D&D Best Level 1 Spells for Each Class

D&D Best Level 1 Spells

Part of the fun of creating a character is selecting the spells! Even at the 1st level, there are an abundance of spells to choose. The following classes are selected for this article: Bard, Cleric, Druid, Paladin, Ranger, Sorcerer, Warlock, and Wizard. I have discovered, through game play and research, the best and second-best 1st level spells for each class so you can spend less time choosing and more time spellcasting!

#8.  Bard

Bards have a reputation for creating bawdy ballads and not taking adventures seriously. Although some of that may be true, Bards can and do bring a lot to a party! Charming, dexterous, magical, and musical, the D&D Player's Handbook states that a bard is “an inspiring magician whose power echoes the music of creation.” Read on to discover more about which first level spells Bards can use to assist in encounters!

Best Level 1 Spell: Cure Wounds

Admittedly, I tend to be a practical player and err on the side of caution with spells. Also, unless there is a well-rounded party, the first levels can be dicey for some spell casters. This is because the armor class (AC) of the characters tends to be on the high side, basically making them easy targets to wound or kill.

Cure Wounds full details: https://www.dndbeyond.com/spells/cure-wounds

Second Best Level 1 Spell: Dissonant Whispers

Imagine a song that you can’t stand on repeat. A bard can whisper the said song and literally drive an opponent insane. The opponent must make a Wisdom saving throw or take psychic damage. In addition, s/he also must move as far away from the opponent as possible. If there is a cliff, a fire, or a spiked pit, that could be very bad for the opponent. The distraction, psychic damage, and change of falling from running away makes this a particularly effective spell.

Dissonant Whispers full details: https://www.dndbeyond.com/search?q=Dissonant%20Whispers

#7.  Cleric

In my opinion, a cleric is a staple and a must-have in every party. I have played Clerics in past adventures and serve as the party paramedic due to the healing nature of the spells. Clerics are also necessary to take on adventures where there are undead. Read more about the best spells Clerics can use on an adventure!

Best Level 1 Spell: Cure Wounds

This is the best spell for a cleric on-hand to have not just for the self, but to be able to heal others during and after a battle. The cleric in our game has saved the lives of the other members many times during the encounter. A bonus is that the effectiveness of the Cure Wounds spell increases as the Cleric advances in levels.

Cure Wounds full details: https://www.dndbeyond.com/spells/cure-wounds

Second Best Level 1 Spell: Bless 

The dragonborn cleric in the game I am playing always casts a Bless spell before we engage in combat. It helps since it gives players a 1d4 advantage on attacks and on saving throws. (The one to four points can make the difference between a hit and a miss!) Also, the cleric can use the Bless spell on up to three players in the game. This is particularly effective for those on the front lines and for those who have a higher armor class.

Bless full details: https://www.dndbeyond.com/spells/bless

#6.  Druid

Druids are the nature-loving hippies in the D&D realm. According to the D&D Player’s Handbook, “Druids revere nature above all, gaining their spells and other magical powers either from the force of nature itself or from a nature deity.” Their essence and magic are also based on the balance of the elements: air, earth, fire, and water. If you are interested in playing a Druid and want to know the best 1st level spells, keep reading!

Best Level 1 Spell: Healing Word

Not surprisingly, this is an evocation spell based on elemental effects. When the Druid looks at the being (up to 60 feet), the target will regain hit points at 1d4+ spellcasting ability modifier. Although the effect is not as strong as Cure Wounds, Healing Word can be used during combat and at a distance, as it does not require touch.

Healing Word full details: https://www.dndbeyond.com/spells/healing-word

Second Best Level 1 Spell: Charm Person

This is a fun spell to use if you do not want to necessarily harm the creature that is attacking you. When the spell is cast, the opponent will have to make a Wisdom saving throw or will treat the caster as a likeable acquaintance. If the charmed creature is attacked, the spell will be broken.

Charm Person full details: https://www.dndbeyond.com/search?q=Charm

#5. Paladin

The righteous Paladin is a combination of cleric and fighter; their alignment is always lawful good and their focus in existence is to defeat evil. The D&D Player’s Handbook states that “The most important aspect of a paladin character is the nature of his or her holy quest.” Read more to discover the best spells for this holy warrior!

Best Level 1 Spell: Cure Wounds

As a proponent for all things good, the best spell for a paladin is Cure Wounds. Not only warriors, but paladins are also healers. Also, a safe 1 st level spell for a paladin is the Cure Wounds spell, especially if there is not a cleric in the party and/or the party is small.

Cure Wounds full details: https://www.dndbeyond.com/spells/cure-wounds

Second Best Level 1 Spell: Shield of Faith

This is an abjuration spell that can be cast in the distance (up to 60 feet). Because the spell does not require touch, it would be good to use on a character who is cornered and/or surrounded by creatures. The lucky character receives a +2 bonus to AC class if the spell lasts.

