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DnD 5e - The Artificer Handbook

Last Updated: March 17th, 2020

Disclaimer

I will use the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.

  • Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances.
  • Green: Good options.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character.

I will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, even if it is my own, because I can't assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. I also won't cover Unearthed Arcana content because it's not finalized, and I can't guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.

Introduction

This guide is for the finalized version of the Artificer class. For a rough comparison to the Unearthed Arcana version, see this Patreon post.

The Artificer has been a popular concept since at least 3rd edition, where the Artificer first appeared as a class unique to the Eberron campaign setting. Since then, the class has reappeared in 4th edition, and was in high demand when 5th edition was released, but didn't see a final release until full 5 years after 5th edition's initial release. The concept of a character who performs magic by binding it to items and who crafted all sorts of technological or magical gadgets is a fun novelty in a game where magic rarely takes those forms.

The Artificer is a class with a tool for every job and a solution to every problem. They excel as a Support character, but make decent Defenders, Healers, and Strikers, too. With the right infusions and spells, they can fill nearly any role in the party, making the Artificer's versatility rival that of the Bard.

However, the Artificer is complicated. This is not a class I would recommend for new players or for players who suffer from analysis paralysis. The Artificer has more decision points than any class to date, including the Wizard. Every time you finish a long rest you can reset your prepared spells, shuffle where you apply all of your infusions, and pick magic items from a list of some 40+ options. While some of these decisions may remain static for long periods of time, the intent of the class is that you will tailor your abilities day-to-day to suit the challenges you expect to face. While that versatility and adaptability is very powerful, it also requires a great deal of micromanagement of your character.

This is the sort of class that can be rewarding for players who enjoy "crunch" and fiddling with their character's build, but which will be absoltuely punishing for players who don't like to spend hours agonizing over the differences between individual character options.

Several of the Alchemist's features are related to crafting and to magic items. If your game does not allow item crafting or does not use magic items, you're going to miss out on those features. Of course, you may also be the only source of magic items, which may be worthwhile.

After reading this handbook, I encourage you to read my Artificer Subclasses Breakdown and my Artificer Spealls Breakdown.

Artificer Class Features

Hit Points: With d8 hit points and medium armor, the artificer is not a tank by any means. You'll probably want to remain at range, but if you find yourself in melee a lot be sure to pad your hit points with False Life and plenty of Constitution.

Saves: Constitution is great, but Intelligence saves are exceptionally rare.

Proficiencies: Medium armor and shields will keep you alive in melee, but with only simple weapons your best Finesse option is a dagger. That's fine for most artificers since fighting with ranged spells is your best option, but the Battlesmith will eventually take up martial weapons and use Intelligence for their attacks and damage. The Artificer's skills are mostly Intelligence and Wisdom-based, and most are knowledge skills, but Sleight of Hand is an option. You also get three tool proficiencies, which gives you room to tailor your character to the theme you're going for. Your Artificer Speclialist will grant you proficiency in an additional set of tools relevant to the subclass at 3rd level.

Magical Tinkering: This is very similar to cantrips like Prestidigitation. The effects are interesting and unique, and if you're clever you can come up with all kinds of uses for Magical Tinkering. You can have multiple objects affected at the same time, so consider carrying around a few prepared items which you can quickly produce and use.

Spellcasting: Artificers are a 2/3 caster that prepares and casts spells like a cleric (prepare daily from the full class list). You get ritual casting, which is always great, and the spell list is a combination of options from the cleric and wizard spell lists, allowing to serve as a blaster, a healer, and a support caster. Notably, the Artificer can retrain a cantrip every level. To the best of my knowledge, the Artificer is the only class with the ability to replace cantrips.

The Artificer's spellcasting foci are also unique. Rather than a wand or something, you use thieves' tools or an artisan tool. You can wave a set of lockpicks around to cast fireball, which I think will inevitably lead to some laughs at the table. You can also use any item that's the subject of one of your infusions, which means that if you have infused a weapon or a shield you can easily have a focus in hand without dropping your weapon or shield to pull out a wand or something. Your choice of subclass will add additional focus options, but they're not notably better than what the Alchemist gets by default. It's also very important to note that the Artificer must always use a focus when casting spells, rather than only using it to replace material components like other spellcasters. This rule doesn't remove the need for a free hand to perform somatic components, so RAW you must hold a focus in one hand and perform somatic components with your other hand if the spell requires a somatic component but not a material component. Hopefully your DM will be permissive enough to let you ignore this issue, because I really think that WotC intended for the Artificer to not need to juggle items to cast their spells.

For help selecting spells, see my Artificer Spell List Breakdown.

Infuse Item: This may be the Artificer's most iconic ability. You get to start with two infused items chosen from four Infusion known, which is like getting two magic items at 2nd level. For guidane on Infusions, see "Artificer Infusions", below. Remember that you can only have each Infusion in effect once at a time, so you can't just throw Enhanced Defense on everything your party is wearigna nd call it a day.

Artificer Specialist: See my Artificer Subclasses Breakdown.

The Right Tool for the Job: You technically never recieve a free set of tools except for the Thieves' Tools included in the Alchemist starting equipment. If you're short on gold, you might not be able to afford the tools related to your subclass. Instead, you get this. I think the expectation is that you can use this to craft the tools for your subclass for free, and trade them out for other tools when you need them. Unfortunately, using this ability requires Tinker's Tools, which are the most expensive set of tools, fully doubling the price of the next-most expensive set of tools. Still, if you have a few tool proficiencies, you should make a point to buy a set of Tinker's Tools specifically for this ability. 50gp really isn't a lot of money, so you should be able to scrape together the money by 3rd level.

Tool Expertise: There's a reason WotC is comfortable granting universal expertise with tools: unless the DM is going out of their way or you are making a truly impressive effort, most tool proficiencies rarely matter beyond the flavor of your character. I can't think of an instance where a character made frequent checks with Brewer's Tools over the course of a campaign, for example. However, the notable exception of Thieves' Tools means that Tool Expertise has at least one important use case in a typical campaign.

Flash of Genius: A bonus of up to +5 on a save can easily turn a failed save or check into a successful one, and using this up to 5 times a day means that it's a powerful and reliable part of your skillset.

Magic item Adept: Attuning an additional item is typically not a big difference, but considering many Infusions require attunement, this can be very important in campaigns which include magic items. The ability to craft your own magic items faster and for less gold improves this ability further because you can craft items which require attunement with less concern about the limited number of items you can attune.

