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5e Sorcerer versus Wizard, which is better?

5ekyu

Adventurer
They're default in AL games and may as well me in FLGS.

What Mistwell is referencing was from 2 years ago.
Yeah.

Its entirely likely and to me even probable that most characters not using feats and most campaigns use feats are both true. They are not at all at odds with each other.

The key is this, to me, there are a lot of factors that impact whether stats that count "characters" extrapolate into "games" and more to the point "campaigns."

To me the bigger factors that skew it are the existence of pick-up games and the accepted wisdom that more games tend to the lower levels - gradually getting fewer and fewer as levels increase.

I mean, how many tier-1 common pick- up games offer up pre-gens with feats at all, or allow feats for their custom characters if at all? Of those that do, how many of the characters in that pick-up choose the feared ones?

How many campaigns have characters pick feats vs ASI thru tier-1 and of those how many character make that jump that early? Etc.

So, to me, nah, jumping from the comment about charscters with feats to any conclusion about "games" with fests or further to "campaigns with feats" is not a case of having "support" for the conclusion. These are not results that follow from each other.
 

Zardnaar

Adventurer
Mistwelks a lawyer, he's technically correct but dated info.

Wouldn't surprise me if more people use feats.

One thing I did learn as far back as 3E is the forum debates don't apply to the real world.

On the forums for example everyone's convinced 3E is broken.

IRL I saw most groups playing 3Evmore like advanced 2E. They didn't use Uber PC, most groups didn't use wands of clws etc (ours was the only one).


Most D&Ders probably don't use gamestores.

Feats do mess up base assumptions for the game and not always for the better.
 

delph

Villager
Mistwelks a lawyer, he's technically correct but dated info.

Wouldn't surprise me if more people use feats.

One thing I did learn as far back as 3E is the forum debates don't apply to the real world.

On the forums for example everyone's convinced 3E is broken.

IRL I saw most groups playing 3Evmore like advanced 2E. They didn't use Uber PC, most groups didn't use wands of clws etc (ours was the only one).


Most D&Ders probably don't use gamestores.

Feats do mess up base assumptions for the game and not always for the better.
I play in two groups and both of them use feats... not "all in to feats" but one or two have everyone... one GM give them to NPCs (almost every solider, warrior,... have defensive duelant)
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
@Mistwell and @FrogReaver:

Glass houses and stones, folks. Here's the quotes:

FrogReaver: "...no matter whether the rules describe them as optional or not, in practice they are used in most D&D games being played. "

Mistwell: "Evidence suggests that is not the case. "

Neither one of you actually provided evidence at the time you said those things - you are both guilty of the same failure. So, the slap-fight over how the other guy is wrong is not a good look for either of you.

Please stop it now.
 

DM-Rocco

Explorer

DM-Rocco

Explorer
There are a few but none of them are significant except maybe earthquake.



The few spells more known have the potential to be useful, but are very rarely crucial. It's often like carrying around tools in a tool box that never get used hoping to use them someday. It's pretty hard not to find a use for meta-magic.

The actual gap in spells prepped vs known is actually rather small until high levels. It only works out to about 1 additional spell per spell level prepped over known. Wizards still run into "I wish had had this spell" moments. I've seen people post like they are simply prepared for everything but that simply isn't true. More spells prepped is certainly useful but I find it's been over-rated.



I largely agree with this, except wizards tend to prioritize combat or utility spells before selecting rituals because of the opportunity cost in the selection. At least I did and those whom I gamed with did. No one ever selected all rituals, lol, although I do definitely select rituals on wizards and bards.

It also gets to Mistwell's comment I'm including below.

The wizard's method of acquiring rituals is far better that the feat. Tome warlock's have the same issue. Gaining rituals because of the feat isn't as rare as you are making out unless the DM isn't using published adventures and is willfully not including them in his or her campaign, which would be odd unless the campaign has no NPC wizards.



The wizard method is better. ;-)



What you stated is mathematically impossible because knowing 44 spells in a spell book cannot allow for swapping out the entire spells prepared in a day. Signature spells at 20th level precludes ever swapping out the entire list and it takes 50+ spells in the spell book to completely swap out the other 25; not that I've ever seen anyone ever coming close to trying something like that or giving a reasonable explanation on how that many spells swapped would be relevant. ;-)

Clerics obviously cannot either because a huge portion of their prepped spells if fixed by domain. The same goes for paladins. Non-land druids are the only class that can really swap out the entire list and it's still mostly pointless, although I think they might have the best argument for the relevance because of the focus on nature spells when in a non-natural environment.

