The demon screams in pain and panic as a guiding bolt of divine power shoots forth from the party’s Cleric, its blackened eyes rolling back in its withered head. The Fighter nearby smirks and prepares to swing their greatsword, knowing they’re more likely to cleave the cruel foe in half. Guiding bolt is one of the best attack spells in D&D, so let’s take a closer look at it.
Table of Contents
How the Spell Works
The text from the Basic Rules states that: A flash of light streaks toward a creature of your choice within range. Make a ranged spell attack against the target. On a hit, the target takes 4d6 radiant damage, and the next attack roll against this target before the end of your next turn has advantage, thanks to the mystical dim light glittering on the target until then.
The spell goes on to say that at higher levels, when you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the damage increases by 1d6 for each slot level above 1st.
Guiding bolt is an evocation spell with a fairly long range of 120 feet. There are very few instances where you’d reasonably be standing farther away from an enemy than that, especially since most combat happens in a hemmed-in area to prevent escape.
Who Gets Guiding Bolt
Guiding bolt is available in the Cleric, the Celestial Warlock patron, and the Divine Soul Sorcerer spell lists. Guiding bolt is always prepared for Oath of Glory Paladins. Additionally, the Circle of Stars Druid has guiding bolt on their list of spells known and can cast the spell at 1st level a number of times equal to their proficiency bonus per day. Other classes can gain the spell by taking the Magic Initiate feat and selecting Cleric.
What Are the Uses
Guiding bolt is a fantastic spell for a variety of reasons. To begin, it deals radiant damage, which enemies rarely resist, especially at low levels. Because guiding bolt is a first-level spell, it is readily available to Clerics and other classes at the start of the game. The components are simple; just verbal and somatic, so you don’t need to worry about having any material components for this particular spell. This is something of a rarity for Cleric spells since the class’s spell list is notorious for requiring increasingly costly and complex components for their better spells.
Guiding bolt’s casting time is an action, and since it’s a leveled spell, most casters won’t have a lot of options for their bonus actions. However, plenty of cleric spells can be cast and then used again as a bonus action (for example, spiritual weapon). You can’t cast a leveled spell as an action and a bonus action on the same turn, but there are no rules against casting spiritual weapon as a bonus action during one turn (along with a cantrip for your action) and then using your bonus action on future turns to keep doing damage alongside guiding bolt as your action.
Guidance bolt deals a lot of damage for a first-level spell (an average of 12 points) and gives one of your allies advantage on their next attack against the opponent. Compare that to a weapon user’s average damage at 1st level, 7-8 points of slashing, bludgeoning, or piercing damage, and it’s no competition. No to mention the fact that in later levels, you’ll start facing opponents who only take damage from magical weapons or spells.
It’s not a concentration spell, but the advantage lasts until the end of your next turn, so everyone has plenty of opportunities to use it effectively. The likelihood of no one succeeding on their attacks when they have advantage is very slim.
One of the most commonly compared spells to guiding bolt is inflict wounds. However, inflict wounds has plenty of downsides and is altogether a worse spell. The main reason is that inflict wounds is a melee spell attack, so you have to be standing right next to your adversary to cast it. While some Cleric subclasses have access to heavy armor and shields, you still aren’t going to want to get up close and personal with your enemies when you could choose to hang back, out of their attack range.
The spell guiding bolt is self-explanatory. It deals radiant damage, scales well when upcasting at higher levels, and gives an ally advantage on their next attack against the adversaries if you are unable to defeat it yourself.