D&D Artificer 5e Guide

Published on September 27, 2021, Last modified on September 21st, 2023

In this post, we will be examining the artificer’s class features and how you can optimize your artificer through choosing your race, background, ability scores, subclass, feats, and spells.

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Artificer 5e Guide Rating Scheme

This guide is meant as a deep dive into the DnD 5e artificer. For a quick overview of other 5e classes, check out our Guide to DnD 5e Classes.

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

D&D 5e Artificer Overview

Level Prof. Bonus Features Infusions Known Infused Items Spell Slots per Spell Level
Cantrips Known 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
1st +2 Magical Tinkering, Spellcasting 2 2
2nd +2 Infuse Item 4 2 2 2
3rd +2 Artificer Specialist, The Right Tool for the Job 4 2 2 3
4th +2 Ability Score Improvement 4 2 2 3
5th +3 Artificer Specialist feature 4 2 2 4 2
6th +3 Tool Expertise 6 3 2 4 2
7th +3 Flash of Genius 6 3 2 4 3
8th +3 Ability Score Improvement 6 3 2 4 3
9th +4 Artificer Specialist feature 6 3 2 4 3 2
10th +4 Magic Item Adept 8 4 3 4 3 2
11th +4 Spell-Storing Item 8 4 3 4 3 3
12th +4 Ability Score Improvement 8 4 3 4 3 3
13th +5 8 4 3 4 3 3 1
14th +5 Magic Item Savant 10 5 4 4 3 3 1
15th +5 Artificer Specialist feature 10 5 4 4 3 3 2
16th +5 Ability Score Improvement 10 5 4 4 3 3 2
17th +6 10 5 4 4 3 3 3 1
18th +6 Magic Item Master 12 6 4 4 3 3 3 1
19th +6 Ability Score Improvement 12 6 4 4 3 3 3 2
20th +6 Soul of Artifice 12 6 4 4 3 3 3 2


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.


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.


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.

Best Races for Artificer

Standard Races

  • Chromatic: Damage resistance and immunity are great for survivability and the breath weapon gives you an AoE burst of damage. This is especially good for Battle Smiths and Armorers who get extra attacks.
  • Draconblood: Draconblood offers the +2 INT that artificers want, though the CHA is not as good as DEX or CON would be. Darkvision is handy but Forceful Presence likely won't be too useful given your CHA score.
Dwarf: Nothing here for an Artificer
  • Hill: Nothing here for an Artificer
  • Mark of Warding: The CON and INT are what an artificer is looking for, as are the extra spells and help buff out their relatively small spell list. Nothing here is particularly exciting outside of this, though armor of Agathys is quite a solid spell for Armorers and Battle Smiths.
  • Mountain: Nothing here for an Artificer
Elf: Elves get a DEX bonus which can somewhat help the miserable AC of an Artificer. High Elves get an INT boost and a free cantrip of your choice, as well as an extra language for your roleplaying needs.
  • Aereni High: The +1 INT is quite useful, as is the free wizard cantrip and skill expertise.
  • Eladrin: +1 CHA will be a minor benefit in social situations. The free casting of misty step is certainly interesting to the artificer due to their lack of spell slots. Unless you pump your CHA quite high, the bonus effects won't do much so it might be worth going with the spring effect because it doesn't use CHA.
  • Eladrin (Variant): +1 INT is pretty decent on top of the +2 from the parent elf features. The free casting of misty step is very appealing to help with your mediocre spell slots.
  • Mark of Shadow: Even though the ASIs don't align with the artificer's priorities, the spells learned are too good to ignore. If you want some stealth options as an artificer, the Mark of the Shadow is one of the best ways to get it.
Gnome: +2 INT is a great start for any artificer, along with Darkvision and Gnome Cunning.
Half-Elf: Nothing here for an Artificer.
Half-Orc: Artificers need INT to be effective.
Halfling: Nothing here for an Artificer.
  • Mark of Making: The most INT you could achieve would be through the Mark of Making, which provides +2 INT and comes with thematic racial features and spells.
  • Standard: A middle of the road pick because they increase all their ability scores by 1.
  • 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: Many of the Tiefling subraces come with an INT bonus, although ideally an Artificer would like +2. As a spellcaster, having more spells at your disposal is always welcome.
  • Bloodline of Asmodeus: +1 INT, good spells, and useful racial traits.
  • Bloodline of Baalzebul: +1 INT like other subraces, but with less effective spells.
  • Bloodline of Mammon: +1 INT like other subraces, but with less effective spells.
  • Bloodline of Mephistopheles: +1 INT bonus, good spells, and useful racial traits.
  • Variant – Devil’s Tongue: Decent spells, especially vicious mockery, but enthrall isn't good. Use Feral to get INT.
  • Variant – Feral: If playing with variants, use the Feral ASI. DEX is better than CHA for most artificers.
  • Variant – Hellfire: Replacing hellish rebuke with burning hands is personal preference, so this subrace is just as good as the Asmodeus. Use Feral to get INT.
  • Variant – Winged: Having flight is amazing. Use Feral to get INT.

