Wizards DO Suck

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Everyone,

At last I am ready to post some of the research I have been talking about with regard to the wizard. Some of the comments and numbers Squirrelloid has shown in the Char-Op forums have been invaluable guides, but they largely confirmed what I already suspected. I'd also like to give a hat-tip to Tony Vargas who inspired this title with his infamous Article "Bards DO Suck" which was the first attempt at a serious look at the problems of the 3.0E bard in what was then a new system.

Rather than to hold everyone in suspense, I have concluded that Wizards do in fact Suck. By "Suck" I mean they are sub-optimal and substandard at tactical control both as the term is commonly defined and as Wotc defines it. This is a very strong statement, but unfortunately the data backs me up. Let's start by reviewing some of the relevant data.

Average Monster Stats/Powers:

Level 1:
AC: 15 Reflex Def: 13 Fort Def: 13 Will Def: 12 Average Hit Points: 29

Level 6:
AC: 20 Reflex Def: 17 Fort Def: 19 Will Def: 17 Average Hit Points: 89

Level 11:
AC: 26 Reflex Def: 22 Fort Def: 23 Will Def: 22 Average Hit Points: 176

Level 16:
AC: 31 Reflex Def: 28 Fort Def: 30 Will Def: 28 Average Hit Points: 256

Level 21:
AC: 35 Reflex Def: 33 Fort Def: 34 Will Def: 33 Average Hit Points: 283

Level 26:
AC: 42 Reflex Def: 39 Fort Def: 40 Will Def: 37 Average Hit Points: 466

The above is a list of average Monster Attributes in the Monster manual (excluding minions which are a special case...but they too have defenses in line with the numbers posted above for their level). I have not adjusted it or normalized it by level (as Squirreloid has elsewhere). Even so some things become immediately clear:

1. Defenses increase about 1 per level. Note that PC defenses and attacks only improve by 1 every 2 levels. That means that every other level, you have to find an extra +1 to hit somewhere in order to keep up. Fortunately that isn't too hard until late epic levels. As I indicated Squirilloid has already shown this in Char-Op under "The Mathematics of Optimization", but basically if you start with a 16 stat in your primary attack stat, and improve that stat each chance you get, AND get level appropriate weapons and/or impliments, then your chance to hit your typcial defense will be about 50%. For the rest of this article we will assume that a "base" 16 character hits a level appropriate challenge 50% of the time. It's a simplification I admit, but it's one that's close to reality and makes the analysis much easier.

2. Monster hit points increase at a vastly accelerated pace when compared with PC hit points. Remember that after first level, a PC hit point gain is flat (modified only slightly by feats and constitution stat gains). However, monster seem to increase their hit points by a factor of five (or more) every ten levels. What this means is after low (1-3) levels, it is disadvantagous for the party to trade hit points with monsters. In fact I suspect that this has caused many early TPKs. I call this the "Padded Sumo" effect.

Now let's look at wizard damage. I will assume for the moment, that we are talking about a wizard that starts with an 18 Int (subtract one from the damage if the wizard starts with a 16 Int). I will assume that the wizard is improving his Int every chance he gets. I am also looking at damage only regardless of other spell or type of spell (except at-wills).

Best Wizard Spell Damage (at-will, single target, Area of Effect):

Level 1: 9 13 11
Level 6: 9 13 15
Level 11: 10 18 16
Level 16: 11 18 26
Level 21: 15 34 26
Level 26: 15 34 29

Just one look at the numbers reveals the obvious. The wizard damage doesn't keep up with monster hit points. It doesn't even come close. Basically once you've hit paragon level, your best damaging powers (which you can do once per encounter at best) do only 10% of the damage needed to defeat the enemy if you hit at all Once you are reduced to at-wills, you almost may as well shoot spitballs at a monster for all the damage you can do. Basically, your best attack will do 5% to defeat the monster once per encounter. The moral of the story here should be obvious: Trying to control the battlefield by damaging monsters either solo or in an area is sadly and badly suboptimal. Unfortunately this is the sort of 'control' that Wotc seems to want the wizard to have.

That means that the best wizards aren't ones that worry about damage (against Wotc's advice I mght add) but instead worry about status effects. Those status effects revolve around saving throws which a creature gets to throw off at the end of his turn (usually, there are specific exceptions). Unfortunately, the average time that any creature is under a status effect is less than one round. This is fairly easy to show mathematically.

A normal monster makes a saving throw if he rolls a 10 or more (55%) on a d20. That means the expected rounds a monster is affected is an infinite sum that looks like this:

0.45*1 round+0.20*2round+0.09*3round+...... It works out to be less than one round.

That means your normal wizard even if he places a great status condition on a creature (like stun) can't keep it on him reliably. It's worse with leaders who get +2 to all saves, and really bad for Solos who get +5.

So basically if you build a wizard "straight" as Wotc recommends, you don't do enough damage to be useful in combat and your status effects don't last long enough to be useful either.

Finally, as Icing to put the proverbial cherry on top, let's compare the Wizard to the nearly "controller-like" class in the PHB: The Cleric.

Cleric Class Features:
  • Armor: Cloth, Leather, Hide, Chain
  • Weapons: Simple Melee, Simple Ranged
  • Impliment: Holy Symbol
  • Defense: +2 Will
  • Initial Hit Points: 12+Constitution
  • Hit Points per Level: 5
  • Healing Surges: 7+Con Mod
  • Ritual Casting*
  • Healer's Lore
  • Channel Divinity
  • Healing Word


Wizard Class Features:
  • Armor: Cloth
  • Weapons: Dagger, Staff
  • Impliment: Orb OR Staff OR Wand
  • Defense Bonus: +2 Will
  • Initial Hit Points: 10+Constitution
  • Hit Points Per Level: 4
  • Healing Surges: 6+Con Mod
  • Ritual Casting*
  • Spellbook
  • Cantrips
  • Arcane Impliment Mastery


Clerical Skills (One and pick three):
  • Religion (req)
  • Arcana
  • Diplomacy
  • Heal
  • History
  • Insight


Wizard Skills (One and pick three):
  • Religion
  • Arcana (req)
  • Diplomacy
  • History
  • Insight
  • Nature
  • Dungeoneering


Cleric Prime Stat: Wisdom
Wizard Prime Stat: Intelligence

* Cleric gets two free rituals one of which must be Gentle Repose. Wizard gets three at first and two more at 5th, 11th, 15th, 21st, and 25th level.

