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One of the coolest, unappreciated class features of any class in D&D 5e is the Wizard’s Spell Mastery at level eighteen. Spell Mastery essentially transforms one first-level spell and one second-level spell into bonafide cantrips because they can be cast without expending spell slots. Spell Mastery spells aren’t permanent either; spells can be swapped out with eight hours of study depending on your need. There are plenty of low-level spells that are useful at all levels, and they’re even better if you can cast them without the limitation of arcane ammo (spell slots). Spells with lingering effects that don’t require concentration are especially nice if they can affect multiple creatures at once.
I believe Spell Mastery is overlooked due to a popular sentiment that high-level Wizard class features are undesirable, warranting multiclass action. After discussing Spell Mastery with a friend, I decided to write this article that yielded heaps of powerful ideas for which spells to select. I spent additional time researching Spell Mastery tactics with the intent to share my findings with you! Keep reading if you want to cultivate an appreciation for the Wizard class’ Spell Mastery. I’ll address nuances with different Wizard subclasses as well.
I recommend opening tabs or bookmarking these other helpful guides for the Wizard class while you’re here: Wizard subclass ratings, Wizard multiclassing guide with subclass multiclass concepts.
You can skip ahead to portions of this article that interest you most. Cast Dimension Door by clicking a link below to poof yourself to your ideal concept to research:
General Recommendations for Spell Mastery
Generally Strong Options for Spell Mastery
If you keep reading, you’ll find my subclass-specific recommendations for Spell Mastery, but I’ll give a summary of the spells that are generally best to choose. Offensive spells at this point will be worse than many cantrips unless they have an area effect, so I’ll omit most offensive spells unless they have an area of effect or some other niche.
Here are my top picks for Spell Mastery magical subclasses, but keep reading because I’ll break down my recommendations for each Wizard subclass as well.
- Absorb Elements (abjuration)
- I always have this spell prepared, just in case. I might as well master it if I expect to take a lot of elemental damage soon, such as against elementals or dragons. You can also empower melee attacks with it, such as with the Shocking Grasp cantrip.
- Catapult (transmutation)
- I’d choose this if I possessed an abundance of Alchemist’s Fire and acid flasks so I could launch them at enemies. You could also line up multiple enemies, so you have multiple chances to land a hit beyond the first target in a line.
- Charm Person (enchantment)
- Please don’t hold back on manipulating people because you can attempt it all you want.
- Disguise Self (illusion)
- There’s a Warlock invocation devoted to casting Disguise Self at will, and it’s a good invocation. You can effectively imitate that invocation as a Wizard if you choose Disguise Self for Spell Mastery. You can swap it out if a disguise won’t be helpful on an adventuring day.
- Fog Cloud (conjuration)
- Unlimited smoke screens.
- Longstrider (transmutation)
- Give everybody a ten-foot boost to all their movement speeds. When everyone is fast, no one will be.
- Magic Missile (evocation)
- Reliable damage since it always hits. It May combo well with other abilities.
- Shield (abjuration)
- This may not help you if your AC is already low at high-level play. Wizards who have Mage Armor or other means of boosting AC will likely benefit from Shield’s +5.
- Silent Image (illusion)
- Unleash your creativity since you won’t be limited by spell slots for this basic illusion.
- Silvery Barbs
- You can perpetually give foes disadvantage on saving throws, give allies advantage on attacks, and more!
- Sleep (enchantment)
- Low-level enemies are nothing to you. Put guards to sleep, then hurry to finish whatever task you have. If you constantly battle small hordes of enemies, you could simplify many combat encounters by mastering the Sleep spell.
- Tasha’s Hideous Laughter (enchantment)
- This is an excellent disable spell already, so casting it without using spell slots is powerful.
- Thunderwave (evocation)
- Decent area of effect spell with a push-back effect. It could come in handy for battlefield control or busting up a rude shopkeeper’s store. You could narrate many cool moments with this spell mastered.
