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5E Which is a better bladesinger?

krunchyfrogg

Explorer
high elf will be this characters race
27 point buy
level 4 start
expect game to end level 9/10

Option 1: rogue 1/bladesinger 3 (small damage boost with sneak attack, expertise in 2 skills, extra skills)

Option 2: fighter 1/bladesinger 3 (dueling or defense style? Lots more HP, CON saving throw proficiency)

Option 3: bladesinger 4 (best spell progression, melee damage isn't really as impressive)

I'm thinking of starting 8/16/14/16/12/8 for stats.

Do I prioritize DEX or INT with ASI's? Are there any feats I need?
 

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DeviousQuail

Explorer
I'd go pure bladesinger. Bladesong, Intelligence, and the wizard spell list will give you more than enough defense, offense, and you'll rarely fail concentration saves. I'd suggest Intelligence boost at level 4. Feats are fun but I wouldn't call any of them necessary. At level 8 you could go Intelligence, Dexterity, or a feat and be happy with whatever you chose.

Just remember that you're still more caster than martial, even with this subclass. Plan on mixing spells and melee attacks.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Each of the first 5 levels of fighter are excellent, so it’s hard to argue with going that way.

However, it depends on how much you want to be a Spellcaster, vs a character that casts spells sometimes.
 

delph

Explorer
If you have allowed Elven Accuracy take pure Bladesinger with it. And you can have starting dex or int odd.
 

DeviousQuail

Explorer
Each of the first 5 levels of fighter are excellent, so it’s hard to argue with going that way.

However, it depends on how much you want to be a Spellcaster, vs a character that casts spells sometimes.
Figuring out what balance of spellcaster vs martial you want is important. My suggestion of pure bladesinger doesn't make as much sense if you really want to lean into melee all the time. You'd still be more than viable but probably not as good as someone who multiclasses.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Figuring out what balance of spellcaster vs martial you want is important. My suggestion of pure bladesinger doesn't make as much sense if you really want to lean into melee all the time. You'd still be more than viable but probably not as good as someone who multiclasses.
Yeah, exactly.

Another option that loses less of the Spellcasting and gains a lot of cool toys is Battlesmith Artificer. Also makes the build not need to boost Dex after CharGen, which is nice.
 

krunchyfrogg

Explorer
Just remember that you're still more caster than martial, even with this subclass. Plan on mixing spells and melee attacks.
This is kind of my issue. I do want to be somewhat of a presence in combat; maybe not quite on par with a fighter, but a force to be feared.

Am I getting this by starting fighter I keep reading bladesingers hardly ever get hit anyway, so I’m thinking dueling fighting style is better than defense for me.

I don’t know; and I suppose that is a nod to how good this system really is. There are definite pros and cons to going either way.
 

DeviousQuail

Explorer
This is kind of my issue. I do want to be somewhat of a presence in combat; maybe not quite on par with a fighter, but a force to be feared.

Am I getting this by starting fighter I keep reading bladesingers hardly ever get hit anyway, so I’m thinking dueling fighting style is better than defense for me.

I don’t know; and I suppose that is a nod to how good this system really is. There are definite pros and cons to going either way.
Definitely dueling over defense. Bladesong and Shield give you all the AC you'll need.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Definitely dueling over defense. Bladesong and Shield give you all the AC you'll need.
Also you’ve got plenty of slots to be using Mage Armor, for 13+dex+Int AC without magic armor, and stop using slots for that if you get magic studded leather.
 

auburn2

Explorer
IMO Bladesinger 4 is best. Of the other two others fighter is better than rogue IMO. Rogue and bladesinger don't really gel very well IMO. You give up SA dice to get wizard levels and the rogue doesn't really need the insane AC because she can disengage as a bonus action. The bladesinger doesn't need cunning action because she has a high enough AC to stay in melee and if she stays in melee she usually can't use dash or hide as a BA very much.

The thing with bladesinger is you want the spell slots because you are going to use them on shield, and you want to still have some spells left for offense and at 10th level for song of defense. As such, Bladesinger is the one class that I do not think benefits from a dip.

