One Step Forward, Ten Steps Backward in Wizard Development

Having read through the changes in this playtest packet, I realized I was going to have to rebuild the wizard I was playtesting.  And in the process of re-building the character, I am very disappointed in what has happened to the class.

I never thought the wizard was overpowered.  In my playtest experience, it was nice to be able to have a little variety of spells, and a handful of minor spells to fall back on when I didn't want to expend a better spell or was out.  The new class is far too toned down.  The wizard traditions are a nice addition, but the rest of the class got hamstrung.

Let's go through the list of changes...

Slightly more hit points - a nice little addition; I never found myself taking large amounts of damage, but that may have been a result of years of playing very cautious with fragile low-level wizards.

Magic Attack, Weapon Attack, Save DC for spells - functionally unchanged, no problems here.

Starting Abilities - Arcane Knowledge is now Wizardly Knowledge, largely unchanged.  The Tradition of Wizardry adds flavor and some customization, and we knew it was coming.  No big problems there.  But Cantrips are gone, which leads us to the big problems...

Wizard Spells Per Day - I feel like the designers made a major mistake here.  Instead of having a handful of minor spells that could 1:  be cast at-will and 2: didn't need to be in the spellbook.  This meant that I would actually consider casting Ghost Sound, Light, and Mage Hand.  Magic Missile was powered down a little, and Ray of Frost was powered up a little from their 3rd edition descriptions.  I'll complain more about Magic Missile in a minute, though.

Some Traditions allow you to use prepared 0-level spells as if they were at-will.  This takes some of the sting away, but it still limits the variety of minor spells you can cast.  You still have to prepare them, and you don't get the variety you used to (unless you pick a specific tradition).  Preparing 0-level spells always felt silly, considering the flavor has always been something to the effect of, "these spells are so simple and you've been casting them so much you know them by heart."  I feel as if this was a whole lot of class reconfiguring that just wasn't necessary.

The other major mistake is in the spell progression chart.  Yes, wizards now have signature spells - or if you're an academic, a single extra spell slot at your highest level.  This does not make up for the fact that wizards' spell progression is flat.  After 2nd level, you never get another 1st-level spell slot.  I can not stress enough how bad of a design flaw this is.  Wizards are supposed to be able to make use of the variety of spells they can take, and limiting their spell progression means limiting their creativity, and that is a core concept of Dungeons and Dragons.  

As it stands now, a wizard will never have more than 2(+1) 1st-level spells.  In 1st edition AD&D, the magic-user eventually had 4 at 10th level and 5 at 20th.   It was identical in 2nd.  In 3rd, it was 4 & 4.  But now the most a wizard will ever seem to have is 3.  The wizard isn't supposed to be able to cast all the spells he has at his disposal, but having a limited number of spell slots punishes the wizard.  Instead of being able to prepare spells, the wizard is confined to using what he considers his most useful spells.  Why would I bother taking anything other than an offensive spell and Grease...

Spell List - ...WAIT, WHAT?  Seriously, what in the world were the designers thinking with this spell list?  Looking at my playtest campaign character, a full half of his 1st level spells aren't there anymore.  Alarm?  Gone.  Cause Fear?  Gone.  Ray of Enfeeblement?  Gone.  Grease?  Gone.  This last one is particularly annoying to me, because Grease has become a staple spell for a low-level wizard who wants to be able to exert some battlefield control.  Oh, and now to my 2nd-level spell list - Counterspell, Flaming Sphere, Hold Person, Melf's Acid Arrow, Mirror Image, and Web.  Hooray!  I get to keep...Melf's Acid Arrow and Web.

Did I miss something?  I've tried to be up-to-date and thorough on all the development notes.  Do the designers want us to try out different spells for the purposes of playtesting?  I could almost understand that, but pulling some spells and adding others still means they're being developed in a vacuum.

As for Magic Missile:  The trade-off on not having extra d4s at higher levels for Magic Missile was the ability to deal d4+1 damage whenever you wanted, and that was fine.  Now it's back to being a first-level spell that you have to prepare, but there's no cap on its damage if you want to prepare it at a higher level.  I don't think that's a net plus.  It doesn't do anything to improve the flavor of the spell, and it's lost its utility. 

Wizarding Tradition - It's a fine idea.  I don't mind the signature spells, they just feel a little too much like the domain specialty spells that clerics got in 3rd edition, except it's one spell that just gets bigger.  The special abilities, such as Spell Tactician and Arcane Deception just don't seem all that useful and don't make up for the things taken away from the class, mentioned above.

The Class as a Whole:  I've been approaching this playtest as a player who liked a lot about 3rd edition, but was driven away from the game by 4th.  As such, I'm hoping for a product that gets back to what made D&D fun in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd edition - and I don't think that's too far off from what the designers want.  I understand wizards were pretty broken by the end of 3.5.  I don't think that playtest wizards were all that powerful compared to other classes.  I've been dealing less damage than the rogue and doing more battlefield control (and with a raven familiar, a lot of scouting and ranged spell delivery).