Non-Standard Races

Aarakocra: Free concentration-less flight is great for a spellcaster like the Artificer. The ASI spread isn’t great though.
  • Updated: Seeing as the ASI array can be anything you want, this option is much more attractive over the original Aarakocra. 1st level flight is the main reason you'd be going with an Aarakocra but doesn't change the fact that you're giving up your medium armor for evasion + movement options.
Aasimar: Nothing here for an artificer.
Air Genasi: You already have access to the spells Mingle with the Wind provides, but some extra spells and spell slots can go a long way for the artificer.
Astral Elf: Sacred flame and misty step are both great spells to add to your repertoire, as is the extra skill/tool proficiency.
Auto Gnome: Beyond the thematic feeling of being created by a tinkering gnome, then tinkering yourself, artificers don't really jive with the autognome's abilities. The auto gnome's natural armor is overshadowed by the artificer's infused medium armor and they don't have much cause to stack into DEX more than getting their +2 for AC. Artificers also already get plenty of tool proficiencies and have access to some healing spells.
Bugbear: Nothing here for an artificer.
  • Updated: Two artificer subclasses gain Extra Attacks, namely the Armorer and the Battle Smith, which works well with the new Surprise Attack buff. You can still Take +2 INT with your ASI so you won't be restricting your spellcasting ability either.
Centaur: Nothing here for an artificer.
  • Updated: Melee artificers are now an option with the free ASI choice when combined with Charge, though it won't be particularly effective.
Changeling: Artificers can use the free ability score increase for INT, though they would much rather see +2.
  • Updated: Artificers can now grab +2 INT.
Deep Gnome: Apart from advantage on saves against some spells, the main thing deep gnomes offer artificers is out-of-combat utility. Disguise self, improved Darkvision, and advantage on Stealth checks all can help with things artificers usually aren't awesome at.
Duergar: Some resistances and extra spell castings are a solid bonus for just about any artificer build.
Earth Genasi: The blade ward bonus action can be useful for Armorers, but would compete with the Battle Smith's Steel Defender. Beyond that, there's not really anything particularly appealing for artificers.
Eladrin: Artificer's don't normally get misty step, so this is a solid baseline improvement. Unfortunately, half of the artificer subclasses (Battle Smith and Artillerist) have a consistent use for their bonus action. Still, this turns the eladrin's Fey Step from a "can use in combat when it's optimal" to "use in can of emergency", which means it's still a good contingency. The other passive eladrin abilities, like Darkvision and a proficiency in Perception are nice to have. But, the biggest boon outside of Fey Step is certainly the Trance ability, which gives you 4 extra hours per long rest to tinker. This can help buy time for creating magic items or your other mundane projects.
Fairy: Unfortunately, you won't be able to wear your medium armor and fly around. That said, flying out of range is a great way to avoid getting hit! Fairies obviously won't work with Armorer builds due to the heavy armor requirement, or Battle Smiths because of their focus on martial combat, but can make great Alchemists and Artillerists.
Firbolg: Artificers need INT to be effective.
  • Updated: With the option to take +2 INT, the firbolg becomes a viable race for an artificer, adding a couple of spells that they wouldn't otherwise have access to.
Fire Genasi: Fire genasi provide artificers a great damage resistance and a couple solid offensive spells normally not on the artificers spell list, which makes a solid start for just about any artificer build.
  • Fire: 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.
Giff: Even though the flavor is on point, the fact of the matter is that artificers are usually better off casting cantrips than devoting resources to guns.
Gith: +1 INT is fine, but artificers would really like +2.
  • Githyanki: Due to the INT bonus, githyanki can work for a melee artificer build.
  • Githzerai: Due to the INT bonus, githzerai are a decent option for artificers taking a defensive approach.
Goblin: Artificers need INT to be effective.
  • Updated: Now that goblins can choose INT they are a solid pick for an artificer. Nimble Escape is good so you don't get caught in melee range if you are playing a squishy subclass, and Fury of the Small gives a solid damage boost whether you are playing a melee artificer or focus on damage dealing spells.
Goliath: Artificers need INT to be effective.
  • Updated: Stone's Endurance and Mountain Born is helpful, but artificers should already be quite durable with shield if their subclass can take it, absorb elements, and infusions to go with heavy armor.
Hadozee: Artificers have a couple reaction-based moves from certain infusions, but for the most part they'll be able to make the most of the hadozee's Dodge.
Harengon: While all these abilities are "nice to haves", there is nothing here is particularly exciting for an artificer.
Hobgoblin: +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.
  • Updated: Many artificers use their bonus action frequently, so Fey Gift isn't going to be used that often. Fortune from the Many is still very useful here.
Kalashtar: Artificers need INT to be effective.
Kender: With the exception of Battle Smiths, artificers usually don't have a consistent bonus action at the ready. This, combined with a high INT modifier makes Taunt a decent option, especially for Armorers who can back up their insults with a magically-augmented gauntlet to the face.
Kenku: Artificers need INT to be effective.
Kobold: Artificers need INT to be effective.
  • Updated: Artificers won't care for this race unless they are running a melee build, in which case it is quite good when paired with a subclass like Armorer. Defiance can get you more staying power, Draconic Sorcery gives you some more cantrip options, and Craftiness could fill in the gaps in your party.
Leonin: Nothing here for an artificer.
  • Hexblood: Between Eerie Token and Hex Magic, the hexblood offers a solid amount of utility for artificers.
Lizardfolk: Artificers need INT to be effective.
Loxodon: Artificers need INT to be effective.
Minotaur: Artificers need INT to be effective.
Orc: Artificers need INT to be effective.
Plasmoid: Artificers live and die by their magic items, so the plasmoid's Amorphous will rarely be used beyond the advantage on escaping grapples. Other than that, artificers can get down with some damage resistances and the pseudopod can help while they tinker.
Satyr: No INT makes this a tough sell for artificers, which is unfortunate because they would love the extra movement speed and resistance to magic.
Shadar-kai: A decent for artificers, especially those that focus on melee combat and can make use of their teleportation ability. However, they don't have any particular racial traits that benefit the artificer class specifically. Also, be careful that half of the artificer subclasses (Battle Smith and Artillerist) have a consistent use for their bonus action.
Shifter: Artificers need INT to be effective.
Simic Hybrid: 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 artificer build.
Tabaxi: Artificers need INT to be effective.
Thri-kreen: Artificers have a medium armor proficiency that can be matched by the thri-kreen's Chameleon Carapace, but with their Infusions, artificers can make their armor more effective than the thri-kreen's natural option. This, combined with the fact that artificers are rarely in need of an extra hand to cast spells (they can use an infused item as a spellcasting focus), makes most of the thri-kreen's most potent features null.
Tortle: Artificers need INT to be effective.
Triton: Artificers need INT to be effective.
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: This race is 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.
Water Genasi: Not much here beyond a couple situational spells.
Yuan-ti Pureblood: +2 INT would of course be better here, but Magic Resistance is just so good that +1 will do. Once you hit 7th level, you can add your INT modifier to any saving throw with the Flash of Genius trait, ensuring that you will hardly ever succumb to negative magical effects.

