5e best spells by level

5e best spells by level DEFAULT

Dungeons & Dragons: The 10 Most Useful 5th Level Spells, Ranked

The 5th level is when spells start becoming powerful enough that a wizard or cleric has a chance of dispatching an entire group of enemies in one round. In 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons there are plenty of great spells to choose from - particularly for divine spellcasters.

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There are, however, many notable spells from previous editions that were omitted; a prime example is lower resistance. With the exception of one spell, this list will contain 5th edition spells. The one exception (entry #2) will contain the books where the spell can be found and a conversion of its effects to 5th edition rules. These are the 10 most useful D&D 5th level spells, ranked.

Updated by Kristy Ambrose, January 12, 2021: D&D continues to evolve and expand, with more lore, abilities, magical items, and mysterious new realms to discover. We all love our introductory games and low-level characters, but level 5 is when magical abilities in D&D really start to get fun and interesting. That's why we've decided to expand our existing collection of the top choices for spells for casters at level 5. Not only are these useful, lethal, and just plain fun, but they'll enhance your character's experience at higher levels.  

15 *Conjure Elemental

Conjure Elemental is an obvious choice for a favorite spell since everyone loves to have a minion. It's useful to have a powerful, otherworldy servant who is friendly to both you and your party, at least for a while. The more powerful the caster is, the more powerful their elemental servant. The downside to this spell is that it requires a certain amount of concentration upon casting, and if you fail it, the elemental servant will turn on your and your party.

14 Teleportation Circle

Teleportation Circle allows the caster to draw a 10’ diameter circle on the ground and open a portal to an already prepared circle at another location. By the time the party’s arcane spellcaster is able to cast this spell it is very likely the party will have a permanent base of some sort. One room in that base should be dedicated to this spell.

RELATED: Dungeons & Dragons: The 10 Most Useful 9th Level Spells, Ranked

This will allow the party to quickly flee from an overwhelming force. This spell can also create a permanent teleportation circle if the spell is cast every day for a year. This would allow the caster to permanently link two bases, which might be separated by thousands of miles.

13 *Telekinesis

Telekinesis doesn't move everything, as the name itself implies. Casters can use this transmutation spell to change the location of both creatures and objects, but only by lifting them in the air after a successful roll against the creature's strength. Any living creature is restrained during the duration of the spell, but the caster can't control the words and actions of the trapped creature.

When it comes to manipulating objects, the possibilities are endless. You can move anything that weighs up to a tonne and manipulate objects like keys or tools. That means no cell or dungeon door will hold you, or your party, back from their quest.

12 Flame Strike

Clerics don’t get many potent offensive spells, so Flame Strike is one the party’s cleric might want to keep memorized. Flame Strike calls down a column of magical flame 40’ tall and with a 10’ radius. Anyone caught in the flame suffers 4d6 fire damage and 4d6 radiant damage; a successful dexterity saving throw reduces the total damage by half.

This spell is scalable as the caster requires, adding a 1d6 to either the fire or radiant damage. This spell would be higher on this list, but fire and radiant resistances are two of the more common resistances players will have to contend with.

11 Mislead

What’s better than being able to turn invisible? Being able to turn invisible and create an illusionary double is a great start. The invisibility is unfortunately of the 2nd level variety; this means attacking or casting a spell will end the invisibility, but the illusionary double remains until the duration ends.

Previous editions of D&D made the invisibility effect for mislead the 4th level variety (Greater Invisibility), but that version of Mislead was a 6th level spell. DMs might want to offer this better version when wizards are able to cast 6th level spells or make the 5th edition version scalable to change the Invisibility to Greater Invisibility. This spell allows the caster to see and hear as though she/he was in the duplicate's location. This can be incredibly useful for safely scouting-out an unexplored area.

10 *Passwall

Simple but infinitely handy, Passwall creates a stable passage through a variety of surfaces, as long as it's made of wood, plaster, or stone. Obviously, that also includes ceilings or floors, so you can imagine the possibilities for this versatile spell in dungeons or keeps.

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The spell isn't just extremely useful, but the caster can control the size of the passage, which can be up to 5 feet wide, 8 feet tall, and 20 feet deep. You can lead your whole party through a passage or send a familiar into a mysterious room for plunder or spying.

9 Cone Of Cold

To say the damage of the Cone of Cold spell in earlier editions of D&D was too weak for a 5th level spell is an understatement. Fortunately, this has been remedied in 5th edition, and cone of cold now does enough damage that even challenging foes will have their hit points significantly reduced.

RELATED: Dungeons & Dragons: The 10 Most Useful 2nd Level Spells, Ranked

Cone of cold inflicts 8d8 points of cold damage, but a successful Constitution saving throw reduces the damage by half. The area of effect is a cone that extends 60’ away from the caster. It would have been more useful if beings caught within the cone were temporarily slowed or suffered a disadvantage in battle.

8 *Cloudkill

A classic and savage AoE spell, this cloud of heavy, putrid fog is useful in a variety of situations. This poisonous mist is handy for clearing out corridors and rooms, covering a radius of about 20 feet. Cloudkill also pours down flights of stairs and over openings like chimneys. Any creature in the same space that fails a Constitution saving throw takes 5d8 damage, and a successful throw means the creature takes half that damage, to give you an idea of how devastating this spell really is.

7 Wall Of Force

When it comes to conjuring a barrier to separate the party from the enemy, the only choice better than Wall of Force is Prismatic Wall. Wall of Force creates an invisible wall of magical energy that is impervious to physical and magical damage – with the exception of the Disintegrate spell.

This spell also extends into the Ethereal Plane and prevents beings that can travel through that plane, like phase spiders, from passing through the wall. If the caster wishes, the wall can be shaped into a hemispherical dome or any other shape that can be formed out of ten 10’ X 10’ adjoining wall sections.

6 Animate Objects

This allows the caster to make up to ten allies from inanimate objects in the area. The number of objects animated is determined by their size; small and tiny objects count as one object, medium-sized objects count as two, large objects count as four, and huge objects count as eight.

If the object has legs or appendages, like a table or chair, it moves about using those, otherwise, the objects fly through the air. Larger objects have more hit points and deal more damage, but have a lower armor class. The caster gives the objects commands in battle (such as which targets to attack), and require no concentration from the caster after they have been animated.

5 Greater Restoration

This is an extremely useful cleric spell that can be used to remove several status ailments. With this spell, the caster can remove a charm or petrify status affecting the target, or one level of exhaustion. This spell can also be used to remove a curse – including an attuned cursed magic item.

Additionally, this spell can restore lost ability scores or restore the target’s maximum hit point total. The ability to remove the charm or petrify status from a party member might be the difference between life or death for the party. If a divine caster has two 5th level spell slots available it is recommended that one of those spells be greater restoration.

4 *Creation

A useful spell but also a complex one in which the caster can turn ethereal matter into something else. It's a simple concept with infinite possibilities. The caster uses wisps from the Shadowfell to create a variety of non-living objects, like cloth or even stone. The more complex your concoction, however, the less time it will last. A simple rope will last one day, giving you and your friends plenty of time to scale that wall, but gems will only last ten minutes, so keep that in mind if your character is a thief having some fun with a shopkeeper.

3 Mass Cure Wounds

The spell Mass Cure Wounds allows the caster to heal up to six beings within 30’ of the spell’s focus point 3d8 + the caster’s spellcasting ability modifier. The ability to heal the entire party from a distance is beyond useful. The amount healed could have been slightly higher, but at least the spell is scalable; adding a 1d8 for every spell slot used above 5th.

RELATED: Dungeons & Dragons: The 10 Most Useful 3rd Level Spells, Ranked

The only real problem with this spell is that at 7th level healing 3d8 + the caster’s spell modifier is usually not enough to keep the party alive against an overwhelming force – at most, it will buy the party an extra round of battle. This spell would also be a lot more useful if it could be used to harm a group of undead creatures, but this feature of healing spells was removed for 5th edition.

2 Mordenkainen’s Faithful Phantom Defenders

This is a spell from 2nd edition that is one of the more useful 5th level spells from that edition. This spell summons several phantom defenders that only those hostile to the caster can see; to everyone else, these defenders are invisible and insubstantial. These defenders are not only capable combatants but offensive spells (like a fireball) cast by the wizard do not harm them.

The caster has a choice of summoning three humanoid soldiers, two centaur soldiers, eight phantom bats, or five phantom sharks. Each group has its own strengths and weaknesses. The humanoid soldiers’ stats converted to 5th edition are; MV: 22, HP: 36, +5 to hit, AC: 18, #AT: 1, Dmg: 1d8 +2. The attacks are considered to be delivered with a magical weapon. This spell can be found in the Wizard’s Spell Compendium and the 2nd edition World of Greyhawk guidebook.

1 Hallow

This is one of the most useful spells in 5th edition available to divine spellcasters. Hallow affects an area of up to 60’ radius and prevents planar beings, like fiends and undead, from entering the area. Hallow also prevents these creatures from possessing, charming, or frightening allies of the caster who are within the area of effect.

Additionally, the caster can choose one secondary effect for the hallowed area. These secondary effects are useful, and allow the player to tailor the spell for maximum effect. Examples of secondary effects are; granting allies damage resistance to one damage type, preventing teleportation into or out of the area, and causing hostile beings to be vulnerable to a particular damage type. The latter effect is one of the few spell effects that allow for the neutralization of an opponent’s damage resistance.

NEXT: Dungeons & Dragons: The 10 Most Useful 4th Level Spells, Ranked

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D&D 5e: The Best 5th-Level Spells (Across All Classes)

Being able to cast 5th level spells is a small jump in power from 4th level spells, but is a crucial step for spellcasters who need more utility (or just flat-out damage) in their kits.

All spellcasting classes gain the ability to cast 5th level spells at the 9th level, except for Paladins who gain that ability at 17th level. Yeah.

Well below I’ve ranked some of the best 5th level spells in D&D, in my own opinion. I value flexibility over damage any day, and that includes neat ways to alter your game to your liking.

Without further ado, here we go!

 

15. Conjure Volley

Source: Player’s Handbook p.226
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 150 feet
Components: Verbal, Somatic, Material (one piece of ammunition or a thrown weapon)
Duration: Instantaneous

Starting off our list, we have one of the most entertaining spells that only Rangers have access to.

You fire a piece of nonmagical ammunition (or you chuck an axe/knife I guess) into the air, and rain down hundreds of copies that deal 8d8 damage (of the same type as what was used), or half on a successful Dexterity saving throw.

Not only does this deal a pretty good amount of damage, but it also hits in a pretty decently sized cylinder, covering a lot of ground as well as air coverage too.

You’re also able to copy whatever ammunition you used. This can lead to interesting battles where you can rain down flaming or poison arrows, wreaking havoc amongst the battlefield.

It doesn’t have any non-combat practical usage, unfortunately.

 

14. Control Winds

Source: Elemental Evil Player’s Companion
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 300 feet
Components: Verbal, Somatic
Duration: Concentration, up to an hour

A fantastic spell that gives the caster a ton of flexibility, Control Winds lets you pick from three options, using an action to switch between any of these three in the spells 100ft cube area.

You get to pick from these three:

Gusts is probably the most combat-centric, letting you pick a horizontal direction and how intense the wind is, and causes disadvantage for anyone with ranged weapon attacks. It also halves movement for anyone trying to pass through it.

Updraft is probably the handiest option, allowing creatures to only take half damage from falling. It also adds 10 feet to their vertical jump, making them able to travel higher up if needed, but a great NBA player too!

Downdraft is the weakest of the three options, blasting winds downward and knocking flying enemies prone as well as the disadvantage on ranged weapon attacks from before.

Not all spells are winners. But the potential of this spell leaves it at the bottom of our list, but not completely ruled out.

 

13. Danse Macabre

Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything p.153
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 60 feet
Components: Verbal, Somatic
Duration: Concentration, up to an hour

One of my favorite Necromancy spells! Danse Macabre offers not flexibility, but bodies.

Actual bodies.

You get to target up to five corpses and raise them as zombies or skeletons, giving them bonuses to their attacks.

If you don’t need them in combat, you can always use them as fodder to check for traps or throw themselves into danger, keeping your party safe.

This spell oozes with flavor for Necromancers, and easily turns the tide in a fight if you need an extra five meat puppets. Plus, who doesn’t like being a zombie overlord?

While you might not always have all five targets available, this spell is really powerful at its maximum targets. But can fall short if you cast it too late in a fight.

 

12. Destructive Wave

Source: Player’s Handbook p.231
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 30ft radius around yourself
Components: Verbal
Duration: Instantaneous

Now this spell is powerful, but the fact that Paladins won’t have access to this spell until 17th level hinders the potential behind it.

You not only get to deal 5d6 thunder and an additional 5d6 radiant/necrotic damage, but you also get to knock them prone as well!

Destructive Wave offers a 30ft radius around you, giving you a good area of effect ability on the frontlines to keep your allies safe, and your enemies in danger at all times.

Being able to wade into combat and casting this makes Paladin’s true masters of might and magic – and it’s essential if you need to crack open a can of whoop-ass.

 

11. Dominate Person

Source: Player’s Handbook p.235
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 60 feet
Components: Verbal, Somatic
Duration: Concentration, up to a minute

Talk about a powerful spell.

You force a humanoid to make a Wisdom saving throw or be charmed by you.

This isn’t a normal charm, either. You form a telepathic link that lets you command them to perform tasks like other charming spells, but it also brings along another feature:

You can use an action to take total control of your target, having them only take the actions you choose (including reactions).

Being able to take total control over a target for a full minute gives you access to all sorts of hijinks. Especially if you end up controlling someone powerful (politically or otherwise) you can throw entire kingdoms into chaos!

 

10. Enervation

Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything p.155
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 60 feet
Components: Verbal, Somatic
Duration: Concentration, up to a minute

Another spell that I adore from the Necromancy School, Enervation offers consistent damage as well as a small heal as well, provided they fail a Dexterity saving throw.

Not only do you hit your target for 4d8, but you also get to use your action instead of another spell slot to continue dealing damage to them every turn until the spell ends.

Because some casters have so few spell slots at higher levels, Enervation allows you to keep damaging beefier targets without needing to expend any.

Additionally, you’re always healing for half the damage this spell deals, regardless if they succeed in the saving throw.

 

9. Far Step

Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything p.155
Casting Time: 1 Bonus Action
Range: Self
Components: Verbal
Duration: Concentration, up to a minute

Far Step offers one of the best ways to keep squishy casters alive, as well as putting them in the best position for spell-slinging.

For the duration of the spell, you can teleport anywhere in a 60ft range to an unoccupied space as a bonus action.

Outside of combat applications, this spell just lets you cover a huge distance.

Assuming you teleport once every six seconds, aka ten times in the full minute duration, you can cover 600 feet in just a minute. Almost doubling Usain Bolt’s world record of the fastest human.

And that’s not counting taking the Dash action before you Far Step.

 

8. Flame Strike

Source: Player’s Handbook p.242
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 60 feet
Components: Verbal, Somatic, Material (a pinch of sulfur)
Duration: Instantaneous

One of the few high-damage spells that Clerics gets to add to their arsenal, Flame Strike lets them deal some huge damage.

You summon a brilliant pillar of flame, and force enemies nearby to make a Dexterity save or take 4d6 fire damage plus another 4d6 radiant damage!

Because clerics don’t usually get a lot of damaging spells or area of effect spells, Flame Strike lets them have both with no real downsides.

 

7. Geas

Source: Player’s Handbook p.245
Casting Time: 1 Minute
Range: 60 feet
Components: Verbal
Duration: 30 days

An incredibly powerful Enchantment spell, Geas lasts the longest for any spell up to this point and potentially deals some damage as well.

You command a creature for up to a month to carry out whatever random task (or preventing them from doing a task), as long as you aren’t sending them to their untimely demise.

This means you can send a random NPC on any sort of task, like robbing a bank or bribing guards.

Geas opens up a lot of new ways for social interactions, like trying to infiltrate a faction with one of their own. Or maybe causing a huge distraction while you perform some dastardly deeds elsewhere in town.

 

6. Immolation

Source: Elemental Evil Player’s Companion p.19
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 90 feet
Components: Verbal
Duration: Concentration, up to a minute

Honestly, Immolation is a bit gruesome.

Instead of the flexibility of other spells on our list, Immolation only offers one thing:

Damage.

Whoever you choose becomes wreathed in magical flames like they’re a bunch of male models at a gas station having a gasoline fight to “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”.

If they fail the Dexterity saving throw, they take 8d6 fire damage, as well as an additional 4d6 every turn if they keep failing the throw.

The spell doesn’t offer anything extra — no fancy after-effects or neat modal options to suit the situation. You just set someone on fire, and it does a lot of damage.

Oh, and they also shed bright light in a 30-foot radius. In case you needed to brighten up a room.

 

5. Infernal Calling

Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything p.158
Casting Time: 1 Minute
Range: 90 feet
Components: Verbal, Somatic, Material (a ruby worth at least 999 gp)
Duration: Concentration, up to an hour

Who doesn’t like to make new friends from Hell?

You get to summon a devil of your choosing (up to a limited challenge rating), but he isn’t exactly an ideal pet.

See, the devil is actually controlled by your Dungeon Master. And it will follow its own whims, not yours.

It’ll do what it pleases, including trying to kill you and your friends if it thinks it can.

You can still issue a command to it, but it might contest you for it. If it wins, it breaks the spell and does whatever it wants, only following your commands if it chooses (and it probably won’t, let’s be honest here folks).

If you happen to have a PhD in Demonology and know a specific demon you want to summon, knowing their true name or owning their talisman makes this spell a lot more manageable. You can work with your DM to learn this, and maybe set off on a little side quest to figure it out!

 

4. Negative Energy Flood

Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything p.163
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 60 feet
Components: Verbal, Material (a broken bone and a square of black silk)
Duration: Instantaneous

A great damage spell, Negative Energy Flood offers a lot of damage, but can potentially get out of hand if you aren’t careful.

You shoot out dark energy that deal 5d12 necrotic damage to an enemy, and if they die as a result of this spell you get to reanimate their corpse with only one downside:

You don’t control the zombie. They pursue any creature closest to it that they can see, including you and your friends.

Wanna wreck a town? Done.

Wanna send a loose zombie out into the world, and follow it like a David Attenborough documentary? You can!

Want to kill one weakened target that’s surrounded by his friends, turning him into a vicious animal that will try to murder anyone near him? Why not!

 

3. Seeming

Source: Player’s Handbook p. 274
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 30 feet
Components: Verbal, Somatic
Duration: 8 hours

One of the neater Illusion spells on our list, Seeming does a lot for a single spell.

You get to cast an illusion over any number of creatures within range, willing or unwilling.

A spell-like this will allow you to do a lot.

Create a ton of identical copies of one poor sap and give him an anxiety attack, or make everyone look like the biggest, meanest looking ruffians possible.

Or you can use it for infiltration, and disguise your party as a bunch of Priests as you infiltrate a cult.

The spell disguises physical appearances as well as any worn items. Anyone you disguise can look a little more different than usual, but you can’t change them entirely.

 

2. Steel Wind Strike

Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything p.166
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 30 feet
Components: Somatic, Material (a melee weapon worth at least 1 sp)
Duration: Instantaneous

A really neat spell for Rangers (and kind of a weird spell for Wizards), you vanish and strike up to five creatures with a melee spell attack, dealing 6d10 to each target you hit.

After that, you can teleport to an unoccupied space within 5 feet of a target.

I don’t think Wizards would typically use this spell. But Rangers can get a lot of mileage out of it with some pretty great damage, as well as mobility in combat.

 

1. Synaptic Static

Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything p.167
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 120 feet
Components: Verbal, Somatic
Duration: Instantaneous

Our final spell topping this list, Synaptic Static is like a psychic Fireball with some bonus effects.

You choose a point within range and it explodes with psychic energy, forcing any creatures with an intelligence above 2 to make an Intelligence saving throw or take 8d6 psychic damage (or half on a successful save).

For those that failed the saving throw, they also have muddled thoughts for 1 minute. They roll a d6 and subtract that from all attack rolls and ability checks, including maintaining concentration.

This is a powerful effect. Not only for the damage, but because Intelligence is one of the lowest scores on average for monsters, you’ll frequently get a massive advantage out of it.

And keep your allies safe while keeping your enemies in a stupor.

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Jeff Nabors is a long-time writer, Dungeon Master, Podcaster and necromancer. He’s been playing Dungeons and Dragons since 3.5 Edition, and continues to play to this day in his own actual-play podcast.

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You won’t get far in DnD without a firm grasp of magic. Spellcasters are essential to every adventuring party, and their ability to clear a battlefield, buff their teammates, or magically wheedle out of a tough situation comes in handy time, and time, again. While the classic tabletop roleplaying game boasts an overflowing supply of spells, there’s a few staples that should be on your radar.

We’ve picked out the very best D&D 5E spells, so you can spend less time thumbing through sourcebooks, and more time calling upon arcane forces. They’re a varied bunch, taken from several of D&D’s schools of magic, and allow for as much roleplaying antics as they do plunderous fighting.

But we’re not simply picking out the most powerful spells. If that were the case, the whole list would be a regurgitation of D&D’s ninth-level spell list. Instead, we’ve placed spells in their context, and determined their usefulness in relation to the level at which they’re gained, their applicability across campaigns, their use within a party dynamic, and, to an extent, how darn fun they are to use.

So, bust out your spellbook or get acquainted with your Pact Magic, because you’ll be using these spells time and again. Here’s a handy list of them all, right up top:

The best D&D 5E spells

  • Mage Hand
  • Find Steed
  • Detect Magic
  • Hold Person
  • Fireball
  • Meteor Swarm
  • Wall of Force
  • Wish

A rogue using D&D 5E spell Mage Hand to extend a spectral hand from her own

Mage Hand

A true classic, this cantrip is all about creativity. Conjure a floating, spectral hand that can be moved about the vicinity, and used to interact with nearby objects. Useful for navigating dungeons, where you can merrily use the hand to pull levers, pick up objects in hard-to-reach places, or nab that key sitting precariously on the other side of a deadly trap (while inadvertently ruining the clever puzzle your DM had so lovingly designed).

It won’t save you from destruction, but it adds spice to fights

But Mage Hand also works wonderfully for exploiting environmental hazards during combat. Fly around the battlefield, knocking over bookcases, shaking chandeliers, or literally pulling the rug from underneath the enemies’ feet. It won’t be the spell that saves you from imminent destruction, but each fight will be a little more exciting. Although Mage Hand is perfect for a cheeky bard, it can also be used by Wizards, Sorcerers, Warlocks, and Artificers, so the whole party can have their own spectral meathooks.

An armoured mastiff from D&D, with a saddle on its back

Find Steed

It goes without saying, if your character won’t be riding a steed, then this level two Paladin conjuration spell isn’t likely to be of much use. But if you’ve built a character around mounted combat, then this spell is almost essential. Summon a horse, mastiff, hippogriff, or any other steed of your choosing (with your DM’s permission, of course), to serve as your mount in combat.

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Mounts are notoriously finicky, but this spell goes some way to alleviate the most irritating obstacles. No more worrying that your steed will die and leave you helpless, or that your party will reach a dreaded ladder, forcing you to leave your companion behind. Summon a steed when it suits, and summon them again when you (inevitably) lose them. You won’t have an animal companion to cherish and grow old with, but a ready supply of disposable horses might be even better.

A wizard casting a D&D 5E spell, rays of multicoloured light shoot from his hand in a dazzling array

Detect Magic

Magic is all fun and games when you’re the one dishing out spells, but it can become decidedly more pernicious in a DM’s hands. A level one divination spell, Detect Magic is another D&D 5E staple, letting you sense any magical presence within a 30-foot radius, and, hopefully, act before whatever it is gets the jump on you.

