Blue_Frog's hideously biased guide to (spell blending) Wizards


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Hello,

After playing a lot of wizards in a lot of campaigns, and after arguing in a lot of threads about a lot of misconceptions (that's what I call opinions that don't go my way) , I thought it was my sacred duty to write a guide about the wizard.

But not any wizard.
The one and only wizard, the master of the arcane arts, the best spellcaster in the game bar none.

(Drumroll)

The Spell Blending Wizard

I hope you'll enjoy it ;)

Blue Frog's Hideously Biased Guide To Wizards

Disclaimer: english isn't my native, so please don't be too hard on me for spelling mistakes !


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I've only read the first few pages so far, but I like what I see. Finally a guide that doesn't think Bond Conservation is the messiah!

I'll add more (potentially consructive) feedback when I'm done. Might take a while, though. Pretty busy.


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Just a heads up, Spell Blending begin to be as useful beginning at lvl 3, the spell blending is [b]up[/up] to 2 lvls higher.

So at lvl 3 you can have:

2 lvl 1 slots
5 lvl 2 slots

For a total of 7, cor reference a Druid would have 5 slots total at that point.


Overall, seems like a good guide! I do disagree with some things (like your universalist rating) but I'm never going to agree with everything in a guide and it gets the point across on how to play an effective wizard. This really drove home the point on how few feats wizards have access to though. Would you consider doing a rating for the archetypes?

One note, however, is that you never actually explained your rating system. It seems the same as most guides, but anyone who isn't familiar with it might be confused.


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You use the word gimp a lot.

Wizards not getting simple weapon proficiency is still insane to me. Considering how many archetypes and ancestry feats work off proficiencies.


Blave wrote:

I've only read the first few pages so far, but I like what I see. Finally a guide that doesn't think Bond Conservation is the messiah!

I'll add more (potentially consructive) feedback when I'm done. Might take a while, though. Pretty busy.

Thanks, can't wait ;)

Kyrone wrote:

Just a heads up, Spell Blending begin to be as useful beginning at lvl 3, the spell blending is [b]up[/up] to 2 lvls higher.

So at lvl 3 you can have:

2 lvl 1 slots
5 lvl 2 slots

For a total of 7, cor reference a Druid would have 5 slots total at that point.

That's a good point, I didn't even think about it. It's debatable whether it's worth it, however. I'll add this to the guide, thanks !

Salamileg wrote:

Overall, seems like a good guide! I do disagree with some things (like your universalist rating) but I'm never going to agree with everything in a guide and it gets the point across on how to play an effective wizard. This really drove home the point on how few feats wizards have access to though. Would you consider doing a rating for the archetypes?

One note, however, is that you never actually explained your rating system. It seems the same as most guides, but anyone who isn't familiar with it might be confused.

Sure, I'll do archetypes - and very good point about the rating, I'll add it right now.

Schreckstoff wrote:

You use the word gimp a lot.

Wizards not getting simple weapon proficiency is still insane to me. Considering how many archetypes and ancestry feats work off proficiencies.

English isn't my native, is the word "gimp" offensive in some way ?

As for weapon proficiency, I agree that it's really annoying, but at least I can understand the design choice behind it ("wizards are bookworms with no time to study even the simplest weapons") while I really, really don't get the low will save.


Blue_frog wrote:

English isn't my native, is the word "gimp" offensive in some way ?

As for weapon proficiency, I agree that it's really annoying, but at least I can understand the design choice behind it ("wizards are bookworms with no time to study even the simplest weapons") while I really, really don't get the low will save.

it's old fashioned but it used to be a word like "cripple". I wasn't going for that angle however just that it repeated itself several times and that there was a theme of it throughout the guide.

I can also understand that Wizards have a reason not to have any weapon proficiencies but it's only the wizards that have it that makes it weird.
Everyone else not using weapons just gets simple weapon proficiency.

Did we ever get clarification how spell blending works with dedications? Can you get more cleric spell slots or transform cleric spell slots into wizard spell slots, can you mix 1 wizard and 1 cleric spell slot. Stuff like that.


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I haven't read it entirely, but that's what I think about the Wizard. Not the most thorough guide but the only one who really speaks about PF2 adventuring Wizard.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I love reading different people's guides and seeing such a diversity of opinions on aspects of the game.

I'd love to see you break down the different specializations because not all of them are blue at this time.

I also think your universal "never use a spell attack roll spell" concept is a little flat and misleading. A lot depends upon the make up of your party, but flat footed is one of the easiest circumstantial penalties to get in the game, and it is a whopping -2 that stacks with any status bonuses.

Spectral hand can make for a buff that lets you really take advantage of flanking and the spell attack roll spells can be really powerful. With a staff of divination, it is not too much of a strain on your other spells to be able to hit hard with some massive damage against solo monsters, especially if one of your martial allies uses one action to intimidate or otherwise debuff AC.

Again, I am not saying that it is a wise plan to build exclusively around targeting AC as a wizard, you have enough spells that you don't really need to, but it is not as bad an idea as you make it out to be, especially against a boss. Heightened Acid Arrow can put a boss monster into a real jam with persistent damage.

Grand Archive

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While I disagree with some of the points made in this guide, it is accurately named and thus a good guide for Spell Blending wizards.

My take away from this guide is that, while there is debate on if the wizard can be the best at anything, a well built wizard can easily be good. And, building a good wizard requires one to pick a path and stick with it. It requires the player to be well read and have a firm grasp on the mechanics of the game, so that you can identify the spells that interact well with the game and those that are more situational. Amusingly, the player has to embrace the traditional flavor of the wizard and be studious.

It has also inspired me to consider making a wizard guide of my own.

Well done Blue Frog.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Looks good! My only feedback is that the title, "Blue_Frog's hideously biased guide to (spell blending) Wizards" should be in the Google Doc itself as well.


A good, practical wizard guy with a sound build strategy.


