D&d5e artificer

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D&D 5E Artificer Subclasses Ranked From Worst to Best

I’ve written a lot on how the various classes in 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons compare to each other. I think it’s important for players to have accurate expectations of what their chosen class can do going into a session. Someone that picks up a monk and expects to be as powerful as the paladin will be left disappointed.

However, class is only part of what makes up a 5E character. Subclass decisions can make a huge difference on how a character plays. Starting with the artificer, I will be going through each of 5E’s classes and ranking their subclasses by power level. To help explain my rankings, there are a couple factors that I consider when comparing subclasses.

I consider 5E to be a system primarily focused on combat, so I generally weight powerful combat subclasses higher than ones that focus on social interaction or exploration. I also give more weight to subclasses that allow for a wider range of powerful builds compared to those with only a few good options. Finally, I look at how multiclassing augments a subclass. Subclasses that gain a large amount of power from multiclass dips* rank higher than subclasses that might be stronger if viewed purely by monoclass standards. With those ground rules in place, let’s take a look at how the artificer’s four subclasses stack up against each other.

4. Alchemist

An intense looking man measuring a drop of glowing liquid into a flask.

Starting out with an easy pick, we have the Alchemist subclass. I already have a fairly low opinion of the artificer, but even among the class’s supporters, this subclass is considered weak.

Level 3 – Alchemist Spells

The fact that this middling spell list is one of the subclass’s strongest features should give you an idea of its overall power level. Healing Word and its older sibling Mass Healing Word are the standout spells here, with other options arriving too late to make much of an impact.

Level 3 – Experimental Elixir

You can magically produce an experimental elixir in an empty flask you touch. Roll on the Experimental Elixir table for the elixir’s effect, which is triggered when someone drinks the elixir. As an action, a creature can drink the elixir or administer it to an incapacitated creature.

Creating an experimental elixir requires you to have alchemist’s supplies on your person, and any elixir you create with this feature lasts until it is drunk or until the end of your next long rest.

When you reach certain levels in this class, you can make more elixirs at the end of a long rest: two at 6th level and three at 15th level. Roll for each elixir’s effect separately. Each elixir requires its own flask.

You can create additional experimental elixirs by expending a spell slot of 1st level or higher for each one. When you do so, you use your action to create the elixir in an empty flask you touch, and you choose the elixir’s effect from the Experimental Elixir table.

d6Effect
1Healing. The drinker regains a number of hit points equal to 2d4 + your Intelligence modifier.
2Swiftness. The drinker’s walking speed increases by 10 feet for 1 hour.
3Resilience. The drinker gains a +1 bonus to AC for 10 minutes.
4Boldness. The drinker can roll a d4 and add the number rolled to every attack roll and saving throw they make for the next minute.
5Flight. The drinker gains a flying speed of 10 feet for 10 minutes.
6Transformation. The drinker’s body is transformed as if by the alter self spell. The drinker determines the transformation caused by the spell, the effects of which last for 10 minutes.

This feature is supposed to be the Cool Thing the Alchemist does, and it is incredibly weak. The first problem with this ability is its randomness. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, random abilities are inherently weak due to an inability to plan around them. They also increase the amount of design work needed to try and make them work. Instead of a single effect to balance, now you have six.

This ability compounds randomness with a low number of uses, makes it take an action to activate, and after all of that, most of the effects are bad to middling. The strongest option available is probably the +1 AC from Resilience, but even if that could be selected every time, I still wouldn’t consider this a good feature.

Level 5 – Alchemical Savant

Whenever you cast a spell using your alchemist’s supplies as the spellcasting focus, you gain a bonus to one roll of the spell. That roll must restore hit points or be a damage roll that deals acid, fire, necrotic, or poison damage, and the bonus equals your Intelligence modifier (minimum of +1).

A minor damage/healing bonus is not enough to save this subclass. Unfortunately, Alchemists don’t even have access to Magic Missile, which interacts with abilities like these to add the flat bonus to each dart.*

Level 9 – Restorative Reagents

  • Whenever a creature drinks an experimental elixir you created, the creature gains temporary hit points equal to 2d6 + your Intelligence modifier (minimum of 1 temporary hit point).
  • You can cast lesser restoration without expending a spell slot and without preparing the spell, provided you use alchemist’s supplies as the spellcasting focus. You can do so a number of times equal to your Intelligence modifier (minimum of once), and you regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.

With the release of Tasha’s, temporary hit points have never been more prevalent in 5E. Many parties will have an equal or stronger* source of temporary HP. If your party doesn’t, this is a decent ability, albeit a worse protective buff than another artificer subclass we’ll be covering soon. As for casting Lesser Restoration, the spell is fairly niche. While I wouldn’t turn down five free casts of the spell, it doesn’t provide the kind of strength the Alchemist desperately needs.

Level 15 – Chemical Mastery

  • You gain resistance to acid damage and poison damage, and you are immune to the poisoned condition.
  • You can cast greater restoration and heal without expending a spell slot, without preparing the spell, and without material components, provided you use alchemist’s supplies as the spellcasting focus. Once you cast either spell with this feature, you can’t cast that spell with it again until you finish a long rest.

Finally the subclass gets a decent feature, and it only took until level 15. Free damage resistances are always nice, especially the fairly common poison type. Greater Restoration and Heal are also good spells, although a single cast of each feels a bit bad when compared to what real supports are doing at this level.

With a pitiful core mechanic and weak supporting abilities, the Alchemist easily secures its last-place finish.

3. Armorer

A humanoid lion forging a sword.

Next we have the subclass that tries to fulfill the dream of magic Iron Man, the Armorer. As much as I wanted to like the Armorer, it falls into some of the design traps that plague 5E. What we’re left with is a subclass that turns the artificer into a low-damage, high-AC tank that is still relatively fragile due to its d8 hit dice.

Level 3 – Tools of the Trade

You gain proficiency with heavy armor. You also gain proficiency with smith’s tools. If you already have this tool proficiency, you gain proficiency with one other type of artisan’s tools of your choice.

Access to heavy armor is great, and I’m happy to see it here. The tool proficiencies don’t add much, but as an inconsequential rider to a powerful feature, they’re fine.

Level 3 – Armorer Spells

It is a crime that Shield didn’t make its way onto this spell list. Thankfully there are still some good options here. Hypnotic Pattern, Greater Invisibility, and Wall of Force are all top-tier spells, and any Armorer will be happy to have them, even if the spells show up much later than they would on a full caster.

Level 3 – Arcane Armor

Your metallurgical pursuits have led to you making armor a conduit for your magic. As an action, you can turn a suit of armor you are wearing into Arcane Armor, provided you have smith’s tools in hand.

You gain the following benefits while wearing this armor:

  • If the armor normally has a Strength requirement, the arcane armor lacks this requirement for you.
  • You can use the arcane armor as a spellcasting focus for your artificer spells.
  • The armor attaches to you and can’t be removed against your will. It also expands to cover your entire body, although you can retract or deploy the helmet as a bonus action. The armor replaces any missing limbs, functioning identically to a limb it replaces.
  • You can doff or don the armor as an action. The armor continues to be Arcane Armor until you don another suit of armor or you die.

This is a collection of decent features that pairs so closely with the next feature that I’m pretty sure Wizards only split them to break up the wall of text. Mechanically, I’d say the ability to use your armor as your spell focus is the most powerful of the bunch, as it helps free up your hands for weapons and/or shields.

Level 3 – Armor Model

You can customize your Arcane Armor. When you do so, choose one of the following armor models: Guardian or Infiltrator. The model you choose gives you special benefits while you wear it.

Each model includes a special weapon. When you attack with that weapon, you can add your Intelligence modifier, instead of Strength or Dexterity, to the attack and damage rolls.

You can change the armor’s model whenever you finish a short or long rest, provided you have smith’s tools in hand.

Guardian.You design your armor to be in the front line of conflict. It has the following features:

  • Thunder Gauntlets. Each of the armor’s gauntlets counts as a simple melee weapon while you aren’t holding anything in it, and it deals 1d8 thunder damage on a hit. A creature hit by the gauntlet has disadvantage on attack rolls against targets other than you until the start of your next turn, as the armor magically emits a distracting pulse when the creature attacks someone else.
  • Defensive Field. As a bonus action, you can gain temporary hit points equal to your level in this class, replacing any temporary hit points you already have. You lose these temporary hit points if you doff the armor. You can use this bonus action a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus, and you regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.

Infiltrator.You customize your armor for subtle undertakings. It has the following features:

  • Lightning Launcher. A gemlike node appears on one of your armored fists or on the chest (your choice). It counts as a simple ranged weapon, with a normal range of 90 feet and a long range of 300 feet, and it deals 1d6 lightning damage on a hit. Once on each of your turns when you hit a creature with it, you can deal an extra 1d6 lightning damage to that target.
  • Powered Steps. Your walking speed increases by 5 feet.
  • Dampening Field. You have advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks. If the armor normally imposes disadvantage on such checks, the advantage and disadvantage cancel each other, as normal.

The main feature of the subclass, this is where those design traps I mentioned earlier begin to show. Simply put, weapons unique to a specific class or subclass need to either work with existing boosts like Sharpshooter or Great Weapon Master, or they need to be independently as strong or stronger than those generic options.

The Armorer’s weapons fulfill neither of those requirements. Comparing Thunder Gauntlets to the common Great Weapon Master/Polearm Master combo, the artificer is outputting less damage even before the -5/+10* is applied. Even looking at builds using shields, a quarter staff and shield also outpaces the gauntlets’ damage.

The Lightning Launcher has to deal with the even stronger hand crossbow plus Crossbow Expert and Sharpshooter. One additional d6 of damage can’t make up for the extra attack crossbow users get. This means that the Armorer is being pushed to use sub-par weapons and any that do so will see their damage suffer compared to other well-made characters.

If I had to choose one of these, I’d opt for the Guardian armor. The ability to force disadvantage is a decent tanking feature, and the extra hit points provided by defensive field helps shore up the squishy artificer.

Level 5 – Extra Attack

You can attack twice, rather than once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn.

A simple feature that is almost a requirement for any character looking to do martial things, I’m glad to see it here.

Level 9 – Armor Modifications

You learn how to use your artificer infusions to specially modify your Arcane Armor. That armor now counts as separate items for the purposes of your Infuse Items feature: armor (the chest piece), boots, helmet, and the armor’s special weapon. Each of those items can bear one of your infusions, and the infusions transfer over if you change your armor’s model with the Armor Model feature. In addition, the maximum number of items you can infuse at once increases by 2, but those extra items must be part of your Arcane Armor.

This is easily my favorite Armorer feature. One of the problems the artificer class has is that the cool magic items it can make are almost always better used by other, stronger characters. This can put pressure on artificer players to give away all their cool stuff, leaving them with even less. This feature grants additional infusions that can only be used by the artificer, removing that dilemma. I only wish it added a few more.

Level 15 – Perfected Armor

Your Arcane Armor gains additional benefits based on its model, as shown below.

Guardian. When a Huge or smaller creature you can see ends its turn within 30 feet of you, you can use your reaction to magically force the creature to make a Strength saving throw against your spell save DC, pulling the creature up to 30 feet toward you to an unoccupied space. If you pull the target to a space within 5 feet of you, you can make a melee weapon attack against it as part of this reaction.

You can use this reaction a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus, and you regain all expended uses of it when you finish a long rest.

Infiltrator. Any creature that takes lightning damage from your Lightning Launcher glimmers with magical light until the start of your next turn. The glimmering creature sheds dim light in a 5-foot radius, and it has disadvantage on attack rolls against you, as the light jolts it if it attacks you. In addition, the next attack roll against it has advantage, and if that attack hits, the target takes an extra 1d6 lightning damage.

A decent forced movement option and a minor buff to a weapon that has only fallen further behind generic options since level three. In the right situation, dragging a creature around could be quite useful, but the feature has limited uses, and it targets what is on average the strongest save in the monster manual.

The Lightning Launcher has the stronger ability, dealing extra damage and making it harder for the target to hit you, but it’s still weaker than the alternatives and seems like it’s attached to the wrong weapon. A Guardian Armorer in melee would benefit significantly more from forcing disadvantage on their target than a ranged character who will often be out of harm’s way.

All told, the Armorer has the AC to tank, but lacks the offensive abilities to give monsters a compelling reason to target it in the first place. It also suffers from low hit points and lacks proficiency in both dexterity and wisdom saves, leaving it highly vulnerable to spell-based damage and sealing its third-place spot.

2. Artillerist

An armored figure standing next to a ballista.

I admit the mental image of the Artillerist that I have is very much at odds with what Wizards has created. I imagined a techno-magic tinkerer firing their Tesla cannon to dispatch all those who stand against them. Instead, we have something much closer to Torbjorn from Overwatch, relying on a semi-autonomous turret as their main subclass feature. Thankfully, the turret is capable of some decently useful things, salvaging an otherwise unremarkable subclass.

Level 3 – Tool Proficiency

When you adopt this specialization at 3rd level, you gain proficiency with woodcarver’s tools. If you already have this proficiency, you gain proficiency with one other type of artisan’s tools of your choice.

Remember what I said about bad features being okay if they’re paired with good ones? Well, sadly, Artillerist doesn’t get heavy armor, leaving it with just the bad tool proficiencies.

Level 3 – Artillerist Spells

Ah, here’s where the Armorer’s Shield spell was hiding. Swapping the Artillerist’s Shield for the Armorer’s Magic Missile is such an obvious change that would provide some much-needed help to the artificer. Not only would Magic Missiles be thematically appropriate for the Artillerist, but it also has amazing synergy with our 5th-level feature. Unfortunately for the Artillerist, outside of Shield and Wall of Force, we’re left with damage spells acquired too late to be used at full effectiveness.

Level 3 – Eldritch Cannon

At 3rd level, you learn how to create a magical cannon. Using woodcarver’s tools or smith’s tools, you can take an action to magically create a Small or Tiny eldritch cannon in an unoccupied space on a horizontal surface within 5 feet of you. A Small eldritch cannon occupies its space, and a Tiny one can be held in one hand.

Once you create a cannon, you can’t do so again until you finish a long rest or until you expend a spell slot of 1st level or higher. You can have only one cannon at a time and can’t create one while your cannon is present.

The cannon is a magical object. Regardless of size, the cannon has an AC of 18 and a number of hit points equal to five times your artificer level. It is immune to poison damage and psychic damage, and all conditions. If it is forced to make an ability check or a saving throw, treat all its ability scores as 10 (+0). If the mending spell is cast on it, it regains 2d6 hit points. It disappears if it is reduced to 0 hit points or after 1 hour. You can dismiss it early as an action.

When you create the cannon, you determine its appearance and whether it has legs. You also decide which type it is, choosing from the options on the Eldritch Cannons table. On each of your turns, you can take a bonus action to cause the cannon to activate if you are within 60 feet of it. As part of the same bonus action, you can direct the cannon to walk or climb up to 15 feet to an unoccupied space, provided it has legs.

CannonActivation
FlamethrowerThe cannon exhales fire in an adjacent 15-foot cone that you designate. Each creature in that area must make a Dexterity saving throw against your spell save DC, taking 2d8 fire damage on a failed save or half as much damage on a successful one. The fire ignites any flammable objects in the area that aren’t being worn or carried.
Force BallistaMake a ranged spell attack, originating from the cannon, at one creature or object within 120 feet of it. On a hit, the target takes 2d8 force damage, and if the target is a creature, it is pushed up to 5 feet away from the cannon.
ProtectorThe cannon emits a burst of positive energy that grants itself and each creature of your choice within 10 feet of it a number of temporary hit points equal to 1d8 + your Intelligence modifier (minimum of +1).

As the main subclass feature, the Eldritch Cannon is significantly better than either of the prior subclasses’ primary abilities. At lower levels, the Protector turret hands out a large amount of free hit points to your party,* and at higher levels, the Flamethrower cannon does decent AOE damage thanks to our 9th- and 15th-level features. It’s unfortunate that 5E doesn’t allow players to substitute their action for a second bonus action, as activating their turret a second time is stronger than almost anything else the subclass will be doing.

Level 5 – Arcane Firearm

At 5th level, you know how to turn a wand, staff, or rod into an arcane firearm, a conduit for your destructive spells. When you finish a long rest, you can use woodcarver’s tools to carve special sigils into a wand, staff, or rod and thereby turn it into your arcane firearm. The sigils disappear from the object if you later carve them on a different item. The sigils otherwise last indefinitely.

You can use your arcane firearm as a spellcasting focus for your artificer spells. When you cast an artificer spell through the firearm, roll a d8, and you gain a bonus to one of the spell’s damage rolls equal to the number rolled.

I really wish this was Extra Attack. Sadly, we’re left with a minor damage boost to any spells we cast. If the subclass had access to Magic Missile as an artificer spell, this would be great, as we could apply the 1d8 to each bolt, but instead our Firebolt will have its damage increased by an average of 4.5. Woo.

Level 9 – Explosive Cannon

Starting at 9th level, every eldritch cannon you create is more destructive:

  • The cannon’s damage rolls all increase by 1d8.
  • As an action, you can command the cannon to detonate if you are within 60 feet of it. Doing so destroys the cannon and forces each creature within 20 feet of it to make a Dexterity saving throw against your spell save DC, taking 3d8 force damage on a failed save or half as much damage on a successful one.

It’s around this level that the Artillerist should consider swapping their Protector turret for one of the damage models, as Wizards has decided to slap our wrist by not allowing the support turret to scale alongside its damage-based companions. Now we can throw out 3d8 cone attacks every round as a bonus action. This damage isn’t amazing at level 9 – the artificer is pretty low damage in general – but in any fight with multiple enemies, we can hopefully line up multiple hits for some decent damage per round. The explosion feature is bad and probably not worth using.

Level 15 – Fortified Position

Starting at 15th level, you’re a master at forming well-defended emplacements using Eldritch Cannon:

  • You and your allies have half cover while within 10 feet of a cannon you create with Eldritch Cannon, as a result of a shimmering field of magical protection that the cannon emits.
  • You can now have two cannons at the same time. You can create two with the same action (but not the same spell slot), and you can activate both of them with the same bonus action. You determine whether the cannons are identical to each other or different. You can’t create a third cannon while you have two.

Now we should definitely swap over to the Flamethrower turret, as repeatable 6d8 worth of AOE damage is a relatively good source of consistent damage. The free +2 to Armor Class and dexterity saving throws from half cover is also quite good. This is the first of the level 15 features that actually feels like its power reflects the level it’s received at.

The Artillerist is the subclass I recommend to people who are looking to be a support artificer, thanks entirely to its Protector turret. As I said in the intro, the rest of the subclass is not particularly interesting, but if your party doesn’t have an easy source of temporary hit points, the Artillerist can fill that niche. Not amazing, but worthy of second place.

1. Battle Smith

A bearded inventor with fancy tools.

In a decision that I doubt surprises many, I consider the Battle Smith to be the best artificer subclass. A much more successful realization of the frontline artificer than the Armorer, the Battle Smith has decent damage output and some mitigation to help protect themselves and their friends.

Level 3 – Tool Proficiency

When you adopt this specialization at 3rd level, you gain proficiency with smith’s tools. If you already have this proficiency, you gain proficiency with one other type of artisan’s tools of your choice.

Another feature that only supplies weak tool proficiencies. Not much new to say about this, so let’s move on.

Level 3 – Battle Smith Spells

I have a theory that whoever was in control of these spell lists had it out for the Armorer. Thankfully, the frontline Battle Smith manages to retain the excellent Shield spell, and Warding Bond can be very good with the Steel Defender we cover later. Aura of Vitality is also a good option for healing outside of combat, assuming your party doesn’t already have a better option by level 9.

Level 3 – Battle Ready

  • You gain proficiency with martial weapons.
  • When you attack with a magic weapon, you can use your Intelligence modifier, instead of Strength or Dexterity modifier, for the attack and damage rolls.

I’m glad to see we’ve all learned something from the Hexblade. Turns out, a great way to balance the ability to cheat on your stats is to lock those abilities behind a significant level investment. What was broken on the Hexblade is still quite good for the Battle Smith, allowing them to focus entirely on their intelligence and constitution stats. Martial weapon proficiencies also help ensure that the Smith’s damage output doesn’t fall too far behind the competition.

Level 3 – Steel Defender

By 3rd level, your tinkering has borne you a faithful companion, a steel defender. It is friendly to you and your companions, and it obeys your commands. See this creature’s game statistics in the steel defender stat block, which uses your proficiency bonus (PB) in several places. You determine the creature’s appearance and whether it has two legs or four; your choice has no effect on its game statistics.

In combat, the defender shares your initiative count, but it takes its turn immediately after yours. It can move and use its reaction on its own, but the only action it takes on its turn is the Dodge action, unless you take a bonus action on your turn to command it to take another action. That action can be one in its stat block or some other action. If you are incapacitated, the defender can take any action of its choice, not just Dodge.

If the mending spell is cast on it, it regains 2d6 hit points. If it has died within the last hour, you can use your smith’s tools as an action to revive it, provided you are within 5 feet of it and you expend a spell slot of 1st level or higher. The steel defender returns to life after 1 minute with all its hit points restored.

At the end of a long rest, you can create a new steel defender if you have your smith’s tools with you. If you already have a steel defender from this feature, the first one immediately perishes. The defender also perishes if you die.

Not only does the Battle Smith get to cheat on their stats, but they also get a robo dog companion. Whether it’s being used as a mount or a standalone ally, the Steel Defender provides a good bonus action outlet for the Battle Smith. It’s durable, easy to resurrect, and can impose disadvantage on people trying to murder one of its friends, an all-around good pup.

Level 5 – Extra Attack

Starting at 5th level, you can attack twice, rather than once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn.

A needed feature for a martial subclass.

Level 9 – Arcane Jolt

At 9th level, you learn new ways to channel arcane energy to harm or heal. When either you hit a target with a magic weapon attack or your steel defender hits a target, you can channel magical energy through the strike to create one of the following effects:

  • The target takes an extra 2d6 force damage.
  • Choose one creature or object you can see within 30 feet of the target. Healing energy flows into the chosen recipient, restoring 2d6 hit points to it.

You can use this energy a number of times equal to your Intelligence modifier (minimum of once), but you can do so no more than once on a turn. You regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.

I’ve seen this ability compared to smite, but I see this more as up to five casts of Healing Word that don’t cost my bonus action. The ability to bring back a fallen party member as part of an attack is both powerful and unique, a very cool feature.

Level 15 – Improved Defender

At 15th level, your Arcane Jolt and steel defender become more powerful:

  • The extra damage and the healing of your Arcane Jolt both increase to 4d6.
  • Your steel defender gains a +2 bonus to Armor Class.
  • Whenever your steel defender uses its Deflect Attack, the attacker takes force damage equal to 1d4 + your Intelligence modifier.

Sadly this ability is a bit of a letdown. By level 15, an additional seven average healing or damage means little, and increasing your Defender’s Armor Class from 15 to a mighty 17 matters even less. The consistent extra damage of what should be 1d4 + 5 at this point is probably the best part of this feature, and that’s not a good thing.

Thankfully, the rest of the subclass is enough to place it squarely at the top of the artificer pile. Covering these subclasses in detail has done little to change my opinion on the class overall, but at least I know which subclass I’d take if I were forced to play one.

I have also created a tier list for those of you that are interested.

1-5 levels.Technically, you’re only supposed to roll once and then multiply the result across each dart.I see you, Twilight cleric.Minus 5 to hit for plus 10 to damage.It’s no Twilight cleric, but what is? 

Treat your friends to an evening of dark ritual murder. In a fictional game scenario, of course.Uncover your lost memories and save the day in our stand-alone game, The Voyage.

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Complete Artificer Class Guide for D&D 5E

Author: Richard Tavadon

Welcome to the first completed class guide on Tabletop Builds! We hope for these types of articles to be a comprehensive source for optimization information related to each of the classes in D&D 5E.

What is an Artificer?

If a Wizard is the magic equivalent of a scholar, then an Artificer is an engineer. In the past, Artificers have been at their strongest when tied to crafting rules, and they are known for their ability to make the most out of magical items. In D&D 5E, Artificer had a long path to becoming official, with multiple reworks over a few years in Unearthed Arcana.

Roleplay-wise, your character might want to be an Artificer if you imagine them as a gearhead who likes to tinker with things, or a mad scientist/magician who uses magic to concoct evil machinery. They might also desire to become an Artificer if a certain platypus is halting their schemes to take over the Tri-state-area. Or maybe you, the player, really like those mystical things called “guns” and you want to start blasting. In any case, if you want to play a builder, crafter, designer, architect, or an engineer, then Artificing is for you.

I’m sure the question on your mind is really, “Is it good?” And the answer is a solid…it depends. The strongest thing you can do on an Artificer is stop after one, maybe two levels and finish out in Wizard. But we are going to assume that this guide is for those interested in playing a build that is mostly Artificer. You won’t be the worst person in your party, but you most likely won’t be the best either. You are solidly middle-of-the road in an optimized party, and with a guide like this in hand, you can be the star of a less powerful party. We assume you will have access to a level of magical treasure in line with most official Wizards of the Coast adventures (on the low end) and the Dungeon Master’s Guide recommendations (on the higher end).

On 'Tech'

Throughout this guide, certain ‘tech’ will appear where appropriate, in a box that looks like this. Tech are techniques based on the Rules as Written which may not be obvious upon first reading. Tech sometimes relies on subtle aspects of the rules which people can disagree on. Bring tech up with your DM before you use it, or be prepared to be told “no.” Communication is key! We will mention it as we go, but we will not include it in our evaluations because of table variance.

Color Guide

An option rated Blue (★★★★★) stands out as being exceptionally good. These options are a cut above the rest, and if you’re looking to optimize your character, you should look towards taking them.

An option rated Green (★★★★☆) is something that, while falling short of being an automatic pick, is still a strong and even optimal choice. In high power games, these options will be solid, and in lower power games, they’ll feel exceptional.

An option rated Yellow (★★★☆☆) is middle of the road. It won’t actively hurt your character to take this, but it’s not a standout option either. If it’s important to your character concept or just something you like, take it, and you’ll do fine.

An option rated Orange (★★☆☆☆) leaves something to be desired. You’ll feel less powerful than you could be if you take too many of these. This is also the rating given to options which might be strong in specific circumstances but are overly situational.

An option rated Red (★☆☆☆☆)is suboptimal, or bad. You shouldn’t take this unless it is very important to your build thematically and you are playing in a low power campaign.

An option rated with Multiple Colors(★☆☆☆☆/★★★★★)varies in power significantly depending on external factors. These options might change depending on your build, or they might be powerful in the early levels, but become weaker as you level up (or vice versa). We try to minimize the use of these ratings.

