Introduction

The Wizard is the iconic arcane spellcaster, capable of doing all manner of fantastic tricks, and generally limited only by their spellbook and their spell slots. A Wizard with a comprehensive spellbook can do essentially anything in the game, often as well as or better than a non-magical character who is built to do that thing. A Wizard with Invisibility is as stealthy as a Rogue. A Wizard with a summoned pet can replace a fighter (at least temporarily). A clever Wizard could even find a way to heal their allies and replace a Cleric.

Because Wizards can do so much so well, their roles are numerous and varied. However, in a typical party the Wizard’s primary functions are as a Blaster, Controller, Librarian, Support caster, Striker, and Utility Caster. Depending on your spells and potentially your skills, you can also serve as a Defender, Face, Healer (though it’s difficult), and Scout. You may think, “but wait, isn’t that every role?”. Yes. Yes, it is.

However, with that incredible breadth of capability comes both complexity and risk. Most of this complexity is buried in the Wizard’s spellcasting. Wizards get very few actual class/subclass features, but spellcasting fills in the gaps. Managing a spellbook is a complex, and unlike clerics and druids who can select from a vast spell list after every long rest, you need to hoard newly-learned spells to expand your capabilities, sometimes at great expense, so learning new spells may be a gamble, costing precious gold for a spell which you may never use. If you are prone to analysis paralysis, the wizard is a waking nightmare.

Wizards are among the least-durable characters in the game, having no armor proficiencies, poor saving throws, and the lowest hit dice available. Staying alive as a wizard can be very difficult, and in most cases requires a part of sturdy allies willing to protect you from harm. There are exceptions to this rule (bladesingers can achieve some of the highest AC in the game without the aid of magic items), but they are few in number.

I’ll tell anyone who asks that the Wizard is my favorite class, and that has been the case since early in my career with Dungeons and Dragons. The Wizard is a class that rewards system mastery, and while you don’t need to be an experienced player to succeed as a wizard, improving your familiarity with the game will pay dividends.

After reading this handbook, I encourage you to read my Wizard Subclasses Breakdown and my Wizard Spells Breakdown.

Table of Contents

Disclaimer

RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.

  • Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
  • Green: Good options. Useful often.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.

I will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, even if it is my own, because I can’t assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. I also won’t cover Unearthed Arcana content because it’s not finalized, and I can’t guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.

The advice offered below is based on the current State of the Character Optimization Meta as of when the article was last updated. Keep in mind that the state of the meta periodically changes as new source materials are released and this article will be updating accordingly as time allows.

RPGBOT is unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.

Wizard Class Features

Optional Class Features are detailed below under Optional Class Features.

Hit Points: d6 hit points is the lowest in the game. Fortunately Intelligence is the only ability which Wizards strictly need, so you can afford a decent Constitution score.

Saves: Intelligence saves are very rare, and proficiency in Wisdom saves won’t help much if your Wisdom is terrible.

Proficiencies: Wizard’s weapons are pitiful, but can be easily replaced by cantrips. Wizards also get no armor, so it’s either Mage Armor or nothing for the vast majority of wizards. Wizards only get the standard two skills, which is difficult considering that your party will expect you to cover as many knowledge skills as possible, leaving many wizards with little room to diversify.

Spellcasting: Wizards are the king of spellcasters. They can do everything; kill stuff, charm stuff, solve problems, gather information, travel, whatever. If you can imagine doing it with magic, a Wizard can do it. Except healing. They can’t really do that.

For help selecting spells, see my Wizard Spell List Breakdown.

Arcane Recovery: This provides a bit of sustainability to the Wizard which was missing in previous editions. Wizards were the biggest cause of the “five minute day”, in which the Wizard would burn their biggest spells in the first encounter, then would be essentially useless unless the party immediately took a long rest. Arcane Recovery gives you the ability to recover a bunch of spell slots, allowing you to continue at least through the first short rest of each day without issue. While Arcane Recovery can’t restore slots above 6th level and therefore diminishes in importance at high levels, it’s still a crucial resource, allowing you to recover low-level spell slots will remain a perpetual source of crucial defensive and utility spells like Shield and Darkvision.

Arcane Tradition: Wizard subclasses are briefly summarized below. See my Wizard Subclasses Breakdown for help selecting your subclass.

  • Bladesinging: Elven masters of fighting with both weapons and with spells, bladesingers can perform a secret song and dance which makes them deadly
  • Chronurgy Magic: Manipulate the flow of time, allowing you to force rerolls, to stop creatures, and even to temporarily suspend spells in a tiny bead and share it with your allies. Chronurgists also gain access to the Dunamancy spell list.
  • Graviturgy Magic: Manipulate space and gravity to move your foes about on the battlefield and crush them with powerful gravitational effects. Graviturgists also gain access to the Dunamancy spell list.
  • Order of the Scribes: Awaken your spellbook, and master the central concepts of wizardly magic, allowing you to learn spells faster than other wizards and employ them in new and unusual ways.
  • School of Abjuration: Masters of protective magic, Abjurers gain a powerful magical ward which can absorb damage dealt to you or your allies and recharges when you cast abjuration spells.
  • School of Conjuration: Masters of teleportation and summoning, conjurers can teleport without using a spell and are better at using summoned creatures.
  • School of Divination: Diviners gain the powerful Portent feature, allowing them to roll two to three d20’s at the beginning of the day and use them to replace rolls, as well as the ability to cast divination spells and incredible little cost.
  • School of Enchantment: Powerful and versatile spellcasters, enchanters gain abilities to charm and hypnotize foes, and to affect additional targets with single-target enchantment spells.
  • School of Evocation: Exceptional at dealing damage with spells, evokers deal more damage with cantrips than other spellcaster, and can make safe spaces in their area damage spells to avoid harming allies.
  • School of Illusion: Masters of illusion spells, illusionists gain abilities to manipulate illusion spells beyond their normal limits, including the ability to make them partially real.
  • School of Necromancy: Gain the ability to heal yourself when you kill other creatures, and to more easily create and control undead, including powerful ones far more powerful than spells alone would allow.
  • School of Transmutation: Gain abilities to turn things into other things, like wood into metal, yourself into an animal, dead things into live things, and injured or sick things into happy and healthy things.
  • War Magic: Powerful combatants, war wizards gain abilities to defend themselves against attacks and to boost their spell damage by countering or dispelling other spells.

Spell Mastery: Your first thought might be to pick up something to replace your cantrips as a go-to damage solution, but your cantrips hit 4dx damage a level ago, which means they will outstrip nearly all first and second spells in terms of single-target damage. Your best bets for damage are Shatter (if you need a spammable AOE) and Scorching Ray, but even scorching ray only beats cantrips by an average of 3 damage. Instead, look for utility spells which are helpful to spam like Invisibility, Mirror Image, a save-or-suck spell like Tasha’s Hideous Laughter, defensive options like Absorb Elements and Shield, and more strategically interesting options like Magic Missile for breaking enemy spellcasters’ Concentration.

Signature Spell: Cool, but not nearly as important as Spell Mastery. The free castings are nice, but the biggest draw is the two extra spells prepared per day, which improves your versatility even at this level when you’re already able to prepare so many.

Optional Class Features

Introduced in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, Optional Class Features offer ways to add additional features or replace existing ones. These rules are optional, and you should not assume that your DM will allow these features without consulting them first.

Assessments and suggestions for specific Optional Class Features are presented here, but for more information on handling Optional Class Features in general, see my Practical Guide to Optional Class Features.

Additional Wizard Spells (Addition): Everything added by this optional feature makes sense on the Wizard’s spell list, And surprisingly few of them are additions from existing sources. Most of the new spells are published or re-published in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.

I recommend allowing the expanded spell list on all wizards. The new spells fill in gaps in the wizards capabilities which made it either mechanically or thematically unsatisfying to play certain wizard subclasses like School of Conjuration and School of Necromancy because spell options for those subclasses were so limited and often involved significantly disrupting the game for everyone at the table.

Cantrip Formulas (Addition): The fact that wizards have no way to replace their known cantrips has confused me since the earliest days of DnD 5e’s lifespan. They’re the one type of spell that the wizard can’t expand or replace, and I’m still not sure why. My one complaint with this feature is that the Wizard doesn’t need to write the cantrips into their spellbook, which thematically feels very odd.

I recommend allowing Cantrip Versatility on all wizards. You can’t get anything which you couldn’t already have, so it doesn’t make your character more powerful. If you need a way to balance that, make the wizard write cantrips into their spellbook at half the cost of a 1st-level spell.

Ability Scores

Wizards are a single-ability class. All you need is Intelligence, and everything else is supplemental.

Str: Dump stat. A Wizard should know better.

Dex: A bit for AC is nice and Dexterity saves are common, but that’s all you get unless you go for Bladesinging, in which case you will want a bunch for the weapon that you’re going to use. You can limp along at low levels using a crossbow in place of offensive cantrips, but you don’t need to strain yourself to get 16 Dexterity. 14 will do fine.

Con: Hit points and Constitution saves are problems for Wizards. A wizard with less than 14 Constitution is a choice to gamble with your life.

Int: A Wizard’s first priority should be to get 20 Intelligence. Their second priority should be to find a way to exceed 20 Intelligence, but there are very few ways to do that.

Wis: Good for Wisdom saves. You want a bit to protect yourself, but fortunately wizards are also proficient in Wisdom saves.

Cha: Dump stat.

Point BuyStandard Array
  • Str: 8
  • Dex: 14
  • Con: 14
  • Int: 15
  • Wis: 12
  • Cha: 8
  • Str: 8
  • Dex: 13
  • Con: 14
  • Int: 15
  • Wis: 12
  • Cha: 10

Races

Intelligence bonuses are crucial, and nothing else is strictly necessary. Things which add to your spellcasting capabilities like extra cantrips are great, and ways to increase your durability are like Dexterity or Constitution increases or natural armor can be really nice, but none of those are absolutely necessary.

Note that setting-specific races like the Changeling and the Satyr are addressed in setting-specific sections, below.

AarakocraEEPC

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases and flight without Concentration or magic. Excellent, but the Winged Tiefling is better in every way except speed.

Default Rules: Lack of an Intelligence increase hurts, but flight without Concentration may be worth it. Of course, the Tiefling can get an Intelligence increase and flight, so there’s little reason to play an aarakocra wizard.