Interesting guide! If I ever play another character I will give a spell-blending wizard some consideration (I had in fact written off the whole class because of that lousy chassis). Right now though, I am having moderate fun playing a tengu storm druid with a vulture companion, which occasionally makes those to-hit spells entertaining. A hippie he most definitely is not. Sadly, role-play opportunities have been limited to vomiting on things and munching on every carcass we make as we murder our way through the jungle in Age of Ashes....

Blue_frog wrote:
English isn't my native, is the word "gimp" offensive in some way ?

As a noun it's definitely offensive (unless you're talking about the image-editing software, in which case, what were they thinking anyhow?). As a verb, it's questionable; I mean, you would otherwise just say "you're crippling yourself" anyhow and I still see the expression used.

One other English note: You use "wreak" when you should be using "wreck". The verb "wreak" in English is pretty much only used in a few stock expressions like "wreak havoc" and "wreak vengeance".


Its a nice guide. It really is a good to get another different opinion.

Thankyou


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So, I had the chance to read the guide a bit more thoroughly.

First of all: Good job! I agree with most things you write - which doesn't make it "right" but at least means we have the same opinion on a lot of things.

Are you going to add ratings for the different schools to specialize in? I'd be really interested to know your thoughts on these.

Some things that stood out to me:

Universalist school: You might want to mention that it also grants a bonus feat. That's not game-breaking but it can make it more attractive for some players.

Hand of the Apprentice: I think it warrents at leat a yellow rating. It's by no means spectacular and a pure caster Wizard will get nearly nothing out of it. But it can be great for a Wizard who swings a weapon every now and then (and has the appropriate weapon upgrades). Since the spell blender is mroe of a nova build focusing on fewer high impact spells, I could totally see one of them start each fight with a bang, then use a weapon to finish things off. For such a character, having a one action attack with 500 ft range seems pretty damn useful.

Clever Counterspell: Would be green in my book. If you want to couterspell at all, this is obviously a good choice. The potential -2 penalty to the counteract check hurts it quite a bit, though. You'll usually reserve this kinda stuff for the spells of the most powerful casters who tend to have pretty high spell DCs. I'd probably just memorize a Shadow Drain or two instead of spending two class feats on couterspelling.

I'm also not sure how Clever Counterspell even works. Its main purpose is allowing you to counter spells you don't have prepared. But if you don't have a spell prepared, you'd need at least Recognize Spell to know what's being cast - which costs you your reaction so you can't Counterspell anymore. Quick Recognition alleviates this somewhat, but only if you're master in the tradition's skill - at least before Unified Theory. So that's a total of 5 feats across 15 levels you have to get to use Clever Counterspell to its full potential. Not sure that's worth it.


Schreckstoff wrote:


Did we ever get clarification how spell blending works with dedications? Can you get more cleric spell slots or transform cleric spell slots into wizard spell slots, can you mix 1 wizard and 1 cleric spell slot. Stuff like that.

That's a great question, and I really don't know the answer. The text on Spell Blending isn't clear, so I guess it's GM dependant so far.

What I also found to be GM dependant (and I'll put it in the guide, because it has a tremendous impact) is whether you can use your specialist slots on Spell Blending or not.

Unicore wrote:


I'd love to see you break down the different specializations because not all of them are blue at this time.

I will ;)

Unicore wrote:


I also think your universal "never use a spell attack roll spell" concept is a little flat and misleading. A lot depends upon the make up of your party, but flat footed is one of the easiest circumstantial penalties to get in the game, and it is a whopping -2 that stacks with any status bonuses.

Spectral hand can make for a buff that lets you really take advantage of flanking and the spell attack roll spells can be really powerful. With a staff of divination, it is not too much of a strain on your other spells to be able to hit hard with some massive damage against solo monsters, especially if one of your martial allies uses one action to intimidate or otherwise debuff AC.

It's true that you can buff your accuracy (bard song, for instance) and debuff the opponent, but you still run into the same problem that it does nothing on a miss, and that really hurts on a finite ressource that costs two actions. It might be more of a morale thing than a real one, but wasting one's turn can be really frustrating.

It could be a viable choice if the attack spells were actually better (much better) than the save ones, but they mostly aren't. Take your heightened acid arrow. If you heighten it at level 4, it does 2d6 persistent damage on a hit. At the VERY SAME level, enervation does 4d8 persistent damage on a failed save + drained 1, and 2d8 persistent damage on a save. So a FAILED enervation is better than a SUCCESSFUL acid arrow (unless you're fighting undead). How is that even balanced ?


Leomund "Leo" Velinznrarikovich wrote:


Well done Blue Frog.

Thanks a lot !

VestOfHolding wrote:
Looks good! My only feedback is that the title, "Blue_Frog's hideously biased guide to (spell blending) Wizards" should be in the Google Doc itself as well.

Done !

Deriven Firelion wrote:
A good, practical wizard guy with a sound build strategy.

Thanks !

Gortle wrote:

Its a nice guide. It really is a good to get another different opinion.

Thankyou

I read all your guides, so this means a lot to me ;)

Blave wrote:


Are you going to add ratings for the different schools to specialize in? I'd be really interested to know your thoughts on these.

I sure will !

Blave wrote:


Universalist school: You might want to mention that it also grants a bonus feat. That's not game-breaking but it can make it more attractive for some players.

Good point, done.

Blave wrote:
Hand of the Apprentice: I think it warrents at leat a yellow rating. It's by no means spectacular and a pure caster Wizard will get nearly nothing out of it. But it can be great for a Wizard who swings a weapon every now and then (and has the appropriate weapon upgrades). Since the spell blender is mroe of a nova build focusing on fewer high impact spells, I could totally see one of them start each fight with a bang, then use a weapon to finish things off. For such a character, having a one action attack with 500 ft range seems pretty damn useful.

