Bladesinger 5e Guide
Published on November 14, 2020, Last modified on May 6th, 2021
In this post, we will examine the different choices you will be presented with when leveling up your Bladesinger in D&D 5e. We will be discussing everything from which ability scores to max out, to which races will give you the best stats (and everything in-between). This article will focus primarily on content from the Dungeon Master’s Guide and Player’s Handbook, but will also delve into some of the content in the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide and Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.
Anna Steinbauer - Wizards of the Coast - Rowan Kenrith
Update January 13, 2021: Made changes based on the Bladesinger errata from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
What is this guide?
This guide is meant as a deep dive into the Wizard Subclass, the Bladesinger. You can find a full overview of the Wizard class here: DnD 5e Wizard.
For our full class guides, we use the following color rating scheme:
- 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
For our Subclass Guides, we focus mainly on the Blue and Sky Blue options and options that are different from the parent class’ rating for races, backgrounds, and feats. This is to allow a streamlined view of the subclass’s features and because the other options are discussed in the 5e Wizard Guide or other Subclass Guides.
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.
What is a Bladesinger?
Have you ever played a Wizard and thought to yourself, “Sometimes, I dream of charging into battle with the Fighters and Barbarians, laughing in the face of danger”? Enter the Bladesinger.
Well versed in both spell and sword, Bladesingers are suitable for many roles on the battlefield. Whether you want to focus on crowd control, damage, or pulling the enemy’s attention off of your weaker party members, the Bladesinger has you covered. At their core, they are still primarily Wizards, but they can also dish out some decent melee damage.
Bladesingers keep up with the spellcasting prowess of just about any Wizard, with the added benefit of a melee weapon proficiency and greatly enhanced survivability. This opens up some very interesting ways to build and play the class, since Bladesingers can easily boost their AC into the 20s. Combined with some defensive spells and great mobility, the Bladesinger can whip around the battlefield untouched.
All in all, Bladesingers are a unique take on the Wizard class and are a blast to play. While many subclasses of the Wizard feel “samey”, the Bladesinger breathes new life into one of D&D’s most iconic classes.
Bladesingers are cool, but they definitely are not the strongest or most optimized Wizard subclass. Most Wizards are only concerned with raising their INT score, ensuring that you can raise your other stats to a comfortable level. As a Bladesinger, you will need to have a good DEX score in addition to INT for boosts to AC and attacks. When enemies are more consistently getting through your AC, especially at higher levels, the low hit points of the Bladesinger can become a liability.
Unfortunately, casting spells or cantrips is still usually just better than attacking with a weapon for this character. More often than not, using your proficient weapon is more of a last resort than a go to option if you want to play optimally.
Before You Start
With the release of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, it has been confirmed that even non-elf races can become Bladesingers!
Check out our Guide to DnD Races for non-standard races. Keep in mind, most races and subraces are limited by the setting and source material chosen by the DM. Below are some of the best options for Bladesingers from the standard races.
Elf: Elves get +2 to DEX, ideal for this subclass.
- High Elf: A boost to INT and a free cantrip. This is the perfect race for a Bladesinger.
- Wood Elf: No INT score increase, but extra walking speed is interesting and synergizes well with the Bladesinger’s heightened mobility.
Gnome: As with any Wizard build, the +2 to INT goes a long way in making you a good spellcaster.
- Forest Gnome: In addition you now get a DEX boost and Minor Illusion for free. On par with the High Elf if your DM allows it.
Variant Human: It’s no surprise that Variant Humans are good for Bladesingers. The Variant Human allows you to pump INT and DEX and get a feat right from level 1. Unlike most Wizards, feats are actually quite synergistic with the Bladesinger.
There really isn’t a “best” background for the Bladesinger; anything that works well for other Wizard builds will suffice. Choose something that works for your backstory and comes with INT or DEX proficiencies.
- Acolyte: Insight and Religion proficiency. Additional languages can come in handy.
