Starting a Wizard
A wizard is an arcane spellcaster, similar to a sorcerer, but with a few key differences:
- Wizards can have every arcane spell inscribed in their spellbook.
- Wizards have fewer starting restrictions on changing which spells they have prepared for casting.
- A wizard's spells are Intelligence based.
- Wizard spells take longer to cast & recast than the sorcerer's spells.
- Wizards have fewer Spell Points to cast spells with than Sorcerers.
- Wizards have the Archmage and Pale Master enhancement trees which are less focused on elemental damage than the sorcerer's Savant enhancements, but more focused on instant death, utility, and crowd control.
Like a sorcerer:
- The wizard can cast Repair spells, healing Warforged characters without the penalty imposed on Cure spells.
- The wizard has a very limited selection of simple weapons, and only have proficiency with cloth armour. In addition, heavier armors and shields incur a chance of arcane spell failure.
- The wizard has the Eldritch Knight Enhancement tree that offers improved Melee capability.
These factors (particularly the Pale Master and Eldritch Knight enhancements and the Master's Touch spell) allow wizards to be capable melee characters at low to mid levels and effective control and instakill spell users (with the Archmage and/or Palemaster enhancements) at mid to high levels.
A wizard's main ability scores are Intelligence and Constitution. Choose your race either to boost these scores, or to gain access to good racial Enhancements. Warforged, Drow and Human are probably the best three races. Any wizard not planning to use a shroud of undeath should play a Warforged if possible.
- Drow have a +2 racial bonus to Intelligence, but a -2 penalty to Constitution. Drow enhancements can be desirable for Wizards focusing on crowd control, notably: Spell Resistance, Drow Intelligence, Arcane Fluidity, and Enchantment Lore.
- Humans gain a bonus feat at level 1 and can train 1 additional skill. Useful racial enhancements include: Human Versatility, Human Adaptability, and Action Surge.
- Dwarves have a +2 racial bonus to Constitution. The dwarven enhancements can make you even tougher with Dwarven Toughness, Dwarven Constitution, Child of the Mountain, Dwarven Runes and Stand Like Stone.
- Warforged are a great choice thanks to +2 bonus Constitution and reliable self-healing via arcane Repair/Reconstruct spells. Any wizard not planning to use a shroud of undeath should strongly consider Warforged. The race also offers useful enhancements: Improved Fortification, Warforged Constitution, and Repair Systems (Mechanist). Also spend one AP on Inscribed Armor, to negate the racial Arcane Spell Failure penalty.
- Half-Elf and Elf both offer access to the Arcanum racial enhancement, which can help wizards (especially first-life) to penetrate Spell Resistance in end game/epics. Half-Elf additionally offers some other useful enhancements: Human Versatility, Human Adaptability, and Arcane Fluidity.
- Halfling offers several useful racial enhancements, notably offering the best saves of any race: Halfling Luck, Heroic Companion, Improved Dodge and Halfling Agility. For Pale Masters and Necromancer Archmages, the halfling dragonmark is another source of Heal skill (up to +3) and metamagic affected healing SLA's.
Wizards have a powerful capstone. Properly built and geared, pure wizards are some of the most powerful characters in DDO. Yet, some wizards take levels in other classes to increase their survival and self-sufficiency.
Two levels of Rogue are the most common dip for wizards. Thanks to their high intelligence, wizards have enough skill points to maximize trap skills. More importantly, a second rogue level grants Evasion, particularly useful when combined with Insightful Reflexes. Rogue levels are usually taken at level 1 (to maximize skills) and 9 (after learning firewall). Such wizards should always take Insightful Reflexes and dump dexterity. They have little use for dexterity.
As a variant of rogue dip, some wizards choose to take two monk levels, for Evasion but also for two bonus feats.
- Strength is typically not a useful stat for wizards. Some wizards might increase their Strength in order to haul more loot without becoming burdened, and others might increase it in order to be more resistant to strength sapping effects, like Ray of Enfeeblement.
- Dexterity helps a wizard to avoid being hit in combat by any of the many enemies who may become enraged by your damaging spells and charge past the melee combatants to attack you. A few points into dexterity will only help at low levels, however. It also helps to protect you from becoming helpless due to Dexterity damage.
- Constitution is always helpful for any character. More Constitution equates to more hit points, and a higher Fortitude save, which are otherwise very low on a wizard.
- Intelligence affects a Wizard's casting ability. Higher Intelligence leads to higher spell point totals, higher save DCs for the spells you cast, more spell damage via Spellcraft, and more spells known at level one. The great majority of Wizards start with 18 or 20 Intelligence. (20 is only available to Drow elves.)
- Wisdom affects a Wizards Spot skill, Negative Energy spell damage via the Heal skill and his Will save. Higher is better, but very few Wizards have a Wisdom score higher than 12.
