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D&D 5E Artificer Artillerist / Hexblade Warlock Best Arcane Sniper?

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I was toying around with higher level versions of my Artillerist and decided to see what she’d gain with 3 levels of warlock.

It’s pretty damn good. So, she already has Spell Sniper and Chill Touch. Art5 gets her Arcane Firearm for an extra 1d8 per round. Eldritch Canon gets her 2d8 force at great distance as a BA.

Hexblade gets her 1/SR +Proficiency damage per attack and crit on 19. Warlock in general gets her EB, AB, and Armor of Shadows. Chain Pact gets her a spotter for frequent advantage and scouting.

So, pretty often/when it counts, she can be at up to a 240ft distance, shooting EB with +Cha+Prof+1d6Hex per hit, +1d8 on one beam, +2d8 as a bonus action once Hexblade Curse and Hex are up. Often with advantage, crit on a 19. And 13+Dex AC at-will.

Any better arcane sniper builds? Any factor I’m missing, like a Wizard school that is way better for an Artillerist?
 

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Arcane firearm only works "when you cast an artificer spell through the firearm", not on Eldritch Blast. Warlock levels are still basically always going to result in "the best arcane sniper" even if you miss out on a key Artillerist ability, but it doesn't quite have the synergy you're hoping for.

Hex has a range of 90 feet, Hexblade's Curse 30 feet. They don't have to stay within those distances but still the scenario you've outlined would not generally work. "Sniping" at more than 90 feet rarely comes up in real gameplay (and to the degree it does it's usually low stakes pot-shots at the beginning or end of combat), but needing to get within 30 feet seems like it spoils the whole "sniper" thing. That doesn't make it bad, just not necessarily what you want it to be.

Warlock levels are still pretty sweet for what you're going for. Given that you are ignoring most of the features of Hexblade other than the curse (the range of which doesn't seem to actually jive with what you have in mind) you might be better off (depending on your adventuring day) being a Genie Warlock and just adding your proficiency bonus to attack roll based damage once per turn, no range limitations attached.

In terms of "arcane sniping" the only Wizard subclass with a particular boon on that front is the Bladesinger, if you count firing a ranged cantrip and a ranged weapon in the same action as "arcane sniping". It is not compatible with Arcane Firearm either since you can't hold your artificer focus and use a ranged weapon at the same time, though perhaps a sympathetic DM would let you use an infused repeating shot handcrossbow. In any case, its a 6 level dip, so hardly on the table unless you're really more interested in Wizard than Artificer. A more reasonable Wizard choice for an artillarist long term is two levels of Evocation so that when they get AoE spells later on they can use them with abandon, but that ain't sniping.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Arcane firearm only works "when you cast an artificer spell through the firearm", not on Eldritch Blast. Warlock levels are still basically always going to result in "the best arcane sniper" even if you miss out on a key Artillerist ability, but it doesn't quite have the synergy you're hoping for.

Hex has a range of 90 feet, Hexblade's Curse 30 feet. They don't have to stay within those distances but still the scenario you've outlined would not generally work. "Sniping" at more than 90 feet rarely comes up in real gameplay (and to the degree it does it's usually low stakes pot-shots at the beginning or end of combat), but needing to get within 30 feet seems like it spoils the whole "sniper" thing. That doesn't make it bad, just not necessarily what you want it to be.

Warlock levels are still pretty sweet for what you're going for. Given that you are ignoring most of the features of Hexblade other than the curse (the range of which doesn't seem to actually jive with what you have in mind) you might be better off (depending on your adventuring day) being a Genie Warlock and just adding your proficiency bonus to attack roll based damage once per turn, no range limitations attached.

In terms of "arcane sniping" the only Wizard subclass with a particular boon on that front is the Bladesinger, if you count firing a ranged cantrip and a ranged weapon in the same action as "arcane sniping". It is not compatible with Arcane Firearm either since you can't hold your artificer focus and use a ranged weapon at the same time, though perhaps a sympathetic DM would let you use an infused repeating shot handcrossbow. In any case, its a 6 level dip, so hardly on the table unless you're really more interested in Wizard than Artificer. A more reasonable Wizard choice for an artillarist long term is two levels of Evocation so that when they get AoE spells later on they can use them with abandon, but that ain't sniping.
Eh, neither I nor any other DM in my group enforces that kind of fiddly restriction. And actually, the bigger crits from non-EB cantrips might make it a build where EB isn’t just clearly better than other ranged attacks cantrips, anyway. Having 3 long range attack cantrips with different damage types will 90% of the time be just as useful as doing force damage, and adv+crit on 19 will make crits noticeably more common.

