[GUIDE] NADRIGOL's Melee Bladesinger Guide

NADRIGOL

Explorer
Hello everybody!

First, Here's the guide!

NADRIGOL's Melee Bladesinger Guide

This is a guide specifically for building melee focussed Bladesingers, with emphasis on multi-classing. I have plenty of caveats and explanations in my opening sections about the focus and breadth of this guide. While I welcome you to share your opinions about concepts or builds I don't focus on, keep in mind that I will be keeping the tone and direction of the guide the way it is now.

Many thanks to TheBigHouse who was kind enough to let me use his spell ratings from Arrive on Time as a baseline for my guide. I started with his ratings and descriptions and updated and adjusted for the Bladesinger playstyle.

Credit also to Treantmonk's Guide to Wizards 5e, which alongside TheBigHouse's guide, made up my early 5e wizard education.

Those interested in my Math section can find the read-only spreadsheet here. Explanation on how to use the spreadsheet and the involved acronyms are in the Math section of the guide.

---Late 2017 Update---

I wrote this guide in late 2016, and with feedback/comments from user's here, updated it through early 2017. Shifts in my work/personal life have taken me away from D&D for the better part of 2017, and I don't anticipate a return in the near future. As such, major updates to the guide and thorough responses to new comments shouldn't be expected. I do make a point of checking in from time to time though.

I also wanted to highlight some developments in the community.

EN World User Rofel Wodring has recently posted his own Bladesinger Guide, which represents a tremendous amount of work on his part. Our two guides take very different approaches to the class and I recommend you read through it to see which play style appeals to you. Check out his guide if you want:
-an amazing review of magical items
-party interactions with each other class
-more acknowledgement of AL rules/gameplay
-post mid-2017 WotC content
-less focus on melee and melee DPR
-less focus on multiclassing
His guide is also undergoing active development and is more likely to include recent WotC content. The comment section on his guide also includes some interesting discussion which hasn't occurred here before.

To follow suit on an interesting inclusion of his, I will be linking a publically editable copy of this guide for anyone who wants to include their own content/comments. Perhaps some enterprising individuals will see this as an opportunity to include more recent content in this guide. Please be respectful!

NADRIGOL's Melee Bladesinger Guide - Public Edit Version

To conclude, I am still around, and still receiving notifications to most of the big wizard guide threads around here, so feel free to include me in discussion. I just wanted to make sure no one expected major updates to this guide in the near future.
 
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Yunru

Visitor
Two things of note:
Dual wielding doesn't work with the SCAG cantrips: You're reducing your DPR by dual wielding vs using the cantrips.
Duelling doesn't increase your hit chance.

Also seems someone forgot Magic Stone. Going SAD for a bonus action roughly every other round is quite a good deal given the above.
 
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UngeheuerLich

Adventurer
Two things of note:
Dual wielding doesn't work with the SCAG cantrips: You're reducing your DPR by dual wielding vs using the cantrips.
Duelling doesn't increase your hit chance.

Also seems someone forgot Magic Stone. Going SAD for a bonus action roughly every other round is quite a good deal given the above.
It is not entirely true that you reduce your damage by dual wielding. 3 attack at level 6 absolutely come ahead and are more reliable than booming blade or greenflame blade. It is still a shame that there is some kind of negative synergy between extra attack and those cantrips... And that the bladesinger is not allowed to use dexterity when wielding a long sword one handed... a shame I say.
 

Yunru

Visitor
Hmm, you may be right. Maybe if the Bladesinger had the feature that actually synergised with it... *coughwarmagic*
 

Ovarwa

Explorer
Hi,

There's a general issue that these cantrips diminish the value of Second Attack. Not an "oh no, the game is ruined" issue. Maybe not an issue at all, just a change.

Note that a character planning to use that second attack might consider not bothering with any of these cantrips, in favor of utility, even though that sort of thing never shows up in the DPR sweepstakes.

Anyway,

Ken
 

Schattenriss

Villager
Thanks for this guide Nadrigol.

it was Time for a bladesinger Guide. I will have a look and let you know any comments I might have.
 

