Hexblade 5e Guide

Published on January 27, 2022, Last modified on May 19th, 2022

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

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What is this guide?

This guide is meant as a deep dive into the warlock subclass, the Hexblade.

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 parent guide or other subclass guides. We also discuss options that normally would be good for a typical build, but underperform when used in a subclass.

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. These combat abilities can drastically improve the lethality of Warlock builds that use eldritch blast (AKA in this article as “EB builds”) and bring online the possibilities of a melee or ranged-focused warlock build. Hexblades are held to similar restraints as typical warlocks in terms of spellcasting, but their Hex Warrior feature allows them to make weapon attacks their CHA, rather than STR or DEX.

Strengths

The Hexblade solves a lot of problems that casters usually have when dipping their toes into weapon combat. The Hex Warrior class feature gives access to armor, shields, and maintainable ability scores all at 1st level. The biggest boon of the Hex Warrior trait allows Hexblades to add their CHA bonus to weapon attack rolls and damage, instead of STR and DEX. This brings melee/ranged Hexblade builds 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 a ranged weapon or 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.

Melee, Ranged, or EB Hexblade Build?

Below is a chart comparing the damage output of melee, ranged, EB Hexblade builds:

As you can see, the Hexblade warlock builds using eldritch blast can certainly outpace melee Hexblade builds, even with all of the benefits the Hexblade subclass provides melee/ranged Warlock opportunists. The fact that eldritch blast has 120ft range, deals 1d10 damage, has a great damage type, stacks with levels, and is a cantrip makes it a pretty hard feature to beat.

On top of this, the only invocation that is actually “required” to optimize EB Hexblade builds is Agonizing Blast. As discussed in our Hexblades Builds, melee/ranged Hexblades require a lot more resources in order to keep their damage on par with their EB counterparts.

So, when does a ranged/melee build become more optimal than an EB build? When Feats get brought in. When melee/ranged Hexblade builds are able to utilize Feats such as Great Weapon Master and Sharpshooter to provide boosts in damage, they can end up outputting more damage than EB builds. The tradeoff is of course the number of times the hits actually land, but that can be mitigated with the famous Devil’s Sight + darkness combo and tends to matter less at higher levels.

Eldritch Smite is another resource that melee/ranged Hexblades can use to boost their damage output over EB builds. The best thing to do is wait until crits to use the smite so you can double your damage dice. Doing so allows it to outpace just about any damage spell the Hexblade has access to. This comparison gets wonky when you start to factor in AoE spells with half-damage on saves vs. the guaranteed damage of a smite. A lot smarter people than me will need to do the math one that one.

One thing is for sure: EB Hexblade builds take fewer resources (invocations and Feats) to do a similar amount of damage to their melee/ranged counterparts. In my opinion, melee/ranged Hexblade builds are more fun to play in combat because of the variation their invocations and Feats provide. Some may find that out-of-combat, EB builds have more versatility because they can spend fewer resources on combat-oriented features. A great example of this would be going Pact of the Chain and being able to use your familiar as a scout, or taking the Mask of Many Faces invocation + Actor Feat and becoming an infiltration specialist.

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 then that is also an option.

Standard Races

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, fire resistance, 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.

Non-Standard Races

Aasimar: Any of the subraces will work for Hexblade. Fallen and Protector are the best for sure.

Changelings: +2 CHA is the best stat boost for a pure CHA caster, and the free ability score increase can be used on either DEX or CON depending on your needs. Since they have access to so many spells, a Hexblade could use Shapechanger in combination with a whole host of Illusion spells to make a pretty sly character.

Half-Elf

  • Mark of Storm: Certainly a tempting subrace because it offers a number of spells while keeping with a solid ability mod bonus.

Tabaxi: DEX makes the class less squishy and CHA is the most important ability score for Hexblade. The rest of the racial traits are very movement-focused, which can be great for a melee Hexblade build. The  solid proficiencies are just gravy at this point.

Tiefling:

  • Bloodline of Glasya: DEX ASI and some great spells.
  • Bloodline of Levistus: CON ASIs are always welcome as they mean more HP. The spells are solid as well.

Tritons: CON and CHA are really the only two ability scores that Hexblades need to worry about outside of a little bit of DEX. Control Air and Water gives you a few more spells to play with.

Yuan-ti Purebloods: Yuan-ti Purebloods have everything a Hexblade could want: +2 to CHA, innate spells, and some fantastic defensive traits to keep you alive.

