Any rebalancing between martials and casters?


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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Deriven Firelion wrote:
If you want to see caster vs. martial balance at high level, stat up a bunch of pure martials and a bunch of pure casters, then have them do battle against each other. High level casters unloading AoE nuke spells while flying and invisible is not fun for martials. It was when that started occurring and my martial players started crying about TPKs I decided to use caster enemies sparingly at the higher levels. When every 2 action spell is basically hitting everyone, it's not real fun unless everyone is Dex-based saves specialist.

My players recently experienced how scary caster enemies are at level 8. A boss enemy caster was hitting them all with a phantasmal cataclysm. All of them failed, two people crit failed. The people that crit failed took 80 f$%#ing damage. And then failed the second save as well and were stunned.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Ubertron_X wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
I do understand where this feeling comes from. Most people play in that 1 to 10 range. If all you ever do is play lvl 1 to 10, you'll think casters are ok but a little weak. Lvl 11 seems to be that cut off. Once casters get past lvl 11, the game gets almost boring because casters make everything so easy whether it's the cleric erasing damage or the druid nuking Lvl-1 or 2 minions into the ground quickly.

Giving the topic a lot of thought I think much of the perceived problems with casters are somewhat home-made by Paizo in a best-intentions-gone-wrong kind of way. But let me share some of my considerations.

Traditionally casters are weakest at low level, mainly due to scare ressources (spell slots) and possibly also due to lack of potent spells. Thus Paizo introduced unlimited attack cantrips to help casters overcome some of their deficits. These cantrips are in a way comparable to martial weapon attacks and mostly use attack rolls, which works perfectly well during levels 1 to 4, i.e. a big help during the exact time casters are usually deemed weakest.

Then we move to level 5 (and perhaps also at level 11 as Deriven has indicated) and *BÄM* big meta shift for casters.

Ever more and even higher spell slots become available => no more need to use cantrips or even lesser spells
Ever more potent spells become available => no more need to use single target spells as a means of attacking your foes
Martial proficiency outclasses caster proficiency => single target attack spells become a liability without enhancement (e.g. Hero Points or True Strike or Buffs/Debuffs)

And this is where the problems start as most players new to the system will neither easily realize that there has been a meta shift nor have they been prepared for a meta shift by the game itself (and martials do not seem to have to copy with meta shifts of this magnitude). Instead casters had 4 full levels to learn to use attack spells as their bread and butter solution, may easily also have picked up...

Wow this is a great breakdown! Thank you for your thoughts. Hm yes this would be a concern for me due to the fact I’d like to play a single target spellcaster as something akin to a ranged martial. I don’t really have a need for huge explosions or crazy effects. I just want to be like an Archer Fighter or Ranger but with fire magic. ‍♂️


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Deriven Firelion wrote:
Cyouni wrote:
Bear in mind casters (and well, everyone) are not generally supposed to be pre-buffed.
Sort of depends on the set up. If they both know they're coming after each other, then the casters can prepare for that.

Remember that in most cases, a 1-minute spell cast outside combat will expire upon entering encounter mode, unless it was cast just before rolling initiative, in which case casting it will essentially trigger encounter mode. So at the most, you get one short-duration spell ahead of combat, and that's only if you get the drop on your opponent.

Now, if there's a significant distance between casters and martials, they might still have time to cast stuff before melêe-oriented martials can close, but that's very setup-dependent. In actual games, it's rare for monsters and PCs to start more than 1-2 strides away from one another.


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Dargath wrote:
Wow this is a great breakdown! Thank you for your thoughts. Hm yes this would be a concern for me due to the fact I’d like to play a single target spellcaster as something akin to a ranged martial. I don’t really have a need for huge explosions or crazy effects. I just want to be like an Archer Fighter or Ranger but with fire magic.

Pathfinder could definitely use a class similar to the D&D Warlock, with its focus on sustained magical damage with the occasional proper spell. If they ever get around do doing a PF2 version of it, I would think the Kineticist could fill this role quite well.


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Staffan Johansson wrote:
Dargath wrote:
Wow this is a great breakdown! Thank you for your thoughts. Hm yes this would be a concern for me due to the fact I’d like to play a single target spellcaster as something akin to a ranged martial. I don’t really have a need for huge explosions or crazy effects. I just want to be like an Archer Fighter or Ranger but with fire magic.
Pathfinder could definitely use a class similar to the D&D Warlock, with its focus on sustained magical damage with the occasional proper spell. If they ever get around do doing a PF2 version of it, I would think the Kineticist could fill this role quite well.

The main difference of the Warlock in mechanical terms is in the recovery of spell slots on a short rest. Which is the design space that Focus spells sit in. So mechanically its not required. Flavour wise it is sort of there already with Witch and Oracle.


Unicore wrote:

I do find it interesting how certain ideas like “PF2 has no blasting” get out into the universe and then get held onto so vehemently by people who care enough about the game to show up on dedicated message boards. Like, I would agree that PF2 as a whole doesn’t represent MMO character roles and classes very faithfully, but see that as a huge positive. Real time video games have a whole lot of unnecessary and overly complicated mechanics running behind the scenes to allow for the way they handle encounters outside of a turn based system, and with the support of powerful computers, and not people, trying to keep them in mind.

In the long run, the challenge with a book like secrets of magic is that consistent underlying criticism of casters in PF2, that holds some weight (and some overly reductionist logic), is that casting in PF2 is more complex than martial combat, as martial fighting can sort of be essentialized down to “how much damage can you pack into a strike action” while there is no comparable “strike” action for casting. (Sure some martials get feats and items that stretch one strike action in many different ways, but those characters still have a definable strike action that players can quickly identify and rank). Each and every spell is like a combination of feats and items combined together and thus having feats and items that interact with just “spells” have to be incredibly more narrow in focus. Spells in PF2 are not a modular system compared to other parts of the game. They don’t have nearly the unification of parts necessary to make simple magic items that modify them without having to look at the whole breadth of spells. Maybe we see items that interact with spells more limited by the level of spell, (like a wand that gives an increase to the DCs of level 1 spells) but that only adds complexity to caster classes that isn’t really necessary or valuable to the problem that players are really having: casting requires a lot of player knowledge and Supportive GMing to help players make informed...

That seems like a good summary of the issue. It's hard to boost one component of the magic system without boosting other parts, but that in turn leaves certain parts (e.g., blasting) underpowered when the system has to be balanced with the more potent alternatives in mind. Something like...

Dev: "We couldn't buff your bow, because it'd make spreadshots overpowered."
Player: "But what if I only want to shoot one person?"
Dev: "We couldn't buff your bow, because it'd make spreadshots overpowered."
Player: "But what if my bow doesn't _have_ a spreadshot?"
Dev: "...We couldn't buff your bow, because it'd make spreadshots overpowered."

