I plan to update this with major patches or content releases to Baldur's Gate 3. The goal is to help experienced D&D 5e players identify what spells have changed, and how this interacts with the changes elsewhere in BG3. The goal is also to help new players less familiar with D&D mechanics determine what spells to pick, and which to avoid.
Some of these spells are bugged, and will likely turn out better when fixed. However as the goal is to be a helpful guide in the present day, I’m going to rate them off how they currently behave. I am also aware that Wizards can learn any spell they can find a scroll of. I treat this as a bug, and am not going to tag every spell as a Wizard spell for the day this gets fixed.
A Tier - These are the spells that you will get frequent use out of, and they will have a significant positive impact. Most highly recommended
B Tier - While perhaps not as universally helpful as the A tier spells, nobody will fault you for picking these spells. They are effective in many situations.
C Tier - There are some situations or character ideas that can make good use of these spells. There are occasional situations where these spells are perfect for the job, but not to the frequency of the A and B Tier Spells.
D Tier - I’d urge you to reconsider, unless you are going for a specific character theme or far-out build idea. In a large majority of situations, you’d be better off picking another spell.
F Tier - The situations where these spells have positive impact are few-and-far-between. In most cases, I’d argue these spells are not even worth the action. I strongly recommend avoiding. Some of these spells may be bugged, and will improve later, however.
To summarize, all A Tier spells are as follows: Eldritch Blast; Fire Bolt; Friends; Ray of Frost; Bless; Fog Cloud; Grease; Guiding Bolt; Healing Word; Hex; Hunter's Mark; Mage Armor; Thunderwave; Aid; Hold Person; Web.
Acid Splash: Wizard
Damage/Save - (modified)
Instead of picking 1-2 targets within 5 feet, Acid Splash now creates a small AOE puddle of acid. It additionally can leave the “Acid” status effect on the targets, reducing their Armor Class by 2. While it’s only 1d6 damage, it is an AOE and acid is not a commonly resisted damage type.
Blade Ward: Warlock, Wizard
This spell still provides resistance to piercing, slashing, or bludgeoning damage til the end of your next turn. The only time I would use this spell is if you are playing a melee character and can’t get quite within reach of an enemy. You could dash, but this uses your action and means you can’t attack this turn anyways. Or you can use this spell and then finish moving next turn.
Chill Touch: Warlock, Wizard
One of the most confusing spells in all of D&D 5e. It neither does cold damage, nor is it a touch-range spell. It’s necrotic damage with a 30 ft range, and leaves an enemy unable to regain HP for a turn. Considering that enemies currently have unlimited spell slots, there are some situational fights where this can be useful. But for the most part this spell is being carried by its classification as a ranged attack, meaning it can benefit from advantage.
Dancing Lights: Wizard
Utility - (modified)
Normally in 5e this spell is an action to cast, you get to place 4 lights in different locations, and as a bonus action on subsequent turns you can move the lights. In BG3 it is a bonus action to cast, all the lights go to one spot, and they remain there until you stop concentrating on the spell. The main power from this spell comes from its ability to light an area up, meaning your teammates who don’t have darkvision can attack without disadvantage. And with the spell being only a bonus action to cast, it goes great with a class that doesn’t use their bonus action too much (wizards, archers, etc.).
If everyone in your party has darkvision, this spell loses most of its utility.
Eldritch Blast: Warlock
This spell on its own is not worth the fervor and love it gets. What makes Eldritch Blast so strong is the invocations that warlocks get access to starting at 2nd level. If your wizard takes the Magic Initiate: Warlock feat, don’t expect this spell to do wonders for you, but with invocations like Agonizing Blast or Repelling Blast, a warlock can make great use of this 1d10 force damage (not commonly resisted) spell.
Fire Bolt: Wizard
Damage/attack - Wizard
One of the hottest topics right now. In 5e this cantrip does 1d10 fire damage. That’s pretty much it most of the time. Some very harsh DMs rule that if you miss with this spell then you have a chance to set the surrounding environment on fire. But that is not very common, and normally if you want to catch something on fire with this spell then you have to specifically say so.
In BG3 the damage has been reduced to 1d6, but it also creates a fire puddle for another 1d4 damage. The average damage is slightly higher this way (at least for levels 1-4, we’d have to see how it scales at higher levels). The 1d4 damage from the fire puddle cannot be avoided, and it will also tick again on the targets next turn for another 1d4 damage. This is the most significant buff the spell gets at these early levels.
Lastly, the fire puddle it creates can lead to an issue commonly associated with DOS2 where suddenly the entire battlefield is on fire. I’ll interject my opinion here to state that some people making these “everything’s always on fire!” complaints are exaggerating a bit. I’ve not run into this issue at all in BG3, save for a situation where I blew up a bunch of oil barrels.
One “fix” I’ve seen recommend on is to have it do the straight d10 damage if you hit an enemy, and only make the d4 fire puddle if you intentionally aim for the environment. This is close to 5e rules, and also allows players to interact with the elements if they want.
Friends: Warlock, Wizard
Utility – (modified)
In Baldur’s Gate 3 this spell gives you advantage on Charisma checks against the target. Normally in 5e there is the drawback that, when the spell ends, the target is aware that it was charmed and may become hostile. Without this drawback in BG3, there is really no reason not to use the spell whenever you get the chance to pre-cast. There are some conversations where you are surprised and won’t get the chance to pre-cast this, but they aren’t too common.