Ability Scores

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

Because of Hex Warrior, you can make weapon attacks with CHA instead of STR or DEX. This brings melee/ranged Warlocks from Multiple-Ability Dependent (MAD) to Single-Ability Dependent (SAD)

CHA: Both melee, ranged, and EB 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. Melee builds will want to put more of a focus into this than ranged/EB builds but both will benefit from the extra hit points and bonuses to Concentration checks.

DEX: Hexblades are proficient with medium armor, get your DEX to at least 14 for the +2 to bump your AC.

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.

Hexblade Class Progression

1st Level

Hit Points and Hit Dice: While it’s better than a Wizard’s d6 hit dice, a d8 isn’t anything to write home about. Some Hexblades prefer to use their pact weapon to get down and dirty in combat whereas others will prefer to stay at range and fire a ranged weapon or eldritch blasts. Melee Hexblades will find that their meager hit dice and low AC make for a tricky combo in close quarters.

Saves: WIS and CHA saves will be great to prevent nasty effects, though they are mainly seen at higher levels. Not having access to CON saving throws hurts melee Hexblades the most and will likely need to be mitigated by either the Resilient (CON) or War Caster feat, or the Eldritch Mind invocation.

Proficiencies: While Hexblades can certainly be optimal without closing in, getting access to shields, medium armor, and martial weapons helps your case in melee big time compared to the baseline Warlock proficiencies. EB Hexblades will love the AC boosts as well.

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 is 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.
  • 2nd Level
    • Blur: Again, good option for melee fighter but doesn’t scale with Warlock spell slots. Useful while you can use a 2nd level spell slot for it, not worth it at higher levels.
    • 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.
  • 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 stop using 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 elemental weapon and the more potential damage for hex.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Hexblade’s Curse – Essentially a better version of hex as the damage scales with your prof. bonus. This also doubles your chance for a crit when active which can provide huge damage whether you’re a melee, ranged, or EB Hexblade. The small amount of healing provided by downing the hexed creature is alright, but really takes off at the 14th level when you’re able to transfer the curse to multiple creatures per activation.

Hex Warrior – Medium armor and shields provide a huge buff to AC. The biggest thing here is being able to make weapon attacks with your CHA bonus and gaining access to martial weapon proficiencies. This makes Hexblade the only Warlock subclass that can use their spellcasting ability for weapon attacks, making melee and ranged builds possible.

3rd Level

Pact of the Blade: This is necessary melee/ranged warlocks for the awesome invocations granted from this Pact like Improved Pact Weapon and Thirsting Blade. EB warlocks will not have a use for this pact.

Pact of the Chain: Warlocks will always find utility in the familiar granted by this pact. EB Hexblades in particular will love using the familiar’s help action to gain advantage and expand their crit possibilities (already improved by Hexblade’s Curse) even further. The Investment of the Chain Master invocation will allow you to output even more damage by using your familiar to attack with bonus actions. That said, Hexblades have a ton of uses for their bonus action so this will likely only be useful for long fights.

Pact of the Talisman: This is a meh option for most Warlocks and that fact doesn’t chance with Hexblades.

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

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.

10th Level

Armor of Hexes – Every attack that “hits” you has a 50% chance of missing from your cursed 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

14th Level

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

20th Level

Eldritch Master: Refer to the 5e Warlock Guide.

Best Invocations for Hexblades

Below we are going to cover the major changes from our 5e Warlock Eldritch Invocation Guide, as well as what options are optimal for Hexblade builds.

No Level Restriction

  • Agonizing Blast: (eldritch blast) Even melee Hexblades will want to use their extremely potent eldritch blast once in a while. Taking this early on is a no-brainer.
  • Armor of Shadows: Unless the only medium armor option you have available in your campaign is hide armor, this isn’t worth picking up for Hexblades.
  • Devil’s Sight: Pairing this invocation with the darkness spell can give you a massive advantage in combat and stealth. Hexblades in particular will enjoy this invocation because attacking from unseen grants you advantage on your attack rolls. This means crits are all the more likely, especially when combined with Hexblade’s Curse. If you save your spell slots for Eldritch Smite crits, this can seriously up your damage output.  The advantage provided by this combo is also helpful for offsetting the negative bonuses caused by Great Weapon Master or Sharpshooter. Remember that your party probably can’t see in magical darkness.
  • Eldritch Mind: Gaining advantage on concentration checks is important for all Hexblades as they will likely want to keep up hex at all costs. Advantage on CON checks is particularly advantageous for melee Hexblades. This invocation also frees up an ASI if you’d like to take another feat instead of War Caster.
  • Grasp of Hadar: (eldritch blast) This invocation still isn’t great for ranged/EB Hexblades but pulling creatures closer with your eldritch blast can be useful for melee Hexblades.

