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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Wizard spells, what do you guys think is best.

    Well I am currently playing a wizard and it's got me thinking what is the best spell from each level.

    I'm looking at one spell for damaging a single target, one spell for multiple targets and then the most useful spell that's not a damage dealer.

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    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Wizard spells, what do you guys think is best.

    I vote Counterspell for a non damage dealer. Wizards get it at level 5 I think?

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    Umbranar's Avatar

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    Default Re: Wizard spells, what do you guys think is best.

    I am currently a level 9 Gnome Wizard. I have learned many spells through scrolls and other spell books. Till now I had only access to the PHB spells but now have Xanathars and all the spells available. Here are my PHB only favorites:

    1st: mage armour, shield.
    Requested spells: Magic missile for single target, Burning hands for AoE, sleep for non-damage (becomes less useful on higher level)
    2nd: Flaming sphere (cast once, bonus action for damage? yes please), Scoring Ray for "single target", Misty Step for non damage (very useful to get out of trouble).
    3rd: fireball for AoE, Vampiric Tough for Single Target (combine with find familiar), Counterspell for non damage
    4th: Black Tentacles for AoE control, Phantasmal Killer for singe target damage, Greater Invisibility for non damage.
    5th: Bigby's hand for single target damage and control, Cone of Cold for AoE damage, Wall of Force for dividing the battlefield and block runners.
    Last edited by Umbranar; 2017-12-06 at 05:49 AM.

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    PirateGuy

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    Default Re: Wizard spells, what do you guys think is best.

    Quote Originally Posted by Umbranar View Post
    Vampiric Tough for Single Target (combine with find familiar)
    Doesn't work, vampiric touch is a range: self spell not a range: touch spell. Your familiar can't be used to make the melee spell attacks through it. Wish it did work, would make it better for necromancers but it doesn't.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    DwarfClericGuy

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    Default Re: Wizard spells, what do you guys think is best.

    To add to that Phantasmal Killer is really really bad.

    You're almost better off upcasting like a Lightning Bolt at that point.

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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Wizard spells, what do you guys think is best.

    I enjoy Tasha's Hideous Laughter and Phantasmal Force. Phantasmal Force makes for a very powerful spell if your DM follows how it is written. By RAW, once a target fails the save it says "While a target is affected by the spell, the target treats the phantasm as if it were real. The target rationalizes any illogical outcomes from interacting with the phantasm." They even provide an example on how a target would rationalize falling off a fake bridge multiple times.

    Tasha's is a wonderful spell as well. It is essentially a level 1 Hold Person that works on everyone with a high enough Int. Sure, you don't get the crit Hold Person gives, but it takes a target out of the fight. Plus it is fun to force things to die laughing.

    Also, Polymorph and Animte Object. Polymorph gives a wonderful buff, and possible debuff. And Animate Object gives you a ton of minions that are reasonably strong. And all you need for Animate Objects is a single bag of 1,000 ball bearings. Bam, now you have tons of minions on hand.
    Last edited by sithlordnergal; 2017-12-06 at 03:49 PM.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Wizard spells, what do you guys think is best.

    as a wizard, i wouldn't focus so heavily on damage. or really as any spellcaster. having a small assortment of nukes to cover a few situations makes sense. having 2 per level is going overboard.

    essentially, your power comes in the variety of things you can do. so being able to deal damage is good (especially in the categories of damage dealing that you're good at, particularly AoE), but spending a major part of your spells known/prepared on essentially the same task is really not the way to go imo. at 5th level, you don't need 3 ways to AoE nuke and 3 ways to single target nuke, you need options.

