The 5 Best Cantrips in D&D 5E | Best Cantrips 5E Ranked

best cantrips 5e

Welcome to our official Best Cantrips 5e List!  A cantrip is a spell that can be cast at will, does not take up an available spell slot, and it does not need to be prepared in advance. This is a spell that your character has perfected over time, which is why its performance sounds so simple – it is like you are doing it from muscle memory.  Cantrips can offer you a lot of utility throughout the game, so it is important to pick the right cantrips for your character. Just for fun, we decided to present the Top Five Cantrips. So let’s dive right in!

5. Light

  • School: Evocation
  • Casting Time: One Action
  • Range: Touch
  • Components: Verbal, Somatic
  • Duration: One hour
  • Classes: Bard, Cleric, Sorcerer, Wizard

The first entry into our Top 5 Best Cantrips 5E list is Light. You make one object that is at most ten feet long illuminate for an hour. The light imitating from this object will cast a bright light in a twenty-foot radius and a dim light for an additional twenty-foot radius beyond the first. You can even dictate the color of this light too! If you choose to cast this spell on an object being worn by an enemy, that enemy must roll a successful Dexterity saving throw in order to avoid the spell.

Light is perfect for practical, defensive, and offensive uses. Having the Light spell available will almost eliminate the need for a torch – as long as you keep a healthy supply of fireflies or phosphorescent moss on you. You can catch a wild animal, light a small trinket on a string, and place it around the animal’s neck so they can lead an enemy in a different direction… or you could leave the item in your current location and just walk away. The possibilities are endless!

4. Eldritch Blast

  • School: Evocation
  • Casting Time: One Action
  • Range: 120 Feet
  • Components: Verbal, Somatic
  • Duration: Instantaneous
  • Class: Warlock

Eldritch Blast is easily the best damage dealing cantrip in the game – it sends a beam of crackling energy at your targets (yes, that is an -s at the end of the word target) that will deal 1d10 of force damage with no chance to make a save. You can shoot an additional beam at the fifth level, eleventh level, and seventeenth level. Each beam will require its own 1d10 roll.

Out of all of the cantrips that require no saving throws to deal damage, Eldritch Blast has the potential to deal the most damage as you roll a d10, and being able to hit multiple targets will be very useful closer to the end of a battle, when your enemies will be at their weakest. It is ashamed that only Warlocks can use Eldritch Blast, but every spellcasting class needs a few reasons to play them – this is one of the reasons you play as a Warlock.

3. Spare the Dying

  • School: Necromancy
  • Casting Time: One action
  • Range: Touch
  • Components: Verbal, Somatic
  • Duration: Instantaneous
  • Class: Cleric

If Eldritch Blast is one of the reasons you play a Warlock, Spare the Dying is one of the reasons you play the Cleric. Any creature you touch with zero hit points will stabilize at their current condition. Please note that unlike a healing spell, Spare the Dying will have no effect on the undead and constructs. But being able to stabilize a dying creature without having to prepare the spell is incredibly powerful! If you run out of prepared healing spells, Spare the Dying is a great last resort; you can pull the wounded to the side, cast the spell, then head back into combat to back up the rest of your party.

Spare the Dying is in our Top Five Cantrip list because this is the only cantrip that affects a character’s health. Because Spare the Dying is a cantrip, you do not have to prepare it before you use this spell as opposed to the rest of the healing spells that a character can cast.

2. Mage Hand

  • School: Conjuration
  • Casting Time: One Action
  • Range: Thirty Feet
  • Components: Verbal, Somatic
  • Duration: One Minute
  • Classes: Bard, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard

Mage Hand creates a spectral, floating hand at a point of your choice within thirty feet of you and that hand can manipulate the following:

  • Manipulate an object
  • Open an unlocked door or container
  • Store or retrieve an item from an open container
  • Pour contents out of a vial

The hand will vanish if you are ever more than thirty feet away from it, and the hand cannot attack, activate magic items, or carry more than ten pounds. Despite these restrictions, I can see the hand playing a vital role in your adventure. For example, you could use the spell to steal a set of keys from a sleeping guard or force an inanimate object to drop so you can distract whoever you are sneaking around. It’s not hard to see why this one made our Best Cantrips 5e List.

1. Message

  • School: Transmutation
  • Casting Time: One action
  • Range: 120 feet
  • Components: Verbal, Somatic, Material (a short piece of copper wire)
  • Duration: One round
  • Classes: Bard, Sorcerer, Wizard

And number one on our overall Best Cantrips 5e rankings is the most important Cantrip in the game – Message. From combat to needing to stay silent, you can use Message to communicate in the most inappropriate of times… As long as the person you are trying to reach can spot you from their current location. But that can easily be set up!

What cannot be easily set up is being right next to each other when you need to get that key piece of information to your comrades. You could send that important code that is needed to solve a puzzle, you could send information about upcoming combat, and you can whisper a warning about an incoming flank or sneak attack. Information is power, but you cannot do anything with that information if you cannot communicate it to your team. That is why Message is number one in our Top Five Cantrips list.

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