Dungeons & Dragons rewards those who know how to exploit the rules, especially when building their character. As any DM knows, some spells are so powerful they border on breaking the game. But some options in combat are deceptively strong. With the right strategy, any player can turn tough encounters into easy (and hilarious) wins.
With just a small array of spells, a little planning, and an unsuspecting DM, these combat tactics will get players through even the most difficult encounters. But be warned: some of them are so effective that you may find them left out of the house after using them for the first time. Make it count.
ten Forcecage + Foul Shard: The Nuclear Trap
This evil combo requires two warlocks or wizards to work together: one with access to seventh level spells and the other with access to fourth level. First, cast Choking Shard next to your unfortunate opponent – it’s important that this is cast first as the spell needs a “clear path to the target.” Then trap the target with Forcecage.
Creatures cannot exit a Forcecage, but magical effects can move inside. Because they cannot escape, the enemy will begin their turn trapped by the lethal radiation. Stay focused for both spells and they’ll have to make 100 constitution saving throws over 10 minutes, taking 4d10 radiant damage and one level of exhaustion on each failure.
9 Sniper + Dead-Eyed Shooting + Archery Style: Insane damage at any distance
A subclass of hunters created by Matt Mercer, the Gunslinger not only adds a Western flair to high fantasy adventures, but he also has access to powerful guns and combat maneuvers. With the right strategy applied, these can be even more deadly. All you need is Deadeye’s sniper feat, archery combat style, and skillful shooting.
With this deadly combo, you’ll add +10 damage to your already powerful shots while only taking -3 to hit, and as long as you have Sand Points to spend on Deadeye Shot, you’ll launch those attacks with advantage. Plus, thanks to Sharpshooter, it doesn’t matter if your enemy is at long range or is hiding behind half or three quarters of the cover.
8 Thorn Whip + Heights: Inevitable Falls
Perfect for lower level PCs, all you need for this little trick is a character with access to the Thorn Whip cantrip and flight speed – an Aarakocra will likely give the best mileage, although the Fly spell will work too. The tactics are simple: just fly over a steep cliff or edge of a building and the thorn lashes your enemy. So what’s the catch?
On one hit, Thorn Whip pulls enemies tall or less than 10 feet towards you in any direction, horizontal or vertical. No saving throw, no resistance, just a one-way trip through the air. You don’t have a practical advantage? No problem. Simply fly above your enemy and shoot them vertically upwards. Falling from 10 feet deals an additional 1d6 practical damage, effectively doubling the damage dealt by the spell.
7 Handy Haversack + Bag of Holding + Telekinesis: The “ Go Away ” button
Do you have a big enemy that you don’t want to fight? Want to turn a boss battle into a laughing stock? This strategy works wonderfully. All he needs is a handy Heward haven, a telekinesis spell, and a posture bag. Place the Outfit Bag next to your enemy, then use the Telekinesis spell to drop the Haversack inside.
According to the Handy Haversack’s description, this will instantly open a one-way portal to the Astral Plane that sucks in all creatures within 10 feet before closing. No backup and no size limitation. Both items are destroyed in the process, but if that means getting rid of a final boss in one or two turns, that’s fair trade.
6 Devil’s Sight + Darkness: Now I See You, Now You Don’t
Warlocks are known to have exploitable mechanics, and this one is no different. Get a Warlock with the Darkness spell (a Drow works well here, as Darkness is one of their racial spells) and take the Devil’s Sight summon to the second level. When the battle begins, cast Darkness on your own armor or clothing.
Thanks to Devil’s Sight, you can see through the darkness, but your enemies cannot. Melee and ranged attacks have the disadvantage of hitting you, and you have the advantage of hitting any attackers blinded by darkness. Even if they have dark vision, it won’t work against the Dark spell. Stay focused and you have essentially a permanent advantage to hit and a disadvantage to to be hit for 10 minutes or 100 rounds of combat.
5 Minor Conjuration + Shatterstick: Devilish Demolitions
The Descent Into Avernus adventure has added tons of new content to the game, from vehicles to magic items. But one of the most powerful is not a magical item and can be summoned by a level two wizard with the minor conjuration spell: the Shatterstick. A four-pound stake of bluish metal, this unpretentious object can easily destroy buildings, ships, or vehicles.
Simply summon the Shatterstick and ram it into the ground. This will cause tremors for a minute, before destroying itself. When this happens, all structures within a 20-foot radius automatically take 10d6 damage. Perfect for quickly ending sieges or breaking into treasure chests.
4 Animation of the performance: from armor class to class act
Bards can be terrifying, but Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything has taken a step up with the Bard of Creation. Along with access to some of the best spells in the game, the Bards of Creation also have an underrated piece of their arsenal: the animation performance ability, acquired at sixth level. Simply choose a non-magical item within 30 feet and it will come alive for an hour, becoming allies with you.
This ability seems harmless, until you realize that the item can belong to anyone, and the armor counts as an item. This big bad, heavy plate fighter will suddenly be a lot less threatening when the armor is alive and on your side. Use a bonus action to tell him to freeze, go to a dangerous place and more – the only limit is your cruel imagination.
3 Form of stone + a rock: the helmet of death
This one is simple and wonderfully effective. All you need is the Stone Shape spell and a boulder a little bigger than your opponent’s head. Place the stone near the enemy and cast Stone Form to wrap the stone around their skull.
In one move you now have a blinded, deafened, and suffocating enemy. They’ll either have to lose turns trying to smash the stone from their heads, or face a whole host of debuffs and damage if they try to fight. This tactic works great for stealth missions if you need to stop a sentry alerting the rest of the enemies to your presence.
2 Summon Woodland Beings – Polymorphism with Sprites
Sometimes good things come in small packages, and nowhere is it better exemplified than the humble pixie. Once you’ve unlocked fourth-level spell slots, you can use the Woodland Beings Conjure spell to bring eight sprites to your aid. They are CR1 / 4, have only one hit point, and an armor class of 15. But these little fairies have a deceptive punch.
Along with other powerful enchantments like Fly and Sleep, each sprite can cast a polymorph once per day. Focus them all on a single enemy, and this poor monster will have to perform eight consecutive wisdom stops. If they fail at just one, they will immediately transform into a harmless animal for up to an hour.
1 Non-removable object + rope: non-removable fixings
Sometimes you need someone captured or just taken out of battle for a while, and unless a Centaur is sitting on it, it’s no better than this strategy. The Unmovable Object spell from the Wildemount Adventurer’s Guide can be cast on an object that weighs 10 lbs or less and is only second level. 50 feet of rope, as it turns out, weighs exactly 10 pounds.
With Stationary Object, you can move the object, but no one else can. Throw it on the rope and wrap it around an enemy with your bare hands or with a telekinesis spell. The important save DC to break free increases when using higher level spell slots, capping at an additional +10 at sixth level.
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