[GUIDE] NADRIGOL's Melee Bladesinger Guide

talosilus

Visitor
Hi Brian! SCAG reads:
"Starting at 2nd level, you can invoke a secret elven magic called the Bladesong, provided that you aren't wearing medium or heavy a rmor or using a shield. It graces you with supernatural speed, agility, and focus.
You can use a bonus action to start the Bladesong, which lasts for 1 minute. It ends early if you are incapacitated, if you don medium or heavy armor or a shield, or if you use two hands to make an attack with a weapon. You can also dismiss the Bladesong at any time you choose (no action required)."




You'll note there is nothing explicit about having a hand free. Nor anything explicit about dual wielding or holding two weapons. Nor anything explicit about types of weapons. Nor anything explicit about number of attacks. The only weapon related rules we get are "if you use two hands to make an attack with a weapon". Note that that explicitly states "two hands" with "a weapon". That's two hands with a single weapon. This could be a two handed weapon used with two hands, a versatile weapon used with two hands, or for some reason a one handed weapon held with two hands. This rule is defined not by weapon property related rules, but by how you choose to use a weapon. When dual wielding, nothing about this rule is violated.

In case you don't believe my interpretation, let Mr. Jeremy Crawford make the decision for you. These are his rules after all.
http://www.sageadvice.eu/2015/11/28/is-bladesong-compatible-with-two-weapon-fighting/

Hope you can learn to live in a world filled with dual wielding Bladesingers!
This is only if you are not going to use the SCAG melee weapon attack cantrips. If you are planning on being more melee attack focus then it provides that one additional attack with an off-hand using a bonus action. So, while I do acknowledge that it is an option, I don't see it as better option and that we will have multiple people choosing it over say someone utilizing the SCAG cantrips instead. Just MHO
 

talosilus

Visitor
Dual-wielding can only proc if you use the Attack action. Meaning, using the SCAG cantrips will not trigger Dual-wielding.

So the idea is to use your regular action for a SCAG attack. You can't use dual-wielding at this time, sadly. But THEN you use the additional action from Haste to take the Attack action. Then you may use your bonus action to dual wield.
Except that it doesn't work that way. If it did then the Extra Attack would also trigger from Haste's Attack Action and it does not because of the specific verbiage in the spell that states you get (one weapon attack only).
 
Okay? You indeed just get one attack from using the Attack option from the additional action Haste gives, but so what? You're now using your bonus action to attack with your off-hand weapon.

Or are you saying that if you use the additional action from Haste to attack, you can't use your regular action to attack at all afterwards?
 

NADRIGOL

Explorer
I think you strongly undercounted Protection From Evil And Good. Not only is the spell a level lower than Blur/Mirror Image, its big advantages are A.) it prevents the Frightened and Charmed condition from those creatures (big deal with your low Wisdom) B.) It lasts for 10 minutes instead of 1, making it harder for you to be caught with your pants down and most importantly C.) Unlike Mirror Image and Blur and Improved Invisibility, it foils sight. It's really a shame it doesn't do anything against humanoids and especially dragons, but providing disadvantage that can't be foiled short of dispelling it is really nice for a first-level slot.
All of your points are totally valid... but in actual play, I still like my neutral rating for it. It's specific to a subgroup of enemies, which you need to be able to accurately identify in game. And the concentration is a huge downside. It needs to rank higher, more often, than other concentration spells. And ten minutes isn't particularly valuable in a concentration spell for a melee front-liner. I could understand specific players valuing it more highly, but I'm going to leave it where it is in the guide.

Also, I know Bladesingers need ASIs like crazy, but it feels like Polearm Master (with a quarterstaff held in one hand) and Warcaster is a interesting combo for them. Someone tries to get up next to you and you smack them with a Rapier Booming Blade that does 6d8 + 4 damage at level 12. That's single-target Fireball damage! If you have a level of Monk you can even get the non-save benefits of being a TWF fighter for the cost of two hp and some weapon proficiencies. Even if you don't want to MC monk, you could just hold a quarterstaff in one hand.
This feels like a lot of investment for little pay-off. Using an ASI and your RA for some off-turn damage doesn't seem like enough. Plus if you're carrying a Quarterstaff you have one less sword whether you're single wielding or dual wielding. I'm not seeing the appeal.

Finally, I think the third level cleric deserves a bit more consideration. If your DM lets you cast Warding Bond on yourself it's by itself a reason to take your third level in cleric. Not only is it non-concentration AC and save bonus, but making two concentration checks at a much lower DC is much better than making one that's 50% higher than either once you start taking 30+ damage from critical hits.
RAW, Warding Bond can't be cast on yourself, so I'm not going to consider it.