- Cloistered Scholar: History and Arcana, Nature, or Religion proficiency. Additional languages can come in handy.
- Sage: Arcana and History proficiency. Additional languages can come in handy.
Ability Score Increases (ASI) at 4th, 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level.
Most Wizards can get away with only focusing on INT, but as a Bladesinger you will want a high DEX bonus as well. INT is still definitely the most important stat to pump because Bladesingers get an ability that allows them to add INT to their AC and their concentration checks made to maintain a concentration spell. At later levels, they are also able to add the INT modifier to melee weapon attacks.
Due to these changes, Bladesingers are Multi Ability Dependent (MAD). Allocating stats properly is imperative to make the build useable, so some stats need to be dumped. Our suggestion is to pump ability scores in the following order: INT > DEX > CON.
STR: Dump and focus on other stats.
DEX: You want high AC and will want to choose a finesse weapon to attack with, so DEX is pretty much on par with INT for Bladesingers.
CON: Bladesingers will never have a large pool of hit points due to the Wizard’s poor hit dice, but when enemies break through your AC you don’t want to die in one hit.
INT: Wizards rely on INT do to everything, and INT bonuses pump you in additional ways with the Bladesinger’s features.
WIS: Can help with WIS saves and Perception.
CHA: Dump and focus on other stats.
Bladesinger Class Progression
Hit Points: Wizards get the worst hit dice in the game, a d6. This is going to be a huge problem for Bladesingers if they start trying to tank hits without access to defensive magic.
Saves: Intelligence and Wisdom saves aren’t going to offer a whole lot of protection in melee situations.
Proficiencies: Typically, Wizards get no armor and very few weapon proficiencies. The Bladesinger’s Training in War and Song features adds light armor and proficiency with one type of one-handed melee weapon of your choice which is a very welcome addition.
Skills: You get proficiency in Performance in addition to the Wizard’s mediocre skills, which usually isn’t that useful, but especially so as you will likely dump CHA.
Spellcasting: Because of your high INT score, you won’t face the same issues as Eldritch Knights will when picking spells. Eldritch Knights are a Fighter subclass that is sort of the reverse option to Bladesingers when it comes to a melee spellcaster. EKs are also massively MAD and have a hard time pumping their INT score because they focus on their STR and CON. This means EKs have to stick to mainly defensive spells and spells that won’t force a save or use their spell attack modifier.
On the other hand, Bladesingers have a great INT score but will be hard-pressed to pump their CON to a reasonable level to make up for their lacking hit dice. We have included some of the best spells to take as a Bladesinger under the Example Bladesinger Build section that will help keep you alive, while still rolling out maximum damage and battlefield control.
Arcane Recovery: Refer to the 5e Wizard Guide.
Arcane Tradition: Bladesinging
Source: Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
Training in War and Song: Proficiency in Performance may be useless, but proficiency in light armor and a one-handed melee weapon is what sets the Bladesinger apart from the other Wizard subclasses. Studded Leather won’t be quite as effective as Mage Armor, but saves a spell slot and a prepared spell for something more useful. At higher levels, when you have more spell slots to work with and a +5 to DEX, Mage Armor will outshine any Light Armor enough to be worth using.
Bladesong: Pairs nicely with Training in War and Song. Bladesong gives you a whole bunch of buffs while lasting for a whole minute. Because the number of uses (with the release of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything) now scales with your proficiency bonus and is only reset with a long rest, it is weaker than it used to be at low levels and much better at a high level. The bonus to AC and CON saves to maintain concentration is especially spicy if you cast Haste on yourself.
Extra Attack: The most notable update to the Bladesinger subclass is the change to Extra Attack. Having the choice to use a cantrip in the place of one of your attacks is really cool and can be combined in interesting and powerful ways. You could choose to replace one attack with Booming Blade or Green-Flame Blade, thereby still getting in two attacks for the round. Or, if you finished off your opponent with your first sword attack, you still have the option to shoot a Fire Bolt at an enemy further away.
