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.

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.

Strengths

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.

Weaknesses

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

Races

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.

Backgrounds

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 Scores

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

1st Level

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.

SkillsYou 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.

2nd Level

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.

6th Level

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. 

10th Level

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.

14th Level

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.

18th Level

Spell Mastery: Refer to the 5e Wizard Guide.

20th Level

Signature Spells: Refer to the 5e Wizard Guide.

Feats

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.

1st Level:

  • 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

2nd Level:

  • Spells: Absorb Elements, Detect Magic
  • Arcane Tradition: Bladesinger
  • Training in War and Song, Bladesong

3rd Level:

  • Spells: Mirror Image, Misty Step

4th Level:

  • Spells: Blur, Scorching Ray
  • Cantrip: Green-Flame Blade
  • Feat: Mobile

5th Level:

  • Spells: Haste, Fireball

6th Level:

  • Spells: Counterspell, Hypnotic Pattern
  • Extra Attack

7th Level:

  • Spells: Banishment, Greater Invisibility

8th Level:

  • Spells: Arcane Eye, Dimension Door
  • ASI: +2 DEX (DEX 18)

9th Level:

  • Spells: Hold Monster, Steel Wind Strike

10th Level:

  • Spells: Rary’s Telepathic Bond, Wall of Force
  • Cantrip: Mending
  • Song of Defense

11th Level:

  • Spells: Chain Lightning, Contingency

12th Level:

  • Spells: Disintegrate, Mass Suggestion
  • ASI: +2 DEX (DEX 20)

13th Level:

  • Spells: Plane Shift, Simulacrum

14th Level:

  • Spells: Forcecage, Teleport
  • Song of Victory

15th Level:

  • Spells: Clone, Maze

16th Level:

  • Spells: Feeblemind, Sunburst
  • ASI: +2 INT (INT 18)

17th Level:

  • Spells: Wish + your choice

18th Level:

  • Spells: Your choice
  • Spell Mastery: Absorb Elements and Misty Step

19th Level:

  • Spells: Your choice
  • ASI: INT + 2 (INT 20)

20th Level:

  • 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!

Roland Drews

Roland Drews is a content creator and editor at Arcane Eye. When he isn't watching basketball or noodling on his guitar, you can find Roland reading, writing, or playing D&D. He currently lives in Bonn, Germany with his girlfriend Jess.

28 thoughts on “Bladesinger 5e Guide

  1. What’s the point of having the odd Dex score? There’s no reason to not just start at a 14 Dex so you can add either have a 12 Wis or take away your negative modifier to Str or Cha.

      1. Hi,

        I have run a blade singer before and the starting with an odd numbered Dex is a move worth consideration.

        The first ASI that you would normally increase your Dex at, in this guide level 8, instead pick up the feat resilient and pick Dex.

        This will give you the +1 Dex to an even number but it also makes your PC proficient in DEX saves, now you just might dodge all those traps and incoming fireball spells.

        1. This is a great idea! Especially since Bladesingers are kinda squishy and want to be in melee range. Maybe you would forgo the Mobile feat in this case because you do want to pump that DEX and INT sooner rather than later.

  2. With Tasha’s Caldron just coming out I feel that supersedes Sword Coast, and some of the older books that have material related to this class. Tasha’s also contains the new official BladeSinger class. I am curious if that material would change any of your suggestions.

  3. Just a thought. you mentioned feats, but I noted the lack of Dual Wielder as a potential feat. The additional attack could increase your damage output to 3 attacks with rapiers by 6th level. Damage would look like this:
    3d8+Int*3(after 14th level)+Dex*3.
    Of course, you would need War Caster to be able to cast while fighting like this and it’s still not stellar. Still I think this as an option has some appeal.
    And light armour proficiency has some benefits if you find a suit of magic light armour that the party rogue doesn’t want.

    1. Hey there! Interesting idea, but like you said needing two feats to make it work can be tricky. I think at that point you would definitely need to be a Variant Human for the free feat!

  4. It is supposed to be one first level and one second level spell for Spell Mastery at level 18, but the guide lists two first level spells.

  5. Wow a spell let shadowblade be fairly potent with this character? I know there are a few spells fighting for concentration, but an upcasted shake blade could do wonders, too.

