Baldur’s Gate 3 (BG3) features the most faithful and fun adaptation of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) 5th Edition ruleset to a video game so far. That’s why it’s no surprise that the game’s best cantrips are also more or less the same as the ones from the tabletop RPG, albeit with some slight differences. Because of the way certain spells and cantrips have been implemented in BG3, some of them aren’t as good as they were in D&D.
Here’s a quick look at all the best cantrips in Baldur’s Gate 3, a quick explanation of how they work, and some use cases to help you understand why these cantrips are the best in the game.
The Best Baldur’s Gate 3 Cantrips and What Makes Them Great
1. Eldritch Blast
Eldritch Blast is an amazing damage-dealing cantrip in Dungeons and Dragons and it remains as good as it was in Baldur’s Gate 3. Eldritch Blast is basically a free 1-10 damage points every turn with the only cost being an Action instead of a spell slot. But you might be wondering: Why Eldritch Blast and not Firebolt? After all, Firebolt deals more damage than Eldritch Blast at Level 5 because the former doles out 2-20 fire damage instead.
What makes Eldritch Blast better than Firebolt in Baldur’s Gate 3 is the number of targets you can choose. While Firebolt increases damage up front, Eldritch Blast gives you an additional bolt at Level 5 and a third bolt at Level 10. This turns it into a cheaper Magic Missile that requires no spell slots.
At Level 2, Eldritch Blast can get a boost from Eldritch Invocations. If you pick up Repelling Blast, it can push back enemies; and if you add Agonizing Blast, you can add your Charisma modifier to your Attack Roll.
Guidance is a Divination cantrip that you can get from the Cleric and Druid cantrip list. Guidance adds +1d4 to Ability Checks for a target of your choosing. It’s easy to overlook if you haven’t played a TTRPG before, but what it lacks in pizzazz, it makes up for in utility. With Guidance, you can keep your exhausted party from having to fight by succeeding in a Persuasion check or prevent the loss of a Thieves’ Tools in a Sleight of Hand check.
3. Fire Bolt
Fire Bolt and Eldritch Blast are very similar on paper if you read them on their own without counting later stacks of features and abilities. The only weird thing about Fire Bolt is that it always seems to miss. Hey, those jokes about it being the ‘Igmiss‘ spell didn’t come about on their own. That said, if you’re trying to finish off an enemy of average strength in one turn, Fire Bolt is a good cantrip to bet your hopes on.
Fire Bolt starts out with 1-10 Fire damage. Once you get to Level 5, that increases to 2-20 Fire damage. You can get Fire Bolt from the Wizard and Sorcerer classes or the Arcane Trickster and Eldritch Knight subclasses. If you’re playing a High Elf or High Half-Elf, you get it for free with your race.
4. Thorn Whip
Thorn Whip is a cantrip that can pull a creature 3 meters closer to you within a range of 9 meters. It comes in handy for situations where your movement speed falls short of letting you hit an enemy. You can also use it to drag enemies into an AoE spell or terrain. But pay attention to the way the cantrip is worded — it doesn’t specify that the target needs to be in front of you or on the same terrain level. You can use it to drag enemies down from heights, saving you the movement it takes to reach them.
6. Mage Hand
Combat in Baldur’s Gate 3 is turn-based, so if you find yourself out numbered, you’re going to feel all of those enemy attacks roll in with you unable to act during them. While Mage Hand can’t be cast as a reaction, the good thing about this cantrip is that it counts as another creature in your control, much like the undead or the familiars you summon in the game. This lets you break up combat with your own turn in fights with multiple enemies.
Onto the actual meat and potatoes of the cantrip. Mage Hand can be used to interact with objects, provided they aren’t too heavy. You can use it to throw poison, trigger traps, open up sarcophagi, etc. without exposing your party to damage.
6. Shocking Grasp
The fun thing about casters is you get to blast spells at a distance. What’s not so fun is that you don’t have spell-hurling room if your enemies force you into melee. Shocking Grasp ensures you have something in our spellbook for close-quarters combat. Certain subclasses of Cleric and Sorcerer favor Lightning damage and there are weapons and items in the game that can buff it.
Just picking up the Create or Destroy Water spell can buff the damage of your Lightning spells. Magical weapons like Spellsparkler and the Lifebringer can provide additional damage to your spells through Lightning charges, buff Lightning damage, and give you a few sustain capabilities just by making use of Lightning spell attacks.
7. Minor Illusion
Minor Illusion creates an illusion that lasts for 10 turns which is a long time for distracting enemies. While Charm and Friends can work to help you avoid combat, they have limitations based on the target’s hitpoints and they tend to push you into combat anyway after the enemy realizes they’ve been duped. With Minor Illusion, you can rob every trader you meet and sneak past guards with a little more ease.
8. Blade Ward
Spellcasters tend to be glass canons, but Blade Ward can keep them from dying in one melee hit. You can also use Blade Ward on a party member that specializes in hand-to-hand combat like Monk, Fighter, Barbarian, and Eldritch Knight so you can keep them at the front of the battlefield to take the aggro for your spellcaster.
9. Vicious Mockery
Vicious Mockery may not be the strongest thing you can cast in the game, but it’s hilarious if you think about how this works. You are trash-talking someone so hard that it messes with their attacks. Jokes aside, 2-8 Psychic damage is nothing to scoff at since it’s one of the damage types in the game that have fewer enemy resistances. Not to mention, giving your enemies Disadvantage on their roles can save you a Scroll of Revivify.
Do cantrips get stronger in Baldur’s Gate 3?
Yes, the cantrips in Baldur’s Gate 3 get stronger as you level up. Certain cantrips and spells even stack to increase your damage output. Notable examples of this are Fire Bolt and Eldritch Blast which increase in damage per blast or increase the number of blasts, respectively. You can deal more damage in one turn with Fire Bolt to a single target or hit more targets with Eldritch Blast, either way, you get more damage.
Certain cantrips stay fixed especially if they are not damage-dealing in nature or at least, not directly. Blade Ward, Minor Illusion, Misty Step, and Guidance remain the same throughout the game.
What’s the difference between cantrips and spells in Baldur’s Gate 3?
Unlike spells, cantrips in Baldur’s Gate 3 do not consume a spell slot to cast. In a game where action economy and resources are limited, being able to use your spellcaster to deal damage or provide an assist without having to scrounge up camp supplies for a long rest can help you get through extended combat situations. Especially when your other damage dealers are out of spell slots and superiority dice.
How does cantrip damage increase?
Not all cantrips in Baldur’s Gate 3 can increase in damage. Generally, however, you just need to level up and your cantrips will level with you.