3rd Level

There’s technically no level restriction to these invocations but they are only available once a Warlock gets their Pact Boon at 3rd-level.

  • Improved Pact Weapon: (Pact of the Blade) Automatically make your summoned weapon a +1 magical weapon. Plus, you can now use ranged weapons as your pact weapon. This invocation opens up huge opportunities for Hexblades.

5th Level

  • Cloak of Flies: While this is a good invocation for any Warlock build, the close-quarters AoE effect make it particularly shine for melee Hexblade.
  • 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 for melee/ranged warlocks. Once again, EB builds can skip this one.
  • Maddening Hex: This invocation provides a consistent AoE damage ability that can be taken each round as a bonus action. Hexblades have a ton of uses for their bonus action, but after Hexblade’s Curse is up this option will likely see a ton of use.
  • Thirsting Blade: This invocation allows you to attack twice with your pact weapon, which is necessary for melee/ranged Hexblades to keep their damage-per-round (DPR) on par with EB builds. EB builds can skip.
  • Tomb of Levistus: Melee Hexblades can certainly find themselves in trouble because of their meager hit dice and relatively low AC. This is a great contingency if things start to look particularly bleak.

7th Level

  • Relentless Hex: (hex spell or a warlock feature that curses) This feature will be very useful for melee Hexblade builds but can be skipped by just about any other build.

9th Level

Not really anything in particular here for Hexblades.

12th Level

  • Lifedrinker: An extra 5 necrotic damage per hit helps melee/ranged Hexblades keep pace with EB Hexblades.

15th Level

  • Chains of Carceri: (Pact of the Chain) At 15th level, you will likely be running into Celestials and Fiends. Being able to cast this at will is wonderful value, the only caveat is you can’t target the same creature twice (without short/long resting in between).  This is a must if you are in a campaign that frequents the specified creature types.
  • Shroud of Shadow: Casting invisibility at will without expending a spell slot is pretty insane value for spell-slot starved Warlocks. This is especially true for Hexblades who will be able to crit easier due to Hexblade’s Curse and have nuclear options like Eldritch Smite when they crit.

Feats

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

  • Crossbow Expert: If you’re looking to max out a ranged Hexblade build, you’ll need the Improved Pact Weapon invocation which will allow you to make a heavy crossbow your pact weapon. At 5th level, you can choose the Thirsting Blade invocation to be able to attack twice in a turn. Seeing as the heavy crossbow has the loading property, you’ll need this feat to allow your Hexblade to fire multiple times per round. From there, you get to have fun. Eldritch Smite for critting from a distance, Sharpshooter for pumping your damage even higher, the possibilities are endless!
  • Great Weapon Master: Great feat for melee builds using Pact of the Blade. You can get advantage easily using darkness and the Devil’s Sight Invocation to make it more reliable. Keep in mind, you cannot use heavy weapons with your Hex Warrior feature until you choose Pact of the Blade as your Pact Boon.
  • Fey Touched: Misty step is a great spell for any Warlock and is particularly good for melee Hexblades who can regularly find themselves in trouble. Plus, you get to increase your CHA and are able to grab another spell from the divination or enchantment school. This is a go-to option if you end up with an odd CHA score after character creation.
  • Inspiring Leader: As a Hexblade, you’ll have plenty of CHA to go around. Consider this after you’ve maxed your CHA for some extra party support.
  • Lucky: Lucky will be especially useful for melee/ranged Hexblades who will be making more attacks than their EB counterparts.
  • Shadow Touched: Invisibility is a great spell and an extra 2nd-level spell goes a long way because of the Warlock’s reduced spell list. Melee/ranged Hexblades looking to make the most of Hexblade’s Curses increased crit chances plus Eldritch Smite’s nuclear damage will love the advantage granted by invsibility. Plus, you get to increase your CHA and are able to grab another spell from the illusion or necromancy school. This is a go-to option if you end up with an odd CHA score after character creation.
  • Sharpshooter: Combined with the darkness spell and the Devil’s Sight invocation, ranged Hexblades can get plenty of advantage to offset the negative bonus from Sharpshooter.
  • Polearm Master: Polearm Master is great for getting additional hits off with the melee Hexblades stacked 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 for melee Hexblades. Combined with Polearm Master, this is extremely potent.
  • War Caster: Before Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, this was necessary for melee Hexblade builds that want to keep hex up as long as possible. Now, with the Eldritch Mind invocation available, this feat seems like a waste of resources due to the reasonable number of invocations Warlocks get, compared to the meager number of ASIs they are given. This has been adjusted from Light Blue to Orange because of this.