But I see no need for what has been done to the wizard in this update.  My playtest group and I feel that it's important with the playtest to play as close to Rules As Written as possible, but I'm not looking forward to playing this iteration of the wizard, because it's more complicated, more limiting, and less fun than in previous versions.


Well said, AH.

Wizards needed some attention from previous packs, I thought, but only so far as to create diversity within the class.  Some "theme" options, schools of magic, etc.  Something to help differentiate one from another (if they so chose).

But at the heart of wizard, at least for me, was diversity.  Wizards should have options.  Plenty of them.  And given knowledge and time to prepare, they would be especially strong for most tasks at hand.  The trade off was that they had to be prepared and without knowing what to take, they always had to make tough decisions on what to choose from.

Unfortunately, with the new packet, no matter how extensive their spellbook might be, even with foreknowledge, they have so few spells they can actually prepare, they'll be pigeonholed into taking only the most impacting spells.

Say goodbye to interesting utility spells kept on hand "just in case."  

Those clever spells that can be used by crafty players in a pinch?  Too risky to keep on hand.

No, pretty much, Wizards are going to, by necessity, have to select spells that will be useful in most combat scenarios because there won't be room for anything else. 

I really loved the old school feel of the spell lists in the previous packet.  Yeah, some needed retweaking and the list needed some expansion in general, I thought.

Instead, as the OP ponited out so well, seems to reverse the trend, pushing wizards into a less useful, more one-trick-pony state... and that's not at all what I want to see done with the class.  In fact, it would nearly be a game breaker if it persists to publication. 
I believe I have identified the problem with this iteration of the rules. 

One problem is the change from making very little assumptions to making everything super specific. The first example I ran into was the Thief background. Now this was merely because I was playing a character with this background so it was what I noticed first. The old Thief background just implied that you were trained to pick locks or disable traps and steal things. It doesn't make any assumptions for the player. You could be a guild thief trained by other thieves, you could be an orphan growing up on the mean streets with no other recourse, or you could be trained as an adventurer to combat the specific dangers that adventurers often face. In distinct contrast is the new background called Guild Thief. Already this background makes several assumptions for the player; you are in a guild with other thieves, you are a criminal, you must have lived in a moderately large town, etc... This in my opinion is just bad writing for a role playing game. The purpose of this game is to create a framework for characters to be built upon, not to design the entire building and let the players live there.

Another problem is with the blanding of many of the elements. Again I will use the backgrounds to make my point. In the previous rules most backgrounds had fairly unique abilities, but now half of them just allow you to find food and lodgings in a set of specific circumstances that will most likely never happen unless your DM writes them into the story specifically. An example of this is the Commoner. It used to give you a patch of land from which you plied your trade and a helper that could do so should you be absent. This made the character feel like he was tied to the campaign, like he owned a part of it. Now its been completely genericized with half the other backgrounds into you can find food and shelter in this specific set of circumstances.

I could keep going but I'm going to boil it down with an analogy. It's as if the older iterations of the rules were coming together to make a nice soup out of some interesting and flavorful ingrediants. Now they have simply thrown in some salt and pepper and are still trying to pass it off as soup.
Sorry that last post came to me in the middle of writing this one. I agree with you in a huge way. Taking away the variety of spells that wizards can memorize per day is the exact opposite of what this class needed. They could have easily left in the same wizards spell progression chart and then added the individual specializations. The change from 0 level spells being at will to only some of them being at will is borderline ludicris. This only adds a chunky complexity that is literally not needed. None of the spells are game breaking if they are allowed to be cast at will. If there is one that is in question simply move it to being a first level spell instead. On top of this there is a serious problem with their idea of wizard specialization. In every previous iteration of D&D wizards have specialized in the appropriate schools of magic. Some may abhor necromancy but be particularly adept at Conjurations. Now its as if they don't know which direction they want to take traditions one tradition focuses in illusion magic, while the others focus in concepts like academic or battle wizardry.

Sorry I don't want this to seem like a rant, nor did I want to hijack your post that's why I got back on topic. Like you however, my entire group is really nervous about this new playtest packet and the direction they seem to be taking the rules.
Sorry that last post came to me in the middle of writing this one. I agree with you in a huge way. Taking away the variety of spells that wizards can memorize per day is the exact opposite of what this class needed. They could have easily left in the same wizards spell progression chart and then added the individual specializations. The change from 0 level spells being at will to only some of them being at will is borderline ludicris. This only adds a chunky complexity that is literally not needed. None of the spells are game breaking if they are allowed to be cast at will. If there is one that is in question simply move it to being a first level spell instead. On top of this there is a serious problem with their idea of wizard specialization. In every previous iteration of D&D wizards have specialized in the appropriate schools of magic. Some may abhor necromancy but be particularly adept at Conjurations. Now its as if they don't know which direction they want to take traditions one tradition focuses in illusion magic, while the others focus in concepts like academic or battle wizardry.

Sorry I don't want this to seem like a rant, nor did I want to hijack your post that's why I got back on topic. Like you however, my entire group is really nervous about this new playtest packet and the direction they seem to be taking the rules.

