After five long years of waiting, it’s here, my favorite, the 5e artificer class! Being one of my all-time favorite classes from 3.5, you can imagine how excited I was to see it be brought back for 5e. So, to help all veterans, and new players to the artificer, I will be going over some of their key points. This will take a look at the class as a whole, rather than an in-depth look at the subclass, but trust me those will be coming soon enough
How I Am Evaluating Artificer 5e
For those who have read my previous reviews, feel free to skip this. If you haven’t, welcome! This is going over how I evaluate how strong a class is. There are three things that I am reviewing in the in-depth guide. I look over how strong the subclass is in combat, how much utility it has, and, if applicable, its’ roleplay ability. This way everyone’s playstyle will be shown to fit their needs.
Now, when deciding if something is good for a guide, I look at what the subclass is trying to accomplish. Then look at how successful it succeeds in that task. For instance, in a previous article on the War Wizard, I concluded, attempts to make you a competitive front line. I then figure out how well that ability succeeds in letting you front line, as well as how soon it comes online.
If it is accomplished at level 2, then it is early game. Level 6 it is Early-Mid, Level 10 Late-Mid, and Level 14 is late game. I rate earlier tiers better as most Dungeon and Dragons Campaigns do not go beyond level 8. Without further a due, let start this review on the 5e artificer.
GOLD- “That’s gold Jerry! Gold!” If an ability is highlighted gold, then this means that this ability not only is what defines your subclasses but accomplishes it better than almost any other subclass. I rarely do Gold ratings, so definitely pay attention to them if you see me do it.
Sky Blue –If the ability is sky blue, it means that this ability is a defining trait in your subclass. But, for one reason or another is not game-breaking like gold.
Blue– If it is just blue, then it’s a good ability but there are plenty of other abilities that perform better. Still better to have in a subclass than other colors.
Black. Black is ok. These are your more niche abilities that have bonuses in some situations but not useful in others.
Purple – Purple is for very niche abilities. They have times when they are good, but these are rare and almost never come up. Not the best color to see for an ability.
Red- Red is dead. It is the worse color to see on an ability. That said, no matter the color, an ability can work so don’t ignore a subclass if they have a red. Enough imagination and can-do attitude will make it okay but not optimal.
Artificer 5e (Late Game)
The 5e artificer came out November 19, 2019, & can be found on page 54 of Eberron Rising From The Last War. The most recent release by Wizard of the Coast (at the time of writing) and is filled with a ton of great goodies that bring my DM and Player side come to life with new inspirations. Such as new races and magic items, both of which mesh with the artificer rather well. The artificer has always been a class focused on utilizing magic items to their peak effectiveness. As a result, they are your engineers in this magical world and create things that were once deemed impossible. It is from their intelligent and engineering skills that make them such a deadly force.
The biggest challenge of playing an artificer in 5e though is the exact same reason the artificer can be so strong, dependence on magical items. Now any DM will agree, some magical items are broken (look at the staff of the Magi) and as a result, many DM’s are wary of giving strong magical items to players. Thankfully, Wizard of the Coast planned ahead and gave a list of magic items artificers can craft upon leveling up. Making sure they at least have a list to work with. Because later game magic items are the bread and butter of campaigns, it will take a while for them to reach full strength, and so until then, they must do the best with what they have. As a result, I have given them the strength of late game.
Therefore, the biggest suggestion for being effective in this class is not your multi-classing ability, but rather your knowledge of magical items. Once you learn them the possibilities become endless for you. To help you start out, here is a list of magical item review that I agree with & trust.
The effective powers of prestidigitation. Basically you can touch a tiny non-magical item and make it do one of the following.
- Shed bright light for 5ft
- Record a 6-second message that will be displayed upon touch
- Continuously emit an odor or a sound for 10ft surrounding object
- Create a static picture or 25-word message on the surface of the tiny object
Decent powers in the hands of one creative enough as it gives you a mini version of light cantrip, magic mouth, prestidigitation, & minor illusion. All of which can be situational but incredibly versatile to fit your needs. If you are a prankster then this goes up to a blue rating as having your barbarian touch a coin that shrieks or smells like rotten cabbage could be hilarious.
To no surprise, the artificer for 5e is a half caster. As a result at level 1 they gain 2 cantrips of their choice, & 2 1st level spells. Eventually, they will be able to have 4 cantrips & cast up to 2 5th level spells a day. Nowhere near as strong as a full caster, but incredibly powerful when you reach level 11 where you can store spells for others to use. This will be talked about more later. But in the meantime, let’s take a look at some of the notable spells they can have for casting
- Guidance (Incredibly powerful and useful when crafting)
- Mage Hand (Perfect for making things that go boom from a safe distance)
- Mending (How else are you going to fix your creations?)
