Baldur’s Gate 3‘s turn-based combat may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for those of us who’ve played it anyway, it’s no surprise that being able to anticipate and respond to enemy attacks can be challenging even at higher levels. We can only bring three companions to the battlefield at a given time, so if we have several enemies, the action economy swings in the enemy team’s favor. They get to take more turns as a whole.
Fighting off swarms of enemies in Baldur’s Gate 3 is easier to do if you make use of crowd control spells. Crowd control spells in Baldur’s Gate 3 slow enemies down and prevent them from attacking, helping you deal more damage without having a total party kill (TPK) on your hands.
For this list, we chose spells that require little to no setup, have few conditions, and are efficient in terms of spell slots — meaning that they don’t eat through your high-level spell slots and that they are worth using your action to cast over other spells available for their spell level.
The Grease spell is the best crowd-control spell in Baldur’s Gate 3. Hunger of Hadar inflicts more conditions, and Hold Person stops enemies outright, sure. Grease isn’t the strongest, but what it lacks in strength, it makes up for in the area it covers, the longevity of its effect, and how cheap it is to cast.
Grease can keep enemies from forcing your spellcasters into melee because it slows them down. It can also make enemies fall Prone, a condition that costs them even more movement to recover from. Grease is also flammable. While enemies are trapped in Grease, you can set the Grease on fire to deal AoE Fire damage.
Another thing you may not have considered about Grease is that it’s effective against invisible enemies. Who needs See Invisibility if you can see enemy footprints in your Grease?
2. Hold Person
Hold Person doesn’t just slow enemies down; it stops them from acting entirely. While Grease is cheaper, Hold Person is a great spell to cast on enemy spellcasters and archers so that you can safely ignore them and pick off weaker or melee enemies. Hold Person also ties nicely with other spells in a caster’s tool kit, like Cloud of Daggers, which deals damage over time (DoT) to enemies trapped within it. It also just so happens that Hold Person and Cloud of Daggers have the same longevity of 10 turns.
While you would need a second caster to use Cloud of Daggers, you can easily send a Barbarian or Fighter to get some hits in. Creatures held by a Hold Person always receive Crit Hits. Plus, if you upcast Hold Person with a Level 3 spell slot, it lets you choose another target.
Tired of having your Barbarians and Warriors hexed? Silence can keep enemy spellcasters from casting spells that have verbal components, provided that you can keep them inside the sphere. Silence also has utility against attacks that deal with Thunder damage.
Because Silence negates spells that involve a verbal component, your enemies can’t cast the game’s best cantrips, such as Eldritch Blast, Fire Bolt, Mage Hand, or Thorn Whip. It also prevents them from casting Armor of Agathys, Charm Person, Hex, Hellish Rebuke, and Arms of Hadar.
4. Hunger of Hadar
Speaking of Hadar of Arms of Hadar fame, another great crowd control spell is Hunger of Hadar. This is an absolute beast of an AoE and crowd-control spell. While the spell itself only says it deals Cold and maybe Acid damage, what it fails to point out is that it effectively blinds enemies within its AoE because of the darkness it conjures up. It also gives no opportunity for enemies to save themselves from its effects because it doesn’t rely on enemies losing a saving throw. The damage is just dealt, whether your enemies like it or not.
5. Cloud of Daggers
An obvious downside to Cloud of Daggers is that enemies can just move out of them once their turn starts. But that’s not the best way to use Cloud of Daggers. The party might spend a lot of time in open areas, but every now and then, you’ll notice that fights indoors and on roads have chokepoints where all enemies have to pass through. Cast Cloud of Daggers and maybe Evard’s Black Tentacles in front of a chokepoint to force enemies to take damage before they can attack you at melee range.
6. Sleet Storm
Casting crowd-control spells is fun, but it’s not fun when it’s being cast on you. It’s also not fun when your setup is ruined because an enemy broke your concentration. So if it sucks for you, why not do it to an enemy too?
Sleet Storms deals Cold damage, puts out fires that could deal DoT, creates difficult terrain, and disrupts the concentration of enemy spellcasters. Short of doing your taxes, it does everything you can ask of a crowd control spell. If it didn’t rely on enemies failing their Constitution saving throws, it would be even better.
7. Ice Knife
Another spell that suffers from relying on enemy failure rather than your party’s strength is Ice Knife. That said, Ice Knife will still explode and deal up to 12 Cold damage to enemies even if it doesn’t hit its target. When it explodes, it creates an ice surface that slows down your enemies. Also, if you don’t have See Invisibility, you can use Ice Knife’s icy surfaces to look for footprints left by invisible enemies.
Counterspell doesn’t seem to get a mention elsewhere for being a good crowd-control spell, but it is amazing for crowd-control because of its versatility. When you add Counterspell to your character’s tool kit, you don’t have to plan ahead for what you’ll be using it for or expend an action to cast it. Since it nullifies other spells, you can deny enemy crowd control spells.
But negating damage and ruining enemy spell combos isn’t why Counterspell is here. Counterspell makes the cut because it can prevent an enemy from using Misty Step. You know, the spell they can use to move anywhere to open doors, call for reinforcements, or strike your party member that’s hanging on with 1 HP.
9. Arcane Lock
On the subject of doors, Baldur’s Gate 3‘s loading screen will remind you that fights can get bigger as they attract attention from other enemies. You can keep those enemies from entering the fray by casting Arcane Lock on a door. This also stops enemies you’re already fighting from retreating or calling for help.
Many spells have the requirement that a caster should be able to see the target. That includes damage spells coming to you, healing spells going to enemies, and Misty Steps. Darkness can make those spells useless for 10 turns, and it’s not just spell casters that Darkness denies damage from. Ranged attack characters will also be unable to shoot their arrows at your party. Well, unless an enemy is from a race that has Darkvision.