A Full Review of the Artificer Class in Dungeons & Dragons

The Artificer class didn’t officially exist before Tasha’s and it needs to be talked about!

Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything adds a bit of everything to the game. It helps out all the classes, but also added a new one. This review will cover what the artificer class is, how it functions, and if you should use it in your D&D games. We will also provide some context for how great the artificer actually is!

With that, let’s first figure out where the artificer stands in comparison to other classes, and why they are ranked in such a position.

What is the Artificer Class?

The artificer class is meant to be a magical craftsman that pushes forth the bounds of magical technology.

That is the short and sweet of what an artificer is. The artificer also exists to help people understand a previous article, the lack of scientific advancement in D&D. Obviously they didn’t make a whole class to respond to this article, but the artificer was made to solve this issue. Advancement has always happened in D&D, but it is generally through magical means rather than getting better guns, machines, or the like. In addition to this, wizards were the main practitioners who studied magic. Wizards were not the majority and advancement can only get so far when you have to get a PHD to practice let alone research!

Artificers combine magical energy and current technology to create something new. Why create black powder when you have a more powerful energy available? That theme is shown throughout the artificer. Their ‘guns’ or ‘cannons’ are very different from our own. These use magical energy in order to create something spectacular. With this immense amount of creativity and versatility, how should the artificer review compare to other classes? Well, here are our subjective rankings before Tashas.

These are the subjective rankings before Tasha’s Cauldron of everything and may differ from your own opinions. They are still fairly close to the community’s ideas of where to rank them, but once again are subjective.

The chart is a little bit all over the place, but see where artificer is placed in our post Tasha’s chart.

These are the subjective rankings before Tasha’s Cauldron of everything and may differ from your own opinions. They are still fairly close to the community’s ideas of where to rank them, but once again are subjective.

First, if you want to see what Tasha’s provides and why the classes have changed so much then look at our Tasha’s Guide to Everything Review! Now, aside from all the classes becoming just great to play, the artificer is on the chart. As you can see, the artificer is EXTREMELY high up in the tier list. There are a few reasons for this, but the primary ones are due to the artificer’s versatility and overall potential. Wizards are here for the same reason, but artificers can affect the entire party.

I have played quite a few games with artificers and many times they make a greater difference than wizards or even bards do! It is ridiculous how good they are and can be, but why is that the case?

Main Class Features Review

Our artificer review would not be complete if we didn’t discuss the main class features. There are other features as well, but these are the main ones that really give you the flavor of an artificer, and that you will use a lot.

Spellcasting:

Yes, you get spellcasting but it isn’t like a wizard. You get spells right away at level 1, but are honestly more like a a paladin or ranger in your spell progression. This already makes it so that the player has more to do than just cast spells, and rightly so! The spells just are used to enhance your already powerful character.

Magical infusions:

This lets you gain the benefits of around 5 cantrips or more for free. You live up to what your class is already at level one since you can create any number of amazing objects that are permanent. By no means is this the main feature of the class, but with a very creative person or a player who is playing an artificer from level 1 this can become ridiculous.

Infuse Item:

THIS!!! This is the main feature of the class. You get a taste for it with magical infusions, but this feature lets you make magical items on the fly. Need a +1 weapon to hit the ghost? No problem! Having trouble since 2 people can’t see in the dark, but you all need to be stealthy? No problem! Need extra space to carry everything? No problem! Can’t find secret doors since you don’t have the investigation skill? No problem!

This feature gets buffed, improved, and is the main feature for an artificer. Possibly even more so than your subclass! The sheer ability of the artificer to negate any weakness your party has or improve themselves/others is astounding. This is exponentially increased if you play in a game where magic items are scarce. Many official D&D adventures have scarce magic items, and infusing items is just amazing.

Subclasses

There are 4 subclasses for the artificer, and they can be summarized in a short sentence for each subclass.

  1. Alchemist-More support items!
  2. Armorer-You want to be ironman.
  3. Artillerist-You want things to go boom and die!
  4. Battle smith-You want to have a little golem friend!

Our artificer review will go over each subclass, but these are essentially what they do. For a brief rating from Trash to S (like on the tier list shown above) here are our once a gain subjective ratings.