Not at all - I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who saw a class really well-designed be diluted by over-thinking.

and as to ShadeRaven's comment, I really don't want to have one mad design element sour my attitude towards this system - but this is the wizard, an iconic and vital element of what makes D&D popular.  As I said in another sub-forum, I want this to succeed, but I have a stack of my old books on the shelf and it takes me far less effort to use those books instead of convincing my group we need to keep learning a new edition and invest in buying the new books.  They have specifically said that this edition incorporates an effort to return D&D to what made it fun, and what I see from these changes to Wizard they're having trouble over-thinking things.  
I'm starting to view the playtest process a lot like learning something new. 

When people learn something new, they often do not perform as well as they used to perform.  They struggle with the new learning and slowly begin to get better at it until one day, they outperform what they used to be capable of doing and this outperformance becomes more and more consistent.

With the playtest packages, we will have to test many new iterations and ideas.   Each, whether they succeed or fail, will add to the overall understanding for players, DMs and game designers.   Eventually, the packets, players, DMs and designers will outperform what they used to be capable of doing.   The question that we won't be able to answer is,  how long will the learning curve last?   As a process, we just have to keep playing, reporting and adding positive and negative comments in playtest surveys until the day when we all (designers too) break through the learning curve.

I expect that the next bunch of playtest packages will always feel like 1 step forward and 3 steps backward because that fits the learning curve.    

A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

I'm primarily a 4th edition player who tried 3.5e once and didn't really enjoy it, so I'm basically here giving a 4th edition perspective on the wizard packet... and I agree with all of you. I was thrilled with the previous playtest's inclusion of at-will spells, and even more hopeful with the addition of encounter spells in this playtest, but seeing the rest of what they did has made me very disappointed. Like most of the people here, I think that this packet has really taken a drop in quality from the general direction of the game up until this point, which overall has been very encouraging to me.

I think that the Wizard, even in 4th edition, is based around the idea of adaptability (the spellbook mechanic in 4th wasn't really that good at doing that, but I digress), and having a maximum of 2 spells through all your levels is just bullcrap. Like you guys were saying, unless WotC changes it back, half of the spells on this list will NEVER be prepared, because with only two slots available there'll only be room for the most optimal spells (which was the problem with the spellbook in 4th, btw... having two dailys was pointless when one *coughsleepcough* was always clearly superior).

I think ultimately this new packet is a result of the dev-team having a good idea, but the wrong way of implementing it. They seem to want to have more flavor and have the mechanics of the game be more tied to the story elements, but the way they're doing it is by restricting the flavor down to ridiculously specific things; like the whole "Guild Thief" thing. It's easier to do it that way, since overgeneralization can make evocative writing a really difficult practice, but in this case they've backed WAY too far in the other direction and closed off all avenues of roleplay except the ones they can think of.

I totally think that they need to do a cold restart to the last playtest packet, when everything was working fine. This packet is a total step backward in almost every respect, other than adding encounter powers and presenting an option for sneak attack. Those are nobel goals, but they shouldn't have the rest of the packet turn into a train wreck for those things.
I must say that the removal of the Necromancer pretty much killed it for me in the enthusiasm department.  I'm not sure why 4th and 5th have developed aversions to immoral or bent player characters?  Can we not leave these campaign restrictions to our DMs, and not to the game design itself?  Let's hope they open choices back up to the players.  Let's also hope for multiclassing rules.

I felt that the Necromancer specialty possessed an appropriate level of power when I played through the svirfneblin adventure.  I felt the lack of familiar was more than made-up for with the skeleton companion, and was very fun to roleplay.

I'll continue to roleplay an evil wizard despite the lack of appropriate themes, but I'm definitely a driving force of my D&DN play group.  As my interest wanes, so will the groups'.  If Next issues another playtest release without some consideration for a more open morality choice, I believe my group will remain with 1st edition (btw thanks, WotC, for the awesome reprints).
I'm starting to view the playtest process a lot like learning something new. 

When people learn something new, they often do not perform as well as they used to perform.  They struggle with the new learning and slowly begin to get better at it until one day, they outperform what they used to be capable of doing and this outperformance becomes more and more consistent.

With the playtest packages, we will have to test many new iterations and ideas.   Each, whether they succeed or fail, will add to the overall understanding for players, DMs and game designers.   Eventually, the packets, players, DMs and designers will outperform what they used to be capable of doing.   The question that we won't be able to answer is,  how long will the learning curve last?   As a process, we just have to keep playing, reporting and adding positive and negative comments in playtest surveys until the day when we all (designers too) break through the learning curve.

I expect that the next bunch of playtest packages will always feel like 1 step forward and 3 steps backward because that fits the learning curve.    



I agree with you alot with this, what scares me is Mike Mearls comment "First, a confession. I'm thinking about, playing, and reviewing material that's a couple of packets ahead of you. Being ahead like this makes it fairly strange to go back and look at what's going out in the playtest packet."