Let's go ahead and cancel out common stuff on both sides of the ledger. The skills between a cleric and wizard are largely the same and both classes get the same number (and there is a lot of overlap). Likewise, the impliments themselves work the same way in both classes (both add attack and damage to relavent powers). [We will cover Implement mastery in a moment.] Both classes get the same Will defense bonus so cancel that out. Both get ritual casting (although the wizard does get more free rituals). That largely cancels out too.

So what's left:

Armor: The cleric wins this one hands down. It's not worth disputing.

Weapons: The cleric wins this one hands down too, but for the controller type, it's a small thing at best (nearly zero value).

Hit Points at all levels: Cleric, no question

Healing Surges: Cleric, no question

Healer's lore vs Spell book: Cleric comes out ahead on this one too. Healer's lore gets to add the best Clerical Modifier to all "heal" powers (which includes one of his class encounter powers) this is actually useful in combat. Spellbook? If the wizard had more useful spells, it might be different but as it is, twice zero for spells is still zero. The Spellbook while not worthless isn't as good as it sounds either.

Channel Divinity vs Cantrips: As a cleric once per encounter you can either get a +1 to attack or saving throw (and very few things give you bonuses to saving throws) or get a nice little power that's great against undead and acually pretends to scale with undead hit points per level (doing radiant damage). Cantrips? With the possible exception of Mage-Hand as a blocker (almost certain to be errataed), cantrips are pure fluff. There is nothing (with the one exception I've mentioned) you can do with a cantrip you can't do with mundane gear and skills. Cleric comes out ahead on this one hands down.

Healing Word vs Arcane Impliment Mastery: Healing word is OK especially if your ally can't spend the necessary healing surge on his own, but Arcane Impliement is mastery if and only if you picked Orb as your impliment. That's because the wizard is the only one that can get a scaling (by Wisdom) penalty to an effect save per encounter per target. So the wizard finally comes out ahead if he has a high wisdom and uses an Orb. That's pretty damned specific.

OK, so far the Cleric seems so much better than the Wizard, but that's not all there is to the story, right? Surely the Wizard makes up for his lack elsewhere with the wonderful spells he can throw, right? Unforunately, wrong. First of all the Cleric and Wizard get the same number of spells per day (all classes do). Secondly the Wizard spells aren't all that much better than their clerical counterparts.

First of all let's look at damage comparing a Str-Wis Cleric (the standard) with At-Wills, AoE, and Single Target damaging spells (and compare to the chart I've already shown for the wizard). I will make the same assumptions vis a vis Wisdom that I've made with Int vis a vis the Wizard. I will assume that strength is a secondary for the cleric (wis -2) with a Cha mod of +1. In short a very 'default' cleric build.

Best Clerical Spell Damage (at will, single target, Area of Effect):

Level 1: 9 15 9
Level 6: 9 15 9
Level 11: 10 15 16
Level 16: 11 20 28
Level 21: 16 23 35
Level 26: 17 34 35

Well there you go. The cleric doesn't exactly set the world on fire either with his damage (no one will mistake him for a striker), but notice that even in the wizard's own supposed speciality (Area of Effect spells), the Cleric does more damage than the wizard after all but the lowest levels. More to the point, the cleric also heals and buffs the party during combat helping other party members do their job better. Something the wizard can not do. So the Cleric acts as a controller AND acts as a leader too.

Oh, but what about status effects? Turns out that the clerical list is full of status effects. Clerics don't get a spell as sweet as sleep but check out Rune of Binding especially when combined with the Demi-God Epic Path. Such a cleric (free to any cleric) can hold Orcus himself in such a thing indefinately (which in 4E means five minutes). At lower levels cause fear is pretty sweet too even for a low Cha cleric.

So when another class that isn't a controller (cleric) does the controller's job better than the decidated controller (wizard), it's time to call it a day and conclude...all together now.....

Wizards. DO. Suck.

-Polaris
Clerics are better at doing things than the classes that are actually supposed to be doing them?
Wow, maybe things actually haven't changed very much from 3.5 to 4E...

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
"I see a lot of things completely left out... Status effects, various choices, how about radiant damage vulnerability/resistance compared to the wizard's ability to select multiple energy types. How about most rituals being arcane, and the wizard starting with one more, and more than likely ending up with more, due to his prechosen Arcana skill. How about the wizard having better implements? What about ongoing damage? What about utility powers? Did you take in to account most clerics' need to spread their abilities thin to cover both weapon and implement based abilities? If this were a court of law, I have poked enough holes in your statement to give reasonable doubt, so I rest my case." ^-^
"Don't ask me about the way I type, at best, I'll ignore you (or have no intention of actually reading the thread I posted in again). If I respond, it will probably be sarcastic. I could explain it here, but really, why should I? I am asked often, and usually in a rude and condescending manner, and so, giving the answer here would only serve to satisfy the curiosity of a bunch of stupid people I don't care to grant that benefit. Also, if it annoys you, just remember that somewhere out there, my spirits were lifted, because I really like annoying people that are close-minded enough to be annoyed by something as minor as that; not to mention, there are a good number of people on the internet who can't even bother to learn to write American English (or any other form of English, I can't make criticisms about languages in which I am not proficient) properly (people for whom it is their first language), and that is far more irritating, yet commonly accepted."
"I see a lot of things completely left out... Status effects, various choices, how about radiant damage vulnerability/resistance compared to the wizard's ability to select multiple energy types. How about most rituals being arcane, and the wizard starting with one more, and more than likely ending up with more, due to his prechosen Arcana skill. How about the wizard having better implements? What about ongoing damage? What about utility powers? Did you take in to account most clerics' need to spread their abilities thin to cover both weapon and implement based abilities? If this were a court of law, I have poked enough holes in your statement to give reasonable doubt, so I rest my case." ^-^

Not really. For the most part in 4E, damage is damage is damage. The wizard doesn't get the battlefield tactical flexibility on deciding what damage to deal any more than the cleric does. Just a fact. Also radiant damage is one of the best damage types in the GAME (along with fire which the Cleric gets as well) because so many feats, and racial abilities synergize with this sort of attack. The wizard? Not so much to put it politely. Few things are resistant to radiant damage. Lots of stuff is resistant to other types of energy. This is a clear win for the cleric.

