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5E Best alchemist build

Just a mental exercise I'm working on. What is the best single classes alchemist build that people have come up with so far?
Can anyone come up with an effective way for it to be good at anything? It's definitely not unplayable but for the life of me I can't figure out how to make it shine. Even as a healing and recovery focused character it feels anemic.
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Who is the best runner - Usain Bolt (fastest 100m dash) or Eliud Kipchoge (1hr, 59 min marathon)?

There is no general best. You have to identify some particular goal - Are you looking for the best support Alchemist, the best damage-output alchemist, or what?
 

Who is the best runner - Usain Bolt (fastest 100m dash) or Eliud Kipchoge (1hr, 59 min marathon)?

There is no general best. You have to identify some particular goal - Are you looking for the best support Alchemist, the best damage-output alchemist, or what?
That's a fair point. I'm honestly wondering if anybody can turn this subclass into being good at anything.
Ill clear up op.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I've played around with making greek fire and acid in bulk and then using the catapult spell to deliver essentially fuel-air bombs. It's fun. I had the most fun with a Loxodon there, as it could use it's trunk to help work the kinda wonky action economy of catapult.
 

I've played around with making greek fire and acid in bulk and then using the catapult spell to deliver essentially fuel-air bombs. It's fun. I had the most fun with a Loxodon there, as it could use it's trunk to help work the kinda wonky action economy of catapult.
It's a fun idea but any artificer can pull this off and artillerist can do it a little better with Arcane firearm. If the wording of savant was a little looser so it worked with items or damage from spells on following turns/rounds like flame sphere.
 

Laurefindel

Adventurer
[edit] just realized this Was about alchimist specifically. Move along, nothing to see here...

I like the arcane sharpshooter artificer;
Battle Smith gives you proficiency with heavy crossbow, which you can infuse as a +1 weapon that creates its own magical ammo and that loses the loading property, allowing 2 attacks at lvl 5 using your key stat (Int) for attack and damage. Your attack bonus is likely high enough to use with Sharpshooter feat relatively soon. Mark of Making human is likely one of the best, but Gnome (restricting you to light crossbow however) is also good.

You’ve got half decent AC with medium armour and can hold your own in melee if it goes down to it. If you dedicate 1 level of fighter, you can get archery fighting style. 2 levels of ranger give you the style and 1 (full) spellcasters level (and 3 new 1st-level spells diversifying your spell list). Going ranger 3 for hunter or gloomstalker is tempting.

That in itself would be nice but in addition you get a steel defender for semi-tanking and attack as bonus action. The passive use of the defender is good enough that you can still cast bonus action spells without giving-up the usefulness of your defender for a round (to cast, say, hunter’s mark if you went ranger 2)

And on top of that, you can still cast spells and use all you base artificer features. You’re not aiming for high level spells; you’re an awesome crossbow shooter with a bunch of 1st and 2nd utility spells.

[edit] oh, and since artificer levels round up for multiclassing purposes, you can multi class out of battle smith at 3rd or 5th level of you’d like.
 
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I like the arcane sharpshooter artificer;
Battle Smith gives you proficiency with heavy crossbow, which you can infuse as a +1 weapon that creates its own magical ammo and that loses the loading property, allowing 2 attacks at lvl 5 using your key stat (Int) for attack and damage. Your attack bonus is likely high enough to use with Sharpshooter relatively soon.

You’ve got half decent AC with medium armour and can hold your own in melee if it goes down to it. If you dedicate 1 level of fighter, you can get archery fighting style. 2 levels of ranger give you the style and 1 (full) spellcasters level (and 3 new 1st-level spells diversifying your spell list). Going ranger 3 for hunter or gloomstalker is tempting.

That in itself would be nice but in addition you get a steel defender for semi-tanking and attack as bonus action. The passive use of the defender is good enough that you can still cast bonus action spells without giving-up the usefulness of your defender for a round (to cast, say, hunter’s mark if you went ranger 2)

And on top of that, you can still cast spells and use all you base artificer features. You’re not aiming for high level spells; you’re an awesome crossbow shooter with a bunch of 1st an 2nd utility spells.
Both the artillerist and battle Smith are strong stand alone options. The alchemist is the one that has me pondering. It's seems it like the beast master where it might take a fair amount of planning to not feel like a lump. Arguably the base class is strong enough to prevent this from happening but there's bound to be a way to pull something off with this l.
 

