The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Y U NO Single Target Spell?

    Is it just me, or is the single-target blasting options of 5e kinda underwhelming?

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    DruidGuy

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    Default Re: Y U NO Single Target Spell?

    Outside of something like disintegrate, it does seem like Single Target Control is better (hold x, dominant x, banishment, etc).

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    DeTess's Avatar

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    Default Re: Y U NO Single Target Spell?

    This is probably intentional. By not having as many good single-target damage spells, they move that niche towards more martial characters.
    Jasnah avatar by Zea Mays

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Y U NO Single Target Spell?

    Huh, that makes sense.

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    MindFlayer

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    Default Re: Y U NO Single Target Spell?

    I'd say more that single target damage spells are of very inconsistent quality. Things like Magic Missile, Crown of Stars, Scorching Ray, Spiritual Weapon, Guiding Bolt, Catapult, and Disintegrate clearly have their place in various builds. Things like Melf's Acid Arrow, Immolation, Mordenkainen's Sword, and Witch Bolt just kind of... don't. Like, at all.

    There are inconsistencies in the power levels of other types of spells as well, but in the case of single target damage spells it is perhaps the most obvious because you need to account for the fewest variables in order to make an objective comparison and see that Melf's Acid Arrow is just worse than upcast level 1 spells from the same list.

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    Troll in the Playground
     
    Chimera

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    Default Re: Y U NO Single Target Spell?

    Yeah, the best single target damage spell is 'criting paladin smite.'

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    JakOfAllTirades's Avatar

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    Default Re: Y U NO Single Target Spell?

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie the Duck View Post
    Yeah, the best single target damage spell is 'criting paladin smite.'
    My money's on critical Eldritch Strike, but yes.
    I CAN EXPLAIN IT FOR YOU, BUT I CAN'T UNDERSTAND IT FOR YOU.


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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Y U NO Single Target Spell?

    Chiming in that there are good single target spells. For pure "blasting" MM/Sray with additive damage-per-bolt hit GWM-GWM+++ damage as does minionmancy on a single target.

    That said the complete lack of attack roll spells for single target of 6th level or higher combined with a glut of turnwasting save-or-take-minimal-damage just makes limited magic immunity is the worst. The design choice to print so many worthless spells seems crazy to me.
    Last edited by Nhorianscum; 2019-09-18 at 08:43 AM.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: Y U NO Single Target Spell?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjarkmundur View Post
    Is it just me, or is the single-target blasting options of 5e kinda underwhelming?
    Play an Evoker and make yourself a bunch of (cheap, Uncommon, no-attunement-required) Wands of Magic Missile. Then toss out Magic Missile VII for ~76 points of auto-hit force damage whenever you feel like it (or 59 points when you're relying on intrinsic spell slots instead of a wand) and tell me that's underwhelming.

    Theoretically you could also take a level of Hexblade for Hexblade's Curse to boost the damage up to potentially 130 damage per wand, but that only works at short range (30') on one enemy short rest, and requires Cha 13+, so don't do it unless you want it for other reasons too like the Medium Armor proficiency.

    It's unfortunate though that that's the only non-underwhelming blasting spell though, and it's only non-underwhelming for specific subclasses. If you're thinking you'd rather be a high-level Diviner casting Wish (Planar Binding) w/ a low Portent to take control of enemies, instead of casting spells for big damage... you're not wrong. Damage isn't really a strength of 5E spellcasters, aside from that Magic Missile thing.

  10. - Top - End - #10
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    Yunru's Avatar

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    Default Re: Y U NO Single Target Spell?

    Quote Originally Posted by JakOfAllTirades View Post
    My money's on critical Eldritch Strike, but yes.
    You mean "Critical Paladin's Eldritch Strike Smite", right?

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Goblin

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    Default Re: Y U NO Single Target Spell?

    I suspect this was very intentional. 5e is trying to walk a fine line between 4e blandness and weird power gaps of 3.5.

    Cantrips kinda show what I mean. 1d10 fire dmg as a wizard or 1d10+str as a flighter. I think the problem is if you give casters brutal single target damage you take away the role of the Archer (or warlock) or even the melee.

    It's a pretty even field really. Casters excel in very slight degrees difference between aoe damage or control. Melee tends to have a slight edge at single target burst. Archer/warlock at damage consistency.

    It's a pretty clever formula for the most part. A caster can still single target at about 75% of the speed of a melee. Most melee / archers have one or two abilities to cc or blast.

    In 5e everyone can do everything with slightly varying degrees of power. It's a step up from everyone doing everything equally in 4e.

    That all said if you really want to go single target caster for pure damage (I do not consider warlock a caster, it's just an Archer with a magical bow)...

    I'd say the front runners are some multiclass death cleric or some kind of Divine soul sorc. Twin toll the dead on death is solid damage. Both have access to inflict, which is one of the best scaling spells in the game. Twin inflict is not too bad (two targets of course) or even just quicken followed by some cantrip.

    In particular I'd look at a Divine soul x (any sorc works here really), fighter 2, and if you want to go full cheese, add death cleric 1 into the mix.

    This potentially allows you to reach some solid Nova numbers. Since you can quicken toll, you can potentially fire off the spell 4 times in a round against two adjacent targets using action surge. That's 8d12 potentially as early as level 5, albeit only once. At level 11 it becomes 12d12 and so on. Its still not as good as a melee or ranger, but you do get all the other spells when you're not going super Saiyan once per short rest.

