Author Topic: Viability of the Eldritch Knight Subclass Discussion  (Read 6824 times)

Offline Jicnon

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Viability of the Eldritch Knight Subclass Discussion
« on: September 16, 2015, 10:54:29 AM »
So I am about to start my first 5e campaign and have been predominantly looking at the fighter class because I think it would be fun to make it work. In particular the EK subclass of fighter is what I was looking at (champion is too simple, and BM isn't my style). However, I have seen quite a few mixed opinions regarding how viable the fighter class ACTUALLY is. So, I figured I would try to get an opinion from the people on the Min/Max boards. Is the Eldritch Knight a viable single class character?

For now lets assume that it is going to be used from 1-11 or 12. If the campaign is still going at that point I will revisit the idea of multiclassing because there is not much reason to bring a fighter much past 12th level, that seems to be a fairly universally held opinion. Additionally, lets assume that magic items are present but still relatively rare, that the other players in the party are moderately optimized (aka none of the other players will be going solely for the most OP combination), and that feats and multiclassing ARE allowed. These conditions I feel are fairly typical for most 5e worlds and will allow us to be more specific in the discussion.

Given the above, is the EK viable for those levels? If not, what classes beat it at its own job (which is primarily combat with some magic splashed in to help its combat capabilities) or what classes need to be added to MAKE it viable?

Offline TenaciousJ

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Re: Viability of the Eldritch Knight Subclass Discussion
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2015, 04:27:10 PM »
The viability of the EK is all about what you want to do with it.  Standard point buy or standard array are both harsh for the EK to deal with, since an EK wants Strength/Dexterity, Constution, and Intelligence.  With an ideal race you can start with 2 of those at 16.  You will want to max out your attack ability, which speaks for your level 4 and 6 ASIs.  At 8 (or as a variant Human) you can get Warcaster, which you will definitely want if you plan to use a shield and/or concentration effects.  You're in a bad spot either way because either your Constitution is high enough for concentration checks but your intelligence is low enough to hurt your spell DCs, or you can land your spells but can't hold concentration on them unless you plan to be an archer.

If you pick Shield as one of your first spells known and focus primarily on magic effects that do not require a saving throw or spell attack, you will get a lot of mileage out of EK.

If your aim is to have spell-based damage, you're going to lag behind on spell slot progression.  You might be able to Burning Hands the kobold mooks in a fight or Thunderwave to break up a group of creatures surrounding you, but don't count on doing significant damage to significant targets beyond what you would do swinging a weapon.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2015, 04:33:46 PM by TenaciousJ »
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Offline Jicnon

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Re: Viability of the Eldritch Knight Subclass Discussion
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2015, 10:05:42 PM »
I realized the same thing about point buy and EKs (As if I didnt already hate point buy enough as it is, rolling IMO is just so much more fun). Granted, I was primarily thinking of an abjuration oriented fighter so that INT wouldnt be as big of a deal.

Offline sambojin

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Re: Viability of the Eldritch Knight Subclass Discussion
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2015, 05:20:32 AM »
Just make sure that the initial "you pick" spell and the cantrips are worth it. They can completely change the viability and flavour of the class. They are probably the most important decisions you'll make.

It also makes V.Human an even better choice for them, for either Warcaster or Magical Initiate at lvl1. Any race can work well with them, with the extra ASIs from fighter, but a feat straight out of the box is very good for EKs. Not only the two mentioned either.

I'll get a bit more indepth on discussion and options soon.

But yeah. It's a viable class.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2015, 05:25:36 AM by sambojin »

Offline Jicnon

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Re: Viability of the Eldritch Knight Subclass Discussion
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2015, 09:01:08 AM »
Thanks for the input, yeah I'm considering Variant human. I look forward to your more in depth discussions! EK is one of the more interesting class options in the new edition to me so I can't wait to hear about it.

Offline Nunkuruji

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Re: Viability of the Eldritch Knight Subclass Discussion
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2015, 02:52:15 PM »
I look at the EK as the answer to low-magic campaign / DM stingyness, where you really want to have such things as energy resistance that you'd otherwise acquire with a ring or some such.

Even I don't think EK solves the need for magical weapons (correct me if I'm wrong), as weapon bond doesn't provide magical, and the magic weapon spell is transmutation which is not available to EKs.

Offline TenaciousJ

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Re: Viability of the Eldritch Knight Subclass Discussion
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2015, 03:37:26 PM »
Magic Weapon is transmutation, but the EK has a couple levels (3, 8, 14, 20 iirc) where they can choose a spell without a school restriction, so out of 13 spells known, only 9 *must* be abjuration or evocation.
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Offline SorO_Lost

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Re: Viability of the Eldritch Knight Subclass Discussion
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2015, 01:35:33 PM »
Is the Eldritch Knight a viable single class character?
Yes. In some ways it's a bit ahead of other half-caster Classes & Paths.

