D&D 5E What is REALLY wrong with the Wizard? (+)

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
First, THIS IS A (+) THREAD. Please do not post something like "Everything LOL".
Justify your reasons (hopefully more than just "I don't like them."), or please don't bother posting. Thanks! :)


Common issues I see complaints about are (in no particular order):

Poor players who feel Wizards should be gods.
I've never experienced this, personally, but I know others have. IMO this is really more about the player than the class, but for anyone whose experienced this and wishes to share their story, I'd be interested to hear about it how you feel the issue is the class and not the player.

Stealing the spotlight from other PCs/players.
I've seen this, but not because the PC was a "wizard" but more so because a player wants to have the spotlight. They make a character which tries to be the best at everything, instead of letting other PCs have their moments to shine.

Being able to overcome just about all challenges.
With many spells Wizards are able to overcome exploration or social challenges in ways other classes just can't. Now, this really isn't exclusive to Wizard, but is more of an issue with spells in general and Arcane spells in particular. Although there are some divine and primal spells, the majority of them are arcane, so naturally seen as the larger issue.

For myself, I've seen some spells do this, but for casters they need to know or have the spell prepared--and I have seen often enough a player lament not having a spell which would make things easy to overcome. I just don't see this in actual play, so I would love to hear actual examples and not just white-room/theory-crafting.

Too large of a spell list.
Now, this one I agree with, but probably not for the same reason others might. IMO probably half the spells are useless and/or pointless--or just outright silly. 90% of the spells I see are almost always the same ones. I just don't think we need so many.

Too many spells in the spellbook.
I agree with this in the idea that wizards gain TWO spells per spell level to add to their spellbook. I think one would be better, and acquiring more would be through finding scrolls or spellbooks, research or downtime activity, etc. with rely more on DM fiat. Alternatively, allow two but re-instate a system for actually learning a spell, so that wizards don't necessarily always learn the spells the player wants--at least not on first try.

Cantrips are an issue.
I see different thoughts on this:
1) Combat cantrips make wizards boring pew pew all the time. Magic is less magical. (Along with this, but perhaps a separate issue, even utility-type cantrips can make magic feel less magical).
2) The opposite view: being able to pew pew is more magical than firing a crossbow when running out of spell slots.
3) Cantrips such as light and dancing lights make environmental factors such as darkness a non-issue.

Spells are too powerful.
Not a common complaint, of course, but one I agree with. Arcane spells especially seem to outstrip the relative power compared to other spells, and certainly compared to what non-casters can even attempt.

The class is boring. (@Zardnaar)
With the inclusion of Sorcerers and Warlocks as arcane casters, with more enticing features like metamagic and invocations, not to mention more interesting subclasses, the wizard seems boring by comparison.

Player Expectations. (@James Gasik)
So that's the problem with the Wizard; the expectations of the players, who want the class to be able to produce magical effects, large and small, both at will and in limited amounts, and solve all problems, from combat to setting up a campsite, with magic, while at the same time, wanting non-magical classes to be unable to do likewise.

So, I sort of get this one. But IME it isn't so much about "wanting non-magical classes to be unable to do likewise" as it is about keeping the game grounded. Also, IME spellcasting-players rarely care as much about the more mundane tasks, such as setting up a campsite. :)

Hardly anyone plays Wizards anymore. (@Ruin Explorer)
The other issue is that hardly anyone plays Wizards anymore. So a lot of examples would be 2E and the like (checked to ensure they could still happen in 3E versions of the game). This is caused mainly by the class being boring AND not giving people a "pop culture" Wizard. The D&D Wizard isn't Harry Potter, isn't a video game wizard, isn't Sparrowhawk, and so on. The 5E D&D Wizard is a weird nerd who knows a ton of spells and INT-based skills, and that's it.
This isn't something I've experienced personally as Wizard as a class is played about as much as any other class in my games (or ones I play in). However, I certainly understand how people joining D&D and wanting to play a pop culture Wizard would be disappointed.




I'm sure there are more, those are just the ones I can think of at the moment. I'll update this list when people add things I didn't think of.

Again, I am really interested in actual experiences in real game play if you have an issue. This is not meant to be a "Wizard-bashing" thread, but more of an attempt to identify actual problems instead of theoretical or white-room.
 
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Zardnaar

Legend
Big problem is regardless of the power level it might be boring?

Barely seeing them in play in 5E relative to Sorcerer/Warlock.

Or Clerics and even Druids.

I know the theorycraft on them but just not seeing them in play enough. Last one in my group was rolled up in 2019 before that it was 2015 iirc. Oh there was a Bladesinger in there somewhere as well very briefly.
 
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Zardnaar

Legend
That isn't one I have really heard much of, if any, but it is an interesting view so I'll update the OP. :)

There's a few OP spells espicially at higher level other classes get a few of them though.

They're theoretically better with rituals etc but the few wizard players I've seen don't go down that route and it's kinda mother may I dependent on DM selling them extra spells and providing the go to do it with.
 