As far as stats I would take 17 Dex, 13 Constitution and then take resilient-Constitution at 4th level and Resilient-Dexterity at 8th level. If you get to 12th level I would take an int ASI there. I like having the constitution save for the rare occasions you get damaged (usually by a spell) and I like having the dex save because save spells or cantrips are generally the best way to attack the bladesinger. I would also take proficiency in acrobatics. If you can't target a bladesinger with save spells, the next best way is often by grappling or shoving because her insane AC does not apply to those. A badesinger gets advantage on acrobatics checks while in bladesong and if you take proficiency in that it pretty much closes grappling and shoving as a viable option for enemies.

If you really want to take a dip I would take a full caster to get the slots. I have never done it myself but a sword bard might be a good combo for 3 or 4 levels. That would give you dueling fighting style and flourish which I suppose you could combine with bladesong without giving up any spell slots. With a high-elf point buy that would be something like: S8 D17 C12 I16 W8 Ch13
 
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auburn2

Explorer
This is kind of my issue. I do want to be somewhat of a presence in combat; maybe not quite on par with a fighter, but a force to be feared.
A bladesinger is not usually going to deal a lot of damage in melee. Your best melee option is going to be green flame blade when there are multiple enemies. Your AC is high enough that you can also consider using booming blade and move away without disengaging and eat the OA. For high damage you are going to have to use real spells though. If you need a spell caster that does good damage in melee I would look at other options, including arcane trickster, eldritch knight or a multiclass with a dip in a different type of wizard (diviner or war magic).

I disagree that a bladesinger is not martial. It is martial but in melee it is purely defensive, not offensive, take a dodge action or at 3rd level pick up blur and you are a rocking a 24AC that the enemy needs to roll against with disadvantage. In pure melee combat, a bladesinger in bladesong will survive longer than any other character except a raging barbarian and even those two are close. While Fighters, Rangers and Palasins have more HP, the bladesinger will get hit far less and in melee this more than makes up for the hit point differential. The bladesinger will not do high damage though, her role when not casting spells is to tie up enemies on the front line and keep them busy while the rest of her party deals out the damage.

I think Diviner and war magic are better as a dip for a offense-focused melee build. Diviner gives you the portent which you can use in a strength build to make your GWM hit ... or make your enemy miss. War magic gives you an unlimited use +2 reaction to AC. This makes a 2-4 level dip in wizard pretty attractive for a melee fighter or rogue while getting all the damage and armor bonuses fighter/rogue offers with 5+ levels. In a strength build low level fighters should have a 21 AC with chainmail and the shield spell or 23 with chainmail, shield and the shield spell (compared to 24 for the bladesinger in bladesong or 21 for a bladesinger out of bladesong). The flip side is they will not have as many slots to spam shield and they don't get the constitution, acrobatics and movement bonuses from bladesong but they will do substantially more melee damage, especially the variant not using the shield.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Shadow blade + Booming Blade + SA + Bonus Action Disengage + High AC is powerful. Easily stands up next to pure Bladesinger.
 

auburn2

Explorer
Shadow blade + Booming Blade + SA + Bonus Action Disengage + High AC is powerful. Easily stands up next to pure Bladesinger.
That is a good build and it can work well in some cases because of the disengage. But it won't stand up to a pure bladesinger, it is not really even close, especially when there are a lot of enemies or limited room. Shadowblade works against you too by taking up concentration that a bladesinger would use for defense. Also the the BB/disengage combo is fairly easy to counter with ready action to attack you when you move in to attack next (or with missile weapons if the enemy has them).

As an example - at level 5 (rogue 2, wizard 3) going solo against 10 Goblins in mage armor; that build gets hit about 1 time in 17 attacks (it would be 1 in 20 but about a third of the Goblins will get advantage). Even with the free disengage, most of the goblins will be able to attack you most rounds. You will run through all your spell slots in probably 4 rounds after which they will hit you regularly. A single class level 5 bladesinger running blur gets hit about 1 time in 50 attacks because the Goblins will have disadvantage normally (needing a double 20) and when they would get advantage it cancels and it is a straight 1 in 20 roll. She has 7 spell slots to spend vs 4 and uses shield less. A pure bladesinger being level 5 could also use blink and blur simultaneously (at the cost of another slot) and do even better. Blink denies a lot of the attacks completely and although unpredictable, over the course of most battles it will avoid more attacks than disengage will.