- Aganazzar’s Scorcher (evocation)
- A mediocre spell that might suddenly be ok when it can be popped off like a cantrip.
- Alter Self (transmutation)
- Become Mystique so you can imitate anyone. Adapt to water and climbing encounters.
- Detect Thoughts (divination)
- Become Mel Gibson in “What Women Want.” Good luck with your self-esteem when you can hear what everyone thinks of you.
- Enlarge/Reduce (transmutation)
- This spell is great for enhancing the attacks of other party members, but it can also be effective for non-combat problems. You can shrink a boulder to be carried by your Barbarian, and then you drop concentration as the boulder is dropped on someone. I kind of picture Thor leaving his hammer on Loki’s chest. Get creative!
- Hold Person (enchantment)
- Threaten any humanoid with paralysis. Wow!
- Invisibility (illusion)
- This is another option that has many possibilities for when it would be useful. Just watch out for enemies with truesight.
- Levitate (transmutation)
- Raise yourself out of reach in combat, or disable a foe as they float helplessly. You could also move large objects and find other non-combat utility.
- Magic Weapon (transmutation)
- You can make any weapon magical. This is really only good if your DM doesn’t overload you with magical items when you’re level eighteen.
- Mirror Image (illusion)
- One of the best defensive options that will not require concentration. You’ll be difficult to hit when you can keep refreshing your images.
- Misty Step (conjuration)
- Escape as a bonus action anytime you’re in a tight spot. It’s only thirty feet, but it’s also only a bonus action.
- Phantasmal Force (illusion)
- You can get creative with your illusions, and you’re likely to succeed because this spell requires an Intelligence saving throw (one of the best saving throws to impose on enemies). You can also harm enemies who fail their save if the illusion would harm them if real.
- Shatter (evocation)
- While a decent area-of-effect spell, it can also be used to destroy ‘stuff and thangs.’ Use it out of combat to wreck a crooked glazier’s shop.
Wizards specializing in the school of abjuration have the Arcane Ward feature. When casting abjuration spells of first-level or higher, the Arcane Ward gains hit points useful for absorbing damage. Charging the Arcane Ward with additional hitpoints also doesn’t require spellcasting that expends spell slots, so Spell Mastery spells qualify.
I won’t recommend all abjuration spells of first and second level, since they may not be the best options for Spell Mastery. Arcane Ward can gain hitpoints from the following abjuration Spell Mastery options, which I’ll segment by the best and lesser choices:
Best Abjurer Spell Mastery Options
- Absorb Elements – This spell is always good to have prepared, so you might as well cast it without limitations on spell slots! Just make sure that you will actually be suffering from elemental damage a lot; otherwise, you might want to pick another spell for your Spell Mastery for day-to-day activities.
- Protection from Good and Evil – With a duration of ten minutes, you may be able to cast it before a combat encounter. It requires concentration, though.
- Shield – One of the best options because you will have occasion to cast it often, and its effect is a good one.
- Snare – Requires a lot of rope, but you could set a lot of traps. If you have the opportunity to prepare against an enemy in a fixed area, Snare will be a good choice for Spell Mastery. It will at least be memorable to have so many traps set!
Lesser Abjurer Spell Mastery Options
- Alarm – I wouldn’t pick this one because it can be cast as a ritual already.
- Arcane Lock – Circumstantial choice (very) that requires material components to be consumed by the spell.
- Mage Armor – You can cast this on yourself and all your closest friends, but do they really need it if you’re level eighteen?
Similar to Eldritch Knights, Bladesingers excel at attacking with weapons while improving their durability for combat. Bladesingers have the advantage of being full casters, specifically Wizards. The best Spell Mastery options for them are meant to improve their durability to use offensive cantrips like Booming Blade or melee weapon attacks without getting knocked out in close quarters.
