Update: True Strike
Bard, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard - Cantrip Level Spell
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 30 ft
Duration: 1 Round
Reference: PHB 284
You point a finger at a target in range. Your magic grants you a brief insight into the target’s defenses. On your next turn, you gain advantage on your first attack roll against the target, provided that this spell hasn’t ended.
My Comments: [This is an update by guest author Betsy, who provides some insights regarding theUnearthed Arcana Version. The original True Strike post is still available here]
Oh, I so wanted to be nice about poor little True Strike. I really did. I stood with my Grinch feet ice cold in the snow and puzzled and puzzled till my puzzler was sore, and thought up all the circumstances in which I thought it could come in handy…
Right before the battle begins, a warlock chooses their target and magically sees through their defenses. Hexblade in hand, they get ready for the signal to charge.
A sorcerer, her feet bound by Entangle, trusts that her barbarian friend will get her out next turn. Her arms free, she casts True Strike to make sure that on her next turn, her Chromatic Orb has a higher chance of hitting.
But to be honest… there really aren’t that many. It’s just a very weak cantrip.
The first issue I have is that it only lasts one round. This implies that it’s supposed to be a combat spell, but wasting an entire turn just to get advantage next time? For most spellcasters, it’s better to just take two attacks with a regular roll than once with advantage.
The second big failing is the range. 30ft, especially for a spellcaster, in combat, is very close indeed. Keep my wizard 40 feet away at all times, please! If I’m 30 feet away from an enemy, that’s an easy jaunt for them to run over and slice me up. Now, if this could be activated at up to 60ft? Much better. I can hide in the bushes, safe from the gnolls, and be able to waste my turn without the fear of attack.
Here’s the fun thing, though. Next year, if when WotC decides to roll out their new edition/updated arcana/whatever they’re calling it now, True Strike as we know it will be gone. Oh, no… The entire meat of the cantrip is changed. We go from a sad bologna sandwich to a… less sad turkey club. Still a cantrip, still one action to cast, but we go from having advantage on a future attack, to, well, let me just show you.
True Strike: Unearthed Arcana Version
Bard/Sorcerer/Warlock/Wizard Spell – Cantrip
Casting Time: 1 Action
Components: Somatic, Material
Reference: “Bastions and Cantrips” Playtest Material, pg 23
Guided by a flash of magical insight, you make one attack with the weapon used in the spell’s casting. The attack uses your spellcasting ability for the attack and damage rolls instead of using Strength or Dexterity. If the attack deals damage, it can be Radiant damage or the weapon’s normal damage type (your choice).
Cantrip Upgrade. Whether you choose to deal Radiant damage or the weapon’s normal damage type, the attack deals extra Radiant damage when you reach levels 5 (1d6), 11 (2d6), and 17 (3d6).
We go right into “this is a combat spell now”. Instead of granting future advantage, it changes the ability used to modify the attack and damage rolls. Which for spellcasters can be a huge difference. Since it doesn’t specify that it has to be a melee weapon attack, my squishy first-level bard can pull out her crossbow, cast this cantrip, and suddenly we go from a measly +3 to hit to an impressive +6 with her Charisma modifier instead of her Dexterity. We also get a nice boost to her damage with that as well.
Now, what if your warlock is particularly buff, and has the same modifier to their Strength and their Charisma?
Lucky them, there’s another feature of this cantrip that can come in handy, the ability to deal radiant damage instead of the normal bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage that the weapon would normally deal.
And while 3.5e purists rant and rage that damage vulnerabilities got nerfed in 5e (fair), being able to deal radiant damage is great on things that can regenerate, like zombies or vampire spawn, as it stops their regenerative ability. The ability to deal radiant instead of normal damage type is also great to have when fighting creatures like ghosts or elementals that have resistance to nonmagical bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage. The same bard from above, who has not yet managed to get a non-magical rapier, and who has no melee spells, can now deal full damage to the ghost of Christmas Past due to her weapon now dealing radiant damage.
And guess what? It scales now! At levels 5, 11, and 17, you deal a bit of radiant damage no matter if you choose to change the damage type or not. Paladins, you can take that Divine Strike and shove it, I can do extra radiant damage too! (I’m teasing, paladins, we love and respect you and please keep healing me, thanks)
So my thoughts? With the updated/new version of this cantrip, I definitely think it’s one worth taking, especially for casters like bards and warlocks that actually have some weapon proficiencies. For wizards and sorcerers, this isn’t the most useful of spells. Is this a cantrip you’re excited to see the upgrade on? Or is the OG True Strike your most favorite cantrip of all time? Fight with me in the comments about it!