As for Rituals, the ritual that's too cumbersome and expensive to use isn't worth anything. There are five rituals worth having, and the cleric gets most of the key skills for them (admittedly so does the wizard). The wizard does have the edge in rituals because he gets more free, but rituals suck so hard for the most part, that it's not an edge worth mentioning.

As for the wizard having better impliments, the wizard has ONE better impliment: The Orb. If you bothered to read my article, you find I mention that. I think you will find if you were in a court of law that your case didn't produce enough to meet the preponderance standard let alone reasonable doubt.

-Polaris
One thing I'd like to point out is AoE damage. Yes, Cleric AoEs are hard hitting (and tend to have really handy secondary effects), but Wizards get more of them.

So, if you consider a battle situation, the Cleric can throw down his daily AoE which will hit hard, but is unlikely to be able to throw down multiple Encounters and Dailies like the Wizard. In other words, given a few rounds to work with the Wizard may more easily dish out more AoE damage.


Other than that I do pretty much agree with you. Wizards and their CC were so great in 3.5 that I think WotC maybe went a bit too hard on them. Most of the debuffs either do not last long enough or aren't significantly helpful enough to warrant having a Wizard in the party. Something like a Cleric would probably be more helpful.
Controller wizards do work well. You are correct that wizards don't do a lot of damage.

But I would like to reopen the discussion regarding the status effects. The Orb implement let's you give a creature a penalty to his saving throws equal to your wisdom modifier. Stack that with spell focus (and a starting wisdom of 16) and by level 26, you can give a -8 penalty to saves. Significantly better, no?
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One thing I'd like to point out is AoE damage. Yes, Cleric AoEs are hard hitting (and tend to have really handy secondary effects), but Wizards get more of them.

I'd add to this, that one of the nice things about AoE's is taking out swaths of minions. With minions, the damage doesn't matter; it's all about attack bonus, size of the area, and how many times you can do it per encounter. I haven't crunched the numbers, but it seems like the wizard is better than the cleric in those areas.
Controller wizards do work well. You are correct that wizards don't do a lot of damage.

But I would like to reopen the discussion regarding the status effects. The Orb implement let's you give a creature a penalty to his saving throws equal to your wisdom modifier. Stack that with spell focus (and a starting wisdom of 16) and by level 26, you can give a -8 penalty to saves. Significantly better, no?

I am so aware. In fact to get the most from this sub-optimal class, you really ought to start with an 18 Wisdom rather than an 18 Int (no worse than a 16 Int, however) and start with a Cha of 12...since any wizard worth his pointed hat will take Spell Focus at level 11. This actually tops out with DemiGod Epic at -11 saves which is impossible for normal monsters to make or -10 if going Archmage.

Combining this along with the first level sleep spell is broken. It's the 4E equivalent of Save OR Die. However, that does not mean the wizard doesn't suck. It means that the Orb of Imposition + certain badly worded status spells (Sleep) are broken. I saw the same thing early in 3.0 with the 3.0 Psion. The 3.0 Psion was unbeliviably weak but had a couple of broken combos. Did the combos make the Psion balanced? No. It merely forced anyone that got stuck with the Psion to play in a broken way.

Same here.

In addition let's look up all the wizard spells that impose save[ends] status effect. Naturally there is sleep which gives unconciousness. This is far and away the best (and broken) daily you'll ever see as a wizard. After that pickings get very slim indeed. There are 16 other status save [ends] powers other than sleep (17 if bloodmage). Of these all but four are immobilize or slow which don't significantly reduct the combat abilities of the enemies (they can still fight and teleport for example). The next status spell that even holds a candle to sleep happens at level 20 and only if you go Bloodmage. Otherwise only Legion's Hold (level 29) compares.

Basically a broken trick does not a suboptimal class save.

-Polaris
I'd add to this, that one of the nice things about AoE's is taking out swaths of minions. With minions, the damage doesn't matter; it's all about attack bonus, size of the area, and how many times you can do it per encounter. I haven't crunched the numbers, but it seems like the wizard is better than the cleric in those areas.

Not significantly and only at lower levels. At higher levels a surprisingly large number of clerical spells (both encounter and daily) are AoEs. Not only that but ALL classes get AoE attacks. If your DM is relying on minions to make the wizard feel useful, then there is a problem with the wizard.

-Polaris
Level 26: 17 34 35

I didn't read all your message (only the first half) and I'm still quite far to be able to take a position, since I didn't play a session yet on 4th ed., nor had I the possibility to compare well classes, Monsters and all yet...
But I didn't get the above part (I took only the 26th Level as an example)...

- How can a Level 26th Wizard's max single-target damage be 34 (with Int counted in, if I'm not wrong), when Maze (Level 25 Daily Power) can deal 36 damage (3d12) plus Int?

- How can the max area damage be 35 if Elemental Maw (Level 25 Daily) can deal 36 (6d6) plus Int / or Necrotic Web could deal 24 (4d6) plus Int on first attack plus 4d6 per round until the end of the encounter to whomever stays in the area or enters it?