AasimarVGtM

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, two damage resistances, and Darkvision. Healing Hands offers a rare healing option for the Wizard, but the Transformation is still the big reason to play the Aasimar.

  • Fallen: The range is too short and the save is Charisma-based.
  • Protector: Flight when you need it, but only long enough to get through combat. The damage bonus works with spells, so your best option is to spam AOE damage spells and apply the damage bonus to a target which failed its saving throw.
  • Scourge: Without any other source of damage, most wizards are dead before the transformation ends.

Default Rules: Two damage resistances and Darkvision, plus a little bit of Innate Spellcasting. Unfortunately, without an Intelligence increase that’s simply not enough.

  • Fallen: Bad ability spread.
  • Protector: Bad ability spread. The flight is tempting, but not enough.
  • Scourge: Bad ability spread.

Aasimar (DMG Variant)DMG

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, two damage resistances, and Darkvision. The innate spellcasting gets you Lesser Restoration and Daylight, which aren’t normally available to the wizard. Lesser Restoration reduces your party’s need for a cleric or druid in the party, but this isn’t enough to make you a real healer.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

BugbearVGtM

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, Darkvision, and one skill. Surprise Attack only works with spells which make attacks, so at low levels the damage boost can be a great opener. But as you gain levels, spell attacks become less common so the Bugbear’s traits will gradually stop being impactful.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

Custom LineageTCoE

Customized Origin: The Customizing Your Origin rules make no change to the Custom Lineage.

Default Rules: +2 Intelligence, a feat, and your choice of a skill or Darkvision. Better for the Wizard than the Variant Human in most cases.

DragonbornPHB

The Draconblood and Ravenite subraces are addressed under Races of Wildemount, below.

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increase and damage resistance. The Dragonborn’s signature trait is their breath weapon, and since you can cast Burning Hands that’s not much of a benefit.

Default Rules: None of the Dragonborn’s abilities are helpful to the wizard, and if you want something like a breath weapon there are plenty of spells which will do the job.

DwarfPHB

Customized Origin: One +2 increase and a second increase from your subrace, poison resistance, and weapon and tool proficiencies that you probably won’t need.

  • DuergarSCAG: Decent in a subterranean campaign, but nothing good enough to offset Sunlight Sensitivity.
  • HillPHB: Another +1 increase and a bunch of extra hit points.
  • MountainPHB: A second +2 increase and medium armor proficiency. If you’re worried about the Wizard’s terrible durability, this is a great answer.

Default Rules: The only thing which the Dwarf offers the Wizard is durability, but considering how frails wizards are that’s a tempting offer.

  • DuergarSCAG: Strength and some spells which a Wizard can already cast.
  • HillPHB: Of the two Dwarfs, Hill Dwarf is the better option only because it gets even more hit points, and the bonus Wisdom is helpful for the Wisdom saves. Mage Armor won’t match the AC of medium armor provided by the Mountain Dwarf, but that may be fine if you’re good at avoiding being targeted with attacks.
  • MountainPHB: Strength is useless for a single-class wizard, but the Mountain Dwarf’s primary appeal is proficiency in medium armor. That provides a significant improvement to your AC, reducing your need for spells like Mage Armor and Shield. However, without an Intelligence increase you’ll lag offensively.

ElfPHB

The Palid Elf subrace is addressed under Races of Wildemount, below.

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases (each subrace provides an additional +1), Darkvision, one skill.

  • DrowPHB: The innate spellcasting is fine, but it’s Charisma-based and you can already cast everything except Faerie Fire.
  • EladrinMToF: The teleportation is neat, but the rider effects are all Charisma-based. The Variant Eladrin is a better fit.
  • Eladrin (Variant)DMG: Misty Step on a short rest.
  • High ElfPHB: An additional cantrip is great, but it doesn’t improve the Wizard much beyond what they could already do.
  • Sea ElfEGtW / MToF: Only in an aquatic campaign.
  • Shadar-KaiMToF: Since you won’t be bravely teleporting into melee, the damage resistance isn’t especially helpful. You also only get to teleport once per day, so it’s not as useful as the Variant Eladrin.
  • Wood ElfPHB: Nothing useful for the Wizard.

Default Rules: Dexterity is nice for your AC, and Perception can be very effective if you didn’t dump Wisdom. Darkvision is welcome on any character, but when you can cast Darkvision or conjure up light it quickly stops being important.

  • DrowPHB: The Charisma bonus is wasted on a Wizard, and the extra spells will be lousy since they’re Charisma-based.
  • EladrinMToF: Bad ability spread.
  • Eladrin (Variant)DMG: Perfect ability score increases, and Misty Step on a Short Rest.
  • High Elf: A small bonus to Intelligence, and you get an extra cantrip for free. Altogether a solid choice, but it doesn’t offer anything unique that you wouldn’t already get from the class with the exception of weapon proficiencies that we don’t care about.
  • Sea ElfMToF: Nothing useful for the Wizard.
  • Shadar-KaiMToF: Nothing useful for the Wizard.
  • Wood ElfPHB: Wisdom is nice for saves and Perception, but that’s the best that the Wizard gets from the Wood Elf.

FirbolgVGtM

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases. Firbolg Magic is neat, but it’s Wisdom-based and rarely useful.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

GenasiEEPC

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases (each subrace provides an additional +1), but the vast majority of the Genasi’s traits come from the subraces.

  • Air: You can replace these traits with spells.
  • Earth: Pass Without Trace is good, but not enough on its own.
  • Fire: The Customizing Your Origin rules don’t change the Fire Genasi much, but you might reverse the ability increases. The innate spellcasting is decent at low levels, but remember that it’s Constitution-based so it will fall behind as you gain levels.
  • Water: Only in an aquatic campaign.

Default Rules: Constitution is great for everyone, but doesn’t play directly to what the Wizard needs.

  • Air: Dexterity isn’t enough, and the Air Genasi’s other traits are terrible.
  • Earth: Earth Genasi are melee monsters, and even then not very good ones.
  • Fire: Intelligence, Darkvision, a free offensive cantrip, Burning Hands once per day, and fire resistance so you can drop fireballs on yourself a bit more often. Altogether, a decent option for Evokers, but the spellcasting is Constitution-based so your spell attacks and save DC will be a problem beyond low levels.
  • Water: Nothing useful for a Wizard.

GithMToF

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases (each subrace provides an additional +2), but the bulk of your notable racial traits come from your subrace.

  • Githyanki: A compromise between the Hill Dwarf the Variant Eladrin, you get both medium armor and Misty Step once per day.
  • Githzerai: Mental Discipline is nice, and with proficiency in Wisdom saving throws you’ll be extremely well protected against Charm/Fear effects. The innate spellcasting is nice, but it’s all spells that you can already cast.

Default Rules: +1 Intelligence is a good start, and both subraces offer useful psionics.

  • GithyankiMToF: Medium armor proficiency means that you can cast spells in half plate, which is pretty nice. The psionics are nice, too, but you can learn and cast those spells already so they’re not a huge addition. Still, this is probably a better choice than the Mountain Dwarf thanks to the Gith’s Intelligence increase.
  • GithzeraiMToF: The psionics are nice, but you’re a wizard and you can cast those spells already.

GnomePHB

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases (each subrace offers a +1 increase), Darkvision, and Gnome Cunning.

  • Deep (Svirfneblin)EEPC / SCAG: You’re not saddled with Sunlight Sensitivity, but the Svirfneblin still doesn’t offer enough that it’s useful outside of a subterranean campaign.
  • ForestPHB: Minor Illusion is great. It’s easy to compare the Forest Gnome to the High Elf: you give up the ability to pick your cantrip and a skill in exchange for Gnome Cunning.
  • RockPHB: Tinker is not useful enough to make this appealing.

Default Rules: A bonus to Intelligence is exactly what you want. Darkvision is nice, but can be replicated with a spell. You also get Advantage on mental saving throws against spells, which combined with the Wizard’s Intelligence and Wisdom saving throw proficiencies makes you very resilient to mind-affecting spells.

  • Deep (Svirfneblin)EEPC / SCAG: Interesting for stealthy wizard or an illusionist, especially in a subterranean campaign.
  • ForestPHB: A small Dexterity bonus can help your AC, and Minor Illusion for free saves you a Cantrip.
  • RockPHB: A small Constitution bonus can get you some much-needed hit points, and Artificer’s Lore is a great flavor for a Wizard, even if it’s not very impactful. Tinker is easily replaced by magic.

GoblinVGtM

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases and Darkvision. Nimble Escape helps you stay out of melee, minimizing the need for things like Misty Step. Fury of the Small applies to spells, including AOE spells, but remember that saving for half damage will also reduce the damage from Fury of the Small so you want to apply the damage bonus when an enemy fails their save.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

GoliathEEPC

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, one skill, and damage resistance. Stone’s Endurance looks neat, but without a decent AC it’s simply not enough to keep you alive. Look at the Hill Dwarf or the Githyanki instead.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

Half-ElfPHB

Customized Origin: +2/+1/+1 increases, Darkvision, and Fey Ancestry. The ability increases are somewhat overkill, but they also make it easy to branch out into skills that aren’t Intelligence-based.

  • Aquatic Half-ElfSCAG: Only in an aquatic campaign.
  • Drow Half-ElfSCAG: The innate spellcasting is Charisma-based so it’s minimally useful, and you can already cast most of it.
  • High Half-ElfSCAG: The Wizard has more use for the Elf’s additional skill than for the Half-Elf’s additional +1 ability increase.
  • Standard Half-ElfPHB: Two skills offers a lot of room to expand your capabilities beyond what you can do with spells.
  • Wood Half-ElfSCAG: Nothing that’s helpful for the Wizard.

Default Rules: Half-elfs are arguably the best race in the core rulebook, but they don’t do much for wizards. You can still get a small bonus to intelligence, but the half-elf doesn’t offer anything which you can’t get elsewhere.

  • Aquatic Half-ElfSCAG: Only if you’re in an aquatic campaign.
  • Drow Half-ElfSCAG: The free spells are decent, but you can cast comparable spells.
  • High Half-ElfSCAG: You get enough of your own cantrips already.
  • Standard Half-ElfPHB: Two free skills means that you can pick up some more knowledge skills.
  • Wood Half-ElfSCAG: Nothing useful for the Wizard.

