With the release of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, the Artificer class joins D&D 5e as its first official new class since the release of the Player’s Handbook. Let’s take a look at the best feat options for this versatile and exciting new class!
5E Best Feats for Artificers
There are always some custom builds that are going to push certain feats up or others down, but in general if you’re an Artificer and you want to power up with the best available feats (ignoring always good options like Lucky or Alert)
- Fey Touched
- Magic Initiate
- War Caster
- Skill Expert
- Shield Master
- Sharpshooter + Crossbow Expert/Gunner
- Eldritch Adept
1: Fey Touched
Fey Touched is one of the strongest feats in the game, and since Artificers are half casters (meaning that they only have half the number of spell slots as a Wizard or Cleric would) they love getting what is essentially an extra spell slot. What really makes Fey Touched powerful is that it gives you access to two powerful spells that aren’t usually on the Artificer spell list: Misty Step and Silvery Barbs.
Silvery Barbs will come up again as it is one of the best spells in the game and absolutely worth picking up a feat for, but because it only appears in the Strixhaven sourcebook, here’s a quick rundown:
You can cast Silvery Barbs as a reaction when an enemy you can see succeeds in an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw. That creature then must reroll that check, taking the lower number. You then get to choose a friendly player (this can be yourself) to give advantage on their next attack.
This spell can quickly turn combat around in all sorts of situations, and unlike Shield, it can be cast to protect your allies as well as yourself. Combined with the utility that comes with being able to teleport with Misty Step, and the fact that the feat also increases one of your mental stats, and Fey Touched is a top-tier feat for any spellcaster, and a truly optimal choice for Artificers as well.
2: Magic Initiate
It’s debatable whether Magic Initiate is better or worse than Fey Touched. On the one hand, Fey Touched can give you access to Misty Step at level 1 if you’re using Custom Lineage or Variant Human. On the other hand, it doesn’t give you access to any cantrips, and Artificers certainly don’t have very many of those at the beginning of the game.
That being said, the real advantage that Magic Initiate might have over Fey Touched is that it can give you Shield if you aren’t going to get it through your subclass. Gunners and Alchemists both suffer from not being able to cast one of the best spells in the game, and Magic Initiate is a way to get it without having to multiclass.
For the Artificer subclasses that do get Shield, some standout choices for Magic Initiate include Sleep, Silvery Barbs, Shield of Faith, and Bless. As for cantrips, Eldritch Blast may seem like a shoo-in, but without the bonuses granted by Warlock invocations, it isn’t really better than the damaging cantrips that Artificers already get, and choosing it means you have to choose from Warlock’s infamously bad first level spell list.
Instead, consider taking utility cantrips like Thaumaturgy, Prestidigitation, or Mending. Mending in particular can be used to heal constructs like Homunculi or the Battle Smith’s Steel Defender in combat, which make them potentially incredibly useful to many Artificers.
The primary disadvantage of Magic Initiate compared to Fey Touched is that it is a full feat, meaning that it doesn’t boost any of your ability scores. If you still need one of your abilities to be a bit higher after character creation, Fey Touched will usually be better.
3: War Caster
War Caster is a needed feat if you plan on playing a melee caster since it allows you to cast spells even when both of your hands are full. This is especially important for Artificers, who start with a shield proficiency and have at least one melee-focused subclass.
However, even non-melee artificers can benefit from the War Caster feat, as it also gives advantage on constitution saves made to maintain concentration. Artificer has several powerful concentration spells, and keeping concentration on Web, Heat Metal, or Invisibility can be the difference between life and death when facing down powerful enemies.
This advantage, plus the Artificer’s 7th level ability, Flash of Genius, makes any concentration spell the Artificer casts practically unbreakable, short of a higher level Dispel Magic. If that isn’t worth a feat, nothing is.
Finally, War Caster allows you to use spells instead of weapon attacks against retreating enemies during opportunity attacks. While this is by far the least useful of the abilities given by this feat for Artificers, there are certain situations where this can be useful.
All around, War Caster is one of the more impactful feats in 5e.
4: Skill Expert/Prodigy
These feats can both be used to give a character the same bonus that Rogues and Bards get from expertise. Artificers actually already get something like this for tools they are proficient with at the 6th level, but they really want to be able to do this with their Arcana skill.
This is because Arcana is the skill that Artificers can use during their downtime to actually create magic items. Artificers rely on the arcana skill enough that being able to double your proficiency when using it is extremely useful. The only weakness of this feat is that it doesn’t have much of an effect on combat.
This feat also allows you to increase any of your ability scores by one, which mitigates the risk of choosing a feat instead of increasing an ability score.
Prodigy is identical to Skill Expert, but can only be learned by Humans, Half-Elves, and Half-Orcs. It also doesn’t grant an ability score increase, which makes it a little worse than Skill Expert.
In exchange, it can be used to learn a new language if you already have the Arcana skill when you take it. Prodigy is probably only worth it if you already have Skill Expert, since you can only take most feats once.
5: Shield Master
The Shield Master feat is best for Armorer Artificers looking to fill the role of tank. It allows you to use your bonus action to shove enemies within five feet of you on turns when you make a melee attack, but its coolest benefit is the way it interacts with dexterity saving throws.
