Baldur’s Gate 3 can be overwhelming in its options, and that extends to its various character builds, ability loadouts, and, yes, spells. They’re so numerous, in fact, that just narrowing them down to the very best for this list was a challenge, and I’m sure plenty of people will read these selections and have differing ideas (feel free to make your own suggestions in the comments). But if you’re struck by indecision and fear that you’re making the wrong choices in picking spells and abilities as you level up, here are a handful of skills worth adding to your arsenal as you travel through Faerûn. Shoutout to Fextralife’s Baldur’s Gate 3 wiki for help with some of the minutiae.
Eldritch Blast is the go to, bread-and-butter offensive Cantrip for Warlocks, and it is too damn good to not have. The force-damage ability shoots a hard-hitting beam with great range, and as you level up you can even shoot up to three blasts at once. Leveling up also lets Warlocks learn the modifiers Agonizing Blast (damage increase) and Repelling Blast (pushes enemies a decent distance), which gives the already great attack some added utility. I play a Warlock, and adding Repelling Blast to my build was one of the best decisions I made in my game, because it let me boop long-distance enemies off the side of the map. Since it’s a Cantrip, it’s not limited by your spell slots, so not having and spamming Eldritch Blast is foolish.
If you’re not a Warlock but do have a spellcasting capability, Eldritch Blast can be learned by choosing the Spell Sniper Feat as you level up, and if you can spare the Feat, it’s 100 percent worth using it.
Learnable by: Warlock, Spell Sniper Feat
Not having Guidance, whether through your own character or via Shadowheart, who has it early on in Baldur’s Gate 3, is setting yourself up for more failed dice rolls on purpose. Guidance grants the target a +1d4 bonus on stat checks, which is especially useful on dialogue checks, and you lose nothing by adding it to every dice roll you can. Anyone who’s failed a dice roll in this game knows that one point can make all the difference, so Guidance is the kind of free boost you’ll wish you had every time you fail a stat check.
Learnable by: Cleric, Druid, Warlock with Pact of the Tome
Like Guidance, Friends is a good Cantrip to have on-hand for stat checks, specifically those involving dialogue. This will give you Advantage on these checks, letting you roll two dice and go with the one that rolls a higher number. If you’re ever trying to pull a fast one on some fool and want a safety net under your stat check, Friends will help you circumvent some unlucky rolls and smooth talk your way through a situation.
Learnable by: Bard, Fighter with Eldritch Knight subclass, Rogue with Arcane Trickster, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard
Throughout your Baldur’s Gate 3 playthrough, you’ll come across a lot of powerful spellcasters who will drop some devastating bomb on your party and make the rest of the fight much harder. However, Counterspell, a reaction ability for the magic users in the room, will let you cancel out even some of the most powerful spells in the game. It requires at least a Level 3 spell slot, but can still counteract higher-level spells if you pass a stat check.
Because it’s a limited resource that uses Spell Slots, Counterspell requires you to make a judgment call whenever you have a chance to use it. As you go through a fight, you’ll be asked whether or not to deploy it as a reaction to several magical attacks that comes your way. So long as you’re not responding to every stray spell but instead saving it to thwart the really devastating ones, you can pull off some life-saving plays.
Learnable by: Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard
Much like Guidance, Bless gives your party a +1d4 on certain rolls, and it works across your whole team. It’s a Spell, so it will cost a Spell Slot, but having it stack on any other advantages or buffs you have impacting your Attack Rolls and Saving Throws makes it worth casting ahead of big battles.
Learnable by: Cleric, Paladin
Striking fear into the hearts of your enemies is a real efficient way to get the upper hand in a fight. The Fear spell is one of the quickest ways to get an enemy on their back foot, giving them Disadvantage on ability and attack checks, and also taking away their ability to move freely around the map. Frightened enemies can’t move closer to whatever magic user you’ve got casting Fear, and that can give you an opening to manipulate the field and claim space.
