Last Updated: November 22, 2022
When you come to it
And you can’t go through it
And you can’t knock it down
You know that you’ve found
The wall, the wall, the wall
No man on earth can make it fallThe Wall – Heet Mob
Wall of Introduction
One of the greatest contributions of magic upon the battlefield is the power of control. This power brings to mind spells like Black Tentacles, Hold Monster, Hypnotic Pattern, and Web, spells that directly inhibit the enemies or create dangerous zones. These spells certainly have their places in any spellbook, but sometimes such direct methods are insufficient. Sometimes instead of controlling your foes it is better to control their access. Sometimes all you need is a Wall.
There are a few different Wall spells, and, while they all have the main function of cutting the battlefield into sections, they can be divided up into a handful of overlapping categories. Some Walls are intended to do damage, some block movement, others inhibit sight or effects; most do some combination of these effects. The other major distinction between different walls is how finely the caster can build the wall, by which we mean “does it have to be one continuous flat surface or can it bend into corners and create hallways?”
Wall of Contents
- Wall of Introduction
Wall of Walls
- Wall of Sand – 3rd-level – EEPC
- Wall of Water – 3rd-level – EEPC
- Wind Wall – 3rd-level – PHB
- Wall of Fire – 4th-level – PHB
- Wall of Force – 5th-level – PHB
- Wall of Light – 5th-level – XGtE
- Wall of Stone – 5th-level – PHB
- Blade Barrier – 6th-level – PHB
- Wall of Ice – 6th-level – PHB
- Wall of Thorns – 6th-level – PHB
- Prismatic Wall – 9th-level – PHB
RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.
- : Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
- : OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
- : Good options. Useful often.
- : Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.
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The advice offered below is based on the current State of the Character Optimization Meta as of when the article was last updated. Keep in mind that the state of the meta periodically changes as new source materials are released and this article will be updating accordingly as time allows.
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Wall of Walls
Wall of Sand – 3rd-level – EEPC
You would be forgiven for reading the name of this spell and passing it over. What good is a Wall of Sand? All it does is block line of sight, and creatures can just walk through it. But read a little closer and you’ll notice that this is the thickest of all the wall spells at ten feet thick, and it’s not difficult terrain but instead every foot of movement through the wall costs three feet.
This is a ten foot wide area that costs thirty feet of movement to pass. Yes, this does come at the cost of only being 30 feet wide, but turn the wall sideways in a ten foot wide hallway. Now you have a thirty foot long hallway that costs ninety feet of movement.
Wall of Water – 3rd-level – EEPC
Wall of Water is not great at halting foes’ movement, but it does a fine job of inhibiting ranged weapon attacks and fire damage without blocking sight the way Wall of Sand would do. That said, I struggle to find a reason to use it outside of it being the only Wall of this level available to Sorcerers. It does have slightly more options than Wall of Sand in that it can be shaped into a ring, but even that isn’t enough to help it.
Wind Wall – 3rd-level – PHB
The only Wall available to Rangers and also the most flexible in terms of shape, this wall does most of what Wall of Water does, but better. If you need to stop a volley of arrows, this works great, but that’s really all it does, so it can be hard to actually use it. Add to that it being Druid and Ranger only and you can see why it holds the rating it does.
Wall of Fire – 4th-level – PHB
Most Walls last 10 minutes, but Wall of Fire makes do with only 1 minute by turning up the heat. In exchange for this shorter duration, the Wall of Fire’s damage affects an area in front of the Wall. It is fire damage, which is not the greatest, but there is no save after the initial damage, which is pretty good. Damage for ending a turn too close to the Wall or moving into the Wall is automatic. That makes the option to place the fire in a ring around your foes that much more powerful since the Wall is also opaque.
Wall of Force – 5th-level – PHB
If you just need an impenetrable barrier right now for ten minutes, there’s nothing else quite as good, it being immune to dispel magic and requiring instead the 6th-level spell Disintegrate to tear it down. That said, even with the great options it has for shapes, it is still limited to either a dome, sphere, or single flat plane, though it can be placed at any angle without the need of outside supports, even suspended in midair.
