Last Updated on January 10, 2023
Listen up, fledging Ranger!
There are plenty of skills starting out (and plenty more on the horizon), but today we’re going to talk about perhaps the most ubiquitous Ranger ability: Ensnaring Strike.
Versatility, utility, irreplaceable – Ensnaring Strike is one skill that no Ranger can afford to pass up… And it’s available from level one! This guide will outline for you what Ensnaring Strike spell is, what it does, how it can be used, and whether you should include it in your next ranger (spoiler alert: definitely!)
What is Ensnaring Strike Spell 5e?
So, what even is Ensnaring Strike? Let’s take a look at the RAW (rules as written) blurb from the Player’s Handbook:
The next time you hit a creature with a weapon attack before this spell ends, a writhing mass of thorny vines appears at the point of impact, and the target must succeed on a Strength saving throw or be restrained by the magical vines until the spell ends. A Large or larger creature has advantage on this saving throw. If the target succeeds on the save, the vines shrivel away.
While restrained by this spell, the target takes 1d6 piercing damage at the start of each of its turns. A creature restrained by the vines or one that can touch the creature can use its action to make a Strength check against your spell save DC. On a success, the target is freed.
At Higher Levels. If you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the damage increases by 1d6 for each slot level above 1st.
Ensnaring Strike 5e Stats
|Casting Time||1 Bonus Action|
First off, this is a 1st level Ranger spell, which means it will be available from Ranger 2nd level. Consequently, a 1st level Ranger is unable to cast this spell (though they do have access to wonderful class features such as Favored Enemy and Natural Explorer from 1st level.)
This is also a conjuration spell, which means this spell involves creating something out of seemingly nothing! It’s also cast using 1 bonus action, which means the casting Ranger will still have both their movement and full actions remaining after casting this spell.
Ensnaring Strike is somewhat of a self-buff, meaning its range is classed as “self” (you may not cast Ensnaring Strike on an ally to share the buff.) Ensnaring Strike also has a verbal (V) component, which means that in situations where the Ranger cannot speak, they cannot cast Ensnaring Strike.
Similarly, in situations where silence is of utmost importance, a dutiful Ranger will need to think of ways in which to distract from the sound of their casting.
Ensnaring Strike requires concentration, which means that the Ranger casting it, for the duration (1 minute) must not be distracted or risk breaking the spell.
GameCows Tip: In many campaigns, some DMs will forgo the concentration requirement for a number of spells, so be sure to check with your DM whether they will require your Ranger will be required to maintain concentration for the duration.
How does Ensnaring Strike 5e work?
Most importantly, what does Ensnaring Strike do? Well, it works somewhat like a self-buff. The casting Ranger casts Ensnaring Strike on themselves as a bonus action and their next successful attack will cause vines to sprout from the point of impact and, upon the target failing a STR save, restrain the target.
Large creatures and creatures even bigger have advantage on the saving throw. Upon succeeding the STR saving throw, the vines wither and die. During that time that the target is restrained, they take 1d6 damage at the beginning of each of the target’s turns. This damage is piercing.
Any creature nearby can rush to the target’s aid and use an action to make a STR check against the Ranger’s spell save DC to save the target. A successful STR check roll will similarly end with the vines withering and dying.
The damage on Ensnaring Strike can be augmented by casting it using a higher spell slot. For each level higher spell slot used, the damage is increased by 1d6.
How can you use Ensnaring Strike?
Ensnaring Strike can be used with any weapon. While many Rangers will choose to focus either on melee or ranged, Ensnaring Strike is an especially good choice with Rangers (Ensnaring Strike in melee and move away for continued ranged damage as long as the target is restrained.)
It cannot be overstated how useful Ensnaring Strike is in any situation. While its damage may not be the highest among 1st level spells, its utility is way up there.
Rooting an errant target who is chasing down the group casters or healers, providing extra damage per turn to a low-Strength enemy (the enemy casters’ bane!), or getting creative with the piercing damage (approach your DM about what applications they’ll allow with the piercing damage.)
With Ensnaring Strike, you’ve got a Faerunian army knife!
Final verdict on Ensnaring Strike
Some will point out that Ensnaring Strike’s damage is low. Some will point out that in RAW campaigns, the restraining portion of Ensnaring Strike is a pain to maintain (concentration checks, Strength saving checks) and that may be true (although many, many RAW spells become a pain in the neck).
However, even with those annoyances, Ensnaring Strike is an incredibly useful spell. It provides extra damage, some decent crowd control, and only requires a bonus action to use.
No Ranger should ever be built without this core spell.
Ensnaring Strike 5e FAQs
Can Ensnaring Strike be cast on [insert weapon here]?
Yes, because you don’t cast Ensnaring Strike on a weapon, it’s cast on the Ranger themself. Any successful weapon attack can trigger Ensnaring Strike.
Can Ensnaring Strike be triggered with [insert spell here]?
No, because Ensnaring Strike is only trigged on successful weapon attacks. Trigger spells such as Ensnaring Strike will use the wording “attack”, “weapon attack”, or “spell attack” to clarify.
Spells triggered on “attack” can be triggered by both spells and weapons, while spells triggered on “spell attack” and “weapon attack” can only be triggered by spells or weapons, respectively.