Last Updated on January 22, 2023
The Druid’s ability to take on the form, stats, and abilities of animals they have seen before is a defining characteristic of the class, but with the entire animal kingdom at your disposal, it can be hard to decide which form to choose for any one situation.
In this guide, we’ve gathered together every single Druid Wild Shape possibility (including higher CR options for Circle of the Moon Druids) and gone into more detail on our favorite options at every CR when fulfilling different roles like combat, stealth, and scouting as well as on underwater, underground, and flying adventures.
Starting at 2nd level, you can use your action to magically assume the shape of a beast that you have seen before. You can use this feature twice. You regain expended uses when you finish a short or long rest.
Your Druid level determines the beasts you can transform into, as shown in the Beast Shapes table. At 2nd level, for example, you can transform into any beast that has a challenge rating of 1/4 or lower that doesn’t have a flying or swimming speed.
While you are in wild shape form, you retain the “mental” ability scores (Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma) of your character and take on the Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution of the beast whose form you’ve adopted as well as its hit points, AC, attacks, senses, abilities, and any other physical attributes.
If you are reduced to 0 hit points in your wild shape form, you revert to your humanoid form. You subtract any leftover damage past that which reduced your wild shape form to 0 hp from your humanoid form’s hp.
Circle of the Moon Druids can transform into higher-CR beast shapes. Starting at 2nd level, they can transform into the form of any beast with a CR of 1 or lower. Then, from 6th level, they can transform into a beast with a challenge rating as high as their Druid level divided by 3, rounded down.
Wild Shape List
Here’s our complete list of wild shape beast forms with our top picks for every CR.
The Best Wild Shape Forms at Each CR
To help you pick the Wild Shape form that’s right for your Druid, we’ve grabbed our favorite Wild Shapes at every level. Generally, we prefer “feature-rich” beasts — creatures with a few different abilities rather than just damage or a lot of hit points that make a creature suited to a particular function, like scouting, defending, or supporting allies as well as suggestions for specific environments.
Creatures at challenge rating 0 aren’t meant to be considered a threat by anything apart from other CR0 creatures. Well, I suppose an unsuspecting Kobold could be in for a bad time if it rolled poorly, but still: the reason why a Druid might want to pick a CR0 creature almost certainly lies outside the sphere of combat.
Exploration, mobility, stealth, and blending in among other similar animals are the main order of the day here. The real advantage that CR0 has over other challenge ratings, however, is variety. You can find a form to suit just about any environment here, whereas more powerful beast shapes might struggle to blend in.
Cat (Best Urban Scout)
One of my favorite options for scouting in urban settings. Other than the rat, the cat is probably the most ubiquitous animal that can move around as it pleases in a city or town. Rats are good for being small enough to move around inside walls and under doors, but the cat takes it thanks to the lower likelihood that people try to kill you on sight.
Hang around in alleyways and on street corners, get yourself adopted by the villain’s young child, just impersonate the cat they already have, and eavesdrop just about anywhere. Turning into a cat lets you scale buildings easily thanks to your excellent climb speed and evade most detection with a decent (+4) stealth bonus.
Octopus (Best Aquatic Scout)
The ultimate underwater (and to a large degree, amphibious) scout. Solid Stealth (with advantage), darkvision, and a great escape mechanism in the form of Ink Cloud make the octopus the perfect aquatic infiltrator. Obviously, the octopus’ swimming speed means you can’t pick it up until 4th level, but it remains a viable option for a long time afterward.
Once you unlock creatures with flying speeds at 8th level, the Owl is a solid contender for the best scouting form at any level. With a good flying speed, an okay stealth bonus, flyby (for escaping), and a spectacular 120 feet of darkvision, this form is a great way to gather information or stand watch at night.
The other outstanding infiltrator for lower-level Druids, the spider’s ability to walk on walls and ceilings without making ability checks means it can gain access to almost anywhere and set up shop in its little web without issue.
This CR is a bit of an awkward middle ground for Druids as there aren’t as many interesting scouting options and nothing’s as strong as the CR ¼ options that lower-level (non-CotM) Druids will be picking for combat.
A solid lump of hit points and not much else. However, this is the lowest CR creature on the Druid form list that a medium-sized humanoid can ride, which is great for cutting down travel time a bit.
