If you are considering feats for your character, then you will no doubt come across Magic Initiate. Magic Initiate allows you to pick two cantrips and a 1st-level spell from the spell list of a spellcasting class. If you have glanced at the number of spells in D&D 5e, you know there are hundreds of options and combinations to pick.
Our DMs have delved deep into their memories and notes to compare spells and cantrips and picked those that were most effective to choose for Magic Initiate in their experience. Here is our ranking – from best to worst – of the best cantrips and spells for Magic Initiate!
1. Find Familiar
One of my favorite spells in D&D 5e is Find Familiar. The number of uses this level 1 spell has is mind-blowing. A familiar is not just useful in combat but also opens up many doors from a roleplaying perspective. Your familiar can be a small animal like a bat, cat, or even a pseudodragon familiar.
You can use that familiar to scout ahead of the party, gather information, deliver a message, or even aid you in combat. No matter if you are fighting or exploring, you will be able to use your familiar often if you pick this spell for Magic Initiate.
2. Eldritch Blast
Another great option for your spellcaster build is Eldritch Blast. The Eldritch Blast is an amazing cantrip that deals a good amount of force damage. While enhancing it with evocations is going to be hard without having access to the full Warlock spellbook, the cantrip is still very potent.
If you have played as a Warlock, you will definitely know just how potent this cantrip can be in the right hands. Since this is a cantrip, you can still pick a more defensive cantrip to complement this.
3. Mage Armor
If you want to boost your defenses in an easy way, then you can pick Mage Armor. This is a 1st-level spell that grants you an AC boost. If you have a higher AC, you are more difficult to hit. This is a great way to aid frail classes in surviving ambushes or fights in close quarters.
If you are not fragile or know how to keep yourself safe, you might be better off picking other spells and cantrips for Magic Initiate.
Prestidigitation is a cantrip that grants the user the ability to perform minor magical effects. These are pretty small and generally inconsequential; however, due to the sheer number of potential uses, it becomes pretty useful and fun to have in your arsenal.
A couple of uses for Prestidigitation are lighting candles and cleaning objects. Make sure to consult with your DM about the possible uses of this cantrip. Depending on the campaign, this might be the best cantrip for Magic Initiate for long-term use all the way to level 20.
Shield is a spell that is quite similar to Mage Armor. When cast, the spell provides a good amount of extra AC. This increase to your Armor Class can make your character more survivable and help you survive difficult situations.
6. Fire Bolt
If you want to deal damage, Fire Bolt is a potent pick and a nice alternative to Eldritch Blast. Although it doesn’t pack the punch that Fireball does, it’s still a top-tier choice for those who want to deal long-range magic damage. It’s one of the better damage-dealing attacks for Magic Initiate.
If you want to cement your role as the go-to support for your party, or if you don’t have one yet and want a bit of general utility, then Guidance is a great cantrip to have. When you have this cantrip, you can add a d4 to the ability check that an ally makes. Depending on the amount of ability checks your GM makes you do, this Guidance cantrip is very versatile and has plenty of opportunities for you to use.
Goodberry is a first-level spell that doesn’t see much use. It’s quite a shame, as this is a pretty unique spell that has a ton of potential. Casting Goodberry allows you to create a few magical berries. These berries can be consumed to heal you for a few hit points. They can also be sold or given to party members. Another option is to store them for later and consume them when your hit points get low.
9. Minor Illusion
If you like to mess with your enemies and want a spell that can be used outside of combat, Minor Illusion is one of the best picks. When you pick Minor Illusion as a cantrip for Magic Initiate, you have the ability to create a small illusion. You can use this illusion for a bunch of things.
Some interesting uses for Minor Illusion include creating cover to hide behind, distracting an enemy, or deceiving and scamming NPCs. While not the strongest pick on the list, it’s great to combine with other cantrips and spells and finds a lot of use when picking Magic Initiate.
10. Thorn Whip
Thorn Whip is a pretty fun spell to pick if you’re a melee user who, for some reason, picked Magic Initiate. Thorn Whip is a cantrip that allows you to summon a whip with thorny vines. Using this whip on an enemy pulls them closer and deals piercing damage. When the enemy is pulled closer, you can attack them with your melee weapon or let your party handle them up close.
11. Cure Wounds
Cure Wounds is another level 1 healing spell that has a bunch of potential for any party that finds themselves scarce on hit points. Cure Wounds is a great spell to heal allies or yourself. If you already have a dedicated healer and don’t find yourself in too much trouble, you might be better off picking another spell.
12. Detect Magic
Detect Magic is one of my favorite spells. While I wouldn’t suggest you pick this option every time you choose Magic Initiate, you should at least try having it once. If your DM is someone who enjoys high fantasy settings, you are getting a ton of utility out of it.
Detect Magic gives you the ability to detect magical auras nearby. This way, you can easily spot a spell or a magical item. I would suggest at least one person in your party have Detect Magic if you enjoy dungeon settings and hunting for lost treasure.
Final Thoughts on top spells for Magic Initiate
There are a ton of good cantrips and spells for Magic Initiate. My advice would be to pick two spells/cantrips that are more for utility and one for combat. Level one spells often aren’t all that strong after your character has gained a few levels.
Spells like Minor Illusion and Detect Magic, on the other hand, often keep their usefulness for a longer time. If your picks have some kind of use interacting with NPCs, then they are often usable up to level 20.