Schattenriss

Villager
One comment: in your damage tables the last ASI is calculated based on lvl 20 (wizards get it at level 19). So basically other races/but bladesinger table would the last ASI at lvl 19 not 20. Same to other races /dual wielder would get the last one at lvl 20 (whereas the guide mentions th last one not at all). Or did I miss something?
 

Schattenriss

Villager
In addition one question about how to read the rules when using the cantrips green flame blade or boom blade. Both cantrips state that a melde attack has to be made. In the PHB on page 205 it is written that a spell requiring an attack (melde or range) uses the spellcasting abilitiy modifier.

Does this mean that the bladesinger a) uses INT bonus when attacking with GFB or BB cantrips and when the bladesinger does b) a full attack (potentially with dual wielding) DEX bonus is applied?

if the answer is yes, is this reflected in the guide /statistics?
 
I am not sure I agree with your assessment of George. It's not always about DPR, George is pretty unkillable, and that can count for a lot. I've had some experience playing George and it can be pretty satisfying to tie up enemies while they are stuck uselessly trying to poke at you.

In addition one question about how to read the rules when using the cantrips green flame blade or boom blade. Both cantrips state that a melde attack has to be made. In the PHB on page 205 it is written that a spell requiring an attack (melde or range) uses the spellcasting abilitiy modifier.

Does this mean that the bladesinger a) uses INT bonus when attacking with GFB or BB cantrips and when the bladesinger does b) a full attack (potentially with dual wielding) DEX bonus is applied?

if the answer is yes, is this reflected in the guide /statistics?
That refers to the spell itself requiring an attack roll, GFB and BB are worded such that you make a melee weapon attack as part of casting the spell. The weapon attack is resolved separately from the spell itself, and uses your STR or DEX as appropriate (though the spell does augment it by adding some extra dice at higher levels).
 
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NADRIGOL

Explorer
One comment: in your damage tables the last ASI is calculated based on lvl 20 (wizards get it at level 19). So basically other races/but bladesinger table would the last ASI at lvl 19 not 20. Same to other races /dual wielder would get the last one at lvl 20 (whereas the guide mentions th last one not at all). Or did I miss something?
Thank you! Yes, I have been thinking about my own character based on two levels of Fighter. I must have been in this mindset when I built these tables. Correcting now.
 

NADRIGOL

Explorer
In addition one question about how to read the rules when using the cantrips green flame blade or boom blade. Both cantrips state that a melde attack has to be made. In the PHB on page 205 it is written that a spell requiring an attack (melde or range) uses the spellcasting abilitiy modifier.

Does this mean that the bladesinger a) uses INT bonus when attacking with GFB or BB cantrips and when the bladesinger does b) a full attack (potentially with dual wielding) DEX bonus is applied?

if the answer is yes, is this reflected in the guide /statistics?
That would be the case, except the SCAG cantrips specifically state "make a melee attack with a weapon" as opposed to say Shocking Grasp which says "make a melee spell attack". The rules on 205 apply to spell attacks, while 194 outlines the rules for "melee attacks" and "ranged attacks".

The tables in the guide only reflect average damage output, not taking into account to-hit chance. However, all of the attacks in the tables (except Firebolt) will be Dex based attacks anyways.
 

NADRIGOL

Explorer
I am not sure I agree with your assessment of George. It's not always about DPR, George is pretty unkillable, and that can count for a lot. I've had some experience playing George and it can be pretty satisfying to tie up enemies while they are stuck uselessly trying to poke at you.
He's definitely tankier on the HP side, but Alexander likely has the same AC and more spell slots to burn on defensive reactions. Less likely to die to AOE effects that can't be countered with Absorb Elements, but I think at the end of the day George and Alexander are on the same tier defensively. Which means George is giving up a lot of spellcasting for a little more DPR. That's what makes me feel it isn't worth it. To be fair, George is still a strong build overall, and a decent dip for EK, I just feel many players will feel more drawn to Alexander or Brutus (maybe that's just the min-max'r in me!).
 