Half-OrcPHB

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, Darkvision, and one skill. Relentless Endurance may keep you alive once, but the rest of the Half-Orc’s traits are wasted on the Wizard.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

HalflingPHB

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, Lucky, and Brave. Lucky is less useful for the Wizard than for most other characters because wizards rely more heavily on other creatures making saving throws instead of relying on attacks.

  • GhostwiseSCAG: Telepathy is neat, but you can replace it with a spell.
  • LightfootPHB: Without a major reliance on stealth, Naturally Stealthy is rarely impactful.
  • StoutPHB: A bit of additional durability.

Default Rules: Dexterity is nice for your AC, but the Halfling offers little else that is specifically useful to the Wizard.

  • GhostwiseSCAG: Nothing useful for wizards.
  • LightfootPHB: Charisma is worthless to a Wizard, and if you need stealth you can cast Invisibility.
  • StoutPHB: Constitution is nice, but not enough. The Stout halfling is marginally better than the other subrace options, but even then you’ll do better with the Dwarf.

HobgoblinVGtM

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, Darkvision, and light armor. The armor helps, and it’s probably enough to forgo Mage Armor. Saving Face is the big selling point here, and you can use it for high-value spell attacks or save it for a saving throw.

Default Rules: The Constitution increase makes you nice and durable, and Saving Face is really great if you miss an attack roll with a high-level spell and don’t want to waste the spell slot.

Human

Customized Origin:

  • Standard: With perfect ability scores on the table for every race, there is no reason to play the Standard Human.
  • Variant: The Customizing Your Origin rules make no change to the Variant Human.

Default Rules:

  • Vanilla: Wizards really only need Intelligence, so a +1 to all of your scores is totally wasted.
  • Variant: You can still get a small bonus to your Intelligence, and you can get an awesome feat at level 1, plus a free skill. As awesome as all that is, the Custom Lineage is slightly better because two small increases aren’t as good for the wizard as one big increase.

KenkuVGtM

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases and two skills. Expert Forgery and Mimicry will rarely be impactful. Fun theme, but nothing mechanically impressive.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

KoboldVGtM

Customized Origin: +2 increase, Darkvision, Sunlight Sensitivity. Pack Tactics can offset Sunlight Sensitivity for the few spell attacks that you’ll make, and the rest of the time your spells require saving throws and don’t care if you need to squint at your targets. Still, Pack Tactics is the Kobold’s biggest trait, and you essentially need to ignore its existence.

Default Rules: With a familiar (or a conveniently-place ally), Pack Tactics can give you easy Advantage. Pack Tactics still works with spell attacks, but spells which make attacks become less common as you gain levels so Pack Tactics will diminish in importance very quickly.

LizardfolkVGtM

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, two skills, and 13+ natural armor. The natural armor will replace Mage armor, and the skills are great, but there’s nothing else here worth having.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

LocathahLR

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, two skills, 12+ natural armor, and a long list of condition resistances from Leviathan Will. The natural armor isn’t quite as good as Mage Armor, but Leviathan Will can protect from things that AC can’t.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

OrcVGtM

Note that errata has corrected the multiple versions of the Orc to all provide the same traits. The Intelligence decrease has been removed, and the Primal Intuition now allows selecting two skills from a list. The Orc of Exandria entry from Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount omits the Powerful Build trait, but it’s not clear if that was an intentional change.

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, two skills, and Darkvision. Aggressive is the Orc’s signature trait, but the Wizard is not a melee monster so it’s not helpful.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

TabaxiVGtM

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, two skills, and Darkvision. Feline Agility is the Tabaxi’s signature trait, and it’s not useful enough that the Tabaxi is an easy choice.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

TieflingPHB

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, Darkvision, and damage resistance. Most of the subraces will give you innate spellcasting, but it’s Charisma-based so it’s hard for the Wizard to use effectively. Avoid spells which allow saving throws or which require attacks.

  • AsmodeusPHB/MToF: The spellcasting is fine, but Hellish Rebuke will be gradually less impactful as you gain levels both because your save DC will be poor and because the damage won’t scale.
  • BaalzebulMToF: Too reliant on saving throws.
  • DispaterMToF: Situational utility options, and the leveled spells are already on the Wizard’s spell list so you gain very little.
  • FiernaMToF: Too dependent on saving throws.
  • GlasyaMToF: You can accomplish a great deal with these spells before your spellcasting ability or save DC become an issue, which makes them great options for innate spellcasting.
  • LevistusMToF: Darkness is the only spell that’s going to be meaningfully useful.
  • MammonMToF: Situational utility options, but they’re all on your spell list already.
  • MephistophelesMToF: Flame blade is garbage.
  • ZarielMToF: Smite spells are bot a good choice for wizards.
  • Variant: FeralSCAG: The Customizing Your Origin optional rules make the Feral variant obsolete. All it does is rearrange your ability score increases.
  • Variant: Devil’s TongueSCAG: Too reliant on saving throws.
  • Variant: HellfireSCAG: Burning Hands may be more useful for you than Hellish Rebuke, but not by much.
  • Variant: WingedSCAG: Permanent flight without Concentration. You don’t need the free racial spells on a Wizard anyway, so this is a great trade.

Default Rules: A small bonus to Intelligence and access to Thaumaturgy, which is weird for a Wizard. The Flames of Flegethos feat is tempting for School of Evocation and other Blaster wizards. Perhaps the Tiefling’s biggest challenge is that the Innate Spellcasting is Charisma-based, so anything that allow a saving throw will be unreliable.

  • AsmodeusPHB/MToF: The ability scores don’t work as well for a Wizard as a race with a +2 Intelligence bonus. The spellcasting is fine, but Hellish Rebuke will be gradually less impactful as you gain levels both because your save DC will be poor and because the damage won’t scale.
  • BaalzebulMToF: ntelligence and access to Thaumaturgy.
  • DispaterMToF: Bad ability spread.
  • FiernaMToF: Bad ability spread.
  • GlasyaMToF: Bad ability spread.
  • LevistusMToF: Bad ability spread.
  • MammonMToF: Bonus intelligence, but the spells are really situational. You can do much better with other options.
  • MephistophelesMToF: Bonus intelligence, but Flame Blade is absolute garbage.
  • ZarielMToF: Too melee-centric.
  • Variant: FeralSCAG: Marginally better than the basic Asmodeus Tiefling because Wizards get more from Dexterity than from Charisma. According to the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, the Feral Variant is compatible with other variants, so if your DM allows it you may be able to use this in conjunction with another useful subrace.

    According to the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, the Feral Variant is compatible with other variants.

  • Variant: Devil’s TongueSCAG: Changing the spells doesn’t really improve the Tiefling for Wizards.
  • Variant: HellfireSCAG: Burning Hands may work better for Wizards than Hellish Rebuke if you don’t mind running into near-melee range to use it.
  • Variant: WingedSCAG: Permanent flight without Concentration. You don’t need the free racial spells on a Wizard anyway, so this is a great trade.

TortleTP

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, one skill, and AC fixed at 17 without worrying about actual armor. Not quite as good as the Hill Dwarf (poison resistance, Darkvision) or the Githyanki (innate spellcasting), but pretty close.

Default Rules: 17 AC is great, but the Githyanki can do the same and also provides an Intelligence increase and some Innate Spellcasting.

TritonVGtM

Customized Origin: Three +1 increases and Darkvision. The innate spellcasting is neat, but the spells are very situational, and they’re all on the Wizard’s spell list already.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

VerdanAcInc

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases and one skill. Black Blood Healing is most effective on classes with tiny hit dice like the Wizard’s, so you’ll be less reliant on healing from other sources (provided that you survive to your next Short Rest). Telepathic Insight helps with some mental saving throws, and Intelligence saves aren’t common enough that lack of Advantage is a deal breaker. Taken as a whole, the Verdan makes for a reasonably durable wizard, but doesn’t significantly improve the Wizard’s capabilities.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

Yuan-Ti PurebloodVGtM

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increase, Darkvision, and poison immunity. Magic Resistance is a fantastic defense on any character, and the Wizard is no exception even though you have other defensive options like Counterspell. The Innate Spellcasting is useless, but it honestly doesn’t matter.

Default Rules: Better suited to Sorcerers and Warlocks, but purebloods still make good wizards. Magic Resistance gives you a huge advantage over other spellcasters, and poison immunity helps with a very common damage type.

Setting-specific races are address below. Not every setting allows every race, and while most races presented in the core rules and in content for the Forgotten Realms can be used in other settings, races specific to settings like Ravnica aren’t typically allowed in other settings. Talk to your DM about what races are allowed in your game. 

Races of Eberron

BugbearERLW: See above under the general Races section.

ChangelingERLW

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases and two skills. Shapechanger is the Changeling’s signature trait, but you can cast Alter Self, Disguise Self, and Polymorph, so Shapechanger feels pretty minor.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

GoblinERLW: See above under the general Races section.

HobgoblinERLW: See above under the general Races section.

OrcERLW: See above under the general Races section.

KalashtarERLW

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, damage resistance, resistance on Wisdom saving throws, and probably the best racial telepathy option. That’s all fine, but you can also replicate the defensive traits with Mind Fortress and the telepathy with Rary’s Telepathic Bond.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

ShifterERLW

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases (each subrace provides an additional +1), Darkvision, and one skill. Shifting is the Shifter’s signature trait, offering a short-duration combat buff which includes temporary hit points which can be a good defense on top of the Wizard’s tiny hit point maximum. Of course, you could just cast False Life.

  • Beasthide: The +1 AC bonus won’t do much since your AC is so low to begin with, but the extra temporary hit points are helpful.
  • Longtooth: No wizard should even be able to use this effectively.
  • Swiftstride: Either teleport or cast Expeditious Retreat or something.
  • Wildhunt: Too situational.

Default Rules: None of the Shifter’s subraces offer an Intelligence increase.

  • Beasthide: Bad ability spread.
  • Longtooth: Bad ability spread.
  • Swiftstride: Bad ability spread.
  • Wildhunt: Bad ability spread.

WarforgedERLW

Customized Origin: The Customizing Your Origin rules make no meaningful changes to the Warforged. You can move the Constitution increase around, but increasing Constitution is still the best way to use that increase.