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.

Hexblade Build Examples

For our examples, we try to provide realistic examples of character builds. This means using standard races and class features from popular books (Player’s Handbook, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, and Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything).

There are three distinct paths that Hexblades can choose while still following viable playstyles: melee, ranged, and eldritch blast builds. While the playstyles of these builds are unique, the base for each can be quite similar. Each build will focus on CHA as its primary stat, but the melee build will be putting more stock in survivability than the ranged/EB builds.

You’ll notice that we’ve chosen the Agonizing Blast invocation for each build, even if we’re using a ranged/melee weapon. The reasoning behind this is: Agonizing Blast is amazing. An eldritch blast with Agonizing Blast behind it outpaces the damage of melee or ranged attacks in most circumstances. As a melee/ranged Hexblade, it’s still important to have the option to use your trusty dusty eldritch blast.

Below, we outline the class progression each of these archetypes should follow in order to play optimally.

Melee Hexblade Build

This build is focused on marrying attack power with survivability. Melee Hexblades will be up close and personal so we are using a long sword and a shield to pump our AC. In most situations, armor of agathys will be huge to help with your lacking hit points especially because it doesn’t require concentration. If you can cast armor of agathys pre-combat, even better because its duration lasts 1 hour.

With your defense taken care of, you can begin focusing on your offense. Melee Hexblades have to find a marriage between hex and Hexblade’s Curse. At higher levels, hex can be kept up all-day whereas Hexblade’s Curse is only once per short rest for 1 minute. Usually, the game plan past 5th-level is to cast hex at the beginning of the day (usually targetting a rat and killing it so that you can curse another target later). Keep Hexblade’s Curse for when you really want a tough creature dead if you think there will be multiple encounters between rests.

From there, it’s pretty much free reign. Because Hexblades are forced to cast spells at their highest level and have very little spell slots, they have limited expendable resources for extended battles. If you think you’ll be able to get a short rest in after the fight, feel free to go nova.

1st Level:

  • Race: Tiefling
    • Darkvision
    • Hellish Resistance
    • Infernal Legacy: thalmaturgy
  • Class: Warlock
    • Otherworldly Patron: The Hexblade
    • Pact Magic
      • Cantrips: eldritch blast, green-flame blade
      • Spells (1st-level): hex, armor of agathys
    • Hexblade’s Curse
    • Hex Warrior
  • Ability Scores (Point Buy)
    • Initial: STR 10, DEX 13 (+1), CON 14 (+2), INT 10, WIS 10, CHA 15 (+2)
    • Racial bonuses: +2 CHA, +1 INT
    • Final: STR 10, DEX 13 (+1), CON 14 (+2), INT 11, WIS 10, CHA 17 (+3)
  • Background: Criminal
    • Skill Proficiencies: Stealth, Persausion
    • Tool Proficiencies: Thieves’ Tools
    • Gaming Set: Dice Set
    • Criminal Contact
  • Equipment (Choose gold over equipment, 4d4 x 10 = average of 100gp):
    • Armor: Chain shirt (45gp)
    • Weapon: Long sword (15gp)
    • Shield (10gp)
2nd Level:

  • Eldritch Invocations: Agonizing Blast, Eldritch Mind
  • Pact Magic
    • Spells (1st-level):
      • Add: shield
3rd Level:

  • Pact Boon: Pact of the Blade
  • Infernal Legacy
    • Spells: hellish rebuke
  • Pact Magic
    • Spells (2nd-level):
      • Add: invisibility, mirror image
      • Drop: shield
4th Level:

  • Feat: Fey Touched (CHA) (CHA 18)
    • Spells: misty step, dissonant whispers
  • Pact Magic
    • Cantrip:
      • Add: minor illusion
    • Spells (2nd-level):
      • Add: suggestion
5th Level:

  • Eldritch Invocations: Thirsting Blade
  • Infernal Legacy
    • Spells: darkness
  • Pact Magic
    • Spells (3rd-level):
      • Add: hypnotic pattern, blink
      • Drop: mirror image
6th Level:

  • Accursed Specter
  • Pact Magic
    • Spells (3rd-level):
      • Add: vampiric touch, counterspell
      • Drop: suggestion
7th Level:

  • Eldritch Invocations: Improved Pact Weapon
  • Pact Magic
    • Spells (4th-level):
      • Add: charm monster
8th Level:

