Looking through various Hexblade builds, I see many people stressing how important it is (almost necessary) to get both Devil's Sight and the Darkness spell.
I can see the obvious advantages of the combo. But these builds all seem to be ignoring the reality that most people play with teammates. Doesn't that make the combo somewhat circumstantial, especially early on? Isn't throwing a 15-foot-radius sphere of darkness onto the battlefield (one which normal darkvision can't even penetrate) going to frequently trip up nearby allies, and stop them from hitting some of your opponents? Or is there some way to mitigate this downside that I'm missing?
Having played in a game with a melee weapon that cast darkness that only I could see through, yes, it is a serious pain for the team. Not only does the darkness hinder them; it dispels some of the things they were probably using for light.
As a ranged warlock it is better, because you can be back from the melee and snipe from darkness. You do have to stand apart from everyone, so they aren't still hindered, which emans you aren't getting benefit from things like paladin auras.
Hiding in the darkness also stops your teammates from assisting you. The major ranged healing spells (healing word, mass healing word, heal) can't target you. Of course, if you are knocked unconscious your darkness will go away, so they can heal you then. :-)
Mostly it comes down to what else you could do with that spell slot instead of darkness.
I used this rarely on my first Warlock (it was great that one time when two of us with Devil's Sight stood near each other for range damage), and my current Warlock hasn't even taken the Devil's Sight invocation yet - currently level 6.
Yeah, it's not quite as party unfriendly as it's made out to be, if the mob or your allies (or both) are in the darkness, any advantage to hit as an unseen attacker, is negated by disadvantage to hit as you're effectively blind. Directly targetted save spells of course can't be used at all as any I've checked require sight, that could be a benefit if you're up against magic users. Plus it's usually pretty easy to stay at the back, cast it on yourself, and it won't affect your allies at all. Or even on their turn you could be shouting to them to step forward 5 feet before they make their ranged attack (if they have advantage somehow) or save spell, then step 5 feet back into the darkness after spell.
This is all assuming that your enemies don't have ways to make it work for them. As I have mentioned there are several. It's also effectively a blinded condition and comes with all the problems that a blinded condition has such as automatically failing any kind of perception related necessities involving sight if you can't see through the darkness to each other. Which makes ranged attacks into and out of it basically pointless.
To my knowledge, ranged attacks aren't affected by it? The advantage of being an unseen attacker and the disadvantage of being blinded cancel each other out. In fact, if the mob is prone, it's one wy of negating the disadvantage of attacking a prone mob.
Ranged attacks are technically affected by it. Because it's sight based. If you cannot see that target you can't know it's prone to aim lower. Your basically calling shots on squares and hoping you hit the right one.
One thing that bears mentioning, the enemies don't have to be in the darkness area, it works just as well if the warlock is the only one inside it. If enemies do enter it, allies can still attack them normally, since unseen attacker advantage negates the blind attack disadvantage, they just can't benefit from anything else that would give them advantage.
This. My intent with devil's sight/darkness is to stand in the corner with darkness on myself to try and keep good LOS open for my teammates, while I blast away with EB. I think that darkness/DS is a strong combo, but it's also situational. It's probably not a well that you should be going to every encounter. it's just a tool to keep in your pocket and use when you need to use it.