Top 10 D&D Best AoE Spells

D&D Best AoE Spells
A powerful caster prepares a meteor swarm [Photo Credit: DnD 5e Character Sheet]

What are the best Area of Effect spells in Dungeons and Dragons?

Spells make the world of D&D come alive, but sometimes you need to affect more than one target. This is where Area of Effect, or AoE, spells come into play. In this piece, we will be looking at the very best AoE spells in the game.

10. Fog Cloud

A rolling cloud of fog [Photo Credit: Pod5]

Fog Cloud is a 1st level Conjuration spell, available to Druids, Rangers, Sorcerors, Wizards, and Tempest Domain Clerics. It creates a dense sphere of fog with a 20-foot radius. This spell is perfect for hiding your getaway, or for making a surprise entrance. 

The best part of this spell is that it can completely disrupt Truesight, which means that it is effective against high-power enemies, and scales well. This is an incredibly rare attribute of such a low-level spell.

Spell Details:

  • Requires concentration
  • Casting time is 1 action
  • Can be maintained for up to 1 hour
  • Can be placed up to 120 feet away from caster
  • Can be dispersed by a wind of 10mph or stronger

Best used in these situations:

  • Useful against Beholders (forces them to use their antimagic cone, which disables their own eye rays).
  • Making a quick escape without fear of being targeted by casters or ranged attackers
  • Masking reconnaissance missions 
  • Provides cover during surprise entrances

9. Spike Growth

Spikes sprout from the undergrowth, hidden in plain sight [Photo Credit: Avopix]

Spike Growth is a 2nd level Transmutation spell, available to Druids and Rangers. It causes spikes and thorny vines to burst from the ground in a 20-foot radius, centered on a point you choose.

In addition to dealing damage to creatures that pass through its area, it also functions as difficult terrain, and cannot be discerned by the unsuspecting eye. This is a great way to slow down oncoming attackers, allowing you to turn the tables and trap them.

Spell Details: 

  • Requires concentration
  • Casting time is 1 action
  • Can be maintained up to 10 minutes
  • Can be placed up to 150 feet away from caster
  • Deals 2d4 piercing damage for every 5 feet traveled to creatures that walk through it

Best used in these situations:

  • Taking the advantage away from an approaching army or group of enemies
  • Setting a short-term trap that is hard to spot
  • Blocking an exit or entrance

8. Hunger of Hadar

A dark, eldritch portal fills the room [Photo Credit: F4]

Hunger of Hadar is a 3rd level Conjuration spell, available only to Warlocks. A dark, malevolent portal opens at a point you choose, covering a 20-foot radius sphere. Eldritch horrors, whispers, and cold pour out of the portal.

Any creatures within the void take cold and acid damage, as otherworldly horrors reach through. No light can illuminate the area. This spell is perfect for intimidating enemies and using the unknown as a weapon.

In case you weren’t convinced, the spell literally summons otherworldly terrors straight out of the pages of H.P. Lovecraft.

Spell Details:

  • Requires concentration 
  • Casting time is 1 action
  • Can be maintained up to 1 minute
  • Can be placed up to 150 feet from caster
  • Deals up to 4d6 damage per round to a creature, and blinds all within its space

Best used in these situations:

  • Summoning Eldritch horrors to scare your enemies
  • Blinding a large group of enemies
  • Temporarily disabling the most powerful enemy, while dealing damage

7. Slow

Time slows to a halt [Photo Credit: NPR]

Slow is a 3rd level Transmutation spell, available to Sorcerors and Wizards. Time is altered around up to 6 creatures of your choice, within a 40-foot cube, centered on a point you choose within 120 feet of you.

All targets must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw. On a failure, a creature’s defenses are lowered, they cannot act more than once per turn, and their speed is halved. To put it plainly, they are slowed.

A creature can try to resist the spell at the end of each turn, but this spell is a great way to shut down a group of powerful enemies. It also has the added benefit of making you feel like the Flash (or Quicksilver for Marvel fans).

Spell Details:

  • Requires concentration
  • Casting time is 1 action
  • Can be maintained up to 1 minute
  • Can be placed up to 120 feet from caster
  • Target’s speed is halved, their AC is reduced by 2, and they cannot take use an action and a bonus action during a turn, they must choose one.

Best used in these situations:

  • Fending off enemies with multi-attack
  • Keeping strong melee attackers at bay
  • Disabling more than one enemy

6. Call Lightning

Lightning arcs and curls from the storm cloud above [Photo Credit: Fodor's Travel Guide]

Call Lightning is a 3rd Level Conjuration spell, available to Druids and Tempest Domain Clerics. A 10-foot tall storm cloud appears within range, 60 feet in radius. If a storm is already brewing, you can gain control of it instead.

Using the storm, you can summon lightning from it, causing it to strike the ground anywhere beneath the cloud. Any creatures within 5-feet of the strike point must make a Dexterity saving throw to reduce the damage it deals.

This is also the closest a spell will get to making you feel like the God of Thunder.

