Last Updated on December 2, 2021
Spell Sniper is one of Dungeons & Dragons 5e’s most controversial Feats – a fact that arises largely from how situational it can be.
In the wrong situation (whether that means putting this feat on a suboptimal character class, using it in an unhelpful party composition, or even in the wrong type of campaign) it can feel extremely underwhelming when compared to a feat like Magic Initiate, which is almost always an all-around great choice.
Nevertheless, in the right hands, in the right context, Spell Sniper sits among the most powerful feats in the game.
How Does the Spell Sniper Feat Work in DnD 5e?
The Spell Sniper Feat has three effects: it doubles the range of any spell you cast that requires an attack roll, lets your ranged spell attacks ignore half and three-quarters cover, and lets you learn a new cantrip from another spell list as long as it requires an attack roll.
Prerequisite: The ability to cast at least one spell
You have learned techniques to enhance your attacks with certain kinds of spells, gaining the following benefits:
- When you cast a spell that requires you to make an attack roll, the spell’s range is doubled.
- Your ranged spell attacks ignore half cover and three-quarters cover.
- You learn one cantrip that requires an attack roll. Choose the cantrip from the bard, cleric, druid, sorcerer, warlock, or wizard spell list. Your spellcasting ability for this cantrip depends on the spell list you chose from: Charisma for bard, sorcerer, and warlock; Wisdom for cleric or druid; or Intelligence for wizard.
Source: Player’s Handbook
Depending on your character class (not to mention the type of game you’re playing) the ability to double the range of your spell attacks can be hugely impactful.
If you can start hurling spell attacks from maximum range at a charging enemy, doubling the 120ft range of spells like Firebolt and Scorching Ray (which, if dashing, could move from the maximum range of your spell into melee and attack you on the third turn of combat) means that you effectively get a full five spell attacks against an enemy before they can even get close enough to hit you.
That’s without even using your own movement speed to increase that distance each round, adding an additional 120ft by the time they reach the place where you were, which takes another two rounds of dashing to reach you, during which time you can add a further 60ft, then 30ft.
Basically, if an Orc is chasing you across an open plane, a character with Spell Sniper and Fire Bolt can fire at the Orc eight times before that Orc gets to attack once.
Obviously, things are rarely that simple.
It’s far more likely that you’ll be popping off shots at the Orc as it runs between cover to reach your position. Well, that’s where the next benefit of Spell Sniper comes into play. If you can see even a quarter of the Orc’s body, you negate any AC buff it receives as a result of being in cover.
Note that full cover still prohibits you from attacking the Orc; you’re not James McAvoy from Wanted.
Lastly, you also get to pick up an extra cantrip from another class’ spell list, as long as it requires you to make an attack roll. Now, there are plenty of good attack roll cantrips out there (and many more crappy ones), but this section might as well be reworded to “you can also get Eldritch Blast.”
Of course, if you’re a warlock who already has Eldritch Blast, Spell Sniper is still a great option for both increasing your pathetically small pool of spells (two spell slots, Pact Magic. Seriously?) and pairing with the Eldritch Spear Eldritch Invocation.
Eldritch Spear already boosts the range of your Eldritch Blast to 300ft. Doubling it with Spell Sniper gives you a cantrip with a range of 600ft – by far the longest of any spell attack in the game – and makes you feel like an actual sniper.
All this begs the question…
Is the Spell Sniper Feat good?
Characters that are heavily reliant on spell attacks (like warlocks and sorcerers) and like to keep their enemies at a distance can make good use of this Feat.
There are some slightly weird interactions between this feat and melee attack spells, which can be fun but don’t entirely justify taking Spell Sniper over a different feat or an Ability Score Increase.
Classes that find themselves short on cantrips (or just want to chomp some of another’s class’ flavor) could also take this feat, but the two cantrips (without the attack roll restriction) granted by Magic Initiate are going to scratch this itch a little better.
Also, it’s a little more niche, but Spell Sniper also now means that Booming Blade and Green Flame Blade (which have a normal range of 5ft) now work with reach weapons, which is great if you’re playing an Eldritch Knight, Hexblade Warlock, or Bladedancer Wizard with a big stick.
All in all, for classes that like to fire off damage cantrips like they’re Oprah giving out iPhones, Spell Sniper is a great feat. Warlocks in particular can think of it as an extra Eldritch Invocation, which combines beautifully with their existing options. Most other classes can skip this feat.
Which Spells Are Affected by the Spell Sniper Feat?
There are 29 spells in D&D 5e that involve making attacks and have their ranges doubled by the Spell Sniper Feat. Note that spells with range of Self and Touch are unaffected by the feat.
Acid Arrow (2nd), Range: 90ft: 4d4 + 2d4 acid damage (with guaranteed damage even on miss) is great to be able to apply from range and past cover.
Blade of Disaster (9th), Range: 60ft: You not only get to cast the blade rift up to 120ft away, which makes positioning it much easier but the melee attacks you can make with the blade now have a range of 10ft, making it harder for enemies to escape the brutal amounts of force damage this 9th level spell can dish out.
Booming Blade (cantrip), Range: 5ft: This cantrip is great when applied to a weapon like a pike or a halberd, extending the spell’s range to match the weapon’s 10ft reach property. Hit an enemy with this before they get into melee range and watch them choose between taking damage and getting up close and personal.