- Charisma affects many skills that Wizards can find useful. Haggle, Diplomacy, and Use Magic Device can all be useful, if you plan for it.
Wizards are not a feat-starved class; in addition to the regular 7 feats they get 5 wizard bonus feats, at levels 1, 5, 10, 15, and 20.
- Toughness is a useful feat for most wizards. Well-geared characters can live without it. Historically, Toughness used to be prerequisite for +HP class and racial enhancements, but since update 19, this is no longer the case.
- Extend Spell doubles the duration of your buffs. It does not affect the duration of offensive spells. If you party with melee characters, they will enjoy the extended buffs that you can provide.
- Heighten Spell, Spell Focus, Greater Spell Focus: These feats increase the difficulty class to resist your spells. Most players select one or two schools to specialize in.
- Maximize Spell and Empower Spell increase the damage dealt by your spells. Take Maximize first; it's better.
- Spell Penetration and Greater Spell Penetration are important at higher levels to pierce certain creatures' Spell Resistance.
- Insightful Reflexes gives a tremendous boost to reflex saves, allowing you to easily resist many damage spells and traps.
The following feats might be more appropriate for more experienced wizards:
- Quicken Spell is a must-have for wizards that can heal with spell points, e.g. Warforged with Reconstruct. Other wizards can benefit from this feat as well.
- Wizards that underwent True Reincarnation can benefit from Past Life Feats, e.g. wizard.
- Mental Toughness and Improved Mental Toughness grant extra SP and 1% spell crit chance each. Consider taking these if you have too many feats.
- Dodge can be a good defensive feat if you happen to have enough Dex.
- Some players may take Shield Mastery for use with the Skyvault Shield.
These feats may look good, but are actually very weak and should be skipped:
- Eschew Materials - the convenience generally doesn't justify the increased SP cost or the feat cost; just carry around 1K components for every level, and check them periodically. It doesn't even work for spells with expensive components, like Stoneskin.
- Combat Casting - If you're getting interrupted, Quicken Spell is a better option. Even Dodge would have a larger effect at high levels.
- Balance allows a character to get up after he or she has been knocked down in combat. Since preventing the knockdown requires high Strength, high Dexterity, or the divine spell Freedom of Movement, investing in this skill can help you to stand back up sooner after some creature does knock you down.
- Concentration will allow you to cast spells while being hurt. If you take damage while casting, you have to roll a Concentration check, and the higher your bonus is, the better your chances to succeed. Failure means you used the spell points but the spell did not come into effect.
- Diplomacy can allow you to convince enemies to leave you alone. If the party runs into a large group of enemies and one or more of them comes after your wizard, you can activate the Diplomacy skill to convince them that some other member of the party is a bigger threat, and they will leave you alone. This skill can be very useful, but it works only sporadically until you have a great many points invested.
- Haggle will allow you to get better deals on buying and selling to vendors. Since Wizards have to purchase inscription materials in order to scribe spells, and they will continue to purchase these at all levels, Haggle can be a good investment. Haggle is more useful for new players that don't have a rich, high-level character.
- Heal grants 1 spell power per point to Positive and Negative Energy spells. This skill is useful for wizards that plan to use negative energy spells, particularly Pale Master enhancements wizards that use an undead form.
- A few points in Jump combined with the Jump spell will allow you to escape when mobs surround you and to bypass many traps.
- Repair grants 1 spell power per point to Repair and Rust spells. Warforged Wizards should max this skill to improve their self-healing, other races probably don't need it.
- Spellcraft grants 1 spell power per point to all spell types except Positive, Negative Energy, Repair and Sonic. Any wizard which plans to use damage spells should max this skill.
- Use Magic Device allows you to use scrolls and wands made for divine casters such as Cure Light Wounds, Lesser Restoration and - with very high skill - Raise Dead. Wizards can use Arcane scrolls and wands without this skill.
Wizards tend to be single-minded in their choice of spells, usually heavily focused on a particular school. There are four common specializations that fit well with the vast majority of play-styles.
- The Evocation school contain most of the damage and offensive spells available to wizards such as Fireball, Lightning Bolt, or Meteor Swarm. There are many offensive spells that are in the conjuration school, but the vast majority are evocation. Focusing on evocation with a secondary focus in conjuration isn't a bad idea for more offensive-minded wizards.
- Necromancy is most often used by Pale Masters. This spell school focuses on instantly killing enemies, applying negative levels, or otherwise debuffing and debilitating enemies by lowering their attributes, slowing their attack speed, or making them run away in fear.
