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You’ve cast Divination to beseech your digital deity, and inquire: “Which Cleric spells are best, my Lord?” I bring tidings from the heavens upon pixelated tablets to guide your party to the promised land of D&D fortune and favor.
Clerics are always prepared, or at least they should be. The Cleric spell list is fully available to any Cleric, and different Domains can receive additional spells from other classes as their Domain Spells. Since you don’t have to worry about which spells to learn, you have time to experiment with different spells to which ones work for you and your campaign. Though you can play a Cleric that suits your game, I’m here to give you 1d4 of Guidance regarding which spells will never let you down on your path of pious purpose.
The Best Cleric Spells to Prepare in D&D 5e
Recommendations are in alphabetical order by spell level. Many spells that are not on my list will have their place in the game, but my recommendations will almost always be useful for your Cleric. I present my choices for the best spells to prepare for your Cleric by level:
- Guidance: The reason this spell receives more love than its counterpart Resistance is that it can be used out of combat when concentration isn’t a big deal. You can freely aid your allies with 1d4 added to a skill check. Last night, in fact, my character avoided falling into lava because I had an extra 1d4 added to my skill check to avoid falling. Just try to remember you can use this cantrip because it’s easy to forget, but also don’t overuse it or you’ll slow the game down and really annoy your peers.
- Sacred Flame: Clerics don’t get many offensive cantrips. Sacred Flame deals radiant damage, a reliable damage type. But it does require a Dexterity saving throw instead of an attack roll, which isn’t ideal. Some circumstances will make opponents less likely to pass a Dex save, such as the Restrained condition. This cantrip is also unaffected by cover!
- Spare the Dying: Save your dying friend if you can’t heal them. When you need it, you’ll be glad you have it.
- Thaumaturgy: This one is just fun for playing up your character through roleplaying.
- Toll the Dead: A new cantrip to mix up the Cleric’s offensive cantrip abilities. Since you’re not a main damage dealer in a typical party, you’ll likely be able to do more damage since opponents will likely be injured already when you attack. Damage by d12 is premium for a cantrip! This cantrip also makes the Death Domain more playable for a Cleric.
Honorable Mentions: Light is a worthwhile cantrip if your party lacks darkvision, and maybe even if it has plentiful darkvision. After all, darkvision doesn’t solve all problems related to darkness if you play by RAW.
1st-Level Cleric Spells
- Bless: This spell is always relevant even at high-level play. The additional 1d4 can apply to so many rolls that it almost certainly will turn a failure into a success. The larger your party, the better it gets. Just stay out of trouble so you don’t lose concentration. There are other Cleric spells that are valuable for concentration, so don’t cast Bless unless you’re certain to not use another concentration spell.
- Bane: A worthy alternative to Bless if your party is mostly spellcasters who rely on enemies failing their saving throws. It’s also useful against enemies who are making more attacks than your allies.
- Fog Cloud (Tempest Domain only): Layering the battlefield with a section of fog is excellent for cutting off line of sight. Don’t underestimate this spell, especially at low levels. Fog Cloud is an excellent spell for Tempest Clerics to always have prepared.
- Healing Word: One of the best spells in the game solely because it can revive allies that have dropped to zero hitpoints. Healing Word gets your allies back in the fight at the cost of a bonus action. This is a spell you should probably always prepare for a day of adventuring.
- Shield of Faith: Granting +2 to the AC of a tanky ally can make them nearly unhittable at low levels of play. It’s only a bonus action to cast, though it requires concentration. Damage prevented is as good as damage healed. It’s a solid option if you need to boost a single ally’s AC more than you would need roll boosts from Bless.
1st-Level Why Nots?
Cure Wounds: A quintessential healing spell. You’ll get the most value out of it by casting it with 1st-level spell slots since a single casting will only add your spellcasting modifier as healing once. I only recommend upcasting Cure Wounds if you’re crunched for time, and only outside of combat. It’s really not effective in combat (use Healing Word for downed allies instead).
Guiding Bolt: Clerics have few cantrips for making spell attacks. Guiding Bolt is a solid first-level spell for situations that favor attack rolls rather than forcing saving throws. It feels good to also give an ally’s next attack advantage. Chances are that if you’re in a situation where the Cleric is optimally casting Guiding Bolt, your allies may have landed their attacks anyway. You can still make sure they hit, though! It’s helpful for allied Rogues to get their Sneak Attack damage though. Oh, and the average damage is not amazing.