Best Backgrounds for Artificers

Acolyte: Religion and Insight are already available to artificers but you do get two languages, and gaining shelter in certain places of worship can be handy.

Cloistered Scholar: Standard choice for artificers. You get two INT skills, two languages, and better access to libraries for finding more spells.

Sage: Two INT skills and two languages.

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 hit dice. 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 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.
Another unique aspect of their spellcasting ability is that Artificers are required to hold their spellcasting focus in their hand while casting spells. This means they cannot use a component pouch and require two free hands to cast spells with costly materials.

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.


The alchemist adds some nice healing benefits to the artificer. While you definitely can’t keep up with a cleric or Circle of the Dreams druid, your party will certainly appreciate the support.

Check out our Alchemist Artificer 5e Guide for build optimization tips.


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.

  • 3rd level
    • Armorer spells:
      • 3rd level
        • Thunderwave: A fantastic, low-level way to knock opponents back if you find yourself in a sticky situation. Damage isn’t bad either but it targets CON saves.
        • Magic Missile: Your standard first-level damage dealer. This spell always hits which is nice. This spell is great if your targeting a spellcaster with the intention of making them drop concentration because they’ll need to make a DC 10 CON check for each dart you send at them.
      • 5th level
        • Mirror Image: Great way to avoid damage with a low level spell slot. Plus, it doesn’t require concentration. Overall a solid option.
        • Shatter: Decent AoE that can be super effective against specific creatures. Also good for destroying inanimate objects.
      • 9th level
        • Hypnotic Pattern: Good range, good AoE, and its effect are potent. Incapacitating multiple enemies is a fantastic tactic to passively flee from the situation or do massive damage with automatic crits. The effect can be ended by a friendly creature taking an action to wake the affected creature from its stupor, but that will eat up a lot of action economy. Either way you slice it, hypnotic pattern is one of the best crowd control spells at this level.
        • Lightning Bolt: Does as much damage as fireball but has a less effective AoE because it’s a line rather than a circle.
      • 13th level
        • Fire Shield: Fire shield is a decent buff for martial casters but casters that prefer to maintain a distance likely won’t find much use for it. The fact that it provides resistances to two different damage types can make it especially potent for builds looking to tank for their party.
        • Greater Invisibility: Being able to attack or cast spells while invisible is a huge upgrade from regular invisibility. Give it to a melee party member and watch them get advantage on every attack and disadvantage on attacks against them, bonus points if it’s a paladin or rogue for extra crit + Divine Smite / Sneak Attack potential.
      • 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.
    • 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
    • Armor Modifications: 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.


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

  • 3rd level
    • Artillerist spells:
      • 3rd level
        • Shield: This is a great spell to have in your pocket when you’re stuck in a sticky situation. Obviously, the most common use for this spell is to cast this spell when you get hit by an attack, and the +5 boost to your AC will cause the attack to miss. If you have a particularly low AC, you might find this spell sits on the sidelines more often than not at higher levels when enemies get higher attack bonuses.
        • Thunderwave: A fantastic, low-level way to knock opponents back if you find yourself in a sticky situation. Damage isn’t bad either but it targets CON saves.
      • 5th level
        • Scorching Ray: A potential 6d6 focused damage at a 2nd-level spell slot, can target multiple opponents, and has crit potential.
        • Shatter: Decent AoE that can be super effective against specific creatures. Also good for destroying inanimate objects.
      • 9th level
        • Fireball: The gold standard for damage spells in 5e. This spell was intentionally designed to be overpowered for a 3rd-level slot, making it the most optimal choice when looking to lay the hurt down.
        • Wind Wall: Useful against lots of archers, swarms of flying enemies, or against deadly fog. Other than that the damage is pretty bad.
      • 13th level
        • Ice Storm: You already have fireball, and ice storm does less damage, and the terrain control doesn’t make the reduced damage worth it.
        • Wall of Fire: Amazing battlefield control option to divide enemies and deal massive damage.
      • 17th level
        • Cone of Cold: Not quite as potent as fireball or lightning bolt for the resource of a 5th-level spell slot and it targets CON saves which are a common proficiency in monsters.
        • 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.
    • 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.

  • 3rd level
    • Battle Smith spells:
      • 3rd level
        • Heroism: Great buff effect, scales nicely as well.
        • Shield: This is a great spell to have in your pocket when you’re stuck in a sticky situation. Obviously, the most common use for this spell is to cast this spell when you get hit by an attack, and the +5 boost to your AC will cause the attack to miss. If you have a particularly low AC, you might find this spell sits on the sidelines more often than not at higher levels when enemies get higher attack bonuses.
      • 5th level
        • Branding Smite: You need to be able to hit an invisible creature for this spell to be worth it. Really only effective for Oath of the Watchers as they gain access to see invisibility.
        • Warding Bond: This buff is really good, but can be quite risky for yourself if used at the wrong time. Make sure you aren’t overwhelmed by enemies and have a sizeable amount of hit points and AC.
      • 9th level
        • Aura of Vitality: The healing takes set up and isn’t that impressive considering this requires concentration.
        • Conjure Barrage: Does roughly half the damage of fireball for the same level spell slot. Can be good if you can catch twice as many enemies in the larger radius, but it won’t happen often. A slightly disappointing spell that can still make the cut if you don’t have other ways of doing big AoE damage.
      • 13th level
        • Aura of Purity: You won’t use this all the time, but if you face a lot of enemies that can inflict negative status conditions this is great.
        • Fire Shield: Fire shield is a decent buff for martial casters but casters that prefer to maintain a distance likely won’t find much use for it. The fact that it provides resistances to two different damage types can make it especially potent for builds looking to tank for their party.
      • 17th level
        • Banishing Smite: No save to the banishment (as long as their HP is low enough) and, on average, similar damage to a 5th-level smite. This is the best smite in the game.
        • Mass Cure Wounds: Range, multiple targets, and decent healing power. One of the best bang-for-your-buck spells if you have multiple party members down.
    • 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 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 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 Artificer

