Last Updated on January 22, 2023
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self (5-foot radius)
Components: S, M (a melee weapon worth at least 1 sp)
Duration: 1 round
You brandish the weapon used in the spell’s casting and make a melee attack with it against one creature within 5 feet of you. On a hit, the target suffers the weapon attack’s normal effects and then becomes sheathed in booming energy until the start of your next turn. If the target willingly moves 5 feet or more before then, the target takes 1d8 thunder damage, and the spell ends.
At Higher Levels. At 5th level, the melee attack deals an extra 1d8 thunder damage to the target on a hit, and the damage the target takes for moving increases to 2d8. Both damage rolls increase by 1d8 at 11th level (2d8 and 3d8) and again at 17th level (3d8 and 4d8).
Spell Lists. Artificer, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard
Sources: The Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
What Is Booming Blade?
Booming Blade is a strategically powerful cantrip that deals thunder damage at close range. This spell is available to Wizards, Sorcerers, and Warlocks. In the right hands, this cantrip can be quite potent, offering players the chance to deal extra damage in melee combat.
How Does Booming Blade Work?
To cast Booming Blade, a character must make a melee attack. On a successful hit, the creature is engulfed by energy until the start of its next turn. If the affected creature moves more than 5 feet, it is struck by 1d8 thunder damage.
Booming Blade has several uses. Players who enjoy strategic combat will find this cantrip versatile, capable of both dealing damage and limiting the enemy’s choices.
However, because a character has to be in melee range to use Booming Blade, it can be difficult to see the value in this cantrip. After all, the spell only deals damage if the enemy moves more than 5 feet. Why would an enemy move away from you if it’s already in melee range?
It turns out there are a lot of reasons why that might happen. And DnD players have found plenty of ways to exploit this knowledge. By combining certain feats and class archetypes with Booming Blade, it’s possible to routinely deal extra damage.
How To Use Booming Blade
A character could choose to run away after casting Booming Blade, forcing an opponent to chase them. But running from melee combat will provoke an attack of opportunity.
How can Booming Blade be used successfully? Is there a way for players to reliably deal extra damage with this evocation cantrip?
Because the cantrip requires its caster to make a successful melee strike, Booming Blade has a lot of interesting functions. Not only is this an effective cantrip for Wizards, Sorcerers, and Warlocks, but Rogues and Fighters can also benefit from this spell.
At low levels, Booming Blade deals 1d8 worth of thunder damage. This damage increases at levels 5, 11, and 17, making Booming Blade an effective spell even at high levels.
Before Booming Blade can deal damage, however, the target must move at least 5 feet. It’s not easy to force opponents to move, especially when they’re in melee range. After all, if the opponent can strike the player, why risk moving?
There are several ways to use Booming Blade. How players choose to make use of this cantrip will depend on several factors, however, including the character’s class and fighting style.
Most players use Booming Blade to accomplish the following goals:
- Controlling the enemy’s movement
- Discouraging the enemy from attacking the caster
- Dealing extra damage
Cantrips are hard to come by. Finding one that is useful at both low levels and high levels isn’t easy. Booming Blade is versatile and available in the early game.
Players will find many enemies prefer to stay out of melee range. Wizards and Rogues, for example, are notorious for keeping a distance between themselves and their foes.
Booming Blade is a good way to deal with enemies that like to keep their distance, forcing them to take damage if they choose to flee melee combat. A Wizard hit with Booming Blade will think twice before running away.
This cantrip also works well with the Mobile feat. Characters with the Mobile feat won’t provoke an attack of opportunity after making a melee strike. Using this technique allows a character to cast the Booming Blade cantrip and then disengage from combat without penalty.
DMs should consider which NPCs might use Booming Blade. If used correctly, these opponents can turn the tables on the party. Use this cantrip to deal some extra damage to the party’s spellcasters, or to put pressure on the party’s heavy hitters.
A group of Eldritch Knights with Booming Blade could prove quite formidable. These knights can use Booming Blade to limit the party’s mobility. DMs could use this tactic to great effect by having a nearby objective the party must reach. Or perhaps the Knights are covering for the villain as he makes an escape.
A gang of dangerous Arcane Tricksters could do even more damage. Using their Cunning Action ability, these Rogues could torment the party with Booming Blade, attacking and disengaging each turn, bringing pain and thunder with every rapier strike. Combining this cantrip with Sneak Attack is even nastier.
If the players are wielding Booming Blade, it might be a good idea to have enemies that are equipped with ranged attacks. It’s often a good idea to provide a mix of troops for the party to contend with. Not only does it give the DM more options in a fight, but the inclusion of different creatures usually makes the game more fun.
How Good Is Booming Blade?
If used with precision, Booming Blade can be very effective in combat. The cantrip’s versatility means that both Wizards and Fighters can make use of it, but before players can access Booming Blade’s full potential, they’ll need to do a little homework.
Booming Blade is best used to augment the capabilities of certain class archetypes. It’s important to keep in mind that Booming Blade uses a Spell Action instead of an Attack Action. As such, it has no synergy with abilities that require the use of the Attack Action, such as Extra Attack.
The Best Character Builds for Booming Blade
Because the Rogue’s Cunning Action ability pairs well with Booming Blade, many of the Roguish Archetypes are good candidates for this cantrip. Eldritch Knights and Bladesingers are also able to use Booming Blade to their advantage.
Booming Blade is a rather versatile and tactical spell. As a result, there are many classes that can make use of the cantrip. While we’ve highlighted a few fan favorites in this post, players are always encouraged to think of their own unique character builds.
