D&D: Best Wizard Spells For Every Level

best d&D wizard spells
The wizard's sometimes eccentric look often hides tremendous power.

What Are The Best Wizard Spells in Dungeons and Dragons?

Through trial and study, the wizard manipulates magic to bend any and all parts of reality. From summoning familiars to harnessing the elements, he affects the world through unmatched mystical prowess. The wizard records his knowledge in a precious spellbook, and he prepares just the spells he needs to answer the day’s challenges.

Of all the spellcasters in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition (5e), the wizard boasts the largest spell list of any class. The vast array of options is absolutely fantastic, but it can lead to choice paralysis—that is, being unable to choose just the spell you want. In this article, I’m going to give you some pointers for the best spell options for your wizard.

**DISCLAIMER: I’ll be using options from the 5e’s Player’s Handbook (PHB) and Xanathar’s Guide to Everything (XGtE). My recommendations are based on each spell’s overall power and/or the versatility. You may find other spells to fit your wizard’s needs, and that choice would be just as valid. Pick what works for you!

Best Level 1 Wizard Spells

Best Level 1 Wizard Spell: Find Familiar

The servant shivers as the cold, night air seeps into the room. As she goes to shut the window, she sees an owl perched on a nearby tree branch, watching her. Not long after, the owl flies away and returns to the wizard waiting with his comrades. Through the familiar’s eyes, our mage has scouted the ins and outs of the noble’s manor.

This spell gives our wizard a familiar takes the form of a small creature (chosen from a list provided in the PHB) and follows our wizard’s orders. During combat, it rolls its own initiative and can take any other actions except attack. The familiar can even deliver spells for you! Outside of combat, the wizard can spend their action to see and hear what their familiar does. These options make the find familiar spell extremely versatile!

Best Used When:

  • Scouting. The ability to see through their eyes makes familiars excellent scouts. Due to their small size, they can typically reach places that humanoid characters can’t, and some even have fly or swim speeds.
  • Helping in combat. Since the familiar can take actions during combat (except to attack), the wizard can order it to use the Help action on an adjacent enemy. The Help action lets the familiar give an ally advantage on their next attack roll against an enemy creature. This option is very useful when you have any ally that makes attack rolls.
  • Delivering touch spells. So long as the wizard and his familiar remain within 100 feet of each other, the wizard can have the familiar deliver spells that have a range of touch. This option can be used defensively, such as targeting an ally with the invisibility spell, or offensively, like with the shocking grasp cantrip.

Second Best Level 1 Wizard Spell: Shield

A hail of arrows soars across the battlefield. The wizard raises a hand in response, erecting a barrier between her and a piercing death! For the next few seconds, the magical force continues to protect her from incoming attacks.

Shield is a spell that the wizard can get at level 1. She casts it as a reaction after knowing whether an attack roll will hit or miss her Armor Class (AC). The spell then gives her a +5 bonus to her AC, which can cause the triggering attack to miss, and she continues to benefit from this effect until the start of her next turn. No matter the level, a +5 bonus to AC is a big deal and definitely worth the spell slot!

Best Used When:

  • You want to survive. Shield can make attacks miss after casting. Since wizards tend to have less hit points than other classes, it’s best to prevent damage entirely. As you get higher in levels, this spell becomes a must for survivability! Sometimes, staying alive to cast more spells is the best thing you can do.

Best Level 2 Wizard Spells

Best Level 2 Wizard Spell: Invisibility

With an incantation, the wizard disappears from sight! He moves through the battlefield unnoticed and unassailed. The enemies can’t even see him as he positions for his next devastating spell.

Invisibility is a versatile choice that wizards gain access to relatively early. For one hour after casting, one target that the wizard touches becomes invisible until they make an attack roll or cast a spell. Other creatures cannot see the target (though they can hear them) unless they have some sense that bypasses invisibility. You can also use a higher-level spell slot to increase the number of creatures they make invisible.

