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The Echo Knight Supernova | D&D 5e Build Guide

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

Original Video:



*This article is an edited version of the script for this video


Race:

Bugbear, by far the best race for first turn nova damage with the Surprise Attack feature


Background:

I know most of you will probably not be able to use them but I feel like I always have to mention the Strixhaven and Dragonlance backgrounds because they’re so good. If you are playing in one of those settings or have a nice DM, these backgrounds are a really good pick.


Ability Scores(point buy):

Str: 15(+2)

Dex: 13(+1)

Con: 14

Int: 9

Wis: 13

Cha: 8


Ability Score Priorities(if rolling):

#1: Str

#2: Con

#3: Dex(at least 13 for multiclassing)

#4: Wis(at least 13 for multiclassing)


Ideal Equipment:

-Maul or Greatsword

-Glaive or Halberd(only at higher levels)

-Plate Armor

-Javelins(though, times you can’t get into melee should be very rare)


Levels 1-6: Fighter 1-6

-Fighting Style: Great Weapon Fighting

-Action Surge, the thing that almost every nova character needs.

-Feats: Great Weapon Master and Alert, GWM for damage and Alert for better initiative so we can secure Surprise Attack more often

-Extra Attack

-Echo Knight:

—Manifest Echo, we can be in two places at once. This also makes us much safer as we can melee attack from range.

—Unleash Incarnation, an additional attack we can use while attacking from our echo’s position. You’ll want to use this on your nova round. This only twice per long rest while most of our other nova abilities will be usable more often so use this wisely.


Levels 7-8: Barbarian 1-2

-Rage, nice damage and defensive boost

-Reckless Attack, our main source of advantage.


Levels 9-11: Ranger 1-3

-Favored Foe, better than Favored Enemy and we can use it if we run out of rages or spell slots

-Fighting Style: Defense

-Spells: Hunter’s Mark

-Ranger Conclave: Gloom Stalker

—Dread Ambusher: Increased speed, an extra attack, and that extra attack deals more damage. This all happens on round 1, which is our best round thanks to Surprise Attack. On top of that this adds our Wisdom modifier to our initiative bonus, which is only +1 but it is still something.

—Umbral Sight: Better darkvision and free invisibility sometimes. This would give us advantage and thus we wouldn’t need to Reckless Attack.


Levels 12-13: Druid 1-2

-Spells: Absorb Elements

-Druid Circle: Circle of Spores

—Symbiotic Entity: d6 damage to every attack we do. We will have to set this up before combat and we will probably lose those temporary hit points quickly so this won’t help us much past the first round. There are definitely some down sides but it is a lot of additional damage.


Levels 14-19: Fighter 7-12

-Feats: Polearm Master and Crusher or Slasher. After round 1 you can now drop your greatsword or maul and pull out your glaive or halberd for better sustained damage. Pick Crusher or Slasher depending on which crit bonus you like better. Both add +1 to Strength so we can get an 18.

-Extra Attack x2


Level 20: Ranger 4

Feat: Resilient: Wisdom or +2 Strength. Boost your defenses and initiative or get more damage. I will assume the +2 Strength for DPR numbers just to see what’s possible.


Tactics:

Go up to an enemy you think you’ll be able to one shot, or take down in one round with the help of your party. Use your bonus action to Hunter’s Mark them or Rage. Hunter’s Mark is more damage but Rage is better defensively. Then just attack as many times as you can and that will eventually be 10 attacks at level 18 when you get Fighter 11. 3 attacks from Fighter Extra Attack, 1 from Dread Ambusher, and 1 from Unleash Incarnation and then you Action Surge and do it again. If you are able to, get Symbiotic Entity set up before the combat. If you can’t I wouldn’t worry about it at all as so much of our damage is only available on the first round.


Nova Damage Vs 20 AC:


10 Attacks With Symbiotic Entity & Hunter’s Mark: 288.09

-5/+10 on 18 AC or lower


10 Attacks With Symbiotic Entity & Rage: 265.83

-5/+10 on 18 AC or lower


10 Attacks With Hunter’s Mark: 249.03

-5/+10 on 19 AC or lower


8 Attacks with Hunter’s Mark(No Unleash Incarnation): 201.56

-5/+10 on 19 AC or lower


Alternate Options:


-Barbarian 3-4: This would get you a barbarian subclass, I would go with Zealot. This would increase your sustained and nova damage. It’s just not as good as Symbiotic Entity for nova damage. Though, if you don’t get to set up before combats very often I think this would likely be better than Symbiotic Entity. If I actually played this build in game I would probably go this route but Symbiotic Entity was just way too much nova damage to pass up for this guide.


-Swapping Polearm Master and Alert: Picking up Polearm Master first would give us much better sustained damage early on but would give us a lower chance of getting Surprise Attack. Maybe do this if you have a party member boosting your initiative like an Oath of the Watchers Paladin or a Wizard with the Gift of Alacrity spell.


-Not taking Polearm Master: You could also just not take Polearm Master and focus more on your nova damage and defenses by taking both Resilient: Wisdom and the +2 Strength mentioned at level 20.


-Cleric Levels: There are lots of good potential cleric dips. Peace cleric could give you Emboldening Bond which buffs your party all around and would boost 1 of your attack rolls each turn. Twilight cleric could give you advantage on initiative. War cleric could give you a bonus action attack or two before you pick up Polearm Master and a +10 to hit once per short rest.


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1 Comment


Stephen Hernandez
Stephen Hernandez
May 17

How will the nova damage actually work. It seems the calculations are based on the idea that you can have two bonus actions per turn. Which I’ve never known there to be two bonus actions. Hunters mark and summoning an echo are bonus actions. Which means one per turn.

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