Ability Scores

Strength (★☆☆☆☆)
Unless you have a very peculiar build in mind, Strength is your first “dump stat.”

Dexterity (★★★★☆)
For Artificers, this is something you want at 14. This is where you get maximum effectiveness out of your medium armor. If you wish to lower this for another stat (Con perhaps) on an Armorer, go for it. In general, however, you want a 14 Dexterity. Any higher score is wasted, and any lower score is a detriment.

Constitution (★★★★☆)
Often overlooked in build guides, Constitution is the secondary Ability Score of most classes, and Artificer is no different. Between concentration saving throws and staying alive, a minimum of 14 is needed in Constitution.

Intelligence (★★★★★)
Being the Artificer’s primary Ability Score, it should come as no surprise that Intelligence should be your highest priority. You should plan on starting with at least a 16 (up to 18 with a Custom Lineage) in Intelligence and bringing it up through Ability Score Increases as you level up.

Wisdom (★★★☆☆)
Wisdom is a very strong Ability Score in 5E because of Perception checks and because it is a commonly targeted save. Try and get at least a 12, or, if possible, a 13 to eventually round up with Resilient (Wisdom).

Charisma (★☆☆☆☆)
Unless you plan to multiclass with a Charisma class, Charisma should be your second “dump stat.”

Example Point-Buy Stat Spreads

“The Standard +2/+1”
8 Str 14 Dex 14+2 Con, 15+1 Int, 12 Wis, 8 Cha

This should be your default stat spread for Artificer. Taking this with a typical +2, +1 race allows for a 16 in Constitution and Intelligence. 

“The Custom Lineage”

8 Str, 14 Dex, 14 Con, 15+2+1 Int, 12 Wis, 8 Cha

For Custom Lineage, your Constitution is lower, but you can get an 18 Intelligence instead by choosing a powerful “half-feat” that increases your Intelligence. The typical choice here is Fey Touched.

“The Variant Human”

8 Str, 14 Dex, 15+1 Con, 15+1 Int, 10 Wis, 8 Cha

This weakens your Wisdom saving throws, but also allows you to start with a feat at level 1. However, if you take an Intelligence half-feat, you can effectively use the “Standard +2/+1” spread instead.   

What Are Artificers Good At?

Damage Per Round (DPR) (★★★☆☆)
An Artificer can get good damage as a Battle Smith using feats, but is otherwise not a damage powerhouse.

Spike/Nova Damage (★☆☆☆☆)
Battle Smith can somewhat nova between smite spells and its mini-smite, but no class feature lends itself towards anything particularly impressive. 

Personal Defences (★★★★☆)
As a class, Artificers are reasonably sturdy. You start off with proficiency in medium armor and shields, for up to 19 AC, and despite a d8 hit die, you can afford to have a 16 Constitution without sacrificing much with most Artificer builds. Armorers get an additional 1 AC from heavy armor, and Battle Smiths get a pet that can soak up attacks and impose disadvantage on enemies attacking you or your allies. Artillerists have access to a potent temporary hit point generating ability that helps keep both the Artificer and everyone else in the party alive. Some defensive flaws for the Artificer are that you do not have inherent access to the shield spell, though Artillerists and Battle Smiths gain access through their subclass spell lists. However, all Artificers are able to cast absorb elements to help mitigate unavoidable damage from spells and dragon breath. 

Skills (★★★☆☆)
The Artificer is the best tool user in the game. If those come up often in your games, congratulations. Tool proficiencies can be exceptionally useful when using the optional rules in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. However, in practice these special rules might not be available due to most Dungeon Masters not fully implementing them into their games. We will discuss these more later. Thieves Tools especially can come in handy, even in games where the DM ignores other tools.

Crowd Control (★★★★☆)
The Artificer has access to some solid lower level crowd control spells. Unfortunately, as a “half caster,” slots can be tight. Once you get a Spell-Storing Item, casting web for essentially no cost can come in handy. It is among the best spells in the game after all. You aren’t the best at crowd control, and are always behind the true spellcasters, but you have enough to get by. At level 6, you get access to pipes of haunting which allow you to have a ton of crowd control relatively cheaply.

Party HealthManagement (★★★★☆/★★★★★)
Artificer has a few nifty tools that can help keep people alive. Cure wounds, aid, and revivify are about your only options from the core class, but every subclass printed thus far has ways to help keep the party up and alive. Artillerist (★★★★★) really shines here with the Protector Eldritch Cannon, which is excellent at keeping the party alive. A Battle Smith’s Steel Defender keeps the group alive by imposing disadvantage and being annoying enough to take hits instead of party members. Armorers can impose disadvantage on enemy attacks and can gain themselves some temporary hit points.

Support (★★★★☆)
When it comes to supporting the party, Artificer also has a number of useful tools. To start off, Artificers can give out magic items to allies, such as items guaranteeing concentration saves, +1 weapons, or even party-wide gift of alacrity. You are not going to be as effective at support as a Wizard, but if you use all of the tools of the kit, you can certainly create a well-rounded support character.

Class Feature Ratings

Hit Dice (★★★☆☆)
As a d8 hit die class, you are on the lower end of HP totals. This is a solid baseline, but not amazing.

Equipment Proficiencies (★★★★☆)
Medium armor and shields are the highlights here. This is the most efficient layout for defense as it grants you a possible 18 AC to start out, which can go up to 19 with only mundane gear. You also gain three different tool kits which you will eventually gain Expertise in. These can be useful if using optional rules from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything (discussed below). It is highly recommended that you get proficiency in a wind instrument so that you may effectively utilize Pipes of Haunting (see below).

Saving Throw Proficiencies (★★★★☆)
Constitution is excellent for concentration saving throws (essentially saving us a feat). Intelligence saving throws are rare but deadly.

Skill Proficiencies (★★★☆☆)
Perception is on our list, which is useful, and you should take it. Other useful skills to pick up for you are Investigation, Arcana, and History.

Level 1: Magical Tinkering (★★★☆☆)
Magical Tinkering is a niche but powerful ability. Essentially, you get a variant of prestidigitation/druidcraft/etc. built into the class. Much like those spells, this is mostly a flavor ability, but it has some powerful abilities attached to it, especially if one is creative in their uses.

Level 1: Spellcasting (★★★★☆)
The Artificer is sometimes called a “Half-Caster+.” This means that they are a half-caster but at level one, they are (mostly) equal to the full casters in terms of spells, and they gain cantrips automatically. Additionally, unlike other half-casters, Artificer levels are rounded up when determining overall caster level for the purposes of determining a character’s spell slots. “Half-Caster+” is truthfully a bit of an overstatement, as after level 1 you go to normal half-caster spell progression. You do get cantrips, which are nice, but you will basically be choosing guidance and a damage cantrip (traditionally fire bolt but acid splash comes out a bit ahead if you can hit two targets). Spellcasting is the first key feature of the class, spells will be discussed later in the guide.  As per the chart, you get 2nd level spells at 5th level, 3rd level spells at 9th level, 4th level spells at 13th level, and 5th level spells at 17th level.

Level 2: Infusions (★★★★☆)
Infusions make up the second key feature of the Artificer class. Infusions are temporary magical bonuses that the Artificer can add to mundane items. This ranges from simple things such as turning a normal greatsword into a +1 greatsword to creating specialty magic items that only the Artificer can create. For example, a magical shield that repels foes, or armor that can prevent its wearer from dropping concentration. In addition, the Artificer can choose to replicate a specific magical item from a list.
    There are some key things to note about infusions:

  1. They can each only be used once. An Artificer may only make a single weapon a +1/+2 weapon at a time when using the Enhanced Weapon Infusion. They may overcome this by using a Repeating Shot infusion and an Enhanced Weapon but they may not use Enhanced Weapon twice. 
    1. One big caveat here: you may take Replicate Magic Item as many times as you would like. This allows you to double up on the same item through “Replicate Magic Item,” since each individual replication is not a distinctly named infusion. Why does this matter? We will explain at the start of the Infusions section, later.
    2. In addition to those on the list, you can also choose any common magical item in the game that is not a potion or scroll. This allows you to take some goofy stuff in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, but also the new spellwrought tattoos (see below).
  2. Infusions are like Warlock Invocations: in theory they allow for a lot of varied and interesting builds, but they are unbalanced between themselves and therefore there are some choices that overshadow the rest.
  3. There are some Infusions that have a set number of charges that refresh a number of charges each day based on a die roll (for example, the Armor of Magical Strength regains 1d6 expended charges daily at dawn). Reinfuse them every morning and you have full charges. 0 reason to even roll the dice there.

We will go over each infusion further below in their own section, including a few tricks we can pull off with them.

Levels 3, 5, 9, 15: Artificer Specialist features: Subclasses offer new thematic ways to play the Artificer. More so than other classes, each subclass attempts to be a completely unique character concept. These will be discussed in their own section. 

Level 3: The Right Tool for the Job (★★☆☆☆)
The Right Tool for the Job is mostly a ribbon feature as artisan tools are not too expensive. It can come in handy in certain games.

Levels 4, 8, 12, 16, 19: Ability Score Improvement (★★★★☆)
The Artificer is on a normal Ability Score Increase progression chart. We will discuss feats later, but for all Artificers, Intelligence is the only ability score you should worry about having at 20 by the end of the game. 

Level 6: Tool Expertise (★★★☆☆)
Tools can be a useful addition to your kit. The biggest issue with them however, is that their best use cases are locked either behind downtime, or games where variant tool rules in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything are allowed. This is a feature whose usefulness will vary widely between tables. 

Level 7: Flash of Genius (★★★★☆)
This is a unique ability that can make or break some checks. Unlike Bardic Inspiration or guidance, this allows you to place a flat +3 to +5 on a given ability check or saving throw. This feature doesn’t get many uses in any given adventuring day, but over the course of a campaign can have subtly shifted things in the party’s favor over time. As a reaction cast ability with limited uses, this won’t be game-changing like a Paladin’s Aura of Protection, but it will be useful. Used in conjunction with an Aura of Protection, with the power of teamwork you can grant an ally up to +10 on a saving throw that really matters.

Flash of Stupid

  1. Have an Intelligence of 8 (or lower with rolled Ability Scores). 
  2. Get a headband of intellect.
  3. Enemy makes an ability check or saving throw.
  4. Flash of Genius to grant them a -1.
  5. Attune to headband of intellect and get 19 Int (and thus 4 more uses).

So the benefit of this is the additional debuff once per day, though a -1 won’t change many rolls. The biggest downside of course is needing to find a short rest to attune to a headband of intellect. This is something you can use the first fight of the day if you really want to, but may end up more of a hassle than not.

Level 10: Magic Item Adept (★★★☆☆)
The main benefit of this is the 4th attunement slot. This is a difficult ability to rate, as it will vary depending on what magic items are available in your campaign. Additionally allows for quicker Magic Item Creation which is typically a ribbon feature, but with a permissive DM, this can be potent. 3 stars since it will be good but not amazing in most campaigns.

Level 11: Spell Storing Item (★★★★★)
The Spell-Storing Item allows you to spam lower level (1-2) spells almost at will. In addition to being so numerous, you can pass the item around through familiars, homunculi, etc. to have many of the same effect active at the same time. While not as potent as higher level spells, 4 webs will still ruin any attempts at melee and can completely change the makeup of many battlefields. This is one of your best class abilities. 

Who might cast the spells from the object for you?

Tiny servants, familiars, homunculi, party martials, Chuck the random NPC from down the street.

Potentially Useful Spells (in alphabetical order per level):
1: gift of alacrity (Fey Touched), faerie fire, fog cloud (Mark of Storm Half-elf), goodberry (Mark of Hospitality Halfling), grease, magic missile (Armorer).
2: aid, scorching ray (Artillerist, Boros Legionnaire background), shatter (Armorer or Artillerist, Ravnica Gruul Anarch background), web (This should be your default option due to its high strength and flexibility).

Level 14: Magic Item Savant (★★★☆☆)
You now have 5 attunement slots. Once again, this can be amazing or useless depending on your campaign. The ability to use magic items for any class or race grants you some interesting options should they appear, notably staves intended for full casters.

Level 18: Magic Item Master (★★★☆☆)

Now you have 6 attunements, twice as much as anyone else. This means you can get away with attuning to some more niche items than most characters, though you can also just attune to more of the generally strong items.  You can afford a slot for a belt of giant strength or a second staff of power. Hopefully your DM has been working with you to get you a set of magic items that keep you in line with the rest of the party.

Level 20: Soul of Artifice (★★★★★)
This is an excellent capstone. An effective +6 to all saving throws and the ability to keep yourself from going down by sacrificing an infusion.

Subclass Ratings

Alchemist (★☆☆☆☆)

This subclass attempts to create an image of a chemist brewing concoctions to assist the party but does not offer much in the way of mechanically being able to do this. Each feature of this subclass is undertuned or niche, and as a result the Alchemist is an awful subclass, and difficult to play as your typical turn in combat will consist of weaker spells than a full caster, with no martial prowess or useful support offered from the subclass. We highly recommend playing a different subclass.

Tool Proficiency (★★☆☆☆)
A good, flavorful choice. Still, it doesn’t do much for you other than add flavor. 

Spell List (★★☆☆☆)
The list contains some good spells like healing word and a decent but not amazing damage option through flaming sphere, but overall there is nothing really outstanding here.

Experimental Elixir (★☆☆☆☆)
So, 1 randomized miniscule buff once per day. You get more at higher levels and the ability to spend a spell slot to choose what you get, but none of these are amazing and are just marginal benefits.

Alchemical Savant (★☆☆☆☆)
So Alchemists still have to have their tools out all of the time, unlike the other subclasses who can use something else instead. Additionally, it only applies to a single roll per spell, so it would not work on reapplication of spells such as heat metal. Keep in mind you also have your subclass spells, but the list there is abysmal. 2d10+4 from a fire bolt at level 5 is not good damage, it’s not even decent damage. It’s subpar, and while you can supplement with something like flaming sphere, the way this is written that sphere will only do the additional +4 (assuming Intelligence Ability Score Increase) once, plus you have fewer slots for it than a full caster would. This is like a typical 8th level feature on Cleric, but Clerics are full casters, so they get a lot more from their base class then the Alchemist.

Restorative Reagents (★★☆☆☆)
Additional temporary hit points when drinking an elixir and free lesser restoration. The temporary hit points seem like they might be really good, but compared to an Artillerist, they are laughable, since you only get 4d6+8 (average 22) temporary hit points per day unless you start spending spell slots. You’ll be glad to have access to so many castings of lesser restoration when you need it, but unless the DM goes out of their way to inflict conditions, it is unlikely to be a consistently good feature. Do you need to heal an army?

Chemical Mastery (★★☆☆☆)
As far as capstones go, it could be worse, but it also doesn’t resolve any core problems with the Alchemist. Resistance to a common and an uncommon damage type is good, and poisoned condition immunity is still useful (even with access to lesser restoration), though less so. Greater restoration and heal are useful to be able to cast for free to stop the various debilitating effects that regularly pop up in the highest tiers of play.

Armorer (★★★☆☆)

This subclass is rich in flavor but misses the mark in play. It’s not nearly as bad as Alchemist, but find a better way to play Iron Man in 5E if you can. This subclass will leave you feeling like you are Iron Man fighting Thanos with the suit from the cave in Iron Man 1.

Tools of the Trade (★★★☆☆)
One free tool, with which you will get Expertise in soon. Not much there. Heavy armor proficiency is an effective +1 AC bump compared to other Artificers. Notably, it doesn’t have a real edge until you get plate armor, so it’ll probably be exactly equivalent to medium armor at level 3 when you get it. Repair armor and sell at half price if you are stretched for gold, though it depends on your campaign how often this will come up.

Spell List (★★★★☆)
Magic missile, mirror image, hypnotic pattern, wall of force, You get some of the best control spells in the game in the form of hypnotic pattern and wall of force. You get these spells really late, but they are always good at any level. One spell that sadly isn’t here is shield, which is incongruous with what many would imagine about the defensive Armorer. Fire shield can be used to help bolster specific elemental defenses and doesn’t require concentration. 

Arcane Armor (★★★☆☆)
This lets you use the heavy armor proficiency granted by Tools of the Trade without pumping Strength and gives you the ability to cast spells without worrying about what is in your hands, so in that sense it’s like part of the War Caster feat. You can doff armor as an action to avoid dying to heat metal (though niche) and basically this is just here to help fit the subclass’s flavor. The meat of this ability is in the Armor Model.

Armor Model (★★★☆☆)
You get to use your Intelligence for weapon attacks and damage. A good change, though like with Battle Smith, you are forced to rough it through levels 1 and 2.

Guardian (★★★☆☆)
A 1d8 weapon attack that imposes disadvantage on enemies that attack someone other than you. This is the main “tanking” ability of this subclass and why some might call this subclass a tank. The purpose of this is so that enemies will decide to attack you instead of your allies. Hopefully you can hit multiple targets to spread this debuff around, but even if you do, it is unlikely the Thunder Gauntlets are a strong enough deterrent to attacking your allies. Additionally, you can grant yourself temporary hit points equal to your level in Artificer, with a number of uses equal to your proficiency per long rest, ending at 120 temporary hit points per day when your HP total is over 160. It’s free, but it won’t be enough to stop you from taking damage from enemies of an effective challenge rating. It’s good padding, but not enough to make you a true tank without party support or multiclassing. To summarize Thunder Gauntlet damage: terrible. It does not help your tanking efforts when your damage merely tickles because enemies can more easily ignore you.

Infiltrator (★★☆☆☆)
The Infiltrator is supposed to be your stealthy type. The Lightning Launcher has a range of 90 feet/300 feet, and as a result is meant to deal damage at range. Your damage, unsupplemented by Sharpshooter, will be weak. In addition to the ranged damage option, you gain extra movement speed which might come in handy, though only in some situations, and the ability to ignore disadvantage on stealth checks imposed by wearing Heavy Armor. This comes in handy, however, the spell pass without trace does more to supplement Stealth checks than any bonus you could get here, so this fills a niche that is already much better filled by a single spell slot of a Druid or Ranger.

Extra Attack (★★★☆) 
An extra attack. Keeps you in line with the “real” martials, in this sense at least. 

Armor Modifications (★★★★☆)
You now get an effective 2 free infusions for your armor. More than likely this is to make the armor +1 armor, and to make your fists a +1 weapon. You can also give yourself Mind Sharpener (better to give it to a full caster, though) or other nifty infusions, but for a 9th level feature this isn’t great. It’s cool, but not amazing. Presumably you’ve had to decide between buffing yourself and your party with your infusions, so this is a great ability to allow you to treat yourself.

Perfected Armor (★★★☆☆)  

Guardian (★★☆☆☆)
Proficiency bonus number of times per long rest, you get to pull an enemy back towards you, but it’s at the end of that creature’s turn and takes a reaction. If you have an enemy next to you and they move to attack an ally and you  make an opportunity attack, that would require your reaction and lock you out of using this ability. So instead, you wait and then have them make a save so that you have a chance to attack, but they already just hit your friend, so this feature didn’t really do much. You can use it to pull enemies that are within range into your reach. This additional attack will only do a bit of damage at the cost of an enemy being in melee with you.

Infiltrator  (★★★☆☆)
Not in line with what you would expect from a strong 15th level ability, but this disincentives enemies to attack you, gives you a small damage bump, and grants advantage on an attack. This requires no resource expenditure and the fact that it can affect multiple enemies at once makes this higher impact than the Guardian at this level. Spread the advantage out if you have multiple melee party members, as it’s only a negligible increase in your damage per round if you attack a target twice (the second time with advantage).

Artillerist (★★★★★)

Between a solid amount of temporary hit points, decent damage options, and some great spell additions, the Artillerist is a strong choice that allows you to mix in support and damage capabilities. For our Basic Build Series, we created a single-classed Artillerist to show off the specialization’s potent support capabilities.

Tool Proficiency (★★☆☆☆)
One free tool you will get Expertise in soon. Not much here to discuss.

Spell List (★★★★★)
Shield, shatter, fireball, wall of fire, cone of cold, wall of force. These are a mix of solid spells. Keep in mind that you can place shatter in your Spell-Storing Item to be spammed by a tiny servant or another minion.  Note that familiars cannot make attack rolls, so they can shatter but not scorching ray. Despite these options, web is still a better pick. You also get a lot of these spells later than they are typically useful, but assuming you have a full caster in your party, you can just be the one casting lower tier spells so that they can cast the big save or sucks. Shield and wall of force are useful at any level you get them. 

Eldritch Cannon (★★★★★)
This is the core of the Artillerist. It can either do an area of effect attack for low damage if multiple enemies are hit, do a ranged attack which does mediocre force damage with a 5ft push on hit, or it can grant 1d8+Int temporary hit points to everyone within 10 feet of it. If you choose the temporary hit point Protector Cannon, make sure to give everyone in your party the max in between encounters by repeatedly using it until you roll an 8. Before Twilight Domain Cleric, this was an insane, unmatched option that mightily surpassed other temporary hit point granting options. Twilight overshadows this, but if you do not have a Twilight Cleric in the party, this is still phenomenal. You only get an hour of this unfortunately before having to pay spell slots for more, but this is still a good use of your first level spell slots as it is much stronger than a typical first level spell.

Arcane Firearm (★★★★☆)
You can now finally stop holding tools to cast and instead use this firearm. Each spell cast through this does an additional d8 damage. Similar to the Alchemist ability, it’s not amazing, but at least it works on all spells. This also works with Wand infusions.

Explosive Cannon (★★☆☆☆)
Minor damage boost is better than nothing, but this isn’t great. The Cannon explosion will likely never come up and it is certainly rarely worth doing.

Fortified Position (★★★★★)
You now have two Cannons granting essentially +2 AC to everyone in the party and allowing you to do both temporary hit points AND damage (or damage twice). Either way it’s additional effectiveness and that is always appreciated. Keep in mind you are now spending double the resources to keep these turrets up.

Battle Smith (★★★★★)

Battle Smith allows you to deal good damage, while granting you an additional body on the field that can take a decent amount of hits without too much issue. As a ranged Crossbow Expert build, you can apply both ranged and melee pressure when needed between yourself and your Steel Defender.

Tool Proficiency (★★☆☆☆) 
One free tool you will get Expertise in soon. Still not much here.

Spell List (★★★★☆)
Shield,aura of vitality, fire shield. Your additional spell list has some standouts. Shield will certainly make an Armorer envious.

Battle Ready (★★★★☆)
Continuing in the tradition of the Hexblade Patron Warlock, Battle Smith allows you to use your Intelligence for attack and damage rolls with any magical weapon. Add on proficiency with martial weapons and now you are much closer to the martial capabilities of the other half-casters, the Paladin and Ranger. 

Steel Defender (★★★★☆)
You get another body added to the field. Not only that, but you can heal it for free with mending, and when it dies, revive it for the low low cost of a level 1 spell (and that’s only if it dies, unlike with Artillerist). It does low damage, but at least its damage type is force, which is very seldom resisted. Its real power is in being able to use its reaction to impose disadvantage once per turn. This small buff allows your Battle Smith to take fewer hits and might be enough to goad enemies into targeting the Steel Defender instead of the party. It doesn’t have an amazing Armor Class or an amazing hit point pool, but it’s solid enough to take a few hits for the party. When using the Steel Defender, don’t be afraid to move it around the field and take opportunity attacks. It has 40 feet of movement which makes it useful for helping spellcasters who might have been swarmed in the back. Keep in mind the Defender cannot be surprised. Utilizing the Defender as a mount for small characters allows you great versatility on the battlefield with a mount much sturdier than a typical horse.

Extra Attack (★★★★☆)
An extra attack, which is a noticeable damage increase for any character that is attacking most turns.

Arcane Jolt (★★★☆☆)
Arcane Jolt allows you a little bit of extra damage or healing. It’s like a mini Divine Smite. Best used on critical hits and honestly not nearly as good as Divine Smite but being able to heal on a hit is nice.

Improved Design (★★★★☆)
Like Artillerist, you get to seemingly double your subclass feature’s effectiveness here. The Steel Defender really needs that +2 AC (if not +4 instead) as at this point monster attack bonuses are really high. A bit of extra oomph to smites and 1d4+5 damage on a deflect will start getting enemies to focus on your pet.

Infusion Ratings

Infusions offer a flexible way for Artificers to create magic items and buff their allies. There is no flat power curve with most features, and since infusions offer a wide variety of options, they are no different. A lot of the power of your class comes from tactical utilization of your infusions. 

Arcane Propulsion Armor (Attunement-14) (★☆☆☆☆)
Your attunement slot can be spent here on 5 feet of additional movement speed and 1d8 gauntlets with the thrown property. These do not stack with Armorer gauntlets. Do not use these unless you have a specific character concept where replacing a limb with these would be useful, though you will not have access to this infusion until level 14.

Armor of Magical Strength (★★☆☆☆)
This seems to have been created with Armorer Artificers in mind. Useful for grappling and to avoid falling prone on your Armorer when you get free armor mods, but it is doubtful anyone else in the party would want this.

Boots of the Winding Path (Attunement-6) (★★☆☆☆) 
These allow you to use your bonus action to teleport 15 feet to somewhere you have previously been on that turn. These are potentially useful for builds attempting to be mobile, but there are better options as these require an infusion slot and your attunement.

Enhanced Arcane Focus (Attunement) (★★☆☆☆)
This focus gives +1 (+2 at 10) to spell attack rolls and ignores half cover. If you find yourself making constant attack rolls, then this might come in handy, though infusions with effects are a better use of your resources.

Enhanced Defense  (★★★☆☆)
+1 to +2 AC is always solid. 

Enhanced Weapon (★★★☆☆)
Being able to have a magical weapon when the DM isn’t handing them out can be crucial. Use the more interesting weapon infusions when you have the attunement slots.

Helm of Awareness (Attunement-10) (★★★★☆)
A mix between a weapon of warning and sentinel shield, except unlike a weapon of warning only the wearer becomes immune to surprise. A Helm of Awareness on a primary controller can mean the difference between a TPK and survival. 

Homunculus Servant (★★★★☆)
The new version of this infusion from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything vastly improved the quality of your Homunculus. Since it can take any action, you can use your Homunculus to attune and use magic items like a familiar, including your Spell-Storing Item, allowing you to gain an additional concentration slot almost for free. Channel Magic could be good for things like cure wounds or guidance but other than that you don’t really have a ton of spells this would be a huge feature for.

Mind Sharpener (Attunement) (★★★★☆)
Protecting concentration is huge. One of Tabletop Builds Core Tenets! Spellcasters typically will dedicate entire feats to making sure their concentration saving throws succeed, but you have access to this as a baseline feature. It will probably not be needed at the lowest tier of play, but as soon as you get 3 infusions (and possibly before) give this to someone who could benefit from it. Best on Clerics, who do not regularly shield or absorb elements with their reactions.