Default Rules: The flexible ability increase goes into Intelligence, and the Warforged’s other traits will make you more durable than a typical sorcerer before considering spells. A warforged with Mage Armor would have an AC of 14+Dex totally unequipped, allowing you to meet the AC of characters in light armor and a shield.

Dragonmarks

While the design intent for Dragonmarks was that they would offer some innate spellcasting for everyone, every dragonmark includes an expanded spell list which is arguably a more significant benefit than most of the provided racial traits. Because the expanded spell options are such an important part of the dragonmarks, if you’re not playing a spellcaster you’re giving up a huge part of your racial traits, which makes it exceptionally difficult to justify playing a dragonmark character who can’t cast spells.

Dragonmarked DwarfERLW

Dragonmark traits replace your subrace.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Warding: The only new spell on the spell list is Armor of Agathys. Mage Armor for free once per day is nice, too. But those two things are not enough, and the other benefits aren’t significant enough to make up the difference.

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Warding: The first published method to make an easily effective dwarf wizard without sacrificing Intelligence! Alarm is a good spell to have handy, but rarely worth one of your limited prepared spells. Mage Armor is basically a tax on low-level wizards that you pay to stay alive, and Mark of Warding removes that. You get each once per day for free. Several of the dragonmarks spells are already on the Wizard’s spell list, but there are several interesting new options like Armor of Agathys and Antilife Shell.
Dragonmarked ElfERLW

Dragonmark traits replace your subrace.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Shadow: The innate spellcasting is good, but nearly the entire spell list is already on the Wizard’s spell list. Pass Without Trace and Clairvoyance are good spells, but they’re not enough .

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Shadow: Bad ability spread.
Dragonmarked GnomeERLW

Dragonmark traits replace your subrace.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Scribing: The innate spellcasting is too situational, and the entire spell list is already on the Wizard’s spell list. The skill/tool bonuses are borderline worthless.

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Scribing: Gnomes get an Intelligence increase, but you gain very little from the Dragonmark. Every interesting spell is already on the Wizard’s spell list.
Dragonmarked Half-ElfERLW

Dragonmark traits replace some of your normal racial traits, as described in the entry for each Dragonmark.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Detection: Rearranging the ability score increases is a minor improvement to Mark of Detection, but it was already a decent option to begin with. The skills and Innate Spellcasting are reasonably useful, and while the dragonmark spells overlap with the Wizard’s spell list, there are some good new additions like Divination.
  • Mark of Storm: The innate spellcasting is too situational, and the only new spell on the spell list is Wind Wall.

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Detection: The ability score increases work well enough, and while there is some overlap with the Wizard’s spell list, you do add some new options including Find Traps and Divination, though Find Traps is borderline useless. The skill bonuses also line up well with given that you’re locked into a Wisdom increase and you’re going to take an Intelligence increase. Taking Proficiency in Insight and Investion makes a lot of sense, and you might also add Perception if you can spare the skill proficiency.
  • Mark of Storm: Bad ability spread, and nearly every spell on the spell list is already on the Wizard’s spell list.
Dragonmarked Half-OrcERLW

Dragonmark traits replace ALL of your racial traits.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Finding: Heavily dependent on Wisdom for the skills, but the introduction of several spells from the Druid’s and the Ranger’s spell lists makes this an interesting options. While the innate spellcasting is nearly useless for the Wizard, the leveled spells include several interesting new options like Faerie Fire and Divination.

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Finding: Bad ability spread.
Dragonmarked HalflingERLW

Dragonmark traits replace your subrace.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Healing: Healing is the biggest gap in the Wizard’s capabilities, and Mark of Healing solves that limitation nicely. While you don’t get high-level options like Heal and you can’t raise the dead, the ability to repair problematic status conditions and restore hit points is still a massive addition to the Wizard’s already formidable capabilities.
  • Mark of Hospitality: The skill bonuses aren’t especially helpful, and the innate spellcasting is mostly situational, but there are some excellent spells from the Cleric’s and the Druid’s spell lists which offer some interesting support options.

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Healing: Bad ability spread, but both the innate spellcasting and the expanded spell list allow the Wizard to fill many of the healing functions which normally require a cleric. While you won’t get the high-level healing options like Heal or any options to raise the dead, you still get crucial options like Healing Word and Restoration. You’ll lag offensively, but if you can focus on utility and support options, you could be a spectacular contributor to the party without focusing on obvious offensive options. As an example: a Mark of Healing Halfling Diviner with the Bountiful Luck feat may be abundantly effective withut ever directly interacting with enemies, but instead by acting as a force multiplier for the rest of the party.
  • Mark of Hospitality: Bad ability spread.
Dragonmarked HumanERLW

Dragonmark traits replace ALL of your normal racial traits.

Customized Origin:

  • Mark of Finding: See Mark of Finding under Dragonmarked Half-Orc, above. Mechanically, the final racial traits are identical.
  • Mark of Handling: Unless you’re really worried about beasts, there’s little to be gained here. The ability to use Animal Friendship and Speak With Animals against monstrosities is neat, but very situational.
  • Mark of Making: Thematically this makes a lot of sense, and the skill bonus seems tempting, but the Wizard can already do everything that Mark of Making offers. Conjure Barrage and Elemental Weapon are new to the Wizard’s spell list, but neither are especially interesting for the Wizard.
  • Mark of Passage: Misty Step for free once per day, but you can get that from the Eladrin, the Githyanki, and the Shadar-Kai, so the unique parts are the skill bonus which you won’t use and the spell list, which adds almost nothing to the Wizard’s spell list. The only new additions are Pass Without Trace and Freedom of Movement. Those are good spells, but not good enough to make this good.
  • Mark of Sentinel: Shield once per day is great, and the skill bonuses are workable, but the rest of Mark of Sentinel’s traits aren’t especially helpful. Vigilant Guardian is a death sentence for the Wizard, and most of the new spells aren’t helpful for the Wizard. Death Ward is a great spell, but on its own it’s not enough.

Default Rules:

  • Mark of Finding: See Mark of Finding under Dragonmarked Half-Orc, above. Mechanically, the final racial traits are identical.
  • Mark of Handling: The ability score increase work, and many of the spells are new to the Wizard’s spell list, but they focus very heavily on a single creature type that never passes CR 10.
  • Mark of Making: The ability score increases are great, but all of useful spells except Elemental Weapon are already on your spell list so you gain very little except the Intelligence increase and a free cantrip.
  • Mark of Passage: The ability score increases work, and the extra speed and free Misty Step are helpful to keep you out of danger, but the only new spell on the spell list is Pass Without Trace.
  • Mark of Sentinel: Bad ability spread.

Races of Ravnica

CentaurGGTR

Customized Origin: All of the Centaur’s interesting traits are tied up in Strength.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

GoblinGGTR: See above under the general Races section.

LoxodonGGTR

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, resistance to charm and fear effects, and 12+Con natural armor. Given the choice between the two, the Locathah is better all around. The Loxodon’s biggest advantage is that their natural armor is Constitution-based, but as a wizard you’re likely sitting at 14 in both Dexterity and Constitution so that’s hardly an advantage.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

MinotaurGGTR

Customized Origin: All of the Minotaur’s interesting traits are tied up in Strength.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

Simic HybridGGTR

Customized Origin: The Customizing Your Origin rules make no meaningful changes to the Simic Hybrid. You can move the Constitution increase around, but increasing Constitution is still the best way to use that increase.

Default Rules: A neat option, but you can get most of the race’s benefits from spells.

VedalkenGGTR

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, one skill, and one tool. Vedalken Dispassion provides an excellent defensive option, and Tireless Precision can make you more effective at some non-magical stuff. If you just want durability the Yuan-Ti Pureblood may be more effective, but the Vedalken is still a very effective choice.

Default Rules: The Intelligence increase is a great start. The free proficiencies add some extra utility, and getting an extra d4 on the ability checks with those proficiencies really helps the Vedalken stand out as an expert. Vedalken Dispassion will help protect you from spells and effects which might otherwise take you out of a fight in one go.

Races of Theros

CentaurMOoT: See above under the Races of Ravnica section.

HumanMOoT: See above under the general Races section.

LeoninMOoT

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, Darkvision, and one skill. Daunting Roar is neat, but the range is tiny and you can cast Cause Fear and Fear (yes those are two different spells), so it’s hardly worth considering.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread.

MinotaurMOoT: See above under the Ravnica Races section.

SatyrMOoT

Customized Origin: +2/+1 increases, two skills, one instrument, and magic resistance. While the Satyr isn’t as durable as the Yuan-Ti Pureblood, the additional skills can help you expand your non-magical capabilities, which may be worth the trade.

Default Rules: Bad ability spread. If you want Magic Resistance, play a Yuan-Ti Pureblood.

TritonMOoT: See above under the general Races section.

Races of Wildemount

AarakocraEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

AasimarEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

BugbearEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

DragonbornPHB

Wildemount presents two new Dragonborn variants, each replacing the standard Dragonborn’s ability score increases and damage resistance.

Customized Origin:

  • DraconbloodEGtW: If you want Advantage on Charisma checks, cast Enhance Ability.
  • RaveniteEGtW: Only works if you’re weilding a weapon, and there is very little reason for a wizard to do so beyond low levels.

Default Rules:

  • DraconbloodEGtW: An Intelligence increase, Darkvision, and a breath weapon. Forceful Presence is neat, but you’re probably going to dump Charisma.
  • RaveniteEGtW: Bad ability spread.

Elf

Wildemount elves share the core traits of PHB elves, but Wildemount adds two new subraces. See above for more information on other elf subraces.

Customized Origin:

  • Pallid ElfEGtW: The skill bonuses are decent and the Innate Spellcasting is nice, but Sleep is obsolete as soon as you get it and there are plenty of other races which provide Invisibility as an innate spell.
  • Sea ElfEGtW / MToF: See above under the general Races section.

Default Rules:

  • Pallid ElfEGtW: Bad ability spread.
  • Sea ElfEGtW / MToF: See above under the general Races section.

FirbolgsEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

GenasiEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

GoblinEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

HalflingPHB

Wildemount halflings share the core traits of PHB halflings, but Wildemount adds a new subrace. See above for information on other halfling subraces.