You lose AB that way, but Invocations are precious.

As for Bladesinger, 6 levels isn’t out of line when your group tends to play out to high levels, and start at level 3. I just wouldn’t want to play a second BS, just to waste its melee coolness on “be even harder to kill” button.

Divination is good for making up for the hit or miss nature of attack spells. Chronurgy is pretty helpful when things go wrong, but twice a day is rough.

War Magic is good for getting the jump, which helps with getting your buffs up/turret out and getting into position before the enemy can flank you or whatever, and the defense boost is also good.
 

War Magic is good for getting the jump, which helps with getting your buffs up/turret out and getting into position before the enemy can flank you or whatever, and the defense boost is also good.

The War Magic +4 to saving throws ability also takes some sting out of losing out on the hypothetical level 20 Artificer saving throws ability. Honestly it's a way stronger subclass as a 2 level dip by someone whose not a full spellcaster than it is a subclass for an actual Wizard, for whom the "can't cast a levelled spell the next round" limitation is much more of a restraint.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
It’s pretty damn good. So, she already has Spell Sniper and Chill Touch. Art5 gets her Arcane Firearm for an extra 1d8 per round.
Arcane firearm only works "when you cast an artificer spell through the firearm", not on Eldritch Blast.
Eh, neither I nor any other DM in my group enforces that kind of fiddly restriction.

There are a whole lot of things that are abusive if you don't care about the restrictions on them that disallow them. That you have judged the restriction "fiddly" does not indicate at all the strength of reason it was put it.

Easy example with the same restriction removed - the spell's source. Imagine warlock's Eldritch Smite if you can use slots from any class. Can you nova a heck of a lot more with that than the 2-3 times per short rest you can now? Yes. Not the most abusive, but it uses the same restriction removed and results in a lot more smiting, and a lot more strategic choice in which combats you smite in - which is more power.

Again, your estimation of how "fiddly" the restriction is does not determine the size of the abuse it is stopping.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
There are a whole lot of things that are abusive if you don't care about the restrictions on them that disallow them.
Do you have some reason to beleive this is such a case, or did you quote from me 3 months ago just to make a pedantic argument that isn’t actually relevant?
That you have judged the restriction "fiddly" does not indicate at all the strength of reason it was put it.
I mean, I never suggested that it did, so…🤷‍♂️
Easy example with the same restriction removed - the spell's source. Imagine warlock's Eldritch Smite if you can use slots from any class. Can you nova a heck of a lot more with that than the 2-3 times per short rest you can now? Yes. Not the most abusive, but it uses the same restriction removed and results in a lot more smiting, and a lot more strategic choice in which combats you smite in - which is more power.
Are you suggesting that this case is like that case?
Again, your estimation of how "fiddly" the restriction is does not determine the size of the abuse it is stopping.
Okay. This isn’t a case of abuse, so it really doesn’t matter.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Do you have some reason to beleive this is such a case, or did you quote from me 3 months ago just to make a pedantic argument that isn’t actually relevant?

I mean, I never suggested that it did, so…🤷‍♂️

Are you suggesting that this case is like that case?

Okay. This isn’t a case of abuse, so it really doesn’t matter.
Odd, this popped up in my new threads. I missed that I necro'd it.
 


ECMO3

Hero
I was toying around with higher level versions of my Artillerist and decided to see what she’d gain with 3 levels of warlock.

It’s pretty damn good. So, she already has Spell Sniper and Chill Touch. Art5 gets her Arcane Firearm for an extra 1d8 per round. Eldritch Canon gets her 2d8 force at great distance as a BA.

Hexblade gets her 1/SR +Proficiency damage per attack and crit on 19. Warlock in general gets her EB, AB, and Armor of Shadows. Chain Pact gets her a spotter for frequent advantage and scouting.