  • ASI: +2 CHA (CHA 20)
  • Pact Magic
    • Spells (4th-level):
      • Add: dimension door
9th Level:

  • Eldritch Invocations: Eldritch Smite
  • Pact Magic
    • Spells (5th-level):
      • Add: synaptic static, dream
      • Drop: dimension door
10th Level:

  • Armor of Hexes
  • Pact Magic
    • Cantrip:
      • Add: mage hand
11th Level:

  • Mystic Arcanum: mass suggestion
  • Pact Magic
    • Spells (5th-level):
      • Add: cone of cold, wall of light
      • Drop: hypnotic pattern
12th Level:

  • ASI: +1 DEX, +1 CON (DEX 14, CON 15)
  • Eldritch Invocations: Lifedrinker
13th Level:

  • Mystic Arcanum: finger of death
  • Pact Magic
    • Spells (5th-level):
      • Add: hold monster
14th Level:

  • Master of Hexes
15th Level:

  • Eldritch Invocations: Shroud of Shadow
  • Mystic Arcanum: dominate monster
  • Pact Magic
    • Spells (5th-level):
      • Add: enervation, far step
      • Drop: invisibility
16th Level:

  • Feat: Resilient (CON) (CON 16)
17th Level:

  • Mystic Arcanum: foresight
  • Pact Magic
    • Spells (5th-level):
      • Add: banishing smite
18th Level:

  • Eldritch Invocations: Maddening Hex
19th Level:

  • ASI: CON (CON 18)
20th Level:

  • Eldritch Master

Ranged Hexblade Build

Ranged Hexblades don’t come online until 5th-level, when they’re able to pick up the Improved Pact Weapon invocation. Also, because ranged builds won’t be in combat as often, they need less resources toward DEX and CON. These resources will instead go towards feats that allow us to maximize our damage.

The biggest thing we have to balance is the trade off between invocations, feats, and damage. We want to start off with a longbow so we can get access to a second attack (via Thirsting Blade) as soon as possible. Sharpshooter is our next priority because we’re going to combine Devil’s Sight and darkness to get advantage on as many shots as possible. Then, with our next ASI/Feat, we are going to grab Crossbow Master which will allow us to upgrade to a heavy crossbow, or Fighting Initiate (Archery) to improve our to-hit bonus.

With all those logistics out of the way, have fun with your insane damage output. The biggest advantage this build is going to have over the EB build is when you land your Sharpshooter shots and when you crit + Eldrtich Smite. This means that you’re going to want to look for advantage as much as possible (Devil’s Sight + darkness and invisibility will help with that) and make liberal use of your Hexblade’s Curse to double your crit chances.

Because we’ve established a great base for Hexblades in the melee Hexblade build, we are only going to trade out a couple of things to optimize for ranged builds. This means we are going to swap out the melee-focused spells, rearrange our invocations, get new equipment, and trade some ASIs for Feats. These changes will be noted in bold.

1st Level:

  • Race: Tiefling
    • Darkvision
    • Hellish Resistance
    • Infernal Legacy: thalmaturgy
  • Class: Warlock
    • Otherworldly Patron: The Hexblade
    • Pact Magic
      • Cantrips: eldritch blast, mind sliver
      • Spells (1st-level): hex, armor of agathys
    • Hexblade’s Curse
    • Hex Warrior
  • Ability Scores (Point Buy):
    • Initial: STR 10, DEX 13 (+1), CON 14 (+2), INT 10, WIS 10, CHA 15 (+2)
    • Racial bonuses: +2 CHA, +1 INT
    • Final: STR 10, DEX 13 (+1), CON 14 (+2), INT 11, WIS 10, CHA 17 (+3)
  • Background: Criminal
    • Skill Proficiencies: Stealth, Persausion
    • Tool Proficiencies: Thieves’ Tools
    • Gaming Set: Dice Set
    • Criminal Contact
  • Equipment (Choose gold over equipment, 4d4 x 10 = average of 100gp):
    • Armor: Chain shirt (45gp)
    • Weapon: Longbow (50gp)
2nd Level:

  • Eldritch Invocations: Agonizing Blast, Devil’s Sight
  • Pact Magic
    • Spells (1st-level):
      • Add: shield
3rd Level:

  • Pact Boon: Pact of the Blade
  • Infernal Legacy
    • Spells: hellish rebuke
  • Pact Magic
    • Spells (2nd-level):
      • Add: invisibility, darkness
      • Drop: shield
4th Level:

