Specialist Wizards Aren't Interesting


Classes


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The specialist wizard options of PF1 were interesting. I'm not finding much reason to be one in PF2. The low level options don't seem useful:

Abjurer - Protective Ward
- Use 2 actions to give allies within 10' a +1 to AC. Requires concentration. Using up 2 actions then 1 each round to maintain for only getting a +1 to AC is something I would virtually never choose. It's not worth the effort compared to what else you could be doing.

Diviner - Diviner's Sight
- Use 1 action to roll a d20. When the target attempts a Perception check, saving throw, or skill check, it can use the number you rolled instead of rolling. Very situational. You don't usually know that in the next round a perception or save will be called for. Not worth the effort in combat when you could be doing something useful. I could only see doing this when someone has time for performing a skill that only takes 1 turn.

Enchanter - Charming Words
- Use 2 actions to keep someone from attacking you for 1 round (stun on crit) or give them +2's to everything against you (crit save). Sanctuary for 1 round is potentially interesting. Stun is too rare to rely on. However, if I really need to keep someone off me for 1 round, giving them +2's instead would probably be lethal at that point. I would almost never risk using this.

Evoker - Force Bolt
- If you want to do damage, this is usable. However, needing a hit roll makes me wonder how much I'd use this over a cantrip blast. This one is ok but combat only.

Illusionist - Warped Terrain
- Fake difficult terrain in a 5' radius is too minor and situational. Not interesting.

Necromancer - Call of the Grave
- Give the frightened condition. For 2 actions, this is not interesting. Combat-centric. Many creatures worth using this on are immune to frightened conditions. Not worth using on mooks when you could just blast them.

Transmuter - Physical Boost
- 2 actions (V,S) and range of touch to give someone a 1d4 conditional bonus to the next Acrobatics, Athletics, or Stealth roll they attempt. Another power that only lasts 1 turn. Probably never useful in combat for 2 actions. Situationally useful before some skill checks. Useless for stealth since it has a verbal component. So maybe if someone is about to walk a tightrope or jump a pit, you can give them bonus (potentially lower than using Aid action). Not interesting at all.

These powers should make us want to play a specialist. None of these excite me about the classes.

Layout - Where are the powers? Someone perusing the specialists in the Wizard section would want to compare the classes side by side. The powers are mixed up with the spells. It's another case of having to flip through pages dozens of times to see and compare.

TLDR - There aren't interesting powers for Specialists. Universalists get the same number of spells as specialists minus 1 but with more versatility. I don't see myself choosing a Specialist over a Universalist. First level Specialist powers should be more interesting.


Specialist Wizards also get:
An additional 1st level spell known
An additional spell slot of each level
An additional prepared cantrip
The option for a stronger school power at 8th level

In comparison, a Universalist gets:
A 1st-level Wizard feat
Drain Arcane Focus 1/spell level instead of 1/day
The option for Universalist Wizard powers at 1st and 8th level

The extra spell slots are probably the most enticing part of being a specialist. The universalist can sort of duplicate it with Drain Arcane Focus, but it only gives an additional casting of a spell they've already used that day.

I agree that the way powers are lumped into the spell list is atrocious.


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Specialist wizards don't stack up against generalists, and would be helped immensely by being able to access all spells from their chosen school regardless of list. Especially necromancers, who lost everything good to the Occult list.


Conserve Focus feat on the Universalist is what really puts him ahead, providing quite a few extra spells at mid levels.


Fuzzypaws wrote:
Specialist wizards don't stack up against generalists...

please elaborate.


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The universalist gets an extra drain focus for each level spell they can cast. They can also use focus conservation to cast progressively lower level spells for free. This gives the universalist a large amount of extra castings of the spells they've prepared. This ends up being one less 1st level spell than a specialist with all other levels getting the same amount, and then you get focus conservation on top of that. They also get a feat that lets them emulate the first level power of the school focused folks. This, while useless, hammers home their superiority. The specialist needs to beat the universalist based on their 8th level feat and a 1st level spell. To be fair, I haven't looked through all the 8th level feats due to their placement in the spells section and me being lazy. Maybe they are great.