Best Bladesinger Spell Mastery Options
- Absorb Elements – Bladesingers place themselves in the thick of battle. They may be in danger of receiving elemental damage from area-of-effect spells. Absorb Elements will help round out their durability while augmenting their offensive blade strikes with elemental damage they’ve absorbed.
- Blur – Since Bladesong grants a bonus to concentration rolls based on Intelligence, it’s not likely that you’ll lose concentration on a spell. Blur is excellent for defending your high Armor Class as a Bladesinger. You’ll feel invincible as foes fail to strike you directly.
- Mirror Image – Further augmenting your defenses without requiring concentration. If you lose your images or they’re running low, cast Mirror Image again.
- Shield – Bladesingers can achieve obscenely high Armor Class numbers while using Bladesong. For this reason, Shield is a crazy-good Spell Mastery choice for avoiding damage in a fray.
Lesser Bladesinger Spell Mastery Options
- Magic Weapon – Never be without a magical weapon! Concentration is difficult to lose while Bladesong is active.
- Shadow Blade – It’s better to use upcasting and increase this illusory weapon’s damage output, but it makes an ok choice for Spell Mastery if you cast it a lot.
- Spider Climb – Overcome obstacles that prevent you from reaching foes for close-quarters combat. I also love having wall-crawling powers at all times, even more than flight.
- Warding Wind – There may be times when ranged attackers are raining blows down on you, or an enemy spellcaster is using spells that hinder you if you can hear the spellcaster. Warding Wind deafens you and protects you from ranged attacks. You’ll create difficult terrain around you for foes, and you’ll blow away deadly gases. If you have darkvision, you might use Warding Wind to extinguish torches against foes who don’t have darkvision.
Wizards of Conjuration will refresh their Benign Transportation when they cast spells of first level and higher. Their conjuration spells that require concentration cannot have concentration broken as a result of taking damage, and summoned creatures will receive temporary hitpoints for greater durability when they’re summoned by a conjuration spell. I’ll ignore the summoned creature durability buff because the options are Invisible Servant and Find Familiar, and those spells don’t need to be cast frequently.
Best Conjurer Spell Mastery Options
- Fog Cloud – Lay down smokescreens while refreshing your Benign Transportation feature. Thanks to the Focused Conjuration feature, your concentration can’t be broken due to taking damage.
- Grease – Easily hinder foes without concentration. Refreshes your Benign Transportation.
- Misty Step – You can constantly teleport around a battlefield while also repositioning others as you frequently refresh your Benign Transportation feature.
- Web – As a handy spell for battlefield control that doesn’t rely on scaling damage, Web is a worthy spell to master. If foes move out of one Web, you can end the previous Web spell to cast it again in a new area. Web will also refresh your Benign Transportation feature. Thanks to the Focused Conjuration feature, your concentration can’t be broken due to taking damage.
Lesser Conjurer Spell Mastery Options
- Catapult – Objects conjured by your Minor Conjuration feature can be launched at your foes. You’ll always be able to arm yourself.
- Charm Person – A charmed creature may become willing to swap places with you when using Benign Transportation. Swapping positions with a usually hostile creature could allow you to escape prison by swapping places with a guard.
- Flaming Sphere – After using your action to conjure the Flaming Sphere, you can use your bonus action on subsequent turns to ram it into foes for 2d6 damage based on a Dex save. It’s also a conjuration spell, refreshing your Benign Transportation feature. It will require your concentration, though. A similar option would be the Dust Devil spell, which would be good for obscuring an area while threatening end-of-turn damage, but the damage would not be as reliable as the damage of Flaming Sphere. Thanks to the Focused Conjuration feature, your concentration can’t be broken due to taking damage.
- Ice Knife – This isn’t a great option, but it’s the only conjuration spell that can be chosen for Spell Mastery that will deal damage without requiring conjuration. It’s useful for dealing damage without concentration while refreshing Benign Transportation at the same time. It’s not great, though…
Subclass features for Wizards specializing in divination yield no direct synergy with Spell Mastery. This is because the Expert Divination feature only triggers when you expend a qualifying spell slot; Spell Mastery doesn’t use spell slots.