It's not going to change the specific power level in any given spell by swapping it out. A 7th level spell is just as powerful as a different 7th level spell, in theory at least. Swapping spells is a versatility boost but not a power boost, and even as a versatility boost it's not common. Most wizards carry their favorites and swap in what they think they might need but it's not much of a swap. The actual number of spells prepped versus known is more significant than the ability to swap them out.

In any case of spells known being swapped or cast, they are still the same spell levels of slots being used for similar levels of power and restricting the addition spells known to an opportunity cost in actually casting them. IE, a slot used for a wizard spell the wizard has prepped is a slot no longer available for use later regardless of the number of spells prepped, and isn't inherently more powerful than the same spell slot a sorcerer uses for a different spell. Meta-magic is what makes spells more powerful using the same slot.

Not swapping spells is less of a restriction on using spells effectively so much as precluding niche use spells because of the need to select spells that cover general use. Then they take wish at 17th level to cover it all if needed anyway. ;-)

The 15 spells is a bit restrictive but all it means is covering the needs with general use spells, and possibly relying on gear and equipment or ability checks / skills. Spell selection needs to be more thought out but it's not that difficult.



"Casting Time: 1 reaction, which you take when you see a creature within 60 feet of you casting a spell"

If the caster doesn't see the spell casting (because no VS components) it cannot be countered. There's a few ways like that to avoid counter spell. Subtle spell can also help if the party is trying to be stealthy if they are within earshot of monsters, during social encounters, or when bound and gagged. It's not as flashy as twin, quicken, or heighten but it's got it's perks.

As to the topic, I prefer sorcerers to wizards these days. Playing a wizard often felt like I was packing around a toolbox full of tools that I wasn't using in case I needed them. That's great when a person needs them but it wasn't prominent enough to matter as much as meta-magic does. I'm good with a better basic hammer instead of 3 different hammers, so to speak. ;-)

The extra spells prepped is nice to have but it's not the end-all / be-all people make it out to be sometimes. The same goes for rituals, which can be picked up via feat but even then it's nice to have but not that important in the long run. More spells prepped I might use << meta-magic that I will use because the spells are situational and might not matter in the slightest. Meta-magic is deliberate and something I know I will always use.

I made a chart with typical spells known in standard options.

View attachment 113853

The wizard, cleric, and druid can vary with caster stat choice and is assumed 16 with 18 at 4th level and 20 at 8th level. The same is true for the paladin but they can be a bit MAD and it's assumed 16 then 18 at 12th level and 20 at 16th level. Warlock includes arcanum with the spells known in parentheses. None include subclass bonuses with the obvious exception of EK/AT.

It's important to keep in mind that the warlock spells known are split among 5 instead of 9 spell levels so the representation per level is consistent with other spell casters. It's also important to note that warlocks can easily pick up more spells known via invocations so between spells known in lower levels, arcanum known, and invocations picked up they do fall within the same main pack we see.

Paladins have a lot of spells prepped and all of them are in the 1st through 5th level, giving them a better representation than every class other than clerics and land druids in those lower levels spells. I'll point out that having a lot of spell prep obviously doesn't place them on a spell casting level of full casters to demonstrate that having a lot of spells known isn't indicative of more or better power in itself.

On a similar note to warlocks we have rangers, eldritch knights, and arcane tricksters splitting up their spells known among lower levels. This is the big drawback for sorcerers because they have more spells known than these three options but having to split them up over twice as many levels is what stretches sorcerers as thin as rangers. I've seen house rules that simply continue on the level progression (level +1) or adds CHA mod to spells known. Those don't actually break anything (spell slots available is the true bottleneck) if a DM wants to give a bit more variety to sorcs but they are house rules.

Side note: There was a game reasoning behind it. Sorcerers are considered more self-taught / naturals instead of educated, which is why they don't have a lot of spells or ritual casting by default. Wizards come from academies, bards from colleges, clerics from theological institutions (churches or temples usually), and druids from circles. They are "educated" and hence ritual casting and more spells available. An educated sorcerer subclass would be consistent to add spells known and possibly ritual casting as a feature if you want to work with your DM on it.