Like the camel but for treasure, hogtied enemies, and other drudgerous grunt work. Because mules’ Beast of Burden trait means they count as size large when calculating carrying capacity, they increase the amount of loot you can haul back from the dungeon.
You get a bit of damage with a knockdown attack, and size small or tiny humanoids can ride you. Also, dogs can usually pass unnoticed in settlements and tend to get treated well, making them a good option for scouting without any stealth skills.
CR ¼ is where most 1st-level druids (apart from the CotM) will pick their first wild shape form from, at least for combat.
Multiattack on a low-CR creature is pretty spectacular, and pack tactics are great if you’re not the only melee fighter in your party.
A great mixture of wilderness tracking with Keen Hearing and Smell and great damage plus a knockdown effect, making it very easy to tee up your allies for additional attacks with advantage. Seeing as velociraptors are something of a niche animal to have seen before, the wolf is almost always the best option for Wild Shape that a newly created Druid will have access to.
We start to run into some genuinely strong options at CR ½ as the challenge rating represents the Druid’s first big power spike at 4th level, which also unlocks swimming creatures.
Ape (Best Ranged Attacks)
In addition to solid abilities all around, including a climbing speed, a great Athletic bonus, multiattack, and nice hit points for a CR ½ creature, apes also get a ranged attack, which does pretty alright damage and is immensely rare for an animal. You could even also argue that, because you have opposable thumbs, you can use weapons and manipulate other more complex items.
Crocodile (Best Crowd Control)
Because of a grapple and restrain effect on its bite attack, not to mention a nice little Stealth bonus and a respectable swimming speed, the crocodile is the strongest option for most 4th-level druids looking for a bit of single-target lockdown.
If you’re involved in an underwater adventure, the reef shark provides the best mix of speed and mobility, combat effectiveness (thanks to a respectable bite attack and Pack Tactics), and hit points out of the available options.
Warhorse (Pairs Best With Martial Characters)
Great speed (60 ft.) and the ability to have another member of the party ride you into battle make the warhorse a surprisingly versatile option. Also, this form deals a surprisingly good amount of damage from its hooves — 2d6 + 4 bludgeoning damage is on par with the CR 1 Brown Bear’s claw attack. Then, if your target fails its saving throw, you knock it prone and immediately get to make a second bonus action attack with advantage because your target is now prone. Then, the person riding you also gets to attack at advantage.
This is where stuff starts to get really good. Most Druids arrive at CR 1 creatures at 8th level, meaning flying Wild Shapes are also now on the table, making the Wild shape List really feel like it’s opening up whole new worlds of possibility — especially if you want to be a scout for the party.
For Circle of the Moon Druids, this is where you begin at 2nd level (without swimming or flying options, obviously), and the truly terrifying options here are a huge part of why Moon Druids are a contender for the most powerful subclass in the game at lower levels.
Deinonychus (Best Multiattack)
Not only are you going to be fast enough to catch pretty much any humanoid on foot, but if you move at least 20 feet straight toward a creature and hit it with a claw attack, you can knock it prone and make a bite against it as a bonus action. Add that to the already impressive claw-claw-bite multiattack, and there isn’t much that can compare to a Deinonychus in close combat, especially if you crit a few times.
Obviously, dinosaurs are one of the subcategories of beast you may have never seen and will never see in a whole campaign, and some dungeon masters prefer not to include them in their game, so make sure you talk to your DM rather than just assuming your wood elf hippie from a rural analogue of Western Europe can just Mighty Morphin’ Power Ranger themself into a velociraptor on steroids.
If you’re playing in the Forgotten Realms setting, a character from the jungles of Chult is most likely to have seen a Deinonychus (or any other dinosaur) before.
Dire Wolf (Best All-Rounder)
A combination of a sizable hit point pool and a decent AC (14, natural armor) for a beast not to mention pack tactics, a knockdown attack, and solid bite damage all conspire to make the Dire Wolf an absolutely rock-solid choice for a combat shape. The Dire Wolf’s good walking speed (50 ft.), +4 Stealth bonus, and Keen Hearing and Smell also make it a viable option for tracking, stealth, and scouting.