    so, for example, at level 5 it is very worthwhile to consider fireball, as it is blatantly the most powerful AoE nuke in the game (unless you fight exclusively in straight tunnels, in which case lightning bolt is competitive). you should probably have a secondary AoE nuke option of a different element, i would recommend either shatter or snilloc's snowball swarm. neither are as good as fireball, they're just for you to use when an enemy is resistant or especially immune to fire damage. for single-target, just grab a cantrip. single target damage is not really your job, and even the spells you have that are "good" at it are typically going to look bad compared to a decent fighter build (with the exception of magic missile for evokers, if your DM uses the official interpretation of how that spell works). beyond that, if you look at damage it should be a question of what else it comes with; flaming sphere is interesting not because it does damage, but because it lets you use your bonus action and it blocks off an area, for example. the thing that makes it good is that it allows you to use more actions mainly, not so much that it is tremendously powerful as a damage spell.

    after that, start picking up utility instead. even at higher levels if a spell deals damage, you should probably be looking at what else it does on top of that; you might pick disintegrate because it instantly removes objects including wall of force or forcecage, but i wouldn't recommend it for the damage. you might grab finger of death for the permanently controlled zombie, or sunbeam for the AoE blind potential. i'm not saying you should ignore any spell that does damage just because it does damage or anything, but i am saying that damage alone will not justify any further spells because they'll only be doing the exact same thing you can already do.

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    FabulousFizban's Avatar

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    Default Re: Wizard spells, what do you guys think is best.

    how to use a wizard.

    So the optimal spells for you to take are going to depend on what kind of wizard you play. There are three main components of any balanced party, they are usually called the hammer, the anvil, and the arm. They represent damage dealing, damage taking, and battlefield control respectively (usually through buff/debuff).

    A wizard can fill any of these rolls, but the traditional choice is BC. Optimally, as an arm typr caster, you want to focus on one of three areas: buff, debuff, or healing. Your goal in these supporting roles is to make combat easier for the rest of your team - to make your DPR better at dealing damage, your Tank better at taking damage, and your enemy weaker as a whole.

    If you go the debuff route, which is the one that requires the most effort as buffers and healers can rely on spamming the same few spells over and over, your ideal spell list should contain a spell that targets each different save. Debuffing is weakening the enemy, and no enemy has perfect saves across the board, so finding your current enemies specific weakness and targetting it is the most effective strategy here. It will look to your party as though you have a variety of tricks up your sleeve, the perfect match to each occasion - in short you will seem like magic - but really you only have one trick: weakening the enemy by targetting weakest save.

    Here is a list of good spells targetting different saves:
    Str: entangle
    Dex: faeirie fire, grease, burning hands
    Con: heat meatl, poison spray, blindness/deafness
    Int: silent image
    Wis: vicious mockery, hideous laughter, charm person, bestow curse, command
    cha: bane, calm emotions

    If you have the time, go through the spell list and see what spells target which saves.

    One more word on wizards, and that has to do with subtype specialization. Wizards can have two spell effects active at one time: a concentration spell and an instantaneous spell. This has the effect of allowing the wizard two effects to utilize during combat. Since there are three main types of combat strategy (DPR, Tanking, and BC), by utilizing both concentration and instantaneous effects you can effectively choose two specialities for your character in combat. You can also double down into one specialty by choosing it twice so to speak. Your concentration spell will have the more powerful effect and constitute your primary combat type, and the instantaneous spell will have a weaker effect and constitute your subtype - cantrips are great for this kind of spell.

    So for example a wizard could cast faerie fire on the enemy making them easier to hit, making BC your primary type, and your could cast firebolt every round while maintaining concentration, making DPR your subtype.

    Hope this was helpful.
    Last edited by FabulousFizban; 2017-12-07 at 09:07 AM.
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    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Wizard spells, what do you guys think is best.

    To Sharkforce and Fabulousfizban, thank you for the advice but I'm just curious about what people think are good spells at each level. Which is why I put nothing about my character other than I'm a wizard, but I do mean it when I say thank you for the advice as it was very interesting to read.

    I haven't put down a list of spells as I'm only level 4 in this game and I haven't looked beyond it really. But so far I would say I like the ones I have so far.

