I've been reading up on playing a druid (never played one before), and I keep finding resources that say that druids are arguably the most powerful class in 5e because of their wild shape ability. However, I've been comparing a druid in its true form with some of the beasts it can change into with wild shape, and I don't see how using wild shape (at least in early levels) is beneficial in combat situations.

I get that when a druid is reduced to 0 HP while in wild shape form, they return to their true form with the HP they had before they changed shape (assuming they were not reduced past 0 HP). Obviously, this is a huge benefit—depending on which beasts you can change into, you get a lot more HP during a round of combat.

But as far as the rest of combat goes, I don't see how it's a benefit to take on a wild shape, especially at earlier levels. For example, let's say that I am playing a level 2 wood elf druid with the following stats:

  • STR: -1, DEX: +3, CON: +2, INT: -1, WIS: +3, CHA: -1
  • HP: 15
  • AC: 17 (studded leather, shield)
  • Weapon: Quarterstaff improved by Shillelagh
    • Attack bonus: +5 (proficiency bonus [2] + WIS [3])
    • Average damage: 7.5 bludgeoning (1d8+3; magic)

At level 2, my druid can use wild shape to change into a beast with a 1/4 CR or lower. Say the druid changes into a wolf with the following stats:

  • HP: 11
  • AC: 13 (natural armor)
  • Natural weapon: Bite
    • Attack bonus: +4
    • Average damage: 7 piercing (2d4+2)

In this example, the druid's HP, AC, attack bonus, and damage output is better than the wolf's, which is one of the better beasts the druid can change into at level 2. And the druid can cast spells in true form. Is the only reason this would be beneficial in this case is because the druid can nearly double its HP (shape change into wolf [11 HP] until reduced to 0 HP, then fight in true form [15 HP]), or are there other benefits as far as combat is concerned? Does the combat advantage of true form over wild shape change significantly as the druid levels up?

If I were playing this particular druid in a combat situation with my current understanding of things, I would avoid using wild shape until I was dangerously low on HP, then I would use it just to benefit from the HP boost since the true form is a better combatant in every way, but something tells me this isn't the "best" way to use wild shape. I just feel like I'm missing something.

(I get that Circle of the Moon druids are a different case because they can use wild shape to transform into beasts of higher CR's at earlier levels. It's easy to see how wild shape is beneficial for members of this druid circle.)

  • \$\begingroup\$ What sources are you reading that suggest they are very strong? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 17:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Pyrotechnical just forums and blogs. Nothing official. But I've seen it in probably half a dozen places. \$\endgroup\$
    – KSchank
    Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 17:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't disagree with the decision to mark this question off-topic by way of being too opinion-based, but this is probably a good candidate to open up a chat room to discuss. \$\endgroup\$
    – Xirema
    Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 18:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ Specifically: discussing the question's closure should occur on Role-playing Games Meta, discussing druid or class power in general would occur in Role-playing Games Chat. Note that for any given class at all you can probably find a dozen people claiming it's the best class, and a dozen others claiming it's the worst — but at least for D&D 3.5e and Pathfinder there were clear indicators of general agreement in canonical community guides (like tier lists) suggesting Druids were ranked among the most powerful classes. If you've found stuff like that, that's worthwhile assessing. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 18:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ As it is, it's still kinda opinion based. I'm kinda in a hurry, but check the meta for optimization questions, I think it would be better if you can pose the question similar to that (focus on some level-range or something) - otherwise it is just a "why do people say X?", and we can't exactly answer that. \$\endgroup\$
    – HellSaint
    Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 21:05

2 Answers 2


Yes and No,

With the factors given a druid in its true form is slightly better at direct combat than in a wild shape form.

However, there are some factors that you might want to consider: A druid in the wild shape form of a wolf gains a few extra advantages.

  • Movement speed: Wolves move at a base of 40 feet, faster than the typical humanoid speed of 30 feet. So a wolf can easily outrun a fleeing enemy (granted they don't have a mount or another way of moving faster).
  • Animal abilities: In the case of a wolf these take the form of pack tactics and being capable of knocking an enemy prone.

    Pack Tactics. The wolf has advantage on an attack roll against a creature if at least one of the wolf's allies is within 5 ft. of the creature and the ally isn't incapacitated.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: (2d4 + 2) piercing damage. If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 11 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone

Other wild shapes provide other capabilities. A giant spider can web an enemy and can move along walls and ceilings. A bear has multiple attacks and a good pool of hit points. A horse can function as a mount for another party member providing them with extra speed.

Wild shape may not always be a better combat option, but it grants extra flexibility to a savvy player.



Instead the Druid summons 8 woodland creatures, chooses pixies.

Has the pixies polymorph into TRex.

This is unfortunately actually allowed. If your DM allows it as it does unbalance the game that is.

Better explanation on YouTube here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4EbQBwyManc

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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think the pixies could polymorph into T Rex since the T Rex is CR 8, whereas Pixies are only CR 1/4, and the beast to polymorph into must be less than or equal to the level or CR of the creature being polymorphed. \$\endgroup\$
    – NathanS
    Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 21:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ I thought so too at first. Then I doubted it secondly. And thirdly I refused to allow it because it overpowers druids. But I edited my answer check out the video for a full detailed explanation. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 21:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that this "loophole" is neatly avoided by the official ruling on Conjure Woodland Creatures, which states that player calls for creatures, but the DM decides what appears. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 22:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Software_Programineer You actually have it wrong. You summon 8 woodland creatures (pixies). The pixies have a number of 1/day spells they can use, among which is polymorph. The pixies cast polymorph on the players, turning them into several T-rex, then hide (so that concentration isn't broken). The players are then free to go on a massacre. Pixies aren't polymorphed, players are. That said, as Mattdm said, the DM chooses what appears, not the player (though the player can give some kind of goal they have in mind to up their odds a bit). \$\endgroup\$
    – Doc
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 3:29

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