One D&DUnearthed Arcana

UA 2023 – Player’s Handbook Playtest 7 Breakdown, Part Four

Let’s make a deal and have that talk about UA’s latest revision of Warlocks. Today, I’ll be bringing you quotes from Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, since it’s sort of an ur-text for the whole concept. It also explains how hard it is to have a new idea in game design: “There’s nothing wise and nothing silly wasn’t thought of long ago.”

Barbarian | Fighter | Sorcerer | Warlock


I have a long history of opinions on this class, and I’ve made my own set of attempts to tweak and improve it. Narratively, it’s one of my favorite classes; mechanically, it’s the other thing. I’m playing a Hexblade, a subclass that fixes some of the outstanding problems of the Pact of the Blade. And yet:

“In the end, you are exactly–what you are. Put on a wig with a million curls, put the highest heeled boots on your feet, yet you remain in the end just what you are.”

In the previous draft, we got something that worked well for the Pact of the Blade, but not at all for the Tome, and forced the Chain into quite a different playstyle. It did one thing I loved, though – it opened the Warlock to Int and Wis as spellcasting ability scores. (But was needlessly restrictive about that decision.)

  • Warlocks no longer have Medium Armor training at base.
  • Pact Magic – spell slots that come back on a Short Rest – returns, after a dalliance with making Warlocks standard per-day spellcasters. I was very surprised to see this revert, but this change forced the dissolution of the three unified spell lists back to individual class lists, for one simple reason. PCs can never be allowed to cast animate dead as-written in an unlimited Short Rest cycle.
    • Some of the spells that had previously been locked behind really bad Eldritch Invocations – like Thief of Five Fates – are just part of the Warlock spell list now, as detailed in a sidebar.
    • Pact Magic is back to Cha being the only spellcasting stat option. I’m disappointed.
  • You don’t gain a Pact Boon automatically. Instead, you get your first Eldritch Invocation at level 1, and you can use it to take Pact of the Blade or Pact of the Tome (Chain requires level 2+), or you can just not have a Pact Boon for a bit. But they shape a playstyle enough that you’ll probably want one eventually.
  • Magical Cunning at level 2 lets you regain half (round down) of your Pact Magic slots with 1 minute of effort, once per Long Rest. So that’s one spell slot until level 11, when you regain 2 of your 3 slots. It’s just not enough.
    • Considering the one-minute requirement, I feel confident that it could be all of your Pact Magic slots, 2/day, and still be completely fine.
  • Warlocks gain subclass features at level 3 (nope, still feels weird), 6, 10, and 14.
  • Ability Score Improvements at the standard levels.
  • Contact Patron has moved to level 9, and still teaches you Contact Other Plane and gives you one free use per day, for which you automatically pass your saving throw. The phrasing of “Once you cast this spell with this feature, you can’t do so again until you finish a Long Rest” seems easy to misinterpret into “you can’t cast this spell with a spell slot either.”
    • Anyway, I like that the Warlock doesn’t have to pay a precious Spells Prepared slot for this information-gathering spell. Being able to trigger a constrained social encounter with your Patron is an absolutely awesome idea for Warlocks, and I further like that it’s not taking the place of a new 5th-level spell.
  • Mystic Arcanum, starting at level 11, has returned to its 5e.14 function, but also you can now change out one arcanum for another of the same level when you gain a level.
    • Mystic Arcana being a single fixed spell at each spell level is probably more restriction than is really called for. Prepping those each day wouldn’t be a problem in any way I can see, and there’s no significant narrative built into Mystic Arcana to begin with (other than a good feature name).
  • Eldritch Master at level 20 improves Magical Cunning to restore all of your Pact Magic slots. Still just once a day, and still not enough to be your cool level 20 payoff.

The bones of the class are almost identical, and it wouldn’t take much juicing up of Magical Cunning to get it there. With all the currency fixing we’ve seen in other classes, I’m surprised there’s still such resistance to helping Warlocks out.