Customized Origin:

  • LotusdenEGtW: The innate spellcasting is decent, but it’s Wisdom-based so you’ll find that it’s unreliable due to the poor save DC compared to your wizard spells.

Default Rules:

  • LotusdenEGtW: Bad ability spread.

HobgoblinEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

GoliathEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

KenkuEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

OrcEGtW: See above, under “Races of Eberron”. Wildemount uses the updated Orc racial traits rather than the original traits published in Volo’s Guide to Monsters.

TabaxiEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

TortleEGtW: See above under the general Races section.

Skills

  • Arcana (Int): Wizards are all about Arcana, so it’s reasonable to assume that you know it.
  • History (Int): Helpful, especially in campaigns which go into history frequently.
  • Insight (Wis): You likely don’t have enough Wisdom to be particularly good at this, but it can be helpful if your party’s Face doesn’t have it.
  • Investigation (Int): Helpful, but likely best left for the party’s Scout.
  • Medicine (Wis): This skill is useless. Medicine is best done magically.
  • Religion (Int): One of the more important knowledge skills, and you are probably better with it than the Cleric.

Background

This section does not address every published background, as doing so would result in an ever-growing list of options which don’t cater to the class. Instead, this section will cover the options which I think work especially well for the class, or which might be tempting but poor choices. Racial feats are discussed in the Races section, above.

With the Wizard’s Intelligence, you want as many knowledge skills as you can get. There aren’t great tool options for most wizards and languages may not be useful with poor Charisma and access to magical solutions to language barriers, but when all of the options are poor there’s a lot of flexibility to pick something fun rather than something that’s definitely useful.

If you’re having trouble deciding, here are some suggestions:

  • AcolytePHB: Two skills from the Wizard skill list, and two languages. Not awful, but nothing that you really need to have and it doesn’t expand your options.
  • Clan CrafterSCAG: History is good, but Wizards typically don’t get a lot of use out of Insight, and artificer’s tools aren’t terribly useful.
  • Cloistered ScholarSCAG: Two knowledge skills are great, and you get to pick one. The bonus languages might not be particularly helpful, since you can handle languages magically.
  • Faction AgentSCAG: Insight is okay, and the flexible skill choice is nice, but you can get the languages magically.
  • HermitPHB: Two skills from the Wizard skill list, one language, and proficiency with the herbalist’s kit, which you can use to craft potions of healing.
  • SagePHB: Two of the better skills from the Wizard skill list and two languages. The bonus languages might not be particularly helpful since you can handle languages magically.

Feats

This section does not address every published feat, as doing so would result in an ever-growing list of options which don’t cater to the class. Instead, this section will cover feats which I think work especially well for the class or which might be tempting but poor choices.

  • AlertPHB: The bonus to Initiative is tempting because spellcasters can do so much to affect a fight if they go first, but nothing else is particularly helpful.
  • Artificer InitiateTCoE: The Artificer’s spell list overlaps considerably with the Wizard’s, but the Artificer has some enticing 1st-level spell options like Faerie Fire and Cure Wounds, and since the Artificer also uses Intelligence these spells will work nicely with the rest of your spellcasting.
  • Elemental AdeptPHB: Very tempting for Evokers, but specializing in one element is severely limiting. If something is resistant to one element, use a different one. Changing 1’s to 2’s averages 1/6 damage per die, which is as close to nothing as you will ever see.
  • Fey TouchedTCoE: Misty Step once per day for free is nice, but not essential. The 1st-level spells include few options that the Wizard can’t already cast, but Bless or Heroism might be tempting. There’s nothing here that’s going to significantly improve your wizard, but if you’re at 19 Intelligence it’s at least worth a look.

    For more advice on Fey Touched, see my Spellcasting Feats Breakdown.

  • GunnerTCoE: Bladesingers might consider this, but it’s not significantly better than using a longbow and since you’re using a cantrip in place of one of your attacks (check the Bladesinger’s version of Extra Attack), you’re getting very little benefit from this.
  • Keen MindPHB: A partial bonus to Intelligence, but the other bonuses are nearly worthless. You could use this to do things like recall the appearance of documents and use that recollection to create perfect illusory replicas, but the situations in which you would use that are exceptionally rare.
  • Lightly ArmoredPHB: Mage Armor works fine. If you’re desperate for manufactured armor, multiclass into something that gets you better armor.
  • LuckyPHB: Amusing, but not particularly useful to Wizards since they don’t frequently roll attacks or saves. This could be useful for Concentration, but I think it’s better to invest in avoiding damage rather than attempting to suffer the damage and mitigate the effects. If you find that you’re making more than three Constitution saves in a day, Resilient (Constitution) may be a better choice.
  • Magic InitiatePHB: A tempting way to get cantrips from other classes, but remember that you use the spellcasting ability of that other class, and since your Wisdom and Charisma will be poor compared to your Intelligence, so will your spellcasting. Stick to utility options or options which don’t care about your spellcasting ability modifier if you insist on taking this.

    For more advice on Magic Initiate, see my Spellcasting Feats Breakdown.

  • Metamagic AdeptTCoE: Excellent on any spellcaster. The Wizard has some great options for Extended Spell like Mage Armor and summon spells. Evokers will enjoy Transmuted Spell, and basically any wizard will enjoy options like Quickened Spell and Twinned Spell. For advice on Metamagic Adept, see my Sorcerer Metamagic Breakdown.
  • ObservantPHB: A partial Intelligence bonus, and the passive Investigation bonus can be useful.
  • ResilientPHB: Proficiency in Constitution saves really helps with Concentration, not to mention how common Consitution saves are. If you care primarily about Concentration it’s easy to compare this to War Caster. Advantage works out to a little more than +3, so once your Proficiency Bonus hits +4 Resilient becomes the more effective option of the two. However, Concentration only becomes a factor if you’re taking damage. If you’re taking damage, you have much bigger problems than Concentration. Instead, boost your Intelligence and use the extra prepared spell to pick up something that will keep you from getting hit like Shield, Invisibility, Blink, or Mirror Image.
  • Ritual CasterPHB: All of the same issues as Magic Initiate. Really only useful if your party needs access to Cleric rituals.
  • Shadow TouchedTCoE: Most of the spells are already available to the Wizard, and the two extra spells per day will have very little impact.

    For more advice on Shadow Touched, see my Spellcasting Feats Breakdown.

  • SkilledPHB: Proficiencies are great, especially since Wizards get few skills, but if you really need skills you should probably play a race that gives you extra skill proficiencies or start as a Rogue.
  • Spell SniperPHB: The only spells that are viable for you to select are already on the Wizard’s spell list. If making spell attacks is a problem, use something that requires saving throws instead.

    For more advice on Spell Sniper, see my Spellcasting Feats Breakdown.

  • TelekineticTCoE: While the Wizard does have options to use their Bonus Action, most of them involve spending spell slots, and even if you have a mountain of spell slots to burn your Bonus Action is still going to be idle on many turns. In those cases, Telekinetic adds a useful way to spend your Bonus Action to have a tactical impact. Moving a creature 5 feet often isn’t a big deal, but it’s enough to break grapples and sometimes it’s enough to force enemies into hazardous places like the area of ongoing spells.
  • TelepathicTCoE: Unlike many sources of telepathy, including those offered by some races, this telepathy still uses languages, so the benefits are minimally appealing even for a Face. You do get to increase a mental ability score, which reduces the cost of the feat, but the benefits are primarily the ability to communicate while being stealthy.
  • ToughPHB: Cast False Life instead.
  • War CasterPHB: A really great feat, but generally best left to Artificers and Eldritch Knights. Bladesingers can get a lot of use out of it while they’re in melee, but if you just want Advantage on Concentration checks I think Lucky or Resilient are better options.

Weapons

  • Dagger: Carry one or two for utility purposes at any level, but the damage isn’t good enough to make it better than shocking grasp. You can make opportunity attacks with a dagger, but that’s not something you should be doing frequently.
  • Light Crossbow: Until you hit level 5, a light crossbow can do more damage than firebolt. If you have at least 14 Dexterity, a light crossbow is a better option than firebolt at low levels when you just need to do some damage (Crossbow DPR with 14 Dex roughly 3.9 compared to 3.575 to Fire Bolt with 16 Int from levels 1 through 3, then 3.575 for both at level 4).
  • Quarterstaff: A great cosmetic item, but totally useless in combat. Use Shocking Grasp or a Dagger instead.
  • Rapier: The Bladesinger Wizard’s go-to weapon.
  • Scimitar: Tempting for the Bladesinger if you want to explore Two-Weapon Fighting, but you can’t perform Somatic components with a weapon in your hand so you can’t cast Shield if you’re using two scimitars. You’ll need War Caster to overcome that limitation, and even if you go that route remember that you’ll often want your Bonus Action for casting spells like Misty Step.

Armor

Cast Mage Armor and learn Shield. At low levels that will be enough to keep you safe, but at high levels you’ll likely dump mage armor because enemies’ attack bonuses will be so high that it will stop being helpful. You might keep shield around for those rare times when it would deflect an attack, but you’re better served by other spells like Blur or Blink.

Multiclassing

This section briefly details so obvious and enticing multiclass options, but doesn’t fully explore the broad range of multiclassing combinations. For more on multiclassing, see my Practical Guide to Multiclassing.

  • Artificer: Starting with a level in artificer gets you a lot. Proficiency in medium armor, shields, and Constitution saving throws are really tempting, plus artificers get access to some low-level spells which the Wizard doesn’t like Cure Wounds. The Artificer’s multiclassing rules allow you to round up when determining spell slots (other spellcasting class round down), so while you don’t learn spells of new spell levels as quickly you still get the same spell slot progression. It’s nothing that you absolutely need to have, but for 1 level it’s pretty good. Bladesingers might consider 3 levels to get the Battlesmith’s Battle Ready feature, allowing them to use Intelligence for weapon attacks and damage.
  • Cleric: A single level with the right domain can get you heavy armor proficiency, not to mention how many great low-level spells the Cleric has.
  • Fighter: If you want Action Surge, two levels of Fighter are tempting, but remember that you’re giving up an entire level of spells to get one to three extra spells per day (the game expects two short rests in a full day of adventuring). If you want to be a fighter that blasts stuff, Bladesinger and Eldritch Knight exist for a reason.