NADRIGOL

Explorer
Two things of note:
Dual wielding doesn't work with the SCAG cantrips: You're reducing your DPR by dual wielding vs using the cantrips.
Duelling doesn't increase your hit chance.

Also seems someone forgot Magic Stone. Going SAD for a bonus action roughly every other round is quite a good deal given the above.
As UngeheuerLich points out, at certain levels (with certain builds), dual wielding will out-damage the SCAG cantrips on their own. This can be seen in a few of the tables at the end of the guide. The real synergy comes from Haste however, which allows you to proc your off-hand attack with the Haste granted attack, in the same turn you use one of the SCAG cantrips. I think without this particular combo, the feat expense in the dual wielder build would render it questionable.

Thank you for pointing out my dueling error. I must have thought it was +2 on attack rolls. I will put some thought into representing this where appropriate throughout the guide.

Magic Stone is not a Wizard's Cantrip. It is only on the Druid and Warlock spell lists. I'm not sure where you're going with the SAD comment.
 

NADRIGOL

Explorer
There's a general issue that these cantrips diminish the value of Second Attack. Not an "oh no, the game is ruined" issue. Maybe not an issue at all, just a change.
I think you're right that it's more a change than a problem. It gives you options in most scenarios. The SCAG cantrips clump all of your damage output into a single attack roll. If you want to have a better chance at dealing at least some damage, a full attack action will be better. It also straight up out-damages the SCAG cantrips at certain levels with certain builds.

I think giving the Bladesinger the equivalent of War Magic would have been too much. As I point out in my "BS dip for EK" section I think that Mar Magic isn't as broken for an EK (even one dipping BS). I think it would have given too much damage output to the Bladesinger. I think Extra Attack actually ends up feeling pretty balanced.
 

Yunru

Visitor
You stop fighter too early. Fighter 6 gives you more ASIs than otherwise available to you, whilst Eldritch Knight 7 gets you the powerful War Magic feature.
 

NADRIGOL

Explorer
You stop fighter too early. Fighter 6 gives you more ASIs than otherwise available to you, whilst Eldritch Knight 7 gets you the powerful War Magic feature.
Fighter 6 gives you two early Fighter ASI's in place of two late Wizard ASI's. Not actually a gain. You're also giving up 9th level spells (and only get a single 8th level slot at level 19 or 20 [depending on your level order]), and Spell Mastery. If you wanted the lost Wizard ASI back (from more than a single level of multiclass), just four levels of Fighter would do, but still at the cost of 9th level spells.

EK 7 would give you War Magic, which will let you get one extra attack in after a SCAG cantrip (which could have been accomplished with TWF and Haste, or any BA damage spell [Flaming Sphere, Minute Meteors, etc...]). In addition to the 6 level dip loss, you lose Song of Victory, which is a huge damage buff at upper levels. If you take all of your fighter levels early, you could get a potential damage buff through the mid levels from War Magic, but Song of Victory definitely out-damages War Magic in most scenarios.

I think one level of Fighter dip is great for TWF (and Con Save if level 1), two has potential for Action Surge, three has potential for Maneuvers, and Four is a maybe to get your ASI back, but anything beyond that seems like a waste.
 

Yunru

Visitor
Not true. ASIs are at 4, 8, 12, 16 and 19. Fighter 7/Wizard 13 gets ASIs at 4, 6, 11, 15 and 19: In effect moving all the ASi's forward except the last.

Fighter 8/Wizard 12 also gets more ASI than that, at the cost of Wizard 13 stuff.

Also of note is that Song of Victory is cool and all, but how long until you see it? And how long until that campaign ends when you do? Vs War Magic being as early as level 7. More levels of Fighter also makes you tougher.

For the same reason ninth level spells aren't that great outside of whiteboard situations. You get it for your last three levels if you go straight Wizard, and later still for multiclasses.
 

