Thunderwave Spell Guide 5e

Thunderwave is a spell that’s seen a lot of play in the 5th edition of Dungeons and Dragons. It’s an excellent option for Wizards, Druids, and Sorcerers, but what about other classes? Can they cast Thunderwave? What are some good strategies for using this spell? 

In this guide, we will answer all of your questions and more!


  • Casting Time: 1 Action
  • Range: Self (15 ft.)
  • Duration: Instantaneous
  • School: Evocation
  • Class: Bard, Druid, Sorcerer, Wizard, Tempest Domain
  • Level: 1st
  • Damage/Effect: Thunder
  • Attack/Save: Constitution Save
  • Components: V, S
  • Concentration: No

Spell Description: A wave of thunderous force sweeps out from you. Each creature in a 15-foot cube originating from you must make a Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, a creature takes 2d8 thunder damage and is pushed 10 feet away from you. On a successful save, the creature takes half as much damage and isn’t pushed.

In addition, unsecured objects that are completely within the area of effect are automatically pushed 10 feet away from you by the spell’s effect, and the spell emits a thunderous boom audible out to 300 feet.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the damage increases by 1d8 for each slot level above 1st.

What Is Thunderwave?

The Thunderwave spell creates a wave of thunderous force, which spreads out from the caster. Creatures caught within the 15-foot cube emanating from the caster must make a Constitution saving throw or be crushed by a thunderous boom.

Any creature hit by the wave is damaged and pushed away from the caster, forcing some distance between them and the enemy. Even if a monster makes a successful saving throw, they’ll still take half the damage from Thunderwave. 

Thunderwave is a good spell for crowd control and can be used in various ways to manage the battlefield.

How To Use Thunderwave in Combat

The ridge was steep, but it was the only way down. The sorceress had no choice but to risk the journey. A group of bandits was pursuing her, and she knew that if they caught her, she would be dead. As she turned a corner in the path, she saw the bandits coming around the other side of the ridge, cutting her off. The sorceress had to think fast. She cast Thunderwave, and the bandits were caught in the blast. They were pushed back by the force of the spell and tumbled down the hill, giving her time to escape.

Knowing how Thunderwave works is vital so you can make the most of it in combat. 

For example, when your enemies get too close for comfort, you can unleash a wave of thunderous force, like the sorceress, to push them back and buy some time.

Be sure to familiarize yourself with the spell’s area of effect, and pay attention to the damage dice when selecting a spell slot level.

How Does Casting Thunderwave Work?

When you cast Thunderwave, you create an area of effect in a 15-foot cube originating from you. All creatures caught in this area of effect need to make a Constitution saving throw against your Spell Save DC.

Thunderwave is a popular spell, but it is often misunderstood. There are some common misconceptions about how it actually works.

First, the wave of thunderous force is not centered on the caster’s location. Instead, you select the cube’s point of origin. This means you can target creatures not adjacent to you with Thunderwave.

Second, the wave of thunderous force affects all creatures caught within the cube, regardless of whether they are friends or foes. This is important to remember, as you do not want to accidentally hurt your allies with Thunderwave.

Lastly, unsecured objects caught within the cube are also affected by Thunderwave. The spell’s effect automatically pushes these objects away from the caster.

You can read more about magical areas of effects on page 204 of the Player’s Handbook.

Who Can Cast Thunderwave?

Thunderwave is a popular spell and is available to several classes. The most common classes that can cast Thunderwave are Wizards, Druids, and Sorcerers. However, other classes, such as Bards and Clerics, also have access to this spell. To see if your character can cast Thunderwave, consult your class’s spell list or speak to your Dungeon Master.


While Bards are not known for their combat prowess, they can still hold their own in a fight, especially with spells like Thunderwave. A Thunderwave spell is an excellent tool for bards looking to hurt enemies as effectively as they can strum a lute. It is handy for Bards who can’t seem to hit anything with their attacks. By using Thunderwave, they can guarantee that they’ll deal some pain to their enemies.


To command nature, Druids must be able to channel the power of the elements. Thunderwave is the perfect spell for druids who want to keep opponents at a distance. Thunderwave can also help Druids boost their damage output in a pinch. This can be crucial because Druids cannot often handle several opponents simultaneously. With Thunderwave, you’ll always have a way out if you get surrounded.


Sorcerers are known for their destructive spells, and Thunderwave is no exception. Used strategically, Thunderwave can help Sorcerers slam enemies and escape dangerous situations.

When Sorcerers cast Thunderwave, they draw upon the raw magical power that flows in their blood, allowing them to tap into reserves of magical energy. Don’t be afraid to use Thunderwave to its fullest potential, as your allies may be looking to you to change the course of the battle. 


Wizards are the masters of magic, and Thunderwave is just one of the many spells at their disposal. As one of the most versatile D&D classes, Wizards have many options regarding how they want to use their spells.

When used correctly, Thunderwave can be an effective tool for Wizards who must serve as the party’s damage dealer. With its destructive nature and pushback effect, Thunderwave can give Wizards what they need to take down even the strongest foes.

Thunderwave Spell Tips and Tricks

Now that we’ve gone over the basics of how Thunderwave works, let’s take a look at some tips and tricks for using this spell to its full potential.

  • When casting Thunderwave, be mindful of your allies’ positions. You don’t want to accidentally push your friends off a cliff or into a pit of lava!
  • Use Thunderwave to control encounters. The spell’s area of effect is large enough that you can use it to push monsters into traps or hazardous terrain.
  • Take advantage of the spell’s push effect to create strategic opportunities. For example, you can use Thunderwave to push an enemy into the range of your allies’ attacks.
  • Unsecured objects caught in the wave of thunderous force are pushed away from you. This can be used to your advantage, as you can use Thunderwave to clear a path through a cluttered dungeon.

Common Questions About Thunderwave

Thunderwave is powerful if you know how to use it. To help you get the most out of this spell, we’ve compiled a list of answers to some common questions about Thunderwave.

Why Is Thunderwave a Cube?

The cube shape for the Thunderwave spell was designed to give the caster more control over who or what gets caught in the effect. A cube can be accurately placed, making it versatile and easy to use.

Can Clerics Cast Thunderwave?

Yes, Clerics can cast the Thunderwave spell if they are of the tempest domain, making it a unique ability for this specific group of Clerics. If you want to design a Cleric who can cast Thunderwave and other elemental spells, consider the tempest domain when creating your character.

Is Thunderwave Centered on the Caster?

Not necessarily. The effect of Thunderwave originates from the caster and affects creatures in a 15-foot cube. The cube’s center does not have to be the same as the caster’s location. This can be used to the caster’s advantage, helping them strategically place the cube. 

What Happens if I Fail My Save Against Thunderwave?

If you fail your save against Thunderwave, you take twice the damage as if you succeed. That’s 2d8 at 1st level. And you are pushed away from the caster. This can be problematic in combat, as it can separate you from your allies or push you into danger.

Ending With Bang

Thunderwave is helpful in the early game but falls off in power as creatures get more challenging and more resistant to the spell’s effects at higher levels. Still, it remains an adaptable spell that can be used in a variety of ways, making it a valuable addition to any character’s magical toolbox.

The best thing about Thunderwave is that it doesn’t discriminate — any creature caught in the area of effect will be in danger. So whether you’re facing off against a horde of goblins or a single giant ogre, Thunderwave can help even the odds.