Radiant Weapon (Attunement) (★★★☆☆)
Requires attunement but otherwise is better than an Enhanced Weapon from levels 6 to 9. The blind feature is nice, and using this allows you to hand out multiple +1 weapons to the party.

Repeating Shot (Attunement) (★★★★☆)
Magic crossbows are extremely rare, so a +1 hand crossbow is a worthy investment in and of itself. Additionally because it automatically reloads, you can now wield a shield. Attunement is the only downside, but worth it to enable entire builds. 

Repulsion Shield (Attunement) (★★☆☆☆)
Like the Radiant Weapon, an option for your shield that’s mostly better from levels 1 to 9. Allows you to stack a shield and + 1 armor for a nice boost to AC. The Repulsion is best used when someone in the party has spirit guardians and there is a lightning lure or thorn whip to add extra damage.

Resistant Armor (Attunement) (★☆☆☆☆)
Best if you know what kind of damage will be attacking you. Attunement and Infusion cost makes this too expensive to be really useful otherwise.

Returning Weapon (★★☆☆☆)
Would be good if thrown weapons were good. Could have a niche if you play a Polearm Master Battle Smith, perhaps. Allows you to infuse multiple +1 weapons at once if your party needs them.

Spell Refueling Ring (Attunement-6) (★★★★☆)
Effectively, a bit weaker but more flexible version of a” ring of spell storing. Giving a spellcaster a 3rd level slot once per day is a good feature to have available. Probably best used right at 6th level, as it will get relatively weaker over time.

Replicate Magic Item Infusions

You can choose the same option more than once!

WHAT? Ok, we have to dive into the rules here a bit:

Whenever you finish a long rest, you can touch a nonmagical object and imbue it with one of your artificer infusions, turning it into a magic item. An infusion works on only certain kinds of objects, as specified in the infusion’s description…

…You can infuse more than one nonmagical object at the end of a long rest; the maximum number of objects appears in the Infused Items column of the Artificer table. You must touch each of the objects, and each of your infusions can be in only one object at a time. Moreover, no object can bear more than one of your infusions at a time.Tasha's Cauldron of Everything (p. 9)

Using this [Replicate Magic Item] infusion, you replicate a particular magic item. You can learn this infusion multiple times; each time you do so, choose a magic item that you can make with it, picking from the Replicable Items tables below.Tasha's Cauldron of Everything (p. 22)

The Replicate Magic Item infusion specifically lets you learn it multiple times, with no qualifying or clarifying restrictions. The above language originally appeared in Eberron: Rising from the Last War, and was reprinted in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything unchanged (alongside a number of changes and rewording for various Artificer features). Compare this directly with the final version playtested in Unearthed Arcana (right) to see how it would’ve been worded if the intent was to force Replicate Magic Item choices to be unique.

Each of your infusions can only be in one object at a time. But here, we are selecting the same infusion option twice. We still need two separate mundane items to infuse and each can only hold a single infusion. Pipes of haunting A goes into one bagpipes, and pipes of haunting B into another.

Should you or your DM find this somehow unconvincing, or they understand the argument but wish to houserule it, we’re sorry. One pipes of haunting is still better than zero and you can select your own backup options.

Level 1

Alchemy Jug (★★☆☆☆)
Good for long trips. You can bottle and sell poison during downtime. Otherwise pass.

Armblade (★☆☆☆☆)
Warforged only, and mostly just to look cool. 

Bag of Holding (★★★★★)
One of the best magic items in the game. Ask your DM if they are planning on giving the party one. If not then use an infusion on it. It sucks but the item is amazing.

Bag of Holding Bomb

  1. Take Infuse Item: “Replicate Magic Item: bag of holding.” Twice!
  2. Take one bag, and put it in another. 
  3. KABOOOM (The bags destroy themselves and open a portal to the astral plane, which sucks in any creature near them with no saving throw.)
  4. Find a way to be able to do this without getting yourself caught in it. (familiars, homunculi, that kobold NPC in your party, etc.)
  5. This is a once per day encounter destroyer. Enjoy.

Cap of Water Breathing (★★☆☆☆)
If you are going underwater from levels 1 to 6, then it’s worth grabbing just in case.

Goggles of Night (★★★★☆)
A way to pay the Human no Darkvision tax. Only use if the entire party has one character lacking Darkvision.

Rope of Climbing (★★☆☆☆)
Normal rope usually does the trick. 

Sending Stones (★★★☆☆)
Best used in downtime situations or to split the party (don’t).

Wand of Magic Detection (★☆☆☆☆)
Just cast it as a ritual like everyone else. Infusions are more expensive than spell preparations.

Wand of Secrets (★☆☆☆☆)
Too situational. It is unlikely you are in a place where you need exactly 3 uses of this per day. It’s either you need more than 3 or 0 uses of this, making this item a bad pick.

Common Magic Items (Highlights only)

Clockwork Amulet (★★★☆☆)
Once per day, a free 10 on an attack roll for when you know you will hit with a 10. 

Pole of Collapsing(★★★☆☆)
The infamous 10 foot pole has come to save the day and every good adventurer has a 10 foot pole. Useful for trap filled dungeon crawls.

Ruby of the War Mage (★★★☆☆)
If your party has a character with spell component juggling issues, this can come in handy and may be a game-changer for them.

Spellwrought Tattoo (1st Level) (★★★★★)
This is amazing. Choose any first level spell in the game, and you can scribe it as a single use once per day. The magic item you are choosing to learn as your infusion is known as spellwrought tattoo (1st level) which means you can choose the spell each day. Use this to cast find familiar, get access to bless, gift of alacrity, sleep at low levels, or any other first level spell from any list you might want access to at the time. This is a super flexible, super useful addition to the kit. Check with your DM, this option is subject to some semi-frequent house rules.

Here are some other useful spells to contemplate:ceremony (free holy water in downtime), command, create bonfire, dissonant whispers, fog cloud. For concentration options, tattoo them on someone who would otherwise have nothing to concentrate on. Familiar? Steel Defender? Tiny servant? Homunculus? The Fighter?

Unlimited Tattoo Spells

Produced by a special needle, this magic tattoo contains a single 1st level spell, wrought on your skin by a magic needle. To use the tattoo, you must hold the needle against your skin and speak the command word. The needle turns into ink that becomes the tattoo, which appears on the skin in whatever design you like. Once the tattoo is there, you can cast its spell, requiring no material components. The tattoo glows faintly while you cast the spell and for the spell’s duration. Once the spell ends, the tattoo vanishes from your skin.The Ability modifier for this spell is +3; the Save DC is 13 and the attack bonus is +5.Tasha's Cauldron of Everything (p. 135)

So here is a quick breakdown.

  1. You use a non-concentration spell that has a long duration.
  2. You use the tattoo to keep casting that spell so long as the original duration spell is running.
    1. By what interpretation of the rules does this work?
      1. The tattoo has the spell.
      2. The tattoo allows you to cast the spell so long as you still have the tattoo.
      3. The tattoo says it doesn’t disappear until the spell ends.

Example: You infuse yourself with a spellwrought tattoo of gift of alacrity. You cast the spell on yourself for free since the tattoo is on you. While your gift of alacrity is still active, you can continue to use the tattoo to cast gift of alacrity on anyone you want for 8 hours. 

This only works with non concentration spells with a duration. Here is a list of the spells this trick works on.
Blue (★★★★★)gift of alacrity, unseen servant, sleep (levels 2-3).
Green (★★★★☆) mage armor, grease.
Yellow (★★★☆☆)illusory script, Tenser’s floating disk, sleep (levels 4-6ish).
Orange (★★☆☆☆)animal friendship, armor of Agathys, charm person, feather fall, longstrider, snare, sanctuary, jump.
Red (★☆☆☆☆)distort value, alarm, comprehend languages, sleep (levels 7+).

Oprah's Familiars

This is a simple Tech. Each day give a different party member a tattoo of find familiar. Over time, everyone will have a familiar. Takes time to replace, but with a little bit of downtime you effectively add 2-4 familiars to the party depending on what you have. Next, start tattooing the familiars themselves with find familiar tattoos. Even your bats have bats. 

Level 6

Boots of Elvenkind (★★★★☆)
No attunement. Stacks with pass without trace.

Cloak of Elvenkind (Attunement) (★★★☆☆)
Gives you advantage on Stealth and enemies disadvantage on Perception checks. This combines to be, on average, as good as a single person pass without trace, but it stacks with the spell and is always active. If you are having issues with Stealth then this is a great asset, but due to low Passive Perceptions of most enemies, it is overkill when stacked with just proficiency in Stealth and the +10 to stealth checks granted by pass without trace. 

Cloak of the Manta Ray (★★☆☆☆)
Replace the cap of water breathing if you have it. Again, only for underwater missions.

Eyes of Charming (Attunement) (★☆☆☆☆)
If you plan on charming someone 3 times a day, these are fine but most likely you can find a better pick. Single target. Very low DC.

Gloves of Thievery (★★☆☆☆)
Too bad it doesn’t work against traps. Not much you can do with it. 

Lantern of Revealing (★☆☆☆☆)
Just use faerie fire. Not a horrible item to find, but we have to be somewhat picky with infusions.    

Pipes of Haunting (★★★★★)
Area of effect crowd control (frightened: disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks while you are in sight, and they can’t move closer towards you) with a decent (15) DC that targets an average saving throw (Wisdom). This is a solid crowd control ability that can be used 3 times per day, every day, by just recreating them every morning. Use them on the first round of combat to give your party some helpful control or to fill in your Actions after casting your concentration spell in the first round. Even if you only get a couple creatures for a single turn, that’s enough time for the party to get things under control usually. This is an exceptionally potent choice and worth using multiple infusion slots for. This is so good you should go out of your way to have wind instrument proficiency from your background.

Ring of Water Walking (★☆☆☆☆)
Cool but not very useful, usually. Take the cloak of the manta ray instead.

Level 10

Boots of Striding and Springing (Attunement) (★★☆☆☆)
Only take if you for some reason really need this. 25 foot speed race options perhaps.

Boots of the Winterlands (Attunement) (★★☆☆☆)
Situational. If you are going to Icewind Dale, then it might come in handy.

Bracers of Archery (Attunement) (★★☆☆☆)
Extra damage, but not very much. Only works with bows (and not crossbows) meaning you cannot use it with the better ranged weapon option.

Brooch of Shielding (Attunement) (★★☆☆☆)
Force damage is pretty uncommon.

Cloak of Protection (Attunement) (★★★☆☆)
One of the best lower level magic items in the game. +1 to all saving throws and +1 Armor Class is a solid baseline item for anyone, though there are better options for everyone.

Eyes of the Eagle (Attunement) (★★☆☆☆)
Very specific scouting or archery use, super situational.

Gauntlets of Ogre Power (Attunement) (★★★★☆)
Setting Strength to 19 can come in handy for grappling and Strength saves.  Best used on 8 Strength characters (i.e. most of them). Can also be used to bump the Strength of your martial characters if you start your game at 10 or later so that they can bump other stats or take feats instead. Paladins that smartly focus on Charisma will appreciate this. You can read why Paladins would raise their Charisma first here.

Gloves of Missile Snaring (Attunement) (★☆☆☆☆)
Average of about 5 damage per hit prevented. Not worth your attunement.

Gloves of Swimming and Climbing (Attunement) (★☆☆☆☆)
For swimming, take the cloak of the manta ray.

Hat of Disguise (Attunement) (★★☆☆☆)
Use if you need within a campaign, as a general purpose pick, don’t bother.

Headband of Intellect (Attunement) (★★★☆☆)
Your Intelligence should already be 20 (or at least 18) by now. Useful for another party member perhaps, an Arcane Trickster Rogue or the like. This is especially useful in games starting late enough you could begin play with this infusion.

Helm of Telepathy (Attunement) (★★☆☆☆)
There are very few moments where detect thoughts and the magical suggestion (that requires two failed saves to access) will come in handy. Highly situational, but still outclasses the medallion of thoughts. This would have been more welcome at 2nd or 6th level.

Medallion of Thoughts (Attunement) (★☆☆☆☆)
It is unclear why you would ever take it since the helm of telepathy has detect thoughts.

Periapt of Wound Closure (Attunement) (★☆☆☆☆)
The best way to not die from death saves is to not go down. Don’t build around dying.

Pipes of the Sewers (Attunement) (★☆☆☆☆)
Peter Piper summons a CR ¼ creature. If you want to summon, go elsewhere.

Quiver of Ehlonna (Attunement) (★☆☆☆☆)
Between a bag of holding and a repeating crossbow, there is not much this gives you that you cannot already do.

Ring of Jumping (Attunement) (★☆☆☆☆)
Another low impact magic item. We can achieve flight at this level with winged boots.

Ring of Mind Shielding (Attunement) (★☆☆☆☆)
Only useful if you know baddies are trying to read your mind. A cool item hindered by attunement.

Slippers of Spider Climbing (Attunement) (★☆☆☆☆)
Low level magic item you can make at level 10. Just take winged boots.

Ventilating Lungs (Attunement) (★★☆☆☆)
Good if you want to go to space. One step closer to being a cyborg?

Winged Boots (Attunement) (★★★★★)
Flight is always strong. This is the most limited of flight items but at least you get an option.

Level 14

Amulet of Health (Attunement) (★★★★☆)
Give this to the person who was dumb enough to dump Constitution, as your own is probably 16. Best used on someone with a 10 or 12 Constitution, if by some miracle they made it to level 14. It’s a good item for almost anyone though.

Arcane Propulsion Arm (Attunement) (★☆☆☆☆)
1d8 weapon with the thrown feature that returns once it hits/misses. Mostly for flavor.

Belt of Hill Giant Strength (Attunement) (★★★★☆)
Allows you to cap Strength without even trying. Similar to the gauntlets of ogre power, but better.

Boots of Levitation (Attunement) (★★☆☆☆)
Cast a level 2 spell on yourself at will. Could be worse. Subpar flight, but you already had access to winged boots.

Boots of Speed (Attunement) (★★☆☆☆)
Useful when you gotta go fast. Otherwise pass. 

Bracers of Defense (Attunement) (★★★★☆)
If your party Wizard is still rocking mage armor, give these to him. Or your naked Barbarian. If all else fails, a Battle Smith’s Steel Defender should be able to use these according to Rules as Written. A solid option for some AC boosting, but shouldn’t be necessary.

Cloak of the Bat (Attunement) (★★☆☆☆)
Potentially a useful scouting tool if you don’t have any other way of doing it.

Dimensional Shackles (★☆☆☆☆)
There’s a very specific campaign you might want this item in. You’ll know.

Gem of Seeing (Attunement) (★★☆☆☆)
This has limited uses, though Truesight is a really strong ability when it comes up.

Horn of Blasting (★★☆☆☆)
Doot doot.

Ring of Free Action (Attunement) (★★☆☆☆)
This allows anyone who wears it to be unaffected by your web spamming, so if you have a martial ally that loves to complain about web, you can hook them up. Similarly improved in a party that regularly casts Evard’s black tentacles or sleet storm. 

Ring of Protection (Attunement) (★★★★☆) 
Like the cloak of protection, this is pretty strong. It does, however, come really late in the game. It’s a good way to fill up your 6 attunements at 20, but don’t take this over an item with more oomph. Think of this as a solid base attunement option.

Ring of the Ram (Attunement) (★★☆☆☆)
This would be amazing if you got it 8 levels ago. At level 14 it’s pretty unimpressive.

Artificer Race Ratings

With the release of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, racial modifiers no longer matter for many games. You can turn any +2 into a different +2 and any +1 into a different +1. What does this mean? It means that what you really care about now are features, not whether or not a race has the right modifiers. Below, the best race choices have been presented. There are other options, but they are subpar choices that do not grant you anything unique. If you do not use the new Customizing Your Origin rules, Intelligence and Constitution/Dexterity are your priorities.

For complete class-agnostic ratings to races and lineages in 5E, see our guide.

Aarakocra (★★★★★)
Flight is really good for trivializing encounters. You give up medium armor and other racial features for this flight, but it is 50 ft which means you are not only flying, but also faster than most enemies. Winged Tiefling is better for Artificers since it allows you to keep wearing medium armor, but all flying races are on a Z axis of their own.

Custom Lineage (★★★★★)
+2, Darkvision, AND a feat. This is just impressively good. Typically the feat goes to Fey Touched for an 18 starting Intelligence, but really you can do anything with this.

Human (Variant) (★★★★★)
For when your DM doesn’t allow Custom Lineage, go the staple Variant Human. Still top-tier because of the feat but not as good as the super platinum Custom Lineage.

Tiefling (Winged) (★★★★★)
Flying, Darkvision, and fire resistance. It doesn’t get much better than this. Flight allows you to win fairly easily against any fully-melee enemy group making this an easy five stars.

Elf (Mark of Shadow) (★★★★☆)
Pass without trace, though we get it a bit late as a half-caster, is always really good. Add on minor illusion for free and that makes this a really strong choice. 

Githzerai (★★★★☆)
You get an invisible mage hand but more importantly, advantage against both charmed and frightened, and the ability to cast shield which is advantageous for subclasses without innate access.

Genasi (Earth) (★★★★☆)
Pass without trace makes every party good at Stealth. Get it for free starting at level 1 here!

Halfling (Mark of Healing) (★★★★☆)
This gets you a ton of niche but useful spells that revolve around healing. Add that on top of Halfling normally being pretty good and you get a solid choice.

Halfling (Mark of Hospitality) (★★★★☆)
Sleep, goodberry and Leomund’stiny hut. These alone are huge. Add free unseen servants and you’ve got yourself a really good race. Sleep of course is solid for those first two levels where you are basically Wizard+, though you can already access sleep with tattoo tech.

Hobgoblin (★★★★☆)
For when you fear failure. This is essentially a +5 to one saving throw every short rest. Really really good feature, especially since you alone can add a few allies (Steel Defender).

Human (Mark of Handling) (★★★★☆)
This is a good choice because it gets conjure animals. Artificers are lacking in offensive 3rd level spells, and this can fill that gap in late tier 2 and tier 3. Consider pairing with Artillerist, which could generate temporary hit points for the horde.

Human (Mark of Passage) (★★★★☆)
Free misty step, and adding pass without trace and phantom seed to your list and eventually dimension door makes this a solid race for extra maneuverability.

Human (Mark of Sentinel)(★★★★☆)
This is a really good choice for any defensive “tanky” type builds. A Mark of Sentinel Artificer could cast compelled duel on their enemies (however this is not recommended in most situations since it uses up a spell slot for a weak effect) or shield of faith themselves. The free use of shield and access to counterspell however is what makes this a great choice.

Kobold(★★★★☆)
Kobolds are just good overall. Pack Tactics is especially nice because you can basically give it to yourself for free as a Battle Smith, and with a small amount of extra work on any Artificer subclass. Kobolds are a surprisingly hard hitter.

Satyr(★★★★☆)
Green for 35 ft speed and advantage on all saves against magic.

Warforged (★★★★☆)
+1 AC and some skills. Nothing game changing but really solid.

Vedalken (★★★★☆)
Vedalken is a bit of a sleeper for Artificers. Advantage on all Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma saving throws means you are more than likely safe from some of the scarier saves in the game. Additionally a free skill and tool means you can get a similar benefit to one of Eberron Mark races but you get to choose! Investigation and thieves’ tools are solid choices but any tool could work. Remember, when you get thieves’ tools proficiency at level 1 from Artificer you can then choose a different artisan tool instead! (PHB 125.)

Yuan-Ti Pureblood (★★★★☆)
Magic Resistance and Poison Immunity are really strong. Free spells are nice, though they probably use your “dump stat” with Charisma.

Dwarf (Mark of Warding) (★★★☆☆)
Some tools, poison resistance, but most importantly, a spell list including some nice spells.

Elf (Eladrin) (★★★☆☆)
Free bonus action teleport is useful. The added features from your subrace are nifty as well.

Elf (High) (★★★☆☆)
Basically take this for an extra cantrip, though Half-Elf (Moon or Sun Elf) is probably better for this.

Gnome (any) (★★★☆☆)
Pretty much all of the gnomes are good for Gnome Cunning. Forest is probably the best Gnome for minor illusion but Mark of Scribing Gnome is alright as well, though none of the spells on the list really stand out. Mostly outclassed by Satyr and Vedalken.

Half-Elf (★★★☆☆)
Extra +1 somewhere can set up a Resilient (Wis) among other things. The rest of the features are just good. The Cantrip option from the Moon or Sun Elf variant is useful for getting an extra cantrip on a better racial chassis than High Elf.

Half-Elf (Mark of Storms) (★★★☆☆)
Fog cloud and some other good spells here. 

Halfling (any) (★★★☆☆)
Lucky plus some other nice features make this a good race. Ghostwise and Stout are your options from the “vanilla” Halflings. Lotsuden is also a great pick for some extra spells.

Human (Mark of Making) (★★★☆☆)
This gets you access to a cantrip you were going to probably take anyways and a d4 on all tool checks. You don’t gain many spells from this but magic weapon without concentration might be nice in certain situations.

Simic Hybrid (★★★☆☆)
This is essentially just a +1 AC race with Darkvision. Climb speed or swim speed and water breathing are nice but niche.

Triton (★★★☆☆)
Fog cloud once a day along with some other control-lite spell along with an additional +1 means you get some nice features and the ability to set yourself up for a Resilient (Wis) or something else. Better for any campaign where you expect to spend a significant amount of time under water. 

EverythingElse (★★☆☆☆/★☆☆☆☆)
Unless there is a gimmick or specific tech you are going for, your good choices are above. 

Artificer Feat Ratings

There are a ton of feats, only some of which you should consider taking. If something is not on the list, assume it’s not worth taking in any situation. Refer to our class-agnostic feat guide for more information.

Player’s Handbook Feats

Alert(★★★★☆)
A solid feat for any build. You don’t need this, but initiative is really strong.

Crossbow Expert (★★★★☆)
This feat is the staple of any build using the Repeating Shot infusion on a hand crossbow. This allows you to be a melee crossbow user and you get a free crossbow attack. The biggest issue with taking this is that Artificer already has a lot of things it can do with its bonus action, and your repeating crossbow means you can already attack twice with your extra attack. The rating here is for Battle Smith, it is significantly lower for any other subclass.

Elemental Adept (★☆☆☆☆)
So this feat isn’t terrible for an Artillerist but keep in mind it only works for spells and it doesn’t help with immunity. You could do worse but there are usually better things to spend an ASI on. The 1–>2’s is an abysmal DPR gain.

Great Weapon Master (★☆☆☆☆)
I mention this because you might be tempted to play a two-handed Battle Smith. Crossbow Expert is superior in every way, especially with Battle Smith. Go that route instead.

Healer (★★☆☆☆)
Healer is a solid feat for anyone in the party at low levels. Take this to gain a bit of survivability in the lower levels but keep in mind it really gets outshadowed past level 4.

Lucky (★★★★★)
In theory, Lucky is the most amazing feat in the game hands down. In practice, there are usually better build-specific feats to take before Lucky, but Lucky’s strength comes from it’s flexibility. If you play in a 1 combat encounter per day game this is probably 6 stars, otherwise save it for natural 1’s  and when you cannot afford to fail. Don’t forget that disadvantage plus Lucky means you choose the highest of all three, according to Rules as Written and confirmed in Sage Advice.

Magic Initiate (★★★☆☆)
This is an option to fill in the gaps of your spell list, such as shield for an Armorer, but this will not make or break your build.

Mobile (★★☆☆☆)
Mobile is an overall okay feat, but you don’t really get anything from it.

Mounted Combatant (★★★☆☆)
If you wish to be a small Artificer and ride your Steel Defender, this is a great addition. Unfortunately it is not as good as normal since your mount is only medium and most creatures you fight will be medium or larger. Also you want your mount to get hit most of the time because you can heal it for free with mending or revive it with the low cost of a single level 1 spell slot. 

Observant (★★☆☆☆)
Before Tasha’s this was a typical option for getting +1 Int, but now Fey Touched is a much better option.

Resilient (Wis) (★★★★☆)
Generally a good feat. A good wisdom save helps to keep you from being under the effect of many of the game’s inhibiting effects such as fear, and charm. With some pre-planning in starting Ability Scores you can also get a Wisdom modifier effectively one higher than otherwise.

Ritual Caster (★★☆☆☆)
You already have ritual casting. Rituals you could possibly find via this book that are not on the Artificer list: find familiar, unseen servant, gentle repose, feign death, Leomund’stiny hut, phantom steed, contact other plane, Rary’s telepathic bond, Drawmij’s instant summons. If you do not have a Wizard in the party, then this is a good way to cover getting Leomund’s tiny hut but only if your DM allows you to find/buy it. It’s not worth it otherwise.

Sentinel (★★☆☆☆)
One of the rare “tanking” options in the game. Free attacks and the ability to lock a fleeing enemy in place. It uses your reaction so no shield, absorb elements, or Flash of Genius during that turn but you often need those at a different time than when Sentinel would come in handy. Mainly an Armorer consideration, which has one of the other “tanking” options to build around in the Thunder Gauntlets. 

Sharpshooter (★★★★☆)
This will help your Artificer deal greater damage. Like Crossbow Expert, this is only truly recommended at this rating for Battle Smiths. Unlike Crossbow Expert, Armorer might consider it too.

Skilled (★☆☆☆☆)
If you for some reason really want ALL OF THE TOOLS! Then this is part of the plan, otherwise (and even then) skip this.

Spell Sniper (★☆☆☆☆)
If your DM runs monsters that attack from more than 30 feet away, this can come in handy. Other than that, take Crossbow Expert because you are more likely to be within 5 feet of your enemy than 240 feet away from them. Not recommended. Especially do not take eldritch blast because it’s no better than fire bolt because you aren’t a warlock. This used to allow you to turn booming blade into a 10 foot reach spell (thus working with polearms), but this does not work with the updated Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything errata of the spell.

Tough (★★☆☆☆)
More health. Best taken later since you likely have better things to take early on. As more feats get printed, Tough gets edged out more and more.

War Caster (★★★★★)
War Caster is an amazing feat for any caster and the Artificer is no different. Advantage on concentration is amazing for any caster and being able to cast a spell for opportunity attacks sometimes comes in handy. 

Xanathar’s Guide to Everything Feats 

Elven Accuracy (★★★☆☆)
This is a decent feat for Elven Battle Smiths using a familiar or other means to gain advantage. Otherwise not for you. 

Fey Teleportation (★★☆☆☆)
As far as half feats go, This is an ok option. Misty step once per short rest and +1 Intelligence. This is now outclassed by Fey Touched.

Prodigy (★☆☆☆☆)
One tool, skill, language and one Expertise (likely Perception). Following the introduction of Skill Expert, this has been outclassed as a way to access expertise for typical builds, but this is still available should you want this exact combination.

