High level spells are a rarity at a lot of tables, but here are five spells that are worth sticking it out for. From levels 6-9 these spells are the tops.
Spellcasters are the height of power in 5th Edition, or so the saying goes. I mean sure, if you want to get down to it and math everything out, Fighters can do damage more consistently over longer periods of time and Rogues might be able to spike out some intense damage. But Wizards and Sorcerers and Clerics all just feel incredible once you crest that level 11 plateau, which most of us never do, and play around with high level spells. For some, they’re awesome theoretical tools, for others they’re an ideal that they keep comparing lower level spells to. But even if you never get to cast one, here are five high level spells that are worth the grind.
Spells solve problems. At least that’s my approach to magic. Dealing damage is great and all, but better still to reshape the flow of an entire fight (which sometimes you can do by dealing a ton of damage, see below). Forcecage takes one creature entirely out of the fight if they can fit within its confines. Facing down a powerful humanoid? Lock them down for an hour while you prepare. Even a spellcaster gets hecked by one of these if you completely close them off, because Forcecage is immune to so many spells. And because it doesn’t even give a save, you don’t have to worry about a creature’s legendary resistance or anything.
As I said, sometimes though all you need to do is a lot of damage. And you don’t get more “a lot of damage” than Meteor Swarm, which doles out enough fireballs to make someone regret rolling initiative. Dealing 40d6 over 4 different areas at the same time is a great way to start and end any fight.
Also known as the shenanigans spell. This is the spell that, about once a year, someone on a D&D forum goes through and reads and wonders “Hey if I knew Wish and Simulacrum and I cast the one with my 7th level spell, couldn’t I set up a chain to let me magically clone myself over the course of a day and then go on to basically do whatever” and is immediately met with replies of ‘only if the DM allows it’ and ‘it doesn’t work the way you think it does’. Even if you can’t instantly make a Bjork style army of you, it’s still a great way to add considerable firepower (yours, in particular) to your arsenal. Solve twice as many problems.
The ultimate backup plan. This one is great because high level spellcasters of all stripes, PC and NPC alike can benefit from it. It can backfire, if you’re Manshoon, for instance, and you do have to carve out a cubic inch of flesh–but otherwise you’re ready to face death and bounce back from it in a body you’ve prepared for yourself. It’s not just a backup plan, it’s a great plot device too.
Foresight is one of the most powerful but least flashy 9th level spells. Cast it and you basically become a god for a day. You can’t be surprised and you have advantage on everything–who wouldn’t want an 8-hour long +5 to all the rolls that matter that comes without concentration? And you can’t be surprised. It’s a great breakfast spell.
Finally we have wish, the most powerful spell in the game. It’s so powerful it turned our top 5 into a top 6. It’s a class of its own. While most of the time you can use Wish to cast an 8th level spell or lower instantly and that’s plenty great–there’s no limit to what it can do. Of course this all depends on how much you get along with your DM. Boring DMs will try and screw you over with “creative” interpretations of your wish in a tradition that’s less imaginative than ripping off the plot of Lord of the Rings. It’s the last refuge of the worst DMs, but otherwise, this spell is incredible.