    1. Shadow Blade can be pretty good in dark environments for sure. It’s really a personal choice thing, I prefer Hypnotic Pattern and Haste, but the Bladesinger is one of the few builds where Shadow Blade actually works, so go for it!

  6. Hey, just wanna throw this in:

    I’m currently playing a Bladesinger Wizard for quite some time now but I max dex over int and use the Spell Shadow Blade as my bread and butter.

    I highly recommend this version!

    1. You’re right! Shadow Blade is a cool spell and does solid damage. The problem with it (compared to the other blade spells) is that it requires concentration! Unfortunately the Bladesinger is probably better off concentrating on a spell like Haste or Hypnotic Pattern, in my opinion.

  7. How come the Elven Accuracy Feat is not even considered?
    Between the familiar’s help actions and Shadow blade in the dim light/darkness, there is a lot attacks with an advantage.

    1. Thanks for your input, you make a good point and it’s been added to the guide! I think there are better feat options to help deal with the Bladesinger’s downsides, but Elven Accuracy can be lots of fun.

      1. Considering this can be used with spell attacks/ranged attacks with the familiar as well for advantage…. this may be underrated as a green… staying out of range with “double” advantage can be a better defense than any of the other feats to play devils advocate – and you get an ASI as a bonus to boot… Mobility/War Caster/Elven Accuracy are all top tier feats for Bladesingers imo.

  8. Hey man, i just noticed you have 4 Cantrips at Level 1. When I checked the 5e table for Wizards the Cantrips you know should only be 3. How did you get to 4?

  9. What about a wood-elf.

    You get 1 cantrip less sure and you lose +1 int. But you gain +5 feet movement, you get to hide in rain., snow, light foilage etc.

  10. I’m curious why you choose to pump DEX first over INT? I find INT more useful for spellcasting (to hit, saves, spells prepared per day, arcana checks) and if you’re bladesong is active it matches DEX for AC as well.

    I picked toughness for my wood elf bladesinger at level 4, and it’s saved my butt on several occasions, especially when our Paladin is on his last legs. I like the idea of mobility as well. I ended up swapping out elven accuracy for alertness after a few months of play as I didn’t find it that helpful (needed a 1 INT feat to balance out wood elf). If I’d gone with high elf I’d have taken war caster or mobility as well I think.

    1. It’s an interesting discussion for sure. Like you said, INT is great on Wizards. If we look at Bladesingers, especially those that want to play primarily in melee range, DEX is also super important. It affects damage, attack rolls, AC, and initiative. If you want to use the blade cantrips (Shadow Blade, Booming Blade, etc.) those require a melee weapon attack as well, further increasing the usefulness of DEX.

      All in all, take more INT if you want to take a more traditional spellcasting roll, take more DEX if you want to fight more in melee range. For me, DEX is better for this build.

  11. You should dig in more with your racial analysis now that Tasha’s has come out. Attributes aren’t important anymore as any race can assign them any way they want. Instead, check out races with interesting abilities. I am currently running a Half-Orc and his Relentless Endurance and Savage Attacks are very useful for a Bladesinger. I would always put the +2 into Dex and the +1 into Int. Dex should be primary and Int should be secondary. A Bugbear’s Long Limbed, Sneaky and Surprise Attack work well as your already high dex makes you super sneaky.

    As far as spells go, you should ditch Mage Armor and take False Life instead. You can wear Studded Leather armor and the extra hitpoints are very useful. You won’t need Longstrider. Between Haste and Bladesong, your speed will be laughably fast.

    1. Hey Sean! As we mentioned on our Guide to DnD 5e Races, we won’t be updating the racial analysis for a couple of reasons:

      1. Tasha’s update is an optional rule, so incorporating it into our guides would confuse new players or players that don’t use this rule at their table
      2. Customizing Your Origin provides a near limitless amount of customizability, so organizing this information in a guide format without being overwhelming would be very difficult

      As for going for DEX over INT, definitely agree! See Roland’s comment above for why we like DEX over INT on Bladesingers.

      Last, the mage armor/false life debate. Why not both! Getting from 12 + dex to 13 + dex at the beginning of an adventuring day is well worth the 1st-level spell slot. False Life is great at lower levels, but when you have to start burning a 4th or 5th-level slot to keep up with your enemy’s damage output, it begins to look less appealing.

      Thanks for writing in!

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