My group is starting new characters for our first Tomb of Annihilation session today. I'm trying out a druid this season since I've always liked the lore behind them and because of the new beasts we can possibly encounter in the jungle setting (ALL THE DINOOOOSSS).
My question to you all is what other beasts are worth looking into for a level 1-5 CoM druid besides dire wolf? The benefits with dire wolf seem to outweigh all the other large CR 1-2 beasts I've looked into.
Dire Wolf, has solid all around stats, the Adv on attacks helps buff it's single attack. If it hits they need a Str: 13 (not super high) to be prone, which helps allies. The ability is cool, but it doesn't have amazing damage.
Deinonychus: Can get 4 attacks and knocks the enemy prone! A lot of those attacks have Adv for them being prone. The burst damage is amazing.
Brown Bear: This is your Damage Per Second. The HP is less then Dire Wolf (tiny amount), but has a lot less AC. It has 3 attacks a turn with 2 greatswords and bites with a longsword with 19 Str!
Crag Cat: Not a great pick, except it has an amazing bite (1d10+3) and if Pounce works you get to bite as a Bonus Action. the main awesome is Spell Turning, so low and medium level casters can't hurt it with single target spells.
Female Steeder has MASSIVE speed. Spider Climb and Stealth +7 is great for scouting. She can leap 90' vertically or horizontally. Deals 1d8+3 damage with 2d8 acid damage. Sticky Leg lets you grapple enemies.
Giant Spider: Not super optimal. Spider Climb and Stealth +7 is great for scouting. Deals 1d8+3 damage with 2d8 acid damage. If the enemy has blunt weapons only Web can restrain them, which means then LUNCH for you allies.
Tiger: has Darkvision and Pounce. It's a tankier version of the Crag Cat.
Lion: between the Dire Wolf and Tiger, due to Pack Tactics.
Giant Hyena: Ramage is great against swarms of weak enemies, but otherwise not a great pick... other things are more optimized.
IF you have a melee character that is small or even medium. Trust me, do NOT underestimate the power of being a intelligent mount. You haven't seen crazy until you see a Fighter on the back of a Brown Bear, wading into combat!
Feat wise if you want to be a "striker" and jumping in and out of combat (Which will help you keep your HP up) then get Mobility.
in my opinion, for close combat situations or times you need stealth, go with either the lion or the tiger. they are both almost identical in stats and abilities, but go with the tiger when you are going to be in dark areas, since it has darkvision. if you need something aquatic, best bet would be to use a reef shark or giant octopus, depending and area size limitations and wether you think you might need to leave the water or fight alongside allies (whether they be temporary or not). if you're looking for dino's to turn into to blend in with the local fauna, then for aquatic i'd use a dimetrodon, while going with a deinoychus for normal encounters. Once you reach level 15 though, if you happen to while near the tomb, dinowise a good bet would be to use a pleisosaurus for aquatic combat, while you can use either the stegosaurus or triceratops for land combat. of course, they are pretty big, so if bigger isn't better because of area restrictions, Allosaurus would be a good bet starting at level 6 and beyond since it's only large size but has pretty good stats for a CR 2, especially if you can trigger pounce for an ambush attack, or if you need to go defense starting from level 9 you can use the ankylosaurus, even though it's stats are close to the Allosaurus, with a smaller size, so its pretty much use what you need when you need it
I love giant spider at low levels. Decent hit points, attack bonus and armor class. Ranged attack that restrains. Melee attack does great damage to things not immune to poison. Climb speed, including on walls and ceilings. Blindsight (10') for the occasional invisible enemy.
One of my players had a lot of fun using the Giant Elk in certain situations. If able to charge / ram and then knock the enemy prone which really helped out the party on several occasions. Plenty of damage (4d8+4) if able to get a hoof attack on a prone creature as well. It was nice to see the player use something different than a spider / dire wolf.