Magic Items

Common Magic Items

  • Hat of Wizardry: Easy access to all of those weird, situational cantrips that aren’t worth learning permanently. A DC 10 Arcana check is trivial for the Wizard; a typical wizard will get +5 to the check at level 1, and by level 9 passes the check on a natural 1. Unfortunately, this does require Attunement and you can only attempt to use it once per day, so you may abandon this in favor of other items later in your career.
  • Ruby of the War MageXGtE: Tempting for the Bladesinger, but the Bladesinger generally fights with a one-handed weapon so you have a hand free to cast spells. I would consider this if you like two-weapon fighting as a bladesinger, but remember that you still need a free hand to cast Absorb Elements and Shield and Ruby of the War Mage won’t fix that.

Uncommon Magic Items

  • Arcane Grimoire: +1 to spell attacks and save DC’s. The improvement to Arcane Recovery isn’t huge, but it makes it easier to recover higher-level spell slots. You don’t get to exceed the cap of 6th level, but at low levels the ability to recover slightly more powerful spell slots is a big improvement.
  • Broom of FlyingDMG: Easily overlooked, but one of the best ways to get flight for any character. It doesn’t require attunement, and has a fly speed of 50 feet, though many medium characters will exceed the 200 pound limit to reduce the speed to 30 feet, but even then 30 feet fly speed with no duration cap and requiring no action after speaking the command word is absolutely incredible. The only drawback is that you’re using the item’s speed rather than giving yourself a fly speed, so things that improve your speed won’t make the broom move faster, and you can’t Dash with the broom. Even so, I honestly can’t justify why this is only Uncommon considering how exceptionally good it is.
  • Cloak of ProtectionDMG: Good on any character, but it requires Attunement and it’s not very interesting.
  • Eyes of Minute SeeingDMG: Excellent in dungeon crawls. Investigation is typically used for finding things like traps, and even if you’re not proficient you almosy certainly have the highest Intelligence in the party.
  • Goggles of NightDMG: Crucial for races which don’t get Darkvision, especially if your party can’t cast the Darkvision spell for you.
  • Headband of Intellect: By the time you can get this, you probably already have 18 Intelligence so there’s little benefit. Give it to the least-intelligent person in the party.
  • Pearl of PowerDMG: Useful on any spellcaster.
  • Slippers of Spider ClimbingDMG: The next-best thing to flight. Walking up a wall has all the benefits of flying out of reach.
  • Stone of Good LuckDMG: Excellent on literally any character, but if you just want better defense a Cloak of Protection may be more effective. Note that ability checks include Initiative rolls and checks to counter/dispel things.
  • Wand of the War MageDMG: Helpful if you’re heavily reliant on cantrips like Fire Bolt, but an Arcane Grimoir will be considerably more useful.
  • Weapon, +1DMG: Helpful for the Bladesinger.
  • Winged BootsDMG: Excellent on its own, but Winged Boots are more limited in use than a broom of flying, and they require Attunement.

Rare Magic Items

  • Alchemical CompendiumTCoE: While the Alchemical Compendium doesn’t provide a bonus to your spell attacks and spell DC’s like the Arcane Grimoire, it’s still an amazing item with a ton of utility that may not be obvious at first. The first benefit of the item is the simplest, allowing you to draw on your growing collection of spells in your spellbook on short notice, allowing you to use weird, situational transmutation spells that typically aren’t worth preparing like Alter Self or Skywrite.

    The second benefit is considerably more complex, but it’s complex enough that it’s definitely worth exploring. The obvious use is to turn one object into another object, such as a weapon into a tool to get past an obstacle, or a block of gold into a diamond so that you can raise an ally from the dead. There doesn’t seem to be any limitation on the final size of the object or on special materials, so you can do weird things like turning a gold bar into a stone boulder or a torch into a dead mouse (dead bodies are objects).

    Even better, you can use this to sabotage obstacles, such as by turning door hinges or locks into coins. In fact, spending a charge of the book to turn random objects into money (coins, gems, or bars of precious metals all work) is a great idea because it removes a problematic object and gives you a small, value-dense object of a specific value which you can then use later to recreate that object if necessary. Unfortunately you can’t turn multiple objects into one object or one object into multiple objects (no piles of coins), but if necessary you can just melt metal together to make it a single object.

  • Amulet of HealthDMG: Setting your Constitution to 19 means that you don’t need to put Ability Score Increases into it unless you’re really certain that you want 20 Constitution. Less ASI’s into Constitution means more room for feats. Combining this with Resilient (Constitution) or War Caster can do a lot to make Concentration easier.
  • Arcane Grimoire: +2 to spell attacks and save DC’s. See Arcane Grimoir under Uncommon Magic Items for more.
  • Astromancy ArchiveTCoE: The ability to trade prepared spells to access divination spells as-needed means that you can easily access things like Identify and Tongues without needing to keep them prepared all the time. The second benefit is extremely powerful even at a maximum of three uses per day. Use it to buff your allies saves against dangeorus things like save-or-scuk effects or to debuff enemies who are attempting to resist your high-level spells.
  • Atlas of Endless HorizonsTCoE: The ability to trade prepared spells to access conjuration spells as-needed means that you can easily access things like Find Familiar and Plane Shift without needing to keep them prepared all the time. Many conjurationspells are very situational and you may not need them while actively adventuring, but might want them at the end of the day or when you decide it’s time to teleport home. The teleportation effect is neat and can get you out of grapples, but the range is tiny so you may still want Misty Step prepared. You only need to hit by an attack to trigger it, so you could punch yourself (or have an ally do it) in order to forcibly trigger the teleportation.
  • Barrier Tattoo (Rare)TCoE: Way better than Mage Armor and you don’t need to raise your Dexterity past 14 to still have good AC.
  • Bracers of DefenseDMG: Get a Barrier Tattoo (Rare).
  • Cloak of DisplacementDMG: Among the best defensive items in the game. Taking damage from any source (spells, etc.) suppresses the effect temporarily, so make a point to kill anything that can damage you without an attack roll.
  • Duplicitous ManuscriptTCoE: Among the school-specific focuses of this type, the Duplicitous Manuscript is one of the least useful. While it shares the ability to change a prepared spell, you’ll rarely need to change which illusions you’ve prepared within the space of a day unless you need to break out the really unusual options like Seeming and Hallucinatory Terrain. The second benefit allows you impose Disadvantage when creatures try to break your illusions, but it’s one charge to affect one creature on one check or save, so it’s expensive and not very effective. A +1 or +2 spellcasting focus will yield more consistent results and will work consistently across all of your spells rather than only for the maximum of three times per day where you can use the Duplicitous Manuscript.
  • Elven ChainDMG: One less AC than Barrier Tattoo (Rare), but it doesn’t require attunement, so in a game with abundant magic items Elven Chain may be a better choice.
  • Fulminating TreatiseTCoE: Generally evocation enthusiasts are Blasters, and have a good mix of spells that they prepare every day to fulfill their magical violence needs. But there are a few situational spells (Contingency, etc.) which you may need to cast once but don’t want to keep prepared when you walk into a fight, so trading a spell can be very helpful. The secondary benefit adds a small amount of damage against a single target and knocks them prone. Considering the book’s rarity, that’s a fairly minor benefit most of the time. But remember that knocking a flying foe prone causes them to fall unless they can hover, and since the effect doesn’t allow a save you can add it to magic missile and knock flying foes out of the air unerringly. Imagine casting magic missile at first level and causing an ancient dragon to fall and take a mountain of falling damage.
  • Heart Weaver’s PrimerTCoE: An absolute must for an enchantment enthusiast, the Heart Weaver’s Primer’s second benefit is basically the same as Enhanced Spell. Imposing Disadvantage on even one save can negate a creature as a threat. Enchantment spells include some of the best save-or-suck options in the game, and while many include additional saving throws (Hold Monster, etc.), many don’t unless sepcific conditions are met (Charm Monster, Hypnotic Pattern). The Disadvantage only affects one creature per charge, but that’s still enough to be massively impactful.
  • Libram of Souls and FleshTCoE: If you’re working with undead you need to be able to handle them without them murdering you for much longer than 30 minutes per day.
  • Planecaller’s CodexTCoE: Summon spells are fantastic, especially with the addition of the new spells in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. The second benefit of this item has a very short duration which encourages you to wait to summon a pet until you actually plan to fight things (normally you can do it ahead of time thanks to the generous hour-long durations), but doing so is absolutely worth the strain for the dramatic improvement in effectiveness.
  • Protective VersesTCoE: Abjuration includes a huge number of situational spells like Arcane Lock, so having access to them easily is a big advantage. The second benefits applies a decent amount of temporary hit points, but I would reserve at least 1 charge for trading prepared spells because it’s so easy to spend your charges on the temporary hit points.
  • Ring of ProtectionDMG: Cloak of Protection is lower rarity and has the same effect.
  • Ring of ResistanceDMG: A fine item in a vaccuum, but a Ring of Spell Storing full of Absorb Elements will be much more effective.
  • Ring of Spell StoringDMG: Fill it with Absorb Elements and Shield, and recharge it whenever possible and this is a spectacular defensive asset.
  • Weapon, +2DMG: Helpful for the Bladesinger.
  • Wings of FlyingDMG: Broom of Flying is much better, lower rarity, and doesn’t require attunement.

