What are your favorite picks for Magical Secrets at each lvl. Not what is most optimized, but what you have had fun taking or thinking about taking.
Lvl 6 Magical Secrets: Counterspell and Thunder Step
Counterspell is just a lot of fun to have as a player. Being able to say "Nope" when a creature is casting something is just fun. Especially when you do it to uppity Wizards.
Thunder Step is Misty Step ×3 with a but of Thunderwave mixed in. Being able to bring an ally with you is gravy.
Lvl 10 Magical Secrets: Telekinesis and Rary's Telepathic Bond.
Telekinesis is a fantastic utility spell in and out if combat, enabling me to disarm anyone and everyone while leaving my bonus action free for Bardic Inspiration and other bonus action uses (Glamour Bard's Mantles for example) and stays up even if I don't use it every turn, so melee Valor and Sword Bards have a ranged option.
Rary's Telepathic Bond is a Ritual, non-Concentration spell that allows your team to communicate perfectly over and distance for 1 hour. Underrated spell in my opinion.
Find Greater Steed, because having a Griffin or Pegasus is just great.
Lvl 14 Magical Secrets: Crown of Stars, Reverse Gravity, and Teleport.
Crown of Stars gives you a great ranged attack and isn't concentration. Using your action to do 4d12 radiant damage is pretty great, and you still have your bonus and concentration for other things. And the spell remains until completely expended or you hit the hour limit, so you can cast other spells without ending this one.
Reverse Gravity is a massive AOE control spell that puts enemies outside normal ranged weapon distance (except Longbows) and does damage when you choose to end it. And is hilarious.
Teleport because saying "I want to go here now" is amazing.
Lvl 18 Magical Secrets: Wish and Mass Heal
Wish because it's Wish.
Mass Heal because it's an incredibly powerful heal spell that can negate pretty much any damaging spell. Meteor Swarm can't out damage Mass Heal short of hitting a hoard of people.
Level 10, Valor - There's just something about putting Swift Quiver and Holy Sword on a bard that can do everything. Very scary at this point.
Level 14, Valor - As we''ve reached the point that Concentration spells are mostly dominated by other things, we look at non-Concentration buffs. Contingency and Find Greater Steed are my go-to at this point, though the latter can be taken at another time.
Level 18, Valor - Glibness and Demiplane. As level 9 spell slot is effectively perma-taken by Foresight and 8th slot tends to use Mind Blank, its nice having a social power just on the side burner. And demiplane is just FUN.
This selection was chosen for a simple reason: I have a lore bard that specializes in "Word" spells. Speak and things happen. This is the bard that specializes in studying the "words of creation" that the class writeup talks about in brief. Also take Power Word Kill, Suggestion, Mass Suggestion and Geas as part of the normal spellcasting progression.
My favorite spell to take with Magical Secrets, whether it's as a 6th-level Lore bard or a 10th-level non-Lore bard, is counterspell. I love counterspell. I believe every spellcaster ever should have counterspell (once they gain access to 3rd-level spells, of course).
Otherwise, it depends on the character.
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I steal attacking catnips, Guidance, Create Food & Water, Demiplane and Wish. With Wish and Demiplane I can stash a Clone in a different Demiplane every day assuming I still have those slots at the end of the day.
Steel wind strike for sword bard works well, nothing like appearing in the middle of a mob and doing 6d10 bamage to up to 5 creatures and if you combine it with haste you can use a sword flourish to either grant extra defense for youself if you don't kill everthing or slashing florish to perhaps finsh everything off. If your lucky enough Steel wind strike will be a surprise attack and then no need for haste.
Holy weapon is also another great spell but you should also take warcaster feat so you dont easily break concentration
Level 6 Magical Secrets: Pass Without Trace, Spirit Guardians
Embracing the support role, it's nice to be able to contribute stealth to the party, and nothing beats Pass Without Trace in that regard. Spirit Guardians is a wonderful deterrant for anyone who thinks they're going to get close to take out the bard.
Level 10 Magical Secrets: Bigby's Hand, Evard's Black Tentacles
Nothings says intimidation like a giant spectral hand that plows through any enemy in its path...damage, control, defense and utility...it is perfect for a bard. Evard's Black Tentacles is an unconventional choice, but the crowd control it provides is unparrelled, and is good for a bard attempting to make a terrifying impression.
Level 14 Magical Secrets: Crown of Stars, Prismatic Spray
Bards are meant to look flashy...but these spells also supplement damage bards can lack. The aesthetic and randomness of Prismatic Spray is too much fun, and Crown of Stars is non-concentration turn-by-turn damage, and looks cool.
Level 18 Magical Secrets: Prismatic Wall, Wish
For the artistic bard, Prismatic Wall is a canvas of impenetrable defense and possibility...and Wish ; ]
Been looking forward to getting my Valor/Warlock to lvl 10 secrets, been eyeing Far Step as an option. Teleporting as a bonus action all encounter sounds a lot of fun, despite it being concentration. Was thinking about some of the Paladin aura's would be useful as well. But Holy Weapon and Steel Wind are certainly looking good.
Counterspell: A MUST for any serious spellcaster. And most useful in the hands of a lore bard; it's so fun to thwart enemy mages Fly: Not gonna lie, this is just because I think letting my bard avoid the hassles of being grounded, and to soar into the sky with the wind whipping through his cloak is awesome.
Level 10, Magical Secrets:
Telekinesis: For my bard, its probably the best general-purpose utility spell he'll wield. Mage Hand on steroids. Wall of Force: Being able to form a bridge on the fly or trap a Huge opponent makes another great broad-use pick. Wall of Stone: It was between this and Wall of Force, and the other was chosen only due to current campaign circumstances. Both perform similarly, but being able to help build the team's keep--and later, your own tower--is quite a bonus.
Level 14, Magical Secrets:
Plane Shift: Because this bard thinks BIG, and has big plans. Disintegrate: Pairs well with Wall of Force. The ability to deliver a single, devastating blow, capable of punching through almost anything, even just once, is pretty handy. Contingency: My alternative to Disintegrate. I WANT to like this, but the closer I look, the more limitations it has, and it's seeming like it won't be worth it. I'll probably choose Disintegrate instead when my bard gets to this level.
Level 18, Magical Secrets:
Demiplane: Again, this bard thinks BIG, and having access to private demiplanes of his own will help with his big plans. Wish: Well, remember those big plans? Plus, c'mon, it's Wish.
Counterspell and telekinesis got a few mentions here, and it's worth pointing out that they are enhanced by Jack of All Trades because they both use ability checks. Any spells that involve ability checks like that are definitely worth considering.
Speaking of ability checks, hex is always a good choice for bards for use in noncombat scenarios. If you're the party face, it makes your job a lot easier when you can hex someone's wisdom or intelligence and make them easier to persuade or deceive.
Antilife Shell can be a good defensive option for a bard that has a poor armor class and is trying to hang back and play a support role via spells and Inspiration.