(Assuming a system where most bows have spreadshot and single-target options, except for the one bow that the player is using, which is single-target only.)


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Dargath wrote:
Wow this is a great breakdown! Thank you for your thoughts. Hm yes this would be a concern for me due to the fact I’d like to play a single target spellcaster as something akin to a ranged martial. I don’t really have a need for huge explosions or crazy effects. I just want to be like an Archer Fighter or Ranger but with fire magic.

Flame Oracle does that actually. At twelfth level you can pick up Flaming Fusillade, which makes Produce Flame a one action spell and keeps the cantrip relevant into the late game.


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Arachnofiend wrote:
Dargath wrote:
Wow this is a great breakdown! Thank you for your thoughts. Hm yes this would be a concern for me due to the fact I’d like to play a single target spellcaster as something akin to a ranged martial. I don’t really have a need for huge explosions or crazy effects. I just want to be like an Archer Fighter or Ranger but with fire magic.
Flame Oracle does that actually. At twelfth level you can pick up Flaming Fusillade, which makes Produce Flame a one action spell and keeps the cantrip relevant into the late game.

Oh well then it sounds like the little goblin flame Oracle I made is exactly the caster I want to play. It just takes til level 4 to get other sorts of fire spells like Burning Hands, Fireball and Wall of Fire. It’s the Divine Access feat I believe that allows you to take spells granted to a cleric via their deity. I really really like the flame Oracle for us spells!


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Gortle wrote:
Which is the design space that Focus spells sit in. So mechanically its not required.

I think this is a poor assessment. Focus spells fit in the same general design space in terms of being short recovery abilities, but for a big chunk of the campaign, you're only recovering one point per refocus. That makes them generally a secondary, support thing rather than a driving gimmick and doesn't really in any way cover the design space the 3.5/5e Warlock or PF1 Kineticist operate in.

The most important thing about those two classes is that they're much more focused than a Wizard or Cleric, which means theoretically they can engage with their driving features a lot more robustly than Wizards, because Wizards are balanced around all the things they can do even if a player's not interested in them.


Squiggit wrote:
Gortle wrote:
Which is the design space that Focus spells sit in. So mechanically its not required.

I think this is a poor assessment. Focus spells fit in the same general design space in terms of being short recovery abilities, but for a big chunk of the campaign, you're only recovering one point per refocus. That makes them generally a secondary, support thing rather than a driving gimmick and doesn't really in any way cover the design space the 3.5/5e Warlock or PF1 Kineticist operate in.

The most important thing about those two classes is that they're much more focused than a Wizard or Cleric, which means theoretically they can engage with their driving features a lot more robustly than Wizards, because Wizards are balanced around all the things they can do even if a player's not interested in them.

So Wild Shape or Tempest Surge are a gimmic? No they are an important part of the character.

PF2 recovers focus points in ten minutes, in 5e it is an hour. There are also other ways get focus points before the level 12 feats that get you a second. Familiars for starters. Or just having 3 to start with.

So what that it is not identical. Its still a powerful spell that you will pull out for almost every encounter. It does match up resonably.

That is not to say the Witch couldn't do with a bit more bite. Its not a blaster like the 5e Warlock. If that is what you are after - then Storm Druid is probably the closest.


(If Paizo releases a Warlock clone before releasing a faithful version of Kineticist I would be so mad. Kineticist was such a great class and very much part of the inspiration for PF2. You can see it in the way they handle cantrips and the split between skill and class feats.)

(But yes, Spell Focus is nothing like Kineticist. Spell Focus very much comes from how Occultist, Psychic, and Arcanist work. But with a much easier recovery.)


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Unicore wrote:
Another way the importance and utility of casters is massively undervalued in PF2, is how effective the counter spell/anti-magic game can be. The fact that counteracting works effectively against level+1 effects is subtle, but incredibly powerful in the PF2 casting framework. Facing higher level casters as enemies is a scary prospect in PF2, but with a well informed wizard, you can really shut them down. Having lots of spell slots and a prepared spell list can make a big difference there.

This is once again situationally useful and not something you can plan around without DM heads up or focus. This is the problem I have with the wizard arguments. They almost all require DM caveat or set up.

Every other class has abilities that work in nearly every battle regardless of DM or enemies, no knowledge check required, nothing extra needed to set them up. A druid may run into enemies with electricity resistance, but they can just switch to a different attack spell or use an animal companion or wildshape on those rare occasions. Composition cantrips work all the time. Healing always good.

But the folks arguing on behalf of the wizard are always bringing up corner cases, specific situations, and the like. Whereas bard, druid, and cleric players don't care. They don't need situations. They work all the time with extremely rare exception. Just like martials work all the time with rare exception.

Wizards don't work all the time. They are in fact one of those classes that can get short-circuited quite often. It sucks to play that type of class. Run into golems? Pretty useless. Run into fire immune creatures and you have a bunch of fire immune spells? Sucks for you, you can't switch. Evocation wizard wants to use his focus spell, gotta be in melee combat range or its 1 action magic missile damage. Druid uses his focus point does d12 damage per level, 1 point of persistent electricity, and adds Clumsy 2 for one focus point. Wizard for 1 focus point? 1d4 magic missile for 1 action up to 5d4 at lvl 20. Druid's Tempest surge, 10d12. Even if the enemy saves, you do more damage than the wizard for 1 focus point. If they fail a save, way more damage. If they critically fail, you ripped something apart.

Elemental wizard's focus point blast is an 8d6 free fireball at range every battle.

I don't know how you look at wizard focus spells and go, "These are good and comparable." It feels like Paizo chose to specifically make the wizard weak in this edition. It seems like a design choice maybe driven by how out of hand the wizard was in PF1.


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Deriven Firelion wrote:

Wizards don't work all the time. They are in fact one of those classes that can get short-circuited quite often. It sucks to play that type of class. Run into golems? Pretty useless. Run into fire immune creatures and you have a bunch of fire immune spells? Sucks for you, you can't switch. Evocation wizard wants to use his focus spell, gotta be in melee combat range or its 1 action magic missile damage. Druid uses his focus point does d12 damage per level, 1 point of persistent electricity, and adds Clumsy 2 for one focus point. Wizard for 1 focus point? 1d4 magic missile for 1 action up to 5d4 at lvl 20. Druid's Tempest surge, 10d12. Even if the enemy saves, you do more damage than the wizard for 1 focus point. If they fail a save, way more damage. If they critically fail, you ripped something apart.

Elemental wizard's focus point blast is an 8d6 free fireball at range every battle.

Elemental Blast is a level 5 spell that does the damage of a level 4 spell, at 30 foot range, with a smaller AoE.

