I do play Pathfinder however. It keeps the Vancian system and yet somehow the Wizard doesn't dominate the fights.
A lot of people complaining about the Wizard class point to 4th ed as an example of a system where Wizards were much more inline with the other classes. The only problem is, they weren't. They were "controllers". They didn't deal any damage, they didn't heal players. They simply "controlled" the battlefield. With how long battle takes in 4th ed it quickly becomes obvious that the Wizard isn't contributing to the enjoyment of the game. It might be keeping a group of monsters at bay until the players can get round to them, but the Cleric does so much healing it's often unnecessary. All the Wizard is doing is prolonging an already painfully long fight. Everyone would rather the Wizard simply help everyone else actually kill the monsters so we can get on to the next fight sooner and hopefully finish the adventure within the next 6 months.
In LFR we quickly saw the optimal party become Striker, Striker, Striker, Striker, Cleric. Not a leader, but cleric. Because Clerics were the best healers because WotC decided that should be how the game works. Everyone hoarded their daily powers until the final fight when they let loose, ensuring that the final fight was a cakewalk.
In home games the fight quickly becomes "Use Daily Power 1. Use all encounter powers. Use at wills." Rinse and Repeat until the day's finally over. Again Wizards are a joke and no-one actually wants to play them. Unfortunately we were still stuck with the idea that "every role needs to be filled" so the poor Wizard player is stuck being the Wizard.
In 4th ed everyone outdamages the Wizard:
- Fighter is a striker thanks to the Slayer build.
- Ranger is a striker
- Rogue is a striker
- Warlock is a striker
Everyone gets to be a striker except the Cleric who deals only a respectable amount of damage. While the poor Wizard gets stuck wishing he'd played a different class.
Now comes 5th edition and in the pregen builds, we see a Vancian caster. Immediately all the 4th ed fans get their arms up in the air because they see a Wizard that can actually contribute meaningfully to the party.
Level 1 Damage Output
- Fighter: Does 14 damage on average. On a miss it does 7 damage.
- Cleric of Moradin: Does 7.5 damage on average. If he doesn't use all his slots on healing he'll get to do an extra 1d6 for an entire hour, bringing up his damage output to 11 damage on average per round.
- Cleric of Pelor: 8.5 damage on average. Once a day the Cleric can spend half his spell slots dealing 18 damage against a single enemy.
- Rogue: 6.5 damage on average. The poor, poor rogue. I sure feel sorry for any 4th ed players who pick the Rogue because everyone knows Rogues do so much damage.
The uber powerful Wizard? Why:
- He can do a whole 3.5 damage guaranteed on his turn (half of what the fighter deals on a miss).
- He can do 7.5 damage every turn. If he hits. This is a whole 0.5 damage extra then the Fighter gets to deal at a minimum. Or it's 53% of the damage a fighter does assuming both targets hit and deal average damage.
- Or he can once a day (3 times a day if he does nothing else) deal 8 damage to enemies within a particular cluster. When you're facing a hoarde of low level monsters that will clear them out, assuming they don't make the dexterity save of course. The same monsters that the fighter was guaranteed to kill whenever he got around to it.
- He can put a whole cluster of enemies to sleep assuming they fail the wisdom save. But again, only if they're low level mooks that the fighter can autokill on his turn. And he can only do this 3 times a day, assuming he does nothing else that day except spam at wills.
I haven't seen any change from 4th ed at all. The Wizard is still geared towards killing minions (something the Warlock could do much more effectively and in a single round) while pretty much every single other class can outdamage the Wizard in any given round.
I know, everyone knows that Wizards take a while to scale up. Let's check the Wizard out at 3rd level, the highest level we have for the playtest.
The Wizards at-wills are as follows:
- Shocking Grasp is still at 7.5 damage. That hasn't changed at all. Bugger.
- Magic Missile. The underperforming at will. Why it scales with level. Now it can finally do 7 damage, why... that's actually the same amount of damage as the level 1 fighter deals on a miss. Fine.
I know, the Wizard has level 2 spells now. Surely those will be overpowered to warrant a 37 page thread bemoaning the return of the overpowered Wizard. Let's see:
- Arc Lightning. His one damaging spell for level 2 that he'll get to do a whole 2 times a day. Why I.. have to make an attack roll. Alright, that's not so bad. I get to deal can deal 17 damage on a hit. (8.5 on a miss) That's 2 extra points then a level 1 fighter (or 1.5 extra points on a miss). But unlike the lowly fighter, I get a second attack dealing an extra 10 points of damage if I hit. That's a whooping 27 damage in 1 turn. And I get to do that twice a day. Surely I'll dominate the combats and no-one else will get a chance to contribute meaningfully.
Let's see what the rest of the mooks that I call my adventuring party get. They can't be as powerful as me:
- Rogue. Good old Rogue who was barely able to do any damage at all. Why he gets to now deal 18 damage every second round. Or 9 damage every round. Why... That's actually more than my at-wills. How the heck is the Rogue outdamaging a Wizard? Well at least I get to deal 27 damage twice a day. The Rogue can't do that!
- Cleric of Pelor. He's still dealing, well, the same amount of damage. He still beats my at-wills, but at least I get to deal 27 damage twice a day. The Cleric of Pelor can't do that!
- Cleric of Moradin. Why... now he can do 13 damage 3 times a day? And he gets to do the extra 5.5 damage retroactively guaranteed that he never misses it? Well that's only 39 damage a day, I'm getting to do 54, so clearly I'm better. Even if I do have to make 2 attack rolls to deal that much damage.
- Fighter. The lowly fighter. The character that will be overshadowed by my greatness. At level 1 you might have outdamaged me, but I'm powerful now. I'm level 3. I get to deal 27 damage twice a day. What do you have to say for yourself?
You can deal 15 damage at will? 8 on a miss? I don't care if that beats my at-wills. I get to deal 27 damage twice a day. Do you know how much that is? That's 54 damage a day. And I'll just demand we have a rest after my 2 spells are wiped and who cares about the plot? I'll outshine you any day of the week.
What's that? You get to make 2 attacks in 1 round and you can do that twice a day? Your total damage output for those two rounds is 30 per round or 60 in total? And you also get to make an additional attack for free if you actually manage to kill someone on your turn? And you can do that unlimited times a day.
How is this possible? I'm the Wizard. I can outdamage everyone in the party. Everyone knows that. There's a 37 page thread going on at great length about this. I'll just rest every 2 fights. Wait, that means your daily abilities get reset as well? The daily abilities that outdamage me by 6 points?
Damn you fighter! Damn you to the Nine Pits of Hell. I was told you would stand in my shadow. How dare you be as competent as me when I'm novaing for the day. It's my only chance to be impressive!
I feel that the fighter and Wizard are evenly matched. The poor Rogue is outdamaged by everyone in the party. I'd be willing to play the Rogue, as at least I get to do cool stuff and be supersneaky and have twice as many skills as everyone else. But I don't place a lot of emphasis on combat and much more enjoy roleplaying outside of combat.
Can those bemoaning how overpowered the Wizard is in 5th edition please point out to me where the Wizard will overshadow everyone else. Because the only place I'm seeing it is when the party faces mooks that the fighter autokills on his turn. If that's the worst the Wizard can do, I fail to see how this is so much better then anyone else.
Instead I see a return to where the Wizard's usefulness is having utility spells. He has comprehend languages, allowing him to communicate with non-humans that don't speak Common. He has grease which can slow down the enemy and give the other PCs the time they need to finish the current bunch of monsters.
These spells aren't overpowered. It just means that the 5th edition Wizard will have SOME purpose, unlike the 4th edition wizard.