[RPG] Best Battle Master maneuvers for a Dual Wield


Hi Guys so I'm trying to make a dual wielding battle master build and I'm wondering what the best maneuvers would be for it.

Thanks for reading.

Best Answer

There's relatively limited ways to optimize maneuver choice for two-weapon fighting relative to other fighting styles, and the optimization is minor at best.

First off, to note, you still have the same size maneuver dice pool as someone doing any other build. You won't be able to use more maneuvers than other fighters overall, but you will be able to use them more quickly (or reliably, in the case of maneuvers that require you to hit first) in any given fight due to your additional bonus attack, since maneuvers are limited to one per attack (PHB p.73).

As such, any following statements I make on the effectiveness of a given maneuver are purely relative to its effectiveness in a different build focused on doing less attacks, but more damage per attack (as doing more attacks for less damage each is two-weapon fighting's niche). I'm not saying any given maneuver is bad, and you may still find a place for it- since you end up with 9 total maneuver options by 15th level, you have room for some utility/flavor picks rather than "optimal" ones.

The Bad(...ish)

The main benefit of a two-weapon fighting build is the one additional attack on each of your turns, at the cost of a bonus action- and bonus actions are limited to one per turn. Therefore, the maneuvers that require the use of a bonus action- Commander's Strike, Feinting Attack, and Rally- are going to be hard to find a place for, as they come at the cost of your offhand attack.

Since you're going to be doing more attacks for less damage, Precision Attack (which only adds a bonus to hit for a single attack and no bonus to damage) has less value for you than others. Similarly, Riposte (which only lets you make one additional attack as a reaction) has less value.

The Good

Many (but not all) maneuvers use the superiority dice roll value as damage in some way, shape, or form. The ones that do are virtually all effective for you, as you have the option to quickly burn through your superiority dice to use these maneuvers' bonus damage since you attack more frequently. In addition, since you attack more often, you'll have critical strikes more often- and since for many of these maneuvers you choose to perform them after hitting, you can choose to expend them after seeing you have crit for double damage dice.

Now, many of them have secondary effects that don't do anything extra with repeated uses on a single target if they're already affected by it, such as Disarming Attack and Distracting Strike. That might not be too much of a consideration if multiple different targets are in reach or they successfully resist the effect on the first attack(s) (and, of course, you can switch between different maneuvers with each attack against the same target if you land one with a non-stacking effect).

Of the maneuvers that use the superiority dice value for damage, I think the following are of particular note:

Trip Attack is useful as you can attempt to knock the target prone on your first attack of the turn, then get advantage on the prone target for all your remaining attacks if you successfully knock them down. This is especially nice if you're burning superiority dice for damage on followup attacks- you have a higher chance of a natural 20, and you can roll double the superiority dice damage on a crit. Do keep in mind who else gets to go before the target gets a chance to stand up- it'll hinder ranged allies making attacks against the prone target, and help melee allies.

Menacing Attack has the potential to be incredibly powerful in boss-style encounters. If you can make the boss creature Frightened of you, they'll have disadvantage on all ability checks and attack rolls while you're within its line of sight which is a tremendous defensive boon to your party until the end of your next turn.

While not as powerful as other status effects like Restrained, Stunned, or Paralyzed, Frightened is still the kind of status effect that might make DMs burn Legendary Resistance charges for creatures that have it and rely on melee attacks, and you have more chances to land it than other fighters. The movement restriction portion of the frightened condition is mildly less useful since you're likely already adjacent to them, but if you move away they won't be able to chase.

Maneuvering attack can also be incredibly powerful in tactical situations. Since you attack more than other fighters, you can do more maneuvering of your allies- either out of danger, or into position.

Conclusion/My Suggestion

With your starting 3 maneuvers, Maneuvering Attack, Trip Attack, and Sweeping Attack are versatile tactical choices covering assisting allies, killing smaller/weaker creatures, and controlling individual stronger ones.

Once you get additional maneuver options at level 7, Menacing Attack would be my first choice. By 7 you're likely starting to occasionally fight bigger monsters that Trip Attack might not work against as easily. Some of them will have multiattack, which the Frightened condition is very nice to have against.

Other than that, I genuinely think any two-weapon fighting focused maneuver "optimizations" are so small it'll be easily outweighed by filling in whatever tactical needs you've discovered your party has as you've fought alongside them- heck, the above optimizations are so relatively small that's likely true from the get-go.