Each time a creature targets you with an attack during the spell’s duration, roll a d20 to determine whether the attack instead targets one of your duplicates.
If you have three duplicates, you must roll a 6 or higher to change the attack’s target to a duplicate. With two duplicates, you must roll an 8 or higher. With one duplicate, you must roll an 11 or higher.
A duplicate’s AC equals 10 + your Dexterity modifier. If an attack hits a duplicate, the duplicate is destroyed. A duplicate can be destroyed only by an attack that hits it. It ignores all other damage and effects. The spell ends when all three duplicates are destroyed.
A creature is unaffected by this spell if it can’t see, if it relies on senses other than sight, such as blindsight, or if it can perceive illusions as false, as with truesight.
Casting Time: 1 action
Components: V, S
Duration: 1 minute
School: 2nd-level illusion
Player’s Handbook, pg. 260
Mirror Image 5e
Mirror Image has been around since the first edition of Dungeons and Dragons, but that doesn’t mean it’s any more straightforward for people playing and DMing 5e. Let’s dive into what makes Mirror Image a great tool in the caster’s toolkit, as well as some of its thornier rules.
Who Can Cast Mirror Image in 5e?
The following classes have Mirror Image on their spell list:
The following subclasses get Mirror Image for free:
If you play with the optional TCoE additional class spells, Bards also get access to Mirror Image (TCoE 27).
What Does Mirror Image Do in 5e?
Mirror Image instantly creates three exact illusory duplicates of the caster. They occupy the same space, look the same, and make the same actions. Whenever a creature tries to attack the caster, the caster rolls a d20 — on a 6-11+ (depending on the number of duplicates up), the attack is redirected at a duplicate.
Duplicates have an AC of 10 + the caster’s Dexterity modifier. If any attack hits a duplicate, it’s destroyed. Other spells, damage, and effects do nothing to the duplicates.
Creatures that rely on senses other than sight or can’t see aren’t affected by Mirror Image.
The spell lasts for 1 minute, until all three duplicates are destroyed, or the caster uses an action to dismiss the duplicates.
Here’s some basic math on the defensive advantages Mirror Image provides as it degrades:
2 duplicates = 40% less chance to be hit
1 duplicate = 30% less chance to be hit
What Are the Rules for Mirror Image in 5e?
The rules for Mirror Image in DnD 5e are as follows:
Saving throw-based damaging effects won’t ever hit your duplicates. Mirror Image is very explicit that it only works when “a creature targets you with an attack” (emphasis added). The attack action is a very specific thing in DnD 5e (PHB 193-4).
Ranged spell attacks are definitely attacks, but spells that rely on saving throws, like Fireball and Toll the Dead, will be unaffected by Mirror Image — the caster is the only one who makes a saving throw if targeted by a spell that forces one, and the spell behaves normally.
Same goes for any spell that deals damage without an attack. Spells like Magic Missile, which simply “work” and deal damage without any attack roll or saving throw, are also unaffected by Mirror Image.
You can provoke an attack from the Sentinel feat if your duplicate is hit. The Sentinel feat allows you to use your reaction to attack a creature within 5 feet when they attack a target other than you. If someone within 5 feet of you attacks you and ends up hitting a duplicate, you can use your reaction to attack them. Here’s Sage Advice confirmation.
If you become invisible, so do your mirror images. Your duplicates imitate your appearance at all times, so anything you do, they do. Here’s Sage Advice confirmation.
A “sense other than sight” doesn’t need to be a special sense. The spell’s last line states that a creatures is unaffected “if it relies on senses other than sight” and then gives an example of a special sense, blightsight.
However, the regular sense of touch (while grappling) should also work to overcome Mirror Image’s adverse effects. DM confirmation required.
Darness trumps Mirror Image. One underrated application of the Darkness spell (or anything else that effectively blinds both you and your adversary) is that it evens the playing field with visual illusions like Mirror Image.
When no one can see, it’s like everyone can see (the way advantage and disadvantage cancel out — it’s confusing, read my article on Darkness).
Other melee attacks. We mentioned a few things that aren’t considered attacks, but we should also clarify some things that are
Attempting to grapple
All of these are subject to Mirror Image’s effects, as they’re all attacks directed at the caster.
A creature still has to make a normal attack roll if it succeeds in attacking the caster. Even if the creature isn’t fooled by the duplicates and successfully targets the caster, there’s no guarantee that the attack will land. The attacker still has to make a normal attack roll and follow whatever rules apply to the spell/special attack they’re using.
