Wizard Of The Tavern

Pulsewave 5e: Better Than Fireball?

Pulsewave 5e: Level 3 Evocation

Casting Time: 1 action

Range: Self

Components: V, S

Duration: Instantaneous

Pulsewave 5e: You create intense pressure, unleash it in a 30-foot cone, and decide whether the pressure pulls or pushes creatures and objects. Each creature in that cone must make a Constitution saving throw. A creature takes 6d6 force damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one, and every creature that fails the save is either pulled 15 feet toward you or pushed 15 feet away from you, depending on the choice you made for the spell.

In addition, unsecured objects that are completely within the cone are likewise pulled or pushed 15 feet.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 4th level or higher, the damage increases by 1d6 and the distance pulled or pushed increases by 5 feet for each slot level above 3rd.

Spell Lists. Chronurgy Wizard, Graviturgy Wizard

Pulsewave 5e: Is it better than fireball?

The short answer of “is pulsewave in 5e better than fireball”, is no. On average, pulsewave will deal slightly less damage than fireball.

That said, as discussed in detail below, pulsewave’s damage output is the closes to fireball out of any other spell for a variety of reasons and has more versatility to it that makes it ideal for many players.

Pulsewave 5e Pro’s

  1. Force Damage
  2. Movement Versatility
  3. Decent Scalability 

Force Damage

As always, let’s go over the pros of PulseWave First.

First, we have that the spell deals for damage. 

This is a solid damage type with only one monster having immunity to this damage type; helmed horror.

As a result, unlike spells like fireball or lightning bolt, this will reliably deal solid damage to monsters.

Movement Versatility 

After the force damage comes to my personal favorite thing about the spell; Movement Versatility.

The most powerful mechanic in any battle is denying one of two resources.

That is Actions and Movement.

By denying or altering an enemy’s position you warp what the enemies can do to both you and the party.

Therefore, by dealing high non-resistant damage and being able to push or pull enemies into your desired location, this spell has incredible potential.

Making this a pretty good spell but even better with its scalability.

Decent Scalability.

While not as scalable as spells like Fortune’s Favor, PulseWave holds a pretty nice scaleability.

That is the increase of 5ft per spell level.

Although 1d6 is not a great damage increase. 

The ability to upcast the spell to further impact the board state is really good. 

Need to push someone 5ft more to prevent them from reaching the party this turn?

Upcast at 4th level and push them back 20 feet instead.

Or, desperately need to pull someone 30 feet to your party to catch them?

Upcast at 6th level and catch the perp.

Because of this versatility, many combat playstyles will love this spell as it is both adaptable for encounters and a powerful damage type.

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Pulswave 5e Con’s

  1. Cone AOE
  2. Constitution Saving Throw
  3. Lower Actual Damage


Now that you have an idea of the potential of this spell, let’s talk about the downsides.

Before going into the bigger downsides, we should talk about the AOE type.

Unlike radius AOE spells such as Fireball, Cone AOEs cover less area and as such will be less likely to hit more enemies.

As such it suffers the same downside as lightning bolt, which in practice hits fewer enemies than a fireball.

Because of this, be expecting to hit fewer enemies on average with a cone as it takes more positioning to hit the same amount of enemies.

Constitution Saving Throw

Now that we have talked about the AOE downside, let’s talk about the biggest downsides.

The biggest downside is it requires a constitution saving throw. 

As discussed in my “Guide to Divination WIzards”, I was able to calculate on average how often a monster will fail a saving throw using over 740+ monsters in my database.

It’s a really cool article that I suggest reading if you are looking at wizards, spells, or even just curious.

But, the important data I uncovered was that on average a monster will roll below your save for con 44-53% of the time.

As you can see, constitution saving throws are the easiest save for enemies to beat.

Thus, spells that rely on this save will always be a little weaker than others.

Making this okay, but before we see how bad a constitution save is for this spell, we should calculate its true damage.