Eldritch Invocations

A huge number of Eldritch Invocations have been chopped, as I mentioned, usually because they were super bad. Just so bad. Others got cut because they gave you a permanent effect, but that effect is now a spell on the Warlock list that can be cast as a ritual. I find that reasoning dissatisfying – now I’ve got to spend an incredibly precious spell prep slot on Detect Magic, Comprehend Languages, or Speak with Animals. Stopping for a 10-min ritual for those effects is less cool and often situationally impossible.

Agonizing Blast now lets you add your spellcasting ability modifier to the damage of any of your cantrips. Which would help make other cantrips a valid choice, except that Eldritch Blast still gets to add your Ag Blast damage multiple times. This is a “fix” that does zero things to actually be a fix.

It is interesting to see a lingering implication of spellcasting abilities other than Charisma.

Armor of Shadows is still just Mage Armor for free, all you want. The Iyengar Rule (closing the infinite-abjuration-casting loophole Aabria exploited as Laerryn Coramar-Seelie exploited in EXU: Calamity) is stored in the Abjurer subclass rather than in this feature. As an Eldritch Invocation, it’s functionally the equivalent of +1 studded leather armor, so I guess take it early and respend it if cool magic armor falls into your lap?

Ascendant Step has had its level prereq cut from 9 to 5. Level 9 was always pointlessly high, but considering that this costs your Concentration, level 5 is still only okay at best.

Devil’s Sight – always one of the best invocations in the game, and just the thing for exploiting the crap out of Hunger of Hadar – just got slightly better, as it now works in Dim Light as well. Still amazing, and 100% worth grabbing with an Eldritch Adept feat.

Eldritch Mind comes to us from TCOE. Advantage on Con saves to maintain Concentration is great for Warlocks, especially Bladelocks who may be relying on Hex for their damage output.

Eldritch Smite comes to us from TCOE, and still requires both level 5 and the Pact of the Blade. It lets you burn Pact Magic slots spell slots for a burst of melee damage, like you’re a Paladin or something. You also knock Huge or smaller targets prone with no save, so that’s real nice. Incredible for knocking flyers out of the air, if your pact weapon includes the Thrown property.

Eldritch Spear gives one Warlock cantrip with a range of at least 10 feet (so not Greenflame Blade or other Bladelock-centric cantrips) a huge increase to its range – it adds 30 ft x your Warlock level. The curvature of the game world becomes a significant barrier to your targeting. Okay, maybe not that, but this is ludicrously long range for combat engagement.

Fiendish Vigor no longer asks you to keep casting the spell until you get the best result on the die for False Life. Good fix; just reworking the Invocation to no longer use False Life might be even better.

Gaze of Two Minds (“Two souls live in me, alas, Irreconcilable with one another.”) lets you use a Bonus Action to perceive through another creature’s senses (was previously only Humanoids) until the end of your next turn – but you can keep it going by continuing to spend Bonus Actions, as long as you don’t skip a round. (Mark this down as one of the fairly rare cases where something odd would happen if you could spend an Action in place of a Bonus Action.) You can also use that other creature as an origin point for spells you cast, as long as they’re within 60 feet.

It’s hard to guess what kinds of weird shenanigans this Invocation will open up for your group, but they’ll be weird, delightful corner-case abuses in most cases. Or you’ll just use this to convince people that it’s your friend and not you who is the dangerous Warlock? What I’m saying is, this Invocation leans into emergent narrative and emergent mechanical outcomes, and the Design Team can only imagine the outer edges of it. I love this kind of feature.

A Digression Concerning the Detection of Portals

I’m going to tell you a story about emergent narratives and mechanics. There we were in last Tuesday’s game. Our party is my Hexblade, a Horizon Walker ranger, a Stars druid, and a Handsy monk; we also have an NPC friend tagging along. In the session, we’re chasing a wizard who we’ve figured out is our main problem right now. He’s got a substantial lead on us as he tries to make it through a portal to… wherever that portal goes, probably back to Prime.