Well, if you were a universalist and had it for free, I could see your point, but it really looks like a hassle to me:

- unless you're into a very specific gish build, you won't spend your money on enchanting a weapon, so the best you can hope for is d12+stat.
- If you don't invest in STR (and you shouldn't unless, again, you're doing a very specific build), carrying a Bulk 2 weapon around will make you cringe.
- Most mages will start a fight with their staff in hand, and maybe a rod/wand/shield/scroll. Starting with the weapon will mess your action economy.
- It's an attack roll, and you know what I think about attack rolls ^^ If you really, really want range, ray of frost gives you 120 feet (150 with reach spell) which should be plenty.

So, for me, it's red for a wizard. I guess the rating would be different for a melee taking the wizard archetype. Say, a barbarian who would like to expand his range options. He would need to invest 14 in INT and two feats, but his enchanted greataxe would deal much more damage than his bow.

Blave wrote:
Clever Counterspell: Would be green in my book. If you want to couterspell at all, this is obviously a good choice. The potential -2 penalty to the counteract check hurts it quite a bit, though. You'll usually reserve this kinda stuff for the spells of the most powerful casters who tend to have pretty high spell DCs. I'd probably just memorize a Shadow Drain or two instead of spending two class feats on couterspelling.

The problem of Shadow Siphon (I guess that's what you meant ^^) is that it only works on damaging spells. It's an awesome counter, but it does nothing against debuffs like dominate, paralyze or mass slow, nothing against buffs like mass haste, and nothing against utility spells like dimension door. There's nothing better than counterspelling the dim door of an opponent spellcaster.

It's not the end-all be-all of wizards, and you can skip it (notice all options at level 12 are great) but it can really save your bacon.

I agree that the -2 on the counteract hurts, but that's the price to pay to be always prepared.

But I see what you mean. It's just that I can't live without, so I might be a bit biased ^^

Blave wrote:
I'm also not sure how Clever Counterspell even works. Its main purpose is allowing you to counter spells you don't have prepared. But if you don't have a spell prepared, you'd need at least Recognize Spell to know what's being cast - which costs you your reaction so you can't Counterspell anymore. Quick Recognition alleviates this somewhat, but only if you're master in the tradition's skill - at least before Unified Theory. So that's a total of 5 feats across 15 levels you have to get to use Clever...

Well, you actually need Quick Recognition to get Clever Counterspell, and a wizard at level 12 who isn't master in at least arcana or occult is not a wizard in my book ;)

But it's true that you need to invest two skill feats in it. They're pretty useful, but that's still an investment you might not be willing to make. I'll think about it and maybe downsize Clever Counterspell to green.


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Quote:

- unless you're into a very specific gish build, you won't spend your money on enchanting a weapon, so the best you can hope for is d12+stat.

- If you don't invest in STR (and you shouldn't unless, again, you're doing a very specific build), carrying a Bulk 2 weapon around will make you cringe.
- Most mages will start a fight with their staff in hand, and maybe a rod/wand/shield/scroll. Starting with the weapon will mess your action economy.
- If you really, really want range, ray of frost gives you 120 feet (150 with reach spell) which should be plenty.

Of course I was referring to a character who cares enough about melee to carry an appropriate weapon and upgrade it regularly. Most likely instead of buying stuff like a Staff. I'm currently playing a melee Orc Witch and I'm pretty sure I would like Hand of the Apprentice in my arsenal. I'll never get it because I'm hung up on too many dedications already and there's no way I'm fitting in Wizard as well. But since the Wizard can already get it, I'd consider it.

It does suck that it's locked behind being an Universalist, though.

As for the range, 120 or even 150 feet isn't 500. Not even close. And then there's the vast advantage of being only a single action instead of two/three.

Quote:
So, for me, it's red for a wizard. I guess the rating would be different for a melee taking the wizard archetype. Say, a barbarian who would like to expand his range options. He would need to invest 14 in INT and two feats, but his enchanted greataxe would deal much more damage than his bow.

I completely agree that it's useless for a traditional caster wizard. But for a Wizard with something like Mauler Dedication, it would be nice. Throw a Fireball AND your greataxe in the first round of combat before running into melee on turn two. Something like that.

Quote:
The problem of Shadow Siphon (I guess that's what you meant ^^) is that it only works on damaging spells.

Yeah, I meant Shadow Siphon of course. Man, one of my favorite spells in the game and I complettely fail on the name. Shame on me ^^'

It's true that Shadow Siphon only works on damage, but it works on ALL magical damage effects. You can totally use it to counter a Dragon's Breath! The pretty huge +2 counteract level bonus will also almost guarantee that you succeed

There's nothing keeping you from having counterspell AND Shadow Siphon, of course.

Quote:
Well, you actually need Quick Recognition to get Clever Counterspell, and a wizard at level 12 who isn't master in at least arcana or occult is not a wizard in my book ;)

Surprisingly, I never noticed that feat requirement even when I double checked the feat upon reading your guide. Weird. But Quick Recognition is still a once per round deal. You might not even identify the spell you want to counter.

As for the skills, even Master Occult and Arcane still leaves two whole traditions you can't Quick Recognize and thus not counter without Unified Theory. Divine and Primal do seem to be a bit more rare than Arcane and Occult, though.

Dark Archive

Blue_frog wrote:

Well, if you were a universalist and had it for free, I could see your point, but it really looks like a hassle to me:

- unless you're into a very specific gish build, you won't spend your money on enchanting a weapon, so the best you can hope for is d12+stat.
- If you don't invest in STR (and you shouldn't unless, again, you're doing a very specific build), carrying a Bulk 2 weapon around will make you cringe.
- Most mages will start a fight with their staff in hand, and maybe a rod/wand/shield/scroll. Starting with the weapon will mess your action economy.
- It's an attack roll, and you know what I think about attack rolls ^^ If you really, really want range, ray of frost gives you 120 feet (150 with reach spell) which should be plenty.
So, for me, it's red for a wizard. I guess the rating would be different for a melee taking the wizard archetype. Say, a barbarian who would like to expand his range options. He would need to invest 14 in INT and two feats, but his enchanted greataxe would deal much more damage than his bow.

