d&d 5e character sheet

Artificer spells are known for damage, utility, and a few buff/debuff capabilities. But what are the best options on the Artificer spell list? Read on to find out!

Best Artificer Cantrips

  1. Fire Bolt. 1d10 (5.5 average) fire damage on a 120-foot ranged spell attack. It can also ignite flammable objects that aren’t being worn or carried. This is the bread-and-butter cantrip option for pure damage of many Artificer players.

  2. Magic Stone. 1d6 + Intelligence modifier (assume 6.5 average damage at 1st level) magical bludgeoning damage on three pebbles you touch for up to 1 minute. This works out to more damage than Fire Bolt up until 5th level without Extra Attack and up to 11th level with it, making it the premier damage cantrip option for Battle Smiths and Armorers. Although it can be more futzy to use (free hands, slings, lower range, and demand for your bonus action), making Fire Bolt the simpler choice overall (plus it can burn stuff).

  3. Mage Hand. A wonderfully useful spell for holding your torch, activating traps, opening/closing doors from a distance, pulling levers from afar, grabbing keys, and aiding in climbing (to name a few of my favorite uses), Mage Hand is a godsend for when you can totally see the thing you need to interact with, but can’t reach it or fear interacting with it yourself. Wins my vote for the best utility cantrip available to Artificers, as far as being applicable in the most scenarios.

  4. Thorn Whip. A 30-foot ranged MELEE spell attack that deals 1d6 piercing damage and pulls the target 10 feet closer to you. While the damage value is lower than most cantrips, forced movement is incredibly powerful in DnD 5e. When used in conjunction with terrain and/or persistent spell effects like Web or Create Bonfire, Web, or Spike Growth, or just plain old gravity and fall damage, Thorn Whip’s damage potential goes way up.

  5. Guidance. Consistently getting to provide a 1d4 bonus to your allies’ ability checks is seriously useful. A little too useful, really, as Guidance’s biggest downside is how often you have to interrupt play to use it.

    That being said, it does come with downsides, like requiring concentration and being limited in range to only allies you can touch. But in DnD 5e’s system of bounded accuracy, this +2.5 average bonus on most ability checks will always be useful.

Here are the other Artificer cantrips and my X/5 rating for each:

Best 1st-level Artificer Spells

  1. Faerie Fire. An AoE glitter bomb that lights up creatures who fail a Dexterity save in a 20-foot cube, giving you and your allies attack advantage against them. Lasts for a full minute with no further saving throws if you can maintain concentration, which translates into a huge, consistent damage boost for your whole party.

    It also reveals/takes away the benefit of invisibility from invisible creatures in the area. Overall a great groupwide combat buff that stays useful no matter what level you are.

  2. Catapult. Launch an object 90 feet in a straight line, forcing a creature to make a Dexterity saving throw if it would hit it, taking 3d8 (13.5 average) bludgeoning damage on a failure. If the creature succeeds, the object keeps flying, possibly hitting another creature directly in line with them.

    This is pretty high single-target damage on a 1st-level spell, right up there with Chromatic Orb and only 0.5 average damage behind Guiding Bolt. And if you’re able to line up to enemies, you essentially have “advantage” on the attack, since you’ll get more than one chance for it to hit something.

  3. Absorb Elements. A reaction ability that grants resistance to the elemental damage that triggered it, this is a must-have spell for staying alive during dragon fights and bouts with powerful spell-slinging enemies. The bonus on-hit damage for your next attack is fine, but it’s nothing compared to cutting incoming damage in half. Plus, you still have your action after using Absorb Elements, making it an efficient spell for an Artificer.

  4. Tasha’s Caustic Brew.

  5. Sanctuary. Ward a friendly creature, causing any attack targeted at them to require a Wisdom saving throw before being made. If the attacker fails, they have to redirect their attack or lose it. Sanctuary ends if a creature attacks or casts a spell that affects an enemy.

    Many players avoid this defensive buff spell, as it ends the moment your target takes an offensive action. But a bonus action casting time and no concentration requirement mean that this is worth casting even if it only protects an ally for a single round of combat.

Here are the other 1st-level Artificer spells and my X/5 rating for each:

Best 2nd-level Artificer Spells

Artificers get access to 2nd-level spells at 5th level.

  1. Web. The premier 2nd-level control spell in DnD 5e, Web fills a 20-foot cube with webs that create difficult terrain and force a Dexterity saving throw for anyone who enters or starts its turn there. If a creature fails this save, they become restrained until they take an action to make a Strength check against your spell save DC.

    A restrained creature is attacked with advantage and makes attacks and Dexterity saving throws with disadvantage, as well as having 0 movement speed. This is a serious offensive and defensive boon for your party. If you hit a bunch of melee foes, you’re denying their attacks while you deal with the rest of their force. If you hit ranged foes, they still have disadvantage on their attacks unless they waste their whole turn attempting to get free.

