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


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Vaalingrade

Legend
Actually, what did they lose? Decent buffs and the ability to spellcast while Wild Shaped?
Plus a ton of domains.

Buffing yourself into a God of War was the deal for Clerics. Without competent buffing for anyone, much less yourself, the cleric quietly went back to healbot but worse.

Being a spellcasting bear was the Druid's deal, basically a bunch of buffs you can do on one turn. Depending on the animals the DM allowed, the druid got to be a mini-wizard by going Beast Boy on every problem with the power of a Wikipedia tab.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Plus a ton of domains.

Buffing yourself into a God of War was the deal for Clerics. Without competent buffing for anyone, much less yourself, the cleric quietly went back to healbot but worse.

Being a spellcasting bear was the Druid's deal, basically a bunch of buffs you can do on one turn. Depending on the animals the DM allowed, the druid got to be a mini-wizard by going Beast Boy on every problem with the power of a Wikipedia tab.
Oh yeah, I forgot about the fact that you got 2 Domains from a very large list. The fact that Domains are subclasses now really hampers some concepts IMO.

I also forgot about Druid summoning and becoming a summoning specialist being a thing. And the animal companion ("a class ability more powerful than the entire Fighter class!").

Yeah ok, as I was, they've lost a lot, I'm just getting old and forgetful. Though now I'm nostalgic for my Divine Metamagic Persist Spell Cleric who only used Persist Spell on party buffs. By the end of the campaign, I was routinely handing out notecards of buffs to the other players and the DM was tearing his beard out in frustration. Good times.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
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)


Player Expectations. (@James Gasik)



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)

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.
The only thing here that I've seen personally is the cantrip problem (everything you mentioned), and it applies to basically all spellcasters (so, most PCs) in one way or another.
 


James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
I think you can build a lot of different clerics in 5E, most players don't play clerics as healbots in 5E IME. Lot's of people play tankish clerics, sporting heavy armor and spiritual weapon, Spirit Guardians and offensive spells from their domain.
Yeah, I personally think they don't exactly make good healbots anyways. Better to just try to end fights quickly and patch 'em up with potions and hit dice.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
I think you can build a lot of different clerics in 5E, most players don't play clerics as healbots in 5E IME. Lot's of people play tankish clerics, sporting heavy armor and spiritual weapon, Spirit Guardians and offensive spells from their domain.
IME experience it is about a 50/50 split between healbots and non-healbots.
 



pnewman

Adventurer
I would like to see them get either better armor classes or bigger hit dice. One of the two is enough to make them the fragile class, we do not need both.
 

nevin

Hero
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)


Player Expectations. (@James Gasik)



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)

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.
If the wizard does not have too much information on what they will be doing nothing. If you play modules or just dungeon delve and the wizard has access to all spells then players that know the modules or types of encounters the DM likes, will always be functioning at max effect.
 

Redwizard007

Adventurer
I would like to see them get either better armor classes or bigger hit dice. One of the two is enough to make them the fragile class, we do not need both.

I have the exact opposite issue. Wizards are the best tanks in the game, and they shouldn't be.

+5 AC virtually at will, on top of a usual solid Dex. Mirror Image, Blink, Blur, etc. and, potentially, armor access via feats and multiclassing. To top that all off, one of the most popular subclasses has the ability to force rerolls on successful hits.

D6 HP, (which is an upgrade from older editions.) Endure Elements, Blade Ward and Stone Skin that virtually double your HP. A subclass that grant temp HP like candy...

Offensively, they can come close to martials on single target damage, are the champions of AoE damage and mobility, control the battlefield as good as anyone out there and buff and debuff like a boss.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
Thread necromancy, but I like the topic.

I have the exact opposite issue. Wizards are the best tanks in the game, and they shouldn't be.
They're not, certainly not at the levels that are played the most (say 1-12). A Wizard cannot tank as well as a (properly built) fighter, a barbarian, or even close to as well as a druid.

As importantly, if you're tanking with the wizard you're not going to have enough resources for the stuff they actually ARE good at - such as battlefield control.