It was MUCH better before the shifting rune nerf to staves.

It had its own little niche when it looked like that was still on the table.


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Small nitpick on Spell mastery (actually huge nitpick, but small since it's 20th leel feat so it shouldnt affect the general gameplay till then):

you write:

Quote:

Four spells of 9th level or lower, with their own spell slots. That’s both a lot of power AND versatility. I know what I said about top slots, but the difference between level 10 and 9 isn’t that high. I’d say it’s better than Archwizard’s might.

when it's in fact, at best a 9th, 8th, 7th, and 6th spell, which is vastly different than "4 9th level or less"

Spell mastery:

Quote:
You have mastered a handful of spells to such a degree that you can cast them even if you haven't prepared them in advance. Select any four spells of 9th level or lower that you have access to; each spell you select must be of a different level. These spells are automatically prepared when you make your daily preparations, and they have their own spell slots. You can select a different array of spells by spending 1 week of downtime retraining your mastered spells.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Blue_frog wrote:
Leomund "Leo" Velinznrarikovich wrote:


Well done Blue Frog.

Thanks a lot !

VestOfHolding wrote:
Looks good! My only feedback is that the title, "Blue_Frog's hideously biased guide to (spell blending) Wizards" should be in the Google Doc itself as well.

Done !

Deriven Firelion wrote:
A good, practical wizard guy with a sound build strategy.

Thanks !

Gortle wrote:

Its a nice guide. It really is a good to get another different opinion.

Thankyou

I read all your guides, so this means a lot to me ;)

Blave wrote:


Are you going to add ratings for the different schools to specialize in? I'd be really interested to know your thoughts on these.

I sure will !

Blave wrote:


Universalist school: You might want to mention that it also grants a bonus feat. That's not game-breaking but it can make it more attractive for some players.

Good point, done.

Blave wrote:
Hand of the Apprentice: I think it warrents at leat a yellow rating. It's by no means spectacular and a pure caster Wizard will get nearly nothing out of it. But it can be great for a Wizard who swings a weapon every now and then (and has the appropriate weapon upgrades). Since the spell blender is mroe of a nova build focusing on fewer high impact spells, I could totally see one of them start each fight with a bang, then use a weapon to finish things off. For such a character, having a one action attack with 500 ft range seems pretty damn useful.

Well, if you were a universalist and had it for free, I could see your point, but it really looks like a hassle to me:

- unless you're into a very specific gish build, you won't spend your money on enchanting a weapon, so the best you can hope for is d12+stat.
- If you don't invest in STR (and you shouldn't unless, again, you're doing a very specific build), carrying a Bulk 2 weapon around will make you cringe.
- Most mages will start a fight with their staff in hand, and maybe a...

First of all, I just want to reiterate that I love seeing more people post their guides to wizards, when the semester is over, I may have to try my hand at writing an illusionist guide and a diviner guide that focus a little more on how to talk to your GM about using magic that pushes at the boundaries of clear rules expectations in a way that is fun for everyone.

You are right that the release of Enervation makes acid arrow look a lot weaker, but its a fort save and a damage type that can be a little more hit or miss than acid. The fort save for negative damage is a bit of a double negative on the spell because undead are the creatures that most often have bad fort saves, and the spell is worse than useless against them.

Also, and very GM dependent, the rules for putting out persistent damage are pretty open ended and left to GM discretion. Some GMs will say that being exposed to positive energy is enough to grant a the lower DC flat check, while others will say that being exposed to positive energy is enough to automatically end the condition. The rules don't really make it clear what is intended for stoping persistent negative damage. It is much rarer for GMs to rule that persistent acid damage can be stopped with a heal spell.

Loosely speaking of saving throws,

It might be good to talk about how it appears that part of the reason why wizards seem to have such terrible saves is because they are expected to be able to counter spells as they are being cast. Obviously this doesn't protect them from monsters effects, and the cleric is going to be much better at countering effects that already get into play, but it seems like there is a design expectation that the wizard either protects themselves from magic with feats, spells, or else it is an open vulnerability that will get exploited in actual play.

Dark Archive

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Unicore wrote:
It might be good to talk about how it appears that part of the reason why wizards seem to have such terrible saves is because they are expected to be able to counter spells as they are being cast. Obviously this doesn't protect them from monsters effects, and the cleric is going to be much better at countering effects that already get into play, but it seems like there is a design expectation that the wizard either protects themselves from magic with feats, spells, or else it is an open vulnerability that will get exploited in actual play.

Not sure I agree with that line of thinking.

Counterspell, even with Clever Counterspell, still pretty restricted. Clever Counterspell requires the spell to not only be one on your spell list, but in your actual spellbook.

Its very white-roomy to expected Wizards spellbooks to be all that expansive in actual play. You will certainly know more spells than any reasonable Spontaneous caster, but not so much that you can really expected it to be part of chassis considerations.

Thats without considering that it would also hinge a chassis consideration on a feat that you can't gain until 12th level.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Old_Man_Robot wrote:
Unicore wrote:
It might be good to talk about how it appears that part of the reason why wizards seem to have such terrible saves is because they are expected to be able to counter spells as they are being cast. Obviously this doesn't protect them from monsters effects, and the cleric is going to be much better at countering effects that already get into play, but it seems like there is a design expectation that the wizard either protects themselves from magic with feats, spells, or else it is an open vulnerability that will get exploited in actual play.

Not sure I agree with that line of thinking.

Counterspell, even with Clever Counterspell, still pretty restricted. Clever Counterspell requires the spell to not only be one on your spell list, but in your actual spellbook.

Its very white-roomy to expected Wizards spellbooks to be all that expansive in actual play. You will certainly know more spells than any reasonable Spontaneous caster, but not so much that you can really expected it to be part of chassis considerations.

Thats without considering that it would also hinge a chassis consideration on a feat that you can't gain until 12th level.

