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    Default New Player- controller wizard

    Hey all, I'm a new 4e player, building a wizard focused on the control path. I'm a little lost, and I'm looking for some advice on how to build him. Suggestions?
    Currently looking for someone to DM a magitech-heavy gestalt PbP game. PM me?

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    Default Re: New Player- controller wizard

    Well, the majority of what the wizard does in 4e is control, so...

    Tell us what you want to do in more detail, and we can help you. Depending on what resources you have available, this may be helpful.

    One thing to mention, the Wizard is one of the more complex classes in the most complex role in 4e. This may be a bit much for someone new to this edition, but if you've got experience or just really want to play a Wizard, go for it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tegu8788 View Post
    And if anyone wants help being all the classes, let me know.

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    Default Re: New Player- controller wizard

    What sources do you have available for use? A wizard built with every source will be built quite differently from one made only with the first Player's Handbook, so for specific choices it's important for us to know.

    As far as general advice for every character, the accepted wisdom is that your attack bonus is your most important stat. A high attack bonus means that you hit more often, and since most of what you can do to enemies only happens when you hit, hitting less often is a bad thing. So, the attribute that affects your attack bonus (Intelligence for a wizard) should be quite high; at least 16 after racial modifiers, with 18 strongly preferred. Similarly, feats that improve your chance to hit are high-priority for every character, and all else being equal powers that target Will, Reflex, or Fortitude are better than those that target AC (in that order, too; Fort is usually higher than Ref or Will, and Ref is usually higher than Will).

    For a a Controller, you want to prefer "hard" control to "soft" control. That is, preventing an enemy from taking certain actions outright is better than penalizing them or hindering attempts to act. Prone is a stronger status effect than -4 attack, for instance. Basically, causing Unconsciousness is the best available option, followed by Domination, Stun, Immobilized, Daze, Slow, Weakness, Blind, and Deafness, with effects other than the standard ones being quantified on a case-by-case basis. Pure-damage effects, even those that cause a lot of it, are around Slow and Weakness; they might dissuade an enemy from doing something, but they very rarely can outright prevent them from doing it if they really want to.

    For Wizards specifically, I'd suggest reading the Controlling 101 guide over on the WotC boards, as well as the Wizard's Handbook on the same.

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    Default Re: New Player- controller wizard

    Quote Originally Posted by NecroRebel View Post
    So, the attribute that affects your attack bonus (Intelligence for a wizard) should be quite high; at least 16 after racial modifiers, with 18 strongly preferred.
    Make that at least 18, with 20 preferred. Wizards get very little benefit from improving their other scores. Int also governs AC, reflex defense, damage rolls, and your best skills.
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    Default Re: New Player- controller wizard

    I've been struggling with this issue as well.

    Despite other's assertions to the contrary, my experience is that even when trying to go 'balls to the wall' all out for control, that very little of what I do is actually control, with the obvious exception of the dailies.

    And here's the thing, at low levels you only get one or two dailies. So once or twice a day, for a couple of rounds, you get to feel like a proper controller. Other than that, not so much.

    When you read through the guides on controlling, you will find that a lot of the good stuff doesn't even kick in until late paragon. And it isn't until then that (assuming four encounters a day) you even get to have the ability to drop one daily per combat.

    ----

    The above said, the discerning reader will have already figured out that I'm an idiot and don't know what I'm talking about. In that vein, allow me to continue to share some conclusions from my vast stores of ignorance:

    Good low level dailies:
    Sleep
    Web

    Grease is also supposed to be quite funny.

    Straight away you will notice a theme here, the better the control, the smaller the damage.

    I also like Stinking Cloud, for a couple of very good reasons. (1) it doesn't roll to hit, so it is very reliable (2) it can be moved.

    There are large numbers of Wizard powers that make difficult terrain, but I haven't yet had a battle where I've thought to myself "what I really need right now is a small patch of difficult terrain that can be easily avoided".

