Eldritch Knight.... When I bought the PHB and flipped to that I was so excited. Finally the battle mage we all wanted and dreamt about playing.
Not really... basically you are a gimped caster whose magic cannot compete with other casters (especially non hybrids) You will never live to your full "fighter potential" as the eldritch knight stands currently, nor will you be an arcane monstrosity like you might hope.
Flavor wise they are really interesting characters and you will have a lot of fun playing one if you do not care about being the most effective "version" of your class. I played one for a short campaign and went into it knowing that I would not be very impactful in combat but you can make up for those shortcomings by engaging more in role play or taking another look about how you approach combat. Ultimately I ended up playing a really fragile front line shotgun style caster and while my dice were never the biggest in results of damage, I did have lots of fun in regards to my "class fantasy"
If you want to be a meta monster play a Cleric or Paladin to get your battle mage fix, if you are going to stick with the fighter I most enjoyed the Arcane Archer archetype (found in the Unearthed Arcana series) and the always impressive battlemaster.
Just from reading statistics, I feel like this "role" is better fulfilled by the Pact of the Blade Warlock better than Eldritch Knight Fighter. The invocations for Blade feel cool, though the flavor is very different.
But mind this is just from reading rules, not from putting dice to table so I could be totally off base.
Our group's Warlock was super excited about them for her Pact of the Tome. I have a character concept for a Pact of the Blade Warlock with the Infernal pact or what have you (because Fling Through Hell sounds frakkin awesome) but I've not come up with a good Eldritch Knight concept.
Main problem is, I'm too excited about too many characters and have too little time/other DMs in our group to let me run them all right now haha.
I'm of the school of thought that their evocation stuff is a trap option- generally they should be focusing on the abjuration side so they can deploy buffs and such, I tend to build them as a fit into an anti-mage niche using with magic useful for taking down spellcasters. It's too bad they don't get their counterspell until really late, though there are other ways to shut down a magic user and they can play the teleport game to get in on enemy spellcasters. They also make good walls thanks to spells like shield.
Because I rolled really well, and it fit into a concept I was playing with, I ended up rolling a Warlock 3/Eldritch Knight 2 (leveling up to EK 8 before the game changed and a few other details). I know it doesn't fit into most concepts of power gaming, but I ended up really happy with how this character turned out, especially with the introduction of the SCAG cantrips. The short rest refresh of two spell slots at level 1 makes you exceptionally versatile and more likely to cast without feeling like you're sacrificing a potential needed spell in the future. Protection from Good & Evil became a bread and butter spell for me and (with War Caster feat) made me nigh-impossible to hit when facing demons and fey.
The fact that fighters get a lot more options for feats (again, if you roll well) helps augment the character's perceived deficiencies that having such "non compatible" classes have. War Caster is a must, and I found Mage Slayer very useful when up against magi. Shield Mastery (since I wielded one) added to my ability to survive against dragons, and that's before you even get to the cantrip+attack ability. Green Flame Blade + attack is just awesome. Though I started with a Demonic Pact, as the story progressed (and UA came out) I switched to Undying Light, which meant Green Flame Blade dealt serious damage to my enemies (ironically with a Frost Brand sword).
I've seen some of the alternatives--Seeker Pack, Hexblade--but in all honesty none quite hold up to how versatile this combo has made me. I've become the de facto tank for the group because of my high AC and hard hits, and it adds quite a bit of character plot in exploring the dichotomy of two diverse classes. Eldritch Knight alone is definitely limited, but with just a little multiclassing and forethought you can make it into a hell of a powerhouse.
I think EK is optimized to have a either a bowman with a little magic or a single large weapon with a little magic and range spells. (You need 1 hand free) The main problem is without WarCaster you can't duel-weild or shield, this really reduces the options of a dex based warrior without using feats up. Now that means that you gain Spellcaster feature at 3rd level and a Feat at 4th, so you'd have to only have 1 level without fully operational. Not awful, but it still competes for other Feats or +2 Ability Score
Personally I've been planning on building this eventually: Alt-Human: Shield Master Level 1: Rogue. Expertise: Athletics & Perception Level 2+: Fighter (Duelist)/Eldtrich Knight Level 5: WarCaster
Armed with a Rapier & Shield. The Rogue gives you all kinds of skills, Sneak Attack once a turn, and Expertise boosts Athletics. From level 1 if you make an Attack Action, a Bonus Action shield bash an enemy shoving them prone giving you Adv on the Attack Action and also Sneak Attack.
Also, because you take spells from the Wizard list, you can use a Scroll of Find Familiar. In addition any AoE spells will be against the Dex Save which is trained from Rogue ontop of a good dex and the shield bonus.
If I have the chance to buy an Uncommon magic item of my choice I'd get a Helm of Intellect to boost my mediocre Int score to 19. Ditto would be for Gauntlets of Orge Strength so my Strength becomes 19, giving me more bonus on the Athletics checks, possibly Hit and Damage if my dex isn't already 18.