Chaos Bolt (1st), Range: 120ft: The cover negation is a great pairing for this spell, as it has a 1-in-8 chance to jump to another nearby enemy (infinitely!) and being able to hit creatures in half and three-quarter cover makes it easier to make the most of this spell’s party piece.
Chill Touch (cantrip), Range: 120ft: A solid spell to open a long-range volley against an enemy closing the distance, as it prevents them from healing.
Chromatic Orb (1st), Range: 90ft: Combining solid damage and a selection of damage types, Chromatic Orb’s only major drawback is its relatively short range, which Spell Sniper fixes nicely.
Crown of Stars (7th), Range: 120ft: Being able to fire seven 4d12 radiant damage motes at enemies up to 240 ft away makes Spell Sniper a devastating combo with this spell.
Eldritch Blast (cantrip), Range: 120ft: One of the objectively best synergies with Spell Sniper. Great range, pairable with Eldritch Invocations, and the ability to ignore most forms of cover with your primary source of damage output is awesome. Also, this feat now means that bards, wizards, sorcerers, and any other spellcasting class (the Eldritch Knight is a favorite) can get the spell that most warlocks gave up their soul for at the low, low cost of a feat.
Fire Bolt (cantrip), Range: 120ft: Much like Eldritch Blast, the range and ability to ignore cover at higher levels is a great pairing with Spell Sniper.
Green-Flame Blade (cantrip), Range: 5ft: It’s probably fair to say that Spell Sniper also boosts the range of the fire damage that jumps from this spell’s target to a secondary enemy. If that’s not the case then this is a totally pointless pickup.
Guiding Bolt (1st), Range: 120ft: Being able to drop a homing beacon on any enemy within 240ft is a great way to make sure that your foes don’t get away. Also, at ultra-long range, it’s a great way to counter the disadvantage the rest of your party suffers making weapon attacks at long range.
Ice Knife (1st), Range: 60ft: Another solid low-level damage spell with a short range that gets fixed by Spell Sniper.
Ray of Frost (cantrip), Range: 60ft: A great way to damage and reduce an enemy’s movement speed as it tries to reach you. Slow a charging Orc by 10ft per round if you keep on launching this cantrip.
Ray of Sickness (1st), Range: 60ft: Use this spell to impose disadvantage thanks to the poisoned condition on enemy archers and magic users.
Scorching Ray (2nd), Range: 120ft: Dish out a potentially massive amount of damage (personally, I always upcast this to the highest possible level) up to 240ft away. Yes please.
Spiritual Weapon (2nd), Range: 60ft: Congratulations, you can now chase your enemies all over the map with a giant flaming, flying sword.
Steel Wind Strike (5th), Range: 30ft: This is an unbelievably good damage spell, and the increased range makes it all the more likely that you can catch the full five targets, not to mention it almost starts functioning like an escape spell.
Storm Sphere (4th), Range: 150ft: Getting to boost the range of your Storm Sphere’s spell attacks is a great way to dish out tons of lighting damage over the course of a minute.
Thorn Whip (cantrip), Range: 30ft: Pull creatures up to 60ft away from you closer each turn? Fantastic stuff.
Wall of Radiance (5th), Range: 120ft/60ft: Not only can you conjure the wall within a larger range, but you get to fire off farther-reaching beams each turn.
Witch Bolt (1st), Range: 30ft: The fact that enemies who escape this spell’s range break the tether and stop taking damage means that the 60ft range granted by Spell Sniper is absolutely fantastic.
Which Classes Work Best with the Spell Sniper Feat?
Any class that uses cantrips as its main source of damage is going to be a good candidate for the Spell Sniper feat. Also, classes that prefer to keep their enemies at a distance are prime candidates. Astute readers among you will realize that the venn diagram of those two demographics is a circle.
Easily the best class to pick up this feat. Warlocks have very few spell slots to work with per short rest, so an extra cantrip is nothing to sniff at. Also, warlocks most consistently deal damage with their Eldritch Blast.
Doubling the range of the game’s best damage cantrip (and negating cover penalties) is a nice little power buff that you’ll feel virtually every turn.
This is the class that, by 5th level, can pull off my favorite “wombo combo” in the game: Quickened Scorching Ray (upcast to 3rd level) and twinned fire bolt. Being able to fire off multiple spell attacks over a greater range and ignore cover makes this somewhat costly showboating maneuver (courtesy of Zee Bashew) more likely to succeed.
Also, sorcerers are just as weeny as wizards, and being able to throw fire bolts from further behind your party’s front line is a great way to stay alive a little longer.
Lots of half-caster classes and subclasses, like the Arcane Trickster rogue or the Eldritch Knight can happily stand to pick up a solid ranged damage cantrip (basically, Eldritch Blast), so this is a solid way to do it that buffs the spell’s range and makes it easier to pick off sneaking enemies hiding behind stuff.
If you want to give your magic dabbler any utility or even (ghasp) two damage cantrips, you should just get Magic Initiate.
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I played my first tabletop RPG (Pathfinder 1e, specifically) in college. I rocked up late to the first session with an unread rulebook and a human bard called Nick Jugger. It was a rocky start but I had a blast and now, the better part of a decade later, I play, write, and write about tabletop RPGs (mostly 5e, but also PBtA, Forged in the Dark and OSR) games for a living, which is wild.