    When I'm not dropping dailies (i.e. most of the time), I like to find something else I can do to contribute. Minion killing is a useful role, if a bit of a niche, and there are a couple of low level encounter powers that achieve this by making a temporary zone, and then doing a piddling amount of damage to everything in the zone. It doesn't matter if the damage is small though, because when it comes to killing minions, two points of damage is overkill.

    For minion killing, Orbmaster's Incendiary Detonation (lvl 1) and Winter's Wrath (lvl 7) leap off the page at me.

    Shock beetle swarm (lvl 3) would also do that, however for your third level encounter power the internet in its infinite wisdom recommends Color Spray, and having chosen something else, I think I have to agree (though grass is greener etc).

    I took Hypnotic Pattern instead, (on then theory that 0 damage = awesome control (see above)) and it has been utterly useless, in part because my dice hate me. (see other people's advice about maxing out your attack stat)

    Okay, so that covers levels 1-8

    What's that? We haven't talked about at-wills? Hmm...

    Well, the best ones are probably the dragon mag ones.
    Still, there are the ever popular Scorching Burst (which can also do minion killing, in which case you might choose other things for levels 1 & 7 encounter powers). And Thunderwave, though I don't seem to have much luck against Fortitude defense.

    But let's talk control for a moment here. You want to control, right? Well, early on (at low levels) your at-wills are going to get a workout. So which of them carry status effects? Lets take a quick look at the ones in the PHB and Arcane power.

    Scorching burst doesn't have any control/status effects.

    Cloud of daggers and Magic missile don't, though they are both guaranteed hit single target minion killers.

    Thunderwave has a small control element in that it might push, but pushing is not as useful as sliding.

    Ray of Frost isn't widely popular, but there are people who swear by it. It comes with Slow as a status effect. (Slow in 4th ed caps your speed at 2, see p277 of the PHB)

    Phantom Bolt has a small amount of slide attached to it, but it's single target.

    Illusory Ambush has a -2 penalty to attacks.

    Now then, while keeping in mind that there are probably better options in the dragon magazines, we're straight away looking at Ray of Frost and Illusionay Ambush.

    So then the question might be raised, where then does this so called 'control' come from? Well, there's some feats.

    Phantom Echoes is a feat that gives you combat advantage for 1 round vs anyone you hit with an Illusion power. So Illusionary Ambush can give them a -2 to attack, and you a +2. This is quite nice. Phantom Bolt is also an Illusion Power. But I imagine this combo is best for pounding away at single targets who are going toe to toe with your Defender.

    If you do give Phantom Echoes a look-see, you should consider the Orb of Deception form of Implement Mastery. The base form grants a reroll on an illusion power once per encounter, and the Improved Orb of Deception (paragon feat) also grants the same bonus as Phantom Echoes, but to the first of your allies to attack it (fun for the whole family!). Might be worth considering depending on your group.

    Lasting Frost (paragon) + Wintertouched (heroic) achieves something similar, you get combat advantage for a round against anything you hit with a cold power, as well as tacking on vulnerable 5 for moar damage (though as a general rule we should avoid feats that are solely about doing moar damage). Suddenly Ray of Frost looks a lot better.

    But once we hit paragon feats, we have Psychic Lock and Spell Focus. Psychic Lock is going to double down on the attack roll penalty (NB: penalties stack!!), and it is worth noting that both Illusionary Ambush and Phantom Bolt have both the illusion and psychic keywords.

    But Spell Lock is interesting. It adds a penalty to opponents saving throws. This is especially of note if we went with the Orb of Impsition form of Implement Mastery. The problem is, almost all of our save ends effects are dailies (with the exception of lvl 3 fire shroud I couldn't find any thers in phb or arcane power). Which means that even when you first get to paragon you won't have much use for it. But fortunately orb of imposition has a second effect you can use in those encounters when you're not dropping your dailies.

