D&D 5e Elven Accuracy feat analysis image is a combination of two images in Wizards of the Coast’s book Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes.
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How good is Elven Accuracy, actually?
A hotly discussed feat a few years ago was the new Elf-only feat from XGtE, Elven Accuracy. It turns attack advantage into “super advantage” (a coin termed by the community). It also boosts Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma by one. Stat boosts are huge for increasing a feat’s viability.
Advantage is a valuable boost to an attack’s accuracy already. Is Elven Accuracy a similar accuracy boost or a diminishing return for the investment? Remember, detailed DPR (damage per round) calculations consider the accuracy of each attack when factoring damage. Elven Accuracy needs to boost DPR to be considered worthwhile as a combat feat.
Elven Accuracy and probability in a d20 system
I’ll reference this probability chart for my calculations. The chart is converted to percentages to make it easier to discuss probability in a d20 system (see below).
I’m aware that probability is not accurately defined as “% chance” for something to happen. I will slip into that language because more people understand it.
The math of a d20 roll system with advantage is explained well in this article. Calculating the probability of a roll is easy. Each number on a d20 has a 5% chance to be rolled. With the model moving upward, a greater-than-or-equal-to result will go in increments of 5.
For example, rolling a 19 or greater has a 10% chance to occur with a normal roll. That’s a 0.90 probability that it doesn’t happen. Take 0.90 and square it (0.90^2) and subtract the new value from 1.0. This gives you the probability of rolling a given number with advantage. If you want to know the probability for Elven Accuracy, cube it instead of squaring it. The probability for Elven Accuracy to roll an 18 or higher is (1-(0.85^3)). You get 0.85 by taking the normal roll’s probability and subtracting it from 1.0.
A note about Crit Fishing
Some players enjoy building their characters to land critical hits as often as possible. Such builds often involve Paladin levels for Divine Smite, spellcaster levels for crit-compatible spells, and Rogue levels for Sneak Attack. After all, landing a critical hit isn’t a big deal in D&D 5e unless you’re adding heaps of dice to the roll. I don’t personally recommend building a character around crit fishing, but improved crit probability is fantastic.
Elven Accuracy will dramatically increase a character’s chance to land a critical hit. However, we need to analyze how well it stacks up against other options in the game and if it’s enough of an accuracy/probability boost from regular advantage to warrant taking a feat like Elven Accuracy.
Comparing Elven Accuracy to the Champion Fighter
The Champion subclass for the Fighter class is often looked at as a crit fisher. It can score critical hits on 19s at level three and 18s at level fifteen. Other than that, the Champion is bland and unexciting. Let’s compare the Champion Fighter to a character with Elven Accuracy using the probability chart (see above).
Here are the crit probabilities for Champions with their expanded crit ranges. The third-level Champion Fighter has a 10% chance to crit on its attacks using its third-level feature when attacking normally to crit on 19s and 20s. This chance increases to 15% at the fifteenth level when 18s become crits. A third-level Champion Fighter attacking with advantage has a 19% chance to crit, and a fifteenth-level Champion has a 28% chance to crit with advantage.
If you have Elven Accuracy and you’re rolling with advantage, but you’re not a Champion, you have a 14% chance to crit. That’s almost the same as the Champion’s 15% chance to crit on a normal roll. Since the Champion doesn’t have a feature that reliably gives its attacks advantage, Elven Accuracy is almost as good as being a 15th level Champion. It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, but it should provide perspective for anyone who might assume a wider crit range is better than super advantage. Obviously, combining Elven Accuracy with a Champion Fighter that has methods to gain advantage with teamwork will result in far more critical hits.
Elven Accuracy’s Diminishing Returns
Elven Accuracy does not provide as much of a boost to accuracy and probability as a regular attack with advantage, but that doesn’t mean it can’t make your character more powerful. Let’s reference the probability chart that I provided again to see how much advantage boosts probability, and then how much Elven Accuracy adds to that.
For many dice rolls 10-19 (the values you’re typically hoping for), Elven Accuracy can give you a 10-15% increased chance of rolling high. This compares to regular advantage’s 12-25% increased chance of rolling high. This means Elven Accuracy has diminishing returns, but it doesn’t lag far behind regular advantage. When you look at the numbers, it can have a huge impact on your damage output. Plus, Elven Accuracy comes with a flexible +1 stat boost when you pick it. It’s limited to Elves since it’s a racial feat, but Elven Accuracy is still a pretty good feat.
Now that we have context and math, let’s answer the question…
Is Elven Accuracy good?
The short answer is yes, but it somewhat depends on the character. If you attack with Strength, don’t pick it. Elven Accuracy only works for Dex/Int/Wis/Char attacks.
Boosting your attack modifier with the +1 stat boost might be a net gain if you’re rounding out an odd stat. Turning a 17 Dex into an 18 is important because you can improve your damage and accuracy by one while still gaining super advantage.
The more attacks you make, the better Elven Accuracy is. If you can easily gain advantage from a character feature or a party member’s support, the better Elven Accuracy will be for you. Having said that, Elven Accuracy is a fair feat that isn’t usually picked up until a character is at high levels (if at all). If you’ve banned Elven Accuracy in the past or known someone who did, I hope the math has convinced you that it’s actually a pretty tame feat. The fact that Elven Accuracy is useful without being broken makes me like it more than 90% of other feats in the game. I wish the game had additional interesting racial feats, but I believe WotC is steering away from racial feats.
I personally enjoy Elven Accuracy for a ranged character if I don’t want to use Crossbow Expert (as is usually used). In Tome of Annihilation, I’m playing as a Shadar-Kai Elf Rogue. Ever since I grabbed Elven Accuracy at level four, I haven’t missed a ranged attack. This is because I utilize Steady Aim, the new Rogue feature from TCoE. Is it the optimal choice? Probably not, but I enjoy it. Enjoying the game is ultimately what matters.
Keeping these points in mind, Elven Accuracy is a fine feat for you if you want to land attacks reliably.