The EK uses the Wizard's Spell List, which is among the widest and more versatile Spell Lists in 5th. And while the EK suffers a Spell Level, the EK's extra ACIs & imposed Disadvantage on Saves against his Spells typically make his Save DCs more effective than the other half-casters. Finally, because EK is built on top of the base Fighter, you also have Action Boost for choices like doublecast or buffing and attacking on the same round. So as a caster, the EK can be seen as a much better alternative than the Ranger, Paladin, or often forgotten Arcane Trickster.

And as for the melee power, unless we're talking multiclass builds nothing really beats a Fighter. And hell, even in multiclass and you can expect Fighter 11's name to be dropped a bit, through probably Battle Master based.

Offline awaken_D_M_golem

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Re: Viability of the Eldritch Knight Subclass Discussion
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2015, 03:02:55 PM »
UA Spell-less Ranger 2 , is a decent dip for some of the BM stuff.


Couple of builds posted back at wotc ...
(which I'll have to stop referencing at all , sigh)
... stick Abj 14 or 'Lock 13 on the top end.

Fighter 6 with Archery and the 2 ranged feats,
is very strong, enough to cover temporary weaknesses.

2 Handing + feats, and pull your hand off to cast Shield
can also be stuck onto an Archer, though not as focused.
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Offline NumberKruncher

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Re: Viability of the Eldritch Knight Subclass Discussion
« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2015, 10:08:40 AM »
I've played an EK as a great tank in the past. Plate armor, shield (war-caster feat required), and defense fighting style. Casts shield as a reaction when he actually is hit.

It's really, really hard to hit this guy.
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Offline Colgruv

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Re: Viability of the Eldritch Knight Subclass Discussion
« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2015, 02:52:36 PM »
I've played an EK as a great tank in the past. Plate armor, shield (war-caster feat required), and defense fighting style. Casts shield as a reaction when he actually is hit.

It's really, really hard to hit this guy.

For sure. I had one at 6th-level for a one-off, combat heavy session. I only had chainmail, and I don't think I ended up taking any damage to my actual HP. I only took a few hits to my Temp HP from False Life (bought with one of EK's unrestricted spell selections.)

Offline Gnomes2169

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Re: Viability of the Eldritch Knight Subclass Discussion
« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2015, 06:28:00 PM »
The Sword Coast Adventure Guide makes their level 7 cantrip+attack ability a bit better, since they can pick up both Booming Blade and Greenflame Blade (making their at-will damage a bit better if certain conditions are in effect). Otherwise, most guides and optimizers recommend staying at range with EK, since there is very little reason to wade into melee with them unless you have no other frontlines (and then you build for ultimate tanking instead of moar bow damage). If going into the front lines, then S+B tanking or duelist+grappling is typically a good build for EK, which can buff their already admirable defenses with spells like shield, or make their grapples better with spells like enlarge person.

Typically though, don't worry too much about dealing a busload of damage. Your primary role is to provide battlefield control and a solid front line as an EK (if you go melee) or long ranged spell support and covering fire if you go with archery. Swapping out to wizard at level 11 is pretty much always going to be viable, especially for a dexterity EK that grabs the Bladesinger subclass from the SCAG.
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Offline SorO_Lost

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Re: Viability of the Eldritch Knight Subclass Discussion
« Reply #12 on: October 28, 2015, 10:14:13 PM »
Helf EK 11 / Bladesinger 8 / Runecaster 1 sounds pretty nice (and UA Ranger being a close consideration for archery)
Fighting Style, Action Surge, Extra Attack 2, five ASIs, Bladesong's +Int-to-AC, and a single rune.
Spellcasting, you have Wizard Ritual, 12th level Wizard Spell Slots (max 4th), 20th level Elrditch Knight (max 4th), and I'm not sure if you can add the other classes to Runecaster?


Offline linklord231

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Re: Viability of the Eldritch Knight Subclass Discussion
« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2015, 11:27:54 PM »
Spellcasting, you have Wizard Ritual, 12th level Wizard Spell Slots (max 4th), 20th level Elrditch Knight (max 4th), and I'm not sure if you can add the other classes to Runecaster?

You're calculating spell slots wrong.  It would be 8 (wizard levels) + 3 (1/3 EK levels) +1 (Runecaster levels), meaning you'd have the same spell slots as a 12th level single-classed Wizard (4/3/3/3/2/1, 6th level max).  You prepare spells separately for each class, so you could prepare 8 + Int from your Wizard levels plus whatever spells you know from Eldritch Knight.  Runecaster doesn't advance spells known or prepared for either class.  Also, you wouldn't necessarily have any spells known/spells in your Wizard book above 4th level, but you might if you found a scroll or something. 