Laurefindel

Adventurer
Both the artillerist and battle Smith are strong stand alone options. The alchemist is the one that has me pondering. It's seems it like the beast master where it might take a fair amount of planning to not feel like a lump. Arguably the base class is strong enough to prevent this from happening but there's bound to be a way to pull something off with this l.
I’ve seen alchimist/life cleric builds that looked promising as party support. Double casting stats is usually hard to pull however.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
It's a fun idea but any artificer can pull this off and artillerist can do it a little better with Arcane firearm. If the wording of savant was a little looser so it worked with items or damage from spells on following turns/rounds like flame sphere.
The effectiveness kind of depends on what the DM will allow in terms of stacking damage. Catapult damage plus fire plus acid is pretty effective, and if you pack enough together you start to get into the range where some AoE is appropriate. As far as Alchemist specific stuff, I really like Flaming Sphere, as it's damage on a bonus action and you get to stack on your INT mod as well, and you can still rock a normal action, which could also be a spell that you stack an INT mod into. There is also a ton of utility in the elixirs that I think gets overlooked. Not the random prep, but the choose your effect for 1st level slot. Flight, healing, offense, defense, and alter self are all pretty useful, especially flight and alter self for water breathing. None of it looks amazing, but I think the Alchemist has a lot more to bring to the general utility/support role, which generally means a lot more to do outside of combat, which I see a big plus.

My favorite Artificer build though, I'll admit, is a Boba Fett build using the artillerist. Shoulder cannon, flamethrower, armor, a grapple gun (rope of climbing) night vision visor (goggles of night), and a 'blaster'. There's a couple of ways to work the jetpack and blaster bits.
 

Seramus

Adventurer
Alchemist is not unplayable and I am certain some people have a lot of fun with it. But it is weaker than Artillerist in almost every way, including providing effective HP for the party.

The only really unique thing the Alchemist has is low-level flying.
 

Alchemist is not unplayable and I am certain some people have a lot of fun with it. But it is weaker than Artillerist in almost every way, including providing effective HP for the party.

The only really unique thing the Alchemist has is low-level flying.
Yes. If the experimental elixirs weren't gambling I could actually see playing one of these just for those effects even if they don't scale. That and if the wording was better so you can administer them to somebody who was still conscious.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I think the elixir thing shouldn't be random personally. The subclass is far more interesting if it's not, I agree, especially at lower levels.
 

Alchemist is not unplayable and I am certain some people have a lot of fun with it. But it is weaker than Artillerist in almost every way, including providing effective HP for the party.
If the Artillerist is providing "effective healing" it's only because the DM is playing the opposition like idiots and also not having sufficient encounters per day.

The effectiveness of the alchemist very much depends on the type of game the DM is running.
 
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If the Artillerist is providing "effective healing" it's only because the DM is playing the opposition like idiots and also not having sufficient encounters per day.

The effectiveness of the alchemist very much depends on the type of game the DM is running.
The protection cannon isn't necessarily effective healing but it is amazing damage mitigation and regardless of how "smart" the DM decides to play the NPCs the cannon forces them to alter from whatever their primary strategy was. Heck just using the Cannon to max out the THP at the start of a day is a better use of a 1st lv slot than what you get from a single experimental elixir. To be fair it's arguably one of the strongest uses for that spell slot period as long as the party does not have another source of THP

I'm curious what type of game that you can think of where The Alchemist is a better pick then the other two Subclasses. The best I could think of is you if you needed a NPC that was fairly support focus and had zero chances of overshadowing anybody in a party.
 


Seramus

Adventurer
If the Artillerist is providing "effective healing" it's only because the DM is playing the opposition like idiots and also not having sufficient encounters per day.
Encounters per day positively impacts the Artillerist more than the Alchemist. The turret lasts an entire hour per use. Even when it dies early it almost always outputs more effective HP than the Alchemist.