Comparatively, at level 5 Force Bolt is the equivalent of a level 5 spell that has the same 30 foot range limitation. While the fact that you can only use it for 1 action, it goes past all resistances/immunities/saves. There's literally never a bad time to use force bolt.
Are you against a rogue? Tempest Surge and Elemental Blast are very bad. Against a higher level enemy? Similar problem. Elemental Blast on 3 elements runs into any physical resistance, and fire as an immunity isn't that uncommon.

Level 15 against, say, a wyrmwraith? One of those spells is going to be far better than the others. Even though force bolt is only doing level 7 damage, it's still averaging 14 damage with 1 action.
Meanwhile, elemental blast averages 49 damage on a failure, but since it runs into resistances (and saves) your average is actually far lower. DC 36 vs the wyrmwraith's +32 save is not good, and then you hit resistances on top of that, averaging 8.825 damage.
Tempest Surge has a similar problem. Averaging 52 damage on a failure, but after resistances/saves it's gone down to 10 damage.

Also, because Force Bolt is 1 action (and the wizard has more top-level spells than anyone else), they can afford to use Force Bolt as well as a slot consistently, while the other focus spells functionally eat the caster's 1 spell/turn. Turns out Force Bolt looks a lot better when it's something like Force Bolt + Chain Lightning in a single turn.

(Also, y'know, Elemental Blast requires a level 10 feat.)


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Ravingdork wrote:
Ruzza wrote:
People constantly forgetting about the Voluntary Flaw rule.
Many GMs see that as an optional rule and do not allow it out of hand.

I think that's largely a function of misreading the rule (even on the forums many mistakenly thought it let you start with two 18s). In effect all it does is "allow you to start with an 18 in your class key ability regardless of ancestry" and "allow you to start with an 8 in any stat that's not your class's key ability".

It enables things like dwarf bards, gnome barbarians, and goblin druids, but its application doesn't make a character more powerful compared to just choosing a different ancestry.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
PossibleCabbage wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
Ruzza wrote:
People constantly forgetting about the Voluntary Flaw rule.
Many GMs see that as an optional rule and do not allow it out of hand.

I think that's largely a function of misreading the rule (even on the forums many mistakenly thought it let you start with two 18s). In effect all it does is "allow you to start with an 18 in your class key ability regardless of ancestry" and "allow you to start with an 8 in any stat that's not your class's key ability".

It enables things like dwarf bards, gnome barbarians, and goblin druids, but its application doesn't make a character more powerful compared to just choosing a different ancestry.

I’m not entirely sure I want to “intentionally cripple” a character in that way either. I didn’t forget. I merely didn’t really want to hack down another stat. On the other hand maybe it evens out. It just seems like three negatives to stats is kind of harsh.


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Dargath wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
Ruzza wrote:
People constantly forgetting about the Voluntary Flaw rule.
Many GMs see that as an optional rule and do not allow it out of hand.

I think that's largely a function of misreading the rule (even on the forums many mistakenly thought it let you start with two 18s). In effect all it does is "allow you to start with an 18 in your class key ability regardless of ancestry" and "allow you to start with an 8 in any stat that's not your class's key ability".

It enables things like dwarf bards, gnome barbarians, and goblin druids, but its application doesn't make a character more powerful compared to just choosing a different ancestry.

I’m not entirely sure I want to “intentionally cripple” a character in that way either. I didn’t forget. I merely didn’t really want to hack down another stat. On the other hand maybe it evens out. It just seems like three negatives to stats is kind of harsh.

Depends on how much you value that Strength and Wisdom on your Wizard. I would take the hit to both of them, use the free boost to Int (which cancels the flaw allowing for...) and use the voluntary boost to go to Int.

Quickly statting that out to:
Str 10 Dex 12 Con 14 Int 18 Wis 10 Cha 12

Obviously your choice of what you value is up to you, but those stats are very passable for a Wizard.

EDIT: I feel like I should show my math to show how painless it is.

(A)ncestry: +2 Str, +2 Wis, +2 Int, -2 Int
Voluntary Flaws: -2 Str, -2 Wis, +2 Int

(B)ackground: +2 Int, +2 anything else (I went with Con)

(C)lass: +2 Int

4 Boosts: +2 Dex, +2 Con, +2 Int, +2 Cha


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Cyouni wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:

Wizards don't work all the time. They are in fact one of those classes that can get short-circuited quite often. It sucks to play that type of class. Run into golems? Pretty useless. Run into fire immune creatures and you have a bunch of fire immune spells? Sucks for you, you can't switch. Evocation wizard wants to use his focus spell, gotta be in melee combat range or its 1 action magic missile damage. Druid uses his focus point does d12 damage per level, 1 point of persistent electricity, and adds Clumsy 2 for one focus point. Wizard for 1 focus point? 1d4 magic missile for 1 action up to 5d4 at lvl 20. Druid's Tempest surge, 10d12. Even if the enemy saves, you do more damage than the wizard for 1 focus point. If they fail a save, way more damage. If they critically fail, you ripped something apart.

Elemental wizard's focus point blast is an 8d6 free fireball at range every battle.

Elemental Blast is a level 5 spell that does the damage of a level 4 spell, at 30 foot range, with a smaller AoE.

Comparatively, at level 5 Force Bolt is the equivalent of a level 5 spell that has the same 30 foot range limitation. While the fact that you can only use it for 1 action, it goes past all resistances/immunities/saves. There's literally never a bad time to use force bolt.
Are you against a rogue? Tempest Surge and Elemental Blast are very bad. Against a higher level enemy? Similar problem. Elemental Blast on 3 elements runs into any physical resistance, and fire as an immunity isn't that uncommon.

Level 15 against, say, a wyrmwraith? One of those spells is going to be far better than the others. Even though force bolt is only doing level 7 damage, it's still averaging 14 damage with 1 action.
Meanwhile, elemental blast averages 49 damage on a failure, but since it runs into resistances (and saves) your average is actually far lower. DC 36 vs the wyrmwraith's +32 save is not good, and then you hit resistances on top of that, averaging 8.825 damage.
Tempest Surge has a...

I reiterate what I wrote earlier. You have to work to manipulate a situation to make force bolt look better than it is because in 99% of situations those other spells are far superior. Vastly superior for the same investment of one focus point.

This is core of anyone defending the wizard. They take a situation where a wizard ability might appear to be better for that situation, then throw up some kind of defense.

Not sure why you do it myself. But a wyrmraith is one of those few situations where anyone with force attacks will be more useful. So sure, a force bolt wizard will be slightly more effective against a wyrmraith for those occasions when you face one.

Which is why I said 99% of the time, I'd still take all the other classes I listed over a wizard. This is yet another example of the wizard defense where someone finds a situation where a wizard would be better and now they're just fine.

