Some big news hit over the weekend, the next Unearthed Arcana is delayed until February, but it will be the long awaited rerelease of the Artificer.
As announced on Twitter earlier this weekend, there will be no Unearthed Arcana in January, but February’s will be the Artificer. This is some surprising, but welcome news, as this particular Unearthed Arcana was one of the first new base classes, released two years ago, and now it’s being revisited, with the team working on it during the month instead of releasing it early.
— Dungeons & Dragons (@Wizards_DnD) January 12, 2019
As D&D’s Lead Rules Designer, Jeremy Crawford has pointed out in the past, often if a subject is revisited in Unearthed Arcana it’s because there’s a place for it to fit–some niche that it could fill in the grand works of D&D in the coming months. We saw many a subclass get premiered in Unearthed Arcana articles in the months leading up to Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, for instance. But the Artificer is a brand new class–this is a major expansion to the game.
5th Edition has learned well the lesson of 3.x and 4th–by avoiding the featurecreep, they’ve kept the game streamlined and straightforward. D&D is more accessible than ever, more fun to use and fun to play. So to add a full class to the game–even in Unearthed Arcana is a pretty big deal.
When the Artificer was released last time, the core concept–a magic-user that infuses items with spells instead of casting them straight up. The class, as it was, functioned either as a strange sort of support that could pass buffs around using alchemical reagents, or if you took its other subclass, you were essentially a magical gunslinger.
Neither option felt finished. The Alchemist had a lot of options available, but how you were meant to use them felt a little confusing. And the Gunslinger felt a little less than able to capitalize on the other features of its class, instead using the alchemical thunder cannon pretty much exclusively starting at 3rd level.
Which is why we’re excited to see what transformation the Artificer has undergone in the ensuing years. Two months and two years later, will they still have the same two subclasses? Will there be more? Some of the other wayward subclasses might be a good fit for the Artificer. The Wizards’ School of Invention subclass, for instance, had many features that relied on improvising spells, which seems like exactly the sort of thing they’re going for with the Artificer.
A big part of the core of the class seems to be being able to come up with what you need on the fly. Whether it’s figuring out exactly how to combine powerful reagents or building the right tool for the right job on the fly, Artificers feel best when they have a bit of MacGyver to them.
For now, we’ll have to wait. You can find the original Artificer linked below.