    Cantrips are toll the dead and chill touch
    Level 1: witchbolt and comprehend language
    Level 2: shatter and suggestion
    Level 3: Fireball and animate dead :)

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Flumph

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    Default Re: Wizard spells, what do you guys think is best.

    Witchbolt is one of the worst spells in the game.

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Wizard spells, what do you guys think is best.

    better make sure you understand witch bolt *really* well before you settle on that (or talk to your DM about changing it). there has been a lot of effort to try to interpret in a way that makes it not a completely awful spell, and generally speaking, they always fail.

    for example, if your target ever moves away (and 30 feet isn't that far), for even an instant, the spell ends entirely.
    if you lose sight of your target, for even an instant, the spell ends entirely.
    it requires your action every round to do anything, which means it is only slightly better than a cantrip in subsequent rounds, but because the initial damage is so low it hasn't even done as much as a typical level 1 spell until the round after the initial spell was cast.
    if you are an evoker, only one of the damage rolls will be improved, not the damage every round.
    if you miss, the entire spell fails, you don't get 10 rounds to keep trying to hit.
    in the event that your target dies, the spell ends, you don't get to change targets either.

    there are a lot of people who *really* want witch bolt to be good, but it's almost like every time you think "well maybe it's not so bad for this reason" and then you read the spell description to check and you find out that somehow they actually managed to include something to make that not work. it's almost impressive just how bad the spell is.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    DwarfFighterGuy

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    Default Re: Wizard spells, what do you guys think is best.

    2 words: Chromatic Orb

    Sure, it might fall off of use eventually. But, not likely. At first level, you get 3d8 damage of any damage type, chosen at the time of casting. And, upcast it to increase the amount of damage you do. If you're a Diviner, and have rolled a 20 for one of your portents (yes, I know this doesn't happen very often, but I've done it), you get to pick one time during the day to get an auto-crit. So, why not cast it at your highest level, and do ungodly damage? I OHKO'd a few big bads by myself with this spell. I'm just saying it's a good spell...

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    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Wizard spells, what do you guys think is best.

    Witchbolt only came out so far for bigger beasts, I normally either use a cantrip or as I'm flying about I pick up and throw people at each other. But looking over it again, it is poop. Explains why I hardly ever use it.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Devil

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    Default Re: Wizard spells, what do you guys think is best.

    Quote Originally Posted by Umbranar View Post
    2nd: Flaming sphere (cast once, bonus action for damage? yes please)
    I loved this spell in 4e, but when I carefully reread the effect for the 5e version, I saw that the damage only occurs if a foe ENDS their turn next to the sphere, which is really easy to avoid doing. Unless the foe is restrained through their turn or is otherwise unable to move, they can easily avoid the damage from this. Surprised now that so many people like the spell with such a critical flaw baked into it. IF the damage happened when the START their turn next to it the spell would be useful, but unless you combine it with Pyrotechnics, it's not as useful as I once thought it was. :(

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    NecromancerGirl

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    Default Re: Wizard spells, what do you guys think is best.

    Cantrips: Minor Illusion, Firebolt

    Level 1: Tasha's Hideous Laughter, Shield, Detect Magic
    Level 2: Hold Person, Invisibility
    Level 3: Fireball, Counterspell, Hypnotic Pattern
    Level 4: Banishment, Polymorph, Dimension Door
    Level 5: Wall of Force, Rary's Telepathic Bond, Bigby's Hand

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    PirateCaptain

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    Default Re: Wizard spells, what do you guys think is best.

    Quote Originally Posted by samcifer View Post
    I loved this spell in 4e, but when I carefully reread the effect for the 5e version, I saw that the damage only occurs if a foe ENDS their turn next to the sphere, which is really easy to avoid doing. Unless the foe is restrained through their turn or is otherwise unable to move, they can easily avoid the damage from this. Surprised now that so many people like the spell with such a critical flaw baked into it. IF the damage happened when the START their turn next to it the spell would be useful, but unless you combine it with Pyrotechnics, it's not as useful as I once thought it was. :(
    Plus ramming it into foes as a bonus action?

