usually the one that desperately needs help) often makes more sense.
On top of the focused improvement is an additional extra ability. These extras have proven to be game changers at my table. Superior Fortitude’s resist ongoing damage often means the difference between consciousness and unconsciousness. Superior Will lets the PC save against daze or stun at the beginning of their turn even if a save is not normally allowed. Of all the conditions in D&D I find daze and stun the two most annoying because they either negate your turn entirely or limit your actions. That save (if successful) can keep you in the action.
Hounourable Mention Goes To…
Multi-class feats are incredibly popular. A vast number of characters I’ve played with during public play have a multi-class feat. Considering that these feats generally give you skill training and an additional power they are a lot more useful than just taking the Skill Training feat. Most players see this as a good way to get two things out of one feat. Regrettably may players take this feat to power game and rarely work the multi-class aspect of the feat into their character.
A common tactic when choosing a multi-class feat is for a striker to multi-class into a leader role in order to give themselves a way to heal. The other common option I’ve seen is for strikers to choose another striker class to increase damage output. A Rogue that multi-classes into Ranger (or vice versa) can really do a lot of damage in one round, especially if they roll a crit.
Using The Results
Now that we have the results we have to decide what to do with this information. The reason for doing this exercise in the first place was because I noticed that most players were taking the same feats over and over again for every character. This made me wonder if some feats were so critical to the game that perhaps they should be awarded to every player for free at the beginning of play. The other option we kicked around was to remove these feats from the game entirely. I suppose these questions still stand. I don’t know if these results make implementing either of these choices any easier. But it does add fuel to the debate.
Should any of the feats that made out final 10 be awarded for free or removed because they are so common? I guess it’s really up to the DM to decide. I know that many DMs I play with already give everyone Weapon Expertise as a free feat during character creation (as a DM I do not).
What are you thoughts? Do you think that the feats that provide a +1 to attack should be given to all PCs for free since the majority of players will end up choosing these feats anyway? What about removing them from the game entirely? Do you have any other comments about the poll results? We want to hear from you.