From what we see in that chart above bards get 2 bonus spells known over sorcerers at 1st level and that's about it until the high tier, and wizards and druids have a similar benefit of only a few spells (2-3 until almost high tier). Warlocks have nearly identical progression outside of the potential of a couple of invocations until the high tier. That demonstrates the gap in spells known / prepped isn't that significant regardless of class compared to sorcerers until high tier. The key difference is the high tier spells known, which is limited with sorcerers and warlocks (getting back to the side note on "educated" spell casters). Given that the bulk of spells is still going to be cast through lower level slots instead of higher level slots (again, slots are the bottleneck) this still isn't as big a gap as it first appears.

Sorcerers have enough spells between spell levels to cover the basic needs of the class, and cantrip spamming or damage is prominent among several of these classes in which warlocks and sorcerers tend to have the better options (EB invocations and meta-magic) in all tiers.

FWIW, I prefer the meta-magic. I only need low, medium, and high level spells for attack, defense, and some utility. 2 attack and defense (or CC) spells each of low, medium, or high level takes 6 spells known and the rest I can do with whatever. Wizard utility is very over-rated, IME. However, it is nice to have more spells available and easy ritual access. The grass is greener whichever a person prefers. ;-)

The general rule is that wizards, bards, clerics, and druids are schooled by institution of some form and have more spells available (particularly demonstrated with high level spells) plus rituals while sorcerers and warlocks are more hedge casters but have the better options to directly manipulate the spells they have. Hopefully that helps. If you go wizards, which sounds like your preference, my vote would be diviner. That's my favorite wizard subclass.

There isn't actually a wrong answer on what to play. The only difference is how the player sees what he or she is playing. ;-)
lmao, holy crap that was an answer...thanks.

I think I'm set on wanting to do a wizard because they have some spells I want to cast that sorcerers can't, like Arcane Eye for one instance.

You did mention that you house rule CHR bonus of level +1 to the Sorcerer spells know does break the game. What are your thoughts on either a FEAT or BACKGROUND called Wizard School Sorcerer where you get to pick one additional spell known from the Wizard list and it doesn't count towards your max spells known...maybe up to your CHR or INT modifier?
 
Feats & MCing are optional. Common practice, whether AL, D&D Beyond, or at your place, doesn't make them anything but optional. As such, it's fair to compare classes (to the extent it's fair to compare classes at all, which may not be to the extent most of us feel it should be), both with & w/o feats.

It's also fair, IMHO, to expect that classes will shake out more closely balanced with eachother with no opt-in rules in play, as that should be the simpler, more robust form of the game. The more you add, the more it'd be reasonable to expect divergences.

It's interesting that for some - arguably disfavored - classes, it is /with/ feats or as a component in an MC build, that they start to shine. Interesting, but not, IMHO, an indicator of design intent. 5e design is more broad-strokes than that, fine-tuning is left to the DM.
 

DM-Rocco

Explorer
Why would we talk about a feat though? We're talking about wizards vs sorcerers, not optional rules which take an ASI and put your ability scores behind.
I would like to hear your thoughts on this. Obviously, the variant human is a solid choice for just about anything since you get a bonus feat, but even with an 18 starting ability raised to 19 with the +1, if you want that to eventually become a 20, you'll have to spend a feat on that or use the ability increase to accomplish this, so if your goal is to get a stat to 20 before level 10, is it ever really a good idea to take human if you are just going to spend the bonus feat on an ability increase anyway?
 

Mistwell

Hero
I would like to hear your thoughts on this. Obviously, the variant human is a solid choice for just about anything since you get a bonus feat, but even with an 18 starting ability raised to 19 with the +1, if you want that to eventually become a 20, you'll have to spend a feat on that or use the ability increase to accomplish this, so if your goal is to get a stat to 20 before level 10, is it ever really a good idea to take human if you are just going to spend the bonus feat on an ability increase anyway?
I think the whole discussion of feats is a moot point. Because IF you use feats, the Wizard would get that same feat as well (Warcaster, Alert, Lucky, etc.). If you're needing to spend a feat just to get your class equal to the Wizard, then you're by definition still behind the Wizard, because they also got a Feat/ASI.