So, pretty often/when it counts, she can be at up to a 240ft distance, shooting EB with +Cha+Prof+1d6Hex per hit, +1d8 on one beam, +2d8 as a bonus action once Hexblade Curse and Hex are up. Often with advantage, crit on a 19. And 13+Dex AC at-will.

Any better arcane sniper builds? Any factor I’m missing, like a Wizard school that is way better for an Artillerist?

Armor of Shadows is not doing much for you since you have medium armor proficiency as artificer. You can do better with Scale, half plate or if you need to sneak a breastplate. Unless you have a 16 dex you can do just as well with a chain shirt.

I think you will be bonus-action starved if you plan on using Curse and Hex regularly. That will cut into your damage substantially. You might actually lose damage using Hex since you give up 2d8 when you cast it and 2d8 every time you move it to a new enemy. If you move it once in combat you will have to hit an extra 5 times to make up for that damage. I might consider giving up Hex completely and taking another spell. Also keep in mind Hex only has a 90 foot range and H. Curse only has a 30 foot range and neither have an attack roll so they don't combine with sniper. Unless I am missing something you can't use them from 240' unless you close first cast it and then run or teleport back.

I would go with undead warlock over hexblade for a several reasons. From tier 2 on you will generally get more uses of Form of Dread per day than you will hexblade curse and since it is a long rest recharge there is more flexibility in its use. Form of dread always gives you the temp hps and does not rely on you being down hps already. Finally Form of Dread works at extreme long range and if you land it the enemies can't come any closer (as long as they can see you). The Frightened condition is pretty darn good, especially if you land it on enemies that have not closed for combat, and I think this would be more effective for the extreme range build you are looking for.

In general at character creation, I would go with a Wizard over any Warlock for this build. As far as subclasses, Divination, War Magic and Enchantment are all better IMO, in part because it is SAD. That said if you already have your stats and you have a high charisma Warlock is something to consider.

Enchantment is particularly powerful in situations where the enemy is close and you have your artillery because you have reliable decent bonus action damage and you can use your action to hypnotic gaze to incapacitate the enemy every turn after you wail him with your cannon. Illusion and transmutation are not schools I generally choose, but you might be able to get some mileage and thematics out of those too with your cannon and making it look like something else or hiding it behind an illusion or making it shoot fire on something that you transmute to make flammable.

