Eberron: Rising from the Last War introduced the Artificer. More importantly, they introduced the Artificer that likes to hit things. The Battle Smith is the artificer most interested in war. The Artillerist might be here to aid in sieges or large-scale combats, but the Battle Smith is here to fight. They can be bodyguards, healers, and magical warriors, using magic weapons to better channel their own magic. With their robotic companion by their side, they’re a must-have for most of Eberron’s armies. But, how good are these bodyguards when it’s time to defend a Wizard or Cleric in an ancient ruin? Read our Battle Smith 5E Guide if you want to find out!
Tooled for Warfare: Battle Smith 5E
The Battle Smith can be useful in the front or backline roles; they just need a weapon in hand. Thanks to the Infusion mechanic, the Artificer can even be a thrown weapon build, and might be the easiest way to gain access to them. In any case, most of the Battle Smith’s Defender properties are hidden behind spells and some class abilities, so be sure to position yourself (and your new pet!) wherever it’d be easiest. This artificer subclass is a lot of fun.
To start, every artificer gains proficiency with some toolkit. The Battle Smith has the best proficiency there!
When you adopt this specialization at 3rd level, you gain proficiency with smith’s supplies. If you already have this proficiency, you gain proficiency with one other type of artisan’s tools of your choice.
Smith’s supplies are actually pretty important to have in any party, so having access to one for free is nice. Smith’s supplies are primarily useful for fixing party member’s weapons and armor, or making new ones. That’s actually pretty essential, and because you’re an artificer, you can make any weapon or armor useful. Smith’s supplies, similar to most other supplies, can also help you identify stuff, like a unique weapon or material that an armor is made of.
Like most kits, the smith’s supplies gets more or less power based entirely on your DM. Thankfully, you’ll need a really cruel DM for this kit not to apply in the situations it was designed to work in.
Battle Smith Spells
The Battle Smith gains two artificer spells per spell level that they have prepared 100% of the time.
|Battle Smith Spells|
|Artificer Level||Spells Prepared|
|5th||Branding Smite, Warding Bond|
|9th||Aura of Vitality, Conjure Barrage|
|13th||Aura of Purity, Fire Shield|
|17th||Banishing Smite, Mass Cure Wounds|
Let’s run down the list. Heroism gives good survivability and okay utility, but Shield is easily one of the best level 1 spells. Throw up a Shield and you essentially become invulnerable for a full turn; a 25% chance for any given attack roll to miss is great! These two are gonna be really useful for you, depending on the situation.
Branding smite is a bit of a weird one, simply because it’s anti-invisibility that requires an attack roll. At least it’s not expended until you hit? The Artificer doesn’t have too many good anti-invisibility effects, though, so having anything is better than the alternative. Warding Bond is a pretty great buff, but only if you plan on frontline-tanking and you want to take all the damage so your healer can focus on healing you. This… isn’t a fantastic plan of attack, unless you have ridiculously high Constitution.
Aura of Vitality requires you to use a bonus action each turn to heal people. Not an awful replacement for Healing Word, but… actually, a pretty awful replacement for Healing Word. You can weave this in if you want, but remember your robot buddy doesn’t do much without bonus actions. Conjure Barrage is area of effect for a class that doesn’t get much of that. It’s not extremely good damage, however, and your Wizard’s Fireball will likely clear rooms much faster, and be less painful to your party.
Purity is a solid spell when it matters. You can use it to protect your whole party from a particularly dangerous disease-focused enemy. And they have advantage against some really dangerous conditions, but unfortunately not immunity. Still, throw this up in a Mummy encounter and watch it instantly crumble to dust. Fire Shield is great utility, since it resists two very common damage types. You can use it as damage reflection in horde encounters, but the damage isn’t exceptional at this point. Use Fire Shield mostly for the resistance.
Banishing Smite takes someone out of a fight for as long as you like, allowing you to fight with slightly better odds. Great if there’s a healer in an encounter you want to deal with last. Mass Cure Wounds is super awkwardly placed here; healing your party (as an action) for 1d8+Intelligence isn’t that good. Your healers have had Heal and Mass Heal for a little while now. Just have them heal instead.