Try it out when searching for a magical quest item

Although not the most dramatic of spells, it’s applicable in countless situations. Try it out when searching for a magically-imbued plot item, locating the trigger mechanism of a trap, or identifying creatures with a magical aura. The spell has its limits, and is blocked by sufficiently thick materials. But if you find yourself stuck in a room, or just want a little insight into the surprises that your DM has in store for you, you could do far worse than casting Detect Magic.

D&D artwork showing a spelllcaster casting a spell while holding a spellbook

Hold Person

Enforced paralysis is as terrifying as it is powerful, and it’s this combination that makes Hold Person one of the most effective D&D 5E spells. A second-level enchantment, this spell lets you paralyse any humanoid you can see within 60 feet, for one minute.

That should be more than enough time to remove the biggest foe from battle, dispatch their underlings, and wail on them. On a Wisdom saving throw, enemies can break your hold at the end of each turn, but even one round of paralysis will give your party a breather.

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It’s also a fantastic roleplaying spell. Need to intimidate someone, but don’t have enough muscle to square up to them? Paralysing them mid-sentence should do the trick.

Need to prevent an NPC from spilling the beans of your devious misdemeanours? This should send a clear, if heavy-handed message. Hold Person is a remarkably simple spell, but one with a lot of scope.

A bearded wizard casts D&D 5E spell Fireball against a helpless human foe

Fireball

An iconic D&D spell that every well-optimised Wizard is likely to have in their spellbook, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone that claims Fireball isn’t one of the most useful spells, largely because everyone agrees it’s one of the most overpowered spells.

big damage means big utility

Shoot a bolt of explosive fire from your fingertip. Any creature within a 20-foot range that fails a Dexterity saving throw will take a whopping 8d6 fire damage, and even those that succeed on the roll must take half that.

Formidable in its own right, Fireball only becomes more effective when you realise it’s a level three spell, giving Wizards the opportunity to deal more damage in a single round of combat than martial characters in their party. Big damage makes for big utility.

A robed woman basks in the heat of her enemies, burning from a D&D 5E spell she has cast

Meteor Swarm

Fireball might be an incredible damage-dealing spell at lower levels, but when you’re a ninth-level Wizard or Sorcerer, you can dream a little bigger. What’s bigger than a fireball? A meteor. What’s bigger than a meteor? A bevy of the damn things.

Meteor Swarm does exactly what it sounds like, letting you summon four blazing rocks from the heavens, and dealing 20d6 fire damage and 20d6 bludgeoning damage (on a failed Dexterity saving throw) to every creature in a 40-foot radius.

Play it again: Read our full guide to D&D 5E’s Bard class

Of course, it’s very situational, and you’ll rarely be in a large enough space to cast the spell without pulverising your party in the process.

But in the moments of epic battle, when you’re facing the dragon on the mountaintop, duelling the villain in the promenade of their castle, or fleeing the undead horde that’s chasing you across an icy wilderness, this spell is unbelievably powerful.

D&D artwork showing a spellcaster trapping a monster within a magical field

Wall of Force

The greatest warriors know which enemies to engage, and which are best avoided.

Wall of Force is a saving grace in the toughest situations

When your party’s taken a beating, and can’t afford any more costly mistakes, Wall of Force is a great way of avoiding battle, while circumventing the risk of persuasion, and the uncertainty of intimidation. Summon an invisible barrier that prevents anything physically passing through for ten minutes. It’s immune to damage, and will protect you while your party Cleric is tending to your wounds.

What makes Wall of Force so useful is that it provides a saving grace in the most difficult of situations, without sacrificing any of the game’s drama. The horrors on the other side aren’t beaten, merely temporarily stalled. Find a way out of your predicament in time, or ready yourself for the fight. The DM gets to see your squirm, and you get a little breathing room.

A young wizard reading to another acolyte laid down on her lap, as a a group of spellcasters behind cast a D&D 5E spell in the air

Wish

Arguably the most infamous spell in D&D 5E, Wish toes the line between incredibly useful, and amazingly dangerous. Effectively granting any wish uttered by you, its bounds of use are endless.

You might wish for endless wealth, to save a dying character, to protect a vulnerable lover, to smite an evil foe, or to receive some supernatural aid. But there’s one snag: your DM will decide how the wish is fulfilled, and will likely cram in as many unintended consequences as they can.

Battle on: Our full guide to D&D 5E’s Fighter class

Wishing for your companion to come back to life might reawaken them as an undead ghoul; wishing for a legendary item might move you to its location halfway around the world, effectively kicking you from the campaign; or wishing for the campaign’s antagonist to die may have the unintended effect of transporting you to a parallel timeline, in which they never existed, alongside all of your friends and companions.

It’s typical monkey paw stuff, which has the potential to be hugely useful in a pinch, but comes at such risk that you’ll be quivering whenever the words leave your mouth. Wish is described in the Player’s Handbook as the “mightiest spell a mortal creature can cast”, and that’s not hyperbole.

Sours: https://www.wargamer.com/dnd/5e-spells
Our Top 10 Spells in Dungeons \u0026 Dragons 5e

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Wizards of D&D 5e have the most extensive spell list to choose from of all the classes. While this benefits them greatly in versatility, it’s cumbersome for new and experienced players alike to select the spells they’ll learn. Preparing spells makes the process all the more taxing. After years of playing D&D 5e, I understand which spells are the most impactful and ubiquitous across campaign settings and game styles. My list here summarizes the best Wizard spells that keep proving themselves useful time and time again.

Saying a spell is ‘best’ is inherently subjective. I’m going to suggest spells that have a frequent impact in D&D 5e. In other words, spells that make a difference often will be prioritized. If the impact is great enough but the frequency is low, or vice versa, a spell may warrant mentioning in my list.

Recommendations are in alphabetical order by category of their uses, grouped by spell level. I classified spells by defense, offense, utility, or versatility (fits several uses). Many spells are not on my list, but they have their niches in the game. I’ve also included my ranking list of the subjectively best Wizard spells by level at the end of the article. For that ranked list, I looked at the reliability, frequency, versatility, and impact of each spell.

This article would be difficult to manage if I also gave recommendations for specific Wizard subclasses. For more information on which spells are better for particular Wizards by Arcane Tradition, please read my article that rates each Wizard subclass.


Best Cantrips for Wizardsin D&D 5e

Choosing cantrips can be tricky because you can’t learn them outside of leveling up (unless your DM house-rules otherwise). They scale with your character level, not your Wizard level, making them important for multiclassing. Cantrips may overshadow low-level offensive spells easily at higher levels.

  • Defense
    • Shocking Grasp: Deals low damage. Removes a foe’s reaction for the round. Gains advantage against metal armor. Not dependent on saving throw. It’s a melee attack, so you’ll want a ranged cantrip, too.
  • Offense
    • Booming Blade: Good for Wizards utilizing weapons. Bladesingers, mostly.
    • Chill Touch: Deal decent damage and stop a foe from healing. Not dependent on saving throw.
    • Firebolt: Good range. Not dependent on saving throw.
    • Green-Flame Blade: Good for Wizards utilizing weapons. Bladesingers, mostly.
    • Mind Sliver: Uses Intelligence saving throw, which is usually not a creature’s strongest saving throw bonus. Allows teamwork or personal setup to make a subsequent spell that relies on a saving throw successful, even if you’re just chain-casting Mind Sliver each turn.
    • Ray of Frost: Deal decent damage and slow a foe. Not dependent on saving throw.
  • Utility
    • Mage Hand: Rewards creativity. It helps to avoid trap triggers. Open doors from the other side. Just remember its limits.
    • Prestidigitation: Rewards creativity. You’ll gain the magic tricks and minor effects that a spellcaster should be passively be doing for fun. Create small holograms or examples of what you’re describing to a person. Conceal poison in foods by manipulating taste. Create a skunk smell. Add smells and sounds to your storytelling. Clean blood out of your clothes. Requires verbal and somatic components, so you may be noticed when casting.
  • Versatility
    • Minor Illusion: You can have heaps of fun with this spell if you get creative and understand its limits. You’ll learn quickly whether you want to learn leveled illusion spells based on how much you use Minor Illusion.
    • Mold Earth: Rewards creativity. Hide bodies or stash your supplies. Create a trench for cover in combat or to conceal an ambush.

Best 1st-Level Wizard Spells in D&D 5e

First-level spells can be useful throughout a campaign. Some of them will always be useful because they scale well with upcasting, or their benefits aren’t level-dependent. First-level spells are used at high levels with Spell Mastery, and I have an article on that topic if you’re playing a level-eighteen Wizard. This list is fairly extensive because many level-one spells are scalable and they define what kind of Wizard you’ll be, and there are many directions you can take.

  • Defense
    • Absorb Elements: Reaction to resist one elemental damage type for the round. Wizards don’t have many hitpoints, so dealing with unexpected AOE damage from something like a dragon’s breath can be critical. The melee damage boost is less important for Wizards (Bladesingers are an exception).
    • Feather Fall: Save everyone when falling or descending quickly.
    • Mage Armor: I recommend casting this every adventuring day if you don’t wear armor.
    • Shield: +5 to AC for per round if you think it will matter. Defend against Magic Missile.
  • Offense
    • Magic Missile: Reliable damage. Each dart can force a concentration saving throw, making it useful for breaking enemy concentration. Beware the Shield spell countermeasure.
    • Sleep: Good at low levels. Might not prepare it often at higher levels. Don’t use on Elves.
    • Tasha’s Hideous Laughter: Though it uses a commonly proficient Wisdom saving throw, it’s huge if it works. You can force an enemy to fall prone, allowing allies to get into position for melee attacks with advantage. Incapacitating a foe will automatically end its concentration on a spell. Just remember the limitation on what can cause the spell to end.
    • Thunderwave: Damage with potential knockback. The Constitution saving throw isn’t great.
  • Utility
    • Charm Person: Can drastically simplify social encounters. It scales well with upcasting. Watch out for charm-immune creatures.
    • Comprehend Languages (Ritual): The ritual tag makes this spell worth having when you need to eavesdrop or follow a conversation.
    • Detect Magic (Ritual): Great for revealing illusions or spotting magical items and traps. Ritual spells are perfect for Wizards!
    • Disguise Self: Mischief time. Don’t let anyone touch you or damage you.
    • Silent Image: Get creative because illusions are often limited only by your ideas. It lasts up to ten minutes. Make sure your DM won’t ignore your illusions…
  • Versatility
    • Find Familiar (Ritual): Many players propose that Find Familiar may be the best first-level spell in the game, and they may be correct. The out-of-combat utility is frequent and impactful. Combat can benefit from a familiar using the Help action. Roleplaying a familiar is fun, too.
    • Fog Cloud: Heavily obscuring an area is as good as blinding creatures within it. The area of fog scales well with upcasting. Works as a smokescreen and vision blocker. Blocking vision is incredibly good for controlling the battlefield, especially for spellcasters who need to see their targets.

Best 2nd-Level Wizard Spells in D&D 5e

  • Defense
    • Warding Wind: Surprising amount of options here. Deafen yourself against effects that require you to hear your foe, such as with the Suggestion spell. Ward off ranged attacks. Disperse cloud effects. Create difficult terrain around yourself to deter attackers from rushing in. Snuff out torches if enemies lack darkvision. It requires concentration, but it also lasts ten minutes, allowing you to cast it ahead of an encounter.
    • Mirror Image: No concentration required. Can turn incoming hits against you into misses.
  • Offense
    • Tasha’s Mind Whip: Limit enemy action economy if they can’t pass Intelligence saving throws. Scales well with upcasting.
    • Web: Excellent AOE disabling spell to keep enemies stationary and vulnerable.
  • Utility
    • Alter Self: Create seamless disguises or learn to swim.
    • See Invisibility: Gets better as you level up. You’ll encounter more creatures that are invisible or ethereal at higher levels. No concentration required.
    • Suggestion: Circumvent entire problems with manipulation.
  • Versatility
    • Invisibility: Can’t guarantee enemies won’t detect you, but the Hide action is more reliable if you’re unseen. Use it on the party’s Rogue, and they’ll love you.
    • Misty Step: Escape or infiltrate with a bonus action. Low-level teleportation is always good to have.

Best 3rd-Level Wizard Spells in D&D 5e

  • Defense
    • Counterspell: I’ve yet to experience a campaign where this spell isn’t great. Players audibly cheer when they counter a scary spell.
  • Offense
    • Fireball: The standard for damage AOE. Enjoy!
    • Hypnotic Pattern: Incapacitating enemies can be better than damaging them with Fireball. Make sure you don’t use this on enemies who can’t be put to sleep by magic or are immune to charms. Good at all levels.
  • Utility
    • Leomund’s Tiny Hut (Ritual): One of the best spells for travelers who need security and comfort. Ten minutes of ritual casting while the party sets up camp, and you’re good for the night.
    • Water Breathing (Ritual): I’ve yet to play a game where I didn’t have an opportunity to cast this as a ritual. You open up many possibilities when you can safely navigate the water.
  • Versatility
    • Dispel Magic: Spell effects come up often, so Dispel Magic is nearly guaranteed to be useful.
    • Fly: Gain a fast flying speed. Avoid many problems that earth-bound folks endure. Avoid enemy reach. Make sure you don’t fall!
    • Gaseous Form: Escape or infiltrate as you become a gassy science experiment.
    • Haste: Strong buff for yourself and allies. Meta-effect to make other players like you.
    • Major Image: This is the spell you envision when you imagine casting illusion magic.
    • Sleet Storm: Large AEO battlefield control spell. Limit movement, visibility, and concentration. Knock runners and flyers down.

Best 4th-Level Wizard Spells in D&D 5e

  • Defense
    • Banishment: Take powerful enemies out of a fight to be dealt with later.
    • Fire Shield: No concentration required as you punish melee attackers and resist either cold or fire damage (common damage types).
  • Offense
    • Wall of Fire: The damage is good, but so is the wall’s opaque nature. Force enemies relying on sight to move through the wall. This puts them out of position and forces them to take damage.
    • Watery Sphere: Use on enemy spellcasters whose Strength saving throws are likely to fail. They can’t cast spells that require verbal components if they’re engulfed in water.
  • Utility
    • Arcane Eye: Scout safely from a distance to map out entire dungeons and strongholds.
    • Charm Monster: You can learn a lot from a happy monster who is willing to talk to you.
  • Versatility
    • Conjure Minor Elementals: Less used, but it’s great for scouting and creating battlefield hazards. Mephits can be summoned in bulk, for example. The Mephits collectively use breath attacks for machine-gun AOE, and they explode with various effects when they die. They also have innate spellcasting, including the Fire Mephit’s ability to cast Heat Metal. They can fly and swim. This spell is packed with mischief. Make sure you have the elementals’ stats.
    • Control Water: Don’t learn it if you have a Cleric in the party who can do it instead. This spell is deceptively useful. I often see it come in handy.
    • Dimension Door: Teleportation with a long-range and no line-of-sight requirement. Works well for a Contingency spell at higher levels. Bring a friend!
    • Greater Invisibility: Continue casting non-concentration spells while concealed. Can be cast on allies. Shorter duration than Invisibility, but with more options for what you can do without ending the illusion.
    • Otiluke’s Resilient Sphere: Hamster ball to protect allies or trap foes.
    • Polymorph: One of the best, most versatile spells in the game. Make sure you download an app for beast stats to save time (your group will thank you).

Best 5th-Level Wizard Spells in D&D 5e

  • Defense
    • Wall of Force: Creating a nearly impassible, impregnable wall comes in handy.
  • Offense
    • Animate Objects: Bring a hoard of Beauty & the Beast silverware to life to serve you food or serve you the blood of your enemies. The damage output of this spell is no joke.
    • Dominate Person: Does nothing if they save, but you can work so much mischief if they fail. You can take complete control of a humanoid.
    • Hold Monster: You’ve moved up from holding people to holding all monsters. Paralyze them so your Paladin can auto-crit them. Watch out for paralysis-immune creatures.
  • Utility
    • Rary’s Telepathic Bond (Ritual): This spell enables players who want to speak out-of-character to one another as they can do so telepathically. It’s a high-level ritual spell that I highly recommend for keeping your party in open communication.
    • Seeming: You usually dress yourself up for Halloween, but now you can dress up your friends. This is very different from the usual illusion because you are changing another person or group’s appearance.
    • Scrying: Sharing is caring, and spying is not dying. The more information your party has, the better. Learn to scry on the right person at the right time so your party can always be prepared and remain a step ahead. Some DMs might resist giving you information this way, so ask first.
  • Versatility
    • Conjure Elemental: Elementals make useful summons. Upcasting will allow you to summon an Invisible Stalker to locate a creature seek (make sure you can communicate with the Invisible Stalker about the whereabouts). Be careful not to lose control of the elemental by ending/losing the spell early. You can follow the link to D&D Beyond’s description of the spell to discover stats for elementals you can summon.
    • Dream: I wrote an article about the Dream spell and its uses. I recommend reading it. Opal also wrote about dream sequences in TTRPGs if you need inspiration. You can harass enemies, start a business, communicate over long distances, train with a mentor, and so much more.
    • Wall of Stone: Unlike Wall of Force, this wall can become a permanent fixture. There is creativity embedded in this spell beyond mere battlefield control.
    • Telekinesis: Another spell that rewards creativity. When I think of all the times that a player has wanted to lift a heavy object with Mage Hand, but the Mage Hand was too weak, I smile to think about Telekinesis’s strength. But what I really get excited about is the rare ability to swipe items that are presently held. You can snatch weapons and arcane focuses from your enemies!

Best 6th-Level Wizard Spells in D&D 5e

  • Defense
  • Offense
  • Utility
    • Soul Cage: You can gain heaps of valuable, actionable information from the fallen. Besides, interrogation scenes in D&D are messy… You can also use it to scout new areas and heal yourself.
  • Versatility
    • Contingency: This spell opens your mind to new possibilities. When you constantly wish you could cast certain spells as a reaction, now you can (of fifth level or lower). You can pick spells that protect or teleport you when you’re attacked. You can automatically cast Dispel Magic at fifth level on yourself when a harmful spell affects you. Make sure you understand which spells are compatible with Contingency, so you get it right. Get creative based on your needs!
    • Disintegrate: Pick this less for the damage and more for the ace up your sleeve against anyone with a Force Cage or Wall of Force. You can also use it to clear debris or make your own door through a castle wall. The damage is good if it works, but it does nothing against a successful saving throw. Hedge your bets by using other spells to restrain an enemy before attempting Disintegrate.
    • Investiture of Stone: This spell is good for what is essentially the ability of an Earth Elemental to glide through earth and stone. The other abilities are fine, but many attacks are magical at this point in the game, meaning you might not benefit from the resistances. Creating a tremor is good if you’re going to Misty Step away from enemies closing in on you.
    • Mass Suggestion: This spell is nuts! It doesn’t require concentration and has a long duration, allowing you to manipulate charmable creatures for extended periods.

Best 7th-Level Wizard Spells in D&D 5e

  • Defense
    • Symbol: You’ll need to read this one a few times, but you can create a trap that completely wipes out enemies in a few rounds. Keep your party out of the area and you’ll be golden. This only works for parties who are planners and have time to set up ambushes or protective measures.
  • Offense
    • Crown of Stars: Once cast, you can use your bonus action each turn to make spell attacks. No concentration necessary.
  • Utility
    • Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Mansion: Travel and sleep in style. You’ll always be comfortable while you have your dream home accessible anywhere.
    • Project Image: Useful for having long-distance conversations and scouting. The duration is long enough to feel like you’re in two places at once for a day.
    • Teleport: Incredibly useful in campaigns with large maps to traverse.
  • Versatility
    • Force Cage: No concentration needed to completely shut down most enemies without a saving throw. The cage version is a death trap for anyone who lacks escape spells or abilities. The components are expensive, but they also don’t get expended after casting. This spell is crazy!
    • Reverse Gravity: No saving throws to worry about as you give enemies the Gandalf treatment from Saruman. You can effectively disable enemies in the given area if they rely on melee attacks. Repeated fall damage, anyone?
    • Simulacrum: Creating a duplicate of yourself will double your fun. This is a game-changer. Some believe it’s a game-breaker. Whatever your opinion, this spell is amazing as it opens your game up to many new possibilities.

Best 8th-Level Wizard Spells in D&D 5e

  • Defense
    • Mind Blank: The duration and lack of concentration make this spell a must-have in common campaigns.
  • Offense
    • Dominate Monster: Mind control is fun. Remember, target creatures that are likely to fail a Wisdom saving throw.
    • Feeblemind: You can absolutely destroy a spellcaster who fails this saving throw.
    • Illusory Dragon: The fear effect is good, but it’s made better by the bonus action each round to use a breath weapon. The illusion is huge and occupies its space, so it can block a huge area.
  • Utility
    • Demiplane: Tiny houses are trendy IRL, so install your mobile storage unit in D&D.

Best 9th-Level Wizard Spells in D&D 5e

  • Defense
    • Invulnerability: Pay the cost to become immune to all damage for the duration. Enemies will need alternative ways to break your concentration to end the spell. They may try to incapacitate you or use spells like Sleet Storm that force concentration saving throws.
  • Offense
    • Meteor Swarm: Start blasting all who oppose you in grand AOE damage.
    • Psychic Scream: An Intelligence saving throw is difficult to pass for many creatures, so you’re likely to harm and stun enemies for most of a fight if you pick your battles well.
  • Versatility
    • Foresight: Cast early in your day to passively gain advantage on everything while Matrix-dodging bullets.
    • Mass Polymorph: Transform allies into dinosaurs, and enemies into snails. Make your DM sweat.
    • Prismatic Wall: Good luck to anyone attempting to get through this wall, especially if you summon the wall near an enemy and force the enemy into the wall. There are simpler walls to use in the game, but this wall doesn’t require concentration and can turn people into smoothies.
    • Shapechange: Get creative because the possibilities make my head spin.
    • True Polymorph: Get creative because the possibilities make my head spin.
    • Wish: This spell can be any spell of 8th level or lower from any spell list. You can choose from a list of other effects if you are willing to risk losing this spell forever. Wish’s description literally says, “Wish is the mightiest spell a mortal creature can cast.

Ranked Wizard Spells by Level in D&D 5e

  1. Find Familiar
  2. Misty Step
  3. Hypnotic Pattern / Counterspell
  4. Polymorph
  5. Wall of Force
  6. Mass Suggestion
  7. Force Cage / Simulacrum
  8. Mind Blank
  9. Wish

Conclusion

Thus ends our long rest together. I hope you prepared the best spells for your day. Which Wizard spells would you add to my lists? Do you agree with my final list of #1 spells by Wizard level? Let me know in the comments.

Before you go, I hope you’ll bookmark us and browse more of our articles. We have other articles about Wizards that may interest you. We write articles and produce videos weekly to help you improve your D&D game!

Thanks for reading, and good luck with your next adventure!

Sours: https://www.flutesloot.com/best-wizard-spells-dnd-5e/

By 5e best level spells

20 Best 1st-Level Spells in D&D 5e (For All Classes)

Welcome to the world of D&D! Whether you’re just starting out and trying to get a feel for what spells would be best to pick for your brand new spellcaster, or you’re just looking back to get a refresher, this list will help you to find what spells are worth the slot!

There are many, many spells out there.

But not all of them are as good as the next one.

But not to worry, I’ll be playing out some of the best of the lot for you to peruse.

 

20. Color Spray

Source: Player’s Handbook
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: Self, 15ft Cone
Components: Verbal, Somatic, Material
Duration: 1 Round

Have you ever wanted to blind your enemies with a spray of obnoxious glitter? Then Color Spray is the spell for you.

By stretching out a hand, this spell allows you to spray out a cone of magical rainbow glitter, which blinds anyone that gets in its way.

Mechanically speaking, you roll a total health pool that you can affect, and anyone with HP that’s equal or less than the total ends up blinded, starting with the one with the lowest current HP.

