Well, you do know that focusing on intelligence on a bard also leaves other stats lower. Going for intelligence on a bard comes with a steeper opportunity cost than for a wizard. While it’s not impossible (and far more forgiving than most other systems) to have intelligence on a bard, that does leave a defensive stat lower. It’s impossible to be great at everything. Did you know that?
It doesn’t sound like you gave the P2e wizard a try. It sounds like you tried to fit different parts into molds that they aren’t made for. Incapacitation is not nearly as big of a deal as you try to make it out to be. At worst, you can avoid using those spells. There are only 22 of them, and that leaves a whole swath of others to choose from, all of which can be useful in lower slots, especially if you’re not trying to do martial damage with them. There’s command, fear, goblin pox, and spider sting for level 1 spells that can be immediately useful in combat with many more that are buffs or utility at that level alone. And many others without incapacitation are available at later levels.
I don’t know what math you’re talking about showing that bards are designed better. In fact, I don’t see it at all in actual play. I played a bard as my first full release 2e character, and there were many times when I wished we had a wizard to fill in spots and cast in situations where my bard’s spells were not the most effective, such as against a room full of creatures before any martials stepped into the room or even in our last fight when there were three creatures far enough away that a terrain warp, fireball, or other control spell could have been useful. Yes, a bard can be built to fill in the role a wizard naturally fits, but without specific builds, bards can’t fill all of them, such as against anything with weak reflexes. As far as I can tell, they’re equivalent in usefulness, but the entirety of their roles slightly differ.
And by the way, while my group is only level 9 right now (one less than your level 10, if you didn’t know), our caster has been instrumental in our success so far. He may not cause the most damage, but he has completely reduced damage against the party and increased our damage against enemies, making fights go by faster. In fact, he’s my vote for group MVP. And he’s not a bard.
I’m just saying that I’d take a balanced party with a wizard any day, unless players are trying to do things in classes that they’re not designed to do and complain about it.