Spell-Storing Item: It may only be a 1st- or 2nd-level spell, but you can cast it up to 10 times per day at 20 Intelligence. Obvious options include Cure Wounds, False Life, Invisibility, and other restorative or protective spells, buffs, and utility options which you're going to cast repeatedly throughout a normal day of adventuring.

Unfortunately, it appears that you can't choose a 1st-level spell cast with a 2nd-level slot, but that's probably fine. Remember that you any creature can use this, so consider passing this off to an ally if the spell you choose makes more sense coming from someone else, or if the spell targets the caster.

Strangely, the text of Spell-Storing Item doesn't use the phrase "Cast a Spell" to describe the action, so unlike a wand or similar item, creatures may be able to use this when they normally can't cast spells (like when raging). You also notably don't need to provide components, so you can use spells silently, without moving, and without providing material components (including expensive ones!) so you can get away with all kinds of trickery.

Magic item Savant: One more attuned item, and you can ignore class/race/spell/level requirements on magic items. Those requirements are rare, but maybe you want to use a Holy Avenger or something.

Magic item Master: One more attuned item.

Soul of Artifice: You can (and should) be attuned 6 items, giving you a +6 bonus to all of your saves. Add Flash of Genius to that, and you can add +11 to any save on top of your normal bonus.

Artificer Infusions

The ability to create semi-permanent magic items gives you a ton of options. You get total of just 6 infused items by 20th level, and you'll know 12 Infusions, which means you'll have plenty of options to consider on any single day. Replicate Magic Item is the only one that can be selected more than once, so expect to skip some other infusion ptions to get Replicate Magic multiple times.

Several of the infusions apply to existing weapons or armor. Because you must infuse a non-magical item, you can't stack infusions on the same item, and the effects won't stack with spells like Magic Weapon or Elemental Weapon because those spells all affect target "nonmagic weapon" and make it a magic weapon. Each infusion which applies to an existing item also specifies that it makes the item magical. If you plan to rely on spells like Magic Weapon, be cautious about applying infusions to the same weapon.

2nd-Level Infusions

  • Enhanced Arcane Focus: Bonuses to spell attacks are very hard to find, and when you can get them they are absolutely fantastic. If you have a full caster in the party who can use wands as a focus (sorcerer, etc.), it's probably a good idea to hand this to them, but I certainly don't blame you for keeping it for yourself, especially if you're an artillerist.
  • Enhanced Defense: +1 or +2 AC doesn't sound like much, but in 5e's bounded math it's a significant buff at any level.
  • Enhanced Weapon: +X weapons are excellent in a game where the maximum normal attack bonus is only +11, but you may get more use out of other options. If you just want a +1 weapon, you can always cast Magic Weapon for the same effect, though when the bonus increases to +2 you may not want to spend the spell slots to keep a +2 weapon running for an hour per casting.
  • Repeating Shot: This makes crossbows and firearms viable option for ranged builds that don't include Crossbow Expert. Once you get Extra Attack, crossbows and firearms typically become undesireable due to the Loading property. Battle Smiths can use either a heavy crossbow or a rifle and still make two attacks once they get Extra Attack at 5th level.
  • Replicate Magic Item: This is probably the best Infusion option at any level, but it's not so good that I recommend spending all of your Infusion slots on it. Because the list of item options is so long I moved them to their own section. See "Replicate Magic Item", below.
  • Returning Weapon: Until you hit level 12 this is strictly better than Enhanced Weapon, but even once you hit level 12 it's still really good. It only works on weapons with the thrown property like spears, unfortunately, so it's best used on an ally's weapon or on your own dagger so you never need to switch between a crossbow and melee weapon.

6th-Level Infusions

  • Boots of the Winding Path: These will get you out of a problematic spot (or a grapple), but keep in mind that your Bonus Action is used heavily by some subclasses so it may not always fit neatly into your turn. If you're not using your Bonus Action, you can use thise as often as you like, allowing the wearer to bypass a dizzying number of obstacles which might normally require something at least as powerful as Misty Step. If you're reasonably durable, consider sharing these with someone in your party who's less durable than you are so that they can flee from melee combat, or give it to a melee character so that they can avoid obstacles in melee like difficult terrain or durable enemies blocking them from reaching enemy spellcasters.
  • Homunculus Servant: The Unearthed Arcana version of this ability was very powerful, so I'm not surprised to see that it got nerfed a bit, but I think WotC went too far. The Homunculis is able to perform crucial actions like Help and Search, but its actions are still extremeley limited. For example: it can't pick up an object and carry it around.

    More important than its action limitations, the working of the ability is an absolute mess. It has an AC of just 13 that never increases, and its hit points work out to at most your six plus your level. Not six times your level; six plus your level. This thing is made of paper. Its attack deals less damage than throwing a dagger, though it's admittedly Force damage and attacks at range and uses your Bonus Action. But it's unlikely to hit often because its attack bonus is just +4, and by the time you get it the Attack vs. AC Progression you're expected to have an attack bonus of +7, putting the Homunculus signifiantly behind.

    Perhaps the biggest problem is the Might of the Master feature. A strict RAW reading means that the homunculus's stats only improve when your Proficiency Bonus improves starting when you first acquire the feature. I think the intent is for the stats to improve when your Proficiency Bonus improves beyond +2, but we've never seen Might of the Master anywhere except in the Alchemist class, and the only other example is the Battlemaster's Steel Defender, which you get at 3rd level before your Proficiency Bonus improves. If my reading of the intent is correct, that means that immediately upon select Homunculus Servant at any level including 6th level you will need to update the state block. That's going to lead to a lot of people with very ineffective homunculi.

    In short: This ability is both bad and badly written. Get a familiar.

  • Radiant Weapon: A nice defensive mechanism and a small buff to a weapon. If whoever carries this is using weapons constantly, they may prefer Advanced Weapon once the bonus increases to +2, but from levels 6 through 11 this is strictly better.
  • Repulsion Shield: Interesting, but unreliable. 5e's movement rules are really gentle, so you may find yourself pushing an enemy away after their first attack only to watch them walk right back up to you and finish attacking. However, if you're already using Enhance Defense on your armor and you still want more AC you may enjoy Repulsion Shield. It's unclear if you can use the same Unfusion more than once at the same time, so you may need Radiant Shield for an additional way to boost your AC.
  • Resistant Armor: This allows you to get resistance to psychic, necrotic, and radiant damage. Resistances to these damage types are almost nonexistent. Throw this on a bear totem barbarian and they're nearly unstoppable. However, since you can't put more than one Infusion on the same item, you're likely choosing between this and Enhanced Defense (unless you're sharing Infusions, of course). Remember that Absorb Elements is on your spell list, so you can use it to reliably provide resistance to common damage types, though you'll still need Resistant Armor for less common ones like Psychich and Necrotic.

