Many classes in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition gain a feature called Extra Attack. This feature is a staple ability for most of the martial classes in that it increases their potential damage output.
But, how does Extra Attack work? Does it stack at all? How does it interact with spells? And, how do you get it?
This article covers everything you need to know about Extra Attack in D&D 5e and clears up some specific confusions which surround the feature.
Let’s start things off with the very basics of what Extra Attack in 5e is.
The Extra Attack Feature
Extra Attack is a feature in D&D 5e which, as the name implies, grants a player character extra attacks on their turn. When a player character with this feature elects to take the Attack action, they may make two (or more, depending on the class) attacks instead of one.
Honestly, the Extra Attack feature does exactly what it sounds like it does; it gives your character an additional attack.
From the Barbarian’s list of features:
Now, this is pretty much the universal version of Extra Attack and it applies to most instances of classes with it. There are exceptions, but they’re few in number.
So, Extra Attack basically lets a player character make one additional attack roll when they take the Attack action on their turn. This means Extra Attack doesn’t work on Opportunity Attacks or on attacks made outside of a characters turn like for an attack prepared using the Ready action.
It’s honestly as simple as that.
But, thanks to its apparent simplicity and a vague enough feature description, Extra Attack may generate several questions in how it interacts with other game mechanics. So, we’ll dive into several of these moving forward starting with bonus actions.
How Extra Attack Works with Bonus Actions
Extra Attack only gives you an additional attack when you take the Attack action. It does not use your bonus action for these attacks nor does it grant you an extra bonus action attack.
To put it simply; the additional attack roll granted by Extra Attack does not use a bonus action. You’re basically making two attacks for the price of one action.
Furthermore, Extra Attack doesn’t grant any extra bonus actions either.
Now, if you’re able to make an attack roll as a bonus action like if you have the Great Weapon Master feat and trigger one of its effects, you can make that attack roll in addition to the attacks you make with Extra Attack.
There’s a bit of timing complications which come with bonus actions and breaking up your Attack action.
If a bonus action doesn’t specify a trigger or prerequisite, you can use it between your attack rolls. For example, a 6th-level College of Valor Bard may make make their first attack roll, cast healing word with their bonus action, then make their second attack roll.
However, if a trigger is specified when it may be used, you have to finish your Attack action in full before using your bonus action. For example, the Polearm Master Feat allows you to make a bonus action attack roll when you use the Attack action using specific weapons in 5e. A player character with Extra Attack must make both of their regular attack rolls using the Attack action and then may make their bonus action attack roll.
Timing gets a bit funky concerning Extra Attack and bonus actions. But, just remember; if your bonus action doesn’t require a trigger, you can break up your attacks with it.
Extra Attack & Multiple Targets
You may use the additional attacks granted by Extra Attack against multiple creatures. That is to say, you may either make both your attacks against one target or each attack against two different creatures so long as they’re both within range.
Much like how you may break up your movement, if your character has Extra Attack, you may break up your attack rolls between two separate targets.
Page 190 of the Player’s Handbook explains how you may move between attacks.
As you can see, the rules explicitly allow a character with Extra Attack to make an attack against one target, move to a different one, and make their second attack.
Attacking multiple targets is a great benefit martial characters have with Extra Attack. If you weren’t allowed to target multiple enemies and defeated a single foe with your first attack roll, it would dampen Extra Attack’s usefulness.
So, if you’re playing a martial character, remember you can divide your attacks with Extra Attack between two (or more, as we’ll get to) targets.
What Classes Get Extra Attack?
Many classes get the Extra Attack feature at roughly the same level. Most of these are the martial classes like Fighter and Barbarian, but a few spellcaster subclasses also get Extra Attack.
Most martial classes in 5e get Extra Attack in some capacity. About the only exception is the Rogue. But, some specific caster subclasses also get it as they’re geared a bit more towards martial combat.
The following 5e classes and subclasses get the Extra Attack feature at some point:
- Artificer (Armorer Specialist & Battle Smith Specialist only)
- Bard (College of Swords & College of Valor only)
- Wizard (Bladesinging Arcane Tradition only)
For the most part, each of these classes gets Extra Attack starting at 5th-level. The exceptions to this are the College of Swords, College of Valor, and Bladesinging subclasses which get it at 6th-level.