If you really just want to ruin someone’s day, then this is the perfect spell. All that glitter is never getting out!

 

19. Chaos Bolt

Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 120ft
Components: Verbal, Somatic
Duration: Instantaneous

Chaos Bolt is a spell that’s as chaotic as the name suggests.

Much like a normal damaging spell, you roll to hit. But upon hitting…that’s where it gets weird.

For damage, you roll a 2d8+1d6. But you don’t use both of the 2d8s.

Instead, the number you roll determines the damage type on a table. Acid, Cold, Fire, Force, Lightning, Poison, Psychic and Thunder. All represented by 1 through 8, respectively.

Choosing one of those types from the numbers you roll, that ends up being the damage type used. But it gets even weirder.

If you happen to roll the same number on the d8, the spell leaps to another enemy nearby, which you roll for the damage again. And, even more chaotically, that can then leap to yet another enemy if you roll doubles again.

Chaos reigns!

 

18. Expeditious Retreat

Source: Player’s Handbook
Casting Time: 1 Bonus Action
Range: Self
Components: Verbal, Somatic
Duration: 10 Minutes (Concentration)

This one’s far more straightforward than the previous spell on our list.

As a Bonus Action you cast the spell, which gives you the ability to run really, really fast.

In mechanical terms, it allows you to take the dash action as a bonus action on each of your turns for the duration of the spell.

If you really just don’t want to be in your current spot real quick, then this spell is a life saver!

 

17. Hideous Laughter

Source: Player’s Handbook
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 30ft
Components: Verbal, Somatic, Material
Duration: 1 Minute (Concentration)

Now this is a fun one.

Hideous Laughter renders anyone the caster targets to fall into a fit of uncontrollable laughter, causing them to be left Prone and Incapacitated for the duration of the spell.

If they fail a Wisdom save, that is.

Every time the victim takes damage, or at the end of their turns, they can repeat the save again for a chance of breaking free.

It doesn’t even have to be a funny joke! You can tell your poor target the biggest groaner of a pun, and it’ll have them rolling around on the ground in a fit of laughter. A fitting PUNishment, if you ask me.

 

16. Detect Poison and Disease

Source: Player’s Handbook
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: Self (30ft radius)
Components: Verbal, Somatic, Material
Duration: 10 Minutes (Concentration)

A somewhat niche detection spell, this one does exactly what it says on the tin.

In a 30ft radius around the caster, you know the presence and location of any and all poisons, poisonous creatures, or diseases.

It also lets you know the exact identity of each of those.

On top of that, if said things are not behind a barrier (such as 1 foot of stone, 1 inch of common metal, a thin sheet of lead, or 3 feet of wood or dirt) you know the location of anything that the spell detects.

 

15. Detect Evil and Good

Source: Player’s Handbook
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: Self (30ft radius)
Components: Verbal, Somatic
Duration: 10 Minutes (Concentration)

Detect Evil and Good is a spell that allows Clerics and Paladins to suss out if there’s any unnatural forces around them.

Picking up on any and all Aberrations, Celestials, Elementals, Fey, Fiends or Undead within a 30ft radius from the caster.

As with the Detect Poison, so long as they’re not behind 1 foot of stone, 1 inch of common metal, a thin sheet of lead, or 3 feet of wood or dirt, you can know exactly where their precise location is, for as long as the spell is being concentrated on.

 

14. Find Familiar

Source: Player’s Handbook
Casting Time: 1 Hour (Ritual)
Range: 10ft
Components: Verbal, Somatic, Material
Duration: Instantaneous

A staple spell for Wizards everywhere, Find Familiar allows the caster to summon an animal familiar to serve them.

Choosing from an array of available animals such as Owls, Ravens, and Cats, you choose to bind an entity that’s either Celestial, Fiend, or Fey to take the form of your choosing. And then become your Familiar.

Your brand new Familiar can serve a number of different abilities.

If you’re within 100ft of it, you can speak with it telepathically. And(at the same range) you’re able to use an action to take over its senses, allowing you to see and hear what they can see and hear as if you were there.

But, doing so renders your own body blind and deaf while you’re doing that.

Another neat feature: having a Familiar allows you to cast touch spells through them.

If you have a flying familiar, you can send it to land on an enemy and cast something like Shocking Touch or Inflict Wounds to damage them. Alternatively, if you somehow have access to a familiar when playing a Cleric, you can cast Cure Wounds through it! Very useful in the right circumstances.

 

13. Disguise Self

Source: Player’s Handbook
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: Self
Components: Verbal, Somatic
Duration: 1 Hour

The perfect spell for one who wishes to hide their identity, Disguise Self allows the caster to create an illusory disguise around themselves, changing their appearance for anyone looking at them.

You can’t change your general body type. And you have to keep the same basic arrangements of arms and legs and so on.

But how you look is entirely up to your imagination.

Do you want to be taller, shorter, maybe even another gender? You can do that and more.

But, there are some weaknesses to the spell.

Under close inspection the illusion falls apart. For example, while you may look different, underneath you’re still your usual size and shape. Which can be found out by simply touching you.

But unless you expect to be up close and personal while disguised, the spell is otherwise a great one to have in your repertoire.

 

12. Absorb Elements

Source: Elemental Evil Player’s Companion
Casting Time: 1 Reaction
Range: Self
Components: Somatic
Duration: 1 Round

This spell’s good for if you ever find yourself on the wrong end of a Fireball.

As a reaction, you’re able to give yourself resistance to whatever damage type hits you, halving the damage in the process.

Additionally, you’re able to harness part of the energy that you absorb into your next melee attack, causing an extra 1d6 worth of damage, in the type of energy that you sucked up with the spell.

 

11. Bane

Source: Player’s Handbook
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 30ft
Components: Verbal, Somatic, Material
Duration: 1 Minute (Concentration)

Bane is a great spell for any Bard or Cleric to have in their list. It allows the caster to target up to 3 creatures within 30ft, forcing them to make a Charisma save.

On a failed save, the creatures are forced to roll a 1d4 for every attack or save that they make, reducing the total roll by the number on the d4 and potentially causing a success to turn into a failure.

When upcasting the spell, for every slot of 2nd level or higher, you’re able to target an additional enemy with this effect.

 

10. Bless

Source: Player’s Handbook
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 30ft
Components: Verbal, Somatic, Material
Duration: 1 Minute (Concentration)

The complete opposite of Bane, Bless is another great spell for any Cleric or Paladin in your party.

It allows the caster to target up to three creatures within range, blessing them with an additional 1d4 to roll for any attack or save they make, potentially turning a fail into a success, in the same manner as Bane.

Only, less annoying for the players.

And like with Bane, for every slot above 1st level, you’re able to target another creature of your choice with Bless.

 

9. Burning Hands

Source: Player’s Handbook
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: Self, 15ft Cone
Components: Verbal, Somatic
Duration: Instantaneous

A great spell for the burgeoning pyromaniac in your party, Burning Hands allows the caster to create a 15ft cone of fire from your fingertips.

Anyone caught inside of the area of effect must make a Dexterity Save, or take 3d6 worth of fire damage.

But be careful!

Anything that’s not being carried or worn is at risk of catching fire afterwards. So using the spell inside of a small room is…likely not the best of ideas.

But if you want to burn down a house, then go right ahead!

 

8. Arms of Hadar

Source: Player’s Handbook
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: Self, 10ft Radius
Components: Verbal, Somatic
Duration: Instantaneous

This one’s a Warlock exclusive spell, for any of you lovers of eldritch horror out there.

As an action, you’re able to create a number of tentacles that sprout from your body which flail about at anything and everything that’s within a 10ft radius of yourself.

Anything that the tentacles touch are forced to make a Strength Save, or take 2d6 worth of necrotic damage.

And additionally, anything that fails the save is also restricted from taking reactions until their next turn.

Great to use if you find yourself surrounded, giving you the chance to run away unopposed, so long as they fail the saves on your spell!

 

7. Alarm

Source: Player’s Handbook
Casting Time: 1 Minute (Ritual)
Range: 30ft
Components: Verbal, Somatic, Material
Duration: 8 Hours

Have you ever sat down to begin a long rest, only to get woken up in the middle of the night by a band of marauding Goblins (or something else that goes bump in the night)? Then this is the spell for you!

Alarm allows the caster to designate an area no larger than a 20ft cube as warded, set to trigger an alarm if anyone unwanted ends up passing through it.

With the exception of anyone you designate as allowed at the time of casting, any creature that’s Tiny or larger triggers the spell’s effect.

You can make the alarm an audible ringing, or make it so that it gives you a mental ping that’s silent, and wakes you up so that you’re aware of any danger that might be coming your way.

Great for those times where you’re just too tired to want to have to deal with surprise rounds set against you in the middle of a long rest!

 

6. Chromatic Orb

Source: Player’s Handbook
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 90ft
Components: Verbal, Somatic, Material
Duration: Instantaneous

Chromatic Orb is a fantastic spell.

It allows the caster to create…well, an orb, of whatever element they wish.

Choosing from Acid, Cold, Fire, Lightning, Poison, or Thunder, you’re able to toss the orb as an attack action, dealing 3d8 worth of your chosen damage type at whatever poor creature earned your ire.

It’s great if you know what a creature is vulnerable to, or what it has resistance to, so you can tailor pick the right element for the job.

For every spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the spell’s damage output increases by a d8.

 

5. Feather Fall

Source: Player’s Handbook
Casting Time: 1 Reaction
Range: 60ft
Components: Verbal, Material
Duration: 1 Minute

Feather Fall is a must have spell.

I, personally, always have it prepared at any given time.

In the event of an emergency, Feather Fall can be used to keep yourself from going splat if you end up falling from a great height.

Upon casting the spell, you’re able to target up to 5 creatures within range.

Said creatures affected by the spell have their fall halted to a speed of 60ft per round, and will gently deposit them on the ground without taking any damage from a fall that may have otherwise been the end of them.

 

4. Detect Magic

Source: Player’s Handbook
Casting Time: 1 Action (Ritual)
Range: Self, 30ft Radius
Components: Verbal, Somatic
Duration: 10 Minutes (Concentration)

The best of the detection spells available at 1st level, in my opinion.

Detect Magic allows you to pinpoint the location of any and all magical effects around you. Be it a trap, a hidden door, or a magical item, the spell allows you to know it’s precise location so long as it’s not blocked in the same manner of Detect Poison or Detect Evil and Good.

On top of that, it also lets you know what school of magic the effect belongs to. Though it doesn’t tell you exactly what that is.

 

3. Cure Wounds

Source: Player’s Handbook
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: Touch
Components: Verbal, Somatic
Duration: Instantaneous

The first(and best) of the two healing abilities that are available at 1st level, Cure Wounds allows the caster to touch a hand to any living target and heal them for 1d8 plus their spellcasting modifier.

If you fall in the middle of combat, then you’ll be glad to see your resident Cleric or Paladin swooping in to save the day with this spell on hand. Literally.

The spell has no effect on constructs (except for Warforged) or undead, and can be upcasted to do an additional 1d8 of healing per spell slot above 1st level.

 

2. Faerie Fire

Source: Player’s Handbook
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 60ft, 20ft Cube
Components: Verbal, Somatic
Duration: Instantaneous

Faerie Fire is yet another amazing spell that’s available to you right off the bat.

It allows you to coat a 20ft area with dazzling motes of colorful fire, blue, green or violet, which stick to enemies and make them much easier to hit.

Creatures in the area of effect have to succeed on a Dexterity Save, or else have the motes of fire stick to them. The fire itself is harmless, but it grants anyone targeting a creature stuck with it Advantage to hit.

Additionally, anyone affected by the spell no longer benefits from turning invisible, as their outline is easily shown off by the Faerie Fire.

 

1. Identify

Source: Player’s Handbook
Casting Time: 1 Minute (Ritual)
Range: Touch
Components: Verbal, Somatic, Material
Duration: Instantaneous

And finally we come to the last spell on our list…Identify!

Identify is a must-have spell for any party that expects to find magical items, and aren’t willing to just use them and find out what they do.

Choosing an object that you hold onto for the spell’s duration, you’re able to learn said item’s properties and how to use them.

For example, you may come across a weapon that’s clearly magical, but you don’t know what it does. You could always attune to it to find out, but that would be risking the chance of it being cursed.

If you use Identify, though, you’ll learn exactly what the weapon does, how best to make use of it, and (unless otherwise stated by the item) can learn if it’s cursed or not.

It’s an all-around great 1st-spell, which has earned my number one spot!

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Our Top Sorcerer Spells in Dungeons and Dragons 5e

DnD 5e – Wizard Spell List Breakdown

Last Updated: October 1, 2021

Introduction

Wizards have arguably the best spell list in the game, capable of addressing nearly any situation with a single spell. Nearly nothing is beyond the Wizard’s ability, with the possible exception of healing (and even then, options like Vampiric Touch and Life Transference exist). Wizards are ritual casters, allowing them to further capitalize on their growing library of spells added to their spellbook(s) without cutting into the spells which they can prepare every day.

While other classes can cast many of the same spells, the Wizard can often cast them better due to their unique ability to write spells in a spellbook and cast any of them as rituals. Rituals are so central to what makes the Wizard great that collecting ritual spells is nearly required to play the class to its full potential.

Table of Contents

Disclaimer

RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.

  • Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
  • Green: Good options. Useful often.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.

I will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, even if it is my own, because I can’t assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. I also won’t cover Unearthed Arcana content because it’s not finalized, and I can’t guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.

The advice offered below is based on the current State of the Character Optimization Meta as of when the article was last updated. Keep in mind that the state of the meta periodically changes as new source materials are released and this article will be updating accordingly as time allows.

RPGBOT is unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.

Wizard Spells

Optional spells are marked below with (Optional) following the spell’s name. These spells are considered optional rules, as described in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. Consult your DM before deciding to use these spells.

Cantrips

  • Acid SplashPHB: Low damage for a cantrip, but it’s one of very few cantrips which can affect more than one target. If you can hit two targets, the total damage will beat any other cantrip (Eldritch Blast doesn’t count), and since it’s on Dexterity saves many bulky melee enemies will reliably fail. However, it’s hard to count on two enemies being adjacent, and generally when they are you want to use leveled spells to take advantage of the situation.
  • Blade WardPHB: Similar in function to taking the Dodge action, but since your AC may be terrible this may be more reliable. That doesn’t make is necessary, but it’s an option.
  • Booming BladeSCAG / TCoE (Optional): Excellent for bladesingers, but most wizards should never be in a position to use this.

    Note that Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything published an updated version of Booming Blade.

  • Chill TouchPHB: The same range as Fire Bolt, but less damage. In exchange, you get a better damage type and the target can’t regain hit points for a turn which can be a big help against enemies with regeneration or enemy clerics. This also imposes Disadvantage on the next attack if the target is undead, but many undead also have resistance to necrotic damage so Chill Touch isn’t always a good option against undead. Still, if you need a staple, go-to damage cantrip that isn’t Fire Bolt, Chill Touch is a great option.
  • Control FlamesEEPC / XGtE: Notably omitted from the function of Control Flames is the ability to create or extinguish them. Druidcraft and Prestidigitation both grant the ability to light or snuff out small flames. Control Flames will let you spread flames, extinguish them, change their color, etc., but if you want to light a torch you need to use flint and tinder like a commoner. You can use this to dramatically improve the effectiveness of torches, or to snuff out enemy light sources at a distance, but those are situational uses that you can address with better light sources like the Daylight spell or by using water. Neither function is frequent or useful enough to justify a cantrip with so little functionality.
  • Create BonfireEEPC: A low-budget area control spell. It does as much initial damage as most cantrips, but the ongoing damage only applies when a creature enters the area or ends their turn there, so you can only get extra damage if you can force an enemy into the space or if you cast it on them and they remain in their space. If you have an ally who likes to grapple enemies, or if you need to block a narrow space like a hall or doorway, this is extremely useful if you’re not already commiting Concentration to something else.

    However, Create Bonfire’s reliance on Concentration can become a problem as you gain levels because Concentration is such a precious resource, and many of the best spells require Concentration. If your game doesn’t include an option to retrain cantrips, I would skip Create Bonfire entirely. If you have a way to retrain cantrips, consider taking Create Bonfire at low levels, but be prepared to replace it if you find that you’re not using it consistently.

  • Dancing LightsPHB: An amusing distraction, but you can usually accomplish the same thing using Mage Hand and a candle or torch.
  • Encode ThoughtsGGtR: Interesting, but insanely situational. The only way to consume the thought strand is to cast this spell within the 8-hour duration, so this isn’t even a great option for communicating over long distances.
  • Fire BoltPHB: Great range and solid damage. A good go-to option when all you need is damage. Toll the Dead will do more damage and has a better damage type, but Fire Bolt has twice the range and doesn’t require a Constitution save. Keep in mind that if you have 14 Dexterity, a Light Crossbow is as good or better from levels 1 through 4, so not having Fire Bolt at low levels is perfectly fine.
  • FriendsPHB: This is hard to use. 1 minute is not a lot of time, and you generally need to put distance between yourself and the subject of the spell before they turn hostile. You could use this to intimidate a creature into fleeing, but in most cases you’ll probably be using this quickly talk your way past a creature blocking your way like a guard at a gate. You generally won’t need this; between high Charisma and other spells, you can find plenty of options which work better like Charm Person
  • FrostbiteEEPC / XGtE: Low damage for a cantrip (d6-based), but the big appeal is Disadvantage on the target’s next weapon attack. Unfortunately, it works on Constitution saving throws, and those tend to be relatively high compared to other saving throws.
  • Green-Flame BladeSCAG (Optional): Excellent for bladesingers, but most wizards should never be in a position to use this.

    Note that Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything published an updated version of Green-Flame Blade.

  • GustEEPC / XGtE: If this scaled somehow I would be interested. If it had more options, I would be interested. If had better range, I would be interested. But as it stands this spell is almost totally useless.
  • InfestationXGtE: Constitution saves tend to be high, which is this spell’s biggest problem. The damage is low but tolerable, and the forced movement is enough to make it useful by forcing enemies to move around in dangerous places or move out of a grapple despite your lack of control over the direction.
  • LightPHB: Disposable magic light is fantastic, but if you don’t have room for the cantrip you’ll do fine with torches.
  • Lightning LureSCAG / TCoE (Optional): Situational, but potentially useful for bladesingers to pull enemies into melee. Despite the 15-foot range, this can be a great option for melee Eldritch Knights. Against enemies with poor Strength (like many enemy spellcasters), you can use this to drag them into melee with you and force them to teleport or Disengage in order to get away from you unharmed. If you’re flying, you may even be able to pull enemies into the air to cause a small amount of falling damage.
  • Mage HandPHB: The ability to move objects at a safe distance is profoundly useful. Use it to pull levers, open doors, sort your laundry, and all manner of other important but potentially hazardous tasks where you wouldn’t want to risk your own hands.
  • MendingPHB: Too situational. Short of Rust Monsters, nearly nothing in 5e deals damage to your equipment.
  • MessagePHB: Situational. Use this to send messages without revealing your position. Of course, the spell requires Verbal components and it’s not clear how loud verbal components are intended to be, so take precautions if possible.
  • Mind SliverTCoE (Optional): Psychic damage on an Intelligence save is spectacular on its own. Intelligence saves are consistently among the lowest, and psychic damage resistance/immunity is rare (though it does exist, especially on mindless enemies like zombies). That alone makes Mind Sliver arguably the most reliable cantrip damage in 5e, but it gets better from there. With only Verbal components, Mind Sliver works while you’re tied up or have your hands full, making it a great option for War Caster. It also imposes a -1d4 penalty on the target’s next saving throw making them an easier target for save-or-suck spells, or you can just repeatedly hit them with Mind Sliver and watch enemies try to beat your spell save DC with a +0 save bonus and the -1d4 penalty from your previous hit.
  • Minor Illusion:PHB: Room for plenty of creative, deceptive uses. The 5-foot cube is easily enough to create something to hide behind, provided that your enemies don’t see you create the illusion.
  • Mold EarthEEPC / XGtE: You know what else can do this? A shovel. Sure, shoveling will take a long time, but you get at most 4 cantrips, and if you can replace a cantrip with a mundane item it’s probably a bad cantrip. The only important function is to create difficult terrain, but you’re limited to two ongoing effects, which means you only get two 5-foot squares. And, again, you could do that with a shovel. You’re about as likely to use this in combat as you are to use a shovel, too.
  • Poison SprayPHB: Good damage compared to most cantrips, but poison damage is commonly resisted, the range is essentially melee, and it’s a Constitution save.
  • PrestidigitationPHB: Whenever you want to do something small and magical that’s not covered by another spell, it’s usually covered by prestidigitation. This spell is exceptionally versatile. For suggestions on how to use Prestidigitation to its fullest, see my Practical Guide to Prestidigitation.
  • Ray of FrostPHB: You have a limited number of cantrips, Frostbite is much better, and the need diversifying the damage types you can deal is too important to take two cold damage cantrips.
  • Shape WaterEEPC / XGtE: This is as abusable and versatile as Prestidigitation. Freeze a solid 5 foot cube of water and drop it on someone. Pour water into a lock, freeze it, and allow the ice expansion to break the lock. Put a dome of ice over something you’re protecting. Build a small bridge in 5-foot segments. Block a hallway. Freeze a door in place. The uses are numerous and fantastic. If you have a barrel of water and this cantrip, you have a solution to most problems. Honestly the fact that this spell is so much better than its other elemental equivalents (Control Flames, Gust, and Mold Earth) is a good indication of just how awful those spells are. See my Practical Guide to Shape Water for more on how great Shape Water is.
  • Shocking GraspPHB: The damage is worse than Fire Bolt and it’s touch range. Advantage against enemies in metal armor is nowhere near enough to make this appealing. If you hit the target, they can’t take Reactions like Opportunity Attacks or casting Counterspell, but I still don’t think that’s enough to justify rushing into melee. Sure, you can send your familiar to deliver the spell, and for an owl that’s less risky than it is for you, but using your familiar this way is a risk to a powerful asset which costs 70 minutes and 10 gp to replace. Is Shocking Grasp worth that risk, consider its limited and situational benefits?

    The introduction of the Cantrip Versatility Optional Class Features offers the ability to take Shocking Grasp for a day at a time. If you’re going into a city or something where you’re more likely to fight a person than an owlbear or something, you might consider bringing Shocking Grasp.

  • SwordBurstSCAG / TCoE (Optional): If you are in a position where it makes sense to use this, you should probably be running away unless you’re a bladesinger. For the Bladesinger, this is a fantastic way to handle crowds while you’re in melee.
  • ThunderclapEEPC: Thunder damage is worse than Sword Burst’s force damage, and Thunderclap uses Constitution saves, which tend to be high.
  • Toll the DeadXGtE: 60 ft. range, the damage is measured in d12’s, and since it’s necrotic damage almost nothing will resist it.
  • True StrikePHB: Typically you’ll get better results from attacking twice rather than using this then attacking once.