We know he’s headed for a portal but not where in the dungeon complex it might be. The Horizon Walker uses Detect Portal, a subclass feature that almost never comes up, but that gives direction and distance. My Hexblade grabs the monk and casts dimension door, teleporting us to the portal, where the enemy wizard is already in the room. The DM rules – quite reasonably, I think – that he is Surprised, so we start beating the snot out of him.

But wait, there’s more. Horizon Walkers also have Ethereal Step. So our Stars druid casts polymorph on our NPC buddy to turn him into a rat, and Wild Shapes herself into a bat. The Horizon Walker puts the two of them in his pockets and pops Ethereal Step, already aware that he has precisely enough movement to make it the portal room. We skipped at least a full session of chase that would have ended in us going through the portal to get that guy back, all on the strength of Detect Portal. No designer was planning for that moment when writing the Horizon Walker.

Now, as I was saying…

Gift of the Depths lets you breathe water, grants you a Swim Speed equal to your Speed, and lets you cast Water Breathing for free, 1/Long Rest. I’m sure all of you know about Under the Seas of Vodari, so you can guess that I’m a big fan of this feature for letting drylanders explore our setting. You’ve got to be level 5+ to take this.

Gift of the Protectors is for Tomelocks of level 9+. A number of creatures up to your PB can write their names on a special page of your Book of Shadows, and when one of them drops to 0 hp, they drop to 1 hp instead. This magic only works once per Long Rest. I’d like to see this give back a few more hit points or temp hp, for the same reason that the Barbarian feature does, but even without it, this is a fun nice-to-have.

“Methinks, by most, ‘twill be confess’d that Death is never quite a welcome guest.”

Investment of the Chain Master is for Chainlocks of level 5+, and adds a bunch of extra stuff to familiars that you summon with Find Familiar. More movement options, your familiar can attack at the cost of your Bonus Action, more damage flavors, improved DCs for any of its abilities, and you can basically Uncanny Dodge for it with your Reaction. (It’s actually Resistance, so it doesn’t stack if the familiar already has Resistance, but you get me.) Good spread of improvements for making a familiar combat-useful, but still not enough durability, I suspect.

Lessons of the First Ones requires that you’re at least 2nd level as a Warlock, but you can use it to buy feats that don’t have any prerequisite. (Which is not that many feats anymore, since so many require level 4+.) Still, pretty good option – Skilled and Tough are great options for almost any Warlock. The change in this document is that you can now take Lessons multiple times.

Lifedrinker is for Bladelocks of level 9+, and it both deals +1d6 Necrotic, Psychic, or Radiant damage, and lets you spend a Hit Die to regain hit points (result + Con, as normal for a Short Rest). I like that something called Lifedrinker at least relates to feeding you hit points! That’s a huge boost in durability for Bladelocks, for a slight net loss in damage output (an average of 3.5, in place of your Charisma modifier).

Mask of Many Faces is unchanged from 5e.14. It’s the ultimate Invocation for social shenanigans and talking your way past things that are likely to be a fight.

Master of Myriad Forms has dropped from requiring level 15+ to level 5+. Where Disguise Self solves a lot of social problems, Alter Self solves some exploration problems as well. It’ll never be as much of a must-buy as Mask of Many Faces, though, because Alter Self requires Concentration and Disguise Self doesn’t.

Misty Visions lets you cast Silent Image for free. This is the kind of spell that depends on player creativity and inspiration in the moment, and it’s either incredible or worthless. I’m glad this exists, but I doubt I’d ever take it.

One with Shadows was awful in 5e.14, since moving or using an action or reaction ended your invisibility. That’s… most of the things. Now, it lets you cast Invisibility for free, as long as you start in Dim Light or Darkness. That takes your Concentration, but it’s still going to be great in a variety of situations.

