D&D 5E Level 6+ bladesingers: what’s your best melee options?

krunchyfrogg

Explorer
I know these guys got a huge bump in Tasha’s, and I am not sure if they’re better off after level 6 using two weapons and throwing a booming blade in the mix, or if they should be using shadow blade, even though that means booming blade isn’t an option.

OR, is it possible to use booming blade on the bonus action attack and still attack twice with shadow blade?
 

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Prebata

Explorer
One can wield a shadow blade and another off-hand weapon. However, to cast a cantrip and make one attack with a bonus action off-hand attack, you would have to sacrifice one of the attacks of the shadow blade (as per Tasha's) which I think you alluded to in your last question. The booming blade spell is a 1 action casting, so no bonus action casting. In this case, the Attack would be with the "normal" weapon, as would the cantrip and the off-hand attack would be the shadow blade.

This of course requires the Warcaster feat due to the (S)omatic component of booming blade.

To attack twice with your shadow blade, cast booming blade, and make one off-hand attack, you would need to have a party member cast haste on you (Atk + Cantrip + off + extra Atk) in adjunction with a lenient DM allowing you to cast the cantrip through your off-hand weapon in the main Attack action.
 

krunchyfrogg

Explorer
One can wield a shadow blade and another off-hand weapon. However, to cast a cantrip and make one attack with a bonus action off-hand attack, you would have to sacrifice one of the attacks of the shadow blade (as per Tasha's) which I think you alluded to in your last question. The booming blade spell is a 1 action casting, so no bonus action casting. In this case, the Attack would be with the "normal" weapon, as would the cantrip and the off-hand attack would be the shadow blade.

This of course requires the Warcaster feat due to the (S)omatic component of booming blade.

To attack twice with your shadow blade, cast booming blade, and make one off-hand attack, you would need to have a party member cast haste on you (Atk + Cantrip + off + extra Atk) in adjunction with a lenient DM allowing you to cast the cantrip through your off-hand weapon in the main Attack action.
Not exactly.

I’m asking if making your two attacks with shadow blade is more or less effective than dual wielding short swords, and making a booming blade attack, a regular attack, and a bonus action attack.

I’m thinking, at least without the elven accuracy feat, you might actually be better off not learning shadow blade, but I’m not a very good number cruncher.
 

Not exactly.

I’m asking if making your two attacks with shadow blade is more or less effective than dual wielding short swords, and making a booming blade attack, a regular attack, and a bonus action attack.

I’m thinking, at least without the elven accuracy feat, you might actually be better off not learning shadow blade, but I’m not a very good number cruncher.

Let's say 18 Dex for our example. A pair of ordinary shortswords could get 3 shots one boomong blade to get a (d6+4+d8) (+d6+4) +d6, for a total of 23 damage average, not including the average 9 damage from the rider if they move. At level 11 it is 27.5 for the attacks and 13.5 from the rider. With the fully developed 17th level cantrip it would become 32 average damage if all the attacks hit, +18 average damage from the potential rider.

Shadow Blade meanwhile (assuming your DM won't somehow let you boom with it) and a sidearm shortsword is( 2d8+4) + (2d8+4) + d6 for an average of 29.5 damage. Thus at either level 6 or 11 you are better off with a level 2 Shadow Blade if you think they won't move, and better off with booming blade on a shortsword if you think they will. At level 17 using real weapons with the cantrip pulls ahead. But, Shadow Blade can be upcast into a 3d8, 4d8, or 5d8 weapon. As a 3rd level, 3d8 spell, already very possible at level 6, dual wielding with a Shadow Blade is an average 38.5 damage, so better than a 6th level attack with booming blade even with the rider. Each upgrade of the Shadow Blade increases the average expected damage of the Shadow Blade by 9, which is the same amount that each upgrade of the Booming Blade increases it by if you get the rider, which is a pretty big if.

But let's put silly math theorycraft aside and look at practical gameplay. The game is full of magic weapons, some of which add damage riders, some of which increase your chance to hit. Meanwhile there is no such thing as a +1 casting of Shadow Blade. Against a high AC enemy you will often be better off using a magic weapon with a bonus to hit, even if theoretically the Shadow Blade would do more damage. On the other hand, if you are in dim light or darkness the Shadowblade gets automatic advantage and becomes almost always the best weapon you could use, other than a higher spell slot Shadowblade. With Elven accuracy it just becomes insane. Also it does psychic damage which is not widely resisted. The major drawback is less that it now precludes a booming blade attack and more that it precludes having some other concentration spell running and risks losing concentration itself.

But for gosh sake take Shadowblade. Just because you don't use a spell every encounter doesn't make it not worth taking, least of all for a wizard who learns plenty of spells. When it's moment comes it is incredible.

I would note that, I think serious dual wielding is mostly a mistake for Bladesingers after low levels. You need your first bonus action to start your bladesong, and if your using a Shadow Blade you need another round to get that going after (or possibly before). Subtract all the times you will use your bonus action to misty step, or cast cast some other spell, or control some other ongoing spell, and I think you are generally better off having a free hand for spellcasting and missing out on the occasional extra attack. By all means have a bandolier of disposible daggers for when the bonus action is free, but anticipate having better things to do with it.
 

TheSword

Legend
It seems to me the strength of a higher level Bladesinger is the spellcasting. That is an unavoidable conclusion of a full caster with the versatility of a wizard. Unless all those spells are going to be utility or you’re going to upcast bonus and reactions spells (which seems a waste) finding ways of getting these spells into use without sacrificing your martial power seems essential.

To that end instead of using bonus actions for an off hand attack, I’d look for ways to quicken spells. Metamagic Adept from Tasha’s will let you do it once a day and a couple of levels of sorcerer doubles this and let’s you convert to spell points.

Add to that some of the concentration bonus damage spells like Melf’s meteors, flaming sphere or bigby’s hand instead. You can then be doing some decent 4d6/5d6 damage small area blasts. Catch two creatures in that blast or get a person twice in a turn because they don’t/can’t leave a sphere and you are mitigating even successful saving throws.
 
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TwoSix

Dirty, realism-hating munchkin powergamer
Considering shadow blade is Concentration, I imagine an offensive Concentration spell plus dual-wielding + booming blade will outpace a double shadow blade attack in most cases. (Some magic items or outside buffs may change the calculus here.)
 

To make a less offhand remark, I think the strength of Bladesingers is the ability to contribute to a parties combat strength AFTER all of their spells are expended. Before that point, they should be played as a wizard and stay out of melee at all!

After the spells are fired off however, when a "normal" wizard would be stuck with just slinging cantrips, they are cantrips + melee at the same time.

So I think the question is really "What's your best melee option after all your spell slots are used."
 
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krunchyfrogg

Explorer
To make a less offhand remark, I think the strength of Bladesingers is the ability to contribute to a parties combat strength AFTER all of their spells are expended. Before that point, they should be played as a wizard and stay out of melee at all!

After the spells are fired off however, when "normal" wizard would be stuck with just slinging cantrips, they are cantrips + melee at the same time.

So I think the question is really "What's your best melee option after all your spell slots are used."
I disagree. I think, especially after level 6, these guys are a top tier melee class.
 

I disagree. I think, especially after level 6, these guys are a top tier melee class.
Situationally, yes. And they are certainly the Wizard with least need to hide in the back lines. Against simple enemies who can only get past thier bladesong+shield AC on a crit they should be in melee (provided they can't deal with that crowd easier with a spell). However at the end of the day they have a d6 hit die and not a lot of bonuses to melee damage output outside of SCAG cantrips.
 

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