Counter spelling is a function the wizard can start filling at level 1, if they want to make it a focus of their build. It requires researching what you are going up against and possibly even trying to do some divination and reconnaissance, but a level 1 wizard can do it. While level 17 feels a bit extreme to me, as far as giving master in will saves, I think the designers to expect that wizards that are worried about being targeted by enemy spells to use their magic to protect themselves, not innate saves. Whether you think that is a fair expectation is certainly debatable, but it seems pretty clear that the designers took steps to give wizards ways to mitigate the need for making saves in the first place, at least against magic.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Yeah I don't think that's a reasonable assumption at all. Counterspelling is an extremely niche tactic, requiring specialized feat investment and the preparation of specific spells in advance. It's also incredibly resource hungry, every counterspell means one less spell you can use that day.

It both doesn't make sense mechanically and flies in the face of PF2 design principles for the developers to have built the Wizard under the expectation they'd need to use a specific feat chain to augment their defenses.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Squiggit wrote:

Yeah I don't think that's a reasonable assumption at all. Counterspelling is an extremely niche tactic, requiring specialized feat investment and the preparation of specific spells in advance. It's also incredibly resource hungry, every counterspell means one less spell you can use that day.

It both doesn't make sense mechanically and flies in the face of PF2 design principles for the developers to have built the Wizard under the expectation they'd need to use a specific feat chain to augment their defenses.

Well this is only one option wizards have. There are also spells that make them more difficult to target with other spells and even completely negate different spells. A wizard who knows they are going up against magical enemies can be very well prepared to shut down an enemy caster, even without spending any feats on it. Feats are just another option available. I am just saying that having access to the most prepared spells in the game can also work defensively as well as offensively.


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There is Mage Armor, which, while it does chew up a spell slot, lasts as long as needed and gives bonuses to both AC and saves as you heighten it. How well that tracks with other classes' defenses, I leave as an exercise for somebody else. :-P (Also, Shield looks pretty astoundingly lame with that 10-minute cooldown.)

On the one hand, it's kind of annoying they built a crud chassis that requires those "extra" spells to fill in for, making them just so much more bookwork for wizards. On the other hand, if you're willing to forego filling in for your crud defenses, you can really focus on being the glass cannon many casters have a reputation for.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Nik Gervae wrote:

There is Mage Armor, which, while it does chew up a spell slot, lasts as long as needed and gives bonuses to both AC and saves as you heighten it. How well that tracks with other classes' defenses, I leave as an exercise for somebody else. :-P (Also, Shield looks pretty astoundingly lame with that 10-minute cooldown.)

On the one hand, it's kind of annoying they built a crud chassis that requires those "extra" spells to fill in for, making them just so much more bookwork for wizards. On the other hand, if you're willing to forego filling in for your crud defenses, you can really focus on being the glass cannon many casters have a reputation for.

That is my reading of the wizard class. It casts spells from spell slots. The most spells from spell slots, with feats incredibly focused on how you cast spells from spell slots. If you have other things you are wanting to do as a caster, than wizard is probably not a great class for you to choose.

If you want to be a glass cannon with the greatest focus on blasting with high level spell slots, the wizard can do it. The trade off is your glassy-ness is quite glassy. If you want to be a shut-down anti-magic counterspeller, you can do that too, and enemy spell casters are going to be nearly useless against you because you just have too many spell slots for them to keep up with. What is more, most wizards can switch between a number of different rolls with a day's notice, which is pretty flexible. They don't usually do to well when your enemies get the jump on you. It used to be that your best bet in those situations was to teleport away, hide yourself, rest up and then hunt down the person who came at you. That is still possible, but requires higher level play in PF2 than PF1.


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Well, as for me, I'm kind of paranoid and as soon as my level 4 slots become utility (which usually starts at level 11), I load up on heightened invisibility and fly. If I'm being clearly targeted, one or the other gives me a much-needed breather, depending on the situation.


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I added a very big part about choosing your arcane school.
Don't hesitate to tell me if you disagree on some ratings ;)


Thats quite weird, I was just feeling underwhelmed today with my Wizard Universalist, feels weird only 3 spell slots. You cant just be the that universal with only 3 spell slots per level, right? Cause if you're wrong on some of your choices, specially in higher-level spell slots, you have only one or two options remaining to save you. Also, Bond Conservation was hardly working because it seems, but it is not versatile at all.

Then that guide showed up! Turns out that your rage against the wizard nerfs and universalist as the "only-way-out-theory" came in a pretty good time for me, as I also felt much like that, haha.

I pretty much agree with you in most of your talking! And also I am waiting for more content! Spell or archetype analysis? I'm tuned!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I like the update Blue_Frog. On evokers, an unpopular choice for the evoker spell at lower levels, but one that actually works out better than people realize is to fill those slots with magic missile. A lot of players ignore how useful and encounter winning it can be to have a instant and guaranteed one action damage option for every round of combat. Yes you have force bolt, but the range on it is pretty limited and you are using that as fast as you can in most circumstances.

By the time you are level 9, if you filled all of your lower level evoker slots with magic missile, you are pretty good at throwing down a high level AoE and then using a Magic Missile to clean up stragglers. Force bolt is only ever targeting one enemy. A one action level 3 magic missile can be split to target 2 enemies.

The damage will never be great, but doing exactly the right amount of damage can be an evoker's specialty, and help you conserve resources.

I also am super down on the conjurer generally, but the air bubble stinking cloud combo is a pretty powerful and nasty defensive option for occupying prime real estate, especially when paired with battlefield control spells, which conjuration has by the bucket load. The advantage here is that you don't have to target with battle field control spells, so being concealed is pretty useful. Augmented summoning is a bad focus spell, but the conjuration spell list is incredibly strong even if you never cast a summoning spell.


In the Force Bolt section of the Evocation school, you write

Quote:
Also, if you took Dangerous Sorcery, it gets much better. No game changer, but actually useful.

Unfortunately, Dangerous Sorcery doesn't apply to focus spells. Only spells from your spell slots can get a damage bonus from that feat.


