Thunderwave 5E — DnD spell explained 2024

Unleash a shockwave of force with our guide to the Thunderwave 5E spell. Blast enemies away with thunderous energy.

Thunderwave 5E: Changling from DnD casting Thunderwave spell sending shockwave trough the air
© Dice Cove

What is Thunderwave 5E?

Thunderwave 5E is a 1st level evocation spell, which is available natively to Bards, Druids, Sorcerers, and Wizards. It requires vocal and somatic components and takes an action to cast. When cast all creatures within a 15 ft. cube originating from the caster must make a Constitution saving throw. On a failed save the creatures are pushed 10 feet away from the caster and take 2d8 thunder damage, on a successful save the creatures take half this amount of damage and aren’t pushed. Objects in the area that aren’t secured are automatically pushed without a saving throw. In addition, this spell makes a thunderous boom, which is audible up to 300 ft. away.

If you cast this spell with a 2nd level or higher spell slot, the amount of damage increases by 1d8 for every level above 1st. For example, a 3rd level casting of Thunderwave would deal 4d8 thunder damage.

Is Thunderwave 5E a good spell?

It is a great spell to use early on in the game, particularly tier 1, as it provides a decent amount of damage in an area in addition to offering some control with the push effect. The push is mostly valuable for moving monsters away from yourself and the party, hopefully out of the range of opportunity attacks. However, the value greatly increases when there is an environmental hazard, such as a cliff, fire, or spell, like Spike Growth, present. It’s common for many spellcasters to swap Thunderwave out as they level up, especially if they have access to Shield, Absorb Elements, or other spells that age well to spend their 1st level spell slots on. This doesn’t mean that Thunderwave isn’t useful at higher levels, as the relative cost of a 1st level slot decreases and access to spells and abilities that create hazardous areas increases, the push effect becomes a cheap way to manhandle monsters where you want them to go, providing that they aren’t too big, of course.

To get the most out of this spell consider taking a subclass with features connected to thunder damage. Examples of this are the Tempest Cleric’s Channel Divinity being able to maximize thunder damage rather than rolling damage dice, or a Storm Sorcerer’s Heart of the Storm feature, which does additional damage to creatures within 10 ft. of you when you cast a leveled spell that deals thunder damage. 

How can you get Thunderwave 5E spell?

If you find yourself in need of scattering enemies like bowling balls and rupturing some eardrums, then fear not! Here is a list of how you can grab this spell:

  • Bard, Druid, Sorcerer, Wizard – These classes all have Thunderwave on their spell lists.
  • Arcane Trickster (Rogue Subclass) – This Rogue can choose spells from the Wizard spell list, and can choose this psell as one of their unrestricted spells as early as 3rd level.
  • Eldritch Knight (Fighter Subclass) – Similar to above, this Fighter subclass can choose spells from the Wizard list and can choose this spell as one of their spells as it matches their evocation restriction.
  • Way of the Four Elements (Monk Subclass) – By choosing the Fist of Four Thunders Elemental Discipline, these Avatar-like Monks can cast this spell for 2 ki points.
  • Tempest Domain (Cleric Subclass) – These Clerics get this spell as a Domain Spell.
  • Armorer (Artificer Subclass) – This Artificer gets Thunderwave as an always-prepared spell through the Armorer Spells feature.
  • Artillerist (Artificer Subclass) – Similar to the above, these blast-happy Artificers get it through the Artillerist Spells feature.
  • Fathomless (Warlock Subclass) – Thanks to their Expanded Spell List feature, these Warlocks of the deep can choose this one as a spell known.
  • Genie (Warlock Subclass) – Similar to the above, these Warlocks can choose this spell as a spell known if you choose the Djinni option when taking the subclass.
  • Aberrant Dragonmark (Feat) – This feat allows you to choose one 1st level Sorcerer spell of your choice, which you can cast once per short or long rest, and one cantrip. There’s also a risky mechanic to empower the casting of the spell by spending Hit Dice.
  • Divinely Favored (Feat) – As long as you’re 4th level or above and in a Dragonlance campaign, this feat will provide you a Cleric cantrip, the Augury spell, and will let you choose Thunderwave as long as you choose the Neutral alignment.
  • Magic Initiate (Feat) – By choosing any of the classes that have Thunderwave on their spell list, you can gain one casting of Thunderwave per long rest and two cantrips from that same spell list.
  • Strixhaven Initiate (Feat) – All of the college options will give you the chance to grab Thunderwave, along with two cantrips from a limited list associated with the college you chose.

Hopefully, this article was informative and helped you signal to the Ranger that lunch is ready when they’re out playing in the forest again. if you’re interested in this spell for your next Artificer, then check out our Artificer 5E guide, or If you’re interested in researching other spells then check out our DnD 5E spells section, Good luck out there adventurers, until next time, try and push those monsters off a ledge for fall damage and style points!