When the gauntlet is thrown, the Fighter might be one of the most aggressive classes in the game. In Dungeons & Dragons 5E, there’s a more mechanical representation of this idea; the Action Surge. This is represented as a burst of energy that the Fighter takes from the pits of their souls to spring back into action before their foes could even react. This is an extremely powerful skill, and there’s a ton to consider when you use it. In our Action Surge 5E guide, we’ll lay out the rules and what you can do to make this feature work really well for you.
Action Surge 5E Guide
The Action Surge is a level 2 Fighter Feature that allows the character to, once per short rest, take another Action. At level 17, you gain the ability to do this feat twice per short rest. Noticeably, this only allows you to take another action; not a Move or Bonus action. So, you can only perform an additional ability that you can normally take as an action.
The Action Surge by itself does not take a Bonus Action or a Move action. So, you do not need to do anything in particular to start the Action Surge; it just needs to be your turn.
In the Fighter class, this is usually just to let you attack with your weapon. Once you reach level 5 (and again at level 11), this means you get to make every attack with your weapon that you can. At level 20, that’s 8 attacks per Action Surge, which can be a ridiculous amount of damage. Timing your Action Surge for a big, climatic boss fight or to clear out a ton of enemies is very important.
Since Fighters don’t have a ton of actions to begin with, that’s kinda the best Action Surge can do. Without performing miscellaneous or situational actions, like pushing someone off a cliff or trying to lift a massive portcullis, the Fighter just doesn’t have that much to do in combat. However, you can absolutely attack someone, move, and then use Action Surge to interact with something or do something else to help your party. Heck, you could even use Action Surge as a wasteful way to get Advantage on something you can try more than once!
Outside of the Fighter Class, Action Surge gets a little weird.
Let’s say you’ve casted a spell as a Standard Action, and then use Action Surge. Then, because this is another action entirely, you are allowed to cast another full spell with your Action. This means that a Sorcerer with 2 Fighter levels can cast Fireball twice. That’s a big deal! Alternatively, you can cast a big damaging spell and then Action Surge to cast a buff.
With the Paladin class, Action Surge lets you use the Smite ability twice in a round. That’s insanely strong. Or, at Paladin level 5, you can smite 4 times in a round. That’s a huge amount of damage, especially if you get critical hits.
This ability isn’t super helpful for some classes. The Rogue, for example, can still only Sneak Attack once per turn. Since the Action Surge keeps it as your turn, you don’t get another Sneak Attack. The Monk doesn’t get their Bonus Action back, so you miss out on the Flurry of Blows. However, any class can benefit from Action Surge, and it’s the biggest reason for you to consider a Fighter multiclass.
We hope this guide has opened your eyes to Action Surge and all of the really cool stuff you can do with it! This guide is far from exhaustive; there is loads of stuff you can do with it, and every class is unique when it comes to Action Surge utility.
Try out some Fighter builds when you get the chance; you won’t regret it!