  • Feat: Fey Touched
    • Spells: misty step, dissonant whispers
  • Pact Magic
    • Cantrip:
      • Add: minor illusion
    • Spells (2nd-level):
      • Add: suggestion
5th Level:

  • Eldritch Invocations: Improved Pact Weapon
  • Infernal Legacy
    • Spells: darkness
  • Pact Magic
    • Spells (3rd-level):
      • Add: hypnotic pattern
6th Level:

  • Accursed Specter
  • Pact Magic
    • Spells (3rd-level):
      • Add: thunderstep, counterspell
      • Drop: suggestion
7th Level:

  • Eldritch Invocations: Thirsting Blade
  • Pact Magic
    • Spells (4th-level):
      • Add: charm monster
8th Level:

  • Feat: Sharpshooter
  • Pact Magic
    • Spells (4th-level):
      • Add: dimension door
9th Level:

  • Eldritch Invocations: Eldritch Smite
  • Pact Magic
    • Spells (5th-level):
      • Add: synaptic static, dream
      • Drop: dimension door
10th Level:

  • Armor of Hexes
  • Pact Magic
    • Cantrip:
      • Add: mage hand
11th Level:

  • Mystic Arcanum: mass suggestion
  • Pact Magic
    • Spells (5th-level):
      • Add: cone of cold, wall of light
      • Drop: hypnotic pattern
12th Level:

  • Eldritch Invocations: Lifedrinker
  • Equipment: Heavy Crossbow
13th Level:

  • Mystic Arcanum: finger of death
  • Pact Magic
    • Spells (5th-level):
      • Add: hold monster
14th Level:

  • Master of Hexes
15th Level:

  • Eldritch Invocations: Shroud of Shadow
  • Mystic Arcanum: dominate monster
  • Pact Magic
    • Spells (5th-level):
      • Add: enervation, far step
      • Drop: invisibility
16th Level:

  • Feat: Crossbow Master
17th Level:

  • Mystic Arcanum: foresight
  • Pact Magic
    • Spells (5th-level):
      • Add: banishing smite
18th Level:

  • Eldritch Invocations: Maddening Hex
19th Level:

  • Feat: Fighting Initiate (Archery)
20th Level:

  • Eldritch Master

Eldritch Blast Hexblade Build

All Warlocks love eldritch blast and for good reason, it’s easily the best damage cantrip in the game. However, in my personal opinion, EB builds can get boring. Warlocks don’t have a ton of expendable resources, so once the spell slots run dry you’re pretty much eldritch blasting until you can get a short rest. While it may not seem that way at first glance, Hexblades are very effective for EB builds. Their medium armor and shield proficiencies will offer a significant AC boost and their Hexblade’s Curse works perfectly fine because eldritch blast is a spell attack cantrip. EB builds won’t have any use for the Hex Warrior’s weapon feature because they will be relying solely on their eldritch blast. But, as we’ve seen above, this trait can siphon up a huge amount of resources for little gain against a maxed-out eldritch blast‘s damage.

Below, we’ve taken the ranged Hexblade build from above and made some modifications. There are far more similarities between the ranged build and the EB build than the melee build and the EB build. This is because EB builds will still want to keep their distance and, because of that, will be able to sacrifice durability for damage. One big boon the EB has over the ranged build is they can wear a shield while eldritch blasting to pump their AC.

We’ve used pretty much all of our invocations to buff our eldritch blast because we’ll be using it so much. Seeing as you won’t need the Pact of the Blade invocations, you can also choose a different Pact Boon and stack your invocations into that. EB builds more interested in versatility can make great use of Pact of the Chain plus the Investment of the Chain Master and Voice of the Chain Master invocations.

As for playstyle, Hexblade builds built around eldritch blast should do just that. Blast. The Devil’s Sight + darkness combo still works wonders for EB builds and they will be able to effectively control the battlefield with all of the fun buffs provided by the invocations. We’ve included a lot of get-out-of-jail-free cards in this build such as misty step, invisibility, thunder step, Shroud of Shadow, and One with Shadows so if anyone gets too close, just poof out of there.

Changes from the ranged build will be noted in bold.