The most annoying part of this spell is taking the time to use it. If you are going to use it, I recommend putting it on your bar in a place where there is a keybind.
Utility – (bugged, modified)
In 5e it lets you add a d4 to the next skill check you make. In BG3 it seems to be a lasting buff, and you can add the d4 to an infinite number of rolls until the spell fades away. But as a cantrip, you can cast it infinite times.
The spell is bugged, and sometimes it will show that you failed a check even though you rolled higher than the DC, or passed a check where you rolled lower than the DC. The spell is working, but sometimes you’ll get these little glitches. Outside of this UI bug, Guidance is still a great asset to have!
Light: Cleric, Wizard
Utility – (bugged)
The spell lights an object, and this can be very helpful for illuminating an area for a race that does not have darkvision. This basically lets you use a sword and shield, and provides light as though you were also holding a torch.
The spell would be a B, however it is bugged and does not seem to count as light for the purpose of disadvantage on attacks against targets in darkness.
Mage Hand: Warlock, Wizard
Summon - (modified)
Normally in 5e, this spell is not a concentration spell. But you have to control it using your action, and you are mostly limited to interacting with objects with it. In BG3 it does require concentration, but the hand gets its own initiative count leaving you to use your action as you desire. It can also shove enemies. So it is nerfed in some areas, and buffed in others.
It’s a nice little spell for throwing near some archers on a ledge and trying to shove down. Or putting it near a bunch of flasks of alchemist fire, and using the hand to chuck them at bad guys. It’s a nice little spell for Githyanki and Arcane Tricksters, but I’m not sure I’d really pick it up for anyone else.
Minor Illusion: Warlock, Wizard
Utility – (modified)
In D&D 5e, this spell is only limited by your imagination and how cooperative your DM is. But video games are a bit more codified, and the spell’s creative uses are all replaced by one very fitting use in BG3 – make a distraction that NPCs will go investigate. To help it achieve this task, this spell does not break stealth in BG3.
The spell has some neat utility for a rogue trying to get into a guarded area, and needing to pull the guards away. Enter turn based mode, throw your minor illusion, wait for the guards to go, and then sneak by. I’ve also used it to pull enemies into an area so I can start peppering them with arrows from high ground with surprise. If you ever find yourself wishing “Dammit, won’t this person just move!” then this may be the spell for you.
Poison Spray: Warlock, Wizard
At first glance, this spell sounds great! You get d12 damage, the highest of any cantrip! But it is a 10 ft range, which is not really where most casters want to be with respect to their enemy. Poison damage is commonly resisted. It is a save spell, which currently don’t do so well in BG3. And the enemy has to make a constitution save, and most creatures have a decent Constitution score.
Fire Bolt and Ray of Frost outshine this cantrip by a large, large amount.
Ray of Frost: Wizard
Damage/attack & debuff – (modified)
Just like in 5e, this is a ranged cantrip that does d8 cold damage and slows an enemy’s movement by 10 ft. However in BG3 it also leaves an ice surface that can possibly knock the target prone. This is especially strong against enemy melee combatants, as they will likely have to use 15 ft of movement to stand up, their movement speed is reduced by 10 ft from the spell effect, and this leaves most enemies with about 5 ft of movement. It can basically take a melee enemy out of combat for a turn.
Melee attacks against a prone enemy have advantage, while ranged attacks have disadvantage. Always take a look at the initiative order before casting this spell.
While having an extra d4 to add to a save is not a bad thing, it’s rarely worth using your action and concentration for.
Sacred Flame: Cleric
Normally in 5e sacred flame is a pretty good cantrip. But due to the increased enemy HP, reduced enemy AC, and how easy it is to get advantage via backstab or high-ground; I generally find that your cleric will be better off with a light crossbow for doing your ranged damage needs in BG3
Shocking Grasp: Wizard
Damage/attack & debuff
I have not tested whether this spell gets advantage against targets wearing metal armor in BG3 like it normally does in 5e. Normally in 5e, this spell is helpful in situations where an enemy gets too close to your squishy caster. Otherwise you’d have to disengage as your action and run away. But with shocking grasp you can try to hit them with this spell, if it hits then they lose the ability to take reactions, and you run away. But in BG3 if an enemy gets close to you, you can disengage as a bonus action and go 30 ft away, then hit them with a ranged cantrip like chill touch or fire bolt. Your ability to both escape and do damage does not depend on you successfully hitting with the shocking grasp spell.
Shocking grasp could still be useful for if you want to get away, but still want to use your bonus action for something else (e.g. healing potion).
Utility – (modified)
Like minor illusion, this is another cantrip that has tons of creative uses that are difficult to put in a video game. And once again, Larian gave the spell one very fitting use – it provides you advantage on intimidation and performance checks while the spell is active.
It’s a bit more circumstantial than the friends cantrip, but because the buff is applied to you instead of a target then this spell will also work when you are surprised with a dialogue by a target you can’t see. But you do have to kinda know the conversation is coming, and cast the spell in advance.
True Strike: Warlock, Wizard
The spell is an action to cast, and gives you advantage on your next attack. It’s not a bad buff to have, but using action economy it is pretty much always a poor decision to make. Would you prefer to cast the spell on one turn, then on the next turn roll twice and have the chance of doing damage once? Or would you prefer to attack on both turns, rolling once on each turn, and have the chance of doing damage on both turns? Either way you roll to attack twice, but using true strike only gives one chance to do damage.