As you know I am a HUGE fan of bladesinger in general, but I don't particularly like it for this build because IMO that subclass works best when you really focus on melee, to include abilities, spells and ASIs, without that you get a lot of defensive abilities but they are not as powerful and have a higher opportunity cost. For example if you are not going into melee do you really want to spend a bonus action on bladesong when you could blast with your cannon instead? I think War Magic is better as a defensive buff for this particular multiclass. For concentration, the +4 to saves from war magic is more or less equivalent to the concentration save bonus in bladesong, but you don't have to be in bladesong to use it and it works for other saves besides concentration too. I am also not a fan of Evocation here, I think the other schools I mentioned above bring more to this build.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Armor of Shadows is not doing much for you since you have medium armor proficiency as artificer. You can do better with Scale, half plate or if you need to sneak a breastplate. Unless you have a 16 dex you can do just as well with a chain shirt.
Or, I could not mess with my ability to stealth, and use armor of shadows. This is why I say that number alone cannot answer questions about how effective things are at the table. If I’m not gonna sneak, sure, but I’m also happy to spend an invocation on not needing armor for thematic reasons.
I think you will be bonus-action starved if you plan on using Curse and Hex regularly. That will cut into your damage substantially. You might actually lose damage using Hex since you give up 2d8 when you cast it and 2d8 every time you move it to a new enemy.
Which is why it is, like most tools, situational in usage. Both are there primarily for fighting big critters.
If you move it once in combat you will have to hit an extra 5 times to make up for that damage.
Since the build would be allowed to use EB and artificer stuff together, hitting more often isn’t really a problem.
I might consider giving up Hex completely and taking another spell. Also keep in mind Hex only has a 90 foot range and H. Curse only has a 30 foot range and neither have an attack roll so they don't combine with sniper. Unless I am missing something you can't use them from 240' unless you close first cast it and then run or teleport back.
You might be forgetting that firing from 240 feet away is not soemthing you can actually do all the time.
I would go with undead warlock over hexblade for a several reasons. From tier 2 on you will generally get more uses of Form of Dread per day than you will hexblade curse and since it is a long rest recharge there is more flexibility in its use. Form of dread always gives you the temp hps and does not rely on you being down hps already. Finally Form of Dread works at extreme long range and if you land it the enemies can't come any closer (as long as they can see you). The Frightened condition is pretty darn good, especially if you land it on enemies that have not closed for combat, and I think this would be more effective for the extreme range build you are looking for.
Honestly I only ever look at Undead Warlock when it comes up in conversation, so good catch. Of course I don’t mind being a little squishier on this build.
In general at character creation, I would go with a Wizard over any Warlock for this build. As far as subclasses, Divination, War Magic and Enchantment are all better IMO, in part because it is SAD. That said if you already have your stats and you have a high charisma Warlock is something to consider.
Yeah Art/War is definitely a rolled stats build.
Enchantment is particularly powerful in situations where the enemy is close and you have your artillery because you have reliable decent bonus action damage and you can use your action to hypnotic gaze to incapacitate him every turn after you wail him with your cannon. Illusion and transmutation are not schools I generally choose, but you might be able to get some mileage out of those too with your cannon and all the thematics about making it look like something else or hiding it behind an illusion or making it fire on something that you make flammable.
Yeah I’ll take a look again at those, but my gut reaction is that they will take too many levels to really do what they’re there to do, compared to Evocation. Illusion is very interesting. Conjuration is as well, tbh. Well, from memory. But artificers are good at concentration saves which is the one big weakness of summoning.
As you know I am a HUGE fan of bladesinger, but I don't particularly like it for this build because that subclass tends to think works best when you really focus on melee, to include abilities, spells and ASIs, without that you get a lot of abilities but they are not as powerful and still use your bonus and/or reaction.
I somewhat agree, though I think the real killer for this build is that Bladesinger’s cool later feature requires the attack action, not spell attacks through your wand. At that point, might as well have taken fighter levels. But increased speed, AC, Concentration, and acrobatics, is very good for a ranged character in my group’s games. YMMV, obviously.
For example if you are not going into melee do you really want to spend a bonus action on bladesong when you could blast instead?
It’s 2d8 damage. It’s not that big a deal. Bladesong is a BA once, at the start of combat, sometimes just before. Not a big deal.
I think War Magic is better as a defensive buff for this particular multiclass. I am also not a fan of Evocation here, I think the other schools I mentioned above bring more to this build.
Tbh I don’t like much about War Magic. I’d rather go Abjuration, between the defensive buff PHB Wizard schools. Especially with how good the low level Abjuration are, and the fact I’ve got shield autoprepared because I’m an Artillerist.
 



ECMO3

Hero
Yeah I’ll take a look again at those, but my gut reaction is that they will take too many levels to really do what they’re there to do, compared to Evocation. Illusion is very interesting. Conjuration is as well, tbh. Well, from memory. But artificers are good at concentration saves which is the one big weakness of summoning.
I did not say conjuration, I think you confused that with transmutation. The relevant abilities all come on at 2nd level. Hypnotic Gaze is an at will 2nd level ability and assuming you max intelligence this will mean many enemies will have a hard time saving. You could incapacitate a BBEG for an entire battle while you and your allies chop him down as long as he keeps failing the save and your allies don't screw it up he can't do anything.

Taking away enemy actions is super strong, especially when you can do it and still deal damage yourself.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I did not say conjuration, I think you confused that with transmutation.
I didn’t say that you did?
The relevant abilities all come on at 2nd level. Hypnotic Gaze is an at will 2nd level ability and assuming you max intelligence this will mean many enemies will have a hard time saving. You could incapacitate a BBEG for an entire battle while you and your allies chop him down as long as he keeps failing the save and your allies don't screw it up he can't do anything.
Legendary Saves. Also, most DMs I know use a mix of enemies with all the saves.
Taking away enemy actions is super strong, especially when you can do it and still deal damage yourself.
Yes, I am aware that action denial is powerful. I find it’s usually best to assume that everyone in the discussion has basic system mastery, at least.

If action denial isn’t what the concept is about, it being strong isn’t relevant.
 

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