I looked at creating Conjuration school wizards focused on summoning, and I don't see a lot of options to support that style of combat casting. Summon Monster doesn't work like other spells in that there isn't a DC for saving throws or a direct attack roll, so a number of class feats don't help it. It also requires all three material, somatic, and verbal, and it requires concentration, so the casting time is longer than a lot of spells, and feats that require one of the casting components to be open can't be used. Effortless Concentration helps. Quickened Casting reduces the casting time too, but not for the highest levels that a wizard can cast. There aren't any class feats specifically to help summoning, and there isn't much in the way of spells to make that type of combat easier. There is very little in the choices of creatures to summon, mostly demons and devils. There aren't even any outside familiars to give the feel of that style of wizard concept.


The wizard school powers are really bad and almost always not worth the feat the Universalist will be getting instead. I'm kind of disappoitned that schools lost the "passive" abilities they had before. Some schools were pretty solid and it was totally worth the opposition schools.

Guess they had to nerf them if opposition schools were removed (for some reason), but they aren't feeling very special yet. Maybe it's the narrow spell list.


Specialists do get 1 spell of their highest level beyond universalists (they can use their focus once). This is a pretty compelling feature.


Compelling isn't the word I'd use. Is it nice? Depends on how bad your school spells are at your current highest level.

But given the crapshoot that spell effects turned out to be, 1 highest level spell vs the flexibility of the focus affecting all spell levels and focus conservation and the broader reach of empowering focus...


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Not only is 1 extra highest level spell not very compelling, it does little to differentiate one specialist wizard from another as multiple different specialists can prepare the exact same spell list for the day.

In my opinion, specialists should do one or more or the following:

-Get access to some non-arcane spells from their specialty school.
-Get accelerated spell proficiency with their specialist school (like fighters get with a weapon group).
-Get more school powers which actually impact casting spells instead of just being side abilities (conjuration's augment summoning seems to be the only one to do this currently)
-Give more flexibility/power with school powers (while augment summoning is nice, it assumes you picked conjuration to be a summoner and is useless if you wanted to focus on the teleportation subschool and get dimensional steps in the future - which is exactly what my magus-style wizard intended to do, making the level 1 power a useless tax).

Especially for the final point, PF1 had subschools that Wizards could choose to specialize in to replace aspects/powers of their specialty school. It'd be great if PF2 simply expanded the concept of school powers to have a choice at 1st level so that these subschools would have room to just get rolled into their parent school as selectable powers - which would give specialists more flexibility to pick powers from one or more subschools which fit the character by spending class feats.


I'm confused as to how 1-extra casting per day of a spell you have already cast is being treated as not completely worse overall than 1-extra casting per day that can actually be a different spell.

I.e. a generalist that has Mage Armor and Magic Missile prepared could cast Mage Armor the once they need, and Magic Missile twice thanks to their drain focus usage, but an evocation specialist could have prepared Mage Armor, Magic Missile, and then some other spell that could be of more use in a situation than another Magic Missile.

Secondly, I am confused by the comparison appearing to be generalist+specific feat choices vs. specialist alone, rather than specialist+what feats they could take in place of those that supposedly make the generalist "better" than them.


Could be worse. Wizards could be Sorcerers.


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thenobledrake wrote:

I'm confused as to how 1-extra casting per day of a spell you have already cast is being treated as not completely worse overall than 1-extra casting per day that can actually be a different spell.

I.e. a generalist that has Mage Armor and Magic Missile prepared could cast Mage Armor the once they need, and Magic Missile twice thanks to their drain focus usage, but an evocation specialist could have prepared Mage Armor, Magic Missile, and then some other spell that could be of more use in a situation than another Magic Missile.

Secondly, I am confused by the comparison appearing to be generalist+specific feat choices vs. specialist alone, rather than specialist+what feats they could take in place of those that supposedly make the generalist "better" than them.

The scarcity of worthwhile spells, and the reduction in value of utility spells, work together to make multiple castings roughly equivalent to variety. The reason why feats aren't being compared is due to the universalist getting one more feat compared to specialists, and being able to grab half the specialist kit through one feat.