Now this means that they are already a couple playtest packets ahead of this one and I know its wrong to assume but its not far fetched to believe that those packets are based in large on this packet's changes. Now I am not saying they are lazy by any means, I know this guys are working their "bottoms" off to make this a great D&D experience that bridges the growing gap between old school vs new school, but I have to wonder if they are going to be willing to step back several playtests and start over with all of these issues that have cropped up.
I agree entirely regarding cantrips. This is a gimping that makes wizards less fun and doesn't protect the roles of other classes. It's a straight-up step backwards.

I do not agree regarding the spells per day. Wizards are still plenty useful,  and having two first-level slots doesn't mean two first level spells. They can go in higher slots if you like. There's no reason a level ten wizard needs 24+ spells each day. If you can't make 14 spells last through a full day which only very rarely exceeds five encounters... well, that's what your at-wills are for.

I'm also not enthusiastic about the paring down of the Wizard's spell list, but in this case it's best to remember it's a playtest - I very much suspect that they want to see how the game plays with a more limited spell list, rather than intending to remove those spells permanently. I can't say I'm sad to see Grease gone myself, but that's mostly a gut reaction based on how ridiculous it was in 3.5 as the Next version was fairly reasonable.

 I like the 102912 Magic Missile mechanically, but I feel like there's a place for the 081312 one too. And Magic Missile as an at-will really just feels right - it's the basic spell that a wand-slinger whips off to deal damage, at least in concept, and being able to use it each turn would reflect that. The current one is a great spell that I'd like to have, but it might be better served with a new name.

I agree that the the Tradition special abilities are pretty lackluster. I like the idea of signature spells, but honestly, having your signature spell decided by a Tradition seems like a thematically poor move to me.

As for The Class As A Whole, I agree. It's more complicated, more limiting, and less fun. Some amount of greater limitation is needed compared to the 3.x wizard - which was broken from the beginning, although not as obviously as it later became - but needless complication and decreased fun are obviously bad things, and I agree that this wizard needs some serious fixing - and a lot of features would be improved by reverting to 081312.
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I do not agree regarding the spells per day. Wizards are still plenty useful,  and having two first-level slots doesn't mean two first level spells. They can go in higher slots if you like. There's no reason a level ten wizard needs 24+ spells each day. If you can't make 14 spells last through a full day which only very rarely exceeds five encounters... well, that's what your at-wills are for.



Why would I ever waste a higher level spell slot on a spell that I've already realized has far less utility?  At 10th level, I'm crunched for spells at every level, 1st through 5th.  I won't be able to find room for 1st-level spells at 2nd level slots if I'm crunched to get the most utility out of that level as well.

I do not agree regarding the spells per day. Wizards are still plenty useful,  and having two first-level slots doesn't mean two first level spells. They can go in higher slots if you like. There's no reason a level ten wizard needs 24+ spells each day. If you can't make 14 spells last through a full day which only very rarely exceeds five encounters... well, that's what your at-wills are for.



Why would I ever waste a higher level spell slot on a spell that I've already realized has far less utility?  At 10th level, I'm crunched for spells at every level, 1st through 5th.  I won't be able to find room for 1st-level spells at 2nd level slots if I'm crunched to get the most utility out of that level as well.



I agree with this totally and ranted elsewhere.

basically, at level 1 who is going to take featherfall (a useful spell in its own right). but you can only have one spell a day so you going to choose it over sleep? no way
I like Magic Missle as an At-Will a lot. I almost wonder if there shouldn't be a wimpy "Magic Missle" as a contrip (guaranteed damage in exchange for tiny dice) and "Greater Magic Missle" (guaranteed damage at a slightly higher level, that can hit multiple targets in exchange for a spell slot)
A few guidelines for using the internet: 1. Mentally add "In my opinion" to the end of basically anything someone else says. Of course it's their opinion, they don't need to let you know. You're pretty smart. 2. Assume everyone means everything in the best manner they could mean it. Save yourself some stress and give people the benefit of the doubt. We'll all be happier if we type less emoticons. 3. Don't try to read people's minds. Sometimes people mean exactly what they say. You probably don't know them any better than they know themselves. 4. Let grammar slide. If you understood what they meant, you're good. It's better for your health. 5. Breath. It's just a dumb game.
I'm waiting for the Vancian alternate option. Looking at the playtest just now and it does look like they may well have over-Vancified, even for the Vancians.
D&D is like religion. People focus far too much on the differences rather than the similarities.

I whole heartedly agree that this was a very poor move on the developer’s part. Looking at the previous play test packet I was excited about all the classes and now I wouldn’t buy a book that contained them as presented in the Oct 29th release.

Going back to zero level spell slots is a crippling move for wizards and reduces them to bit players in the party. It also reduces the utility and fun of the class while adding complexity.

Reducing the number of spell slots does the same. (Throw your spells then stand in the back)

Signature Spell I actually like this feature but the choice should be up to each individual not determined by a Tradition.

Hit point increase is nice but it doesn’t change my feelings to much either way.

The removal of the Necromancer specialty was very disappointing

The limited spell list is troubling doesn’t bother my very much as I expect it to expand again.

All in all this was a terrible move and I will not be buying 5th edition if this version of the play test is used as its basis.


