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 then becomes sheathed in booming energy until the start of your next turn. If the target willingly moves 5 feet or more before then, the target takes 1d8 thunder damage, and the spell ends.
This spell’s damage increases when you reach certain levels. At 5th level, the melee attack deals an extra 1d8 thunder damage to the target on a hit, and the damage the target takes for moving increases to 2d8. Both damage rolls increase by 1d8 at 11th level (2d8 and 3d8) and again at 17th level (3d8 and 4d8).
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self (5-foot radius)
Components: S, M (a melee weapon worth at least 1 sp)
School: Evocation cantrip
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, pg. 106
Booming Blade 5e
Booming Blade has been the talk of the town since its initial release in the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide. While it was eventually tweaked to be slightly less powerful for its final form in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, it’s still a wonderful choice with all sorts of fun applications.
It’s also the source of much player and DM misunderstanding, so let’s try to clear that up while also covering just what makes Booming Blade such an enticing cantrip for some characters.
Who Can Cast Booming Blade in 5e?
The following classes have Booming Blade on their spell list:
No subclasses get Booming Blade for free.
What Does Booming Blade Do in 5e?
Booming Blade is a spell that requires the caster to make a normal melee attack that functions just like a normal melee attack at first. But if the caster lands their hit, the target is “sheathed in booming energy” (totally easy to conceptualize, right?) which causes them to take 1d8 (4.5 average) thunder damage if they voluntarily move before the caster’s next turn.
At levels 4 and under, the target only takes normal melee attack damage from whatever weapon the caster used (resolving the attack as normal) and only suffers thunder damage if it decides to move. At levels 5 and above, Booming Blade also deals instantaneous thunder damage if the attack lands.
Now let’s turn to the many, many misunderstandings about how Booming Blade works.
What Are the Rules for Booming Blade in 5e?
The rules for Booming Blade in DnD 5e are as follows:
Booming Blade works with the War Caster feat. This Sage Advice thread confirms that the War Caster feat’s third bullet (using spells as opportunity attacks) works with Booming Blade. So if an opponent triggers an opportunity attack, you can smack them with Booming Blade and force them to decide whether to continue moving (and taking Booming Blade’s damage) or stop moving (more on this in the rules later).
Standing from prone does not trigger Booming Blade damage. While standing up from being prone costs half of a creature’s movement (PHB 190), the creature doesn’t actually move anywhere. Thus, it doesn’t trigger Booming Blade — here’s Sage Advice confirmation.
Booming Blade cannot be used with Reach weapons to attack targets more than 5 feet away. Because Booming Blade’s range is limited to 5 feet, it cannot work with reach weapons like a whip or polearm to attack from 10 feet away. Here’s Sage Advice confirmation.
Booming Blade cannot be used with the Spell Sniper feat. Since the spell description of Booming Blade clearly indicates that the target creature must be “within 5 feet of you,” it is not eligible for the Spell Sniper feat, which doubles the range of spells with attack rolls (PHB 170).
A creature must move voluntarily to take Booming Blade’s secondary damage. So spells like Thunderwave or even Dissonant Whispers that force movement won’t trigger Booming Blade.
You can use a two-handed weapon with Booming Blade. The material component section of the rules reads that “a spellcaster must have a hand free to access a spell’s material components — or to hold a spellcasting focus — but it can be the same hand that he or she uses to perform somatic components.” (PHB 203).
Since Booming Blade’s somatic element is the weapon itself, you’re fine to use it with a two-handed weapon — no free hand necessary.
You can’t take an Extra Attack after casting Booming Blade. The Sage Advice Compendium confirmed that because Booming Blade is a “Cast a Spell action, not the Attack action” (SAC 18).
You can’t use two-weapon fighting’s bonus action attack with Booming Blade. Two-weapon fighting requires that you “take the Attack action and attack with a light weapon,” but since Booming Blade isn’t the Attack action, casting it does not make a creature eligible to use two-weapon fighting’s bonus attack action with their “off-hand” weapon.
You use your normal weapon attack and damage modifiers for Booming Blade, not spellcasting modifiers. So you’ll use Strength or Dexterity, since it’s a normal melee attack, not a melee spell attack. This was confirmed in the Sage Advice Compendium (SAC 18).
Booming Blade doesn’t make any extra noise. Spells only do what they say — while spells like Thunderwave clearly indicate that they’re audible from a distance, Booming Blade has no such descriptor.
Therefore, casting Booming Blade is just as loud as a normal melee attack.
Pact of the Blade does work with Booming Blade. This Sage Advice thread confirms that the weapon conjured by Warlock’s Pact of the Blade feature “has the value in chapter 5 of the Player’s Handbook,” thus making it eligible for Booming Blade.
Shadow Blade don’t work with Booming Blade. Because it doesn’t have a cost, and Jeremy Crawford confirms that it “weaves together gloom” and Booming Blade’s somatic component specifies that the weapon must cost at least 1 sp. This also rules out most improvised weapons.
You can’t stack multiple Booming Blade spells on the same creature. Because “the effects of the same spell cast multiple times don’t combine (PHB 205).
Booming Blade can trigger Rogues’ Sneak Attack attack. As long as the Rogue fulfills normal Sneak Attack requirements (they’re using a finesse or ranged weapon and have advantage on the attack roll or have an un-incapacitated ally within 5 feet of the enemy) (PHB 96). This was confirmed in the Sage Advice Compendium (SAC 18).
You cannot use the Twinned Spell metamagic with Booming Blade. Twinned Spell specifies “doesn’t have a range of self,” which Booming Blade does (PHB 102).