Scribe

Legend
Too flexible. Fix? You pick your spells, and sleep on it. Thats it until you go to sleep on it again. No trading slots around.
Cantrips for Damage. Fix? Get out those Crossbows and Slings.
Spell List for overcoming to many different things. Fix? Manage the spell list, and simply outlaw/remove/restrict various spells.

That would probably correct a huge swath of the complaints...except for from the Wizard players. :ROFLMAO:

This returns Wizards to a potent force, that requires preparation and study, instead of just godlike beings waiting to throw off the yoke of mortal concerns, and lets the 'on demand consistent damage' go to the Martials, or Warlocks.
 


In overall class design, the wizard is not problematic: it is a fairly well-designed class. The issue that I have found is that spells are very versatile and powerful, and Wizards are Best at Spells.
Wizards get brought up as the main example in martial vs caster discussions because they are the best and most archetypal casters. They exemplify "a caster" in the same way that Fighters exemplify "a martial".

With spellbook-based Ritual casting, and Arcane Recovery on top of standard known spell and slot progression, Wizards generally have the most spells available to solve a situation and get to cast more spells than other classes. In most of the games that I play in, where mysteries and problem-solving are more prevalent than combat, the Wizard is the most capable of solving those problems.

A player can deliberately downplay their class abilities to not shine more than the rest of the party in a lot of situations, but this is the player compensating for the class, and not a feature of the class design itself.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
There's a few OP spells espicially at higher level other classes get a few of them though.

They're theoretically better with rituals etc but the few wizard players I've seen don't go down that route and it's kinda mother may I dependent on DM selling them extra spells and providing the go to do it with.
FWIW when I play a wizard, especially at lower levels, probably half of my spellbook is rituals because of their superior ritual feature.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
FWIW when I play a wizard, especially at lower levels, probably half of my spellbook is rituals because of their superior ritual feature.

Yeah it's anecdotal but I suspect a lot of wizard players don't know or realize they can buy more rituals. And they need gold and DM buy in to aquire more outside the 2 spells/level.
 

In overall class design, the wizard is not problematic: it is a fairly well-designed class. The issue that I have found is that spells are very versatile and powerful, and Wizards are Best at Spells.
Wizards get brought up as the main example in martial vs caster discussions because they are the best and most archetypal casters. They exemplify "a caster" in the same way that Fighters exemplify "a martial".

With spellbook-based Ritual casting, and Arcane Recovery on top of standard known spell and slot progression, Wizards generally have the most spells available to solve a situation and get to cast more spells than other classes. In most of the games that I play in, where mysteries and problem-solving are more prevalent than combat, the Wizard is the most capable of solving those problems.

A player can deliberately downplay their class abilities to not shine more than the rest of the party in a lot of situations, but this is the player compensating for the class, and not a feature of the class design itself.
Everything after your first sentence is...a denial of said first sentence. Arcane Recovery + being able to acquire extra spells + the best and most diverse Ritual Casting options = significant excess of power with reduced restrictions. That's pretty much definitionally a problematic design.
 

Oofta

Legend
Maybe I just have a different attitude towards the game, but I don't see a huge issue. I don't really care if the wizard does something cool now and then. As long as it helps the group, great!

The biggest problem I have with wizards is that the people who are least capable of playing them tend to gravitate to them. Newbie player that's never seen a D20 joining a game in progress so they're going to be 8th level? Wizard! Every time. :cautious:
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
I'd like to see wizard cantrips with signifcantly lower damage but with more interesting effects.
Interesting. Like just not scaling at 11th and 17th levels, or lower base damage? Something only d4s and d6s?

The issue that I have found is that spells are very versatile and powerful, and Wizards are Best at Spells.
I agree. Do you think shifting some of the versatility away from wizards to other spellcasters would help?

While Wizards are "Best at Spells", I've argued other spellcasters have additional features (Channel Divinity, Wild Shape, Metamagic, Inspiration, Invocations, etc.), so wizards have superior ritual casting as their "additional feature". Do you think that is an adequate reason for their being Best at Spells, since they have nothing else?

The biggest problem I have with wizards is that the people who are least capable of playing them tend to gravitate to them.
I've found this to be an issue with any spellcasting class, though, as new players often don't understand what their spells can do.

Newbie player that's never seen a D20 joining a game in progress so they're going to be 8th level? Wizard! Every time. :cautious:
It's a conspiracy. ;)
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Maybe I just have a different attitude towards the game, but I don't see a huge issue. I don't really care if the wizard does something cool now and then. As long as it helps the group, great!

The biggest problem I have with wizards is that the people who are least capable of playing them tend to gravitate to them. Newbie player that's never seen a D20 joining a game in progress so they're going to be 8th level? Wizard! Every time. :cautious:

I don't think I've seen a competent wizard player since 3E.

Maybe 1 in 5E. The classic misty step+fireball combo+shield until you run out of spell slots. Classic 1d10 or 2d10 damage strategy.