Replicate Magic Item

The list of items which you can replicate is versatile and grows as you gain levels, but keep in mind that when you take this Infusion your are permanently locked into whichever magic item you choose unless you retrain your Infuse Item choice. You're free to select Replicate Magic Item again and change the item, but you can only retrain one Infusion each time you gain a level, so that's a very limited option.

2nd-Level Artificer
  • Alchemy jug: One of my absolute favorite items because it can do so many things and solve so many problems in surprising ways. Between the beer, honey, mayonnaise, fresh water, and wine you may be able to sustain a creature or two without food for extended periods (though I can't imagine enjoying the experience). The daily acid is enough to fully fill two vials, getting you two 25 gp items daily if you can provide the 1 gp vial (How does 4 ounces of liquid in a glass container result in a 1-pound vial of acid? I have no idea!). Even silly things like producing 5 total gallons of alcohol and using them to get NPCs drunk can let you get away with all sorts of stuff. Need to clean a crime scene? Vinegar. Need to drass a salad? Oil and vinegar. Tragically, you do need 8 days worth of poison to fill a vial, so don't expect that to be a reliable contributor to your daily options. Also, expect to invest in a huge number of containers and somewhere to put them (like a Bag of Holding) so that you can stockpile the daily output of the Alchemy Jug for later emergencies.
  • Armblade: These are a Common magic item similar to a basic Potion of Healing. Either buy one or craft one.
  • Bag of Holding: If you can't find a clever way to make use of a Bag of Holding, you're not trying hard enough. The fact that you get to recreate this every day makes it even better because the threat of the bag breaking is greatly diminished. If you have a bunch of garbage you want to be rid of (incriminating evidence, literal or figurative dirty laundry, or literally just garbage) you can intentionally overfill the bag and dump the contents onto the Astral Plane, then get a new bag in the morning. Tragically, you can't also create Handy Haversacks or Portable Holes so you can't use this as a bomb on a daily basis unless you're taking the time to permanently craft the other item.
  • Cap of Water Breathing: Situational by design, and Water Breathing is on your spell list so once you get 3rd-level spells at level 9 this becomes obsolete. It's also made obsolete by better items like the Cloak of the Manta Ray. My point is: don't get attached to the idea of wearing a magical fish bowl on your head.
  • Goggles of Night: Useful, but hardly essential. Darkvision is on the Artificer's spell list, and has an 8-hour duration, easily allowing you to cover a long day of adventuring on one or two spell slots per target. Unfortunately you don't get 2nd-level spells until 5th level, so there will be a brief period where this is your only way to provide Darkvision beyond your own racial traits.
  • Prosthetic Limb: If your party needs one of these, you need to get a permanent magic item or find someone to cast Regeneration.
  • Rope of Climbing: A fine low-level option for addressing problems commonly solved by flight. If you take this, expect to replace it as you gain levels.
  • Sending Stones: Long-range communication like this can be extremely helpful if you have someone worth talking to like a benefactor or a well-informed friendly NPC.
  • Wand of Magic Detection: Detect Magic is on your spell list and you can cast it as a Ritual.
  • Wand of Secrets: Situational, and your party can replace it by having proficiencies in Investigation and Perception which any adventuring party needs anyway.
6th-Level Artificer
  • Boots of Elvenkind: Given the choice between this and the Cloak of Elvenkind, the cloak is better. These are still good, but the cloak is still better.
  • Cloak of Elvenkind: Not only do other creatures suffer Disadvantage to see you, but you gain Advantage on checks to hide. Just the raw math on that puts the wearer at a huge advantage.
  • Cloak of the Manta Ray: Situational by design, and unless you're doing enough exploring underwater to need this frequently it's going to become obsolete as soon as you hit level 9 and you can cast Water Breathing.
  • Eyes of Charming: The DC is just 13, which is in no way reliable.
  • Gloves of Thievery: +5 is a significant bonus, and picking locks is common in many campaigns. You get proficiency with Thieve's Tools, so you're likely to use these yourself rather than handing them off to a rogue.
  • Lantern of Revealing: You can cast See Invisibility, but that only affects yourself and oncey you detect invisible creatures you may still need your party's help dealing with them. The Lantern of Revealing provides a reliable way to do this with an impressively long duration. Just be sure to keep plenty of oil on hand. Even an Alchemy Jug can only produce enough to keep the lantern lit for 12 hours a day, so either stockpile out when you're not adventuring or spend the gold to buy some.
  • Pipes of Haunting: A decent crowd control option, but you need proficiency in wind instruments so expect to pass this off to a bard.
  • Ring of Water Walking: Too situational, and you'll be able to cast Water Walk at level 9.
  • Wand Sheath: Only works for warforged, and as nice as it is to use a wand while keeping your hand free, 5e's item management rules are generous enough that this will rarely make a difference. I honestly don't know why this requires that you be 6th level, because it's not nearly good enough to restrict. If you really want this, go get a permanent magic item. Wand Sheath is only Common, so they should be both inexpensive and easy to craft.
10th-Level Artificer
  • Boots of Striding and Springing: Useful for too few characters, especially when Winged Boots are available at the same time.
  • Boots of the Winterlands: Resistance to cold damage is the primary draw.
  • Bracers of Archery: If you have an archer in the party they'll appreciate the extra damage, but you can do much better with your limited Infusion slots.
  • Brooch of Shielding: Resistance to forge damage is almost nonexistent, but force damage is also incredibly rare.
  • Cloak of Protection: +1 to AC and saving throws. This is so unversally useful that people in your party may actually argue over who gets to wear it. In a campaign where it's possible, it's absolutely worth the effort to buy or craft one of these for everyone in the party.
  • Eyes of the Eagle: Advantage on sight-based Perception checks covers most Perception checks.
  • Gauntlets of Ogre Power: You've been hobbling along with 8 Strength since first level and done just fine. Raising it to 19 is only helpful if you need to be able to carry more things that don't fit into your bag of holding. By this level Strength-based melee characters will have 18 or 20 Strength, so even they won't benefit from this. However, the Battlemsith absolutely needs this for their Steel Defender. Because it doesn't require an action to use, the Steel Defender can benefit from its effects, increasing its attacks and damage by +2. However, your DM might rule that your Steel Defender doesn't have the correct anatomy unless you decide that it has human-like hands. The exact anatomy and appearance of the Steel Defender is never specified, and while the example art depicts it as a metal dog your defender could by a sphere with spider legs and anatomically correct humanoid arms, or it could be scarecrow with garden hoses for arms that end in crab claws. My point is that if your DM decides that your Steel Defender needs humanoid hands to wear these, you can (and probably should) make your defender a ridiculous abomination with humanoid hands. Think "malicious compliance". Beastmaster Rangers might also eye this item for their companion, but the Beastmaster is terrible so hopefully you won't see many of those.
  • Gloves of Missile Snaring: Too situational. A +1 to AC will be more meaningful.
  • Gloves of Swimming and Climbing: Cloak of the Manta Ray grants you a swim speed, and Winged Boots make climbing obsolete.
  • Hat of Disguise: Disguise Self is a 1st-level spell. If you want to be able to disguise yourself constantly, play a Changeling or a Warock.
  • Headband of Intellect: All the same issues as Gauntlets of Ogre Power, but now it's Intelligence. You probably hit 20 at 8th level, so this is worthless to you.
  • Helm of Telepathy: The DC is far too low by this level, and since the rules don't specifically allow creatures to willingly fail saving throws you may not even be able to communite telepathically with your allies.
  • Medallion of Thoughts: Helm of Telepathy can cast Detect Thoughts at the same DC with no limitation on charges.
  • Periapt of Wound Closure: Put this on the person in your party with the biggest hit dice. Barbariands, fighters, etc. are all on the front lines taking most of the damage, which means that they're the most likely to fall unconscious and the most likely to bleed out in the middle of a fight. This will both save them from an untimely fate and stretch the effects of their natural healing.
  • Pipes of the Sewers: Summon up to 3 CR 1/2 swarms that you can't directly control, and be less scared of creatures that are below CR 1 when you're already 10th level.
  • Quiver of Ehlonna: 5e's item management rules are too generous to make this useful.
  • Ring of Jumping: Winged Boots make jumping obsolete.
  • Ring of Mind Shielding: Too situational. Add resistance to Psychic Damage and I would be excited, but the effects listed are simply too rare to spend an Infusion on.
  • Slippers of Spider Climbing: Not necessarily bad, but Winged Boots make them obsolete.
  • Ventilating Lungs: Too situational.
  • Winged Boots: Four hours of flight is plenty when it's broken up in 1-minute increments. In previous editions you got something like 10 minutes per da yand that was typically enough. These boots are so good that they make several other infusion obtions at this level and at 14th level obsolete.
14th-Level Artificer
  • Amulet of Health: Even if you raised your Constitution at level 12, you probably only have 16 or 17, so this is still great. If you don't need it for yourself, someone else in oyur party almost certainly does.
  • Arcane Propulsion Arm: Amusing, but not not powerful enough.
  • Belt of Hill Giant Strength: All the same problems as Gauntlets of Ogre Power, but with a slightly higher Strength score. If you're using Gauntlets of Ogre Power for your steel defender, upgrade to this as soon as possible.
  • Boots of Levitation: Winged Boots have been around for four levels.
  • Boots of Speed: Boots of the Winding Path will address Opportunity Attacks much better.
  • Bracers of Defense: If you have a monk or barbarian in the party these are great, otherwise skip them. A spellcaster relying on Mage Armor might want them, but their AC is already so bad that they should really be looking for other defensive options.
  • Cloak of the Bat: Possibly better for Stealth than the Cloak of Elvenkind (definitely less confusing), and the abilkity to fly and turn into a bat in dim light or darkness is great for scouting and for getting around at night.
  • Dimensional Shackles: Situational by design. Don't rush to learn this, and if you do learn it don't expect to use it every day. Instead, keep it around and use it on a day where you intent to capture a creature.
  • Gem of Seeing: True Seeing is a 6th-level spell that's not on your spell list, and this effectively lets you cast it three times per day.
  • Horn of Blasting: 20% chance to deal 10d6 damage to yourself with no save. Unless you're resistant to fire I wouldn't risk it.
  • Ring of Free Action: Technically situational, but being paralyzed or restrained is often a death sentence so immunity to magic which imposes those conditions is very helpful.
  • Ring of Protection: This appears to stack with a Cloak of Protection, and if that's the case I don't know how you could pass up an opportunity to have an AC that absurdly high and saves that absurdly good.
  • Ring of the Ram: The damage isn't especially exciting at this level (though force damage is always nice), and the attack bonus is worse than your own.