This is one of the jackpot subclasses for Spell Mastery because Enchanters can use their Split Enchantment feature to cast enchantment spells on two foes instead of one. They can also alter memories of those they charm using the Alter Memories feature. Get ready for manipulation and mischief as you convince stooges to trust you.
Best Enchanter Spell Mastery Options
- Charm Person – Target two humanoids without worrying about spell slots! You’ll be able to alter the memories of those you charm, assuming they fail the additional Intelligence saving throw.
- Hold Person – Target two humanoids to paralyze them so your melee fighting party members will auto-crit them to death.
- Suggestion – One of your favorite spells as an enchantress. Cast it on two targets to ruin their collective day.
- Tasha’s Hideous Laughter – A solid disabling spell that you can cast on two targets.
So anyway, I started blasting! The subclass feature to focus on is Sculpt Spells to cast evocation spells without worrying about damaging allies freely. Evocation spells will deal even more damage thanks to Empowered Evocation.
Best Evoker Spell Mastery Options
- Aganazzar’s Scorcher – Rivals Shatter for damage, but Shatter may have the better damage type and utility. Line effects are typically less important than radial areas too.
- Magic Missile – Reliable damage augmented by the Empowered Evocation feature.
- Shatter – Good for dealing with constructs and objects—solid damage when hitting enough foes in its area.
- Thunderwave – Evocation AOE spell with augmented damage and knockback.
Features like Malleable Illusions and Illusory Reality make this a straightforward list; load up on illusion spells so you can manipulate them on the fly and even create objects from your illusions.
Best Illusionist Spell Mastery Options
- Disguise Self
- Silent Image
- Phantasmal Force
Lesser Illusionist Spell Mastery Options
- Mirror Image
There isn’t direct synergy between a Necromancer’s subclass features and its Spell Mastery, but there are several fun choices that I came up with. My recommendations are based on the undead horde that a Necromancer is likely to maintain. Spell Mastery can provide thematic, advantageous options for leading your ghoulish army to victory.
Fun Necromancer Spell Mastery Options
- Blindness/Deafness – Allow your minions to do the dirty work while you merely blind your enemies over and over.
- Darkness – Since you can give your undead helpers commands with your own field of vision, you could imbue one of your skeletons with the Darkness spell so foes will be engulfed in darkness as they’re beset.
- Disguise Self – Alter your appearance, so you look like another zombie in your horde. Fools will fear when a zombie is casting spells at them, or they may think you’re a wannabe lich.
- Dragon’s Breath – Cast on your reanimated servants, so they breathe elemental damage.
- Earthbind – Make sure enemies can’t fly away from your skeleton army. Bring them down low.
- Enlarge/Reduce – You can have gigantic zombies or tiny foes. Either way, prepare for a gore fest!
- Fog Cloud – Use the common zombie scenario where there is a thick fog to instill fear in your foes as your zombies shamble about.
- Grease – Slip up your enemies so they can’t outrun your horde!
- Gust of Wind – Propel your skeletons forward like a boney Sharknado.
- Hold Person – Paralyze a guy, so all of your minions land critical hits. That’ll do.
- Invisibility – Hide amongst your undead posse, so enemies must try to find you while in a dangerous situation.
- Levitate – Float a victim over your undead army as you interrogate them. As their feet dangle inches from a horde of flesh-consuming monsters, they’ll start to feel motivated to talk.
- Longstrider – Give super speed to all of your undead minions.
- Mage Armor – Grant a spiritual shroud to your minions, protecting them from harm and enhancing their aesthetic.
- Maximilian’s Earthen Grasp – Restraining a creature will set up your horde to attack with advantage. Restrained creatures also won’t run away.
- Ray of Enfeeblement – It’s a necromancy spell! Use it to weaken haughty martial combatants who think they can mow through your undead crew with ease.
