The twirl of a staff, flick of a wand, or even rhythmic utterances of a dead tongue-the methods can take many forms, but no matter how differently two individuals may get there, the result is always the same: An eruption of fire, pure elemental fury unleashed upon their enemies in protection of their friends, their land, or perhaps simply the pursuit for knowledge.
The Wizard is an emblematic figure in many forms of lore and fiction, from Harry to Gandalf and every Rincewind in-between, which naturally leads many players to choose this iconic class in the world’s most popular tabletop roleplaying game, Dungeons & Dragons.
Wizards are arcane spell casters that use Intelligence to cast, inscribing the vast array of spells at their disposal in their spellbook, and preparing from it what they feel they may need to use that adventurous day.
Let’s take a dive into the deep ocean of the vast Wizard spell list, and highlight the ultimate spells your Wizard should be picking:
Shield (1st Level)
Let’s start at the beginning with the basics, because how great of a Wizard can you truly become if you can’t make it past your first adventure? Shield is a staple defensive spell of the Wizard class, taking a reaction to cast when you’re hit by an attack roll, it raises your AC by +5 until the end of your next turn. A dome of blue light, a sudden wall of stone, or even a literal shield, whatever imagery your spell takes on, Shield will greatly mitigate the Wizard’s lack of armor proficiencies and d6 hit die. No matter what level you play at, Shield will always have its place in your spell book, even against a higher level spell.
Find Familiar (1st Level, Ritual)
Cats, bats, and rats (oh my!)–a Wizard’s familiar has taken many forms in different stories, and you can take your pick of the lot! Well, mostly. For an hour of your time and 10 gold pieces worth of your finest charcoal, incense, and herbs, you can summon a spirit to take the form of an animal of your choice from the given list. As long as the familiar is within 100ft of you, players can communicate telepathically with them and use an action to see through their eyes (kind of like one of those fancy drone do-hickeys), so they’re great for scouting open land and in dungeons.
That’s just the beginning, however! Your familiar can take the Help action in combat (giving you, or an ally, advantage), deliver messages for you (you can still send them out further than 100ft!), and can serve as great partners for crazy combos. Is Dragon’s Breath a spell that interests you? Why not have a fire breathing parrot? Want to reach out and touch that heavily armored Death Knight? Plus, adventuring can get lonely at times! Then the familiar’s ability to deliver spells with the range of touch would be a great way to introduce them to your old pal, Shocking Grasp.
This is a spell that could have an entire article dedicated to it alone, but before Shield gets jealous, why don’t we just end with some good animals to choose: An Owl has a high fly speed, Keen Senses (advantage on Perception checks that rely on hearing and sight), and the Flyby ability to keep it alive a little longer (and darkvision too!). The Bat, on the other hand, brings Blindsight to the party, which can help you detect invisible creatures and deal with obscurements, such as fog.
Misty Step (2nd Level)
Teleportation is cool and you know it. With this fantastic bonus action spell, you can be doing your Nightcrawler impression as soon as you hit 3rd level! With a range of 30ft, you can easily teleport away from any monsters that close the distance on you, and even use it to navigate hazards like pits and escape jail cells (assuming you can see the outside, of course). Something important to keep in mind is this spell only has a Vocal component, meaning you can cast it even when both hands are full or you find yourself without your focus or component pouch!
Fireball (3rd Level)
Are you really surprised? Of course Fireball is on the list of best Wizard spells in DnD! With a large area (a 20ft radius aoe), a heap of dice to giddily throw at your enemies (6d6 of fiery fun), and a heritage of burning other people’s stuff that stretches back through the decades to the whitebox of Original Dungeons & Dragons–how could it not be? 3rd level spells are a major step up in power for your Wizard, and this classic spell takes the lead. With the help of a couple of tricks, you can get the most out of your big boom: The Evocation school will allow you to safely cast Fireball amongst your party members without your friends glaring daggers at you, and the feat Elemental Adept will help keep your damage high and let you say “I think not!” when your DM declares that a monster is resistant to fire.