Learnable by: Bard, Cleric with Trickery Domain subclass, Ranger with Gloom Stalker subclass, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard
Cloud of Daggers is one of the best area-of-effect spells in Baldur’s Gate 3. Compared to some other spells, its actual affected area isn’t huge, but its damage output potential sure is, and having it on the field throughout a long fight is a great way to funnel and push enemies into big damage. The spell forms a twister of daggers that inflicts some serious damage when an enemy (or teammate) walks through it. And if they’re still stuck in the cloud at the beginning of their next turn, they’ll get stabbed by the spinning, sharp, pointy vortex again. I spent a lot of fights casting Cloud of Daggers in a chokepoint or central area of a battlefield, then shoving or Eldritch Blasting enemies in and out of it. By the time I taught it to both my Warlock main character and Gale, we were setting up Cloud of Daggers on different sides of the field and funneling enemies into our twin vortexes of death.
Learnable by: Bard, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard
The ability to teleport yourself and others is a handy little party trick that can get you out of a bad situation, or set up a much, much better one. Misty Step and Dimension Door are two spells that do similar things, but which one you choose to use comes down to the situation you find yourself in. Misty Step allows the user to teleport a pretty significant distance, which is helpful both in fights and in puzzle solving (or circumventing puzzles altogether, if you teleport to the right place). But Dimension Door allows you to teleport a party member alongside you, and that comes in real handy when you and your team is surrounded, or has to get past a lot of hostile forces.
Some of my favorite plays in the endgame of Baldur’s Gate 3 involved using Dimension Door to escort an ally past a group of enemies to an objective, rather than engaging with the brutes at all. Teleportation has plenty of uses; it’s all about looking for golden opportunities.
Learnable by: Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard, Githyanki characters
Learnable by: Bard, Cleric with Ambition Domain or Trickery Domain subclass, Paladin with Oath of Vengeance subclass, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard
Perhaps the most entertaining combat story I have from my first playthrough of Baldur’s Gate 3 was in the titular city. My team and I headed to the bottom floor of a restaurant that had been overrun by dozens of 1 HP rats that were ready to swarm us for having intruded upon their home. But I had Shadowheart cast Spirit Guardians, and as she was enveloped in a magical, AOE damage spell, the rats all immediately died the second they touched the field surrounding her. It was comical, and also one of the best illustrations of why Spirit Guardians should be part of your Cleric’s build.
The spell itself is free damage as long as an enemy is in a certain proximity to its caster. You can rack up some damage by moving your Cleric around the field. That doesn’t count as an action, so you’re free to do an actual attack on top of it each turn. It’s great for handling groups of enemies and keeping them at bay as they try to close in on you.
Learnable by: Cleric
If you want to take a difficult enemy off the board, even for a little while, Hold Person or Hold Monster is an invaluable spell to teach at least one or two people on your team. As the name suggests, these abilities immobilize a person (humanoid) or monster (most other things) for a few turns, as well as making close range attacks always critical hit. It’s a great way to both keep a powerful enemy at bay, and allow your team to get in close to strike them down.
Learnable by: Bard, Cleric, Druid, Paladin with Oath of Vengeance subclass, Rogue with Arcane Trickster subclass, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard
Learnable by: Bard, Cleric with War Domain subclass, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard
Given how important maintaining Concentration on spells is, having ways to protect your teammates is vital for both keeping them alive and ensuring they can maintain their own support spells. Sanctuary protects an ally by making it impossible to target them until they harm another creature. This is useful for keeping characters protected from incoming damage while they do support work like heal your team or complete an objective. I used it in one of the endgame battles to protect a party member who was unlocking a seal for a full turn, and who would have had to start over if they’d lost concentration. Sanctuary helped keep them safe from damage and on the objective. It’s an underrated, though sometimes situational, spell.
Learnable by: Cleric, Paladin with Oath of Devotion subclass
Grease is great both as a setup spell and for being a general annoyance to the enemy team. At its base level, the spell turns the affected area to a Difficult Terrain, which will make it harder for anyone to walk on it and possibly see them fall Prone. This will give you an opening to attack them while they’re defenseless.
The Grease itself is also flammable, so one fire spell in its general direction will ignite the entire affected area. Not only can you trap these helpless fools in slippery shit, but you can also burn them alive.