    I may be wrong, but the Staff of Defense form of implement mastery does not appear to have anything special to offer for a controller focused wizard.
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    Default Re: New Player- controller wizard

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    Make that at least 18, with 20 preferred. Wizards get very little benefit from improving their other scores. Int also governs AC, reflex defense, damage rolls, and your best skills.
    For Wizards, yes, but for a general character, 16+ is the minimum, and 20 often too expensive for the benefits. The paragraph you quoted from was general advice, not Wizard-specific

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alienist View Post
    Despite other's assertions to the contrary, my experience is that even when trying to go 'balls to the wall' all out for control, that very little of what I do is actually control, with the obvious exception of the dailies.
    Wizard dailies are awesome.

    That said, there is also quite good control in their encounter powers. For instance, Orbmaster's Incendiary (or Icy Terrain) drop a bunch of monsters prone. If you have Enlarge Spell (and you should), that's a 5x5 area where you throw things prone. That is good control; you just need to make sure your allies are not in the way (which is doable with good tactics). Other encounter spells that immobilize, daze, or blind enemies, preferably as an area effect, are great control.

    Minion killing should not be your main role. Minion killing is a side effect, and your area effects should already take care of most of that. Here's the key: you as the player, and your party members, may not necessarily notice how much of a nuisance you're being. But the DM will! A well-played wizard will rip the DM's strategy to pieces.

    And Thunderwave? It's one of the best at-wills in the game. The only thing is, you need to have some interesting place to push the enemies to. Many DMs will have combat maps involving fire, cliffs, or other hazards; guess where you're going to move people. If the map is not obliging, feel free to drop a zone daily (or encounter power like Grasping Shadows) and start chucking enemies into there. I've spent entire combats casting nothing but Stinking Cloud on turn one, then TW on every subsequent turn.
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    Default Re: New Player- controller wizard

    Quote Originally Posted by NecroRebel View Post
    For Wizards, yes, but for a general character, 16+ is the minimum, and 20 often too expensive for the benefits. The paragraph you quoted from was general advice, not Wizard-specific
    Its a taste thing, I go 18 int for wizards so i've got decent hp, fort and will and can mix it up in close/melee range a little bit and take the heat off the party defender if needs be.
    It also helps get to 13 wis for expand spell, which is something pretty much every wizard should take.

    OP: do you know what the rest of the party is going to be? As that can help shape your spell selection.
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    Default Re: New Player- controller wizard

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    Here's the key: you as the player, and your party members, may not necessarily notice how much of a nuisance you're being. But the DM will! A well-played wizard will rip the DM's strategy to pieces.
    QFT.

    I make it a point of expressing my frustrations to my players so they never lose sight of how much the controllers are getting in my way. Even "lesser" controllers like Hunters can seriously get in the way.

    -O

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    Default Re: New Player- controller wizard

    Casting the net slightly wider afield, we come to Heroes of Shadow.

    If you were to consider the mage instead of the wizard, then the Nethermancer has some controller-ish options.

    At level 1 when you hit with your nethermancy powers your targets now treat targets further than 2 squares away as having partial concealment. And at level 10 when you have any concealment against a creature you gain combat advantage.

    So a level ten nethermancer duking it out against up to two artillery monsters, could happily blast away at them with his or her Unravelling Darts, in the process enjoying a four point swing (-2 to them, +2 to you).

    If you have predominantly ranged characters in the party (Warlocks, Rangers etc) then they will also enjoy the partial concealment (though Warlocks can and should be generating this on their own I believe?)

    From Heroes of the Fallen Land we get the Enchantment school of magic, which if you want to do forced movement you would be strongly encouraged to consider.

    A number of at-wills, such as:

    Beguiling strands, essentially an upgrade to Thunderwave (bigger area, doesn't target allies, not dependent on heavy Wisdom investment) (slightly less damage) (targets will instead of fort so may be more likely to hit against things trying to melee you) - will work with Psychic Lock but not Phantom Echoes

    Freezing Burst, essentially an upgrade to Scorching Burst (adds slide effect)

    Hypnotism - either make the monster punch itself in the face, or slide it three squares

    Phantasmal Assault (illusion and psychic) - target grants combat advantage and can't make opportunity attacks. (Doesn't look like it stacks with Phantom Echoes, but Psychic Lock is good)

    Phantom Cage - similar to Illusionary Assault (illusion and psychic) but doesn't seem to offer any improvement, provides a small deterent to movement (Astral Wasp lite?)