A creature targeted by an opportunity attack Booming Blade can stop moving. This Sage Advice thread confirms that a creature can decide to stop moving after being targeted by an opportunity attack. So using the War Caster feat in conjunction with Booming Blade doesn’t guarantee that its movement-based damage will land.
Booming Blade only deals magical damage on the initial strike if the weapon used for the attack is magical. Sage Advice confirmation.
There is no rule guiding whether creatures affected by Booming Blade “know” they are affected by Booming Blade. This is up to DM discretion. Of course, players will know when they’re targeted by Booming Blade so long as the DM tells them or they understand the way the effect is described.
How Do I Use Booming Blade in 5e?
Here are a few ways to make the most of the Booming Blade cantrip:
Get the Mobile feat. The Mobile feat’s third bullet point allows a player to move away from a creature they’ve attacked this turn without provoking opportunity attacks (PHB 168). If you use Booming Blade and run away from an enemy, they’ll have to decide whether to chase you and take damage or stay put and do nothing with their turn (if they’re melee-only).
Additionally, the Swashbuckler Rogue has the Fancy Footwork feature, which essentially grants the important part of the Mobile feat (SCAG 135).
Pair with spells that cause hazardous areas. Spells like Spirit Guardians work really well with Booming Blade for the same reason as the Mobile feat — an enemy has to decide whether to move and take Booming Blade damage or stay put and take damage from another source.
This sort of “rock-and-a-hard-place” utility is where Booming Blade really shines.
Pair with martial classes. A great thing about Booming Blade is that it doesn’t rely on any spellcasting modifiers at all, making it a great candidate for a martial class. Picking it up as a multiclass dip, via Eldritch Knight/Arcane Trickster Rogue spells, or from the Magic Initiate feat are all common options.
It’s not always better than using an Extra Attack (more on that later), but for Rogue’s especially, this is a powerful cantrip to pick up.
Pair with a Rogue’s Cunning Action to disengage. Continuing from the last point, Booming Blade really shines on Rogues. The Disengage bonus action they get through their Cunning Action class feature is perfectly suited for getting in, using Booming Blade, and getting out scot-free.
This, again, forces the enemy into a hard choice of pursuing and taking damage or staying put.
Use Booming Blade to lock ranged/spellcaster enemies down. Booming Blade is also good for tanks since it can be used to force enemies to stick close to you (or take damage otherwise — from both Booming Blade and your opportunity attack).
Beyond that, it’s good on any melee character who is trying to get enemies to stick near them.
Stop someone following you. As a full-caster, this is Booming Blade’s best utility in most cases. Sure, you might take a smack from an opportunity attack on your way out, but at least they’re less likely to follow you.
Be a Bladesinging Wizard. Since Bladesinging Wizards can cast a cantrip as one of their Extra Attacks, Booming Blade is a perfect choice for them (TCoE 77). One potential weakness of Booming Blade is that it can be worse than just using Extra Attack — Bladesining Wizards say “why not both?” to this issue.
Who Can I Target With Booming Blade 5e?
You can target one creature within 5 feet (melee range) with Booming Blade. While the range of the spell is listed as Self (5-foot radius), this was mainly done to prevent it from working with the Spell Sniper feat and reach weapons and other, more edge-case rules.
Is Booming Blade 5e a Good Spell?
Yes, Booming Blade is a good spell for the right character build. For Rogue’s and anyone with the Mobile feat, the ability to force a melee enemy to make a tough decision is incredibly powerful. It almost works like a soft crowd control.
At higher levels, Booming Blade’s initial damage makes it even more attractive. An additional 1d8 thunder damage keeps it competitive with Extra Attack for most character builds. Speaking of which…
Booming Blade 5e Compared to Extra Attack
Many players argue whether it’s better to use Booming Blade or just use an Extra Attack. Luckily, RPGBOT did some great analysis (so I don’t have to :))
What he found is that Booming Blade is better than a single Extra Attack (so not for higher-level Fighters), as long as you get the secondary effects (the target moves on their turn and takes bonus damage).
I recommend reading it for a more thorough rundown of the situations where each option wins out.
Booming Blade 5e DM Tips
First and foremost, I’d like to give my opinion that the ruling that “Shadow Blade does not work with Booming Blade” is silly and should be ignored. The combo does nothing game-breaking and is super cool to use/build a character around, so why prevent it?
We left DMs with another unresolved rule question: Does the creature know it’s “sheathed in booming energy”? My feeling is that, since players likely know when they’re affected by Booming Blade, other creatures should too.
But you can have more of a gray area — maybe some stupid and/or non-magic savvy creatures wouldn’t know enough to be afraid of a little extra static electricity after being hit with a weapon. On the other hand, a knowledgeable spellcasting foe ought to know what’s going on after being smacked with thunderous magical energy.
Ultimately, it’s up to you and whatever makes for satisfying gameplay. A lot of Booming Blade’s power comes from the fact that it forces a difficult decision anyway. So even if you do rule that creatures know they’ll take damage if they move, it doesn’t necessarily make Booming Blade any less tactically useful.
Simple Booming Blade 5e Spell Text
Booming Blade: (Evocation cantrip, Self (5-foot radius), S/M (a melee weapon worth at least 1 sp) Make a melee attack one creature in range with the weapon you use to cast this spell. On hit, target takes 1d8 additional thunder damage if it willingly moves before your next turn. | At 5th level, the melee attack deals an extra 1d8 thunder damage to the target on a hit, and the damage the target takes for moving increases to 2d8. +1d8 to both damage rolls at 11th and 17th level.