1st-Level Spells

  • Absorb ElementsEEPC / XGtE: A fantastic defensive option at any level, this will save your life when you encounter an unpredictable source of elemental damage like as a trap or a spell. The bonus damage on your next attack is largely useless, but it still feels cool when you use it.
  • AlarmPHB: Never prepare this, but cast this at least once as a Ritual any time that you take a long rest.
  • Burning HandsPHB: The cone is just 15 feet, so it’s unlikely that you’ll hit more than two targets. The 3d6 damage is fine, but it’s not enough to justify rushing into melee unless you have enough movement to retreat to safety after doing so.
  • CatapultEEPC: Equivalent damage to Chromatic Orb, but Chromatic Orb is more versatile and has better range. Where Catapult shines is its reliability: If a target passes their saving throw, the object continues moving until it hits something or runs out of range. If you can line up two or more targets, you odds of hitting and dealing damage improve considerably. If your DM allows it, you might be able to Catapult items like Acid or Alchemist’s Fire to add additional damage.
  • Cause FearXGtE: A decent low-level crowd control option, but it has some drawbacks and it becomes obsolete as other options come online. Frightened foes can’t move toward you, which is great for melee enemies which tend to have poor mental stats like many beasts and many non-caster humanoids at low levels. Still, targets are able to attack (albeit with Disadvantage) and cast spells, and resistance/immunity to fear is common.
  • Charm PersonPHB: If you can cast this on a target outside of combat without them noticing, this can be a great way to defuse a potentially hostile situation. However, the spell has some complications. Charm Person has no visual effect like a ball of fire, so there’s no visual indication that the spell succeeded or failed. The target doesn’t know that they’ve been targeted by the spell if they succeed on the saving throw, but you don’t know if they succeeded or failed unless your DM decides to tell you (and they are under no obligation to do so). So generally your best bet is to cast this once or twice and hope for the best before presenting yourself to your target.
  • Chromatic OrbPHB: Solid damage with good range, and the ability to pick the damage type means that you can always avoid damage resistances if you know what the target is resistant to.
  • Color sprayPHB: The effect is not powerful enough and the duration is not long enough to justify the spell slot.
  • Comprehend languagesPHB: Cast this as a ritual. Unfortunately it’s a self-targeting spell so your communicatin will be one-way unless whatever you’re talking to also has a solution.
  • Detect MagicPHB: Essential. If you’re not concentrating on anything else, it’s often a good idea to cast this as a ritual and walk around with it.
  • Disguise SelfPHB: Learning a single spell is cheaper than proficiency in a Disguise Kit.
  • Earth TremorEEPC / XGtE: Not nearly enough damage, and being prone isn’t enough of a problem in 5e. The difficult terrain effect is the real draw. It only works on “loose earth or stone”, but that covers nearly anything you’ll stand on except wood, so it’s an easy way to create difficult terrain. Unfortunately, it also effects you so be careful not to trap yourself among enemies.
  • Expeditious RetreatPHB: Situational and poorly named. Expiditious Retreat is great for chases and for running long distances, but those situations aren’t common enough to justify preparing this unless you know it’s going to happen. The duration is good and Dash as a bonus action offers a lot of extra speed, but since this requires Concentration you’ll almost always want a different buff instead.
  • False LifePHB: A great use for your low-level spell slots when they stop being effective in combat. 1d4+4 hit points is as much as most wizards get from an extra hit die, which can make a huge difference for a class that’s typiclaly very frail.
  • Feather FallPHB: Someone in the party needs to have this at all times, and you’re someone. Falling damage is a silly, embarassing way to die.
  • Find FamiliarPHB: A familiar is a fantastically useful asset. It can’t attack, but it can still do other useful things like carrying items between party members, taking the Help action, and scouting for danger. Familiars have terribly few hit points, but you can always resummon them if you have the 10gp worth of components handy, so after very low levels your familiar’s death is more of an inconvenience than a real loss. Generally the Owl is the best option because it has Flyby, allowing it to fly in and out of enemies’ reach without provoking Opportunity Attacks so that it can use the Help action. You may also find specific buffs like Dragon Breath which you can cast on your familiar to turn it into a serious threat in combat.
  • Fog CloudPHB: An excellent way to cover your escape, but you can’t see through the fog any better than anyone else, so don’t expect to fight in this without some other advantage most of the time. Fog Cloud can be a way to negate Advantage if your enemies have the upper hand, so if you’re facing enemies who are invisible, hidden, or have some other source of Advantage, Fog Cloud can take that away, effectively leveling the playing field so that no one can see each other. Such situations are rare, but it’s nice to know that there’s a countermeasure when those situations do arise.
  • Frost FingersID:RotF: Burning Hands, but it’s cold damage and less damage on average. It does scale better than Burning Hands due to the larger damage die, but not by enough to make this worthwhile.
  • GreasePHB: Even if creatures fall prone, that only eats half of their movement, and with a radius of just 10 feet most creatures can walk out unimpeded once they’re no longer prone.
  • Ice KnifeEEPC / XGtE: The closest you’ll get to Fireball at this level. Allowing both an attack and a save seems weird, and while it makes it likely that foes will avoid partial damage, they’ll also likely take at least part of the damage. The only problem is that the splash damage radius is so mall that Acid Splash can usually fill the same situation with similar range until better spells come online.
  • IdentifyPHB: Even if you encounter a magic item, this typically isn’t necessary because you can usually identify a magic item by spending a Short Rest in contact with it. Some (but not all) cursed magic items can be identified using the Identify spell.
  • Illusory ScriptPHB: A fun party trick, but 10 gp is expensive if you want to use this often.
  • Jim’s Magic MissileAI: This spell is fun, but it’s risky unless you can mitigate the risks with Advantage on the attacks and/or with a way to negate natural 1’s like the Halfling’s Lucky trait. If you can get Advantage on all of the attacks (maybe by making the target Restrained) you can easily outdo the average damage of most other 1st-level spell since Jim’s Magic Missile does more damage than usual on a critical hit.
  • JumpPHB: Too situational.
  • LongstriderPHB: A helpful buff for highly-mobile characters, and with an hour-long duration it can be a great use of low-level spell slots once your 1st-level spells start lagging in combat.
  • Mage ArmorPHB: A great source of AC, but it provides a perpetual tax on your spell slots and 13+Dex will stop being effective as enemies’ attack bonuses scale while your Dexterity remains static so that you can focus on Intelligence.

    Mage Armor’s usefulness improves if you have other lightly-armored characters in the party. Learning Mage Armor just for yourself can feel like a waste, but when you’re casting it on bards, druids, fighters, rangers, rogues, and warlocks, suddenly learning and preparing one low-level spell becomes a staple defensive option for your whole party.

  • Magic MissilePHB: A great option with long range and reliable damage of what is probably the best damage type in the game. 3d4+3 (avg. 10.5) damage is slightly less than the 3d8 (avg. 13.5) dealt by Chromatic Orb, but the Attack vs. AC progression shows that players maximizing their primary ability score will hit with attacks 65% of the time, so your expected damage with Chromatic Orb is just 8.775. Plus, Magic Missile can be split between targets, allowing you to deal with pests like familiars or enemies just barely clinging to life while still dealing damage to other threats.
  • Protection From Evil and GoodPHB: An absolutely fantastic defensive option, but it’s technically situational.
  • Ray of SicknessPHB: Less damage than other spells of the same level, but poisoning a target for a turn means Disadvantage on attacks and ability checks for the full turn. Unfortunately, the big martial monsters that you typically want to use this on are also typically good at Constitution saving throws.
  • ShieldPHB: The fact that you can cast this after hearing the result of the attack roll means that you can frequently turn a hit into a miss. On top of Mage Armor, you can effectively have an AC of 17+Dex so long as you have 1st-level spell slots to spend.
  • Silent ImagePHB: While not nearly so powerful as Major Image, if you just want an object or a visual effect, Silent Image does the job just as well. Throw up a fake wall, door, or portcullis to slow pursuers. Create a piece of furniture, then hide inside it and stab people when they try to open it. Illusions are limited more by your creativity (and your DM’s willingness to play along) than by the spell’s text.
  • SleepPHB: At an average of 22.5 hp worth of creatures, you won’t be able to affect many creatures while they’re at full hit points, but you can wait to wear down their hit points before finishing them off with Sleep. Sleep notably doesn’t require a saving throw, making it a powerful and reliable way to incapacitate enemies with relatively few hit points even at high levels.
  • SnareXGtE: Good for setting a trap, or if you’re resting somewhere dangerous with a convenient choke point like a narrow halway. Targets are restrained for at least one round, which is hopefully enough for you to fight your way out of your bedroll and grab a weapon.
  • Tasha’s Caustic BrewTCoE (Optional): This is a challenging spell; if you just want damage, cast Burning Hands. With a 1-minute duration and 2d4 damage each round, you can deal a total of 20d4 damage to each target (average 50) which is enough to kill many creatures up to CR 2 or 3 (ignore the table in the “creating a monster” rules in the DMG; real monster stats tend to have high “offensive CR” and low “defensive CR” so very few of them have hit points which line up with those rules).

    However, you’re almost certainly not going to get the full damage, and that’s probably fine. If you spend an Action and a spell slot to cast this and a target spends their Action to remove the effect, you have traded your Action for theirs and probably also did a bunch of damage. In encounters where your party outnumbers your enemies, that’s a winning trade for you. In encounters where your enemies outnumber your party, you’re in a target-rich environment and may be able to hit 3 or more targets, in which case trading your own Action for one Action from several enemies is a great way to offset your enemies’ numerical advantage.

    Lines are a difficult AOE because it’s often difficult to catch more than two enemies in a straight 5-foot wide line. It’s also all-or-nothing, so creatures which pass the save are totally unharmed. This requires Concentration, so if you don’t affect multiple targets you may need to weigh the benefits of whatever ongoing damage you’re getting against the ability to spend your Concentration on a different spell instead.

  • Tasha’s Hideous LaughterPHB: A great low-level save or suck, but generally you want to use this on a creature then leave it alone until you’ve dealt with anything else in the encounter. The best comparison at this level is to Cause Fear, which doesn’t hinder foes as much as Hideous Laughter, but they also don’t get another save whenever they take damage.
  • Tenser’s Floating DiskPHB: While you can get off the ground with Floating Disk, you can’t ride it around without some very complicated shenanigans like have a second wizard and casting Gust on each other repeatedly. Generally you’ll use this to carry heavy things like loot or unconscious party members. It’s very specifically written to have almost no use beyond carrying heavy objects for you, so you’ll likely never cast this unless you cast it as a ritual.
  • ThunderwavePHB: With the exception of Gust, this is one of your very few options for pushing enemies away from you. It’s especially appealing if you can push an enemy into an area control effect, but otherwise it’s not a good go-to option for damage output in combat.
  • Unseen ServantPHB: This has very limited utility in combat or in dangerous situations, but that doesn’t mean that it has none. With a 1-hour duration you can get a lot done with a single casting. Interacting with items can mean opening doors and chests, carrying items, using potions on allies, and other things which you might not have time or patience to do. 2 Strength isn’t enough to carry anything heavy or to break down a door, but it’s often enough to trigger traps.
  • Witch BoltPHB: Spending the same spell slot on Magic Missile is dramatically more reliable and does more damage on average. Even if you hit with the initial attack for Witch Bolt, it takes three additional turns for the average damage from Witch Bolt to catch up to the average damage dealt by Magic Missile, then following with Fire Bolt on later turns. The primary use case for Witch Bolt is when you’re facing large single foes where combat with last more five rounds or more, which is a rarity since most combats last around 3 rounds.

2nd-Level Spells

  • Aganazzar’s ScorcherEEPC: Lines are frequently hard to aim, so you’re likely to only hit 2 creatures in most cases. With that same assumption, compare the 3d8 damage of Aganazzar’s Scorcher to the 3d6 damage of Burning Hands which will also likely only hit two targets. The difference in average damage is just 3 damage, so it’s not enough to justify the higher-level spell slot.
  • Alter SelfPHB: Two situational effects and a combat buff that you can’t risk using. Until you get something more powerful like Polymorph, Alter Self allows you to handle breathing underwater and can replace the benefits of Disguise Self.
  • Arcane LockPHB: Easy to overlook and definitely situational, but surprisingly good. With a permanent duration and the ability to designate creatures who can pass unimpeded and a verbal password, if your party has a permanent base you should consider putting this on every door and window. If you’re resting somewhere dangeorus like a dungeon, try to find a room with a door and put this on the door to make it harder to break or unlock. However, beware of the 25gp material component cost.
  • AuguryPHB (Optional): This is my absolute favorite divination spell because it allows players to politely ask their DM for hints. Castable as a ritual with a reusable material component, if you have time you can cast this repeatedly to questions all sorts of decisions.
  • Blindness/DeafnessPHB: Blindness is crippling, especially for enemies who fight at range like archers and spellcasters. It’s also helpful against melee enemies, but Constitution saves tend to be high, so it’s often best to use this on enemies which are more physically frail.
  • BlurPHB: A great defensive option, but with a short duration and it requires Concentration. If you’re considering Blur, also consider Warding Wind because they have similar effects.
  • Cloud of DaggersPHB: Create Bonfire can fill the same function, though Cloud of Daggers deals damage when a creature starts its turn in the effect while Create Bonfire takes effect when creatures end their turn in effect, making it much easier to guarantee damage with Cloud of Daggers.
  • Continual FlamePHB: Having reliable, constant light is really nice. Cast this on a shield, a necklace, a weapon, or maybe a whole bunch of different things to guarantee that you always have adequate light without casting light or lighting a torch.
  • Crown of MadnessPHB: “The charmed target must use its action before moving on each of its turns to make a melee attack”. Unless your enemies are dumb enough to stand next to their ally while they’re clearly under the effects of a harmful spell, you’re going to get maybe one attack out of this.
  • DarknessPHB: Situational. Typically you can solve the same challenges with Fog Cloud, and you don’t need to worry about the possibility of enemies being able to see through the effect using magic or by being devils or something. Fog Cloud also has 6 times the duration and a radius 5 feet larger and can be expanded using higher-level spell slots. Darkness’s one unique advantage over Fog Cloud is that it’s portable: you can cast Darkness on a rock and toss it into a room or stick into your pocket to produce in the middle of combat by using your item interaction to take it out of your pocket rather than spending an Action to cast a spell.
  • DarkvisionPHB: Fantastic at any level. 8-hour duration, no Concentration. If you can afford the spell slots, cast this on everyone in the party who doesn’t get it from their race.
  • Detect ThoughtsPHB: Situational, but a clever player can use this to gather crucial information from enemies unwilling to share it. Wizards are naturally well-equipped to perform the opposed Intelligence checks to continue to read a specific creature’s thoughts, but look for help anyway. If you can, have an ally cast buffs like Guidance or Enhance Ability (Intelligence) on you to give yourself an edge.
  • Dragon’s BreathXGtE: Cast this on your familiar to turn it into a pet flamethrower. It’s a great way to get a bit of extra damage output without cutting into your own action economy, but it makes your familiar and their 1 hit point a massive target.
  • Dust DevilEEPC: Creatures can walk past or even through the effect unhindered.
  • EarthbindEEPC: While it doesn’t force flying enemies to fall, it does force them to the ground which is often enough if you can’t cause your entire party to fly. This remains a useful option at any level, especially since you can maintain the spell for its full 1-minute duration and keep the target on the ground long enough to kill them.
  • Enhance AbilityPHB (Optional): Fantastic and versatile. Eagle’s Splendor on your party’s Face make social interactions much easier, and Bull’s Strength provides a huge edge while grappling. Enhance your spellcasting ability (or that of an ally) to get Advantage on the ability checks to counter spells and to dispel magic.
  • Enlarge/ReducePHB: A great option both as a buff for melee allies and as a utility option, though I would rarely try using this to shrink enemies. You can use this on a small ally to make them small enough to smuggle in a pocket, or you can use this on and ally to give them an edge against enemies that rely on grappling. The bonus damage for being enlarged is nice, but not really worth the spell slot unless the target is making a huge number of weapon attacks like a high-level fighter.
  • Flaming SpherePHB: An interesting but sometimes difficult option, Flaming Sphere combines area control and regular damage output, but monopolizes both your bonus action and your Concentration for the 1-minute duration. In small areas where enemies can’t easily get away from the sphere, it can be a reliable source of ongoing damage while also helping control a small area. However, the sphere only applies damage when it rams a creature or when a creature ends its turn; in the intervening time creatures can run past or even directly through the sphere unharmed.
  • Gentle ReposePHB: Very situational, but it solves some interesting problems. Normally you can cremate a body to prevent it from becoming undead, but cremating a body takes an alarmingly large amount of fuel which you probably don’t have laying about. You can multilate the body, but that’s gross and in many campaign settings the gods vew that sort of thing as evil. So if you need to maintain a body until you can give it a real burial, this is your best bet. Fortunately, you can cast it as a ritual.

    Gentle Repose also pauses the timer on effects which raise the dead. While this is specifically called out as working with Raise Dead, it works with anything that raises creatures from the dead. That includes Revivify. So if you keep this prepared, you can haul your allies around until you can cast 3rd-level spells and until you can scrape together enough diamond dust to raise them.

    Remember that while spells don’t stack, their durations can overlap so if you cast Gentle Repose early to avoid gaps in spell duration you can keep bodies preserved indefinitely.

  • Gift of GabAI: Another hilarious entry from Acquisitions Incorporated with dubious use in a typical game. The intent of having mechanics in place for social interactions is to detach your real-world social skills from your character’s social skills. If you say something foolish in real life, your DM should generally be kind enough to filter that through your character into something that would make sense for them to say. But if they don’t, this is a perfectly fine way to clean up a mistake. Keep in mind that it only resets six seconds of conversation, so a short sentence is all that you can cover. You can’t spend an hour berating someone than say “Gift of Gab” and have everything forgotten.
  • Gust of WindPHB: Potentially a great way to shove enemies around, but at 15 ft. per round enemies will frequently be able to walk back the distance they were pushed without issue. Your best bet is to push enemies into area control effects, but since Gust of Wind requires your Concentration you may have trouble creating effects to use.
  • Hold PersonPHB: On/off button for humanoids. Things that you’ll obviously think of as humanoids (goblins, humans, etc.) stop being common threats at low levels, and at high levels generally the only humanoid threads will be powerful NPCs. Humanoids are a tiny portion of the monster manual, so this spell is situational by design.

    In encounters with multiple foes, you can up-cast Hold Person to paralyze multiple targets, so when AOE damage spells aren’t a good idea for whatever reason this can still handle groups of enemies. Paralysis is a serious status condition, granting Advantage on attacks against the targets and guaranteeing Critical Hits for attacks made within 5 feet of the target. Send anyone with a weapon into melee to finish off the targets before they manage to succeed on a save.

    However, remember that targets get an additional save at the end of each round, so you can’t predict how long this will stay in effect. If you up-cast this to affect multiple targets, you may reach a point where so few of them are still paralyzed that maintain Concentration may not be worthwhile.

  • InvisibilityPHB: An essential scouting and infiltration tool, and as you get higher-level spell slots you can affect more of your party.

    The conditions which break the Invisibility spell are surprisingly narrow. While attacks and spells include most of the offensive things which a player does, those two things don’t include other offensive options like breath weapons, including those provided by spells like Dragon’s Breath, polymorph effects, or the Dragonborn’s natural breath weapon.

  • Jim’s Glowing CoinAI: Enthrall but way better since the affected creatures are distracted by a coin instead of the caster, it doesn’t require Concentration, and affected creatures also suffer Disadvantage on Initiative rolls.
  • KnockPHB: The primary reason to have proficiency with Thieves’ Tools is to handle locks. Knock doesn’t require a check. It just works. Make aggressive eye contact with your party’s rogue while you cast this just to rub it in.
  • LevitatePHB: A low-level substitute for both telekinesis and flight, but somehow also a save-or-suck spell.

    Getting 20 feet off the ground doesn’t feel safe, but it’s high enough that you can’t be reached by most creatures which rely solely on melee attacks, a surprising number of creatures. If you’re happy fighting at range, you can comfortably snipe at your foes from relative safety.

    You can also use this to lift heavy objects, allowing you to bypass some obstacles by moving them out of the way temporarily. If your party is light enough, you could levitate a suitable object such as a table and have your allies sit or stand upon it like an elevator. You can also use to rescue allies from things like pit traps, pools of acid, or other unpleasant things which can’t fly.

    Used offensively, this allows you to raise foes off the ground, making melee-only creatures essentially harmless so long as the spell persists. They’re basically piñatas at that point.

    The 10-minute duration means that you can easily use this to ascend cliffs or tall walls, or raise targets high enough into the air that you might not be able to see them. In 10 minutes you can raise the target 2,000 feet.

    Levitate’s big challenges are its Action economy, Concentration, and that it allows a Constitution save. In combat, spending an Action to raise the target an additional 20 feet into the air is rarely worth the Action cost, though enemies using ranged weapons might be forced to suffer Disadvantage on their attacks if you can put them at long range. Concentration is manageable, and even if your Concentration breaks the target still falls and takes damage. Constitution saves are more of a problem since Constitution saves are frequently high, and enemies with relatively poor Constitutution save bonuses tend to be spellcasters or other creatures well-equipped to fight at range.

  • Locate ObjectPHB: Too situational, and too easy to counter. Anyone with any knowledge of magic that’s trying to hide something will wrap it in lead.
  • Magic MouthPHB: Very situational, but it’s cast as a ritual so it’s easy to keep handy. This more useful if you have a permanent base, but you can also place the effect on portable objects (like a piece of paper) in order to perform various shenanigans. Honestly, the most fun part of this spell is coming up wtih silly ways to abuse it. For example: if you can cast Thaumaturgy somehow, Maigc Mouth still recites the message in the volume at which you originally spoke so you can turn a piece of paper into an extremely unpleasant (though harmless) surprise.
  • Magic WeaponPHB: Access to magic weapons is basically requires once enemies start having resitance to weapon damage from nonmagical attacks. Unfortunately, Magic Weapon monopolizes your Concentration for an hour at a time, so you don’t want to have this running constantly just for the attack/damage bonus in most cases.
  • Maximilian’s Earthen GraspEEPC: At 2nd spell level, this may as well be Hold Monster. The initial Strength save is fine, but after the initial save the target makes a Strength check to escape. Short of huge, strong creatures that you should never target with this spell anyway, targets are a massive disadvatnage when attempting to escape. Spellcasters, Dexterity-based martial enemies, and most humanoids (including many strong ones) can’t easily escape this, and bring Restrained makes them extremely vulnerable to attack. It’s not as lethal as Hold Person, but it doesn’t have a creature type limitation and it’s much harder to escape. You can use an Action on later turns to try to damage the target again, but since they’re restrained you get Advantage on attacks against them, and if you have an attack cantrip that may be more reliable than forcing another saving throw.
  • Melf’s Acid ArrowPHB: At an average of 15 damage on a hit (2.5 on a miss), this deals less average damage than Chromatic Orb cast at the same level (avg. 18 compared to avg. 15), and Chromatic orb both lets you choose the damage type and doesn’t make you wait for a third of the damage. If you account for a 65% expected hit chance, Magic Missile is also a much better use for the same spell slot at an average damage of 14 compared to Melf’s Acid Arrow’s expected damage of 10.75 (15*0.66=9.75, 2.5*0.4=1 for the splash damage on a miss).
  • Mind SpikeXGtE: Extremely situational, and only as much damage as a 1st-level spell. If you can see the target to target them with Mind Spike, you should look for a way debilitate or incapacitate them rather than just mitigating invisibility.
  • Mirror ImagePHB: A great defensive option, and it doesn’t require Concentration so you can easily use it alongside other great options like Fly. It’s easy to compare this to Blur since they’re the same level and fill the same niche. Blur applies Disadvantage, but Disadvantage is only useful if your AC is high enough that attackers have a reasonable chance to miss their attacks. When enemies’ attack bonuses have long outstripped the AC provided by Mage Armor and Shield, Mirror Image remains useful. However, since its usefulness diminishes quickly it works best against enemies making small numbers of attacks with high damage. Also, the 1-minute duration can be challenging when it’s an Action to cast.
  • Misty StepPHB: Useful in a all manner of problematic situations, and cast as a bonus action with only Verbal components.
  • Nystul’s Magic auraPHB: Very situational, but there’s literally nothing else in the game that can do this.
  • Phantasmal ForcePHB: Don’t cast this spell for the damage (though 10d6 single-target damage is really good for a 2nd-level spell); cast this to incapacitate the target somehow. For example: Create an illusion of the floor beaneath the target sprouting teeth, rising up around the creature, and eating it like a venus fly trap. The creature “treats the phantasm as if it were real”, and unless they know to use Intelligence (Investigation) to disbelieve the illusion they’ll spend 10 rounds struggling against a non-existent trap which is slowly killing them. An ally might try to convince them that something is amiss, but that’s time that your enemies are trying to get their act together while you’re hitting them with other spells. The save is Intelligence, and Intelligence saves tend to be relatively low, especially at low levels where beasts are still a threat.
  • PyrotechnicsEEPC / XGtE: Only situationally useful, slightly annoying to set up, and when it does work the effects aren’t good enough. The flame doesn’t need to be especially large, so a torch or even a candle will suffice. Drop a torch on the ground, run out of range, and cast the spell. The blinding effect isn’t spectacular because it only lasts on round and it’s on a Constitutuion save, and the smoke cloud option is objectively worse than similar options like Fog Cloud or Darkness.
  • Ray of EnfeeblementPHB: Garbage. The targets you want to use this on will have good Constitution saves.
  • Rope TrickPHB: In previous editions, this was a cheap option to create a magically safe place to rest overnight. The duration has been reduced to one hour, but that’s still sufficient to take a Short Rest. Tragically, this can’t be cast as a ritual, so unless your party has some other way to make Short Rests safe, you may want to keep this prepared while travelling anywhere dangerous in case you and your party need to suddenly vanish somewher safe.

