[GUIDE] NADRIGOL's Melee Bladesinger Guide

NADRIGOL

Explorer
Hi Broken One. So first, I haven't played in a while and may be rusty. I'm just going to give my instinct answers on the specifics of your situation, and let my guide fill in the gaps.

I think the guantlets are the really interesting discussion. And I think you've nailed the key point. You need to be careful not to hamstring your character in the event those guantlets are somehow taken away. The big area of consideration with a high strength are multiclassing, weapon choice, feat selection, and party role.

I mention party role, as early game, the guantlets can let you act as a main damage dealer. You can straight up compete with a fighter or rogue based purely on stats. Worth figuring out who else is in your party, and where you want your emphasis to be. Late game, stats will catch up to your 19, and eventually surpass it, but you remain viable.

RAW, your guantlets mean you meet multiclassing strength prerequisites (although RAI, it's been clarified that your un-itemed base stat should meet prerequisites). This means a multiclass like Paladin is less MAD. Although since you can't wear heavy armor like some strength buds, this isn't a pure win for you, since you'll still want to increase dex to keep up AC (although you could potentially focus INT for AC, if your party is good at managing encounters).

Your weapon choice is probably the most possibly impacted by loss of the item. Without multiclass, you only have proficiency with the small list of wizard weapons and a single weapon of your choice. If you choose a non-finesse weapon, and lose your guantlets, you're out of luck! A more interesting consideration might be the staff you already have proficiency with. It's now viable as a strength item, and will suit you well if you come across a magic staff that you don't want to have to switch in and out with your primary weapon. If no one else is asking for the guantlets or your spider staff, you may have an interesting build opportunity.

On that last note, you can now consider some new feats essentially restricted to strength builds. Polearm Master is a very interesting way to gain a BA attack without TWF. That BA attack achieves the same goal of an additional attack to stack your bonuses on while only doing an average of 2 damage less than an offhand rapier. It interacts with Haste and the SCAG can trips in the same way, and the AOO effect is a great defensive buff, especially if combined with War Caster and Booming Blade. This is a similar situation to the weapon choice problem though... You lose the guantlets, and this feat becomes almost useless since you struggle to land attacks with a staff.

I now really like the idea of a Polearm Master strength build if you can take both of those items. Might lack the flavor of the book prompts you liked, but I'd be surprised if you struggled to find flavor for a singing dancing wizard walking on ceilings smacking people with a poison staff.

Good starting point for all this might be talking to your DM and figuring out how likely he is to take away your guantlets. A lot of DM's will tell you to go ahead with your cool build, and they won't steal your stuff. But if they shrug their shoulders and wink at you, I'd think hard about your choices.
 

Broken One

Villager
Hi Broken One. So first, I haven't played in a while and may be rusty. I'm just going to give my instinct answers on the specifics of your situation, and let my guide fill in the gaps.

Thanks none the less, what you answered was really helpful and I had some more ideas of my own.

I think the guantlets are the really interesting discussion. And I think you've nailed the key point. You need to be careful not to hamstring your character in the event those guantlets are somehow taken away. The big area of consideration with a high strength are multiclassing, weapon choice, feat selection, and party role.
I really like multiclassing but with us just reaching level 5 and the fact that our GM told us that level 6 will take quiet some time (we level by milestones) I'm a bit reluctant to give up 3rd level spells. I would have to go for some really great class features to make it worth waiting another level. So I was not sure about what multiclass might make it worth.

War pick what would be more just less optimized and more flavorfull choice does nothing for me but to be honest most of the one handed martial weapons I could get via bladesinger don't do that much. I could go with rapier just to make sure I have a finesse backup weapon if I ever loose those gauntlets. To be honest I don't think my GM would make me loose them and I could talk about it like you suggested. I already told him that I would tryting to make us of them to not contest the rogue of the party with weapons we may find. I think he even appreciates it because the other players are quiet new to D&D.