Xomenin wrote:

I pretty much agree with you in most of your talking! And also I am waiting for more content! Spell or archetype analysis? I'm tuned!

Look at me feeling all warmy ;)

Unicore wrote:

I like the update Blue_Frog. On evokers, an unpopular choice for the evoker spell at lower levels, but one that actually works out better than people realize is to fill those slots with magic missile. A lot of players ignore how useful and encounter winning it can be to have a instant and guaranteed one action damage option for every round of combat. Yes you have force bolt, but the range on it is pretty limited and you are using that as fast as you can in most circumstances.

By the time you are level 9, if you filled all of your lower level evoker slots with magic missile, you are pretty good at throwing down a high level AoE and then using a Magic Missile to clean up stragglers. Force bolt is only ever targeting one enemy. A one action level 3 magic missile can be split to target 2 enemies.

The damage will never be great, but doing exactly the right amount of damage can be an evoker's specialty, and help you conserve resources.

I also am super down on the conjurer generally, but the air bubble stinking cloud combo is a pretty powerful and nasty defensive option for occupying prime real estate, especially when paired with battlefield control spells, which conjuration has by the bucket load. The advantage here is that you don't have to target with battle field control spells, so being concealed is pretty useful. Augmented summoning is a bad focus spell, but the conjuration spell list is incredibly strong even if you never cast a summoning spell.

Good point on magic missile, that's something I'm actually doing as well but I didn't think about including it. Well done, I'll add it ASAP !

As for conjuration, I will probably make a double color, green if you can spellblend, orange if you can't. What hurts conjuration is the lack of great non-heightened options, but with the right setup, it can work.

Blave wrote:

In the Force Bolt section of the Evocation school, you write

Quote:
Also, if you took Dangerous Sorcery, it gets much better. No game changer, but actually useful.
Unfortunately, Dangerous Sorcery doesn't apply to focus spells. Only spells from your spell slots can get a damage bonus from that feat.

Wow, good catch, we're actually using it wrong in all our games, I can't believe noone saw that !


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Blue_frog, I think you are thinking of the conjurer a little too much as a summoner and not a battlefield controller.

Cantrip: Tanglefoot at higher levels is a beast of an action stealer, especially for a caster that is going to make the battlefield difficult terrain or worse.

Level 1: Air bubble is a reaction that triggers as soon as you are in a situation where you can’t breathe normally. It pairs amazingly well with moving into position and then throwing down a stinking cloud. You will want one memorized for every stinking cloud you plan on casting.
Level 2: Obscuring mist is good battle field control and protection for you. Web is another good action waster .
Level 3: stink cloud. It is an amazing spell in PF2.
Level 4: Blink is pretty good but it is weird that the GM decides the random direction. There is a little too much potential for evil with that being so wide open. It should probably specify that it doesn’t actively put you in to harms way, teleporting you into lava, etc. Solid Fog is a strong option here as far as battle field control, but then again, there is always dimensional door.
Level 5: Black Tentacles, shadow walk, wall of stone.
Level 6: Collective Transposition is an interesting spell, perhaps a level too high, but if your GM allows it, you are memorizing a teleport here every day. Still Collective Transposition targets will, so you can be really mean to the large brute creatures as far as stealing all of their actions if you have difficult terrain and/or any movement debuts on them (like tangle foot or into a cloud of solid fog).

These options may appear unexciting at first, but, with a lot of battlefield control options, you get them going early in the combat and then you can fire off AoEs from relative safety and make most enemies want to completely avoid you.

Round 1: move, cast stinking cloud around yourself and some enemies that will still have to move to attack you. Air bubble triggers automatically. Enemies either move to attack you, likely trapping themselves in the stinking cloud and still having to deal with concealment, or move away. You have laid claim to a central part of the battlefield and can rain down your higher level AoE spell.

Honestly, the only problem really with the conjurer for your build is that they might value lower level slots more than higher level slots and be better off going staff nexus, and just spamming things like stinking clouds and web every round until your enemies give up from having to make checks to move through difficult terrain while being unable to breathe and potentially even getting slowed.


Unicore wrote:

Blue_frog, I think you are thinking of the conjurer a little too much as a summoner and not a battlefield controller.

This is a very interesting post, because I never played my mage this way nor saw any mage played this way. So this is pretty enlightening.

However, there are lots of things I don't understand or see as subpar from my theorycrafting, so your experience could prove invaluable in helping me get it.

Obscuring Mist: I don't really see the point of this spell. Everybody's concealed to everybody so if you have a long-range party they're annoyed by it, and if you have a melee party they'll have the same problem. Unless you're a druid or an oracle that can see through smoke, I don't get it. It might be good to put on a bunch of archers, but a single move would get them out of the mist, so that's not a very big deterrent. Could you perhaps give me an example of using Obscuring Mist to great effect ?

Stinking Cloud: I also don't get it, since it's indiscrimate. Sure, you can be immmune to it, but this means you spent a whole round to get a deterrent to being attacked. Why not cast greater invisibility or fly instead ? I mean, it does absolutely nothing if the opponent moves away.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Blue_frog wrote:
Unicore wrote:

Blue_frog, I think you are thinking of the conjurer a little too much as a summoner and not a battlefield controller.

This is a very interesting post, because I never played my mage this way nor saw any mage played this way. So this is pretty enlightening.

However, there are lots of things I don't understand or see as subpar from my theorycrafting, so your experience could prove invaluable in helping me get it.

Obscuring Mist: I don't really see the point of this spell. Everybody's concealed to everybody so if you have a long-range party they're annoyed by it, and if you have a melee party they'll have the same problem. Unless you're a druid or an oracle that can see through smoke, I don't get it. It might be good to put on a bunch of archers, but a single move would get them out of the mist, so that's not a very big deterrent. Could you perhaps give me an example of using Obscuring Mist to great effect ?

