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

kunadam

Explorer
I always viewed wizards as an utility class and not as primary damage dealers. Cantrips are there so that wizards could still feel wizardry and do not resort to crossbow/darts.
But think about spells like Ant haul, Air bubble, Create water, Feather fall, illusion spells, Mending, Longstrider. These are the marvels wizard can do. Killing foes should be fighters' (barbarians, paladins errr champions) business.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
I always viewed wizards as an utility class and not as primary damage dealers.
...
Killing foes should be fighters' (barbarians, paladins errr champions) business.
Then I congratulate you to having a compatible set of expectations already.

On the other hand, people coming into the game with the expectation their Sorcerer, say, should kick serious ass already from the get-go will have a very rough time.

In other words, there are more to spellcasters than crusty old Wizards. Expecting you can build a character that can kill foes with fire and brimstone just as well as another character can do with steel and arrows is the new normal, and not at all unreasonable.

It does not work in Pathfinder 2, however. Not at level 1, anyways...

(To be clear, you still have cantrips. And focus spells!

This discussion is about spells - the things you put in slots which you have very few of, and which costs you most of your turn's actions to cast)
 

Aldarc

Adventurer
On the other hand, people coming into the game with the expectation their Sorcerer, say, should kick serious ass already from the get-go will have a very rough time.

In other words, there are more to spellcasters than crusty old Wizards. Expecting you can build a character that can kill foes with fire and brimstone just as well as another character can do with steel and arrows is the new normal, and not at all unreasonable.
The PF2 Sorcerer has more spells per day than a Wizard, and they also get access to the Dangerous Sorcery feat at first level, with human ancestry, that gives bonus damage to spells. Sorcerers also get Signature Spells at level 3 that allow them to spotaneously heighten spells. But the "blasting power" of your Sorcerer will largely depend on your chosen bloodline. You probably should not pick, pick for example, any of the divine or occult bloodlines if you are seeking "blasting power" for your Sorcerer.

In 5e a Sorcerer relies a lot on their cantrips and metamagic. They are not really "kicking serious ass already from the get-go" since their metamagic doesn't come on-line until level 3. At that point, they can quicken their spells and cantrips. Your draconic sorcerer does not get bonus damage to spells (and only to their chosen element) until level 6.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
The PF2 Sorcerer has more spells per day than a Wizard, and they also get access to the Dangerous Sorcery feat at first level, with human ancestry, that gives bonus damage to spells. Sorcerers also get Signature Spells at level 3 that allow them to spotaneously heighten spells. But the "blasting power" of your Sorcerer will largely depend on your chosen bloodline. You probably should not pick, pick for example, any of the divine or occult bloodlines if you are seeking "blasting power" for your Sorcerer.

In 5e a Sorcerer relies a lot on their cantrips and metamagic. They are not really "kicking serious ass already from the get-go" since their metamagic doesn't come on-line until level 3. At that point, they can quicken their spells and cantrips. Your draconic sorcerer does not get bonus damage to spells (and only to their chosen element) until level 6.
This seriously downplays the differences between PF2 and the games most newcomers are likely familiar with, and - though I do not believe you meant to - comes dangerously close to implying I'm playing the game wrong.

The facts remain: 1st level weapon attacks are tripled while 1st level spells remain largely unchanged; roughly speaking.

I think that conclusively answers the OPs question...

...and I stand by my earlier conclusion:



You are most definitely not missing something.

...

So it's time to completely change our perception of what it means to be a low-level spellcaster. At first level, simply forget about offensive spells.
 

RSIxidor

Explorer
I forget the name but its basically the old inspire competences. +1 to a skill check or attack roll.
This is taking it a bit off topic, but then again, a human wizard could easily take that bard cantrip at 1st level to give them an easy buff their options early on.
"Choose one cantrip from a magical tradition other than your own."

You'll notice that focus spells and composition cantrips do not have traditions listed in their descriptions, nor do composition cantrips appear on the spell lists. I don't believe humans can take Inspire Courage or any of the bard composition cantrips using Adapted Cantrip as the composition cantrips are not part of any of the magical traditions. I don't think there's a way to get that particular cantrip outside of being a Bard before level 8 (using archetype feats).