Shield of Faith full details: https://www.dndbeyond.com/spells/shield-of-faith

#4. Ranger

Rangers are like Druids because of their shared reverence for nature. However, the focus on Rangers is to defend and protect the Borderlands. The D&D Player's Handbook states that rangers are considered as “Warriors of the wilderness, rangers specialize in hunting the monsters that threaten the edges of civilization---rampaging beasts and monstrosities, terrible giants, and deadly dragons.” Read on to find out the best spells for rangers!

Best Level 1 Spell: Animal Friendship

The enchantment requires a bit of food to entice the creature and it must make a Wisdom saving throw or be under the spell. Also, the animal must have low intelligence (under 4) for it to work. This spell is good to use as an alternative to combatting and/or harming the animal. Under this spell, the animal will know that the caster wishes to do no harm. If anyone in the party harms the animal, the spell is immediately broken.

Animal Friendship full details: https://www.dndbeyond.com/spells/animal-friendship

Second Best Level 1 Spell: Ensnaring Strike 

Ensnaring Strike is an excellent 1 st level spell to use against an enemy for two reasons: one, the
spell restrains the enemy with painful thorns. Two, the enemy takes damage each round from the thorns. (The enemy must make a Strength saving throw or be restrained.) 

Ensnaring Strike full details: https://www.dndbeyond.com/search?q=ensnaring

#3. Sorcerer

The Sorcerer class is more of a breed than a class really, as the power chooses a sorcerer.
According to the D&D Player’s Handbook, there are three reasons why sorcerers have their
powers: “Sorcerers carry a magical birthright conferred upon them by an exotic bloodline, some
otherworldly influence, or exposure to unknown cosmic forces.” Read more to find out the best 1st level spells for sorcerers!

Best Level 1 Spell: Shield 

Shield is an abjuration spell where the caster is protected by an invisible magical force. For that turn, the caster’s AC is +5, including the attack. This is a great spell to use if cornered or outnumbered. Also, Shield provides immunity to Magic Missile. 

Shield full details: https://www.dndbeyond.com/spells/shield

Second Best Level 1 Spell: Disguise Self 

What a fun illusion spell to use if you want to become someone you are not! While using the spell, your appearance, armor, clothing, and equipment looks different. (Your voice, however, stays the same.) This is great to use if your PC is being pursued.

Disguise Self full details: https://www.dndbeyond.com/spells/disguise-self

#2. Warlock

According to the D&D Dungeon Master’s Guide, “A warlock is defined by a pact with an otherworldly being. Sometimes the relationship between warlock and patron is like that of a cleric and a deity, though the beings that serve as patrons for warlocks are not gods.” They can also wear light armor and fight with some weapons. Read on to find out more about great spells for Warlocks!

Best Level 1 Spell: Armor of Agathys

The Armor of Agathys is literally a cool abjuration spell to use! When this spell is cast, frost will
literally cover the caster and any equipment. In addition, the caster receives +5 hit points. If the caster is attacked, the opponent will suffer 5 points of cold damage. This would be great to use against fiery monsters! It would also be a good spell to use to make an escape.

Armor of Agathys full details: https://www.dndbeyond.com/search?q=Armor%20of%20Agathys

Second Best Level 1 Spell: Tasha’s Hideous Laughter

Tasha’s Hideous Laughter cracks me up! This enchantment spell works on beings that have low
intelligence (under 4) and the creature affected must make a Wisdom saving throw or will start
laughing hysterically and become incapacitated for the duration of the spell. Tasha’s Hideous
Laughter is a great spell to distract rather than harm an opponent.

Tasha’s Hideous Laughter full details: https://www.dndbeyond.com/search?q=Tasha%27s%20Hideous

#1. Wizard

Last but not least is the Wizard class. “You’re a wizard, Harry!” This phrase from the Harry
Potter series often comes to mind when I think of the Wizard class in D&D. The D&D Player’s
Handbook states that “Wizards are supreme magic-users, defined and united as a class by the
spells they cast.” Read more to find out about the best 1 st level spells for wizards!

Best Level 1 Spell: Burning Hands

Burning Hands is great to use against any monsters, especially cold ones, in an encounter. This
evocation involves thumbs touching and fingers spread. Flames will literally shoot out of fingertips in a 15-foot cone. Creatures in the cone must make a Dexterity saving throw or take 3d6 points fire damage. Creatures who save will still suffer half damage.

Burning Hands full details: https://www.dndbeyond.com/spells/burning-hands

Second Best Level 1 Spell: Charm Person

If the caster wants to distract the opponent, they can use a Charm Spell. The opponent needs to
make a Wisdom saving throw or be charmed until the spell ends or the opponent is harmed. After the spell ends, the opponent knows that you cast the spell.

Charm Person full details: https://www.dndbeyond.com/spells/charm-person


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As a Pokemon Trainer by day and a bard or cleric by night, I enjoy the spoken and written word by candlelight.
Gamer Since: 1983
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Currently Playing: D&D
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