Best Used When:

  • Infiltrating. Invisibility is a powerful tool because other creatures rarely have the means to deal with the spell. It can make gaining entry into a restricted area much, much easier. Consider also slapping invisibility on allies who aren’t as good at stealth.
  • Escaping. Whether in the middle of a fight or while being chased down, you and your allies may eventually find yourselves trying to get away. Invisibility makes it difficult for enemies to follow you if they can’t see you! Just remember that they might still hear you, though.
  • Getting a surprise round. Being able to position yourself with invisibility is a great way to guarantee a surprise round. An attacker that cannot be seen by their target also gets advantage on the attack roll, so I recommend slapping invisibility onto a heavy-hitter to kick off your ambush!

Second Best Level 2 Wizard Spell: Misty Step

Our wizard rushes down the alleyway. Oh dear! He’s run straight into a dead end. As his pursuers’ footsteps grow closer, he utters a quick incantation. Then, a silver mist whisks him away to a nearby balcony. His pursuers follow down the alley but look around in confusion as they find no trapped wizard.

Misty step is the first teleportation spell that wizards can access. It lets the wizard teleport to another spot they can see within 30 feet, which is an excellent boost to their mobility. Plus, they only spend a bonus action to cast it! So, right after teleporting, a wizard can still use their action to cast a cantrip or do something else.

Best Used When:

  • Escaping. Misty Step provides an effective extra 30 feet of unhampered movement. Since it’s a bonus action, you can also spend your regular action to Dash to get a lot of single turn movement. I recommend using misty step for any situation where your wizard just needs to get away.
  • Getting to hard to reach places. Teleportation allows vertical movement, so your wizard can use misty step to get to very high (or very low) places easily. Just keep in mind the 30-foot range.
  • Infiltrating. Teleportation can bypass locked doors and walls so long as your wizard has sight of the spot they wish to teleport to. For example, you could misty step into a noble’s fortified manor so long as you can look in through a window or door.

Best Level 3 Wizard Spells

Best Level 3 Wizard Spell: Haste

As your comrades prepare to fight, you enchant the paladin, your frontliner and heavy-hitter, with inhuman speed. His speed doubles, his defenses heighten, and now, he can take an additional attack with each turn. Your wizard has just made a formidable combatant into a martial menace!

For a single 3rd-level spell slot, a hastened target gains a +2 bonus to AC, has advantage on Dexterity saving throws, and doubles their movement speed. Most notably, they get to have an extra action each turn that they can use to make one weapon attack, Dash, Disengage, Hide, or Use An Object. With offensive and defensive uses, haste is an extremely potent concentration spell that wizards buff their allies with.

Best Used When:

  • Fighting a formidable foe! Haste provides a significant boost to one of your allies, or even yourself. A 3rd-level spell is a notable cost, though, so it would be good to use this spell as a trump card in difficult combats.
  • Fighting on a large battlefield. A hastened target doubles their movement speed, so they would have a good amount of mobility. Using the extra action to Dash allows you to move four times your movement speed in a single turn. Even on a large battlefield, haste allows your allies to be anywhere they need to be!
  • You don’t intend to fight for more than a minute (or 10 rounds) or lose concentration. Haste is a potent combat buff no matter the use. However, after the haste spell wears off (such as by timing out the duration or the wizard losing concentration), the target becomes unable to act for an entire turn. Usually, this limitation is not problematic, but causing your ally to lose a turn mid-combat can be disastrous.

Second Best Level 3 Wizard Spell: Fireball

The wizard chants as she waves her wand through the air. Heat pools in her hand and she points towards the horde of oncoming enemies. A spark flies from her finger, soaring through the air in front of her. After a few seconds, the sparks explode in a combustive ball of fire!

Fireball is an iconic D&D spell. In a 20-foot radius sphere, all creatures must make a Dexterity saving throw. On a failure, they take 8d6 fire damage, or half damage if they succeed. Fireball does area-of-effect damage disproportionately well compared to other 3rd-level spell options. For most any wizard, fireball will become the go-to big damage spell.