Otherworldly Leap previously required level 9+ for some reason, and has now dropped down to level 2+. A revision to the Jump spell later in this document also changes it from an Action to a Bonus Action. As a result, this Invocation is okay. Nothing amazing, but okay. It helps considerably that the Jump spell doesn’t depend on your Strength or Speed anymore.

Pact of the Blade has grabbed some of the key Hexblade functionality. You now create a bond with a conjured or magic weapon (it’s odd that you can’t create a bond with a nonmagical weapon, though magic weapons are by far the main use case). I think it’s probably contrary to intent, but as written, you can bond with any magical weapon – including a ranged weapon – and gain proficiency with it, as well as using Cha for attack and damage bonuses with it. Even more than ranged weapons, I care that two-handed weapons are viable here. You can also use the weapon’s Mastery property, and can use it as a spellcasting focus. Oh, and you can change its damage type of Necrotic, Psychic, or Radiant damage.

I’m very pleased with how well this covers the needs of a Pact of the Blade Warlock. A further Invocation that granted Medium Armor training and Shield training would be great – or make them part of a revised Hexblade Patron, if that’s on the long-term docket. Also, I like that you can choose to combine this with other Pact Invocations, if that fits your style.

Oh! One more thing. By requiring no prereqs, Pact of the Blade is now open to cherry-picking with the Eldritch Adept feat, which is still official for use in 5e.24 until such time as WotC updates it. That’s a (system mastery intensive) gift to Valor bards and paladins.

Pact of the Chain is the one baseline Pact invocation that requires level 2+, and honestly I’m not sure why it does, unless this is about the Eldritch Adept I just mentioned. Anyway, you gain Find Familiar and cast it as a single action without expending a spell slot. You gain additional options for its form, and you can sacrifice an attack from your Attack action to let it make an attack with its Reaction. (You have your own private Commander’s Strike.)

As in 5e.14, getting really good use out of the Pact of the Chain requires more subtle understanding than other Pacts. It’s incredible for scouting and can deal good damage, but you’ve got to dig into your options. It’s worth saying that this mentions Find Familiar, not the revised Pact Familiar found in the PH 5 packet.

Pact of the Tome was, in 5e.14, arguably the best Pact, because its follow-on Invocation Book of Ancient Secrets gave you a spell chase minigame (even if only for rituals), so it had a way to grow with you. On its own, it also gave you cantrips chosen from any class list. This version gives you three cantrips from any class list (so it matches the previous Pact of the Tome), but there’s no follow-on Invocation to let you keep adding new rituals. Instead, you gain two 1st-level rituals, and that’s it. You also gain one 1st-level spell slot, and can use the book as a spellcasting focus.

There are a bunch of problems with this. Letting you change out your three cantrips and two 1st-level rituals as part of any Short Rest is a minor time delay on access to all of them, and a lot of mental load and book-searching to use well. It would be cooler if this had some way to connect with magic books, such as the many awesome books found in TCOE.

On the other hand, I’m just as glad that it’s not a cantrip.

Repelling Blast is unchanged, adding a 10-ft push to Eldritch Blast.

Thirsting Blade is, as before, Extra Attack for Bladelocks. It’s just that now it’s also Extra Attack 2 when you reach level 11. That’s a huge help for keeping Bladelocks competitive with EB damage scaling in tier 3, even without a magic weapon.

Visions of Distant Realms dropped its prereq from level 15+ to level 9+. Still no guarantee that it’ll see use, but it can’t hurt its chances.

Whispers of the Grave dropped its prereq from level 9+ to level 7+. Wouldn’t hurt to drop it by two more levels, but whatever.

Witch Sight still requires level 15+, because 30-ft Truesight is incredible (and much more straightforward than its 5e.14 expression).

Overall, then, Invocations are trending in a very good direction. I’d like to see a few more nice things done for the Pact of the Tome, and some more staying power given to Chainlock familiars. If it’s not perfect? Well… “While still man strives, still he must err.”