Stinking Cloud: I also don't get it, since it's indiscriminate. Sure, you can be immune to it, but this means you spent a whole round to get a deterrent to being attacked. Why not cast greater invisibility or fly instead ? I mean, it does absolutely nothing if the opponent moves away.

For stinking cloud, you move up into the fray, just outside of reach and then let rip. The enemy has to make saves and then be put in a bind, surrender the section of the battle field that you just claimed, or stay in it, which can be really bad for them to do if any of them failed their saves. Even if they critically succeed at their save, they have to leave the area or disperse it on their round or be sickened at the end of their turn. That is incredibly reliable debuffing for a level 3 spell. Compare that to a level 3 fear spell. The fear spell can affect up to 5 creatures, but the benefit is only sticking around for 1 turn. The stinking cloud is a 20ft burst, and sticks around for 1 minute without you having to concentrate on it.

Invisibility just makes you difficult to attack, stinking cloud gives you some protection while debuffing enemies with sickened on all but a critical success, and slowed on any failures.

Now having your party prepare for these tactics in advance is nice, because, by level 8, a lot of characters can pick up blind fight and then you are really cooking with gas, especially if your allies also have access to air bubbles. None of the cloud spells completely block line of sight, they just make targets concealed. Blind fighting allows you to ignore the flat check when attacking concealed creatures regardless or range, so you can have some nasty sniper action from your martials, but you can also cast all your AoE spells without any risk of missing your target from your concealment as well.

My level 7 cleric does all of this similarly with darkness and greater darkness, and even though no one has blind fight yet, against bosses who end up equally blinded as the party, the risk of losing an action out of 3 to a miss chance is much worse for the solo monster than it is for the team. We've had casters miss with their highest level spell slots against us and monsters that could hit us on a 6+ lose their first attack to the miss chance.


Unicore wrote:

For stinking cloud, you move up into the fray, just outside of reach and then let rip. The enemy has to make saves and then be put in a bind, surrender the section of the battle field that you just claimed, or stay in it, which can be really bad for them to do if any of them failed their saves.

I still don't get it. They make their save if they finish their turn inside the cloud, so if they move away there's no save at all, no debuff at all, they just used one action to get away from you and presumably attack some other target - so that's good for you, less for them :o


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Blue_frog wrote:
Unicore wrote:

For stinking cloud, you move up into the fray, just outside of reach and then let rip. The enemy has to make saves and then be put in a bind, surrender the section of the battle field that you just claimed, or stay in it, which can be really bad for them to do if any of them failed their saves.

I still don't get it. They make their save if they finish their turn inside the cloud, so if they move away there's no save at all, no debuff at all, they just used one action to get away from you and presumably attack some other target - so that's good for you, less for them :o

That is not how i read the spell. Everyone in the area has to make a save when the spell is first cast as the save conditions and the spell listing its saving throw are independent of the end of the turn clause. Then, if they stay in the cloud, they are automatically sickened at the end of their turn, even if they spent actions to clear it.

Lots of spells just list their saving throw effects after their descriptive text. Look at sleep or slow.


Unicore wrote:


That is not how i read the spell. Everyone in the area has to make a save when the spell is first cast as the save conditions and the spell listing its saving throw are independent of the end of the turn clause. Then, if they stay in the cloud, they are automatically sickened at the end of their turn, even if they spent actions to clear it.

Lots of spells just list their saving throw effects after their descriptive text. Look at sleep or slow.

Well, it specifically says that they have to save at the end of their turn, so I really don't know. Has it been clarified somewhere ?

Here lies the discrepancy between us. If I'm right, it's a useless spell. If you're right, it can be a great spell. I'll be sure to update my guide when I get an answer.

As a matter of fact, I'll just ask in the rules forum right now !


Thanks for posting this! It's a great guide. As someone who played a lot of wizards in PF1, and whose first character was a wizard in PF2, I appreciate the thought you've put into this. Admittedly, that's at least partially because it's finally nice to see someone argue against the "Universalist/Bond Conservation" trick, and for specialists in general. I'm absolutely with you on both points. You've also got me rethinking my Spell Substitution build which, as I've gotten higher in level, has felt a little more restrictive (since I'm itching to cast more higher level spells, but haven't been able to do that). I'm looking forward to playing around with the ideas you put forth!


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I sort of disagree with the assessment of the combo. Bond Conservation is a good feat for universalists. The problem is the Universalist itself is abysmal. You're reducing your total number of spells per day, limiting yourself to only preparing two/three spells per level (though the ability to pick what you recast later makes that one a bit of a wash), and giving up your focus spell. That's rough.

That someone at Paizo legitimately thought losing all of those things for Eschew Materials was a good and balanced trade is, frankly, a little bit scary tbh. It is what it is, though.


Squiggit wrote:
I sort of disagree with the assessment of the combo. Bond Conservation is a good feat for universalists. The problem is the Universalist itself is abysmal. You're reducing your total number of spells per day, limiting yourself to only preparing two/three spells per level (though the ability to pick what you recast later makes that one a bit of a wash), and giving up your focus spell. That's rough.

You get a free class feat at 1st that you can use to pick that focus spell back and it's one that you can get some mileage with [as opposed to some others that are quite limited in usability] so I see that as a wash too.


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You say that Staff Nexus only lets you trade higher-level spell slots for lower, but actually you can put two (eventually three) spell slots into the staff as charges, and then use them to cast any spells in the staff up to their combined levels plus your highest-level spell slot. That's up to 36 charges total by end-game. And you can spend them up as well as down, for a ton more low-level spells or a few more high-level spells. You can only do this once, of course, and only for spells in the staff.

So Staff Nexus is very versatile—if you're willing to spend the money on a cart full of staves to haul around with you and leave behind while you go delving. Which any thief will be more than happy to lay claim to. Maybe if you craft a staff with spells you know you'll use all the time you can avoid that.

