DnD 5e - Artificer Infusions Breakdown
Last Updated: December 10th, 2020
RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.
- : Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational.
- : OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances.
- : Good options.
- : 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.
The advice offered below is based on the current State of the Character Optimization Meta as of when the article was last updated. Keep in mind that the state of the meta periodically changes as new source materials are released and this article will be updating accordingly as time allows.
The Artificer's 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 options 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.
Also, 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 wearing and call it a day.
- TCoE: Strength (Athletics) is a great way to knock enemies prone, but unless you or an ally is going to Grapple them you won't be able to keep them prone. If you take this, consider delaying until you get Extra Attack (provided that your subclass grants it). If you dumped Strength I wouldn't bother with this. Your Intelligence bonus will help, but it's not enough to make your 8 Strength not a problem.
- ERLW / TCoE: 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 rods, staffs, or wands as focuses (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 alchemist or artillerist.
The Battle Smith can benefit from this via their Steel Defender. Your defender uses your spell attack modifier, so an Enhanced Arcane Focus will improve your defender's attacks.
- ERLW / TCoE: +1 or +2 AC doesn't sound like much, but in 5e's bounded math it's a significant buff at any level in 5e. This Infusion is one of the ways that the Artificer achieves the insanely high AC for which they're often known.
- ERLW / TCoE: +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.
- ERLW / TCoE: Homunculus Servant has seen a lot of changes, first from the Unearthed Arcana version to the Eberron version, and then to the Tasha's Cauldron of Everything version. After all of those design changes, I think WotC got it right this time.
The Homunculus Servant is, in many ways, similar to a familiar. It's tiny and extremely frail, but can make an excellent assistant and can serve as a Scout. While it is intelligent and understands languages that you speek, it can't communicate verbally and you can't share its senses, so your familiar must resort to other means of communication like pantomime or possible writing. Like a familiar, your homunculus can deliver spells with a range of touch, allowing you to to more easily target allies with buffs and healing. I recommend avoiding using your homunculus to deliver offensive spells since their AC and hp are so poor.
The humunculus distinguishes itself from familiars in a few very meaningful ways. First, where a familiar has just 1 hit point, your homunculus will have up to 26 hp depending on your level and. Second, your familiar has a built-in ranged attack, allowing it to deal force damage. Since you command your homunculus as a Bonus Action (another difference from familiars), you're effectively converting your Bonus Action into damage. Your homunculus also doesn't share a familiar's action limitations. They're capable of performing any action which a normal creature could take, allowing them to be more flexible and useful. They may even be able to use items, including magic ones.
Also note that the 100gp initial cost may be too much to pay at low levels, so you may need to return to Homunculus Servant later when you've collected some more treasure.
- TCoE: Many artificers will scoff at this, and lean toward Enhanced Armor instead, but this is absolutely worth consideration. Artificers have a lot of really good buffs which require Concentration, and while they do get Proficiency in Constitution saves that's still a gamble. For artificers who don't need a ton of AC (maybe you're relying on your more durable allies instead), this can be good insurance. You could also share this with other spellcasters in your party who likely also have excellent Concentration spells and likely do not have proficiency with Constitution saves.
- ERLW / TCoE: This makes crossbows and firearms viable options 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.
- ERLW / TCoE: 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.
- ERLW / TCoE: Until you hit level 10 this is strictly better than Enhanced Weapon, but even once you hit level 10 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.
- ERLW / TCoE: Teleportation is great, but you can only use these to return to a space which you previously occupied in the same turn. That's fine for hit-and-run tactics, but that's the only common case where you would use this. Melee artificers can combine this with Booming Blade to help keep enemies locked in place, which is tempting.
- ERLW / TCoE: 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.
- ERLW / TCoE: 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.
- ERLW / TCoE: 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 for your own suit of armor. If you still want the AC bonus from Enhanced Defense, stick it on a shield. 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 Psychic and Necrotic damage.
- TCoE: More spell slots are always welcome. At a glance, this looks just like the effects of a Pearl of Power, but the wording is different in a very important way. You can't use Spell-Refueling Ring to regain a spell slot above 3rd level, and if you don't have spells slots of 3rd level or lower, this doesn't do anything. This means that this item very specifically does not allow warlocks to regain a spell slot.
