After a flurry of strikes on your turn, your enemy tries to flee, leaving your combat range safely by using the Disengage action. The fool… Little did they know your last level up gave you the Sentinel feat. Now no one can escape your wrath!… Well not quite, let’s dive in and see what the Sentinel feat does, how best to use it, but also its limitations, so you’re not left wondering how that sneaky rogue got away.
What does Sentinel do in 5e?
As with any feat, first check with your DM that they’re happy with you taking it instead of an Ability Score Improvement (ASI), feats are technically optional rules, so just make sure you’ve got the all-clear before creating a character built around this. If you’ve got the go-ahead, you’ll be able to pick up Sentinel instead of an ASI at given levels depending on your class. Check your class breakdown table in the Player’s Handbook for more information on when you get an ASI.
Taking Sentinel is a great choice for characters who want to lock down their enemies and make better use of the reaction and opportunity attacks.
The Sentinel feat has 3 aspects:
- When you hit a creature with an opportunity attack, the creature’s speed becomes 0 for the rest of the turn.
- Creatures provoke opportunity attacks from you even if they take the Disengage action before leaving your reach.
- When a creature makes an attack against a target other than you (and that target doesn’t have this feat), you can use your reaction to make a melee weapon attack against the attacking creature.
These features make it really difficult for enemies to escape your range in combat, as you can totally halt them in their tracks. It also gives you an extra chance to swing your weapon of choice, as you can react to your opponents attacking your allies, as long as you’re in melee with the attacking creature.
How does the Sentinel feat work?
The first two points of Sentinel work with any melee weapon that you can make opportunity attacks with. It clearly works best if you’re using a weapon you’re proficient with, and have a good attribute for, as you need to actually hit the enemy in order to stop them from moving any further.
For the third aspect, it specifies a melee weapon attack, so unfortunately you can’t make unarmed attacks, but if you’re playing a monk or using another unarmed fighting style, speak to your DM as they may allow unarmed strikes with this part of the feat.
Remember that if you are using a weapon with reach, such as the glaive or halberd, enemies only leave your reach when they step outside of the range, not when they step 5 feet away from you, so make sure you manage your spaces on the battle map correctly to best utilise the effect of Sentinel.
The Sentinel feat is particularly helpful on crowded battlefields
What is the max damage for Sentinel?
This depends on what weapon you’re planning to use, but Sentinel can give you up to one extra attack per round, as both parts of it require your reaction, just giving you a different trigger to make the attack with. Depending on your class features and level, this could be anywhere from doubling your amount of attacks to adding an extra one to many, (looking at you Monks with Extra Attack and Flurry of Blows).
The maximum value you could have would be from getting an extra reaction attack with a big weapon such as a Greataxe, which uses a d12 damage die. Remember though, this is still a regular attack, so any damage buffs such as Divine Smite, Great Weapon Master or Sneak Attack can be used, provided you meet the requirements to proc their effects.
Does Sentinel work on attacks of opportunity?
The first two points of Sentinel only work with attacks of opportunity. The first bullet point gives you the added effect of reducing the target’s speed to 0 if you hit them with an attack of opportunity. The second part allows you to make opportunity attacks even if the target uses the Disengage action, which normally prevents opportunity attacks from occurring when they move away from foes.
The third part of Sentinel does not interact with attacks of opportunity in any way, rather it gives you an alternate attacking possibility with your reaction besides opportunity attacks.
Does Fancy Footwork beat Sentinel?
Unfortunately, those Rogues are just too slippery, even for those with Sentinel as it only bypasses the Disengage action’s method of dodging opportunity attacks. Fancy Footwork (as well as the Mobile feat) allows characters to not provoke opportunity attacks if they attack the creature they’re moving away from, so they’ll be able to escape and will not be at risk of being stopped before they can slip back into the shadows.
Which characters should take Sentinel feat?
Sentinel works best on melee fighters that are going to be stuck in the middle of things. You need enemies to be coming in and out of your reach to use the feat, so classes like Fighters, Barbarians, Paladins and even Monks can utilise the feat well. These classes also tend to focus on amplifying their attacks, so you can more reliably land these attacks to stop your enemies from moving.
As mentioned above, you can also add on-hit effects onto the attacks granted by Sentinel, so things like a Monk’s Stunning Strike, Paladin’s Divine Strike or Battlemaster Fighter’s Manoeuvres can all be used if their prerequisites are met on the attack.
You should generally avoid this on ranged characters, or squishy spellcasters that want to avoid being in the thick of it. They’ll simply not get many opportunities to utilise the feat, and likely have other features or ability score increases to pick up instead.
In terms of races (ancestry), the Variant Human is always a good choice, giving you access to the feature from level 1. If you’re happy waiting until level 4, I would recommend the Half-Orc, a classic race for martial fighters due to their ability, Savage Attacks, which lets them roll an additional damage die on crits.
Sentinel gives you extra opportunities to attack, so you’re more likely to land crits and thus boost your damage numbers even higher.
I may also recommend Hill Dwarfs for the Constitution bonus and the extra HP per level from their Dwarven Toughness feature. As you’re going to be in the thick of things, you’ll need all the HP you can get to stay up in the fight and swing with those opportunity attacks.
Is the Sentinel feat good?
Sentinel is definitely a good feat, it provides a lot of battlefield control, stopping enemies from moving away from you can both prevent escapes and protect your allies, meaning your squishy wizard 10 feet behind you can keep concentrating on buff spells for you! If they do manage to attack your friends, you can retaliate and lay the smack into those bullies to get sweet revenge for them.
The Sentinel feat works incredibly well with the Polearm Master feat, making them a very popular (and some consider over-powered) combo.
As long as you’re using the right type of weapon, if you have both of these features, then you can totally shut down enemies, especially those melee enemies. If your DM throws just one monster against you that relies on being in your face to hit you, you’ll totally boss this combat (provided you have enough space to move about a bit).
Combined with Polearm Master, you’ll control swathes of the battlefield
How to use the Sentinel feat
Assuming you’re using a glaive or halberd, your plan will look something like this:
- Position yourself at least 15 feet away from the creature, so that they have to move into your range
- As the creature gets 10 feet away, Polearm Master lets you make an opportunity attack. If you hit, you then reduce the creature’s speed to zero via Sentinel. Meaning they can no longer reach you to attack.
- On your turn, make your attacks as normal, both with your action and bonus action thanks again to Polearm Master
- Move back about 10 feet, so the creature is out of your range.
- Repeat until the creature is toast.
- Celebrate with your allies while your DM furiously hatches a plan to get around this.
Have I just solved DnD?
Not quite, while the Sentinel feat is strong (especially when combined with the aforementioned Polearm Master), there are plenty of ways for a DM to get around its effect.
Firstly, you only have 1 reaction per turn, so when facing multiple enemies, you won’t be able to lock everyone down at once.
Secondly, you need a melee weapon to make an opportunity attack, so creatures outside of your reach won’t need to worry about your opportunity attacks until you find a way to get near them.
Thirdly, smart enemies should see you bossing the front lines of combat and either target your allies behind you by flanking or using range, or shut you down with spells such as Hold Person, or Tasha’s Hideous Laughter.
Rest assured that your DM will certainly find (or create) ways to make sure you’re not destroying all their combats with this feat.
Well, there you have everything you need to know about the Sentinel feat and how best to use it. Go ahead and lock down the battlefield with your opportunity attacks and become that defensive warden that your allies desperately need!