Wood Elf Magic (★★★☆☆)
One Druid cantrip, longstrider and pass without trace. You can take guidance or mending here as well. Anything with an attack roll is going to use Wisdom, which will be a step down from Intelligence. Pass without trace is the real strength of this feat, so the one case where you might consider taking it is when no one else in your party can use this spell.

Eberron: Rising from the Last War Feats

Aberrant Dragonmark (★★☆☆☆)
A nifty little feat that gets you a free short rest casting of shield and booming blade. There are other options as well, but those are two good ones. Don’t expect a DMG boon but it becomes significantly better if you get one.

Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything Feats

Artificer Initiate (★☆☆☆☆)
You don’t get anything from here that is really that useful long term.

Fey Touched (★★★★★)
Welcome to what is probably the best feat out of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. Misty step is always a good spell to have (even though it uses up your bonus action you probably would rather use on something else). But the real power here is in the free first level spell. Some highlights here: gift of alacrity, bless, dissonant whispers, and perhaps compelled duel for Armorers looking to send some damage their way. This is all very good standalone, and the +1 Int on top of the spells and other features is icing on the cake.

Shadow Touched (★★★☆☆)
It’s like Fey Touched, but the spell options aren’t nearly as good.

Skill Expert (★★★☆☆)
Expertise in Perception (presumably), a skill proficiency, and a +1 to anything, making this a better version of Prodigy.

Telekinetic (★★★★★)
If you don’t plan on using your bonus action every turn on a class feature (Alchemists and Armorers), the shove here is pretty nice. It is possible to shove allies 5 feet with a bonus action making this very useful for getting allies out of reach of attack of opportunities, or to just reposition them slightly into a more advantageous position.

Telepathic (★★☆☆☆)
This is good if for some reason you want to be able to speak telepathically but once again doesn’t hold up to the Fey Touched test.

Artificer Spell Ratings

Cantrips

Acid Splash (★★★★☆)
A cantrip to potentially damage two targets at once. If you can expect enemies to be standing next to each other, this is a good option, and likely more damage than a fire bolt.

Booming Blade (★★★☆☆)
This is a good option for melee builds and those that revolve around opportunity attacks. This is a good option, but melee builds are not recommended for most Artificers. You can survive in melee, but ranged builds have more flexibility, especially with Crossbow Expert. Does not work with Armorer Thunder Gauntlets by Rules as Written.

Create Bonfire (★★☆☆☆)
Use your concentration to get a miniature flaming sphere. Not really a reason to use this unless you know people will be walking through a chokepoint.

Dancing Lights (★☆☆☆☆)
Nothing here you can’t already do with your fancy Magical Tinkering.

Fire Bolt (★★★★☆)
1d10 scaling damage. Not bad for a damage cantrip, but cantrip attacks alone are not good damage. Worse than a weapon attack often. One of the few cantrips that can target objects.

Frostbite (★☆☆☆☆)
Same effect as vicious mockery but it targets what is typically a stronger save on monsters.

Green-Flame Blade (★★★☆☆)
Not as good as booming blade but a decent option for when there are multiple enemies and you are in melee with them. Does not work with Armorer Thunder Gauntlets.

Guidance (★★★★★)
Add a 1d4 to all ability checks. If no one else in the party has his, then take it. Even still, you should probably take it too, because it requires concentration.

Light (★★☆☆☆)
For creating light. Use a lantern for access to light most of the time, as gold is cheaper than a cantrip choice, or a radiant weapon if you are desperate.

Lightning Lure (★★☆☆☆)
Similar to thorn whip but it requires the enemy makes a Strength save rather than you making an attack roll. Works on enemies of all sizes and the damage dealt is at the end. This can be a useful way to pull enemies through crowd control, but since you have access to thorn whip, it is likely not your best pull option. 

Mage Hand (★★★☆☆)
Useful to grab stuff, trigger traps at range, etc.

Magic Stone (★★★★☆)
You can keep the stones yourself for a sling, or give them to tiny servants to maximize damage.

Mending (★★★★☆)
Crucial for Battle Smiths and even Artillerists to heal their pets.

Message (★★☆☆☆)
A neat utility option but you can instead utilize your Magical Tinkering ability to create similar, though not identical, effects.  

Poison Spray (★☆☆☆☆)
1d12 damage seems like a lot, but note that it is poison damage, has 10 foot range, and forces a Constitution saving throw. All together, these factors make this cantrip not worth the potential increased average damage. Alchemist’s get to use this to greater effect.

Prestidigitation (★★☆☆☆)
A generally nifty spell to have, but doesn’t do anything you really need to be able to do.

Ray of Frost (★★★☆☆)
A little less damage than fire bolt but with the added bonus that it reduces an enemies speed by 10 feet. If your party is such that you can stack forced movement, this becomes more attractive to deny enemies turns (along with thorn whip).

Resistance (★☆☆☆☆)
Unlike guidance, it is much more difficult to know when a saving throw is going to be made. Moreover, unlike guidance which gets used up before combat starts via initiative rolls, having resistance up just means you will already be concentrating on something when your first turn come’s up.

Shocking Grasp (★★☆☆☆)
For when you really need a way to attempt to prevent enemies from taking reactions. That is not really a big issue since they only get one reaction and there are more efficient ways to get similar effects.

Spare the Dying (★☆☆☆☆)
Does not give creatures 1 hit point so that they can be instantly revived, and takes an action. Buy a healer’s kit, Professor Gadget. 

Sword Burst (★☆☆☆☆)
The 1d6 blast cantrip that can hurt your allies. Small range, with potential to hurt your allies. There are much better things you can do with your actions.

Thorn Whip (★★★★☆)
For when you want to pull an enemy into a vat of lava or through spell effects. This is something you should probably have available.

Thunderclap (★☆☆☆☆)
Sword burst, but targeting a more commonly high monster save, not worth picking up.

First Level Spells

Absorb Elements (★★★★★)
The more slots you get, the better this becomes. Take this around the start of tier 2  to protect yourself.

Alarm (★★★☆☆)
Use it as a ritual to set an alarm at night. Worth having prepared to place around camp at night.

Catapult (★★☆☆☆)
This spell has some uses, but for most catapult shenanigans, like launching jars of alchemist fire or acid, you are better off playing a different class with more spell slots. Save your spells for less blasts and more crowd control and defenses.

Cure Wounds (★★★☆☆)
Quick and dirty healing. This is not a great use of your spell slots but if you need to get someone up from 0 it is your only option unless you are an Alchemist.

Detect Magic (★★★★☆)
Someone’s gotta have it. As a prepared caster you have to have it prepared to cast as a ritual, but still it’s a spell you can cast without using a slot.

Disguise Self (★★★☆☆)
There are some roleplay shenanigans to be had with this, though this depends on how your DM determines when creatures might attempt to save against your spell DC to see if you are disguised.

Expeditious Retreat (★★☆☆☆)
Artificer is a very bonus action dependent class, so using your bonus action to take the Dash action should be saved as a last resort. Not to mention, you still need to use your action to take the Disengage action.

Faerie Fire (★★★★☆)
Amazing to set up advantage for the party. Sprinkle some glitter on the band of invisible duergar. Great default concentration option early and still a relevant effect to have access to in later levels.

False Life (★☆☆☆☆)
Very weak amount of temporary hit points, it’s only on yourself, and only lasts an hour. This is just awful. 

Feather Fall (★★★☆☆)
You never know where the road will take you, but if there is a chance you will be high up, feather fall could save your life. This should be prepared when you have more preparations than you know what to do with, but don’t take it over anything crucial.

Grease (★★★★☆)
A potential encounter winner. Use this to trap and repeatedly prone enemies.

Identify (★★★☆☆) 
Another useful ritual for every party to have access to.

Jump (★★☆☆☆)
A non-concentration buff to help leap over rivers and such. Treat this as a non-combat utility spell that is mostly circumstantial.

Longstrider (★★★☆☆)
Non-concentration buff. Good enough to take if you need fluff slots, but not amazing.

Purify Food and Drink (★★☆☆☆)
Poisoned food will rarely come up, though when it does, having this ritual will be crucial, though you could always just not eat the poisoned food.

Sanctuary (★★★☆☆)
Has niche uses but mostly to help maintain concentration after a big gun spell. A Steel Defender could effectively stand at a chokepoint and Dodge with this spell cast on it.

Snare (★★☆☆☆)
Trap spell that requires no concentration. If you have prep time to rest cast this, you can potentially pin down an area for a little bit. 

Tasha’s Caustic Brew (★☆☆☆☆)
A line spell for an awful amount of damage. 

Second Level Spells

Aid (★★★★☆)
A better way to heal. Full casters can upcast this to more effect but aid allows you to heal, increase maximum hit points, and even bring multiple allies up from 0 if needed. It is a super useful buff that every party should utilize if possible.

Alter Self (★☆☆☆☆)
There is nothing you or allies can get out of this worth taking up your concentration.

Arcane Lock (★☆☆☆☆)
You have no need for this in most campaigns. If you do need it somehow, hopefully you can just prepare it tomorrow.

Blur (★★☆☆☆)
Spell effects that offer single target defenses and require concentration are typically not a great choice and this is no exception. Cast a control spell with your concentration and Dodge!

Continual Flame (★★☆☆☆)
Just buy a bullseye lantern. As an “until dispelled” effect, in a pinch you can take it for a day and use it and then not prep it later which is nice but this should not be on your main daily preparation list. Consider upcasting to bypass lower level darkness if you are going to use.

Darkvision (★★☆☆☆)
Access to goggles of night makes this spell mostly obsolete. 

Enhance Ability (★★☆☆☆)
Typically unnecessary and not worth the spell slot for you since your slots are limited. Use the Help action!

Enlarge/Reduce (★★☆☆☆)
A spell slot and concentration so that an ally can deal a little more damage or an enemy a little less. This is good since it is a two-for-one buff and debuff spell, but the effect is only soso. Cast reduce on a locked door: who needs knock?

Heat Metal (★★★★☆)
By the time you get this, the damage is getting a bit weak but this is solid against any heavy metal user.

Invisibility (★★☆☆☆)
Useful for sneaking around.

Lesser Restoration (★★★★☆)
Good to have prepared if no one else does. Not your best spell but still good.

Levitate (★★★☆☆)
Similar to enlarge/reduce, this spell has the added benefit of having the option of being either a buff or a debuff. Additionally, the effect is pretty useful. Worth taking.

Magic Mouth (★★☆☆☆)
This utility spell is infamous for how many shenanigans it enables. However, these effects are limited in scope when it comes to combat effectiveness.  

Magic Weapon (★☆☆☆☆)
Wasting concentration on this garbage is a mistake. Take anything else. If this would be good for a party member, you should’ve infused it.

Protection from Poison (★★★☆☆)
Poison is a common enough damage type that it is likely you will be able to use this every so often in your campaign. When you do need poison resistance, it comes without requiring your concentration which allows you to instead use it on more active abilities.

Pyrotechnics (★★☆☆☆)
Sometimes this is a non-concentration fog cloud. Heavy obscurement is useful against a number of enemies, so you might consider this in tier 3 and 4 once you have a seemingly endless web castings per day with Spell-Storing Item.

Rope Trick (★★★★☆)
Either a good or a great spell, depending on how you use it. Out of combat, it’s a safe resting place. In combat, you might be able to use this as a pillbox your party can pop in and out of, but this use might not work with every group. 

See Invisibility (★☆☆☆☆)
Very niche, but if you find a place to use it, cool. Between faerie fire and invisible foes not being an issue using Rules as Written, this will almost never be worth casting.

Skywrite (★★☆☆☆)
As a ritual, this is relatively low cost to have if you anticipate the need to send a message to an army at long distance or something. Alternatively, put some offensive graffiti in the sky mocking your enemies for fun.

Spider Climb (★★☆☆☆)
This spell allows you to be very mobile but quickly becomes outdated by better options such as fly.

Web (★★★★★)
Restrain a group of enemies to carry a fight. Really good for a Spell-Storing Item. Quite literally one of the strongest control spells in the game for its level.

Third Level Spells

Blink (★★☆☆☆)
The benefit here is in that it is not concentration. If you have extra slots this is useful, but otherwise focus on more impactful spells that hinder your foes, or buff your allies offensively.

Catnap (★★☆☆☆)
Replenishing short rest resources can sometimes be crucial, such as for Warlocks. Having access to this is a useful support tool to keep your party running at maximum effectiveness. Rope Trick cover’s this niche using a lower level slot however. Utilize this for when time may be of the essence.

Create Food and Water (★☆☆☆☆)
An extremely niche spell that isn’t even best in its niche of getting food and water to the party. Goodberry is much better at that, if you have a Druid or Ranger. If you really need this in some dire situation, it’s probably not dire today, prepare it tomorrow.

Dispel Magic (★★★★☆)
Useful to end magic effects and debuff enemies glowing with magic buffs. Note you can target a creature, object, or effect, and depending on the situation it might be important to distinguish those choices.

Elemental Weapon (★☆☆☆☆)
A terrible spell made worse by the fact you can create magical weapons at will with your Infusions.

Flame Arrows (★☆☆☆☆)
A third level spell that’s somehow equivalent (if not a bit worse) to hex or hunter’s mark. Do not take this.

Fly (★★★☆☆)
Flying is always good. Eventually, you potentially will have Infusions to free up if you need access to flight.

Glyph of Warding (★★★☆☆)
This is a downtime spell you can use for preparing a bunch of buffs or debuffs to trigger all at once.

Haste (★★☆☆☆)
Buffing the party martial tends to make them happy, but you have better things to concentrate on in almost every case. Don’t buff yourself, there’s a good chance you waste half the combat in the casting and if you subsequently lose concentration. 

Intellect Fortress (★★☆☆☆)
The effect is good and can come in handy, but in general, using your concentration on defensive effects that do not in some way help win fights is a poor choice.

Protection from Energy (★☆☆☆☆)
In an optimized party, most allies should have access to absorb elements to help deal with elemental damage. 

Revivify (★★★★☆)
Party death reversal. Someone has to have it, and someone else probably has to have it to bring them back if needed.

Tiny Servant (★★★★☆)
This can be used to great effect in a variety of ways, such as magic stone throwers or potion delivery platforms. Upcasts well. Rest casts well.

Water Breathing (★★★☆☆)
A ritual that is extremely useful when you need it, and wholly unnecessary when you don’t. The magic of prepared Spellcasting! Prepare when you get a whiff of doing something near water, otherwise pass.

Water Walk (★★☆☆☆)
There are some niche uses for this, but otherwise keep off the list.

Fourth Level Spells

Arcane Eye (★★★☆☆)
As a scouting option, this is good, but your party should have access to much better scouting methods by this point. Even a familiar is about as good as this, the only benefit being the ability for the eye to move anywhere on your plane of existence which can be beneficial in scouting areas far beyond your current reach.

Elemental Bane (★☆☆☆☆)
Non-guaranteed 2d6 damage on a 4th level spell, and it requires concentration. Awful is too kind.

Freedom of Movement (★★★☆☆)
A niche spell but useful enough to pick up when you can access this level of spell.

Fabricate (★★★★☆)
No effect when in combat but great for a crafter. There are some cool things you can do with this spell that are out of the purview of this guide, we hope to write an entire fabricate article at some point. 

Leomund’s Secret Chest (★☆☆☆☆)
A worse version of a bag of holding, which you can create with an Infusion, except you can also lose all of your items.

Mordenkainen’s Faithful Hound (★★☆☆☆)
A bit of extra damage that lasts 8 hours with no concentration. Alone, it is nearly useless, but paired with another spellcaster with a wall of force, you can create a slow and humiliating death for something that can’t teleport.

Mordenkainen’s Private Sanctum (★★☆☆☆)
Not much you can do with this. If one of the features would be useful to trick out your base of operations one day, prepare it, but otherwise bring something else on the adventuring day.

Otiluke’s Resilient Sphere (★★★☆☆)
Big bubble. On an ally or yourself, take someone out of a fight to protect them. On an enemy in a pinch, maybe take someone out of a fight to deal with in a just minute. Cast it on a weapon or held item for a disarming effect.

Stone Shape (★★☆☆☆)
If you don’t like the way this dungeon layout is, it’s time for some renovations. 

Stoneskin (★☆☆☆☆)
Concentration and 100gp for resistance to common damage types is already pretty bad, but you should be spending your concentration on better spells.

Summon Construct (★☆☆☆☆)
This spell is unimpressive when you get it as a Wizard, by the time you get this as an Artificer, the summon you acquire is too outclassed by enemies to be useful. There are better ways to prevent a single level appropriate multiattack from hitting the party.

Fifth Level Spells

Animate Objects (★★★★☆)
Big damage potential here but very late. Best used on groups of weaker enemies rather than big monsters as big monsters at this level are likely to be resistant or immune to the damage of the objects.

Bigby’s Hand (★★★☆☆)
Decent damage but again, a bit late. Grappling can be good control but this spell is unlikely to be super effective at this level as enemies get higher Strength scores and often get too big to grapple.

Creation (★★★☆☆)
This spell is as good as your creativity. Access to it is late compared to full casters, but this is a spell good at all levels. Take this during downtime for wealth creation purposes..

Greater Restoration (★★★☆☆)
Similar to its lesser variant, greater restoration is a spell you want someone in your party to have. You just also want them to have it earlier than 17th level. Hope you didn’t meet a cockatrice before now.

Skill Empowerment (★☆☆☆☆)
Skills are not important enough to spend your super limited 5th level slots on.

Transmute Rock (★★★★☆)
A very good non-concentration control spell that can also sometimes help you with your dungeon problem solving. Combine with other large area of effects the party can create for maximum effectiveness. 

Wall of Stone (★★★★☆)
Second only to wall of force, wall spells are good for area control and single enemy lockdown. No saving throw is provided for anything without them spending their reaction, so you can use this to bait a reaction (preventing a counterspell or shield during an ally’s turn) or just entomb something that was foolish enough to make an opportunity attack near you.

Artificer Builds

  • D&D 5E Basic Build Series: Artificer

    Part of our D&D 5E Basic Build Series, this Artillerist Artificer uses careful selection of spells and infusions to control the battlefield and support the party.


Sours: https://tabletopbuilds.com/artificer-class-guide-dnd/
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DnD 5e – The Artificer Handbook

Last Updated: September 25, 2021

Introduction

This guide is for the latest version of the Artificer class. The full version was originally published in Eberron: Rising from the Last War, and updated in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. If you are currently using the version published in Eberron, I recommend checking the Errata document for the latest improvements, as the changes are significiant.

The Artificer has been a popular concept since at least 3rd edition, where the Artificer first appeared as a class unique to the Eberron campaign setting. Since then, the class has reappeared in 4th edition, and was in high demand when 5th edition was released, but didn’t see a final release until full 5 years after 5th edition’s initial release. The concept of a character who performs magic by binding it to items and who crafted all sorts of technological or magical gadgets is a fun novelty in a game where magic rarely takes those forms.

The Artificer is a class with a tool for every job and a solution to every problem. They excel as a Support character, but make decent Defenders, Healers, and Strikers, too. With the right infusions and spells, they can fill nearly any role in the party, making the Artificer’s versatility rival that of the Bard.

However, the Artificer is complicated. This is not a class I would recommend for new players or for players who suffer from analysis paralysis. The Artificer has more decision points than any class to date, including the Wizard. Every time you finish a long rest you can reset your prepared spells, shuffle where you apply all of your infusions, and pick magic items from a list of some 40+ options. While some of these decisions may remain static for long periods of time, the intent of the class is that you will tailor your abilities day-to-day to suit the challenges you expect to face. While that versatility and adaptability is very powerful, it also requires a great deal of micromanagement of your character.

This is the sort of class that can be rewarding for players who enjoy “crunch” and fiddling with their character’s build, but which will be absoltuely punishing for players who don’t like to spend hours agonizing over the differences between individual character options.

Several of the Artificer’s features are related to crafting and to magic items. If your game does not allow item crafting or does not use magic items, you’re going to miss out on those features. Of course, you may also be the only source of magic items, which may be worthwhile.

After reading this handbook, I encourage you to read my Artificer Subclasses Breakdown and my Artificer Spells Breakdown.

Table of Contents

Disclaimer

RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.

  • Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
  • Green: Good options. Useful often.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.

I will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, even if it is my own, because I can’t assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. I also won’t cover Unearthed Arcana content because it’s not finalized, and I can’t guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.

The advice offered below is based on the current State of the Character Optimization Meta as of when the article was last updated. Keep in mind that the state of the meta periodically changes as new source materials are released and this article will be updating accordingly as time allows.

RPGBOT is unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.

Artificer Class Features

Hit Points: With d8 hit points and medium armor, the artificer is not a tank by any means. You’ll probably want to remain at range, but if you find yourself in melee a lot be sure to pad your hit points with False Life, plenty of Constitution, and as many AC boosts as you can manage.

Saves: Constitution is great, especially since many artificers fight on the front lines where you’ll be repeatedly making saves to maintain Concentration. Intelligence saves are exceptionally rare.

Proficiencies: Medium armor and shields will keep you alive in melee, but with only simple weapons your best Finesse option is a dagger. That’s fine for most artificers since fighting with ranged spells is your best option, but the Battlesmith will eventually take up martial weapons and use Intelligence for their attacks and damage. The Artificer’s skills are mostly Intelligence and Wisdom-based, and most are knowledge skills, but Sleight of Hand is an option. You also get three tool proficiencies, which gives you room to tailor your character to the theme you’re going for. Your Artificer Speclialist will grant you proficiency in an additional set of tools relevant to the subclass at 3rd level.

Magical Tinkering: This is very similar to cantrips like Prestidigitation. The effects are interesting and unique, and if you’re clever you can come up with all kinds of uses for Magical Tinkering. You can have multiple objects affected at the same time, so consider carrying around a few prepared items which you can quickly produce and use.

Spellcasting: Artificers are a 2/3 caster that prepares and casts spells like a cleric (prepare daily from the full class list). You get ritual casting, which is always great, and the spell list is a combination of options from the cleric and wizard spell lists, allowing to serve as a blaster, a healer, and a support caster. Notably, the Artificer can retrain a cantrip every level. To the best of my knowledge, the Artificer is the only class with the ability to replace cantrips.

The Artificer’s spellcasting foci are also unique. Rather than a wand or something, you use Thieves’ Tools or a set of Artisan’s Tools. You can wave a set of lockpicks around to cast fireball, which I think will inevitably lead to some laughs at the table and countless goofy characters using weird tools to perform magic.

You can also use any item that’s the subject of one of your infusions, which means that if you have infused a weapon or a shield you can easily have a focus in hand without dropping your weapon or shield to pull out a wand or something. Your choice of subclass will add additional focus options, but they’re typically no better than what the Artificer gets by default, though they’ll certainly fit the theme of your subclass.

It’s also very important to note that the Artificer must always use a focus when casting spells. Errata and the updated version of the Artificer class explain that this adds a Material component to all of the Artificer’s spells. Thanks to the core rules for spell components, this means that you can always use the hand holding your focus to perform somatic components. That makes the Artificer the only spellcaster who can perform every one of their spells with items in both of their hands. (Typically you can’t perform somatic components with a focus in your hand unless the spell also requires an inexpensive material component. I complain about this rule frequently.)

For help selecting spells, see my Artificer Spell List Breakdown.

Infuse Item: This may be the Artificer’s most iconic ability. You get to start with two infused items chosen from four Infusion known, which is like getting two magic items at 2nd level. For guidane on Infusions, see my Artificer Infusions Breakdown.

Artificer Specialist: Artificer subclasses are briefly summarized below. See my Artificer Subclasses Breakdown for help selecting your subclass.

  • Alchemist: Add new support and healing options, as well as bonus healing and bonus damage with spells which deal certain damage types.
  • Armorer: Don a suit of magic armor and smash or blast your foes in combat.
  • Artillerist: Emphasize the Artificer’s abilities as a Blaster, and add the ability to summon magical canons to aid you in combat.
  • Battle Smith: Focus on fighting with weapons alongside your new Steel Defender, a sturdy pet construct designed for combat.

The Right Tool for the Job: You technically never recieve a free set of tools except for the Thieves’ Tools included in the Artificer starting equipment. If you’re short on gold, you might not be able to afford the tools related to your subclass. Instead, you get this. I think the expectation is that you can use this to craft the tools for your subclass for free, and trade them out for other tools when you need them.

Tool Expertise: There’s a reason WotC is comfortable granting universal expertise with tools: unless the DM is going out of their way or you are making a truly impressive effort, most tool proficiencies rarely matter beyond the flavor of your character. I can’t think of an instance where a character made frequent checks with Brewer’s Tools over the course of a campaign, for example. However, the notable exception of Thieves’ Tools means that Tool Expertise has at least one important use case in a typical campaign.

Flash of Genius: A bonus of up to +5 on a save can easily turn a failed save or check into a successful one, and using this up to 5 times a day means that it’s a powerful and reliable part of your skillset.

Magic item Adept: Attuning an additional item is typically not a big difference, but considering many Infusions require attunement, this can be very important in campaigns which include magic items. The ability to craft your own magic items faster and for less gold improves this ability further because you can craft items which require attunement with less concern about the limited number of items you can attune.

Spell-Storing Item: It may only be a 1st- or 2nd-level spell, but you can cast it up to 10 times per day at 20 Intelligence. Obvious options include Cure Wounds, False Life, Invisibility, and other restorative or protective spells, buffs, and utility options which you’re going to cast repeatedly throughout a normal day of adventuring.

Unfortunately, it appears that you can’t choose a 1st-level spell cast with a 2nd-level slot, but that’s probably fine.

Remember that any creature can use this, so consider passing this off to an ally (the Homunculus Servant and the Battle Smith’s Steel Defender could both suffice if you need more precise control than letting another player use it) if the spell you choose makes more sense coming from someone else, if the spell targets the caster, or if you chose a spell which requires Concentration and someone in your party is a non-spellcaster so their Concentration isn’t being utilized.

Strangely, the text of Spell-Storing Item doesn’t use the phrase “Cast a Spell” to describe the action, so unlike a wand or similar item, creatures may be able to use this when they normally can’t cast spells (like when raging). You also notably don’t need to provide components, so you can use spells silently, without moving, and without providing material components (including expensive ones!) so you can get away with all kinds of trickery.

Magic item Savant: One more attuned item, and you can ignore class/race/spell/level requirements on magic items. Those requirements are rare, but maybe you want to use a Holy Avenger or something.

Magic item Master: One more attuned item.

Soul of Artifice: You can (and should) be attuned 6 items, giving you a +6 bonus to all of your saves. Add Flash of Genius to that, and you can add +11 to any save on top of your normal bonus.

