Possibly the most iconic spell in the game, Fireball is a wizard’s best friend. Intentionally left high-powered, the spell has maintained integrity into the 5e generation. The increase in fire resistance has put a damper on the spell in some situations, but it is still considered one of the best combat spells at lower levels among the community.
The rules for Fireball are found in the Players Handbook on page 241.
Evocation 3rd Level
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 150 Feet
Components: V, S, M (Atiny ball of bat guano and sulfur)
A bright streak flashes from your pointing finger to a point you choose within range and then blossoms with a low roar into an explosion of flame. Each creature in a 20-foot-radius sphere centered on that point must make a Dexterity saving throw. A target takes 8d6 fire damage on a failed save or half as much damage on a successful one.
The fire spreads around corners. It ignites flammable objects in the area that aren’t being worn or carried.
At Higher Levels: When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 4th level or higher, the damage increases by 1d6 for each slot level above 3rd.
The rules for Fireball point out the obvious benefit – the damage. Rolling 8d6 on the base cast is pretty significant. The details beyond the damage show the true benefit, though. As opposed to a single target,it effects a 20-foot radius sphere and ignites flammable objects not being worn or carried. The flames also travel around corners. The dexterity save for half damage is a somewhat disappointing downside.
Is Fireball Good?
Fireball allows the caster to deal massive damage in an area from long range. It is possibly the most iconic spell in the game. You would be hard-pressed to find a wizard that doesn’t have the spell in their book.It has been used as the universal tool in the game. Taking on multiple enemies, destroying doors or buildings, and creating massive distractions are all possibilities with Fireball prepared.
The downside to fireball is that it can’t critically hit as an area of effect attack. However, when you roll 8d6, damage at the base castinga critical hit isn’t a necessity. It also has a dexterity save for half damage, which can curtail the power a little bit. Then take into consideration that fire is one of the most common resistances in the game, and you see that the spell is effectively balanced and fun to use.
What Classes get Fireball?
The obvious answer to who can get the Fireball spell is the wizard and sorcerer classes. It is an iconic spell for both of these base classes and is commonly taken. There are other classes that can get the Fireball spell, though.
Subclasses that have access to the spell include: The Eldritch Knight Fighter, Arcane Trickster Rogue, Artillerist Artificer, Light Domain Cleric, and the Fiend Warlock. The spell is incredibly optional for these subclasses. While it might be fun to have a rogue running around blasting Fireball at everything, taking the spell for many of these is probably not practical or in-line with the character concept.
Fireball Twice in One Turn?
At first glance, this seems impossible as the rules for the game state:
A spell cast with a bonus action is especially swift. You must use a bonus action on your turn to cast the spell, provided that you haven’t already taken a bonus action this turn. You can’t cast another spell during the same turn, except for a cantrip with a casting time of 1 action.
However, there isn’t a rule in the book that states you cannot cast two spells in the same turn that have a casting time of one action. It seems to be a technicality meant to intricately balance the game. It is possible that it was just an oversight, but we must explore the possibility.
If you can use two actions via an ability like action surge, you can cast two 1 action spells with that additional action. This would not be possible with Haste as it specifically states the extra action must be an attack (one weapon attack only), Dash, Disengage, Hide, or Use Object Interaction. Action Surge does not provide these specific parameters, only that the character gets an additional action.
This means that a multi-classed caster/fighter of at least level 2 could cast two Fireball spells in one turn. Of course,this is open to interpretation by the DM and the table. So, before you go trying to nuke all of the enemies in one turn, perhaps have the conversation.
How Hot is Fireball?
Without making many assumptions about the physics of the world and about how magic would affect them, it is impossible to have an accurate answer. However,the spell description does give an indication of what the intention is.
It ignites flammable objects in the area that aren’t being worn or carried.
This line is very telling of the impact that the Fireball spell is meant to have to the surrounding areas. The objects have no resistance or clarification. If it can be ignited,it is. This means all materials that burn ignite in flames. Wood, paper, grass, leaves, straw all instantly ignite and would suffer fire damage each round thereafter.
The line implies that objects that don’t burn, such as metals, are safe from ignition. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t show signs of wear or degradation from the sudden intense heat, however.
Fireball is a fun classic spell. It is meant to have an impact and be a power play at early levels. This element was specifically maintained in this edition by the creators. As a player, take it when you can, and as a DM, try to let it annihilate a group of goblins or kobolds at least once. It is so much fun to roll all of those dice, even if they are only D6s.