Not how I see it. 99% of the time, I'd still take tempest surge or elemental sorcerer blast. I'd even still take a bard over a wizard against the wyrmwraith because they have magic missile and spirit song along with bard composition cantrips.

I've found with time playing all those top level wizard slots don't mean much. A top level focus spell 2 or 3 times with maybe one or two top level slots works just as well as an extra top level slot if the focus spell is effective. Then there are sustained spells which also extend the ability to unleash damage.

For example, my druid has dragon form. She will transform into a dragon, unleash a breath weapon, then do melee combat for good damage. No need for those top level slots. I haven't ever reached a point where I've expended all my top level slots as a druid.


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Deriven Firelion wrote:

You have to work to manipulate a situation to make force bolt look better than it is because in 99% of situations those other spells are far superior. Vastly superior for the same investment of one focus point.

This is core of anyone defending the wizard. They take a situation where a wizard ability might appear to be better for that situation, then throw up some kind of defense.

I don't disagree, the default assumption that the wizard has the right powers chosen is comical. The best thing about a wizard is baked into the class. The feats and focus powers are mediocre to OK. Force bolt is one of the better wizard focus spells but its not great. Expecially since they have no problem with access to magic missile anyway. Maybe Diviners Sight is the best. The rest of the base Wizard focus spells are so bad I wouldn't even use them in the situation they are designed for. Thats not to say they are of no value, just that you can do better.

Multiclass elsewhere for a better focus spells and abilities. I am hoping more content will help.


Deriven Firelion wrote:
This is core of anyone defending the wizard. They take a situation where a wizard ability might appear to be better for that situation, then throw up some kind of defense.

The problem is that this argument is like Schrödingers cat, i.e. it is both wrong and right at the same time.

If I am not entirely mistaken the prepared Wizard is supposed to be (at least somewhat) better than other casters and the unprepared Wizard is supposed to be (at least somewhat) worse than other casters by game design.

So by design the Wizard is very dependent on scouting (magical or mundane), on GM foreshadowing and/or his ability to make the correct informed decisions while being allowed sufficient preparation time. The Wizard is a lot better when he is the active, planning part than he is when he has to deal with rapid changes.

It is therefore not astonishing that many a Wizard is faring badly if he is constantly thrown into entirely surprising situations, something however many GM's and AP's like to do.


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Ubertron_X wrote:

The problem is that this argument is like Schrödingers cat, i.e. it is both wrong and right at the same time.

If I am not entirely mistaken the prepared Wizard is supposed to be (at least somewhat) better than other casters and the unprepared Wizard is supposed to be (at least somewhat) worse than other casters by game design.

So by design the Wizard is very dependent on scouting (magical or mundane), on GM foreshadowing and/or his ability to make the correct informed decisions while being allowed sufficient preparation time. The Wizard is a lot better when he is the active, planning part than he is when he has to deal with rapid changes.

It is therefore not astonishing that many a Wizard is faring badly if he is constantly thrown into entirely surprising situations, something however many GM's and AP's like to do.

I will also point out that these comparisons also use Wizard prepared for the situation vs others with their generic loadouts. Whereas others can prepare too when they know a situation is coming up, and improve even more on their loadouts.

Sure, maybe they can't improve their performance by same amount as Wizard can, but they already start from higher baseline and will end up higher than Wizard performance again.


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NemoNoName wrote:

I will also point out that these comparisons also use Wizard prepared for the situation vs others with their generic loadouts. Whereas others can prepare too when they know a situation is coming up, and improve even more on their loadouts.

Sure, maybe they can't improve their performance by same amount as Wizard can, but they already start from higher baseline and will end up higher than Wizard performance again.

I wholeheartedly agree that much of the prepared Wizard debate is based on theorycrafting for example the assumtion that the Wizard has actual access to his complete spell list, which in reality often is not the case.


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It kinda seems like the crux of the issue is just the wizard's focus spells being bad. Obviously prepared casters are good given the druid exists, and the arcane list is the best of the four for knowing what you're fighting ahead of time since it's themeless and lacks notable exclusions. A rune witch is basically the same class but can spend her spell points on elemental betrayal.


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I agree Deriven.

Too many people defend the Wizard saying, "its fine if you have perfect knowledge and the right spell prepared at the right time at the right level." Or they default to things like, "just use fear and slow, those are good." Heck they even cherry pick monsters to have the exact bad save and kit to make the spell work.

Then people say its a prepared caster thing, but no. Druids, Witches, and Clerics all work fine WITH their focus spells.

Then the whole "arcane spell list is better" is undercutted by the fact that all the traditions share most of the spells. With the Wizard last time I checked having the fewest unique spells. So all that a Wizard "could" do other classes could do it, while also having a better chassis.

************
* P.S. Arachnofiend you mentioned divination. But Arcane has 35 divination spells, while Occult has 52. Most of the scrying/info gathering spells are uncommon, or belong to the Occult list. While Bard is also better at lore checks, and can get their own spellbook with Arcane spells.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It is pretty clear to me that the developers decided that an extra spell every spell level and a bonus highest level spell were balanced against other casters by having situationally useful 1st level focus powers. Even by 3rd level the wizard has enough spells to be chaining spells together, throwing down two action and one action spells in the same round and making “casting spells from slots” the thing they do. At level 1 to 4 that will include a fair bit of cantrip casting but 5th and up it will be 1 or 2 spell slot spells every round of combat. A dragon form breath weapon is not better than a high level spell slot for targeting specific saves. It gets a good selection of energy types, and isn’t a bad direction to go with a character, but it is not utilizing your spell slots. Some players really like casting spells. The wizard is a great class for people who like casting lots of different spells based on the situation they are in. Their feats support casting lots of different spells from spell slots, as effectively as possible.

If what you want to play is an elemental blaster, the wizard is not a better class choice than a sorcerer. The storm Druid is a very good hybrid blaster, but pretty much doesn’t have the feat support either to make blasting their one and only thing.

Dark Archive

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Nah, I think they've made a mistake with the Wizard Unicore.

We've done this topic to death already. Either Paizo ridiculously, insanely, over values 1 potential top level spell slot per day, or the Wizard was overly restricted for legacy reasons.


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Deriven Firelion wrote:

I reiterate what I wrote earlier. You have to work to manipulate a situation to make force bolt look better than it is because in 99% of situations those other spells are far superior. Vastly superior for the same investment of one focus point.

This is core of anyone defending the wizard. They take a situation where a wizard ability might appear to be better for that situation, then throw up some kind of defense.

Not sure why you do it myself. But a wyrmraith is one of those few situations where anyone with force attacks will be more useful. So sure, a force bolt wizard will be slightly more effective against a wyrmraith for those occasions when you face one.

Or anything with resistance or immunity and moderate or higher Reflex. That encompasses a solid amount of things.