Best Used When:

  • Fighting many enemies. A 20-foot radius circle encompasses a massive area. Compared to lightning bolt, a 20-foot radius sphere is usually easier to place while aiming for as many enemies as possible, so your fireball damage is more likely to affect more creatures!
  • You want to do a lot of damage quickly. 8d6 fire damage is an impressive number even as a 3rd-level spell. Mooks are even less likely to survive that damage.
  • Want to destroy an area. Fireball affects flammable objects in the area that aren’t being worn or carried. If your wizard’s goal is to destroy a building (like a fort or manor), then this spell is an easy choice.

Best Level 4 Wizard Spells

Best Level 4 Wizard Spell: Polymorph

Polymorph lets your wizard transform any creature (that is not a shapechanger) into another creature of the beast subtype. This power could change an ogre into a bunny or a scrawny spellcaster into a rampaging giant ape! As a 4th-level spell, polymorph comes in as a Swiss Army knife spell for many situations.

Even if you’re not a School of Transmutation wizard, polymorph is a must-have. Creatures can be transformed into a beast lower than their Challenge Rating (CR), which is just a character’s level for Player Characters. The spell gives you access to an entire slew of bestial transformations with their specific uses and abilities. Plus, it’s a concentration spell with a one-hour duration, so you could potentially accomplish a lot with a single casting.

Best Used When:

  • You need a combat boost. Transforming an ally or yourself into a powerful beast usually provides both an offensive and defensive boost. The target effectively gains the creature’s health pool on top of their own, and they stay transformed while their beast form has more than 0 hit points. Plus, they can use that form’s abilities, including movement types (such as flight) or senses (like darkvision). Just remember that a transformed creature’s mental statistics also become that of the animal’s, so no big-brained plans once you’ve turned into a grizzly bear!
  • An enemy needs to be taken out of the fight. When used against an enemy, the creature rolls a single Wisdom saving throw. If they fail, they’re transformed for a duration. You could render a problematic boss into a harmless rabbit for an hour with this spell! The key is to prevent any damage to come to the small animal or else the transformation vanishes.
  • You have a problem. As I mentioned before, polymorph is a major Swiss Army knife spell. The spell gives you access to numerous beast form options. Using different beasts gives you access to abilities or movement types, such as flight or swim speeds, that can circumvent other challenges. For example, turning into an insect or small animal could let you infiltrate a fortress with little issue!

Second Best Level 4 Wizard Spell: Otiluke’s Resilient Sphere

Your wizard creates a sphere of force that protects a Large size or smaller creature from outside damage and magical effects. When used on an enemy, they get trapped in the sphere! Unless the trapped enemy uses teleportation or your wizard loses concentration, the creature’s stuck in its ball.

Meet the hamster ball! The creature inside the sphere can use their action to roll it around. Alternatively, creatures from the outside and can freely move it since the sphere is weightless. Otiluke’s resilient sphere made this list because it’s the wizard’s first real impenetrable defensive spell, and the hamster ball aesthetic can have some interesting applications for creative spellcasters!

Best Used When:

  • You need to survive. The sphere is indestructible, save for a disintegrate spell targeting it. If you or someone else ever need to stay safe, put them in the hamster ball!
  • You want to take an enemy out of the fight. Similar to polymorph, Otiluke’s resilient sphere requires only one save to render a foe useless. This time, the enemy has to fail a Dexterity saving throw to be trapped in the sphere. Teleporting foes may laugh this off, though.

Best Level 5 Wizard Spells

Best Level 5 Wizard Spell: Bigby’s Hand

Over halfway into our spell levels, we finally get Bigby’s hand. The spell conjures a Large-sized hand of force that mimics your wizard’s hand movements. It has 20 AC, hit points equal to your wizard’s hit point maximum, a Strength score of 26, and a Dexterity score of 10. For any of you that are familiar with JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, this is pretty much a Stand.

After spending an action to cast, your wizard can make the hand move up to 60 feet. Then, you can have it do one of the following against another creature: strike with a whopping melee spell attack, shove, grapple, or act as a pseudo-blockade. On subsequent turns, you only need to spend a bonus action to manipulate the hand. Now, these options mechanically list what the hand can do, but they’re not necessarily all that you can make the spell do!