  • Actor: Nothing here for an artificer.
  • Agent of Order: Increasing your Intelligence while gaining the ability to deal some extra force damage and lock enemies down is certainly not a bad option, but it's not incredibly exciting for the artificer.
  • Alert: With no real burst damage or AoE, artificers aren't craving the initiative boost. Combined with the fact that they can avoid being surprised with the Helm of Awareness infusion by 10th level, this makes Alert a less than optimal feat for the majority of artificer builds.
  • Athlete: Nothing here for an artificer.
  • Baleful Scion: Regardless of your artificer's playstyle, being able to deal damage and heal with the same attack will always be beneficial.
  • Chef: The CON boost isn't bad; it can help you maintain concentration. While it works well with any subclass, I think the best fit is Alchemists, as you can easily retheme this feat into tiny shots of healing elixirs.
  • Cohort of Chaos: Unfortunately, this is too unpredictable to be a efficient use of a feat.
  • Crossbow Expert: If firearms aren’t available in your setting and you want to build a ranged artificer, this feat will be needed to outpace cantrip damage.
  • Crusher: Because this class is so flexible, it can work with most feats. Melee-focused artificers like Battle Smiths or Armorers can get some great use out of this since they are melee-oriented.
  • Defensive Duelist: Artificers aren’t going to have a lot of DEX outside of what they need for AC. Most artificers in melee range benefit more from their spellcasting modifier (INT) than DEX.
  • Divinely Favored: Artificers can select supportive or defensive spells like guidance, bless, shield of faith, and even armor of Agathys. The holy symbol focus may not work for artificers because the rules state that they must have thieves’ tools or some kind of artisan’s tool in hand when they cast any spell.
  • Dual Wielder: Artificers primarily focus on casting spells and creating magical objects. While they do have some martial abilities, taking Dual Wielder likely isn't the best use of a feat for them.
  • Durable: Nothing particularly exciting here for an artificer.
  • Eldritch Adept: They can find some use out of Eldritch Mind or some of the spellcasting options, but none of them are very impactful. Most of the time, artificers are better off with other feats unless they pick this for flavor reasons.
  • 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.
  • Elven Accuracy: Artificer is a very versatile class, so it’s hard to say whether or not this will make a substantial impact. Artificers will more often than not be using their INT for attack rolls, so this can work with just about any build. Unfortunately, none of the builds have a reliable way to get advantage which makes this feat subpar.
  • Ember of the Fire Giant: This is an excellent option for Armorer or Battle Smith artificers. Even if you can’t pump Intelligence with the ASI, pumping Constitution can help with survivability.
  • Fade Away: Gnomes make great artificers but this feat is simply outclassed by the Shadow Touched feat. The only way Fade Away comes out ahead is if you're planning on a more martial-minded artificer, like an Armorer or Battle Smith, and want some additional defensive capabilities.
  • Fey Teleportation: Moving around the battlefield is excellent, and extra INT is always good. I would argue that this is better on Battle Smith and Armorer so they can move around in fights more easily.
  • 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.
  • Fighting Initiate: Battle Smiths get access to martial weapons so they can choose this feat. Archery is a good choice for ranged builds and Defense or Protection would work if you want to tank.
  • 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.
  • Fury of the Frost Giant: This is an excellent option for Armorer or Battle Smith artificers. Even if you can’t pump Intelligence with the ASI, pumping Constitution can help with survivability.
  • Gift of the Chromatic Dragon: Can be a good option for artificers that want to be in the fray, like Armorers and Battle Smiths, or even ones that are just attacking with a crossbow. If you've got a consistent use for your bonus action, losing a turn of this ability could impact it's effectiveness because combats are usually quite short in D&D 5e.
  • Gift of the Gem Dragon: Can be a good option for artificers that want to be in the fray, like Armorers and Battle Smiths. Boost your Intelligence and gain a powerful reaction-based attack.
  • Gift of the Metallic Dragon: You already have cure wounds so a free casting isn't particularly stellar. Still, the defensive boost and being able to stock one more spell per day isn't anything to stick your nose up at.
  • Grappler: Artificers can skip this feat.
  • Great Weapon Master: Artificers can’t use Heavy weapons outside of the Battle Smith subclass. It’s not a terrible option for Battle Smiths though, as they can easily imbue their Heavy weapon with something even more powerful.
  • Guile of the Cloud Giant: While this can help with survivability, Fey Touched can get you misty step and another useful spell while also pumping Intelligence.
  • Gunner: If firearms are available in your setting, this will be invaluable to a ranged artificer built around using firearms. As artificers are the only class to get firearm proficiency off the bat they can use them without this feat. That said, the advantages are undeniable. You can imbue your weapons, get killer buffs, and it works with most subclasses.
  • Healer: Artificers get access to some healing already and if you wanted to go for a more defined healing build, you could always take the Alchemist subclass.
  • Heavily Armored: Not necessary for the Armorer artificer, but could be useful for the other subclasses that don't get heavy armor proficiency. Seeing as artificers want to be stacked into Intelligence first and Constitution second, it's a good idea to grab the dwarf race so you don't need to meet the heavy armor Strength requirements.
  • Heavy Armor Master: Only applicable to the Armorer subclass, but it's a solid defense boost when applied.
  • Inspiring Leader: Artificers don't normally stack into Charisma, so this is a skip.
  • Keen Mind: 1 to INT helps this feat be a little less useless for artificers.
  • Keenness of the Stone Giant: If you're playing an artificer with a decent Constitution bonus, firing off a rock that can deal 1d10 and knock a target prone can be a relatively effective use of your bonus action. Better yet, cast magic stone on your rocks before combat and fire off these rocks as a bonus action for 1d10 + 1d6 + Intelligence modifier.
  • Lightly Armored: Already has access to light armor at the start.
  • Linguist: Artificers can benefit from the Intelligence boost and the ability to create ciphers can fit well with their theme of magical invention.
  • Lucky: Artificers usually make a decent amount of attacks between the cantrips, ranged weapons, and melee weapon builds. Also, if you'll be crafting or picking locks for your party, Lucky provides even more usage. Plus, when combined with Tool Expertise and Flash of Genius, you'll be hard pressed to ever fail an ability check or saving throw.
  • Mage Slayer: This feat can be handy depending on which subclass you take. Battle Smiths, in particular, want to be in the thick of it and get some hits in, same with Armorers with the Guardian armor. However, it's a pretty build-dependant feat, and artificers are incredibly diverse.
  • Magic Initiate: This feat is stellar and opens up a ton of utility. Artificers that pick up wizard spells will find the most use out of this. Whether it’s absorb elements or expeditious retreat, it's an incredible feat to pick up for an artificer.
  • Martial Adept: This doesn't provide much value to most artificers. Even martial artificer subclasses won't benefit much from gaining a couple maneuvers plus one superiority dice per short/long rest.
  • Medium Armor Master: Not a terrible option for Alchemists, Artillerist, or Battle Smiths who want to boost their AC. Armorers can skip this because they gain access to heavy armor proficiencies.