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Devil

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    Default Re: Wizard spells, what do you guys think is best.

    Quote Originally Posted by McMoria View Post
    Plus ramming it into foes as a bonus action?
    *Sigh* and THAT'S why you don't just read the spell card. :P

    Okay, I can see the appeal now.

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    HalflingPirate

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    Default Re: Wizard spells, what do you guys think is best.

    Well, here'd be my lists for the non-damage dealers. I'll evaluate low-level spell for how useful they would be to a 5th level character, and higher level spells based on how useful they'd be to a char of their level. The spells that I picked are not necessarily the "best" for their level, since that will depend on scenario and build, but they are certainly high performers!

    1. Absorb Elements (found in The Elemental Evil Players' companion and Xanathar's Guide to Everything)
    -Absolutely awesome spell. Resistance to elemental damage is a hard to get valuable feature, and this gives it to you 4/day for any element!
    2. Phantasmal Force
    -This was a hard choice, because there's so many good 2nd level utility-esque spells, but Phantasmal Force has one thing that sets it apart from every other illusion in the game: the target rationalizes to explain any unusual interaction with the object or creature you create. Unless the target has some other reason to examine the object (they can't suspect it is an illusion) you can expect this spell to work for its full duration. As it turns out, getting people to fervently believe in fake objects is an entirely awesome ability.
    3. Blink
    -As self-buffs go, Blink is top-notch. It gives you a 50% chance to be on the same plane as the rest of the party during the enemy's turns, sparing you the wrath of AOEs and enemy attacks. It also gives you a sweet 10 feet of free teleportation when it triggers, which is always nice. IIRC it also doesn't require concentration, which is just bloody amazing.
    4. Polymorph
    -Level 3 featured a great self-buff, level 4 features an absolutely insane party member buff. Polymorph can be expected to give the target a large increase to damage and an incredible buff to HP. Polymorph also has some utility to fill in for other weaknesses of your spell selection: you can turn into a bird to fly when you really need it, or turn into an ant when stealth is of the utmost importance.
    5. Wall of Force
    - For enemy containment, there's almost nothing better. This wall is invincible and can only be removed by disintegrate, a higher level spell. You can even form it into a sphere around one enemy in particular.
    6. True Seeing
    -While obviously a situational spell, truesight is nonetheless nothing to scoff at. With this at your disposal, you can sneer at illusions, magical darkness, and invisible creatures. Their tricks don't fool you.
    7. Teleport
    -In my opinion this is the best spell in the game bar wish. You can pick up a few rocks from everywhere you visit, and then when a fight is going sour, simply cast this beauty of a spell to take the whole party to safety with no risk of mishap. If you can also cast counterspell it gets even better, since you can counterspell the enemy's counterspells for an almost guaranteed escape.
    8. Antimagic Field
    -The utility of this spell is just incredible. Nothing can dispel it and no magic can penetrate it. If you're fighting an enemy spellcaster or someone with way suped up magical gear, you can screw up their entire mojo just by standing near them. It's also a great panic spell if you end up fighting that lich 1-2 levels of dungeon before you expected to.
    9. Do I really need to say what it is for this level?
    Last edited by Potato_Priest; 2017-12-07 at 11:24 PM.
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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    ElfMonkGuy

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    Default Re: Wizard spells, what do you guys think is best.

    I love the Skywrite ritual from Xanathar's. Great advertising material.

    Oh! Prestidigi-cake-tion, as we call it. Because everything tastes like cake. And that's important for some people. Sand - delicious. Swamp water - delicious. Mouldy bread - delicious.

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    Laserlight's Avatar

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    Default Re: Wizard spells, what do you guys think is best.

    Don't get too hung up on single target damage. The rest of the party can do that. Go for AoE, buffs, debuffs, and utility.