Abilities

Artificers live and die by their Intelligence score, but Dexterity and Constitution are just as helpful to the Artificer as they are to everyone else. The Artificer has an impressive three total dump stats, allowing you to dump all of your points into the abilities which we care about and leave the rest at 8. Replicate Magic Item gives you access to ability score boosting items and items which boost all of your saving throws, so you can often offset or override incredibly low ability scores with little effort.

Str: Typically a dump stat. You don't need Strength for anything unless you spend a feat on proficiency with heavy armor, and considering how many AC buffs you can get from your Infusions you really don't need to do that. Only the Battlesmith will invest heavily in fighting with weapons, and they can rely on Intelligence for attack and damage.

Dex: You'll want some Dexterity to fill out your AC and to help with weapons at low levels, but you'll never need more than 14.

Con: Always essential.

Int: Your primary stat. Fuels your spells and all of your class features.

Wis: Technically a dump stat, but it complements many of your skills nicely so it may be helpful to put some points into it.

Cha: Dump stat.

Point Buy Standard Array
  • Str: 8
  • Dex: 14
  • Con: 14
  • Int: 15
  • Wis: 12
  • Cha: 8
  • Str: 8
  • Dex: 14
  • Con: 13
  • Int: 15
  • Wis: 12
  • Cha: 10

Races

The most important thing you can get from a race is an Intelligence bonus, but even that isn't completely crucial. Because the Artificer has workable options beyond spells, you can get by without a racial Intelligence increase. Of course, if you choose a race without an Intelligence increase I strongly recommend a Dexterity increase so that you can rely on Dexterity-based weapons to compensate.

AarakocraEEPC: Bad ability spread.

AasimarVGtM: Bad ability spread.

BugbearVGtM: Bad ability spread.

DragonbornPHB: Bad ability spread.

Dwarf: Dwarves are an all-around good race, but they lack the critical Intelligence increase which the Artificer sorely needs, and they lack a Dexterity increase to fall back on.

  • DuergarSCAG: Bad ability spread.
  • HillPHB: Bad ability spread.
  • MountainPHB: Bad ability spread.

ElfPHB: High Elf is the only subrace which gives us an Intelligent increase, but the Elf's base racial traits are great and the Dexterity increase allows us to easily fall back on weapon attacks until your cantrips improve at 5th level.

