Underrated or Underpowered: Mordenkainen’s Sword

In this week’s article we’re going to be talking about Mordenkainen’s Sword, a 7th level evocation spell available to Bards and Wizards!

Hey folks! Unfortunately the Lich still hasn’t figured out how to cure the fever, so today we’ll be taking it a little easy and talking about one of the simplest 7th level spells, Mordenkainen’s Sword. Let’s go!

A Display of Force

Mordenkainen’s Sword is a 7th level evocation spell available to Bards and Wizards. It has a casting time of 1 Action, a range of 60 feet, all components – requiring a miniature platinum sword with a grip and pommel of copper and zinc, worth 250 gp – a duration of 1 minute, and requires concentration. With the spell, you create a sword-shaped plane of force and you can make a melee spell attack at any creature within 5 feet of the sword. On a hit, the sword deals 3d10 force damage. On subsequent turns, you can use your bonus action to to move the sword up to 20 feet and repeat the attack against the same or a different target.

Now with all of that out of the way, let’s think of some positives for this spell. Adding in a bonus action economy for classes that don’t normally use their bonus actions is really nice. The Wizard doesn’t get a lot of bonus action spells compared to the cleric or the sorcerer with quicken spell, so it’s nice to have the option to fill up your bonus action. The spell deals force damage, which is the least resisted type in the game and 3d10 damage is nothing to look away from. However… that’s about all I can really think of in terms of pros of this spell.

How you’ll feel when you realized you wasted a prepared spell on this spell.

Why Wizards Shouldn’t Use Swords

Now we get to my favorite part, tearing into things and picking them apart. First of all, keep in mind this is a 7th level spell. This spell is competing with the likes of crown of stars, etherealness, forcecage, magnificent mansion, plane shift, simulacrum, teleport, etc. 7th level is where we really peek into spells that display the might of high level wizards and bards, and to have this glorified spiritual weapon up here with the big boys is kind of a disgrace to those other spells. Let’s take a look at what exactly makes this spell so awful.

Probably the first thing to notice is that the spell requires concentration. Concentration is a caster’s most special resource, governing buffs such as fly, haste, hold person/monster, slow, bigby’s hand, the list goes on. Often times you’ll be wanting to spend your concentration on a more beneficial effect than a little bit of extra damage on your turns.

Speaking of an aforementioned spell, you also have many spells that use your bonus action to either deal more damage or have better effects. Bigby’s Hand is one of the most influential spells, being able to completely take enemies out of combat, protect the caster, deal more average damage than Mordenkainen’s Sword, and have many more in and out of combat utility options. If damage is more your speed, you have Melf’s Minute Meteors that splash into an AoE and deal 4d6 damage a bonus action to on average 2 enemies. It’s higher level brother crown of stars is actually the same level as Mordenkainen’s Sword, deals 4d12 radiant damage, sheds light, and most important DOES NOT require concentration.

And for my next trick, I’ll make a sword appear out of thin air!

Now lets’ take a second to talk about the most closely related spell to Mordenkainen’s Sword, spiritual weapon. On paper they’re very similar, using your bonus action to make melee attacks, having slow movement, dealing force damage, etc. However, spiritual weapon comes to your character at level 3 as opposed to level 13. It allows you to add your casting stat to the damage of the spell, putting it well above minimum damage of Mordenkainen’s Sword. You’re practically guaranteed to deal more average damage with spiritual weapon if you upcast it just because it lets you add your casting stat to the damage. Oh, and spiritual weapon DOES NOT require concentration! You can use spirit guardians (which is also markedly better than the sword), you can have your spiritual weapon out, AND you can still be using your action for channel divinities, attacks, casting heals, etc. Mordenkainen’s Sword doesn’t even afford you the creative liberty that spiritual weapon does.

The Final Verdict

With all of that out of the way, let’s just get right into it. This spell is very, very underpowered, actually hinging on being a bad spell. Personally I think that the concentration should be removed and similar to spiritual weapon, it should deal extra damage equal to the caster’s Intelligence or Charisma, for Wizard/Bard respectively. With how it is now though, there’s literally zero reason to take this spell over Bigby’s Hand.

Sorry for the shorter article folks, like I said earlier we’re still feeling a little under the weather over here. However, thank you SO much for reading through and hopefully learning something new in the process. We’d appreciate it if you brought some feedback to the comments or in the forums, and if you feel very strongly about this feel free to tweet at us or comment on one of our posts. Thank you all for your time and we’ll see you next week, and I’ll be SURE to make it up to you!

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