Song of Defense: Song of Defense is another way to keep your squishy Bladesinger alive. If an incoming attack would cut through your Shield spell, this will at least reduce the damage.
Song of Victory: At 20 INT and if both your weapon attacks connect this is an extra 10 damage. Not overly impressive, but anything to make your melee attacks more viable is a welcome addition.
Spell Mastery: Refer to the 5e Wizard Guide.
Signature Spells: Refer to the 5e Wizard Guide.
Bladesingers should consider feats more strongly than other Wizard builds, even though they depend on multiple ability scores. Several feats work very well with this subclass.
- Elven Accuracy: Elven Accuracy is a good choice, especially if the +1 to DEX or INT gets you to the next modifier bonus. Combined with Shadow Blade and a dark environment, this feat will ensure that you nearly always connect with your target. As far as covering the Bladesinger’s weaknesses, namely dealing with getting hit in melee range, Mobile and War Caster will help you handle incoming attacks better.
- Mobile: Mobile is really interesting if you want to play primarily in melee range. Combined with Bladesong your walking speed will be insane, and avoiding opportunity attacks is perfect for a character with such low hit points.
- Spell Sniper: Solid way to increase range on your attack roll spells, especially those in melee range. Also lets you pick up an attack cantrip if you still need one, like Booming Blade or Green-Flame Blade.
- War Caster: War Caster combined with Bladesong can ensure that you basically never drop your concentration on a spell. Casting spells with opportunity attacks is just great if you want to spend time in melee range.
Example Bladesinger Build
This build focuses on survivability, melee combat, and the crowd control abilities available to the Wizard. It can hold its own in melee combat at early levels, but will start to slow down in the late game without a multiclass. Purchase your light armor and chosen one-handed melee weapon at the earliest convenience. Dump the light armor in favor of the Mage Armor spell when your DEX bonus is high enough to make a big difference.
- Race: High Elf
- Background: Sage
- Ability Scores (Point Buy): STR 8, DEX 14 (+2), CON 14, INT 15 (+1), WIS 12, CHA 8
- Skill Proficiencies: Arcana, History, Insight, Perception, Performance, Religion
- Equipment: Dagger, spellbook, component pouch, scholar’s pack
- Cantrips: Booming Blade, Fire Bolt, Mage Hand, Minor Illusion
- Spells: Expeditious Retreat, Find Familiar, Magic Missile, Mage Armor, Shield, Thunderwave
- Spellcasting, Arcane Recovery
- Spells: Absorb Elements, Detect Magic
- Arcane Tradition: Bladesinger
- Training in War and Song, Bladesong
- Spells: Mirror Image, Misty Step
- Spells: Blur, Scorching Ray
- Cantrip: Green-Flame Blade
- Feat: Mobile
- Spells: Haste, Fireball
- Spells: Counterspell, Hypnotic Pattern
- Extra Attack
- Spells: Banishment, Greater Invisibility
- Spells: Arcane Eye, Dimension Door
- ASI: +2 DEX (DEX 18)
- Spells: Hold Monster, Steel Wind Strike
- Spells: Rary’s Telepathic Bond, Wall of Force
- Cantrip: Mending
- Song of Defense
- Spells: Chain Lightning, Contingency
- Spells: Disintegrate, Mass Suggestion
- ASI: +2 DEX (DEX 20)
- Spells: Plane Shift, Simulacrum
- Spells: Forcecage, Teleport
- Song of Victory
- Spells: Clone, Maze
- Spells: Feeblemind, Sunburst
- ASI: +2 INT (INT 18)
- Spells: Wish + your choice
- Spells: Your choice
- Spell Mastery: Absorb Elements and Misty Step
- Spells: Your choice
- ASI: INT + 2 (INT 20)
- Spells: Your choice
- Signature Spells: Counterspell and Haste
Hope you liked the guide! If you have any questions or feel like we missed something for the Bladesinger, go ahead and post a comment below. If you like our content subscribe to Arcane Eye!