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D&D 5E Help deciding Divination Wizard vs. Bladesinger

WASDHammer

Villager
In a low level campaign (level 2, going through level 15) was lucky enough to roll a pretty great starting build (9 STR/ 16 DEX/ 16 CON/ 17 INT/ 13 WIS/ 11 CHA) BEFORE applying racial bonuses. I am currently a Divination Wizard, but to be honest am finding it a bit boring. Sure Portent is awesome, but Divination spells kind of suck. Expert Divination feels like it only exists to incentivize people to use Divination spells, otherwise, they wouldn't be used.

So that got me thinking. Since I rolled well enough to handle a pretty decent MAD build, is it worth trying Bladesinger? Our party is pretty range-heavy at the moment. My DM is letting me retcon my build, so wanted to ask what this distinguished group feels is the best option and build, as well as thoughts on early level play:

1) Variant Human Bladesinger (9 STR/17 DEX/16 CON/18 INT/13 WIS/11 CHA)

Proficiency: Rapier
Starting Feat: Mobile, ASI (4): +2 INT to 20, ASI (8): Warcaster, ASI (12): Lucky (Crit defense)
My plan is for this build to swoop in and out of combat, avoiding hits, and opportunity attacks and using spells like Expeditious Retreat to get the hell out of dodge after a melee attack.

2) High Elf Bladesinger (Custom) (9 STR/18 DEX/16 CON/18 INT/13 WIS/11 CHA)

Proficiency: Rapier, Shortsword, Hand Crossbow, Scimitar
ASI (4): Mobile, ASI (8): Warcaster, ASI (12): +2 Int to 20
Similar plan as Variant Human, but in this case, I could also have flexibility after level 6 to use hand crossbow/cantrip extra attack for flavor as well as melee, or even Dual Wielding. Sort of a weapons master RP build. Also Darkvision to aid in Shadowblade advantage

3) Half Elf Bladesinger (Custom) (9 STR/18 DEX/17 CON/18 INT/13 WIS/11 CHA)

Proficiency: Rapier
ASI (4): Mobile, ASI (8): Res (Con) Con to 18, ASI (12): +2 Int to 20
Beefier version of Variant Human with the added Con. And same Darkvision to aid in Shadowblade advantage. But similarly weaker Int until later game as High Elf.

4) Stick to Divination Wizard

Keep it simple stupid, and give Div. Wizard more of a chance!

I appreciate the help here. I find that I am completely overanalyzing this thing!
 

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ad_hoc

Hero
My recommendation is to make choices that inspire you to have a memorable character.

You're likely going to get bored of any mechanics that you choose.

Having a character rather than a race/class/subclass combination will make it more likely that you will be engaged and interested in the game.
 


WASDHammer

Villager
Trust me, Bill Zebub, I was equally surprised myself that I rolled that well. Your example is usually my norm. That's partially why I'm such a basket case about this one... I don't know what to do with these high numbers; they seem so foreign to me :).
 


FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
In a low level campaign (level 2, going through level 15) was lucky enough to roll a pretty great starting build (9 STR/ 16 DEX/ 16 CON/ 17 INT/ 13 WIS/ 11 CHA) BEFORE applying racial bonuses. I am currently a Divination Wizard, but to be honest am finding it a bit boring. Sure Portent is awesome, but Divination spells kind of suck. Expert Divination feels like it only exists to incentivize people to use Divination spells, otherwise, they wouldn't be used.

So that got me thinking. Since I rolled well enough to handle a pretty decent MAD build, is it worth trying Bladesinger? Our party is pretty range-heavy at the moment. My DM is letting me retcon my build, so wanted to ask what this distinguished group feels is the best option and build, as well as thoughts on early level play:

1) Variant Human Bladesinger (9 STR/17 DEX/16 CON/18 INT/13 WIS/11 CHA)

Proficiency: Rapier
Starting Feat: Mobile, ASI (4): +2 INT to 20, ASI (8): Warcaster, ASI (12): Lucky (Crit defense)
My plan is for this build to swoop in and out of combat, avoiding hits, and opportunity attacks and using spells like Expeditious Retreat to get the hell out of dodge after a melee attack.

2) High Elf Bladesinger (Custom) (9 STR/18 DEX/16 CON/18 INT/13 WIS/11 CHA)

Proficiency: Rapier, Shortsword, Hand Crossbow, Scimitar
ASI (4): Mobile, ASI (8): Warcaster, ASI (12): +2 Int to 20
Similar plan as Variant Human, but in this case, I could also have flexibility after level 6 to use hand crossbow/cantrip extra attack for flavor as well as melee, or even Dual Wielding. Sort of a weapons master RP build. Also Darkvision to aid in Shadowblade advantage

3) Half Elf Bladesinger (Custom) (9 STR/18 DEX/17 CON/18 INT/13 WIS/11 CHA)

Proficiency: Rapier
ASI (4): Mobile, ASI (8): Res (Con) Con to 18, ASI (12): +2 Int to 20
Beefier version of Variant Human with the added Con. And same Darkvision to aid in Shadowblade advantage. But similarly weaker Int until later game as High Elf.

