Green Flame Blade is an interesting evocation cantrip. Potentially causing damage to two enemies with one cast, there are several reasons this is one of the most popular attack cantrips. A closer look, however, reveals the weakness when compared to other options.
The rules for Green Flame Blade are found in The Sword Coast Adventurers Guide (page 143) and Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything (page 107).
Green Flame Blade 5e
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: Self (5-Foot Radius)
Components: S, M (A melee weapon worth at least 1sp.)
You brandish the weapon used in the spell’s casting and make a melee attack with it against one creature within 5 feet of you. On a hit, the target suffers the weapon attack’s normal effects, and you can cause green fire to leap from the target to a different creature of your choice that you can see within 5 feet of it. The second creature takes fire damage equal to your spellcasting ability modifier.
This spell’s damage increases when you reach certain levels. At 5th level, the melee attack deals an extra 1d8 fire damage to the target on a hit, and the fire damage to the second creature increases to 1d8 + your spellcasting ability modifier. Both damage rolls increase by 1d8 at 11th level (2d8 and 2d8) and 17th level (3d8 and 3d8).
The rules for the Green Flame Blade cantrip show it is a bit unconventional, provided it utilizes a melee weapon attack through a spell. The key to remember here is this is a Spell Action, not an Attack Action- follow the rules as such. They also indicate that this spell works better in certain circumstances than others as you can damage two targets with one cast, provided they are within 5 feet of the original target.
Is Green Flame Blade Good?
Green Flame Blade (GFB) is a damage cantrip that can hit multiple enemies. That on its own makes the spell a great addition for numerous classes. Any class that has a single attack will benefit from this cantrip.
Casters may not be as inclined to take a melee weapon based cantrip spell. However, as any caster knows, engaging in melee is inevitable. When that situation occurs, Green Flame Blade is going to come in really handy.
The downside to this is the exchange of multiple attacks for a single spell attack. Also, the damage to the second target is not that great, even as the cantrip levels up with the character. Early on, it provides no bonus damage to the initial target and most likely only a few points of damage to the secondary target.
Can you Sneak Attack with Green Flame Blade?
In the process of casting the Green Flame Blade spell, you make a melee attack and meet the requirements for sneak attack. This results in extra damage at higher levels or damage to a secondary target before 5th level.
The obvious comparison to make with this spell is the off-hand attack with a light weapon. Green Flame Blade does additional damage to the secondary target early on but no additional damage to the primary target. An off-hand attack for a rogue using a dagger is 1d4, so a hit with primary and off-hand attacks results in more damage than Green Flame Blade is going to do in most cases.
Not to mention, the off-hand attack gives the rogue an extra chance to hit with sneak attack. You could also attack an adjacent target with the off-hand attack.
Who gets Green Flame Blade?
As stated above, any class can take Green Flame Blade and see a benefit, but the classes that have access to the spell without burning a feat are the Sorcerer, Warlock, and Wizard. The Eldritch Knight Fighter and Arcane Trickster also have the spell available to them based on the lists they use. The Artificer has the spell available as an option.
The Arcane Trickster rogue was touched on above and follows the same concept as the Eldritch Knight fighter. The other potential classes are the warlock and full casters. This spell feels like a waste for the warlock unless you are really opposed to Eldritch Blast, but even then, there are probably better options.
The wizard and sorcerer classes may be the only ones who might benefit from this spell in-game. This is a worst-case scenario if the caster has to be involved in melee. Ranged spell attacks like Fire Bolt have disadvantage in melee range. Green Flame Blade requires a melee attack as part of the spell, so it might be the best bet, but it still has to hit to be effective.
Green Flame Blade: Sword Coast vs. Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
There were a few updates made to Green Flame Blade with the release of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. The rules here are the most recent presented in TCE. Some of the notable changes were:
- Range changed from 5 feet to “self (5-foot radius).”
- The spell cannot be Twin Spelled via metamagic due to the new range of self.
- The spell can be cast using the War Caster Feat.
- The spell no longer works with the Spell Sniper Feat as the spell has a range of self and cannot be doubled.
- A Pact Weapon can be used with the spell since the conjured weapon simulates the value of a real weapon.
- The player has the option of making the Green Flame Blade damage jump to the second target.
- The spell no longer works with Shadow Blade as the blade conjured doesn’t replicate a weapon and thus has no value.
Outside of being a flavorful option, Green Flame Blade is out-damaged by Booming Blade and is relatively limited in versatility. Early on, the spell might be useful for crowds of weak enemies but offers little in solo engagements. At higher levels, more versatile cantrips can be picked up. All in all, Green Flame Blade maybe one to pass on.