Dominate Beast is a 4th-level enchantment spell for Druids and Sorcerers, as well as Clerics of the Nature Domain, Paladins who take the Oath of Conquest, and Warlocks whose patron is either The Archfey or The Great Old One. These classes all get 4th level slots at character level 7, except Paladins who get them at level 13.
What does it do?
This spell takes an action to cast and takes your concentration. It allows you to charm a creature that has the beast type, such that it does its best to obey your commands for one minute. While you concentrate on the spell, you can additionally use your action to take precise control of the creature for a full round.
The beast gets a Wisdom saving throw, which it gets to repeat whenever it takes damage.
Dominate Beast can be used as a battlefield control spell by turning a hostile beast into an ally, or simply commanding it to run away.
Interfere with mounted combatants by dominating their mounts. Or take control of an enemy druid who has turned into a beast.
Out of combat, you can use this spell to get beasts to do things for you, like scouting ahead, creating a diversion, or moving a heavy object.
Beasts generally don’t have high Wisdom. A vast majority of beasts have a +0 Wisdom modifier. Some have as high as +2 and others as low as -2. So most beasts are likely to fail the saving throw.
Unlike many enchantment spells, Dominate Beast allows you to command the target to put itself in harm’s way, or even directly harm itself.
You could potentially take control of any creature using this spell by comboing with another spellcaster who first casts Polymorph on the target, turning it into a beast.
A charmed beast can make a powerful ally. For example, a CR 8 t-rex will be a vastly superior melee combatant to even the barbarian or fighter in your party at least until level 13.
This spell is somewhat situational. While beasts are fairly common in the early game, they’re not so common at 7th level and beyond. Sorcerers will probably not find a reason to choose this spell, but druids have it available when for example they’re in the wilderness or another situation where beast encounters are likely. Nature domain clerics, Old One and archfey warlocks, as well as conquest paladins will have this spell ready either way.
Dominate Beast comes online at 7th level, which is right around the time when encounters with beasts are getting too easy for the party. A challenging encounter involving beasts at this level might be a single t-rex or giant ape, or something like six giant scorpions. At levels beyond 7, the DM will have a hard time coming up with challenging beast encounters.
If you intend to use your dominated beast as a combat ally, note that it gets a saving throw against your spell save DC every time it takes damage, which could be several times per round. So while an obvious use of this spell might be to gain beast allies in combat, the spell doesn’t support that use case very well.
The duration is only one minute, which outside of combat is not very long. However, this spell can be upcast for a longer duration. For example, at the price of a 7th level spell slot, you can concentrate on Dominate Beast for 8 hours. If you’re a druid, that’s not necessarily a bad use for a 7th level slot if you don’t intend to do very much else that day.
The ability to forego your action to take precise control of the beast doesn’t seem all that useful in general. The target is already going to do its best to obey your mental commands, so this is probably not a good use of your action except in very specific situations.
Compared with other spells
Dominate Beast is a less powerful version of the 8th level spell Dominate Monster. Since it targets only beasts, and beasts are generally CR 8 or below, Dominate Beast is quite appropriately a 4th-level spell.
Giant Insect is another 4th level spell that lets you gain low-CR beast thralls as long as there are insects or arachnids present.
Polymorph is another potential use for your 4th level spell that has similar battlefield control use cases. It has interactions with Dominate Beast, as it changes a creature’s type to beast. In general if the choice is between preparing Dominate Beast or Polymorph, the latter is probably a better choice as it’s a much more flexible spell and applicable in more situations.
Dominate Beast is a somewhat situational utility and battlefield control spell. It can be a great choice for campaigns that feature wilderness exploration, but its power level is such that it’s already becoming irrelevant by the time it comes online at character level 7.
Paladins, clerics, and warlocks who get this spell have it automatically without needing to prepare it. It’s probably not worth taking for most sorcerers. Since druids always have their full spell list available to prepare, this spell can be a solid choice although there are usually better uses for your 4th level slots.