The duplicates always occupy the caster’s space. Functionally, you don’t need to set up 3 minis to represent your duplicates, and it would be difficult to do so accurately. Rather, think of duplicates as “counters” for how long the spell can last.
How Do I Use Mirror Image in 5e?
Mirror Image is a defensive spell, so you’ll want to save it for times when you think you’re likely to be hit or want to stay extra safe. Here are some popular applications of the spell:
Staying alive. Mirror Image reduces your chance to be hit by an attack by 30-55% for 1 minute without a concentration requirement. That’s a pretty serious defensive advantage that’ll help keep monsters from getting through your squishy caster body.
Protecting concentration on higher tier spells. Mirror Image retains its utility well late into the late game without the need for any upcast potential. That reduction to your chance to be hit serves as a bonus layer to keep concentration maintained on a higher tier, more impactful spell.
Performances. Some folks like to use Mirror Image to make for an immediate team of backup dancers when putting on a show — if you’re willing to drop a second-level spell slot for a performance advantage, your DM better let you get away with it.
Getting ahead in actions when you’re outnumbered. Mirror Image is great for managing the action economy. If you’re split up from your party and need to deal with a horde of low-level baddies, Mirror Image ensure that only a handful of attacks get through (and they’ll still have to actually land their hit if they fail to go for a duplicate.
Pair with the Blur spell. Blur is a different 2nd-level illusion spell that we’ll be looking at in comparison to Mirror Image below. But the two actually function really well together, if you’re trying to build a dodge tank. Blur gives a creature disadvantage when they try to attack you (the real you) adding one extra layer of defensive shenanigans to your caster.
Pair with the Sentinel feat. Sentinel’s final line about getting a free attack when a creature in melee range targets someone other than you pairs incredibly well with Mirror Image. It makes it not only a defensive boon, but also a terrifying offensive spell.
Get your Dexterity up. Hey, more Dex = tankier duplicates. Plus, a high Dexterity modifier is useful for lots of other things. It’s also a reason why Arcane Trickster Rogues (who naturally have high Dexterity) often like to pick up Mirror Image.
Use Darkness to beat it. If you’re up against a Mirror Image-casting caster (or any baddie caster that relies on sight-based illusions), the Darkness spell can help even out the odds. Because when no one can see in DnD 5e, it’s like everyone can.
Is Mirror Image 5e a Good Spell?
Yes, Mirror Image is a good spell. It provides a powerful, straightforward defensive advantage for the classes that need it the most. Its lack of a concentration requirement means that you’re more likely to get the full benefit of 10 rounds of protection than other spells.
It also means that you’re free to use higher-powered concentration spells, knowing that Mirror Image considerably reduces your odds of having your concentration broken.
Mirror Image 5e Compared to Blur
The question is: Is it better to reduce your chances of being targeted by an attack by a sliding 30-55% or give attackers a straight-up disadvantage on attacks against you, which provides more nebulous benefits.
My math skills aren’t so hot, but luckily Reddit user wintermute93 figured it out for us. Based on my understanding of their calculations, it seems that if you’re a caster with a higher AC (16-17+), Blur is better. If your AC is 15-16 or lower, Mirror Image seems to win out.
In any case, there’s no reason you can’t pair the two if you’re building a dodge-based tank. Otherwise, we recommend just picking one and sticking with it — they’re pretty well balanced, as wintermute93’s data seems to show.
Mirror Image 5e DM Tips
Mirror Image is fairly straightforward once you parse out the flavor text, so players shouldn’t have too many issues once they use it a few times. One thing to decide is whether you metagame and shift away from the caster who casts Mirror Image, or keep foolishly attacking them.
A little of both is probably good. Players want to see their spells “work” — for Mirror Image, the player’s goal is not getting hit, so either scenario can be counted as “working.” Still, it feels good to hear the DM actually describe how the foolish goblin stabbed a duplicate in the neck, only to see it vanish in a puff of smoke.
Simple Mirror Image 5e Spell Text
Mirror Image: (2nd-level, Self, 1 minute, V/S) Three duplicates of yourself appear in your space. Each time you are targeted by an attack, roll a d20. With 3 duplicates, an 11+ hits a duplicate; with 2, an 8+ hits a duplicate; with 1, a 6+ hits a duplicate. A duplicate’s AC = 10 + your Dex modifier.
A creature is unaffected if it can’t see, relies on senses other than sight, or can perceive illusions as false.
The spell lasts for the duration, until all duplicates are destroyed, or you use an action to dismiss them.