In addition, I don't even think it's common for Sorcerer players to choose the Ritual Caster feat, particularly not at first level as a human, but I don't have hard data to support that. It just doesn't seem like something I've heard anyone doing, either around here, at the WOTC boards before they closed, on Reddit boards, YouTube, etc.. Where is this idea even coming from that Sorcerer's typically choose variant human and select Ritual Caster as their one feat at that level?
 

DM-Rocco

Explorer
Oh and here is that evidence I was talking about...

View attachment 113866

Here Are The Most Popular D&D Feats (War Caster Leads The Pack!)

1/3 of all characters take a feat by level 4 (most characters first opportunity) From my personal experience, a minority of players take a feat at level 4 which matches up with this chart. However, in my experience in my groups there's typically at least 1 player taking a feat by level 4 and more characters take them as they level higher.

To me this chart models that behavior as I'd expect if a majority of games allowed feats. I'd hate to see the explanation of this chart if a majority of games did not allow feats.
I find both your arguing amusing, but I side with Mistwell on this...plus, this doesn't say it is a list of all players in the game. It lists who takes feats, and I assume that is who takes feats versus stat increases out of those that take or play with feats. Otherwise, the numbers would be the same for each category.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
I think the whole discussion of feats is a moot point. Because IF you use feats, the Wizard would get that same feat as well (Warcaster, Alert, Lucky, etc.). If you're needing to spend a feat just to get your class equal to the Wizard, then you're by definition still behind the Wizard, because they also got a Feat/ASI.

In addition, I don't even think it's common for Sorcerer players to choose the Ritual Caster feat, particularly not at first level as a human, but I don't have hard data to support that. It just doesn't seem like something I've heard anyone doing, either around here, at the WOTC boards before they closed, on Reddit boards, YouTube, etc.. Where is this idea even coming from that Sorcerer's typically choose variant human and select Ritual Caster as their one feat at that level?
While no argument thst ritual caster is big, I have not seen it as the first feat for sorcerers either. There are a lot of other contenders and, really, if variety in spells is your goal, there are other classes.

I mean, the wizards gains double the spells known at least level by level and prepared keeps pace do if sat 4th you are already needing to spend feats to address that, you are in for a long road of woe.
 

DM-Rocco

Explorer
I didn't read it whole (just first 20 and last 10 posts) What about 3 lvl sorc (CHA only 13 for taking MC) for metamagic and Wizard X (with max INT)? MC spell slots remain same, so in 20 lvl you have access to 9th spellslots and spells too. And "at will" transfering spellslots need more higher slots? sacrifice lower and vice versa.
I kind of decided sometime after the first 20 posts to focus on Wizard to cast spells not available to the Sorcerer and to get them earlier I decided not to multiclass, but that is not a bad idea, thanks for the input.
 

DM-Rocco

Explorer
I think the whole discussion of feats is a moot point. Because IF you use feats, the Wizard would get that same feat as well (Warcaster, Alert, Lucky, etc.). If you're needing to spend a feat just to get your class equal to the Wizard, then you're by definition still behind the Wizard, because they also got a Feat/ASI.

In addition, I don't even think it's common for Sorcerer players to choose the Ritual Caster feat, particularly not at first level as a human, but I don't have hard data to support that. It just doesn't seem like something I've heard anyone doing, either around here, at the WOTC boards before they closed, on Reddit boards, YouTube, etc.. Where is this idea even coming from that Sorcerer's typically choose variant human and select Ritual Caster as their one feat at that level?
I don't know about your last question, it is not what I was asking, but I did just play a drow elf sorcerer and I took ritual casting at 4th level, but I might be in the minority.

I was referring to whether or not it is worth taking human for the extra feat at all if you are just going to use the feat to increase an ability score. Example, why take human to get your 19 INT to 20 if you can just start as a gnome and start with 20 and have other abilities? Basically it seems like people like playing the human because of the bonus feat, but does that matter if you can play a non-human, get cool things like darkvision and whatever else, and start with a 20 in a prime stat?
 

mortwatcher

Explorer
I don't know about your last question, it is not what I was asking, but I did just play a drow elf sorcerer and I took ritual casting at 4th level, but I might be in the minority.

