The wolves circle around the party, arranging themselves perfectly to take advantage of pack tactics. The party raises their weapons and prepares themselves for the snapping bites and threatening snarls as they frantically look for a way out before they become the midnight snacks for this pack.
Table of Contents
What Is Pack Tactics?
The Basic Rules state that for pack tactics: The creature has advantage on attack rolls against another creature if at least one of the attacking creature’s allies is within 5 feet of the target creature and the ally isn’t incapacitated. This is extremely advantageous for melee attackers and likely proved overpowered enough that D&D creators decided to take it away from players.
Who Has Access
Once upon a time, the kobold race from Volo’s Guide to Monsters had the racial trait of pack tactics. This was intended to balance out the trait sunlight sensitivity (which imposes disadvantage on attacks if your target is in direct sunlight) so that they could have a fair shot in battles during the day. However, in the recent publication of Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse, the kobold (among other races) was completely reworked and no longer has access to pack tactics.
Currently, none of the playable races have access to this trait. The only creatures with pack tactics are monsters like hyenas, wolves, jackals, blood hawks, and other beasts. This was presumably because players were overpowered for their respective levels simply by being melee combatants in a party with at least one other frontline fighter.
For a Rogue, having advantage means access to Sneak Attack. For Barbarians, having permanent advantage like this would negate the need for Reckless Attack, one of their core features. Path of the Totem Warrior Barbarians can also take the wolf totem which essentially gives them the pack tactics feature.
Other Ways To Gain Advantage
Just because pack tactics isn’t available for players anymore doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of ways to gain advantage on attacks.
We briefly mentioned Reckless Attack, a core Barbarian feature, which is just one example of how players can get advantage on melee attacks without needing pack tactics. The downside is that you leave yourself open and your enemies also have advantage on their attacks against you for the rest of the round after you use Reckless Attack.
Rogues have something similar in the optional feature from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything called Steady Aim. It gives you advantage on your attack (which is key since Rogues rely on advantage for access to Sneak Attack), but it also uses up your bonus action. Unlike other classes, Rogues have tons of options for their bonus actions so that might be a deal-breaker for some players. Trickster Rogues have an extra option at level 13 where they can use their mage hand to distract enemies and automatically give them advantage without consuming their bonus actions.
One easy way for Monks to get advantage on their attacks is with their feature Stunning Strike which comes online at 5th level. By spending a ki point, your opponent has to make a Constitution saving throw against your ki DC. If they fail, they are stunned. Stunned creatures give melee attackers advantage automatically.
In addition, Way of Shadow Monks have Shadow Step, starting at 6th level, which allows you to use your bonus action to teleport as long as you are in dim light or darkness. After you teleport, you have advantage on the next attack you make before your turn ends. It’s true that Monks don’t typically have one big attack, though, so it’s not as beneficial to give Monks advantage on a single strike.
Battle Master Fighters or people who take the Martial Adept feat have the option of the Distracting Strike maneuver. The text reads: When you hit a creature with a weapon attack, you can expend one superiority die to distract the creature, giving your allies an opening. You add the superiority die to the attack’s damage roll. The next attack roll against the target by an attacker other than you has advantage if the attack is made before the start of your next turn.
Distracting Strike is the closest most can come to pack tactics. This is especially helpful if your turn is directly before a Paladin, blade Warlock, Rogue, or other character who deals a lot of damage in a single strike.
There are a few feats that can give you advantage under certain conditions. Grappler gives you advantage on grappling checks which is awesome because it also gives you advantage on attacks made against a creature you’re currently grappling. So, once you grapple someone, attack as much as you can before it manages to escape.
Similarly, the Mounted Combatant feat automatically gives you advantage on melee attacks made against creatures who are smaller your mount as long as they’re unmounted. Considering that the majority of foes are unmounted and you’re probably riding a mount that is at least large, that should be just about everyone at early levels.
Spellcasters can help out by casting blindness or darkness because attacks made against blinded creatures are made at advantage. Just remember that the darkness spell blinds everyone in the area unless they have the Eldritch Invocation Devil’s Sight and can see through magical darkness. If everyone is blinded, you don’t make attacks with advantage.
Those aren’t the only spells that can give attackers advantage though! Greater invisibility gives advantage on all attacks because the attacker is unseen. Faerie fire outlines hostile creatures in glittery light that gives you and your allies advantage on all attacks against them while the spell’s duration lasts. Foresight is a 9th-level spell, but for good reason. For 8 hours, the recipient gets advantage on everything from attacks to saving throws.
Shadow blade is also an interesting spell, although the number of classes that benefit from it is small. If you’re in dim light or darkness, you make melee spell attacks with advantage when you use shadow blade. Finally, guiding bolt not only does damage, but also gives the next person advantage on their attack.
General Purpose Advantage
If you aren’t one of the lucky classes with built-in features to get advantage, don’t despair! Anyone who uses melee attacks on a prone target automatically gains advantage. You can also get advantage by surprising your enemies or attacking from a hidden position (these work for ranged attacks too!) Attacks against paralyzed, restrained, stunned, and unconscious targets are also made at advantage.
Wizards, Warlocks, certain Rangers, or Circle of Wildfire Druids who have familiars can also have their familiar perform the help action. This functions similarly to pack tactics. The help action gives you advantage on the next attack you make by aiding you in some way that distracts your foe. This might put your companion in danger, though, so if you’re very emotionally attached to them this isn’t the best idea.