    ----

    On the whole "stop punching yourself!" theme, in addition to Hypnotism there is Charm of Misplaced Wrath (E1), Tasha's Forcible Conscription (D5), Charm of the Defender (E7), Phantom Foes (E7), Concusive Echo (E7), Taunting Phantoms (D9).

    ----

    In the category of "Not Colour Spray but still worth an honourable mention" there are:

    Chill Claws (-2 to attack to up to 2 creatures)
    Maze of Mirrors (immobilised and massive penalty to attack)
    Pinioning Vortex (dazed, immobilised and grants combat advantage)
    Icy Rays (like Chill Claws but immobilises instead)
    Blissful Ignorance (area attack which slows and prevents opportunity attacks and immediate actions)
    Cordon of Bones (area attack that makes a zone with the effect that creatures have -2 to attack while in the zone)

    ----

    Lastly, a word regarding the feat Enlarge Spell. Many of the early guides sing it's praises from the rooftops. However it has been errata-ed to not effect Daily Spells.

    Hence, since most of your control is coming from Daily Spells, Enlarge Spell will sadly do very little for the controller style wizard. Make sure you evaluate it only with respect to your at-wills and encounter powers.

    Doubly sadly, the one at-will you might think would be the one with the most to gain from it (Cloud of Daggers) doesn't gain anything from it at all.
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    Default Re: New Player- controller wizard

    Quote Originally Posted by Drglenn View Post
    Its a taste thing, I go 18 int for wizards so i've got decent hp,
    Yes, it's a taste thing. You can also take Born Under A Bad Sign, if your DM allows those backgrounds.

    It also helps get to 13 wis for expand spell, which is something pretty much every wizard should take.
    Yes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alienist View Post
    So a level ten nethermancer duking it out against up to two artillery monsters, could happily blast away at them with his or her Unravelling Darts, in the process enjoying a four point swing (-2 to them, +2 to you).
    Well, yes, but at that level you really shouldn't be using your at-wills so often. You should have three encounter powers (four if your DM uses themes, or if you're paragon tier), all of which should be more powerful than your at-wills. If not, then you need to select better encounter powers.

    The thing is, Astral Wasp is just not a very good spell. WOTC printed a few "choose your poison" spells, which tell an enemy to not take a certain action, or they'll take damage. "Don't move or you'll take damage" is a form of control. The place where they messed up, however, is that the extra damage is too low. "Don't move or you'll take 3 damage" is not control, because monsters won't care about the 3 extra damage. Astral Wasp basically turns you into a poor man's striker.
    (you can very well play a wizard as a striker, but the key to do that is to use area effect elemental damage, plus either Elemental Empowerment or the Tiefling's boosts to fire attacks)

    Note: don't get too caught up by -2 attack penalties. They're nice to have as a side effect, but they shouldn't be your main goal. Why is that? Because exactly 90% of the time, they do nothing (the monster either still hits, or would have missed even without the penalty). This means that Psychic Lock is good, since it stacks attack penalties on top of what you're already doing; but Chill Claws is not, since the minor penalty is all it does.

    Hence, since most of your control is coming from Daily Spells, Enlarge Spell will sadly do very little for the controller style wizard.
    Sorry, but this is so wrong. If your encounter spells aren't providing control, you've picked the wrong ones. Grasping Shadows is control. Color Spray is control. Twist Of Space is control. The list goes on, and all of those benefit from Enlarging. There's generally very little reason to take an encounter power that's not an area effect (except if you're an enchanter).
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    Default Re: New Player- controller wizard

    If you're not in it for the -2s, then there isn't a whole lot to get excited over controller-wise...

    So one round you slowed him, but he still bashed the melee guy standing next to him.
    The next round you knocked him prone, but he stood up and still bashed the melee guy standing next to him.
    The next round you circled around (so as not to get any of your allies in the blast) and dazed him with your color spray. But he still bashed the melee guy standing next to him.
    The next round you immobilised him, but he still bashed the melee g standing next to him.