  • Metamagic Adept: Since this class doesn’t get a lot of spell slots, this feat allows artificer to customize their limited spells a little better. Melee-focused artificer builds will love being able to cast heat metal as a bonus action and then using their action to attack.
  • Mobile: If you want to stay melee and pick up booming blade, this can be a potent feat. This isn’t a must-have feat, but it performs well in some builds.
  • Mounted Combatant: Artificers that are focusing on ranged combat should skip Mounted Combatant. Battle Smiths and Armorers, on the other hand, could make decent use of the extra movement options and extra advantage on attacks. If you are creature size Small, the Battle Smith’s Steel Defenders can be mounted, but seeing as the Defender's creature size is Medium, you won't be getting advantage on your attacks against the majority of creatures.
  • Observant: +1 to INT will help here if you take the variant human race at 1st level and have an odd INT score. +5 to passive perception and investigation will help if you're scouting ahead for the party or need to investigate your tinkering.
  • Orcish Fury: Nothing here for an artificer.
  • Outlands Envoy: Getting a free casting of misty step once per day will help the artificer's limited spell slots, but they'll definitely find more value in the Fey Touched feat.
  • Piercer: Another good pickup for the ranged artificer. If you will be dual-wielding hand crossbows you will get double the opportunity to get extra crit damage.
  • Planar Wanderer: If you're playing a Planescape campaign with a heavy emphasis on interplanar travel, this can be a decent pickup for artificers with a proficiency in Arcana.
  • Poisoner: This feat works well with the artificer's tinkering nature and synergizes really well for the Alchemist subclass. Even if your artificer won't be using the poison in combat, you could always give it to your martial party members.
  • Polearm Master: It’s hard to rank artificers because they have several distinct build possibilities. That said, most artificers would have no use for Polearm Master. The one subclass, in particular, that would be drawn to Polearm Master would be Battle Smiths. This is because they gain proficiency in martial weapons and can attack with their INT modifier. Battle Smiths can make better use of this feat because they can infuse it with Enhanced Weapon to increase their damage output. This benefit also extends to the 1d4 damage from the bonus attack.
  • Resilient: Artificers already have proficiency in CON and INT, so the best options would be WIS or DEX. If your artificer is wearing medium armor, DEX is probably your best option because you can get a bonus to your AC out of the deal. Whereas Armorer artificers will likely want to go with WIS.
  • Revanent Blade: Artificers don't gain anything from this feat.
  • Righteous Heritor: At 7th-level, you get Flash of Genius, which could be able to mitigate more damage per use than Soothe Pain if you turn a failed saving throw against something like a dragon's breath weapon into a success. You'll also get more uses out of Flash of Genius per long rest.
  • Ritual Caster: Artificers already have Ritual Casting and should just take Magic Initiate if they want access to find familiar.
  • Rune Shaper: Great option to pick up chromatic orb for damage or armor of Agathys if you'll be a more melee-minded artificer.
  • Savage Attacker: Skip this feat.
  • Scion of the Outer Planes: Even though artificers get a decent amount of cantrips for half-casters, they don't get access to either chill touch or sacred flame. Both of these are solid damage/debuff pickups that would compliment your trusty fire bolt, so choose whichever damage resistance you think will be more effective in your game.
  • Second Chance: Not a bad feat for artificers, who have medium armor (sometimes heavy armor) and shields to boost their AC to respectable levels. Plus, Flash of Genius doesn't have any impact on attack rolls against you and some of the subclasses don't get access to the shield spell.
  • 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: Being able to recon with invisibility or just cast inflict wounds can be pretty powerful, and the stat boost is nothing to sneeze at. Almost any artificer subclass who wants more spell flexibility should pick this up.
  • Sharpshooter: The damage boost and ability to ignore cover from Sharpshooter make this a must-have if you are building a ranged artificer.
  • Shield Master: Artificers can use this feat if they prefer to be in melee range, such as Battle Smiths and Armorers. This feat will make them much tankier than usual and is excellent overall for those builds. Unfortunately, these subclasses allow artificer's to ignore strength and attack/do damage with INT, so you'll need to pump a suboptimal ability score in order to use Shield Master's shove ability to the fullest.
  • Skill Expert: Because of how flexible this class is, Skill Expert can work for just about any artificer build. It's a stellar pick for anyone who doesn't need a specific feat first, though in most cases artificers should try to get to 20 INT as quickly as possible. If you are going to be making tinkering checks using Sleight of Hand this is useful for doubling your proficiency bonus.
  • Skulker: In most cases, this feat doesn’t mesh well with artificers unless your DM approves firearms and you opt for some sort of sniper-gun build. Even then, this feat doesn’t work with your Steel Defender or Eldritch Cannon, making it pretty subpar all around.
  • Slasher: Artificers staying on the front line will find a lot of use for this if they prefer slashing weapons.
  • Soul of the Storm Giant: Depending on your build, this can be helpful. If you're going to be within melee ranged, like an Armorer or Battle Smith, this is a great way to boost survivability. Unfortunately, you can't pump Intelligence, but you can boost Constitution.
  • 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 and will be using fire bolt as your main source of damage, Spell Sniper is an alright feat.
  • Squat Nimbleness: Could be decent for Armorer or Battle Smiths, as gnomes are an attractive option for artificers.
  • Strike of the Giants: While some artificer subclasses will be using melee weapons, their Constitution likely won't be high enough to make the options that force saving throws worth it. If you're going to be solely focused on melee weapon attacks, the Fire Strike option might be worth it, but most of the time you'll get more out of a feat like Fey Touched.
  • Tavern Brawler: Nothing here for an artificer.
  • Telekinetic: This feat adds some serious value to artificers. They can already learn the mage hand cantrip but are on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to the number of cantrips they can know. The ASI to INT is always something artificers are interested in. Artificers don't typically have a use for the bonus action, so Telekinetic can offer some action economy as well as battlefield control.
  • Telepathic: The +1 to Intelligence is welcome, but talking silently and detect thoughts aren't going to be particularly useful for artificers
  • Tough: Artificers have reasonable survivability compared to other casters because of their shield/armor proficiencies and d8 hit dice. There are likely better uses for feat or ASI than the Tough feat.
  • Vigor of the Hill Giant: Neither effect really produce enough value to artificers to make this feat worthwhile. Focus on something that will either boost Intelligence, damage output, or utility.
  • War Caster: Artificers get access to shield proficiencies, so builds that want to wield a weapon with their shield will have a use for War Caster. That said, artificers need to have their spellcasting focus in hand to cast spells that require material components. Luckily for artificers that want to wield a shield, any infused item can also count as a spellcasting focus.
  • Weapon Master: You have access to simple weapons and that's all you need.