Ability Scores

Artificers live and die by their Intelligence score, but Dexterity and Constitution are just as helpful to the Artificer as they are to everyone else. The Artificer has an impressive three total dump stats, allowing you to dump all of your points into the abilities which we care about and leave the rest at 8. Replicate Magic Item gives you access to ability score boosting items and items which boost all of your saving throws, so you can often offset or override incredibly low ability scores with little effort.

Str: Typically a dump stat. You don’t need Strength for anything unless you spend a feat on proficiency with heavy armor, and considering how many AC buffs you can get from your Infusions you really don’t need to do that. Only the Battlesmith will invest heavily in fighting with weapons, and they can rely on Intelligence for attack and damage.

Dex: You’ll want some Dexterity to fill out your AC and to help with weapons at low levels, but you’ll never need more than 14. Armorer artificers planning to go all-in on Guardian armor can survive with 8 Dexterity, though getting to level 3 will require a great deal of caution if you’re starting at level 1.

Con: Always essential.

Int: Your primary stat. Fuels your spells and all of your class features.

Wis: Technically a dump stat, but it complements many of your skills nicely so it may be helpful to put some points into it.

Cha: Dump stat.

Standard ArtificerArmorer
Point BuyStandard ArrayPoint BuyStandard Array
Str: 8Str: 8Str: 8Str: 8
Dex: 14Dex: 14Dex: 12Dex: 13
Con: 14Con: 13Con: 15Con: 14
Int: 15Int: 15
Wis: 12Wis: 12Wis: 12Wis: 12
Cha: 8Cha: 10Cha: 9Cha: 10

Races

The most important thing you can get from your race is an Intelligence increase. Even martial subclass options like the Armorer and the Battle Smith are almost entirely dependent on Intelligence for their features. You will need a bit of Dexterity to fill out medium armor, but 14 Dexterity is easily achieved by any races so Constitution is typically your best secondary increase.

In addition to ability scores, look for traits that complement the Artificer’s limited spellcasting or which complement your intended subclass. Innate spellcasting, natural flight, and similar benefits can reduce strain on your spellcasting so that you can commit limited resources like Infused Items and prepared spells to solving other problems.

Note that setting-specific races like the Changeling and the Satyr are addressed in setting-specific sections, below.

AarakocraEEPC

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, and flight in light armor. Flight puts you safely out of range of the majority of enemies, reducing the need for you to dump spells and infusions into items to raise your AC and to get access to flight, but dropping to light armor reduces your AC and adds a frustrating need to invest in Dexterity. Subclasses like the Armorer (especially with Infiltrator armor) and the Alchemist both make sense, but the Battle Smith’s pet can’t fly and neither can the Artillerist’s canons (though they may be small enough that you can carry them while they shoot stuff).

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

AasimarVGtM

Customized Origin: +2 int, +1 Con (each subrace offers a +1 increase), two damage resistances, Darkvision, and Healing Hands and Light Bearer will complement your spellcasting, especially at low levels when your spell options are very limited.

  • Fallen: Necrotic Shroud offers a once daily combat buff, but the short range on the fear effect means that it’s most effective in melee. Armorers and Battle Smiths will find it useful, and since you can apply it to one target per turn that you damage with a spell or attack, you can get the most out of it by using AOE damage spells like Sword Burst or Burning Hands. Spells which deal half damage on a successful save will guarantee that you can apply the bonus damage, but keep in mind that it will be halved, too. Try to hit numerous enemies to increase the likelihood that at least one target will fail their save.
  • Protector: Radiant Soul offers a once daily buff which grants flight that words in heavy armor, unlike most racial flight options. The 1-minute duration means that it’s primarily useful in combat, but unlike the Fallen Aasimar there’s little reason to limit yourself to activating it in melee range. The damage effect works the same way, so follow the same tactics as the Fallen Aasimar (focus on AOE damage against multiple targets). This seems like a great option for the Artillerist, though remember that your canons aren’t you, so they won’t trigger the effect.
  • Scourge: Tactically similar to the Fallen Aasimar, you want to use Radiant Consumption in melee. Ideally, you want to use this when enemies will have a hard time getting away from you, so effects like Booming Blade can be very effective, though moving away from AOE damage may reduce the total damage you can deal so you’ll need to find a way to balance those two tactical concerns.

Default Rules: None of the subrace benefits are good enough to make the ability score increases viable.

  • Fallen: Bad ability spread.
  • Protector: Bad ability spread.
  • Scourge: Bad ability spread.

Aasimar (DMG Variant)DMG

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, Darkvision, and two damage resistances. The Aasimar also adds some innate spellcasting, but the only new spell is Daylight and you really don’t need it.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

BugbearVGtM

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases and Darkvision. Surprise Attack attack works with any attack including spell attacks, but artificers won’t have enough Dexterity to reliably go early in combat so you’ll find that Surprise Attack may be difficult to use. Long-limbed might combine well with the Armorer’s Thunder Gauntlets, but note that Long-limbed won’t work with spells like Booming Blade due to their 5-foot range.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

Custom LineageTCoE

Customized Origin: The Customizing Your Origin rules make no change to the Custom Lineage.

Default Rules: +2 Int, a feat, and either a skill or Darkvision. With the right feat you can start with 18 Intelligence. Great for most builds, but you might prefer the Variant Human if you want to increase both Constitution and Intelligence at level one.

DragonbornPHB

The Draconblood and Ravenite subraces are addressed under Races of Wildemount, below.

Customized Origin: +2 Int, +1 Con, one damage resistance and a breath weapon. The breath weapon will deal comparable damage to Burning Hands, which helps stretch your limited spell slots. But that’s all, really. Dragonborn are really cool, they’re just not a a strong race.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

DwarfPHB

Customized Origin: +2 Int, Darkvision, and resistance to poison. Retrain the weapon proficiencies into good finesse options like the rapier and the whip (especially if you’re going for Battle Smith), and if you have more weapons than you need you can trade them for tool proficiencies. A great start for any character, including the Artificer, and the Battle Smith may enjoy early access to martial weapons.

  • DuergarSCAG: Numerically great, but Sunlight Sensitivity is a pain if your campaign doesn’t take place underground.
  • HillPHB: Put the +1 in Constitution and Dwarven Toughness will give you even more hit points. Great for melee builds, and the extra hp will close the gap between the Artificer’s d8 hit dice and the d10 hit dice of classes like the Fighter.
  • MountainPHB: The second +2 is really tempting, but it’s not essentialsince the Artificer really only needs to raise Intelligence to 20. Still, starting with two ability scores at 17 makes it easy to get both to 20 if you want to do that, and high Constitution is crucial on melee builds. It also leave lots of room for feats in your build, and makes it easier to start with a second ability at 16 while spending fewer points, which then lets you raise your lower ability scores. Trade the armor proficiencies for two more tool proficiencies.

Default Rules: Dwarves are an all-around good race, but they lack the critical Intelligence increase which the Artificer sorely needs, and they lack a Dexterity increase to fall back on.

  • DuergarSCAG: Bad ability spread.
  • HillPHB: Bad ability spread.
  • MountainPHB: Bad ability spread, and artificers already get medium armor.

ElfPHB

The Palid Elf subrace is addressed under Races of Wildemount, below.

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases (Every subrace provides a second +1 which will probably go into Constitution), Darkvision, and proficiency in Perception. Sure, you can replace Perception but it’s the best skill in the game so I don’t know why you would. .

  • DrowPHB: Drow Weapon training will get you early access to martial weapons for the Battle Smith (or you can trade for tool proficiencies), but the existing proficiencies are already pretty good. Drow Magic complements the Artificer’s limited spellcasting. Sunlight Sensitivity is a pain unless your campaign takes place underground.
  • EladrinMToF: Fey Step is a great way to get access to teleportation early and it can save you the trouble of expending spell slots for Misty Step, but the Artificer has numerous ways to solve the same problems so beyond low levels it’s going to be less exciting.
  • Eladrin (Variant)DMG: Functionally similar to the regular Eladrin, but you give up the rider effect on Fey Step to get 4 weapon proficiencies which you can trade for tool proficiencies.
  • High ElfPHB: An extra cantrip, and early access to martial weapons for the Battle Smith unless you want to trade some or all of the weapon proficiencies for tool proficiencies. Not super flashy, but a great option if you want a simple yet very effective build.
  • Sea ElfEGtW / MToF: Roughly equivalent to the High Elf, but you give up the cantrip for a swim speed, the ability to breath water, and the ability to communicate with beasts that have swim speeds.
  • Shadar-KaiMToF: Basically the same as the Eladrin, but only one option for the rider effect on your teleportation and you get resistance to necrotic damage.
  • Wood ElfPHB: Not as appealing as the High Elf. Mask of the Wild is neat, but doesn’t cater to the Artificer’s capabilities. The extra move speed is nice, too, but it’s between those two features they’re not as useful as an extra cantrip.

Default Rules: High Elf is the only subrace which gives us an Intelligent increase, but the Elf’s base racial traits are great and the Dexterity increase allows us to easily fall back on weapon attacks until your cantrips improve at 5th level or you get Battle Ready for Battlesmiths.

  • DrowPHB: Bad ability spread.
  • EladrinMToF: Bad ability spread.
  • Eladrin (Variant)DMG: Dexterity, Intelligence, and Misty Step once per short rest. You also get some weapon proficiencies which you can trade for tool proficiencies if you don’t need more weapons.
  • High ElfPHB: Dexterity, Intelligence, and a free wizard cantrip all nicely complement the Artificer’s skillset, especially at lot levels when you don’t have many abilities to throw around.
  • Sea ElfEGtW / MToF: Bad ability spread.
  • Shadar-KaiMToF: Bad ability spread.
  • Wood ElfPHB: Bad ability spread.

FirbolgVGtM

Customized Origin: Thematically unusual, but some interesting benefits. +2 Int, +1 Con, and Firbolg Magic complements the Artificer’s built-in spellcasting. Hidden Step can get you out of melee if you don’t want to be there, which is great for ranged builds. Speech of Beast and Leaf is neat, but you likely don’t have the Charisma to back it up.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

GenasiEEPC

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases (each subrace provides an additional +1), but the vast majority of the Genasi’s traits come from the subraces.

  • Air: You have an abundance of options to solve both breathing underwater and levitation.
  • Earth: Pass without trace nicely solves the Artificer’s typically awful Stealth rolls, but that’s really not enough.
  • Fire: Damage resistance and Darkvision are great, and the innate spellcasting is a good way to pad your limited spell slots. Produce Flame is nearly equivalent to Fire Bolt, so you might choose to use Produce Flame and save yourself a cantrip, though the fact that the spellcasting is Constitution-based may be a problem. In some ways, this is very similar to the High Elf, but you give up the weapon, skill, and language proficiencies for resistance to fire and Burning Hands once per day.
  • Water: I would only consider this in an aquatic campaign, and even then the Artificer has abundant options to get access to swim speeds and the ability to breath underwater.

Default Rules: A Constitution increase is always welcome, but the Genasi’s traits come primarily from the subrace, and the Fire Genasi is the only option which is truly appealing.

  • Air: The Dexterity increase works, but the Air Genasi’s features don’t do anything that Artificer couldn’t already do.
  • Earth: Bad ability spread.
  • Fire: An intelligence increase and the extra spellcasting and fire resistance are great additions to the Artificer’s existing capabilities.
  • Water: Bad ability spread.

GithMToF

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases (each subrace provides an additional +2), but the bulk of your notable racial traits come from your subrace.

  • Githyanki: A good option for melee builds, access to martial weapons early is tempting for the Battle Smith, and Misty Step even once per day is a great option for melee builds. The innate spellcasting will help pad the Artificer’s limited spellcasting, but there’s nothing here that the Artificer doesn’t already get. If you don’t need the extra weapon proficiencies (or if you’re happy to wait until level 3 to get them on a Battle Smith), trade them for tool proficiencies.
  • Githzerai: Less appealing for the Battle Smith than the Githyanki, but probably better for other subclasses. The condition resistances cover a broad variety of problematic effects, and Shield once per day for free is fantastic at any level. The innate spellcasting is Wisdom-based, but you can do quite a bit with Detect Thoughts before you need to worry about saving throws.

Default Rules: An Intelligence increase is a great start, giving us all that we absolutely need. Githzerai is a great option almost solely based on the innate spellcasting.

  • GithyankiMToF: Strength is mostly useless for the Artificer, and the innate spellcasting isn’t as useful as the Githzerai’s, but the Strength increase and access to some martial weapons is tempting for a Battlesmith who can’t wait for level 3 to start swinging a weapon.
  • GithzeraiMToF: Wisdom works fine, and the extra spellcasting is a great addition.

GnomePHB

Customized Origin: Darkvision and Gnome Cunning are great on any character, and the ability to reassign your ability score increases to support a melee build makes the Gnome a great option for durable front-line builds.

  • Deep (Svirfneblin)EEPC / SCAG: Superior Darkvision is nice, but the stealth doesn’t do much for the Artificer. Other gnome subraces have more to offer.
  • ForestPHB: Minor illusions is a great spell that’s not on the Artificer’s spell list, but Speak with Small Beasts is rarely useful.
  • RockPHB: Thematically excellent. Tinker complements Magical Tinkering nicely, and you get an extra tool proficiency.

Default Rules: An Intelligence increase, Darkvision, and Cunning all make the gnome a fantastic option. Any of the gnome subraces work well with the shared gnome traits as a basis, allowing you to plenty of flexibility.

  • Deep (Svirfneblin)EEPC / SCAG: A Dexterity increase, Superior Darkvision, and Stone Camouflage. Stealth generally isn’t something the Artificer does, but it’s definitely a possibility.
  • ForestPHB: Dexterity will help with weapons until your cantrips become more effective, but minor illusion is partially redundant with Magical Tinkering, and honestly how often does Speak With Small Beasts apply?
  • RockPHB: Probably the most obvious option, the Rock gnome seems tailor-made to be an artificer. The Rock Gnome’s Tinker trait complements Magical Tinkering nicely, allowing you to produce numerous baubles to address challenges in strange an unexpected ways.

GoblinVGtM

Customized Origin: +2 Int, +1 Con, Darkvision. Fury of the Small works with spells, including AOE damage spells (though it only affects one of the targets), and Nimble Escape is excellent for keeping out of melee and for hit-and-run tactics with Booming Blade or if you’re built for range and accidently find yourself in melee.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

GoliathEEPC

Customized Origin: +2 Int, +1 Con, a skill, and damage resistance. Stone’s Endurance is great for front-line artificer builds and will help compensate for your relatively small hit die.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

Half-ElfPHB

Customized Origin: +2 Int, +1 Con, +1 whatever else you want, Darkvision, and Fey Ancestry. Excellent, versatile, and it works for any subclass. Other races may work for specific subclasses better, but the Half-Elf works well for everything.

  • Aquatic Half-ElfSCAG: Only in an aquatic campaign, and even then there are better options.
  • Drow Half-ElfSCAG: A nice complement to the Artificer’s spellcasting, but it’s Charisma-based so Faerie Fire will be useless.
  • High Half-ElfSCAG: A wizard cantrip is a nice complement to the Artificer’s spellcasting, but Custom Lineage or Variant Human with Magic Initiate would be more effective.
  • Standard Half-ElfPHB: Two skills are very useful. Unfortunately, Darkvision and two skills are very common with customized origins, so the standard half-elf doesn’t stand out unless you desperately need that third increase.
  • Wood Half-ElfSCAG: If you want more tool proficiencies on the half-elf, this is the way to get them. Trade some or all of the four granted weapon proficiencies for new tool proficiencies. Maybe not as reliably effective as the two skills from the standard half-elf, but still very appealing. The Artificer doesn’t need the speed boost of Mask of the Wild.

Default Rules: You can get the ability score increases that you care about, but you’ll get more from the Variant Human since Charisma is useless for the Artificer.

  • Aquatic Half-ElfSCAG: Only in an aquatic campaign, and even then there are better options.
  • Drow Half-ElfSCAG: A nice complement to the Artificer’s spellcasting, but it’s Charisma-based so Faerie Fire will be useless.
  • High Half-ElfSCAG: A wizard cantrip is a nice complement to the Artificer’s spellcasting, but at this point Custom Lineage or Variant Human with Magic Initiate would be more effective.
  • Standard Half-ElfPHB: The skill/tool proficiencies complement the Artificer nicely. You can trade one or both for weapon proficiencies, but I don’t recommend it.
  • Wood Half-ElfSCAG: If you want weapons, go for Standard and trade one skill down to a weapon. The Artificer doesn’t need the speed boost of Mask of the Wild.

Half-OrcPHB

Customized Origin: +2 Int, +1 Con, a skill, Darkvision, and Relentless Endurance. Savage Attacks is neat, but not especially impactful since artificers rarely use weapons with hit dice larger than a d8. Relentless Endurance will save you in a pinch, but if you want durability the Goliath may be a better fit.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

HalflingPHB

Customized Origin: +2 int, and Brave and Lucky are good on literally any character. Each subrace will provide another +1 increase which will almost certainly go into Constitution.

  • GhostwiseSCAG: Silent Speech is great, but since the Artificer so rarely builds for stealth it’s not a great fit.
  • LightfootPHB: Naturally stealthy is only useful if you’re planning to rely on stealth, especially in combat.
  • StoutPHB: Stout Resilience is really great, providing some of the Dwarf’s durability.

Default Rules: No options to get the crucial Intelligence increase.

  • GhostwiseSCAG: Bad ability spread.
  • LightfootPHB: Bad ability spread.
  • StoutPHB: Bad ability spread.

HobgoblinVGtM

Customized Origin: The Hobgoblin is a great choice without the Customizing Your Origin optional rule, but when everyone can get Int/Con increases and numerous races provide martial weapon proficiencies the Hobgoblin loses a lot of what makes it special. Its remaining distinguishing trait is Saving Face, which is good but not amazing. Trade the weapon proficiencies for tool proficiencies unless you’re desperate to get martial weapons early.

Default Rules: Perfect ability score increases, darkvision, access to two martial weapons starting at first level, and Saving Face is fantastic. This is a spectacular option for the Battlesmith, though you may still want to stick to a rapier or a whip until you get Battle Ready because your Strength is probably still garbage.

Human

Customized Origin:

  • Standard: With perfect ability scores on the table for every race, there is no reason to play the Standard Human.
  • Variant: The Customizing Your Origin rules make no change to the Variant Human.

Default Rules: Versatile and fantastic at everything.

  • Default: The Artificer really only needs two ability scores, but a +1 to all of your scores can be helpful if you use the point buy ability generation method to give yourself low, odd-numbered base ability scores to save points. But ability scores alone don’t make the Default Human an interesting choice.
  • Variant: You still get crucial bonuses to your Constitution and Intelligence, and you can get an awesome feat at level 1.

KenkuVGtM

Customized Origin: +2 Int, +1 Con, and two skills from Kenku Training. Expert Forgery is neat and could make for a fun artificer who uses calligrapher’s tools or something similar. Mimicry won’t see much use since artificers typically dump Charisma and don’t make great Face characters.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

KoboldVGtM

Customized Origin: Play a Battle Smith. +2 Int, Darkvision, and you can use Pack Tactics with your Steel Defender. Sunlight Sentivity is obviously a pain, unfortunately, but you can use Pack Tactics to offset it whenever necessary.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread, but Pack Tactics may be enough to make up for the lack of an Intelligence increase. If you stick to offensive spells which rely on attacks instead of saves, having an ally (such as a Steel Defender) adjacent to your target is an easy source of Advantage, and that may be enough to make your average damage output match characters with better Intelligence.

LizardfolkVGtM

Customized Origin: +2 Int, +1 Con, two skills, and several other unique features. Bite is hard for the Artificer because they tend to dump Strength, and Natural Armor doesn’t help much compared to medium armor. Cunning Artisan is neat thematically, but it’s not actually all that useful. Lizardfolk works, but you’re basically guaranteeing that you’ll ignore half of your class features.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

LocathahLR

Customized Origin: +2 Int, +1 Con, two skills. Limited Amphibiousness can be difficult in land-locked campaigns, but in campaigns where you’re at least water-adjacent it’s manageable. But those benefits are fairly scant and you can get the increases and skills from numerous other races. The Locathah’s distinguishing trait is Leviathan Will, which provides resistance to an impressive list of conditions. This would be a difficult choice of race in most campaigns, but in the right game this could be an interesting choice for a front-line Defender build.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

OrcVGtM

Note that errata has corrected the multiple versions of the Orc to all provide the same traits. The Intelligence decrease has been removed, and the Primal Intuition now allows selecting two skills from a list. The Orc of Exandria entry from Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount omits the Powerful Build trait, but it’s not clear if that was an intentional change.

Customized Origin: +2 Int, +1 Con, Darkvision, and two skills. The Orc’s signature trait is Aggressive, which allows you to quickly get into melee with your enemies. Appealing for the Armorer, but other subclasses may have trouble using it. The Battle Smith works in melee, but Aggressive won’t help your Steel Defender.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

TabaxiVGtM

Customized Origin: +2 Int, +1 Con, Darkvision, two skills. Feline Agility and Cat’s Claws are the Tabaxi’s signature traits, but the claws are useless. Feline Agility is a great speed boost, and it’s pretty common in combat to need to rush into position then stand still for several turns.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

TieflingPHB

Customized Origin: +2 Int, +1 Con, Darkvision, and fire resistance. Most subraces/variants offer innate spellcasting of some kind. The innate spellcasting is Charisma-based, so anything which requires an attack or a save is largely worthless.

  • AsmodeusPHB/MToF: The innate spellcasting is fine, but Hellish Rebuke is the only part that you’ll be able to use consistently.
  • BaalzebulMToF: The leveled spells are both offensive and require saving throws.
  • DispaterMToF: The leveled spells are only situationally useful, but they’re spells which work for the Artificer.
  • FiernaMToF: All three spells require saves.
  • GlasyaMToF: All illusions, but still great additons to the Artificer’s spellcasting.
  • LevistusMToF: Armor of Agathys is tempting, but it’ll only last for one hit because the spell ends when the temporary hit points go away.
  • MammonMToF: Not super flashy, but three solid utility options that will save you some of your limited prepared spells.
  • MephistophelesMToF: Tries to split the difference between Asmodeus’s fire stuff and Mammons utility stuff, but the offensive stuff ends up just being worse.
  • ZarielMToF: Some interesting options borrowed from the Paladin’s spell list, but Searing Smite allows a saving throw and Thaumaturgy is barely useful.
  • Variant: FeralSCAG: The Customizing Your Origin optional rules make the Feral variant obsolete. All it does is rearrange your ability score increases.
  • Variant: Devil’s TongueSCAG: All three spells require saves.
  • Variant: HellfireSCAG: Hellish Rebuke is better for the Artificer, though not by much.
  • Variant: WingedSCAG: A great way to get flight without relying on Winged Boots. The Aarakocra is faster, but the Tiefling gets Darkvision and fire resistance and can fly in medium armor so your AC will be better with less effort.

Default Rules: Many Tiefling subraces offer an Intelligence increase, and with so many variants and subraces you can easily find an option that will suit your play style. The Flames of Phlegethos feat is tempting for Artillerists looking to boost the numerous fire damage spells on the Artillerist’s spell list.

  • AsmodeusPHB/MToF: Charisma is wasted on the Artificer, but you get an Intelligence bonus and the Tiefling’s other core racial traits are great.
  • BaalzebulMToF: The same ability score increases as the Asmodeus tiefling, but a different set of racial spells.
  • DispaterMToF: Bad ability spread.
  • FiernaMToF: Bad ability spread.
  • GlasyaMToF: Bad ability spread.
  • LevistusMToF: Bad ability spread.
  • MammonMToF: The same ability score increases as the Asmodeus Tiefling, but with different racial spells. The Mammon Tiefling’s racial spells focus more on utility than those of the Asmodeus Tiefling.
  • MephistophelesMToF: Again, the same ability score increases as the Asmodeus Tiefling, but with a different set of racial spells. The leveled spells are purely offensive, focusing on new ways to deal fire damage. This makes a nice complement to the Artillerist, especially with Flames of Phlegethos piled on top.
  • ZarielMToF: Bad ability spread.
  • Variant: FeralSCAG: If you’re happy with the Asmodeus Tiefling’s spell list but you want different ability score increases, the Feral variant is great. Dexterity is more useful for the Artificer than Charisma, though you don’t actually need more than 14 so it’s not a massive improvement.

    According to the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, the Feral Variant is compatible with other variants.

  • Variant: Devil’s TongueSCAG: If you were consider learning Frostbite, Vicious Mockery is a better cantrip with a similar effect. Otherwise, I would look elsewhere.
  • Variant: HellfireSCAG: A very tiny change to the Asmodeus Tiefling. Burning Hands is often a safer option for the Artificer because you can use it without getting hit.
  • Variant: WingedSCAG: A great way to get flight without relying on Winged Boots.

TortleTP

Customized Origin: +2 Int, +1 Con. Hold Breath rarely matters, Natural Armor isn’t as good as infusing a suit of half-plate, and Shell Defense is very rarely useful. Your also only get one skill. There is a long list of races which provide much more relevant benefits for the Artificer.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

TritonVGtM

Customized Origin: +1 to three abilities, Amphibious, Darkvision, cold resistance, and some innate spellcasting. The innate spellcasting isn’t amazing, but it has some interesting utility options. Emissary of the Sea won’t make you a Face, but it’s neat.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

VerdanAcInc

Customized Origin: +2 Int, +1 Con, one skill. Black Blood Healing helps manage your limited healing resources, especially if you’re playing a front-line build, but a race which can prevent damage like the Goliath will enjoy more consistent ability to mitigate damage. Limited Telepathy is neat, but may be hard for the Artificer to use due to their typically poor Charisma.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

Yuan-Ti PurebloodVGtM

Customized Origin: +2 Int, +1 Con, Darkvision, immunity to poison, magic resistance, and some innate spellcasting. The innate spellcasting is borderline useless, but magic resistance and immunity to poison are extremely helpful for front-line builds which will attract a lot of attacks. Infusions and spells can make your AC nearly unbeatable, and Magic Resistance will protect you from one of the most common ways to get around high AC. You still need to watch out for breath weapons and similar problems, but even then with the right items you’ll be very difficult to hurt.

Default Rules: A crucial Intelligence increase, Darkvision, and some innate spellcasting. The spellcasting isn’t great, but you’re also immune to poison, and Magic Resistance is insanely powerful.

Setting-specific races are address below. Not every setting allows every race, and while most races presented in the core rules and in content for the Forgotten Realms can be used in other settings, races specific to settings like Ravnica aren’t typically allowed in other settings. Talk to your DM about what races are allowed in your game. 

Races of Eberron

BugbearERLW: See above under the general Races section.

