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I'm trying to figure out the most optimized build for quite a specific setup using a Warforged with multi-class Artificer.

Specifically I'm looking for a character that come across as durable and dangerous in melee combat, while also being able to provide some of the unique quirks Artificers can offer (like infusions, etc). Wanting to play this character as a despondent "jack-of-all-trades" kindof deal that can help out the party by tinkering away on things if asked, but generally is just a close-combat tanky menace.

So, what is the most optimized build assuming the following requirements:

  1. Race: Warforged
  2. Class: Artificer multiclassed with whatever works best to make a decent melee tank (so possibly Fighter or Barbarian? But really whatever works).
  3. I'm wanting to be welding a 2-handed-weapon and taking the feat Great Weapon Master, just to help illustrate the characters brutishness (and hopefully allow more damage dealing).
  4. For the purposes of this question, let's limit the character to a total of 10 levels.
  5. Let's assume stats of 15 across the board (with the Warforged also adding +2 to Con and +1 to something else as normal).

So, with the above requirements, what is the best build one can make to soak up loads damage while also dealing respectable combat damage? And also making use of the Artificer class so that it isn't a burden to the build.

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  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Feb 12 at 0:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Moreover, "increase defensive abilities" and "optimize for a tank role" is not the same thing. Tank role is not soaking damage, but rather manipulating the battlefield, creating opportunities for the party (even an invincible tank is useless, if it can be ignored by the enemy). I think narrowing the requirements might yield better results. \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Feb 12 at 8:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @pwi more along the lines of high AC and HP, but this is obviously buffed by other defensive abilities (i.e. lvl3 totem barb effectively doubles my hp). \$\endgroup\$ – TheRobotsAreComing Feb 12 at 19:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @enkryptor good point - yes I am looking to optimize the tank role of messing with the battlefield while also soaking up damage in a way where enemies are not really making best use of their time attacking me \$\endgroup\$ – TheRobotsAreComing Feb 12 at 19:54
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Fighter 3/Artificer 5/Wizard 2

Overall, a build of Fighter 3/Artificer 5/Wizard 2 will give you the following:

  • AC of 21 (with the ability to use your reaction to increase it to 23-26 for one attack that would hit you), plus many defensive options
  • +4 bonus (using your reaction) to one saving throw that you would fail
  • Limited healing and damage mitigation
  • Bonus to damage, and advantage on attacks

Level 5 Battle Smith artificer gives you:

  • the Battle Ready feature: lets you add Int (instead of Str/Dex) to your attack and damage rolls
  • Steel Defender
  • Extra Attack
  • shield spell

Level 2 War Magic wizard (Xanathar's Guide to Everything, p. 59) gets you:

  • false life
  • absorb elements spell
  • find familiar to get another pet: choose owl for the Flyby trait, and have it take the Help action to give you advantage to your first attack that round
  • the Arcane Deflection feature: use your reaction, when you're hit by an attack or you fail a saving throw, to add +2 to your AC for that attack or add +4 to that saving throw (potentially changing the outcome)

Level 3 Battle Master fighter adds:

  • Maneuvers: Parry lets you reduce damage taken from a melee attack by 1d8 + Dex mod. Riposte and Lunging Attack are also good options.
  • Action Surge
  • Second Wind
  • Great Weapon Fighting fighting style

I would take fighter first, for the Con save proficiency and access to heavy armor.

As an artificer, you can use the Enhanced Defense and Enhanced Weapon infusions to add +1 to your AC and your attack and damage rolls respectively.

Your AC will consistently be 21 with plate; when an attack would hit, you can use a reaction to increase it by 2 with Arcane Deflection or increase it by 5 with the shield spell. Also potentially the attack will have disadvantage.

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Obviously if you are choosing to be tanky you are choosing Battle Smith. I am thinking of a full Artificier, no multi-classing.

I am picturing a huge Warforged walking around with a big Maul (imagined as a Tetsubo Hammer from Guild Wars) that is maybe even built into his body...or a smaller hammer as every tank wants a nice big shield.

INT as your attack roles, yummy. Clearly first few ASI bump that to 20. You're starting at 15 (+1 for race) so 4th and 8th get you to 20. You're taking GWM so youd lose an int modifier. Otherwise you're sitting pretty.

CON is sitting at a nice 17 after racial bonus.

DEX at 14 would be enough

CHA not needed

STR for grapples and breaking grapples

WIS for saves only

You're going Tanky so Half Plate is your ideal (AC is 15+2+1= 18) Shield for +2

Steel Defender designed as a medium-sized Silverback Gorilla (Ape is medium i know, but it just doesn't sound as imposing). Just helps complete the image of a solid wall IMO.

Infusions to boost your AC to ridiculous levels. (4 infusions based on Level 10 Artificier, 3rd infusion is at lvl 6, which would probably be worth it as you get Multiattack at 5, so one more level for free magic item, a stingy DM would make it worthwhile)

  • Enhanced Defence (AC +2).

  • Cloak of Protection (AC +1, but also +1 for saving throws!).

  • Gloves of Ogre Power (remember how the steel defender was a Gorilla? They have hands too!).

  • Bag of Holding (every party needs one)

Total AC of 23 (with shield)

Your actions include smites and smashes. Bonus actions having your Gorilla grapple. You can always Enlarge the Gorilla too for fun...

THOUGHTS: Sentinel instead of GWM. If they attack you, you can get disadvantage via your steel defender reaction. If they attack the defender, you get to attack via your reaction.

If your defender is enlarged, thats a 15ft wall of teamwork!

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