You can definitely have fun and contribute meaningfully to a group with an Alchemist. It just struggles to compare to the other two subclasses.
 

If the Artillerist is providing "effective healing" it's only because the DM is playing the opposition like idiots and also not having sufficient encounters per day.

The effectiveness of the alchemist very much depends on the type of game the DM is running.
The more damage the party is subjected to and the longer the adventuring day is, the better the artillerist is compared to the alchemist.

One that focuses on roleplaying rather than combat.
Surely that would only serve as a more even platform, rather than making the alchemist a better pick?


I'm curious what type of game that you can think of where The Alchemist is a better pick then the other two Subclasses. The best I could think of is you if you needed a NPC that was fairly support focus and had zero chances of overshadowing anybody in a party.
The best situation i can see the alchemist shine is actually in a party with a lot of other support characters in a short working day.
While the alchemist has better at-will damage than most caster classes, their really distinctive feature is that their elixirs are stacking, no-concentration-required, user-activated buffs.

Big fight coming? The alchemist can prepare and hand out Boldness elixirs which will stack with the Bless spell from the Cleric. You can give your Rogue a Transformation elixir that gives them alter self when they need it. Or just pass it to the Monk for a damage boost. Party members can drink their elixirs the round before initiating a fight rather than being reliant on waiting for the casters to spend their actions applying buffs.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
Quick fix
The alchemist creates int bonus (min 1) doses of a random elixir at the end of a long rest. At 6th level the alchemist creates int bonus (min 1) doses of two random elixirs. At 15th level the elixirs an alchemist produces have two random effects each (reroll if duplicate).

The doses can all be in one flask, or split over multiple flasks.

You can create additional elixirs by expending a spell slot. The number of doses you create is equal to your int bonus plus the spell slot level, and they can be all stored in the same flask or split over multiple flasks.

I mean, I get that they are a low level feature. But those potions start out sort of meh, and they never get better. And even if the alchemist had an unlimited number of them, only healing potion would prove useful, and that mainly as a downtime activity; it is no better than a 50 gp expendible item when used in combat.

Restorative Reagents has the problem that a 9th level feature that grants a (int bonus)/day use of a situational 3rd level spell sort of sucks. I mean, how often do people get blinded?
 

Ashrym

Hero
Restorative reagents also cures poison and paralyzation. Not having to use a spell slot to cure those conditions is a spell slot available for something else.

Alchemists at that level don't have the same opportunity cost in removing conditions other classes and subclasses have.

They also have healing word and mass healing word for bonus action healing so when it does come up the still have an action the artillerists and battle smiths are lacking.

The cannon gives good damage mitigation bit the alchemist is the better healer with more spell options.

The elixirs are pretty decent for 1st level slots and gives versatility.

Where the subclass suffers is efficiency in using. Elixirs don't have the lasting power of a cannon and neither do bonus action spells looking at spell slot costs.
 

Restorative reagents also cures poison and paralyzation. Not having to use a spell slot to cure those conditions is a spell slot available for something else.

Alchemists at that level don't have the same opportunity cost in removing conditions other classes and subclasses have.

They also have healing word and mass healing word for bonus action healing so when it does come up the still have an action the artillerists and battle smiths are lacking.

The cannon gives good damage mitigation bit the alchemist is the better healer with more spell options.

The elixirs are pretty decent for 1st level slots and gives versatility.

Where the subclass suffers is efficiency in using. Elixirs don't have the lasting power of a cannon and neither do bonus action spells looking at spell slot costs.
Battle smith does get aura of vitality which is a pretty big in and out of combat recovery tool. Neither have the slots available to use spells for HP recovery outside of the most dire circumstances.

The handful of free lesser restoration is nice but can be emulated by the SSI if you really need that many in one day and that feature isnt much later. It's also more flexible that anyone can use it so if you need the spell cast on you someone can use the SSI. If bonus action spells could be used with SSI I think the alchemist could actually be considered a good healing class but alas they would have to stick to cure wounds which is nice but not action or range friendly

I do agree there biggest weak point is basically action economy. They have lots of cool toys they just can't really use them efficiently.
 

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