ChangelingERLW

Customized Origin: +2 Int, +1 Con, two skills. The Changeling’s signature trait is Shapechanger, but it’s not especially useful since the Artificer is rarely a subtle character, and if you need to disguise yourself you have both spells and Infusions which will do the job.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

GoblinERLW: See above under the general Races section.

HobgoblinERLW: See above under the general Races section.

OrcERLW: See above under the general Races section.

KalashtarERLW

Customized Origin: +2 Int, +1 Con, but that’s where the normal stuff ends. Dual Mind and Mental Discipline make the Kalasthar very resilient against mental attack, especially combined with the Artificer’s high Intelligence saves. Mind Link is helpful, but the range is short enough that you’re only going to use to coordinate in combat or to communicate when verbal communication isn’t an option, but with dumped Charisma you’re likely not doing much talking to NPCs.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

ShifterERLW

Customized Origin: Each subrace will give you a +2 increase (put it into Int), a +1 increase (put it into Con, generally), Darkvision, and one skill. You also get Shifting, which is the Shifter’s signature feature. It’s a decent combat buff on its own, and your subrace will offer additional effects.

  • Beasthide: More temporary HP and +1 AC. Perfect for front-line subclasses like the Armorer and the Battle Smith.
  • Longtooth: An extra attack as a Bonus Action is normally great for a melee build, but it’s Strength-based and the Artificer typically dumps Strength.
  • Swiftstride: Hit-and-run tactics aren’t common for the Artificer, but Booming Blade would work great in conjunction with the shifting feature in encounters with few enemies.
  • Wildhunt: Too situational.

Default Rules: No Intelligence increase to be found.

  • Beasthide: Bad ability spread.
  • Longtooth: Bad ability spread.
  • Swiftstride: Bad ability spread.
  • Wildhunt: Bad ability spread.

WarforgedERLW

Customized Origin: The Customizing Your Origin rules make no meaningful changes to the Warforged. You can move the Constitution increase around, but increasing Constitution is still the best way to use that increase.

Default Rules: Constitution and a flexible increase which goes into Intelligence. The resistances and extra AC make you incredibly durable, and if you pile on Infusions which boost your AC, you can be nearly invulnerable. A warforged battlesmith can wade comfortably into combat alongside even the most durable fighters, boasting an exceptionally high AC, a laundry list of spells and immunities, and options like Flash of Genius and Absorb Elements to protect them from spells and special abilities.

Dragonmarks

While the design intent for Dragonmarks was that they would offer some innate spellcasting for everyone, every dragonmark includes an expanded spell list which is arguably a more significant benefit than most of the provided racial traits. Because the expanded spell options are such an important part of the dragonmarks, if you’re not playing a spellcaster you’re giving up a huge part of your racial traits, which makes it exceptionally difficult to justify playing a dragonmark character who can’t cast spells.

Dragonmarked DwarfERLW

Dragonmark traits replace your subrace.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Warding: Warder’s Intuition helps with thieves’ tools, which is a crucial proficiency for your party even if you don’t have a ton of Dexterity. The innate spellcasting isn’t great, but the dragonmark spells add several new options to the Artificer’s spell list, but nothing is particularly exciting except maybe Armor of Agathys for the Armorer and the Battle Smith.

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Warding: The Intelligence increase is crucial, and the Dwarf’s base traits are great. Warder’s Intuition helps with thieves’ tools, which is a crucial proficiency for your party even if you don’t have a ton of Dexterity. The innate spellcasting isn’t great, but the dragonmark spells add several new options to the Artificer’s spell list, but nothing is particularly exciting except maybe Armor of Agathys for the Armorer and the Battle Smith.
Dragonmarked ElfERLW

Dragonmark traits replace your subrace.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Shadow: This is an unusual but certainly viable and unique build choice if you want to play against the usual “I’m a spellcaster in a big pile of armor” stereotype of the Artificer. Cunning Intuition helps with skills that the Artificer usually has no business using, but a cleverly-built Armorer in Infiltrator Armor or a Cloak of Elvenkind could be an exceptionally effective Scout.

    Shape Shadows complements the Artificer’s limite spellcasting nicely, and almost every dragonmark spell is new to the Artificer’s spell list. Illusions are one of the biggest gaps in the Artificer’s spell list, and Mark of Shadow fills that gap nicely.

    I wouldn’t suggest this as a go-to option, but it could be fun to explore in a very stealthy party.

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Shadow: Bad ability spread.
Dragonmarked GnomeERLW

Dragonmark traits replace your subrace.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Scribing: Nearly every one of the dragonmark spells is new to the Artificer, but none of them are necessary and you can typically solve the same problems with infusions.

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Scribing: The Gnome’s base intelligence increase is a great start, but any of the other gnome subraces is a better option for the Artificer than Mark of Scribing. Nearly every one of the dragonmark spells is new t othe Artificer’s spell list, but that may not be enough.
Dragonmarked Half-ElfERLW

Dragonmark traits replace some of your normal racial traits, as described in the entry for each Dragonmark.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Detection: The changes to ability score increases don’t matter much since you can still get +2 Int. The innate spellcasting and expanded spells add a lot of divination options which the Artificer otherwise lacks.
  • Mark of Storm: +2 Int, +1 con, damage resistance, and some innate spellcasting. It’s a lot of very situational spells, so don’t expect to get much use out of them.

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Detection: The ability increases don’t lose anything that you care about, and you can still get an Intelligence increase. The innate spellcasting and expanded spells add a lot of divination options which the Artificer otherwise lacks.
  • Mark of Storm: Bad ability spread.
Dragonmarked Half-OrcERLW

Dragonmark traits replace ALL of your racial traits.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Finding: +2 Int, +1 Con, but the remaining traits are less useful. The innate spellcasting doesn’t work especially well for the Artificer. The early dragonmark spells are already on the Artificer’s spell list, and the rest are situational divination options. Hunter’s Intuition isn’t a great fit for the Artificer.

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Finding: Bad ability spread.
Dragonmarked HalflingERLW

Dragonmark traits replace your subrace.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Healing: The innate spellcasting will help complement the Artificer’s spells, but all of the important healing spells from the dragonmark spell list are already on the Artificer’s spell list.
  • Mark of Hospitality: Several interesting utility options and buffs among the innate spellcasting and the dragonmark spells, though some of the higher-level options are very situational.

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Healing: Bad ability spread.
  • Mark of Hospitality: Bad ability spread.
Dragonmarked HumanERLW

Dragonmark traits replace ALL of your normal racial traits.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Finding: See Mark of Finding under Dragonmarked Half-Orc, above. Mechanically, the final racial traits are identical.
  • Mark of Handling: Workable, and you get a bunch of stuff from the Druid and Ranger’s spell lists, but beasts stop being scary very quickly. Unless your DM will let you tame beasts beyond your class features you won’t get much use out of these traits beyond low levels. The innate spellcasting works on Monstrosities, but it’s Wisdom-based.
  • Mark of Making: The most obvious dragonmark for the Artificer, both thematically and mechanically. The ability scores are perfect. Mending is a staple option for most artificers, and Magic Weapon is a great option for the Battlesmith who can’t spare an Infusion for Enhance Weapon. Unfortunately, only two spells are new to the Artificer’s spell list and they’re not great.
  • Mark of Passage: Extra speed and access to teleportation are great.
  • Mark of Sentinel: Excellent defensive options that go beyond just passive defenses. Compelled Duel is a great taunt mechanic usually exclusive to the paladin, and staple options like Counterspell allow front-line artificers to defend their allies in numerous new ways.

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Finding: See Mark of Finding under Dragonmarked Half-Orc, above. Mechanically, the final racial traits are identical.
  • Mark of Handling: Workable, and you get a bunch of stuff from the Druid and Ranger’s spell lists, but beasts stop being scary very quickly and unless your DM will let you tame beasts beyond your class features you won’t get much use out of these traits beyond low levels.
  • Mark of Making: The most obvious dragonmark for the Artificer, both thematically and mechanically. The ability scores are perfect. Mending is a staple option for most artificers, and Magic Weapon is a great option for the Battlesmith who can’t spare an Infusion for Enhance Weapon. Unfortunately, only two spells are new to the Artificer’s spell list and they’re not great.
  • Mark of Passage: Extra speed and access to teleportation are great.
  • Mark of Sentinel: Bad ability spread.

Races of Ravnica

CentaurGGTR

Customized Origin: The Centaur’s natural weapons are all Strength-based, which is a hard prospect for the Artificer.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

GoblinGGTR: See above under the general Races section.

LoxodonGGTR

Customized Origin: +2 Int, +1 Con, and a bunch of unique stuff. Loxodon Serenity covers some very common status conditions, and trunk offers some utility for a class that often needs to juggle numerous items. Keen Smell is neat, but most such checks involve sight and sound more than smell.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

MinotaurGGTR

Customized Origin: The Minotaur’s natural weapons and related traits are all Strength-based, which is a hard prospect for the Artificer.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

Simic HybridGGTR

Customized Origin: The Customizing Your Origin rules make no meaningful changes to the Simic Hybrid. You can move the Constitution increase around, but increasing Constitution is still the best way to use that increase.

Default Rules: Great ability increases, and and the adaptations offer great ways to customize your character to fit your subclass and your play style.

VedalkenGGTR

Customized Origin: Shift the Wisdom increase into Constitution, but otherwise the Vedalken was already a perfect fit for the Artificer.

Default Rules: Good ability score increases, Advantage on half of all saving throws, two free proficiencies, and you can get a bonus d4 in checks with the free proficiencies, which can include things like Thieves’ Tools or some other tool that you use frequently.

Races of Theros

CentaurMOoT: See above under the Races of Ravnica section.

HumanMOoT: See above under the general Races section.

LeoninMOoT

Customized Origin: +2 Int, +1 Con, Darkvision, and two skills. The Leonin’s claws won’t help you since they’re Strength-based. Daunting Roar is neat, especially for front-line builds, but the DC is Constitution-based so you may have trouble keeping the DC high enough to matter.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

MinotaurMOoT: See above under the Ravnica Races section.

SatyrMOoT

Customized Origin: +2 Int, +1 Con, 2 skills, and an instrument. Magic Resistance is great if you expect to draw a lot of attention (the Armorer and the Battle Smith come to mind), and Mirthful Leaps might help get through difficult terrain.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

TritonMOoT: See above under the general Races section.

Races of Wildemount

AarakocraEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

AasimarEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

BugbearEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

DragonbornPHB

Wildemount presents two new Dragonborn variants, each replacing the standard Dragonborn’s ability score increases and damage resistance.

Customized Origin:

  • DraconbloodEGtW: +2 Int, +1 Con, Darkvision. Forceful Presence is largely wasted on the Artificer.
  • RaveniteEGtW: +2 Int, +1 Con, Darkvision. Vengeful Assault is great for front-line artificers, especially the Armorer who is so adept at forcing enemies to attack them instead of your allies.
  • StandardPHB: See above under the general Races section.

Default Rules:

  • DraconbloodEGtW: An Intelligence increase, Darkvision, and a breath weapon. Forceful Presence is neat, but you’re probably going to dump Charisma.
  • RaveniteEGtW: Bad ability spread.
  • StandardPHB: See above under the general Races section.

Elf

Wildemount elves share the core traits of PHB elves, but Wildemount adds two new subraces. See above for more information on other elf subraces.

Customized Origin:

  • Pallid ElfEGtW: The innate spellcasting is a nice complement to the Artificer’s spellcasting, but Sleep is obsolete the moment that you get it. Incisive Sense is helpful, provided that you have the skill proficiencies to support it.
  • Sea ElfEGtW / MToF: See above under the general Races section.

Default Rules:

  • Pallid ElfEGtW: Bad ability spread.
  • Sea ElfEGtW / MToF: See above under the general Races section.

FirbolgsEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

GenasiEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

GoblinEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

HalflingPHB

Wildemount halflings share the core traits of PHB halflings, but Wildemount
adds a new subrace. See above for information on other halfling subraces.

Customized Origin:

  • LotusdenEGtW: The innate spellcasting is neat, but it’s all Wisdom-based and beyond the cantrip it’s offensive options which allow saving throws so it will never be reliable for the Artificer.

Default Rules:

  • LotusdenEGtW: Bad ability spread.

HobgoblinEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

GoliathEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

KenkuEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

OrcEGtW: See above, under “Races of Eberron”. Wildemount uses the updated Orc racial traits rather than the original traits published in Volo’s Guide to Monsters.

TabaxiEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

TortleEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

Skills

  • Arcana (Int): Among the most important knowledge skills, and you have the intelligence to back it up.
  • History (Int): Situational, and how usreful it is is heavily dependent on your GM and the campaign you’re in.
  • Investigation (Int): With high Intelligence, you’re a great candidate to use Investigation.
  • Medicine (Wis): This skill is useless. Medicine is best done magically.
  • Nature (Int): Good knowledge skill, but not as crucial as Arcana or Religion.
  • Perception (Wis): The most-rolled skill in the game.
  • Sleight of Hand (Dex): Sleight of hand is neat, but it’s not especially useful in most campaigns.

Background

This section does not address every published background, as doing so would result in an ever-growing list of options which don’t cater to the class. Instead, this section will cover the options which I think work especially well for the class, or which might be tempting but poor choices. Racial feats are discussed in the Races section, above.

Look for backgrounds which provide additional Intelligence-based skills. Proficiency with more tools fits the theme of the class very well, but you’ll get at least 4 tool proficiencies from class featues alone so you may not need more.

If you’re having trouble deciding, here are some suggestions:

  • Clan CrafterSCAG: Basically an improved version of Guild Artisan, you still get one Face skill and one language which you won’t benefit from very much, but History is a good skill and the starting gear works great for the Artificer.
  • Guild ArtisanPHB: The Artificer is not a good Face, and getting two Face skills doesn’t change that. Thematically, this makes sense, but mechanically it doesn’t.
  • SagePHB: Two Intelligence-based skills and two Languages.

Feats

This section does not address every published feat, as doing so would result in an ever-growing list of options which don’t cater to the class. Instead, this section will cover feats which I think work especially well for the class or which might be tempting but poor choices.

  • Artificer InitiateTCoE: You already get an abundance of everything offered by Artificer Initiate. If you want more spellcasting, consider Magic Initiate since it gets you an extra cantrip instead of yet another tool proficiency.
  • Chef: Great for front-line builds to pad their hit points, and easy for back-line builds to turn into a support ability. Once you hit 20 Intelligence, this is a good choice, especially if you have an odd-numbered Constitution score.
  • Defensive DuelistPHB: A good way to boost your survivability in melee, but a dagger is the only thing you’re proficient with that works with the feat. Also, you can cast Shield.
  • Elemental AdeptPHB: Acid or fire for Alchemist and fire for Artillerist. Sure, you’ve got ways to deal damage with other elements, but those are the easiest elements for the subclasses so it makes sense to minimize their weaknesses and maximize their value.
  • Fey TouchedTCoE: Misty step is fantastic on any character, and the Artificer gets alarmingly few Divination spell options. Fey Touched provides some easy access to some great spells like Bless and Compelled Duel. Back-row artificers will find that Bless is a powerful buff at any level, while front-row artificers will find that Compelled Duel makes them an exceptionally effective Defender.

    For more advice on Fey Touched, see my Spellcasting Feats Breakdown.

  • Fighting InitiateTCoE: Many artificers use weapons, and something like Fighting Style (Archery) can do a lot to improve your damage output.
  • GunnerTCoE: Minimal benefit for the Artificer. The only thing that the Artificer can’t already replicate is ignoring adjacent enemies.
  • HealerPHB: Without a real cleric in the party you may find it helpful to complement your magical healing with this.
  • Heavily ArmoredPHB: Strength doesn’t help the Artificer, and +1 AC relative to 14 Dex and Half Plate is not enough for a feat when you have several Infusion options that provide the same amount of extra AC.
  • LuckyPHB: Good on any character.
  • Magic InitiatePHB: With the additions to the Artificer made by Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, there is very little for the Artificer to gain from Magic Initiate. Any spellcasting which you might want from the Wizard is already on the Artificer’s spell list, and there aren’t any great combinations with spells from other classes.

    For more advice on Magic Initiate, see my Spellcasting Feats Breakdown.

  • Metamagic AdeptTCoE: Excellent on any spellcaster, even with the Artificer’s 2/3 spellcasting you can still do a lot with metamagic. For advice on Metamagic Adept, see my Sorcerer Metamagic Breakdown.
  • Medium Armor MasterPHB: Many races like elves and halflings could easily end up with 16 Dexterity without cutting into your Intelligence. If you have 16 Dexterity, this will make Stealth easier and give you a nice +1 AC bonus. Not essential unless you’re playing your party’s Scout, but still good.
  • PiercerPHB: Tempting for artificers built to use weapons (crossbow+shield is a great combo), but the Strength or Dexterity increase isn’t helpful. Consider Crossbow Expert instead.
  • ResilientPHB: More saving throw proficiencies never hurt, but the Artificer already gets proficiency in Constitution saving throws.
  • Ritual CasterPHB: Artificers can already cast rituals, provided that they have the spell prepared. Ritual Caster will broaden your ritual options, but that’s probably not enough to justify a feat.
  • Shadow TouchedTCoE: This is a good feat, but there are few spell options that appeal to the Artificer. Silent Image is likely your best option.

    For more advice on Shadow Touched, see my Spellcasting Feats Breakdown.

  • SharpshooterPHB: For the Armorer in Infiltrator armor, you can use your first attack to hit a target and grant yourself Advantage on the next attack against the target. At that point, use Sharpshooter’s option to take an attack penalty in exchange for more damage and the Advantage will mostly offset the penalty to your attack roll.
  • Skill ExpertTCoE: Expertise is really nice, but it’s hard to decide what skill to put it into. Keep in mind that artificers already get to add double their Proficiency bonus with tools thanks to Tool Expertise, so the expertise from Skill Expert should definitely go into a skill.
  • SkilledPHB: In a small party you need to wear many hats to fill gaps in your party’s skillset. More proficiencies help you do just that. But if you’re looking at tool proficiencies, consider getting them from your race instead since you can trade racial armor/weapon proficiencies for tool proficiencies.
  • SlasherTCoE: Potentially helpful for front-line battlesmiths.
  • Spell SniperPHB: Many artificers rely on cantrips for their primary damage source, and this can make crucial spells like Fire Bolt more useful. Unfortunately the Alchemist’s reliance on Acid Splash and Poison Spray (neither of which uses attack rolls) won’t benefit much, so this isn’t as useful as it is for other artificers.
  • War CasterPHB: If you’re a Battlesmith, you want this. Juggling your weapon to cast spells is annoying, but the ability to maintain Concentration even more reliably when you take damage means that you can reliably maintain spells even while drawing a lot of attacks.

Weapons

  • Crossbow, Hand: Use the Repeating Shot infusion and grab a shield.
  • Crossbow, Light: Until 5th level the damage will technically beat Cantrip damage, but unless you have 16 Dexterity yout cantrips will be more reliable.
  • Dagger: Your go-to melee weapon (unless you’re a Battlesmith). It works in melee and at range, and since it’s a finesse weapon you can use it with Dexterity. The damage isn’t as good as a bow or crossbow, but you can’t make opportunity attacks with ranged weapons.
  • Longbow: A great option for a ranged Battlesmith. Your attacks are all made with Intelligence.

Weapons for Battlesmiths

The Battlesmith’s weapon selection resembles that of the Fighter more than that of the Artificer. If you want to use a shield (and you should since you have d8 hit dice) and fight in melee, go for a longsword or something. If you’re fighting at range, go for a Longbow.

If you spend on Infusion on Repeating Shot, a heavy rossbow will deal very slightly more damage, but at level 12 Enhance Weapon will improve to +2 and a +2 Longbow will match the average damage of a +1 Heavy Crossbow and will have +1 higher attack bonus. On top of that, you can get Bracers of Archery, and they don’t apply to crossbows.

However, that doesn’t mean that crossbows are a bad option: you can use a hand crossbow with Repeating Shot while also using a shield. Since you don’t need to reload your crossbow you don’t need a free hand. Cantrips will deal similar damage, but 1d6+Int+1 damage (Repeating Shot adds +1 to attack and damage) with Extra Attack will outdo your cantrip damage for a long time. If you have 20 Intelligence, two attacks at 1d6+5+1 (avg. 19 total) will exceed Firebolt (avg. 5.5, 11, 16.5, and 22 depending on your level) until your cantrips improve for the last time at 17th level. If you instead us a pistol, you’ll average 23 damage instead, and at that point there’s no reason to learn Fire Bolt.

Firearms

The Artificer is the first class to be published with reference to firearms, but firearms canonically do notexist in the Eberron setting from which the Artificer originates. Many groups do not choose to include firearms in their games, but your group might still choose to do so.

Generally groups which choose to use firearms will use the “Renaissance” weapons, as they were historically used in time periods where using a sword or a crossbow still made sense, so you can include these weapons without significantly changing the fantasy, medieval feel of a typical Dungeons and Dragons setting. These weapons also come the closest to existing weapons mechanically, so you can include them without worrying about unbalancing your game because every adventurer suddenly has a revolver.

If your group chooses to use firearms, the Artificer can be proficient with them if your character “has been exposed to the operation of such weapons”. Check with your DM to see if they’ll let you be proficient. If you’re fortunate enough to have access to firearms, compare the pistol to the hand crossbow and the musket to the light crossbow. In both cases, the firearm uses a damage die two sizes larger, but has diminished range. If the range isn’t a problem, these firearms will deal more damage than bows or crossbows.

  • Musket: Basically a better light crossbow. The damage compared to the Pistol isn’t much better, so personally I recommend using a Pistol with the Repeating Shot infusion so that you can use a shield at the same time.
  • Pistol: Basically a better hand crossbow. Use the Repeating Shot infusion and grab a shield.

Armor

  • Studded Leather: Bad choice for starting armor.
  • Scale Mail: Starting armor.
  • Half Plate: Your ideal armor.
  • Shield: You can hold your spellcasting focus in one hand and a shield in the other, but if you’re using a bow or crossbow you won’t have a hand free for a shield, and it takes an action to don/doff a shield so it’s difficult to switch mid-combat.

Multiclassing

The Artificer has an interesting note in its Multiclassing rules: when you multiclass as an Artificer, you round your Artificer levels up for determining spell slots instead of rounding them down like every other class with Spellcasting.

  • Fighter: Starting with a level in fighter gets you proficiency in heavy armor so that you can ignore Dexterity and in Constitution saves, which the Artificer gets by default and it would be hard to sacrifice that proficiency for better armor. Keep in mind that you don’t get heavy armor if you multiclass into fighter after first level.
  • Rogue: It’s a hard build to play, but three levels of Rogue can get you the Thief archetype and the Fast Hands ability. The ability to use items as a Bonus Action offers a lot of possibilities, though you’ll need to spend a lot of time researching items, studying the rules for using items (especially magic items), and managing your inventory to make it worth three levels.
  • Wizard: Most of the wizard’s spells are already on the Artificer’s spell list, but two levels gets you access to an Arcane Tradition. Many traditions have great initial features, and Bladesinging is incredibly tempting for battlesmith artificers.

Magic Items

Common Magic Items

  • Ruby of the War MageXGtE: Artificers need to use a tool or an infused item to cast their spells, and the Ruby of the War Mage doesn’t remove that requirement. Weirdly, if you replicate a Ruby of the War Mage using Infuse Item it will work, (though using an infused weapon or shield is probably a better choice) but if you just find a Ruby of the War Mage it’s useless for you.

Uncommon Magic Items

  • Adamantine ArmorDMG: Use the Enhanced Defense Infusion instead.
  • All-Purpose ToolTCoE: +1 to your spell attacks and spell DC’s, you can turn it into any other tool (including really heavy ones), and as an Action you can give yourself access to a cantrip from any class as an artificer cantrip. For melee artificers, consider Swordburst or Word of Radiance. For ranged artificers, consider Eldritch Blast unless you have an effect like Alchemical Savant which boosts specific damage types.
  • Ammunition, +1DMG: Single-use and expensive. Use the Enhanced Weapon Infusion.
  • Broom of FlyingDMG: Easily overlooked, but one of the best ways to get flight for any character. It doesn’t require attunement, and has a fly speed of 50 feet, though many medium characters will exceed the 200 pound limit to reduce the speed to 30 feet, but even then 30 feet fly speed with no duration cap and requiring no action after speaking the command word is absolutely incredible. The only drawback is that you’re using the item’s speed rather than giving yourself a fly speed, so things that improve your speed won’t make the broom move faster, and you can’t Dash with the broom. Even so, I honestly can’t justify why this is only Uncommon considering how exceptionally good it is.
  • Eyes of Minute SeeingDMG: Excellent in dungeon crawls. Investigation is typically used for finding things like traps, and even if you’re not proficient you almosy certainly have the highest Intelligence in the party.
  • Headband of Intellect: By the time you can get this, you probably already have 18 Intelligence so there’s little benefit. Give it to the least-intelligent person in the party.
  • Mithral ArmorDMG: Use the Enhanced Defense infusion on a Breastplate.
  • Pearl of PowerDMG: Useful on any spellcaster.
  • Sentinel ShieldDMG: Advantage on Initiative rolls is really nice so you can get a buff or and are control effect running before everyone else starts moving.
  • Shield, +1DMG: +1 AC, no attunement. Nothing fancy, but very effective. You can use the Enhanced Defense infusion, but at low levels an Uncommon item replacing an Infusion can save you a powerful asset.
  • Slippers of Spider ClimbingDMG: The next-best thing to flight. Walking up a wall has all the benefits of flying out of reach.
  • Stone of Good LuckDMG: Excellent on literally any character, but if you just want better defense a Cloak of Protection may be more effective. Stone of Good Luck shines if you’re heavily reliant on skills and ability checks.
  • Wand of the War MageDMG: Helpful if you’re heavily reliant on cantrips like Fire Bolt, but an All-Purpose Tool will be considerably more useful.
  • Weapon, +1DMG: Excellent for the Battle Smith, but you have the Enhance Weapon infusion to provide the same benefit.
  • Winged BootsDMG: A Broom of Flying is better, and you can created Winged Boots with an infusion if you still want them.

