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Blocking attack as reaction
Blocking attack with shield as reaction

Properly using of all your action types can be a great challenge and can really boost your party’s defence, damage output or battlefield control. Just as long as you know how to properly use them. During combat each creature on the battlefield gets one reaction per round and can use it when specific conditions are met. When you have reaction options build into your character you basically have an extra action each round.

Attack of Opportunity reaction

This is the most commonly used reaction. When a creature is within 5 feet and leaves that range without safely disengaging you get an ‘Attack of Opportunity’ on them. Because disengaging costs an action they (or you) need to choose between getting away safely or keeping your action but getting a dagger between the shoulder blades.

Readying an Action

When you have no idea what to do with your turn but you want to be ready for the perfect moment to strike you can ‘Ready an Action’. You say what you are waiting for and what you will do when that happens. If it triggers before your next turn you use your reaction to react immediately. It is a really tactical option when you don’t know what else to do on your turn. You can prepare a fireball in case more Goblins with bow and arrows appear on a high ledge, you can have your dagger ready for when negotiations go south or you could ready an arrow in case the prisoner breaks free of it’s shackles.

Class abilities

Within your (sub)class(es) you gain abilities each level. Each of which is an upgrade to your character. Those abilities let you hit harder, cast stronger and resist more, but some give you reactions. Monks gain the ability to catch arrows, Rogues can dodge attacks and take half damage and Fighters can block an attack against an ally. Put yourself into positions in which your unlocked reactions come into play and make the most out of combat.

Feats

At certain levels, your class gives you the Ability Score Improvement. You can instead choose to take one of many ‘Feats’ available. A number which grant you a reaction that basically gives you an extra attack. ‘Sentinel’ for example allows you to melee attack an attacker within range when it attacks an ally. The feats that give you a reaction are:
– Defensive Duelist
– Fade
– Gift of the Chromatic/Gem/Metallic Dragon
– Mage Slayer
– Orcish Fury
– Second Chance
– Sentinel
– Shield Master
– War Caster

Reaction spells

Most of the spells take either your action or bonus action to cast. Some however can only be cast as a reaction. The prerequisites are mostly spells or attacks by opponents, but they are further explained in the spells description. ‘Shield’ for example can be triggered when you are attacked by an attack (or Magic Missle) and it raises your AC by +5 until the start of your next turn. The spells that cost a reaction to cast are:
– Absorb Elements
– Counterspell
– Feather Fall
– Hellish Rebuke
– Shield
– Soul Cage
– Temporal Shunt

All of these Reaction options can really make your party more effective in combat or can make combat more difficult when given to the enemies. Prepare accordingly and good luck.

Do you, as the DM, what to make combat more interesting? You could either make the enemies smarter or create an active environment for the combatants to play around in.

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