Like with blade ward, the only time I would use this spell is if you are a melee character who can’t quite get in range and have an action to spare.
Level 1 Spells
Animal Friendship: Ranger
I’ve not actually used this spell in BG3, so other feedback is certainly welcome. From the description, it seems to align with 5e. You charm an animal of low intelligence that you mean it no harm. In 5e “charm” means it will not attack you or your teammates, but does not mean it flips sides and begins attacking its former allies. That is considered the “controlled” status effect.
In campaigns where you start out travelling through the woods, running into wolves and bears etc. then this spell is somewhat useful. But BG3 does not really fit that mold, so its usefulness is somewhat limited.
Armor of Agathys: Warlock
Buff and Damage – (bugged)
One of the warlock signature spells, this spell gives you 5 temp HP at first level, and if an enemy hits you with a melee attack while you have this temp HP then they take 5 cold damage. Casting it at higher levels is supposed to increase both the amount of temp HP and the amount of cold damage. However it currently only increases the temp HP, and this is likely a bug.
Even with that unintentional nerf, I give this spell a C with certain melee warlock builds. Once fixed I’ll bring this up to a B. If you are staying ranged then you may get less use out of it. Because this temp HP competes with the temp HP that a fiend warlock gets from “Dark One’s Blessing,” this is not great for fiend locks either.
Arms of Hadar: Warlock
Damage/Save and Debuff
This is another favorite spell of mine for melee warlocks at early levels. It’s like shocking grasp in that enemies who fail the save can’t take reactions, but it’s an AOE and does a bit more damage. At higher levels it rapidly falls behind, but from levels 1-4 there are several fights where it comes in handy.
This spell effects 3 targets, and causes them to subtract 1d4 from all attack rolls and saves. A great little debuff to apply, but the targets can possibly save against it. In most situations, I’d cast and concentrate on Bless over Bane unless your team forces the enemies to make lots and lots of saves.
This is the opposite of Bane. You choose 3 allies and Bless them, allowing them to add 1d4 to any attack rolls or saving throws they make. In my opinion, this spell is one of the best concentration spells that Clerics ever get.
The reason I place this above Bane (the exact opposite spell) is that there is no save associated with Bless. You will apply the buff to all your intended targets with 100% chance of success, whereas Bane means each enemy target has a chance of avoiding the spell
Burning Hands: Wizard, Cleric (Light), Warlock (Fiend)
3d6 fire damage from a save in a small cone is not that impressive with the enemy HP buffs present. Not a horrible spell, and useful in situations where there are lots of small enemies. But I’d prioritize others in most situations.
Charm Person: Warlock, Wizard, Cleric (Trickery)
Utility – (modified)
Friends already covers the first part of this spell (advantage on Cha checks), so I’d use that over Charm Person in out-of-combat situations. If you try to charm a person while in combat then they get advantage on the save. And it does not seem to charm the creature to your allies, so they will still attack your enemies. Just not you.
Unlike in 5e, the target is not aware that you charmed it after the fact. But that is still not enough to save this spell in my opinion.
Color Spray: Wizard
Debuff – (modified)
This spell almost acts exactly like in 5e. The spell has a pool of hitpoints and it goes from the lowest HP target to the highest in the area and blinds them til the end of your next turn. The only change between D&D 5e and BG3 is that in 5e you roll 6d10 to determine the HP size, but in BG3 it just takes the average of 33.
Due to the increased HP of many enemies in BG3, this spell loses a lot of its effectiveness. However the enemy does not get to save against the spell still, so it’s a useful way to apply some guaranteed crowd control to low HP enemies. If you get a magic item that lets you cast the spell or something, I’d certainly not discard it. Cough.
Command (Halt): Cleric, Warlock (Fiend)
Debuff – (modified)
Normally in 5e the Command spell lets you pick from several single-word options such as Drop [what you’re holding], Flee, Grovel, or whatever other single word command you can think of that the DM agrees to. So far Halt is the only one implemented into BG3, which causes a target to skip its next turn.
This can be very potent. I would prefer if Kneel/Grovel was implemented instead though. It causes the target to go prone and then skip the rest of its turn.
or Destroy Water: Cleric
Utility – (modified)
The “destroy” water is not implemented in BG3. You get access to flasks of water early in the game, and they can be thrown to make a water surface. A little more complex to carry them around than to use a spell, but much cheaper in terms of spell slots used.
Cure Wounds: Cleric, Ranger
Just like in 5e, this spell restores 1d8 + spell casting mod HP. But this spell loses a lot of utility in BG3 due to the option to heal via food, an abundance of health potions which can be used as bonus actions, the fact that anyone can get up an unconscious teammate using the help action, and there currently being no consequences for taking long rests.
The one place this spell shines is getting up a downed teammate and maybe giving them enough HP to take another hit, which the help action isn’t so great at.
Disguise Self: Wizard, Cleric (Trickery)
Utility – (modified)
In 5e you can change your appearance pretty much any way you want to. But it would be a bit much to expect BG3 to send you to the character creation screen each time you cast this 1st level spell. I think Larian’s use of pre-selected race appearances is a great idea.