2nd-Level Cleric Spells
- Aid: There aren’t many effects in D&D 5e that boost your hitpoints without relying on temporary hitpoints, making Aid more valuable since it can stack with temporary hitpoints. The additional hitpoints can also be restored with healing, unlike temporary hitpoints. Aid scales well with upcasting, and its duration is long enough that you shouldn’t worry about it going to waste. Remember you can use this spell to effectively heal three allies in range, so it can be useful for helping allies who are at zero hitpoints.
- Enhance Ability: Solid support spell for a variety of situations. It even has upcast utility if you need to target multiple allies.
- Locate Object: You can get creative with this spell to imitate the effects of other spells that are often higher levels than second level. For example, you can find an enemy spellcaster by searching out bat guano since they probably have such a thing for casting Fireball. You can also search for a lead box and assume that something magical or valuable is inside of it since a lead box is meant to thwart divination.
- Mirror Image (Trickery Domain only): Smart way to defend yourself as a Trickery Cleric since the Cleric’s job is usually to stay alive while keeping allies on their feet. You’ll definitely be using this non-concentration spell since you’ll always have it prepared.
- Silence: I’ll always love this spell because I couldn’t have cleared Baldur’s Gate 2 without it, but it’s still a good spell in D&D 5e. It’s interesting that it is a ritual spell, allowing you to save a spell slot if you need to cast it ahead of an important combat encounter with a spellcaster or some other threat that uses force damage. You can also use it in stealthy situations to cover up loud noises you may otherwise create from knocking down a door or using the Knock spell. Silence is a unique spell that deserves to be used more often.
- Spike Growth (Nature Domain only): You can shut down a lot of meat heads with this spell. You’ll be glad to always have it prepared as you unleash nature on your enemies!
- Spiritual Weapon: One of the best spells in the game because it uses your bonus action while scaling fairly well without concentration. Have fun describing what sort of weapon you summon. Force damage is also one of the better damage types since it’s rarely resisted.
- Suggestion (Knowledge Domain only): A solid spell for getting people to do what you want. You can avoid annoying social encounters with a quick spell of manipulation. You’ll always have this spell prepared, and it’s always good to have!
Honorable Mention: Warding Bond is an incredible spell for Life Clerics. You can share the spell component rings with a party member to cast the spell, then share damage with your ally while their defense is bolstered. The Life Cleric’s synergy comes from its ability to heal the bonded ally while also healing itself. The Life Cleric might have been at full hitpoints if it didn’t bond with a party member to share damage taken. This spell can set up the Life Cleric for maximum utility due to the ability to heal itself when healing others.
3rd-Level Cleric Spells
- Animate Dead: When you find yourself with a surplus of spell slots at the end of an adventuring day, you might as well build up a small army of undead to command. There are many uses for undead creatures as they function like summoned creatures that can be summoned ahead of a battle without concentration.
- Clairvoyance: You can’t target people directly, but you can strategically target locations within a mile’s distance for spying. This is also two levels lower than Scrying. If Clairvoyance can get the job done (location spying within one mile), it will save you a higher level spell slot. The timing is tricky since you must invest ten minutes to cast the spell, and then it lasts for ten minutes. Make sure you’re spying on the right spot at the opportune time.
- Crusader’s Mantle (War Domain only): You can empower a small army to basically double its damage. If you have NPCs helping you, unleash your Crusader’s Mantle to deal heaps of damage. Without a small army, this spell will get more value within a party that makes many attacks; Monks will love this spell’s help, and you’ll always have it prepared!
- Daylight: Dark corridors and shifty caves are illuminated, even dispelling basic magical darkness. Without requiring concentration, you can light up your shield or other objects to provide heaps of bright light and even some dim light. Even if you have darkvision, you’d have disadvantage on perception checks to spot wicked monsters and dastardly traps. It’s better to cast out darkness with Daylight so you can perceive threats at a distance. There are also several monster and NPC strategies that involve magical darkness from the Darkness spell, which is countered by Daylight.
- Dispel Magic: This spell is so significant in D&D 5e that I wrote an entire article about it. The ability to end spells of all sorts is too ubiquitously useful to ignore.
- Fireball (Light Domain only): Everyone enjoys a good Fireball, and you probably picked the Light Domain specifically for holy fire slinging. You’ll always have it prepared!