I bet you thought this list was going entirely in level order, didn’t you? Bam, cantrip curveball! Over the course of their careers, Wizards gain five cantrips from their class alone, so we’d be remiss to not cover one of these at-will gems. Besides being harder to say than ‘yes’ to your DM when asked ‘are you sure?’, Prestidigitation is a bundle of syllables and even more fun, with a well of potential. It’s a collection of minor magical effects that range from heating an item up, flavouring food and drink, to creating sensory effects, and snuffing small flames. This spell not only makes you feel like a Wizard day to day, but also gives you ample opportunities to distract guards, pass secret messages, and even clean all of that nasty dungeon muck off your fancy robes.
Polymorph (4th Level)
Now this is where we start to get a little crazy. With this spell, you can turn your enemies into harmless squirrels or turn allies (and even yourself) into a ferocious creature like a T-Rex! A versatile spell that even benefits Wizards cursed with a lower Intelligence modifier (and thus, a lower spell save DC). I recommend having a read through the beasts available with this spell when you pick it up. After all, some forms may be better suited to some encounters than others. Just be warned, if you find yourself relying on it in a Wizard’s duel, that peasant boy apprentice you picked up might just be the rightful king of England!
Contingency (6th Level)
A Wizard is at their most powerful when they can prepare for problems ahead of time, this spell is the arcane embodiment of that very principle. Contingency lets you store a spell up to 5th level, that has an action cast time and can target you, that you then have activate on a specific trigger. However, this does mean that it’s going to cost you two spell slots (the slot for whatever spell you choose, and the 6th level slot for Contingency itself), but it lasts a whopping 10 days, how’s that for preplanning! Sure you have to carry a 1,500GP gem encrusted statuette of yourself, but you were going to anyway, right? No… Just me…? Ahem, moving on to some examples! We all know Wizards can be a little bit squishy, so how about an upcast False Life to give you a bunch of temporary hit points (HP) when your health drops below 50%? Or perhaps Mirror Image to go off when you say a key phrase, letting you up your defenses without spending the action economy? The possibilities are endless!
Disintegrate (6th Level)
Sometimes you just really need to blast something into dust, y’know? And with an average of 75 force damage on a failed Dex save, this spell certainly fits the bill. Besides being a great way to settle the score with the big bad, Disintegrate has some other uses, like destroying objects, blasting your way through constructs of magical force (like a Wall of Force), and adding that authentic touch to your Beholder Halloween costume.
Simulacrum (7th Level)
What’s better than one high level PC? …you said ice cream, didn’t you? Well, you’re not wrong, but I was looking for two high level PCs! This spell let’s you create a duplicate of a creature over 8 hours (with half the original’s max HP), letting you play double trouble with your Wizard spells, or giving the archer company on the back lines. It takes a long time to cast, but it’s so powerful and Wizardy, it’s hard to pass up. Just be careful, the 40,000GP cost can soon add up. That suspicious offer to remortgage your Wizard’s tower won’t seem so bad after you take this spell out for a spin.
Wish (9th Level)
Did you take the Divination school, or was I just this predictable? Of course it’s Wish! Nothing screams ‘I’m an archmage’ quite like warping reality to your whim with potentially unforeseen and devastating consequences. I like to call those days, Tuesdays. The power of this spell is only matched by its potential, for both good and ill. If you keep to just casting spells from any list of 8th level and lower (a great trick as it means you can ignore casting time and costly components, like a free Simulacrum in only an action), then you’ll be okay. However! If you go tampering with the fabric of reality the Weave might bite you back, the DM could interpret your Wish in an unfortunate way and there’s a chance that you may never be able to cast Wish again!
That’s the end of the list, for making it through you, of course, get a nice chunk of XP! What? No of course it’s not enough to level up yet, maybe after you’ve read a few more articles… Now you may be thinking ‘but what about x spell!’ and yes, I know you really wanted to see True Strike on here, but with well over 300 spells for the Wizard to choose from I had to narrow it down to the quintessential Wizard spells. The spells you cast and feel satisfied and accomplished from all those years and crippling student loans dedicated to the Magus Arcanum Academy, weren’t wasted. With so many other great spells for the Wizard, I’m sure you’ll be seeing articles covering them for years to come, so be sure to check back here regularly for your next dose of 5E fun (and your XP, you don’t choose your School until level 2!).