+5 AC virtually at will, on top of a usual solid Dex. Mirror Image, Blink, Blur, etc. and, potentially, armor access via feats and multiclassing. To top that all off, one of the most popular subclasses has the ability to force rerolls on successful hits.
These are all limited resources (well not armor access, but if you spend a feat on that you're missing out somewhere else). If the wizard actually has to control themselves (as in not get to rest all the time) then overindulging on these will REALLY limit what the wizard is good at (again, especially at the levels of most common play), Not saying stuff like shield and mirror image aren't great - but they have a cost and really push into the stuff the wizard should be doing.

D6 HP, (which is an upgrade from older editions.) Endure Elements, Blade Ward and Stone Skin that virtually double your HP. A subclass that grant temp HP like candy...
D6 HP is the worst of the lot and goes quick.

Endure elements is great, a top tier spell - but it eats resources and a reaction. Far from costless.

Blade ward is sometimes better than the dodge action and IS an undervalued cantrip.

Stone Skin - not a fan. Expensive consumed component, nonmagical damage only AND it's concentration (which means you're not concentrating on something else).

Offensively, they can come close to martials on single target damage
The only one that can come close to a dedicated martial damage dealer is the bladesinger. It takes rounds to set up and uses a limited resource and concentration.

, are the champions of AoE damage and mobility, control the battlefield as good as anyone out there and buff and debuff like a boss.

Here the wizard absolutely excels, again it's a good class. But they are not the king of bettering everyone else's schtick like they were in 3e. Especially if the players are not allowed to control the pace of play all the time.
 

Clint_L

Hero
This is a tricky + thread because I generally think wizards are in a good spot, so it is hard for me to positively identify things that are wrong with them. Sub-class selection should move to level 3 but that is already happening. They are extremely flexible, next only to the bard, but there are trade-offs (i.e. if you want to focus on survivability you can...but at the cost of most of the other things that make a wizard handy to have in the party). Mostly I think wizards are working well and should not be tampered with too much.
 
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James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Having given this way too much thought, I think the problem with the Wizard is that their strength is very situational. They have a tool for just about every conceivable situation, but they can't have them all at once. The right spell selection at the right time can invert the difficulty of encounters, or overcome challenges in ways the DM hadn't expected, and it's these moments that most people who feel the Wizard is too strong are really complaining about.

Because the opposite can be true as well; there's a fairly low floor for the class, where it sits at the bottom of the hit point pool, lacking armor, and having to spend vital spell slots on defense. Times when enemies make saves or are immune/resistant to damage and status effects, or where there's no optimal place to drop an area spell without harming allies.

Even the mightiest of spells, which can wreck a large percentage of enemies, can be foiled by an enemy spellcaster with dispel magic or counterspell, foes that can teleport, etc..

There's a reason "Schrodinger's Wizard" became a meme after all. So when the Wizard is firing on all cylinders, they can seem unstoppable, able to outperform almost every other class. But their ability to do that is very dependent on factors that cannot be predicted.

How open is the DM to shenanigans? What are their rulings on edge cases like? What is the party makeup? What enemies are common to the campaign? How much advance knowledge about a given situation does the Wizard have? Can they long rest before a big engagement? How many spells have they been able to put in their spellbook, which takes opportunity, time, and a decent gold investment?

How limited are they on valuable material components? What magic items do they have access to? Does the DM allow them to scribe scrolls? Are scrolls often found as treasure? How rigorously do they rule on things like getting the scroll to hand, opening it and reading it? Do they even allow reaction or bonus action scrolls?

What house rules are in play? What spells are allowed? PHB only? All WotC products? 3rd party? Are there bans to consider?

Then you have player skill; a Wizard who thinks fireball is the be all and end all of magic and spams firebolt and shield when not casting it can be a menace, but is likely far easier to deal with than the armchair tactician who focuses entirely on destroying the enemy's ability to act.

The ceiling for the Wizard's performance is unbelievably high, but whether or not they can be consistent is completely up in the air.

