Superior Battlefield Control Spells in D&D

Although there’s a thrilling rush in unleashing a fireball upon multiple adversaries and rolling handfuls of dice, the repertoire of spells available to spellcasters in Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) extends far beyond mere damage-dealing incantations. Among these are control spells designed to manipulate enemies or alter the battlefield to the advantage of players. In D&D, many such spells exist.

While obliterating foes in one fell swoop can be immensely satisfying, circumstances may dictate otherwise. In scenarios where opponents are guaranteed a chance to act in combat, employing a spell capable of denying them that opportunity can prove especially advantageous. After all, the most resounding victories occur when one exits combat with most of their hit points intact.

Effective restraint of adversaries becomes crucial when facing formidable monsters capable of delivering devastating blows. Nevertheless, it’s essential to note that the most formidable foes possess legendary resistance, enabling them to thwart control spells they would otherwise succumb to. However, the key lies in selecting the appropriate spells. To this end, we’ve introduced additional control spells that remain valuable even when confronted by the campaign’s ultimate adversary.

Evard's Black Tentacles

15 Evard’s Black Tentacles

Evard’s Black Tentacles is a formidable spell for ensnaring multiple adversaries while inflicting incremental damage. This concentration spell conjures writhing black tentacles within a 20-foot square on the ground, rendering the area difficult terrain. Creatures entering the area or commencing their turn within it must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw. Failure results in 3d6 bludgeoning damage and being restrained by the tentacles.

While some may regard this as a “save or suck” spell due to its consequences upon failure, even successful saves impose the challenge of navigating difficult terrain. Thus, Evard’s Black Tentacles proves invaluable for obstructing passages and creating hazardous zones for adversaries.

A Wizard Casting Telekinesis

14 Telekinesis

Telekinesis distinguishes itself as one of the few spells that bypass legendary resistance. By compelling the target to make a Strength ability check, contested by the caster’s spellcasting ability check, this spell enables the manipulation of Huge or smaller creatures within 30 feet. Success imposes restraint as the target becomes subject to the caster’s telekinetic grip, allowing movement in any direction, including suspension mid-air. Subsequent turns require the caster to expend an action to maintain telekinetic control. Additionally, the spell facilitates the manipulation of objects weighing up to 1,000 pounds, providing tactical advantages beyond mere creature control.

Sorcerer Casting Dispel Magic

13 Dispel Magic

While not a conventional control spell, Dispel Magic furnishes characters with enhanced battlefield control by negating control effects generated by other spellcasters and magical devices. This spell instantly terminates any spell of 3rd level or lower upon the target creature, object, or effect. Spells of 4th level or higher necessitate a successful spellcasting ability check, with a DC equal to ten plus the spell’s level. Alternatively, upcasting Dispel Magic to the level of the targeted spell obviates the need for this check. Given adversaries’ propensity for employing control spells, Dispel Magic emerges as a formidable countermeasure, capable of dismantling enemy strategies and neutralizing buffs.

Artificer Casting Grease

12 Grease

Grease swathes a ten-foot square area in a slick film, impelling creatures within or entering the area to succeed on a Dexterity saving throw or succumb to its effects. This spell effectively transforms the area into difficult terrain, offering tactical advantages by impeding enemy advances and obstructing attack routes. Despite its seemingly modest nature, Grease’s potency lies in compelling creatures to make repeated Dexterity saving throws within a single turn, making it a versatile and indispensable tool for battlefield control.


11 Maze

True to its name, Maze transports a targeted individual within range to an actual labyrinth. While this spell presents a significant drawback in the potential for the target to succeed in an Intelligence throw and escape before the spell’s ten-minute duration expires, its high-level nature renders such an outcome improbable, particularly against targets with low Intelligence scores. The spell effectively removes adversaries from the immediate fray, offering the casting party a reprieve and strategic advantage.

Tasha's Hideous Laughter

10 Tasha’s Hideous Laughter

Tasha’s Hideous Laughter exerts control over a single creature within a 30-foot radius by subjecting them to uncontrollable fits of laughter. A failed Wisdom save renders the target incapacitated, removing them from combat for multiple rounds. Notably, the spell’s concentration requirement necessitates caution in maintaining its effects, prompting casters to seek cover to sustain its influence effectively.