Probably the worst spell list among the Artificer subclasses, which is still a pretty high bar. This isn’t bad, but it’s a ton of Concentration effects and requires essentially perfect timing.
The Battle Smith gains two additional abilities to help add to your somewhat mediocre spell list.
When you reach 3rd level, your combat training and your experiments with magic have paid off in two ways:
- You gain proficiency with martial weapons.
- When you attack with a magic weapon, you can use your Intelligence modifier, instead of Strength or Dexterity modifier, for the attack and damage rolls.
Martial Weapons are like simple weapons, but tend to deal one more dice size of damage or have more special attributes. This means you’ll deal more damage than weapon-based artificers in either other class. And, you can get some special attributes (like better thrown weapons) without sacrificing a feat slot. Finally, the Intelligence-based Greatsword build that you’ve been looking for!
And just in case Martial Weapons weren’t quite good enough for you, you also get to use Intelligence to swing. That’s gigantic! The “magic weapon” qualifier might seem a bit important, but you can infuse up to two pieces of equipment with magic. You’ll just have to take one of the infusions for yourself!
Even with this, you’ll likely want either Heavy Armor proficiency or 14 Dexterity, just to get your AC into a comfortable spot. You don’t really need Dexterity just to boost your Dexterity save… And thanks to this ability, you literally only need Intelligence for offense.
If that wasn’t enough, you’ve gotten an Animal Companion. Except you can easily throw it away. You get a friend at level 3, and you can choose whether it’s bipedal or quadrupedal.
In combat, the Steel Defender shares your initiative count, but takes its turn immediately after yours. It can move and use its reaction on it’s own, but the only action it takes on its turn is the Dodge action, unless you take a bonus action on your turn to command it to take the action in its stat block or the Dash, Disengage, Help, Hide or Search action.
If the Mending spell is cast on it, it regains 2d6 hit points. If it has died within the last hour, you can use your smith’s tools as an action to revive it, provided you are within 5 feet of it and you expend a spell slot of 1st level or higher. The steel defender returns to life after 1 minute with all its hit points restored.
Not included; you can make a new Steel Defender after any short rest. Also not included are the beings full statblock, for… understandable reasons, I hope!
Your creature is a bit tankier than most PCs; it gets your Intelligence, it’s Constitution (+2) and 5 x your level for health. It’s AC is okay at 15, and it’s pretty fast at 40 feet. It scales with your proficiency (not by much, but enough), it can make melee attacks, heal itself, and attempt to use a reaction to impose disadvantage.
Otherwise, you’re looking at a basic construct that deals alright Force damage.
This little fella is a pretty useful pet. It scales worse than your standard animal, since it never really upgrades (at level 15, it gets a few buffs, but that’s it). You’re wanting this thing to move into melee, prod their enemies, and attempt to block hits. That’s all it was made to do, and it does an alright job.
It has low stats, so it’s to-hit will never be really accurate; +4 to +8 isn’t bad, but it’s not really what you want. So spending a Bonus Action to attack with it will sometimes not be worth it. At least it has multiple charges of a healing ability!
Thanks to its ability to be repaired out-of-combat and the lack of resources that it takes to make a new one, throw this guy into melee without much care. You can even use it to trap-check; it’s immune to poison and exhaustion, so some dangerous traps can be completely ignored. Be careful when you do that, though; no reason to break the robot if you know you can disable it.
Really fun being, but you can’t really strategize with it; just walk it up to an important enemy and be marginally annoying.
You’ve got so much! Thank goodness you slow down now.
Starting at 5th level, you can attack twice, rather than once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn.
Extra Attack is a fantastic ability, and this is the only subclass that gets it. Extra attack usually lets Attack actions beat cantrips in damage, especially since your weapons use Intelligence. This doubles the damage of a basic turn for you.
There’s not too much to say here. You can use a melee weapon and a ranged weapon if you like, but Cantrips can probably handle ranged combat if you plan on going melee. While a bow would theoretically hit harder, you shouldn’t use too many Infusions on being a switch-hitter. Let your party benefit from your awesome class ability, dangit!