You can learn some of the other composition cantrips earlier but still only using the archetype feats.
 

Aldarc

Adventurer
This seriously downplays the differences between PF2 and the games most newcomers are likely familiar with, and - though I do not believe you meant to - comes dangerously close to implying I'm playing the game wrong.

The facts remain: 1st level weapon attacks are tripled while 1st level spells remain largely unchanged; roughly speaking.

I think that conclusively answers the OPs question...

...and I stand by my earlier conclusion:
I'm not downplaying these differences. There is really only one game that most newcomers are probably familiar with, and I made a comparison between the PF2 Sorcerer with its equivalent, which takes some time before it comes into its own and gains its defining features that enable it to blast to kingdom-come.

We can definitely compare spells with the action economy of Fighters as well, if that is also your concern. 1st level weapon attacks are tripled by virtue of the action economy but (if you are wise) you are probably not doing a full attack. The incentives are not there to make three consecutive attack actions, especially with the MAPs. Two-handed warrior? Power Attack consumes two actions, much like a spell. Sword and board? Raise a shield consumes an action. Two-weapon fighting? Double Slice consumes two actions. So simply saying that weapon attacks have tripled kinda ignores the Fighter's tactical side of the equation as well.
 

RSIxidor

Explorer
As for the Wizard's ability at 1st. Have to agree it's not spectacular. I don't think Wizards have ever really been spectacular at 1st, though. I'd argue in most editions they really aren't that interesting before 5th, either.

I also think it would be more appropriate to compare wizards to other spellcasters. I still think they lose the "combat effectiveness" fight, though it is not as far spread.

While this is also true of other classes, I think trying to find other uses for your third action will improve Wizard's usefulness. Skill actions are likely something to consider to improve your Wiz a bit at early levels, even if they aren't likely to succeed it's better than doing nothing with the action. Sneak, Demoralize, etc.
 

Aldarc

Adventurer
While this is also true of other classes, I think trying to find other uses for your third action will improve Wizard's usefulness. Skill actions are likely something to consider to improve your Wiz a bit at early levels, even if they aren't likely to succeed it's better than doing nothing with the action. Sneak, Demoralize, etc.
A Wizard is a prime-candidate to use the Recall Knowledge action to attempt to determine monster weaknesses, using one of their Recall Knowledge-based skills.

I would also like to note that most guides to the 5e Sorcerer and Wizard are not usually recommending damage-dealing spells at early levels. Usually it's spells like Shield, Sleep, Color Spray, Absorb Elements. There are exceptions like Burning Hands, Magic Missile, and Chromatic Orb.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
The table
The PF2 Sorcerer has more spells per day than a Wizard, and they also get access to the Dangerous Sorcery feat at first level, with human ancestry, that gives bonus damage to spells. Sorcerers also get Signature Spells at level 3 that allow them to spotaneously heighten spells. But the "blasting power" of your Sorcerer will largely depend on your chosen bloodline. You probably should not pick, pick for example, any of the divine or occult bloodlines if you are seeking "blasting power" for your Sorcerer.

In 5e a Sorcerer relies a lot on their cantrips and metamagic. They are not really "kicking serious ass already from the get-go" since their metamagic doesn't come on-line until level 3. At that point, they can quicken their spells and cantrips. Your draconic sorcerer does not get bonus damage to spells (and only to their chosen element) until level 6.
The Wizard table is deceptive. Specialists get an extra slot for spells of their specialty per level and Universalists get an extra use of Drain Bonded Item per spell level that can only be used on spells of that level. So Wizards effectively have 4 spell slots at 1st level.

So you can actually get close to the damage potential of an archer with a Universalist Wizard. Versatile Human. Pick Unconventional Weaponry (Elven Curve Blade). Pick up Fleet for added mobility. Have a higher speed than most humanoids is really helpful for ranged damage. Pick Reach Spell for Wizard Feat.

