In the world of Dungeons and Dragons, there are many different Fighting Styles to choose from. If you’re looking for a style that excels in defense, the Tunnel Fighter in 5e is perfect for you! Tunnel fighter is perfect for characters who find themselves in narrow passages, doorways, and other small areas.
But it is not an official Fighting Style and in this article we explore why.
What is the Tunnel Fighter Fighting Style?
Tunnel Fighter allows you to use a bonus action to assume a defensive stance and make unlimited attacks of opportunity that don’t use your reaction.
Wizards of the Coast introduced the Fighting Style in an Unearthed Arcana article in 2015. And it wasn’t long until people figured out how gamebreaking it can be.
You excel at defending narrow passages, doorways, and other tight spaces. As a bonus action, you can enter a defensive stance that lasts until the start of your next turn. While in your defensive stance, you can make opportunity attacks without using your reaction, and you can use your reaction to make a melee attack against a creature that moves more than 5 feet while within your reach.Unearthed Arcana: Light, Dark, Underdark!
Is the Tunnel Fighter in 5e official?
Tunnel Fighter is not an official Fighting Style. The Unearthed Arcana articles were used to introduce concepts to D&D players to test them out. Many people criticized Tunnel Fighter in 5e as unbalanced because it enables fighters to make unlimited opportunity attacks. As a result, Wizards of the Coast never included it in the official sourcebooks.
However, pieces of it can be found in the Cavalier subclass:
Hold the Line—At 10th level, you become a master of locking down your enemies. Creatures provoke an opportunity attack from you when they move 5 feet or more while within your reach, and if you hit a creature with an opportunity attack, the target’s speed is reduced to 0 until the end of the current turn.
Vigilant Defender—Starting at 18th level, you respond to danger with extraordinary vigilance. In combat, you get a special reaction that you can take once on every creature’s turn, except your turn. You can use this special reaction only to make an opportunity attack, and you can’t use it on the same turn that you take your normal reaction.
So while it’s not official as a Fighting Style, we can see how powerful Wizards of the Coast thinks it is by making it an 18th level ability for one fighter subclass.
Why is Tunnel Fighter in 5e broken?
The unlimited attacks of opportunity is the primary problem. But it’s the combination of the style with other feats that make it gamebreaking.
If you combine it with a polearm (glaive, halberd, pike, quarterstaff, or spear) and the Polearm Master feat you can make unlimited attacks of opportunity against anyone who enters your 10-foot range.
And you can do this at 1st level if you choose a variant human because variant humans choose a feat at 1st level.
Then if you later choose the Sentinel feat, your unlimited attacks of opportunity also bring the target creature’s movement speed down to zero.
So you could plant yourself on the frontline of combat as the enemies charge at your party. You get a free opportunity attacks on the enemies that move into the 24 squares surrounding you. Your damage output goes through the roof.
And if you have Sentinel, you are also stopping each enemy you strike with your free opportunity attacks. Thus your party can sit back and pick them off with ranged attacks, one attack roll after another.
Talk to your DM if you want to use Tunnel Fighter in 5e. He or she might let you use it as is or work with you to modify it so it doesn’t break the campaign.
Modify Tunnel Fighter in 5e so it’s not broken
As mentioned, the biggest issue Tunnel Fighter in 5e presents is the unlimited attacks of opportunity. So let’s address that.
Instead of unlimited, make it one free attack of opportunity per round.
If you want it to scale, give yourself extra attacks of opportunity equal to half of your proficiency bonus. So at 1st level, you get one standard reaction and one special reaction for an attack of opportunity. By the time you reach 17th level, you get three special reactions per turn for opportunity attacks.
But with that said, Fighting Styles in 5e aren’t meant to scale. They each grant the fighter a static bonus like Archery granting a +2 bonus to attack rolls and Defense granting a +1 to Armor Class.
Final Thoughts—Tunnel Fighter in 5e
There’s no denying the potential power of this Fighting Style because it allows for unlimited attacks of opportunity. While originally intended for tunnel fighting, this feature greatly magnifies a fighter’s damage output far beyond other styles of fighting like Two Weapon fighting and Archery. Then when you combine it with Polearm Master and Sentinel, and you end up with a gamebreaking character.