- Mass Healing Word: We’re going for quantity over quality. This spell is potent for reviving unconscious allies who have been knocked out in combat. Instead of hoping for lucky death saving throws and distracted foes, you can return your allies to consciousness and combat at the cost of a mere bonus action and a third-level spell slot.
- Revivify: An option for raising the dead at lower levels if you can act quickly and plan ahead with a diamond of relative affordability. You don’t want to need this spell, but you’ll be relieved to have it prepared when you need it.
- Spirit Guardians: One of the best spells in the game. The aura’s damage type is unlikely to be resisted, the damage scales well with upcasting, and it slows enemy movement for minor battlefield control. Always prepare this spell!
- Tongues: It won’t help you with reading and writing, but you’ll understand and be understood by anything that can vocally communicate with you. There won’t be any need for awkward moments of nobody in the party being able to communicate with an NPC because you’ll have it covered (and it won’t even demand concentration).
Honorable Mentions: Life Transference has unique synergy with Life Clerics, damaging themselves followed by immediate self-healing as they heal an ally. Neat combination.
4th-Level Cleric Spells
- Banishment: This spell is of the save-or-die variety since it does much or little depending on its saving throw, but it’s worth it if you can succeed in banishing an enemy for up to one minute. You can even upcast the spell to target multiple enemies to assure that you succeed once or more to remove foes temporarily (or permanently) from a fight. I once bypassed an entire boss fight by banishing the gigantic crab guarding a treasure chest, taking the treasure before it returned.
- Death Ward: I bet your adventures will lead you somewhere dangerous, so Death Ward is always in style. It’s the ace up your sleeve just in case circumstances and rolls don’t go your way. No concentration required, and the duration is a clean eight hours. If you find that you didn’t need Death Ward, it means you didn’t need the spell slot for other things anyway; you survived! I prepare Death Ward unless I believe danger is unlikely in a given adventuring day.
- Divination: Do you remember those questions you wanted to ask the DM but knew they wouldn’t cough up the information? Ask those questions with this spell to get the information you need.
- Freedom of Movement: Though it’s debatably circumstantial, it can be proactively cast. This spell’s one-hour duration allows you to fearlessly face many foes that would restrict your movement or even paralyze you. You can cast it multiple times on allies since 4th-level spells are fairly accessible regarding spell slots.
- Guardian of Faith: While a cool spell for dealing damage, I think it should not be ignored that the summoned guardian will occupy a spot. The guardian can’t be attacked, so it can plug a chokepoint with its presence to frustrate enemies.
- Polymorph (Trickery Domain only): This spell is one of the main reasons to play as a Trickery Cleric. You can transform allies into behemoths with powerful attacks and heaps of hitpoints in an instant. Enemies can be changed into small, cuddly critters. You’ll enjoy this spell as a unique Cleric option.
5th-Level Cleric Spells
- Commune: Ask the gods a few yes-or-no questions to squeeze your DM for information. It’s even a ritual spell so you can save on spell slots.
- Dawn: Turn your enemies into ants under a magnifying glass with this greater version of the Moonbeam spell. You can move it as a bonus action, and you can move it significantly. The area is relatively large, so you might use this sparingly so as to not harm your allies. If Spirit Guardians doesn’t make sense for a situation, maybe Dawn is the right choice.
- Destructive Wave (Tempest Domain only): This spell is only on the Paladin spell list. You can get this spell twice as fast as a Paladin. It deals thunder and radiant/necrotic damage in a large 30-foot radius around you. It also only affects enemies. What an awesome nuke for your Tempest Cleric to always have prepared!
- Greater Restoration: I almost listed this as a mere honorable mention, but some effects like charms can come with nasty side effects (such as with Dominate Person). While it’s a fairly expensive spell for what you’re getting, it could turn the tables on an enemy that relies on a particularly persisting effect to seek victory.
- Holy Weapon: One of the best ways to empower martial combatants with impressive damage output, you’ll want to bless the weapon of yourself or your ally. Your allies will be eager for battle if they know you can empower them with Holy Weapon.
- Raise Dead: Slightly more expensive than Revivify in order to extend the time frame of possible resurrection, you might be relieved to have Raise Dead as a just-in-case option. The penalties received by the resurrected creatures will pale in comparison to eternal death. Penalties are paltry prices to pay in exchange for renewed life.