- Spare the dying (Just in case you accidentally hurt an ally with your kill machine 3000)
- Ray of frost (solid damage cantrip with uses talked about in my best cantrips article)
- Absorb elements (in case mage hand wasn’t enough when you make a big explosion)
- Sanctuary (your creatures are going to be the ones attacking might as well protect yourself with this)
- Cure Wounds (cut finger? No Problem let me cure it)
- Enhance ability (have advantage on everything we plan on using & some)
- Heat metal (enemy wearing someone else’s work, make them pay)
- Blur (Hard to see me, why do I have it? I don’t know but it’s good)
- Dispel magic (another artificer made something? Let me unmake it.)
- Haste (I need to build something fast, let’s move)
- Tiny servant (I don’t need a living familiar, I need a mechanical servant)
- Revivify (In case kill machine 9000 does a better job than 3000)
- Elemental bane (you have resistance to my creation, oh guess you don’t)
- Fabricate (I will make everything and anything do not cross me)
- Animate objects (must have more mechanical servants!)
- Creation (must create more.)
- Skill Empowerment (About to make a tinkering check? Let’s give me expertise)
While not exhaustive, the list contains a lot of noteworthy utility and creative spells perfect for making, well anything! Moreover, with some utility and defensive spells, the 5e artificer can protect themselves from much that comes their way. They also gain ritual casting which is gone over in more detail in my ritual casting article.
The most iconic of the artificer class. Infuse Item is the most customizable class feature besides the warlock’s eldritch invocations. Basically you can infuse mundane items into magical prototypes. This can range anywhere from artificer only magical items, to powerful magical items like the amulet of health. Moreover, you can know up to 12 infusions & create 6. Meaning at the end of every long rest you can switch out one of your magic items to another one you know to adapt upon the situation. This not only makes every artificer completely unique in build but incredibly powerful as you have effectively 12 magical items you can create for each situation. To show you just a few of the great options, here is a quick list of my favorites.
Unique magic items
- Repulsion shield (Gain a +1 shield, and even if hit push them 15ft away)
- Returning weapon (+1 thrown weapon that immediately returns after each attack)
- Homunculus Servant (Want a mechanical familiar with evasion, well here you go.)
- Boots of the Winding Path (Use up all movement every turn as you can teleport 15ft to a point you were at previously)
Replicable magic items
2nd level artificer
- Bag of holding (a necessity among all adventuring groups)
- Alchemy jug (I need mayonnaise for my sandwich, oh yeah I’m good)
- Prosthetic Limb (Lost an arm via kill machine 3000? Here’s something to help you)
6th level artificer
- Gloves of thievery (Want to steal and pick locks? If you said yes, get these!)
- Boots of elvenkind (You liked the cloak? Here’s one that doesn’t require attunement)
- Cloak of the manta ray (do you polymorph into a manta ray? Well, sadly no, but you can breathe underwater and swim 60ft)
10th level artificer
- Headband of intellect (In case you didn’t prioritize intelligence yet, or have a really dumb party member) (Also used for the level 14: 21 STR, 20 DEX, 19 CON, 19 INT, 18 WIS, 16 CHA build)
- Hat of disguise (embarrassed yourself in public? Be someone else for the day instead)
- Winged boots (Do you want to fly? Cause you’re going to look fly)
- Periapt of wound closure (stabilize instead of dying & double amount healed upon rest!)
- Ventilating lungs (the iron lung of the big bad wolf. He’s going to huff & puff and “gust of wind” your house down)
14th level artificer
- Amulet of health (Want to be a 19 CON smartypants, here you are.)(Also used for the level 14: 21 STR, 20 DEX, 19 CON, 19 INT, 18 WIS, 16 CHA build)
- Belt of hill giant strength (Rival your barbarian with a 21 STR) (Also used for the level 14: 21 STR, 20 DEX, 19 CON, 19 INT, 18 WIS, 16 CHA build)
- Arcane Propulsion Arm (Flying Fist attack from a distance)
- Boots of speed (move twice as fast & get out of sticky situations that much easier!)
- Gem of Seeing (I see everything!!! Including naked grandma…)
And these are just a few of the items you can have just for being an artificer for 5e. With this you don’t need to worry about finding magic items as you now make the magic items.
