Wizards of the Coast has been giving D&D 5e players a lot of new and shiny things to play-test in 2019. Earlier in the year, the Artificer came back, and, over the summer, players began to see new material for several different classes from a new Primal Path features for the Barbarian to a new Ranger Archetype that has the potential to fight with bees!
Plus, just a few days ago, a new Unearthed Arcana, dropped that gave every class a little something to play around with. This time, players get the opportunity to experiment with class feature variants, that replace or enhance currently available ones. There is too much to cover in one article, but, for anyone wanting to see some of the highlights, they should check out this list of 10 of The Best Class Feature Variants From Unearthed Arcana.
10 Barbarian: Survival Instincts
Barbarians get 2 variants, along with the Proficiency Versatility that's available to all classes. Out of the two, the best one and the one that seems the handiest is Survival Instincts. It replaces the 2nd level feature Danger Sense that gave advantage on Dexterity, saving throws against things like spells and traps. Survival Instincts lets your Barbarian become proficient in 2 of these 5 skills: Survival, Nature, Animal Handling and Perception.
It also doubles your proficiency bonus on any ability checks that use the 2 skills you picked from the list. It's a good way to make any Barbarian more sturdy and prepared for what might lie ahead of them.
9 Bard: New 9th Level Spell: Prismatic Wall
Bards get 22 new spells added to their spellcasting list, with at least 1 new spell in every spell slot. Out of all the spells, they have the ability to learn, the best change to the list is the 9th level spell Prismatic Wall. Previously a spell that could only be used by Wizards, Prismatic Wall is a shimmering multi-layered wall of light. The wall has 7 layers, each with a different color and a different property.
A creature that tries to go through or reach into the layers has to make a Dexterity saving throw or be affected by the properties of the layers. Creatures can potentially take 10d6 damage of fire, acid, lightning, poison, cold, become petrified, blinded and even sent to another plane!
8 Fighter - Superior Technique
A class feature of the Fighter class is the ability to adopt a Fighting Style. Each Fighting Style grants players a particular bonus or ability and Unearthed Arcana adds a new Fighting Style called Superior Technique. With it, a Fighter can learn one maneuver from the ones available for the Battle Master archetype. It also buffs up the saving throw DC, if the maneuver you pick requires a target to make a saving throw.
The Battle Master archetype isn't available until you hit level 3, so Superior Technique is a great way to get a taste for the types of abilities your Fighter could take on.
7 Druid: Wild Companion
For Druids, Wild Shape allows them to take the form of any beast they've seen before. Which beasts they can take and how long they can take it for depends on their Druid level, but unlike spells like Polymorph where the spell caster takes on all the beast's stats, Wild Shape lets Druids keep a few of their stats like Intelligence, and Charisma. The change in the Wild Shape feature allows Druids to summon a spirit that takes on an animal form.
If they do this they can cast Find Familiar without any material components, and the familiar they summon is a fey instead of a beast. It seems like Druids will be able to use the abilities granted by Wild Shape and be free to still cast spells.
6 Monk: New Ki Features
To some, the Monk class already seems to be pretty OP with the class features they gain, like being immune to disease and poison at level 10, having the ability to understand all languages at level 13, and even more at higher levels. Monks become even more powerful (and cooler) with the added Ki Features. At level 2, monks can harness the mystic energy of ki that they can use to perform features like Step of the Wind and Flurry of Blows.
They gain two more: Distant Eye, which lets you eliminate disadvantage when making a long-distance attack with a ranged weapon. and Quickened Healing, which lets you roll a Martial Arts die to regain a number of hit points.
5 Ranger: Ranger Companion Options
There's been a longstanding joke that says the Ranger class is, in comparison to the other classes, one of the worst to play. While that is up for debate, the recent Unearthed Arcana replaces and enhances a lot of things for the Ranger class, making it hard for them to be the butt of every joke. One of the most notable enhancements is with the Beast Master archetype. This archetype gives Rangers a loving and loyal beast companion that will follow their commands.
This enhancement allows Rangers to gain the companionship of two types of primal beasts; Beast of the Air and Beast of the Earth. Both have pretty great stats and special features of their own. One is called Primal Rebirth that lets you revive them.
4 Warlock: Pact Of The Chain
When taking the Warlock class you enter into a pact with a powerful otherworldly being. At the 3rd level for all your loyal service, your patron will give you a set of special features called a Pact Boon. There are three, one called the Pact of the Chain that allows you to learn Find Familiar and cast it as a ritual. Unearthed Arcana adds more Eldritch Invocation options, including those available for Warlocks of the Pact of the Chain.
It enhances the abilities of your familiar, making its attacks magical, taking away its need to breathe, giving it more movement, and allowing it to use your spell save DC instead of its own when it makes a saving throw.
3 Sorcerer: Font Of Magic
Some players feel like out of all the spellcasters, Sorcerers often get the short end of the stick. Their spell list is limited in comparison to other spellcasters. They do get the Font of Magic feature that lets them use their sorcery points to create, or sacrifice Spell Slots to gain more sorcery points, but some players still feel as if the class is lacking.
But that just might change with the 3 new Font of Magic features Empowering Reserves, Imbuing Touch, and Sorcerous Fortitude. The first allows you to spent 2 sorcery points to gain advantage on an ability check. The second lets you turn one nonmagical weapon into a magical one for one minute, and the third lets you gain temporary hit points.
2 Sorcerer: Metamagic
New Font of Magic options aren't the only thing that Sorcerers get, they also get a handful of new spells and new Metamagic options. Metamagic lets Sorcerers twist the way spells can be cast or their effects, and its one of the main perks of taking the Sorcerer class. There are 3 new Metamagic options available.
The Elemental Spell lets you change the type of damage a spell does, the Seeking Spell lets you ignore the effects of the half-and-three quarters cover rule, and the Unerring Spell lets you spend sorcery points to re-roll for a missed attack. The Unerring Spell also lets you use it with another Metamagic option.
1 Fighter, Paladin, And Ranger: Fighter Versatility
It isn't just Fighters who are allowed to take the Fighting Style feature. Rangers and Paladins can, as well, and the new Martial Versatility feature is really useful for all three classes. It allows you to replace a known Fighting Style with another one from your class as you level up. It does mean you lose the benefits of the style you're replacing, but it's a great way to easily replace a style that wasn't working for you or try out something new.
Fighters, Paladins, and Rangers also get four new Fighting Styles to choose from, giving you even more styles to try out!