Here follow my notes on the Playtest 7 Wizard class.
For more context and my Standard Disclaimer,
check out the introduction to this series.
I was pretty down about the Wizard in the last go-round due to the absolutely broken spell creation system. So how does the latest iteration fare?
- Arcane Recovery (level 1, level 2 in UA5, level 1 in PHB) is back at its original level, giving you a leg up on spell recovery versus other spellcaster classes.
- Spellcasting (level 1) now lets you replace one cantrip after a Long Rest (in UA5 this was on level increases, and in the PHB you were just stuck with whatever you’d previously picked). As with other classes, the latest Wizard now uses a class-specific spell list. It folds in most of UA5’s Wizard’s Spellbook feature (minus the Scribe Spell spell, which was just silly), consolidating all the spellbook stuff in one place. Finally, the number of spells a Wizard may prepare has been boosted. I missed this in UA5, but the number of spells ready-to-cast is no longer based on your Intelligence modifier and level, but is instead a fixed progression. In UA5 this was capped at 22, which is below the 25 you’d expect from a level 20 Wizard who had maxed their Intelligence to 20 (giving a +5 bonus). In UA7, the limit is back to 25, regardless of whether or not you’ve maxed out your Int score.
- Scholar (level 2) displaces UA5’s Academic; it provides Expertise in one skill (of Arcana, History, Nature, and Religion) in which you already have proficiency. I kind of liked Academic, and I’m not sure how I feel about classes outside the Expert Group (RIP) having Expertise… but it’s probably fine, especially if you pick Arcana here.
- Subclass (level 3, level 3 in UA5, level 2 in PHB). If you’ve been following along so far, this shouldn’t be a surprise.
- Ability Score Improvement (level 4) or a feat.
- Memorize Spell (level 5) is now a feature instead of a spell, which makes a lot more sense to me in general. It now lets you spend one minute to prepare a spell that you don’t already have prepared, and it stays prepared until you use this feature to prepare a different spell.
- Subclass Feature (level 6). Unchanged.
- Dead Level (level 7). Repeat after me: new spells are your class features. UA5’s Modify Spell has been removed – good riddance!
- Ability Score Improvement (level 8) or a feat.
- Dead Level (level 9). New spells are your class features. UA5’s Create Spell has been removed – good riddance!
- Subclass Feature (level 10). Unchanged.
- Dead Level (level 11). New spells are your class features.
- Ability Score Improvment (level 12) or a feat.
- Dead Level (level 13). New spells are your class features.
- Subclass Feature (level 14). Unchanged.
- Dead Level (level 15). New spells are your class features. This was Spell Mastery in UA5.
- Ability Score Improvement (level 16) or a feat.
- Dead Level (level 17). New spells are your class features.
- Spell Mastery (level 18, level 15 in UA5, level 18 in PHB) returns to its original level. It is mostly unchanged, allowing free casting of some lower-level spells at their base level, but now restricts the spells chosen to those that require an Action to cast, as free casting of spells like Shield was too powerful. In exchange for this (deserved) nerf, you can now change one of the spells after a Long Rest rather than after eight hours of study. I’m +1 on the changes here.
- Ability Score Improvement (level 19) or a feat.
- Signature Spells (level 20, level 18 in UA5, level 20 in PHB) is mechanically unchanged and merely returns to its original level.
- This subclass was FKA the School of Abjuration. The revised name is part of a pattern of naming the type of Wizard rather than the type or school of magic. I like it.
- Abjuration Savant (level 3, level 2 in PHB) loses the discount to money and time needed to copy an Abjuration spell, replacing it with getting two extra Abjuration spells added to your spellbook immediately and one extra when a level increase unlocks a new spell slot level. This will give you access to try out more spells, which seems a lot more fun.
- Arcane Ward (level 3, level 2 in PHB) is now activated and replenished when you cast an Abjuration spell using a spell slot. You can also replenish the ward using a spell slot and a Bonus Action without casting a spell.
- Projected Ward (level 6) is unchanged.
- Spell Breaker (level 10) replaces the PHB’s Improved Abjuration. Now you always have Dispel Magic prepared, can cast it as a Bonus Action (it’s normally an Action), and it’s boosted with your proficiency bonus. Nice!
- Spell Resistance (level 14) is unchanged.
- This subclass was FKA the School of Divination. The revised name is part of a pattern of naming the type of Wizard rather than the type or school of magic. I like it.
- Divination Savant (level 3, level 2 in PHB) is basically the same as Abjuration Savant described above, but with Divination spells instead of Abjuration. Makes sense to me.
- Portent (level 3, level 2 in PHB) is unchanged beyond the level change.