    Just tonight I averted two TPKs. We were in an airship and a green dragon attacked. I polymorphed it into a carp (using the Divination wizard's Portent to force it to fail its save) and it fell 1000 feet to the ground. The dragon probably survived the fall but it didn't renew the attack. In the second battle, manticores destroyed the airship's balloon, and the rest of the party steeled themselves to die. I waited until we were at 500 feet and then cast Featherfall.

    My list, including a few purchased spells, as of L7:

    Firebolt
    Mage Hand
    Prestidigitation
    Toll the Dead
    Charm Person
    Detect Magic(R)
    Featherfall
    Find Familiar(R)
    Shield
    Tasha's Laughter
    Dragon's Breath (for casting on my familiar)
    Invisibility
    Misty Step
    Pyrotechnics
    Suggestion
    Clairvoyance
    Counterspell
    Dispel Magic
    Enemies Abound
    Fireball
    Fly
    Hypnotic Pattern
    Life Transference
    Arcane Eye
    Greater Invisibility
    Polymorph
    Summon Greater Demon
    Junior, half orc paladin of the Order of #3 St Dale the Intimidator: "Ah reckon y'all need to repent."

    I'm a spell!

    "Leather is the best armor for stealth--it's literally made of Hide." -- K Larson

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Devil

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    Default Re: Wizard spells, what do you guys think is best.

    Quote Originally Posted by Laserlight View Post

    Dragon's Breath (for casting on my familiar)
    That is pure genius!

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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Wizard spells, what do you guys think is best.

    If you want some Xanathars spells these seem to be the best:
    Absorb elements
    Bones of the earth
    create homunculus
    create bonfire
    dragons breath
    find greater stead
    healing spirit
    ice knife
    Infernal calling (I just think its cool)
    mass polymorph
    mind prison
    mighty fortress
    psychic scream
    toll the dead
    watery sphere
    zephyr strike
    Come to the dark side; we have pop-tarts.

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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Wizard spells, what do you guys think is best.

    Quote Originally Posted by deathwolf669 View Post
    Well I am currently playing a wizard and it's got me thinking what is the best spell from each level.

    I'm looking at one spell for damaging a single target, one spell for multiple targets and then the most useful spell that's not a damage dealer.
    Wizards are more flexible than that. You should be thinking in terms of targeting the weak points of your opponents. That means not just attack roll spells, but saving throw attacks that target various different saves (WIS, DEX, INT, CHA) etc. You don't want to waste your spell slots making attack rolls against a target with super-high AC but low WIS saves.

    For non-damage spells, you want control spells that help the party in combat (like Evard's Black Tentacles) and utility spells that help out of combat (like Leomund's Tiny Hut).

  24. - Top - End - #24
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Wizard spells, what do you guys think is best.

    Quote Originally Posted by Strangways View Post
    Wizards are more flexible than that. You should be thinking in terms of targeting the weak points of your opponents. That means not just attack roll spells, but saving throw attacks that target various different saves (WIS, DEX, INT, CHA) etc. You don't want to waste your spell slots making attack rolls against a target with super-high AC but low WIS saves.

    For non-damage spells, you want control spells that help the party in combat (like Evard's Black Tentacles) and utility spells that help out of combat (like Leomund's Tiny Hut).
    I know wizards are extremely flexible which is why I asked what people think for each level. I'm not after hints and tips for making a wizard or a spell list I'm just curious what people would say is the best single damage spell at each level. The best spell for damaging multiple enemies and their most useful spell that isn't a damage dealer.

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    DrowGirl

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    Default Re: Wizard spells, what do you guys think is best.

    How come no one is loving magic missile. It's a great spell.

    1 it always hits, and ignores cover or concealment unless full

    2 it can focus fire or split

    3 you can 'peel off' a single missile to wake/rouse a friend, or give another saving through. D4+1 is low enough for this to be useful in a pinch.

    Forces Con saving throws on enemy mages with concentration effects running

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