The rogue build will be better in terms of melee damage, a lot better if you take a lot of Rogue levels. It is a good build and if you are in a party that build may be better for the party in combat (especially if you have more than one fighter or barbarian), but by itself it is not the equivalent of a bladesinger in melee.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
In melee it won't stand up to a pure bladesinger, it is not really even close. Shadowblade works against you too by taking up concentration that a bladesinger would use for defense. That is a good build and it can work in some cases because of the disengage. It won't stand up nearly as well as a pure bladesinger though, especially when there are a lot of enemies or limited room. Also the enemy can counter the BB/disengage combo with ready action and attack you when you move in to attack him next (or with missile weapons if he has them).

As an example - at level 5 (rogue 2, wizard 3) going solo against 10+ Goblins in mage armor; that build gets hit about 1 time in 17 attacks (it would be 1 in 20 but about a third of the Goblins will get advantage). You will run through all your spell slots in probably 4 rounds after which they will hit you regularly. A single class level 5 bladesinger running blur gets hit about 1 time in 50 attacks because the Goblins will have disadvantage normally (needing a double 20 to hit) and when they would get advantage it cancels and it is a straight 1 in 20 roll. She has 7 spell slots to spend vs 4 and is using shield less so she has them longer. A pure bladesinger being level 5 could also use blink and blur simultaneously (at the cost of another slot) and do even better. Blink denies a lot of the attacks completely and although unpredictable, over the course of a battle it will avoid more attacks than disengage will.

The rogue build will be better in terms of melee damage, a lot better if you take a lot of Rogue levels. It is a good build and if you are in a party that build may be a lot better for the party overall (especially if you have more than one fighter or barbarian), but by itself it is not the equivalent of a bladesinger in melee.
Nah, I’ve actually played both. Outside of the white room, the rogue/Bladesinger isn’t running out of spell slots especially often, isn’t getting hit all that much, can take a hit better, and is dealing more damage. The pure Bladesinger is a better spellcaster. That’s it.
 

auburn2

Explorer
Nah, I’ve actually played both. Outside of the white room, the rogue/Bladesinger isn’t running out of spell slots especially often, isn’t getting hit all that much, can take a hit better, and is dealing more damage. The pure Bladesinger is a better spellcaster. That’s it.
In a party of characters where allies can help keep the enemy off you maybe. By yourself no, especially if you are not using blur, mirror image or a similar defensive spell (which would eliminate most of the extra damage). There is also a big difference between not "getting hit all that much" and very rarely getting hit at all. A pure bladesinger is the latter. With a pure bladesinger you should enter most battles and fully expect that you will not get damaged by a weapon attack at all.

It is simple math. An enemy with a measly +3 to hit will make you take damage or put up a shield once out of every four times he attacks, twice as many spell slots is twice as many shields. Add in blur and that same enemy only has about 1 in 18 chance of making you use shield at all and only 1 in 400 chance of hitting if he does. Mathematically, your mixed bladesinger has fewer slots but uses shield 5 times as much, gets hit 20 times more often while using shield and gets hit 100 times more often if he runs out.
 
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Benjamin Olson

Adventurer
The basic conundrum with Bladesinger is that, going straight Bladesinger you'll usually be more effective after low levels hanging back and being a wizard with an extra defensive buff rather than doing anything you can do in melee. You don't really want to hang in melee with a d6 hit die, and you have no special melee damage edge until level 14. Multiclassing changes the calculus a bit. If you really want to be a melee wizard I 100% advise multiclassing, if you are content to just be a fairly normal wizard who uses a rapier rather than cantrips when he finds himself in melee, then straight Bladesinger is probably best.

Melee-damage wise these two options are comparable. One die of sneak attack vs. dueling fighting style damage bonus is basically a wash. You will almost always be able to get sneak attack as long as your familiar is alive, but almost always isn't always, and the dueling damage bonus just works. Eventually dueling fighting style will benefit from your Bladesinger 6 extra attack. Basically it's going to come down to how often your DM imposes disadvantage and how much they target your familiar.

