Wizards are the undisputed masters of magic. When it comes to flexibility, versatility, and sheer power, it is hard to do better than the Wizard. There’s a reason they’re one of the iconic D&D classes. But did you know they can do more than cast Fireball every round?
Wizards are one of the more iconic parts of D&D. Alongside the Fighter and Cleric, Wizards have been around since the very beginning of the game. No the very beginning, when they were simply magic-users. But they have come a long way since the days of having a single d4 for hit points and being always the first to die whenever delving into a dungeon. Now they are bastions of battlefield control, paragons of problem-solvers–if you need a spell cast to reshape the direction of the fight, or want to find creative ways to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women, the Wizard might be for you.
Spelling It Out
Without a doubt, the most versatile of all casters are Wizards. They have such a breadth of spells available, and the ability to learn all of them (eventually), which means that a Wizard that has time to prepare for a coming battle will utterly excel at having the right tool for the job every step of the way. Whether it’s having some kind of non-combat ritual spell like Tenser’s Floating Disk or an information gathering tool like Clairvoyance or Scrying, or a combat-defining casting like a well placed Fireball or Stinking Cloud, or better still Wall of Force or Fog.
Because the other place that Wizards shine is Battlefield Control. They are at their best when they are dictating when and where an opponent will be fought, and by how many of the party at once–or what state the party might be in when they encounter them. Thanks to spells like Enhanced Ability or Haste you’ll be able to turn your party into autonomous extensions of your arcane might.
It all comes down to spell selection. Depending on their suite of spells for the day, Wizards can alter their role in the party. Again there are a few natural inclinations, but you can fill just about whatever Wizard-shaped-hole needs to be filled in the party. It almost doesn’t matter what sort of subclass you pick–basically, all of your features revolve around spellcasting in different and better ways. Almost. Let’s take a look.
Abjuration is a school that’s all about protection. As such it lends itself to wizards looking to support their friends in a fight. Arcane Ward is one of the best features out there, allowing you to seize a little bit of magic from each spell that you cast, using the power to give yourself or an ally temporary hit points. Improved Abjuration and Spell Resistance make you that much more resilient at higher levels.
Conjuration is the make your GM hang his head school. With access to summoned creatures and being able to conjure up literally what you need (go Minor Conjuration) you’ll be able to throw a monkey wrench into the well-laid plans of your GM with distressing ease.
Divination is the school that believes you can never know too much, and never be too prepared. It is the school you should take up if you want to be the knowledge hub for your party–it’s also one of the best support subclasses–the whole arcane tradition is worth it for Portent alone which allows you to twice per day guarantee an ally will hit/save, or an enemy will miss/fail. It’s such a rewarding mechanic–rolling 2d20 and saving for a later time of your choosing–because no matter how you roll, you’ll get some fantastic use out of it.
Enchantment is one of the better schools for dealing with a single powerful creature. Features like Hypnotic Gaze let you take out a foe without spending a spell slot, and Split Enchantment doubles the potency of your enchantments, letting you take on two creatures for the price of one.
Evocation is a school that’s all about blasting your enemies. But like, carefully. There are some powerful abilities in this subclass, including the ability to drop an AoE on a bunch of foes without worrying about hitting your friends thanks to sculpt spell. And One per day being able to decide a spell is going to deal maximum damage is pretty incredible. Moreso because you can spend HP to gain the benefit of this ability again and again throughout your adventuring day.
Illusion is one of the best Wizard schools. You can redefine reality for a while–there are all kinds of tricks you can do with this class. Being able to reprogram your illusions thanks to Malleable Illusion is amazing. Get that much more mileage out of those precious spell slots. Plus pull off old tricks like creating an illusory boulder and hiding inside it while firing arrows at your enemies with nigh-impunity.
Necromancy is better at being an evil cleric than the actual evil clerics. If you know that you are going to be dealing with undead, then you definitely want a necromancer at your service. You’ll gain the ability to buff based on whatever stitched together monstrosity you’re calling your friend this time.
Transmutation is another excellent battlefield control school. Transmutation has a lot of the spells like Polymorph, which can help turn the tide of a fight. If you want to change up the way everything on the battlefield is arranged, this one is the school for you.
Finally, there are War Wizards out of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything–which showcases the Wizard’s ability to take to a fight. You’ll want to be casting concentration spells to gain a boost to your armor class. This is great because you’ll also want to be close to the enemy spellcasters out there so you can juice up your combat spells with some power surges.
At any rate, that’s the Wizard. Versatile. Powerful. Runner-up for the 2017 J.D. Power and Associates “Truck of the Year.” Creating a wizard can be daunting, but with the right kind of focus on your initial spells, you’ll be set up for your first few levels as you transition from not having any hit points to being able to run the show. The class can be incredibly rewarding to play, and when done right, they make everyone in the party shine.