Level Up (A5E) Thoughts on Eldritch Blast options for Warlock


"Attacks [..] delivered through your familiar use your spell attack bonus and deal additional force damage equal to your proficiency bonus." In particular, Eldritch Scythe is a melee spell attack delivered through your familiar, so it qualifies for the additional force damage. Cantrips that are attacks delivered through your familiar would also get that proficiency bonus force damage, for example the Shocking Grasp cantrip.

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Yes, it is pretty good. However, there will be situations vs. a higher AC opponent where the bonus to Eldritch Scythe melee spell attack from a magic melee pact weapon gives more benefit that the bonus damage from Frog Fangs delivered through your pact familiar. And in any case, wielding a two-handed weapon or two-weapon fighting will give higher melee damage vs. a single target until level 11+ where you get 3x or 4x Eldritch Blast.

In general, the Warlock eldritch blast options are sufficiently balanced vs. each other that one is not necessarily that suboptimal vs. the others, and it is situational as to which is best to have. Good motivation to take Versatile Blast at some point.


When I have time, I'll summarize the comparison of two-weapon fighting damage output at 5th level for Warlock with and without Hex. That is the highest damage per round option, if your target lasts 3+ rounds ... But I suspect most opponents don't last 3+ rounds with the party hammering them in an effective manner. So you end up needing to spend your bonus action to shift the target for Hex or recast it, which means you don't get the off-hand attacks that round when you do so.


Here's the comparison between two-handed weapon and two-weapon fighting for Warlock with Pact of the Blade, Thirsting Blade for extra attack, and Lifedrinker, at 5th level with a +1 magic weapon, and an ability modifier of +4:

+1 Two-handed greatsword or maul for 2d6 damage, at 5th level Warlock:
  • With Hex: 2x (2d6 + 4 ability modifier +4 Lifedrinker + 1 magic + d6 Hex ) x 0.65 = 25.4 average
  • Without: 2x (2d6 + 4 ability modifier + 4 Lifedrinker +1 magic) x 0.65 = 20.8 average
Two-weapon fighting with +1 one-handed weapon doing d8 damage in main hand and regular weapon doing d6 damage off-hand, at 5th level Warlock:
  • Main-hand:
    • With Hex: 2x (d8 + 4 ability modifier +4 Lifedrinker + 1 magic + d6 Hex ) x 0.65 = 22.1 average
    • Without: 2x (d8 + 4 ability modifier + 4 Lifedrinker +1 magic) x 0.65 = 17.6 average
  • Off-hand
    • With Hex: 2x (d6 + d6 Hex ) x 0.6 = 8.4 average
    • Without: 2x d6 x 0.6 = 4.2 average
  • Damage by round with Hex
    • Round 1: attack with main hand only, and cast Hex as a bonus action, average 22.1
    • Round 2+: attack with both weapons, average 30.5= 22.1 + 8.4
      • Until target drops and you need to switch targets for Hex or recast it as a bonus action
      • Average across rounds is 26.3 for 2 rounds, 27.7 for 3, 28.4 for 4, 28.8 for 5
  • Damage by round without Hex, assuming your weapons are both already drawn
    • Round 1+: attack with both weapons, average 21.8 = 17.6 + 4.2
Two-weapon fighting deals more damage than wielding a two-handed weapon if your target lasts 2+ rounds. However, you have to sheathe the off-hand weapon to cast a spell with somatic or material components, then unsheathe it to two-weapon fight again next round. Alternatively, you take the Battle Caster feat so that you cast spells with V or V,S components with weapons in your hands; or the Improved Pact Weapon invocation from 5E D&D Xanathar's Guide to Everything to have your pact weapon as a spell focus to cast spells with V, or V,M or V,S,M components.

In a typical combat, I think the benefits for a Warlock of two-weapon fighting over using a two-handed weapon are minor, unless you really stack on the bonus damage at Warlock level 9+ with a spell level 5 slot (7 spell points) casting of the 5E D&D spell Spirit Shroud for +2d8 damage per hit. However at Warlock level 9 with Agonizing Blast and +5 spellcasting ability modifier, the invocations Eldritch Prism, Eldritch Severance, and Eldritch Squall do 4x d10 + 5 = 27 average force damage, save for half, across multiple targets for only 5 spell points; or cast Flame Strike to do 28 average (half fire, half radiant), save for half, across multiple targets for 7 spell points. So somewhat doubtful that casting the higher level Spirit Shroud is really worth it.


Some further thoughts on eldritch invocations, familiars, and Pact of the Chain:

Investment of the Chain Master from Tasha's Cauldron of Everything giving "if the familiar forces a creature to make a saving throw, it uses your spell save DC" is too good with certain familiar powers. And the "When the familiar takes damage, you can use your reaction to grant it resistance against that damage" will often be irrelevant if your familiar has only a few HP.

Instead there is the Frog Fangs eldritch invocation, and some of the benefits of the Ranger Beastmaster archetype could be tied into another eldritch invocation:

Fortified Familiar (prerequisite - Pact of the Chain): Whenever your familiar rolls initiative, it gains a number of temporary hit points equal to your level multiplied by your proficiency bonus, and its Armor Class increases by an amount equal to your proficiency bonus. (This benefit does not stack which Beast Whisperer - take a different eldritch invocation if you have that.)

And if you get access to combat maneuvers, you may want to take some from Beast Unity to use with your familiar:
Combat Maneuvers | Level Up

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