Exact same creature without any resistance, Tempest Surge averages 22.1 damage. Not exactly what you'd want to see from a 2-action spell that's also single target.

Level 10 hitting an equal-level ghost mage (+19 vs DC 29), tempest surge is 32.5 average on a fail going down to 16.125 average damage, while force bolt is 10.5 average and still lets you cast another spell.

Force bolt is a very versatile tool, which does mean that yes, if you're comparing it to a damage focused 2-action spell ignoring any situations in which a 1-action spell that basically ignores all defenses is good, you're never going to want force bolt. If you compare instead to elemental toss or 1-action harm, you see a lot more directly comparable situations.


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Cyouni wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:

I reiterate what I wrote earlier. You have to work to manipulate a situation to make force bolt look better than it is because in 99% of situations those other spells are far superior. Vastly superior for the same investment of one focus point.

This is core of anyone defending the wizard. They take a situation where a wizard ability might appear to be better for that situation, then throw up some kind of defense.

Not sure why you do it myself. But a wyrmraith is one of those few situations where anyone with force attacks will be more useful. So sure, a force bolt wizard will be slightly more effective against a wyrmraith for those occasions when you face one.

Or anything with resistance or immunity and moderate or higher Reflex. That encompasses a solid amount of things.

Exact same creature without any resistance, Tempest Surge averages 22.1 damage. Not exactly what you'd want to see from a 2-action spell that's also single target.

Level 10 hitting an equal-level ghost mage (+19 vs DC 29), tempest surge is 32.5 average on a fail going down to 16.125 average damage, while force bolt is 10.5 average and still lets you cast another spell.

Force bolt is a very versatile tool, which does mean that yes, if you're comparing it to a damage focused 2-action spell ignoring any situations in which a 1-action spell that basically ignores all defenses is good, you're never going to want force bolt. If you compare instead to elemental toss or 1-action harm, you see a lot more directly comparable situations.

You forgot the persistent damage. That makes it 37.5 min for a failure on Tempest Surge, and it applies Clumsy 2 which is useful.

Level 10 is also when martials usually still have ~2d4 to 2d12 + stat which on average is 12 to 18 per hit (24 to 32 in 2 hits).

You picked the one level where Tempest Surge is equal or better than 2 average attacks, if we ignore accuracy.

(Tempest Surge is 1d12 + 1 persistent per level. Vs Force Bolt being 1d4+1 every 2 levels.)


Temperans wrote:
Cyouni wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:

I reiterate what I wrote earlier. You have to work to manipulate a situation to make force bolt look better than it is because in 99% of situations those other spells are far superior. Vastly superior for the same investment of one focus point.

This is core of anyone defending the wizard. They take a situation where a wizard ability might appear to be better for that situation, then throw up some kind of defense.

Not sure why you do it myself. But a wyrmraith is one of those few situations where anyone with force attacks will be more useful. So sure, a force bolt wizard will be slightly more effective against a wyrmraith for those occasions when you face one.

Or anything with resistance or immunity and moderate or higher Reflex. That encompasses a solid amount of things.

Exact same creature without any resistance, Tempest Surge averages 22.1 damage. Not exactly what you'd want to see from a 2-action spell that's also single target.

Level 10 hitting an equal-level ghost mage (+19 vs DC 29), tempest surge is 32.5 average on a fail going down to 16.125 average damage, while force bolt is 10.5 average and still lets you cast another spell.

Force bolt is a very versatile tool, which does mean that yes, if you're comparing it to a damage focused 2-action spell ignoring any situations in which a 1-action spell that basically ignores all defenses is good, you're never going to want force bolt. If you compare instead to elemental toss or 1-action harm, you see a lot more directly comparable situations.

You forgot the persistent damage. That makes it 37.5 min for a failure on Tempest Surge, and it applies Clumsy 2 which is useful.

Level 10 is also when martials usually still have ~2d4 to 2d12 + stat which on average is 12 to 18 per hit (24 to 32 in 2 hits).

You picked the one level where Tempest Surge is equal or better than 2 average attacks, if we ignore accuracy.

(Tempest Surge is 1d12 + 1 persistent per level. Vs Force Bolt...

Thanks for the reminder about the persistent! In this case, that actually doesn't matter thanks to resistance, though.


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Gortle wrote:
Staffan Johansson wrote:
Dargath wrote:
Wow this is a great breakdown! Thank you for your thoughts. Hm yes this would be a concern for me due to the fact I’d like to play a single target spellcaster as something akin to a ranged martial. I don’t really have a need for huge explosions or crazy effects. I just want to be like an Archer Fighter or Ranger but with fire magic.
Pathfinder could definitely use a class similar to the D&D Warlock, with its focus on sustained magical damage with the occasional proper spell. If they ever get around do doing a PF2 version of it, I would think the Kineticist could fill this role quite well.
The main difference of the Warlock in mechanical terms is in the recovery of spell slots on a short rest. Which is the design space that Focus spells sit in. So mechanically its not required. Flavour wise it is sort of there already with Witch and Oracle.

There's also the super-cantrip, Eldritch Blast (when enhanced by Agonizing Blast). This lets you cast a cantrip for 1d10+Cha damage per tier, which is near-martial damage (it's pretty much the same base damage as a martial, but without add-ons like fighting styles). Add Hex (+1d6 damage) on top of that, and you're at about the same level as a martial with an appropriate fighting style.

The Pathfinder equivalent would be a one-action attack cantrip that deals 1d10 + casting stat force damage with the following Heighten progression (mimicking the regular progression of runes and weapon specialization*):
Heighten (2) +1 item bonus to hit
Heighten (3) +1 item bonus to hit, 2d10 + stat damage
Heighten (4) +1 item bonus to hit, 2d10 + stat +2 damage
Heighten (6) +2 item bonus to hit, 2d10 + stat +2 damage
Heighten (7) +2 item bonus to hit, 3d10 + stat +3 damage
Heighten (8) +2 item bonus to hit, 3d10 + stat +6 damage
Heighten (9) +3 item bonus to hit, 3d10 + stat +6 damage
Heighten (10) +3 item bonus to hit, 4d10 + stat +6 damage

This is, of course, way more powerful than any current cantrip.

* In D&D5, martial characters are expected to deal more damage at higher levels primarily because of extra attacks. In PF2, they are expected to deal more damage because of striking weapons, so this hypothetical spell includes those effects.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I've been playing a wizard (dual classed with investigator, but I don't really use the investigator side in combat) and its felt really powerful, the extra slots feel huge relative to the other casters in the party. I think they're being undervalued, not over, by some posters in this thread.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Unicore wrote:
It is pretty clear to me that the developers decided that an extra spell every spell level and a bonus highest level spell were balanced against other casters by having situationally useful 1st level focus powers

This isn't clear at all. Focus spell balance is way too inconsistent from class to class and within each class to possibly be able to authoritatively make a claim like this.