The Arcane Trickster
Rogues may choose to practice the Arcane arts, enhancing their abilities through sorcery and illusion. At level 3, Rogues can take the Arcane Trickster archetype. These Rogues learn three cantrips from the Wizard spell list.
An Arcane Trickster using Booming Blade can make use of the Rogue’s Cunning Action ability. This ability, learned at level 2, enables the Rogue to Dash, Disengage, or Hide from an enemy with a bonus action.
Arcane Tricksters can cast Booming Blade in melee range to deal normal weapon damage before using a bonus action to Disengage and escape. If the enemy moves, they explode. Rinse and repeat.
The Bladesinger Wizard
Some Wizards believe there’s a spell for everything. Others find nothing that can replace the security of a good blade. Wizards of the latter variety may choose to follow the Arcane Tradition of Bladesinging. Booming Blade can be a good choice for these spellcasters.
These Elven Wizards know blades as well as they know magic, and they aren’t afraid to go head-to-head with ferocious monsters. Unlike their sometimes squeamish peers, Bladesinger Wizards aren’t afraid to take a punch.
Because Wizards prioritize Intelligence, they often struggle to deal heavy melee damage. Booming Blade gives Bladesingers the opportunity to increase their melee damage, a crucial ability, especially in the early game.
The Eldritch Knight
Some Fighters study magic to gain an edge in battle. These Eldritch Knights learn a few select spells and wield them tactically to overcome their enemies.
At 3rd level, Fighters may choose the path of the Eldritch Knight. Unlike Wizards, the Eldritch Knight keeps no spellbook, preferring to memorize the few spells he or she knows.
Eldritch Knights can choose spells from the evocation and abjuration schools of magic. Because Booming Blade is an evocation spell, Eldritch Knights can learn this cantrip. For these Fighters, Booming Blade can be used to excerpt additional control over the battlefield.
While Eldritch Knights know a few spells, don’t expect to see them in the back ranks of a fight. These Knights can use Booming Blade to force their enemies into difficult decisions.
Most enemies prefer to go after more vulnerable members of the party. Hitting an enemy with Booming Blade encourages it to stay where it is. This helps protect the other members of the party.
The Booming Swashbuckler
Swashbucklers excel at swordplay. For these Rogues, combat is an art form. At level 3, these Rogues learn Fancy Footwork, an ability that teaches them how to strike a foe and slip away without provoking a counterattack.
By taking the Magic Initiate feat, any character can learn cantrips from the Wizard’s spell list, including Booming Blade. Combining Fancy Footwork with Booming Blade allows a Swashbuckler to hit the enemy and then move out of melee range.
After being struck by a Booming rapier, an enemy can either wait around to get attacked or face the thunder.
Booming Blade Tactics
Characters can use Booming Blade to restrict an opponent’s options in combat. Hitting a creature with Booming Blade sheaths it in light. If the creature tries to run, it goes boom. If it moves to attack another character, it goes boom. If it stays still, the light disappears, but then you can hit it again.
Booming Blade is also a good way to cover an escape. Not all fights are worth the trouble. Try hitting the enemy with Booming Blade before running for the hills. Escaping is easier with magic on your side. As you can imagine, chasing someone is hard enough when thunder damage isn’t involved.
Not all enemies in DnD are keen to fight at close-range. Some creatures prefer to fight from a distance. Rogues, for example, are experts at slipping into the shadows, escaping blades and justice alike. Players can use Booming Blade to keep enemies from fleeing. With this cantrip, any fleet-footed cowards will have their heads’ rattled.
How Often Can You Use Booming Blade?
Because Booming Blade is a cantrip, there’s no limit to how many times a character can use it. Cantrips are tiny spells perfected by training in the magical arts. These spells become so familiar that casting them is almost second nature.
Is Booming Blade a Bonus Action?
Booming Blade uses 1 Spell Attack action. As a result, characters cannot usually use a bonus action to cast this cantrip. The only exception is the Sorcerer.
Using their Metamagic abilities, the Sorcerer is able to cast certain spells as a bonus action. By spending two of her sorcery points, Sorcerers can Quicken Booming Blade and cast it as a bonus action.
Best Feats for Booming Blade
Booming Blade can be used in combination with many spells and abilities to enhance the spell’s power. For instance, characters with Booming Blade can take the Spell Sniper feat and cast the cantrip from farther away.
Spell Sniper will double the range of a spell that features an attack roll. With Spell Sniper, characters can cast Booming Blade from 10 feet instead of 5. This sinister combination is very effective against enemies lacking ranged attacks.
Of course, Spell Sniper isn’t the only feat that works well with Booming Blade. One benefit of the War Caster feat is the ability to cast a spell when an enemy provokes an attack of opportunity.
Imagine a goblin attempting to run away from a Wizard with War Caster. The goblin provokes an attack as it turns its back to run. The clever Wizard casts Booming Blade on the goblin, hitting the creature with her staff. As the goblin runs, the thunder comes. Lights out, mister goblin.
The Booming Blade cantrip is a great choice for a variety of characters. Wizards, Sorcerers, Rogues, Fighters, and more can all use this spell to deliver some extra damage.
Booming Blade is also a great tactical spell, providing characters with a form of map control. However players choose to use this cantrip, the results are guaranteed to be explosive.
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Rich is an avid D&D player and DM. He has been playing since the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st and 2nd editions. He has run campaigns of various editions with family and friends for over 20 years. Playing DnD 5th Edition in person at local game stores and online with VTT’s over the past 10 years has provided a consistent connection to how the game has grown. He strongly believes in understanding the source material, but catering the games to your individual players. Feel free to ask anything in the comments or drop him an email: [email protected].