1st Level:

  • Race: Tiefling
    • Darkvision
    • Hellish Resistance
    • Infernal Legacy: thalmaturgy
  • Class: Warlock
    • Otherworldly Patron: The Hexblade
    • Pact Magic
      • Cantrips: eldritch blast, mind sliver
      • Spells (1st-level): hex, armor of agathys
    • Hexblade’s Curse
    • Hex Warrior
  • Ability Scores (Point Buy):
    • Initial: STR 10, DEX 13 (+1), CON 14 (+2), INT 10, WIS 10, CHA 15 (+2)
    • Racial bonuses: +2 CHA, +1 INT
    • Final: STR 10, DEX 13 (+1), CON 14 (+2), INT 11, WIS 10, CHA 17 (+3)
  • Background: Criminal
    • Skill Proficiencies: Stealth, Persausion
    • Tool Proficiencies: Thieves’ Tools
    • Gaming Set: Dice Set
    • Criminal Contact
  • Equipment (Choose gold over equipment, 4d4 x 10 = average of 100gp):
    • Armor: Chain shirt (45gp)
    • Weapon: Doesn’t really matter, you won’t want to be wielding one.
    • Shield (10gp)
2nd Level:

  • Eldritch Invocations: Agonizing Blast, Devil’s Sight
  • Pact Magic
    • Spells (1st-level):
      • Add: shield
3rd Level:

  • Pact Boon: Pact of the Chain
  • Infernal Legacy
    • Spells: hellish rebuke
  • Pact Magic
    • Spells (2nd-level):
      • Add: invisibility, darkness
      • Drop: shield
4th Level:

  • Feat: Fey Touched (CHA) (CHA 18)
    • Spells: misty step, dissonant whispers
  • Pact Magic
    • Cantrip:
      • Add: minor illusion
    • Spells (2nd-level):
      • Add: suggestion
5th Level:

  • Eldritch Invocations: Repelling Blast
  • Infernal Legacy
    • Spells: darkness
  • Pact Magic
    • Spells (3rd-level):
      • Add: hypnotic pattern
6th Level:

  • Accursed Specter
  • Pact Magic
    • Spells (3rd-level):
      • Add: thunderstep, counterspell
      • Drop: suggestion
7th Level:

  • Eldritch Invocations: Lance of Lethargy
  • Pact Magic
    • Spells (4th-level):
      • Add: charm monster
8th Level:

  • ASI: CHA +2 (20)
  • Pact Magic
    • Spells (4th-level):
      • Add: dimension door
9th Level:

  • Eldritch Invocations: One with Shadows
  • Pact Magic
    • Spells (5th-level):
      • Add: synaptic static, dream
      • Drop: dimension door
10th Level:

  • Armor of Hexes
  • Pact Magic
    • Cantrip:
      • Add: mage hand
11th Level:

  • Mystic Arcanum: mass suggestion
  • Pact Magic
    • Spells (5th-level):
      • Add: cone of cold, wall of light
      • Drop: hypnotic pattern
12th Level:

  • Feat: Spell Sniper
  • Eldritch Invocations: Maddening Hex
13th Level:

  • Mystic Arcanum: finger of death
  • Pact Magic
    • Spells (5th-level):
      • Add: hold monster
14th Level:

  • Master of Hexes
15th Level:

  • Eldritch Invocations: Shroud of Shadow
  • Mystic Arcanum: dominate monster
  • Pact Magic
    • Spells (5th-level):
      • Add: enervation, far step
      • Drop: invisibility
16th Level:

  • Feat: Inspiring Leader
17th Level:

  • Mystic Arcanum: foresight
  • Pact Magic
    • Spells (5th-level):
      • Add: banishing smite
18th Level:

  • Eldritch Invocations: Chains of Carceri
19th Level:

  • Feat: Resilient (CON) (CON 14)
20th Level:

  • Eldritch Master

Sources Used in This Guide

Mike Bernier

Mike Bernier is the lead content writer and founder of Arcane Eye. Outside of writing for Arcane Eye, Mike spends most of his time playing games, hiking with his girlfriend, and tending the veritable jungle of houseplants that have invaded his house. He is the author of Escape from Mt. Balefor and The Heroes of Karatheon. Mike specializes in character creation guides for players, homebrewed mechanics and tips for DMs, and one-shots with unique settings and scenarios. Follow Mike on Twitter.

16 thoughts on “Hexblade

  1. Hi,
    Excellent guide…
    Just need to alter this:
    Ability Score Increases (ASI) at 4th, 6th, 8th, 12th, 14th, 16th, and 19th level.
    to:
    Ability Score Increases (ASI) at 4th, 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level.

  2. Really great guide, referencing it for my current character. Glad to have all these resources available, you guys do great work!

  3. I think that when choosing the race you should add in that Tieflings have resistance to fire damage because that could be quite beneficial when fighting spellcasters, add that was what pushed me over the line for my Hexblade. Still love your guides, without it I would have abosolutely no clue what spells and Feats to use.

