Hexblade 5e Guide

Published on September 1, 2020, Last modified on September 3rd, 2020

In this post, we will examine the different choices you will be presented with when leveling up your Hexblade Warlock. Everything from which ability scores to max out to which races will give you the best stats (and everything in-between) will be covered. This article will focus primarily on content from the Dungeon Master’s Guide, Player’s Handbook, and Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.

What is this guide?

This guide is meant as a deep dive into the Warlock Subclass, the Hexblade. You can find a full overview of the Warlock class here: DnD 5e Warlock.

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, because the other options are discussed in the 5e Warlock 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 Hexblade Warlock?

Hexblade Warlocks are Warlocks that, in their pact with their patron, gain access to additional combat abilities that primarily help in melee combat. Hexblades are held to similar restraints as typical Warlocks in terms of spellcasting, they only gain up to 5th level spell slots and always have to cast their spells at their highest available level.

Strengths

The Hexblade solves a lot of problems that casters usually have when dipping their toes into melee combat, access to armor, shields, and maintainable ability scores. When they choose the Hexblade Patron, Warlocks are able to add their CHA bonus to attack rolls and damage, this brings melee Warlocks from Multiple-Ability Dependent (MAD) to Single-Ability Dependent (SAD).

The Hexblades benefits do not solely benefit melee Warlocks. The medium armor, shields and the Hexblade Curse provided by the subclass are also beneficial if you want to stay at a distance and use Eldritch Blast.

Weaknesses

The Expanded Spell list that Hexblades get is pretty horrendous. This is for a number of reasons:

  1. Warlocks have limited spell slots and can only cast them at the highest available slot. Shield, Blur, and Blink, while great defensive spells, don’t scale with levels. Casting a 1st level Shield with a 3rd level spell slot feels bad man.
  2. One of the Warlock’s best spell, Hex, is concentration. For some reason, the Smites that Hexblade Warlocks get access to are also concentration which negates them as useful spells to use in combat.

Before You Start

Races

Hexblade Warlocks will want to prioritize CHA, get their +2 DEX to max AC, and boost CON to max their HP. If you would like to boost INT or WIS for outside of combat checks like Perception, or Arcana than that is also an option.

Lightfoot Halfling: +1 to CHA, in addition to the bonus to DEX and Lucky from the Halfling traits, is pretty nice.

Half-Elf: The +2 CHA, ASI to boost DEX, and skill versatility make this is one of the better races for a Hexblade class. 

TieflingTieflings get a +2 boost to CHA, a free cantrip, and free spells at higher levels making them a great choice for a Hexblade Warlock.

Variant Human: Being able to boost to CHA and DEX and any of the numerous awesome feats for Hexblades is a stellar choice.

Ability Scores

Ability Score Increases (ASI) at 4th, 6th, 8th, 12th, 14th, 16th, and 19th level.

CHA: Hexblades are mainly reliant on their CHA bonus. It helps face skills, attack bonus, and damage bonus.

CON: Because you are truly only reliant on CHA, you can spend a fair amount of your ASIs on helping your mediocre HP.

DEX: Hexblades are proficient with medium armor, get your dex to +2 to bump your AC as high as possible.

Backgrounds

  • Charlatan: Deception to go with the great CHA and sleight of hand can always be useful
  • Criminal: Deception and one of the most important skills in 5e, Stealth.
  • Guild Artisan: Insight is always great, even if you have a low WIS. Persuasion is a super useful skill here.
  • Sailor: Perception is the most important skill in the game, taking this background can help balance out the low WIS modifier
  • Urchin: If you don’t have a Rogue, grabbing proficiencies in Sleight of Hand and Stealth can help your party’s chance of staying sneaky. 

Warlock Class Progression

1st Level

Hit Points and Hit Dice: Having a d8 hit dice is a tough sell for a class that is designed to get down and dirty in combat.

Saves: Refer to the 5e Warlock Guide

Proficiencies: Getting access to shields, medium armor, and martial weapons helps your case in melee big time.

Skills: Refer to the 5e Warlock Guide

Pact Magic: Refer to the 5e Warlock Guide

Otherworldly Patron: The Hexblade

The Hexblade Expanded Spells

  • 1st Level
    • ShieldThis an amazing option for any melee fighter. Unfortunately it doesn’t scale with Warlock spell slots. It would feel bad casting anything above a 1st or 2nd level spell on this.
    • Wrathful Smite: Decent smite but doesn’t scale with levels and takes concentration so you are unable to keep Hex online.

Hexblade’s Curse – Damage is comparable to Hex so if you see a target you want dead, this is a great option.