Very Rare Magic Items

  • Absorbing TattooTCoE: Good, but too high rarity to devote to a single damage type. Get a Ring of Spell Storing and fill it with Absorb Elements.
  • Amulet of the Planes: Plane Shift for free, and since it’s an Intelligence check you’ll be able to pass it without too much trouble. If you do fail, you can use it again the next round so long as you don’t end up somewhere which would prevent you from doing so.
  • Arcane Grimoire: +2 to spell attacks and save DC’s. See Arcane Grimoir under Uncommon Magic Items for more.
  • Barrier Tattoo (Very Rare)TCoE: The fixed AC matches full plate, so you don’t need to worry about Dexterity to boost your AC and you don’t even suffer Disadvantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks.
  • Crystaline ChronicleTCoE: By the time you’re high enough level to get this item, the 100gp cap won’t be especially helpful. You do get to pretend to know three additional cantrips, which is nice, but at this level you really need this to be better.
  • Manual of Bodily HealthDMG: Permanent Constitution bonus and raises your cap by 2. Unless you’re using a magic item that fixes your Constitution as a specific score, this is excellent.
  • Spellguard ShieldDMG: Basically only useful against spellcasters, but if you’re facing a spellcaster there are few better defenses.
  • Staff of FireDMG: Good go-to spells a few times per day.
  • Staff of IceDMG: Decent spells, but knowing Fireball and Wall of Force makes the best options on the staff obsolete.
  • Staff of PowerDMG: A +2 quarterstaff, +2 to spell attacks (though not to spell DC’s for some reason, so you may want another focus), +2 to both AC and to saving throws, 20 charges, and 9 spells which you can cast. This is powerful, versatile, and all around just an exceptionally powerful item.
  • Tome of Clear ThoughtDMG: Permanent Intelligence bonus and raises your cap by 2.
  • Weapon, +3DMG: Helpful for the Bladesinger.

Legendary Magic Items

  • Cloak of InvisibilityDMG: Invisibility is extremely powerful in 5e. Note that this is just the invisible condition, not the spell spell Invisibility, so you can still attack or whatever while invisible. Unless you’re playing a Defender and actively trying to draw attacks away from your allies, this is absolutely amazing.
  • Ioun Stone (Mastery)DMG: Proficiency Bonuses apply to a lot of things and a +1 bonus goes a long way. Attacks, saves, skills, etc. all benefit. However, most wizards rely mostly on spells which require saving throws so it’s not as beneficial as it would be for other characters. A Stone of Good Luck may be just as useful.
  • Ring of Spell TurningDMG: Given the choice, I would much rather haqve a Mantle of Spell Resistance simply because the Ring of Spell Turning doesn’t provide any protection against area effect spells. Otherwise, this is a really fun item, and if it provided Advantage on saves against area of effect spells it would shoot straight up to blue.
  • Ring of Three WishesDMG: Learn Wish and give this to someone in your party who can’t cast spells so that they can use it to give everyone permanent damage resistance.

    For more help with Wish, see my Practical Guide to Wish.

  • Robe of the ArchmagiDMG: Combine the benefits of a Very Rare spellcasting focus, a Barrier Tattoo (Rare), and a Mantle of Spell Resistance. Those are three absolutely fantastic items, and combiing them on one item is spectacular.
  • Scarab of ProtectionDMG: An upgrade from the Mantle of Spell Resistance, the Scarab of Protection adds a limited benefit against necromancy and undead creatures, and doesn’t take up your cloak slot, leaving you free to take items like a Cloak of Protection or Cloak of Invisibility instead.
  • Staff of the MagiDMG: Mostly an upgrade from the Staff of Power, the Staff of the Magi is a +2 quarterstaff and adds +2 to spell attacks (though not to spell DC’s for some reason, so you may want another focus), but loses the Staff of Power’s AC and saving throw bonuses, though you do get Advantage on saves against spells. You get a massive pool of charges and 20 spells that you can cast, 6 of which can be cast without spending charges. You can also absorb spells which other creatures cast, allowing you to turn those spells into charges in the staff and recharge it faster than you could simply by waiting for dawn. This is a great way to recharge the staff before a long rest if you have allies whose spell slots would otherwise go unspent. Strangely, this mechanic allows you to absorb cantrips, but since they’re 0-level spells they don’t charge the staff. It’s like drinking an empty glass of water.
  • Tome of the Stilled TongueDMG: In addition to serving as a spellbook and a casting focus, this allows you to cast one spell without spending a spell slot. There’s no restriction on the level of the spell, so in a practical sense you get to cast a 9th-level spell once per day for free as a Bonus Action with no somatic/verbal components. You don’t need to have the spell prepared, either, so you have access to everything in your spell book at a moment’s notice. Of course, realistically you’re going to cast Wish if you want anything except a 9th-level spell, so the ability to cast any spell in your spellbook only matters if you somehow find this below level 17.

Example Build – High Elf Wizard (Evoker)

Frankkóttir the High Elf School of Evocation Wizard

Evocation Wizard A slender figure sits hunched over a table in the corner, scribbling furiously into a thick tome, seemingly oblivious to your presence. The fluffy white cat curled up next to the book opens an eye to study you, before letting out an annoyed mewl. The figure jumps to their feet with surprise at the sound, much taller than you expected, their delicate high elven features at odds with their disheveled pale gold hair. From the state of their rumpled robes they seem to have been working for several hours, if not days, and had not been expecting interruption.

— Boxed text provided by dScryb (affiliate link)

This is a “Staple Build”. This build is simple, and relies on options from the SRD and the Basic Rules wherever possible. If you need a functional build with nothing fancy or complicated, this is a great place to start.

By wizard standards, the evoker is simple. Blow stuff up, long rest, repeat. The biggest impediment to evokers is needing to overcome enemy resistances to various types of damage from their spells, and that’s easy to overcome by diversifying your spells.

Abilities

We will assume the point buy abilities suggested above.

 BaseIncreased
Str88
Dex1416
Con1414
Int1516
Wis1212
Cha88

Race

High Elf. High Elf is a spectacular option for the Wizard. The ability score increases line up nicely, and a free cantrip provides extra versatility at low levels where it is sorely needed. You also get proficiency with longbows, and with 16 Dexterity and proficiency you’re just as good with a longbow as anyone else, and 1d8+3 damage will be more damage than a cantrip at low levels.

Skills and Tools

The Wizard’s skill list is almost exclusively dominated by Intelligence-based skills, and that’s exactly what we want. Your party will look to you to know things about stuff, and you should meet that expectation as much as possible. You’ll get two more skills from your background, so try to find a background that lets you cover the knowledge skills which no one else in your party can cover. You also get Perception proficiency as a racial trait. Assuming that you take the Sage background as suggested below, I recommend that you take Investigation and Religion to start with the following proficiencies:

  • Arcana
  • History
  • Investigation
  • Perception
  • Religion

Background

Acolyte and Sage both have things to offer. Sage is go-to option for wizards, giving you two knowledge skills and two languages. Languages may not seem important with dumped Charisma, but it’s hard to read ancient tomes if you don’t know the language. Of course, you could cast Comprehend Languages as a ritual.

Acolyte gives you proficiency in Insight and Religion, both of which are on your skill list, but Insight should usually be left to someone with higher Wisdom if anyone else in the party has it. You also get two languages, but again: Comprehend Languages as a ritual.

We’ll use Sage for this build.

Feats

Intelligence is the only ability score that wizards really need, so once you hit 20 Intelligence you might consider exploring feats. Magic Initiate can get you some powerful options from other class’s spell lists, and Elemental Adept can help you focus on your favorite element without worrying as much about damage resistances. If you’re not ready for complicated feats but still don’t see ability score increases as appealing, try something simple liked Skilled.

Levels

LevelFeat(s) and FeaturesNotes and Tactics
1
  • Spellcasting
  • Arcane Recovery
  • Cantrips Known:
    • Acid Splash
    • Chill Touch
    • Prestidigitation
    • Ray of Frost
  • Spells Known:
    • Burning Hands
    • Comprehend Languages (R)
    • Detect Magic (R)
    • Find Familiar (R)
    • Mage Armor
    • Magic Missile

For your starting equipment, take a dagger, a component pouch or spellcasting focus, either pack, and a spellbook.

 

The list of cantrips I’ve suggested include three offensive options, giving you good damage type coverage. Acid Splash requires a saving throw, while Chill Touch and Ray of Frost require attack rolls. Use Acid Splash on clustered enemies, on enemies within 5 ft. (you don’t care about Disadvantage on ranged attacks while adjacent to an enemy if you don’t make an attack roll), or enemies with problematically high AC, but Ray of Frost is your go-to offensive cantrip. A 10 ft. speed reduction can be a significant tactical advantage, especially if you position yourself so that enemies would need to Dash to reach you in a single turn.

 

I’ve notably skipped over Fire Bolt. Fire Bolt is the most damage (1d10) which you can get from a cantrip while remaining within the SRD. But at this level if all you want is damage you should grab a longbow. With 16 Dexterity, Fire Bolt would attack at +5 and deal 1d10 (avg. 5.5) damage, while a longbow will attack at +5 and deal 1d8+3 (avg. 7.5) damage and has considerably better range.

 

Because your spell slots are so limited at 1st level, we’ll lean hard on ritual spells, spending half of our free spellbook entries on ritual spells. Get a familiar as soon as possible, and use Detect Magic as a ritual whenever it could be useful. That leaves use three useful combat options: burning hands, mage armor, and magic missile. Mage Armor is a significant AC boost, bringing you to 16 AC which matches the AC of a fighter without a shield, but you’re still frail so standing behind someone durable is still better protection. Burning Hands is your go-to crowd control option, while Magic Missile is a reliable pile of damage at range.

 

Don’t forget Arcane Recovery. You only get to use it once per day, but it allows you to recover a few spell slots, which can be the difference between life and death in a full day of adventuring. Use it early, use it often.

2
  • School of Evocation
  • Evocation Savant
  • Sculpt Spells
  • Spells Known:
    • Identify (R)
    • Shield

The “Savant” feature is a staple of every wizard school. So long as you can find written spells to copy (which depends heavily on the setting in which your campaign takes place), it’s often smarter to spend gold to learn spells from your school while using your two free spells at each level to get spells from other schools. However, the point of staple builds is to emphasize simplicity and ease of access, so I’ll continue to assume that you’re only getting the two free spells per level.

 

Sculpt Spells is a crucial tactical option for evokers. The majority of the best evocation spells are area spells like Fireball, and when you drop big damage spells into a fight it typically means damaging your allies. Sculpt Spells largely removes that difficulty, and scaling the number of safe spaces based on the spell’s level means that as the area of effect of your spells gradually increases, you’ll be able to adequately protect your allies. However, it notably doesn’t work on yourself, so you can’t drop fireballs on yourself without taking damage.

 

At this level we pick up yet another ritual spell, but don’t expect to use Identify until you start finding magic items. If you know that your campaign doesn’t include magic items, get something else like Thunderwave. Shield adds another defensive option, allowing you to block an attack at the last second and potentially protecting you better than Mage Armor.