  • Drow: Bad ability spread
  • High Elf: Dexterity, Intelligence, and a free wizard cantrip all nicely complement the Artificer's skillset, especially at lot levels when you don't have many abilities to throw around.
  • Wood Elf: Bad ability spread

FirbolgVGtM: Bad ability spread.

GenasiEEPC: A Constitution increase is always welcome, but the Genasi's traits come primarily from the subrace, and the Fire Genasi is the only option which is truly appealing.

  • Air: The Dexterity increase works, but the Air Genasi's features don't do anything that Artificer couldn't already do.
  • Earth: Bad ability spread.
  • Fire: An intelligence increase and the extra spellcasting and fire resistance are great additions to the Artificer's existing capabilities.
  • Water: Bad ability spread.

Gith: An Intelligence increase is a great start, giving us all that we absolutely need. Githzerai is a great option almost solely based on the innate spellcasting.

  • GithyankiMToF: Strength is basically useless for the Artificer.
  • GithzeraiMToF: Wisdom works fine, and the extra spellcasting is a great addition.

Gnome: An Intelligence increase, Darkvision, and Cunning all make the gnome a fantastic option. Any of the gnome subraces work well with the shared gnome traits as a basis, allowing you to plenty of flexibility.

  • Deep (Svirfneblin)EEPC / SCAG: A Dexterity increase, Superior Darkvision, and Stone Camouflage. Stealth generally isn't something the Artificer does, but it's definitely a possibility.
  • ForestPHB: Dexterity will help with weapons until your cantrips become more effective, but minor illusion is partially redundant with Magical Tinkering, and honestly how often does Speak With Small Beasts apply?
  • RockPHB: Probably the most obvious option, the Rock gnome seems tailor-made to be an artificer. The Rock Gnome's Tinker trait complements Magical Tinkering nicely, allowing you to produce numerous baubles to address challenges in strange an unexpected ways.

GoblinVGtM: Bad ability spread.

GoliathEEPC: Bad ability spread.

Half-ElfPHB: You can get the ability score increases that you care about and two free proficiencies to complement the Artificer's existing skills, but you'll get more from the Variant Human since Charisma is useless for the Artificer. You can take the High Elf variant to get a wizard cantrip, but at that point a Variant Human with the Magic Initiate feat gets everything that the Half-Elf would get except Darkvision.

Half-OrcPHB: Bad ability spread.

HalflingPHB: No options to get the crucial Intelligence increase.

  • LightfootPHB: Bad ability spread.
  • StoutPHB: Bad ability spread.

HobgoblinVGtM: Perfect ability score increases, darkvision, access to two martial weapons starting at first level, and Saving Face is fantastic. This is a spectacular option for a Battlesmith, though you may still want to stick to a rapier until you get Battle Ready because your Strength is probably still garbage.

HumanPHB: Versatile and fantastic at everything.

  • Vanilla: The Artificer really only needs two ability scores, but a +1 to all of your scores can be helpful if you use the point buy ability generation method to give yourself low, odd-numbered base abilities to save points.
  • Variant: You still get crucial bonuses to your Constitution and Intelligence, and you can get an awesome feat at level 1.

KenkuVGtM: Bad ability spread.

KoboldVGtM: Bad ability spread, but Pack Tactics may be enough to make up for the lack of an Intelligence increase. If you stick to offensive spells which rely on attacks instead of saves, having an ally (such as an Iron Defender) adjacent to your target is an easy source of Advantage, and that may be enough to make your average damage output match characters with better Intelligence.

LizardfolkVGtM: Bad ability spread.

LocathahLR: Bad ability spread.

OrcVGtM: Bad ability spread.

TabaxiVGtM: Bad ability spread.

Tiefling: Many Tiefling subraces offer an Intelligence increase, and with so many variants and subraces you can easily find an option that will suit your play style. The Flames of Phlegethos feat is tempting for Artillerists looking to boost the numerous fire damage spells on the Artillerist's spell list.

  • AsmodeusMToF: Charisma is wasted on the Artificer, but you get an Intelligence bonus and the Tiefling's other core racial traits are great.
  • BaalzebulMToF: The same ability score increases as the Asmodeus tiefling, but a different set of racial spells.
  • DispaterMToF: Bad ability spread.
  • FiernaMToF: Bad ability spread.
  • GlasyaMToF: Bad ability spread.
  • LevistusMToF: Bad ability spread.
  • MammonMToF: The same ability score increases as the Asmodeus Tiefling, but with different racial spells. The Mammon Tiefling's racial spells focus more on utility than those of the Asmodeus Tiefling.
  • MephistophelesMToF: Again, the same ability score increases as the Asmodeus Tiefling, but with a different set of racial spells. The leveled spells are purely offensive, focusing on new ways to deal fire damage. This makes a nice complement to the Artillerist, especially with Flames of Phlegethos piled on top.
  • ZarielMToF: Bad ability spread.
  • Variant: FeralSCAG: If you're happy with the Asmodeus Tiefling's spell list but you want different ability score increases, the Feral variant is great. Dexterity is more useful for the Artificer than Charisma, though you don't actually need more than 14 so it's not a massive improvement. According to the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide, the Feral Variant is compatible with other variants, so if your DM allows it you may be able to use this in conjunction with another useful subrace.
  • Variant: Devil's TongueSCAG: If you were consider learning Frostbite, Vicious Mockery is a better cantrip with a similar effect. Otherwise, I would look elsewhere.
  • Variant: HellfireSCAG: A very tiny change to the Asmodeus Tiefling. Burning Hands is often a safer option for the Artificer because you can use it without getting hit.
  • Variant: WingedSCAG: A great way to get flight without relying on Winged Boots.

TortleTP: Bad ability spread.

TritonVGtM: Bad ability spread.

VerdanAcInc: Bad ability spread.

Yuan-Ti PurebloodVGtM: A crucial Intelligence increase, Darkvision, and some innate spellcasting. The spellcasting isn't great, but you're also immune to poison, and Magic Resistance is insanely powerful.

Setting-specific races are address below. Not every setting allows every race, and while most races presented in the core rules and in content for the Forgotten Realms can be used in other settings, races specific to settings like Ravnica aren't typically allowed in other settings. Talk to your DM about what races are allowed in your game.

Races of Eberron

BugbearERLW: See above.

ChangelingERLW: Bad ability spread.

GoblinERLW: See above.

ElfERLW: Eberron's elves are mostly the same as core elves, but include some additional subraces.

