There are hundreds of spells in D&D, but a few stand out as the most popular. Find out what spells are picked by players the most, according to D&D Beyond.
At the risk of sounding like an article from 2011, you won’t believe what the most popular spell in D&D is. First, a few clarifications–this is all according to the user data from D&D Beyond. It’s the same data that showed us that human fighter is the most popular class, and it comes from a fairly wide range of users. All of this was revealed last week in a D&D Beyond developer update, which you can find on Twitch (or you can watch the linked clip below), and see everything with developer commentary and all.
On today's Dev Update Adam Bradford showed the most popular spells overall and by class. Does your spellcaster match the data? What are your go-to cantrips?See the full Dev Update for breakdowns by class as well as hear lots of questions answered: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/409481949
Posted by D&D Beyond on Thursday, April 11, 2019
And in case you can’t watch videos, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered right here. The most popular spell is…
Which is such an interesting choice. At first, it doesn’t seem to make sense–of all the spells to be the most popular one, it’s Cure Wounds? Who are these people who have “party synergy” and “healers” in their groups. Isn’t everyone playing a tiefling/half-elf Warlock with a mysterious past or a human fighter? But. When you think about it a little more, it’s perfect.
Cure Wounds is the Ranch Dressing of spells.
It gets used everywhere, and in the right circumstances it’s a perfect choice–but there’s plenty of times where you want something else, but Ranch is what’s available. In other words, Cure Wounds does appear on most of the spellcasting classes spell lists. Clerics, Druids, Bards, Paladins, and Rangers all get it. Even the Artificer (which isn’t an official class yet) gets it, as do Divine Soul Sorcerers and Celestial Pact Warlocks. Basically only Wizards don’t have an easy way of getting it–and even then, they could pick it up as a Magic Initiate.
Every class in the game gets it. It’s useful, even if it’s not always the best choice in combat, it’s great for helping to patch up wounds afterwards. And it’s delicious if you have some sweet potato fries. Here’s a look at the most popular spells broken down by the rest of the classes.
Bards and Clerics have some of the same top spells, which is very interesting. But their top three tells you how players see their casting. Bards and Clerics share Healing Word, which makes sense, it’s one of the best bonus actions you can take until you get Spiritual Weapon. It lets you keep your fighters in the game as a bonus action. And, as previously discussed, Cure Wounds is Ranch Dressing.
Charm Person and Guiding Bolt as the other options show you where the rest of the class is at. Bards are more about shenanigans and control, Clerics are more about combat support. We don’t see a non-combat related spell until Detect Magic, and even then, it and Command are the only ones on the list. Bards have three, in contrast, Charm Person, Disguise Self, and Invisibility.
Druids have more Cure Wounds than not–which makes sense. We know that shapeshifting Circle of the Moon Druids are more popular than Circle of the Land ones. It’s surprising to see Entangle in third place, but again, you get a picture for what many people’s “typical Druid” is like.
Paladins and Rangers are just about exactly what you’d imagine, though they have the benefit of having the most limited spell selections on the list. So.
Now where it starts to get interesting is looking at the difference between Sorcerers and Wizards:
Sorcerers use Shield more than Wizards, but not by much–and everyone loves Magic Missile. Sometimes it’s nice to just do some damage, unless you’re up against a fellow Wizard or Sorcerer, in which case it’s likely they’ll have Shield. I am living for the Wizards top ten Cantrips list though. It makes me feel weirdly proud to see Prestidigitation at the top of the list, with Fire Bolt nowhere in sight.
Then of course there are Warlocks, who have a big list, but precious few spell slots. How are they spending them?
…on Hellish Rebuke, apparently, which isn’t even a base spell for many pacts. Hex is a surprising second (you’d have thought it would be up first), but you never can tell. Unsurprising, though, is the wide margin by which Eldritch Blast takes the lead. Presumably the 43% that aren’t taking the spell are Hex Blades.
What do you think of these rankings? Do they track with your experience? What would you say are the most popular spells around your table? Let us know in the comments–and as always, Happy Adventuring!