Like talked about before, constitution saves are the easiest for monsters to save. 

This means the actual damage PulseWave will do will be lower than expected if the save was something like dexterity.

To see how big the difference is, we use the iconic third-level spell, fireball, as a baseline spell to beat.

If it is higher than, this is better than fireball in true damage.

If it is below then Fireball will be better for dealing damage.

Once you run the numbers, you come to actual damage versus expected damage.

As you can see True Damage from PulseWave in 5e is on average 5-8 points less damage per person hit.

Meaning if you hit 6 people on average with your spell you will deal roughly 30-48 points more damage that round than if you used fireball.

This is of course ignoring resistances.

As discussed in the Pro’s, PulseWave deals force damage.

Which only has 1 monster with immunity or resistance.

Meanwhile, Fire has the second most resistances/immunities to a damage type.

Therefore, calculating as a random encounter, you can expect a 19% chance that the monster will be resistant or immune to fire.

Meanwhile, you can expect a .13% chance that the monster will have immunity to force damage.

This makes Damage With Immunity or Resistance (DWIR) revealing an interesting number.

Subsequently, pulsewave actually only deals 2-5 points of damage difference per enemy.

This means that while Fireball is strictly better for damage.

However, it should be noted, that if you can set up your party better, pulsewave for 5e could deal more damage with proper setup.

That said because it is situationally better it still is shy of being the better choice than fireball 95% of the time.


  1. Controlling the board.
  2. High Damage to Swarms
  3. Push or Pull

Controlling the Board

Now that we have discussed the general pros and cons of Pulsewave, let’s talk about the good applications this spell has.

Most have already been discussed in the parts above but obviously, the best applications will come from combat since this is a combat spell.

Primarily, this will be strongest in battles that are needing to do significant damage to a large number of enemies and alter the board state.

A good example of this would be a large number of range enemies that are staying out of range from melee fighters. 

A good 15 feet push forward can be huge to allow your barbarian to begin killing them.

Or, vice versa.

If you have a large number of melee fighters closing in on you. 

Push a lot of them back 15ft and use that movement to get to a safer location.

Essentially if you are fighting a large number of enemies and would like to push people into better locations for your party.

High Damage to Swarms

The second big application is dealing high damage to swarms.

While Fireball is objectively better (as discussed in the Con’s section), A cone shape has more control over the spell and as such can see some situational uses.

For instance, if your party has clustered up in combat. 

Hitting your party can be incredibly deadly for your team’s survivability.

As a result, spells like fireball cannot be cast.

This is where Pulsewave comes in.

By being able to more control the positioning of the spell you can have better access to hitting only key enemies.

And as a result, deal better damage to your enemies than say a fireball could.

Push or Pull

If you haven’t already guessed, pushing and pulling is the defining trait to this spell.

Thus, coming up with creative ways to leverage that in both combat and outside of combat is where this spell will shine.

Therefore while situational, here are a few good situational uses for the mechanic outside of combat.

  1. Pulling a lever too far for you to reach. 
  2. Disarming all mechanical traps in an area by pushing the mechanisms away.
  3. Piling up a large amount of objects to create a barricade.
  4. Pulling an enemy closer to you that you are trying to kidnap.
  5. Absolutely wreck a room for whatever reason (I.e. anger, fun, or comedy)

These are just a few situational uses that with some creativity allow your player to be able to leverage this spell outside of combat. 

Making it an okay choice for those that lean into the Utility or Exploration playstyle as a spell option.

Pulsewave 5e Conclusion

As discussed,  Pulsewave is a solid damage spell designed for combat playstyles.

While it does have a few disadvantages, it makes up for it with some unique versatility and a solid damage type.

As a result, this is a spell great for those looking at a good AOE that is not fireball and has more uses.

If you like this spell I really suggest checking out the other spells provided by Chronurgust wizards; Sapping Sting, Gift of Alacrity, Fortune’s Favor, Wristpocket.

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