With only two slots (for a long while), Warlocks have to make every spell they cast go the extra mile. Here are five that will keep on giving.
Warlocks are an interesting place. They’re spellcasters, technically–but what they really do is shoot Eldritch Blast at things and on occasion drop a spell that can change up the whole battle. Even the Hexblades, unless you decide not to cast Eldritch Blast or take Agonizing Blast for whatever reason, even the Hexblades will Eldritch Blast more than half the time.
So you’re basically an Archer that can cast spells on occasion. Which means you’re basically a Ranger. So when looking at Warlock spells, it helps to think of your character as a weird Arcane Ranger. When you drop a spell slot, you’re either doing it to change/end a fight, or to give yourself the ability to do something that you otherwise couldn’t, like Fly. Or you’re casting Hex, which is a great spell but isn’t always the right choice–it eats up your concentration, meaning that at higher levels you’re either concentrating on the spell or just needlessly limiting yourself to do an extra 3 or 4 damage when you’re blasting things.
With all that in mind, here are five Warlock spells that are almost always worth the slot it takes to cast them.
Armor of Agathys
Give yourself temporary hit points, deal out some damage, and if you’re really lucky do it a few times. This is one of those spells that gets better with age–at first you’re only absorbing 5 hit points’ worth of damage. But Warlocks will always cast it at max level, so you’ll always get the most mileage out of it. And once you start being able to resist damage, this spell goes a long way, and when you use a 5th level slot you’re dealing 25 damage (no save, mind you) per hit. If someone takes more than two shots to deal 25 damage to you, that’s 50 damage to whatever hits you. Or hey if you can really cheese it, and take 3 or 4 hits, that’s 75-100 extra damage for your trouble). And it doesn’t eat your concentration so you can still cast…
This spell is a great game changer. Especially if you took the Warlock Invocation that lets you see in darkness, magical or otherwise, in which case this is a no brainer. Drop darkness on a foe and give yourself advantage when attacking them because they can’t see you. But oh, you can see them. Even if you don’t have that ability, you can still control a huge swath of terrain with this. Especially if you take the Invocations that let you move creatures around when you hit them with your Eldritch Blast. Keep foes where they’re hindered.
Hunger of Hadar
Hunger of Hadar is like Darkness but with the added benefit that it just does a bunch of damage to creatures that start and/or end their turns in it. You can
On the spectrum of spells that are broadly applicable in and out of combat, Major Image is a phenomenal spell. It lets you create whatever you want (within a 20ft spell) including sounds. You can create a fake person and have them carry on a conversation. And it can be any phenomena that just changes. Need a “god” to appear out of a sun ray that resolves itself into the face of a human? Major Image. Sure physical interaction reveals it as an illusion–but there’s so much you can do–this is a spell that changes whole situations.
Similarly, Invisibility is one of the best spells you can grab. It’s only second level, it lasts an hour, and it opens up the whole world. Sneak past guards, be in places you shouldn’t–by and large the world just becomes more welcoming. I’ve been in a party that snuck invisibly past most of a dungeon to get right to the treasure at the heart–whether you’re looking to get away or get information, Invisibility is a boon to any caster’s list, and doubly so for Warlocks who only need a Short Rest to gain back their spells.
High value, broadly applicable–that’s the Warlock way. Now if only there was a spell to get out of having your Patron show up to make your life…interesting.
Until next time, Happy Adventuring!