Spell Details:

  • Requires concentration
  • Casting time is 1 action
  • Can be maintained up to 10 minutes
  • Can be placed up to 120 feet away from caster
  • Lightning strikes deal 3d10 damage, or 4d10 if the storm already existed

Best used in these situations:

  • Dealing large amounts of damage over a battlefield
  • Consistent damage over multiple rounds, or even combats
  • Making subtle, yet strong attacks with the power of nature

5. Wrath of Nature

A tree rises to defend the party [Photo Credit: Cliff Seruntine]

Speaking of the power of nature, Wrath of Nature is a 5th level Evocation spell, available to Druids and Rangers. Nature spirits come to your aid, controlling the terrain within a 60-foot cube within range. 

All grassy areas within the cube are difficult terrain for your enemies. Trees swipe out and attack enemies every round, dealing up to 4d6 slashing damage. Roots and vines try to restrain one enemy of your choice at the end of every one of your turns, and you can use a bonus action to throw a rock.

This spell lives up to its name and demonstrates the most potent aspects of nature in one incredibly spell.

Spell Details:

  • Requires concentration
  • Casting time is 1 action
  • Can be maintained up to 1 minute
  • Can be placed up to 120 feet away from caster
  • Rocks can deal 3d8 bludgeoning damage and trees can deal 4d6 slashing, coupled with difficult terrain and restraining effects

Best used in these situations:

  • Battlefield control
  • Reducing the mobility of fast opponents
  • Continuous damage without taking up your action every round

4. Storm of Vengeance

The skies rumble as the storm stretches on for miles [Photo Credit: ThoughtCo]

Storm of Vengeance is a 9th-level Conjuration spell, available only to Druids. The spell summons the most powerful storm imaginable, which takes place in different stages, including thunder, acid rain, lightning bolts, hailstones, and freezing rain.

This is the first 9th-level spell on this list, and it is capable not just of dealing damage, but also of interrupting spellcasters, deafening enemies, and dispersing fog and mist, magical or not.

This spell is a contained apocalyptic scenario.

Spell Details:

  • Requires concentration
  • Casting time is 1 action
  • Can be maintained up to 1 minute
  • Can be placed anywhere within line of sight
  • 10 stages offer great variety and utility to this spell, throwing enemies off-guard each and every round 

Best used in these situations:

  • Taking out an entire army
  • Making an entire battlefield your playtoy
  • Weeding out all but the most powerful of enemies

3. Weird

A horrific being rises from the waters, or so it seems... [Photo Credit: Imgix]

Weird is a 9th-level Illusion spell, available to Wizards. It manifests eldritch horrors in the minds of those that face it and forces those creatures to focus on those horrors, removing enemies almost entirely from combat.

This spell is capable of disabling even the most powerful of villains. 

Spell Details:

  • Requires concentration
  • Casting time is 1 action
  • Can be maintained up to 1 minute
  • Can be placed within 120 feet of caster
  • Can deal up to 4d10 damage to a creature every single round

Best used in these situations:

  • Battlefield control (no limit on number of targets)
  • Disabling powerful enemies
  • Distracting an enemy that you are not capable of defeating, giving time to escape

2. Meteor Swarm

Flaming meteors plunge towards the earth [Photo Credit: ZeroHedge]

Meteor Swarm is a 9th-level Conjuration spell, available to Sorcerors and Wizards. Just as its name suggests, it brings down a torrent of fire and ruin within a 40-foot radius. 

This spell can deal up to 40d6 damage to each creature it hits, and is arguably the most devastating spell in the entire game.

This spell is not easily controlled, but to be fair, it is basically a doomsday device. 

Spell Details:

  • Has a casting time of 1 action
  • Can deal up to 40d6 damage
  • Can be placed up to 1 mile away from caster
  • Sets objects on fire

Best used in these situations:

  • Last-ditch effort to take out wide area of opponents
  • High damage with little time to spare
  • When you don’t have to worry about hitting anything other than your enemy

1. Fireball

A powerful sorcerer summons a mighty fireball [Photo Credit: Pinterest]

Fireball is a 3rd-level Evocation spell, available to Sorcerors and Wizards. While it may seem strange that this is rated higher than the 9th-level spells, it is for good reason.

Fireball is the most famous and iconic spell in Dungeons and Dragons, and to honor that, Wizards of the Coast made this spell stronger than it should be for its level in 5th edition.

It can deal 8d6 fire damage over a 20-foot radius sphere, more than any other spell at this level. In addition, it does not require concentration and is capable of igniting objects.

Spell Details:

  • Most famous spell
  • Casting time of 1 action
  • Can be placed up to 150 feet away from caster
  • Fire damage, which is rarely resisted

Best used in these situations:

  • Clearing out a group of clustered enemies
  • Weakening a high-health enemy
  • Melting a wall of ice or similar frozen environment

That covers the most powerful and useful AoE spells in the game! I hope that you found this list to be useful!

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