    Note that the rope can be up to 60 ft. long, and that the portal appears when the rope is perpendicular to the ground, so its full length runs straight up and down. No mention is given to what happens if the rope hits a ceiling, but I imagine that the spell would simply fail.

    Unless you relish the idea of your wizard with 8 Strength climbing a 60-foot rope, I recommend carrying a much shorter length of rope for just this purpose. 10 feet at most is typically sufficiently tall that none of your party members need to duck, and any medium sized creature in party can lift any small or frail allies nearly to the top of the rope. 10 ft. of rope should also reach its full length before hitting a ceiling in most locales, but if you’re worried you can always shorten the rope before casting Rope Trick.

  • Scorching RayPHB: Good damage split across three attacks. If you have Advantage on all of the attacks or have some other attack buss like Bless the expected damage increases considerably, so when those opportunities arise be sure to tak them. Making numerous attacks means that you’re likely to hit with at least some of them, but you’re also likely to miss with some of them and therefore deal only partial damage. The best way to think about stuff like this is to rely on averages: if you’re sticking to the Attack vs. AC progression, you’re expected to hit aroun 65% of the time, so you can expect an average of 65% of the damage from any effect which relies on an attack. Scorching Ray deals a total of 6d6 damage (avg. 21), and 605% of that is 13.65 expected damage (disregarding critical hits, which are more common because you’re making multiple attacks).
  • See InvisibilityPHB: Easy, reliable counter to invisibility. No Concentration, no aiming an AOE like Faerie Fire, and if you cast this ahead of time no spending an Action in combat. The 1-hour duration is great, but expect to refresh this after short rests if you expect invisibility to be a frequent problem.
  • Shadow BladeXGtE: This is an objectively great spell that you should never use unless you’re a bladesinger. Melee is a terrifying place for most wizards to be. You could throw this every round and use a bonus action to retrieve it, but there’s a very narrow level range where that will deal more damage than a cantrip (levels 3 and 4 before cantrips improve at 5th level). The best use cases for this are the bladesinger Wizard and the Arcane Trickster.
  • ShatterPHB: The poor man’s fireball. 3d8 damage in a 10-foot radius is enough to hit several targets and deal decent damage. However, the save is Consitution so many creatures will be able to resist easily. Disadvantage for creatures made of inorganic materials is really neat, but how often do you fight a group of animated armors or iron golems?
  • SkywriteEEPC: Only useful as a novelty. Still, it’s hard to resist the ability to insult someone by writing nasty things about them in the sky for everyone to see for miles around.
  • Snilloc’s Snowball SwarmEEPC / XGtE: Compared to Shatter, this is less damage, a smaller area of effect, and a worse damage type. It does have 50% more range and a better save, but I don’t think that’s nearly enough to make this on par with Shatter.
  • Spider ClimbPHB: A helpful substitute for flight at low levels, but once you can learn Fly this is completely obsolete.
  • SuggestionPHB: Extremely versatile. You can use this to accomplish a lot of things. This is more effective, reliable, and immediate than Geas. However, the 8-hour duration requires Concentration, so if you want to use this while adventuring you’re comitting a significant resource for a full day to get the full duration of the spell. This spell benefits greatly from your own creativity, so the more thought you put into its use the more effective it will be.

    You may also need a patient, permissive DM, so try not to abuse this too much or your DM may grow tired of your shenanigans and instill some sort of consequences. Strangely, the spell doesn’t state that the target knows that they were charmed, so much like a “Jedi Mind Trick”, the target will carry out the specified action as though it made sense to do so even if they’ll regret it later.

  • Tasha’s Mind WhipTCoE (Optional): A complex spell, and definitely not a go-to offensive option, but it has several fantastic tactical uses. The most obvious is preventing Opportunity Attacks, which allows you and your allies to move away from the target(s) safely at the same spell slot cost of Misty Step. Misty Step will, of course, get you further and do more than just avoid on Opportunity Attacks, but Tasha’s Mind Whip’s benefits don’t stop there. Limiting the target’s actions on their turn to one thing from their choice of movement, Action, and Bonus Action means that enemies who can’t attack at range basically spend their whole turn walking. Enemies stuck in melee who don’t want to be there may be stuck there. Enemy spellcasters or creatures with lots of special abilities will lose big chunks of their turn.

    On top of all of that, Tasha’s Mind Whip targets Intelligence saves, which are consistently one of the lowest saves across the full level range. In 5e, Intelligence doesn’t do a lot, so unsurprisingly most adventurers and most monsters are idiots. Capitalize on that.

  • Warding WindEEPC: Being deafened is annoying but usually not impactful. The big draw here is the difficult terrain to deter melee enemies and Disadvantage to deter ranged attackers. This competes conceptually with Blur since both options impose Disadvantage, but there are some trade-offs. Blur only lasts 1 minute, but the Disadvantage applies to all attacks rather than just ranged attacks. Warding Wind lasts 10 minutes and makes it hard for enemies to move near you, potentially keeping them from reaching you in melee. I’m not sure which spell is better, but given that Warding Wind lasts longer and can handle effects that normally require Gust of Wind, I think Warding Wind may be slightly better.
  • WebPHB: Fantastic crowd control, but with some complications. This competes for space with Hold Person and Maximilian’s Earthen Grasp. Compared to Earthen Grasp, Web can affect more than one creature and has a much better dureation, but Web may be easier to escape. Web requires an initialy Dexterity saving throw, then creatures can make Strength checks to escape on later turns. Strength checks are going to be hard compared to your Spell Save DC since Strength checks will never add a Proficiency Bonus, but many creatures will be good at either Strength or Dexterity, so your ideal targets are creatures which are bad at both like many spellcasters. The webs can also be burned away, so any creature that can deal fire damage, or which is carrying something like flint and steel or a lit torch can easily escape without struggling through a series of Strength checks. Being Restrained doesn’t prevent creatures from taking such actions. Given all of the comparisons, I think Web is a better option for handling groups of foes, but Maximilian’s Earthen Grasp is better against single foes.

3rd-Level Spells

  • Animate DeadPHB: Undead are excellent replacements for living creatures in many ways. An undead guard never gets tired keeping watch. An undead horse never tires of marching. An undead porter won’t complain about their back hurting from hauling your treasure. Sure, desecrating the bodies of the dead is “icky” or “evil” depending on who you ask, but you can’t pay peasants to work 24/7 in highly dangerous conditions far from home, so sometimes you need to compromise ethics in favor of effectiveness. You could technically use this to animate the bodies of big enemies like giants and dragons to make powerful undead warriors to serve you, but try not to do that too much or you’re going to bog down the game with your army of undead. Leave that to NPCs, or let the zombie army exist off-screen. Also, don’t forget that if you want to keep your undead pets you’ll need to refresh the spell every 24 hours or they’ll revert to their natural behavior, which will often involve trying to kill you for the crime of being both nearby and alive.
  • Bestow CursePHB: The effects are versatile enough that you can easily bring this into play in a variety of situations, and the scaling mechanism works well enough that this remains a viable option for higher-level spell slots. Use the third option against big tanky enemies with poor Wisdom, or use the first option against enemies that like to grapple. If you’re ever uncertain, use the third option. Robbing a creature of their turn on a failed saving throw is debilitating, and can take creatures almost completely out of a fight.
  • BlinkPHB: 1-minute duration, cast an Action, it only has a 50% chance to work on any one turn, and you find out the results at the end of your turn when you no longe rhave the ability to do anything about it. I would prefer Blur or something similar over Blink, though admittedly Blink doesn’t require Concentration.
  • CatnapXGtE: A Short Rest is typically one hour. In most campaigns, that will be fine most of the time unless the DM is deliberately creating a time crunch which prevents resting or otherwise sitting about wasting time. In those cases you might be able to squeeze in a Catnap, but more than likely the 10-minute duration will still be problematic. If danger is the driving concern, cast Rope Trick instead and spend an hour in a pocket dimension.
  • ClairvoyancePHB: With a 1-mile range and the ability to place the sensor in place you can’t see, this is a fantastic way to safely scout dangerous places. If you have enough time to sit around and cast the spell repeatedly you can scout whole structures from the outside by gradually learning about more interior locations through previous castings.
  • CounterspellPHB: Essential in any party.
  • Dispel MagicPHB: Every party needs someone who can cast Dispel Magic. It’s simply too important to forgo.
  • Enemies AboundXGtE: Astoundingly few enemies have good Intelligence saves, especially big scary melee monsters. Throw this on something tanky and horrifying that’s there to protect squishy enemies from you and your friends, and watch it freak out and kill its buddies for you. The duration is only a minute, and obviously this only works in an encounter with multiple enemies, but that doesn’t make the spell less awesome.
  • Erupting EarthEEPC / XGtE: 2/3 as much damage as fireball and has a quarter the surface area, so it’s clearly for a different purpose: You’re using this spell for the difficult terrain. The damage is enough that you won’t regret casting it instead of a cantrip, and even at higher levels it’s a great way to place some difficult terrain. The difficult terrain effect is nearly permanent, so if you have time you can use this to set up ambushes and choke points which can define encounters against anything that can’t fly.
  • Fast FriendsAI: A fantastic non-lethal option for handling single targets, but it has some limitations. The target needs to be able to understand you, so you likely need to share a language. The spell requires Concentration, so you don’t want to maintain this during combat if you can avoid it. And of course, you don’t want to try casting this during combat. Still, if you can isolate a single enemy outside of combat you may be able to ply them for information or send them on errands which will save you trouble later. Tragically, the spell only lasts an hour so just as you’re getting really attached to your new best friend the effects end, and the targets knows that you charmed them. You may be able to cast this repeatedly or you may be able to negotiate the situation peacefully even after the spell ends, but many people don’t take kindly to being charmed.
  • FearPHB: A great way to disable groups of opponents, but it fear immunity is common.
  • Feign DeathPHB: Very situational.
  • FireballPHB: 8d6 damage in a 20-foot radius with 150-foot range. Simple, effective, and reliable. Fireball is a good baseline for measuring other AOE damage spells because it’s so simple and so effective, and in many cases when you’re selecting a spell to cast you’ll want to ask yourself “Is this spell better than Fireball?”
  • Flame ArrowsEEPC / XGtE: This is a waste of a spell slot. It amounts to at most 12d6 damage, which is a tragic waste of a 3rd-level spell slot. If you somehow manage to hit one target with all 12 arrows, you’ll do more damage than Fireball. But you have to somehow hit with a bunch of arrows or pass them off to someone who will, and following the typical attack vs. AC progression means that a player will hit something like 65% of the time, which means you’re getting 65% of the maximum damage, so something like 7d6. At that point, Erupting Earth is better.
  • FlyPHB: It’s hard to overstate how powerful flight is. The only major drawback is that Fly requires Concentration.
  • Gaseous FormPHB: Situational, but a fantastic way to safely infiltrate or scout an area.
  • Glyph of WardingPHB: I’m really glad WotC was smart enough to add a 200gp consumable material component to this spell. If they hadn’t, I would solve far too many problems by delivering scrolls with a Glyph of Warding to hostile NPCs.
  • HastePHB: An excellent buff for nearly any martial character.
  • Hypnotic PatternPHB: I often say that spellcaster’s spells early in a fight should dictate the outcome of the fight, and Hypnotic Pattern is a great example of such a spell. Take a group of creatures out of a fight for a full minute on only one save. Targets don’t get another save, and the effect doesn’t end until the spell does or someone breaks targets out of the effect. This means that you can focus on enemies which pass the initial save, then gradually eliminate the remaining targets one at a time. This doesn’t scale with spell level, but it really doesn’t need to. A 30-foot cube is enough to hit several creatures, and so long as your Spell Save DC is decent you’ll do fine. Even if enemies spend an Action to break their allies out of the spell, you’ve spent one Action to incapacitate them and they’re spending more than that just to fix it without actually harming you or your allies.
  • Incite GreedAI: This is a gamble. If targets fail their saves you can draw them into melee range with you and keep them there for up to a minute. You then need to find a way to capitalize on their position. You could walk your full speed away (affected targets can do nothing but move toward you, so they can’t take Reactions to perform an Opportunity Attack), drop Concentration, then hit them with a Fireball.
  • Intellect FortressTCoE (Optional): Technically situational, but an absolutely spectacular defense against enemies which rely on spells or common effects like charm and fear effects. Unlike racial traits like the Gnome’s Cunning or the Satyr and Yuan-Ti Pureblood’s Magic Resistance, this applies to all Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma saving throws, providing broad and effective protection against many of the most dangeorus save-or-suck effects in the game. You also get resistance to psychic damage, which is nice if you’re fighting mind flayers, aboleths, or bards who enjoy Vicious Mockery. With a 1-hour duration, the Concentration requirement can be problematic, but it also means that you can carry this through multiple encounters at low cost, so in situations where you need this it’s not going to eat all of your spell slots.
  • Leomund’s Tiny HutPHB: With an 8-hour duration and the ability to cast it as a ritual, Leomund’s Tiny Hut is useful both as an option for resting, and as a surprising utility and combat option. The dome which it creatures is impenetrable and impassable like a wall of force, except for creatures which are inside the sphere when you cast the spell (your party, usually). Since it’s opaque, most low-level teleport effects like Misty step can’t be used to get inside it. Your allies can use it for cover, then dart in and out to attack or cast spells. However, it’s only a dome so you’re vulnerable to attack from below if your enemies can burrow, and with a 1-minute casting time you need to set this up in advance if you want to use it in combat. You as the caster are also stuck inside the dome since the spell ends if you leave the dome, but that doesn’t stop you from summoning something to go fight on your behalf.
  • Life TransferenceXGtE: Unless you have regeneration or something, this is generally a terrible idea. Still, it’s one of the Wizard’s only ways to heal other creatures.
  • Lightning BoltPHB: Regardless of its length, it is very hard to target more than two targets with a line like Lightning Bolt. That makes this Fireball but with worse range and fewer targets per spell.
  • Magic CirclePHB: With a 1-minute casting time, you can’t use this in combat unless you have time to prepare and your enemies are coming to you. Even then, using this in combat isn’t reliable protection because it doesn’t mitigate the effects of spells and abilities which don’t require attack rolls like breath weapons or fireballs. The best use case is generally to invert the effects and use a spell to summon a creature so that you can bargain with it without risk of the creature escaping. Even then, the 1-hour duration may not be enough to guarantee your safety. If you want similar effects in combat, Protection From Evil and Good will do the trick.
  • Major ImagePHB: Fantastically versatile, and creatures don’t make a saving throw. Instead, they need to know to touch the illusion or make an Intelligence (Investigation) check, or they need to physically interact with the illusion. Even then, you can buy yourself a great deal of time while the target tries to figure out your illusion.
  • Melf’s Minute MeteorsPHB: This spell is difficult to assess. You get 2 meteors per spell level (6 at the default 3rd level), and you can generally only spend two per turn, though turn on which you cast the spell you could spend two meteors when the spell is cast then spend your Bonus Action to fire two more. Each meteor deals 2d6 damage, so at 6 meteors you can deal a total of 12d6 damage, beating Fireball by half. However, the 5-foot radius on the meteors is tiny so you’re lucky if you can hit just two creatures. Fortunately, you have 10 minutes to find good targets if you don’t mind dedicating Concentration to keeping this running as your pool of meteors gradually depletes. Probably your best bet is to cast this before going into a fight, then fire meteors as a Bonus Action between casting other spells.
  • NondetectionPHB: Good, but not totally essential. Divination spells include things like See Invisibility, so if you or your party relies on invisibility of any kind this protects from several maigcal countermeasures to both stealth and invisibility. However, most enemies aren’t spellcasters and won’t have access to those divination options, so you can’t justify casting this every day. The spell also has an expensive material component specifically to deter you from casting this all the time. Still, with an 8-hour duration, if you need this spell it’s going to do exactly what you need it to do.
  • Phantom SteedPHB: A great way to travel long distances, but if you’re casting it as a ritual you’ll have trouble keeping your whole party mounted at once unless you cast while riding. With a total casting time of 11 minutes as a ritual, you can have at most 5 horses up and running at a time before the 1-hour duration starts to wear off and you lose a horse. If your party is larger than that, consider sharing horses, getting a wagon, or just buying a horse. If you have an ally in the party who is built for mounted combat but doesn’t have a way to get a magical mount, this is a great way to keep them mounted despite 5e’s utter opposition to the survival of horses in combat.
  • Protection From EnergyPHB: An important, staple defensive option, but it’s single-target and requires Concentration so you can’t afford to keep it running constantly.
  • Remove CursePHB: Situational, but irreplaceable. Fortunately, you can usually wait a day to prepare this.
  • SendingPHB: Not especially glamorous, but messaging over massive distances has a number of uses. Also, due to the wording of the spell, you can use it on creatures that don’t understand your speech and they’ll still understand your meaning, allowing you to use Sending in place of Tongues if you only need to convey brief messages.
  • Sleet StormPHB: This spells is challenging. The area of effect is excellent, and combining difficult terrain, possibly falling Prone, and making the area heavily obscured make it difficult for creatures to act effectively while in the area and if they’re near the center it’s difficult for them to escape. On top of that, spellcasters will have trouble maintain Concentration while making repeated checks against high DC every turn.

    However, beyond inconveniencing creatures within the area, this doesn’t get you much. You can’t see into the area to target creatures within the are with others spells since spells typically require line of sight, and Heavily Obscured blocks line of sight (though some spells, like fireball, don’t require you to be able to see), so unless you have an ally who dropped an ongoing damage effect within the area the best you can do is wait or run away. At that point, Fog Cloud may be just as effective.

  • SlowPHB: Slow is a great debuff, but it has to compete with other Wisdom save options at the same spell level. Compared to Hypnotic Pattern, Slow severely handicaps targets, but they can still fight back. Hypnotic Pattern’s targets can’t act at all until they’re released from the effect, but it’s also a Charm effect which some creatures are immune or resistant to.
  • Speak with DeadPHB (Optional): This is a spell of last resort. It is extremely limited, and if the dead creature didn’t like you while it’s alive it’s unlikely to be helpful after you’ve killed it. Your best bet is to use this on an ally with information that you can’t get otherwise. Cast Gentle Repose on the corse to keep it intact so that you can hit it with Speak with Dead again 10 days later.
  • Spirit ShroudTCoE (Optional): An interesting choice for the Bladesinger. The extra damage works well if you’re making weapon attacks, but the limited range means that you’re only going to use it in melee or so close to melee that you’re basically in melee, which means that you need to be running Bladesong at the same time. At this level, you’re not very durable and you don’t have Song of Defense to save you in an emergency, so this is a big gamble compared to defensive buffs like Blur. The damage notably scales with spell level, so casting this at 5th level or even 7th level is really tempting, but 6th level brings Tasha’s Otherworldly Guise and Tenser’s Transformation, which compete for space. Which works for you will depend on your build and your preferred tactics. Learn all three and experiment to find which one you like best.
  • Stinking CloudPHB: While this can rob targets of their Action if they fail the save, the area is small and easy to escape. Given the choice between the two, I would go for Sleet Storm first.
  • Summon Lesser DemonsXGtE: You can’t control the demons, and they’re probably not strong enough to win an encounter on their own. The material component may also be problem since it has a 24 freshness timer.

    For more help, see my Practical Guide to Summoning Spells.

  • Summon FeyTCoE (Optional): Decent summons at this level, especially compared to Summon Lesser Demons, but upgrade to a better summon spell as soon as you can.

    For more help, see my Practical Guide to Summoning Spells.

  • Summon ShadowspawnTCoE (Optional): Better combat options than Summon Fey, but mostly worse than Summon Undead.

    For more help, see my Practical Guide to Summoning Spells.

  • Summon UndeadTCoE (Optional): Several excellent combat options, and the ghostly option can fly around and do stuff for you.

    For more help, see my Practical Guide to Summoning Spells.

  • Thunder StepPHB: Amusing, but it takes an Action to cast, the AOE isn’t especially large, and the damage is poor for the spell level. Use Misty Step instead.
  • Tidal WaveEEPC / XGtE: Being knocked prone typically isn’t a problem in 5e because standing costs so little. However, being knocked prone while flying causes you to fall, potentially taking a bunch of damage. This spell notably doesn’t require that it be cast on the ground or on top of a body of water. You could cast this in mid-air, or even wholly underwater. Using it mid-air seems like a good way to counter multiple flying enemies. However, hitting more than two enemies with a line effect (even one that’s wide like Tidal Wave) can be very difficult, so it’s rare that you’ll hit more than two targets with this.
  • Tiny ServantXGtE: With an 8-hour duration, Tiny Servant is in many ways a temporary familiar. Unlike a familiar it has fixed stats and it can attack, but attacking is definitely not its intended function. With 60-foot blindsight, it’s a portable sentry. It’s not smart enough to follow complex commands and it can’t see, so it can’t discern invisible foes from visible ones, but you can command it to inform you of approaching creatures, or you could command it to chase a specific foe which you know to be present but can’t see. I recommend casting this on something small, portable, and loud like a hand bell so that the servant can communicate by ringing itself. Still, as good as this spell is I would wait until you’ve got plentiful 3rd-level spells before you consider it.
  • TonguesPHB: You are almost certainly your party’s Face, and language can present a serious barrier. You may not want to pick this up when you first get access to 3rd-level spells, but consider picking it up later when using a 3rd-level spell on a utility option is less daunting.
  • Vampiric TouchPHB: Migrants from previous editions should note that this spell is no longer a single attack: The spell lasts a minute and you can repeat the attack every turn. Unfortunately because the range is “Self”, you can’t cast this through your familiar, so if you want to use this you’ll need to wade into melee. Be very cautious if you use this.
  • Wall of SandEEPC / XGtE: Decent area control, but it only take 30 feet of movement to move through so enemies may be able to do so and still act on their turns. Try to place the wall so that enemies need to expend more than their base movement to get through the wall, then drop AOE spells like Fireball in the air above the wall to strike targets on the other side.
  • Wall of WaterEEPC: This is a really hard spell to use effectively, but if you have a spell like Ray of Frost which you can fire through the wall to make it solid to can give yourself solid cover, then walk in and out of cover to cast other spells.
  • Water BreathingPHB: Unless you’re actively expecting to be around dangerous bodies of water, having this available as a ritual is sufficient.