  4. Hi 🙂 great guide! … Now I have a question: who’s better : hexblade or eldritch knight at this
    demicaster-fighter role, as in my opinion they are similar? + Dipping maybe 2-3 levels… 😀 thx in advance for your reply.

    1. Great question because I absolutely love both the EK and HB. I think it really depends on how you want your build to turn out. EK are, in my opinion, a stronger melee caster. They have the consistent damage of a Fighter with the ability to buff their AC to ridiculous levels. I think HB are better at utility casting because they rely on a high CHA ability score and make an amazing multiclass dip for any CHA-based caster, especially Paladin.

      Hope that helped!

  5. Would it be worth it to just forgo the whole weapon stuff and use eldritch blast as a weapon? It feels like one is taking a ton of invocations and feats just to make ones damage capable of keeping up with the damage one would naturally have through eldritch blast. There any reason to do all that stuff instead of just taking eldritch blast and spending the feats and invocations on utility and all the other amazing stuff? This is a great guide about doing a lot of stuff to have good damage as a Hexblade-weapon user… it would get even better if it was to explain why it is worthwile doing so.

    1. Thanks for writing in! I do agree that the guide is focused on melee builds. The reason for this is the Hexblade subclass enables a melee-focused warlock.

      The way these subclass guides work is we highlight what options the subclass changes from our main guide, which is why you’re seeing options like Thirsting Blade get more of a spotlight. Naturally, invocations like Agonizing Blast are still going to be light blue for Hexblades.

      1. Having read the Hexblades features once again i do not find anything that makes them weapon users. Pretty much all the features arent restricted from working with eldritch blast, so one could just take the damage proficiency of hexblades curse and the tankiness and otherwise be a standard eldritch blaster. If one manages to convince the DM to allow shields as weapons, one could even take the blade pact and dual wield shields.

        1. I’m not sure about nothing making them weapon users.

          A ranged Hexblade build with a longbow or crossbow from the Improved Pact Weapon invocation can use Thirsting Blade + Lifedrink + Sharpshooter + Eldritch Smite do some serious damage. This is entirely made possible by the fact they can use their CHA for weapon attacks. The same goes for a melee build using a heavy weapon + Great Weapon Master.

          Even sword and board builds have reasonable damage and some fun feats they can use.

          Obviously, melee/ranged builds take more resources to do comparable damage to EB builds, but there are certainly some upsides to using weapons as a Hexblade.

        2. Properly set up and played a Hexblade’s damage output will be significantly greater then a ranged eldritch blaster. There just really arent any feats that substantially up the damage output of cantrips like there is for melee and sure, Agonizing Blast is amazing but there’s not a ton more damage to score from invocations that a melee Hexblade couldnt also take.

          The big downside for a melee Hexblade is that you dont get all those feats and invocations you used to become a damage dealer to use on cool outside of combat stuff or combat features not directly related to damage output. For instance, Warlocks with their naturally high Charisma sometimes take on the role of the Face (a character that excels at social skills) but a melee Hexblade would have a much harder time getting all the feats and invocations that would make that the most fun / effective.

          It should also be noted that a ranged Eldritch Blaster is a much easier build in regards to newer players as Eldritch Blast every turn is stupid easy.

          One exception to your downgrading of the War Caster feat would be a Hexblade who was going sword and board (sword and shield) as Eldritch Mind does not get rid of the somatic spell component which you cant do when both your hands are full. I’ve heard some DMs let players get away with ridiculous item juggling to get around this but no DM I play with would (and I wouldnt either).

          Without War Caster a sword and board Hexblade will have a hard time casting anything once they’re in melee.

          1. Thanks for the great comment. Definitely on the same page as you about the ranged EB vs. melee resource devotion.

  6. Love the guide! So many different options! One thing I wanted to point out just in case other People reading this guide didn’t do the math: if I understood correctly, if you use the Hex Warrior feature to use CHA for your attack and damage roles and then take the life drinker evocation you get to add your CHA modifier AGAIN on top of that that means if you maxed out your CHA at level 12 you get a +10 to all damage rolls with your pact weapon. Add Improved pact weapon invocation and you’re at +11 to all damage roll. That’s without even using Hexblade curse on top of it. NO OTHER CLASS can add that much damage to their base attack. Just in case anyone thought warlocks were nerfed or that there’s no reason to be a warlock that uses weapons instead eldritch blast.

    1. Couldn’t agree more! Hexblade is probably my favourite subclass, which is why I spent so much time on this article lol.

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