See also: Acid Storm, Level 23 Encounter / Chain Lightning Level 23 Encounter / Disintegrate Level 19 Daily (up to 50 +Int damage plus ongoing 10 damage) / other Spells...

These are only questions, maybe I didn't read some key sentence in your message, but if I didn't maybe you depicted a little less strong Wizard than it is...
I didn't read all your message (only the first half) and I'm still quite far to be able to take a position, since I didn't play a session yet on 4th ed., nor had I the possibility to compare well classes, Monsters and all yet...
But I didn't get the above part (I took only the 26th Level as an example)...

- How can a Level 26th Wizard's max single-target damage be 34 (with Int counted in, if I'm not wrong), when Maze (Level 25 Daily Power) can deal 36 damage (3d12) plus Int?

I snipped the rest because I can answer them all on the first one. I should have made myself clearer. Those numbers I listed reflect the AVERAGE damage from the BEST powers the class can take at that level. Why do I use average? Because unless you roll a critical hit (that's usually dumb luck), it's very unlikely with multiple dice (binomial distribution) that you'll see a result that deviates much from the average. Thus the average damage is what we should gauge our DPR (Damage per Round) on.

-Polaris

-
I came to the same conclusion to some degree. Though looking at the options both classes get, you can see that wizards get many MANY more area burst attacks, where as the cleric i can only remember seeing very few. In addition to that the cleric area burst attacks are dailies while the wizard's are in many cases encounters. This means that while the cleric might be able to do more damage with his one shot area blast once per day, the wizard is going to be blasting area burst spells mutiple times per encounter, combine that with the number of enemies he manages to catch in each one and the wizard easily outshines the cleric in the controller department. Also many of the wizard area burst abilities are not only encounter abilities but they also last for a full round after the spell is cast, causing entire chuncks of the combat area to become hazards to enemies, thus allowing him to further control the battlefield. He can even stack area burts on each other to create combat zones that are straight up deadly for some creatures. That, I think is the beauty of the wizard. It takes a clever player to use them properly, but when done correctly wizards can change the tide of battle.
Honestly my main concerns about wizards are not reflected in their damage compared to this edition or any previous edition. It is the fact that wizards are pretty much straight up evocation specialists. Many of the schools of magic are mostly removed or only show up for incredibly short duration combat effects. Enchantment school is pretty sparse (Charm Person to avoid combat or to open up roleplaying options?), Illusion is nearly gone, Transmutation is pretty thin (looking for creative uses to seal a door in combat or to just be creative in a fight), Divination is scarce and so forth and so on.

Rituals, Utility slots and the 4 cantrips at will are great and a long time coming but your spells that are not straight up damage that encourage imaginative off the cuff roleplaying are much fewer in 4E. Sure you can break for 10 minutes to a few hours for rituals but that won't fill the gap of all the spell options you used to have. Also being unable to prepare the same spell twice in a day seems to further limit my options of having a themed based caster. Much like the Ranger and Bard of 3.0, I think the Wizard needs the most work to feel like a good roleplaying catalyst again.
Thats because other classes/power/roles sources ate the other specialty classes.

Lest look at the other specialy wizards of older editions:
Abjurer - Defensive buff caster. Sounds like a Leader to me. If by some ill-fated fluke the Bard doesn't eat the Abjurer, I am confident it will show up as a Leader class, with a different name.
Conjurer - Not yet confirmed, but I am confident that it will show up as a pet-master multi-role. Probabally Controller who's pets can support other roles.
Diviner - Not really a combat class. All of its really iconic spells make better rituals than powers. Its probabally not showing up as a heroic class.
Enchanter - Already confirmed, but its been renamed. Psion and/or Telepath.
Illusionist - Already confirmed as a shadow power source class. My guess is as a different take on controller, a la Shadowcaster.
Necromancer - Aready confirmed. Speculative as a pet-master multi-role, like the conjurer but as a Leader base.
Transmuter - Kind of a grab-bag who's only real iconic spells were shapechanging, which has been eaten by the Druid.

As to the point of Wizards sucking. They are not DPS, they are Crowd Control, not just single-encounter Crowd Control, but all day long Crowd Control. Something they can do better than anyone else.
[b]Polaris[/i]- I have printed your article and will be reading it. We are on the same side, agreeing that the 4e wizard is sub optimal. Now I just want to see if we agree for the same reasons. My player who normally plays a wizard is not at all impressed by 4e's take on the class and wants me to work in the 2e rules. (He had some minor issues with 3e.) While I have nothing productive to add at the moment, I chose to reply only to keep this thread showing up in my e-mail box.
As to the point of Wizards sucking. They are not DPS, they are Crowd Control, not just single-encounter Crowd Control, but all day long Crowd Control. Something they can do better than anyone else.

Steveman, I think you may be missing the point. The Wizard can't take out the monsters by him or herself. He needs the help of his buddies; the other 4 people at the table that play characters that aren't Wizards.



Wizard (4E): "I'm BATMAN!"

Other Classes (4E): "Riiiiight."

Average Monster Stats/Powers:

Level 1:
AC: 15 Reflex Def: 13 Fort Def: 13 Will Def: 12 Average Hit Points: 29

Level 6:
AC: 20 Reflex Def: 17 Fort Def: 19 Will Def: 17 Average Hit Points: 89

Level 11:
AC: 26 Reflex Def: 22 Fort Def: 23 Will Def: 22 Average Hit Points: 176

Level 16:
AC: 31 Reflex Def: 28 Fort Def: 30 Will Def: 28 Average Hit Points: 256

Level 21:
AC: 35 Reflex Def: 33 Fort Def: 34 Will Def: 33 Average Hit Points: 283

Level 26:
AC: 42 Reflex Def: 39 Fort Def: 40 Will Def: 37 Average Hit Points: 466

Examine the table "Monster Statistics by Role" on DMG1 p184 for actual "averages" of monster statistics. Taking an average of a statistically arbitrary set of creatures that try to follow these guidelines (a.k.a. MM1 sans minions) —which includes (and this is your critical mistake here) elite and solo monsters, who often have better defenses, but most noticeably vastly more hit points, and which are not meant for your precious wizard to tackle on his/her own— is nothing less than fabricating data to support your hypothesis.
Eywa ngahu
Two very important Q's

Is there is a good alternative, (a side for waiting for the next controller) Should I just play the cleric and pretend?