There are situations where this is useful. As a Githyanki or Drow you can expect to be met with hositility in a couple otherwise friendly areas. Same with recent events surrounding Tieflings in recent Forgotten Realms lore. I can think of other areas where this spell could be useful too, but don’t want to give spoilers. However in typical Larian fashion, there is usually a way around these types of complications that does not require violence. It is a useful spell, but not a must-have.
Dissonant Whispers (GOO Warlock)
Damage/save and Debuff – (modified)
Normally in 5e the spell does the 3d6 psychic damage on a failed save (or half on a successful one), and that remains the same in BG3. In 5e a creature that fails the save also has to use its reaction to run away. BG3 modifies this to instead cause the creature to become frightened. And in BG3 this means they also run away. So the creature does not run away using its reaction, but it does run away on its following turn and this wastes the turn. Overall a significant buff to the spell.
Best used on a target within melee range of one of your front line characters, because this will cause them to run away and the melee character will get an opportunity attack.
Ensnaring Strike: Ranger
Damage/save and Debuff – (maybe bugged?)
While Ensnaring Strike does a little extra 1d6 damage, that is not really the reason to grab this spell. The big thing to go for is the restrained condition, setting the targets movement speed to 0, making all its attacks have disadvantage while attacks against it have advantage, and requiring the creature to waste their turn to possibly get out of it.
I’ve not seen the restrained condition set in when I used this spell. Maybe I’m unlucky and just can’t ever get enemies to fail the save. Maybe the spell is bugged. I can’t really tell. If the spell works, I’d give it a B. If not, I’d give it an F.
Expeditious Retreat: Warlock, Wizard
Buff and Movement – (modified)
Bonus action to cast and instantly lets you dash on this turn. On future turns you can use a bonus action to dash. Maybe useful if you start combat in an inopportune position, or it can sort of serve like an action surge (allowing you to both dash and attack on the same turn). Or encounters that can be ended by reaching an object/station as quickly as possible.
The spell has been modified from 5e so that instead of having a 10-minute duration, it now lasts indefinitely. But it can still only be cast on self, and still requires concentration in BG3. There are some characters this spell can benefit, but most of them would be better served by Jump or Longstrider in BG3.
False Life: Wizard, Warlock (Specific Invocation)
Buff - (modified)
Wizards don’t get any healing spells normally, and this is the closest they get at early levels. It only provides temp HP that goes on top of your base HP. It’s less HP on average than Cure Wounds, and is not going to restore an unconscious teammate like Cure Wounds would. On the plus side, it can go on top of your max HP to provide a temporary bonus to your HP pool.
In 5e this spell only lasts for an hour. In BG3 it lasts until you lose the temporaryy HP, so that’s a slight buff.
Feather Fall: Wizard
Buff – (modified)
Whether D&D 5e or BG3, this spell allows you and your nearby allies to be immune to fall damage. Normally in D&D 5e this spell is a reaction to cast, with the mentality being that as you walk over some trap or questionable structure you can use this spell to avoid the falling damage so you don’t fall to your death.
In BG3 you can cast it before you jump to avoid taking the damage. It is possible that Larian implements a reaction-like procedure. If there is a shortcut or trap that you are likely to run into and Larian even makes a cinematic for it, they can pop up a dialogue with the “Feather Fall” option. But I don’t think that you’ll ever be able to cast this spell like a reaction when a goblin pushes you off some random ledge in battle.
Like disguise self, this spell has the ability to be a solution to a few encounters. But if you don’t have this spell it will not be the end of the world, and there are likely alternative solutions. It is neat though, and could open some [trap]doors for you. I’m willing to bet there are enough scrolls to fill this need though
Find Familiar: Wizard, Warlock (Chain)
Summon – (modified)
Currently Ritual casting is not in BG3, so you must use a spell slot to cast this spell. And the familiar disappears after a long rest, which is also unfortunate. The spell does not have its 10 gp material cost, but I’d much rather pay that price and save a spell slot each long rest. If you can ever cast the spell without using a spell slot, I’ll upgrade this to an A.
Normally in 5e your familiar cannot attack. They are mostly used in combat to provide the “Help” action, providing advantage on the next attack going to the effected enemy. In BG3 the help action does not work like this, and as a result Larian has changed how familiars can work. They can attack in BG3, and their attacks can cause debilitating effects such as blinding the target…if they land.
At level 1 this spell is very strong, but by the time you hit level 4 its potency has already begun to wane in most fights. They still make for great scouts, or count as an ally for your rogue to get sneak attack off though.
For Chain Warlocks, this spell is an Easy A! The imp is great in EA and you can cast it without using a spell slot.
Fog Cloud: Ranger, Wizard
Utility and Buff – (exploitable, modified)
This spell is modified from 5e to last permanently, instead of up to an hour.
The spell creates an area of dense fog both blinding and hiding everyone inside. But the enemy AI currently lacks a sense of object permanence. As a result you can hide your entire party inside the cloud, pop out and make an attack disengage and go back inside, and the enemy will be none the wiser. It is because of this exploit that I give the spell an A.
Without this exploit, the spell gets a B. In scenarios where a pesky enemy is attacking from high ground, this spell can help flush them down. Or if an ally is taking a lot of damage, casting this spell on them can give them some protection to drink some potions and heal up.