More of a question than a suggestion: do you have any experience with using Simacrulums in actual play? How did that go?
Haven't reached that level of play yet. This is based on other guides and theory-crafting.

Second question: What other spells besides Misty Step are good for Spell Mastery? Mirror Image seems like a great candidate. Just keep throwing it up every minute and you don't have to worry about preparing it.
Yeah, I think the ratings don't deviate much for selection for spell mastery. So Mirror Image is a great option. Invisibility and Blur are also contenders. Enlarge, Suggestion, or Phantasmal Force if you want to add some flavor to your always on spell.
 

NADRIGOL

Explorer
Finally, the guide strongly pushes for a level of fighter multiclassing for DPR and even defensive purposes. While I feel that the level is most helpful in the medium-term (levels 6-10, when you're not rationing every spell-slot and passive bonuses become more helpful) I also think that rating it sky blue instead of regular blue is a bit much.

As a wizard, I think delaying anything by a level or more really hurts in the low levels (2 - 5; Fighter 1 / Bladesinger 2 had an easier first level than Bladesinger 3) and becomes insufferable in the higher levels -- because the stuff you get from even levels is often as good as anything you'd get from an extra top-level spell slot. Especially once it means delaying access to spells like Contingency, Maze, Simulacrulum, Mind Blank, Mass Suggestion, and Reverse Gravity. +5 damage per round, Str/Con Saves vs. Int/Wis Saves., and 4 extra hit points can still be a bargain if it just means one fewer casting of Fireball, an ASI, and Banishment (comparing Fighter 1 / Bladesinger 7 to Bladesinger 8). But being behind a level on Song of Victory, Contingency, Antipathy/Sympathy, Spell Mastery, and especially 9th level spells? Ooof. Which is ironic, because wizard spell access slows greatly after level 12. But still.

The Fighter level looks even worse once you start throwing in Magic Item access. The marginal utility of Con Save proficiency and +5 damage per round is big if you assume no magic items, but start throwing even small beer items like Bracers of Defense and Flametongue -- let along Big Poppa Pump items like Belts of Cloud Giant Strength and Staves of Power -- and the marginal utility starts looking worse. When you get an extra potential 6d6 (average 21) damage per round with your Flametongue, how much is a potential 5 extra damage going to be noticed?

Maybe as a compromise, rate it Sky Blue for the first half, Regular Blue for the second half? And then rate straight Bladesinger as Blue for the first half, Sky Blue for the second?
I'll admit this guide has a tendency to weight ratings a little more towards the early and mid levels. I'm ok with this as it is only a slight bias and most campaigns don't run into late levels. The only other comment I'll offer is that this is a guide targeted at Melee oriented Bladesingers. And so delaying spells an acceptable trade-off for increased survivability and damage. Also ,I wouldn't undervalue that Con save proficiency for a melee caster, even in late levels.
 

NADRIGOL

Explorer
This is only if you are not going to use the SCAG melee weapon attack cantrips. If you are planning on being more melee attack focus then it provides that one additional attack with an off-hand using a bonus action. So, while I do acknowledge that it is an option, I don't see it as better option and that we will have multiple people choosing it over say someone utilizing the SCAG cantrips instead. Just MHO
I'm going to assume this was in response to the Haste reply, not my reply that you quoted.

I would direct you to my Math section where I demonstrate that the Haste + SCAG Cantrip combo provides better average damage at most levels for most builds.
 

talosilus

Visitor
Okay? You indeed just get one attack from using the Attack option from the additional action Haste gives, but so what? You're now using your bonus action to attack with your off-hand weapon.

Or are you saying that if you use the additional action from Haste to attack, you can't use your regular action to attack at all afterwards?
Based on your example, yes. Nothing allowed you to proc or use that Bonus Action to attack. The Haste Action did not provide it because of the verbiage for its use of the Attack Action and the Cast a Spell Action did not provide it because only using the Attack Action does.

If your scenario allows you to proc or use the Bonus Action to do an off-hand attack, then it should also allow you to use the Extra Attack as well. It does not because of the verbiage of the Haste Attack Action that states (one weapon attack only). That verbiage is there for a reason to limit the attacks you get from using the Action you get from Haste.

If you were to use the Attack Action instead of the Cast a Spell Action to cast the SCAG cantrip, then yes you would then be allowed to trigger the Bonus Action off-hand attack as well as the Extra Attack.
 

NADRIGOL

Explorer
Based on your example, yes. Nothing allowed you to proc or use that Bonus Action to attack. The Haste Action did not provide it because of the verbiage for its use of the Attack Action and the Cast a Spell Action did not provide it because only using the Attack Action does.