Best Used When:

  • Dealing a lot of continuous damage. The hand’s melee attack deals 4d8 force damage on a hit. A creature grappled by the hand can potentially take 2d6 + your spellcasting ability modifier bludgeoning damage each turn. Since you can keep using these options as a bonus action after the initial cast, this damage really stack up over a fight!
  • Grappling a creature. Bigby’s hand has a massive Strength score, so it has a +8 to grapple a target. Plus, if the target is Medium or smaller-sized, then the hand has advantage to the check.
  • You want some extra mobility. Your wizard can magically move the hand to any point within 60 feet, which includes vertical movement. The hand can double as a floating platform to move yourself and your allies around! Alternatively, you could also grapple a creature and drop them from nauseating heights.
  • Moving heavy things. Per the lifting and carrying rules, a Strength score of 26 and Large size means that the hand can lift 780 lbs. of material at any given time. It can also push, drag, or lift twice as much!

Second Best Level 5 Wizard Spell: Wall of Force

The demonic horde rushes through the cave in pursuit of the party. As the wizard and her comrades breach the cave, she turns behind her to cast a spell. Without anyone else realizing, she has created a massive, invisible wall of force at the opening. Seconds later, the demons smash into a wall of invisible force as they try to follow the party.

Wall of force is a major battlefield control spell with versatile out-of-combat options. The wizard has a choice in the exact form the “wall” of force takes: a 10-foot radius dome; or a 10-foot radius sphere; or a flat surface made up of ten connected 10-foot-by-10-foot panels. The last option gives a lot of space for creative arrangements! Plus, the wall can only be destroyed only by the disintegrate spell, and a trapped creature can only leave through teleportation.

Best Used When:

  • Dividing or trapping the enemy. A dome or sphere can easily trap a few enemies without so much as a saving throw. However, a massive panel of force can divide an entire battlefield in half. Some enemies may be able to climb over, depending on the panels’ arrangement. Also, note that cutting the wall through a creature’s space gives them a choice of which side to be pushed to.
  • Trying to stay safe. Wall of force is like Otiluke’s resilient sphere but over a larger area and longer duration. When you need to protect a whole group of people instead of just one, opt into using this spell.
  • Creating platforms or terrain. The invisible part makes them very difficult to discern, but you can arrange the panels to form a bridge, a slope, or...a wall. With a 10 minute duration (so long as you keep up concentration), you can keep up this invisible terrain for continuous use, too.

Best Level 6 Wizard Spells

Best Level 6 Wizard Spell: Soul Cage (XGtE)

As your party storms the lord’s castle, you are stopped by the noble guardsmen. After a grueling battle, your ally strikes down the enemy captain. At that moment, you present a tiny, silver cage and utter a spell. For the next eight hours, you have trapped the guard captain’s soul for your benefit.

While in your possession, you can use the trapped soul to gain certain benefits. The most straightforward options include recovering hit points and asking the soul a question. However, the most potent option is to use a bonus action to gain advantage on an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw until the start of your next turn. Soul cage can also double as a scrying spell, albeit only for places the soul had seen while still living. After using the souls six times, the soul is released from the cage and the spell ends.

Best Used When:

  • Fighting against mages and other formidable enemies. Gaining advantage on a saving throw drastically increases your wizard’s survivability when fighting spellcasters or other powerful enemies. At the higher levels, your wizard needs to stay alive!
  • Gathering information. Even if you only capture the soul of an average guard or a villain’s lackey, this spell can help you get a lot of information. Asking questions may only get you short or cryptic answers, but that’s just a start. The more potent option is scrying places the soul has seen, which can mean getting a layout of that hidden lair you want to infiltrate.
  • Playing an evil character. This reason is more of a disclaimer and narratively focused, rather than mechanical. On the moral spectrum, it’s difficult not to consider this an evil spell, and some creatures may even see the soul you had caged. Maybe your party will care, maybe not, but it’s something to keep in mind.