Debuff – (modified)
This spell behaves just like in 5e, except that the grease puddle is now flammable in BG3. Leaving this out was an intentional design change in 5e, because the combo is very strong. Especially on a sorc who can quicken cast grease, then follow that up with a firebolt.
The spell would be a B just with its ability to knock enemies prone. But with this modification it makes for a great opening spell if you can ambush the enemies
Guiding Bolt: Cleric
Damage/attack and debuff
A great, great spell. It's a ranged attack spell, so pretty easy to get advantage in BG3 with high ground. It does 4d6 radiant damage which is pretty good for a 1st level spell. And if it hits, the next attack against that target has advantage leading to possibly more damage.
Hail of Thorns: Ranger
In addition to the regular damage you'd do for hitting an enemy with your ranged attack, you also do an additional d10 (or half if enemy makes save) to nearby enemies.
Only reason I'd take this spell is if your party has a lot of AOE damage where this relatively minor AOE could actually mean something. Otherwise I'd skip this spell
Healing Word: Cleric
The 1d4 + Spell Casting Mod of healing is not the reason this spell excels. You aren't using this spell to restore lost hit points. This spell is a bonus action to cast, and has a large range. This means you can use it to get a downed teammate back on their feet without having to move, and still leaving your action available to attack. In BG3 you can cast a leveled spell using both your bonus action and action, which is normally not allowed in 5e unless you cast a cantrip as your action. So that's a slight bonus for healing word too.
Hellish Rebuke: Warlock
Damage/save – (modified)
In D&D 5e, you get to cast this spell as a reaction when an enemy damages you. Then the enemy makes a dex save and you throw some fire damage at them. But BG3 has modified how reactions work, and this spell is hit pretty hard by that.
The thing that hurts Warlocks most about this is that you must cast Hellish Rebuke before you take the damage, and this makes the reaction part (doing damage) available. So you have to burn your spell slot for a spell that you might want to use later. However you may find yourself in a circumstance where you really, really wish you could cast Arms of Hadar and can’t because you’ve already cast Hellish Rebuke, even if the Hellish Rebuke effect has not triggered yet.
The damage is mediocre in many cases where enemies have buffed HP, and I really could not recommend using this spell with BG3 in its current Early Access state.
Damage and debuff - (modified)
Pick a target with this spell and then whenever you harm it you'll do an extra d6 psychic damage. It also gives your target disadvantage on ability CHECKS from one of the attributes. Not attack rolls, not saving throws, but CHECKS. These come up very rarely in combat but some of the more common ones include an enemy making a perception (Wis) check to detect your hidden allies, or athletics (Str) checks to shove. The disadvantage on checks is not the main focus of the spell.
Normally for a D&D 5e campaign going from levels 1-4 with no extra attack or extra projectiles from Eldritch Blast, I'd really not recommend this spell. However it has been modified so that concentration lasts indefinitely, meaning you can get a lot more damage off one cast of the spell.
Hunter’s Mark: Ranger
Damage – (modified)
This is basically Hex (see above) including the changes to concentration. But it is for rangers and without the disadvantage on ability checks thing. Normally in 5e this spell helps you track your target, though I'm not sure if that's in BG3. Maybe if your target goes invisible, you'll still be able to see them? I've not tested this.
Inflict Wounds: Cleric
I believe this is the highest damaging single target 1st level spell available (16.5 avg), just passing guiding bolt's average (14 avg). But it has a range of touch, and doesn't have the added benefit of giving advantage to your allies if it hits
A strong spell and a melee cleric may make some good use of it. But not as good as guiding bolt which fills a similar niche of single target damage for a cleric, so I give Inflict Wounds a B.
Jump: Ranger, Wizard
Utility and Buff and Movement
The spell triples your jump distance for a minute. In D&D 5e, this spell gets a big fat F for me. In BG3 I'm having to contemplate if it's a B or an A. Several chests, shortcuts, back doors, etc. become available with this spell in your arsenal. And because jump/disengage is a bonus action in BG3, and jump distance scales off Str, some Str builds will get more use out of this than they would Expeditious Retreat.
Buff and Movement – (modified)
This spell allows you to buff a target’s movement speed by 10 ft per turn. The spell has been modified from D&D 5e to last indefinitely, and it still does not require concentration. If you have a dex based melee character in your group who never seems to get into range on the first turn, having your wizard cast this on them at the end of each long rest could help. Its flexibility to cast on
However I find that rogues with bonus action dash, and Str based characters with their long jump distances can get into melee range in most situations.
Mage Armor: Wizard, Warlock (Invocation)
Buff – (modified)
The spell has one slight modification from D&D 5e, and one major one. Normally it has a duration of 8 hours, in BG3 it lasts til your next long rest. That’s the minor one. The major change requires a slight dose of D&D 5e rules lawyering. In 5e, this spell allows you to calculate your AC using the formula 13+Dex mod when you are unarmored. In BG3, the spell adds 3 to your AC when you are unarmored. For the classes available in EA, this is perfectly fine. But if they add draconic sorc, monk, or barbarian then these classes may get their AC to stack in an unintended way. A wizard casting this spell on a level 1 stout halfling barbarian could have 21 AC at level 1 using point-buy.
Ignoring that possible future interaction, this spell is still great for dex based characters. It is essential for stopping the enemy AI in BG3 from curb-stomping your wizard in every fight.