  • Aerani High: Trade the core High Elf's Weapon Training trait for expertise in a single skill or tool of your choice.
  • Aerani Wood: Trade the core Wood Elf's Weapon Training trait for expertise in a single skill or tool of your choice.
  • Valenar Wood: Trade the core Wood Elf's Weapon Training trait for slightly different weapon proficiencies, including the double scimitar. If you already get proficiency with martial weapons it doesn't matter, and if you don't you might prefer the original set of weapons because they include short swords. The two sets are roughly equivalent, so use whichever you like (or whichever your DM allows).

HobgoblinERLW: See above.

OrcERLW: Bad ability spread.

KalashtarERLW: Bad ability spread.

ShifterERLW: No Intelligence increase to be found.

  • Beasthide: Bad ability spread.
  • Longtooth: Bad ability spread.
  • Swiftstride: Bad ability spread.
  • Wildhunt: Bad ability spread.

WarforgedERLW: Constitution and a flexible increase which goes into Intelligence. The resistances and extra AC make you incredibly durable, and if you pile on Infusions which boost your AC, you can be nearly invulnerable. A warforged battlesmith can wade comfortably into combat alongside even the most durable fighters, boasting an exceptionally high AC, a laundry list of spells and immunities, and options like Flash of Genius and Absorb Elements to protect them from spells and special abilities.

Dragonmarks

While the design intent for Dragonmarks was that they would offer some innate spellcasting for everyone, every dragonmark includes an expanded spell list which is arguably a more significant benefit than most of the provided racial traits. Because the expanded spell options are such an important part of the dragonmarks, if you're not playing a spellcaster you're giving up a huge part of your racial traits, which makes it exceptionally difficult to justify playing a dragonmark character who can't cast spells.

Dragonmarked DwarfERLW: Dragonmark traits replace your subrace.

  • Mark of Warding: The Intelligence increase is crucial, and the Dwarf's base traits are great, but the innate spellcasting isn't great. The dragonmark spells add several new options to the Artificer's spell list, but nothing is particularly exciting except maybe Armor of Agathys for a battlesmith.

Dragonmarked ElfERLW: Dragonmark traits replace your subrace.

  • Mark of Shadow: Bad ability spread.

Dragonmarked GnomeERLW: Dragonmark traits replace your subrace.

  • Mark of Scribing: The Gnome's base intelligence increase is a great start, but any of the other gnome subraces is a better option for the Artificer thna Mark of Scribing.

Dragonmarked Half-ElfERLW: Dragonmark traits replace some of your normal racial traits, as described in the entry for each Dragonmark.

  • Mark of Detection: The ability increased don't lose anything that you care about, and you can still get an Intelligence increase. The innate spellcastign and expanded spells add a lot of divination options which the Artificer otherwise lacks.
  • Mark of Storm: Bad ability spread.

Dragonmarked Half-OrcERLW: Dragonmark traits replace ALL of your racial traits.

  • Mark of Finding: Bad ability spread.

Dragonmarked HalflingERLW: Dragonmark traits replace your subrace.

  • Mark of Healing: Bad ability spread.
  • Mark of Hospitality: Bad ability spread.

Dragonmarked HumanERLW: Dragonmark traits replace ALL of your racial traits.

  • Mark of Finding: See Mark of Finding under Dragonmarked Half-Orc, above. Mechanically, the final racial traits are identical.
  • Mark of Handling: Workable, and you get a bunch of stuff from the Druid and Ranger's spell lists, but beasts stop being scary very quickly and unless your DM will let you tame beasts beyond your class features you won't get much use out of these traits beyond low levels.
  • Mark of Making: The most obvious choice for the Artificer, both thematically and mechanically. The ability scores are perfect. Mending is a staple option for most artificers, and Magic Weapon is a great option for the Battlesmith who can't spare an Infusion for Enhance Weapon. Many of the dragonmark spells are new to the Artificer's spell list, too. Unfortunately, the Alchemist doesn't get much from the extra spellcasting.
  • Mark of Passage: Extra speed and access to teleportation are great, but Boots of the Winding Path will make these features feel weak or overly expensive in most situations.
  • Mark of Sentinel: Bad ability spread.

Races of Ravnica

CentaurGGTR: Bad ability spread.

GoblinGGTR: See above.

LoxodonGGTR: Bad ability spread.

MinotaurGGTR: Bad ability spread.

Simic HybridGGTR: Great ability increases, and and the adaptations offer great ways to customize your character to fit your subclass and your play style.

VedalkenGGTR: Good ability score increases, Advantage on half of all saving throws, two free proficiencies, and you can get a bonus d4 in checks with the free proficiencies, which can include things like Thieves' Tools or some other tool that you use frequently.

Races of Wildemount

AarakocraEGtW: See above.

AasimarEGtW: See above.

BugbearEGtW: See above.

Dragonborn: Wildemount presents two new Dragonborn variants, each replacing the standard Dragonborn's ability score increases and damage resistance.

  • DraconbloodEGtW: An Intelligence increase, Darkvision, and a breath weapon. Forceful Presence is neat, but you're probably going to dump Charisma.
  • RaveniteEGtW: Bad ability spread.
  • StandardPHB: See above.

ElfEGtW: Wildemount elves share the core traits of core elves, but Wildemount adds two new elf subraces. See above for information on core elf traits.

  • Pallid Elf: No Intelligence increase.
  • Sea Elf: See above.

FirbolgsEGtW: See above.

GenasiEGtW: See above.

GoblinEGtW: See above.

HalflingEGtW: Wildemount halflings share the core traits of core halflings, but Wildemount adds a new halflings subrace. See above for information on core halflings traits.

  • Lotusden: No Intelligence increase.

HobgoblinEGtW: See above.

GoliathEGtW: See above.

KenkuEGtW: See above.

OrcEGtW: See above, under "Races of Eberron". Wildemount uses the updated Orc racial traits rather than the original traits published in Volo's Guide to Monsters.

TabaxiEGtW: See above.

TortleEGtW: See above.

Skills

  • Arcana (Int): Among the most important knowledge skills, and you have the intelligence to back it up.
  • History (Int): Situational, and how usreful it is is heavily dependent on your GM and the campaign you're in.
  • Investigation (Int): With high Intelligence, you're a great candidate to use Investigation.
  • Medicine (Wis): Medicine is best done magically.
  • Nature (Int): Good knowledge skill, but not as crucial as Arcana or Religion.
  • Perception (Wis): The most-rolled skill in the game.
  • Sleight of Hand (Dex): Sleight of hand is neat, but it's not especially useful in most campaigns.