At the start of a fight use Hand of the Apprentice to hurl the sword for 1d8+4 damage. This can be used every fight. Switch to crossbow. Every other round you use a cantrip and do not need to move you can shoot the crossbow for added damage. Telekinetic Projectile is your main nuke. It does 1d6+4 damage and has standard critical hit effects. Plus hurling the environment at enemies. Tactical Nuke is Shocking Grasp augmented by Reach spell so a range of 30 feet. It does 2d12 damage plus 1d4 persistent if they are wearing metal armor. 4d12 on a critical hit. Also memorize Magic Weapon to give to the Barbarian on critical boss fight if needed.

You are still not going to keep pace with melee, but melee get all the nasties. Diseases, poisons, damage auras, grabs, paralysis, and all sorts of other mean and unpleasant things. Owlbears eat their insides. Otyguh grab them, give them a disease, move them all around, and constrict them. Ghouls give them a disease and paralysis. Sewer oozes cover them in filth. Cinder rats sicken them just for being adjacent. Gorillas frighten them. That does not even include garden variety Attacks of Opportunity and combat maneuvers. Those are just the low level creatures.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
I'm not downplaying these differences. There is really only one game that most newcomers are probably familiar with, and I made a comparison between the PF2 Sorcerer with its equivalent, which takes some time before it comes into its own and gains its defining features that enable it to blast to kingdom-come.

We can definitely compare spells with the action economy of Fighters as well, if that is also your concern. 1st level weapon attacks are tripled by virtue of the action economy but (if you are wise) you are probably not doing a full attack. The incentives are not there to make three consecutive attack actions, especially with the MAPs. Two-handed warrior? Power Attack consumes two actions, much like a spell. Sword and board? Raise a shield consumes an action. Two-weapon fighting? Double Slice consumes two actions. So simply saying that weapon attacks have tripled kinda ignores the Fighter's tactical side of the equation as well.
You're still downplaying.

Try a Wizard against a Ranger and then tell me nothing substantial has changed.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
As for the Wizard's ability at 1st. Have to agree it's not spectacular. I don't think Wizards have ever really been spectacular at 1st, though.
This last sentence can be read as "all the editions are much the same".

They're not.

About the only other edition that compares to the PF2 experience is really old D&D, where a Wizard is mostly asked to fend off the critters using a stick and 4 hit points.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
You can actually make a 1st level wizard that gets close to Raging Barbarian levels of damage you just have to be willing to go into melee to do it.

Saladin
Versatile Human
Martial Disciple
Abjurer

14 Strength 16 Dexterity 12 Constitution 16 Intelligence 10 Wisdom 10 Charisma

Ancestry Feat : Unconventional Weaponry (Elven Curved Blade)
Skill Feat: Quick Jump
General Feat: Toughness
Wizard Feat: Familiar
Thesis: Spell Substitution in case need to be a wizard
Spells Prepared: Mage Armor, Magic Weapon, Magic Weapon
Cantrips Prepared: Electric Arc, Shield, Telekinetic Projectile, Message, Read Aura
Focus Spells: Protective Ward

Enchanted Elven Curve Blade (Forceful) +7 2d8+2 goes up by 2 on each subsequent attack.
AC 17 (18 with Ward)
16 HP

Mage Armor is allows up. If encounter is anticipated can get Magic Weapon up before. Otherwise first turn is casting and getting into position. Might also have to draw weapon. These are fairly normal concerns for Barbarians and Rangers although I need 2 actions compared to their one. If weapon is drawn and we decide to hold a defensive position can put Protective Ward up to give us all +1 to AC. Action to maintain, but can cover the whole party eventually.

Poor Fortitude Defense will be murder in melee though.

This build will hold up better in cases of traditional melee weakness like having to switch to ranged attacks.

Barbarian
  • 1 action to shift weapon to one hand.
  • 1 action to draw javelin
  • 1 action to throw javelin
  • 1 action to shift weapon back to both hands if want fight.
Wizard
  • 2 Actions to cast cantrip (V,S). Weapon can stay where it is.



I could have gone for more damage by going with 2 general feats and getting proficiency with all martial weapons which would put him at 2d12+2 with magic weapon up, but that would have required dumping more into strength and leaving AC poor. Still same AC as Giant Instinct Barbarian and only 2 damage behind.
 
