5E D&D druid spells magic druid's wave

Expanding the Go-To Druid Spell List with Unearthed Arcana and Solstice Magic

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Over on Nerdarchy the YouTube channel, Nerdarchists Dave and Ted discuss another entry in the go-to D&D spells series. This time they’re looking at druids for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons and the 3rd-5th level spells they gain access to during tier 2 play. Animals, plants and weather control feature prominently in druid spellcasting so it’s no surprise the spells that made the cut. Druids are so versatile and have access to a wide range of spells and effects, and they clearly have powerful connections to nature. The hardest thing about making the list of go-to spells was narrowing it down because the druid spell list contains so many incredible spells. In the recent Unearthed Arcana — Class Feature Variants all the 5E D&D classes get a little something new to play with, with druids getting an expanded spell list in the collection of playtest material. Let’s check it closer and see if anything supplants Dave and Ted’s picks.

Unearthed Arcana druid spells

Unearthed Arcana — Class Feature Variants is a robust playtest document with enhancement and replacement options for class features of all the classes in 5E D&D. Players all over the world excitedly poured over the contents to speculate on the implications and imagine characters who could put these options to terrific use in their games. We get quite a bit of mileage out of Unearthed Arcana here too, particularly this one with all the fancy new class feature variants to play around with and wonder about.

In the document, 5E D&D druids an expanded list of druid spells. There’s at least one for every level, but do any of them have an edge over the picks from the video? Here are the druid spells highlighted in the video. Like all the videos in this series there are six categories, with one spell selected to represent each one.

  • Attack. Blight
  • Defense. Protection from energy
  • Buff. Guardian of nature
  • Utility. Speak with plants
  • Iconic. Call lighting and conjure animals
  • Overlooked. Wrath of nature

Next let’s see what spells are added to the druid spell list from Unearthed Arcana — Class Feature Variants, along with what category they’d fall into. Some may fit into more than one category, and I’m placing them were the bulk of their effects lie.

  • Aura of vitality (buff)
  • Elemental weapon (buff)
  • Revivify (defense)
  • Thunder step (attack)
  • Wall of sand (defense)
  • Divination (ritual) (utility)
  • Fire shield (defense)
  • Cone of cold (attack)
  • Dawn (attack)
  • Immolation (attack)

5E D&D druid spells magic druid's wave

Druid spells — attack

Blight is a terrific druid spell for attack. But there’s no question cone of cold hits way harder. True, it’s a higher level spell but the difference is affecting one target vs. affecting everything in a 60-foot cone. This is a tremendous increase in power.

Thunder step is great for additional utility, and immolation can seriously put the hurt on a target over its duration.

But you know what? Dawn tops them all. Like cone of cold it is a 5th level spell and it also affects an area rather than a single target. What puts it over is a 1 minute duration during which you can move it around and spread the radiant damage. Not incidentally, radiant damage is generally more useful than cold damage too, not counting any vulnerabilities.

Druid spells — defense

Protection from energy is a wonderful 3rd level spell providing resistance to an elemental damage type for 1 hour (with concentration). In certain situations, like travel through a dangerous environment, this spell is great. Clearly it is intended to be more than a combat spell with the longer duration. But it takes up that precious concentration space. Have you noticed how many druid spells rely on concentration?

Do you know what spell doesn’t require concentration? Fire shield. It lasts 10 minutes, gives resistance to either cold or fire and deals damage to creatures who hit you with melee attacks. Move over, protection from energy.

Wall of sand like any wall spell brings flexibility to the defense table, and if you need to block movement it’s a solid choice but in typical combat you’d be delaying the inevitable. And revivify is revivify. I’m not even sure how to categorize it exactly. It’s a defense against death! Obviously it’s incredibly clutch but then again, if you’re protected against fire or cold and dealing damage every time you take a hit, maybe the enemies will drop quicker and no one will even come close to dying in the first place.

Druid spells — buff

Guardian of nature is a pretty amazing druid spell with a casting time of 1 bonus action. It lasts 1 minute with concentration and transforms a druid into a hugely powerful entity. How do the Unearthed Arcana expanded druid spells stack up?

Aura of vitality lasts an equal amount of time but takes an action to cast. And I’m of a mind that in most games the best damage mitigation is defeating enemy creatures quickly. Sorry aura of vitality. You’re great for keeping characters in the fight but a druid transformed into a Primal Beast or Great Tree will end a fight quicker.

Elemental weapon is a nice bump for combat, and cast at the same level as guardian of nature makes it even better. For 1 hour (!!) a nonmagical weapon gets +2 to attack rolls and deals an extra 2d4 elemental damage. There’s some useful additional benefits to guardian of nature but I’m gonna go with elemental weapon as the superior buff.

Druid spells — utility

Speak with plants is so druid. Very thematic with a lot of different ways it can come in handy, this is a great spell especially for 3rd level.

Druids in our own folklore are known as soothsayers too, so a spell like divination makes perfect sense and most certainly offers utility on a grand scale. But all things considered it is a higher level spell with a costly component the spell consumes. Adding divination to the druid spell list sounds reasonable and right, but as a go-to I’d stick with speak with plants. If you really need to foretell the future, you can always prepare divination after a rest.

More new druid spells

In our December Patreon rewards, adventurers are invited to the Winter Court of the fey for a holiday celebration. In the book you’ll find among many other things 7 new solstice spell to honor the winter season. Like all our rewards, Patreon supporters get early access to these products that eventually wind up in Nerdarchy the Store here on the website.

But I’m gonna cheat a little since I can do that and share one of the spells right here.

Grasp of Winter

4th level evocation

Casting Time 1 Action

Range 30 feet

Components V, S

Duration Up to 1 Minute, Concentration

You extend a finger in the direction of one creature you can see within 30 feet of you and speak a magic syllable. That creature must make a Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, they are hoisted by the throat on a tendril of cold, rendering them restrained and silenced. They may repeat this save at the end of each of their turns. On your own turn, you may move the target as a bonus action, as long as there is nothing between you and your target at any point as you do so. If at any point your target takes damage as you do this, the spell falters and they are freed of your grasp.

Now you tell me — does grasp of winter make the cut for your go-to druid spells?

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Nerditor-in-Chief Doug Vehovec is a proud native of Cleveland, Ohio, with D&D in his blood since the early 80s. Fast forward to today and he’s still rolling those polyhedral dice. When he’s not DMing, worldbuilding or working on endeavors for Nerdarchy he enjoys cryptozoology trips and eating awesome food.

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