In exchange for knowledge and power, Warlocks are those who have made a deal with a powerful entity.
The exact nature of the deal varies from Warlock to Warlock just as much as it varies from Patron to Patron. Some Patrons may seek to use the Warlock as a way to increase their influence on the world while others may have more concrete goals.
In exchange for their new powers, a Warlock may pledge their service, soul, or something else entirely.
Welcome to the negotiation table, dear Warlock…
When it comes to making deals like this, there are winners and losers. While you may be ready to make a deal, this ranking of all of the Warlock subclasses in D&D 5e will help you come out on top!
So, please, have a seat while we look over your options!
Just be sure not to skip the fine print!
It’s also a good idea to check out my guide to Warlock Patrons in D&D 5e. That article goes deeper into each subclass and gives you ideas for how the Warlock-Patron relationship can work.
Number 9 – Undying
When it comes to reasons that someone would make a pact with some powerful being, eternal life is probably the most popular reason.
These Warlocks make their pacts with powerful liches, vampires, or deities that preside over the forces of life and death.
Unfortunately, if you’re looking to overcome death itself by becoming an Undying Warlock, you might want to look elsewhere.
There’s some nice theme to the Undying Warlock, but there’s really not a lot of usefulness there. The subclass’s abilities are incredibly niche.
If you’re looking for a Warlock with the theme of defying death, you’ll have a much better time with the Undead Warlock!
You can see what I mean in the full guide to the Undying Warlock!
Number 8 – Great Old One
Warlocks who make their pact with a Great Old One tap into a power beyond both reality and mortal sanity.
Common Great Old One patrons include Lovecraftian beings like Cthulhu or Hastur. If you’re looking to stay within the Forgotten Realms, you might instead take Tharizdun (The Chained God) or Dendar (the Night Serpent.)
But let’s be real, Cthulhu is the one we’re almost all going with, right?
The Great Old One Warlock is interesting in that you might not have even made an explicit deal. Instead, you’re drawing power from a being so far beyond your comprehension that it doesn’t even realize you exist.
However, as your power grows and your sanity wanes, you will ultimately come to serve this being’s plans.
Warlocks who serve the Great Old One are great at providing information and utility to their party. They leverage powerful and otherworldly psychic abilities in their role.
In the right campaign, these Warlocks would be much higher on this list. They’re incredible in campaigns with a lot of intrigue and mysteries to uncover.
However, they suffer a bit outside of that specialty. Without plenty of opportunities to play around in others’ minds, these Warlocks don’t really set themselves apart from the other options.
Because these rankings are meant to be more of an “apples to apples” comparison, the GOO-lock finds itself where it does.
Uncover all of the eldritch secrets with the full guide to the Great Old One Warlock!
Number 7 – Celestial
While Warlocks may have a reputation for being dark and gloomy, the Celestial Warlock instead answers a higher calling.
Making a pact with a Celestial being like an empyrean, unicorn, or deva, Celestial Warlocks wield a holy light to stand against evil.
These characters focus on supporting and healing their allies. However, they can still go on the offensive with radiant and fire damage to incinerate their foes!
Honestly, using the Warlock class’s unique spellcasting as a healer makes for an interesting experience. While most people think of Clerics (and maybe Druids) as party healers, Celestial Warlocks’ ability to regain their spells on a short rest can keep them in peak healing condition.
So maybe the Celestial Warlock is a bit of an oddball, but it’s a fresh take on how a party’s healer works and how the Warlock class plays!
See the light with the full guide to the Celestial Warlock!
Number 6 – Fathomless
So maybe you looked at the Great Old One Warlock and said “what if it had more tentacles?”
In that case, let’s look into the deepest depths of the ocean to meet The Fathomless patron! If you’ve wanted to make a character inspired by Aquaman, this is your chance!
Not only can you summon tentacles to protect yourself and lay a smack-down on your enemies, but you also bring some aquatic utility to the party.
Above the water, you serve as your patron’s eyes and ears on the land. Is your patron simply curious about the world above the waves or is it biding its time to one day rise from the depths and return all life to its watery domain?
Only time will tell…
In the meantime, the Fathomless Warlock’s utility and increased damage output along with its interesting flavor place it in the mid-tier of this ranking!
Dive into the full guide to the Fathomless Warlock to learn more!
Number 5 – Archfey
Illusions and Fey enchantments abound for the Archfey Warlock!
As one might expect from a pact with a being from the Feywild, the Archfey Warlock excels at manipulating the minds and senses of others. They always know exactly how to get their way and are never caught without a trick up their sleeve!
Of all of the Warlock subclasses in 5e, I had the most difficulty deciding where to rank this one.
While most of the Archfey Warlock’s abilities are situational, they aren’t quite as locked into those specific situations as the Undying or Great Old One patrons, for example.
More than any of the Warlock subclasses, the Archfey Warlock relies heavily on the player’s own creativity and ability to think outside of the box.