The main issues with the Sorcerer, I realize, are that they are more extreme than the Wizard; with their lower versatility they can seem crippled at times, but when their spells are the right ones for the job, the addition of Sorcery points to augment them can theoretically let them go beyond even the Wizard- but the opportunities are far less likely.

Because of these variables, rating the Wizard is impossible. It's like the DM who gripes about the Monk because powerful enemies keep failing saves against Stunning Strike; you can mathematically prove that the Monk isn't as good as all that, but they will go back to that time when the Monk made all the saves, ran around the battlefield with impunity, were immune to missile fire, dodged all attacks, and completely demolished the BBEG!

Personally, I think it's high time WotC sat down with the spell list and realized that a lot of their balancing is still based on legacy decisions from as long as 50 years ago. Do they need 9 levels of spells? Are Fireball and Fly really 5th level abilities?

Maybe it's time to cut down on versatility, or pare away the destructive powers of the Wizard and give them exclusively to the Sorcerer.

There's a lot of ways the Wizard can be rebuilt and rebalanced, but the problem is doing that requires change. Lots of change. And for people who feel that the sacred cows of the spell list are part and parcel of what makes D&D, well, Dungeons & Dragons, that might be a bridge too far, which is always something that Wizards of the Coast will have to consider.
 

Clint_L

Hero
Having given this way too much thought, I think the problem with the Wizard is that their strength is very situational. They have a tool for just about every conceivable situation, but they can't have them all at once. The right spell selection at the right time can invert the difficulty of encounters, or overcome challenges in ways the DM hadn't expected, and it's these moments that most people who feel the Wizard is too strong are really complaining about.
This doesn't sound like a problem to me. This sounds like good design. They can be very powerful, but it takes planning, and you can't have everything at once.
 


Cruentus

Adventurer
Having given this way too much thought, I think the problem with the Wizard is that their strength is very situational. They have a tool for just about every conceivable situation, but they can't have them all at once. The right spell selection at the right time can invert the difficulty of encounters, or overcome challenges in ways the DM hadn't expected, and it's these moments that most people who feel the Wizard is too strong are really complaining about.

[Snip lots of great commentary]

There's a lot of ways the Wizard can be rebuilt and rebalanced, but the problem is doing that requires change. Lots of change. And for people who feel that the sacred cows of the spell list are part and parcel of what makes D&D, well, Dungeons & Dragons, that might be a bridge too far, which is always something that Wizards of the Coast will have to consider.
I agree. However, the ship has sailed on rebalancing classes, particularly if that involves some sort of perceived "nerf". Classes, by design, and I believe intentionally, can only be given more things (i.e. more power). So, in order to balance wizards, you'd have to buff everyone else more. Nothing else will do.

That being said, your comments about the limits of the wizard are true overall, but have been limited by the way the game has played out:
Spells: Rather than having to find them, you can select them every level, and for paltry sums, research others. The only natural limiter is the "known spells" and "prepared spells" elements of the wizards.

Components: Are usually hand waived away. Everyone can use a focus if you wish, obviating the need for spell components. "Aha!" you cry. "You have to pay for material components with a cost." Sure, in theory, but again, that is often handwaived. Or with all the cash characters are swimming in, I'll buy thirty dozen pearls, or whatever. But encumbrance! Hand waived. Too cumbersome. Tah dum tss.

Class Weakeness (HP): Multiclassing is too easy. My F2/W12 had 110 HP and admantium chain with a +4 Dex bonus. He was plenty durable, and the investment in 2 Fighter levels was essentially 1.5 game sessions or less.

I do agree that something could be done, and this thread has a lot of great ideas throughout. I just don't think we'd see it in an official WOTC publication. Like you and others have said: sacred cows.
 

Incenjucar

Legend
If you could keep wizards at being Batman instead of being able to also go Superman, they wouldn't draw quite so much ire.

If you they could, say, spend a long rest prepping to deal with the Plane of Fire, and dominate there for the day, but would then pretty much need to flee if an ice elemental showed up, that wouldn't be so bad.
 

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