My other party members are:
5th level fighter (battlemaster) human, GWM
5th level rogue (assasin) tiefling
5th level druid (dream or shepard)

Your weapon choice is probably the most possibly impacted by loss of the item. Without multiclass, you only have proficiency with the small list of wizard weapons and a single weapon of your choice. If you choose a non-finesse weapon, and lose your guantlets, you're out of luck! A more interesting consideration might be the staff you already have proficiency with. It's now viable as a strength item, and will suit you well if you come across a magic staff that you don't want to have to switch in and out with your primary weapon. If no one else is asking for the guantlets or your spider staff, you may have an interesting build opportunity.

On that last note, you can now consider some new feats essentially restricted to strength builds. Polearm Master is a very interesting way to gain a BA attack without TWF. That BA attack achieves the same goal of an additional attack to stack your bonuses on while only doing an average of 2 damage less than an offhand rapier. It interacts with Haste and the SCAG can trips in the same way, and the AOO effect is a great defensive buff, especially if combined with War Caster and Booming Blade. This is a similar situation to the weapon choice problem though... You lose the guantlets, and this feat becomes almost useless since you struggle to land attacks with a staff.
I had the same idea about using mit quarterstaff profiency and getting a finesse weapon via bladesinger just to be save. It's not that flavorfull but I liked the idea about taking War Caster and Polearm Master. I like it mostly for getting something to do with my bonus action but I question myself if it won't be a bit dangerous to use my reaction for the AoO instead for things like Shield or Absorb Elements? I thought I should perhaps pick up something like Mobile which would help me with all weapons and let me employ some hit and run tactics. This could even help to get some booming blade procs of. What do you think about Mobile? I mean I could even combine it with Polearm Master and/or War Caster.

I now really like the idea of a Polearm Master strength build if you can take both of those items. Might lack the flavor of the book prompts you liked, but I'd be surprised if you struggled to find flavor for a singing dancing wizard walking on ceilings smacking people with a poison staff.
Yeah it doesn't sound that bad and could be quiet fun. I even see a bigger chance in aquirring a better staff instead of something like a war pick. One quick question should Shadar-Kai as an elven subrace still be getting those elven weapons proficiencys like shotsword, longsword, shorbow and longbow? If so shortswords would be a finesse backup that I could use.

Edit: What about using a Whip in place of the Spiked Chain the Shadar-Kai are known for? Its a finesse weapon, it has reach and a good fall back. I still could make use of the Spider Staff but the question is if for feats I would be better of with something else than Polearm Master like Mobile, War Caster, Sentinel or so?

Greets & thanks for your reply so far,

Broken One
 
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NADRIGOL

Explorer
Hi Broken One,

Reading over your thoughts gave me another thought, which is that the guantlets are a good opportunity to go a feat heavy build. You obviously still need Int for your spells/AC and Dex for your AC/init, but if you want to focus damage, you can let those slide a little in favor of feats.

Re PM RA, as with any reaction, you have to consider your economy. The polearm master trick is perfect in solo enemy combat, or when you're up soon in the order and haven't had to use shield or absorb elements yet. Obviously if you're in Melee, against a big group, and your turn just ended, you don't want to immediately waste your reaction on an aoo. It's just about planning.

Mobile is a great feat for a Melee Bladesinger, regardless of build. Gives you a lot of options in combat. Doesn't have any particular synergy with PM or WC (actually... The PM BA attack can be on any target, so could let you disengage two targets for free with mobile).

From what I can see, the Shadar-Kai do not recieve any of the base Elf template attributes. Their template is wholly self contained.

The whip and spiked chain are very cool options, but kind of beg an additional feat, spell sniper, in order to take advantage of their reach with the SCAG cantrips.

Sentinel is a little more suited to a tank role than a striker. All of its features tend to increase aggression against you, and you have a fighter in the party better suited to that.
 

nothinglord

Villager
Seeing as I didn't see it discussed in the guide and searching the thread turned up no results, have you done the math on 1handed builds using the Shadow Blade spell? Especially in comparison to the Haste TWF build.
 