I was referring to whether or not it is worth taking human for the extra feat at all if you are just going to use the feat to increase an ability score. Example, why take human to get your 19 INT to 20 if you can just start as a gnome and start with 20 and have other abilities? Basically it seems like people like playing the human because of the bonus feat, but does that matter if you can play a non-human, get cool things like darkvision and whatever else, and start with a 20 in a prime stat?
having 18 or 20 in main stat at lvl 1 for a caster (for martials it's a bonus damage which is very nice) does not have as big of an immediate impact as having a feat at lvl 1

caster taking a feat for a stat increase is usually not the best choice (barring maybe resilient, which comes with a nice extra bonus if you are not already proficient in that save)
 

Ashrym

Explorer
lmao, holy crap that was an answer...thanks.

I think I'm set on wanting to do a wizard because they have some spells I want to cast that sorcerers can't, like Arcane Eye for one instance.

You did mention that you house rule CHR bonus of level +1 to the Sorcerer spells know does break the game. What are your thoughts on either a FEAT or BACKGROUND called Wizard School Sorcerer where you get to pick one additional spell known from the Wizard list and it doesn't count towards your max spells known...maybe up to your CHR or INT modifier?
The CHR bonus to spells known or continuing the spells known progression. I haven't seen both and the spells known formula is more common because other spells known casters want stat bonus to known as well. Most of the time I've seen the DM specifically wants the sorc to learn more known. The basic progression is sorc level +1 until it's halved for the high tier and eliminated for epic tier. It doesn't break the class to simply continue with a spell for 21 spells known eventually.

To answer your question, magic initiate already exists and isn't a bad way to pick up another 1st level spell, more cantrips, and a free casting. In play test it was part of a chain where additional feats added a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th level spell. I am not sure why it was dropped. Probably because it's expensive in feats costs to the point no one would ever spend 4 ASI's just for more spells known.

Magic initiate allow a spellcaster to use the spell learned using slots in addition to the free casting as long as it's from one of the classes to which the spellcaster accesses spells. So a sorc who takes magic initiate sorcerer gains a 1st level spell known, 1 freebie use of that spell, and 2 extra cantrips. The alternative would be taking a spell with a long duration from another list (like mage armor) and just using the freebie cast.

You would need to talk to your DM if all you want is more spells known. I wouldn't hesitate to allow a feat to grant a first level spell from any class to be known and use a choice of caster stat as in line with other feats and not stepping on the toes of magical secrets or other feats too much.

It's easier just to take even a single level of pretty much any class with spells, however; sorcs are pretty MC friendly. I like abusing the sorc capstone when I get into an epic game so I tend not to MC. The sorc capstone is a pretty good prep device. It's better than the wizard capstone, but the 18th level wizard ability is actually better than either, imo, so a definite consideration if you play to that tier. Spell mastery is a definite on the wizard list of pros.

I find both your arguing amusing, but I side with Mistwell on this...plus, this doesn't say it is a list of all players in the game. It lists who takes feats, and I assume that is who takes feats versus stat increases out of those that take or play with feats. Otherwise, the numbers would be the same for each category.
Organized gameplay allows feats. It seems to be the default until the DM decides otherwise, and makes sense as to why it's included in the SRD and PHB instead of a section of the DMG. The statistics we were given demonstrated higher levels use feats (presumably because ASI's take priority) starting around 12th level but most players aren't that high so the majority of players were not shown to be using feats. Feats not being allowed as the reason is just an assumption that's disproven by the feats appearing at higher levels.

It's all speculation, however. ;-)
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen... Be nice plz n_n
It's easier just to take even a single level of pretty much any class with spells, however; sorcs are pretty MC friendly. I like abusing the sorc capstone when I get into an epic game so I tend not to MC. The sorc capstone is a pretty good prep device. It's better than the wizard capstone, but the 18th level wizard ability is actually better than either, imo, so a definite consideration if you play to that tier. Spell mastery is a definite on the wizard list of pros.
Getting to third level in warlock grants basically the same benefit. Two - second level slots you can turn into 4 sorcery points every short rest. Plus some nice stuff like two invocations, more spells known, and a magical weapon, a pet or rituals
 

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