3
  • Spells Known:
    • Scorching Ray
    • Shatter

2nd-level spells give us more offensive options. Shatter is your go-to option whenever you can hit three or more targets. Two or more would be more damage than you can do with nearly any of your existing spells, but hitting two targets probably isn’t worth one of your two 2nd-level spell slots. Scorching Ray is a good single-target option, but expect to do partial damage because you’ll inevitably miss with some of the rays, so Magic Missile may actually be a better option.

4
  • Ability Score Improvement ( 16 -> 18)
  • New Cantrips Known:
    • Fire Bolt
  • Spells Known:
    • Flaming Sphere
    • Misty Step

4th level is typically boring, but there’s a lot going on here. First, and most importantly, your Intelligence increases, raising your spell attacks and your spell DCs. For the first time your cantrips are more accurate than your longbow, and with Fire Bolt added to our arsenal it may be worthwhile to use Fire Bolt. However, your longbow will still deal more damage, so against foes with low AC I would lean on your longbow first, and use Acid Splash or a leveled spell on targets with high AC. We mostly want Fire Bolt for 5th level and beyond.

 

We’re notably not picking up any new evocation spells at this level. Flaming Sphere is a great option for long fights to stretch your spell slots, and it’s a great way to use your under-utilized bonus action. Misty Step is a crucial defensive option that gets you out of grapples, traps, etc.

5
  • Spells Known:
    • Fireball
    • Fly

5th level brings the first cantrip damage improvement. Fire Bolt now deals 2d10 damage (avg. 11), greatly exceeding your longbow, so it’s finally time to set aside mundane weaponry.

 

3rd-level spells bring iconic options like Fireball and Lightning Bolt. Fireball is among the best spells in the game for its level, so I would recommend taking it even if we weren’t building an evoker. Fly provides some utility and mobility. We’ll skip lightning bolt because it’s really hard to hit more than two creatures with a line, and thanks to Sculpt Spells it’s easier to drop big AOEs over your allies.

6
  • Potent Cantrip
  • Spells Known:
    • Counterspell
    • Dispel magic

Potent Cantrip is less helpful than you’d think. Acid Splash and Poison Spray are the only wizard cantrips in the Basic Rules or the SRD which calls for a saving throw. If you look beyond those confines (and you should) you’ll find numerous excellent options like Frostbite and Mind Sliver.

 

Our leveled spells at this level are boring, but extremely important. Counterspell allows you to shut down enemy spellcasters, while Dispel Magic removes numerous problematic magical effects. Both spells are crucial parts of your party’s arsenal at any level.

7
  • Spells Known:
    • Conjure Minor Elementals
    • Wall of Fire

The SRD contains very few 4th-level evocation spells, and most of them are bad. Wall of Fire stands out as a potent crowd control effect, but the other options aren’t worth a spell slot. Instead, we’ll look to other schools to expand our options. Conjure Minor Elementals gives us a versatile option for handling problematic encounters. Crowding a hall or small room with elementals can restrict enemy movement, providing a significant tactical advantage unless your enemies spend their turns attacking the elementals.

8
  • Ability Score Improvement ( 18 -> 20)
  • Spells Known:
    • Polymorph
    • Stone Shape

8th level brings us our final Intelligence increase.

We still don’t have any good new evocations to pick up, so get some interesting options from other schools. Polymorph is a powerful and versatile spell that’s equal parts buff and save-or-suck. Stone Shape is a generally useful spell that provides a lot of utility in a game that involves a lot of dungeons and caves.

9
  •  
  • Spells Known:
    • Arcane Hand
    • Wall of Force

Note that “Arcane Hand” is the SRD name for “Bigby’s Hand”.

Arcane Hand is a great spell that provides much of the utility of a high-Strength ally for the 1-minute duration of the spell. Clenched Fist and Grasping Hand are your go-to options, but don’t overlook the other options.

 

Wall of Force is basically cheating. Almost nothing can break it, and with a 10-minute duration you can easily entrap the biggest thing in a fight while you go and deal with its friends or while you and your friends heal, buff, and set up prepared actions. Against especially large creatures you can raise the dome off the floor enough that you can still target the victim’s feet while the victim is unable to escape.

10
  • Empowered Evocation
  • New Cantrips Known:
    • Any
  • Spells Known:
    • Cone of Cold
    • Any

Empowered Evocation provides a significant damage boost, especially for our cantrips. Fire Bolt goes from 2d10 (avg. 11) to 2d10+5 (avg. 16), increasing its damage output by nearly 50%. The damage boost also notably applies to all of our AOE spells like Acid Splash and Fireball, dramatically boosting your output when you can apply the bonus to multiple foes.

 

Cone of Cold is a decent spell, but it’s rarely better than fireball. The difference between 8d6 and 8d8 damage is only an average of 8 damage, and the ability to cast fireball from a distance will often make it the superior option. We mostly want Cone of Cold for when we get Overchannel.

11
  • Spells Known:
    • Chain Lightning
    • Sunbeam

Immediately after receiving Empowered Evocation, our cantrips get another damage boost. Fire Bolt now deals 3d10+5 (avg. 21.5), dramatically exceeding the maximum damage we can deal with our low-level spells

 

Even with the advantage of Sculpt Spell, it can still be difficult to throw around AOE spells like Fireball without damaging things you would prefer not to damage (like the wooden building you’re in). Chain Lightning provides a convenient way to damage numerous foes and does an impressive amount of damage.

 

Sunbeam allows you to spend a whole minute firing lines that do as much damage as lightning bolt and potentially blind targets. It’s an exceptionally efficient use of a spell slot, and it’s one of very few ways that a wizard can deal radiant damage.

12
  • Ability Score Improvement (Constitution 14 -> 16)
  • Spells Known:
    • Flesh to Stone
    • Globe of Invulnerability

We’ve already got the best 6th-level evocation spells, so let’s get some other options. Flesh to Stone is a great save-or-suck option, and Globe of Invulnerability is an excellent defense should you encounter enemy spellcasters.

13
  •  
  • Spells Known:
    • Delayed Blast Fireball
    • Forcecage

Delayed Blast Fireball is admittedly difficult to use. 12d6 is a good pile of damage, but you get Overchannel next level, and using Overchannel with Cone of Cold will deal much more damage. Save Delayed Blast Fireball for situations where it will have time to charge. Long encounters, encounters with enemies running into the area, or ambush scenarios where you can charge the fireball before the fight starts.

 

Forcecage is essentially a better version of Wall of Force’s hemisphere option. With a longer duration and no concentration component, you can drop it on an enemy and go about your business while they’re in “time out”. In a pinch, you could cast it over yourself and your party to give yourself a safe place to take a short rest.

14
  • Overchannel
  • Spells Known:
    • Plane Shift
    • Teleport

Overchannel dramatically improves the effectiveness of your low-level spells, and it’s the biggest reason why we learned Cone of Cold. Be very cautious about using it more than once, however. Even the second use can easily kill you (10d12 averages to 65 damage, and at this level you have something like 100 hit points), and your lower-level spells likely aren’t powerful enough that they’re a better option than a cantrip, even while overchanneled.

 

7th-level spells introduce real long-distance travel options. Between Plane Shift and Teleport you can go basically anywhere in the multiverse. You won’t need these options frequently, but you have better access to them than any other spellcast, so your party will likely rely on you.

15
  • Spells Known:
    • Incendiary Cloud
    • Sunburst

Incendiary Cloud isn’t an evocation spell, but it’s a fantastic damage option nonetheless. With a 1-minute duration, 10d8 damage adds up quickly. Combined with Forecage, you can easily kill groups of powerful enemies with two spells and some patience while they’re helpless to escape or resist.

 

Sunburst, while less interesting, is no less effective. It has fantastic range, a massive AOE, decent damage, and it blinds targets that fail the saving throw. Throw it at the beginning of a fight and it can easily win the encounter for your party.

16
  • Ability Score Improvement (Constitution 16 -> 18)
  • Spells Known:
    • Feeblemind
    • Maze

There are surprisingly few 8th-level evocation spells, so we’ll grab some good options from other schools. Feeblemind shuts down enemy spellcasters who aren’t Intelligence-based, and Maze puts enemies with low Intelligence into an inescapable demiplane for up to 10 minutes while you fight their friends. Unfortunately, Maze requires Concentration so you can’t set up Delayed Blast Fireball while you have a target trapped in a Maze.

17
  • Spells Known:
    • Meteor Swarm
    • Wish

You get just 1 9th-level spell slot per day, so you really need to pick the best options available to you. Meteor Swarm is a great go-to damage option, dealing a truly horrifying 40d6 (avg. 70) damage in 4 40-ft radius spheres. You can destroy a castle with that.

 

Beyond Meteor Swarm, you would be a fool to not learn Wish. It’s the best spell in the game even if you never use its more powerful options.

 

This level also brings the final cantrip damage boost, raising Fire Bolt to an impressive 4d10+5 (avg. 26).

18
  • Spell Mastery
    • Scorching Ray
    • Shatter
  • Spells Known:
    • Any
    • Any

Remember how great cantrips have been as at-will damage output for most of your career? Well, it’s time to put them out to pasture because Spell Mastery is here. Scorching Ray supplants Fire Bolt; at a total of 6d6+5 damage (avg. 26) Scorching Ray matches the average damage of Fire Bolt, but with three attacks you’re more likely to hit at least once and your Empowered Evocation damage boost can apply to any of the rays that hit, leading to better overall damage output. Shatter becomes our go-to option for handling groups of enemies, dramatically outpacing Acid Splash’s number of targets and roughly matching its damage with a much more useful damage type.

 

Selecting spells known at this level is surprisingly difficult. Selecting more 9th-level spells is fine, but since you can never cast more than two in a day it seems wasteful to learn more than a handful. Pick up whatever other 9th-level spells you want to diversify your options, but strongly consider pickin up lower-level spells which you passed over previously.

19
  • Ability Score Improvement (Constitution 18 -> 20)
  • Spells Known:
    • Any
    • Any

More of the same. Learn more spells, get more hit points.

20
  • Signature Spell
    • Fireball
    • Fly
  • Spells Known:
    • Any
    • Any

Signature spell is disappointing for 20th level. Sure, two free spell slots of any level is great, but the ability to prepare two additional spells is probably more impactful because it means that you can prepare more spells to diversify your options for the day.