Rare Magic Items

  • All-Purpose ToolTCoE: +2 to your spell attacks and spell DC’s. See All-Purpose Tool under Uncommon Magic Items for more.
  • Amulet of HealthDMG: Setting your Constitution to 19 means that you don’t need to put Ability Score Increases into it unless you’re really certain that you want 20 Constitution. Less ASI’s into Constitution means more room for feats.
  • Armor, +1DMG: Use the Enhanced Defense infusion.
  • Armor of ResistanceDMG: Excellent, but unpredictable in most games since you can’t perfectly predict what sort of damage you’ll face. Fire and poison are safe choices.
  • Cloak of DisplacementDMG: Among the best defensive items in the game. Taking damage from any source (spells, etc.) suppresses the effect temporarily, so make a point to kill anything that can damage you without an attack roll.
  • Periapt of Proof Against PoisonDMG: Poison damage is very common across the full level range, so immunity to it is a significant improvement in your durability.
  • Ring of EvasionDMG: A great way to mitigate damage from AOE spells and things like breath weapons which can often be problems from front-line martial characters, especially if you’re not built around Dexterity.
  • Ring of ProtectionDMG: Cloak of Protection is lower rarity and has the same effect.
  • Ring of ResistanceDMG: A fine item in a vaccuum, but a Ring of Spell Storing full of Absorb Elements will be much more effective.
  • Ring of Spell StoringDMG: Fill it with Absorb Elements and Shield and recharge it whenever possible and this is a spectacular defensive asset on almost any character.
  • Shield, +2DMG: Use the Enhanced Defense infusion.
  • Weapon, +2DMG: Excellent for the Battle Smith, but you have the Enhance Weapon infusion to provide the same benefit.

Very Rare Magic Items

  • All-Purpose ToolTCoE: +3 to your spell attacks and spell DC’s. See All-Purpose Tool under Uncommon Magic Items for more.
  • Amulet of the Planes: Plane Shift for free, and since it’s an Intelligence check you’ll be able to pass it without too much trouble. If you do fail, you can use it again the next round so long as you don’t end up somewhere which would prevent you from doing so.
  • Animated ShieldDMG: Tempting for anyone not fighting with a one-handed weapon, but a Cloak of Protection is two rarities lower, works persistently, and arguably provides a better numeric bonus.
  • Armor, +2DMG: Use the Enhanced Defense infusion.
  • Manual of Bodily HealthDMG: Permanent Constitution bonus and raises your cap by 2. Unless you’re using a magic item that fixes your Constitution as a specific score, this is excellent.
  • Shield, +3DMG: +3 AC, no attunement. Enhanced Defense doesn’t go this high.
  • Tome of Clear ThoughtDMG: Permanent Intelligence bonus and raises your cap by 2.
  • Weapon, +3DMG: Enhanced Weapon doesn’t go this high.

Legendary Magic Items

  • Armor of InvulnerabilityDMG: Resistance (immunity sometimes) to non-magical damage may protect you from most weapon attacks. At high enough level that you might have this item there will definitely be enemies with access to magic attacks (spellcasters, magic weapons, natural weapons which count as magical, etc.), but in many encounters this will still provide a great deal of protection.
  • Cloak of InvisibilityDMG: Invisibility is extremely powerful in 5e. Note that this is just the invisible condition, not the spell spell Invisibility, so you can still attack or whatever while invisible. Unless you’re playing a Defender and actively trying to draw attacks away from your allies, this is absolutely amazing.
  • Ioun Stone (Mastery)DMG: Proficiency Bonuses apply to a lot of things and a +1 bonus goes a long way. Attacks, saves, skills, etc. all benefit.
  • Ring of Spell TurningDMG: Given the choice, I would much rather haqve a Mantle of Spell Resistance simply because the Ring of Spell Turning doesn’t provide any protection against area effect spells. Otherwise, this is a really fun item, and if it provided Advantage on saves against area of effect spells it would shoot straight up to blue.
  • Ring of Three WishesDMG: Use this to do one of the things that risks permanently removing the ability to cast Wish, such as granting 10 creatures permanent resistance to once damage type. If you lose the ability to cast Wish, pass this off to another ally who will never be able to cast Wish by any other means. Repeat until the last charge is used.

    For more help with Wish, see my Practical Guide to Wish.

  • Scarab of ProtectionDMG: An upgrade from the Mantle of Spell Resistance, the Scarab of Protection adds a limited benefit against necromancy and undead creatures, and doesn’t take up your cloak slot, leaving you free to take items like a Cloak of Protection or Cloak of Invisibility instead.

Example Build – Rock Gnome Alchemist Artificer

I like making things. Mostly trouble.

This is a “Staple Build”. This build is simple, and relies on options from the SRD and the Basic Rules wherever possible. If you need a functional build with nothing fancy or complicated, this is a great place to start.

The Rock Gnome doubles down on the Artificer’s theme by adding the Rock Gnome’s Tinker trait. Beyond the complexity of using Tinker in addition to the Artificer’s class features, this is a very simple build.

This build is available to copy on D&D Beyond.

Abilities

We will assume the point buy abilities suggested above, but we’ll reverse the Constitution and Intelligence scores to work better with our race.

Race

Rock Gnome. The Intelligence increase brings us to 16, and the Constitution increase brings us to 16, which makes us effective with your class features and reasonably durable.

Tinker is the Rock Gnome’s only particularly complicated trait, but it offers a fun way to embrace the Artificer’s theme.

Skills and Tools

The Artificer gets two skills from their class list, one type of Artisan’s tools, and two fixed tools. Guild Artisan will add Insight, Persuasion, an extra set of artisan’s tools. Pick whatever artisan’s tools sound like fun.

Background

Guild Artisan. The skill proficiencies aren’t fantastic for the artificer, but there are few backgrounds which are setting-agnostic and work well. The Failed Merchant out of Acquisitions Incorporated works well, and starts you with some very expensive starting equipment.

Feats

This build doesn’t require feats. At high levels you might consider feats once you reach 20 Intelligence, but it’s not strictly necessary.

Levels

LevelFeat(s) and FeaturesNotes and Tactics
1
  • Magical Tinkering
  • Spellcasting

For your starting gear, take two daggers, a light crossbow and 20 bolts, scale mail, theives’ tools, and a dungeoneering pack. The crossbow is useful when enemies are outside of your cantrip range, but you’ll have better results if you sell it and use the gold to but a shield.

At this level your options are really limited. You’ll feel more like a weird wizard than like an actual artificer. Keep your shield out, prepare spells that will keep you alive, and just try to make it to 2nd level. Fire Bolt will deal enough damage to make you useful in combat, and you long list of proficiencies, Tinker, and Magical Tinkering give you plenty of utility options outside of combat. Bring Cure Wounds to help your allies in combat, but try to avoid using it until you absolutely need to do so; you only have two spell slots.

2
  • Infuse Item
  • Infused Items: 2
  • Infusions Known
    • Enhanced Arcane Focus
    • Enhanced Defense
    • Enhanced Weapon
    • Replicate Magic Item (Bag of Holding)

Level 2 is where the Artificer really starts to feel like they should. You don’t get any more spell slots, but 2 magic items can be a massive improvement to your capabilities.

If you need nothing else, use Enhanced Arcane Focus and Enhanced Defense to boost your spell attacks and your AC. +1 to AC will bring you up to 19 AC, giving you nearly as much AC as a fighter in full plate. If you have allies to defend you, consider sharing Enhanced Defense and/or Enhanced Weapon.

3
  • Artificer Specialist: Alchemist
  • The Right Tool for the Job
  • Tool Proficiency: Any
  • Alchemist Spells
  • Experimental Elixir (1)

Third level brings a lot of good things. You get another 1st-level spell slot just in time to get an expanded spell list, including the absolutely essential Healing Word. You can stop preparing Cure Wounds, and instead rely on Healing Word for emergency healing in combat.

The Alchemist gains proficiency with Alchemist’s Supplies, but we got that at first level, so you get to replace it with any other tool proficiency.

The Right Tool for the Job doesn’t change much, but it’s basically a free set of tools.

This level also brings Experimental Elixir. The free elixir won’t reliably be something that you can count on, but you can turn spells itno elixirs to get a bunch of useful buffs.

4
  • Ability Score Improvement (Constitution Intelligence 16 -> 18)

A bunch of extra hit points, and your spell attacks, DC’s, and a bunch of other things improve.

5

At this level, Alchemical Savant is a +4 bonus to one roll per spell. Your cantrips also improve at this spell, so you go from 1d10 with Fire Bolt to 2d10+4, which is a massive increase. Your leveled spells benefit too: Healing Word is now 1d4+8 instead of 1d4+4.

5th level also brings 2nd-level spells. The Alchemist’s spell list offers two offensive options, so be sure to prepare something else that will make good use of your 2nd-level spell slots.

6
  • Tool Expertise
  • Infused Items: 3
  • New Infusions Known
    • Resistant Armor
    • Replicate Magic Item (Lantern of Revealing)
  • Experimental Elixir (2)

Several things improve incrementally at this level. You get access to the second group of Infusions and the second group of options for Replicate Magic Item, and you get a third Infused Item per day.

You have plenty of options for infusions. Resistant Armor (fire) is a great defensive option, but feel free to experiment. You get to retrain one option at every level (including this one), so you could trade out low-level Infusions for new options as you gain levels if you find that you’re not using older options.

You also gain Tool Expertise at this level, doubling your proficiency bonus with all five of your tool proficiencies.

7

It’s hard to understate how good Flash of Genius is. +4 can turn a failure into a success very easily. +4 covers 20% of the range over which a d20 can roll, and when your Intelligence improves again at 8th level it gets even better.

8
  • Ability Score Improvement (Intelligence 18 -> 20)

It may not feel exciting, but this improves a lot about your character. The Artificer is massively dependent on Intelligence, so any improvement is significant.

9

By now you get two doses of Experimental Elixir per day, but the free elixirs are still not reliably useful. This adds some Temporary Hit points to their effects, so even if you don’t roll a useful effect you can still get some Temporary Hit Points out of the extra elixirs. You also get to cast Lesser Restoration 5 times per day for free, which allows you to use your limited spell slots for anything else.

10
  • Magic Item Adept
  • Infused Items: 4
  • New Infusions Known
    • Replicate Magic Item (Cloak of Protection)
    • Replicate Magic Item (Winged Boots)

Allowing you to attune four magic items is very useful at this point. Now that you can create four Infused Items per day, you could easily make four that require Attunement. That’s probably not a good idea, but it’s possible.

Sours: https://rpgbot.net/dnd5/characters/classes/artificer/
Davvy's D\u0026D 5e Artificer Spell Guide

Class Features

As an artificer, you gain the following class features.

Hit Points

Hit Dice: 1d8 per artificer level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 8 + your Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d8 (or 5) + your Constitution modifier per artificer level after 1st

Proficiencies

Armor: Light armor, medium armor, shields
Weapons: Simple weapons
Tools: Thieves’ tools, tinker’s tools, one type of artisan’s tools of your choice
Saving Throws: Constitution, Intelligence
Skills: Choose two from Arcana, History, Investigation, Medicine, Nature, Perception, Sleight of Hand

Equipment

You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:

  • any two simple weapons
  • a light crossbow and 20 bolts
  • (a) studded leather armor or (b) scale mail
  • thieves’ tools and a dungeoneer’s pack
Optional Rule: Firearm Proficiency

The secrets of gunpowder weapons have been discovered in various corners of the D&D multiverse. If your Dungeon Master uses the rules on firearms in the Dungeon Master's Guide and your artificer has been exposed to the operation of such weapons, your artificer is proficient with them.

Magical Tinkering

At 1st level, you've learned how to invest a spark of magic into mundane objects. To use this ability, you must have thieves' tools or artisan's tools in hand. You then touch a Tiny nonmagical object as an action and give it one of the following magical properties of your choice:

  • The object sheds bright light in a 5-foot radius and dim light for an additional 5 feet.
  • Whenever tapped by a creature, the object emits a recorded message that can be heard up to 10 feet away. You utter the message when you bestow this property on the object, and the recording can be no more than 6 seconds long.
  • The object continuously emits your choice of an odor or a nonverbal sound (wind, waves, chirping, or the like). The chosen phenomenon is perceivable up to 10 feet away.
  • A static visual effect appears on one of the object's surfaces. This effect can be a picture, up to 25 words of text, lines and shapes, or a mixture of these elements, as you like.

The chosen property lasts indefinitely. As an action, you can touch the object and end the property early.

You can bestow magic on multiple objects, touching one object each time you use this feature, though a single object can only bear one property at a time. The maximum number of objects you can affect with this feature at one time is equal to your Intelligence modifier (minimum of one object). If you try to exceed your maximum, the oldest property immediately ends, and then the new property applies.

Spellcasting

You've studied the workings of magic and how to cast spells, channeling the magic through objects. To observers, you don't appear to be casting spells in a conventional way; you appear to produce wonders from mundane items and outlandish inventions.

Tools Required

You produce your artificer spell effects through your tools. You must have a spellcasting focus-specifically thieves' tools or some kind of artisan's tool-in hand when you cast any spell with this Spellcasting feature (meaning the spell has an "M" component when you cast it). You must be proficient with the tool to use it in this way. See the equipment chapter in the Player's Handbook for descriptions of these tools.

After you gain the Infuse Item feature at 2nd level, you can also use any item bearing one of your infusions as a spellcasting focus.

Cantrips (0-Level Spells)

At 1st level, you know two cantrips of your choice from the artificer spell list. At higher levels, you learn additional artificer can trips of your choice, as shown in the Cantrips Known column of the Artificer table.

When you gain a level in this class, you can replace one of the artificer cantrips you know with another cantrip from the artificer spell list.

Preparing and Casting Spells

The Artificer table shows how many spell slots you have to cast your artificer spells. To cast one of your artificer spells of 1st level or higher, you must expend a slot of the spell's level or higher. You regain all expended spell slots when you finish a long rest.

You prepare the list of artificer spells that are available for you to cast, choosing from the artificer spell list. When you do so, choose a number of artificer spells equal to your Intelligence modifier + half your artificer level, rounded down (minimum of one spell). The spells must be of a level for which you have spell slots.

For example, if you are a 5th-level artificer, you have four 1st-level and two 2nd-level spell slots. With an Intelligence of 14, your list of prepared spells can include four spells of 1st or 2nd level, in any combination. If you prepare the 1st-level spell Cure Wounds, you can cast it using a lst-level or a 2nd-level slot. Casting the spell doesn't remove it from your list of prepared spells.

You can change your list of prepared spells when you finish a long rest. Preparing a new list of artificer spells requires time spent tinkering with your spellcasting focuses: at least 1 minute per spell level for each spell on your list.

Spellcasting Ability

Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for your artificer spells; your understanding of the theory behind magic allows you to wield these spells with superior skill. You use your Intelligence whenever an artificer spell refers to your spellcasting ability. In addition, you use your Intelligence modifier when setting the saving throw DC for an artificer spell you cast and when making an attack roll with one.

Spell save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier

Spell attack modifier = your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier

Ritual Casting

You can cast an artificer spell as a ritual if that spell has the ritual tag and you have the spell prepared.

Infuse Item

At 2nd level, you've gained the ability to imbue mundane items with certain magical infusions, turning those objects into magic items.

Infusions Known

When you gain this feature, pick four artificer infusions to learn. You learn additional infusions of your choice when you reach certain levels in this class, as shown in the Infusions Known column of the Artificer table.

Whenever you gain a level in this class, you can replace one of the artificer infusions you learned with a new one.

Infusing an Item

Whenever you finish a long rest, you can touch a nonmagical object and imbue it with one of your artificer infusions, turning it into a magic item. An infusion works on only certain kinds of objects, as specified in the infusion's description. If the item requires attunement, you can attune yourself to it the instant you infuse the item. If you decide to attune to the item later, you must do so using the normal process for attunement (see the attunement rules in the Dungeon Master's Guide).

Your infusion remains in an item indefinitely, but when you die, the infusion vanishes after a number of days equal to your Intelligence modifier (minimum of 1 day). The infusion also vanishes if you replace your knowledge of the infusion.

You can infuse more than one nonmagical object at the end of a long rest; the maximum number of objects appears in the Infused Items column of the Artificer table. You must touch each of the objects, and each of your infusions can be in only one object at a time. Moreover, no object can bear more than one of your infusions at a time. If you try to exceed your maximum number of infusions, the oldest infusion ends, and then the new infusion applies.

If an infusion ends on an item that contains other things, like a bag of holding, its contents harmlessly appear in and around its space.

Artificer Specialist

At 3rd level, you choose the type of specialist you are. Your choice grants you features at 5th level and again at 9th and 15th level.

SpecialtySource
AlchemistTasha's Cauldron of Everything
Eberron: Rising from the Last War
ArmorerTasha's Cauldron of Everything
ArtilleristTasha's Cauldron of Everything
Eberron: Rising from the Last War
Battle SmithTasha's Cauldron of Everything
Eberron: Rising from the Last War
The following domains are unofficial content developed by Eberron writer Keith Baker and released on the Dungeon Master's Guild
Forge AdeptExploring Eberron
MaverickExploring Eberron
Archived Unearthed Arcana
ArchivistUnearthed Arcana 58 - Artificer
ArmorerUnearthed Arcana 69 - Subclasses, Part 3

The Right Tool for the Job

At 3rd level, you've learned how to produce exactly the tool you need: with thieves' tools or artisan's tools in hand, you can magically create one set of artisan's tools in an unoccupied space within 5 feet of you. This creation requires 1 hour of uninterrupted work, which can coincide with a short or long rest. Though the product of magic, the tools are nonmagical, and they vanish when you use this feature again.

Ability Score Improvement

When you reach 4th level, 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can't increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.

Tool Expertise

At 6th level, your proficiency bonus is now doubled for any ability check you make that uses your proficiency with a tool.

Flash of Genius

At 7th level, you've gained the ability to come up with solutions under pressure. When you or another creature you can see within 30 feet of you makes an ability check or a saving throw, you can use your reaction to add your Intelligence modifier to the roll.

You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Intelligence modifier (minimum of once). You regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.

Magic Item Adept

When you reach 10th level, you achieve a profound understanding of how to use and make magic items:

  • You can attune to up to four magic items at once.
  • If you craft a magic item with a rarity of common or uncommon, it takes you a quarter of the normal time, and it costs you half as much of the usual gold.

Spell-Storing Item

At 11th level, you can now store a spell in an object. Whenever you finish a long rest, you can touch one simple or martial weapon or one item that you can use as a spellcasting focus, and you store a spell in it, choosing a lst- or 2nd-level spell from the artificer spell list that requires 1 action to cast (you needn't have it prepared).

While holding the object, a creature can take an action to produce the spell's effect from it, using your spellcasting ability modifier. If the spell requires concentration, the creature must concentrate. The spell stays in the object until it's been used a number of times equal to twice your Intelligence modifier (minimum of twice) or until you use this feature again to store a spell in an object.

Magic Item Savant

At 14th level, your skill with magic items deepens more:

  • You can attune to up to five magic items at once.
  • You ignore all class, race, spell and level requirements on attuning to or using a magic item.

Magic Item Master

Starting at 18th level, you can attune up to six magic items at once.

Soul of Artifice

At 20th level, you develop a mystical connection to your magic items, which you can draw on for protection:

  • You gain a +1 bonus to all saving throws per magic item you are currently attuned to.
  • If you're reduced to 0 hit points but not killed out-right, you can use your reaction to end one of your artificer infusions, causing you to drop to 1 hit point instead of 0.
Sours: http://dnd5e.wikidot.com/artificer

Artificer d&d5e

The DnD 5e Artificer Guide

What is this guide?

This guide is meant as a deep dive into the DnD 5e Artificer. For a quick overview of the Artificer Class, see our breakdown of the DnD 5e Classes.

In this post, we will be examining the Artificer’s Class Features and how you can optimize your Artificer through choosing your Race, Ability Score, Spells, Feats, etc.

The color code below has been implemented to help you identify, at a glance, how good that option will be for your Artificer. This color-coding isn’t a hard and fast rule; there are plenty of sub-optimized options out there that will be viable to your party and will be fun to play.

  • Red isn’t going to contribute to the effectiveness of your character build at all
  • Orange is an OK option
  • Green is a good option
  • Blue is a great option, you should strongly consider this option for your character
  • Sky Blue is an amazing option. If you do not take this option your character would not be optimized

So if you’re ready, grab your tools because we’ve got some tinkering to do!

D&D 5e Artificer Overview

Playstyle

The Artificer is the first full-fledged class to be added to D&D 5e outside of the Player’s Handbook. Artificers were first introduced in the sourcebook Eberron: Rising from the Last War and were reprinted in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. The Artificer is an extremely unique class because it is the only class to have a large focus on items.

The Artificer’s class features revolve around Magical Tinkering and Infuse Items, both of which are able to give mundane items extra abilities or effects. Even their subclasses are primarily focused on items, whether it is crafting potions, animating a suit of armor to fight for you, turning your wand into a firearm, or crafting yourself a friend to defend you in combat.

Strengths

The Artificer is a support/utility class through and through. Being able to craft items and have a wide variety of utility spells allows Artificers to have a way to gain a leg up in combat and adventuring situations. The biggest advantage they can offer their party is through the Artificer Infusions. These Infusions can create powerful magical items that, in a system like 5e, provide a huge advantage to your party by boosting their power beyond their current level.

Weaknesses

The Artificer’s uniqueness tends to get in the way of its actual effectiveness. One of the main issues with the Artificer is how few spell slots they are given. For a class that has INT as its primary stat, they don’t get a whole lot of use out of it until 7th level when they get Flash of Genius.

Some Artificer builds can end up being underwhelming in combat. For the subclasses that are primarily spellcasting, they have very few actual damage, buff, or control spells due to the fact that their spells are mainly meant for utility. For the subclasses that will be wading into combat, they will quickly find their d8 hit dice can let them down. The Artificer’s main strength comes outside of combat, where they are able to tinker with items and provide lasting buffs to their party members.

Before You Start

Standard Races

Artificers need INT for their spellcasting and pretty much all other class features. After that, CON will help increase your HP, DEX will help with AC, and WIS/CHA will help with out-of-combat situations.

Dragonborn: STR and CHA are not what Artificers are looking for.

Dwarf: CON boost and Darkvision are okay, but not enough to make up for the lack of INT.

  • Hill: Nothing here for Artificers.
  • Mountain: Nothing here for Artificers.

Elf: DEX is a good pickup, and there are some other racial traits here that are nice to have.

  • Drow Elf: No INT bonus and sunlight sensitivity. Terrible.
  • High Elf: +1 INT and a free cantrip. This is a great choice.
  • Wood Elf: No INT bonus.

Gnome: Gnomes are the OG Artificer class as they are known for their intelligence and proficiency with tinkering. The +2 INT here goes a long way.

  • Forest: +1 DEX and the minor illusion cantrip is really solid for Artificers.
  • Rock: +1 CON is solid and a Tinker ability is a fun pickup for Artificers.

Half-Elf: A +1 INT is nice, but the CHA won’t help a ton.

Half-Orc: Unsurprisingly, nothing here for an Artificer.

Halfling: +2 DEX is nice, but the lack of INT here hurts. Also, the Artificer will rarely be making rolls that Lucky will affect.

  • Lightfoot: No INT and nothing here makes up for its lack.
  • Stout: No INT and nothing here makes up for its lack.

Human: Humans are always decent.

  • Vanilla: A regular human will be well-rounded. 
  • Variant: Variant humans are usually good, and this is no exception for Artificers. Variant humans can boost their INT and DEX/CON and also get a free feat. Depending on your feat of choice, you should be able to pick up another +1 INT at level 1.

Tiefling: a +1 INT is nice, but the CHA won’t help a ton. The extra spells are welcome.

Non-Standard Races

Aarakocra: Free concentration-less flight is  great for a spellcaster like the Artificer. The ASI spread isn’t great though.

Genasi: Ideally the Artificer would like to see +2 INT. The Fire Genasi gets us most of the way there, plus increased survivability from the CON bonus and Fire Resistance, Darkvision, and a useful cantrip to boot.

Gith: Since both subraces come with INT, they are both reasonable choices for Artificers. Githyanki are cool if you want to try a melee build, and Githzerai are for those that want to take a more defensive approach.

Hobgoblins: +2 INT would be much more appealing for the Artificer and the armor component of Martial Training is redundant. Still, proficiency in martial weapons, a CON boost, and Saving Face could provide a good foundation for a Battle Smith Artificer.

Human:

  • Mark of Making: provides +2 INT and comes with thematic racial features and spells. 

Simic Hybrids: Artificers would love to +2 INT right off the bat but INT racial bonuses are rare enough that Artificers will be happy with the +1. Carapace is a good choice for the squishier caster classes but will be wasted if you end up going for an Armorer Artifcer build.

Vedalken: Artificers are happy as long as they see a +2 INT bonus. Vedalken Dispassion helps when fighting other spellcasters, and Tireless Protection offers you the chance to get some skill or tool proficiencies you may not normally have access to.

Warforged: Really cool for roleplay, since you can be a tinkerer who was created through tinkering. INT is your main stat, so take that with your free ASI point and focus on survivability with the boosted CON and one of the sweet armor infusions.

Ability Scores

Ability Score Increases (ASI) at4th, 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level.

Artificers value INT above all else, followed by CON/DEX. DEX shouldn’t be ignored if you are using it for AC.

STR: Artificers aren’t brawlers, they don’t need STR.

DEX: Good DEX means a higher AC and helps with ranged attacks.

CON: Artificers are hoping to not get hit a lot with a d8 hit dice. If they do get hit, they’ll want to invest in CON.

INT: INT is the be all end all for Artificers. It is extremely important for pretty much all of their class features.

WIS: WIS saves and Perception checks happen a lot.

CHA: CHA helps with social skills.

Artificer Class Progression

1st Level

Hit Points: Artificers have a d8. Pretty standard for casters.

Saves: CON saves will be awesome to help maintain concentration, and INT saves do happen now and again. 

Weapon/Armor Proficiencies: Light armor, medium armor, and shields are more than most casters get.

Skills: Only two skills from a small list, and not a lot of these come up a bunch.

  • Arcana: INT-based skill checks are far and few between but this will be part of your role in the party.
  • History: See above for INT-based skills.
  • Investigation: The most useful INT-based skill by far.
  • Medicine: See above for INT-based skills.
  • Nature: See above for INT-based skills.
  • Perception: Perception checks are called for a lot. If you take a proficiency here, you won’t have to worry too much about your lacking WIS modifier.
  • Sleight of Hand: A semi-important stealthy skill.

Magical Tinkering: This is essentially a Prestidigitation or Minor Illusion cantrip as an entire class feature. Not a great start for Artificers.

Spellcasting Ability: Artificers are an extremely unique casting class. They don’t get spells above 5th level like half-casters. Usually, half-casters like Paladins,  Rangers, and Eldritch Knights have the ability to fall back on melee fighting skills to back them up when spell slots run out. Artificers will be relying on cantrips for their damage, which can cause the class to have peaks and valleys in damage output, usually lining up with the powering up of cantrips at 5th, 11th, and 17th level.

2nd Level

Artificer Infusions: There are some really solid choices here and the sheer versatility offered by being able to swap out these choices over the campaign is certainly something to take into consideration.