I see a lot of people try to argue focus spell balance as some key factor in how classes or how spell traditions are balanced, but it never really holds up because the focus spells themselves are all over the place, both in terms of overall balance and their intended functionality. Plus besides the sorcerer, all the other classes mentioned have a bunch of other things in their kit you have to account for too.

A generalization like this just doesn't make sense in that context and doesn't really hold up under any scrutiny.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I don’t understand the drive to assume that the wizard’s design is a complete accident and the the developers just don’t understand what they created.

It is abundantly clear, from the feats and class abilities of the wizard that it is a class designed around getting the most out of casting a diverse set of spells from spell slots. From the arcane list having the most spells on it, to wizards having the most spells per day at higher levels (clerics have a slight edge at lower level, but it is limited in types of spells), to most thesis options providing additional spells (staff, blending, eventually familiar), to the most feats that interact with spell slots, it is a pretty clear focus.

I understand why that focus isn’t going to be every player’s jamb, but there are multiple paths towards other types of casters that utilize more focus spells or do other things with their spells.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Unicore wrote:
I don’t understand the drive to assume that the wizard’s design is a complete accident

I don't think anyone has said that. Kind of a weird pivot from focus spells to this.


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Squiggit wrote:
Unicore wrote:
It is pretty clear to me that the developers decided that an extra spell every spell level and a bonus highest level spell were balanced against other casters by having situationally useful 1st level focus powers

This isn't clear at all. Focus spell balance is way too inconsistent from class to class and within each class to possibly be able to authoritatively make a claim like this.

I see a lot of people try to argue focus spell balance as some key factor in how classes or how spell traditions are balanced, but it never really holds up because the focus spells themselves are all over the place, both in terms of overall balance and their intended functionality. Plus besides the sorcerer, all the other classes mentioned have a bunch of other things in their kit you have to account for too.

A generalization like this just doesn't make sense in that context and doesn't really hold up under any scrutiny.

Yeah, I think you can dismiss any arguments about focus spells being good or bad as an intentional balance decision by just looking at the Witch, who's arguably got the biggest gulf between its best and worst focus spells. Sometimes Paizo just misses on making something effective, been that way forever and that's hardly a unique flaw to this dev team.


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The cultural shift from PF1, where rolling our collective eyes at odd rules and dodgy balance was standard, to PF2 where a large segment of the community seems to assume a degree of infallibility on the behalf of Paizo is fascinating.


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To be fair, the worst stuff in PF2 is still not nearly as bad off as the worst stuff in PF1. If you make a deliberately bad Alchemist in PF2 it's still gonna play better than a Core Rogue doing her very best did.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Arachnofiend wrote:
Squiggit wrote:
Unicore wrote:
It is pretty clear to me that the developers decided that an extra spell every spell level and a bonus highest level spell were balanced against other casters by having situationally useful 1st level focus powers

This isn't clear at all. Focus spell balance is way too inconsistent from class to class and within each class to possibly be able to authoritatively make a claim like this.

I see a lot of people try to argue focus spell balance as some key factor in how classes or how spell traditions are balanced, but it never really holds up because the focus spells themselves are all over the place, both in terms of overall balance and their intended functionality. Plus besides the sorcerer, all the other classes mentioned have a bunch of other things in their kit you have to account for too.

A generalization like this just doesn't make sense in that context and doesn't really hold up under any scrutiny.

Yeah, I think you can dismiss any arguments about focus spells being good or bad as an intentional balance decision by just looking at the Witch, who's arguably got the biggest gulf between its best and worst focus spells. Sometimes Paizo just misses on making something effective, been that way forever and that's hardly a unique flaw to this dev team.

Isn’t this also the crux of arguments against casters? That spells from spell slots have a varying gulf of effectiveness and thus casters are terrible because if you have the wrong ones then you will be ineffective?

Dark Archive

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swoosh wrote:
The cultural shift from PF1, where rolling our collective eyes at odd rules and dodgy balance was standard, to PF2 where a large segment of the community seems to assume a degree of infallibility on the behalf of Paizo is fascinating.

It is really odd. We know the designers, they give us regular insights and do community stuff. We know they aren’t secretly mathematical genius, or some recluse fonts of wisdom, they’re just people and people make errors.

This isn’t even an abstract thing in the case of PF2. When it launched, as in the core book, the Alchemist was functionally impaired class that taken several errata to shape up. To suggest that they didn’t make other mistake is laughable. One of which, I submit, is the design of the Wizard.


I think the Wizard has a clear design goal which they succeeded at and that's having more spell slots and do more unique things with those spell slots than anyone else.
The lack of good focus spells and the poor proficiencies and saves are a bit perplexing considering the class doesn't really excel all that much balancing wise. Doesn't gish well, can't heal, not the best at blasting, not the best spell list, not the best key stat,... All of which makes the Wizard rather underwhelming.

The thesises however are some of the most interesting class features in 2e.


I get why some people don't like PF2's caster balance and why people think the game missed the mark.

But PF2's balance doesn't allow Paizo to make the changes people here want, martials still suck too much.

Dark Archive

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Schreckstoff wrote:
I think the Wizard has a clear design goal which they succeeded at and that's having more spell slots and do more unique things with those spell slots than anyone else.

I would 100% agree... if the arcane sorcerer didn’t exist. It simply encroaches too much and too heavily on the Wizard, without the limitations of the Wizard, to say that Paizo succeeded at making the Wizard have its own “shtick”.


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Ubertron_X wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
This is core of anyone defending the wizard. They take a situation where a wizard ability might appear to be better for that situation, then throw up some kind of defense.

The problem is that this argument is like Schrödingers cat, i.e. it is both wrong and right at the same time.

If I am not entirely mistaken the prepared Wizard is supposed to be (at least somewhat) better than other casters and the unprepared Wizard is supposed to be (at least somewhat) worse than other casters by game design.

So by design the Wizard is very dependent on scouting (magical or mundane), on GM foreshadowing and/or his ability to make the correct informed decisions while being allowed sufficient preparation time. The Wizard is a lot better when he is the active, planning part than he is when he has to deal with rapid changes.

It is therefore not astonishing that many a Wizard is faring badly if he is constantly thrown into entirely surprising situations, something however many GM's and AP's like to do.

None of the other classes need that preparation. Their abilities just work.

I've launched tempest surge that did 126 points of damage with 14 persistent electricity and Clumsy 2 rider. So the lack of a hit roll or saving throw isn't necessarily a plus with force bolt. In PF2 getting a critical failure or critical success with spells can substantially boost the damage.

What do you do when 9 out of 10 classes have abilities that just work, then you have that one class that works only equally well if you spend slightly extra time letting them prepare? If the wizard worked substantially better with preparation, then it might be worth it. But they don't. And then they have to worry about whether they have the even that right spell in their spellbook to change out.