Alchemist is an A.

Armorer is a B. There are two subclasses in this subclass, so it is kind of confusing.

Artillerist is easy S. By far the most broken of all.

Battlesmith is a solid D. I don’t know what they were thinking. Too spread, not focused at all, and the defender needs to be better.

Once again, these are our subjective views on each subclass. Why did they get the rating they received? Without explaining every single ability, let’s go into a explanation for each subclass and what they do.

Alchemist

Experimental Elixirs:

Alchemist primarily expands upon the infusion of items. You will be able to create experimental potions that have random benefits to your party, and these will almost always be helpful. Even at higher levels a potion of healing is nice to have. You every day could create 50gp worth of healing and even if you don’t make those specific potions your others could be useful. This covers your experimental elixir, but the other abilities are also fairly good.

Alchemical Savant:

You practically gain +your intelligence modifier to almost any spell. Healing or damage, this is amazing. The applications are simpler than experimental elixirs, but still this is extremely powerful.

Restorative Reagents:

You are able to support your team even better with this ability. Your potions give temporary hit points now and you can cast lesser restoration to cover what your potions don’t cover. Lesser restoration isn’t too big at this level, but it can be fairly huge in the right situations. That, and you could in theory make 2d4_int mod +2d6+int mod healing/temporary hit points makes your healing potions pretty good in a pinch.

Chemical Mastery:

Immunities and resistances are nice. Being able to cast greater restoration and heal are also nice! There is no bad in this ability, and it isn’t worthless.

Alchemist conclusion:

The spells added to alchemist scream support, and everything else that you do just adds to it. You are not a cleric, and don’t have the overall healing capabilities that a cleric, let alone a life cleric would have. That is not your purpose. Your purpose is to be the ultimate Candyman with some extra support to back up your team mates. A very solid support subclass.

Armorer

This is a tricky subclass for our artificer review. Essentially, you have 2 subclasses in 1. We aren’t going to cover them separately though. Instead, we will talk about the strengths and weaknesses of Infiltrator vs guardian at each level.

Arcane Armor/Model:

The arcane armor is a suit of arcane armor that surrounds you. Essentially, you are Ironman. Beyond this, you can specialize your armor based on the model. Guardian is for the frontline, and infiltrator is for stealth. Guardian does a great job making you a sub tank. You probably won’t be as tanky as a barbarian, but you are good backup tank to either take the extra damage or save your allies. Infiltrator makes you a stealthy lightning shooting one backline fighter.

Extra Attack:

Normally this is just another attack, but it causes problems. Extra attack benefits guardian a lot more than infiltrator until level 15. Infiltrator only gets a bonus damage on it’s first hit, and makes 2d6 turn into potentially 3d6 while guardian goes from 1d8 to 2d8. It is strange that an extra attack would make such a difference, but that is how it is setup.

Armor modifications:

You are now a selfish tricky person that puts everything into their armor. Or at least, you can. This is a cool option to make yourself just more ridiculous.

Perfected armor:

Guardian’s ability is more funny than anything else. 1 free attack (maybe)a and possibly helping an ally is…. okay. Infiltrator gets a broken ability though. Here is where you can damage and light up one enemy while the other takes less damage but is also light up. You gain possibly 2d6 extra damage and give your allies advantage with the next attack which could be broken for characters like rogues.

Armorer conclusion:

This subclass is good, but also mixed. If you play an infiltrator you don’t get too much power until level 15, and as a guardian, you seem to just exist. Getting slightly better, but only slightly. Both aren’t the greatest, but it is fun to play ironman if you want to do so.

Artillerist

There can’t be an artificer review without cannons! At least, that is what the artillerist believes.

Eldritch Cannon:

You have 3 cannons to chose from. Aoe burn, ranged single target knockback, or a temporary hit point generator each turn. These are all useable in different situations and equally broken. You practically get a second turn to do decent consistent damage or just keep spamming aoe to your allies. Beyond this, the cannons have legs! They can move on their own and are just ridiculous with the amount of options that are presented.

Arcane Firearm:

Incase you wanted to help your team with your cannon, you can get some damage here. If you went damage cannons, then you might be able to consistently out damage everyone. In short, you add 1d8 to your spell damage. Not ridiculous, but it is still a great addition.