The previous version of the Wizard (and Fighter/ Rouge/Sorcerer) combined all the best elements of previous editions with enough new material to make me want to abandon 3rd and 4th immediately.  The current example of the class combines all the worst features of previous editions along with needless complexity.  Please abandon this packet and return to the previous versions of the classes.

I'm waiting for the Vancian alternate option. Looking at the playtest just now and it does look like they may well have over-Vancified, even for the Vancians.

Agreed, and great quote.  

Mostly agreed. The lack of flexibility is deadly to the class, particularly since other classes (fighter I am looking at you) are consistently out slaughter the wizard, flexibility and control were about all it had. They chewed that up and spit it out.
Am I missing something.  People keep complaining about the lack of at wills but as far as I can tell they are still there.  Sure the specialties might determine which ones you have access to and you have to prepare them, but you can prepare 3 at 1st level. A academic can prepare any cantrip and cast it as an at will.  So I can cast burning hands all day long if I prepare it and am either an academic or a battle mage.

I'm bothered by all the spells that disappeared   revising them I'm cool with but removing them seems off.  Unless those spells were working as intended and removed so people would be forced to test different spells that are not working perfectly.  I especially miss continual light for some reason.  

Instead of 2 spells per level I would prefer a cap on spells per encounter or a cooldown of 1 round between casting a daily.   Or maybe casting a daily puts you at disadvantage which can be removed by taking a action that is not casting a daily.  Basically allow a fairly deep spell selection which is kind of what the wizard is about(versatility) just put some kind of limit on it so it does not unbalance the game.  I understand where they were going with this and it is better than nothing, but there are other ways to make a limited resource feel limited.
They've besically neutered the Wizard in this edition.  Fighters and Rogues are getting consistent, renewing, scaling multi-die damage while Wizards get a few damage spells with capped damage that become less and less useful the higher you level.  Then while the Fighters and Rogues are still churning out their consistent level equivalent damage, the Wizard is twiddling his thumbs.

I have two groups I play with in my area, and one I play with online, yet I can't even get anyone to play a Wizard any more.  It's gotten to where I have to NPC a Wizard just to get some playtest feedback.

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/5.jpg)

Watch the Google hangout session it will give a lot of answers as to the why and what fors behind these changes.
I had a sorcerer who cast three spells and then could ray of frost at will last edition of the playtest.
The closest I can come now is a battlemage, who's shocking grasp all-day long did as much damage as anybody else. Not to mention the encounter power of thunderwave and the special ability. If I were a traditional wizard, I could have burning hands, shocking grasp, and ray of frost at will. Hardly a bit part at all. I use my int and magic attack for real damage with shocking grasp and at WILL! I blew away as many opponents as the fighter and rogue without ever touching a 1st level spell in our last combat at level 1 under the new playtest rules. 

One reason to memorize down is that traditional wizards get to cast 0th level spells prepared at-will. Could come in handy for at-wills sometimes. Mostly, I agree, it won't happen a lot, but the choice is nice.

With the idea of free rituals for casting spells out of the spellbook (to come in the future), I feel like the wizard with only 2 spell slots is perfect. I do wish for a little more 'choice' in the encounter power or at-wills but that is likely refinement as more gets added than anything else.

The spells are too weak? Seriously, go read the post about a kid using polymorph to solo a green dragon. Will save or be a toad. 

 
Currently running a playtest, weekly, online D&D Next Session using a virtual table system called roll20.
Am I missing something.  People keep complaining about the lack of at wills but as far as I can tell they are still there.  Sure the specialties might determine which ones you have access to and you have to prepare them, but you can prepare 3 at 1st level. A academic can prepare any cantrip and cast it as an at will.  So I can cast burning hands all day long if I prepare it and am either an academic or a battle mage.




The main problem here is a wizard is supposed to be a flexable character. Kind of the point of playing a wizard. By saying 'you have these three spells as at wills' you basically make certian the wizard will prepare those three spells and never unprepare them, never giving the wizard the chance to swap them out for new at-wills. It hacks at the wizard's flexability, which is core to him, and limit the creativity of the spells.
I agree with the OP and please remember, all, to fill in your playtest feedback accordingly. I say this because there is a thread every day about "caster supremacy" on the forums, typically based on biased theoretical scenarios where certain rules are ignored/bent and the rolls are favorable and the wiz has his full spell complement, and it's important for WotC to get the balanced view.

I personally don't care too much about raw power as much as fun and variety and open-endedness (open to some player creativity and DM ruling) of spells. I fear if they keep hitting wizards with the nerf bat spell options will dwindle to doing damage and little else for most of the wizard's day.
Having read through the changes in this playtest packet, I realized I was going to have to rebuild the wizard I was playtesting.  And in the process of re-building the character, I am very disappointed in what has happened to the class.

I never thought the wizard was overpowered.  In my playtest experience, it was nice to be able to have a little variety of spells, and a handful of minor spells to fall back on when I didn't want to expend a better spell or was out.  The new class is far too toned down.  The wizard traditions are a nice addition, but the rest of the class got hamstrung.