- Scrying: If your campaign is rich with recurring characters, you’ll want to know what they’re up to. Obtain the reusable material component early on so you can spend extra spell slots on Scrying at the end of an adventuring day before you regain your spell slots.
6th-Level Cleric Spells
- Blade Barrier: You’ll be tempted to use this as a simple wall that hurts people. Instead, I recommend using its ring-shape option to create two layers that enemy ranged attackers must get through. If they remain behind the two layers, they’re shooting through 3/4ths cover, giving their targets +5 to AC. Blade Barrier also lasts ten minutes with concentration, so it’s designed to last. The wall isn’t very thick, so don’t count on it to keep persistent enemies away if they have hitpoints to spare. It’s also nice to know that monsters shouldn’t have resistance to magical slashing damage. Clerics don’t have many battlefield control spells, but Blade Barrier can help with that control..
- Create Undead: Just like Animate Dead, fodder units are useful. These fodder units just happen to have interesting abilities that could paralyze opponents.
- Forbiddance: While expensive, this spell can turn an anticipated battle into a cake walk if you know what you’ll be defending against. You can protect a location from otherworldly foes for an entire day with this bad boy.
- Heal: No rolling dice for you. Just regain 70 hitpoints and cure other problems. At the level that you gain this spell, you might be undoing quite a few enemy actions with this spell (depending on how dangerous your enemies are).
- True Seeing: One hour of non-concentration goodness, this spell grants True Sight to see through most tricks the DM will send your way. It’s one of the best buff spells you can have. Even combat can benefit from Truesight granted by this spell to avoid surprises and distractions.
- Word of Recall: This is your Scroll of Town Portal to get out of dodgy situations. Just make sure you have a holy homebase to return to. Your party will be grateful for this escape option up your sleeve.
7th-Level Cleric Spells
- Regenerate: Decent healing over time, and its limb-regrowth ability can come in handy. It doesn’t require concentration to heal an ally automatically for over 600 HP during a busy, bloody hour.
- Resurrection: Not as good as True Resurrection, but definitely cheaper! Raise your friends and other important characters from the dead if they aren’t disqualified from the spell descriptions criteria.
- Temple of the Gods: You’ll draw a lot of attention to yourself, but you’ll make up for it with premium protections within your divine domicile. The spell’s component is inexpensive, and the duration exceeds that of a long rest so you can summon your temple before you rest to regain your spell slot as you safely rest. Casting Temple of the Gods in the same spot for one year will allow you to set up shop with a permanent temple of opaque force, saving you much coin as you create your own stronghold. It’s unfortunate that it can be destroyed with a single Disintegrate spell, so watch out for that. If you’re playing in a fast-paced game that never has down time, this spell loses its savor, becoming more of a DM tool for NPC and BBEG strongholds.
8th-Level Cleric Spells
- Antimagic Field: bubble wrap yourself in antimagic energy to protect yourself and your allies. Antimagic Field is especially useful for martial-class-heavy parties that do not rely on magic for damage output in combat.
- Holy Aura: this spell is deceptively powerful. You can potentially give all your allies a holy aura that gives them advantage on saving throws, while gimping enemies that get disadvantage if they choose to attack. It’s almost like the 9th-level spell Foresight, a powerful buff spell, but this one applies to many allies and yourself as long as you can maintain concentration. If you’re battling undead or fiends, you’ll have more of an advantage as they’ll probably become blinded if they attempt attacks against your aura allies. Just remember that your allies don’t have to stay within your own aura to gain its benefits; they only need to be within your aura when the spell is cast, not after.
9th-Level Cleric Spells
- Mass Heal: I’ve seen this spell swing an entire high-level combat encounter in favor of the players. I thought they were on the ropes until the Cleric cast Mass Heal.
- True Resurrection: The top-of-the-line spell for returning creatures from the dead. You may be tempted to think this will only be used on party members, but it can be cast to resurrect any creature that has died of anything except old age within the last 200 years. This spell also negates the penalties that a lower-level spell like Resurrection has.
These are my picks for the best Cleric spells at each spell level. I have played Clerics enough to know that these spells are the ones worth preparing in the majority of situations; however, Clerics have spells that are versatile within different situations. Prepare spells that make sense in your circumstances while also knowing the spells to fall back on during the majority of your adventuring days. And just in case it wasn’t clear, the Spirit Guardians spell is your best friend.
Which spells would you add to my list? Cast Message in the comments below. Thanks for reading, and good luck in your next adventure!