Archfey Patron

This subclass has bad problems in 5e.14 – Fey Presence isn’t enough (especially because of its short duration), and immunity to Charmed or Frightened is too common and too unpredictable to make most of these features feel good. My wife has played an Archfey warlock since it was still D&D Next, so that’s shaped a lot of my opinion here.

  • Patron Spells becoming automatically prepared, rather than costing a precious Spells Known slot, is a huge improvement. Nothing here is rescuing Sleep from having serious scaling problems, but at least it doesn’t also cost you something to know.
  • Steps of the Fey at level 3 replaces Fey Presence. Instead of a queen, not dark but beautiful and terrible as the dawn! (at least until the end of your next turn), you have Cha modifier per Long Rest uses of Misty Step, and you can choose one of two additional effects to go with it. Refreshing Step gives one other creature 1d10 temp hp – nice but not huge, and very swingy. Taunting Step forces a Wisdom save on creatures within 5 ft of the space you left, and if they fail, they have Disadvantage on attack rolls against creatures other than you. Shouldn’t be too hard to make a 30-ft teleport plus your movement a destination where they can’t attack you at all.
    • This is powerful stuff, and should be both playstyle-defining and useful for melee and blasty Warlocks. Fey duelists should have always been appealing, but here I think they hit that mark.
  • Misty Step at level 6 retains its previous effect – you can cast Misty Step as a Reaction when you take damage – though it’s not 1/Short Rest anymore, but pulls from your Steps of the Fey and Pact Magic. You also gain two new add-ons to Misty Step – Disappearing Step makes you invisible until you attack or start a new turn, and Dreadful Step forces a Wis save on creatures within 5 feet of the space you leave, hitting them with Psychic damage on a failure.
    • Those are both incredible. My best advice is to find ways to cast more Misty Steps, because this is some of the most incredible skirmishing the game has offered.
  • Beguiling Defenses at level 10 makes to immune to the Charmed condition (boo), and instead of this feature triggering when someone tries and fails to Charm you (which doesn’t come up a ton by any measure), it’s now when you’re hit by an attack roll. You use your Reaction to halve the damage and force the attacker to make a Wis save, taking Psychic damage equal to the damage dealt to you on a failure. This Reaction is 1/Long Rest, but you can refresh it with any spell slot.
    • That’s a lot of improvement all at once. My one concern is that refreshing this with any spell slot might mean you’re better off following this up with multiclassing into a primary caster to fuel more uses of the reaction. (Well, after Warlock 11, for that third Pact Magic slot and your 6th-level Mystic Arcana.)
  • Dark Delirium is gone at level 14, and replaced with Bewitching Magic. As part of casting any Enchantment or Illusion spell that costs both an action and a spell slot, you get a free Misty Step use, with its accompanying add-on. If nothing else, your Patron Spells feature makes damn sure you’ve got something for this.

This is hugely easier to use well, and has a lot more in common with the 4e Archfey warlock in flow, if not in the actions that bring about that result (because you kill people by teleporting rather than killing people to teleport). If this goes to print as-is, I think we’re in for a good time.

Celestial Patron

Of the patrons we’ve seen in official releases, this is the one I’m most skeptical about on a narrative level. Eldritch Invocations are not strongly themed for things a celestial (well, a non-Fallen celestial, right, Zariel?) should be giving you. It’d be fun to see a beefy list of Invocations mainly for Celestial Patrons, though, wouldn’t it?

