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The Best Wizard Spells Ranked by Level: D&D 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.

You can also watch my video on this topic. If you want to be homies, like and subscribe to our YouTube channel! <3

Best Cantrips for Wizards in 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 cast 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. Many optimized character builds “require” this spell.
  • 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. I might not prepare it often at higher levels. Don’t use it 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.
    • Silvery Barbs: This versatile spell uses your reaction (good for your action economy). Use it to foil critical hits, saving throws, etc.
    • Unseen Servant: Better than Mage Hand for many reasons, this spell is fantastic for creative players.

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 lasts ten minutes, allowing you to cast it ahead of an encounter.
    • Mirror Image: No concentration required. It can turn incoming hits against you into misses.
  • Offense
    • Hold Person: Scales well to paralyze multiple enemies.
    • Rime’s Binding Ice: This spell is great for sabotaging enemy action economy, and the ice theme is fun.
    • 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 is required.
    • Suggestion: Circumvent entire problems with manipulation.
  • Versatility
    • Invisibility: You 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.
    • Slow: This wasn’t on my top list, but enough players have stood up for Slow to make me rethink it. Unlike Hypnotic Pattern, it doesn’t become useless against charm-immune enemies, taking damage doesn’t end it, and allies can’t shake the victims out of it. Slow allows more saving throws on creatures’ turns to get out of it, though. It’s a solid spell for limiting enemy action economy.
  • 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 is 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. It 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 is 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 is 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 / Shield
  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


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.

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

13 thoughts on “<b>The Best Wizard Spells Ranked by Level</b>: D&D 5e”

    1. Hi Miles! While I enjoy MFH, I can’t recommend it as one of the best spells for what it does. Am I wrong? I’d love to hear your perspective. Exploring spell utility is enjoyable for me.

  1. Good job Flutes, I have recently discovered your website and I am enjoying it! I have some comments about this post.
    Magic Missile is a wonderful 1st-level spell which can also kill an enemy with 0 hp instantly by throwing three separate darts, i.e., three saving throw failures.
    Slow can also be added to 3rd-level spells as an alternative to Hypnotic Pattern. Although HP is a great crowd control spell that can affect up to 36 creatures and does not need additional saving throws, it has two notable cons: charm immune creatures and possibility to affect friendly creatures. Moreover, HP effects can be ended if a creature is shaken or takes damage, an enemy wizard can end this 3rd-level spell’s effects on three of its allies in one turn by casting 1st-level magic missile on them with minor damage. Therefore, a wizard can choose Slow over HP, if the campaign has lots of charm immune creatures and/or wizard has low initiative (Dexterity) roll. Pros of Slow are: no condition immunity, you can choose the affected creatures (up to six), forcing them to make only one attack, disabling their reactions, and its additional benefits. Bear in mind that Slowed creatures make additional Wisdom saving throw at the end of their turns, unlike HP.

    1. Hi chalar, I’m glad you’re enjoying the content on the site!
      Magic Missile: it’s a solid spell that I often have, though not my top priority. I’m aware of the mechanic you’re talking about where Jeremy Crawford said Magic Missile counts as three hits, so it can kill someone making death saves. However, most DMs don’t have NPCs and monsters make death saves. By the rules, they just die. If your DM has changed this so monsters make death saves and they use Magic Missile in the way described, Magic Missile’s value increases.
      I’ve heard a lot of feedback from people who talk about Slow being more valuable than I give it credit. Their points and yours have prompted me to add it to the list for consideration. As you said, the saving throw at the end of each of their turns was turning me away from the spell, but apparently, it’s more impactful that I thought.

  2. I know this is a couple year old article but wanted to chime in anyway…
    1st level: Unseen Servant. This is a highly underrated spell, in my opinion. It is a MUCH improved Mage Hand, which is frequently rated as one of the best cantrips.

    Unseen servant has:
    1. Double the range of Mage Hand
    2. It’s controlled with a bonus action instead of an action
    3. It’s invisible, mage hand is not
    4. It can perform a series of tasks without needing multiple commands (e.g., “close all the doors in this room” would have the servant continue this until it was complete; whereas mage hand would have to be given a separate order, using an action, for each door)
    5. It lasts an hour instead of a minute (and needs no concentration, though neither does mage hand)
    6. It can carry 3x the weight mage hand can
    7. It can be cast as a ritual

    If you need an immediate “helper” then sure, cast mage hand. But if you can spare 10 minutes? Cast unseen servant and get a much more useful helper for a much longer duration and haven’t used any spell slots.

    Just my humble opinion.

    1. That’s a fantastic note! Unseen Servant is definitely a handy spell. I added it to the article because I agree with you. I’ve seen players do great things with Unseen Servant.

    2. Unseen Servant also uses vital spell slots, so if you are, for example, rigging a mast before you take a long rest, you might not have first-level slots, especially if you are a low-level wizard. I do agree with you, however, that it is an improvement on mage hand, and there are several examples of improvements to mage hand: Maximilian’s Earthen Grasp at 3rd Level (from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything), and Bigby’s Hand at 5th level

      1. However… Unseen Servant is a Ritual spell, so you can cast it even if you don’t have any spells left at all. You only need your spell book and an extra 10 minutes.

  3. Although Wish is a very powerful spell, I feel that the negative effects if you do anything beyond casting a spell of 8th level or lower make it less appealing. Invulnerability, Power Word Kill, and Meteor Swarm are all spells I would choose over Wish. I’m also a big fan of Psychic Scream if I’m playing an enchanter. Also, I don’t mean to be a hater, and you’ve probably been playing D&D longer than me, but I have never played anything other than sorcerers and wizards (although I have multi-classed in one or two levels of warrior classes). Based on that, I generally prioritize counterspell or vampiric touch at the third level, especially if I’m not multi-classing in any warrior class.

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