Now, Extra Attack works the same way for pretty much all of these classes. But, there are a few exceptions which slightly alter how the feature works.
Unique Class Feature Considerations
Extra Attack is fairly universal between the classes which get it. That said, there are certain, specific, and unique situations when Extra Attack behaves a bit differently between some classes.
Here I’ll go over the slight variations for some of the classes with Extra Attack and specific circumstances when it behaves differently.
The Fighter’s Version of Extra Attack
Fighters get a special version of Extra Attack which gets progressively more powerful as they level up. Essentially, the Fighter’s Extra Attack grants them more attacks at higher levels than the other classes.
The Extra Attack features for Fighters reads as such:
Basically, Fighters get an upgrade to their Extra Attack feature at 11th– and 20th-level, getting two and three additional attacks, for totals of three and four, at each respective level.
Number of Attacks a Fighter Can Make with Extra Attack
- 5th-Level: 1 additional attack (2 total)
- 11th-Level: 2 additional attacks (3 total)
- 20th-Level: 3 additional attacks (4 total)
Action Surge & Extra Attack
Since Extra Attack states you may make an additional attack as part of a single Attack action, the Fighters Action Surge feature lets them make even more attack rolls when they use it.
Action Surge is a 2nd-level Fighter feature which lets them take a second action on their turn, once per short or long rest. So, a common tactic in combat for a Fighter player character is to use Action Surge to double the number of attacks they can make on their turn which increases significantly when paired with Extra Attack.
Look at it this way; Extra Attack lets a character make two attack rolls using one use of the Attack action. The Fighter’s Action Surge feature let’s them take one additional action on their turn once per rest. Essentially, this means a Fighter takes two Attack actions on their turn, which doubles the number of attacks they make with Extra Attack.
A 20th-level Fighter can make four attacks with one Attack action thanks to Extra Attack. And, if they use Action Surge, they can take a second Attack action, which is another four attacks for a total of eight. That’s not counting any off-hand bonus action attacks or other outstanding situations like being affected by the haste spell.
Does Thirsting Blade Stack with Extra Attack?
No. The Warlock’s Thirsting Blade Eldritch Invocation does not stack with Extra Attack.
Ordinarily, Warlocks don’t get the Extra Attack feature. That said, if a player character choose the Pact of the Blade as their Pact Boon feature option, they have access to the Thirsting Blade Eldritch Invocation. Thirsting Blade is essentially the Warlock’s version of Extra Attack; they get access to it at 5th-level and it lets them attack with their pact weapon twice when they take the Attack action.
Basically the same thing but with extra steps.
Now, the question is; does Thirsting Blade stack with Extra Attack?
Unfortunately, it doesn’t. This ruling comes from the multiclassing rules for 5e which we’ll get into the specifics in regards to Extra Attack in a bit. But, the rules explicitly state "…the warlock’s eldritch invocation Thirsting Blade doesn’t give you additional attacks if you also have Extra Attack". (Source: DnD Beyond).
Does Extra Attack Stack with Multiattack?
No. Extra Attack does not stack with Multiattack. There’s a semantic difference between them which prevents this. Essentially, Extra Attack only works when you take the Attack action. Multiattack is its own action and not technically the same as the Attack action.
About the only time this situation would come up is if a player character multiclassed either into Druid or from Druid into a class which get Extra Attack. That or a character with Extra Attack somehow turned into a creature with Multiattack while maintaining its previous features.
For simplicity’s sake, let’s consider this a Druid as their Wild Shape feature which explicitly states "You retain the benefit of any features from your class, race, or other source and can use them if the new form is physically capable of doing so." (Source: DnD Beyond). This means if a Druid had Extra Attack from multiclassing into a Fighter, for example, for five levels, they’d still have Extra Attack while Wild Shaped into a creature with Multiattack like a Brown Bear.