Realisticly, why is this wizard worse (the 4ed one) worse than the 3.5 one. I think they look better, but that is one guys opinion.
Polaris - I am squarely in your corner. Unless the wizard is strictly dealing with minions, he might as well sit waaaaaaaaaay in the back and read comic books while everyone else plays the hero. Your article said in much more eloquent terms the very things that came out as four-letter words from my wizard player's mouth.

I like 4e's mechanic overall, but for the wizard I'm going to listen to my player and stick the older magic system in for arcane spellcasters. I may do some tweaking, such as leaving the at-will powers as lower powered versions of the older spells (but if you want that higher-powered version, you'd better have it memorized), but for the rest, I feel that 4e resembles older editions so much that it shouldn't be much of an issue to restore the wizard to his former (relative) glory.
Well this is actually a realy ridiculous argument.

I could just as easily say Fighters DO Suck, have you seen how hard it is for them to cast spells? Man, what was WOTC thinking???!!!

You seem to understand that the role of the wizard, is to be a "controller". But you don't seem to understand what a "controller" is, becuase you are measuring its effectiveness on damage output...that is how you measure a "Striker".

As controllers, wizards have the job of trying to help manage the combat, preventing masses of enemies from overwhelming the party.

So even low level spells like, flaming sphere, Stinking Cloud, and Bigby's Icy Grasp all provide tools for wizards to create sustainable effects that can easily limit the enemy's ability to approach the party.

I think you need to rethink how you measure the effectiveness of each of the classes. They all have roles to fill, and should be evaluated on how well they fill those roles. Not on how poorly they fill some other role.
If you want to compare the Wizard's AoE powers with the Cleric's AoE powers, you need to break the whole category down by frequency. The Cleric may well get more damaging AoE powers if they can only do so with Daily frequency powers. Now, I'm fairly confident that Clerics can get encounter AoE powers as well, but without a proper breakdown of AoE damage by frequency category the numbers you provide are relatively meaningless.

If the Cleric has to blow off an encounter or daily power just to kill a few lousy minions, for instance, I would say that they were pretty bad at Area of Effect capability.

Even then it wouldn't mean much, because the raw statistical damage data doesn't tell us if the AoE only targets enemies or if it places a bleed or status effect on the opponent. Maybe Clerics have an advantage in those areas as well, but your numbers don't prove anything the way they are now.

Even if you did that, however, the numbers wouldn't prove too much. Other class abilities like the Wizard's implement masteries, paragon path powers, feat selections, and elemental damage types can all change the equation.

Similarly the data you provide for Wizard damage vs monster HP scaling doesn't mean much at all. Even if it does take a Wizard longer to kill a monster at higher levels than at lower levels, that doesn't necessarily mean the Wizard is weak at damage. You'd also have to show that other classes improve their damage at a higher rate than the Wizard. If Strikers or Defenders take longer to kill a monster at high level rather than at low level as well, then we are looking at an expected shift in the gameplay rather than a problem with the Wizard.
D&D rules were never meant to exist without the presence of a DM. RAW is a lie.
Astral storm > meteor swarm
Godstike > No mercy (fighter lv29 exploit)

... GJ clerics of the coast
Science done with a clear and evident bias toward a given result... isn't.

Wake me when a non-biased comparison is made, one that doesn't ommit factors to skew the results against the class.
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I think it is a mistake to put aside minions in your calculations. Minions will be very common in the game and they fill a role similar to area effects. They fill spaces, do damage, give combat advantage and control your actions. As a controller, wizards are directly combatting minions for battlefield control.

The rest of what you've done seems quite detailed and I wouldn't presume to argue with it, but the premise that minions don't matter seems to inicate a lack of understanding of their true role. Well placed minions are deadly.
Remember, wizards are controllers. Not to compare to the MMORPGs (being a sore topic with many), but honestly, the role the are intended to fill now is not unlike the CC ("Crowd Control") role in MMOs.

In Everquest/Everquest 2, for example, no one invites the enchanter/illusionist or coercer along for there ability to hurt enemies with magic. They are brought along for stuns, mesmerizes, charms, and other status effects to reduce the numbers of bad guys attacking so that the party doesn't get overwhelmed.
I would also like to point out an interesting point. I believe they call it a ROLEplaying game, and not a ROLLplaying game. Yes, I understand that if you can't survive then you die and the game is over, but that is a risk that you take when you play the game, otherwise there would be no point to playing the game. It'd be a bore. As far as how to successfully make the wizard an effective party member I have a few suggestions:

You are meant to work as a team (i.e. the roles of defender, leader, controller, and striker.) One person is not meant to go in and nuke everbody to death.

If you don't like the spells, spell stats, etc. then change them. WotC never said you had to follow the book to the T. In fact, my DM said that wizards once said (in reference to 4e) that there are fewer spells to choose from than 3.5 because you can change them to what you want. The first wizard I plan on making is prolly going to have a much different spell selection than what is listed in the book.

Remember, it's a game that you and your friends are running not WotC. So change things how you want them to be, I don't think too many people will mind. :D
Minion control is absolutely critical for the success of a party. Wizards with their different AoE spells address this party need nicely.

I believe you also left out magic items from the mix. When you had the wizard a Staff of the Magi, Ring of Meteor Swarm, Ring and Bracers of Protection, Cloak of Invisibility, etc...etc...

Which they may well have or have items of similar power and utility at very high levels then the wizard's ability to sustain their higher end damage spells could be pretty nicely expanded.