4th-Level Spells

  • Arcane EyePHB: One of the best scouting spells in the game.
  • BanishmentPHB: Among the most powerful save-or-suck spells in the game for several reasons. First, it’s a Charisma saving throw and very few creatures are good at those. Second, many powerful enemies like fiends are exptraplanar, so you can easily remove them with a single spell (though many of them can cast Plane Shift to come right back, so watch out for that). Finally, casting the spell at a higher level allows you to target additional creatures so you can remove big parts of an encounter for up to a minute, deal with anything that passes the initial round of banishment, then prep yourself for everything else to drop back in while your party stands around with readied actions.
  • BlightPHB: Not enough damage for a spell slot this level, and Constitution saves tend to be high.
  • Charm MonsterXGtE: A great nonlethal way to deal with enemies. It doesn’t require that the target be able to understand you, but otherwise has the same complications which Charm Person does: the target is only friendly toward you, and when the spell ends they know that they were charmed.
  • ConfusionPHB: I’ve hated Confusion since 3rd edition. It’s unpredictable, unreliable, and makes combat take twice as long as it would normally. It’s great that it’s an AOE, and you might be able to make creatures attack their allies, but there are too many points of failure for it to be a reliable option.
  • Conjure Minor ElementalsPHB: The same CR range as Conjure Animals, but a spell level higher. You could argue that elementals might be more useful than animals since elementals can often do things like move through solid stone or light things on fire, but you’re still totally beholden to the DM’s whims. You might need an earth elemental and get a magmin or something. The spell isn’t limited to vanilla elementals; any creature of the Elemental creature type qualifies.

    For more help, see my Practical Guide to Summoning Spells.

  • Control WaterPHB: All of the effects are situational, and there are some weird edge cases like using the Flood option on a puddle or a full bucket where it’s unclear what happens when the water overflows its container.
  • Dimension DoorPHB: Misty step usually suffices, and Misty Step is cast as a Bonus Action.
  • DivinationPHB (Optional): Much more precise than Augury, and it works much further into the future. The 25gp component cost won’t hurt much at this level, but it’s enough to deter you from using this every time you have a question.
  • Elemental BaneEEPC / XGtE: A great way to overcome damage resistance to your favorite spells. Note that the extra damage is per turn, so if your allies can deal the same type of damage you can pile up a lot of damage very quickly. Unfortunately, the save is Constitution-based and Constitution saves tend to be high.
  • Evard’s Black TentaclesPHB: The 20-foot square area is relatively small, but the fact that the spell restrains targets means that they’re trapped in the area taking continuous damage unless they spend an action to attempt a Strength or Dexterity check (note that this is a check, not a saving throw). If they succeed, they get to move but little else that turn. Strength and Dexterity checks will lag saving throws considerably, so even characters with good physical ability scores will have trouble passing the DC. Unfortunately, despite how good this spell is it competes with other options of the same level like Sickening Radiance which are much better for crowds and Otiluke’s Resilient Sphere which is better for single targets.
  • FabricatePHB: I really wish that this spell was better, but it’s simply too situational. It only works on raw materials, so you can’t pull tricks like turning a door into toothpicks or something equally useful.
  • Fire ShieldPHB: Potentially useful for bladesingers, but other wizards should stay out of harm’s way.
  • Greater InvisibilityPHB: Invisibility in 5e is really good, and running around for a full minute being almost impossible to target is a huge advantage.
  • Hallucinatory TerrainPHB: Situational. Unless you specifically need the 24-hour duration and the massive area of effect, Major Image will suffice.
  • Ice StormPHB: This spell is terrible. Two types of dice for no readily apparent reason. Two types of damage, which makes sense but is still annoying. Compare thisis to Erupting Earth: ice Storm’s AOE is much bigger (20 ft. cube vs. 20 ft. radius cylindar), but it does an average of just 3 more damage, and the difficult terrain only lasts until the end of your next turn so it’s nearly pointless. This simply isn’t good enough to justify being a spell level higher than Erupting Earth.
  • Leomund’s Secret ChestPHB: Extremely situational. The best case I can think of to use this item is if you need to sneak a chest of items into a place. Unfortunately, the limited size of the chest makes it difficult to bring weapons or armor of any great size. A longsword could fit if placed diagonally (they’re typically up to 4 feet long, including the hilt), but longer weapons like a greataxe or a quarterstaff like would not.
  • Locate CreaturePHB: More effective than mundane tracking, but the 1,000-foot range can be a problem if the target is actively fleeing from you. If you’re going to use this, be sure that you’re moving faster than your target.
  • Mordenkainen’s Faithful HoundPHB: The primary appeal of this spell is to watch for invisibile foes while you rest, but you can use Tiny Servant as a ritual with double the radius of detection. Faithful Hound does have one advantage, in that it’s meaningfully useful in combat, but the hound takes up one square, can’t move, and can only attack creatures within 5 feet so unless you can pin a foe in on place (maybe with Evard’s Black Tentacles or something) the hound is going to spend most of its time barking and doing nothing else.
  • Mordenkainen’s Private SanctumPHB: This is hard to justify. It’s great for protecting a “home base” of some kind if you have magically-inclined enemies, but it doesn’t block passage so enemies can still walk right into it. If you’re going to rely on this, you likely need to combine it with some other form of protection like a building or Leomund’s Tiny Hut.
  • Otiluke’s Resilient SpherePHB: Single-target save or suck on a Dexterity save. Dexterity saves tend to be low for many enemies, so you can often take a target out of a fight for the duration while you deal with its allies or set up unpleasant traps for it.
  • Phantasmal KillerPHB: Despite how slowly it kills the target, this is a great single-target spell and the spell level scaling is absolutely spectacular. Against big burly foes which often have poor mental stats, the save will be hard to pass and Frightened will make their attacks and ability checks much less effective. How the Frightened condition works is somewhat confusing because there’s no indication where the “illusory manifestation” appears, if it has a location at all. I think that the intent is that the target is Frightened, but their movement isn’t hampered like it would normally be by the Frightened condition. Because casting Phantasmal Killer increases the damage by a d10 every time (rather than just the on the first damage roll like many spells), this remains an effective option well beyond its spell level.
  • PolymorphPHB: Fantastic and versatile, but also very complicated. See my Practical Guide to Polymorph for detailed advice on how to get the most out of Polymorph.
  • Sickening RadianceXGtE: This spell is very easy to overlook. The effects are complicated, and the 4d10 damage looks underwhelming, but don’t let that deter you. This is a great spell to cast into a room then shut the door, but even if that’s not an option it’s a fantastic way to handle crowds. With a 30-foot radius you can hit a huge number of targets, and with a 10-minute duration you can easily kill anything stuck in the area for an extended period. The 4d10 damage is fine, and negating invisibility is great, but the real appeal is the levels of Exhaustion. One level makes targets less able to resist grappling or other crowd control spells like Maximilian’s Earthen Grasp or Web which your allies could cast to keep enemies in the area. Two levels halves targets’ speed, making it harder for them to move out of the area. Three levels imposes Disadvantage on saves so their condition will deteriorate even faster. If targets somehow survive until 5 levels of exhaustion (they’ll have taken 20d10 radiant damage by now, which is a lot), their speed drops to 0 so you no longer need to do anything to prevent escape. Just wait for them to hit 6 levels of Exhaustion, which results in death if a total of 24d10 radiant damage somehow hasn’t killed them. Just be warned: this spell affects allies, too, and if the spell ends the levels of Exhaustion are removed instantly.
  • Stone ShapePHB: This is one of the must useful spells in the game. Castles, dungeons, caves, mountains, and all manner of other locales include an abundance of stone. The ability to reshape that stone to your purposes in an instant is immensely useful. This is a spell limited only by your imagination. A 5-foot cube is plenty of space to wreak all kinds of havoc if you’re clever..
  • StoneskinPHB: Expensive, but really good.
  • Storm SphereEEPC: Sickening Radiance is considerably better. Bigger AOE, better damage, longer duration, and a better secondary effect. Even against a single target, the damage of Sickening Radiance (4d10, average 22) is better than the damage of Storm Cloud to a single target (6d6, average 21, including both the area damage and the lightning bolt).
  • Summon AberrationTCoE (Optional): Three diverse and effective combat options.

    For more help, see my Practical Guide to Summoning Spells.

  • Summon ConstructTCoE (Optional): Not as effective offensively as Summon Aberration, but all three summoned constructs are unusually durable for creatures summoned by similar spells.

    For more help, see my Practical Guide to Summoning Spells.

  • Summon ElementalTCoE (Optional): Summon Aberration is better offensively, and Summon Construct provides a more durable summon. Summon Elemental’s biggest advantage is that you can summon a creature that can fight effectively underwater, but even then it’s not a great summon.

    For more help, see my Practical Guide to Summoning Spells.

  • Summon Greater DemonXGtE: Potentially very useful, but Summon Greater Demon is a double-edged sword. The demon is only under your control so long as it keeps failing Charisma saves, so you want to pick something with poor Charisma saves to keep it under your control as long as possible. In a pinch you can use the option to create a safe space and bottleneck the demon in a room full of enemies, then walk away and let the demon run wild. Even at this level a CR 5 is still decently powerful, and thanks to 5e’s flat math a CR 5 will remain a meaningful addition to the party for a reasonably long time. As your spell slot levels improve, you can summon more powerful demons, which keeps the spell useful for a long time. It may wane in effectiveness a few levels after you max out at 5th-level spell slots, but if you can find a demon with good utility options Summon Greater Demon may remain viable long past the end of its usefulness in combat.\

    For more help, see my Practical Guide to Summoning Spells.

  • Vitriolic SphereEEPC: Fireball, but a higher level and a different damage type. The same range, the same AOE, the same save, the same school. But Vitriolic Sphere deals acid damage, and instead of dealing the damage all up front, some of it is applied at the end of targets’ next turns. The initial damage exceeds Fireball’s initial damage by a few points, but on it’s own not by enough to justify the spell level difference. The big addition is that you get half of the initial damage at the end of targets’ next turns. That’s a huge damage boost, but it only applies if the targets fail their saves, and obviously it only matters if they’re still alive. This is a great spell early in a fight, especially if you know that you’re not going to kill the targets in one shot, but that’s also the time when you should be dropping spells like Sickening Radiance or Wall of Fire, so maybe use this as your second spell in an encounter.
  • Wall of FirePHB: An absolutely fantastic area control option.
  • Watery SphereEEPC / XGtE: If you just want to restrain creatures, cast Entangle. The primary appeal here is the ability to restrain the target, then drag them around for the spell’s duration.

5th-Level Spells

  • Animate ObjectsPHB: This spell is complicated, but when it works it can be profoundly effective, but you need to carefully choose the objects which you animate to get the most out of the spell and you don’t always have the luxury of abundant options. First, avoid any object with feet or legs like tables and chairs; choosing objects which are forced to fly makes them much more useful. From there, you need to weigh the benefits of various size objects. Larger objects can take up more space and deal more damage per attack, but having numerous small attacks may deal more damage. Larger objects have considerably more hit points but considerably worse AC. Medium creatures have the worst attack bonus, and attack bonuses improve as you move away from Medium in either direction, altering the amount of damage which you can expect from each attack.

    Looking at all of the various factors, in most cases your best option is 10 tiny objects. Enemies still can’t move into their space, and with a total of 10 attacks they’ll easily deal more damage than any other combination of objects. Over 10 rounds, 10 attacks per round, 100 total attacks, totalling 100d4+400 damage, avg. 650. Expect attacks to hit roughly 50% of the time, but even then against a single target that’s an average of up to 325 damage if the target doesn’t do something about.

    If you select objects which will fly, they can easily encircle an enemy, keeping them in place either in the air or on the ground. Granted, with just 20 hit points they’re vulnerable to AOE damage, but it’s easy to look for other spells whenever that’s a problem. And, if you can’t find adequate targets you can carry around a sack full of daggers or loaves of bread or something else light and portable.

  • Bigby’s HandPHB: Versatile and effective against a variety of enemies. The damage from both Clenched Fist and Grasping Hand is great, and scales well with spell level. By this level you have plenty of ways to handle single targets, but generally once the target passes a save they’re free of the effect. Bigby’s Hand sticks around for the spell’s duration, allowing you to repeatedly harrass the target and move on to a new target once the previous one falls.
  • CloudkillPHB: Designed to be rolled through armies, this spell is hard to use in the small, tactical fights between a party of adventurers and a handful of monsters. The simple fact that the effect moves away from you makes the spell difficult to keep in place, and RAW it’s unclear if the effect stops if it hits a solid barrier or if it’s happy to roll straight through solid objects like castle walls. RAW, the spell moves away from you rather than from your original position when casting the spell, so you may be able to pilot the effect by running around it, but with a 20-foot radius you may need more than the typical 25/30 ft. speed most humanoid races have if you want to make more than slight adjustments to the cloud’s direction every round. If you want run fully around to the opposite side of the cloud, you need to move upwards of 60 feet (half the circumference of a circle with 40-foot diamater is roughly 62.5 feet, but that doesn’t account for poisitioning on a grid).
  • Cone of ColdPHB: Despite the larger total area of effect, I think this is worse than Fireball. Even with a 60-foot cone you have much less flexibility than a 20-foot-radius sphere with 150-foot range. Cone of Cold’s 8d8 damage on slightly exceeds Fireballs 8d6 damage (just 8 points more damage on average), and if you cast Fireball as a 5th-level spell Cone of Cold does just 1 point more damage on average.
  • Conjure ElementalPHB: While you get to choose the type of elemental summoned, you don’t get to pick the CR, so your DM is totally allowed to screw you and make you summon a single steam mephit or something else incredibly low-CR. Don’t use this unless you sincerely believe that your DM will give you something worth the spell slot. Also, be very careful to maintain Concentration for the duration of the spell. Losing control of your summoned elemental could be a serious problem if things are already going badly for you.

    For more help, see my Practical Guide to Summoning Spells.

  • Contact Other PlanePHB: This is a fantastic divination. You can gain a ton of useful information from a handful of yes or no questions. Unlike literally every other spellcaster with access to this spell, and DC 15 Intelligence save is relatively easy for the Wizard. Even so, try to pad your save bonus however you can: bardic inspiration, Guidance, whatever you can get. Oh, and don’t cast this unless you can safely endure the 6d6 damage and spend the rest of the day tied to a bed.
  • Control WindsEEPC: Inconvenience creatures relying on ranged weapon attacks, and slow enemies attempting to move in one particular direction. If you’re worried about ranged attacks, cast Warding Wind. If you’re worried about enemies moving around, consider something that creates difficult terrain like Eruptin Earth. If you’re worried about flying enemies, cast Earthbind or something. My point is that there are lower-level spells which solve the same problems that Control Winds solves, and they usually do a better job.
  • CreationPHB: This spell is limited by its maximum volume and by your creativity. It takes a full minute to cast so it’s not going to be useful in combat, but it’s an amazing utility option. A 5-foot cube may not sound like a lot, but that’s enough to get up to all sorts of mischief. Need to block a hallway? How about a 5-foot cube of wood or stone? Need a quick trap? 5-foot sphere of something heavy, roll it down a hill. Short on ammunition? Enough arrows to fill a 5-foot cube. Food? 5-foot cube of non-living vegetable matter sounds a lot like food to me. Fancy clothes for a party? The finest cotton. Need to bribe someone you hate? Gems only last 10 minutes, so make it fast.
  • Danse MacabreXGtE: As a DM, I’m going to ask you a personal favor: Don’t cast this spell on anything except human corpses. The Monster Manual contains only a handful of skeleton and zombie stat blocks, and if you do something silly like raise a bunch of zombie wolves your DM is going to need to generate a new stat block for them in the middle of a game session. At some point I’ll write a “Big Book of Skeletons” and “Big Book of Zombies” to convert every living creature in the Monster Manual, but that’s probably a long way off. I think the intent is that you should use the generic “Zombie” stat block used for humanoid zombies, but it never explains what to do if players use this on any other kind of corpse.
  • DawnPHB: This is a mediocre area denial option. You can spend a Bonus Action to move it, which is really nice, but Constitution saves tend to be high, and the damage isn’t spectacular. Dawn’s single saving grace is that is specifically says “this light is sunlight”, which means that it hurts vampires very badly. If you can grapple a vampire to hold it in the radius of Dawn you can kill them pretty easily.
  • Dominate PersonPHB: Humanoids stop being common enemies after low levels because high-CR humanoids are typically NPCs with names and backstories and things like that. Still, there’s no better off-switch for a humanoid that Dominate Person. Upcasting the spell increases the duration, allowing you to drag the target through a bunch of fights. However, the creature taking damage allows additional saves so be sure to keep it out of harms way until you can conveniently do away with them at minimal risk to yourself and your allies.
  • DreamPHB: While this spell on its own can be very powerful, it’s only usable outside of combat, and there are a lot of limitations on its usage. This is a great option for NPCs to mess with players, but it’s rare that a player can employ this effectively against their enemies.
  • EnervationPHB: Remember Witch Bolt from all the way back at level 1? Enervation is the same idea: you hit once, then you spend every Action for a while dealing automatic damage. It’s a fine concept, but at just 4d8 damage it’s going to take a profoundly long time to to kill any single target worthy of a 5th-level spell slot. Sure, the damage is guaranteed, but spells like Hunger of Hadar and Sickening Radiance will do similar damage in an AOE along with other benefits. Enervation simply isn’t good enough for the spell slot.
  • Far StepXGtE: The teleportation is really nice, but you can teleport with Misty Step which is 3 spell levels lower. Sure, Far Step lets you go twice as far and you couldn’t teleport 10 times in a row with Misty Step without spending a huge number of spell slots, but situations where you need to teleport once every round should probably be addressed by things like flying or invisibility.
  • GeasPHB: This spell is situational by design. It has a 1-minute casting time and Verbal components, so you’re not going to break this out in combat or while sneaking around in a dungeon. You’re going to restrain the subject, and stand around chanting for a full minute and hope that they fail the save. Once that’s done, you need to give them a suitable command (read the spell description). Generally you’ll want it to be something that benefits you, but will also take the target most of the duration to keep them from becoming a problem for you. Also remember that the base effect of the Charmed condition makes it easier for you to talk the creature into doing things with Charisma checks, so a Geased creature may be a useful ally for the duration of the effect even if the original order isn’t directly related to what you want them to do.

    Increasing the spell level extends the duration, but weirdly the damage doesn’t increase. 5d10 is a nice pile of damage, but it doesn’t scale with spell level and at some point the target will get smart enough to wake up, trigger the 5d10 damage, take a short rest, then go about their business. If the damage scaled this would be less of a problem, but damage is so easily repaired in 5e outside of combat that without further penalties Geas is more a tax on hit dice than the magical shackles it’s intended to be. If you want a homebrew fix, add a level of fatigue each day that the target is out of compliance, or make the damage impossible to heal until they go a day without taking it. Neither of those is a perfect solution, but they’re miles better than an average of 27.5 damage.

  • Hold MonsterPHB: A great example of a “save or suck” spell. With the exception of undead, this works on any creature type, and paralysis takes a creature out of a fight almost as much as killing them. If you have an ally who fights in melee, send them to follow up with melee attacks. Automatic critical hits are too hard to pass up many melee allies. Keep in mind that targets get another save at the end of each of their turns, so you need to act quickly while targets are still affected.
  • ImmolationEEPC: Against a single target with a ton of hit points and terrible reflex saves, this is a passable use of a spell slot. But it’s also a slow way to kill the sort of high-CR creature which you typically want to use this on, and for the same spell slot you could cast Fireball and deal 10d6 damage to everything in an AOE rather than 8d6 to one target and maybe more damage the next round.
  • Infernal CallingXGtE: If Summon Greater Demon was a frustrating gamble, Infernal Calling is even more difficult. You need to negotiate with your summoned devil, and unless you’re playing to the devil’s nature or doing something actively eveil you may find the whole spell totally unreliable. Casting Summon Greater Demon will get you a creature of the same CR, which will likely be sufficient, and doesn’t require so much real-world work. There’s an option to summon individual devils using their talisman, but getting one of those would be a plot point which the DM would need to include, so don’t gamble on that happening.
  • Legend LorePHB: Extremely situational. The fact that the subject needs to be “of legendary importance” severely limits the spells usefulness, and you might not benefit from this more than once or twice in an entire campaign. In previous editions this was a great way to ask the DM for background information which they often had available but with no excuse to share, which is both informative for the players and rewarding for the DM who has spent hours crafting fun lore with no in-game reason to share it. You can still use it for major places, items, and characters, but “legendary importance” is highly subjective so your DM can make this totally useless if they don’t feel like sharing.
  • MisleadPHB: Situational. Not a great option in combat, but out of combat this provides a passably safe way to scout an area or to trick other creatures.
  • Modify MemoryPHB: The actual intent of the spell is very situational, but this spell is accidentally a really effective save-or-suck spell. Compare it to Hold Monster against a single target, which is the same level. Hold Monster allows additional saves every round, though admittedly Paralyzed is more lethal than Incapacitated. The target is unaware of its surroundings, so you can reasonably get Advantage on attack rolls against it, but as long as it isn’t damage you could also fully restrain the target before the spell’s duration expires. However, the target gets Advantage on their save if you’re fighting it, so you need to hit them with this before fighting starts. That typically means before Initiative is rolled, but your DM may let you do it if the creature is Surprised.

    If you need to incapacitate a creature in an encounter with multiple enemies, your enemies likely won’t know how to break the effect (except by killing you), and once you’ve defeated everything else you can use Modify Memory to convince the target that the other creatures attacked them and you came to their rescue. Then you’ve won a fight, and earned the real treasure: the friends that you made along the way, and whatever their previous friends had in their pockets.

  • Negative Energy FloodXGtE: Much like Danse Macabre, this requires the DM to produce zombie statistics for creatures on the fly, so I’ll politely ask you not to use this on anything which doesn’t already have published monster stats. On top of that, it’s really hard to time this so that you’ll get a zombie. Enervation is probably a better choice.
  • PasswallPHB: Much faster than repeatedly casting Stone Shape, and it cleans up after itself so enemies won’t find your handiwork several days later. The 1-hour duration is typically plenty of time to go in, do some work, then retreat to safety and take a rest before suddenly opening a tunnel somewhere else. If you can, try to use divination spells to determine what’s going to be on the other side of the passage so you don’t accidently burrow into a magma flow or a room full of heavily-armed demons or something.
  • Planar BindingPHB: At the level you get this, 1,000gp is a steep price to pay for a spell that lasts 24 hours. Save this for higher levels when you can cast something like Gate to summon a powerful creature and bind it to your service for a long time. If you can somehow get two 9th-level spells, you could summon a Balor or something equally powerful for a year and a day, then command it to conquer a continent for you or something. Most creatures won’t be happy about this form of servitude, of course, so be sure to plan for their sudden yet inevitable betrayal.

    For more help, see my Practical Guide to Summoning Spells.

