New DnD playtest nerfs iconic 5e spell

The new Unearthed Arcana DnD playtest content completely changes up how Counterspell works - and it means boss monsters have less to fear.

DnD Playtest - a wizard with a loop of magic around them.

The latest DnD playtest changes up one of the most famous D&D spells – and we think it’s quite a nerf. Released on September 7, 2023, D&D playtest 7 makes some big changes to the DnD classes, but it also changes how Counterspell 5e works. This spell, used to mess up someone else’s spellcasting and cause their spell to fizzle out, now requires a saving throw from the target rather than an ability check from the user.

As the document explains, “the spell’s previous design failed to account for the capabilities of the target”. And apparently this was something that needed “rectifying”. Now, the target of Counterspell has to make a constitution saving throw to shrug off the effect, which means if you’ve got the right stats, you have less to worry about.

What this means, is not only that higher level monsters (and players) are less likely to be successfully counterspelled than lower level – regardless of who is doing the counterspelling – it’s also a boon for boss monsters.

DnD playtest- the witch Tasha casting a spell

With the new change, the strongest spellcasting creatures, that big bad lich or mindflayer lord you’re expected to encounter solo at the end of the dungeon, will be able to shrug off counterspell thanks to legendary resistances. This ability lets the strongest creatures automatically pass a certain number of saving throws – which is now what counterspell uses.

There’s one more change to the spell, presumably designed to make being on the receiving end of counterspell less infuriating for your 5e Wizards and DnD Sorcerers. It’s that if you’re successfully counterspelled, the spell you were trying to cast doesn’t burn up a spell slot. You can still have another go on your next turn.

Like the other playtest documents, this Unearthed Arcana article presents material for the next version of DnD coming out in 2024 – what was previously known as ‘One DnD’. As well as changes to spells, the 5e Barbarian and 5e Fighter have new subclasses, and there are changes to the 5e Warlock, Wizard, and Sorcerer.