Magic Missile: Wizard
The spell shoots 3 darts that do minimal damage, but are guaranteed to hit. The spell’s damage is not too great (10.5 total on average), and using higher level spell slots is usually a waste on this spell. But it is guaranteed to hit your target as long as the projectiles don’t run into anything else in the way. Since EA only goes levels 1-4, this spell is pretty good. Especially when you’ve got one enemy on their last leg. You send one missile at them to finish them off, and send the rest at your next target. But starting around level 5 and beyond, this spell becomes a waste much, much faster than other 1st or 2nd level spells due to its poor scaling. The only exception is trying to break concentration on an enemy caster, as each missile requires a separate concentration check.
If you get your hands on a magic item that increases the damage or something, then this spell becomes more worthwhile. Especially on eldritch knights or melee muscle wizards, since this spell is not affected by your spell casting stat.
Protection from Evil and Good: Cleric, Warlock, Wizard
Buff – (modified)
The spell gives aberrations, celestials, elementals, fey, fiends, and undead disadvantage on attacks against you. It still requires concentration, but lasts indefinitely now instead of 10 minutes like in 5e.
The only thing really holding this spell back in BG3 EA is the limited number of encounters that involve any of the above creatures. In Early Access/Act 1, most of what you are facing are humanoids and monstrosities. The tutorial has several fiends, but that is a pushover. After the tutorial I can only think of 5 encounters where this spell would be useful.
When the full game releases and we start facing more of these strange creatures, this spell will likely become much more useful.
Ray of Sickness: Wizard
Damage/attack and Debuff
The 2d8 poison damage from this spell isn’t anything to write home about, but the ability to possibly poison your enemy is nice. While it’s not a bad spell, it’s not as enticing as many of the other Wizard spells unless you are trying to go with a specific theme.
Shield of Faith: Cleric
Buff – (modified)
While the Cleric cantrips are lacking, their 1st level spells help make up for it. This spell now lasts for as long as you can maintain concentration, unlike 5e where it is capped at 10 minutes. It provides your target with a +2 AC. I feel that in most cases, Bless is a better use of your concentration, hence the B rating. But this is still not a bad spell at all, and could be especially useful if you have one character in your party who keeps going down in combat.
Debuff – (modified)
In D&D 5e, you roll 5d8. Then you start with the creature with the lowest current HP in the area of effect and, if their HP is less than what you rolled, they fall asleep indefinitely until injured or shaken awake. Then it moves on to the next lowest HP target until the HP pool you rolled is used up.
There are 2 modifications in BG3. First, it uses a fixed value of 24 HP instead of rolling for it. Unlike Color Spray which has a similar change, this 24 HP value is ever so slightly above the 5d8 average of 22.5 HP. So that’s a slight, slight buff. But affected enemies only remain asleep for 2 turns or until harmed or helped up. This is a significant nerf. With the HP boost that many enemies get, this spell is indirectly nerfed a bit more.
But with all that being said, I still give this spell a B. There’s a lot to be said for taking 2 or so little enemies out of combat for a couple turns. There are creatures that are immune to sleep, so you do have to be a little careful with this sometimes.
Speak with Animals: Ranger, Warlock (Invocation)
Utility – (modified)
The spell still requires concentration, but lasts indefinitely instead of 10 minutes like in 5e. There are many, many places you can use the spell in BG3. Some of them are humorous, some are helpful, some are a bit sad. You’ll definitely get your money’s worth out of the spell. However from at least what I’ve seen in Early Access, there don’t seem to be any instances where an animal has access to info you’d be unable to get somewhere else. This spell just may help you get some hints.
Tasha's Hideous Laughter (GOO Warlock)
Admittedly, I’ve not used this spell in BG3. From the preview it does not seem that anything has changed from 5e however. You make a target go prone and incapacitated (wasting its turn) for as long as they are failing the save (end of their turn or when they take damage) and you maintain concentration. It takes an enemy out of the fight like Command: Halt, but possibly for a much longer time. Some creatures with low intelligence are immune in 5e.
A good spell to use against a boss (tanky bosses often have low Wisdom so you may get this to land) and take them out of the fight for a while as you deal with his minions.
Normally in 5e I’d give this spell a B. And with it being a damage/save spell in BG3, it’s tempting to do so here too. But the true power of this spell is not from its 2d8 thunder damage in a small area. It lies in its ability to shove a bunch of enemies off a high ledge, having them take fall damage, and then be prone on the ground without their previous high ground advantage. I have burnt a 2nd level spell slot (misty step) and 1st level spell slot (thunderwave) multiple times in EA with this combo.
If there was a tier below F, it would be reserved for this spell. It is awful in 5e, and it is awful in BG3. Looks kinda cool, but I cannot think of a situation where I would burn a spell slot or prepared spell for the day on this. You roll to attack, and if you hit then you do 1d12 lightning damage. On future turns you can automatically do this damage again without rolling to attack, but it still uses your action.
A wizard with 14 dex and a light crossbow will do the same damage on average. While the light crossbow is not a guaranteed hit after the first attack, it is also not going to burn a spell slot or your concentration. Fire Bolt will do more damage than this thanks to Larian’s changes. Do not take Witch Bolt unless you just want to for your theme or something.
