[RPG] Why would I use Scorching Ray


I have a level 3 light domain cleric. I have both the 1st level spell Guiding Bolt and the 2nd level spell Scorching Ray.

When I use a 2nd level spell slot with Guiding Bolt the damage is 5d6 and attacks against the target have advantage for a round, while Scorching Ray with a 2nd level spel slot is 6d6 damage, but you have to roll three times for each ray (which is 2d6) and it's rare for all three attacks to succeed.

What are the pros & cons of Scorching Ray? Why would I want to use it instead of Guiding Bolt?

Best Answer

The pros of Scorching Ray are:

  • Assuming no attacks miss, it does more damage than Guiding Bolt.
  • You have the option to attack multiple targets when using Scorching Ray.
  • Eventually, when you have higher level spell slots, it will scale much better than Guiding Bolt.
  • Scorching Ray works with the Elemental Adept feat - which allows you to ignore fire resistance and raises the floor on your minimum damage. (Credit - yinzanat)
  • Against enemy spellcasters, Scorching Ray provides more opportunities to break their concentration. (Credit - gburton)

The cons of Scorching Ray are:

  • It deals fire damage instead of radiant damage. While this is situational, there are more monsters in the Monster Manual that resist fire than resist radiant.
  • It does not grant advantage to the next attack roll against your target.
  • If you have advantage for being hidden it will not apply to your second and third attack.

The thing that could be either, depending on how superstitious you are about your dice (and what the AC of your target is):

  • Scorching Ray makes three separate attack rolls.

You would want to use Scorching Ray if:

  • There are multiple targets that you are confident in your ability to hit.
  • You are fighting something that is vulnerable to fire damage.
  • You need to deal more damage right now.

You would want to use Guiding Bolt if:

  • You need to set an ally up for an upcoming attack against the same target.
  • Your allies are having a hard time landing attacks against the target.
  • Your next ally to attack is a rogue who will get sneak attack damage from the advantage. (Credit - DaleM)
  • There is only one target. (You may wish also just not upcasting Guiding Bolt in this scenario and relying on your party to use the advantage.)
  • You have advantage on this attack (ie you are hidden).