- Illusion doesn't have many spells, but with proper building, a wizard can focus on this school to use the Phantasmal Killer spell to great effect. A wizard focusing on illusion can gain up to three phantasmal killer spells, each with a separate cooldown: one from their actual spell list, one SLA from the archmage enhancement tree, and one SLA from the Deep Gnome racial tree. A properly built illusionist is a sight to behold, with enemies instantly dying every which way.
- The Enchantment school is primarily for crowd control. Spells like Hold Person, Hold Monster, Mass, Otto's Sphere of Dancing, and Hypnotism provide excellent crowd control, keeping enemies from hitting your party, and some even making them helpless, making them take extra damage from all sources. The enchantment school also contains spells like Charm Person and Suggestion, and although such spells are usually frowned upon in group play, they make for excellent solo wizards, creating a veritable army of enthralled enemies to fight battles for you.
Your class enhancements are geared towards your spells, each tree focusing on a particular style of play. You can always reset your enhancements for a small fee, so play around and see what works for you.
Archmage enhancements boosts a specific school of magic's DC's, reduces the cost of metamagic feats, and provides a particular set of spells within the chosen specialty school as spell-like abilities (SLA's). The key advantage of Archmage SLA's is a fixed spell point cost for the spell, regardless of applied spell metamagics. Choose the Archmage enhancements for either the cheap, boosted SLA's or to boost spell DC's for a specific school. Building for Archmage usually requires a maxed Intelligence (for spell DC's) and the appropriate school focus and spell penetration feats. Wizards that focus on enchantment, illusion, or evocation spells are usually archmagi.
Pale Master enhancements boosts negative spell power, provides a variety of forms offering various buffs, and an upgradable skeletal minion. Some of the shrouds upgrade spell DC's. Additionally, shrouds can raise survivability and provide the Pale Master the means to self-heal with negative energy spells. Attribute and feats will depend on the particular build. Pale Masters almost always focus on necromancy spells, usually with a secondary focus in enchantment or illusion.
Eldritch Knight provides a wizard with a meaningful melee ability, giving buffs to AC, providing armor and weapon proficiencies, and allowing a wizard to add elemental and other forms of damage to melee weapon attacks. Eldritch Knights enhancements work well in combination with crowd control spells or SLA's via Archmage and the physical buffs of Pale Master while remaining pure Wizard. Eldritch Knights often have a higher Strength (for melee power), higher Constitution (for melee survival), and melee feats like Power Attack, Cleave, and others.
The consensus opinion on starting Intelligence seems to be that a starting score of 17 to 18 is necessary. Starting with an Intelligence score of 18 maximizes a Wizard's starting DC and grants a few bonus spell points. The spell point advantage is minimal, but the higher save DC is very important. Having a higher DC for all of a Wizard's offensive spells reduces the chance that enemies will succeed at full or partial saves, making the Wizard more effective overall.
Not all Wizard players believe that a high Intelligence is key. Some players choose to avoid using offensive spells in favor of using buff spells (or repair spells) almost entirely. These Wizards often play multiclass characters to gain fringe combat abilities to be able to both buff other players and contribute to combat without being forced to utilize offensive spells.
As a Wizard you can learn every arcane spell, this means the ability to pick and choose which spells to memorize before going on a quest, making a Wizard very versatile. The additional Wizard feats and skill points (from a high Intelligence) improves the spell casting specialization capable for the class as does the variety of enhancement options. While wizards lack the higher casting speed and spell point reservoirs of some of the other casters, a properly built wizard hits reliably, does well—even first life—as a "save-or-die" or crowd control caster, and retains flexibility for special occasions.
Arcane spells fall under one of five categories:
1. Offensive spells like Magic Missiles and Burning Hands, every Wizard needs some kind of offensive spell if they plan on doing any damage that wont result in their quick death. One subtype is "save-or-die" spells where the target(s) must make a save or be killed. Like crowd control spells, these can be effective even without maximum spell DC's if you match the save type to the correct type of target (Will saves against enemy arcanes, reflex saves against enemy divines, etc.).
2. Buffs (spells that aid yourself and your allies) such as Haste or Cats Grace, Stoneskin or Shield.
3. Debuffs (spells that hinder enemies) such a Ray of Enfeeblement, Bestow Curse or even Break Enchantment (can be used to remove curses/magic effects from your party or buffs from your enemies). These can be excellent preludes to "save-or-die" or crowd control spells.
4. Repair spells that can heal Warforged (keeping yourself alive means keeping other party members alive first).
5. And finally crowd control spells such as Web or charm spells, this type of spell limits the number of attacking enemies or at least hinders their approach.
Wizards are one of the most versatile classes in the game, able to be the most dominant in crowd control spellcasting (along with the Bard class), or secondmost in damage output after the Sorcerer Savant. Pick and choose which spells and Enhancements suit your play type.