Let's go through the list of changes...

Slightly more hit points - a nice little addition; I never found myself taking large amounts of damage, but that may have been a result of years of playing very cautious with fragile low-level wizards.

Magic Attack, Weapon Attack, Save DC for spells - functionally unchanged, no problems here.

Starting Abilities - Arcane Knowledge is now Wizardly Knowledge, largely unchanged.  The Tradition of Wizardry adds flavor and some customization, and we knew it was coming.  No big problems there.  But Cantrips are gone, which leads us to the big problems...

Wizard Spells Per Day - I feel like the designers made a major mistake here.  Instead of having a handful of minor spells that could 1:  be cast at-will and 2: didn't need to be in the spellbook.  This meant that I would actually consider casting Ghost Sound, Light, and Mage Hand.  Magic Missile was powered down a little, and Ray of Frost was powered up a little from their 3rd edition descriptions.  I'll complain more about Magic Missile in a minute, though.

Some Traditions allow you to use prepared 0-level spells as if they were at-will.  This takes some of the sting away, but it still limits the variety of minor spells you can cast.  You still have to prepare them, and you don't get the variety you used to (unless you pick a specific tradition).  Preparing 0-level spells always felt silly, considering the flavor has always been something to the effect of, "these spells are so simple and you've been casting them so much you know them by heart."  I feel as if this was a whole lot of class reconfiguring that just wasn't necessary.

The other major mistake is in the spell progression chart.  Yes, wizards now have signature spells - or if you're an academic, a single extra spell slot at your highest level.  This does not make up for the fact that wizards' spell progression is flat.  After 2nd level, you never get another 1st-level spell slot.  I can not stress enough how bad of a design flaw this is.  Wizards are supposed to be able to make use of the variety of spells they can take, and limiting their spell progression means limiting their creativity, and that is a core concept of Dungeons and Dragons.  

As it stands now, a wizard will never have more than 2(+1) 1st-level spells.  In 1st edition AD&D, the magic-user eventually had 4 at 10th level and 5 at 20th.   It was identical in 2nd.  In 3rd, it was 4 & 4.  But now the most a wizard will ever seem to have is 3.  The wizard isn't supposed to be able to cast all the spells he has at his disposal, but having a limited number of spell slots punishes the wizard.  Instead of being able to prepare spells, the wizard is confined to using what he considers his most useful spells.  Why would I bother taking anything other than an offensive spell and Grease...

Spell List - ...WAIT, WHAT?  Seriously, what in the world were the designers thinking with this spell list?  Looking at my playtest campaign character, a full half of his 1st level spells aren't there anymore.  Alarm?  Gone.  Cause Fear?  Gone.  Ray of Enfeeblement?  Gone.  Grease?  Gone.  This last one is particularly annoying to me, because Grease has become a staple spell for a low-level wizard who wants to be able to exert some battlefield control.  Oh, and now to my 2nd-level spell list - Counterspell, Flaming Sphere, Hold Person, Melf's Acid Arrow, Mirror Image, and Web.  Hooray!  I get to keep...Melf's Acid Arrow and Web.

Did I miss something?  I've tried to be up-to-date and thorough on all the development notes.  Do the designers want us to try out different spells for the purposes of playtesting?  I could almost understand that, but pulling some spells and adding others still means they're being developed in a vacuum.

As for Magic Missile:  The trade-off on not having extra d4s at higher levels for Magic Missile was the ability to deal d4+1 damage whenever you wanted, and that was fine.  Now it's back to being a first-level spell that you have to prepare, but there's no cap on its damage if you want to prepare it at a higher level.  I don't think that's a net plus.  It doesn't do anything to improve the flavor of the spell, and it's lost its utility. 

Wizarding Tradition - It's a fine idea.  I don't mind the signature spells, they just feel a little too much like the domain specialty spells that clerics got in 3rd edition, except it's one spell that just gets bigger.  The special abilities, such as Spell Tactician and Arcane Deception just don't seem all that useful and don't make up for the things taken away from the class, mentioned above.

The Class as a Whole:  I've been approaching this playtest as a player who liked a lot about 3rd edition, but was driven away from the game by 4th.  As such, I'm hoping for a product that gets back to what made D&D fun in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd edition - and I don't think that's too far off from what the designers want.  I understand wizards were pretty broken by the end of 3.5.  I don't think that playtest wizards were all that powerful compared to other classes.  I've been dealing less damage than the rogue and doing more battlefield control (and with a raven familiar, a lot of scouting and ranged spell delivery).

But I see no need for what has been done to the wizard in this update.  My playtest group and I feel that it's important with the playtest to play as close to Rules As Written as possible, but I'm not looking forward to playing this iteration of the wizard, because it's more complicated, more limiting, and less fun than in previous versions.


Well said, and I agree 100%.  In our most recently playtest, nobody wanted to even try the wizard, and we had 3 players who routinely enjoy playing wizards.  I ended up having to take a wizard as a second character so that we could provide wizard feedback on this packet. 