- TCoE: Bonuses to Initiative are hard to find. Advantage on Intitiative is even harder (unless you're running Enhance Ability (Dexterity) all the time). Put this on the whichever character in your party is best at area control spells so that they can get control of the battlefield before the fight gets going. Alternatively, if you have an assassin in the party they'll be very happy to have this so that they can reliably use Assassinate.
- TCoE: Basically Arcane Propulsion Arm (see below) but as full-body suit of armor. The biggest added benefits are +5 ft. speed and that the armor can't be removed by force. You do get two gauntlets, but you can't use the two-weapobn fighting rules with them because you're not "holding" the gauntlets.
I'm not sure who this is for. The damage type is great, but it doesn't add an ability modifier so you'll do less damage than if you were using something else. The Armorer already gets similar benefits from Arcane Armor, and the ability to throw your gauntlets isn't worth an Infusion. The Battle Smith wants to use weapons so that they can add their Intelligence bonus to damage, but maybe access to easy force damage is worth giving that up? You notably can't apply addition Infusions to the gauntlets and they're already magic weapons so you can't buff them with most spells which would buff a weapon. Personally, I'd rather put Enhanced Weapon on something and swing it with the +2 attack/damage bonus.
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.
Common Magic Items
The vast majority of Common Magic Items are amusing novelties. I've chosen to list a handful of options below if they offer some real, meaningful reason why you might choose to use Replicate Magic Item to create one.
- XGtE: Guaranteeing a 10 on an attack roll is frequently enough to hit. I don't know if once per day is enough to justify the item, though.
- XGtE: Grab the animal and toss it into room which you suspect might contain traps.
- XGtE: Before you have easy access to permanent (or infused) magic weapons, this offers a way to handle enemies with resistance to damage from non-magical weapons. Unfortunately, it can only be a sword.
- XGtE: Oh no, my magic key disappeared when it opened this lock. Oh well, I guess I'll make a new on tomorrow.
- XGtE: Enhance Ability (Charisma) will do the same thing and more, but you get access to this a level earlier and it doesn't require Concentration.
- XGtE: It's hard for a busy adventurer to commit one of their limited infusions to an item which does nothing until 30 days pass. But if you have long periods of downtime between adventures, you might amass a small collection of friendly shrubs. Keep in mind that they take no actions unless you command them, so be sure to command them to replant themselves after they break out of the pot.
- XGtE: A good item all around for the Artificer and for other martial spellcasters. This reduces the need to juggle weapons and material components when casting spells.
- TCoE: Cantrips and 1st-level spell tattoos are Common items. The tattoo only works once, similar to a potion or a spell scroll, but you can't create either of those with Infusions.
This is great if you have non-spellcasters in the party. Give them things like Healing Word in case your party's other healers are all down, or buffs which require Concentration since they weren't concentrating on anything before. You can even cast spells like Find Familiar with the tattoo, allowing your party to collect an entire parliament of owls (that's what a group of owls it called, I checked). You don't even need to spend the 10gp material component cost!
Avoid most offensive spells since the attacks and save DC are fixed and don't scale as you gain levels and face tougher opponents, but you can make spells like Booming Blade and Green-Flame Blade work because they rely on a weapon attack by the caster instead of a spell attack.
The rules are silent on what spells can go into the tattoo. Your DM might impose a requirement that you can only create spellwrought tattoos for spells which you know how to cast, which seems like a perfectly reasonable restriction on what is otherwise a serious abuse case.
- XGtE: Allows you to bypass resistance to weapon damage from nonmagical weapons. Tragically, infusing this only gets you one arrow, but at least you can recover it and use it again in the next encounter.
- XGtE: Allows you to bypass resistance to weapon damage from nonmagical weapons, and has the added benefit of possibly knocking the target prone. Tragically, infusing this only gets you one arrow.
2nd-Level Replicatable Items
- DMG: 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.
- ERLW: This was removed by errata. It's fine, it was a bad choice anyway.
- DMG: 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, and if you intentionally turn your bag into a bomb it's not a problem because you'll make a new one tomorrow.
Replicate Magic Item is the only Infusion which you can learn more than once, and there's no restriction on creating the sime item more than once. This means that you can create multiple bags of holding and turn them into single-use bombs. It's not totally clear if WotC intended for artificers to be able to replicate the same item multiple times, but it appears to work RAW.