NADRIGOL

Explorer
Seeing as I didn't see it discussed in the guide and searching the thread turned up no results, have you done the math on 1handed builds using the Shadow Blade spell? Especially in comparison to the Haste TWF build.
I haven't been playing since Xanathar's came out, which I believe is where Shadow Blade was published? So none of that content is in the guide in any form.

It definitely seems at first glance like it will synergize well, although the concentration cost may end up being too high. It will take some work to update my spreadsheet to accommodate it, but I'll make a go at it at some point.
 
Really? It depends on whether or not you have access to magical items. If you have magical items, Haste can pull slightly ahead at endgame. If you don't, Shadow Blade is better for raw DPR. That said, Haste has a couple of benefits that Shadow Blade doesn't (most notably the speed increase) so it's worthwhile to use both even if your workday is short.

No Magic Items, level 14, INT and DEX 18:
Haste + TWF + Extra Attack, Shortsword: 4d6 + 28 = 42
Haste + Scag Cantrip + TWF, Shortsword: 3d6 + 2d8 + 20 = 39.5
5th-level Shadow Blade + TWF: 8d8 + 1d6 + 20 = 59.5

Level 18, Access to Flametongue Shortswords and one each of Tome of Clear Thought/Manual of Dexterity, so DEX and INT are 22:
Haste + TWF, Flametongue: 10d6 + 42 = 77
Haste + Scag Cantrip + TWF, Flametongue: 7d6 + 2d8 + 30 = 63.5
5th-level Shadow Blade + TWFing: 8d8 + 1d6 + 30 = 69.5
 
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nothinglord

Villager
It definitely seems at first glance like it will synergize well, although the concentration cost may end up being too high.
I mean, Haste is also concentration, but I guess it has defensive benefits that will help keep it up.

The main difference between the two I'd think is that Haste does not need to be upcast, whereas Shadow Blade does need to upcast to scale. However Shadow Blade probably scales better than the Haste + TWF combo.
 

Darin Brown

Villager
There is a lot of great info in here, so thank you for the guide!

I've played a few BS's, and I really like playing a pure melee BS build with War Caster, and ASI's to Dex and Int. War Caster mainly for the advantage to Concentration saves but also to Booming Blade a fleeing foe adn to possibly equip a Wand of the War Mage in off hand. There are strong benefits to ASI's in Dex (AC and to hit, which is big in melee) and Int (AC, spell to hit, prepared spell, concentration saves, damage at higher levels), so I build them with Int one mod level above Dex until I can max them both.

At high level, against something really big, I can cast Crown of Stars for a bonus action attack, eliminating the benefit of TWF. Upcasting Shadow Blade to 5 (or even to 7 against epic foes, as I just did against a Kraken last weekend) cranks up the damage. Additionally, it's psychic damage, which is almost never hampered by immunity / resistance. High level upcasting is viable with the extra top slot I get from a pure caster build. Add to that advantage in dim light / darkness (which is fantastic in an entire group of characters with darkvision), and the damage increases significantly.

Granted, that leaves me with only a non-con spell for defense. Blink is great half the time, and Shield / Absorb Elements / Song of Defense can mitigate or eliminate enough damage the rest of the time to make concentration a almost a non-issue with Bladesong and War Caster. Add in Misty Step to get out of persistent AoE's or mobility-hampering zones, and I have all the mobility I need.

So...I enjoy the versatility of this character because it's viable as a melee class with occasional cool utility or damage spells or as a pure caster from behind as the situation warrants. There are probably ways to eek a little more damage out of a build, but I really enjoy playing it this way.
 

