The DnD 5e Artificer Guide

Published on December 9, 2020, Last modified on March 21st, 2021

In this guide, we will be examining the 5e Artificer’s Class Features and how you can optimize your Artificer through choosing your Race, Ability Score, Spells, and Feats. This article will focus on content from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, and the Player’s Handbook.

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!

Did you know?

D&D Beyond can help create your characters by making choices using a step-by-step approach. Full customization and control of your character, none of the flipping through hundreds of pages to reference obscure rules.

Before You Start

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 ElfNo 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.

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

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.

SkillsOnly 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 your awesome INT modifier will usually mean you pass when you need to.
  • 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

Source: Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

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: CON saves proficiencies and immunity poison damage are overwhelmingly common in 5e monsters.
    • 5th Level
      • Flaming Sphere: Provides a great use for your bonus action if you don’t already have one. Not as good as something like Heat Metal though.
      • 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: This is one of those spells that may not be especially helpful in combat but can completely destroy a room full of enemies if you get the drop on them (and are willing to commit war crimes).
      • 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

Source: Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

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: Solid AoE spell.
    • 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: Line em up and knock em down. Lightning bolt is a total classic that is just slightly less powerful than the infamous Fireball.
    • 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: Amazing battlefield control. You can wall off enemy reinforcements, create an avenue of escape, block a massive AoE attack on your party, etc.
  • 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

Source: Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

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: Solid damage spell with tons of crit potential due to the three attacks.
      • 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: One of the better battlefield control options. If used correctly, wall of fire is pretty devastating.
    • 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

Source: Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

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: Solid mass heal.
  • 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 solves is HUGE for melee caster builds to become less multi-ability dependent (MAD). Martial weapons are a welcome 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 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 blue rating.

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 SavantMore 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 ArtificeA 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.

Feats

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 getting caught off guard is a great ability for anyone to have.
  • 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.
  • Lucky: Lucky is a feat that is useful to any character.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 battlefield control if use properly
  • 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

1st Level Spells

  • Absorb Elements: One of the best defensive spells at this level.
  • Cure Wounds: Solid 1st level healing spell.
  • 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.

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.
  • 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 MagicAlways make sure at least one of your party members has this. 
  • Elemental WeaponInfusions are better unless you have Elemental Adept.
  • 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.
  • Revivify: Always make sure at least one of your party members has this. 
  • 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.
  • Fabricate: Situational but, again, this is the kind of stuff the Artificer needs to be able to do.
  • Freedom of Movement: 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: A situational spell that can really mess with a large group of enemies if play correctly.
  • Wall of Stone: Solid (ha!) battlefield control option.

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!

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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.

14 thoughts on “The DnD 5e Artificer Guide

    1. Hey Nathan! We only talk about the spells we think are worth mentioning, namely the best, the worst, and the interesting ones. This is so that our guides aren’t too overwhelming with information and are easy to navigate. Are there any particular spells that you would like to see discussed?

      1. Thornwhip and Bonfire and amazing cantrips that were added to the artificer spell list. Bonfire can be some amazing battlefield control, especially at early levels, and Thornwhip can save people from grapples.

      2. Well at least you could mention Mending cantrip since it helps a Battlesmith to repair his Defender :).

        Also I don’t think a Battle Smith is the worst choice to pick. I would rate it better than an Armorer. It has Shield spell which is probably they best spell there is compared to lvl, especially for a melee character. And steel defender is really great. It is like having 3 attacks per round at lvl 5. It can protect you or an ally, and what is important it is a target. Many GMs can opt to target it is things go rough, and even if not it can get attacked if positioned well. If you are early on initiative defender can go to an enemy and attack it. When it is enemy’s turn they can either attack it or move away from it when it can use reaction to attack.

        Also Warding Bond and Heroism is not a bad combo even though you are not a d10 class. Giving it to lets say a cleric can increase his ac and saves by 1 while halving any dmg. And if he stays alive he can heal you especially if he is a life cleric.

        1. Hi Ivan! Thanks for writing in. The combo of Battle Ready and Steel Defender definitely carries a large part of this subclass’ efficiency, you make a good point about the extra attack + free reaction to impose disadvantage and how effective that is in combat. I mainly gave it a poor grade because its lackluster spell list, but I am rethinking things now. I have upped it’s grading because of the Steel Defender/Battle Ready combo 🙂

  1. A couple things here:

    Homunculus is available as an infusion at level 2, and the ranged attack dealing 1d4+Prof (as a bonus action for the Artificer) is nothing to sneeze at. Couple this with a spell like Cure Wounds now able to be delivered at a distance and you have a solid option.

    The other bit is that the Arcane Propulsion Armor infusion (available at level 14) isn’t mentioned or covered. Curious since all other infusions were noted.

    1. Thanks for the comments! We’ve adjusted the rating of the Homunculus Servant as it looks to provide similar (if not more) value than a familiar. We have also added in the missing Arcane Propulsion Armor 🙂

  2. A couple of things regarding the level 20 ability. First, while you can know 12 infusions, only 6 can be active (Infusions Known vs Infused Items). Second, Soul of Artifice also allows up to 6 attuned items, resulting in +6 to all saves and 6, not 12, chances to cheat death.
    With Warcaster, I’m assuming it’s recommended because of the Attack of Opportunity chance and concentration advantage? It is indeed phenomenal casting a Booming Blade, as an Armorer is likely to have the highest AC in a party and won’t want an enemy to get away too easily ????

    1. Good catch! I have made the adjustments to the Soul of Artifice description 🙂 You are dead on with why we recommend Warcaster!

  3. Another good example for cantrips is Magic stones. It is a bonus action so you can use your action to throw it. if you throw it it will be a range 60 (so 12 squares on a map, which is a lot usually) or for further distance, you can use it in a sling. The damage is d6+int modifier, so in the case of INT 18 a d6+4, which is the same maximum damage as firebolt, but with the minimum damage of 5, which is way better than rolling a d10, which may turn 40% less than the minimum damage here. And later you just simply replace it, one firebolt gets 2d10. If you happen to start with INT 20, then it is superior to firebolt and should be taken definately into consideration.

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