Artificer 5e Specialist
If the magic items weren’t enough, there are three subclasses for the 5e artificer. Each useful and diverse in their own way. These will be touched over in detail in a separate post but for now a quick summary for each.
A subclass designed around potions becoming excellent healers that can cast lesser and greater restoration without expending spell slots and able to make potions that give allies 2d6+2d4+10 hit points back, on average 22. Or they can create potions that give allies bonus to their AC, more movement, or even non-concentrating bless. An incredibly potent support character.
You like turrets, they have turrets, Three of them in fact, one is an area effect flamethrower, a healer, and a single target damage dealer. This allows you to quickly assess a combat scenario and specialize for the job. Need to kill one thing quickly, boom got it. What about a long battle where people might die, a healing one might be pretty useful. Or even lots of minions and don’t want to deal with them burn them all away. A solid subclass choice that is great for casting spells as their main action and using servants to fortify their team’s position.
You combat-focused 5e artificer. They combine weapon attacking with a mechanical homunculus to create a dynamic fighting duo. With the right magical items, the battle smith can easily be a contender for upfront, allowing for attacks at him to be at disadvantage, attack at advantage, and even deal increased damage or heal depending on the scenario as a free action. The simplest class for the artificer but still dangerous.
Right tool for the Job & Tool Expertise
Not a lot to say about this one. At 3rd level, you can create a magical toolset at the end of a short rest. No one brought alchemical supplies or thieves tools, just create a set and take a breather. Note, this does require you to possess tinkerer tools and they do disappear if you use this again, so don’t get overly dependent on this.
Meanwhile, tool expertise is the next class ability. It comes online at 6th level, and only useful if your the group’s rogue, or if you have the downtime to actually tinker. This lets you gain expertise on any ability check that uses your proficiency with a tool. While expertise is incredibly strong, these are entirely dependent on your campaign, DM, and party. Thus, this gets only a purple rating despite expertise.
Flash of Genius
Once you get to seventh level though, you begin coming online with flash of genius. By 7th level, you should at least have an 18 intelligence and if you do 4 times a day you can add a +4 to you or anyone else’s ability check or saving throw. Rogue fails to pick the lock, give him a +4. You or an ally fails an important saving throw? Then add +4 to your roll to see if that changes the tide. This can be incredibly powerful in the right moments and as your intelligence improves so does this.
On a fun note, look into making a hobgoblin artificer and get the potential to add another 5 to that making it almost guarantee success at that point. The ability functions much like the war magic wizard’s ability, arcane deflection. In fact, assuming you never reach a 20 intelligence, this ability alone will reduce damage on average by 21.43% from save effect spells. Meaning that fireball cast against you will deal 21.43% less damage against you over the campaign. A solid ability for anyone wanting to succeed ability checks or saving throws.
Magic Item Adept
Ever been annoyed by being able to attune to only 3 items? I know I have, with a mantle of spell resistance, a belt of dwarven kind, & a ring of spell storing attuned to my wizard, it is a hard choice to take any of these off for another. If only I could attune to more items. Well here you go. With over 200 magical items to attune to in the basic books, chances are your attunement can fill up fast. With this, the 5e artificer gains even more power, able to attune to 4 magic items at level 10.
Moreover, crafting magical items is your power and with magic item adept you are even better at it. Not only can you attune to 4 magic items, but you also take a quarter of the time and half the gold to make common and uncommon magical items. Meaning if your DM is kind, you do not have to use your infusions to make an uncommon item but instead, craft it. If you have the gold. If you are unsure of what crafting is like in 5e, don’t worry, here is a great guide that talks about the rules of the rulebook, and a few homebrew crafting rules. It should be very useful for you and your dm for collaboration.
Spell storing item
I am so tempted to give this level 11 ability gold. Closest I have ever been actually, but other people I have talked to have persuaded me not too. So in order to keep my love for the artificer under control, it is rated sky blue.
What is so powerful you ask? You now can create mini versions of ring of spell storing that do not require attunement and give out to your party. What it does is allow you to touch a nonmagical object and store one level 2 or lower spell into the object. From there, the object can be used up to twice your Intelligence modifier, or until you do a different spell store. This means with one level 2 cure wounds put into a gold coin, you can have 10 uses to heal your party 2d8+5. Totaling to 20d8+50 from one level 2 spell. Now you need to have 10 actions to do this, but if your party has 1 minute to rest they can heal a lot in that one minute.