Background

This section does not address every published background, as doing so would result in an ever-growing list of options which don't cater to the class. Instead, this section will cover the options which I think work especially well for the class, or which might be tempting but poor choices. Racial feats are discussed in the Races section, above.

Look for backgrounds which provide additional Intelligence-based skills. Proficiency with more tools fits the theme of the class very well, but you'll get at least 4 tool proficiencies from class featues alone so you may not need more.

Feats

This section does not address every published feat, as doing so would result in an ever-growing list of options which don't cater to the class. Instead, this section will cover the backgrounds recommended in the "Quick Build" section of the class description, as well as other backgrounds which I think work especially well for the class, or which might be tempting but poor choices. The possibility of custom backgrounds also means that it is literally impossible for me to provide comprehensive analysis of every potential background in existence.

  • Defensive DuelistPHB: A good way to boost your survivability in melee, but a dagger is the only thing you're proficient with that works with the feat. Also, you can cast Shield.
  • Elemental AdeptPHB: Acid for Alchemist and fire for Artillerist. Sure, you've got ways to deal damage with other elements, but those are the easiest elements fort the subclasses so it makes sense to minimize their weaknesses and maximize their value.
  • HealerPHB: Without a real cleric in the party you may find it helpful to complement your magical healing with this.
  • Heavily ArmoredPHB: Strength doesn't help the Artificer, and +1 AC relative to 14 Dex and Half Plate is not enough for a feat when you have several Infusion options that provide the same amount of extra AC.
  • LuckyPHB: Good on any character.
  • Magic InitiatePHB: Despite their existing spellcasting ability and a spell list which takes options from both clerics and wizards, the Artificer can still benefit greatly from cantrips taken from other spellcasters. Green-Flame Blade and/or Booming Blade are great for the Battlesmith, and Find Familiar will give you a more versatile pet than canons or a Steel Defender..
  • Medium Armor MasterPHB: Many races like elves and halflings could easily end up with 16 Dexterity without cutting into your Intelligence. If you have 16 Dexterity, this will make Stealth easier and give you a nice +1 AC bonus. Not essential unless you're playing your party's Scout, but still good.
  • Ritual CasterPHB: Artificers can already cast rituals, provided that they have the spell prepared. Ritual Caster will broaden your ritual options, but that's probably not enough to justify a feat.
  • SkilledPHB: In a small party you need to wear many hats to fill gaps in your party's skillset. More proficiencies help you do just that.
  • Spell SniperPHB: Many artificers rely on cantrips for their primary damage source, and this can make crucial spells like Fire Bolt more useful. Unfortunately the Alchemist's reliance on Acid Splash and Poison Spray (neither of which uses attack rolls) won't benefit much, so this isn't as useful as it is for other artificers.
  • War CasterPHB: If you're a Battlesmith, you want this. Juggling your weapon to cast spells is annoying, but the ability to reliably maintain Concentration when you take damage means that you can reliably maintain spells even while drawing a lot of attacks.

Weapons

  • Crossbow, Hand: Use the Repeating Shot infusion and grab a shield.
  • Crossbow, Light: Until 5th level the damage will technically beat Cantrip damage, but unless you have 16 Dexterity yout cantrips will be more reliable.
  • Dagger: Your go-to melee weapon (unless you're a Battlesmith). It works in melee and at range, and since it's a finesse weapon you can use it with Dexterity. The damage isn't as good as a bow or crossbow, but you can't make opportunity attacks with ranged weapons.
  • Longbow: A great option for a ranged Battlesmith. Your attacks are all made with Intelligence.

Weapons for Battlesmiths

The Battlesmith's weapon selection resembles that of the Fighter more than that of the Artificer. If you want to use a shield (and you should since you have d8 hit dice) and fight in melee, go for a longsword or something. If you're fighting at range, go for a Longbow.

If you spend on Infusion on Repeating Shot, a heavy rossbow will deal very slightly more damage, but at level 12 Enhance Weapon will improve to +2 and a +2 Longbow will match the average damage of a +1 Heavy Crossbow and will have +1 higher attack bonus. On top of that, you can get Bracers of Archery, and they don't apply to crossbows.

However, that doesn't mean that crossbows are a bad option: you can use a hand crossbow with Repeating Shot while also using a shield. Since you don't need to reload your crossbow you don't need a free hand. Cantrips will deal similar damage, but 1d6+Int+1 damage (Repeating Shot adds +1 to attack and damage) with Extra Attack will outdo your cantrip damage for a long time. If you have 20 Intelligence, two attacks at 1d6+5+1 (avg. 19 total) will exceed Firebolt (avg. 5.5, 11, 16.5, and 22 depending on your level) until your cantrips improve for the last time at 17th level. If you instead us a pistol, you'll average 23 damage instead, and at that point there's no reason to learn Fire Bolt.

Firearms

The Artificer is the first class to be published with reference to firearms, and firearms canonically exist in the Eberron setting from which the Artificer originates. While many groups choose to omit firearms from their campaigns, you might choose to include firearms in your own game.

Generally groups will use the "Renaissance" weapons, as they were historically used in time periods where using a sword or a crossbow still made sense, so you can include these weapons without significantly changing the fantasy, medieval feel of a typical Dungeons and Dragons setting. These weapons also come the closest to exist weapons mechanically, so you can include them without worrying about unbalancing your game because every adventurer suddenly has a revolver.

If your group chooses to use firearms, the Artificer can be proficient with them if your character "has been exposed to the operation of such weapons". Check with your DM to see if they'll let you be proficient. If you're fortunate enough to have access to firearms, compare the pistol to the hand crossbow and the musket to the light crossbow. In both cases, the firearm uses a damage die two sizes larger, but has diminished range.

Armor

  • Studded Leather: Bad choice for starting armor.
  • Scale Mail: Starting armor.
  • Half Plate: Your ideal armor.
  • Shield: You can hold your spellcasting focus in one hand and a shield in the other, but if you're using a bow or crossbow you won't have a hand free for a shield, and it takes an action to don/doff a shield so it's difficult to switch mid-combat.

Multiclassing

The Artificer has an interesting note in its Multiclassing rules: when you multiclass as an Artificer, you round your Artificer levels up for determining spell slots instead of rounding them down like every other class with Spellcasting. This, combined with the Artificer's absolutely spectacular multiclassing proficiencies, make the Artificer a perfect class dip. A single level gets you medium armor, shields, two tool proficiencies, 2 cantrips, and a full level of spell slot advancement. The Artificer's 1st-level class features are really boring, but honestly with that many benefits it doesn't matter. If you want a tanky wizard, take a level of Artificer. If you want to play a Spellsinger, consider three levels to pick up Battle Smith's Battle Ready feature.

