Ah yes the spell from 5e, bless. Truly a magnificent spell that’s application will vastly change a combat situation.
Or so I thought until hearing the opposition. After researching the spell in more detail as well as running my own numbers, I discovered how little bless does for damage and saves.
Therefore, to evaluate the spell, I used five different circumstances where the spell could be useful and measurable. A regular attack from a fighter, an attack with a spell, saving against a spell, Concentration saving throws, and attacking with a penalty.
Upon analysis and plugging it into real-world situations. I discovered that Bless is a solid spell for those looking to shore up the parties attack power and defensive abilities early on, however it drops off as time goes on in all situations but one.
What Is Bless?
Before we begin what the numbers showed, we need to address what bless for 5e actually is.
Bless is a 1st level spell available to all Clerics and Paladins that takes an action to cast and has Verbal, Somatic, and Material( Holy Water) Components. It requires concentration and will last 1 minute after casting. The effects are that upon casting, you can choose 3 creatures of your choice within 30 feet and allow them to add a d4 to all saving throws and attack rolls.
If you want to read the actual verbatim, it can be found on page 219 of (in my opinion) the only book a player really needs, the Player’s Handbook.
So let’s break that down. Upon casting bless in 5e, you can only affect people within 30 feet of you. However, once they leave that 30 feet they are able to keep the benefit unlike some spells such as pass without a trace.
Considering most players stay within 40 feet of each other on average, your spell should hit all who will want to be affected.
The next thing to look at is that it requires concentration this means when you cast this spell you forgo the ability to cast spells such as bane, shield of faith, and protection from evil and good. Each incredibly powerful in their own right.
The final thing to take note is that it adds a d4 to saves and attack rolls. This means the ones who will most likely benefit from 5e bless are those requiring concentration checks or heavy hitters who need to hit the most. I’m looking at you clerics and barbarians with great weapon master.
Once you understand the usefulness of the spell we can take a look at the numbers
Bless 5e: Multiple Attacks
So 5e’s bless first situation where it is often used is for those with multiple attacks. The thought process is that those who can attack more than once will get the most use from the spell.
So, to analyze it, I used the fighter who at level 20 has 4 attacks per action.
Assuming a fighter is starting with a 16 strength/dexterity, and eventually getting to a 20 by level 6. Between level 1-4, a fighter will see a 12.5% difference in his chances to hit. Transforming a 33.56% chance to miss a 21.06%.
After that, bless decreases your chance to miss both attacks by 7.09% between levels 5-10, then decreasing chances 2.71% at level 11 with only a 1.13% chance to miss all attacks at level 20.
Which shows that if you have a weapon that deals significant damage and stack multi-attack and bless onto the person, chances are high they will do damage to the target.
But that is not all that should be looked at. For instance, the fighter with 5e’s bless will on average deal an additional 15.22% damage.
That’s a ton of damage!
Or so you would think. In real-world application, using the average AC and HP of monsters you fought between level 1-20, that difference is small. The actual damage difference is a 1 point increase for each hit.
Therefore at level 20, a fighter will deal an additional 4 points of damage at level 20 against monsters that have over 400 hitpoints.
Thus quickly diminishing the return of bless making it strongest at levels between 1-5 where you will take out an additional 1-5% of enemy health per hit. After that, the return becomes a less than 1% increase to targets health.
Bless 5e: Spell attacks
So then what about spell attacks? I mean they do a ton of damage in one hit. So surely bless is optimal for those. Well, yes. Bless in 5e will increase the damage output of a spell like guiding bolt consistently by 18-20%.
A very respectable number indeed. Making this one of your better uses for the spell if your ally has a powerful one-hitter.
Of course, once you plug these numbers into the real-world application, Guiding Bolt + Bless will increase overall damage by 2 points from level 1-4. Then, every 5 levels see a bump in power by an additional 1 point. Assuming you cast it at your highest spell slot.
This was a cool find in my opinion as it adds validation to the assumption that the best cast of a spell is at the level you gain access to. The reason being, the increase in damage you gain from upcasting does not outweigh the benefit of just casting the spell twice at the current level.
Moreover, it shows that a level 1 and 2 guiding bolt will see little difference in damage output when you combine dnd 5e’s bless with it. However, a level 3 guiding bolt does have slightly better returns. Of course, then the question becomes is a level 3 spell slot worth a roughly extra 1 point of damage through bless? That I leave up to you.
Bless 5e: Save For Spells & Concentration Saves
The next question comes to saves against spells. To do this I used the iconic spell fireball. I analyzed the difference between each dexterity score ranging from +0 to +5 on damage reduction. After that, I used a 14 Con and saw how much bless increases your chances of succeeding concentration saves from those.
Once doing the math, I noticed a few things. One, as long as you do not have a negative to your dexterity save, you will gain a damage reduction to damaging spells by 6.87% with a dex save of zero.
The second notice was that for each bonus you have to your save, you will gain roughly .21% damage reduction with bless. Meaning that a dex save of 5 will give you roughly a 7.92% decrease in damage from save spells with bless.
After analyzing the damage reduction from bless, I decided to look into Concentration Saves after taking damage. This was honestly the most fascinating discovery from the rest as unlike the rest of bless effects, this gets better as you level up.
Now do not get me wrong, your chances to save get worse and worse eventually having roughly zero percent chance to save from the damage you would take without bless.
Therefore, bless gets better because it makes a zero percent chance to a chance. At level 20, a 10% chance to be exact.
So then what about level 1? At level 1 you have an additional 16.88% chance to save in your constitution saving throw when bless is involved. As time goes on, it eventually rises to a 20.16% chance increase on your chances to save on constitution throws.
Making this a solid choice throughout all levels for those that need to make concentration saving throws.
Bless 5e: Attacking with a penalty
The final situation where bless in 5e is used often. Those with penalties to attack. The best use of this is for those looking to use great weapon master consistently.
In this situation, you will take a -5 to hit but gain a +10 to damage making it really risky against those with high AC. However, with bless rather than taking a 25% drop in chance of hitting, you will take only a 12.5% decrease to hit for a 50% increase in damage.
But how does that reflect in the long run for attacking monsters? After all, as you level up monsters you fight can have an AC over 21.
Well, like almost all use with bless, it slowly depreciates in value starting off at doing an extra 13.77% of an enemy’s hit points but eventually only dealing an additional .89% towards a level 20 monsters HP.
Because of the depreciation return from this, Great Weapon Master and bless is strongest between levels 1-4 where the damage increase will do over 4% to the enemies hit points. However, unlike a regular attack with a longsword, the ability stays dealing above 1% all the way to level 19. Making this a better combo of bless then those with multiple attacks.
After looking at the math, for 5e, bless is strongest between levels 1-5 where the returns are greatest. However, if you have to choose targets for bless, your best returns are for those who are concentrating on spells, using Great Weapon Master and attacking with a spell.
In this regard, the returns are higher than the other uses with over a 20% increase in damage or chance to save. Making them a great choice.
While the others have a 15% or less damage increase or damage reduction when bless is involved.
All in all, bless in 5e deserves the recognition it gets as it truly is a solid spell that stands the test of time.
If you enjoyed this article, then I highly recommend checking out my review on the 5e spell command. It breaks down how the actual spell works as well as some creative uses of it to keep things interesting. As always hope you have an absolutely blessed day and enjoy using the spell in your next game!
- P.S. If you enjoyed this post and want to analyze your own spells, monsters, and encounters, download my D&D calculator! It’s a tool I use to calculate true DPR for spells and monsters in my campaigns. If you are still unsure by my little blurb then check out the review I made and see all the nifty abilities it has!