  • As for all Warlock subclasses, you now just get your Patron Spells, and the ones that the Celestial Patron grants are pretty great.
    • Not you, Guardian of Faith.
  • Healing Light at level 3 is unchanged from XGTE because, frankly, it doesn’t need to change. It’s just a little behind a Paladin’s Lay on Hands healing output, but it has a 60-ft range. In combination with Pact Magic healing, this subclass is an easy way to be the team’s healer without sacrificing any damage output.
  • Radiant Soul at level 6 grants Resistance to Radiant damage, and lets you add your Cha modifier to damage when you deal Radiant or Fire damage with a spell. There’s still no cantrip out there that’ll keep pace with EB + Ag Blast, short of very corner-case uses of Sacred Flame, but the damage kicker for Guiding Bolt is nice to have.
  • Celestial Resilience at level 10 gives you and up to five allies temporary hit points when you use your Magical Cunning or finish a Short or Long Rest. Your temp hp equal your Warlock level + your Cha modifier; theirs equal half your Warlock level + your Cha modifier. You’re handing out maybe 75 temp hp each time you use this feature at level 10, and it scales up a little from there. That’s an incredible amount of healing you just… never need to do.
  • Searing Vengeance at level 14 is unchanged: once per Long Rest when you would roll a death save at the start of your turn, you instead regain half of your max hp, stand from prone, and unleash Radiant damage and the Blinded condition until the end of the current turn on enemies within 30 feet.
    • Things have to be going pretty badly for this to even trigger, but it is incredibly cool when it happens.

Overall, I still think the Celestial Patron is odd on the narrative, but I can’t argue with the gameplay this offers. I would totally play this as someone who cut a desperate deal with one of the Fallen, and was trying to make good (while staying ahead of the rest of the Fallen’s cultists).

Fiend Patron

“E’en hell hath its peculiar laws.”

The Fiend Patron is unquestionably the best of the PH Warlocks in 5e.14. Not only are the features easier to use well, they also get fireball as an option. With the Archfey and Great Old One Patrons improving, let’s see what if they’ve got sympathy for the devil.

Of course, this is also the second round of this subclass in UA.

  • Patron Spells have been revised, and the free casting is gone now that Warlocks are back to Pact Magic. The spells deliver fiery devil theme specifically; not so much for any other flavor of fiend. I know there’s never going to be deep support for, I dunno, gehrehleth patrons or whatever, but I wish there were more room for icy devils and the whole range of demonic weirdness here.
  • Dark One’s Blessing gives you temp hp equal to your Warlock level + your spellcasting ability modifier (again with language pointing to the moment when you could be an Int or Wis Warlock!) when you reduce an enemy to 0 hit points, or an ally does the same to an enemy within 10 feet of you.
    • I love this fix for your allies accidentally kill-stealing from you. This rewards playing very close to the front lines even as a ranged blaster, and getting pretty close to enemies that you think are close to dropping.
  • Dark One’s Own Luck at level 6 lets you add 1d10 to an ability check or saving throw that you make, spellcasting ability modifier times per Long Rest (but not more than once per roll).
    • The rules here specify “You can do so after seeing the initial roll but before any of the roll’s effects occur,” which is a weird timing requirement. Is that a step that somehow differs from the DM saying your initial result is a failure?
  • Fiendish Resilience works about the same as it did before, except that Force damage is no longer an available Resistance. Because Force has to be the best, I guess? Anyway, you still pick one flavor of Resistance at the end of any Short or Long Rest, until you choose again.
  • Hurl Through Hell at level 14 now grants a Cha save and has nudged its damage down from 10d10 to 8d10, but adds the Incapacitated condition to make absolutely sure the target loses Concentration while they’re away. You still shouldn’t use this power on a Fiend, but if you did, I guess they’d still be Incapacitated, despite not taking damage. You can also spend a 5th-level spell slot to recharge this power.
    • Probably a good set of changes? Automatic one-round banishment that gives the party time to cluster up and absolutely mug the heck out of the target when they get back is, um, not ideal, so adding a save on top of requiring a hit with an attack is probably fine. But you could conceivably use this with all of your Pact Magic slots, so…

The Fiend Patron, much like the Celestial, is recognizably the same animal as it was before, with a few tweaks. Seems fine.

Great Old One Patron

Archfey was bad, but Great Old One was so much worse. That said, I did have an encounter in my campaign where a Great Old One warlock used Awakened Mind to impressive effect, setting himself up as translator for a storm giant king the party rescued but couldn’t talk to. Anyway, let’s find out how things are going in the Far Realm.