I should also mention, that is only one use from the artificer’s 5e spells list. You could give the entire party blur or even heat metal, and this works for the barbarian as you use an object not cast a spell through it. Meaning you can give your barbarian enlarge/reduce to use. If this doesn’t get your brain thinking of potential combos, very few things will in my opinion.
Magical Item Savant
Another incredibly solid ability that synergizes extremely well with an artificer. Basically at level 14, you can now attune to 5 magical items, and you ignore all class, race, spell, & level requirements. Playing a spell focused artificer? Now you can use a rod of the pact keeper and regain a spell slot and gain a bonus to your attacks and DC. What about a defensive artificer? Robe of the Arch-Magi to boost everything. Nothing is safe from you.
Except for alignment magical items. Be wary of that, while you might be lawful good and using magic items to help, you can’t force a chaotic evil alignment weapon to your bidding. Still incredibly powerful since you can now attune to five magical items and use whatever you want to fight.
Magic Item Master
While solid, it is rather straightforward, & doesn’t have that second ability to make it sky blue. At level 18, you can now attune to 6 magical items. Doubling your magic item attunement slots over all those other plebs. Incredibly potent with the right equipment. It also will come in handy for your level 20 ability which will be about to be discussed. But more importantly, it gives you access to all 6 of your magical invocations you can have at a time allowing you to keep and use all the ones you have at your disposal.
Soul of the Artifice
The paragon of all other artificers. You have transcended all others and reign supreme over all over magical items. With this, not only have you tailored your armory to the specific style you play, but you ignore restrictions from magical items, can store spells into items for your convenience, attune to 6 magical items, craft whatever you need for your disposal, & can sure up your saves and abilities. What else can the artificer class offer you? How about a personalized Paladin aura giving you +6 to all saves you make. On top of the +5, you can get from Flash of Genius & your base stat + proficiency. Meaning, at level 20 you can have a +23 intelligence saving throw for a max of 43. If you think that is all, you also gain 6 relentless endurance uses. Meaning you can survive 6 attacks at 1 hitpoint assuming they all hit.
How do they gain this? At level 20 you gain a bonus to your saves equal to the number of magical items you have attuned and if you would drop to 0 you can break one attunement you have to instead drop to 1. Which after a short rest you can re-attune to these items again, making the cost, not the deadliest choice. With this, you solidify your place as a versatile powerhouse. Able to build and customize your character to fit your party’s needs & play excellent support. Truly a paragon of their time.
Artificer 5e Recommendations
The best races for an artificer are those that prioritize Intelligence then Dexterity & Constitution. As a result, the human variant can be an excellent choice for choosing fantastic feats to set him up for success later on. But also, the hobgoblin synergizes extremely well with the saves and can help you until you reach level 7.
Once you have a race, get to know the magical items you automatically have and begin to plan out how you want to play your character. For example, a good first 2 frontline magical infusions to have would be enhanced weapon & Homonculus servant. With this, you gain a +1 magical weapon, and a familiar to give you the help action or deliver touch spells from. Moreover, with a ton of defensive spells, you should be fine to choose that over the enhanced defense one.
After that, there is multi-classing to consider. My personal advice is to not multiclass until level 14. After 14 things begin to slow down for the artificer but it isn’t till levels 7-14 that this class begins to shine. If you are though, a wizard would match well in Ability score, but I would lean more to warlock. A warlock, while not focused on intelligence, dexterity, or constitution, is incredibly customizable. Therefore, by combining the two most versatile classes, you can build an incredibly unique character that has thousands of possibilities.
Finally, you have tactics to consider. Since they are so customizable, the artificer for 5e can follow any tactics. Whether be front line, support, or spell casting. My personal recommendation would be support, but it all depends on your magical items. So choose wisely when building.
Artificer 5e Conclusion
The artificer in 5e is incredibly powerful and versatile. Though I give it a blue rating, with a generous DM & late gameplay, they can easily be gold. But, because this class does not start to come online till level 7 & is dependent on your DM, I cannot give it higher. That said, it is definitely one I will be playing frequently & by far incredibly fun.
The biggest thing to know for playing this class would be knowing magical items. As such, with the proper knowledge, you can work with your DM & make a truly noteworthy class. Now for all those DM’s terrified of trying to keep the game balanced, I suggest the analysis calculator. Go to the spell calculator tab and instead of plugging in a spell, plug in a magic item effect and see just how deadly it is. Or, go to the monster analysis calculator and see how much more powerful your adventurers get after said magic item boon. It’s great for keeping the game balanced & more importantly fun.
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