Best Spells for Artificer

Being half-casters, artificers only get spell slots up to 5th level. That said, they get a varied list of utility, healing, and buff spells that can make them effective in a wide variety of circumstances. The artificers spell list typically struggles the most with damage output, mainly relying on cantrips like fire bolt or the situationally useful heat metal to defeat enemies in combat. If you’re looking to increase the potency of your artificer’s spellcasting, look no further than the all-purpose tool. This artificer-focused item provides a boost to your spellcasting attack modifier and spell save DC, as well as a free cantrip from any spell list.


  • Acid Splash: Can target multiple creatures.
  • Booming Blade: Most casters will want to avoid this unless they are up in the mix as a martial spellcaster. This can be a great tool to lock enemies down if you're being pursued or would like to move around the battlefield to get an advantageous position. Unfortunately, shoving or other methods of knocking prone doesn't activate the extra 1d8 damage. This spell works particularly well with the Mobile feat as you can attack then move without giving your opponent an attack of opportunity. In practice, it works extremely well with the Polearm Master and Sentinel feat combo, but you will need to pick up a way to extend the range of your cantrip, either by using the Spell Sniper feat or the sorcerer's Distant Spell Metamagic. Finally, this spell works wonders with War Caster as you can hit an enemy booming blade as an opportunity attack and prevent your opponent from running away.
  • Dancing Lights: Solid range and utility when you need to light a dark area. Has very similar effects to the light cantrip, so take your pick of whichever you prefer.
  • Fire Bolt: One of the better damage dealing cantrips. Good range and damage dice, fire is one of the most resisted damage types so be careful when casting at unknown enemies.
  • Frostbite: Frostbite has a very interesting secondary effect (giving disadvantage on target’s next attack). The problem is that it requires a CON save which many monsters are very good at.
  • Green-Flame Blade: Good option for martial spellcasters as long as the enemy their attacking has allies nearby. Scales relatively well with levels, but depending on the amount of extra attacks you get this may or may not be worth it. Definitely a good option for builds that have picked up War Caster.
  • Guidance: Outside of combat, you can use this literally every time a party member makes an ability check. Just make sure you're within arms reach of the creature you'll be providing guidance to and make sure to announce it before the ability check is called for.
  • Light: Useful, but there are plenty of ways around having to pick up this spell. As long as your not underwater, simple torch could save you a slot for another cantrip.
  • Mage Hand: Mage hand provides a lot of utility for a caster, allowing them to extend the range they can grab or interact with objects, with little combat benefit.
  • Magic Stone: If you have an spellcasting 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 if you can.
  • 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: Bad range, a common save to avoid all damage, and a commonly resisted damage type. Pass.
  • Prestidigitation: Extremely versatile, even if the effects are small this cantrip can do a lot.
  • Ray of Frost: Solid damage cantrip. The speed reduction can help with kiting enemies.
  • Resistance: It's difficult to predict when saving throws will need to be made. So, spending concentration for a save that might not come isn't worth it, even if you're not sacrificing a spell slot.
  • Shocking Grasp: Advantage against metal armor and preventing reactions for a turn bundles damage and utility.
  • Spare the Dying: When you're in the middle of combat and don't have any healing spells or potions left, you don't want to leave stabilizing a companion to chance. This is always a good spell to have as a backup.
  • Sword Burst: Good AoE damage if you get surrounded.
  • 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.
  • Thunderclap: Good AoE damage but targets a common save and can’t be used while stealthing.