9 Sleep

A staple among D&D’s mind control spells, Sleep boasts an impressive range of 90 feet, accompanied by the roll of 5d8 to determine its potency. Targets within 20 feet of the chosen point are affected in descending order of current hit points. Those whose current hit points fall below the total of the 5d8 roll succumb to unconsciousness for one minute unless interrupted by damage or ally intervention. While exceptionally potent at lower levels, Sleep’s efficacy diminishes as enemy hit points increase, making it a strategic consideration for early encounters.

Druid Casting Entangle

8 Entangle

Entangle serves as the quintessential control spell for Druids, offering a formidable option amidst their more limited repertoire. This concentration spell creates grasping vines within a 20-foot square, compelling creatures to succeed on a Strength saving throw or become restrained by the verdant tendrils. The conjured difficult terrain further hampers enemy mobility, cementing Entangle’s status as a premier battlefield control spell.

Warlock Casting Suggestion

7 Suggestion

Suggestion embodies versatility, enabling the caster to influence a single creature’s actions by presenting a reasonable alternative proposal. A failed Wisdom save compels the target to pursue the suggested action for up to eight hours, offering ample opportunity for strategic manipulation. With judicious employment, Suggestion can effectively neutralize adversaries or steer encounters to the caster’s advantage.

Wizard Casting Web

6 Web

Renowned for its versatility and potency, Web creates a 20-foot cube of adhesive webbing, ensnaring creatures within its confines. Hindered by difficult terrain and the prospect of restraint, affected creatures must contend with the spell’s effects or expend actions to escape its grasp. Furthermore, the webbing’s flammability presents additional tactical opportunities, underscoring Web’s status as a premier battlefield control spell.

Sorcerer Casting Stinking Cloud

5 Stinking Cloud

Though situational, Stinking Cloud’s efficacy in battlefield control is undeniable. By enveloping a 20-foot radius in toxic gas, the spell induces retching and incapacitation among affected creatures, impeding their actions. Stinking Cloud’s ability to obscure vision renders it particularly effective against ranged opponents, amplifying its strategic value in combat engagements.

Sorcerer Casting Hypnotic Pattern

4 Hypnotic Pattern

Hypnotic Pattern is an excellent choice for battlefield control. It can incapacitate multiple creatures within a 30-foot cube. Victims failing their Wisdom saves succumb to a state of incapacitation until disrupted by damage or external intervention. This charm effect boasts a superior range and area of effect compared to similar spells, further enhancing its utility in combat scenarios.

Wizard Casting Forcecage

3 Forcecage

As the pinnacle of confinement spells, Forcecage erects an impenetrable prison within a designated area, ensnaring any unfortunate souls within its bounds. With no recourse for escape save magical intervention, this spell effectively removes adversaries from the battlefield, affording the casting party unparalleled strategic dominance.

Warlock Casting Hold Person

2 Hold Person

Hold Person emerges as a paragon of mind control spells, capable of paralyzing targets within range for a full minute. This extended duration presents significant tactical advantages, effectively neutralizing adversaries and altering the course of encounters. Moreover, the spell’s versatility expands post-third level, enabling simultaneous targeting of multiple foes within proximity.

Wizard Casting Wall of Force

1 Wall of Force

Exhibiting unparalleled versatility and strategic utility, Wall of Force conjures an impregnable barrier at the caster’s discretion, effectively partitioning the battlefield. This spell grants the casting party unparalleled control over the engagement, imposing insurmountable obstacles and confounding adversaries by dictating the course of combat engagements.

The diverse array of control spells available in Dungeons & Dragons enriches the strategic landscape of the game, providing spellcasters with many options for influencing the flow of combat and overcoming adversaries. From restraining foes with entangling vines to banishing them to other planes of existence, these spells offer myriad means of altering the battlefield to the advantage of the casting party. Whether through direct incapacitation, manipulation of behavior, or environmental manipulation, control spells remain integral to the tactical arsenal of adventurers, shaping the outcome of encounters and fostering creative solutions to daunting challenges in the ever-expansive world of Dungeons & Dragons.

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