One of the most common features in D&D 5e is Extra Attack.
Nearly every martial class gains this handy feature once they hit level 5. And oh boy, is it a massive power-up!
But despite being such an important feature gained by so many classes, it can still be a somewhat confusing feature.
Fear not, though!
Today we’re covering all of the ins and outs of Extra Attack in D&D 5e!
Specifically, we’ll look at what Extra Attack is, who gets it, and how this feature works in various circumstances you might encounter.
So, let’s dive in and start swinging!
What Is Extra Attack in D&D 5e?
Fitting with the name, the Extra Attack feature lets you make an extra attack on your turn. After all, the only thing more fun than swinging your sword is swinging it twice!
Let’s look at the feature as it appears in the 5e Player’s Handbook:
You can attack twice, instead of once, when you take the Attack action on your turn.
This is why the jump to level 5 can catch a lot of Dungeon Masters off guard.
Suddenly the party’s martial characters are doubling their damage output and likely making mincemeat of enemies that used to be serious trouble!
(If you are such a DM, I recommend checking out my article that covers the Tiers of Play in D&D 5e!)
That’s twice as many attacks, twice as many chances to land a critical hit, and potentially twice as much damage!
But don’t let the simplicity of this feature fool you. There are a lot of mechanical implications that come with the Extra Attack feature that we’ll be covering in this article!
What Classes Get the Extra Attack Feature in D&D 5e?
Most martial classes in D&D 5e gain the Extra Attack feature. It’s very much a staple feature for classes that are meant to take enemies on directly in either melee or ranged combat.
The core classes that gain the Extra Attack feature are:
These classes all gain Extra Attack as one of their core class features. Regardless of whichever subclass you choose, you’ll gain this feature.
Notably, Fighters get even more Extra Attacks at levels 11 and 20.
However, there are some subclass options for other classes that also grant access to the Extra Attack feature.
- Artificers (Armorers and Battlesmiths gain it at level 5)
- Bards (College of Swords and College of Valor gain it at level 6)
- Wizards (Bladesingers gain it at level 6)
While it’s not the same in name, it functions the same and is worth mentioning here.
How Does Extra Attack Work in D&D 5e?
Extra Attack is a fairly straightforward feature in most cases.
When you take the Attack action, you are now able to make an additional attack as part of that same action.
So, where Gurrok the Barbarian was once using his Attack action to swing his greataxe one time, he now gets to swing it twice!
Because both of these attacks are made using his Action, Gurrok would still have his bonus action and movement on his turn.
In fact, both of the attacks from Extra Attack don’t have to be against the same enemy. They don’t even have to happen at the same time!
So Gurrok could swing once at enemy A and then again at enemy B if he chooses.
He could even swing at enemy A then use his movement to get next to enemy B and then take his second swing granted to him by Extra Attack!
Related: Movement in D&D 5e Explained
When Does Extra Attack Not Apply?
So, let’s call attention to a couple of important details.
First, Extra Attack triggers when you take the Attack action.
This means that attacks that don’t use your Attack action (for example, if a feature lets you make an attack as a bonus action) don’t trigger Extra Attack.
(I’d recommend also checking out my article that covers Actions and Combat to see the distinctions between the different actions!)
Secondly, the attack action must be taken on your turn for Extra Attack to trigger.
So, for example, you might have chosen to ready an attack against an enemy by taking the Ready action.
When that action triggers, it is not doing so on your turn AND it was not the Attack action (it was the Ready action). This means that you get ONE attack.
It works the same way in the case of opportunity attacks as well. Since, like readied actions, those use your reaction and occur outside of your own turn, Extra Attack does not apply.
Extra Attack and Two-Weapon Fighting
Extra Attack works pretty much the same way when you’re dual-wielding. The only difference is that now you’re getting yet another attack with your bonus action using the weapon in your off-hand.
As a reminder, you can dual-wield weapons that have the Light property. So, things like scimitars, daggers, and shortswords are popular options for this.
I’ve got another article that covers the details of dual wielding that I recommend checking out if this sounds up your alley.
But back to the point…
Using Extra Attack while Dual Wielding would look something like this:
- Take the Attack action.
- Attack 1 (main hand)
- Attack 2 (main hand)
- Use bonus action to attack with an off-hand weapon.
- Attack 3 (off-hand)
Extra Attack and Spells
The vast majority of spells in D&D 5e do not work with Extra Attack.
For example, you can’t cast a spell like Faerie Fire in place of one attack and then use Extra Attack to still swing your sword.
This is because spells that have a casting time of “1 action” require that you use the Cast Spell action and not the Attack action. Because we didn’t use the Attack action, Extra Attack doesn’t trigger.
It can be a little confusing, but the devil is in the details.
So when you use a spell like Booming Blade, Vampiric Touch, or Green Flame Blade, those are still using the Cast Spell action. Even though they’re a melee spell attack, they’re using a different action.
But don’t let that bum you out!
There are still plenty of fantastic spells that only cost a bonus action. Because these are quicker to cast, you’re able to cast one of those spells and still take the Attack action with Extra Attack!
How’s that for some efficiency?