Example Build - Rock Gnome Alchemist Artificer

I like making things. Mostly trouble.

This is a "Staple Build". This build is simple, and relies on options from the SRD and the Basic Rules wherever possible. If you need a functional build with nothing fancy or complicated, this is a great place to start.

The Rock Gnome doubles down on the Artificer's theme by adding the Rock Gnome's Tinker trait. Beyond the complexity of using Tinker in addition to the Artificer's class features, this is a very simple build.

This build is available to copy on D&D Beyond.

Abilities

We will assume the point buy abilities suggested above.

Race

Rock Gnome. The Intelligence increase brings us to 17, and the Constitution increase brings us to 15. That will make our 4th-level Ability Score Increase very exciting. Tinker is the Rock Gnome's only particularly complicated trait, but it offers a fun way to embrace the Artificer's theme.

Skills and Tools

The Artificer gets two skills from their class list, one type of Artisan's tools, and two fixed tools. Guild Artisan will add Insight, Persuasion, an extra set of artisan's tools which we'll use to get Herbalist's Kit proficiency so that we can craft Potions of Healing.

  • Alchemist's Tools:
  • Herbalist's Kit:
  • Thieves' Tools:
  • Tinker's Tools:
  • Arcana:
  • Insight:
  • Perception:
  • Persuasion:

Background

Guild Artisan. The skill proficiencies aren't fantastic for the artificer, but there are few backgrounds which are setting-agnostic and work well. The Failed Merchant out of Acquisitions Incorporated works well, and starts you with some very expensive starting equipment.

Feats

This build doesn't require feats. At high levels you might consider feats once you reach 20 Intelligence, but it's not strictly necessary.

Levels

Level Feat(s) and Features Notes and Tactics
1
  • Magical Tinkering
  • Spellcasting

For your starting gear, take two daggers, a light crossbow and 20 bolts, scale mail, theives' tools, and a dungeoneering pack. The crossbow is useful when enemies are outside of your cantrip range, but you'll have better results if you sell it and use the gold to but a shield.

At this level your options are really limited. You'll feel more like a weird wizard than like an actual artificer. Keep your shield out, prepare spells that will keep you alive, and just try to make it to 2nd level. Fire Bolt will deal enough damage to make you useful in combat, and you long list of proficiencies, Tinker, and Magical Tinkering give you plenty of utility options outside of combat. Bring Cure Wounds to help your allies in combat, but try to avoid using it until you absolutely need to do so; you only have two spell slots.

2
  • Infuse Item
  • Infused Items: 2
  • Infusions Known
    • Enhanced Arcane Focus
    • Enhanced Defense
    • Enhanced Weapon
    • Replicate Magic Item (Bag of Holding)

Level 2 is where the Artificer really starts to feel like they should. You don't get any more spell slots, but 2 magic items can be a massive improvement to your capabilities.

If you need nothing else, use Enhanced Arcane Focus and Enhanced Defense to boost your spell attacks and your AC. +1 to AC will bring you up to 19 AC, giving you nearly as much AC as a fighter in full plate. If you have allies to defend you, consider sharing Enhanced Defense and/or Enhanced Weapon.

3
  • Artificer Specialist: Alchemist
  • The Right Tool for the Job
  • Tool Proficiency: Any
  • Alchemist Spells
  • Experimental Elixir (1)

Third level brings a lot of good things. You get another 1st-level spell slot just in time to get an expanded spell list, including the absolutely essential Healing Word. You can stop preparing Cure Wounds, and instead rely on Healing Word for emergency healing in combat.

The Alchemist gains proficiency with Alchemist's Supplies, but we got that at first level, so you get to replace it with any other tool proficiency.

The Right Tool for the Job doesn't change much, but it's basically a free set of tools. Be sure to buy a set of Tinker's Tools so that you can use the ability.

This level also brings Experimental Elixir. The free elixir won't reliably be something that you can count on, but you can turn spells itno elixirs to get a bunch of useful buffs.

4
  • Ability Score Improvement (Constitution 15 -> 16, Intelligence 17 -> 18)

A bunch of extra hit points, and your spell attacks, DC's, and a bunch of other things improve.

5
  • Alchemical Savant

At this level, Alchemical Savant is a +4 bonus to one roll per spell. Your cantrips also improve at this spell, so you go from 1d10 with Fire Bolt to 2d10+4, which is a massive increase. Your leveled spells benefit too: Healing Word is now 1d4+8 instead of 1d4+4.

5th level also brings 2nd-level spells. The Alchemist's spell list offers two offensive options, so be sure to prepare something else that will make good use of your 2nd-level spell slots.

6
  • Tool Expertise
  • Infused Items: 3
  • New Infusions Known
    • Boots of the Winding Path
    • Replicate Magic Item (Lantern of Revealing)
  • Experimental Elixir (2)

Several things improve incrementally at this level. You get access to the second group of Infusions and the second group of options for Replicate Magic Item, and you get a third Infused Item per day.

You have plenty of options for infusions. Boots of the Winding Path are consistently useful, but feel free to experiment. You get to retrain one option at every level (including this one), so you could trade out low-level Infusions for new options as you gain levels if you find that you're not using older options.

You also gain Tool Expertise at this level, doubling your proficiency bonus with all five of your tool proficiencies.

7
  • Flash of Genius

It's hard to understate how good Flash of Genius is. +4 can turn a failure into a success very easily. +4 covers 20% of the range over which a d20 can roll, and when your Intelligence improves again at 8th level it gets even better.

8
  • Ability Score Improvement (Intelligence 18 -> 20)

It may not feel exciting, but this improves a lot about your character. The Artificer is massively dependent on Intelligence, so any improvement is significant.

9
  • Restorative Reagents

By now you get two doses of Experimental Elixir per day, but the free elixirs are still not reliably useful. This adds some Temporary Hit points to their effects, so even if you don't roll a useful effect you can still get some Temporary Hit Points out of the extra elixirs. You also get to cast Lesser Restoration 5 times per day for free, which allows you to use your limited spell slots for anything else.

10
  • Magic Item Adept
  • Infused Items: 4
  • New Infusions Known
    • Replicate Magic Item (Cloak of Protection)
    • Replicate Magic Item (Winged Boots)

Allowing you to attune four magic items is very useful at this point. Now that you can create four Infused Items per day, you could easily make four that require Attunement. That's probably not a good idea, but it's possible.

Perhaps the hardest decision at this level is whether to wear Boots of The Winding Path or Boots of Flying. Both are great, so be sure to share one with your party.