Strictly speaking, Multiattack is its own action. This means it doesn’t work with Extra Attack as the latter explicitly requires the use of the Attack action.
Page 11 of the Monster Manual even defines Multiattack as its own action:
Bolded by me for emphasis.
So, it’s pretty clear. Multiattack is a separate action from the specific Attack action. As such, Multiattack and Extra Attack do not stack.
Extra Attack & Multiclassing
A player character may gain the Extra Attack feature through 5e’s multiclassing rules. However, if you already have Extra Attack from one class and gain it again from another, the two instances do not stack or add together.
Like with any other class feature, a player character may get Extra Attack by multiclassing into a class which gains it.
This means classes which ordinarily wouldn’t get Extra Attack, like the Rogue, can bolster the number of attacks they can make on their turn by taking at least five levels in another. For example, a player character may want to multiclass their Rogue into Fighter for five levels so they have a better chance at using their Sneak Attack feature.
That said, it’s important you remember Extra Attack does not stack if you get it twice through multiclassing.
The multiclassing rules on page 164 of the Player’s Handbook explicitly explains this.
For example, a Barbarian 5 / Fighter 5 (five levels in both Barbarian and Fighter) character wouldn’t get two additional attacks from their two instances of Extra Attack, one from each class. This character would still only be allowed to make one additional attack roll on their turn using the Attack action.
How Two-Weapon Fighting / Dual Wielding Works with Extra Attack
When dual wielding in 5e, Extra Attack works basically the same way. The difference is in determining which attacks make use of your Attack Modifier and which one, with your off-hand, doesn’t.
Dual-wielding in 5e lets a player character fight with a melee weapon in each hand so long as both weapons have the Light property. When they take the Attack action on their turn, they may then use a bonus action to make a second attack using their off-hand.
This follows the timing concerns addressed earlier concerning Extra Attack and bonus actions.
Extra Attack lets a character make two attack rolls with on Attack action. A player character needs to then complete their Attack action, meaning finish resolving both attack rolls, before making their off-hand, bonus action attack. The timing isn’t that important, but there is a distinction there.
Essentially, with the standard version of Extra Attack, a character using D&D’s Two-Weapon Fighting rules would be able to make up to three attacks on their turn; two from using the Attack action with Extra attack and one as their bonus action with their off-hand weapon.
Remember; the bonus action weapon attack doesn’t add a modifier to the damage unless the modifier is negative…or have the Two-Weapon Fighting Fighting Style.
Extra Attack & Grappling
Grappling in 5e is a special action you may take in place of making a regular attack. As such, you may use Extra Attack to replace one of your attacks to make an attempt at grappling a creature.
Strictly from the rules, a grapple is a special type of melee attack using the Attack action.
Since grappling technically counts as an attack, it works with Extra Attack. Meaning you can opt to use one or both of your additional attacks granted by Extra Attack to attempt a grapple against a or multiple creatures (provided you have the hands for it).
This is actually a pretty simply tactic martial characters employ in combat. For example, a 5th-level Barbarian may opt to use their first attack to grapple a target, since they have advantage on Strength (Athletics) checks, then use their second attack to strike their now-grappled target. This doesn’t provide any explicit bonus (advantage, bonus damage, etc), but it may prevent your target slipping away with an ability or simply on their next turn.
Does Extra Attack Apply to Spells?
No. Extra Attack does not apply to spells. That said, some spells interact in interesting ways with Extra Attack.
In D&D 5e, there is a difference between the Attack and Cast a Spell actions even if the spell getting cast requires an attack as part of its casting.
Remember; Extra Attack only works with the explicit Attack action. Some spells and cantrips, like shocking grasp, require a melee spell attack as part of their casting, but this is not the same as taking the Attack action. You use the Cast a Spell action to then make a melee spell attack.
It’s a small difference, but it matters when it comes to explaining why Extra Attack doesn’t apply to some spells.
That said, some spells do work with Extra Attack, but they usually require setup ahead of time. For example, magic weapon imbues a weapon with magic, so the bonus it confers applies until the spell ends including any attacks made after its casting.