If your scenario allows you to proc or use the Bonus Action to do an off-hand attack, then it should also allow you to use the Extra Attack as well. It does not because of the verbiage of the Haste Attack Action that states (one weapon attack only). That verbiage is there for a reason to limit the attacks you get from using the Action you get from Haste.

If you were to use the Attack Action instead of the Cast a Spell Action to cast the SCAG cantrip, then yes you would then be allowed to trigger the Bonus Action off-hand attack as well as the Extra Attack.
Extra Attack augments the Attack Action, it does not add an additional Action to it. Just because your Attack Action can only have one attack in it, does not change the fact that it is an Attack Action, and that is what is required to proc the Bonus Attack used for an off-hand attack.
 

talosilus

Visitor
Extra Attack augments the Attack Action, it does not add an additional Action to it. Just because your Attack Action can only have one attack in it, does not change the fact that it is an Attack Action, and that is what is required to proc the Bonus Attack used for an off-hand attack.
That is also what is required to proc the Extra Attack. Both are proc by using the Attack Action. Haste specifically limits the Attack Action it grants.
 

NADRIGOL

Explorer
That is also what is required to proc the Extra Attack. Both are proc by using the Attack Action. Haste specifically limits the Attack Action it grants.
Limits the Attack Action it grants, but the Off-Hand attack is not a part of the attack action. It's an entirely separate action.

"When you take the Attack action and attack with a light melee weapon that you're holding in one hand, you can use a bonus action to attack with a different light melee weapon that you're holding in the other hand. "

You've used the attack action (limited to one attack, however irrelevant), and now you use your bonus action to make another attack.
 
If your scenario allows you to proc or use the Bonus Action to do an off-hand attack, then it should also allow you to use the Extra Attack as well. It does not because of the verbiage of the Haste Attack Action that states (one weapon attack only). That verbiage is there for a reason to limit the attacks you get from using the Action you get from Haste.
If that's your logic, you're also saying that the sequence of, say, Haste Extra Attack --> Movement --> Regular Action Attack or SCAG Cantrip is impossible.
 
It's specific to a subgroup of enemies, which you need to be able to accurately identify in game. And the concentration is a huge downside. It needs to rank higher, more often, than other concentration spells. And ten minutes isn't particularly valuable in a concentration spell for a melee front-liner.
Counter-counterpoint: it covers a huge chunk of the more dangerous enemies. Not having protection against humanoids, giants, and dragons does hurt -- but not having protection against constructs and animals is not a big deal. And except for dragons, having another Disadvantage-On-Demand effect (such as Blur or Greater Invis) will cover you. The other thing is that blindsight and truesight and other such senses completely foils the standard 'disadvantage on demand' spells: Mirror Image, Greater Invisibility, and Blur. The only relatively cheap way to force disadvantage for a long time against a large group of enemies is Protection From Evil.

I also think you're undercounting the value of a 10-minute concentration spell. I've played in plenty of scenarios both in 5E and other D&D games where you anticipate combat, buff up and charge in, but the trouble doesn't arrive immediately because you misjudged the shape of the room / need to investigate something / have talky-time first / etc. These things taking a minute of delay will kill most debuffs, but 10 minutes makes it a lot more likely to have your buff going in.

And if you completely misjudge the timing, so what? It's a 1st-level spell. It costs 25 gp a pop, but Bladesingers are really vulnerable to getting ganked in the first round of combat, even with shield. If you have a better Disadvantage-On-Demand effect to cast, then just drop concentration and cast it. You're out a 1st-level spell slot, which stings since they compete with your Shield and Silent Image slots, but better than going into combat with only a 16/17 AC.

All that would be good enough, but you also get Charm and Frightened protection to boot.

Protection From Evil:
Pros: First-level. Lasts 10 minutes, making it easier to head into combat with it. Provides Charm and Frightened Protection.
Cons: Concentration. Does not protect against Humanoids, Animals, Constructs, and Dragons -- and the first two are very common enemies at low level. Costs 25 gp a pop, making it prohibitively expensive at low levels.

Blur:
Pros: 2nd-level. Gives blanket disadvantage against everything that doesn't have special vision.
Cons: Concentration. Completely foiled by special vision or effects like Faerie Fire.

Mirror Image:
Pros: 2nd-level. Does not require concentration. Provides perfect defense against AC attacks
Cons: Enemy still has a base chance to hit you. Mirror Image AC is a lot lower than your AC, so you will lose images when you otherwise wouldn't. Limited protection, which means that it's hard to stand up against hordes just with this spell.