Having the ability to select through a wide variety of different types of attack spells to insure that you can effect a very high level monster with its variety of resists is valuable. The ability for a single wizard to obliterate ten percent of a monsters HP's all by himself at very high levels...and this is a major boss sort of a monster by the look of the posted stats...is huge.

What is the rest of the party doing? I have not looked at the stats involved but if the rest of the party can even meet out 05% of the damage required to kill a major end game monster the standard adventuring party of six has reduced that creatures hit points by 35% in the very first combat round!

So the toughest monsters are going to last maybe three to four combat rounds against the high end characters.

That is mind boggling to me...and seems very, very powerful.

In fact I would say that looking at the stats you are showing me here that the wizard over all is very powerful.

I'm not sure what more you'd want.

Unless of course you'd rather the wizard be able to go back to just dropping half the dungeon all by himself. One shot kill almost any and every major monster with one or two spells while the rest of the party wanders along in his train picking up the loot and hanging around just to make sure nobody engages the wizard in melee and starts messing up their casting ability.

In my experience wizards in earlier versions of AD&D faced some real challenges at low levels. It looks like now they are MUCH more useful and fun to play right out of the gate.

Now the wizard is just one part of a team. I wouldn't say that they are anything like they used to be. I wouldn't say that they are perfect or especially powerful. I'd say they have their own important part to play in the adventuring team.

You might personally feel that they suck in 4th edition but I think they look like they will be a lot of fun to play.

When I sit down and make a character for a game do I do the math to figure out which character class does the most damage and is the most powerful? No. Because I'm not a power gamer. I want to make up a fun personality that will be part of the group and fun.

So far I like most of what I see with 4th edition, not all, but most...because it looks like fun.
Science done with a clear and evident bias toward a given result... isn't.

Wake me when a non-biased comparison is made, one that doesn't ommit factors to skew the results against the class.

I completely agree with this. The whole controller aspect has nothing to do with dealing out damage.

The "concept" within this edition of D&D is using these powers in conjunction with other classes. This is some of the challenge that will come into the game for people. Yes, other editions of D&D maintained the whole party idea. That idea was often cast to the wind as one player or class would end up standing out beyond all others given a particular situation.

A wizard is not meant to go toe to toe with anything alone, and neither is any other class. Of course it can happen, but everything works so much better when all of the different classes work together. If you end up trying to resist against that it won't work out too well.

Personally, I love the direction Wizards took with it and I'm looking forward to gaming a long time with this system.
Wizards are pretty powerful, when say, figthing a dragon. They have only of the only ways of causing AUTOMATIC damage in 4ed (a ranger's paragon class also does). When figthing high defenses solos, the wiz whips out his dailies and goes to town.

On another note: i'd like to believe wiz are good to kill minions (which they are), however very few encounters seem to have minions in the higher levels (looking at KotS and the pre-made grounps in the MM). That could pose a problem.
On another note: i'd like to believe wiz are good to kill minions (which they are), however very few encounters seem to have minions in the higher levels (looking at KotS and the pre-made grounps in the MM). That could pose a problem.

Any normal critter can be minion-ized, since 4 minions can stand in for one regular critter.

- - -

Wizards have better range, better sustained effects, and better blocking effects. If you're trying to deal damage with your Wizard, you're doing it wrong. Play a Warlock instead, and have more fun.

Cheers, -- N
Polaris, for comparison's sake, when you calculated your average damage values for powers, did you take into account any feats, enhancement bonuses, or other item properties? I want to compare your numbers to the damage scaling of other classes, and I want to keep things on a level playing field.

Also, I've seen you mention "only 5 rituals are worthwhile," in other threads. Which 5 would you pick as useful rituals?
I won't go into what wizards will be like at high level. The kind of analysis the op did is very speculative, does not consider many features, and needs to be confirmed by playtesting. I ran a session for a group of 3 level 1 characters yesterday, a paladin, a cleric (with the ranger multiclass feat) and a wizards.

The wizard did fine. His round by round dammage was just fine. The paladin was doing 1d8+4 with a longsword, the Wizard was doing 2d4+4 with magic missile, and hitting just as much as paladin did. He got a chance to knock down a bunch of minions with his burning hands, and used acid arrow to good effect (well, it would have been a better effect if he had rolled better, but i digress). He also stopped a runner with his Ray of Frost, allowing the other characters to bring it down with ranged attacks. I will admit that those results are just from one session, and at first level, but my hands on experience is that wizards will do fine.
I'm a little confused about your math here - all of it seems a bit off, or possibly ignoring how these numbers compare to other classes.

Here are my own comparisons, looking at level 26. I'm assuming, in the numbers below, that characters have +7 modifiers from their primary stats, +5 from any secondary stats, +6 implements or weapons, or +4 if the weapon wouldn't be their primary weapon. I'm assuming they have weapon focus in primary weapons but not secondary weapons, or the energy feats for primary energy types but not less common energy types. I'm assuming Wizards and Warlocks have Bracers of +6 damage with Ranged Basic Attacks. I'm ignoring Paragon Paths and Epic Destinies.

At Will Powers

At level 26, a wizard's at-will Magic Missile will be doing 29 damage on average, hitting most enemies on a 13. A cleric's lance of faith - which has 1/4 the range - will be doing 25 damage on average, and also hitting most enemies on a 13. A warlock's Eldritch Blast will be doing 40 damage on average, hitting most enemies on a 13. A rogue's sly flourish will be doing 52 damage (30 without combat advantage) and hits most enemies on a 13 (or an 11 with combat advantage.)

The wizard is clearly more damage than the cleric, less than the strikers.

He also has the only at-will area effect, which will do 23 damage on average, but can hit multiple targets. If he hits two, he's suddenly doing about as much as the rogue - if he hits three, he is doing significantly more (at, as you mention, the cost of spreading that damage out.)

So, his at-wills seem reasonable.