NADRIGOL

Explorer
Not true. ASIs are at 4, 8, 12, 16 and 19. Fighter 7/Wizard 13 gets ASIs at 4, 6, 11, 15 and 19: In effect moving all the ASi's forward except the last.
So you get them sooner if you start pure Fighter. This is true, but you originally said you get "more ASI's". This is not true.

Fighter 8/Wizard 12 also gets more ASI than that, at the cost of Wizard 13 stuff.
Giving up 8th level spells.

Also of note is that Song of Victory is cool and all, but how long until you see it? And how long until that campaign ends when you do? Vs War Magic being as early as level 7. More levels of Fighter also makes you tougher.
But the same line of thinking (why worry about what happens late game if you might not get there) makes me wonder what the point of starting with 7/8 levels of Fighter is if you may never get to actually play a Bladesinger... Yeah you could have had War Magic by level 7, but you also could have level 4 spells by level 7.

Putting so many levels into Fighter dilutes the Bladesinger experience to me... Yeah you'll have a bunch of HP and maybe an extra/earlier feat, but fewer spells known/slots.

At the end of the day I also just don't think War Magic is worth the dip. Just gives you one more way to spend your BA. I don't think you need it.

For the same reason ninth level spells aren't that great outside of whiteboard situations. You get it for your last three levels if you go straight Wizard, and later still for multiclasses.
Last four levels. 9th level spells start at 17. And if you aren't planning to play to 17, then you're delaying something else to your last few levels (7, 8 level spells? Song of Defence?).
 

Yunru

Visitor
So you get them sooner if you start pure Fighter. This is true, but you originally said you get "more ASI's". This is not true.



Giving up 8th level spells.



But the same line of thinking (why worry about what happens late game if you might not get there) makes me wonder what the point of starting with 7/8 levels of Fighter is if you may never get to actually play a Bladesinger... Yeah you could have had War Magic by level 7, but you also could have level 4 spells by level 7.

Putting so many levels into Fighter dilutes the Bladesinger experience to me... Yeah you'll have a bunch of HP and maybe an extra/earlier feat, but fewer spells known/slots.

At the end of the day I also just don't think War Magic is worth the dip. Just gives you one more way to spend your BA. I don't think you need it.



Last four levels. 9th level spells start at 17. And if you aren't planning to play to 17, then you're delaying something else to your last few levels (7, 8 level spells? Song of Defence?).
Because a bladesinger is a guy with a sword and a spell. A Eldritch Knight is a bladesinger, plus Bladesinger comes online at a maximum of level 9, leaving you over half the game.

Flavour wise there is no impact. Power wise you trade some spell power for martial power. But you're a Bladesinger, you're doing that anyway or you wouldn't be a Bladesinger (at least, not the type this guide focuses on).
 

NADRIGOL

Explorer
Because a bladesinger is a guy with a sword and a spell. A Eldritch Knight is a bladesinger, plus Bladesinger comes online at a maximum of level 9, leaving you over half the game.
The Eldritch Knight has been around for a while though, as the Martial Expert with a little magic. The beauty of Bladesinger is full Wizard spellcasting progression with a considerable martial prowess. So I personally don't think of the EK as a BS at all, which is probably where our fundamental playstyle differences come from.

Flavour wise there is no impact. Power wise you trade some spell power for martial power. But you're a Bladesinger, you're doing that anyway or you wouldn't be a Bladesinger (at least, not the type this guide focuses on).
A single level of multiclass, as I promote often, is a slight trade yes (but as I point out, the last level of Wizard yields very little). But the pure bladesinger gives up no spellcasting for their martial prowess. You're giving up the other Wizarding traditions abilities, but I for one think Bladesinger is overpowered in comparison with the others.

But beyond playstyle/flavor considerations, I still just don't think a bunch of HP (on a damage reduction/mitigation focussed class) and War Magic (just one more BA option) are worth so many levels of dip. Your martial damage output won't improve, so you're giving up high level spells and Bladesinger features for some tankiness and one more feat. I just think it's poorly optimized.
 

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