From the School of Evocation description:
It is so the wizard can drop a fireball, burning hands, or other AOE on top of party members and exclude them from the damage.
However, with that wording, if a wizard were to throw down a non-damaging AoE (like Color Spray), then the party members would still have to roll saves to avoid the effects. If, like Elenduin said, the wizard tosses a fireball, which has no secondary effect on living creatures, then the players would not take any damage and would suffer no ill effects.
Color Spray is an illusion spell (replace color with prismatic and you're right).
Er...yeah. My bad. I was looking at one and thinking about the other.
Hehe, you were basically right.
I'm playing a scholarly wizard right now and almost every fight I find myself wishing I had spell tactician.
Thank you, I was reading that one totally wrong. It's not an offensive tactic, it's a defensive tactic. And a useful one.
FWIW: Those at my table and others I have discussed it with agree that the quantity of excluded characters is too great.
The number of characters who can be excluded should be reduced - it starts out a bit high and becomes pointlessly excessive at high levels.
Rather than excluding [spell level +1] from the damage, the ability ought to allow half that. At most. Even if the formula is something more like [Intelligence modifier] (relatively more at low level, relatively less at higher level - but it makes Intelligence more useful - which is a good thing imho) that would be a vast improvement.
I don'y like the tactician ability because I think it takes away from what balances wizards. Wizards should worry about AOE and PCs and avoid those spells at the inappropriate time. That is just my opinion. At least 3.x made that an archmage ability.
All the other traditions of wizardry do worry about AOEs. This could be considered the evoker's signature move and as such I think it's fine. I've tried in six different encounters, as a scholarly wizard,in the caves of chaos to get off a burning hands and couldn't do it due to dispersed enemies or the monk/fighter already engaging (I'm not going first through the door!).
I don't object to this ability as long as it's balanced. If your low-level wizards are never worrying about AOE affecting their allies, then you probably need to reduce the capability as Carl suggests. Depends on the kind of encounters, available space, grouping of targets, and so in a different setup with tight corridors are lots of melee players, it might be sorely needed.
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