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Been looking over the warlock because I thought it would be cool to make a spellcaster that can also mix it up in melee combat. After all how awesome isn't it to conjure up a magical weapon and start swinging.

Except after a careful read through of the warlock's abilities I can't help wonder why a warlock would do anything in combat except spam eldritch blast over and over?

It does a 1d10 in damage at level 1 so right from the start it's more powerful than all weapons except the big two-handed ones, which a warlock is unlikely to use anyhow due to somatic spell-restrictions and finesse builds.

Sure, a warlock's magical weapon can be boosted by two incantations to add charisma bonus to damage and give it an extra attack. But eldritch blast gets the same damage bonus plus two other boosted abilities from incantations AND the number of its attack increases at set levels to a whooping 4 attacks at level 17.

Now I was drawn to the warlock because I wanted to make a swashbuckling style of caster except now it feels like with the exception of a few other situational spells doing anything else except spamming eldritch blast in combat feels unnecessary and only done for role playing reasons. Sort of a self-nerf to look cool rather than be effective.

Things doesn't get better when you realize that the warlock's proficiency in light armour is pretty much for show too. As it gets an incantation that lets it cast mage armour on itself without any cost which gives you better AC than any light armour but have the requirement that you don't wear any armour making the ability to wear armour redundant.

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Dealing 1d10 while better than the 1d8 of the cleric or wizard cantrips is not nearly as good as a 1d8/1d10/1d12 + mod damage for anyone making a physical weapon attack. –  Joshua Aslan Smith Aug 24 at 18:10
    

3 Answers 3

So there are a few things which you are not correctly taking into account.

  1. You get a limited number of invocations. So while you can specialize all your invocations into Eldritch blast, you are really missing out on versatility. Same with choosing Armor of Shadows over Light Armor.

  2. Eldritch blast is 1d10. (avg 5.5) A summoned longsword is 1d8+dex/str and you can later use an invocation to also add your charisma bonus. (1d8+str+cha for example) So it's likely going to be 1d8+2 (avg 6.5) and then at level 12 1d8+7 (avg 11.5). If you use a two handed weapon, it become even better. Making the summoned weapon better than eldritch blast. In order to be better than your static damage modifier, you generally need to go up 3 dice sizes.

  3. Eldritch blast is a ranged attack, and so suffers from the same drawbacks that all ranged attacks have. Being able to both used Eldritch blast, and a melee weapon gives you greater versatility.

  4. While Eldritch blast or your pact weapon are an at will go to attack options, you have many other spells that you will likely want to use, and should not just limit yourself to your "basic attack".

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Regarding 2. But you can use an invocation to add your charisma bonus to Eldritch blast's damage too at level 2. And while versatility is always good it's usually only useful when unique and unusual situations pops up in combat. –  Chryckan Aug 24 at 10:48
    
@Chryckan But what are you giving up to get what you would have gotten from your pact weapon choice for free? It's why I focused on the d8 longsword instead of the 2d6 greatsword. –  GMNoob Aug 24 at 10:56
    
You don't give up anything. You need an incantation to get a bonus to both the pact weapon and eldritch blast. Though by taking a pact weapon you are giving up a possible familliar or spellbook. –  Chryckan Aug 24 at 16:16
    
@Chryckan you get your Dex or str bonus without an invocation. –  GMNoob Aug 24 at 16:50
    
@Chryckan: Just FYI a warlock who takes the Pact of the Tome can still get a familiar if they pick the appropriate invocation for Ritual spellcasting because Find Familiar can be cast as a Ritual. They just won't get any of the familiar-oriented bonuses. Similarly, a Warlock who chooses Pact of the Blade can also get a familiar by taking the Ritual Casting feat. –  Dyndrilliac Aug 24 at 21:17

You are absolutely right, an Eldritch Blaster is usually stronger

After the 2nd level, when you get Agonizing Blast you can do d10+Cha damage, the same as a Longsword two-handed, if you are Strength primary. You can attack twice with both on level 5. At level 11 Eldritch Blast pulls ahead with 3 attacks, and the Charisma bonus on the Pact Weapon damage on next level can not compensate for this.
Add to this that a Blaster only needs Charisma, while with a Pact Blade you need Strength if you want to do good damage and Charisma for the spells.

However, I think you look at it all wrong.
A melee Warlock is is on par with a Ranger on most levels, somewhat smaller base damage and HP, same number of attacks, same AC, but better versatility. This shows it is viable as a build.
The Eldritch Blast is just a bonus. Not using it is indeed self-nerfing, but only in a way playing a Rogue instead of a Fighter is self-nerfing.

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A pure warlock will be using EB a lot most likely. But with very little work, you can build a Warlock that is a melee monster.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1s7vTgl1KRuR78BDTmMIdJDLbWaRs3RTLhx3CE6QLrDE is the one I've worked out. Pretty solid at range (low CHR), but can nearly keep up with the melee classes in the long haul, has a few pretty solid nova options

  • Armor of Agathys plus rage is gross--he'll do more damage passively in the first round than the fighter will in 2 rounds)
  • In the right situation nothing beats a fireball
  • Sitting in darkness and spamming blasts (he can see, they almost certainly can't) He also has a few out-of-combat options (minor illusion, fly, see in nearly any darkness to 120')

I think similar options exist for a paladin.

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