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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.
 

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