Wizard went from a boss king in PF1 to last kid picked on the team in PF2. Pretty disappointing for those that like wizard players.

I used to have a wizard in nearly every campaign in PF1 to no one wants to play one in PF2. The reasons from the players? Boring feats. Nothing to look forward to. Class abilities that aren't very good. Total reliance on spell slots that only work 50% of the time and feel weak if they don't work.

Players like useful abilities they can use often. Even witch hex cantrips you can at least try once per enemy per battle. There's not a lot of wizard abilities useful every battle. Very disappointing.


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Temperans wrote:

I agree Deriven.

Too many people defend the Wizard saying, "its fine if you have perfect knowledge and the right spell prepared at the right time at the right level." Or they default to things like, "just use fear and slow, those are good." Heck they even cherry pick monsters to have the exact bad save and kit to make the spell work.

Then people say its a prepared caster thing, but no. Druids, Witches, and Clerics all work fine WITH their focus spells.

Then the whole "arcane spell list is better" is undercutted by the fact that all the traditions share most of the spells. With the Wizard last time I checked having the fewest unique spells. So all that a Wizard "could" do other classes could do it, while also having a better chassis.

************
* P.S. Arachnofiend you mentioned divination. But Arcane has 35 divination spells, while Occult has 52. Most of the scrying/info gathering spells are uncommon, or belong to the Occult list. While Bard is also better at lore checks, and can get their own spellbook with Arcane spells.

Agreed.

I've found being able to both heal and do other things is the best versatility in the game. I've seen bards and druids using soothe and heal save the party from death far more than any other type of spell save for the cleric using breath of the dying or drop dead. Being able to toss out a heal when needed is the type of useful versatility you find on the Occult and Primal list that has a big impact.

What I've found through play is the following:

1. When the bard boosts everyone's attack and defense in the group, no one cares if you can find some perfect spell given time and scouting. Everyone is benefitting from the bard's cantrips.

2. When the druid unloads a nuke and levels the opposing group, then transforms into dragon to unleash a breath weapon and then go into melee no one cares if they have the perfect spell on their spell list because what they're doing is working.

3. When the cleric erases the 120 points of damage you took in a round, no one cares that you can sift your spellbook for a great spell.

4. When the rogue uses legendary stealth and deception to talk the party into a location, no one cares if the wizard can use an illusion to do the same.

Players want to keep going. They don't want to sit there while one player figures out some great scheme with his spellbook, then takes 30 minutes to change out spells if he happens to have that Arcane Thesis that allows him to change out spells.

Wizard needs some work to bring it at least a little back to its former glory.


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Unicore wrote:

It is pretty clear to me that the developers decided that an extra spell every spell level and a bonus highest level spell were balanced against other casters by having situationally useful 1st level focus powers. Even by 3rd level the wizard has enough spells to be chaining spells together, throwing down two action and one action spells in the same round and making “casting spells from slots” the thing they do. At level 1 to 4 that will include a fair bit of cantrip casting but 5th and up it will be 1 or 2 spell slot spells every round of combat. A dragon form breath weapon is not better than a high level spell slot for targeting specific saves. It gets a good selection of energy types, and isn’t a bad direction to go with a character, but it is not utilizing your spell slots. Some players really like casting spells. The wizard is a great class for people who like casting lots of different spells based on the situation they are in. Their feats support casting lots of different spells from spell slots, as effectively as possible.

If what you want to play is an elemental blaster, the wizard is not a better class choice than a sorcerer. The storm Druid is a very good hybrid blaster, but pretty much doesn’t have the feat support either to make blasting their one and only thing.

If you take Sorcerer Multiclass dedication, very easy to pick up Dangerous Sorcery. Wizard can also pick up Dangerous Sorcery very easily. So that's not much of an issue for either class.

The thing that makes blasting so good is not feats like Dangerous Sorcery or damage bonuses or any feats, it's the double damage on critical fails. When you unleash a high level fireball or chain lightning on a group of Lvl-1 to 3 monsters and they critically fail their saves, the damage gets nutty. When you're hitting a higher number of lower level creatures, you see a lot of fails with often a critical fail or two. So you see some serious damage.

This is true even of focus spells like Tempest Surge with its d12 per level damage or Elemental Blast. Wizard can do this as well, but without the other perks the other classes get with focus abilities adding in.

That's what really makes the difference. You have this all things being equal spell list blasting and casting, then this all things not being equal class abilities.

The main reason I don't include the sorcerer with the wizard is because the sorcerer can be built for different roles. You can now make a pure sorcerer healer. This at least gives them some flexibility. You can choose different spell lists and the most effective focus spells. They do have some nice feats as well that enhance their abilities like the feat chain that allows them to cherry pick the best spell from another spell list. You can be an arcane or divine sorcerer and still grab Synesthesia off the occult list or chain lightning off the primal list.


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Cyouni wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:

I reiterate what I wrote earlier. You have to work to manipulate a situation to make force bolt look better than it is because in 99% of situations those other spells are far superior. Vastly superior for the same investment of one focus point.

This is core of anyone defending the wizard. They take a situation where a wizard ability might appear to be better for that situation, then throw up some kind of defense.

Not sure why you do it myself. But a wyrmraith is one of those few situations where anyone with force attacks will be more useful. So sure, a force bolt wizard will be slightly more effective against a wyrmraith for those occasions when you face one.

Or anything with resistance or immunity and moderate or higher Reflex. That encompasses a solid amount of things.

Exact same creature without any resistance, Tempest Surge averages 22.1 damage. Not exactly what you'd want to see from a 2-action spell that's also single target.

Level 10 hitting an equal-level ghost mage (+19 vs DC 29), tempest surge is 32.5 average on a fail going down to 16.125 average damage, while force bolt is 10.5 average and still lets you cast another spell.

Force bolt is a very versatile tool, which does mean that yes, if you're comparing it to a damage focused 2-action spell ignoring any situations in which a 1-action spell that basically ignores all defenses is good, you're never going to want force bolt. If you compare instead to elemental toss or 1-action harm, you see a lot more directly comparable situations.

At lvl 16 as a storm druid, average tempest surge damage for a regular failure is 52 points with 8 persistent damage and Clumsy 2.

Average damage for a success is 26 points.

Average damage for a critical failure is 104 points, 16 persistent electricity, and Clumsy 2.

I've played a wizard with force bolt and a druid with tempest surge. Tempest Surge has been vastly better than force bolt both from me the player's perspective and the perspective of other players. They know what tempest surge is and what it does and it helps them when it works. Force bolt is basically a 1 action magic missile, which they've seen as well. No real memorable wow factor, but it can be nice when you really need to land some damage.


