[RPG] Is a Wild Shape attack considered an unarmed strike


So, I got intrigued by grappling after reading The Grappler's Manual for 5e. It didn't mention if wild shape attacks were considered unarmed strikes, especially in regards to the Tavern Brawler feat's last bullet, which enables a grapple attempt after hitting with an unarmed strike.

It doesn't say in the PHB under the Druid section. In the MM, it says that a beast's attacks are Melee Weapon Attacks. However, the Alter Self spell says that the claws, fangs, etc are unarmed strikes. So, are they or are they not considered unarmed strikes?

Best Answer

You can make unarmed strikes while Wild Shaped, but they do normal unarmed strike damage.

From the errata for the PHB:

Melee Attacks (p. 195). The rule on unarmed strikes should read as follows: “Instead of using a weapon to make a melee weapon attack, you can use an unarmed strike: a punch, kick, head-butt, or similar forceful blow (none of which count as weapons). On a hit, an unarmed strike deals bludgeoning damage equal to 1 + your Strength modifier. You are proficient with your unarmed strikes.”

An unarmed strike is now defined extremely clearly. On the plus side, an unarmed strike can replace any attack with a weapon. From the Monster Manual, page 10:

The most common actions that a monster will take in combat are melee and ranged attacks. These can be spell attacks or weapon attacks, where the "weapon" might be a manufactured item or a natural weapon, such as a claw or tail spike.

So your unarmed strikes can definitely replace your natural attacks.

The downside to this is that your natural attacks definitely don't count as unarmed strikes, so you can only do your normal unarmed strike damage. This was also confirmed by Jeremy Crawford.