Also, it comes online even later (at level eight!) than Spell Blending (at level three). So, Staff Nexus is okay for getting a few more higher-level spells and a lot more low-level spells—in mid to high-level play only. Spell Blending clearly wins for getting more, higher-level spell slots—throughout your career. If you can retrain your thesis in downtime, I suppose it might make sense for some to switch into it once it's actually useful.


Squiggit wrote:


That someone at Paizo legitimately thought losing all of those things for Eschew Materials was a good and balanced trade is, frankly, a little bit scary tbh. It is what it is, though.

I can't tell if you're joking or not, but base Counterspell can be a solid investment if you like to prepare common/popular spells, and Familiar, Widen Spell and Reach Spell are all broadly useful. Cantrip Expansion, Conceal Spell, Enhanced Familiar and Nonlethal Spell are all nice to have for different sorts, too. An extra feat goes a long way!

Also, Wizard focus spell capabilities are quite marginal. They can be useful, but getting a feat for another ability you might use frequently is a fair trade. If you do like the school spells, investing the feat back into Hand of the Apprentice to later pick up the ability to get any basic school spell seems decent. The spell selection is a tradeoff, too — instead of being limited to a school (that you can pick the good spells from!), you're limited to a spell you cast before (that you can pick widely applicable spells for!).

The biggest loss is the 1 repeated spell, which is significant, though Bond Conservation theoretically makes up for that if you plan for it. Not to say it's the dominant option or anything, it's just a decent choice and seems fairly common to like — Universalist is my preference overall, though for using Spell Blending specifically it's obviously better to pick up a nice school.


It's too bad Wizard didn't just have a 1st-level class feat and a "School Focus Spell" feat. :-P


Oh I just noticed you left out Spellbook Prodigy from your feat ratings. I mean, I can see why it doesn't even rate one star, but someone might wonder.


Nik Gervae wrote:

You say that Staff Nexus only lets you trade higher-level spell slots for lower, but actually you can put two (eventually three) spell slots into the staff as charges, and then use them to cast any spells in the staff up to their combined levels plus your highest-level spell slot. That's up to 36 charges total by end-game. And you can spend them up as well as down, for a ton more low-level spells or a few more high-level spells. You can only do this once, of course, and only for spells in the staff.

So Staff Nexus is very versatile—if you're willing to spend the money on a cart full of staves to haul around with you and leave behind while you go delving. Which any thief will be more than happy to lay claim to. Maybe if you craft a staff with spells you know you'll use all the time you can avoid that.

Also, it comes online even later (at level eight!) than Spell Blending (at level three). So, Staff Nexus is okay for getting a few more higher-level spells and a lot more low-level spells—in mid to high-level play only. Spell Blending clearly wins for getting more, higher-level spell slots—throughout your career. If you can retrain your thesis in downtime, I suppose it might make sense for some to switch into it once it's actually useful.

I agree that carrying a lot of staves and prepping the one you'll need is handy, but it'll cost a ton of money to keep your staves at your level. Realistically, you will only have one staff at top level and maybe a couple more at low level for utility. But then, when you'll prep a low level one, you'll be much less effective for the day.

Since I never used Staff Nexus, I might get this wrong so don't hesitate to correct me. Let's say I'm level 8. I have a brand new greater staff of fire, that will get 4 charges for free, like every other wizard.

Like every other wizard, I can sacrifice a slot to power it a bit more. Unlike every other wizard, I can double down on it.

Sadly, the spells you can cast with a staff are usually lower level than what you could cast with your slots.

If you follow the treasure rules from PF2, you can get a level X staff at level X+1.

So at level 7, you can get a regular staff (evocation, abjuration...) that caps at level 2.

At level 11, it caps at level 4.

At level 15, it caps at level 6.

Basically, you're trading your top slots for at most N-2 slots. It adds a ton of versatility, but it's the exact opposite of what a Spell Blender should be about.

In my opinion, if you want versatility, Spell Substitution is a better choice. If you want power, Spell Blending is a better choice.

So it's not that staff nexus is bad per se, it's more that it has no niche to shine.


Added the "stats" part, although it's not very mind-blowing ^^


Nik Gervae wrote:
You say that Staff Nexus only lets you trade higher-level spell slots for lower, but actually you can put two (eventually three) spell slots into the staff as charges, and then use them to cast any spells in the staff up to their combined levels plus your highest-level spell slot. That's up to 36 charges total by end-game. And you can spend them up as well as down, for a ton more low-level spells or a few more high-level spells. You can only do this once, of course, and only for spells in the staff.

That's only true if your GM is nice enough to give you staves above your level. Otherwise, the highest level of spell you can cast with a staff is in general 2 levels behind the highest level you can cast. So, outside the very last levels of the game where being able to cast more 7th level spells can be consider casting more mid/high level spells, Staff Nexus will only give you more casting of low level spells.

As a side note, I strongly encourage GMs with a Staff Nexus Wizard to give him higher level staves. It won't imbalance the game at all (and anyway, if an issue arises, it will auto-correct itself in a few levels) but the Wizard player will just be crazy about his staff. In my opinion, Staff Nexus can be very nice and fulfilling with a GM generous when it comes to staves, but otherwise, I see it only as frustrating.


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Squiggit wrote:

I sort of disagree with the assessment of the combo. Bond Conservation is a good feat for universalists. The problem is the Universalist itself is abysmal. You're reducing your total number of spells per day, limiting yourself to only preparing two/three spells per level (though the ability to pick what you recast later makes that one a bit of a wash), and giving up your focus spell. That's rough.

That someone at Paizo legitimately thought losing all of those things for Eschew Materials was a good and balanced trade is, frankly, a little bit scary tbh. It is what it is, though.

I'm pretty sure the incentive is supposed to be the super drain bonded item and eschew materials is an extra bonus. A Universalist should be focused on evergreen spells that you still want to cast well after they've been outscaled; using Command to make an enemy drop their weapon will always be good. Don't think I feel comfortable arguing this is better or equal to the Spell Blending Specialist, but it's sure not nothing.

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