In Dungeons & Dragons 5e, Monks are a class that focus on mobility and hand to hand combat. This makes them perfect for close-quarters combat and gives them an edge in traversing a battle field. Of course, the trade off is that Monks can be pretty frail characters. They fall back on their attack power and mobility to make up for their low hit dice and general lack of defense. But to make things a bit easier for the Monk, they have a few Class Features that give them a defensive edge. They aren’t perfect solutions for being able to avoid attacks all the time. However, they do give Monks some very important decisions to make in combat.
Patient Defense is a Class Feature for Monks in D&D 5e that gives players a defensive bonus action on their turn. It’s use can be a bit confusing at first since it’s frankly a very situational feature. However, just like with anything in Dungeons and Dragons, in the right moment it can be very useful. Patient Defense is also not the only feature that Monks have which give them a similarly useful defensive ability. And even though some players like to play Monks as extremely offensive characters, sometimes a bit more of a defensive approach is exactly what you need to get through an encounter.
How does Patient Defense Work in 5E?
First up, let’s cover the basics for how Patient Defense actually works. Patient Defense is one of several Ki Features that the Monk class has access to, alongside Flurry of Blows, and Step of the Wind. But with Patient Defense, Monks can spend a Ki point to take the Dodge action as a bonus action during their turn. This essentially means you can pre-emptively dodge an upcoming enemy attack. When this happens, attack rolls made against the Monk have disadvantage as long as the Monk is able to see the enemy.
Obviously, this can be very handy if the Monk is faced with a tough enemy and doesn’t want to risk taking an attack without the extra chance of avoiding it. Using Patient Defense does not guarantee that the Monk can avoid the attack, though. It simply gives them a much better chance of evading an attack. But even then, having the extra chance to avoid the attack is much better than hoping the enemy will get a very unlucky roll.
Alternatively, Monks have access to another Ki Feature called Step of the Wind. And broadly speaking it offers a similarly useful defensive ability. With it, Monks can spend one Ki point to Disengage or Dash as a bonus Action on their turn. As well as that, Step of the Wind also doubles the Monk’s jump distance. It’s pretty easy to see why this would also be a good move to use to get away from a tough group of enemies. Monks can use it to ge fart away from threats and reposition to a location that would be better to strike from. However, there are pros and cons to using Step of the Wind over Patient Defense. And there are certain playstyles out there that make Step of the Wind far less useful over its alternative feature.
For starters, Patient Defense gives Monks the ability to Dodge with their Bonus Action and doesn’t involve the character needing to move anywhere. This means that the Monk doesn’t need to waste time and movement having to relocate to an enemy. The player is already there ready to make their next attack on their next turn. If the Monk was to use Step of the Wind they would have to spend time moving back to the enemy. Let’s also think about a situation where a Monk is actually blocking an enemy from other member of the party. If the Monk uses Step of the Wind then they’re consequently leaving one of their teammates open to attack from the enemy they’ve just avoided.
When is it useful?
To recap, Patient Defense is really useful when the Monk is up against a tough foe and wants to try to dodge an attack rather than break away and gain some distance. And doing this allows the Monk to remain close to the enemy, keep the enemy’s attention on them, and stay ready for their next turn. Step of the Wind offers a similar kind of ability, but one that’s more evasive and allows the Monk to break away and combat and reposition themselves. Again, they both have their uses, but a more offensive Monk will likely want to use Patient Defense.
So Patient Defense is definitely a worthwhile ability to use alongside Step of the Wind. They both have their worthwhile uses, but Patient Defense is arguably the ability that a Tanky Monk should use more. Of course, since Patient Defense comes with the risk of taking damage, the Monk should be careful that they’ve got plenty of health and a decent Armor Class. It’s also important not to overuse Patient Defense or any of the Monk’s other Ki features. After all, these abilities do use up Ki points, and they can go rather quickly if you commonly use these abilities.
Is Patient a Bonus Action?
Yes, patient defense uses your bonus action as well as one skill point. This means you not only need to manage your pool of Ki but also make important decisions about how your turn is arranged when taking this defensive stance.
Concluding our Patient Defense 5E Guide
To wrap things up, we’ve covered the basics of the Patient Defense Ki Feature for Monks. It can be a very strong feature and a key tool from the Monk’s skill set. But there are a lot of players that may not fully realize how useful the move really is. Ultimately, if you’re playing a Monk, you should definitely make full use of Patient Defense and the rest of the Ki features to gain an extra edge in combat. Just be careful to not rely on these features all the time. Otherwise, you’ll run out of Ki points and find yourself out of luck during tough encounters.
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