The Ranger takes a deep breath and draws his rapier. He focuses on the zombies ahead and casts zephyr strike on himself to move seamlessly through the battlefield, dealing a massive blow to one of the more powerful undead on his way to the other side.
Table of Contents
How The Spell Works
The spell’s text from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything states that You move like the wind. Until the spell ends, your movement doesn’t provoke opportunity attacks. Once before the spell ends, you can give yourself advantage on one weapon attack roll on your turn. That attack deals an extra 1d8 force damage on a hit. Whether you hit or miss, your walking speed increases by 30 feet until the end of that turn.
It’s important to note that zephyr strike doesn’t scale at higher levels. It is a 1st level spell, and if you cast it at higher levels, it performs in exactly the same way; you don’t get more damage or increase your walking speed.
Who Gets Zephyr Strike
Zephyr strike is only on the Ranger‘s spell list. However, Bards can use their Magical Secrets feature to take it. Any character who can cast spells can also take the Magic Initiate feat to learn this 1st level Ranger spell.
What Are The Uses
Zephyr strike takes a bonus action to activate and is a concentration spell. It only has a verbal component, meaning that casters don’t need to do or have anything fancy to make it work. The transmutation spell is best used when your character makes melee attacks and needs to move through a crowded battlefield without provoking attacks of opportunity.
There is nothing in the text that specifies that you need to be a melee fighter but ranged attackers don’t typically worry about increasing their walking speed or avoiding attacks of opportunity. However, because this is a concentration spell, like most Ranger spells, you have to choose wisely. Not only do Rangers have a limited number of known spells in the first place, but you also have to ration your concentration.
In general, zephyr strike just isn’t a good spell. Rangers need to save their concentration for hunter’s mark, Favored Foe, or other high-level spells and won’t find many situations where they want to sacrifice those for this spell. Essentially, the best thing this spell gives you is advantage on a single attack. Unless you feel that one hit could change the outcome of the entire battle, having advantage isn’t going to do anything dramatic.
This is especially true when you hit level 5, and you get the Extra Attack feature. From then on, Rangers have two attacks per turn. Considering that zephyr strike only gives you advantage on one of your attacks, it can’t possibly compare to other Ranger options. Not to mention the fact that many other Ranger abilities consume your bonus action, and you won’t want to be caught out for multiple turns without having choices.
Hunter’s mark is the Ranger’s bread and butter, and for good reason; it gives you an extra 1d6 damage on every attack you make against your target. It’s frequently weighed against other Ranger spells, zephyr strike included, because both of them are activated on your bonus action, and both of them use your concentration.
Favored Foe is a 1st-level Ranger optional feature that was introduced in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. It replaces the Favored Enemy trait and lets you do an additional 1d4 points of damage on the first hit of each turn to whomever you’ve marked. You can mark a number of creatures equal to your proficiency bonus, but you can only have one target at a time, and you need to maintain concentration.
Both Favored Foe and hunter’s mark are better uses of your concentration. Favored Foe is a feature that Rangers can activate for free without consuming a spell slot, and hunter’s mark lasts for up to an hour, assuming that you can maintain concentration for the entire time. Hunter’s mark lets you get more out of your 1st level spell slot. Rangers are only half-casters, so you can’t throw those slots around like confetti.
Another similar spell is Ashardalon’s stride, a concentration spell that gives you extra movement each turn and damages your opponents while allowing you to avoid attacks of opportunity. It scales with spell slot level and damages anyone who is in your path. While it isn’t the best in the world and is a level 3 spell, it’s still usually better than zephyr strike to get you from point A to point B.
Zephyr strike is a fun, flavorful spell, but won’t typically be useful for the average Ranger. Even discounting the fact that the majority of Rangers are ranged weapon users, the spell still doesn’t provide enough benefits to waste a spell slot or your concentration when there are better options available.