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PF2 Low-level Wizards in PF2 - are they still underpowered?

MerricB

Eternal Optimist
One of the biggest problems I had with the PF2 playtest was how poor wizards were (especially at first level).

Some cantrips have been slightly improved in this version, but the 1st-level spells are mostly the same - and I think they're underwhelming. (More analysis of first-level spells).

Cantrip Comparisons:
Acid Splash: Playtest was 1d4 damage plus 1 splash. Now 1d6 damage plus 1 splash.
Chill Touch: Playtest was 1d8 damage. Now 1d4+spellcasting mod.
Electric Arc: Playtest was 1d6 to two targets. Now 1d4 to two targets.
Ray of Frost: Playtest was 1d8 damage. Now 1d4+spellcasting mod.

When you consider that the fury barbarian can basically rage whenever they like and deal 1d12+10 damage with each hit (striking 1-3 times a round, mostly)... erm, is this still underpowered? Or am I missing something?

Cheers!
 

Kaodi

Adventurer
There is at least one option that allows you to do 1d12+4 damage straight out of the gate, though only once per combat at most (and maybe not even every combat unless you have lots of time between encounters): a half-orc universalist wizard with orc weapon familiarity and the hand of the apprentice feat/focus power can throw a greataxe 500 feet and use Int for damage and I think for attack (it says to make a spellcasting attack roll). And it comes right back to them.
 

gargoyleking

Explorer
Wizards were never meant to be primary damage dealers. Even fireball is more of a crowd control spell. Just one that vaporizes the crowd.
 

JesterOC

Explorer
Comparing wizard damage output to Barbarians is a bit odd.

Wizards are like a Swiss army knife, very adaptable. Good at Damage, Crowd control, utilities etc. They are not a primary damage machine. But the cantrips are better than just using a crossbow.

They might do less damage, but the crits often have add on effects. And due to the nature of how crits work now, the cantrips crit more often for the wizard than a wizard firing a crossbow (assuming a wizard optimizing in Int instead of Dex).
 

MerricB

Eternal Optimist
Wizards were never meant to be primary damage dealers. Even fireball is more of a crowd control spell. Just one that vaporizes the crowd.
It's not that they're not damage dealers, it's that they don't have any "wow!" spells at first level at all. Perhaps colour spray?

In original D&D, first-level wizards didn't even have magic missile, but they *did* have sleep (puts up to 16 enemies to sleep) and charm person (permanently charm one humanoid). Both of those were the "wow" spells that made them worth taking. (Charm person was nerfed as early as 1e... sleep probably got stronger for a while!)

You want something that makes you happy to bring a wizard along. Something that sets you apart. Casting burning hands for two actions might be it - but at 2d6 damage and requiring the enemies to be arranged "just so" and to go into melee range... while the fighter gets two or three attacks at 1d8+4? It's not a good feeling.

Cheers!
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
I honestly don't think there's much to discuss.

If all you look at is level 1 performance (perhaps you're in a quick single session intro scenario), don't even look at Wizard.

Everyone else, rejoice at sucking at level 1, and constantly remind everyone when you reign supreme at later levels...!
 

MerricB

Eternal Optimist
Comparing wizard damage output to Barbarians is a bit odd.
I originally compared to fighter damage (which still favours the fighter), and then realised how incredibly good barbarian damage was.

Here are the penalties for fury raging: -1 to AC and you can't concentrate. Once you finish raging, you must wait a minute before you rage again.
Here are the benefits for fury raging: 1+Con mod temporary hit points. +6 weapon damage. You resist physical weapon damage.

Wizards are like a Swiss army knife, very adaptable. Good at Damage, Crowd control, utilities etc. They are not a primary damage machine. But the cantrips are better than just using a crossbow.
Vancian casting, so you have only two spells prepared at first level. Which spells do you take?

And yes, the cantrips are far superior to just using a crossbow. But they're underneath what a fighter does - that ability to attack twice or three times a turn when the wizard can cast only one cantrip is significant. So, I want the first-level spells to be better... and I'm not sure they are.

With luck, I'll get a game soonish, so I can see how wizards fare in actual play; see if the versatility of different cantrips allows them to choose how they're effective.

The problem is how underwhelming they were in the playtest... and I don't think much has changed.

Cheers!
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
The Expertise feature does not come on line until 7th level when the Barbarian gets Weapon Specialization. I would also be very careful about utilizing those 2nd and especially 3rd attacks. You place yourself in serious danger of critical failure especially on that last one where a Barbarian with 18 Strength will be at -3 (7-10) to attack.
 

FowlJ

Villager
The Expertise feature does not come on line until 7th level when the Barbarian gets Weapon Specialization. I would also be very careful about utilizing those 2nd and especially 3rd attacks. You place yourself in serious danger of critical failure especially on that last one where a Barbarian with 18 Strength will be at -3 (7-10) to attack.
Critical failures on attacks don't do anything. Unless a creature has a reaction they can use when something critically fails an attack against them (which is rare), or some ability provides a partial effect on a failure (but not a critical failure), it is identical to a normal failure.
 

gargoyleking

Explorer
You talk about those extra attacks like they're guaranteed damage. They may not be able to critically fail, but they definitely are highly unreliable as damage dealers. Assuming that your barbarian has enough enemies around him to be able to place so many attacks at once every turn. If your DM is glomming the Barbarian with a bunch of mooks he's running the game wrong in the first place.
 

Puggins

Explorer
superior to just using a crossbow. But they're underneath what a fighter does - that ability to attack twice or three times a turn when the wizard can cast only one cantrip is significant. So, I want the first-level spells to be better... and I'm not sure they are.

Cheers!
You’re limited to one spell a turn? Clearly I haven’t read the book closely enough.
 

Puggins

Explorer
You're not limited to one spell per turn, but most of them cost two actions to cast.
Cantrips don’t, though, and Merric referred to casting one cantrip a turn. Maybe he was talking in a different context, but using two electrical arcs followed by a ray of frost doesn’t sound very weak considering none of the spells suffer a multiple attack penalty.
 

FowlJ

Villager
Cantrips don’t, though, and Merric referred to casting one cantrip a turn. Maybe he was talking in a different context, but using two electrical arcs followed by a ray of frost doesn’t sound very weak considering none of the spells suffer a multiple attack penalty.
No, cantrips also generally take two actions to cast. They are also subject to multiple attack penalty if they have the attack trait.
 

mewzard

Explorer
I mean, every single time you gain a new spell level, most cantrips go up an extra die in damage value. That 1d4+mod cantrip is 2d4+mod at level 3 and 3d4+mod at level 5. And keep in mind, you can crit on Ray of Frost for double damage.

That doesn't seem that bad.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
It still doesn't help the level 1 Wizard though...

(There really isn't much to discuss. At level one, everybody sucks badly, but the Wizard sucks worse than most.

Just suck it up, is my most comforting message...
 

gargoyleking

Explorer
Hey, at least the wizard isn't relegated to popping off his two best spells and then firing a crossbow the rest of the day now...
 

MerricB

Eternal Optimist
Cantrips don’t, though, and Merric referred to casting one cantrip a turn. Maybe he was talking in a different context, but using two electrical arcs followed by a ray of frost doesn’t sound very weak considering none of the spells suffer a multiple attack penalty.
Cantrips cost two actions to cast.
 

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