If you can do this well, you’ve got a character that is perfectly suited to manipulating nearly every situation to their advantage.
While the Archfey Warlock will definitely flourish in campaigns that are heavy on roleplaying, they’ve got enough enchantment and control spells to lock down just about any situation.
The Archfey is a patron that a lot of people seem to overlook, which is honestly sad!
I can’t fully justify placing the Archfey Warlock above the other entries in this list, but it’s certainly no slouch!
Enchant everyone around you with help from my full guide to the Archfey Warlock!
Number 4 – Undead
The Undead Warlock takes everything that the Undying tried to be and makes it so much darker, creepier, and awesome-er.
To overcome the grave and ultimately harness its power for yourself, you need to look no further than the Undead patron. This might be a lich like Acererak, a vampire like Strahd von Zarovich, or a Mummy Lord like Ankhtepot.
Undead Warlocks are almost all about putting out as much damage as possible. They get some sweet bonuses to their necrotic damage output and can even take on a terrifying Form of Dread to amplify their abilities even further.
It’s hard not to like this subclass! It does an excellent job with its theme/flavor without compromising the overall usefulness of the subclass.
The only thing that keeps the Undead Warlock from breaking into the top 3 is its reliance on necrotic damage. If you’re going up against enemies that resist it (and there’s more than a few…), it’s going to be tough.
Those that don’t resist your necrotic damage, on the other hand…
We just won’t talk about that…
Become death itself with the full guide to the Undead Warlock!
Number 3 – Fiend
At last, we come to the archetypal Warlock Patron: the Fiend!
Pulling from many tales and legends throughout history like the classic Doctor Faustus, this is the definitive Warlock. These beings are those who have made a deal and very likely sold their soul to a dark and powerful entity from the Lower Planes in exchange for knowledge and power.
Just because the Fiend Warlock is the “standard” Warlock doesn’t mean it’s bad though!
Far from it!
As a Fiend Warlock, you are able to call forth the very fires of the Hells to aid you on your journey. Not only do you receive an excellent spell list from your Fiendish patron, but you also gain abilities that increase your damage output while providing you extra defenses.
After all, your patron wants to protect their investment in you…
If you love a good barbecue and don’t mind shaking hands with devils, the Fiend Warlock may be for you!
Turn up the heat with this full guide to the Fiend Warlock in D&D 5e!
Number 2 – Genie
As long as we’re making deals with all-powerful beings here, we can’t forget about Genies!
By far, this has got to be the most interesting Warlock subclass and very nearly took the number 1 spot. I mean, just about everything about the Genie Warlock is bold and exciting!
To start, you have four different types of genies that are potential patrons for a Genie Warlock. Each of these gives different spells and changes certain aspects of the subclass’s abilities. As a result, there’s a wide range of roles that the Genie Warlock can fill in the party.
What all Genie Warlocks share, however, is an incredible amount of utility that they bring to the party.
Your Genie Vessel alone gives you (and eventually your party) a safe haven to rest in addition to tons of potential shenanigans. At worst, it’s a free supercharged bag of holding at level 1. At best, the sky is absolutely the limit.
Mix in the ability to fly and ask your patron to grant wishes and you’ve got a lot to offer!
While making the Warlock’s patron an active part of the campaign is always recommended, the Genie Warlock is practically begging for it.
The Genie Warlock has absolutely earned its spot on this list!
Make a wish with the full guide to the Genie Warlock!
Number 1 – Hexblade
I wanted to find some reason to be different and not put the Hexblade at the top of this list, but I just couldn’t!
The Hexblade Warlock is a subclass that’s got it all: style, roleplay potential, and awesome combat abilities.
The majority of Warlocks are casters who hang out in the party’s mid or backline. The Hexblade, on the other hand, is at its best on the frontlines.
With powerful curses, smites, and martial prowess, the Hexblade mixes the arcane arts with combat skills to become something truly powerful.
It works so well that some might even consider this to be a bit of a “broken” subclass.
I’d disagree though.
As the saying goes, “they hate it cause they ain’t it” or something along those lines.
Master the Hexblade’s curse with the full guide to the Hexblade Warlock in D&D 5e!
Conclusion – Ranking the Warlock Subclasses of D&D 5e
Warlocks tend to put up with a bunch of griping from others. However, this ranking hopefully shows that Warlocks are far from a monotonous one-trick pony!
At the end of the day, this ranking is just my own opinion and reasons. Every one of these subclasses has the potential to be an exciting new Warlock character for you. If you would rank any of these differently, I’d love to read your opinions in the comments!
I would recommend also checking out my guide to Warlock Pact Boons, though. Even the best-ranked Warlock subclasses rely on you picking Pact Boons with good synergy.
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You can find the Archfey, Fiend, and Great Old One patrons in the 5e Player’s Handbook.
The Undying patron is in the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide.
The Hexblade and Celestial patrons are in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.
Find the Genie and Fathomless patrons in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.
You’ll find the Undead patron in Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft.