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Specifically, the 1st version of the UA playtest version of the full class, released start of this year: https://media.wizards.com/2019/dnd/downloads/UA-Artificer-2019.pdf

One of my new players has requested to play one and I've skimmed through it and it seems very powerful. But is it really? Does anyone have experience with having one in the party, and what is it like?

Ideally I'd like some hands on experience from someone who often plays days with a limited number of encounters (1-3, usually with 1 really big one).

I'm concerned mostly about the high utility that can be gained from getting a bunch of free magic items (my game does not feature a lot of them) and the Arcane Turret ability of the Artillerist (especially the Defender, but they all seem very strong for costing only a 1st level spell slot)

Of course, those things make up the main powers of the Artificer, so maybe it's not so bad if that's all they get, but I'd rather know before allowing it and having to disappoint the player after he's played a few sessions with it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You may want to clarify that you are using the first version released this year (that's the one you have linked to at least). See also the second one. \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil May 22 at 10:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Erik What what I can tell, v2 that Someone_Evil linked is basically the same as the one you've linked but with a couple of extra archetypes. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS May 22 at 11:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NathanS There aren't a whole bunch of changes, no, but they did respond to some of the early complaints -- in particular, the infusion that lets a crossbow avoid the reload requirement was heavily requested right off, as the class seems to want to push crossbow use, but that's not compatible with Arcane Armament unless you take the Crossbow Expert feat or have a magical way to avoid reloading. \$\endgroup\$ – Darth Pseudonym May 22 at 14:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ Please remember that OP is looking for actual tableplay experience here - not a theoretical examination of the class. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 22 at 17:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ The changes from the February UA to the May UA are summarized in the article for the May one: dnd.wizards.com/articles/unearthed-arcana/artificer-returns \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast May 23 at 1:22
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I've played exactly one session with my 3rd level artificer (edit: this was with the February 2019 edition of the artillerist, not the newer version released in May) so your mileage may vary but here's what I have found so far. The session I played is exactly what you described, 3 encounters with a climactic end battle.

The thing with the artificer is that they're flexible but also limited in what you can do in a given day, especially at low levels. The turret is only free for one casting of it, after which you’re using spell slots. At 3rd level you only have 3 slots, so it really feels quite limiting if you’re planning on casting any other spells at all. For my session I barely squeaked by after using Shield, a second turret, and one other spell. The second turret was key in the final battle and kind of saved our collective bacon because we barely scraped by. At one point I was the only party member left standing after the rogue and sorcerer went down and our paladin had his intelligence drained by an intellect devourer. But the force turret was able to help me deal extra damage when I needed it and push the enemies away from our sorcerer when I needed to as well.

I wouldn't be worried about the magic items. Especially at low levels the number of magic items you could possibly create are limited to two at a time. I used the enhanced armor to boost my AC, and a bag of holding because they're always good, but a lot of the other stuff in the replicate magic items table is very situational. In hindsight for my encounter I could have used the cloak of the manta ray, but I didn't see that coming and didn't take that infusion, so I had to get by without it.

All told I think the artificer is a great class but I don't feel like I was overpowered compared to anyone else in our party. I really felt like I had to be judicious in the use of my powers because you don't have enough to be using them all the time.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan The more recent one has two new subclasses, but this answer was using one of the original two, so even if it was the newer one it wouldn’t matter much. The only other changes are some wording clean-up and putting some supplement spells on the spell. The latter might make some difference, but the only spell mentioned in the answer is core. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jun 2 at 15:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yep it was the earlier version of the artificer, although the artillerist subclass is mostly unchanged in the new version as well. I've added a note to reflect that in the answer. \$\endgroup\$ – tdoan Jun 2 at 19:04

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