1st level

  • Absorb Elements: One of the best defensive spells at this level, especially for protecting against elemental AoE effects.
  • Alarm: This spell is relatively useful whenever you're resting. What's better is it can be cast as a ritual. If you have Ritual Casting, this is never a bad pick.
  • Cure Wounds: Healing is important so pick it up if you think you’ll need it.
  • Detect Magic: Every party should roll with at least one character who has access to detect magic.
  • Disguise Self: Great 1st level infiltration spell.
  • Expeditious Retreat: This spell could come in handy for characters that value high movement and may have no real use for their bonus action, like a Bladesinger.
  • False Life: Temporary hit points are always useful, especially at very low levels where characters can be taken out in a single hit.
  • Feather Fall: It's a situational effect but you’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
  • Grease: Solid low-level getaway spell but it isn't particularly effective in combat because you can't choose which creatures are affected. This isn't even that useful as part of an ambush where you know an enemy will be coming into a room so you and your party line up with ranged weapons because if a creature falls prone you will have disadvantage on your ranged attack..
  • Identify: You can spend a short rest in physical contact with a magical item to identify it. In addition, most cursed items are not revealed to be cursed when this spell is cast. The main purpose this spell serves is to identify something quickly, which is rather situational.
  • Jump: Tripling a creature's jump distance isn't usually worth a 1st level spell slot.
  • Longstrider: An extra 10 feet of movement is noticeable, especially since this spell lasts for an hour so you can use the buff before you find yourself in a battle or travel long distances in a short time.
  • Purify Food and Drink: If you're DM likes to poison you via food or drink a lot, this could be a good pickup? Otherwise, save it for when you go to a political banquet in enemy territory.
  • Sanctuary: A good spell to have in your pocket if a team member is in dire straits or you need to protect an NPC.
  • Snare: Way too many hoops to jump through and downsides to be worthwhile. If you manage to pull it off despite the long casting time and the terrible AoE, a trapped creature can easily find themselves in a bad situation. Having to make the escape saving throw at disadvantage will not be pretty.
  • 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

  • Aid: Proactive healing rather than reactive healing and at a higher, guaranteed rate than Cure Wounds. 5 hit points can make a huge difference in keeping the party alive, and the spell doesn’t require concentration. Can be cast at higher levels.
  • Alter Self: Decent utility when infiltrating hostile areas or needing to travel underwater. Unfortunately, disguise self is a 1st-level spell and usually better for infiltration and the combat part of this spell is pretty worthless.
  • Arcane Lock: Surprisingly, a useful little utility spell. The effect lasts until dispelled so it's a good thing to use on a home base when you have the spell slots to spare. Of course, the lock can be bypassed with knock but you'll be able to hear someone using knock while you're within 300ft. Overall, you don't want this stocked unless you're really paranoid or need to lock down an area.
  • Blur: Pretty good evasive option. The higher your AC, the better this is.
  • Continual Flame: Most of the time you can just cast light or use a torch as a light source and save yourself the 50 gp.
  • Darkvision: Essential if you or party members don’t have natural Darkvision and want to navigate without a torch. At a 2nd-level spell slot, the cost for this effect is quite steep.
  • Enhance Ability: Decent buff before you go into combat. Also has a fair amount of utility for just about any out-of-combat situation.
  • Enlarge/Reduce: A solid shenanigan spell that is really only limited by your imagination. This can do everything from enlarging your barbarian so they can grapple an adult dragon to shrinking a boulder so you can fly with it then drop it on an enemy's head.
  • Heat Metal: A go-to damage spell for enemies wearing metal armor (or have knives stuck in them). No save, great damage, and can cause the creature to attack with disadvantage or lose their weapon.
  • Invisibility: Great infiltration spell.
  • Lesser Restoration: Diseases and conditions do come up from time to time, so you’ll be happy to have this when they do.
  • Levitate: Can be used to get up high, or completely remove a melee attacker from combat. Levitate can be good at any level.
  • Magic Mouth: Useful if you want to Mission Impossible-style deliver a message when someone opens an envelope or something. Otherwise, message and sending make this obsolete.
  • Magic Weapon: This is usually a much better option, but with the artificer’s Infusions this will likely not be necessary.
  • Protection from Poison: Has some use if you have a poisoned party member but don't have access to lesser restoration. The resistance to poison and advantage on saving throws against poison is a nice buff in specific circumstances, especially because it doesn't require concentration.
  • Pyrotechnics: Limited because it needs a nonmagical flame to be able to work. Can be comboed with bonfire.
  • Rope Trick: This is an extremely cheese-able spell that allows you to pop out of your extra-dimensional space, take a shot at a creature, then pop back in. I guarantee if you start abusing this spell, your DM will find some evil ways to punish you. Past cheesing combat, there are a lot of shenanigans you can pull with this spell. Especially because it doesn't require concentration.
  • See Invisibility: If you know you're going to be coming across invisible creatures, this spell is worth it to stock. Otherwise, faerie fire is a better option as it allows party members to see the invisible creatures as well.
  • Spider Climb: A useful movement option if you want to get away from a combatant or sneak into a hostile area. Seeing as your hands are free, you're still able to attack and cast spells while climbing. Will also allow you to live out your Spider-Man fantasy.
  • Vortex Warp: This spell has a good baseline, being able to move enemies and allies around the battlefield is solid utility. In situations where you have environmental hazards, like fire or ongoing AoE effects, this spell really shines. Unfortunately it's limited by the fact that you can't just teleport an enemy 90ft in the air or off a cliff and that it targets CON, which is a notoriously good save for monsters.
  • 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.

