Top 10 High Level Beasts for Alphas
Over the past few months we looked at the best low-level beasts for your alpha pack and druid wild shapes, and then we looked at the best mid-range beasts (and the highest level wild shapes you can get for most druids). Today we're closing out by looking at the best high-end beasts, going from CR2-4.
We opted not to look at CR5-6, as 1) it's a very small list, 2) most games won't go high enough for even a moon druid to use them, and 3) they are very niche and some game masters may not even allow you to use them, so we opted to keep to relatively common beasts that you would have a good chance of encountering. You could also have a pack of five CR4 beasts as a 20th level alpha, so the list would meet most of your needs in and out of combat.
Top CR2-4 Beasts for Alphas
Honorable Mentions: The following beasts are great, but not good enough to make the top ten: Giant Boar (only one attack, which holds it back, but Relentless and its charge damage make it tougher than it looks), Saber-Toothed Tiger (this is just a more powerful tiger: same abilities, just higher rolls), and Rhinoceros (a big creature with a big attack that only gets bigger if it has time and space to run up to you).
#10: Giant Scorpion (CR3)
For a CR3 creature, the Giant Scorpion has a low hit modifier at a +4. It gets three attacks, so there's a good chance it can hit with at least one of them, and if it hits with a claw it can grapple a target and insure that it has the reach to strike with its stinger which is the real damage dealer. It also has an AC15, which is the highest of the creatures on this list. And with 60ft of blindsight, finding your target is reliable.
What holds back the Giant Scorpion is a modest hit point pool, the low Attack modifier, and the fact that on average its attacks could only do 6 damage.
#9: Plesiosaurus (CR2)
While admittedly not a lot of attacks occur in the water, but when they do (or if only having 20ft of movement on land is good enough), a plesiosaurus is a great choice. It only has one attack, but for having only one attack it as 1) a good Attack modifier at a +6 (so you will probably hit) and 2) good damage (3d6+4, for an average of 14). Add onto this 68 hit points past an AC13 (which is respectable for this level), and you have a good attacker on land or sea.
#8: Auroch (CR2)
The auroch is a cow-like creature, but boy does it hit hard. I feel bad that it does better as a profile than the rhinoceros, as I feel like it shouldn't, but here we are. Its AC is only 11, which is below average, and its hit points are only 38, which is average for this level, but in all other respects this thing is a beast in more than just tag. It hits with a +7 to its Attack, making it a very reliable attacker at CR2. It deals around 14-25 damage on average (depending on whether or not it charges), and at a DC15 Strength save to avoid being knocked prone, this creature has one of the highest save DCs of any beast period, dinosaurs and mammoths included.
And, since it needs to get a 20ft running start to get that charge, having 50ft of movement sure helps to setup the attack. If you're looking for something that will blunt an oncoming attacker, this is a good choice.
#7: Polar Bear/Cave Bear (CR2)
I've lumped polar bears and cave bears together as the only difference between the two is whether they have a swim speed or darkvision: everything else about their profiles is the same. This is an upgrade to the Brown Bear at CR1: bigger damage, more hit points, and a slightly better AC.
There's nothing really to say here that we didn't say in our last post: multiattack is good, the hit points is about average at 42, and has good senses. So this bear will serve multiple functions for you, whatever the situation.
#6: Allosaurus (CR2)
We get our first land-based dinosaur here with the allosaurus: a fast-moving attacker that is much like a tiger, lion, goat, or elk in that it has a weak attack that can allow you to perform a stronger attack if you knock the target prone, but this one comes with a twist. While the rules are the same (and the DC13 is only decent), both attacks have a +6 to the Attack roll, which means your chance of forcing the saving throw is actually quite good. And when you're doing 8-23 damage on average in a single round after setting up your attack with 60ft of movement, you have a fighting chance to land that second attack.
The big thing about the allosaurus that puts it at #6 is that it combines a very good offensive set of attacks with resilience: at 51 hit points you have a lot of hit points for this level, and while an AC13 isn't great it's not half bad either (especially if you can purchase barding armor).