    But what’s truly special about Web is that it lasts for up to an hour (concentration permitting), and during this time, you can use forced movement effects to keep pushing/pulling enemies back into the web. Stuff like Repelling Eldritch Blast, Thorn Whip, Thunderwave, and the Telekinetic feat come to mind as reliable and strong options for achieving this effect.

  2. Invisibility. Great for stealth/scouting missions, and can be a decent pre-combat spell as well. An hour-long duration is usually enough to explore a good chunk of an environment unnoticed, especially if its used on an already-stealthy character. And you can benefit from invisibility for your first attack, granting you advantage (and the ability to position yourself as you please without suffering opportunity attacks).

  3. Blur.

  4. Aid. +5 current and maximum hit points for up to 3 allies for 8 hours, scaling by another +5 of each when upcast. This buff stacks with temporary hit points and can also act as an in-combat heal, if it’s not already active on the target. At lower levels, this +5 bonus can work out to a 15-20% increase in a player’s HP for a full adventuring day, with no concentration requirement.

    It becomes more efficient when you take a short rest and use hit dice to get back to full (buffed) hit points. And it’s even more efficient if you can cast it at the end of a long rest, right before you get your spell slots back. You need a 2nd+ level spell slot left at the end of the day and your DM’s blessing to rest cast, but rules as written, this tactic is allowed.

  5. Spider Climb. A 1-hour concentration spell, Spider Climb lets you (or an ally) move across vertical surfaces and on ceilings at your normal walking speed, while keeping your hands free. If you’re making ranged attacks and you’re in a place with walls/ceilings to climb, this is basically as good as Fly, a 3rd-level spell with only a 10-minute duration. This is much less useful on melee characters for combat purposes, but can still provide utility for getting one person over/across obstacles.

Here are the other 2nd-level Artificer spells and my X/5 rating for each:

  • Enhance Ability – 4

  • Lesser Restoration – 4

  • Levitate – 4

  • Protection from Poison – 4

  • Alter Self – 3

  • Arcane Lock – 3

  • Enlarge/Reduce – 3

  • Heat Metal – 3

  • Continual Flame – 2

  • Darkvision – 2

  • Rope Trick – 2

  • Magic Mouth – 1

  • Magic Weapon – 1

  • Pyrotechnics – 1

  • See Invisibility – 1

  • Skywrite – 1

Best 3rd-level Artificer Spells

Artificers get access to 3rd-level spells at 9th level.

  1. Haste. You get +2 AC, double movement speed, advantage on Dex saves, and +1 additional action each turn. That means more attacks, more critical hits, and more survivability, either for you or someone else in your party (your Rogue or Paladin friend can make especially good use of Haste). Just look out for getting your concentration popped early; otherwise, the target loses a full turn in combat.

  2. Intellect Fortress. Gives you resistance to psychic damage and advantage on Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma saving throws for 1 hour, concentration permitting. This is a huge defensive buff for Artificers, who normally only have proficiency in Intelligence and Constitution saving throws.

    Many nasty enemy spells require mental saving throws (especially Wisdom), and having advantage on these makes your Artificer a much more reliable tank in these fights.

  3. Dispel Magic. Dispelling a magical effect will always be useful, as enemy spells are usually the biggest threat in any given fight. Beyond that, this spell can be used for solving puzzles, ending enemy buffs, and ultimately altering the momentum of an encounter.

    Every party needs at least one caster with this spell, and having two with it isn’t a waste, either. Dispelling powerful magic effects from enemy spellcasters or removing a magical ward are essential tools that are required in every DnD campaign. Plus, you can change your prepared spells every day, while many other spellcasters can’t, making this oft-useful utility spell less of a burden/commitment to pick up.

  4. Revivify. Bring back a creature that died within the last minute for the cost of 300 gp worth of diamonds. You should always have this prepared in dangerous settings, just in case. Even if another party member has resurrection spells at this point (which they likely do), they might be the one to die.

  5. Tiny Servant. A great little ally, especially if you arm him with magic stones to basically get a free extra cantrip-level attack each round.

Here are the other 3rd-level Artificer spells and my X/5 rating for each:

  • Fly – 4 (still great for allies, but you can make yourself permanent Winged Boots 1 level after you get access to Fly)

  • Blink – 3

  • Catnap – 2

  • Glyph of Warding – 2

  • Protection from Energy – 2

  • Water Breathing – 2

  • Create Food and Water – 1

  • Elemental Weapon – 1 (use Enhance Weapon infusion instead)

  • Flame Arrows – 1

  • Water Walk – 1

Best 4th-level Artificer Spells

Artificers get access to 4th-level spells at 13th level.