Area Effect Encounter Powers

At level 26, his best area-effect encounter ability is probably Acid Storm, which does an average of 40 damage - to all enemies in an Area Burst 4, which is a very sizable area. It hits most enemies on a 14, though it still will deal 10 to those it misses. (Also, its very presence has a variety of tactical uses for controlling the battlefield for a round.)

The cleric, at that level, has his own area-effect encounter ability, which is Healing Torch. It hits an Area Burst 5 for around 28 damage, does no damage if its misses, but hits on an 11, and heals and buffs allies in the area either way. Less damage, less control of the field, more healing and buffing - seems a reasonable trade.

The warlock, meanwhile, has Spiteful Darts, which is a Close Blast 5 - a smaller area, and requires him getting up close. It hits most enemies on a 13, does 33 damage on average, (plus 10 to any he has cursed.) and pushes the enemy back.

The rogue has Steel Entrapment, which is a Close Blast 5, hits enemies on an 11, does 24 damage on average (plus 22 extra to one target if he can get combat advantage), and immobilizes the enemies for a round. A stronger status effect than the wizard, surprisingly - but to less enemies, for less damage, from up close rather than at range. Seems a reasonable trade-off. (And, in fact, seems comparable to the lower-level Wizard power "Crushing Titan's Fist.)

Area Effect Daily Powers

Let's look at area effect dailies. Elemental Maw is a Burst 4 - but let's treat it as a Burst 2 to see what it can do in full. All enemies hit (on a 13) will be taking 37 damage, but those within that Burst 2 area will be hit and dragged into the vortez, taking another 26 damage, teleporting them to a square of your choosing and leaving them prone and dazed for a round.

Necrotic Web, meanwhile, is a Burst 3 that hits on a 13. Those hit will end up taking 53 damage (30 when hit, 23 at the start of their next turn), and suffer from immobilization until they save. Those missed will only take the 23 - but have to deal with the difficult terrain, and will become immobilized if they can't get out in time. The entire area remains, continuing to deal damage, provide difficult terrain, and immobilize any creatures who end their move in it.

And finally we have Prismatic Spray, which is a Close Burst 5 that, assuming all three parts hit, does 50 damage, slows, stuns and leaves ongoing fire damage until they save. Even if only one of those components hit, it is going to be bad news for the enemy.

Our cleric, meanwhile, has Sacred Word - Close Burst 5, hits on a 14, does 35 damage and stuns enemies for a round. (Half damage on a miss.) Certainly solid - but lower damage, and a slightly stronger effect that the wizards spells... though without the additional benefit of ongoing effects or battlefield control via the new terrain.

Warlock doesn't have many area effect dailies - at level 15, he can get Tendrils of Thuban, which is a burst 1 that hits on a 14, does 38 damage (plus 10 to cursed enemies), and deals ongoing immobilization, and can be sustained as a minor action to attack again (for 22 damage and ongoing immobilization.) Effective, but Burst 1 is pretty limited in size.

A Rogue's only area effect daily seems to be Blinding Barrage, back at level 1. Close Blast 3, hits on a 13, does 20 damage (plus 22 against one enemy if the rogue has combat advantage), and blinds them for a round.

Single Target Encounter Powers

The Wizard has Thunderclap - single target, range 20, hits on a 14, deals 26 damage and stuns the enemy for 1 round.

The Cleric has Astral Blades of Death - single target, range 10, hits on a 13 and does 37 damage.

The Warlock has Dark Transport, which is range 10, hits on an 11, and does 35 damage (45 to a Cursed target), and allows some positioning effects. He also has Thorns of Venom, which hits on a 14, does 29 damage (39 to a cursed target), and immobilizes them and reduces their AC and Reflex for a round.

The Rogue has Knave's Gambit, which does 34 damage (56 with combat advantage), and on a miss, forces them to take a swing at a nearby ally.

Single Target Daily Powers

The Wizard has Maze, which hits on an 11, deals 35 damage, and traps them in a maze, which it will likely take them 2-4 rounds to escape. (They have to make Int checks against his Will Defense, and gain a +5 bonus each time they fail.)

The Cleric has Seal of Binding, which hits on an 11, deals 29 damage and stuns the target for a round, also rendering them immune to taking other damage. Each round (as long as the cleric is not bloodied), the cleric can sustain it with a standard action, dealing 24 damage and maintaining the effect.

The Warlock has Tartarean Tomb, which hits on a 13, deals 40 damage (51 to a cursed target), and ongoing Entombment (which immobilizes them, but also prevents them from attacking or being attacked.) On a miss, it deals half damage.

The Rogue has Ghost on the Wind, which hits on an 8, deals 43 damage (65 with combat advantage), and grants the rogue effects including combat advantage against the target on the following round.

So what do we see here? The rogue does the most damage, but doesn't take the enemy out of a fight. The other three all have very similar effects, each with different advantages and disadvantages - the Warlock's ends on a save, which some enemies will have bonuses against, and even for others has a 50/50 chance of ending after a round. The Wizard's has its own mechanic for trapping enemies, and will almost certainly trap them for 1 round, but is also guaranteed to let them escape after 3 or 4, while an ongoing save could go on indefinitely with the right luck. The Cleric can sustain his for quite some time, but has to damage himself and remove himself from the fight in order to do so.

Conclusion

The Wizard doesn't seem to outclass the others, but also doesn't seem to be overshadowed by them, either. Admittedly, I only looked at one level - but looking through the list of powers, nothing indicates any of these factors will greatly change at lower levels.

His damage is usually (but not always) higher than the Cleric but lower than the Strikers. His area effects definitely come out ahead damage-wise. They usually inflict status effects while also creating terrain hazards on the field, which can easily be taken advantage of by tactical players. He often has more range than most others. His single target damage is low, but often inflicts status effects when others do not.

The only problem with the wizard, as I can see it, is that he starts with less armor and has less hp than all other classes, and doesn't really gain much to compensate for it. (Aside, perhaps, from his range, his versatility, and his rituals - all of which are nice, but harder to directly measure than his lowered durability.)