    In melee it is similar, stronger, but way more spell slot consuming. You want some class for armor since you'll be in melee, so realistically something like Divine 3 fighter 2 can get you a burst 16d10 inflict wounds split on 2 adjacent targets by burning every level 2 spell slot, twin, and surge. It's one hell of a way to spend every resource at once!

    Again, is that better than a paladin smite with 2 attacks? Not really, but it's about as close as you can get I think for single target spell damage builds.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: Y U NO Single Target Spell?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherlockpwns View Post
    Cantrips kinda show what I mean. 1d10 fire dmg as a wizard or 1d10+str as a flighter. I think the problem is if you give casters brutal single target damage you take away the role of the Archer (or warlock) or even the melee.
    Note that spellcasters are also terrible at long-ranged combat. You can see enemies coming from 1-2 miles away in level terrain (per real life and the 5E DMG), and a Fighter can commence shooting them with a longbow once they are an eighth of a mile away, but the wizard has to wait six or seven more rounds until they're within range of a thrown softball (~150 ft.) before he can start doing anything to them, barring the rare exception like 9th level Meteor Swarm (1 mile range).

    If the DM is using vaguely realistic sizes for battlefields, sniping/archer suppression/overwatch is an important niche for weapon-wielders too, in addition to the amounts of damage. 120' Fire Bolt absolutely will not cut it.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Y U NO Single Target Spell?

    As a general rule yes. Though some exceptions exist in doing stuff like Disintegrating a stunned enemy.
    Reality is relative, and there is an exception to every rule.

  14. - Top - End - #14
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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Y U NO Single Target Spell?

    You can do some decent damage with the right polymorph

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Y U NO Single Target Spell?

    I disagree casters burst single target DPR is fine. Itís just not sustainable (require spell slots). At lower levels an upcast MM (up to level 2) puts your DPR as high, if not higher, as any melee. Unfortunately you can only do this a few times before running out.

    At higher level you need to rely on spells thatís not intuitively damage dealing, look beyond evocation. One good suggestion above is polymorph but I have strategies that allows caster to do solid DPR damage.

    See for example if you want your single target DPR to match the melees you need to look for minions. Iím most familiar playing wizards but it would be similar for clerics/druids as well.

    Starting at level 5 you can animate skeletons and zombies that you can armor up and give them weapons (skeletons only). This will increase your DPR significantly.

    Later along with your undead minions you can add animate objects. 10 tiny objects with +8 to hit and does up to 10d4 + 40 damage per round in addition to any opportunity attacks triggered by the target. For extra DPR drop a smoke bomb or pyrotechnics and your tiny animate objects will attack with advantage.

    Later you can hulk out with Tenserís transformation, have another party member cast haste on you, break out the dual wielding and youíll have 5 attacks a round with advantage all dealing an extra 2d12 of force damage.

    I mean I donít think this is what you are looking for but with the right prep and spell selection you can easily out single target DPR the melees one or two times per day. Until level 17 than you can out DPR the melees whether itís AoE or single target all day long as wish abuse comes into play and there is no realistic way melees can keep up.

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    JakOfAllTirades's Avatar

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    Default Re: Y U NO Single Target Spell?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yunru View Post
    You mean "Critical Paladin's Eldritch Strike Smite", right?
    After double-checking the numbers (based on 2 short rests per day), I prefer the Warlock's smiting ability. The Warlock comes out ahead on damage output at most character levels, knocks enemies prone, and with the Improved Pact Weapon Invocation, he can do so with ranged weapons. Throw in the Sharpshooter Feat and he can Smite from 600 feet away without disadvantage.
    I CAN EXPLAIN IT FOR YOU, BUT I CAN'T UNDERSTAND IT FOR YOU.


  17. - Top - End - #17
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Yunru's Avatar

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    Default Re: Y U NO Single Target Spell?

    Quote Originally Posted by JakOfAllTirades View Post
    After double-checking the numbers (based on 2 short rests per day), I prefer the Warlock's smiting ability.
    My point was "Why not use both?" :P

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    Laserlight's Avatar

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    Default Re: Y U NO Single Target Spell?

    My favorite single target spell is "Do your thing, Rogue." Doesn't even take my action.
    Junior, half orc paladin of the Order of St Dale the Intimidator: "Ah cain't abide no murderin' scoundrel."

    Tactical Precepts: 1) Cause chaos, then exploit it; 2) No plan survives contact with...(sigh)...my subordinates.

  19. - Top - End - #19
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Chimera

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    Default Re: Y U NO Single Target Spell?

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie the Duck View Post
    Yeah, the best single target damage spell is 'criting paladin smite.'
    Quote Originally Posted by JakOfAllTirades View Post
    My money's on critical Eldritch Strike, but yes.
    Quote Originally Posted by Yunru View Post
    You mean "Critical Paladin's Eldritch Strike Smite", right?
    Quote Originally Posted by JakOfAllTirades View Post
    After double-checking the numbers (based on 2 short rests per day), I prefer the Warlock's smiting ability.
    Quote Originally Posted by Yunru View Post
    My point was "Why not use both?" :P
    Holy monkeys wearing machine-washable sweaters, Batman! I did not realize I needed to put in a parenthetic or asterisked "etc." after my comment, but I would have if I did. Yes, there are many ways to burn spells to create or boost weapon attacks. The point works with any of them.


    Quote Originally Posted by Laserlight View Post
    My favorite single target spell is "Do your thing, Rogue." Doesn't even take my action.
    Yes, or that. Although you might have to issue said request using the Message cantrip to technically qualify.

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