Dungeons And Dragons: The 14 Best Wizard Cantrips, Ranked
In Dungeons & Dragons, Wizards are known for two things: wielding the most powerful spells in the game and frequently dying. Because of this, playing a wizard means being ready for every situation your DM throws at you, and the right cantrips are a crucial aspect of your preparedness. But not all cantrips are created equal. Though a damage-dealing cantrip increases in strength after certain class levels, some of the strongest cantrips don't deal any damage at all.
Cantrips are the lowest level spells you can cast, requiring no components and consuming no spell slots on use. A wizard chooses from a list of 30 different cantrips, the largest of any spellcaster. You can only have up to five cantrips prepared at a time, but wizards are the only class that can swap one of their cantrips for another from their available list during a Long Rest (a change made in Tasha's Cauldron of Everything), which means always having the right tools for the job.
14 Control Flames
Control Flames spell description allows you to manipulate fire in non-harmful ways, such as creating shapes and images within a flame, brightening and dimming torchlight, and extinguishing fire in five-foot cube-sized increments.
As a wizard, you'll have access to fire spells, which have the passive effect of setting flammable objects alight. And with Control Flames, you can also spread fire, provided there's fuel nearby. Depending on your environment, this cantrip can be devastating.
13 Booming Blade
Booming Blade is a powerful offensive cantrip. It enhances your typical melee attack with an afterburn-like effect that inflicts thunder damage on your target if they move after you strike them. At a higher level, your melee attack deals additional thunder damage, and the thunder damage dealt to a moving target increases.
The issue with Booming Blade is it requires a melee weapon, which, as a wizard, you may not have. Wizards also tend to have lower armor classes, so this cantrip may not be great for your character.
12 Green Flame Blade
Like Booming Blade, this cantrip requires you to make a melee attack on a target for it to function but then allows you to deal extra fire damage to another creature within five feet of your initial target. As you level up, it adds additional fire damage to your melee attack and increases the fire damage dealt to nearby creatures.
Again, you need a melee weapon for this cantrip to function, which you may not have, but multi-target damage is in a class of its own for a no-cost spell.
11 Mind Sliver
This cantrip forces the target to make intelligence save or take 1d6 psychic damage, but the target will also subtract 1d4 from their next saving throw. This spell also offers a range of 60 feet, keeping you at a safe distance from most melee attacks.
This spells debuff will eventually feel negligible. However, if you have a cleric or bard in your party with a similar enchantment, you can strategize around disabling your enemy's saves.
Light produces more illumination in a single area than the orbs from the Dancing Lights cantrip. It also lasts for an hour, does not require concentration, and can be cast on an object and passed to other party members.
Even with the darkvision trait, perceptions checks are still at a disadvantage in darkness, so having a light source readily available is never a bad idea. And since the light source made from the Light cantrip is considered "magical," magical darkness won't be an issue.
9 Fire Bolt
Your wizard will likely have a low armor class, health pool, or both, so engaging in close-quarters combat is never ideal. The further away you can be, the better, and with Fire Bolt's hefty 120-foot range, your next target most likely won't see this spell coming.
The cantrip deals 1d10 fire damage and, as mentioned above, can be used to ignite flammable objects, but that's all there is to it. It's simple but popular due to its effectiveness, especially when paired with a feat like Spell Sniper, which doubles the range of chosen attack-based cantrip.
Mending is the magical equivalent of duct tape. Each time this cantrip is cast, you can repair one foot of damage to virtually any object or type of material, including living constructs, in a single minute.
This spell leaves no trace of former damage, so there's no need to worry about repeated repairs on a single object. As long as you have the time to spare, your ranger will never need to replace arrows, and doors your barbarian breaks down can be left good-as-new.
7 Minor Illusion
Minor Illusion allows you to create sounds or imagery from 30 feet away. Most illusion spells rely heavily on the creativity and quick thinking of the caster, which is why they're excellent tools for an intelligent class like the wizard.
What's most impressive about this cantrip is the investigation check made by a creature to reveal the illusions magical nature has to beat your spellcasting DC save, so the spell stays viable well into higher-tier play.
6 Mold Earth
Similar to Control Flames, Mold Earth allows you to manipulate small areas of dirt or stone. Excavating cave-ins, imprinting imagery, and clearing a rocky patch of road make this cantrip a handy traveler tool, but tactical minds will look beyond its obvious uses.
As long as the ground is either dirt or stone, you can use Mold Earth to dig trenches to give yourself the benefits of half or three-quarters cover and dig potholes to create difficult terrain for an oncoming charge. Why hope for favorable conditions when Mold Earth lets you plan for it?
5 Mage Hand
Having a third hand is already useful, but having a third hand that floats up to 30 feet away from you holds endless possibilities. Unfortunately, this hand prevents you from attacking with it, but there are other spells in a wizard's arsenal for that.
Mage Hand does have a weight limit of 10 pounds, but carrying things is only one of many uses this spell offers. For instance, a set of Thieves' Tools is only one pound, which means you can technically pick locks (or pockets) from afar without revealing your location.
4 Shocking Grasp
What Shocking Grasp lacks in range, it makes up for in its utility, especially at lower levels. On top of dealing 1d8 lightning damage, the target cannot take reactions until your next turn, allowing you to move away without provoking an opportunity attack.
This is the perfect bug-out spell for when a melee attacker harasses your wizard, and you need to make a run for it. You also get advantage on an attack roll against a target wearing metal armor.
3 Chill Touch
Like Fire Bolt, Chill Touch has a 120-foot range but deals 1d8 necrotic damage instead. However, this cantrip also prevents the target from healing for a single turn, and if the target is undead, they have disadvantage on their attacks against you for a turn.
Fire damage is more commonly resisted amongst monsters than the necrotic, so Chill Touch is an all-around better bet when you're unsure what you're up against. Additionally, the spell creates a skeletal hand in the space of the creature you're attacking. In contrast, Fire Bolt hurls a mote of fire from your location to your target, so this Chill Touch continues to mask your exact location even after casting.
Message permits you to speak into a target's mind, friendly or not, and they can reply to you in a whisper only you can hear. There are limitations to the distance this can travel (up to 120 feet), and certain materials will block your telepathy, such as stone walls and anti-magic barriers.
Communication with other party members is vital to strategy and survival for a wizard. And the privacy of information is hard to come by in a band of adventures, which this cantrip does a great job of maintaining.
With Prestidigitation, you gain access to a grab-bag of minor magical, non-harmful effects that are only limited by your imagination. These cover everything from instantly cleaning your clothes to lighting your campfire to chilling your mug of ale.
When it comes to what makes an excellent wizard cantrip, it's based on how much you can do with it. Prestidigitation offers a delightful array of seemingly cosmetic yet craftily strategic effects that only a true arcane genius can unlock.
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