But that alone is certainly not enough to make the wizard in any way unplayable, nor relegated to the backseat in the way that 3.0 Bards were.

You've made a decent argument for why the basic cleric class features are better than the basic wizard class features. Largely, they are - the cleric is simply more survivable than the wizard... though this is balanced, in many ways, by the fact that the cleric needs to be up in the front line, and the wizard does not.

But then you went on to throw out some unsupported numbers and statements and claimed the cleric is better at powers too, which seems completely wrong.

The cleric just isn't as good as the wizard at dealing damage and debuffing enemies. It has a few specific powers that stand out - Astral Storm being the big one - but most of its powers fall behind the wizard's. More importantly, it only has a few of those spells that are area effect or debuffers, while the wizard's list is filled with them. The cleric makes up for this with its ability to heal and enhance allies on a regular basis.

You could make the argument that the cleric might be a better class than the wizard... but that is likely more due to healing being more important than controlling, even in this edition. Claiming the cleric is a better blaster and controller than the wizard, on the other hand, just seems inaccurate.
not to mention, all the monsters are scaled CR's to a party of 4, and a WIZ fighting alone is only a quater of the average you assumed!!!!
.. I believe they call it a ROLEplaying game, and not a ROLLplaying game. ...

Any good roleplayer knows how to role play the roll playing. Just saying> I like games to be strategic as well as story emersive.
So someone has done all the statistical analysis. Good but doesn't convince me at all that wizards now suck. So how they are in the game? Are people having fun playing wizards? You can do all the statistical analysis and hypothetical meta gaming you want. The only way we are going to find out that the wizard sucks is through game play?

So who has played a wizard 1- 30 level and can confirm that wizards do indeed suck, as all the statistical analysis and hypothetical meta gaming suggests?

Personally I think 4e is a drastically different game than 3.x. I think when things look odd or don't seem to really work or just suck in 4e, it has much more to do with all of our lack of experience with the game system.
Personally I think 4e is a drastically different game than 3.x. I think when things look odd or don't seem to really work or just suck in 4e, it has much more to do with all of our lack of experience with the game system.

Exactually.

If you are playing a cleric with its most powerful damaging spells, outclassing the wizard, you are playing a controller/striker. Which is fine except for the fact you are a leader. So you should not be picking up every avaliable massive damage spell, you should probably look for some party buff abilities and the like. So while Sacred Word is a great daily at lvl 25, close burst 5/decent damage numbers, maybe sacraficing size and 1d10 damage for Seal of Protection might be better since it creates a sustainable effect that protects allies and impeads enemies.

Wizard powers have more numerous "effects" that go off reguardless of hit, "miss" damage/debuffing, and "sustain" effects, most of which are minor in nature, meaning:
1 - hit and imobolise a target
2 - apply a penalty to its save
3 - sustain minor and wail on it with magic missile
4 - go back to step 2
Controller wizards do work well. You are correct that wizards don't do a lot of damage.

But I would like to reopen the discussion regarding the status effects. The Orb implement let's you give a creature a penalty to his saving throws equal to your wisdom modifier. Stack that with spell focus (and a starting wisdom of 16) and by level 26, you can give a -8 penalty to saves. Significantly better, no?

You do realize that its for ONE spell , ONCE per enconter and you have to hit the guy ... at a 50/50 chance ?
Guys,

Several things:

1. I excluded Minions because minions are their own special category with monsters that don't play the same and don't require the same tactics. I did include Elites and Solos because they largely do.

2. I pretty convincingly showed that doing damage over an area is a bad option for anyone (not just the wizard). The problem is that Wotc has it in their head that Area Effect DPR damage is the end-all/be-all of controlling.

3. Most status effects imposed by the wizard spells suck. In the first place as I showed mathematically, they don't last long enough (less than a round). In the second place, they don't do enough to take the enemies out of combat (immobilization and slow don't hinder the combat ability of most high level monsters all that much).

As for those that say they've played it, here's my retort: Have you played the wizard beyond fifth level?

As I showed in my article, wizards are actually fine for the first three levels of the game or so. Then padded sumo kicks in.

As for magical impliments and items, no I did not include them, but they are easy enough to factor in. Simply add 1 to the damage for levels 1-5, 2 for levels 6-10, 3 for levels 11-15, 4 for levels 16-20, 5 for levels 21-25, and 6 for levels 26-30. It doesn't change the to-hit (it's assumned that you are getting these items), and the damage add is minor enough that it doesn't change the overall analysis either (and they don't help with status effects for the most part either).

The point is that if the wizard is going to have the worst class features of all the classes (and I've pointed out pretty conclusively that he does), then his powers need to be significantly better in his own speciality. They aren't. That's a problem.

I don't have to show that the cleric is a better controller than the wizard to show the wizard sucks. All I have to show is that the cleric can come close....and I have (and just how many encounters do you think you'll have in a day anyway)?

-Polaris
Polaris, for comparison's sake, when you calculated your average damage values for powers, did you take into account any feats, enhancement bonuses, or other item properties? I want to compare your numbers to the damage scaling of other classes, and I want to keep things on a level playing field.

Also, I've seen you mention "only 5 rituals are worthwhile," in other threads. Which 5 would you pick as useful rituals?

Tensor's floating Disk, Enchant, Disenchant, Make Whole, Raise Dead. Possibly Phantom Steed once my arcana is high enough. That's pretty much exhausts the rituals that are worth the cost.

-Polaris
You do realize that its for ONE spell , ONCE per enconter and you have to hit the guy ... at a 50/50 chance ?

In fairness to beej-silver, there are ways discussed on Char-Op that you can get considerably better than 50-50 on this one critical attack in order to use the orb. They revolve around Action Surge (if human) or Elven Precision (if Elf) and generally also require that you take the clerical paragon path Divine Oracle. However, it's the 3.0 Psion all over again. If you have to rely on a broken trick to make the class worthwhile to play, then the class sucks.

-Polaris