Forgive me if that's what you were saying here and I just misunderstood you.
I'm not arguing, I'm explaining why I'm right.

Offline SorO_Lost

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Re: Viability of the Eldritch Knight Subclass Discussion
« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2015, 12:37:17 AM »
Forgive me if that's what you were saying here and I just misunderstood you.
It's nearly what I'm saying.

But you should to catch up to a 13 month old rules correction, Known/Prepared does not stack with multiclassing, the unintentional wording on the Wizard entry that seems to imply otherwise was addressed and denied by the actual Sage over a year ago (link).

So no special exception for the Wizard-only, he can only Learn/Prepare per the intended (and technically more relevant) multiclassing rules provided on page 164. Making his max 4th, not 6th. IE he has 6th level Slots that can be used to cast 4th level Spells but cannot cast a 6th level Spell like Contingency.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2015, 12:44:25 AM by SorO_Lost »

Offline linklord231

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Re: Viability of the Eldritch Knight Subclass Discussion
« Reply #15 on: October 29, 2015, 01:51:43 AM »
If the Sage says something different from what's in the book, then the Sage is wrong. 

Quote
[To prepare Wizard spells], choose a number of wizard spells from your spellbook equal to your Intelligence modifier + your wizard level (minimum one spell).  The spells must be of a level for which you have spell slots.

The only limitations are that they must be spells from your spellbook, and you have to have a slot that you could potentially cast them from.  Along those lines, that second clause would be entirely unnecessary if what you're saying is true. 

Quote
When you find a wizard spell of 1st level or higher, you can add it to your spellbook if it is of a level for which you have spell slots and if you can spare the time to decipher and copy it.
The errata amends this, saying that the spell must be of a spell level that you can prepare.  (As a side note, that errata file is from June 2015, making it more current than your Twitter post).

So, to recap:  In order to prepare a spell, it must come from the spellbook and be of a level for which you have spell slots.  To be in the book, it must be of a level for which you have spell slots and must be of a level that you could prepare.  Circling back around, the only limitation for what spell levels you can prepare is that you must have an appropriate slot.  There is no global rule limiting the level of spells that you can prepare based on class level; every class that prepares spells has a specific rule that you can't prepare a spell for which you don't have spell slots.

I'm not arguing, I'm explaining why I'm right.

Offline SorO_Lost

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Re: Viability of the Eldritch Knight Subclass Discussion
« Reply #16 on: October 29, 2015, 03:53:18 PM »
If the Sage says something different from what's in the book, then the Sage is wrong.
No one really cares about a highly incorrect opinion on the Sage's role in 3rd/3.5 edition. This is 5th Edition and let's go through how your wrong layer by layer.

Starting with how you attempted to use the Errata.
(click to show/hide)

So if you're already failing to read relevant text, do you think you missed anything else?
(click to show/hide)

Now let's talk about the whys & hows for a moment.
(click to show/hide)

But wait, I'm not done yet!
(click to show/hide)

The last thing I'd like to bring up is your baggage and overall attitude.
(click to show/hide)
« Last Edit: October 29, 2015, 04:01:49 PM by SorO_Lost »

Offline linklord231

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Re: Viability of the Eldritch Knight Subclass Discussion
« Reply #17 on: October 30, 2015, 03:00:06 AM »
I'm not gonna derail this thread any further, but suffice it to say that I disagree with pretty much every point you made there SorO. 

I will never understand why you take such personal offense to the idea that someone at WotC might not remember the things they wrote with perfect accuracy, and therefore make incorrect rulings based on mis-remembered rules.  Is Jeremy Crawford sucking your dick or something?
I'm not arguing, I'm explaining why I'm right.

Offline SorO_Lost

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Re: Viability of the Eldritch Knight Subclass Discussion
« Reply #18 on: October 30, 2015, 12:25:49 PM »
I will never understand why you take such personal offense to the idea that someone at WotC might not remember the things they wrote with perfect accuracy, and therefore make incorrect rulings based on mis-remembered rules.
And I've never understood why someone walks into a debate thinking they should ignore rules and updates.

No wait, I fully understand it. If a quote proves you wrong you must disagree with it. For example, you think he just forgot, opposed to asking was it ever intended that the Wizard, and Wizard only, gets a special Known/Prepare pass instead of it being bad wording. Well sort of bad wording, the explanations match Sage Advice.

But that assumption of a mistake doesn't have that flair of "ignore the text proving me wrong" like yours does. So I can see why you won't go for that.