Giant Hyena (Best vs. Mobs)
Roughly comparable to the Dire Wolf but with more hit points and lower AC. The Giant Hyena’s main combat strength, however, is taking down multiple weaker enemies using its Rampage ability, which lets it move half its speed (a respectable 25 ft.) and make an attack with its bonus action whenever it reduces a creature to 0 hit points.
Giant Octopus (Best Underwater Controller)
A pretty linear improvement over the standard CR0 octopus but big and tough enough to be a viable choice in combat. The Giant Octopus’ tentacle attack also makes it an excellent battlefield controller against single targets, and Ink Cloud has a big enough radius that it can provide a chance for the entire party to beat a hasty retreat if necessary.
Giant Vulture (Best Flier)
For non-CotM Druids, this is the strongest choice for a flying combat/scouting wild shape at 8th level with the Giant Vulture’s multiattack, great damage, pack tactics, and hit points all being better than the other option, the Giant Eagle. The vulture’s speed is slightly worse than the eagle, however.
Only Circle of the Moon Druids can access CR 2 animal forms and higher. However, with the exception of a few really cool specialty options, these higher Challenge Ratings tend to be a bit thin on the ground in terms of options, which is why we’re grouping them all together.
Giant Constrictor Snake (CR 2, Best Crowd Control)
In possession of a formidable constrict attack that deals solid damage, grapples, and restrains a target on a hit, the Giant Constrictor Snake is easily the best control and single-target damage dealer available to CotM Druids until the Giant Crocodile rocks up at higher levels.
Blindsight (for spotting invisible enemies) in a 10-foot radius isn’t bad, and a swimming speed plus a bag of hit points make this a well-balanced and exciting option. It’s also basically the only lower-CR creature form that’s size Huge, making you immensely intimidating on the battlefield.
Hunter Shark (CR 2, Best Underwater Damage)
Really solid underwater damage thanks to the shark’s Blood Frenzy ability, which guarantees you almost permanent advantage (especially if someone in your party has a few AoE spells in their back pocket). Obviously, having no way to operate on land is tricky, but in the water, you’re going to be moving around at terrifying speeds.
Quetzalcoatlus (CR 2, Fastest Flier)
Flyby, a vicious charging bite attack, and solid AC are all just cherries on top of this dinosaur’s absolutely eye-watering flying speed of 80 feet, making you pretty much guaranteed to outpace more or less anything that’s either chasing you or that you don’t want to get away.
Giant Scorpion (CR 3, Best Damage/Control)
Pound for pound, this might be one of the best combat-related Wild Shapes in the game. The combination of good AC (15, natural armor), a decent pile of hit points (52 hp on average), good speed, and triple multiattack are all great. The fact that you have claws that can grapple up to two enemies at a time (on a hit) and a potential 5d10 + 2 damage coming out of your tail stinger is what makes this a genuinely dangerous creature, however.
Giant Crocodile (CR 5, Best Single-Target Control/Damage)
This is the option that replaces the Giant Constrictor Snake as the preeminent druid option for restraining and taking out single-target enemies with its bite. The addition of a +5 Stealth bonus makes this an excellent ambush predator, and being able to knock down targets with its tail is a great way to prevent the creature the crocodile is currently eating from being rescued by its buddies.
Mammoth (CR 6, Hardest to Kill)
It would feel wrong not to include the single biggest (with the exception of the much less interesting Gargantuan Brontosaurus), highest CR, highest hit point (well, at 126, it’s joint-highest with the Giant Shark, actually) Wild Shape option on the list, so here we go.
The Mammoth is, in many respects, similar to the horses, elk, and other quadrupedal tramplers that have come before it. The main differences are scale and the sort of applications that size (not to mention a +7 bonus to Strength) creates. Outside of combat, a Druid that Wild Shapes into a Mammoth can drag literal tons of treasure out of a dungeon, pull a massive wagon out of the mud, ram down some modestly sized city gates, and perform other truly mind-boggling feats of strength.
In combat, this massive beasty’s Gore and Stomp attacks are both respectable, and paired with the creature’s Trampling Charge, it can be a terrifying foe — especially if the party is riding firing off spells and arrows from above.
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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.