4) Stick to Divination Wizard

Keep it simple stupid, and give Div. Wizard more of a chance!

I appreciate the help here. I find that I am completely overanalyzing this thing!
My take. Wizards aren't so much about subclass but about spells. A few subclasses can change the playstyle but most are going to feel mostly like Wizards. Right now your only level 2 and so you don't have alot of spells. Divination Wizard will feel alot better when you can start forcing enemies to fail saving throws against your powerful debuff spells. You may like it alot more at that point. Also, Divination Spells are great out of combat uses. You really should lean into that some if you are playing a Divination Wizard. It helps make him more fun. Take Augury and Ask your Dm some questions!

That said, the question is what you are going to find fun. If you really want to be in melee with a Bladesinger Wizard they can do it. But you'll be using most of your casting potential to keep up with martials. If that's what you find fun then go for it. Alternatively the Bladesinger can function as a back line wizard with above average defenses that doesn't have to run away when something runs up to him and also can run up into melee when the normal front liners are starting to get a bit injured. That to me would be the more effective and fun way to play the subclass.

Don't discount Evokers. Not being restricted where you use shatter/fireball is pretty awesome. And if you make it to level 10 or 14 the features are nice. You don't have to blast all the time, but it's nice knowing the option is there. Because typical wizard play will be something like, turn 1 cast a concentration buff or debuff spell. Turn 2 firebolt. The Evokers turn 2 can be Fireball everything.

Abjuration wizards are pretty boring, but effective.

Necromancers are cool with Animate Dead. Quite a different playstyle than other Wizards.

War Wizards are solid but don't add anything I would count as particularly fun.
 
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ECMO3

Adventurer
In a low level campaign (level 2, going through level 15) was lucky enough to roll a pretty great starting build (9 STR/ 16 DEX/ 16 CON/ 17 INT/ 13 WIS/ 11 CHA) BEFORE applying racial bonuses. I am currently a Divination Wizard, but to be honest am finding it a bit boring. Sure Portent is awesome, but Divination spells kind of suck. Expert Divination feels like it only exists to incentivize people to use Divination spells, otherwise, they wouldn't be used.

So that got me thinking. Since I rolled well enough to handle a pretty decent MAD build, is it worth trying Bladesinger? Our party is pretty range-heavy at the moment. My DM is letting me retcon my build, so wanted to ask what this distinguished group feels is the best option and build, as well as thoughts on early level play:

1) Variant Human Bladesinger (9 STR/17 DEX/16 CON/18 INT/13 WIS/11 CHA)

Proficiency: Rapier
Starting Feat: Mobile, ASI (4): +2 INT to 20, ASI (8): Warcaster, ASI (12): Lucky (Crit defense)
My plan is for this build to swoop in and out of combat, avoiding hits, and opportunity attacks and using spells like Expeditious Retreat to get the hell out of dodge after a melee attack.

2) High Elf Bladesinger (Custom) (9 STR/18 DEX/16 CON/18 INT/13 WIS/11 CHA)

Proficiency: Rapier, Shortsword, Hand Crossbow, Scimitar
ASI (4): Mobile, ASI (8): Warcaster, ASI (12): +2 Int to 20
Similar plan as Variant Human, but in this case, I could also have flexibility after level 6 to use hand crossbow/cantrip extra attack for flavor as well as melee, or even Dual Wielding. Sort of a weapons master RP build. Also Darkvision to aid in Shadowblade advantage

3) Half Elf Bladesinger (Custom) (9 STR/18 DEX/17 CON/18 INT/13 WIS/11 CHA)

Proficiency: Rapier
ASI (4): Mobile, ASI (8): Res (Con) Con to 18, ASI (12): +2 Int to 20
Beefier version of Variant Human with the added Con. And same Darkvision to aid in Shadowblade advantage. But similarly weaker Int until later game as High Elf.

4) Stick to Divination Wizard

Keep it simple stupid, and give Div. Wizard more of a chance!

I appreciate the help here. I find that I am completely overanalyzing this thing!
I prefer a Bladesinger and you can build these a lot of ways and any of those seem viable. Personally I am not a fan of getting mobile with a bladesinger or resilient constitution, I would rather have an ASI, a half feat, or warcaster. One thing to note,at high levels you will run into problems not being able to prepare all the spells you want if you don't max intelligence pretty quickly. That said here is my 2 cents (for what it is worth)

#2. I like #2. I think that is very strong. I personally would take an ASI, lucky or warcaster at level 4 instead of mobile, but mobile will still work.