NADRIGOL

Explorer
Hi all,

Just a quick update. Several people have been maintaining the public copy of this guide. Thank you for your work, and for keeping things civil and clean in that document. Just a heads up that every once in a while, google inexplicably reverts the permissions on that document to read only for the public. Perhaps in response to abuse in the document, or maybe just a time limit on public edit access, it's unclear. If this happens, please send me an access request and I will change the public access back to edit mode.

Cheers!

NADRIGOL
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
Hi all,

Just a quick update. Several people have been maintaining the public copy of this guide. Thank you for your work, and for keeping things civil and clean in that document. Just a heads up that every once in a while, google inexplicably reverts the permissions on that document to read only for the public. Perhaps in response to abuse in the document, or maybe just a time limit on public edit access, it's unclear. If this happens, please send me an access request and I will change the public access back to edit mode.

Cheers!

NADRIGOL
Just to let you knwo, the public copy shows a dialog that

"File is in the owner's trash
You will soon loose permanent access to this file. For continued access please make a copy"

(And, of course, it's not editable.)
 

NADRIGOL

Explorer
Just to let you knwo, the public copy shows a dialog that

"File is in the owner's trash
You will soon loose permanent access to this file. For continued access please make a copy"

(And, of course, it's not editable.)
Thanks for the heads up. I've double checked the file. It's definitely not in my trash. Nor is anything related in my trash. I've double checked the share permissions, and updated the link in the first post with a new share link from the document (didn't check if it was a different URL...).

Let me know if anyone else has similar issues.
 
OK in my rush to build a BS for a 3 session one shot that started at level three I've gone straight BS missing the build suggestion to start fighter dip at one - oh well, if we level I'll go fighter 1 to grab dual wield and short swords. I was able to roll really well on abilities with a variant human build and war caster right off the bat. 18 dex & 18 int... I held off a CR 4 orc war chief for 4 rounds toe to toe using shield spell when needed while the two other PC's whiddled him and his followers down. That levitate spell suggestion was AWESOME, I levitated the chief 50' up and dropped him for 5d6 and wrecking him. Super fun, will hopefully do the build more strictly going forward, thanks for all the work and sharing! I also took rapier at the start and noticed the low dpr I was going to be stuck with as a single wield weapon, can't pick up an offhand since Rapier choice locked me to a non-light main hand, screwed the pooch there and the guidance in the document makes total sense... Dual Wield feat looks tempting even with the doc suggestion against it with an fighter 1 dip.
 

NADRIGOL

Explorer
OK in my rush to build a BS for a 3 session one shot that started at level three I've gone straight BS missing the build suggestion to start fighter dip at one - oh well, if we level I'll go fighter 1 to grab dual wield and short swords. I was able to roll really well on abilities with a variant human build and war caster right off the bat. 18 dex & 18 int... I held off a CR 4 orc war chief for 4 rounds toe to toe using shield spell when needed while the two other PC's whiddled him and his followers down. That levitate spell suggestion was AWESOME, I levitated the chief 50' up and dropped him for 5d6 and wrecking him. Super fun, will hopefully do the build more strictly going forward, thanks for all the work and sharing! I also took rapier at the start and noticed the low dpr I was going to be stuck with as a single wield weapon, can't pick up an offhand since Rapier choice locked me to a non-light main hand, screwed the pooch there and the guidance in the document makes total sense... Dual Wield feat looks tempting even with the doc suggestion against it with an fighter 1 dip.
Sounds like a good time! Honestly, for something short at lower level, pure BS can often be more fun just due to the increased spell access. If you get a fourth level and aren't expecting to reach fifth, that fighter level could definitely be a better time though! All credit to TheBigHouse for the levitate wisdom.
 

delph

Explorer
Hi, i have to prepare backup character in case of death of first one. I was wandering around many.. And stop before hexbladesinger. Using int+char. What do you think about IT?
 

NADRIGOL

Explorer
Hi, i have to prepare backup character in case of death of first one. I was wandering around many.. And stop before hexbladesinger. Using int+char. What do you think about IT?
So I haven't spent any real time with XGE. At first glance, Hexblade obviously looks awesome. I've seen several forum posts where people complain about the Hexblade's power level, specifically as a one level dip since it's so front-loaded. I don't think it's that amazing.