- DMG: 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 and Necklace of Adaptation. My point is: don't get attached to the idea of wearing a magical fish bowl on your head, Mysterio.
- DMG: 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.
- DMG: This was removed by from the 2nd-level items list by errata because Prosthetic Limbs are now Common magic items and can therefore be created as Infusions using Replicate Magic Item.
- DMG: A fine low-level option for addressing problems commonly solved by flight. If you take this, expect to replace it as you gain levels.
- DMG: 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.
- DMG: Detect Magic is on your spell list and you can cast it as a Ritual.
- DMG: Situational, and your party can replace it by having proficiencies in Investigation and Perception which any adventuring party needs anyway.
6th-Level Replicatable Items
- DMG: Given the choice between this and the Cloak of Elvenkind, the cloak is better. These are still good, but the cloak is still better.
- DMG: 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.
- DMG: 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.
- DMG: The DC is just 13, which is in no way reliable.
- DMG: +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.
- DMG: 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.
- DMG: A decent crowd control option, but you need proficiency in wind instruments so expect to pass this off to a bard.
- DMG: Too situational, and you'll be able to cast Water Walk at level 9.
- DMG: This was removed by errata.
10th-Level Replicatable Items
- DMG: Useful for too few characters, especially when Winged Boots are available at the same time.
- DMG: Resistance to cold damage is the primary draw.
- DMG: 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.
- DMG: Resistance to forge damage is almost nonexistent, but force damage is also incredibly rare.
- DMG: +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.
- DMG: Advantage on sight-based Perception checks covers most Perception checks.
- DMG: 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.
Beast Master Rangers might eye this item for their companion, but most animals don't have the correct anatomy to wear gauntlets and your DM may be unwilling to let you put these on a gorilla.
- DMG: Too situational. A +1 to AC will be more meaningful.
- DMG: Cloak of the Manta Ray grants you a swim speed, and Winged Boots make climbing obsolete.
- DMG: Disguise Self is a 1st-level spell. If you want to be able to disguise yourself constantly, play a Changeling or a Warock. If you're still set on having an Infusion to disguise yourself or an ally with, the Masequerade Tattoo is a Common Magic Item.
- DMG: 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, but if you have an arcane trickster or eldritch knight in the party, this could help them a great deal. They need to increase their Strength/Dexterity before they can start raising their Intelligence, and a better Intelligence score can dramatically improve their spellcasting.
- DMG: 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.
- DMG: Helm of Telepathy can cast Detect Thoughts at the same DC with no limitation on charges.
- DMG: Situational, but it's an upgrade from Cap of Water breathing. If you're expecting to go underwater, Cloak of the Manta Ray's swim speed makes it a better item. I would only take this over Cloak of the Manta Ray if you're taking this as a "just in case" sort of item, but at that point just cast Water Breathing. This does admittedly help with saves against gas effects, but those are very rare.
- DMG: 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.
- DMG: 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.
- DMG: 5e's item management rules are too generous to make this useful.
- DMG: Winged Boots make jumping obsolete.
- DMG: 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.
- DMG: Not necessarily bad, but Winged Boots make them obsolete.
- ERLW: Too situational. WotC removed most of the items like this one in errata for the Artificer. I'm not sure why this one was left in.
- DMG: 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 Replicatable Items
- DMG: 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 your party almost certainly does.
- ERLW: Amusing, but the damage doesn't add an ability modifier so it's going to deal much less damage and hit less frequently than a weapon with Enhanced Weapon.
- DMG: All the same problems as Gauntlets of Ogre Power, but with a slightly higher Strength score.
- DMG: Winged Boots have been around for four levels.
- DMG: A good replacement for Boots of the Winding Path if you like hit-and-run tactics, and since you can turn the effect off it's easy to stretch the 10-minute duration over a long adventuring day.
- DMG: 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.
- DMG: 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.
- DMG: 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.
- DMG: 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.
- DMG: 20% chance to deal 10d6 damage to yourself with no save. Unless you're resistant to fire I wouldn't risk it.
- DMG: Technically situational, but being paralyzed or restrained is often a death sentence so immunity to magic which imposes those conditions is very helpful.
- DMG: 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.
- DMG: The damage isn't especially exciting at this level (though force damage is always nice), and the attack bonus is worse than your own.