I have a non-D&D RPG-evening, so I can’t really talk too lengthy about something. So I thought: Just pick a single spell, etc. and talk about it. And since I always talk too much, I ended up with the conjuring spells (Conjure Animals/Celestial/Elemental/Fey/Minor Elementals/Woodland Beings).
In 3e there was the family of summon monster/nature’s ally from I to IX and a big list for both spell groups, which told you what kind of creature you can summon through the spell levels. In 4e summoning spells/powers came with common rules and special actions, often using yours, etc. but very interesting summoning choices.
In 3e the problem was, that there were definitely good choices and bad choices at each level, so you tend to call always the same. Sometimes a choice is broken, like a lantern archon. In 4e summoning was kinda boring, since you couldn’t change the summoned creature after deciding on your power.
Now in 5e it’s conjuring instead of summoning, the spells are more diverse and open for all creatures of the specific type at a certain power level (measured by its CR). While the more powerful spells only conjure a single being (up to CR 6), the lesser ones calls creatures up to 2 CR (1 CR 2, 2 CR 1, 4 CR 1/2 or 8 CR 1/4), every time the conjured creatures comes into play, they get their own initiative, can do what they might do align- or physical-wise and hear to verbal commands (no action).
These spells are amazingly strong. Especially if you summon a bunch of low CR critters, since more attacks are almost always more useful than anything else and the AC of the enemies isn’t sky-reaching. But some of the more powerful ones brings cool abilities. Tough choice.
The critter tactic is especially good for a conjuration wizard at 10th and 14th level. 14th for 30 temporary hit point per conjured creature, 10th to counter a sad but balance-wise good flaw of the conjure-spells: Concentration.
You can easily see why it’s good balance-wise (and make it easier for PCs to actually get out of a tough situation): If you can disrupt the caster’s concentration, you’ll get rid of his servant(s). And of course it lessens the amount of other tactically strong spells, since you only can maintain one concentration spell.
But if you like the versatility, pick a druid. This class gets most conjure-spells (even the strongest and weakest ones, means earlier access and most end-power) and pick up the Warcaster feat early to get these concentration checks done. And at best, conjure your new friends, use wild shape to take form of a mole and dig yourself in. Flying could be a bad choice here and there…
If I were a druid, I surely summon a bunch of Giant Frogs at 5th level and use all the grappling mechanism and such to enhance my allies combat power while restricting the foes at the same time. Full-power control, hell yeah!
After I finished the document for my druid in the coming D&D-party, I’ll share it with you. It’ll content the stats of possible creatures to conjure, sorted by type and CR.