  • Rary’s Telepathic bondPHB: If you have time to cast this, you should always have this running while you’re somewhere dangerous. Speaking aloud is a great way to alert enemies to your presence and to give away clever plans. The fact that this has no range limit once it’s in effect means that you can use it to communicate with allies while they scout around, potentially including beasts, familiars, and summoned creatures.
  • ScryingPHB: Technically situational, but it’s a situation that comes up frequently. Any time that you want to know what the BBEG is up to, cast Scrying and take a look. The spell gets easier the more you know the target, and after one face-to-face encounter you could easily make off with something tying you to the target to penalize their saving throw.
  • SeemingPHB: Very situational, but hard to replace in situations where you need it.
  • Skill EmpowermentXGtE: Expertise for everyone! You won’t be throwing this on the Fighter for them to shove or grapple everything they meet (you have better combat buffs), but you can put this on a character before sneaking, before an important social situation, before investigating something important, or basically any other time that there’s an important skill check to be made and you have time to buff yourselves beforehand.
  • Steel Wind StrikeXGtE: The damage is decent, but you generally don’t want to end up within 5 feet of a target unless you’re a bladesinger.
  • Synaptic StaticXGtE: Start with fireball. Shave 30 feet off the range, change the damage type to psychic, and change the saving throw to Intelligence. Very few creatures are good at intelligence saves, so expect most creatures to fail the save. The 8d6 damage feels underwhelming at this spell level, but subtracting a d6 from from attack rolls and ability checks for a full minute is a significant debuff. This is a good option to start a fight with a large number of martial enemies because they’ll be impacted most by debuff and most martial enemies have poor Intelligence saves.
  • TelekinesisPHB: Fantastically versatile. The utility capabilities alone are well worth the spell, and with 10 minutes to enjoy it per casting you can solve all manner of problems. Open doors, safely handle traps, move obstacles, retrieve items from under courches, aid in construction, or solve any number of problems which might require a crane in real life. Against enemies, lifting them into the air and making them Restrained can easily be a death sentence if you have other allies who can follow up with ranged attacks or who can reach the target via flight or some other means. Because the target must remain within the spell’s range, be careful about holding the target directly above your own head to get them to the maximum height. It’s perfectly fine to hold them 30 feet off the ground roughly 30 feet away from you horizontally. The target falls prone if they take damage from the fall, which should slow most creatures enough that they can’t get into melee with you without dashing. Then you can attempt to pick them up again on your next turn because the spell lasts 10 minutes and you can use it every turn without limit.
  • Telepathic BondPHB: Cast this as a ritual. The ability to communicate silently across limitless distance is a massive tactical advantage in most situations where other creatures are a problem. This also neatly solves the challenge of language barriers, so if you can get a target to sit around for 10 minutes you no longer need Tongues.
  • Teleportation CirclePHB: Situational, but generally one of the safest long-distance teleportion options, especially since it doesn’t have a cap on the number or size of creatures affected. However, how useful it is depends on the availability of convenient teleportation circles in your campaign. If your DM isn’t going to make such teleportation circles available and useful, look elsewhere.
  • Transmute RockEEPC / XGtE: In previous editions, this was two spells, and if you were quick you could transmute mud to rock, then back into rock once enemies had sunken into it. Now that combination is specifically prohibited, but transmuting rock to mud is still a decent combiantion. Adventuring frequently takes you to places with stone flopors and ceilings like caves and castles, and even if you don’t use this to restrain enemies, you can use it for things like walking through walls, collapsing structures, or generally just ruining anything made of stone. It affects a 40-foot cube, which is enough to do a horrifuingly large amount of structural damage.
  • Wall of ForcePHB: Nearly inpenetrable, and with a 1-Action casting time you can use this to neatly separate encounters, or to trap foes in a sphere or hemisphere until you’re ready to deal with them.
  • Wall of LightXGtE: The damage is awful, but that’s not what this spell is for. The real benefit is blinding stuff. Creatures are only blinded if they’re in the wall when you create it, and creatures can move through the wall totally unaffected. The save is Consitution-based and Constitution saves tend to be high, and since creatures get another save every round you can’t count on the blidness to last more than a round or two. Even the ability to short rays from the wall is disappointing, dealing the same 4d8 damage and not re-applying blindness.
  • Wall of StonePHB: While it certainly isn’t glamorous, it’s difficult to overstate how effective a solid stone barrier can be at solving problems. Walling off some of the enemies an encounter can take one challenging counter and make it two very easy back-to-back encounters. You do need to maintain Concentration, but that also means that when you’re ready to deal with whatever you decided to wall off temporarily you can just drop Concentration rather than breaking down your own wall. Outside of a life of adventure, this spell is powerful enough that you could make a decent living in construction based on this spell alone. If you ever decide to settle down, find somewhere with enough stone to anchor the spell and build yourself a nice stone house.

6th-Level Spells

  • Arcane GatePHB: Very Situation. Cast Fly and have your party fly the 500 ft. distance instead. That obviously won’t scale to big groups if you need to do something like lead a village across a chasm or something, but how often do you actually need to do that?
  • Chain LightningPHB: Fine damage at good range. You’ll be able to get more total damage from a normal AOE damage spell because you’ll likely be able to hit more targets, but thhat misses the primary appeal of Chain Lightning. Chain Lightning is good because you can cast into a crowded are which might include your own allies without any risk of friendly fire. The spell level scaling adds additional targets rather than additional damage, so you can easily cast this at a level that hits exactly as mant targets as you feel the need to hit.
  • Circle of DeathPHB: 8d6 damage matches Fireball, which is three spell levels lower. The big improvements are Circle of Death’s damage type and it’s absolutley massive 60-foot radius area of effect. With such a large area and a target-rich environment you could easily deal more total damage than with Fireball. The scaling is also unusually nice, adding 2 dice per spell level rahter than 1 like most spells do. Circle of Death competes for space on the wizard’s spell list with Freezing Sphere, which has more range and deals two more dice of damage, but has a worse damage type.
  • ContingencyPHB: This is the ultimate insurance policy. The material component is very expensive, but this spell is phenomenally useful. If you’re unsure what to pick, go for conditions and spells which will keep you alive like “when I fall to 0 hit points, polymorph me into a giant eagle”, or “when I fall below half hit points but not to 0, cast Invisibility”. Remember that you actually cast your contingent spell when you cast Contingency, so you need to provide any material components (potentially consuming them), and there’s no guarantee that your contingent spell will be triggered, so avoid spells with an expensive material component unless they’re a really good option for some reason. Once you get access to Wish, you can use it to make most spells in the game available, so don’t shy away from cleric options like Revivify.
  • Create HomonculusXGtE: If you don’t mind the 1,000gp component cost for a fancy dagger, this is a nice way to get another permanent pet. The homunculus has some advantages over familiars: darkvision, flight, a telepathic bond with you, and the ability to attack on its own. However, it’s still very frail and the only way to address that is to give it part of your hit points maximum. Wizards are notoriously frail, which makes that a terrifying gamble, especially considering that you can just recreate your homunculus by casting the spell again so long as you haven’t lost your fancy dagger. Most likely, your homunculus will serve basically the same role as a familiar: a scout, a courier, and occasionally a vehicle for Dragon Breath. If your familiar or someone else in the party can fill those roles already, you might skip this spell and spend that 1,000gp elsewhere.

    I’d also like to take a moment to call out the new homunculus art: humunculi are typically depicted as grotesque human-like things resembling a partially-melted baby doll with wings, but the new official art resembles a somewhat-cute bat-frog-squirrel thing. I think that’s an artistic improvement, but if you still want a flying nightmare baby you’re free to imagine your homunculus however you like so long as you don’t draw me a picture of it.

  • Create UndeadPHB: If you just need something to ride around on or a minion to carry your treasure, use Animate Dead. If you want to have an intelligent thrall to handle complex tasks or to act as a bodyguard, use Create Undead. But remember: undead are evil and will murder you at the first opportunity, and generally DMs don’t like players dragging an undead army around behind them.
  • DisintegratePHB: Among the most damaging single-target damage spells in the game, Disintegrate’s single-target damage is roughly equivalent to 21d6 (total average of 75). On a Dexterity save it’s tempting to use this against big, bulky foes who tend to have a lot of hit points to burn though. Ideally you can save-or-suck those sorts of creatures, but sometimes things like legendary resistances make that hard. You can also use disintegrate to remove problematic things like walls of force (or of anything else), allowing you to do things like toppling structures or bursting through walls to surprise enemies on the other side.
  • Dwamij’s Instant SummonsPHB: Very situational, and very expensive.
  • EyebitePHB: If you cast this, don’t expect to do anything else for the duration of the encounter. A save-or-suck to put targets to sleep every turn is hard to beat, and the fact that you can do it every turn is spectacular. Sure, targets only remain asleep until the spell ends, but that’s plenty of time for someone else in your party to walk over and deliver a guaranteed critical hit. When the target wakes from taking damage they’ll still be prone, and on your next turn you’re free to put them to sleep again.
  • Flesh to StonePHB: Single-target save-or suck, but they get multiple saves and Constitution saves tend to be high so you can’t count on this to work reliably. Even if the target does succumb to the spell, it takes at least three rounds.
  • Globe of InvulnerabilityPHB: You’ll only rarely need this, but against enemy spellcaster it’s irreplaceable. Once this is up, enemies can’t even cast Counterspell because it targets you and you’re inside the sphere. They could cast Counterspell at a spell level high enough to get through your globe, but they need to guess what spell level to use and they need to spend very high-level spell slots to do so. Even in fights with spellcasters who can cast 9th-level spell slots, you can cast this as a 9th-level spell and use Counterspell against any 9th-level spells which they cast (though you’ll need to roll an ability check and hope for the best). This spell also uniquely cripples enemy warlocks, since their spell slots cap at 5th level and they’re heavily reliant on cantrips. They can still use their Mystic Arcanum unless you upcast Globe of Invulnerability, but they only get 4 of those at most, and you’ve got plenty of spell slots for Counterspell. Despite all these strengths, you still need to be cautious: 1 minute is not a long time, and enemies can still move into the globe unimpeded and attack you at point-blank range. Keep your allies inside the sphere both to protect them and to let them protect you, and beware non-spell attacks like breath weapons and pointy sticks.
  • Guards and WardsPHB: Very situational. This spell is generally used by NPCs rather than by players since it’s so rare for players to stay in one place long enough to make the spell permanent, but if you have a permanent base and you’re a wizard this is basically required. It’s like covering your mouth when you cough. You could choose to not do it, but I’ll think much less of you for it.
  • Investiture of FlameEEPC: You should never remain close enough to enemies for long enough that this is a good choice.
  • Investiture of IceEEPC: You should never remain close enough to enemies for long enough that this is a good choice.
  • Investiture of StoneEEPC: You should never remain close enough to enemies for long enough that this is a good choice.
  • Investiture of WindEEPC: Combine the most important parts of Fly and Warding Wind, and you get an option to shove creatures around at range which you might use once or twice. Probably not good enough for the spell level, but potentially interesting.
  • Magic JarPHB: Risky and complicated. Generally an enemy might use this to try to take over a player’s body, but I’ve never seen a player use this successfully. The spell also has a lot of open questions: What happens if you gain a level while possessing another creature’s body? Are hit points a class feature for the spell’s purposes? What about racial traits like weapon and armor proficiencies? How much of your body needs to be nearby? I recommend avoiding this spell as a player, and as a DM I recommend keeping Counterspell handy since the effect can be ended by Dispel Magic.
  • Mass SuggestionPHB: Situational, but potentially very effective. Unlike Suggestion you don’t need to maintain Concentration, and the base duration for Mass Suggestion is triple Suggestion’s duration with the option to extend it with higher-level spell slots. If you’ve had good results with Suggestion, consider replacing it with Mass Suggestion.
  • Mental PrisonXGtE: The damage is good, and taking a creature out of combat for up to a minute is fantastic, but it’s hard to predict if creatures will remain in the effect or choose to take the damage. Creatures can’t see or hear through the effect, so their allies can’t convince it to leave. Another creature could push or pull the target, forcing them to take the damage, but I don’t know if another creature would know to do that unless they knew what spell you had cast. There are a lot of variables that are almost entirely out of your control, and that makes me nervous, but the spell is really cool and potentially very effective.
  • Move EarthPHB: Outside of adventuring, this spell would be profoundly useful, especially when combined with Stone Shape. But for an adventurer this has very limited usefulness.
  • Otiluke’s Freezing SpherePHB: At 10d6 damage, Freezing Sphere exceeds Fireball by just 2 dice (which is sad because Fireball is three levels lower), but it has twice the range and a massive 60-foot radius. You also have the option to freeze the sphere amd give it to an ally, so you could have an ally fire several from slings as an opening salvo in an encounter, dealing mass damage in an area. Freezing Sphere competes for space on the Wizard’s spell list with Circle of Death, which does less damage (but scales better), but uses a better damage type.
  • Otto’s Irresistible DancePHB: The primary appeal of Otto’s Irresistable Dance is that the target suffers the effects immediately, and doesn’t get to make a save until they have spent an Action to make the save, and since they must spend all of their movement dancing, they effectively lose at least one turn after being targeted (they still get a Bonus Action). This is a great way to sneak past Legendary Resistances, and if you’re positioned well in the initiative order your allies might get to spend their turns attacking the target with Advantage.

    In many situations, Hold Monster will be just as effective, if not more so. Hold Monster can target multiple foes, and doesn’t care if the target is immune to being charmed. Save Otto’s Irresistible Dance for powerful single foes who might otherwise be difficult to target with save-or-suck spells.

  • Programmed IllusionPHB: This spell is weird and complicated and I love it. The casting time is 1 Action, so you can use it really quickly but somehow script a 5-minute performance in under 6 seconds. It has a 25gp expensive material component which it doesn’t consume for reasons I don’t understand. The 30-foot cube area is enough to fill a decently large stage, allowing you to script entire plays (albeit short ones). The triggering condition is flexible enough that you can use a separate casting of Programmed Illusion to trigger it. There’s a 10-minute cooldown on each performance, but you could have three spells overlapping to trigger a perpetual 15-minute loop. Just to mess with people, you could add another Programmed Illusion that triggers when another one is either dispelled or discovered to be an illusion. Honestly, if you can’t find a way to abuse this you’re not trying hard enough.
  • ScatterXGtE: Teleport your melee allies into melee combat and your ranged allies out of it. If you have remaining targets, use it to teleport enemies somewhere unpleasant like into an ongoing area effect.
  • Soul CagePHB: This is really good, provided that you’re fighting humanoids. You could technically use this on an ally (or a random humanoid you stumble upon), but I think as a DM I might frown upon that. I might not do anything about it, but there would be serious frowning. I’m also curious how this interacts with spells which raise the dead, as the spell makes no mention of how that’s handled.
  • Summon FiendTCoE (Optional): Three perfectly fine summon options, but upcasting Summon Aberration or Summon Undead. Will get you creatures with more interesting offensive options.

    For more help, see my Practical Guide to Summoning Spells.

  • SunbeamPHB: Constitution saves tend to be high, and lines are hard to aim so that you’ll hit more than one target. There are numerous better spells which could consume your Concentration for Sunbeam’s 1-minute duration.
  • Tasha’s Otherworldly GuiseTCoE (Optional): A number of useful buffs, including flight and a bonus to AC among other more situational benefits. You also get the equivalent of Extra Attack. That’s a weird benefit since most wizards have little business using weapons. So the biggest benefit of the spell is flight and defensive buffs on a Bonus Action casting time.

    There’s some appeal here for the Bladesinger, even when compared to Tenser’s Transformation. The Bonus Action casting time offers some appeal as a quick buff when the action economy really matters, but it’s difficult to combine this with Bladesong since they both take a Bonus Action. If you can manage that minor challenge, this offers a great way to get a grab bag of defenses in a hurry, and unlike Tensor’s Transformation it doesn’t lock you out of casting spells.

  • Tenser’s TransformationPHB: I would only use this as a bladesinger, but even then it has some problems. First, while you gain proficiency in armor and shields and weapons, you probably don’t just have decent armor and stuff laying around, and donning full plate takes longer than the spell lasts. Second, if you lose Concentration, you’re now in armor in which you’re likely not proficient, so you can’t cast spells. If you’re not already decent with a weapon, this won’t help.

    As a bladesigner this is a tempting combat, but it has problems beyond those which make it unusable by other wizards. With the Action casting time, you can start this and Bladesong on the same turn and with 50 temporary hit points you’re suddenly much more durable beyond just your crazy AC. However, you give up the ability to cast both Absorb Elements and Shield, which reduces your ability to protect your comparably tiny number of hit points. The Bladesinger won’t benefit from the Extra Attack replacement, and you give up the ability to cast spells which includes melee attack cantrips like Booming Blade. Still, Advantage with your attacks and a bonus 2d12 force damage on top of all of that is a huge pile of damage output, easily offsetting the damage lost from Booming Blade.

  • True SeeingPHB: You don’t always want this running, but you always want this available. For 1 hour you can see through illusions and invisibility, effectively negating them, and you can see into the Ethereal plane so creatures using options like Blink or which around on the ethereal plane on their own like Phased Spiders. However, you can only see 120 feet away, so you’re not totally protected. Invisible creatures can maintain a safe distance while observing and even attacking you if there is sufficient space to do so.
  • Wall of IcePHB: This attempts to combine the wall effect of Wall of Force with a little bit of damage. While the damage is nice, the fact that the wall is so frail means that’s it’s not a reliable way to wall off your enemies. Personally, I would much rather use Wall of Force and deal damage later. Wall of Ice is a good spell, but the existence of both Wall of Fire and Wall of Force on the Wizard’s spell list means that Wall of Ice is obsolete two levels before you can cast it.

7th-Level Spells

  • Create MagenID:RotF: Too expensive for such low-level creatures if you intend to use them in combat, and this permanently reduces your hit point maximum.
  • Crown of Starsminute meteors: Similar in many ways to Melf’s Minute Meteors. Crown of Stars does considerably more damage per charge (2d6 vs. 4d12), but Crown of Stars only affects one target as opposed to a negligibly small AOE. Upcasting Minute Meteors gets you a total of 14 meteors for a total of 28d6 damage (assuming that nothing passes the save, of course). Crown of Stars will deal a total of 28d12 at the same spell level, and it’s delivered much faster over considerably fewer projectiles. If we ignore the possibility of critical hits from Crown of Stars, you would still need to hit two targets per meteor with Melf’s Minute Meteors to exceed Crown of Stars’ average damage, and considering you need to do it 14 times in the span of 10 minutes that seems incredibly unlikely. If you’ve been relying on minute meteors, it’s time to upgrade. Crown of Stars doesn’t require Concentration, and with a 1-hour duration you get six times as long spend half as many projectiles. This may not be a go-to option for every spellcaster, but if you can set it up before you walk into a fight and if you don’t normally have many uses for your Bonus Action, it’s a great boost to your damage output.
  • Delayed Blast FireballPHB: Situational and potentially very hard to use to its full effect, but if you can make it work the maximum of 22d6 damage (avg. 77) is hard to beat. The hardest part of getting this to work is charging it for a minute without enemies doing anything to stop you, either by breaking your Concentration or by meddling with the fireball. In some cases you may find that the fight is over or the combatants have all relocated before you can trigger the effect. Possibly your best option is for an ally who is exceptionally good at Dexterity saving throws (especially if they can get Advantage and/or some other buff like Resistance or Bless) to grab the fireball and throw it the maximum of 40 feet to trigger it somewhere more effective just before the spell’s 1-minute duration expires. If you can pull this off at the start of a fight, 22d6 damage is a great way to introduce yourself.
  • Dream of the Blue VeilTCoE (Optional): This is more a plot point than a spell. Don’t learn this unless your DM tells you to.
  • EtherealnessPHB: A profoundly effective scouting/escape option. Unless you’re fighting ethereal enemies, you’re untouchable. You can see and hear into the material plane (albeit at limited distance), allowing you to spy on other creatures in person without their knowledge. The spell lasts 8 hours, which is sufficient to do a lot of things potentially including a Long Rest.
  • Finger of DeathPHB: This does less damage than Disintegrate (which is a spell level lower), and has a saving throw which enemies are more likely to resist. The only reason to cast this over Disintegrate is the free zombie if you kill the target, and if you just want zombies this is a slow way to build an army, even if the targets are permanently under your control.
  • ForcecagePHB: An absolutely amazing way to isolate either your party or your enemies. The duration is long enough to take a short rest, and there’s no save for enemies to resist it. Have an ally drop an AOE damage over time spell like Hunger of Hadar, then drop a Force Cage on top of it and you’re playing a magical game of “Will it Blend?”.
  • Mirage ArcanePHB: This is a difficult spell. The affectable area is huge, the distance is Sight (go climb a mountain on a clear day), and the effects of the illusion are tangible enough that you can physically interact with them, including picking up sticks or stones. But it’s unclear how far that goes: Can you burn the illusory wood to keep yourself warm? Can you smooth over difficult terrain in the same way that you can make smooth terrain difficult? Could you place stairs in the side of a clear cliff face? How far up and down does the effect stretch? The closest we have is these twotweets which indicate that you have a lot of leeway, and that the effects are real enough that a creature could drown in illusory water, brun in illusory lava, and climb illusory trees. Your DM will be the abiter of exactly what you can get away with, but the spell itself is a wildly versatile toolbox.
  • Mordenkainen’s Magnificent MansionPHB: In the real world, learning to cast this spell would mean that you could comfortably retire. Each day you would walk out of the mansion, cast the spell again to recreate the house for 24 hours, then you would return to your invisibile extraplanar abode to enjoy another 24 hours of abundant food, comfort, and nearly-invisible servants. The size of the mansion amounts to 5000 square feet, which is plenty to accomodate a party of adventurers and a sizeable retinue. The suggested 100 banquet guests would each have 50 square feet (a 5×10 area) of space to themselves, but a cleverly layed out mansion could easily turn that space into a large common area for feasting and a collection of small rooms with bunk beds for sleeping off a magical 9-course meal.

    Beyond pure luxury, this offers some advantages over Leomund’s Tiny Hut. It’s harder to dispel, and impossible to find or reach except by magical means, making it a great short-term hideout even in locales that might be incredibly dangerous like dungeons.

  • Mordenkainen’s SwordPHB: This is an objectively bad spell. Compare it to Bigby’s Hand, and it’s pretty clear.
  • Plane ShiftPHB: Not quite as easy to use as Teleport, but it has some specific advantages. First and most obvious, Teleport can’t take you to other planes. Second, Teleport can’t be used offensively. Unfortunately, Plane Shift is very hard to use in combat because other creatures need to be holding hands in a circle. You also can’t go directly to locations on the same plane, so you may need to find a convenient place to stop on the way. Pick somewhere hospitable, safe, and ideally either unpopulated or populated by creatures you know and which are friendly to you.
  • Power Word PainPHB: It’s hard to rely on this unless you have an ally who can follow up with a save-or-suck before the target’s next turn. But at that point, you might have better results leading with the save-or-suck unless the target has Legendary Resistances.
  • Prismatic SprayPHB: Unpredictable. The AOE is great, and effects 6, 7, and 8 are all great (any two rays would be spectacular), but the spell is unpredictable and I’m always reluctant to recommend unpredictable spells because unpredictable often means unreliable. If you’ve historically enjoyed Cone of Cold and want an upgrade I could see an opportunity here.
  • Project ImagePHB: Mislead with a longer duration and better range. The language used to describe the copy’s capabilities is nearly identical. The extra range makes it a bit more versatile, but it’s still fairly situational.
  • Reverse GravityPHB: Fantastic because it’s so hard to resist. Even if targets grab onto something, they still need to hang onto it for the duration of the spell. Targets which can’t grab onto something will be mostly helpless unless they can fly, and while flight is common at this level it’s not universal by any means. The Tarrasque, for example, is largely helpless against this spell.
  • SequesterPHB: This is typically something done as a plot point in the backstory of your campaign. It’s incredibly expensive, so it’s unlikely that you’re going to cast this on an ally unless it’s at the end of a campaign. If you want a cheaper version of this, use Flesh to Stone and leave a Spell Scroll of Stone to Flesh.
  • SimulacrumPHB: You could absolutely create a simulacrum and send it into combat in your stead, but it’s risky and you won’t gain experience for doing so. It also can’t recover spell slots, so its utility in combat diminished quickly, but it’s great for casting rituals, for using magic items, for keeping watch, and for donwtime tasks. You can effectively double how much you can do so long as you’re not relying on spell slots. Unfortunately, healing the simulacrum is absurdly expensive so it’s often best to create a new one when your old one starts falling apart.
  • SymbolPHB: While many of the effects are wonderful, the inability to move the symbol and the high casting cost are prohibitive.
  • TeleportPHB: With a 10-foot range and up to 8 targets you can easily teleport your entire party, and without the need to hold hands and form a circle you can often rescue the whole party in the midst of combat without too much trouble. However, Teleport has a complicated mechanic related to how familiar you are with the target destination and there’s often a possibility of mishap. Be sure to borrow a souvenire from new places so that you can easily return if necessary without the risk of a mishap.
  • WhirlwindEEPC: If you want damage, look literally anywhere else. If you want to lift enemies off the floor, cast Reverse Gravity because it’s much more effective and reliable.