The player who played the cleric in our group had similar issues with the changes to the cleric's at wills, number of spells per day, and the build option being dictated by which zero level spells they wanted to have at-will.  He would have preferred to play a war cleric, but really wanted at-will ranged spell, so ended up playing a lightbringer.

By the end of the session, the general consent was that they enjoyed 3.5/PF more, and I'm not even sure if I'll be able to get the group back together for a second session using the current ruleset.
I know I provided a LOT of feedback on my survey.  And I have some hope that Mearls understands our complains based on the most recent Legends and Lore column:

www.wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4...
WIZARDS underpowered?... wizards?

first of all, i think we should make something clear.

do NOT playtest by "playing simple sessions with the rules". playtesting means powergaing as much as you can.

for example, put 18 in your wizard's constitution and just the secondary points in his Intelligence. thats what happens over here anyways-casters first use abilities/buffs/feats to negate their class' squishiness(so that they have no drawback) and then use the spell options(mainly buffs, not offensive ones) to be a "fighter with more options, and only occasionaly throw an offensive spell".

this almost always results in characters that render all martial classes obsolete. try to use the spells/ability scores to create a character(even straying far from the wizard concept-use the rules as a ruleslawyer) as optimised as you can possibly get and you'll see why i think this edition is a step in the WRONG direction.

powergaming is the normal state of the game(imho, even in-game a character would try and learn all the best options).
i MUCH prefer a bad rules system that is resistant to powergaming because it assumes it(4th edition was HORRIBLE, but at least i could play a fighter) than a good rules system with absolutely no semblance of balance because of weird spell/buff combos.
 
WIZARDS underpowered?... wizards?

first of all, i think we should make something clear.

do NOT playtest by "playing simple sessions with the rules". playtesting means powergaing as much as you can.

for example, put 18 in your wizard's constitution and just the secondary points in his Intelligence. thats what happens over here anyways-casters first use abilities/buffs/feats to negate their class' squishiness(so that they have no drawback) and then use the spell options(mainly buffs, not offensive ones) to be a "fighter with more options, and only occasionaly throw an offensive spell".

this almost always results in characters that render all martial classes obsolete. try to use the spells/ability scores to create a character(even straying far from the wizard concept-use the rules as a ruleslawyer) as optimised as you can possibly get and you'll see why i think this edition is a step in the WRONG direction.

powergaming is the normal state of the game(imho, even in-game a character would try and learn all the best options).
i MUCH prefer a bad rules system that is resistant to powergaming because it assumes it(4th edition was HORRIBLE, but at least i could play a fighter) than a good rules system with absolutely no semblance of balance because of weird spell/buff combos.
 


Actually, I prefer to playtest characters in the exact same way that I would normally play them, and I would never play a wizard who maxes Con and is trying to be a fighter with more options, that simply doesn't interest me.

You certainly welcome to playtest in this fashion if it work for you, but its unfair to assume that everyone who plays the game, plays it like you do.

Actually, I prefer to playtest characters in the exact same way that I would normally play them, and I would never play a wizard who maxes Con and is trying to be a fighter with more options, that simply doesn't interest me.

You certainly welcome to playtest in this fashion if it work for you, but its unfair to assume that everyone who plays the game, plays it like you do.



Not only that but you would suck doing that in this edition, or well any edition of D&D other than 3e, and even then you'd be better off with the high int and smiting people with the broken save or die spells.  

If the point of a wizard is flexibility, then isn't 10 spells at level 10 flexibility? I don't understand why someone at a higher level would pick sleep over feather fall - I thought the point was that lower level offensive spells would be less valuable and that therefore you'd memorize utility. I also am surprised that people aren't mentioning rituals when it comes to flexibility - while it takes some planning to use rituals, they provide flexibility and power when you think ahead. I guess it just feels like there are two different trains of thought on this - one that says wizards should be almost as good as combat only classes, and ones who say the wizard should pay for their flexibility with decreased power. I tend to be more if the 2nd.
If the point of a wizard is flexibility, then isn't 10 spells at level 10 flexibility? I don't understand why someone at a higher level would pick sleep over feather fall - I thought the point was that lower level offensive spells would be less valuable and that therefore you'd memorize utility. I also am surprised that people aren't mentioning rituals when it comes to flexibility - while it takes some planning to use rituals, they provide flexibility and power when you think ahead. I guess it just feels like there are two different trains of thought on this - one that says wizards should be almost as good as combat only classes, and ones who say the wizard should pay for their flexibility with decreased power. I tend to be more if the 2nd.
First of all, let me say that I generally like the improvements in 5E vs. 4E.  Granted, most of the changes are just are just reverting back to 2E or 3E, but I always thought that 4E overcomplicated things.  Changes in 5E that I like:

1) Getting rid of Action Points and Bloodied status
2) Restoring all alignment options (that was a real pet peeve for me)
3) Using Ability checks instead of Skill checks for ... well, skill checks.

Like others in this thread, I don't like the spell slot system for Wizards.  First, I think it's kinda cheesy to force wizards to memorize spells at the beginning of the day, because that discourages variety.  You can't know what spells you need, so you're much more likely to take combat-oriented spells since you might really need those.  I would prefer a system that encouraged casting of more esoteric spells, to make things more interesting.

