[RPG] Which Fighter (TWF Fighter vs. Great Weapon Fighter) is better optimized for Dealing Damage


With Basic's release the Fighter is given six different Fighting Styles to choose from at level 1. Each fighting style offers a solid mechanical benefit to the fighter, but both Great Weapon Fighting and Two-Weapon Fighting leapt out at me as providing the strongest mechanical benefit.

Great Weapon Fighting
When you roll a 1 or 2 on a damage die for an attack you
make with a melee weapon that you are wielding with
two hands, you can reroll the die and must use the new
roll, even if the new roll is a 1 or a 2. The weapon must
have the two-handed or versatile property for you to gain
this benefit.

Two-Weapon Fighting
When you engage in two-weapon fighting, you can add
your ability modifier to the damage of the second attack.

At level 1 which feature is optimized to deal more damage? Which at level 20?

Best Answer

At L1, Two Weapon fighting (TWF) is more optimized. At level 5 the preference switches to Great Weapon Fighting (GWF).

Let's look at why. We're only going to go with a brief snapshot here of L1 and L20. I'm going to assume that Str is 16 at L1 and 20 at L20. Our TWF will wield dual Scimitars (or short swords), and our GWF will wield the Maul or Great Sword.

We'll use the Ogre from the starter as our jousting dummy at L1 (AC 11) and the Nothic (AC 15) at L20 (the Ogre is a near auto hit and thus relatively uninteresting for this particular comparison). The hit chance for our L1 bout is 75%, and the hit chance for our L20 bout is 80%. When a better study of monsters is available to me, I'll update our hit chances here.

To explain the concepts here the TWF gets to add their stat bonus to their bonus action attack, whereas our GWF gets to reroll any 1s and 2s on their first pass of die rolls. We'll be using the following formula for the average die for the GWF:

\$ \text{Avg}(2\text{d}6) = 2\left( \frac2 6 * 3.5 + \frac4 6 * 4.5 = \frac{25} 6 \right) = 8.33 \$

To calculate crits in 5e, you simply multiple the dice rolled by the crit chance. Since nothing is maxed, there is no need to subtract the crit term from the main roll in this edition.

L1 AC 11:

\$ \text{GWF}: 2\text{d}6 + 3 = 11.33 * .75 + .05*8.33 = 8.914 \text{ DPR} \\ \text{TWF}: 2*(1\text{d}6+ 3) = 2*(6.5*.75 + .05*3.5) = 10.1 \text{ DPR} \$

As you can see, at L1, the TWF has an edge of about 1 DPR. Let's look at L20. At L20, our stats go to 20, the fighter makes 4 attacks per round plus the TWF gets his bonus action and the crit range is 18-20 or 15%. Our attack bonus is +11 and our hit chance is 80%

L20 AC 15:

\$ \text{GWF}: 4*(2\text{d}6+5) = 4*(13.33 * .8 + .15 * 8.33) = 47.65 \\ \text{TWF}: 5*(1\text{d}6+5) = 5*(8.5 * .8 + .15 * 3.5) = 36.63 \$

At this point the TWF is heavily outclassed by the GWF. It's not even really close. It becomes a bit closer when the hit chance is lower. But, ultimately, the problem is that the TWF only ever gets that single bonus action attack, and it's not going to be enough to compete with the GWF's big single attacks.