Level 2 Spells
Acid Arrow: Wizard
Damage/attack and Debuff – (modified)
Normally in 5e this spell does 4d4 acid damage right away, and another 2d4 damage at the end of the targets next turn if it hits. If it misses, it just does 2d4 damage right away. The damage is not the appealing part of this spell, but rather the fact that it is going to do damage guaranteed once right away, and possibly a second time. This is ideal for breaking concentration on enemy casters, as you’ll ensure they do at least one concentration check if not at least two.
In BG3 it has been modified to add a puddle of acid around the target, reducing their AC by 2 while they stand in it. Making this spell very good for dealing with tough enemy casters, as it possibly breaks their concentration and also makes them easier for your allies to hit.
I’m not sure I’d use this spell much outside of this niche, however. The damage is far from spectacular.
Buff – (modified)
Normally in 5e this spell only increases the max HP of up to 3 allies and only for 8 hrs. In BG3 it has no cap on the number of allies affected, and lasts til the next long rest. If cast at the end of a long rest with your entire party in range, this basically expands your party’s hitpool by 20 points. Additionally if you have pets (find familiar, beast master ranger, etc.) then this spell also affects them, increasing their HP.
Blindness/Deafness: Cleric, Wizard, Warlock (Fiend)
Debuff – (modified)
In 5e, the spell is Blindness/Deafness which allows you to choose which effect you’d like to try to put on your target. Blindness is the more commonly chosen option in 5e, and in BG3 it is the only option.
The ability to give a target disadvantage on attacks, while your allies have advantage is pretty darn good. Hold person is better (your attacks automatically crit if they hit, and the enemy can’t take any actions whatsoever), but hold person only works with humanoids. Blindness works with any creature type that doesn’t have something like truesight or tremorsense (and who knows if these features are even implemented). In BG3 you can currently prepare your spells whenever you want, meaning you can pick which of these two spells you want before any fight.
Blur and Mirror Image are always compared with each other in D&D 5e. Blur requires concentration and gives disadvantage, while mirror image also makes you harder to hit (not worth explaining how it works in 5e, since it’s confusing and has changed in BG3) but does not use concentration. So which to use? In my opinion, Blur is better for an already tanky character, but not by much. Mirror Image is going to be better for most characters at this stage of Early Access with a level 4 level cap and no multiclassing.
But getting hit while you have Blur up has a chance of dropping concentration, mitigating all effects. While getting hit by mirror image has no negative impact. But when you have Blur up there is no negative effect for an enemy missing you, while mirror image gets weaker each time an enemy misses.
There will be debates about which is better in the months to come. But in my opinion, Blur remains better for high AC characters, and especially if they have Con save proficiency. Eldritch Knights are a perfect example. While a wizard will likely be better served by mirror image.
Darkness: Warlock, Wizard
Debuff and Utility – (bugged and exploitable)
Darkness currently fills the exact same niche as fog cloud, but is one higher level to cast. One benefit that Darkness usually has over fog cloud is the ability to cast it on an item. Such as on a boss’ weapon, giving them disadvantage on all their (and anyone nearby) attacks while you deal with the little guys first. Another benefit (or downside, depending on the scenario) in 5e is the fact that some creatures with Devil’s Sight can see through magical darkness, while this does not apply for Fog Cloud. Warlocks who take the Devil’s Sight invocation usually love this, as they can cast darkness on themselves and get advantage on their attacks against enemies who can’t see through the magical darkness. But some of the more devilish creatures in 5e also have this ability, so this can also go against you.
But in BG3 none of the above works. Darkness remains stationary, even if you target an enemy with it. And Devil’s Sight does not see through it. As a result, it works exactly like fog cloud but uses a higher level spell slot. The only reason I’d take this spell in BG3’s currently Early Access condition is if you are a Warlock who does not have access to Fog Cloud. It is still exploitable like Fog Cloud, and Warlocks don’t really care about spell level.
Darkvision: Ranger, Wizard
Buff and Utility – (modified)
The spell has been modified from 5e to last until the next long rest, rather than 8 hrs.
In D&D 5e, attacking an enemy in darkness has disadvantage, and attacks against you from a creature in darkness have advantage. In BG3 this is the case with even dim light. So casting this ability on one of your characters without darkvision could help them avoid disadvantage on a lot of their attacks. This could be especially helpful if you end up UNDER ground in some DARK caves, and have a party member without darkvision. However this need can also be filled if you have a melee character wielding a torch in their offhand (Wyll) or somebody who can cast dancing lights, whether that be a drow who can cast it from their racial abilities, or from your class spells, or from a magic item or something.
Exploring dark areas can be a pain, so if your main character/party face does not have darkvision, then somebody in your party with this spell could be a nice quality-of-life feature for you.
Detect Thoughts: Wizard, Warlock (Great Old One) Utility
At this time, Larian has already acknowledged that the number of uses you’ll get out of this spell are limited in Early Access. As the game develops it may become more useful, and I may be able to upgrade it from an F. Another change that may help this spell is to treat it like Speak with Animals, where Concentration is indefinite.
Hold Person: Cleric, Warlock, Wizard
A lot of the enemies you face in BG3 EA are humanoids, and this spell has devastating effects when it lands. Stopping them from taking actions, all attacks against them have advantage, and all attacks that hit automatically crit. When fighting non-humanoids (e.g. Gnolls) the spell is useless, but you get enough use out of it to go ahead and take it.