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The-Magic-Sword wrote:
I've been playing a wizard (dual classed with investigator, but I don't really use the investigator side in combat) and its felt really powerful, the extra slots feel huge relative to the other casters in the party. I think they're being undervalued, not over, by some posters in this thread.

They are not more powerful than a good focus spell or cantrip.

No one is undervaluing them. We all know how spells work. They work the same for every class. Spells, especially high level spells, feel very powerful. High level quality focus spells feel very powerful.

I am saying I see no advantage to additional spell slots after two campaigns to lvl 16 and 17. The higher level you get, the less you run out of slots. A good focus spell you can use every battle is every bit as good as a high level slot.

I believe many are over-valuing high level spell slots when compared to a quality focus spell or a highly useful cantrip like bard cantrips.


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Deriven Firelion wrote:
Ubertron_X wrote:
Deriven Firelion wrote:
This is core of anyone defending the wizard. They take a situation where a wizard ability might appear to be better for that situation, then throw up some kind of defense.

The problem is that this argument is like Schrödingers cat, i.e. it is both wrong and right at the same time.

If I am not entirely mistaken the prepared Wizard is supposed to be (at least somewhat) better than other casters and the unprepared Wizard is supposed to be (at least somewhat) worse than other casters by game design.

So by design the Wizard is very dependent on scouting (magical or mundane), on GM foreshadowing and/or his ability to make the correct informed decisions while being allowed sufficient preparation time. The Wizard is a lot better when he is the active, planning part than he is when he has to deal with rapid changes.

It is therefore not astonishing that many a Wizard is faring badly if he is constantly thrown into entirely surprising situations, something however many GM's and AP's like to do.

None of the other classes need that preparation. Their abilities just work.

I've launched tempest surge that did 126 points of damage with 14 persistent electricity and Clumsy 2 rider. So the lack of a hit roll or saving throw isn't necessarily a plus with force bolt. In PF2 getting a critical failure or critical success with spells can substantially boost the damage.

What do you do when 9 out of 10 classes have abilities that just work, then you have that one class that works only equally well if you spend slightly extra time letting them prepare? If the wizard worked substantially better with preparation, then it might be worth it. But they don't. And then they have to worry about whether they have the even that right spell in their spellbook to change out.

Wizard went from a boss king in PF1 to last kid picked on the team in PF2. Pretty disappointing for those that like wizard players.

I used to have a wizard in...

woah there, there's always the alchemist that's still worse. Oracle maybe as well.


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Really, the problem with the wizard seems to be that it's balanced around the perfect player who makes perfect preparations for their perfect build because their perfect mind-reading gives them perfect insight on the GM's plan (and their perfect literacy lets them read the AP with perfect understanding, if relevant). This makes sense from a design viewpoint (when dealing with a class that theoretically has access to the best tool for any possible situation, you outright need to assume they'll be using those tools properly; otherwise, balancing for an average player means leaving room for the theoretical perfect player to push the class much further than intended), but comes with the built-in caveat that the class will only be up to snuff if the actual players themselves are exactly as perfect as your theoretical literally-perfect balancing player. This caveat means that the players need to have tools to gain the knowledge needed to prepare properly, and that the GMs need to understand what those tools do and how crippling mishandling them would be, but it seems like Paizo dropped the ball in this aspect.

Basically, the problem with trying to prevent the PF2 iteration of the class from being as broken as a PF1 wizard could be in theorycrafting is that you have to balance it around the PF1 theorycraft minmaxer's worst, most game-shattering build, so there's no room for them to go beyond your balance. But if you do that, then any other build will be underpowered by definition, unless you provide additional tools to help them reach the theorycrafting minmaxer's level. And that is where it falters: the tools come short.

All the wizard discussion shows that in their exact, minmaxed situation, each tool can be really useful... but outside that exact situation, they tend to be subpar. And with how the wizard's been handled, subpar is underpowered. That's been the common thread in general, really: The wizard works splendidly if you minmax it perfectly for the perfect situation, but falls behind if you don't. And even if you do minmax perfectly, the other classes weren't controlled as stringently, so they still have room to surpass you if their players minmax as well as you do.

Old_Man_Robot wrote:

Nah, I think they've made a mistake with the Wizard Unicore.

We've done this topic to death already. Either Paizo ridiculously, insanely, over values 1 potential top level spell slot per day, or the Wizard was overly restricted for legacy reasons.

Considering certain other design decisions (e.g., Oracle curses being bound to mysteries so you can't just choose Haunted, even though curses are designed to be more balanced against each other now), I think you hit the nail on the head. Going through all the discussion, and comparing with PF2's balancing practices in general, suggests that the wizard was balanced under the assumption it would be minmaxed to heaven, to make sure that the perfect wizard could never be as game-shattering as a PF1 wizard could, with the unintentional(?) side effect that the class is behind the curve if not minmaxed to that same extent by the player.


Hbitte wrote:
Unicore wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
Squiggit wrote:
Unicore wrote:
It is pretty clear to me that the developers decided that an extra spell every spell level and a bonus highest level spell were balanced against other casters by having situationally useful 1st level focus powers

This isn't clear at all. Focus spell balance is way too inconsistent from class to class and within each class to possibly be able to authoritatively make a claim like this.

I see a lot of people try to argue focus spell balance as some key factor in how classes or how spell traditions are balanced, but it never really holds up because the focus spells themselves are all over the place, both in terms of overall balance and their intended functionality. Plus besides the sorcerer, all the other classes mentioned have a bunch of other things in their kit you have to account for too.

A generalization like this just doesn't make sense in that context and doesn't really hold up under any scrutiny.

Yeah, I think you can dismiss any arguments about focus spells being good or bad as an intentional balance decision by just looking at the Witch, who's arguably got the biggest gulf between its best and worst focus spells. Sometimes Paizo just misses on making something effective, been that way forever and that's hardly a unique flaw to this dev team.
Isn’t this also the crux of arguments against casters? That spells from spell slots have a varying gulf of effectiveness and thus casters are terrible because if you have the wrong ones then you will be ineffective?

NOT

The problem is not that some spell are more efficient than others but that some spell GROUPS are much more efficient than others. This eliminates forms of play and forces people to play in certain styles.

when the answer is blast the group of mobs and debuff the boss. It is not about right spell.

And this is the optimal play-style.

It's why the bard is so high value. He buffs the party, debuffs the boss, and can even blast the lower level groups.

Druid is great at blasting. Not so much debuffing the boss. With the ability to easily gain two orders, getting melee damage to use against the boss is not so rough as well as three focus points to at least try to hammer the boss with tempest surge. Combine this with heals and you have a class that has impactful versatility with no preparation needed.

Cleric is keeping people up erasing boss damage, so you can sustain the fight.

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