With more and more books coming out for 5th edition, there is an even more comprehensive selection of spells to choose from. One thing I like about 5e is their cantrips. Being able to let mages just cast meaningful spells is excellent. However, the wide selection also has a downside where you may not know what cantrips to choose for an offensive caster. So let’s go ever the top 5 best offensive cantrips for 5e.
So before we begin, here are the rules. First off, these spells are in a vacuum. Some cantrips are really strong in a specific scenario but overall relatively weak. Race and class benefits will also not be taken into account. Because most of these have an additional effect, those will be taken into account as well.
The top 5 will be the cantrips with the best damage output and offensive utility.
Attack vs. Saves
Before we get to the top 5, I want to discuss the difference between attack rolls and saving throws. Saving throws are generally weaker. For example, let’s say two level 1 characters are fighting, one with an AC of 12 and the caster with a save of 12. Suppose the caster attacks with a spell with an attack, assuming they have a 16 in the necessary ability score. In that case, they need to roll a 9 on the die or higher to hit. That is a 60% chance to hit.
Now, the caster attacks with a spell requiring a save. If the defender is proficient, then they have to roll a 9 or higher to succeed. You may see that 9 and think that the numbers are the same; however, the 9 to hit is a success. The 9 to save is a fail for you. You need them to roll an 8 or lower, which means you have a 40% chance of the attack to work. Even if they are not proficient in the saving throw, you still have a 45% chance for the attack to land.
With that squared away, let’s get on the top 5 best offensive cantrips.
5 Toll The Dead
This is the only spell on this list with a save. The reason this is is because of the damage it can do. When attacking an injured enemy, you do d12 damage. The only other cantrip that does this much damage is poison spray; however, you need to be within 10ft of the target. The additional effect of doing a d8 if uninjured does not matter as much unless you are fighting a swarm of weak enemies.