The first class to look at in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is also the newest. The artificer was first introduced in Eberron, and the whole class has been reprinted here, with a couple of additions. Let’s take a look at how it stacks up to the other classes, and where it fits into he game as a whole. The artificer is a half caster, the not quite committed of the magicking world. Your focus will lean towards either weapons or spells, depending on which subclass you pick. The artificer’s selection of spells has increased in this iteration, adding some new cantrips from SCAG, a couple of spells from Xanathar’s Guide, and a brand new spell from this book. Each spell is thematically appropriate for the class, and should add some fun new options for artificers out there.
Each artificer has some base class features. They gain the ability to infuse their items and give them special properties. This is by far the most well designed aspect of the class. Artificers will start out by adding small bonuses to items, such as numerical bonuses or slight upgrades to weapons, and eventually move onto creating full fledged magical items. These items are not just tied to you. If you want to deck your gear out and become a god among mortals, you can do that. If you want to spread the love and give the bonuses to your friends, you can do that too. It’s an interesting dynamic that also helps the problem that half casters usually have, which is they fall off in the later levels. This feature has been buffed in this iteration as well, including the ability to make ALL magical items! Time to find your favorite weird item and bring it into your game. The homunculus option is now available at a much earlier level, as long as you can scrounge the gold for it. It’s a well thought out mechanic, with a flavor that even Gordon Ramsay can’t deny.
The artificer gets a bevy of tools to work with as well. These abilities center around items, as expected. They range from creating tools and doubling bonuses for said tools, to attuning to a greater number and variety of magical items. They also gain an ability that emulates bardic inspiration, though it’s portrayed as a moment of brilliance and is more reactionary and reliable. The artificer’s capstone ability is absolutely powerful, granting you an insane bonus to saving throws. They also gain an ability to not go do down when knocked to zero health, which is incredibly potent in a class that has access to healing. This is an excellent base to build off of, with abilities that are interesting, powerful, and flavorful.
The first artificer subclass is the alchemist. This artificer prefers spells over getting their hands dirty, and leans into the supportive nature of the class. Their most iconic feature is also their most contested one. They are able to make potions with strong effects. The downside is that they’re random, and therefore their benefits are unreliable. That being said, some of the potions are wild, such as a better bless spell. The elixirs also become more reliable over time, tacking on a temporary hp effect no matter which effect is made. I feel like it’s balanced in strength, but can certainly put off some players who value abilities they can count on. And yes, dice based abilities like attacks are considered reliable in my eyes. Alchemists also gain a bonus to both damage and healing with spells that would make a cleric jealous. The final feature of this subclass is a bit lackluster, granting only one extra heal and a resistance to two relatively rare damage types.
The next artificer subclass is the only new one in Tasha’s: the armorer. You want iron man? This is how you get iron man. Seriously, this subclass is fantastic for anyone who loves power armor (Like me, so I may gush a bit on this one). The armorer’s signature feature is its arcane armor. These artificers are able to take any old suit of armor and enhance it into either a tough defending suit with thunder punches and force fields, or a sleek lightning blasting stealth suit. Both of these armor models are incredible, and the fact you can change between them with an action makes the versatility of this subclass nigh unbeatable. This armor only gets better over time, being able to have infusions of its own. The final feature of this subclass takes the power armor, and amps it up even more.
Up next on our list of artificer subclasses is the artillerist. This is another subclass that leans towards spells, with an emphasis on damage. The main feature of this class is its eldritch cannon. This is a versatile summon, able to handle long distances, groups of enemies, and even healing. Things get even better when you get up in levels, giving you two of them to work with. You also get to choose whether they summon as turrets or handheld cannons. They take a bit out of your action economy to get started up, but in longer fights they really start shining. Artillerists also gets a bonus to their spell damage, which is real nice with the AOE spells they cast. The final ability for the artillerist also lets the cannons provide half cover for nearby allies.
The last artificer subclass in Tasha’s Cauldron is the battle smith. The defining feature of this subclass is its steel defender. This companion is the battle smith’s main way of protecting their allies. This iteration of the steel defender is improved from its Eberron appearance. The most notable of which being that the defender can act even when that player is knocked out. It also has the nice new formatting for summons, making calculating bonuses easy. The subclass also gives the ability to deal more damage, or even heal allies, which is fantastic for a relatively squishy protector class. The final feature of this subclass gives a bevy of bonuses to the steel defender. This subclass is an interesting way to have a tanking class with a half caster.
The last part of the artificer section contains the artificer infusions. All of the infusions from Eberron are here, with some new additions. My favorite infusion is the arcane propulsion armor, which has the ability to replace missing limbs and increase your movement speed. Oh and it has rocket punches. Surprising enemies with rocket punches just sounds hilarious to me. There are plenty of other options here as well; there’s something for every kind of player. And that’s not counting the magical items that can be replicated.
Overall, the artificer is a fantastic addition to 5E. The subclasses really stand out from each other, with so many options built into each feature that makes this class the most versatile of the bunch. It is also oozing with flavor, giving them a clear place in the world as the architects of magical items. My main complaint is that it focuses on making magical items, rather than allowing you to improve existing magical items. But as it stands, this is a fantastic class that has quickly made its way up the ranks into my favorite class. What do you think of the artificer class? With so many options, what is your favorite build? Let me know down below!