3rd level

  • Blink: 50% chance of completely avoiding any damage for a turn is more consistent over a long period than mirror image and better for builds with lower ACs than blur. Plus, it isn't concentration.
  • Dispel Magic: Always make sure at least one of your party members has this.
  • Elemental Weapon: Infusions are better unless you plan on building around the Elemental Adept feat.
  • 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: Extremely useful movement option. Being able to fly opens up a whole new world and can overcome many obstacles. Be cautious about the concentration component when flying to lofty heights.
  • Glyph of Warding: Costly components and a long casting time are the major hurdles in the way of making glyph of warding a stellar spell. As it stands, its probably the best way to set a trap if you know where the enemy will be coming through and have at least an hour to prepare.
  • 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 and your party member's next turn.
  • Intellect Fortress: Only useful in very specific circumstances. Say, for example, when wandering into a den of Mind Flayers.
  • Protection from Energy: This is typically outshined by absorb elements except in the specific circumstances when you are constantly being subjected to a type of damage.
  • 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. Because each round of combat is 6 seconds, a party member that dies during combat can typically be revived within 1 minute. Make sure you've got diamonds worth 300 gp on you if you're planning on stocking this spell.
  • 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.
  • Water Breathing: This is almost required for enabling underwater traversal, which may or may not happen a lot in a campaign.
  • Water Walk: This is likely not to see use in an entire campaign.

4th level

  • Arcane Eye: A great scouting tool and can be moved as an action, making it a worthy spell to pickup.
  • 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.
  • Leomund’s Secret Chest: Hide stuff in the ethereal plane. Very, VERY situational.
  • Mordenkainen’s Faithful Hound: Seeing as the hound can only attack creatures within 5ft of it and can't move, it is very situational.
  • Mordenkainen’s Private Sanctum: If you're resting in a hostile area or are being tracked by enemies capable of using divination magic to track you, this could be a worthwhile spell to cast. At 4th-level, it's certainly resource-intensive but sometimes a peaceful night's sleep is worth it.
  • 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.
  • Stone Shape: Can be used to deal damage if you get creative, or circumvent annoying parts of caves and dungeons since they are usually made of stone.
  • Stoneskin: Effectively double your or your favorite melee fighter’s hit points. Better at lower levels or when fighting enemies without magical attacks. If you'll be casting this on yourself, make sure you have a decent CON modifier and consider taking the Resilient (CON) feat if you don't have proficiency in CON saving throws or the War Caster feat for advantage on concentration checks.
  • Summon Construct: All of the options are fairly tanky but the Heated Body option is definitely the best feature.

5th level

  • 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: Bigby’s hand truly does it all. It can do turn after turn damage, help you escape dangerous situations, hold down a baddy, and allow you to fly all while increasing your action economy because it only uses a bonus action to command.
  • 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.
  • Skill Empowerment: This spell is very flexible since you can give any creature Expertise in any skill. It is quite expensive at 5th level and it works best when the creature needs to use the same skill multiple times.
  • 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: Great tool to manipulate the battlefield to your party’s advantage.

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.


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.


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/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

  • BR: Basic Rules
  • GotG: Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants
  • SotDQ: Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen
  • ERLW: Eberron: Rising from the Last War
  • EEPC: Elemental Evil Player’s Companion
  • EGtW: Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount
  • FToD: Fizban's Treasury of Dragon
  • GGtR: Guildmasters' Guide to Ravnica
  • MotM: Monsters of the Multiverse
  • MToF: Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes
  • MOoT: Mythic Odyessys of Theros
  • PAitM: Planescape: Adventures in the Multiverse
  • PHB: Player's Handbook
  • SAiS: Spelljammer: Adventures in Space
  • SCoC: Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos
  • SCAG: Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide
  • TCoE: Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
  • TTP: The Tortle Package
  • WBtW: The Wild Beyond The Witchlight
  • VRGtR: Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft
  • VGtM: Volo's Guide to Monsters
  • XGtE: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

Other Artificer Guides

Mike Bernier

Mike Bernier is the lead content writer and founder of Arcane Eye. He is a Adamantine best-selling author of Strixhaven: A Syllabus of Sorcery on DMs Guild and is a contributing author at D&D Beyond. Follow Mike on Twitter.

24 thoughts on “Artificer

  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 🙂

    3. I casted continual flame in a ring with a hole and a cover, meaning i can enable/disable a torch that doesn’t need an hand every time i want. You just need to cast it a single time and have a pretty useful item

      ( made a CR 9(Cloaker) easy to fight for 2 lvl 7 )

  2. 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 🙂

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

    1. From what I understand, Magic Stone doesn’t work with Catapult RAW. Taking from a Reddit comment that sums it up better than I can:

      1. Magic Stone only works on pebbles and requires an attack (“on a hit”) for the damage to take effect (specifically via throwing or slinging)
        Catapult requires the target object weigh 1 to 5 pounds, which a pebble does not
      2. So Catapult can’t target a pebble from Magic Stone, and even if it could it wouldn’t count as an attack so it would only deal the Catapult damage.
  5. Xanathars Guide lays out some good uses for tool proficiencies, with many of them providing usful tangible bonuses in a normal adventuring day. Each tool proficiency provides advantage on certain skill checks as well. I would agree that if you go off only the PHB + DMG tools are fairly boring and useless, but I feel it’s pretty lazy to write them all off without looking into Xanathars for what this tools can actually DO.

    Artificer gets a ton of tool proficiencies so it’s pretty silly to not to look at Xanathars tool fixes. When considering playing one.

    1. Very good point! I actually use these rules extensively in my campaigns. As with most things in D&D, tools will only be as good as the player is creative with them! While their baseline effectiveness is low if you incorporate your tools into your downtime or use them for creative solutions they can be very strong assets to your Artificer’s arsenal.

  6. Some ratings of the magic items might be nice. Some have level requirements, but for starting infusions, some of my favorites are spell wrought tattoo (common) with find familiar. And the alchemy jug is great too! Grab empty vials at a shop, fill two per day with acid from the jug, start building inventory and catapult the acid vials (Some DM discretion, but narrative sense the catapult “throws” the vial which breaks, spilling the contents and doing both the acid damage and the catapult damage. Further, lash together or put into a mesh bag up to 5 vials doing 3d8 bludgeoning and 10d6 acid damage.

  7. Note on War Caster ratings.. artificers can also used Infused items as a focus. So a shield Infused with enhanced defense is now a focus and works better with war caster.

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