Protection fighters are considered subpar because they can only wear the heaviest armor and use heavy weapons. As such, their options for attacking from a distance or being invisible are severely hampered.
Since higher level metal armors restrict mobility as well, protection fighters often find themselves in situations where there is immense discomfort in moving about freely and/or fear of getting outmaneuvered by an opponent due to the inability to step away from any sudden blows coming at them. The intimidation factor of protection fighting is one that cannot be easily overcome either, since it also involves opponents who take advantage of that (through trying to pressure their enemies or by exaggerating the consequences).
The Protection fighting style is subpar because it makes it difficult to make good use of the Fighter’s weapon. In other words, players need a lot of strength to wield heavy weapons effectively, but when they’re using the protection fighting style their ability increases with hit dice and strength no longer has any relevance.
The idea is that for you might get by with smaller amounts of Strength if you have other abilities (Movement speed increases) or better armor (+Defense). If you really want to improve your melee self-defence through Strength then the best way would be with Weapon Focus (glaive).
Perhaps it’s just a matter of aesthetics, or maybe it has to do with the implications the designers want to make about the martial-minded NPC. But our best guess is that they wanted this protection fighting style to serve more as a defender, not someone who can stand in the middle of battle and take down opponents.
It also sees them as being better suited for defense than offense because their fighting style tends towards staggering enemies and blocking blows rather than launching themselves into combat like charging fighters. This makes sense when you consider that this class was created for NPCs—individuals designed as guardians and protectors, not attackers. That helps DMs easily know how to integrate these characters into an adventure without worrying whether they’re trying too hard or not hard enough to contribute in combat.
The short version is that the designer probably felt that a protector didn’t need the means to attack people—just be able to protect those under his care. In addition, it also makes sense for this class to have less capabilities when they’re on their own rather than when they have an army behind them or the support of a superior to command them.
However, this does make it difficult for those who want to play something like a bodyguard or someone strong enough to fight off the villains but also intelligent and wise enough not to leap headlong into battle without thinking about what they’re doing. The class is ultimately designed with supporting your allies in mind, so you won’t be good at dealing with mobs.
Although not a bad choice if your DM is running a campaign focused on traveling from place to place and going on big quests, the style of fighting makes it difficult for most players who want to have their character face off against villains alone in an epic battle. This means that in order to best use this fighting style, you need to have an ally behind your character—someone for the monsters to hit instead of yourself.
In D&D 5th edition, the protection fighting style is a single defensive maneuver which is not as versatile or effective as other fighting styles when it comes to mounted combat. It’s really considered subpar because its best use seems to be on those rare occasions when you find yourself dismounted. More often than not, a player will find more technical and tactical value from the battlemaster fighter.
The game designers haven’t given much attention to the type of combat most heavily employed by feudal knights, namely hand-to-hand combat on horseback. Mounted knights had very different weapons and tactics from foot soldiers, and were absolutely at home in mobility since nobility spent most of their lives riding across battlefields with enemies all around tryin tog kill them.
The protection fighting style is a perfect example of how D&D 5E does not emphasize mounted combat. In fact, the only time you’re going to get any use from this maneuver is when you find yourself without a mount, or when you’ve been dismounted. The description states that the aim of the maneuver is to attempt to deflect an incoming attack. It effects the next melee weapon or spell attack that targets you, but does not state if it can be used against ranged attacks in any way, shape or form.
Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition is designed for classic medieval fantasy. The protection fighting style may be called “subpar” because the playstyle doesn’t fit with this theme.
Protection fighters have trouble in any D&D campaign that relies heavily on stealth. In combat, they’re only subpar because their abilities are largely passive and out of the player’s control most of the time.
Think about a protection fighter as being a tank style character who is more interested in defense and support than in attacking with fancy maneuvers like disarming or tripping enemies. Protection fighters focus on keeping themselves safe while offering increased physical defenses to friends nearby, especially when it comes to saving allies from death by crowd control effects such as stuns, sleep, or immobilization spells. So unless players can find some clever way around these disadvantages without compromising combat effectiveness too much, this class will likely be an impotent beast.
Protection fighting style is a bit redundant in 5E while following certain classes because it doesn’t necessarily enhance what the class does well.
Even if you’re using a martial monk, or a trickster rogue – who can plausibly use the protection fighting style’s features with their respective abilities – it just feels like an overkill if your goal is to be able to fight. Especially since these two instances of these classes are melee-focused which isn’t considered to be one of the best styles by most gamers and players. In other words, there are far more effective styles for both groups that have features which are better suited for their respective needs within combat situations.
Nobody has determined that, so it cannot be concluded that the protection fighting style is in any way bad.
It is true that in this edition of D&D the “defend” action use a move for its defensive capabilities which means you can’t take an opportunity attack when defending. However, since players have to declare who they are defending against at the start of their turn, it’s relatively easy just not to defend and instead exploit your opponent’s position with an opportunity attack or using some other damaging ability–even if you don’t do much or anything at all this round. And afterwards on your next turn you can then choose to use a protection fighting style to protect yourself, without any lost opportunity attacks.
The thing about the Protection fighting style in D&D 5th Edition is that it really is only good for defensive fighters. In other words, a protection fighter would do better with using hit dice to heal wounds they take during battle than to try and deal damage back at an enemy.
With the release of Luke Smith’s Sage Advice column on saving throws, it was decreed that anything with a Strength or Dexterity bonus can be used as a shield against spells. This includes Intelligence and Wisdom based abilities which are used by many clerics or druids who make use of shields in combat via their Divine Strike class feature.
Protection fighting style doesn’t offer any way to gain a bonus on defense.
For most people, the best defense is not being attacked in the first place. That’s why wizards and rogues are the kings of D&D 5e combat, while fighters often feel like second-class citizens. Fighters need to get up close and personal with their opponents which exposes them to counterattacks, but can be devastating if they succeed with their initial attacks. Don’t get me wrong though; even fighter builds are still very powerful in most situations that don’t involve large numbers of enemies or heavy armor types (like knights). Anyways, more important than specific weaknesses of this class is how your story plays out.