    Finally you twist of spaced to put him three squares away from the melee and slowed him too. Great! Now we're getting somewhere. He'll have to either ready an action or delay, so he can bash the melee type when it steps up to him.

    Alternately, the melee type could get in a free ranged basic attack. Woopy!

    In four out of five different attacks, the end result of the 'control' was diddly/squat except to prevent movement (which unless you have a highly mobile defender is a non-issue), and grant combat advantage (dazed and prone).

    Iilusionary Ambush + Psychic Lock + Marked by your defender = -6 to hit. If the monster hits on a 13 or higher, now suddenly they hit only on a 19 or higher. That's a big difference.

    Making him lose a move action? Not so much.
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    Default Re: New Player- controller wizard

    Quote Originally Posted by Alienist View Post
    If you're not in it for the -2s, then there isn't a whole lot to get excited over controller-wise...

    -snip

    Iilusionary Ambush + Psychic Lock + Marked by your defender = -6 to hit. If the monster hits on a 13 or higher, now suddenly they hit only on a 19 or higher. That's a big difference.

    Making him lose a move action? Not so much.
    See, the thing is, making an enemy lose a move action or forcing them to only target things that are already within 4 tiles of them (slowed move+charge)? That severely limits their target options, and melee characters tend to have higher defenses and more hit points than ranged ones. It is, often, more often than a credibly-threatening monster hitting only on a 13+, likely to mean the difference between a monster hitting the squishy members and hitting nothing at all, and even when it's not it's virtually always the difference between hitting a squishy member and hitting a tough member, both more valuable options.

    Further, major threats' melee basic attacks that they're forced to use if they're forced to charge to attack their preferred targets are significantly weaker than their other options. Elites almost always have a power that lets them attack twice, but hard control can prevent them from having a good opportunity to use it, while soft control can't. Even standard monsters occasionally have an ability to attack more than once per round at least sometimes, and hard control can prevent that while soft can't.

    You're also assuming that the monsters are hitting only on a 13+ before the defender's mark is taken into account, but that will usually only be true on the defender themself, so you're not even really stacking as many penalties as you think.

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    Default Re: New Player- controller wizard

    Quote Originally Posted by NecroRebel View Post
    You're also assuming that the monsters are hitting only on a 13+ before the defender's mark is taken into account, but that will usually only be true on the defender themself, so you're not even really stacking as many penalties as you think.
    You make a good point about Elites with double attacks, I'll have to go and look a few up.

    As for the above, you seem to be assuming that I'm assuming things that I'm not assuming. For instance, yes, a defenders AC will be high, but the defenders mark doesn't give a penalty if the marked creature attacks the defender, so those two things (while not necessarily equal) tend to balance each other out.

    Don't be too eager to rush in with minor nitpicks, there is a lot of highly abstract hand waving going on.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alienist View Post
    Don't be too eager to rush in with minor nitpicks, there is a lot of highly abstract hand waving going on.
    Abstract handwaving tends to be wrong.

    Seriously. Ask any DM who has been on the receiving end of a bunch of status conditions every single combat. It's hard to be effective if half your monsters can't move, can't see, or have only one action.
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    {{scrubbed}}
    Last edited by Mark Hall; 2012-10-14 at 12:55 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alienist View Post
    I've been trying to address the low level stuff, and you've been berating me that at high paragon you don't bother with at-wills
    Didn't your example include Psychic Lock, a paragon-tier feat? And earlier you were discussing level 5-9 stuff, which isn't exactly low-level either...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alienist View Post
    And my point (which you seem to have missed) is that you do this at level 1 HOW???
    You do it at an earlier level than you get the Psychic Lock you kept talking about, that's for sure.