#1. I don't like #1 with those feats. With those scores I would take weapon master at 1st level and start out with an 18 in both Dex and Int and Whip, S. Sword, Rapier, hand cross bow. Then you have all the weapons you want and can start with 18 Dex and 18 intelligence. The hand crossbow is really good once you get extra attack, the loading does not matter because when you are ranged you make 1 attack with the crossbow and then follow it up with toll the dead or firebolt. Whip works really well with warcaster because of the 10' reach. Usually you want to attack with a better weapon, but this is great to trigger a spell OA.

#3 is the worst of those IMO, having just a Rapier is doable, but it kind of sucks down the road if you find a magic short sword or a magic scimitar etc If you are in a campaign where you can buy magic items this is not as big a deal. The odd constitution seems like a waste too.

Another option is custom lineage. This still has the limited weapon problem as #3 but you can take the +2 in dexterity and take either fey touched or shadow touched to boost intelligence to 18 and have both 18 Dex, 18 Int and get 2 extra spells and 2 extra castings. Misty step is something you are going to want anyway and there are a bunch of great off-list spells to pair with it. Personally I like Hex from Fey Touched at low levels. It is less useful in combat at high levels, but it is a free cast of it and still has out of combat uses. Shadow touched Invisibility is strong too, not as useful as Misty step and there are not as many good 1st level options to pair with it but a half feat that gives you a good spell and 2 castings a day is solid. For Shadow touched the 1st level spells I like are false life, cause fear, disguise self and silent image. False life is good at high levels, cause fear is a good at low levels and the other two are good utility at any level and again it is a free cast once a day.
 
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The question, fundamentally, is what excites you in the game. I personally would take a Bladesinger over a Diviner almost any time I could handle the MADness because I find the flexibility to hop into melee very appealing, and generally I value being able to use different tactics for different situations over optimizing for one set of tactics. By a similar token I'd go with some sort of option to get handcrossbow proficiency because adding the crossbow option to the repertoire as well fits my playstyle, even if I only use it for 10-20% of combats. I suspect, if you find Diviner boring, that you should probably maximize the number of possible tactics in your toolbox, so the High Elf, whom you can get a handcrossbow with (I guess) and an extra wizard cantrip is probably the best bet.

Also if you're going High Elf and picking weapon proficiencies and thinking about using multiple styles of combat consider getting longbow proficiency. It's not compatible with bladesong, but in the fights where you're at longbow ranges you don't need bladesong, and at low levels you may not have enough of it to last the day anyway. You actually can still keep all the weapon proficiencies you've chosen for the High Elf as long as you put one off to be your 2nd level Bladesinger weapon proficeincy.
 

Andras

Explorer
I played a Half Elf Wizard Diviner until 6th and switched to Bladesinger at that time (TCE option)

Actually he started as a Dex Paladin and got a Headband of Intellect and then started down Wizard for slots and spell versatility. Ended Pal13/Wiz7 for 4th level spells in each class. The Portent rolls were Nasty paired with melee combat.

I took Metamagic Adept for Quicken. Once per day you can slip someone a Hold Person and lay the beatdown on them the same turn.
 

WASDHammer

Villager
Great feedback, all.

One thing I was mulling over, actually, was multiclassing Bladesinger 11/Echo Knight 4. The idea was to create an "Echosinger", who would fold space/time to change the outcome in battle. For flavor, I could use the Echos to fold space, creating duplicates of myself across different dimensions to join the fray. Could be crazy fun to send out an Echo ahead of me to make my melee attack for me. Or alternatively, if I am in trouble, swap places with the echo to get out of trouble as sort of a bonus action "misty step". Even cooler, grab sentinel, sit back as my echo engages on my behalf, and if the baddie tries to escape, lock him down with an OA.

For additional flavor, Mirror Image, Shield could be my "space folding defense" spells, and I could even alter space/time to change outcomes (Lucky). I would miss out on Level 7 & 8 Wizard spells, but those are really two spell slots (big ones, I know but still, they aren't exactly used that often).

So the build would look something like this:
Variant Human
Stats (at lvl 15): STR 9 / DEX 17 / CON 16 / INT 20 / WIS 13 / CHA 11
Progression: Wizard 6 > Fighter 4 > Wizard 5 or Wizard 2 > Fighter 4 > Wizard 9 (to bring online earlier but big delay to extra attack).
Feats: Starting (Lucky), ASI W4: +2 INT, ASI F4: Warcaster, ASI W8: Sentinel (or Piercer for the +1 DEX and added dmg bonus)
Spells would still follow normal Bladesinger, but now with added Second Wind and Action Surge.

