How can picking a fighter subclass be difficult? It’s just stabbing people, right?
D&D 5E has many sub-classes to choose from, spanning several core books, which offer many choices and variations on how to do your stabbing. Here are some quick summaries of each sub-class, which will give insight to the theme, generalized game mechanics, and the likely play-style to expect.
Theme: The reliable hero for strength, endurance, and combat.
Game Mechanics: Better critical strikes and additional athlete related skill proficiency.
Play style: You just want to be able to say, “I hit it” without worrying too much about math or game mechanics. Probably the easiest class to play.
Battle Master (PHB)
Theme: The focus of a combat encounter, either by their leadership or prowess.
Game Mechanics: Spell-like combat abilities that rely on a pool of dice.
Play style: You like what spells do, but you love weapons, not magic.
Eldritch Knight (PHB)
Theme: Sword in one hand, and a spell in the other. Your focus is weapons and armor, with magical enhancements.
Game Mechanics: Limited access to wizard spells, but full access to weapons and armor.
Play style: You want to be in the heat of battle, but also with utility spells to help outside combat.
Purple Dragon Knight (Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide )
Theme: A reliable figure to people and friends. Usually seen like a policeman or vigilante.
Game Mechanics: Better core abilities that will also help allies and not just yourself.
Play style: You like to be a team player, supporting and guiding others.
Arcane Archer (Xanathar’s Guide to Everything)
Theme: These archers have magical-like trick shots, but have no issue diving into melee.
Game Mechanics: Various spell-like abilities with an archery style.
Play style: You want to be an exceptional ranged fighter, with trick shots, but also capable at melee.
Cavalier (Xanathar’s Guide to Everything)
Theme: The beefy focus of enemies, able to take strong hits while astride any mount of choice.
Game Mechanics: Despite name, mounts are secondary. Tank abilities are major focus.
Play style: You want to help your allies by taking hits for them, being the damage sponge, but also look cool doing it.
Samurai (Xanathar’s Guide to Everything)
Theme: The wise soldier or adventurer, skilled with their words as well as their weapon.
Game Mechanics: Most skilled fighter subclass, with a pool of dice to grant advantage on attacks, as well as additional hit points.
Play style: You appreciate the craft of language as much as the art of the blade.
Echo Knight (Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount)
Theme: Always accompanied by a shadowy duplicate of themselves, the echo knight is able to attack, move, and perceive through their copy.
Game Mechanics: Able to create a duplicate echo, which has their own AC and hp. Initially able to swap places or attack from the echoes position. Later levels gain the ability to extend your consciousness into the echo and safely move the echo further away than otherwise permissible. At higher levels, they can summon additional echoes, and regain hit points when they are destroyed.
Play-style: You like the idea of being able to quickly move and manipulate a scene through the use of deception and confusion. The trickster cleric is probably appealing to you, but you’d much rather focus on weapons than magic.
What do you think? Are there good examples of these characters in movies or video games? Do you think there’s a better description for one of them? Let us know!