I personally consider Rogue the stronger choice, providing you quickly take a second level of it for cunning action. If you intend to be a d6 hit die person in melee you are going to need an angle for easily getting out, and you can only afford to misty step so many times. The synergy with the Booming Blade cantrip is, of course, powerful enough to build a whole character around. Cunning action dash is also pretty fun when you have gotten your movement up to 40 with the bladesong. A third level of Rogue (Arcane Trickster or Swashbuckler) is worthwhile. I don't think more than that makes sense unless you are going for a primary Rogue or an even split, because Uncanny Dodge and Evasion are just not that amazing for someone who can cast Shield and Absorb Elements.

Starting with a level of Fighter means you'll be proficient in con saves and thus better at concentration checks, which is important to any Wizard but extra important to one who intends to hang out in melee with various buff spells. It's things like (upcast) Shadow Blade, Greater Invisibility, and Haste that really make a Bladesinger up to snuff in melee. Fighter 2 gives you Action Surge, which is great for a spellcaster and only gets better as their spells improve, but unlike with Rogue cunning action and a Booming Blade strategy there is no need to rush to get it.

Thus, if you really are intending to just do a one level dip, or put off taking additional levels of dip until late I think Fighter is probably the stronger combat choice than Rogue. If you are willing to do another level fairly soon I think Rogue is the stronger choice. If you care about skills Rogue is clearly the stronger choice.

In regard to feats, if you don't go Rogue and are still interested in making the most of the Booming Blade cantrip I'd recommend Mobile. If you don't start with Fighter I'd prioritize Resilience-Constitution and/or Warcaster. Elven Accuracy is great, especially for someone with a familiar and Shadow Blade, but I would make sure to have an uneven stat or another compatible half feat in mind for that. But really ASIs in INT are probably the most important thing for you as it will determine not only your spell save, spell attack, and number of spells prepared, but also determines the effectiveness of your Bladesong.
 
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auburn2

Explorer
The basic conundrum with Bladesinger is that, going straight Bladesinger you'll usually be more effective after low levels hanging back and being a wizard with an extra defensive buff rather than doing anything you can do in melee. You don't really want to hang in melee with a d6 hit die, and you have no special melee damage edge until level 14. Multiclassing changes the calculus a bit. If you really want to be a melee wizard I 100% advise multiclassing, if you are content to just be a fairly normal wizard who uses a rapier rather than cantrips when he finds himself in melee, then straight Bladesinger is probably best.
Disagree about surviving in melee. A bladesinger of any level will generally outlast a fighter of the same level in melee (meaning survive longer). Having twice as many hit points is not an advantage for the fighter when he will get hit 4 times as often. When you get to 10th level the bladesinger can trade spell slots for damage reduction and can can not only avoid more hits but can actually take more hits than a fighter can. Those are generalizations and the specifics matter but they are generally true.

What a bladesinger needs to avoid especially before 10th level are damaging save spells. Things like fireball or other high damage/half damage if you fail. A fireball will typically one-shot a 5th level bladesinger. These are usually easier to avoid if you are mixed up with the enemy and for that reason I do not hesitate to put my bladesinger in the front of the fight most of the time.

I will agree that you want to use spells on any difficult enemy, because your melee attacks are largely worthless after level 5 or so, but IMO you want to do it from the front and a bladesinger is a great character for things like cone spells, lighting bolts etc.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
In a party of characters where allies can help keep the enemy off you maybe. By yourself no, especially if you are not using blur, mirror image or a similar defensive spell (which would eliminate most of the extra damage). There is also a big difference between not "getting hit all that much" and very rarely getting hit at all. A pure bladesinger is the latter. With a pure bladesinger you should enter most battles and fully expect that you will not get damaged by a weapon attack at all.