A few popular spells that only require bonus actions are:
- Compelled Duel
- Healing Word
- Hunter’s Mark
- Wrathful Smite
- Misty Step
- Spiritual Weapon
- Grasping Vine
Haste & Extra Attack
One spell, in particular, requires some special attention, though. Specifically, I’m talking about the Haste spell.
Haste does NOT stack with Extra Attack in D&D 5e, however it does have a unique interaction.
The big benefit of Haste is that it gives the targeted creature an additional action on each of their turns. This means that a character under the effect of Haste would be able to take another Attack action.
Now, normally, another attack action would mean another use of Extra Attack.
However, in this case, the spell specifically states that this extra action can only be used to take the Attack action with “one weapon attack only.”
So, let’s check back in on our friend Gurrok the Barbarian.
The party’s Sorcerer casts Haste on Gurrok, who proceeds to become his most axe-swinging, nightmare-inducing self.
With Haste, Gurrok’s turn would look like this:
- Take the Attack action.
- Attack 1
- Attack 2 (from Extra Attack)
- Take the Attack action again (because of Haste).
- Attack 3
And, of course, Gurrok can still use his bonus action and movement for whatever he wants. Pretty easy, right?
But what about if the Sorcerer instead casts Haste on Katarina, the dual-wielding Ranger?
With Haste, Katarina’s turn would look like:
- Take the Attack action.
- Attack 1 (main hand)
- Attack 2 (from Extra Attack, using main-hand)
- Attack 3 (bonus action, off-hand weapon)
- Take the Attack action again (because of Haste)
- Attack 4 (main hand)
So the only difference is that Katarina is using her bonus action to swing her off-hand weapon. Meanwhile, Gurrok can use his bonus action for whatever he needs.
Haste gives an extra action that can be used for a single attack, but it doesn’t allow for an additional extra attack or an additional bonus action!
Extra Attack FAQ
As always, let’s wrap things up by answering some of the most common questions that players have about Extra Attack in D&D 5e.
If you still have questions about this feature, feel free to leave me a comment below. I’m always happy to help!
Does Extra Attack Cost a Bonus Action?
No. Extra Attack triggers automatically when you take the Attack action on your turn. It doesn’t require anything else from you.
Can You Stack Multiple Extra Attack features?
No. Extra Attack features don’t stack.
For example, let’s say you multiclass 5 levels Monk, 5 levels Barbarian, and 5 levels Fighter. You would “gain” the Extra Attack feature three times (one from each class.)
However, these do not stack in a way that would allow you to make 4 attacks per turn. You simply still get your regular attack plus one more from the Extra Attack feature.
If you want more uses of Extra Attack, consider gaining levels in Fighter. They get an expanded version of Extra Attack that does stack at levels 11 and 20.
Does Both Attacks Have to Be Against the Same Target?
No. While it’s usually best to focus on a single target if you can, you don’t have to use both attacks against the same target.
Whether you want to spread the damage around or drop an enemy with your first attack, you’re perfectly able to use Extra Attack in this way.
Can You Move Between Attacks?
Yes. You can break up your attacks however you would like. You can make your first attack, run 30 ft, then attack the second target with your Extra Attack.
You could even make your first attack, move, make your second attack, and move again with the rest of your movement if you would like.
Does Action Surge Stack with Extra Attack?
Yes. Action Surge allows Fighters to take an extra action on their turn. This is often used to take the Attack action which would then allow the Fighter to use their Extra Attack again.
So the Fighter’s turn would look like:
- Attack 1
- Attack 2 (from Extra Attack)
- Possible Bonus Action
- Action Surge (for another Attack action)
- Attack 3 (from Action Surge)
- Attack 4 (from Action Surge + Extra Attack)
Do You Have To Roll For Each Attack Made With Extra Attack?
Yes. Each attack is separate from the other and requires its own attack roll.
How Often Can Extra Attack Be Used?
Extra Attack is used as part of your Attack action on your turn. So, it can be used once per turn.
This will usually be two attacks (normal plus the one you gain from Extra Attack), but the same applies to Fighters who gain even more attacks as they level up.
Do Rogues Get Extra Attack in D&D 5e?
Rogues do not gain the Extra Attack feature in D&D 5e. Instead of multiple attacks, Rogues deal heavy damage with their Sneak Attack feature.
Does Thirsting Blade stack with Extra Attack?
The Warlock’s Thirsting Blade invocation functions similarly to Extra Attack.
Unfortunately, per the PHB, it does not stack with the Extra Attack feature.
How Does the Polearm Master Feat Work with Extra Attack?
Using the Polearm Master feat with Extra Attack works very similarly to the dual-wielding rules we discussed earlier in this article.
You can make two attacks with your polearm (one regular and one from the Extra Attack feature). The Polearm Master feat then allows you to make an additional attack using your bonus action.
So, much like dual-wielding, you’re getting a total of three attacks.
Conclusion – Extra Attack in D&D 5e
The math is pretty simple: more attacks = more damage = more enemies defeated = more loot!
What’s not to love?!
Anyhow… I hope you’ve found this guide to Extra Attack in D&D 5e helpful. If you’re playing a martial character, this is one of the most important features in your entire kit!
If you still have any questions about this feature, feel free to leave a comment below. I’m always happy to help!