Now, it would take forever to go over each and every spell which may or may not interact with Extra Attack. But, I will go over some common spells I’ve seen questions about concerning this feature.
Green Flame Blade & Extra Attack
Extra Attack does not work with green flame blade. This spell requires an action to cast. While it does require a melee weapon to cast, you aren’t taking the Attack action as part of its casting.
Haste & Extra Attack
The haste spell doesn’t work with Extra Attack. Its description explicitly states you can only make one weapon attack when you take the additional action granted by the spell to take the Attack action.
Haste’s spell description states, "[the target] gains an additional action on each of its turns." This would normally sounds like Extra Attack should apply since the affected creature may use that additional action for Attack. But, it’s shortly followed by, "That action can be used only to take the Attack (one weapon attack only)…." (Source: DnD Beyond).
If it weren’t for that single "(one weapon attack only)" caveat and by the rules, haste would’ve worked. But, unfortunately, it doesn’t.
Booming Blade & Extra Attack
Booming blade requires a character take the Cast a Spell action. So, despite the fact you make a melee attack against a creature as part of the casting, it doesn’t work with Extra Attack since that feature requires the use of the Attack action.
Vampiric Touch & Extra Attack
Vampiric touch doesn’t work with Extra Attack. Yes, you make a melee spell attack when you cast it, but you’re actually taking the Cast a Spell action, not take the explicit Attack action.
D&D Extra Attack FAQ
Do You Have to Roll to Hit with Extra Attack?
Yes, you still need to roll to hit for each attack made with Extra Attack.
With Extra Attack, a player character rolls two separate attack rolls using a single Attack action. So, you still need to roll to hit for the additional attack granted by Extra Attack.
How Often Can You Use Extra Attack?
You can use Extra Attack as often as you like in D&D 5e. The feature doesn’t place a limit on the number of times you may use it, only that it works on your turn.
There is not limit on the number of times you may use Extra Attack on your turn except for the fact that player characters usually only get one regular action. Aside from that, Extra Attack only applies to using the Attack action on your turn (no reaction-based attacks) and there is not limit like other features limited by Proficiency Bonus, Ability Score modifier, or rest uses.
Can You Break Up Extra Attack?
Yes, you can break up the attacks you make with Extra Attack. For example, you may make an attack move, and make your second attack using the same Attack action with Extra Attack.
Breaking up Extra Attack is one of the main benefits of the feature. A player character with Extra Attack is explicitly allowed to make an attack, move / take a bonus or free action, and make their second attack. Even better, the additional attack doesn’t need to be against a previously attacked target; you can attack two different creatures or objects if you like.
Does Extra Attack Stack?
No. Extra Attack does not stack in D&D 5e. If you get Extra Attack multiple times through multiclassing, you don’t add the number of attacks together.
Plain and simple; Extra Attack doesn’t stack.
You may get Extra Attack multiple times through multiclassing. But, you never add the additional attacks granted by this feature together.
Do Rogues in 5e Get Extra Attack?
No. Rogues in D&D 5e do not get the Extra Attack feature.
The Rogue is the only martial class which doesn’t get Extra Attack by default. You can get it through multiclassing. But, leveling up in Rogue only won’t give you Extra Attack.
How Does the Polearm Master Feat Work with Extra Attack?
The Polearm Master feat still only allows you one bonus action attack if you have the Extra Attack feature. You may still make two regular attacks along with Polearm Master’s bonus attack for a total of three attacks on your turn.
Polearm Master requires you take the Attack action before using a bonus action to make an additional attack roll. If you have Extra Attack, this means you make two regular attacks then the bonus action attack granted by this Feat.
Summary of How Extra Attack Works in D&D 5e
That’s about everything you need to know about the Extra Attack feature.
This feature basically lets a character make two attack rolls using one Attack action on their turn. It doesn’t take a bonus action to use nor does it grant an additional bonust action. Many martial classes and a few caster subclasses get this feature, but it won’t stack should you choose to multiclass into one of these classes.
What do you think of the Extra Attack feature? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts!
Make sure to follow Role Player’s Respite for more rules breakdowns, guides for players and Game Masters, and inspiration for your game!