Blink:
Pros: Makes you completely untargetable by not being there. Non-concentration.
Cons: The blinking effect is random. You also lose the chance to provide melee interdiction while you're gone.

Greater Invisibility:
Pros: Makes you untargetable by spells. Makes it so that an enemy has to outright guess where your square is. Gives advantage. Gives a huge bonus to stealthing.
Cons: Concentration. Higher-level slot. Completely foiled by special vision or effects like Faerie Fire.

HONORABLE MENTION:
Haste, its extra action used to hide in combat.
Pros: Good use of your concentration slot, since Haste has a lot of side benefits. Hiding gives great defense as long as you're not noticed.
Cons: Being able to hide is really hard to do in a lot of circumstances. Having some way to drop out of enemy's sight (Cunning Action, Bonus Action Teleport, magic items, being a Lightfoot Halfling, etc.) is mandatory. Will auto-fail in a lot of circumstances.

Nadrigol said:
Using an ASI and your RA for some off-turn damage doesn't seem like enough. Plus if you're carrying a Quarterstaff you have one less sword whether you're single wielding or dual wielding. I'm not seeing the appeal.
Booming Blade is just the Quick and Dirty, No Resources use for the spell. Unless the PHB got errata, you can use Warcaster with any spell IRRC. Use it to set up Melf's Minute Meteors or Blindness for example.
 
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talosilus

Visitor
If that's your logic, you're also saying that the sequence of, say, Haste Extra Attack --> Movement --> Regular Action Attack or SCAG Cantrip is impossible.
No it would not be as movement is not limited by attacking. You can absolutely do what you described.

My response was based on my understanding of the Haste Attack Action limitation. However, I have since received clarification through Sage Advice. So based on this clarification, it does support what you and Nadrigol have stated. Since an Attack Action was done on your turn (even if it was done via Haste) it still meets the requirements of Two weapon fighting option (PH, pg 195) and Extra Attack is still limited because of the verbiage of the Haste Attack.

My apologies, as I misunderstood the meaning behind the Haste Attack verbiage in that regard.
Best Regards :)
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
Except that it doesn't work that way. If it did then the Extra Attack would also trigger from Haste's Attack Action and it does not because of the specific verbiage in the spell that states you get (one weapon attack only).
I think it goes like this:

Action: Cast spell.
Haste Action: Use the Attack action to get a single attack.
Bonus action: Get offhand attack via dual wielding (allowed because the Attack action has been taken).
 

talosilus

Visitor

Parcae

Visitor
Nadrigol, what does a typical combat look like for you? I ask because I'm interested in playing a Bladesinger, but it seems to me that you would spend the first two rounds casting buffs on yourself (Mirror Image and whatever concentration spell you feel like).
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
Nadrigol, what does a typical combat look like for you? I ask because I'm interested in playing a Bladesinger, but it seems to me that you would spend the first two rounds casting buffs on yourself (Mirror Image and whatever concentration spell you feel like).
I play a bladesinger and tend to only cast a single buff spell, blur, before combat starts. Very rarely do I cast a buff on myself during combat unless we have been ambushed.
 
I've only played a Bladesinger up to level 7, but you generally don't need to start out with combat buffs. Saving a reaction for Shield/Counterspell/Absorb Elements + bladesong will be enough.

In my experience, though, your first round is best spent opening up with a battlefield control spell like Evard's Black Tentacles or Hypnotic Pattern or Web. Combats where I felt compelled to open up with a Protection from Evil or Blur or even Haste are generally ones where I don't expect much difficulty.
 
So, I have a Bladesinger up to level 11 now. Couple of things to keep in mind:

I notice that as the game goes on, the base game seems to expect you to play your Bladesinger more and more like a traditional wizard and less as, well, a Bladesinger. This is mostly because even with a very respectable Haste + TWF attack sequence of 4d6 + 16 (single-target damage equal to that of a fireball) it's just not worth wading into melee and risking dropping concentration on a life-saving Wall of Force or Black Tentacles or Phantasmal Force or Polymorph or Hypnotic Pattern.

HOWEVER. I also play in Adventurer's League. And let me tell you, the equation changes greatly once we have magical items and poison in the mix. For example, if you can score a Flametongue Scimitar or Shortsword and some Wyvern Poison, even with completely successful saves that haste sequence would spike up to 4d6 (base) + 16 (4 x Dex) + 6d6 (Flametongue) + 9d6 (Wyvern Poison Saves), for 19d6 + 16, average 82.5 -- which is like hitting one person in the face with three level 3 fireballs in one round.
 

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