8th-Level Spells

  • Abi-Dalzim’s Horrid WiltingEEPC: For such a fancy name, this spell is surprisingly simple. With the exception of the way it interacts with some creature types, it’s basically fireball with a different AOE and better damage. Sunburst does roughly the same damage and blinds targets in an AOE with double the radius, so I think it’s a much better option.
  • Antimagic FieldPHB: Situational by design, but incredibly powerful. Even with such a small radius, removing magic from the game totall shifts the balance of the game. The biggest problem is that you are primarily a spellcaster, so you are turning off your biggest set of tool to use this. The best-case scenario is to use this when you are outmatched magically, but your allies can still fight without magic and defeat whatever you’re facing.
  • Antipathy/SympathyPHB: Difficult to use because it targets a single type of creature, but if you’re facing a homogenous group of enemies you can greatly hinder them with either option. Even against single creatures, using Sympathy to force an enemy to approach one of your party members (sympathy on a paladin to attract a lich) can force enemies into a situation which will end in their death.
  • ClonePHB: Immortality! The components are expensive, but it’s well worth the cost. You can come back younger so you’ll never die of old age! Clone is more expensive than Raise Dead, but Clone doesn’t require that your body survive or that you have a friendly cleric around to raise you. If you’re budget-conscious, clone your party’s cleric, too so that they can raise the rest of the party. Once you’ve used your clone, be sure to make another for next time. The containers are reusable, though the 1,000gp isn’t.
  • Control WeatherPHB: Very situational, and kind of a pain for the DM. Go to your setting’s arctic equivalent, and raise the remperature to “Unbearable Heat” for 8 hours. That certainly won’t cause horrifying and potentially irreperable ecological damage that the DM will need to either totally disregard or track in some unpleasant fashion for the duration of the campaign.
  • DemiplanePHB: Despite the small size, the 30-foot cubic room is a nice, cozy home base. The 1-hour duration is enough to take a short rest then leave before the door closes, but that’s an awful use of an 8th-level spell. More realistically, you’ll use this when you need to lay low for a couple days, then emerge fresh. The spell description states that once the door closes you’re “trapped there”, but that’s somewhat vague. According to Jeremey Crawford, you can cast Demiplane again to reopen the door and exit, though the spell makes no mention of the ability to do that so RAW it’s totally unclear. You can probably also escape using Plane Shift, but that opens up more questions like “Can I use Plane Shift to get into my own demiplane?”.
  • Dominate MonsterPHB: Arguably the best save-or-suck spell in the game. You can do a lot with perfect control over a creature for such a long period of time. Using the target as a thrall in combat is obviously tempting, but the target gets to repeat their saving throw every time that they take damage, so be very cautious if you choose to do so.
  • FeeblemindPHB: Wisdom-based and Charisma-based casters are extremely vulnerable to Feeblemind. Even creatures who cast spells as a supplement to their other abilities can be seriously inhibited by suddenly being less intelligent than many animals.

    Beyond limited spellcasting, I’ve always found this spell difficult to manage for other enemies. 1 Intelligence and 1 Charisma is obviously very poor, but what is the victim capable of? If they’re a cleric, can they still cast spells? What are they smart enough to do in combat? There’s a lot of room for the DM to interpret how this works and which abilities creatures can still use. While that could be fun and very effective, it also makes the spell’s effect totally dependent on the DM and their interpretation of what an affected creature is mentally capable of doing.

  • Illusory DragonXGtE: Frighten every enemy that can see the dragon (there is no range on this part), then spend the spell’s 1-minute duration flying the dragon around and breathing necrotic damage on everything around. You’re free to use your Bonus Action on the turn in which you cast Illusory Dragon, so you can get up to 11 breath weapons out of it before it ends at the end of your turn 10 turns later. The dragon isn’t limited by the spells range, and it doesn’t have a specific movement type, so you can move it through the air or through water unimpeded. It’s unclear if you can move it through the ground or through walls, so I would assume that you can’t. Even if all of that doesn’t soung good enough, it’s basically a Huge creature, so it can block a large area and provide a great deal of cover for you and your allies.
  • Incendiary CloudPHB: Basically Cloudkill with a bunch of improvements. The damage is fully doubled, the damage type is improved (though fire is still one of the most commonly resisted damage types), and Dexterity saves are more effective than Consitution saves. The damage roughly matches a Fireball cast at the same level (avg. 45 vs. avg. 45.5 for Fireball), and the damage applies every round for the full 1-minute duration. However, it still retains some of Cloudkills biggest issues. First, the damage applies when the spell is cast but only re-applies to creatures inside the effect when they end their turn inside the cloud. With a 20-foot radius, most creatures can easily walk out of the cloud. The spell is also forced to move 10 feet every round, and the text explaining how that works is absolutely nonsensical. RAW you get to choose the direction, but you only get to choose that it moves directly away from you. Fortunately, Jeremy Crawford clarified that you choose its heading, so you’re free to make the cloud slowly roll back and forth in the same small area if you choose to do so.
  • Maddening DarknessXGtE: 10-minute duration, decent damage, 60-foot radius, and magical darkness which is nearly impossible to overcome. You still need a way to keep enemies inside the area, unfortunately, but if you have an ally that can cast a wall spell of some kind that’s typically sufficient.
  • MazePHB: The target doesn’t get an initial save, and they need to make an Intelligence check to escape. If the creature has less than 10 Intelligence, it literally can’t escape.
  • Mighty FortressPHB: This looks like so much fun, but it’s the sort of spell that you cast when your wizard retires at high level with a mountain of gold to spend. Fill some space in the keep with clones of yourself, then inhabit one any time that you die of old age, born again in a younger body to be waited on by a hundred invisible servants and a functionally bottomless supply of lavish food. But as an adventurer, stick to cheaper options like Leomund’s Tiny Hut.
  • Mind BlankPHB: Situational, but hilarious if you have a Berserker Barbarian in the party.
  • Power Word StunPHB: Gambling on a creature’s current hit point total is hard, especially since you get so few spell slots at this level, but if you can time this to hit a wounded enemy (or an enemy with a low hit point maximum like many spellcasters) it can take them out of the encounter long enough for you to win largely unopposed.
  • SunburstPHB: Imagine fireball with three times the radius and it blinds the targets. The targets get a Constitution save every turn to remove the blindness so you can’t expect it to stay in effect for long, but the save is at the end of their turns so they’ll spend at least one turn blinded if they fail the initial save, and that may be enough to determine the outcome of the encounter.
  • TelepathyPHB: Rary’s telepathic bond is 3 levels lower, links up to eight creatures, and can be cast as a ritual. The only advantage of Telepathy is the unlimited range. But if range is an issue, you could easily use Sending or something to locate the target, then cast Teleport to go find them.

9th-Level Spells

  • Astral ProjectionPHB: A relatively safe way to explore the Astral Plane, but it has some complications. Avoid Githyanki at all cost; their silver swords can cut your astral cord and kill you outright. If things ever look bad for you, spend the Action to return everyone to their bodies. If any of your allies drop to 0 they’ll go back to their body unharmed, but if you don’t see it happen you may not know about it so you need to have a way for your party to contact your astral projection from wherever you hid your bodies. If you ever get forcible returned to your body and don’t have a chance to end the spell intentionally and bring your allies back too, they can always get home by punching themselves down to 0 hit points.

    While you have this spell running, make sure that your party’s bodies are hidden and protected somewhere that your enemies (or curious but hungry mosnters) can’t get to you, but that won’t be immediately dangerous if you return to your body with no spell slots. A comfortable, but totally sealed underground hideout is a great option that you could feasibly create using Stone Shape and some patience.

    Your bodies don’t need food or air while you’re under the spells effects, but the spell doesn’t mention water. I assume that this is an oversight, but check with your DM; you may need to solve the issue of keeping your bodies hydrated. Since you don’t need to breath, maybe submerge everyone in a shallow pool of water fed by a Decanter of Endless Water? Or maybe get a dedicated sect of monks to tend your bodies. Since your bodies don’t age, this makes you effectively immortal while you’re exploring the Astral Plane, so this can be a good way to keep your character alive between world-threatening problems so that you can return to the world to smite the latest lich without worrying about gray hair or whatever.

  • Blade of DisasterID:RotF / TCoE (Optional): In almost every situation Meteor Swarm or Psychic Scream is a better damage option, but in long fights against powerful single foes, the total damage output from Blade of Disaster will be more effective. It also has the added benefit of not killing your party in small quarters.
  • ForesightPHB: This is, without a doubt, the best buff in the game. With an 8-hour duration you can throw it on the lucky recipient and watch them laugh their way through nearly any challenge for a full day worth of adventuring.
  • GatePHB: There are several ways to use this spell, two of which were intended when the spell was designed.
    • Travel to another plane: The simplest option, you open a door and you walk through to another plane, leaving the gate open for up to a minute for whoever else to walk through in either direction.
    • Summon a creature: If you know the name of a creature on another plane, you can drag them (potentially against their will and without a save) to your location. This is easy to abuse by going to plane where you know they aren’t (pocket dimensions work great for this, but there are so many planes that it’s hard to accidently be on the same one), then forcibly summon them. You could summon your biggest antagonist after spending a bunch of time setting up traps, buffs, and readied actions, then have your party stomp them into the dirt. If you’re extra clever, you can use Astral Projection to fight whatever you’re summoning whiel projected so if something goes wrong you won’t actually die and you could try again later. I think the intent of this function was to summon an ally to help you in a fight, but I think my idea is more useful.
    • One-way cover: You can only enter the portal from the front, but it’s unclear what the back looks like or how it functions. It’s not described as solid, so it’s entirely possibly that you can fire projectiles through it from the rear, while projectiles from the front pass into the portal. I can’t imagine that you can see through the portal, so this may be hard to do, but it may be possible. Check with your DM.
    • Magical drain: About to drown? About to hit by a flow of magma or falling rocks? Open a gate to literally anywhere else and let the offending substance enjoy eternity floating in limbo or anywhere else that isn’t a problem for you. The multiverse is your dumping ground.
  • ImprisonmentPHB
Sours: https://rpgbot.net/dnd5/characters/classes/wizard/spells/

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D&D: Best Wizard Spells For Every Level

Wizards are the most iconic spellcasters of Dungeons and Dragons and in many ways, the most powerful. In fact, they have access to more spells than any other class in the game.

With the largest number and the broadest selection of spells to choose from, the process of choosing your spells can feel overwhelming. Managing a spellbook can be complicated, and learning new spells can be a gamble – especially since you have to spend time and gold to do so. 

Not all spells are created equal – some are versatile, some powerful, some deceiving at first glance. This article is here to help you choose some of the best spells available to wizards out of the wide variety to pick from. 

Best Level 1 Wizard Spell: Find Familiar

An absolute must-have for first-level wizards, this spell lets you summon a familiar – a Celestial, Fey, or Fiend that takes the appearance and statistics of whichever animal form you choose. 

Why Find Familiar Is Great

  • It’s incredibly powerful for a first-level spell, especially since it has no set duration. The familiar lasts until either you dismiss it or it reaches zero hit points. 
  • You can use your familiar to cast touch spells on distant allies, dramatically increasing your potential range and keeping your wizard out of harm’s way. 
  • The familiar can also use the help action to grant you or your teammate's advantage on attack rolls or ability checks. 
  • Versatility is an important consideration in which spells you choose to learn and prepare, and the versatility of Find Familiar is unmatched. You can use your familiar to scout ahead, deliver information, spy on oblivious enemies, steal items, or whatever else you can imagine a small, intelligent creature would be useful for. 

Second Best Level 1 Wizard Spell: Shield

As a reaction to an attack, you create a protective barrier of magical force. Until the start of your next turn, you have +5 to your AC and you take no damage from magic missile. 

Why Shield Is Great

  • This spell should be included in any self-respecting Wizards spellbook. With the lowest hit die in the game, wizards are incredibly fragile during the early levels of play. Shield gives you an impressive +5 to AC and is even more effective when combined with Mage Armor. 
  • The spell is cast as a Reaction to being hit by an attack or being targeted by magic missile. It's an amazing option to prevent life-threatening blows from landing. 

Best Level 2 Wizard Spell: Misty Step

A simple but infinitely useful spell, Misty Step will get your squishy wizard out of all manner of dangerous situations. Briefly surrounded by silvery mist, you teleport up to 30 feet to an unoccupied space that you can see.

Why Misty Step Is Great

  • It's there to help you get out as quickly as possible in an emergency. As has been mentioned, wizards aren’t the sturdiest class. Misty Step will help you avoid devastating hits and death saving throws. 
  • As one of the few bonus action spells, you can use Misty Step and still have use of your action and movement. This means you can move around 90 feet on a single turn if you dash and use Misty Step – AND you can still attack with a cantrip or weapon. 
  • Misty Step’s utility continues through higher levels of play, inside and outside of battle. You can use it to bypass uncrossable chasms and narrow crevices, to escape when trapped, or to grab a difficult to reach item. There’s a surprising amount of situations where a little creative teleportation can come in handy.

Second Best Level 2 Wizard Spell: Suggestion

You suggest a course of activity (limited to a sentence or two) and magically influence a creature you can see within range that can hear and understand you. On a failed Wisdom saving throw, the target purses the course of action you described to the best of its ability. You can also specify Conditions that will trigger a Special activity during the Duration.

Why Suggestion Is Great

  • This is a super versatile spell you can use to accomplish any number of things. All it takes is some creativity and a slightly more permissive DM. 
  • It has an 8-hour duration, which will let you suggest a whole host of different actions. 

Best Level 3 Wizard Spell: Counterspell

You attempt to interrupt a creature in the process of casting a spell. Any spell of third level or lower fails automatically. To counter higher-level spells, you have to succeed on an ability check that scales with the spell's level. 

Why Counterspell Is Great

  • This is one of the only ways to negate enemy spellcasters and many consider it essential for any party. 
  • You can use an Arcana check to attempt to determine what spell the enemy is casting to make an informed decision on when it's the right time to use Counterspell. 
  • It automatically counters spells up to the slot level you use, and you can try to counter higher-level spells with a roll. 

Second Best Level 3 Wizard Spell: Fireball

A bright streak of fire shoots from your finger and explodes on impact. Creatures within twenty feet who fail a Dexterity saving throw have to take 8d6 fire damage and those who succeed take half damage. 

Why Fireball Is Great

  • Simple but effective, this is an iconic D&D spell. 
  • It inflicts 8d6 damage, above and beyond most other spells of the same level. 
  • Fireball has an area of effect of 20 feet instead of a single target, which means it can potentially wipe out large numbers of enemies. 
  • It’s area of effect is circular, as opposed to the linear effect of the similar spell Lightning Bolt. Spells with circular areas of effect are easier to aim and more likely to hit multiple targets. 

Best Level 4 Wizard Spell: Polymorph

Polymorph lets you transform yourself or another creature into a new form, with an unwilling target making a Wisdom saving throw to resist. This new form can be any beast whose challenge rating is equal to or less than the targets. The creature is limited in the actions it can perform by the nature of its new form, and it can't speak, cast spells, or take any other action that requires hands or speech.

Why Is Polymorph Great

  • Polymorph is commonly considered one of the more powerful fourth-level spells just for its sheer versatility of use. You can use it on yourself or on your allies to bestow strength or other skills, or use it on enemies to turn them into non-threatening creatures. 
  • It also has lots of utility outside of combat. You could use it to help your party sneak into a building or encampment, overhear private conversations, or quickly escape from a dangerous predicament. You’ll find it’ll come in handy in a wide range of surprising situations. 

Second Best Level 4 Wizard Spell: Banishment

The target must succeed on a Charisma saving throw or be banished to another plane of existence. If the target is native to the plane you're currently on, you banish them to a harmless demiplane. If they’re from a different plane, they are banished back to where they’re originally from. If the spell lasts longer than one minute, the target can’t return.

Why Banishment Is Great

  • It completely removes one foe from the battlefield as long as you maintain concentration, and at higher levels can be used to target multiple creatures. If they're enemies from the plane you're currently on, they're removed for up to one minute which gives your party plenty of time to prep, heal, and ready actions. 
  • Charisma saving throws aren't common and very few creatures are good at them. This means it's incredibly likely the targets will fail the save.
  • Many powerful enemies originate in other planes of existence, and with this spell you can easily banish them back to their native plane. For these enemies, the banishment is permanent if you can concentrate for the entire one minute duration. 

Best Level 5 Wizard Spell: Wall of Force

You create an invisible wall of force that is physically impenetrable, immune to all damage, and can’t be dissipated with Dispel Magic. It also extends into the Ethereal Plane, blocking ethereal travel  

Why Wall of Force Is Great

  • It’s immune to all damage and can’t be dispelled. There’s not much your enemies can do unless they happen to have access to the spell Disintegrate. 
  • You can also make the wall circular, trapping and imprisoning your enemies. 
  • It’s great when your party is being chased or when things are going downhill during a battle. Use it to separate you and your allies from the creatures attacking you and make a swift exit to somewhere safer.

Second Best Level 5 Wizard Spell: Bigby’s Hand

Bigby’s Hand is actually an amalgamation of several separate spells from older editions. This newest version lets you manifest a large hand made of shimmering, translucent force that can attack, grapple, push, and provide cover. The hand has an AC of 20 and hit points equal to your hit point maximum. 

Why Bigby’s Hand Is Great

  • Once again, this spell’s versatility makes it a great pick.  It can be used to punch, push, grapple, squeeze, and block and is useful both in and out of combat. 
  • It does 4d8 damage and can be repeated as a bonus action on subsequent turns. 
  • The hand also has 20 AC and hit points equal to the caster's hit point maximum.
  • The hand can also be used to provide cover. 

Best Level 6 Wizard Spell: Disintegrate

You shoot a green ray from your finger towards a creature, an object, or a creation of magical force. Any creature that fails a Dexterity saving throw takes 10d6 + 40 force damage and the target is disintegrated if this damage leaves it with 0 hit points.

Why Disintegrate Is Great

  • Disintegrate inflicts 10d6 + 40 force damage, making it one of the strongest single-target spells in the entire game. The damage type is also a bonus, since resistance to it is relatively rare.
  • This is one of the only ways to permanently kill someone in the game. Any creature disintegrated by this spell can only be restored to life by a True Resurrection or Wish spell.
  • This spell has utility beyond damage, as it can be used to bypass things like Walls of Force or create openings in structures blocking your path.

Second Best Level 6 Wizard Spell: Contingency

You prepare a spell ahead of time that is triggered by specific circumstances or events. 

Why Contingency Is Great

  • It allows you to have a backup plan for any dangerous scenario. If you have an idea of the dangers you might face in the next battle, you can prepare the perfect spell ahead of time for whatever threat you are going to encounter. 
  • You can use it to avoid near-death scenarios, teleporting yourself out of danger, or becoming invisible when you reach a certain HP threshold. 

Best Level 7 Wizard Spell: Forcecage

This spell lets you imprison your foes in an invisible cage composed of magical force. It is impossible to leave the prison through nonmagical means, and those that attempt to teleport or pass through another plane must succeed on a Charisma saving throw. 

Why Forcecage Is Great

  • There’s no initial saving throw to avoid being trapped. 
  • The target can’t escape through nonmagical means, which means no slipping through the bars or using strength to break their way out. 
  • If they do attempt to break out through teleportation or some other spell, then they have to succeed on a Charisma saving throw to do so – and not many monsters have high Charisma scores. 
  • It can be used to isolate both your enemies OR your party. 
  • You can use it to put your enemies all in one space and then have a party member use an area of effect spell over it. 

Second Best Level 7 Wizard Spell: Simulacrum

You create an illusory duplicate of one beast or humanoid. This duplicate is friendly to you and obeys your spoken commands. The simulacrum lasts in perpetuity until it drops to zero hit points.

Why Simulacrum Is Great

  • You can use it on yourself to make a copy, essentially giving you an extra turn during combat to attack or perform other actions. You could also use your copy to cast ritual spells, use magic items, and for keeping watch. 
  • There are all kinds of scenarios where being able to make a double of someone would be incredibly useful. One example is espionage and spying. 
  • It’s a spell you can be really creative with that has tons of potential uses. 

Best Level 8 Wizard Spell: Maze

You banish a creature into a labyrinthine Demiplane. It can only attempt to escape by making a DC 20 Intelligence check. 

Why Maze Is Great

  • There’s no initial save to avoid the spell, so the creature is automatically stuck in the maze until their next turn. 
  • Intelligence is an uncommon save and not many monsters have high Intelligence modifiers. DC 20 is also an incredibly hard check, and creatures with less than 10 Intelligence are quite literally unable to escape. 

Second Best Level 8 Wizard Spell: Clone

You create a duplicate of a living creature as a safeguard against death. The clone grows inside of a sealed vessel and takes 120 days to fully mature. If the original creature dies, its soul transfers to the clone. 

Why Clone Is Great

  • It's an absolute fail-safe against death. The components are expensive, but it’s well worth it. 
  • You can choose to make the clone younger than the actual creature it’s modeled after, opening up the possibility of eternal youth. 
  • You can use it not just on yourself, but on the entire party. 

Best Level 9 Wizard Spell: Wish

Wish gives you the power to alter the very foundations of reality, simply by speaking aloud. The base use of this spell is to duplicate any other spell of 8th level or lower without having to meet any of its requirements, but there are applications for Wish that are limited by nothing but your imagination and what the DM will allow. 

Why Wish Is Great

  • The very spell description in the Player’s Handbook says that this is the mightiest spell a mortal creature can cast. No other spell can compete with its reality-altering capabilities, even others of 9th level. 
  • This is functionally almost every spell in one. While it can’t be used to cast another 9th level spell, it can be used to cast literally any other spell in the game.  
  • Wish can restore 20 creatures to full hit points if your party is in a desperate moment during a fight. It can also grant 10 creatures resistance to a specific damage type or immunity to a single spell or magical effect. 
  • Using this spell, you can force a redo of any roll you or another member of your party has failed,  which is great when the dice don’t cooperate with an important or potentially amazing moment. If you’re battling the big bad of your campaign and somebody bungles a roll, this comes in clutch to save the day and give you a second chance. 
  • It also can force rerolls on enemies, undoing a successful save, a critical hit, or other roll or action. You can force the reroll to be made with advantage or disadvantage, and you can choose whether to use the reroll or the original roll. 
  • Outside of these uses, there is the potential for this spell to have very few limits. Always check with your DM, but you could hypothetically wish for almost anything. Remember, the bigger the wish the greater the likelihood that something goes wrong – and always be mindful of the wording of your wish. 

Second Best Level 9 Wizard Spell: Prismatic Wall

A shimmering, multicolored plane of light forms a wall. You and your allies can pass through without harm, but other creatures will experience a range of different effects. Not only can it blind those that approach, it consists of seven layers that each operates differently. A creature must pass through each layer to get through the wall, making a Dexterity saving throw to try and avoid its effects. 

Why Prismatic Wall Is Great

  • The different effects of the layers are varied and devastating. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, and Blue all inflict 10d6 damage of varying types – and it’s likely that one of them will be a type that the creature is vulnerable to. 
  • Indigo and Violet both have more complicated effects. Indigo can restrain and even permanently petrify a creature, and Violet can blind a creature or potentially transport them to an entirely different plane. 
  • Each layer also has to be destroyed individually in very specific ways, making it incredibly complicated to dispel. 
  • You can also make the wall circular, trapping creatures within it.  

You may also be interested in: 

Sours: https://www.gamersdecide.com/articles/dnd-best-wizard-spells-for-every-level


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