Hexblade's Curse is the real reason to take this dip and is better than Hex/Hunter's Mark... somewhat true.
-The bonus damage is actually worse than Hex (3.5) on average until 9th level when your proficiency bonus reaches +4, but late game scaling was something those spells were lacking, and the Curse damage is more consistent.
-It's also concentration free, which is awesome. Like, the real reason to consider this dip. Bonus damage on every attack, which can be active while Haste is active is great.
-It's still a BA... which means your first three rounds of combat BA's are probably Bladesong, Curse, Hex... and you're not doing extra attacks until round 3 or 4 (depending on whether you Hex). Amazing when you anticipate combat, slightly slow when you're thrown into things.
-The critical hit bonus is probably solid. I haven't done that math.
-The bonus healing is only alright. It's only going to happen once per short rest by definition, but that's still helpful considering your overall low health and focus on damage prevention.
-Can only be used once per short rest. Cannot be transferred to new targets. This makes it very Nova-esque. Useless in horde fights, and you'll have to worry about whether you should be saving it for the next fight whenever you find a strong single target. That makes it a little DM/Campaign dependent. I realized this late in writing this reply, and I can't emphasize this point enough.

Hex Warrior is odd...
-The proficiencies shouldn't matter. You can't use the armor/shield, and you'll have gained your one relevant martial item proficiency from Bladesong.
-Charisma based attack and damage... First off, it applies to one single weapon, not one type of weapon, so that weakens duel wielding unless you are blessed with god stats. Duel wielding was our method of getting more hits in, accentuating the damage of Song of Victory, Hex, Curse, and any other "when you deal damage" bonuses.

Building Int+Cha in general is still questionable. You're going to use Cha for your attack and damage now, great. Maybe it will benefit a couple Warlock spells and the odd save; that's not a lot to make a core stat change for an optional feature. Dex is still a massive stat. Melee Bladesinger builds work largely in part to the huge AC and access to damage prevention. Dex is still a huge part of your AC, and it's your Initiative (which is important to get your defense on early in combat). It's also the save for many AOE based damages, which is one of your biggest weaknesses.

I think if I were doing this dip I would still dump Cha, and build Dex+Int. The only thing Cha needs to impact is the healing from Hexblade's Curse. Of the potentially interesting first level Warlock spells the two most promising (Armor of Agathys and Hex) don't require Cha.

Really you're just dipping to gain Curse and Hex, and otherwise building the same. Compare this directly with a Fighter dip for example. Ignoring the save, HP, and Second Wind (no small boons) we're basically comparing Two-Weapon Fighting with Curse.
TWF
-adds ability based damage (likely more (3-4) early game and less (4-5) late game, can be manipulated)
-only adds to off-hand attacks (typically just one attack per round, intrinsically tied to BA)
-is passively active always
-applies to any target
-only a damage buff
Curse
-adds proficiency based damage (likely less (2) early game and more (6) late game, cannot be manipulated)
-adds to every attack (up to maybe four attacks late game, doesn't require BA)
-requires BA to activate
-restricted to your curse target
-also an attack (critical) and healing buff
Hex
-adds fixed necrotic damage (no scaling)
-adds to every attack
-requires BA to activate
-restricted to spell target (can transfer on death)
-small save related buff
Looks like an overall winfor Curse+Hex, but don't let the BA to activate slip past you... You have so many cool BA's, and this adds a second/third, basically mandatory, one to the start of every combat.