Second Best Level 6 Wizard Spell: Scatter

Scatter can be a fantastic, quick repositioning tool for you and your allies. It’s one of the few spells that allow your wizard to teleport multiple creatures with an action. You can teleport up to five creatures within 30 feet of you to a point on the ground or floor that you can see in a 120-foot range. Another change here from lower-level teleportation spells is that now you can also target hostile creatures. A targeted enemy must succeed a Wisdom saving throw or else be teleported to a space of your choosing.

Best Used When:

  • Escaping. This spell is an effective 120 feet of movement for five creatures. When you’re in a pinch and need a quick getaway, scatter can shake off pursuers very well!
  • Repositioning your party in battle. Alternatively, your wizard can transport your entire party to an enemy group’s backline, making it easy for your martial characters to strike down hostile mages or archers.
  • Changing your enemies’ positions. Using scatter on an enemy can be more of a gamble, but it can be a good way to separate your enemies from each other. Maybe it would be wiser to bring the enemy commander to your side of the battlefield than you to them.

Best Level 7 Wizard Spells

Best Level 7 Wizard Spell: Simulacrum

The wizard spends 12 hours creating an illusory duplicate of a beast or humanoid using ice or snow, 1500 gold pieces worth of ruby dust, and some part of the creature you wish to duplicate. This copy is identical to the original creature and follows your orders, but it only has half of their maximum hit points. It can use the original’s abilities, too, but it doesn’t recover spell slots or gain experience. A costly spell, but with the right target to copy, it will more than pay for itself.

Best Used When:

  • Copying yourself. Simply put, two wizards are better than one. Beware that this copy would be even more fragile than you are. After spending their spell slots, your simulacrum will be marginally less valuable. Until then, your duplicate will be a powerful asset!
  • Copying another spellcaster. Simply put, two spellcasters are better than one (I’m not trying to be cheeky, I swear). Not a copy of yourself this time, but duplicating an ally cleric, druid, or what have you vastly increases the options, including spells, that you have in your disposal.
  • Copying other powerful allies. Creating simulacrums of a powerful martial character, such as a rogue, barbarian, or fighter, can greatly increase your damage output and the frontline’s durability. Just be careful about the copy being destroyed in battle!

Second Best Level 7 Wizard Spell: Forcecage

The mighty dragon rears forward to attack before bonking harmlessly against an invisible force. It attempts to go around before realizing it is trapped on all sides. The wizard and her allies turn their attention towards their other enemies instead, knowing that the dragon itself will be trapped for the next hour.

Forcecage is the upgraded version of wall of force. It’s indestructible and can come in the form of a cage with 20-foot sides or a box with 10-foot sides. Unlike wall of force, it lasts for one hour without concentration, so you could cast wall of force with this spell active, too! Additionally, there is no way to escape the forcecage except by succeeding a Charisma saving throw to teleport out.

Best Used When:

  • Trapping an enemy or enemies. Requiring no save, this spell can easily trap a creature, or several creatures, in its confines. Frankly, once there, a creature’s out of luck unless they can teleport and have a decently good Charisma save bonus.
  • Keeping yourself or your allies safe. As nothing can come into the forcecage, those inside are safe from outside attacks. Plus, it’s already indestructible, so you'll be safe for the duration. Just make sure to have a plan for when the time runs out!

Best Level 8 Wizard Spells

Best Level 8 Wizard Spell: Maze

As the fearsome pit fiend advances towards your party, the wizard banishes it to a demiplane. There, it sees only an endless labyrinth. While not impossible to escape, the spell will certainly buy the party enough time to prepare...or flee.

Maze is one of the more potent banishment-type spells. It takes effect immediately without requiring a save and escaping requires a DC 20 Intelligence check. An Intelligence check is significantly harder to succeed than an Intelligence saving throw and not applicable for abilities like Legendary Resistance. Maze also has a 10-minute duration (as long as you maintain concentration!), so a creature is put out of play for longer compared to banishment.

Best Used When:

  • You want to get rid of one creature. Seriously, you use maze for this reason. The spell is potent enough to warrant the use of this spell slot. Mazet can utterly shut down a combat encounter before it begins, or at worse, it tips the scales significantly in your favor.