Invisibility: Warlock, Wizard
Utility and Buff – (bugged)
This spell works just like 5e for the most part. You remain invisible until you attack or cast a spell (except for minor illusion, which is modified). The bug is that you will reveal yourself if you pick anything up off the ground. I can see this possibly breaking the game’s economy if you can pick things up, and am not sure how Larian will handle this.
Because you can see an enemy’s site cone, they have predictable paths, you can use minor illusion to distract them, etc. I’ve really not come across too many situations where this has been immensely helpful. You can sneak into most areas without even needing to roll a stealth check, as long as you have a Str based character who can jump long distances. The spell is useful, but not essential.
Lesser Restoration: Cleric,
Healing and utility – (possibly modified?)
In 5e it clearly states what afflictions can be removed by this spell: blinded, deafened, paralyzed, or poisoned. I would almost never burn a 2nd level spell slot mid-combat for this, unless one of my allies was affected by Hold Person (paralyzed). In BG3 it does not specify what conditions it actually removes. There is one story area where I’ve found this spell to be slightly useful in EA, but maybe there are some I’ve missed.
Mirror Image: Warlock, Wizard, Cleric (Trickery)
Buff – (modified)
It’s not worth going into how this spell works in 5e. It’s been flavorfully, but significantly modified. The three duplicates this makes each increase your AC by 1, and each time an enemy misses you one of these duplicates goes away. For Warlocks and Trickery Clerics, it’s a very nice defensive spell. For Wizards, Eldritch Knights, and Arcane Tricksters you want to decide between this and Blur.
Misty Step: Warlock, Wizard
I always find myself at these low levels contemplating, “Do I really want to burn a 2nd level slot just to move?” But with this spell and the changes to spell action economy in BG3, it’s worth it. Unlike in 5e, there is no limitation on casting leveled spells with your bonus action and action. This becomes devastating when you teleport up to the archers on the balcony and follow it up with a thunderwave to knock them all down, taking massive damage and prone on the ground. Or the bad guys have you swimming in a Larian-esque field of fire and you Misty Step to high ground, then bust them down with Scorching Ray with advantage.
Pass Without Trace: Cleric (Trickery),
Buff and Utility
This is one of my favorite spells in D&D 5e. But as discussed with Invisibility, it is very, very easy to sneak in BG3 and completely avoid an enemy’s site cone meaning you never need to make stealth checks. This kinda defeats the purpose of this spell in many applications. One thing I’ve not tried is robbing an area with this spell active on a rogue. This could possibly break the economy, but that’s not too hard to do if you loot and sell everything anyways.
Prayer of Healing: Cleric
Normally healing is very limited in D&D 5e. That makes this spell great for healing between encounters, without having to take an hour long short rest or 8 hour long rest. But in BG3 you can heal easily using plentiful amounts of food and healing potions, or by spamming long rest which does not have any negative repercussions at this time. As a result, this spell is a waste of a 2nd level spell slot.
Ray of Enfeeblement: Warlock, Wizard
If this attack hits, it does no damage. Instead the enemy deals half damage with their Str based attacks. There are few specific fights where this spell could be extremely helpful. Get high ground and blast the boss with this to open, and then play a game of “protect the caster’s concentration” until everyone else is dead. These circumstances are so few-and-far-between that I think you can likely fill these needs using scrolls.
Scorching Ray: Wizard, Cleric (Light), Warlock (Fiend)
The spell works similarly to magic missile, where you shoot out 3 darts. While these darts are not guaranteed to hit, they do twice the damage if they do connect. Acid Arrow, Scorching Ray, and Shatter are the only 2nd level damaging spells. Scorching ray fills a similar niche as Acid Arrow (breaking concentration on enemy casters), but also does more damage outside of that niche.
Shatter: Warlock, Wizard
This spell does exactly what it does in 5e, dealing 3d8 thunder damage to those who fail the save. Constrcucts have disadvantage on the save. However I can only recall one encounter in BG3 Early Access where Constructs actually were present, and that encounter was completely avoidable. If you have Thunderwave prepared as a 1st level spell and upcast it, then it does the exact same damage over a slightly larger area. While Thunderwave does require you to get in close, it also has a chance of knocking enemies back (or down off the highground). I personally would be fine using Thunderwave to fill the AOE damage needs of my casters from levels 1-4. If you want to stay farther away and use Shatter instead, then that’s fine too.
Debuff – (modified and possibly bugged)
BG3 is not keeping track of verbal, somatic, or material components of spells (materials with a cost will likely be later implemented). As a result, Silence stops all spell casting in an area. Because enemies seem to have unlimited spell slots, this can be very useful in some encounters.
However in 5e the spell is also a great tool for being stealthy. Whether that be surrounding an area in Silence before somebody else uses shatter to blow a hole in a wall, or performing an ambush and using Silence to prevent the enemies from raising an alarm. At this time, these types of features do not work in BG3. This may be an intentional change, but I’d argue it’s a bug or not implemented at this early stage of EA.
Debuff – (modified)
Normally in 5e, those who are trapped by the webs have to use their action to try to break out of the web. In BG3 this attempt happens automatically, so this is a significant nerf to the Web spell. But the spell fills a similar role of Grease but better. If you can surprise a lot of enemies then they will be webbed, allowing your team to make attacks from range with advantage before setting the web on fire. I’d take either Web or Grease, but not both.