But what concerns me the most is the limitation of spell slots.  Basically, level 0 spells are like 4E At-Wills, and every other spells are like 4E Dailies.  This means that not only do I need to choose which spells to memorize, but now I need to guess how many encounters I will have that day, and hope that I save my powerful spells when I need them.  I'm afraid that Wizards will frequently have only level-0 spells left over during the last encounter of the day, because the level-1-and-higher spells have all already been cast.

I'm okay with making Wizards harder to play than other classes, but I want a system that encourages casting of less popular spells.
First of all, let me say that I generally like the improvements in 5E vs. 4E.  Granted, most of the changes are just are just reverting back to 2E or 3E, but I always thought that 4E overcomplicated things.  Changes in 5E that I like:

1) Getting rid of Action Points and Bloodied status
2) Restoring all alignment options (that was a real pet peeve for me)
3) Using Ability checks instead of Skill checks for ... well, skill checks.

Like others in this thread, I don't like the spell slot system for Wizards.  First, I think it's kinda cheesy to force wizards to memorize spells at the beginning of the day, because that discourages variety.  You can't know what spells you need, so you're much more likely to take combat-oriented spells since you might really need those.  I would prefer a system that encouraged casting of more esoteric spells, to make things more interesting.

But what concerns me the most is the limitation of spell slots.  Basically, level 0 spells are like 4E At-Wills, and every other spells are like 4E Dailies.  This means that not only do I need to choose which spells to memorize, but now I need to guess how many encounters I will have that day, and hope that I save my powerful spells when I need them.  I'm afraid that Wizards will frequently have only level-0 spells left over during the last encounter of the day, because the level-1-and-higher spells have all already been cast.

I'm okay with making Wizards harder to play than other classes, but I want a system that encourages casting of less popular spells.



On this last point first - why? 

Why does the system need to encourage that? This is one of the things that I never understood as a complaint with 4E: the system encouraged being a tactics-only game, the system encouraged this, the system encouraged that. 

Where did the system prevent you from doing what you wanted to do?

When looking at the tactics half of a D&D game, assuming your DM writes winnable encounters that offer a real challenge based on tactics more than die roll (but then who can know for certain), individual fights are about resource consumption. This has been true for a while, but it was easiest to exploit as a DM in 4E, in my opinion, and the resource system was generally universal in 4E: every character had dailies I had to consume and healing surges I had to consume. Their hit points in a given fight meant next to nothing, except that by dropping someone, I might force their allies to spend more red or black cards. 

For the players, it was about building a a synergizing system of damage output and mitigation within their character and then within their party so that they could try to beat whatever my system was. I found that the best way to challenge them was to eat all their powers and then they start being creative. Do that a few games, and you teach them that they can be creative early on. Based on rules alone, they could do some pretty great stuff, and as a DM that liked that stuff, I encouraged it. 

The system didn't prevent any of it. It also didn't encourage it. It just existed. 

This is not a competitive arena such as an MMO or any kind of online computer game where your fatty deeps have to match the fatty deeps of your fellow party members in order to be useful. There's no guarantee that, as a wizard, any of your spells will have any purpose whatsoever, because there's always a.) missing with an attack spell and b.) crap damage rolls on generic spells and c.) monster resistances. You prepare fireball shocking grasp or whatever and then run into Energy Elementals that have resist 10 fire, resist 10 lightning, well crappers. 

The fighter makes the same gambit simply by existing. There's always the chance that he rounds the corner and there's the Metallic Golem that has resist 10 slashing, and he's only got the one sword, so....oops. Now it literally doesn't matter that the fighter knows no defensive maneuvers. His entire build is rendered pointless by one enemy with resistances.

That's not the system's fault. That's an @$$hole DM. 

Your DM shouldn't be putting you in some scenario where if you don't do ALL THEM DAMAGES ALL THEM TIMES, you're dead weight. If you like that and he is, then why are you lamenting the loss of utility since you want to do all that damage? Also, why play Next? That hyper combat focus is one the things I hear people complain about with 4E. 

If I'm honest, I don't get it because I've never liked wizards. On any edition. Just not my cup of tea. The wizards I've played with so far have been intrigued by the revisions each time, but almost never disappointed. There was some grumbling about the various changes to Magic Missile, but suddenly they have At-Will and Signature beast-mode Battle Mages, and they're pretty happy with it.

But I do find this discussion really interesting, whic is to say, this other kind of response. I do not envy the job of the designers who have to account for the 40 million+ different versions of D&D we all play within the same edition. I don't disagree with many of the changes as far as spell levels go, but I don't think the slots is such a big deal because I know, ultimately, as a DM, my job is to consume Hit Points for the whole party and Spell Use for the casters (be that via slot or Ki focus or whatever). That's the resource I'm playing against. 

Now, whether I like that or not is another thing entirely. I think it's kinda crap that, well, let's call 'em "martial," characters essentially have 1 resource I have to play against, since they're maneuvering all the  time.