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RSIxidor

Explorer
Poor Fortitude Defense will be murder in melee though.
Could go Canny Acumen instead of toughness to get expert in Fort. If we're only thinking about 1st level, it might go farther than the 1 HP will. Then again, might not see a Fort save all day.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
Could go Canny Acumen instead of toughness to get expert in Fort. If we're only thinking about 1st level, it might go farther than the 1 HP will. Then again, might not see a Fort save all day.
Mostly it's a liability for combat maneuvers. Grapple and Shove target Fortitude DC. Hard to cover all your bases. You will generally be weak to something between Demoralize, Grapple, Shove, Trip, and Feint.
 

kunadam

Explorer
my 2cents on the wizard/sorcerer damage at 1st level:
(1) Comparison across editions
Indeed a 1st level wizard is not going to kick ass. But this was always so, or I would say more so than previously.
In AD&D (aka 2nd ed) wizard had 1 spell per day. Yes, one spell. Like a 1d4 magic missile. They they had to go back to darts, sling, dagger or staff.
In 3.x they still had 1 spell (plus some cantrip).
Now come 5e and PF2 and one can have unlimited use of cantrips. They might not be as good as a barbarian's rage, but they can still deal a decent amount of ranged damage!

(2) The perspective from other classes
You should ask they question backward. Can a 1st level barbarian do wonderful stuff like creating water or illusions? If every class can do exactly the same then we are back to 4e and PF1 (as far as I know) was created to cater for those who did not like that philosophy.
So I have no problem with weaker spells. The main damage dealers should be the warriors.
 

Aldarc

Adventurer
You're still downplaying.

Try a Wizard against a Ranger and then tell me nothing substantial has changed.
You are right. There is now a reason to take a ranger when you want to be an archer, and a wizard when you need things accomplished that can't be solved by turning a monster into a pin cushion of arrows.
 

MerricB

Eternal Optimist
Please, do some research about oD&D and AD&D first-level wizards. Yes, they were mostly useless (my OD&D-playing friends tell me they throw a lot of daggers and darts, even into melee, as the fighters have a high enough AC for them to miss, and they hit the less-armoured opponents!), but the first-level AD&D and OD&D wizard wasn't casting magic missile as their one spell.

They were casting Sleep.

Sleep, which instantly won most combats it got cast in. I don't think that it was a great way of balancing things, but it did mean that when you did cast your spell, you had an impact.

Having effective cantrips means that the effects of first-level spells shouldn't be as powerful as before, but when the cantrip is less than a standard weapon attack, then you want the first-level spell to be more effective than such.

Whether it is or not is something I hope to discover through play soon.

Cheers!
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
You are right. There is now a reason to take a ranger when you want to be an archer, and a wizard when you need things accomplished that can't be solved by turning a monster into a pin cushion of arrows.
You're still hung up on defending the change, it seems.

But what you've missed is that I'm not attacking it. I am merely trying to establish that it indeed has occurred.

I fully sympathize with the desire to change the narrative away from "they ruined my game" to "okay so how do we make the best of this situation".

But I consider it a useful step to first address the OP's concerns head-on. Just skimming over the "you're not missing anything, damage from 1st level spells are relatively useless in comparison" stage of analysis doesn't do him any favors, in my opinion.

Cheers
 
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RSIxidor

Explorer
Having effective cantrips means that the effects of first-level spells shouldn't be as powerful as before, but when the cantrip is less than a standard weapon attack, then you want the first-level spell to be more effective than such.
I don't think cantrips compare badly to ranged weapons outside of bows. Action economy is similar, damage is similar. But then class features bring weapon users above that comparison either by being more precise, allowing more attacks, or getting a flat damage boost. Wizards can't do much to improve their cantrips until level 10 when they can reduce the action cost to 1 action. By then they've got a good repertoire of spells anyway, though.
 

gargoyleking

Explorer
Cantrips are actually pretty good in PF2. Most of them start with a d4+Abil on damage and an additional effect on a crit. Electric Arc can hit 2 targets and is a save for half. (Basic save) so even on a success save the targets should take 2-4 damage. I think the best arcane cantrip right now is Tanglefoot which slows, if not imobilizes it's target. No damage fromnthat though. Just pure effect.
 

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