Wall of Light – 5th-level – XGtE
This is barely a Wall. It’s more of a slightly inconvenient Curtain of Light. The best feature is that it might blind anyone standing in the wall when it forms. After that it’s just a line on the map that blocks line of sight and does damage if someone ends their turn inside of it, but doesn’t inhibit movement in any way.
There is one decent use for Wall of Light, though: because it can be placed sideways, it can fill a ten foot wide hallway, similar to Wall of Sand above, just doing automatic damage instead of slowing down anyone attempting to traverse it. Still probably not worth casting over other Walls, especially since most of the characters with access to this can also cast Wall of Fire.
Wall of Stone – 5th-level – PHB
The Wall of Stone is the most customizable Wall of the whole group, being able to construct crude fortifications with only the restrictions of having a solid anchor point and being contiguous. That’s just a fancy way of saying every piece of the wall must touch another piece of the wall and some piece of the Wall needs to touch the ground or existing stone walls. Additionally, if the caster holds concentration for the entire duration, the Wall becomes permanent.
This is all great, but there are two considerations. This is the only Wall where completely surrounding a target allows for a save, specifically because the Wall can become permanent. Just remember that as little as a 5 foot wide opening is enough to negate the save, especially if you put a Fighter or Barbarian or someone else beefy inside the hole. Also, the wall must be solidly supported by existing stone, which means that there needs to be existing stone around and it needs to be able to support the weight of your Wall. This is not usually an issue but it must be taken into consideration, and will prevent you from building physics-defying shapes.
Fabricate – 4th-level – PHB
An additional benefit of Wall of Stone becoming permanent after 10 minutes, Fabricate can be used to sculpt those crude fortifications into something a little more fortified. For example, if you’ve erected a barricade, perhaps adding sharpened spikes to the front would prevent any attempts to scale the Wall. Another good option is adding better arrow slits and murder holes. Just be sure to have proficiency with Mason’s Tools and other construction tools in order to make such fine creations.
Stone Shape – 4th-level – PHB
For simpler and quicker modifications to the Wall of Stone, Stone Shape can handle things like doors or windows in far less time than Fabricate, but can’t also integrate other materials quite so easily.
Blade Barrier – 6th-level – PHB
The primary use of Blade Barrier is to do damage to foes who attempt to cross the wall. Unfortunately, its only five feet deep, so many things at this level will be durable enough to take the single hit required to cross the wall. That said, outside of certain Domains this is the only Wall available on the cleric spell list and it is still great in those situations with a larger number of weaker foes.
Wall of Ice – 6th-level – PHB
The Wall of Ice is an interesting hybrid of Wall of Fire and Wall of Stone. Like Wall of Fire, it does damage to anything standing where it gets built, but then forms a solid Wall like Wall of Stone, but with two key differences. The Wall of Ice has significantly less durability than Wall of Stone, but any destroyed sections are filled with Cold damage dealing air pockets. It’s certainly an interesting spell, but it’s a bit clunky and hard to use, especially being a 6th-level spell.
Wall of Thorns – 6th-level – PHB
This spell is like the bigger angrier version of Wall of Sand, which is funny as that spell was Wizard-only and this one is Druid-only. Costing 4 feet per 1 foot to move through, it might at first seem hard to take advantage of that since it’s only five feet thick, but Wall of Thorns has a distinct advantage over Wall of Sand:
Sand must target the ground, but Thorns may target any surface. In the same hallway example of Wall of Sand from above, simply target the wall for Wall of Thorns. Ten feet tall is then measured sideways from the existing wall, filling the ten foot wide hallway.
Prismatic Wall – 9th-level – PHB
This is technically the strongest Wall. It’s just very awkward to use and place. It must be flat or a sphere and it can’t move people out of the way during the casting. On the upside, the caster can declare targets that are immune and may pass through the wall freely, so the value of this spell goes up if you have some grapplers that want to start dragging things across the Wall for 50d6 damage spread across multiple flavors as well as a few deadly effects. You can also run through the wall to attack before retreating to safety during the same turn. But otherwise, it’s got to compete with the rest of the 9th-level options.