    Obviously you can't do everything at level one. But you could, say, take Illusory Obstacles, Vezzuvu's Eruption, and the drow's Cloud of Darkness ability; that covers dazed, prone, and unable to see. Even at level one that's better than just spamming Unraveling Bolts all the time.
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    {{scrubbed}}
    Last edited by Mark Hall; 2012-10-14 at 12:54 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alienist View Post
    Okay, so levels 1-8 are "not exactly low-level". Well then, what are they?
    Levels 1-8 are low-level through high early levels. 1-4 would be low-level. Meanwhile, levels 5-9 aren't low levels, exactly like I said before.

    I'm not even sure what NecroRebels point is here. Does he think Psychic Lock is a good controller feat or not? Kurald Galain agreed with me (in a very back-handed way):
    You said, "I've been trying to address the low level stuff," but Psychic Lock is very emphatically not an example of low level stuff, so if you were trying to address the low level stuff as you claimed, why even bring it up?

    NecroRebel suggests that we should look for unconsciousness and then domination. I haven't seen anything like that on an at-will, the Dragon Magazine stuff must have some pretty hefty power creep!!!
    Now you're trying to put words into my mouth, or at my fingertips as the case may be (typing, you know ). At no point did I make even the slightest hint of implication that those conditions should be sought on at-will powers, only that those are the most desirable conditions to cause.

    That said, all else being equal, I would typically prefer a Slow effect to a -2 attack penalty effect. Until you can pick up Psychic Lock at level 11, I'd prefer Ray of Frost to Illusory Ambush.

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    Default Re: New Player- controller wizard

    Soft control, like slow or prone, is really unexciting on its own, but in the right situations can be tantamount to stunning or immobilizing creatures. Especially at low levels, roughly half of the most common monsters lack ranged attacks, so the real trick is identifying those monsters, beating them on initiative, and never letting them get into the fray in the first place.

    Once monsters are next to your allies, yes, slowing them is usually pointless.

    Remember, though, that melee allies love prone enemies, especially early on when they don't have auto-CA built into their builds yet. If one or more party members takes world serpent's grasp, slow mobs they're about to hit. This especially combos well with defenders, who you should consider your melee control counterpart.

    And if you combo with your allies to knock things prone constantly, any axe or heavy blade users can grab headsman's chop for +5 damage vs prone targets.

    Beguiling Strands can be used to disallow enemies ever flanking your front liners, to minion sweep, optimized to push a dozen squares slow and prone, can shove enemies that get in your face right back to your defender, so that your defender doesn't have to break off from his current target to assist you, it can cluster enemies together to prep for an action point and a burst/blast (or just to set them up for an ally's area attack), and it can do all of these things at the same time.

    Winged Horde allows allies complete freedom of movement, again preventing them from being flanked and nearly guaranteeing them whatever positioning they desire. It can be enlarged to a 5x5 party friendly area, so is as good as or better than Beguiling Strands for minion sweeping. Every wizard should take one of these two powers, and consider both.

    The low damage on both is frustrating, but remember that your job isn't necessarily to do damage. Yes, dead is the best condition to inflict, but you're often going to be more effective setting allies up for success and setting enemies up for failure. The low damage on winged horde will eventually get better, since it gets mods. Beguiling Strands will always be in the 4-10 damage range, but can nonetheless be an extremely versatile, powerful tactical option.
    Last edited by Sol; 2012-09-30 at 01:37 AM.

  23. Top - End - #23
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    Kurald Galain's Avatar

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    Default Re: New Player- controller wizard

    Quote Originally Posted by NecroRebel View Post
    That said, all else being equal, I would typically prefer a Slow effect to a -2 attack penalty effect. Until you can pick up Psychic Lock at level 11, I'd prefer Ray of Frost to Illusory Ambush.
    I agree.

    Although in practice I would use neither. Given how useful forced movement is, I think every wizard should have either Thunderwave or Beguiling Strands as his first at-will, accept no substitutes. For the second, I'd pick any ranged multitarget spell, like Winged Horde or Stoneblood (on a control build), or Freezing Burst or Arc Lightning (on a blast build). Because why would you target only one creature if you can instead target two or three?

    In paragon tier this doesn't really matter any more since most combats will be over before you run out of encounter powers.
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