Learnable by: Fighter with Eldritch Knight subclass, Rogue with Arcane Trickster subclass, Sorcerer with Dragonic Bloodline: Black subclass, Wizard
Speaking of burning people alive, Fireball is one of the most powerful raw damage spells in the game. You toss a fiery, burning ball at your enemies and it envelops a large area in fire. It basically does what Grease does with one less turn of setup at higher cost. Both avenues are valid.
Learnable by: Cleric with Light Domain, Sorcerer, Wizard, Warlock
Why limit your ability to speak to those who are humanoid and alive? Speak with Dead and Speak with Animals are both good spells to have on hand because you never know when information you need might be better found talking to a furry friend or an eliminated enemy. However, the dead might not be willing to chat with you if you had a hand in their murder. Don’t fret, though; we have a solution for that coming up next.
Speak with Dead
Learnable by: Bard, Cleric, Warlock
Speak with Animals
Learnable by: Bard, Barbarian with Wildheart subclass, Cleric with Nature Domain subclass, Druid, Ranger, Warlock with Beast Speech invocation
We always say “be yourself.” But what if being myself is bad for my health? That’s where Disguise Self comes in. This spell lets you take on a new form, and that can help you get past certain guards, use Speak with Dead on people you murdered, and even squeeze through small spaces if you change to a Dwarf or Halfling.
Learnable by: Bard, Cleric with Trickery Domain subclass, Fighter with Eldritch Knight subclass, Ranger with Gloom Stalker subclass, Rogue with Arcane Trickster subclass, Sorcerer, Warlock with Mask of Many Faces invocation, Wizard
If you’ve got several enemies near a cliffside, Gust of Wind can give you an AOE Shove ability. But it also has some great utility outside of combat. Are you dealing with toxic gas or some other, similar hazard? Gust of Wind will blow that shit right away, clearing your path so you can walk through with healthy lungs.
Learnable by: Cleric with Tempest Domain subclass, Druid, Sorcerer, Wizard
If you really want to ruin a bunch of enemies’ day, Hunger of Hadar is an effective spell at hitting enemies on multiple fronts. It’s an AOE spell that blinds enemies within a dark abyss, and does damage to enemies that pass through it and are still in it by the end of their turn. There’s a strong chance an enemy might spend a turn or two in the void because it also turns the affected area into Difficult Terrain. So if you want to basically torture these fools for several turns, have someone nearby ready to shove them back in if they walk out.
Learnable by: Warlock
Most area-of-effect spells in Baldur’s Gate 3 tend to cover a set circular area, but Wall of Fire lets you get a little creative with where you lay down a blazing fire. You essentially draw out a line on the ground that is covered in flame, and if you position it properly, your foes will be forced to walk through it if they want to reach you, and the damage output is powerful enough that several likely won’t survive the trip.
Learnable by: Cleric with Light Domain subclass, Druid, Sorcerer, Warlock with The Fiend subclass, Wizard
If you ever felt like you could use another pair of hands and then realized what you actually needed was the weapon they’d be holding, Spiritual Weapon is for you. This Bonus Action spell (meaning you can still attack on your own after you cast it) summons a floating weapon that will get its own turn and attacks for you to control. It’s a great way to give yourself a little bit more damage each turn without having to give up too much in return. You’re free to handle any other setup or support spells while the floating axe takes a few swings in your place.
Learnable by: Cleric
The Monk is a bit of a hidden gem in Baldur’s Gate 3, because if you don’t spec someone into it or make one of your own, you won’t run into a Monk for your party during your adventure. One of the class’ best abilities is Deflect Missiles, which lets you send projectiles back where they came from. You know how fucking sick you have to be to throw an arrow barreling toward you back at the unsuspecting archer who fired it? That’s superhero shit. Uno reverse, motherfucker.
Learnable by: Monk
These are only a few of the best spells in Baldur’s Gate 3, but you no doubt have your own favorites from your time playing Larian Studios’ huge RPG. If you’ve got any in mind you think folks might be overlooking, be sure to let us know!