I'm currently playing as a half-orc EK. I'm still only at lvl 4, and currently mostly end up using my spell slots for defense (Shield) and occasionally to make a few long range attacks on unsuspecting enemies. I also use my familiar for some recon and to send and receive messages by imprinting a directive or signal for my familiar to return once it has the necessary information to the mission I'm on. I'm still comparatively new to D&D and I'm sure I'm not using my character to max efficacy. I'll definitely be looking into the Warcaster a level up after reading this, though.
I just drew up an EK for an Eberron game and gave him the Dragonmarked feat and Sharpshooter. I don't see any use being an EK with a blade...it just (personally) didn't make sense to build him that way. I gave him the Mark of Finding using the UA rules...I think he'll be fun to play. We're starting at 4th level so I have some options available to me. I can cast my Dragonmark spells once per long rest and plus I have a little bit of spell casting to help me along the way. I was thinking about cross classing down the line...maybe warlock, I mean once we get in the game then I could RP how and why he makes his pact. I do feel like the Ek needs a little bit more, though...
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"...Debts must always be paid, sometimes in more than blood and gold. But this is Ordo Ursa," Ren places his hand on Erakas's chest, right where the Dragonborn's heart is. "Right here. And it always has been and always will be. Don't ever forget that. Because I won't."
Rentaro Caeli- Air Genasi Mystic: Order of the Nomad (Storm King's Thunder) #TeamMod
We are going to be running a level 12 one shot soonish. I am thinking about a 7th Eldritch Knight/2 Bladesinger/3 Swashbuckler. With War magic I won't need to duel wield so going to run Dueling as my fighting style. Using War magic and Rakish Audacity you could cast Booming Blade and do 1d8(weapon)+2d8(cantrip)+2d6(sneak attack)+2+(stat) on your first hit then 1d8+2+(stat) on your bonus attack. Any additional levels you stay with Wizard to increase your spell power. I think it could be interesting to try out. You don't have to worry about Attacks of Opportunity with the Swashbuckler either as long as it is from the target you attacked. You could move in attack them, move back and let booming blade explode for another 3d8 each round.
My other option is an Eldritch Knight/Arcane Trickster mix, but I don't feel like those two blend well together.
The Eldritch Knight is my Fighter archetype of choice. I get to cast some spells, but I can also be a solid fighter too? Yes please! I agree with Halaku, you can't judge an EK against a pure casting class, they aren't a pure caster. Paladin or Ranger...maybe, but the style of the character will be totally different. I really like the class, and as always, it should be in how you want your character to feel.
I played a half-drow warrior whose mother was, allegedly, raped by a drow from a raiding party. She died in childbirth and I was raised as an anathema to the whole village. I didn't understand why everyone hated me as a child. I looked like every other elven child, until around age 30. My skin began to become mottled and dark spots would form. This horrifying trend continued until an elder pulled me aside and explained the dark day that our village was raided by the drow. He also explained the abomination that I was, and what I was becoming. In horror, I fled the village and made my way to the streets of Waterdeep. I was found by a member of the Black Arrow, a sub faction of the Harpers dedicated to thwarting the actions of drow on the surface, and accepted into their ranks. I learned the language of the drow, how to fight like them, and how to hunt them. My rage fueled my strength and, apparently, my transformation. The more I gave into my rage, the more my skin changed. When my eyes started to turn red I knew it was time to move on again. My rogue companion and I made our way in search of what was left of Skullport, the only way I knew into the Underdark.
This very fun character began as a fighter. At 3rd level I took EK and used my spell slots to take spells similar to my drow heritage (darkness, levitate, etc.). My DM has given me leeway with the class to the degree that it lends to the roleplaying of my self loathing warrior. It's been a blast. He's level 7 now and is tearing up OotA. I recently discovered that there was no drow raid, and that my mother isn't dead. She was forced to leave with her black skinned lover. My care was entrusted to a family member while my parents went on some important quest.
I want to play an EK really badly. Right up there with a College of Lore bard. But alas I'm apparently one of the few brave souls willing to Dungeon Master in my area so I don't really get to. I have been in a Sunday game for awhile but the DM there likes to try new systems when his Kickstarters come in so I have to wait. I think it looks fun. My opinion is / desire to explore is mixing in some feats early on to get a pretty versatile fighter built. Maybe rely on Magic Missile to draw early ire and then use more of the defensive spells to keep threats interested in the glowing whirlwind throwing his sword around like crazy and calling it back. I think the challenge would be keeping an EK's Str, Con, and Int scores relevant to the scale of challenge. I feel like the other Fighters focused on combat would scale AC and HP better vs = CR challenges outright and the EK has to be a more clever soul with skill use and placing spells well.