It allows you to add your shield’s AC bonus to Dexterity saves that target only you, which for artificers will usually mean a free +3 on spells like Disintegrate and some monster abilities. However, most Dex saves are against multi-target abilities, which does make this bonus a little bit worse.
However, its final ability allows the Artificer to have an ability like the Rogue’s Evasion. By spending your reaction, you can turn half damage from a spell (such as Fireball, Lightning Bolt, or Cone of Cold) into no damage at all. This is significant, as it even works against a dragon’s firebreath.
Shield Master may not be the flashiest ability, but in conjunction with the Armorer’s high AC and Flash of Genius ability, it can make them even more difficult to damage by regular means.
6: Eldritch Adept
Eldritch Adept is a really cool feat that can make the Artificer even more versatile than it already is. Taking two invocations from the Warlock’s list of Eldritch Invocations is a powerful ability. Some highlights include Devil’s Sight, which gives you the best darkvision in the game, Misty Visions, which gives you an at-will Silent Image, Mask of Many Faces for At-Will Disguise Self, Gift of the Depths for underwater campaigns, and Shroud of Shadow for free invisibility at high levels.
If you’re considering Magic Initiate for any of these spells, consider taking this ability instead to be able to cast them for free. Just be careful with the wordings of some, like Tomb of Levistus, which require you to have Warlock levels to function and can be taken using Eldritch Adept as long as their other prerequisites are filled.
Fortunately, Eldritch Adept allows you to switch out your old invocations on level up if you want to. This means that as you gain levels, you can get some of the more powerful invocations without even having to take levels in the Warlock class. This can be better than multiclassing for some builds.
7: Sharpshooter + Gunner/Crossbow Expert
Artificer has the strange honor of being the only class in the game that starts with a proficiency in firearms by default. While this is setting specific, it means that barring DM intervention, it and the Monk are the only two classes that can take advantage of Sharpshooter while using a musket, which allows the enterprising artificer to deal 1d12 + 10 + Dex damage per shot.
Combine this with the Gunner feat to take away the musket’s reloading properties and take the Battle Smith or armorer subclass to get extra attack at level 5. Alternatively, ditch Artificer after the first level for Fighter and turn your musket into a submachine gun using action surge and two or three attacks per turn.
Is this the best possible use of your time? It is technically optimal damage, as the -5 to your attack roll that Sharpshooter imposes is, mathematically, often worth the +10 damage it grants. However, to take full advantage of this set of feats, you need two of them, which is a much heavier burden than taking just one.
This is still optimal damage using Crossbow Expert instead of Gunner for worlds where there are no firearms. The bonus action attack given by Crossbow Expert is good enough to start making up for the smaller damage die.
Just know that it’s impossible to actually get this build online without using at least one ability score increase (ASI) for a feat, which means that your character won’t be at full power until level 4 or 5 depending on whether or not you multiclass, and your stats will be suboptimal for most of that time.
That being said, Gunner is a half-feat, which means that when you take it you get to add one to your Dex score. This slightly makes up for the use of an ASI. Crossbow Expert, on the other hand, does nothing to increase your ability scores, making it a bit harder to recommend.
Unless you’re a Battle Smith.
Since Battle Smiths gain proficiency with martial weapons and also receive access to the Extra Attack feature, you can wield and reload a hand crossbow containing a Repeating Shot infusion with one hand*.
Getting to carry a shield or a second weapon that the Ammunition property would normally prevent opens up some very powerful front line or two-weapon fighting builds – especially when paired with Sharpshooter’s extra damage and the ability to flank with your Steel Defender for advantage.
While this build is a bit of a one-trick pony, the damage output is often very worth it. Best of all, this stress on your infusions and feats actually relieves stress on your stat block, as Battle Smith allows magic weapons to use Intelligence for your attack and damage rolls instead of Dexterity!
If you’re worried about a low Dex score impacting your AC, you can snag some easy heavy armor proficiency by taking your first level in a class like Fighter (the Archery fighting style complements this hand crossbow build really well), and you won’t even notice a mediocre Dexterity score most of the time!
Fighter also gives you martial weapon proficiency, so you can easily pick another artificer archetype than Battle Smith by going this route, opening up your character creation options for hand crossbow wielders who are entering campaigns that start you at 5th level or higher.
*Jeremy Crawford has gone on record indicating this infusion is intended to work this way, though it is worth noting it isn’t through a typical official source. Because of this, you’ll want to check with your DM before presenting this build to them, though the below video should be pretty good supporting evidence.
Artificer Best Feats: In Conclusion
Artificer can be a hard class to figure out for the first time, especially considering there are four main sub-classes or variations that allow for a very different build both in flavor and mechanics. However, these feats can be used to build a powerful class that is surprisingly effective at what they choose to emphasize or can go into a “jack of all trades” support role where they can do a lot of things for the party.
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Proud to embrace the locally created moniker of “Corrupt Overlord” from one of the all time great Lords of Waterdeep runs, Shane is one member of the Assorted Meeples crew and will be hard at work creating awesome content for the website. He is a long-time player of board games, one time semi-professional poker player, and tends to run to the quirky or RPG side of things when it comes to playing video games. He loves tabletop roleplaying systems like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Werewolf, Fate, and others, and not only has been a player but has run games as DM for years. You can find his other work in publications like Level Skip or Hobby Lark.