It could be a totally non-viable play, but what do you think? Could be fun, right?
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I had a heck of a lot of fun playing a bladesinger 1-13 in Avernus. That was pre-Tasha's, and the extra attack change addressed the low damage issue I had. I raised DEX faster than INT and my spell list was not focused on things that required saves or spell attacks. I was very hard to hurt a lot - between a fantastic AC while bladesinger and spells like Shield, Absorb Elements, Misty Step for OA free repositioning and eventually Counterspell I could tie up half the foe's melee combatants on one side while the party dealt with others on the far side.

I had a heck of a lot mroe slots left over for utility, including high level utility that often only gets used in combat like Wall of Force.

Just as a side note, Custom Lineage says "Instead of..." and JC has confirmed that Custom Lineage is instead of and not any existing race from the book - for an existing race you play that race. So you can't pick Custom Lineage and at some point pick up a racial feat like Elven Accuracy. I mention this because once you start getting things like Great Invisibility (or the pseudo-trap option Tenser's Transformation), you can generate a lot of Advantage and may want it.
 

TarionzCousin

Second Most Angelic Devil Ever
I played a bladesinger to level 10. The significant thing I found different from playing a full wizard was that I had to decide at the beginning (or very early on) of every combat if my character was going to hang back and cast spells or charge in and swing his sword. Honestly, I enjoyed the decision making process and variety. I'm considering playing another bladesinger in an upcoming campaign.

So that is why I would ask you "Do you want to occasionally mix it up in melee or not?" in order to prompt you to decide.
 


FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I'm itching to hit stuff and then shoot fireballs.
I get the impression you want to play a bladesinger. It will be fun and effective. The goal of D&D isn't to have the most effective character ever, it's to have the most fun character ever, and if hitting stuff and fireballing is what you find fun right now then go for it.

One alternative take on the 'hit stuff and fireball' concept. Start Fighter 1. Take the rest levels as evoker wizard (so you can fireball on top of yourself and allies). Use Rapier and Shield (equip) with Booming Blade/Greenflame blade. You'll be trading a bit of melee damage, but fireballing will be much easier.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
As a side note, while bladesinging you could have the highest AC in the party, and with plenty of extra slots to give it +5 until you go again if you are hit. Mobile isn't needed - while you are built on a chassis that has 2 less HPs per level, a bladesinger in combat is pushing the top boundary of the bounded accuracy range and you will take less damage from attacks than your average front-liner. Now, you may want mobile for a particular play style, but it is not needed to play a bladesinger. I'd recommend raising DEX with your ASIs first - it always applies even when not bladesinging, and it helps your attacks.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I played a bladesinger to level 10. The significant thing I found different from playing a full wizard was that I had to decide at the beginning (or very early on) of every combat if my character was going to hang back and cast spells or charge in and swing his sword. Honestly, I enjoyed the decision making process and variety. I'm considering playing another bladesinger in an upcoming campaign.

So that is why I would ask you "Do you want to occasionally mix it up in melee or not?" in order to prompt you to decide.
I played a bladesinger 1-13 pre-Tasha's. While I would have loved the Extra Attack change, one thing the pre-Tasha's bladesinger had going was that it was two uses of Bladesinging per short rest, instead of PROF per long rest. Because of that I basically never had to make the choice to bladesing or not.

Which is a long-winded way of saying I hadn't considered that now it will be a bit split like this where there are times you can't/don't want to bladesing. Thanks for pointing it out.
 

ECMO3

Adventurer
I played a bladesinger 1-13 pre-Tasha's. While I would have loved the Extra Attack change, one thing the pre-Tasha's bladesinger had going was that it was two uses of Bladesinging per short rest, instead of PROF per long rest. Because of that I basically never had to make the choice to bladesing or not.

Which is a long-winded way of saying I hadn't considered that now it will be a bit split like this where there are times you can't/don't want to bladesing. Thanks for pointing it out.
Having played both before and after, it does make a difference in tier 1/2, but not a huge one.

By tier 3 it is not really an issue. You are not bladesinging every battle, but you have enough with upcast false life, greater invisibility, blur etc that you can still be in melee every battle if you want to be. You just have to be a bit more cautious .... sometimes.

The main difference is I use haste less and blur or greater invisibility more than I did pre-tasha's which over the course of the day in some ways undoes the damage bonus I got with the better extra attack.

One thing I want to try is a 1-level death cleric dip. If you do that you can use extra attack and make an attack and then twin Toll The Dead against adjacent foes for 3d12 each in tier 3.
 
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