Second Best Level 8 Wizard Spell:  Demiplane

Now, the wizard gets into more overtly reality-bending feats. Every time you cast this spell, you create a shadowy door that gives you access to an interdimensional space. With each cast, you can create an entirely new demiplane, connect to a demiplane you’d previously made, or connect to a demiplane someone else made! You can effectively generate a demiplane every day if you wanted.

The demiplane is a 30-foot-by-30-foot room, and the door lasts for an hour before disappearing. You and other creatures can enter the demiplane, but if the door times out, you can’t leave the space. Keeping those conditions in mind, your demiplanes can now serve as storage/shelter space. Just be careful who you tell about your demiplanes!

Best Used When:

  • Creating your own dimensional spaces. Probably the most wizard thing to do is create your own system of demiplanes. They can be used for storage, fitted into rooms, or made into prisons. Just take care not to get trapped (to which I recommend preparing the plane shift spell as a precaution).
  • Trapping someone or something. After creating a demiplane, you could trap someone or something in it by leaving them in the space. Once the spell times out, the door to the demiplane disappears, and there would be no way for creatures in the space to escape unless they had access to interdimensional travel.

Best Level 9 Wizard Spells

Best Level 9 Wizard Spell: Wish

At level 17, the wizard gains access to wish. Canonically, wish has been hailed as the most powerful spell a mage can cast. Your wizard merely utters aloud to achieve most any feat you can imagine. However, caution is advised when messing with the fabric of reality.

Wish’s first listed use is to duplicate any 8th-level or lower spell, which is especially great for tapping into the repertoire of divine casters like clerics or druids. Beyond that, wish lets you achieve numerous other effects. I won’t list them all here, but in short, wish can theoretically do anything you want it to with the right enough (and careful enough) wording. Just note that using wish for any purpose aside from duplicating an 8th-level or lower spell risks your wizard losing the ability to cast wish.

Best Used When:

  • You need any particular spell effect. Wish pretty much gives your wizard access to all 8th-level spells or lower. If you need a solution that’s not covered by the wizard spell list, you can just look to the other spellcaster classes’ lists.
  • You need to get rich quick. A single cast of wish can generate an object that costs up to 25000 gold pieces. It’s just free money if you can avoid not losing the ability to cast the spell.
  • Anything else. The riskier part of the spell lets you invoke a number of effects or word a wish that can solve any other problem. The latter’s uses and outcomes are strictly reliant on your Dungeon Master’s judgment, so consider yourself warned.

Second Best Level 9 Wizard Spell: True Polymorph

Ever wanted to be a dragon? Well, this spell can make you into a dragon. In all seriousness, true polymorph is the strictly better, older brother of polymorph. Now, the wizard can turn a target (a creature or object) into another creature below its CR or an object.

Plus, if you maintain concentration for the duration, the target permanently stays in that form! Now, you can be a dragon forever. Or, that snobby nobleman is not forever a latrine.  Legitimately, true polymorph is only the second best 9th-level spell because wish exists.

Best Used When:

  • Solving a problem. I leave this option vague because true polymorph mimics wish in its problem-solving power except through more defined means. Turning into any creature below CR 17 (for a level 17 wizard) gives you the pick of numerous forms, one of which is bound to have the features or abilities that will let you address an issue.
  • You want a massive combat boost. Turning a target into a high CR monster in a fight increases their durability with temporary hp, which they need to maintain the transformation. However, each form has its own set of abilities, so a true-polymorphed creature may gain access to attacks, movement types, and even spells or spell-like abilities. True polymorph just has excellent offensive, defensive, and supportive potential!
  • You need to take an enemy out of the fight. Similar premise to polymorph here. Transform your foe into a non-threatening animal or object. So long as you maintain concentration, they'll be stuck in that form, and if the spell lasts for an entire hour, they permanently transform.

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When Ianara isn't eating, sleeping, or working a day job, she can be found in her natural habitat: a corner of her home where she plays games, manages D&D campaigns, and writes about her experiences.
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