It's more obvious how to play the Warlock/Sorcerer than a wizard imho and it's strengths with rituals lean heavily towards exploration which people may or may not care about.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
The fundamental philosophy of the game is really the issue here. Characters who cannot use magic are more or less bound to what we consider skilled people able to do in real life. At best, a Fighter or Rogue is a Hollywood action hero like one of the "Johns" (Wick, McClane, Matrix, Rambo), but it's a rare sight that a player doesn't want to try a stunt like "I'll slap the horse in the stables and make it kick my enemy" that doesn't immediately translate to "ok, take an action and make me a DC 15 Handle Animal check".

Magical spells, however, by their nature, can bend or break the laws of physics, like hackers in the Matrix. You can fly, phase, teleport, polymorph, shoot lighting bolts, create an army of clones, build a fortress out of rubble- the sky is the limit, because this is what fantasy gamers feel magic is and should be.

D&D attempts to close this gap by making magical spells limited in use, to justify their power. And if all spells did was buff, debuff, damage, or heal, that'd be fine. Fireball for 8d6 to fill most of a room? Sure, but you can only do it twice per day, and the damage might fail to kill a CR 1 Bugbear.

But how do you compare skill use or fighting ability to, say, "the power to turn a ruined old keep into a veritable fortress consisting of magical traps and magically locked doors" (Guards and Wards). You can't. While that power might be only useful once in a blue moon, the same way building a wall to surround a village with Fabricate is, when that incident occurs, you can exert this great narrative power in a short time, where your non-magical allies could only accomplish the same feat with hours of grueling work and many skill checks.

Because there really isn't any way to balance these abilities, as they are simply apples and oranges, orthogonal to one another, and the spellcaster can produce something from their bag of tricks without warning in the right moment, it's no wonder that the Wizard, who has the most deep and varied spell list, has been seen as a proud nail.

Your carefully built BBEG encounter? Trivialized due to a localized ice storm or exiling a demon to the X-Zone for a minute. Your fun detective story? Foiled by mind reading or divination. Even the threat of an army of zombies assaulting a village can be undone once you transmute solid earth into a quagmire of mud!

Magic plays by different rules, and that's exactly as intended. Look at 4e, when Wizards were probably the most balanced they have ever been. People hated it, because the Wizard "didn't feel magical anymore".

Players (and even DM's) exist who want the Wizard (and his spellcasting brethren) to have these kinds of powers. And many of these same people would tell you it's weird and unrealistic for a warrior to be able to leap 30' into the air to RKO a dragon out of nowhere!

So that's the problem with the Wizard; the expectations of the players, who want the class to be able to produce magical effects, large and small, both at will and in limited amounts, and solve all problems, from combat to setting up a campsite, with magic, while at the same time, wanting non-magical classes to be unable to do likewise.
 
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Oofta

Legend
I don't think I've seen a competent wizard player since 3E.

Maybe 1 in 5E. The classic misty step+fireball combo+shield until you run out of spell slots. Classic 1d10 or 2d10 damage strategy.

It's more obvious how to play the Warlock/Sorcerer than a wizard imho and it's strengths with rituals lean heavily towards exploration which people may or may not care about.
Yeah, I don't want to get too off track on this because it's a + thread and just wanted to make a joke that the "wrong" people play wizards. Probably because I'm okay not playing a wizard (BTW my non-or-partial-casters regularly out damage the casters if you average it out over 2-3 encounters) but then that means I rarely get to play a wizard.

They might have a good idea with the playtests of giving people a suggested spell list, but the spells that make sense vary from 1 game to the next.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Yeah, I don't want to get too off track on this because it's a + thread and just wanted to make a joke that the "wrong" people play wizards. Probably because I'm okay not playing a wizard (BTW my non-or-partial-casters regularly out damage the casters if you average it out over 2-3 encounters) but then that means I rarely get to play a wizard.

They might have a good idea with the playtests of giving people a suggested spell list, but the spells that make sense vary from 1 game to the next.

Wizards potential to be great there subject to player skill and DM buy in.

Other classes more self contained.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
So that's the problem with the Wizard; the expectations of the players, who want the class to be able to produce magical effects, large and small, both at will and in limited amounts, and solve all problems, from combat to setting up a campsite, with magic, while at the same time, wanting non-magical classes to be unable to do likewise.
I'll update the OP with a paraphrasing of this.
 

Incenjucar

Legend
The ease at which wizards solve problems can make them boring to play. It's like using a machining shop when everyone else is using sticks and mud. Accomplishing something with limited tools feels so much more clever than applying one of the ten pre-made answers in your bag.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
The ease at which wizards solve problems can make them boring to play. It's like using a machining shop when everyone else is using sticks and mud. Accomplishing something with limited tools feels so much more clever than applying one of the ten pre-made answers in your bag.
Can you give any actual gameplay examples you've experienced?
 


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