- Spider Climb – Call the shots from the safety of the ceiling or high walls. Your horde will do the rest while you remain out of reach of pesky Barbarians.
- Tasha’s Hideous Laughter – Laughing will cause an enemy to fall prone, so your entire zombie horde can jump on them and rip the chump to shreds! (or at least gain advantage on attacking the chump)
- Web – This can restrain foes or block their escape routes so your horde can do its work.
The primary synergy for the school of transmutation is to freely cast transmutation spells to constantly alter the benefit(s) of your Transmuter’s Stone when a situation warrants it. I looked at each first-and-second-level spell from the school of transmutation, and I’m recommending the ones that would do well when cast machine-gun style depending on the situation. Spells with short durations could be useful for Spell Mastery because you could keep them going indefinitely as you recast them.
Best Transmutation Spell Mastery Options
- Alter Self
- Dragon’s Breath
- Expeditious Retreat
- Magic Weapon
- Maximilian’s Earthen Grasp
- Spider Climb
I’ve avoided reaction spells for the War Magic Wizard’s recommendations since Arcane Deflection is at the subclass’s core, using the reaction often. My suggested Spell Mastery choices are based on how a War Mage can deal reliable damage boosted with Power Surge or how they can boost their AC while concentrating, thanks to their Durable Magic feature.
Best War Magic Spell Mastery Options
- Aganazzar’s Scorcher – Good area-of-effect spell that doesn’t require concentration if you concentrate on spells of greater power. Boosts with Power Surge damage.
- Blur – Defensive option boosted by Durable Magic.
- Dragon’s Breath – Uses concentration for Durable Magic and deals damage boosted by Power Surge.
- Flaming Sphere – Uses concentration for Durable Magic and deals damage that can be boosted by Power Surge.
- Magic Missile – Always hits so you can reliably deal damage to a single target, boosted by Power Surge.
- Shatter – Good area-of-effect spell that doesn’t require concentration if you concentrate on spells of greater power. Boosts with Power Surge damage.
- Thunderwave – Good area-of-effect spell that doesn’t require concentration if you concentrate on spells of greater power. Boosts with Power Surge damage.
- Warding Wind – Defensive option boosted by Durable Magic.
Spell Mastery is a versatile class feature that changes the game for many subclasses. Interchangeably using several tactical first-and-second-level spells repeatedly like they’re cantrips while conserving your spell slots is insanely useful. Players who play to level eighteen will love Spell Mastery.
Which of my recommendations do you agree or disagree with? Have you used any Spell Mastery combinations to great effect for your character? Cast Message in the comments section below to tell me what you think. I love a good D&D conversation.
If you want to learn more about spells from our other articles, please browse a few of these favorites:
- Alternative spellcasting components
- How to select Arcane Trickster spells
- Guide to using Polymorph
- Spells that continue their effects with your actions each round
- Everything about Counterspell
- Everything about Dispel Magic
- Using the Dream spell in creative ways
- Browse all articles about spells
Happy looting to you and your adventuring parties!
2 thoughts on “<b>Why ‘Spell Mastery’ Is Incredibly Useful</b>: D&D 5e Wizard Guide”
I’d like to submit Misty Step for a War Mage melee build armored ‘Nightcrawler’. Upcast Shadow Blade and toss out you favorite Cantrip on round one. Second round, upcast Spirit Shroud and move in for Booming Blade. After that, Booming Blade them in the face, and BAMF! Misty Step away. Rinse and repeat, while looking for clusters to nuke or spellcasters to incapacitate instead.
Using your Forge Cleric 1 / War Wizard 19 multiclass example you should have an AC of 19-21, with +2 from Durable Magic and a further +2 from Arane Deflection for a total of 23-25(!), should you be caught out.
The right feats can really make it shine too. War Caster, Telekinetic, and Slasher FTW!
Anyone with a Nightcrawler concept instantly gets my attention. My favorite superhero! War Mage melee build sounds fantastic to play.