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thenobledrake wrote:
I am confused by the comparison appearing to be generalist+specific feat choices vs. specialist alone, rather than specialist+what feats they could take in place of those that supposedly make the generalist "better" than them.

You can make power comparisons and make your case for equivalency though the Universalist has the advantage to most reviewers. However, in my opinion there's nothing interesting about any of the Specialist wizard powers. I wouldn't consider playing one, because nothing they can do is something I would want to do. That makes them uninteresting which is a shame.


thenobledrake wrote:
I'm confused as to how 1-extra casting per day of a spell you have already cast is being treated as not completely worse overall than 1-extra casting per day that can actually be a different spell.

You argue that choosing three different spells gives flexibility.

I argue that choosing two spells and then later choosing which one to double gives flexibility.
We are both right, but the situation where you might need two casts of a spell over all different spells is likely more common (especially if you are a specialist and use many spells from your school!)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Our group feels that with all the new interesting mechanics in other classes that wizards feel pretty plain Jane at the moment. There really isn’t anything new or exciting that compels veteran players to play a wizard.


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Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

It annoys me that they got rid of opposition schools as a thing. Even if they wanted to nerf the impact of them, I still think they should exist in some form. In 1E, choosing an opposition school could be a difficult choice, but that's what made it interesting.

I also agree that these school powers are not very good. They're either uninspiring (Abjuration, Evocation) or flat-out terrible (Illusion, Transmutation). I don't know if they were designed to suck because you no longer have a drawback for your specialization? Universalists should be bland but functional. Arcane conservation gives you nearly as many spells per day, but you have to repeat castings, and you get more flexibility with not being forced to take a power. Specialists should have less flexibility (they get school powers instead of feats, and they have to be less competent in their opposition schools), but those powers should make it worth it if you go that route.

I guess I just want my specialists to feel like they are made of interesting choices instead of wet cardboard. As it is, when I think about building a wizard, I look at the schools and think to myself "which one of these sucks the least?" And it's a hard answer to come up with.


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The DM of wrote:
The specialist wizard options of PF1 were interesting. I'm not finding much reason to be one in PF2. The low level options don't seem useful:

Yes, the specialist powers are so weak, in general you wouldn't use them over a cantrip after level 3.

Taking the class feat is much better. Unfortunately, there are not enough good level 1 class feats for any class, so this leads to multi-classing.

Extra spells each level vs an extra drain focus each level is a wash. Even so, we've played 4th and 5th level wizards and the Drain Focus has seemed more useful.

They need to do a better job balancing the powers against the feat.


The specialist has more strategic (planned) flexibility in spell preparation via preparing an extra spell. The universality has more tactical (operational) flexibility in spell use via deciding to reuse a prepared spell as needed.

The universalist bonus feat is absolutely better than the specialist 1st level feats, which are pretty awful.

The specialist bonus cantrip prepared is definitely useful (for most classes) at low levels, but they don't (apparently) get more free spells known as they level for their speciality school other than at 1st, so this is pretty minor.

The universalist gets way more use out of Focus Conservation to use extra spells than the specialist can get out of Empowering Focus to amp up a single spell per day.

Having an extra spell of your highest level (via arcane focus) is definitely an advantage to the specialist. It becomes particularly interesting at 20th level, where the RAW specialist can prepare two and cast three 10th level spells per day. The universalist is better off taking Spell Combination for their capstone and using their arcane focus and Focus Conservation to reuse all those doubled spell slots and nova everything.


Leedwashere wrote:


I guess I just want my specialists to feel like they are made of interesting choices instead of wet cardboard. As it is, when I think about building a wizard, I look at the schools and think to myself "which one of these sucks the least?" And it's a hard answer to come up with.

A lot of that is the spells, sadly.

A lot of the result charts should really be labelled:
Critical Failure
Failure
Minor Failure, and,
Yeah, it works, I guess.

And it's largely worse for school powers (though necromancy's life siphon is fairly nice- the spell doesn't even have to hit or succeed, you still heal HP.

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