  • Enhanced Arcane Focus: A +1 wand is a great pickup at 2nd level. Boosting to +2 at 10th level helps keep it relevant.
  • Enhanced Defense: +1 AC at <10th level and +2 AC at >10th level is nice.
  • Enhanced Weapon: Infused melee weapons are a lot more likely to be outclassed by magical weapons found while adventuring than armor or arcane focuses. Still, this is a solid ability and will likely see use, even in the higher levels of campaigns.
  • Homunculus Servant: The Homunculus certainly isn’t a star in combat does have some uses. With only 1 + INT mod + Artificer level HP and an AC of 13, they are quite squishy (though admittedly less so than Familiars). The 1d4 + Prof. Mod bonus action damage isn’t really great, but it’s a good use of your bonus action if you don’t have one. Like familiars, they can deliver touch spells, and provide the help action in combat to up their utility. The HS has some advantages over Find Familiar, like the level of autonomy they are granted by having an INT of 10, as well as the ability to carry things and use the Artificer’s Spell-Storing Item.
  • Repeating Shot: Much like the other “enhanced” infusions, this is a solid pickup. Unfortunately, this doesn’t scale past 10th level so you will find yourself dropping this around then. The other benefit it adds to being able to shoot “loaded” weapons without having to actually load them. Good for duel wielding crossbows without the Crossbow Expert feat.
  • Replicate Magic Item: This ability is insanely powerful and, because you can swap out the replicated item upon leveling up, it will allow you to usually have the best item for the current arc you are running. This is a no brainer and will likely be taken multiple times.
  • Returning Weapon: A +1 weapon that returns after it is thrown is nice for flavor purposes if you, or anyone in your party, wants to roleplay as Thor.

3rd Level

The Right Tool for the Job: Tools proficiencies are the ugly duckling of every D&D backstory. There just isn’t enough in the system to bring a large focus on them. If you have a lot of downtime and side gigs in your campaign this may be a fun flavor addition, but you won’t see this ability making huge stirs in your adventures.  This feature is primarily here to bring your Artificer Specialist subclass online, even if you are adventuring in the wilderness, because they all require artisan tools.

Artificer Specialist: At 3rd level Artificers may choose their specialization. None of the options are outright unusable, so choose the subclass that benefits your party the most or simply the one you think you will enjoy.

Alchemist

The alchemist adds some nice healing benefits to the Artificer. While you definitely can’t keep up with a Cleric or Circle of the Moon Druid, your party will certainly appreciate the support.

  • Alchemist Spells:
    • 3rd Level
      • Healing Word: A bonus action ranged heal is an amazing spell to always have in your pocket.
      • Ray of Sickness: Damage isn’t great but Poisoned is a nasty condition. Unfortunately, the save targets CON which is a common proficient saving throw, and immunity to the Poisoned condition is also fairly common. Don’t try to cast this at Constructs, Fiends, or Undead at the very least.
    • 5th Level
      • Flaming Sphere: Not the best damage, but AoE and the ability to move the sphere as a bonus action are useful if up against a horde of weak enemies.
      • Melf’s Acid Arrow: Melf’s AA is a good spell in most circumstances but is very useful if a caster is holding concentration on a spell or if you have advantage on the attack.
    • 9th Level
      • Gaseous Form: This spell can honestly vie for the top “infiltration” spell over invisibility. Being able to fly and move through tiny cracks as an inconspicuous cloud can make getting into any heavily defended fortress a cinch.
      • Mass Healing Word: Mass Healing Word isn’t always quite as helpful as Healing Word. If you have more than one party member down it is a total life saver (literally).
    • 13th Level
      • Blight: Bad damage, bad save, bad spell.
      • Death Ward: This is a great spell to cast at the beginning of the day, especially if you know that you are going somewhere dangerous, because it lasts 8 hours.
    • 17th Level
      • Cloudkill: Not great in an open field but if you can get the drop on an enemy or contain a group of enemies within the spell it can be very effective because it deals damage turn after turn, as long as the caster keeps concentration. It can also be effective to block off a vantage point used by ranged enemies.
      • Raise Dead: Great resurrection spell to have in your back pocket but if your party doesn’t have resurrection spells by 17th level then you have bigger problems to worry about.
  • 3rd Level
    • Tool Proficiency: The most helpful thing you can do with Alchemist Supplies is your “Experimental Elixir” feature so this proficiency doesn’t mean much.
    • Experimental Elixir: These elixirs are all solid and this feature would have been sky blue if you could choose the effect.
  • 5th Level
    • Alchemical Savant: A very weirdly worded feature that essentially gives you bonus damage/healing equal to your INT modifier. This is an amazing pick up for your Firebolt which could easily be doing 2d10+4 each turn.
  • 9th Level
    • Restorative Reagents: Turning all of your elixirs into buffed healing potions is a great way to keep them relevant throughout the campaign. Lesser Restoration will certainly be of use in 9th level encounters.
  • 15th Level
    • Chemical Mastery: Resistance to 2 common damage types in acid and poison is undoubtedly nice. Being able to cast a free 6th level Heal or Greater Restoration spell once per long rest is very handy.

Armorer

The armorer focuses on buffing a set of magical armor to help you out in battle. This is certainly the tankiest option for the Artificer.

  • Alchemist Spells:
    • 3rd Level
      • Magic Missile: Consistent and reliable damage spell.
      • Thunderwave: One of your few options to knock opponents back if you find yourself in a sticky situation. Damage isn’t bad either but it’s a CON save.
    • 5th Level
      • Mirror Image: You can’t go wrong with casting Mirror Image. It’s a great evasion spell that doesn’t require concentration.
      • Shatter: This is essentially a ranged Thunderwave without the benefit of knocking enemies back. Different use cases, still a great spell.
    • 9th Level
      • Hypnotic Pattern: One of the best debuffs in the game.
      • Lightning Bolt: Just as powerful as Fireball but has a less effective AoE because it’s a line rather than a circle.
    • 13th Level
      • Fire Shield: A great way to head into battle and make enemies think twice about attacking you.
      • Greater Invisibility: Probably the best buff in the game, tied with Haste. Attack with advantage and enemies attack you with disadvantage.
    • 17th Level
      • Passwall: Never be stonewalled by a locked door again (unless your DM specifically makes all walls 21ft thick to mess with you).
      • Wall of Force: You’re just making a wall. So what? You can split up opposing forces, hide behind an impenetrable wall, or make a dome over your party. It is immune to dispel magic but can be disintegrated.
  • 3rd Level
    • Tool Proficiency: The most helpful thing you can do with smith’s tools is your “Arcane Armor” feature so this proficiency doesn’t mean much.
    • Arcane Armor: Turn yourself into the fantasy equivalent of Iron Man. This allows you to wear heavy armor, even if you dump STR.
    • Armor Model: Leaning even harder into the Iron Man vibe, you can choose one of the following options each long or short rest. The two options both only really require INT, so switching between the two of them is seamless.
      • Guardian: Adding your INT modifier to essentially longsword damage is great and thunder is an awesome damage type. The temp hit points will greatly increase your HP pool which you will need because the Guardian likes to be upfront and personal.
      • Infiltrator: 1d6 + 1d6 + INT modifier will outpace any cantrip or ranged weapon at this level. Once you get to higher levels, the damage may fall behind other ranged classes because you can only add the 1d6 one time per turn but the damage can be buffed by your infusions starting the 9th level and your perfect armor at 15th level will also help. The increase in walking speed and evening out on Stealth checks for heavy armor is nice, especially if you can get your hands on Mithril armor to fully take on the advantage.
  • 5th Level
    • Extra Attack: As the Armorer will be relying on attacks with its Arcane Armor, rather than cantrips, this is necessary to keep your damage output at a reasonable level.
  • 9th Level
    • Alchemical Savant: This ability meshes extremely well with the Artificer’s infusions. Being able to enhance the magical damage, AC, and weapon damage of your armor with your infusions will feel great and offers a ton of customizability.
  • 15th Level
    • Perfected Armor:
      • Guardian: Being able to pull a creature towards you and make an extra melee attack once per turn (up to your proficiency modifier times) offers amazing versatility. You can protect the more vulnerable members of your party by pulling creatures away and engaging them or straight up pulling friendlies out of range of attacks.
      • Infiltrator: Granting advantage and providing extra damage on the next hit EACH TIME you hit a creature is just straight-up amazing. Keep in mind that if you hit a creature twice with the lightning weapon you get this effect twice.

Artillerist

The Artillerist has the ability to summon a magical cannon that helps control the battlefield.

  • Artillerist Spells:
    • 3rd Level
      • Shield: One of the better defensive spells.
      • Thunderwave: Solid AoE spell.
    • 5th Level
      • Scorching Ray: A potential 6d6 focused damage at a 2nd-level spell slot, can target multiple opponents, and has crit potential.
      • Shatter: This is essentially a ranged Thunderwave without the benefit of knocking enemies back. Different use cases, still a great spell.
    • 9th Level
      • Fireball: The gold standard for damage spells in 5e.
      • Wind Wall: Situational at best.
    • 13th Level
      • Ice Storm: Situational for when you are looking for cold damage or to halt an enemy’s advance.
      • Wall of Fire: Amazing battlefield control option to divide enemies and deal massive damage.
    • 17th Level
      • Cone of Cold: Cone of cold sacrifices the better save (CON instead of DEX) for better AoE when compared to fireball.
      • Wall of Force: Amazing battlefield control. You can wall off enemy reinforcements, create an avenue of escape, block a massive AoE attack on your party, etc.
  • 3rd Levels
    • Tool Proficiency: The most helpful thing you can do with smith’s tools or woodcarver’s tools is your “Eldritch Cannon” feature so this proficiency doesn’t mean much.
    • Eldritch Cannon: The cannon has a fair amount of utility on the battlefield. It can shoot AoE at short distances, hit with force damage at long distances, and heal your party members. The damage isn’t amazing but the healing is a stellar use of your bonus action. The biggest downside is only being able to summon it once per long rest without expending a spell slot. While this can eat into the Artificer’s already meager spell slots, your Arcane Cannon is the focus of your subclass and will likely be worth it.
  • 5th Level
    • Arcane Firearm: The inconsistency of adding a d8 to spell damage over a raw INT modifier will only be outweighed when you hit 20 INT. Until then, you are getting roughly 4.5 extra damage out of each spell.
  • 9th Level
    • Explosive Cannon: A nice damage increase for your cannon. The detonation option is only really useful if you are running from a battle and can’t be bothered to retrieve your cannon.
  • 15th Level
    • Fortified Position: Giving your party half cover will mean a +2 for pretty much all of the ranged party members. The ability to double down on your cannon will mean get you a ton of mileage either in straight damage or pushing through damage while healing your party at the same time

Battle Smith

Their spell list is mainly lackluster with some real core melee caster spells sprinkled in. The highlight of this subclass is definitely their ability to attack using their INT modifier, in addition to their trusty Steel Defender which can soak damage as well as it can deal it.

  • Battle Smith Spells:
    • 3rd Level
      • Heroism: Getting between 3-5 temp hit points at the beginning of each of your turns is an absolutely amazing 1st level spell.
      • Shield: One of the better defensive spells.
    • 5th Level
      • Branding Smite: The damage doesn’t keep pace with other 2nd level spells and the effect is situational.
      • Warding Bond: Artificers don’t necessarily have the hit dice in order to split damage with a melee fighter.
    • 9th Level
      • Aura of Vitality: Heroism is more consistent and doesn’t require a bonus action.
      • Conjure Barrage: Does roughly half the damage of fireball. Can be good if you can catch twice as many enemies in the larger radius, but it won’t happen often.
    • 13th Level
      • Aura of Purity: Situational effect.
      • Fire Shield: A great way to wade into battle and make enemies think twice about attacking you.
    • 17th Level
      • Banishing Smite: No save to the banishment (as long as their HP is low enough). This is the best smite in the game.
      • Mass Cure Wounds: Range, multiple targets, and decent healing power.
  • 3rd Level
    • Tool Proficiency: The most helpful thing you can do with smith’s tools is your Steel Defender feature so this proficiency doesn’t mean much.
    • Battle Ready: Being able to use INT modifier instead of STR or DEX is HUGE for melee caster builds to become less multi-ability dependent (MAD). Martial weapons are a necessary addition.
    • Steel Defender: The Steel Defender is made to wade into battle alongside you and impose disadvantage on attacks that target you once per turn. It can also be a great use of your Bonus Action to make a melee attack with roughly longsword damage and is force damage, which is one of the best types of damage in the game. You can also heal the Defender for free with the mending spell, or its Repair action, depending on how much time you have.
  • 5th Level
    • Extra Attack: Helps keep your melee damage on par with other melee classes.
  • 9th Level
    • Arcane Jolt: By this point, you can use this 5 times per long rest. If your party doesn’t have another healer, save these charges for healing. If you aren’t hurting for healing, make the judgment as to whether maintaining pace with other melee party members is more worth it in the moment.
  • 15th Level
    • Improved Defender: A lot of nice buffs here. Doubling your Arcane Jolt damage helps keep it relevant, the AC buff helps keep your defender from dying too soon, and the extra damage on Deflect Attack is a great addition.

6th Level

Tool Expertise: As mentioned before, tools just aren’t that well utilized by the 5e system. If you don’t have a Rogue, the best thing you can get out of this is being a fairly consistent lock picker.

Artificer Infusions: Unfortunately, the options you get access to at 6th level are a lot less stellar than 2nd level.

  • Boots of the Winding Path: Teleporting as a bonus action would be considered amazing. However, the caveat of having to have occupied the space you are teleporting to at some point during the current turn makes this a much worse option.
  • Radiant Weapon: This is a great ability that grants a bonus to hit and damage and some utility in being able to blind attackers. It is a toss-up as to whether this is better than the Enhanced Weapon at level 10.
  • Repulsion Shield: A +1 shield is fine but the ability to push attackers 15ft away isn’t that strong unless you are standing on a cliff. This is, however, a great combination with the Enhanced Defense to get an outstanding +3 AC.
  • Resistant Armor: Resistance to damage is very strong, but the only being resistant to acid, cold, fire, force, lightning, necrotic, poison, psychic, radiant, or thunder is too narrow compared to the other options here.

7th Level

Flash of Genius: Using your reaction to add +5 to an ability check or saving throw 5 times per day is extremely handy. This is comparable to the Paladin’s aura feature.

10th Level

Magic Item Adept: The extra attunement slots are mainly there to keep your Artificer Infusions viable. Crafting magical items faster and cheaper is a great ability, but will heavily depend on your campaign structure and DM to be effective. If you’re playing a campaign with lots of downtime, this feature would get a bluerating.

11th Level

Spell-Storing Item: This can allow you, or any creature holding the item, to cast a 1st or 2nd level spell up to 10 times per day. Most people who want to play an Artificer look at this ability and just start drooling over the sheer shenanigan potential. At the very least, this item can contain 10 Cure Wounds spells which would equate to 10d8+50 hit points of out-of-combat healing.

14th Level

Magic Item Savant: More attunement slots to keep Infusions viable. It is rare that you will come across a magical item outside of your class, race, spell, and level requirements to use with this feature.

Artificer Infusions: Only one infusion is opened up at 14th level, and it’s quite a good one.

  • Arcane Propulsion Armor: The extra speed is solid, and the force dealing versatile gauntlets will always be a nice trick up the sleeve (heh). Alchemist, Artillerist, and Battle Smith subclasses will benefit the most from this infusion. While it still offers some utility to the Armorer subclass, most of the effects are already part of their Arcane Armor feature, which seems to be a bit of an oversight on its design. The gauntlet weapons, unfortunately, uses STR for attacks, but force damage is a very good damage type to be dishing out.

18th Level

Magic Item Master: More attunement slots to keep Infusions viable.

20th Level

Soul of Artifice: A very, very good capstone ability. Any good Artificer will be fully stocked up with 6 attuned items. This means you can add +6 to all saving throws and can drop to 1hp instead of getting knocked unconscious 6 times.

Best Feats for Artificers

Below are some feats that are often considered on a 5e Artificer. Artificers are lucky in that they really only depend on INT (CON and DEX are important, but not critically), so they can still be effective even if they choose multiple feats as long as they get their INT to 20.

  • Alert: Never get caught off guard is a great ability for anyone to have.
  • Crossbow Expert: If firearms aren’t available in your setting and you want to build a ranged Artificer, this will be needed to outpace cantrip damage.
  • Elemental Adept: Choosing Elemental Adept (Fire) is a great boon for the Artillerist because of their spell list and because they get the extra d8 from their Arcane Firearm.
  • Fade Away: Gnomes make great Artificers but this feat is simply outclassed by the Shadow Touched feat.
  • Fey Touched: Great half-feat to boost INT, pickup Misty Step, and a 1st-level spell. Hex or Hunter’s Mark are great choices in most circumstances.
  • Flames of Phlegethos: Tieflings make alright Artificers and this feat provides value for Tiefling Artificers that will be using the firebolt cantrip regularly. Pump your INT, get a bit extra fire damage, and create some protection against melee attacks.
  • Gunner: If firearms are available in your setting, this will be invaluable to a ranged Artificer built around using firearms.
  • Keen Mind: 1 to INT helps this feat be a little less useless for Artificers.
  • Lucky: Lucky is a feat that is useful to any character.
  • Linguist: +1 to INT helps this feat be a little less useless. If languages hold big sway in your campaign, this is a decent pickup.
  • Metamagic Adept: The Sorcerer’s Metamagic feature is incredibly versatile for any spellcaster. View our Sorcerer Guide for a breakdown of which metamagic options are the best.
  • Magic Initiate: Not much to be gained by the Artificer here. The extra cantrips and Find Familiar from the Wizard list is as good as you’ll get.
  • Observant: +1 to INT will help here if you take the Variant Human race at 1st level. +5 to passive perception and investigation is no joke either.
  • Piecer: Another good pickup for the ranged Artificer. If you will be dual-wielding hand crossbows you will get double to the opportunity to get extra crit damage.
  • Sentinel: If you are working with a Guardian Armor or a Battle Smith, Sentinel will likely get you some extra melee attacks in. This will likely get outshone by the Guardian’s ability to pull creatures towards you and make an attack at 15th level.
  • Shadow Touched: Invisibility is a great spell and an extra 2nd-level spell goes a long way because of the Artificer’s reduced spell list. Plus, you get to increase your INT. This is a go-to option if you end up with an odd INT score after character creation.
  • Sharpshooter: Another must if you are building a ranged Artificer.
  • Skill Expert: If you are going to be making tinkering checks this is useful for doubling your proficiency bonus.
  • Spell Sniper: Artificers have limited spell slots and are sometimes forced to use cantrips or ranged weapons. If you’re going for a cantrip build, Spell Sniper is an invaluable feat.
  • War Caster: War Caster is a must for Guardian Armor and Battle Smith Artificers and is still solid for the other subclasses.

Spells

Artificers have access to a lot of spells. Therefore, we think it would be the most beneficial to only talk about our favorite spells at each level, and which ones to avoid. Just remember that this doesn’t mean the ones we don’t mention are necessarily bad or don’t have a purpose. For your particular campaign, your mileage may vary.

For a full list of Artificer spells click here.

Cantrips

  • Booming Blade: Awesome for melee casters.
  • Create Bonfire: Good damage and battlefield control.
  • Fire Bolt: Pick this if you need a damage-dealing cantrip.
  • Green-Flame Blade: Awesome for melee casters.
  • Mage Hand: Good utility.
  • Magic Stone: If you have an INT modifier of at least +3, this is a better option to use than Fire Bolt from 1st-4th levels because of the higher average damage. Once you hit 5th level, change this out for Fire Bolt.
  • Mending: You’re the party’s tinkerer so you have to be able to fix stuff! Plus mending allows you to heal your Steel Defender or Homunculus Servant.
  • Message: Often pointless due to unavoidable metagaming, but for roleplaying purposes it’s great.
  • Poison Spray: A saving throw avoids all damage caused by this cantrip. Avoid.
  • Prestidigitation: Good utility.
  • Shocking Grasp: Advantage against metal armor and preventing reactions for a turn bundles damage and utility.
  • Thorn Whip: Lackluster damage and pulling creatures closer will be a situational bonus for Artificers. This can be very useful in circumstances where you can pull enemies into an environmental hazard.

1st Level Spells

  • Absorb Elements: One of the best defensive spells at this level. While it can be useful to useful to half the amount of damage taken from an environmental source, its at its best with the Armorer or Battle Smith subclasses
  • Cure Wounds: Healing is important so pick it up if you think you’ll need it. 
  • Disguise Self: Great 1st level infiltration spell.
  • Faerie Fire: Good debuff if you can get a number of enemies in one go. Can also solve situational invisibility issues.
  • Jump: A very poor mobility spell. Hold off until you get Fly, Spider Climb, or Misty Step.
  • Sanctuary: Not a bad spell to have in your pocket.
  • Tasha’s Caustic Brew: Spells that don’t do damage until the start of the creature’s turn can end up as a wasted spell if they are dealt with before their turn starts.

2nd Level Spells

  • Aid: Great buff for the beginner of the day.
  • Blur: Pretty good evasive option. The higher your AC, the better this is.
  • Enhance Ability: Great buff for almost any circumstance.
  • Heat Metal: Your go-to damage spell. No save and can cause the creature to attack with disadvantage or lose their weapon.
  • Invisibility: Great infiltration spell.
  • Levitate: Can be used to get up high, or completely remove a melee attacker from combat. Levitate can be good at any level.
  • Magic Weapon: This is usually a much better option, but with the Artificer’s Infusions this will likely not be necessary.
  • Pyrotechnics: Limited because it needs nonmagical flame to be able to work. Can be combo’d with Bonfire.
  • Web: For when you want to get creative. Web is a great way to take away an enemy’s turn and deal some extra damage at the same time. Drop this when you reach 5th level.

3rd Level Spells

  • BlinkBetter evasion spell than Blur.
  • Dispel Magic: Always make sure at least one of your party members has this. 
  • Elemental Weapon: Infusions are better unless you have Elemental Adept.
  • Flame Arrows: The 1 hour duration allows this to be cast before initiative so that you don’t waste an action on this. If you are really set on adding 1d6 to your ranged attacks, consider taking a feat that will allow you to pick up Hex or Hunter’s Mark instead.
  • Fly: More useful than Levitate in many situations, but concentration could make this end badly.
  • Haste: Lovely buff for non-caster party members, just make sure you don’t immediately have your concentration broken and waste a 3rd level spell.
  • Intellect Fortress: Only useful in very specific circumstances. Say, for example, when wandering into a den of Mind Flayers.
  • Revivify: Every party needs a party member with Revivify. The nature of D&D is such that PC deaths happen fairly easily, so your friends will be looking to you to save them from that fate.
  • Tiny Servant: See this amazing post on GitP for hilarious ways to combine your tiny servant with your Spell-Storing Item. This is the kind of stuff Artificers were made for.

4th Level Spells

  • Arcane Eye: How could we write an Artificer guide and not mention our namesake? Luckily, it’s a great scouting tool and can be moved as an action, making it worthy of this list.
  • Elemental Bane: If you need to remove a resistance to a certain damage type, get the Elemental Adept feat so you don’t have to waste a turn and 4th-level spell whenever you run into a creature that has a resistance to your damage type.
  • Fabricate: Situational but this is the kind of stuff the Artificer needs to be able to do.
  • Freedom of Movement: It’s nice to give extra movement options to allies, but there are better buff spells and this one is pretty situational.
  • Mordenkainen’s Faithful Hound: Seeing as the hound can only attack creatures within 5ft of it, it is very situational.
  • Mordenkainen’s Secret Chest: Hide stuff in the ethereal plane. Very, VERY situational.
  • Otiluke’s Resilient Sphere: DEX-based save or suck. Great way to take a baddy out of the fight while you finish off its friends.
  • Summon Construct: A decent concentration option that will help with action economy and soaking damage. Unfortunately, this doesn’t hold a candle to Animate Objects.

5th Level Spells

  • Animate Objects: Turn your trash into treasure. Send an army of pebbles at your opponents for 1d4 + 4 damage with +8 attacks.
  • Bigby’s Hand: Grapple, damage, flight. This spell has amazing utility.
  • Creation: Allows you to make a rope, or a rock. Yeah.
  • Greater Restoration: By 17th level, you are really hoping another party has this spell. If you have somehow made it to 17th level without that, pick it up here.
  • Transmute Rock: If you can catch a bunch of creatures on rock, this spell can be used to nearly incapacitate them. Situationally very useful.
  • Wall of Stone: Solid (ha!) battlefield control option.

Best Multiclass Options for Artificers

Multiclassing is always an opportunity cost, you have to determine if taking a level of another class is worth what you will lose from the original class. Many factors come into this decision, with the main factor being how long your campaign will run and, ultimately, what level you will be playing until.

Another thing to keep in mind is that it is difficult (and usually not worth it) to multiclass two casters with different casting stats. The Artificer is therefore limited in its choices because there is only one other INT caster in the Wizard.

Rogue

A one-level dip into Rogue gets you Expertise and Sneak Attack, both very worthwhile features. A second level will get you Cunning Action which is extremely useful for any build, but especially so for melee builds that will be navigating the battlefield. One could even consider a three-level dip to secure a Roguish Archetype, the best of which being the Arcane Trickster for a buffed mage hand and some extra spells, the Swashbuckler for melee builds that want to up their damage and mobility, and the Thief for the ability to use an item as a bonus action.

Fighter

A two-level dip into Fighter will get Artificers heavy armor and a fighting style. This really only makes sense for melee Battle Smith builds who will be wading into battle and making the most out of the higher AC. The Armorer subclass already gets access to heavy armor proficiency and a two-level dip is a lot for +1 AC.

Wizard

Wizard/Artificer builds are better when Wizards are dipping into the Artificer class rather than the other way around. Two levels into the Artificer class will next Wizards medium armor/shields proficiency, Magical Tinkering, and Infuse Items without limiting spell slots too much. All great tools for tinkering Wizards.

Sources Used in This Guide


Hope you liked the guide! If you have any questions or feel like we missed something for the 5e Artificer, go ahead and post a comment below. If you like our content subscribe to Arcane Eye!

Mike Bernier

Mike Bernier is the lead content writer and founder of Arcane Eye. Outside of writing for Arcane Eye, Mike spends most of his time playing games, hiking with his girlfriend, and tending the veritable jungle of houseplants that have invaded his house. He is the author of Escape from Mt. Balefor and continually strives to help players and DMs have fun playing D&D. Mike specializes in character creation guides for players, homebrewed mechanics and tips for DMs, and one-shots with unique settings and scenarios.

Sours: https://arcaneeye.com/class-guides/artificer-5e-guide/
Davvy's D\u0026D 5e Artificer Guide (REDUX)

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