  1. Arcane Eye. Create an invisible eye that you can send along as a scout and receive visual information from (with darkvision). My pick for the premier scouting ability in the game; unless a creature has Truesight, you’ll never be surprised by what lies ahead again.

  2. Otiluke’s Resilient Sphere. Enclose a Large or smaller creature in a shimmering sphere (on a failed Dexterity saving throw, if the target is unwilling). Nothing, including spells and attacks, can pass through the sphere.

    This can either be used to fully protect an ally for 1 minute (albeit at the cost of them not being able to contribute to the fight at all, but still good for non-combatant NPCs you’re supposed to protect) or completely lock out an enemy until you’re done dealing with their minions.

  3. Stoneskin. Gives a creature you touch resistance to nonmagical bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage for up to 1 hour (concentration permitting), at the cost of a 100 gp diamond, which the spell consumes. Reducing most incoming damage by 50% for up to an hour is incredibly strong, if not for yourself, then for an ally, especially your group’s tank. After all, preventing damage is always more efficient than restoring it with healing effects.

  4. Freedom of Movement. A 1-hour, no-concentration spell that makes an ally immune to the paralyzed and restrained conditions, as well as slow effects, the effects of difficult terrain, and no movement or attack penalties while swimming. This is very, very good on allies who require movement to fight effectively (e.g., Rogues, Monks) in fights where they’ll be hindered somehow.

  5. Stoneshape. Making passageways through stone walls is the main power you gain with this spell, and it’s useful as heck for dungeon dives. It can also come in handy for shutting passageways or making stone trinkets, but breaking and entering is the real star here.

Here are the other 4th-level Artificer spells and my X/5 rating for each:

  • Elemental Bane – 3

  • Fabricate – 2

  • Mordenkainen’s Faithful Hound – 2

  • Summon Construct – 2

  • Leomund’s Secret Chest – 1

  • Mordenkainen’s Private Sanctum – 1

Best 5th-level Artificer Spells

Artificers get access to 5th-level spells at 17th level.

  1. Wall of Stone. Creating instant cover in combat, segmenting off enemies to pick them off one by one, and creating bridges over gaps are just a few of the fantastic uses of this multifaceted spell. And you can even build and add to permanent defensive structures with it if you concentrate for the full duration.

  2. Bigby’s Hand. Create a Large hand with 20 AC, your hit point maximum, and 26 Strength. You can use a bonus action to make an attack dealing 4d8 (18 average) force damage, attempt to shove a target 15-25 feet, grapple and crush a target, or block a creature of lower strength than the hand from approaching you.

    Fun, versatile, and rewards creative thinking. The perfect high-level Artificer spell in my book.

  3. Animate Objects. Bring up to ten nonmagical objects to life, all with their own HP, AC, and attack rolls. This offers stupid damage over its minute-long duration, and it’s not as much of a pain to use as the Druid’s Conjure Animals spell, since you can command all your object minions at once. It’s incredibly hard for enemies to deal with this threat if they don’t have AoE attack options.

    Although to be honest, Animate Objects is much less impressive for a 17th-level party than for full spellcasters who get it at 9th level.

  4. Creation. Create nonliving matter, like food, stone, precious metals, gems, or adamantine/mithral. The duration depends on the material (1 minute for mithral/adamantine, 1 day for vegetable matter, and in between for everything else. Good for bribing information from someone you don’t mind cheating, or just always having the perfect tool on hand for the occasion.

  5. Greater Restoration. For less serious situations than death. This spell is absolutely necessary for one party member to have ready at all times, especially once you reach the tier of play where it becomes available.

Here are the other 5th-level Artificer spells and my X/5 rating for each:

  • Skill Empowerment – 3

  • Transmute Rock – 2

Artificer Spells FAQ

  1. How many spells do artificers start with? An artificer starts with 2 cantrips known and all 1st-level spells on the artificer class spell list. However, they only have two 1st-level spell slots, and can only prepare a number of spells equal to their Intelligence modifier + half their artificer level, rounded down. So a 1st-level Artificer can prepare a number of spells equal to their Intelligence modifier (since 0.5 rounded down equals 0).

    However, if an artificer’s Intelligence modifier is 0 or negative for some reason, they can still prepare ‘a minimum of one spell.’ That isn’t likely, though; a typical 1st-level artificer will have a +3 intelligence modifier and therefore be able to prepare 3 spells.

  2. How many spells can an artificer have? An artificer can have between 1 and 15 leveled spells prepared and between 2 and 4 cantrips known, depending on their level.

  3. When do artificers get spells back? Artificers get all of their spell slots back at the end of a long rest.

  4. How do artificers prepare spells? Artificers can change their list of prepared spells they finish a long rest, choosing from any level artificer spells that they have access to.

  5. How many spell slots do artificers get? Artificers get between 2 and 15 spell slots, ranging from 1st- to 5th-level, depending on their artificer level.