#5: Giant Elk (CR2)
Ah yes, the mighty elk: this thing hits like a train if you're not careful, and is quite survivable considering it's a mammal (as reptiles tend to be higher in hit points and AC in this game). With an AC14 and 42 hit points it's very sturdy for the level of play, and with a hoof attack dealing 22 damage on average, if you can get in that attack you will devastate the target.
The elk would be in the top three if you had the ability to perform a Hoof attack as a bonus action after knocking a target prone, but it does not have that ability. This means that giant elk are most dangerous when paired with other creatures that can knock a target prone. The ideal, if you haven't guessed from this list, is to take an Auroch (which has a DC15 Strength Save and a good charge attack in its own right), knock down a target, and then run them over with an elk or two. If you pull that off, boy oh boy they're in for a world of hurt.
#4: Ankylosaurus (CR3)
Here's a great option for you: an AC15 creature with almost 70 hit points, rocking a +7 Attack modifier to deal 18 damage on average and then a chance to knock you prone? This thing is a walking tank, and if you are looking for an off-tank or substitute tank for a party, this is your man.
It doesn't do as much damage as the giant elk or the allosaurus, but it has two distinct advantages. First, it's more reliable, as you don't need the target to fail a saving throw to get your more powerful attack. But two and more than that, you get Reach on this attack (10ft), so your threat range is actually quite dangerous with this guy even though he only has 30ft of movement. This means that he can move into base contact with someone to hold them down, and then reach out and bash a target beyond that person, all while presenting a huge body to block access to softer targets behind him. And with a good AC and a lot of hit points, even a paladin or barbarian at this level would be held up for a few turns.
Fantastic beast, one of the best, but not good enough to break the top three, mostly because it only gets one attack, so while a +7 modifier is good, if you miss you do nothing.
#3: Awakened White Moose (CR3)
Imagine a healthier giant elk with multiattack, 22-31 damage on average per turn, and better resilience to being knocked prone, and you have this moose. Brought to us as part of the Rime of the Frostmaiden adventure, this moose hurts a lot, running over creatures with its fast movement and big charge attack.
Unlike elk, though, the hoof attack is actually the weaker attack for the moose, which is part of what makes this creature so much more dangerous. Elk are only a serious threat if they can attack you while you are prone, but this creature is most dangerous when it charges (which it has far more control over). It can also take advantage of its ability to knock you prone, as the multiattack feature allows it to charge you with its antlers, knock you prone, and then get advantage on its hoof attack against you. So if you're looking for a good beast of burden who can bring the pain and suffer its fair share of damage, this is a good option.
#2: Killer Whale (CR3)
We come to the largest of the sea creatures at this level, and it's a doozy. At 90 hit points good luck killing this thing, as it can easily swim away 120ft on a Dash action if it feels like it is in over its head. It only gets one attack, but that one attack does an average of 21 damage, which is more than enough to place it in the top three. It has a 120ft blindsight, so no hiding against this thing, and with keen hearing it will find you.
As an all around creature this whale is incredible. Sure, it's situational to a water scenario, but the stats are just too good to pass up at this level. A person with a killer whale or two would be very hard to stop, and you could easily transport a party wherever you need to go with 1-2 of these.
#1: Elephant (CR4)
There are a lot of creatures with a "if you hit with X attack, you can knock people prone and perform your stronger attack as a bonus action" ability, but the elephant's is the best that there is for a few reasons. First, you've got a +8 to your attack, which is a lot. So hitting with the Gore attack is not hard. Second, your DC for knocking someone prone is a DC12, which is not great, but even if you don't get it off, your Gore attack does 19 damage on average, which is basically as good if not better than basically every other creature's total damage from 2-3 attacks with multiattack. So even if you only attack once you're doing more damage than basically any other.
And then if you do knock the target prone, you get to do an even bigger attack that on average does 22 damage. That's 41 points of damage on average in one turn, and that assumes no critical hit.
Add onto this good hit points (albeit at only AC12) and a good speed, and you've got yourself a truck that is hard to stop.
The game could use higher level beasts so that they are more prevalent at mid-level play, let alone high-level play. But for what we have, we have a lot of good options for beasts. I think there should be more options present (Giant Bear? Awakened Mammoth? Heck, a Red Ant Swarm at lower levels), but more on that in the coming months as we build out more beasts for you, along with another project we are working on.
Until next time,