To add to your ability to throw weapon attacks, you gain an ability you can expend a number of times per day equal to your Intelligence modifier.
At 9th level, you learn new ways to channel arcane energy to harm or heal. When either you hit a target with a magic weapon attack or your steel defender hits a target, you can channel magical energy through the strike to create one of the following effects:
- The target takes an extra 2d6 force damage.
- Choose one creature or object you can see within 30 feet of the target. Healing energy flows into the chosen recipient, restoring 2d6 hit points to it.
This is… somewhat whatever. Dealing 2d6 (7) extra force damage is somewhat insignificant, unless you’re really wanting to knock something out. Certainly not worth using an ability slot for!
That’s because the other aspect of the ability is so nice. You get the effect of Healing Word. Once again, 9 health isn’t much. But, if you can use this to cause someone to recover from unconsciousness, that’s perfect! That means you didn’t even use a Bonus Action to save someone from death throws. Then they can jump right into combat, and if they go back down, you can heal them again!
Be tactical with this ability, and probably save it for healing unless you’re super sure that your 2d6 can get the KO. This has really good action economy if you use it to heal.
Finally, after 12 levels, your Defender actually gets some boosts to stats.
At 15th level, your Arcane Jolt and steel defender become more powerful:
- The extra damage and the healing of your Arcane Jolt both increase to 4d6.
- Your steel defender gains a +2 bonus to Armor Class.
- Whenever your steel defender uses its Deflect Attack, the attacker takes force damage equal to 1d4 + your Intelligence modifier.
And none of them were increased stats. Gosh darn it!
Well, let’s look at the bright side. Healing 14 average health is much better, and dealing 14 average damage is actually quite painful. You can now really consider using Arcane Jolt to harm now.
Your awful 15 AC is now 17. That’s an additional 10% chance to avoid damage, which is great. Your robot is designed to be a tank, so making it less likely to just get decked in the face is probably gonna be helpful.
Your Deflect Attack is arguably the most important part of the Defender, since imposing disadvantage is critical to staying alive in the late game. It only gets one reaction, so it’s about time to make that only reaction much better. Adding about 7 damage is pretty whatever, but that’s gonna happen almost every round. That’s a lot of built up damage, and paints a target on your defender’s back. Which is exactly what you wanted!
Best Race for Battle Smith Artificers
The Battle Smith wants Intelligence, and then Constitution. Dexterity is… alright, but you only want a maximum of 14, and you want to consider Heavy Armor proficiency. Even a ranged Battle Smith should prioritize in that direction.
Jumping over a few dimensions, the Simic Hybrid of Ravnica is a pretty great option! +2 Constitution, +1 Float works great (arguably perfectly). Darkvision is good for dungeoneering, and you get a scaling Animal Benefit. We’d suggest either being a Climber or Manta Glide, and then Carapace if you don’t end up getting Heavy Armor. This is a great melee race, as adaptable as the Artificer themselves.
Back to reality, the basic Human might be the best option for your normal Battlesmith. +1 to Constitution, +1 to Intelligence sounds about right. Then, you get a feat. Will you take Heavy Armor, so you can ignore Dexterity entirely? Will you take Great Weapon Master or Sharpshooter for damage? Or perhaps you’ll need something else that helps your party. No matter what, there’s something in human for you!
If you’re wanting something more monstrous, Volo’s got you covered! Hobgoblins gain a +2 to Constitution, +1 to Int. They start proficient in martial weapons, meaning you don’t have to look for martial weapons randomly at level 3. Saving Face is stupidly good, and hilariously gets stronger because of your Steel Defender. Don’t wanna look stupid in front of your robo-buddy, do you?
Conclusion – Our Take on the Battle Smith 5E
The Battle Smith is a fantastic artificer, weakened by a mediocre spell list. They fit into any party, usually as a frontliner, and their Defender makes things much, much easier to survive in the late game. If you’re wanting to try a new kind of tanky frontliner, the Battle Smith has you covered.