It is simple math. An enemy with a measly +3 to hit will make you take damage or put up a shield once out of every four times he attacks, twice as many spell slots is twice as many shields. Add in blur and that same enemy only has about 1 in 18 chance of making you use shield at all and only 1 in 400 chance of hitting if he does. Mathematically, your mixed bladesinger has fewer slots but uses shield 5 times as much, gets hit 20 times more often while using shield and gets hit 100 times more often if he runs out.
LOL no. The R/W just takes more hits, eventually has Uncanny Dodge, more easily moves in and out of melee giving fewer opportunities for attack.

Earlier you posited that enemies will just ready an attack for the rogue to move in to melee, but that’s a bad tactic on their part, and if they do, good! I’ve caused them to waste their action. If they’re actually dangerous, most of the time they have multi attack, so they just gave up half or more of their damage against Simeon one else in order to maybe do a little damage to the rogue.

But hey, keep trusting spreadsheets over actual experience if you want. 👍
 

Benjamin Olson

Adventurer
With a pure bladesinger you should enter most battles and fully expect that you will not get damaged by a weapon attack at all.
In the realm of Theorycraftia perhaps. Most D&D characters inhabit other worlds, however. And in the worlds of D&D there are mysterious gods known as DMs who carefully follow the adventures of heroes, twisting their fates and testing their mettles. DMs consider their righteous work to look upon both the strengths and the weaknesses of heroes and test both, weighing the battles they will face upon their divine scales and adjusting them accordingly. If a hero were to have a mighty ability to avoid being hit, for example, this would be a tremendous boon in some battles, but all that ensure that in others the foes they face would have exceptional abilities to overcome this. If they were, in the eye of a DM, to too often rely on the art of illusion to bolster their defenses than they will surely meet more foes who can see through these arts. The DMs consider it their righteous and cosmically ordained duty to put heroes to such tests. And indeed, they are praised for it.

There are surely some delusional D&D characters who go into battle expecting to not be damaged, but Bladesingers have too high an intelligence for that.
 

auburn2

Explorer
LOL no. The R/W just takes more hits, eventually has Uncanny Dodge, more easily moves in and out of melee giving fewer opportunities for attack.

Earlier you posited that enemies will just ready an attack for the rogue to move in to melee, but that’s a bad tactic on their part, and if they do, good! I’ve caused them to waste their action. If they’re actually dangerous, most of the time they have multi attack, so they just gave up half or more of their damage against Simeon one else in order to maybe do a little damage to the rogue.

But hey, keep trusting spreadsheets over actual experience if you want. 👍
He takes a lot more hits ... on the order of 20 times as much. Maybe 15 times as much when you consider disengage will prevent a few. Yeah you can use uncanny dodge to cut one attack in half, but by the time you get it on a multiclass build a bladesigner can take a spell slot and reduce it by more than half (if she even gets hit) - You get bitten by an ancient red dragon and the multiclass takes uncanny dodge and reduces the damage to 17, the bladesinger takes a 5th level slot and reduces it to 10.

I agree ready is not a great tactic, but it is better than rollling against a 20 to hit with disadvantage on a bladesinger, or alternatively trying to grapple or shove when she gets advantage and has proficiency in acrobatics. Heck taking the BB damage and just rushing the Rogue is even better a better option than not being able to hit at all! It is a good build, I am not saying it isn't a good build and it does do quite a bit more damage. But it will not hold up to a pure bladesinger in melee.

I played a level 11 blade singer, Afalia, who was hit by an attack roll in combat about 8 times TOTAL between level 2 and level 11. That is well over 100 battles and she is in melee range in just about every one of them. Four of those hits came in a single round at level 5 when she climbed a ladder and opened a trap door where 4 enemies were waiting for her, suprised her and attacked her with advantage (DM ruled it was advantage because they were waiting for her to open the trap door and stick her head through). They took her to zero hp in one round! She fell off the ladder and took another 2d6 falling damage. That is the only time in 11 levels where she was knocked to zero in combat by a weapon attack and she gets attacked in combat more than anyone else in the 4-person party. My DM actually considered banning future bladesingers because of how difficult it is to hit her.

She has had bracers of defense since level 6, so she is slightly better off than a straight up bladesinger in terms of AC. She also now has alert so she is never surprised (but lost a point of AC increase doing that). Afalia is still alive, we just have not played that party in over a year.
 
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