Wizards of the Coast waited until the very last day of the month to release the new version of the Artificer Class in the usual Unearthed Arcana section of its website. Once we were done with the hype, we created two of them, one for each subclass in order to provide some insight and a summary of the abilities of this new iteration for the beloved Eberron class. Let’s do this!
The first thing you notice, of course, is the changes. Hit Dice, hit points and proficiencies are the same with small differences: Shields and crossbows are added to armor and weapon proficiencies, Tinker’s tools fills one of the tools you were allowed to pick from the previous version (you still have one more to choose) and the skills are reduced to two from three, eliminating Deception and Religion from the list and adding Perception to it. Honestly, I must confess I didn’t even notice Deception in the list before and of course I never played with it. Perception makes a better fit for a magical engineer that must work with precision. So far, all the changes are welcome as favorable and very fitting. Added as a bonus, the artificer also gains firearm proficiency if you DM is using them, definitely a welcome suggestion on how to treat them in the world, as it has the additional requirement of having been exposed to them.
From the class features provided in the previous version, only Tool Expertise and Soul of Artifice survive identical, except for the change in level from 2nd to 3rd for Tool Expertise (given that now you choose your achetype in level 3, I think this feature should have stayed in level 2). Let’s take a look at the evolution of the class:
- Magical Tinkering, at 1st level, provides with a very flavorful version of Prestidigitation and/or Thamaturgy.
- Spellcasting has been considerably improved: cantrips are granted and a highest-level-cap has been increased to 5th. This also comes with having tools at hand as a requirement, just as verbal and somatic components are. Artificers prepare less spells, as they consider only half their level for this calculation. A nice sidebar reminds as how artificers «cast» their spells.
- Starting at 2nd level, Infuse Item allows artificers to create prototypes of magic items. The characteristics of such items depend on the infusions they know, which are limited in quantity, variety and kind of object.
- You choose your sub-class in 3rd level and not at 1st as it was done previously. Even if both are reminiscent to their first versions, they have been changed both mechanically and in flavor.
- Arcane Armament, starting from 5th level, gives you an extra attack.
- At 10th level, The Right Cantrip for the Job makes sure to live to its name. This feature adds an incredible versatility to the artificer as they are able to change their cantrips in a short rest.
- Spell-Storing Item in level 18 gives you an item you can share with a member of your party with no-small number of charges (twice your Intelligence modifier, very likely to be 5 at that level, giving you 10 charges fo such an item).
And here we are, ready to spread some butter unto the bread. Let’s take a look at those sub-classes!
Whenever I read «alchemist» I can’t help it, but I always imagine a potion brewer. As the playtest puts it, though, «an Alchemist is an expert at combining exotic reagents to produce mystical effects. Among artificers, members of this subclass are the greatest healers, as well as the ones most adept at wielding dangerous chemicals.»
The Alchemist’s features include:
- Tools of the Trade: additional kit proficiencies and cost benefits when brewing potions.
- Alchemist Spells: bonus prepared spells.
- Alchemical Homunculus: a super useful and easy-to-repair companion with amazing support action in combat.
- Alchemical Mastery: bonus to dice-depending healing and damage effects and some free uses of lesser restoration.
- Chemical Savant: resistance to acid and poison damage, as well as immunity to the poisoned condition and a free use of greater restoration every long rest.
All these give the Alchemist a support role in the party. Not only he is already an effective healer depending on his spell selection, but he improves using temporary hit points, special movement or even inspiration in combat.
Just as with the alchemist, the word here misleads me. When thinking of an artillerist, the first thing that comes to my mind are the little 1-army figurines that come with the Risk board game. Nonetheless, in this case an artillerist «specializes in using magic to create explosions and defensive positions, as well as magic-infused sidearms—especially wands— that can be used on the battlefield.»
The Artillerist’s features include:
- Tools of the Trade: additional kit proficiencies and cost benefits when crafting wands.
- Artillerist Spells: bonus prepared spells.
- Arcane Turret: this feature probably deserves an article of their own, but basically it’s a summonable object with your choice of an area attack, target attack or support in the form of temporary hit points.
- Wand Prototype: gain a magic wand, temporarily. The cantrip held in this wand can be any of the artificer cantrips, even if you don’t know it.
- Fortified Position: additional defensive effects from your (now two!) turrets.
All these features make the artillerist a combat-oriented controller with support options. Of course, this depends on their spell selection, but with the weapon-enhancing ones including the brand new arcane weapon, you can leave the blasting for the other casters.
In summary, the Artificer Revisited is a flavorful magical engineer that fits correctly not only in Eberron but many other fantasy settings. I can only start to salivate thinking on the additional features hinted on this new class by the D&D team. In the meantime, I hope I made you want to play an artificer soon. You can have more reviews and opinions about the class by Keith Baker here, another by the Tribality team here, and one more by the Ready to Role team here. Feel free to leave a link to your own review in the comments!