- Expert Divination (level 6) is unchanged from the PHB.
- The Third Eye (level 10) is now activated with a Bonus Action instead of an Action. Its Darkvision option now goes to 120 feet (formerly 60 feet), and its See Invisibility option now uses the See Invisibility spell (thus subsuming the PHB’s Ethereal Sight option). And being Incapacitated no longer interrupts this feature (nice). Seems like a nice improvement, and it helps eliminate a weird invisibility loophole, so, sure, let’s keep this version!
- Greater Portent (level 14) is unchanged from the PHB version.
- Evocation Savant (level 3, level 3 in UA5, level 2 in PHB) gets the same treatment as the Abjuration Savant and Divination Savant. Consistency!
- Potent Cantrip (level 3, level 6 in UA5, level 6 in PHB) is available sooner and now works with both failed spell attacks and successful saving throws by the target of your cantrip. This strikes me as the Wizard version of the Graze property from Weapon Mastery.
- Sculpt Spells (level 6, level 3 in UA5, level 2 in PHB) is mechanically unchanged; its level has been moved since lower level spells mostly don’t benefit from this feature. By moving it to level 6, you get one level of worrying about friendly fire from Fireball, which is probably going to make Evokers value this ability a little more.
- Empowered Evocation (level 10) is mechanically unchanged; it just goes back to using the Wizard spell list.
- Overchannel (level 14) has been clarified to indicate that it only maxes out the damage of your spell on the turn where you cast it, meaning longer-duration spells that cause damage wouldn’t keep doing maximum damage every turn. This is a subtle change not mentioned in the design notes, but very important.
- Formerly the School of Illusion. The revised name is part of a pattern of naming the type of Wizard rather than the type or school of magic. I like it.
- Illusion Savant (level 3, level 2 in PHB) gets the same treatment as the other subclasses’ Savant features. No surprise at this point, and seems good to me.
- Improved Minor Illusion (level 3, level 2 in PHB) is mechanically unchanged.
- Malleable Illusions (level 6) now uses a Bonus Action instead of an Action. Nice.
- Illusory Self (level 10) can now be recharged in exchange for a level 2+ spell slot – without an Action! – as well as via Short Rests and Long Rests. The increased flexibility may come in handy in a pinch since you should be able to burn the spell slot in the exact moment that you need to automagically avoid taking a bad hit.
- Illusory Reality (level 14) gets a minor clarification that the temporarily real object created by this feature cannot deal damage or impose any conditions. Previously this was worded as “can’t deal damage or directly harm anyone”, which I’m sure led to hours of arguments at gaming tables about the meaning of “directly harm”.
- Memorize Spell only costs time, despite the text saying that you “expend mental and magical effort” in the process of preparing an extra spell. Bullshit – if you’re expending something, where’s the resource pool that governs how much you can do this? Now, this update is probably fine, and it’s definitely more fun for the Wizard player, but it’s quite a change from spending a level 3 spell slot – forgoing a Fireball or Haste! – to just needing a minute to sit down and flip through your notes. Some kind of cost in addition to time seems justified.
- I’m pleased to see Modify Spell and Create Spell removed. They were straight-up broken and made me genuinely dread the idea of DMing with a Wizard in the party. I’m glad WotC listened to our feedback on this!
- I’m not exactly heartbroken about this, but… we were promised a Necromancer subclass a while back, and it hasn’t materialized here. I’m sure its omission isn’t without reason, but it does start making me more skeptical of any other promises about what might be in future playtest releases.
- The clarification to Illusory Reality is good, since it circumvents annoying arguments, but the prohibition on doing damage doesn’t make sense to me. What part of a “real” rock doesn’t hurt when it’s hurled against a target’s skull? What part of a “real” sword can’t stab a foe? Wouldn’t a “real” falling Acme anvil still smash that poor coyote?
- Abjurer seems nice if you’re into protection and defense. It’s not a splashy improvement, but it’s a nice refinement.
- Diviner gets positive, if somewhat modest changes. I’m guessing this was pretty highly rated in the big 2021 survey.
- Evoker is solid, and the adjustments seem very reasonable to me.
- Illusionist is fine. If you liked it before, you’ll like it a little more now. Again, the changes seem so minor that this has to have been well-rated in the 2021 survey.
So, yeah. This Wizard is pretty all right… You get:
- the biggest spell list in the game
- more total spells to cast
- more flexibility when you need something you didn’t plan on
- more freedom to cast in your Action with several subclass features becoming Bonus Actions
- some additional ways to recharge your subclass features
- extra smarts in your academic discipline
Not bad at all.