Explosive Cannon:

Personally I hate this one. You only get your cannons per long rest or by using spell slots. Since the cannon is destroyed it is used up and a pain to make again. Alternatively, your damage increases by 1d8 for your cannons so you would only destroy a cannon when desperate. now you have 3d8 per round of extra damage if you don’t blow up a cannon though, so that is a good touch.

Fortified position:

You now get two cannons, and your cannons automatically give half cover to allies. This is just stupidly good. Have fun breaking the game!

Artillerist conclusion:

What this subclass provides is damage and utility. All of which are really good, and the damage is just amazing. You are hands down the best at dealing consistent damage. As you level, your position just solidifies. If at 15 you have 2 damage cannons, you are a god when it comes to consistent damage. A rogue might be able to deal more damage than you if they work hard and everyone is only fighting 1 target, but you are a monster when it comes to damage.

Battle Smith

Battle Ready:

Jumping right into it, you are able to use martial weapons and use your int mod for attack/damage on magical weapons. This is great if you are sitting back with a bow or something, but in melee it leaves a lot to be desired. You don’t get extra armor proficiencies, and aren’t as tanky as a guardian armorer. A mixed feature, but still pretty good.

Steel Defender:

The main feature of the battlesmith! You have forged a little buddy who is a nice little golem. Is this golem any good? Ehhhhh at first. While the cannons are ridiculous with what they do, and they scale in damage the steel defender doesn’t scale well. Deflect attack is the main feature of the steel defender and it only works well when creatures only have 1 attack. This get significantly worse as you level.

Extra attack:

Nothing special here. You get to attack 2x which is good due to your battle ready feature. This does not help your steel defender though, so it isn’t too great.

Arcane Jolt:

A neat little trick that can heal or harm when needed. The fact that it is limited to your intelligence modifier is a big issue though. At max, you can deal 10d6 damage or 10d6 healing. That seems like a lot, but at level 9 that isn’t too much. The fact that you can heal an unconscious person within 30 ft is the main draw, but it is just an okay feature.

Improved Defender:

Your steel defender has finally improved! You get +2 Ac and when you deflect an attack the attacker takes an insignificant amount of damage. Not at all what you wanted, but at least the arcane jolt doubled in what it does! 4d6 instead of 2d6 is actually the best part about this feature, and that is sad.

Battlesmith conclusion:

I have a player who runs this artificer class, and it pains me to say in our artificer review that this is by far the worst subclass. The battlesmith is all over the place. You enhance yourself for half the features, and only barely pay attention to the steel defender. It had a cool concept, but the steel defender falls off when multiple attacks happen and it just doesn’t do a lot. Steel defender is too weak and unfocused to make the battlesmith what it should be.

Conclusion

In our artificer review we covered what they are, what they do, and how useful they are to a party. In addition to this, we went over some major class features and each subclass. We did not go over every class feature, but the main ones were really all that mattered. Most other ones are nice additions that are not core to the class, but good to have when you have reached that level.

The artificer is an interesting class. You cast spells, create temporary magic items, and are meant to push the bounds of scientific knowledge!

This is a class that I am glad was officially added to the D&D lineup, and am interested to see how other players use this class in the future.

I hope that this has helped you understand the artificer class a bit better, and that the artificer makes your future games more enjoyable!

This has been Wizo and until next time, keep rolling!

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1 Comment

  1. The Infusion ability – Its not really “On the fly”
    You can’t make a sword be a +1 to fight a ghost, since it takes a long rest to even infuse a non-magical item with an enchantment. You’d just end up having to give the sword a +1 at the start of the day, and if you just so happen to run into a ghost, Hurrah! But you don’t run into a ghost, and say, run into darkness, well whoops. You didn’t make goggles of the night, and now you can’t.

    But On the Battlesmith, I’d have to pretty much agree that its pretty crappy. Its even worse than you put in there. Cause your robot dog isn’t a robot. It has to eat, drink, breath, and sleep. Its just a slightly tougher dog basically. It wouldn’t be so bad if It could actually get upgraded along the way somehow. Like making a harness for it or something.

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