Hex Warrior – Medium armor, shields, and martial weapons certainly make this class more viable. The biggest thing here is being able to attack with your CHA bonus. This makes you the only subclass that can use a single Ability score for melee and ranged, which will allow you to stack CON for more HP, DEX for higher AC, or INT for……Intelligence.

2nd Level

The Hexblade Expanded Spells

  • 2nd Level
    • Blur: Again, good option for melee fighter but doesn’t scale with Warlock spell slots. Pick it up when you can, drop it when you can.
    • Branding Smite: Does a medium amount of damage and can make an invisible target visible. Also, interferes with Hex concentration…Not a solid pick for Warlocks.

Invocations

3rd Level

Pact of the Blade: This is necessary for the awesome invocations granted from this Pact like Improved Pact Weapon and Thirsting Blade. Seeing as you can swap Invocations out at every level, you can swap out either of the previous recommendations for Improved Pact Weapon here.

Pact of the Chain: Pact of the Chain will always find utility in its familiar, but it is certainly not optimized for this particular subclass.

Pact of the Tome: This is the weakest option for Hexblades

5th Level

The Hexblade Expanded Spells

  • 3rd Level
    • Blink: 50% chance of completely avoiding any damage for a turn is more consistent over a long period than Mirror Image. Again, doesn’t scale so drop it when you get to higher levels.
    • Elemental Weapon: The bonus to attack rolls and damage rolls make this a viable option over Hex at lower levels. If you have a magical weapon bound that can give you pluses to hit and damage, Hex will likely be a better option. The main trade-off to consider is the 1 hour duration for Elemental Weapon vs 8 hours duration for Hex as well as the +1 to hit but lesser damage for EW and the more potential damage for Hex.

Invocations

  • Thirsting Blade: If you want to keep your damage-per-round (DPR) on base with other classes, this is a must.

6th Level

Accursed Specter – Great at lower levels and still a decent trick to have at higher levels. It will help out your party’s action economy.

7th level

The Hexblade Expanded Spells

  • 4th Level
    • Phantasmal Killer: Great spell that scales and can provide a ton of damage if the creature fails a couple saves.
    • Staggering Smite: Same issue as the other smites. Doesn’t scale and requires concentration.

Invocations

  • Eldritch Smite: Finally a Smite that Hexblades can use! The lack of concentration and great prone effect make this a shoe-in after choosing Thirsting Blade.

9th Level

The Hexblade Expanded Spells

  • 5th Level
    • Banishing Smite: Awesome use of a 5th level spell slot. Can get rid of a single target with one strike.
    • Cone of Cold: Great AoE that is slightly below Fireball damage.

Invocations

  • Maddening Hex: At 9th level, you should have +5 to CHA. This means that you can all but guarantee an extra 5 damage per turn against one creature, usually more depending on the battlefield.

10th Level

Armor of Hexes – Every attack that “hits” you has a 50% chance of missing from your Curses target. This really comes online at 14th level when you can shift your Curse from creature to creature.

11th Level

Mystic Arcanum: Refer to the 5e Warlock Guide

12th Level

Invocations

  • Lifedrinker: More guaranteed damage based on your CHA modifier, yes please.

14th Level

Master of Hexes – This is a powerful ability that will allow you to gain the benefit of Hex and Hexblade’s Curse consistently throughout a battle. Also, it doesn’t even require a bonus action or reaction so you can move Hex and Curse as soon as you kill a creature.

15th Level

Invocations

18th Level

Invocations

20th Level

Eldritch Master: Refer to the 5e Warlock Guide

Feats

We cover the best feats for Fighters in our 5e Fighter Guide, the only changes would be:

  • Great Weapon Master: Great feat for Pact of the Blades. You can get advantage easily using Darkness and the Devil’s Sight Invocation to make it more reliable.
  • Polearm Master: Polearm Master is great for getting additional hits off with your stack Pact weapon + Hex + Curse. After putting the hurt on a creature coming into your range, they may think twice before trying again.
  • Sentinel: Another great way to get extra attacks off at creatures. Combined with Polearm Master, this is extremely potent.
  • War Caster: War Caster is an extremely beneficial feat to have as a Hexblade. Gaining advantage to Concentration checks will be important for keeping Hex up and running. Due to your limited spell slots, you really don’t want to waste a spell by losing Concentration on it. This also allows you to cast a Cantrip when you get an opportunity attack, which you won’t really want to do often because of how stacked your Pact weapon strikes will be.

Spells

Due to the restrictions put on the Warlock’s spellcasting, not a whole lot of changes are made here from the original 5e Warlock Guide.

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