If Curse was transferable like Hex, it would probably be broken (and that is why it's baked into the 14th level Hexblade class feature). As it is, this is a overpowered, less accessible Hex. It certainly makes the dip more appealing than it previously was, but not particularly amazing I think. I think I would probably rate the first level dip Sky blue, but I've also been considering Blue as I write it.
 

delph

Explorer
@NADRIGOL Hexbladesinger is gone. I'v done High Elven Fighter 1/ Bladesinger 2 (fighter first for con saves)
On first ASi I'll take elven accuracy (dex 17 -> 18, with familiar for help action I belive it's great choice)

Now I have a crucial question for me: How work Green Flame Blade with dual wielding or with extra attack? I'm affraid when I cast GFB, I can't do extra attack and not sure about offhand attack with DW.

And in another thread where was talking about sorc vs wiz I suggest 3 lvl Sorc to take metamagic. How will work quickened or twined spell with GFB and attacks (Can I do 2 melee attack's with GFB without having extra attack or DW?
 

Adamant

Explorer
@NADRIGOL Hexbladesinger is gone. I'v done High Elven Fighter 1/ Bladesinger 2 (fighter first for con saves)
On first ASi I'll take elven accuracy (dex 17 -> 18, with familiar for help action I belive it's great choice)

Now I have a crucial question for me: How work Green Flame Blade with dual wielding or with extra attack? I'm affraid when I cast GFB, I can't do extra attack and not sure about offhand attack with DW.

And in another thread where was talking about sorc vs wiz I suggest 3 lvl Sorc to take metamagic. How will work quickened or twined spell with GFB and attacks (Can I do 2 melee attack's with GFB without having extra attack or DW?
You are right about GFB not letting you do extra attack or DW attack, the guide suggests using haste to get around that by using the haste attack to proc DW. Twinned spell doesn't work with GFB/Booming Blade because they have a range of self, but quickened would let you do two attacks. For your build, since you aren't taking war caster I suggest not going DW because you won't be able to cast shield/absorb elements. No opinion on anything else, but you may want to consider a second level in fighter at some point for action surge. It lets you cast two spells in the same turn, since neither of them are bonus actions you can do things like double fireball or hold person/monster+disintegrate.

I'm currently going a different direction, ignoring elven accuracy, familiar shenanigans, and even int boosts for fighter 2, war caster, and mobile. Currently level 7, but haven't played at that level yet. The plan is the haste suggestion in the guide, very focused on multiple attacks and using spells mainly for aoe, ranged combat, and defense.
 
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delph

Explorer
You are right about GFB not letting you do extra attack or DW attack, the guide suggests using haste to get around that by using the haste attack to proc DW. Twinned spell doesn't work with GFB/Booming Blade because they have a range of self, but quickened would let you do two attacks. For your build, since you aren't taking war caster I suggest not going DW because you won't be able to cast shield/absorb elements. No opinion on anything else, but you may want to consider a second level in fighter at some point for action surge. It lets you cast two spells in the same turn, since neither of them are bonus actions you can do things like double fireball or hold person/monster+disintegrate.
In lvl5 (1+4) when i can take warcaster to be able cast without free hand, does GFB 1k6+weapon damage+DEX + one other creature 1k6+INT , that is almost same as DWF and on higher lvls stronger. I belive TWF isnt much stronger...

Sorc 3+BS X - it's quite nice. Using quickened spell on cantrip cost you only 1 SP, but give much more fun.

And by the way in my learning about DnD I'v read about monk kensei, and 3 lvls maybe doesn't be waste. "If you make unarmed strike as part of your attack action, and are holding kensei melee weapon You gain +2 AC until start your next turn.
wasting skills for wisdom isn't necessary becose mage armor will be better than monks unarmored defence, but almost in every round have +2 without needing reaction, "real shield in second hand" With active BS give me AC 13 +3 Dex +3 Int +2 without any ASI (and with use every ASI to DEX and INT will be base AC 25 with shield 30... maybe it worth take feat lucky - to get out enemi's crits... 24 is still enought
EDIT: or use bonus action to dodge can avoid his crits, but you need do it before his turn, and deflect missiles without spending ki point or slots for shield...
 

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