  • Patron Spells are better in the same way as all of the other subclasses. Other than Clairvoyance, which is insanely hard to use well, this is a solid, fun spell list.
  • Awakened Mind has clarified that the telepathic communication is two-way. The 5e.14 text could be interpreted either way… as my story above may indicate.
  • Psychic Spells at level 3 lets you change the damage type of any Warlock spell to Psychic, and you don’t need verbal or somatic components to cast Enchantment or Illusion spells. I like that a lot.
    • Just one problem… these three features together are still only arguably a playstyle. I like the subtlety of casting Enchantment and Illusion spells without anyone knowing, but in a lot of adventuring situations, it’s hard to make it matter.
    • For later reference, Hex is an Enchantment.
  • Clairvoyant Combatant at level 6 is a new feature replacing Entropic Ward. You use Awakened Mind on a target you can see as a Bonus Action and force it to roll a Wis save. If it fails, it has Disad to attack you, and you have Advantage to attack it, as long as your bond with it lasts. You can use this 1/Short Rest, and can refresh it by expending a 2nd-level spell slot or higher.
    • I like the narrative of this a lot. You read their surface thoughts and gain an edge, great. What I’m not as sure about is the action and spell slot economy. Is it better to risk a Bonus Action and spell slot on something that grants a Wis save, in exchange for a benefit that cares a lot about whether the enemy is targeting you or someone else, or is it better to use that Bonus Action and spell slot to just cast Hex (even the new, not very fun version of Hex), no save allowed? Advantage is great for landing hits and increasing crits, but Hex can just get transferred to a new target once your first target is down.
  • Thought Shield at level 10 is unchanged: immunity to having your thoughts read against your will, Resistance to Psychic, and a creature that deals Psychic damage to you takes an equal amount of damage. Basically fine, and enemies dealing Psychic damage will probably be more common going forward than it has been.
  • Eldritch Hex is a new feature, also at level 10, that makes Hex always prepared for you, and imposes Disadvantage on saves of the same ability score as the one you curse for ability checks. That’s a great ability, but it’s in so much competition with Clairvoyant Combatant for time and spell slots that you probably don’t have time to do both of these. You have two spell slots at this point. Choose wisely.
  • Create Thrall at level 14 is completely reworked, which is good because the previous version was so hard to use, especially in tiers 3 and 4. Now it makes Summon Aberration always prepared for you, and you gain an alternate version that doesn’t require Concentration, lasts for only 1 minute, it gains (your Warlock level + your Cha modifier) temporary hit points, and it deals your Hex So now you have a way to deal your Hex damage more than once per round, congratulations!
    • Create Thrall shows us that Clairvoyant Combatant was never a great use of your time. I hope your tier 3+ encounters are going a few extra rounds, though, or you’re spending a spell slot on Summon Aberration and a spell slot on Hex – on separate rounds – and the fight might be over before you’re even ready to go. Hex’s duration continues, but Summon Aberration doesn’t, since you’re casting the 1-min-duration one specifically to maintain Concentration on Hex.

What I’m getting at here is that the Great Old One Warlock is hugely improved from its 5e.14 version, but it’s still not there. The head-fake of using Clairvoyant Combatant, with its limitations, then setting you up with a whole new gameplay loop at level 14. The narrative of Clairvoyant Combatant is a lot more interesting than Hex, on the other hand. If I had to trim it down, I’d be bolting more of Hex’s function onto CC, and cutting Hex itself out of the picture.

Taken all together, the Warlock is not quite ready for final release, but it’s so much closer than we’ve ever seen it before. There’s still an issue that ranged cantrips other than Eldritch Blast are simply worse, so the game is wasting your time by offering them. The change to Agonizing Blast works okay up through level 4, and collapses thereafter. I would rather see a few different Eldritch spells that come out to at least nearly the same damage than one spell and one Invocation that are just head and shoulders above other options in the great majority of likely situations.

Next time: the Wizard, and the thrilling conclusion of the PH 7 packet!