The DnD 5e Wizard Guide

Published on March 5, 2020, Last modified on January 5th, 2021

In this guide, we will be examining the 5e Wizard’s Class Features and how you can optimize your Wizard through choosing your Race, Ability Score, Spells, and Feats.

What is this guide?

This guide is meant as a deep dive into the DnD 5e Wizard. For a quick overview on the Wizard class, see our breakdown of the DnD 5e Classes.

The color code below has been implemented to help you identify, at a glance, how good that option will be for your Wizard. This color-coding isn’t a hard and fast rule; there are plenty of sub-optimized options out there that will be viable for your party and will be fun to play.

  • Red isn’t going to contribute to the effectiveness of your character build at all
  • Orange is an OK option
  • Green is a good option
  • Blue is a great option, you should strongly consider this option for your character
  • Sky Blue is an amazing option. If you do not take this option your character would not be optimized

So if you’re ready, grab your spellbook and cast Fireball until all of your problems go away.

Did you know?

D&D Beyond can help create your characters by making choices using a step-by-step approach. Full customization and control of your character, none of the flipping through hundreds of pages to reference obscure rules.

D&D 5e Wizard Overview

Level Proficiency Bonus Features Cantrips Known —Spell Slots per Spell Level—
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
1st +2 Spellcasting, Arcane Recovery 3 2
2nd +2 Arcane Tradition 3 3
3rd +2 3 4 2
4th +2 Ability Score Improvement 4 4 3
5th +3 4 4 3 2
6th +3 Arcane Tradition feature 4 4 3 3
7th +3 4 4 3 3 1
8th +3 Ability Score Improvement 4 4 3 3 2
9th +4 4 4 3 3 3 1
10th +4 Arcane Tradition feature 5 4 3 3 3 2
11th +4 5 4 3 3 3 2 1
12th +4 Ability Score Improvement 5 4 3 3 3 2 1
13th +5 5 4 3 3 3 2 1 1
14th +5 Arcane Tradition feature 5 4 3 3 3 2 1 1
15th +5 5 4 3 3 3 2 1 1 1
16th +5 Ability Score Improvement 5 4 3 3 3 2 1 1 1
17th +6 5 4 3 3 3 2 1 1 1 1
18th +6 Spell Mastery 5 4 3 3 3 3 1 1 1 1
19th +6 Ability Score Improvement 5 4 3 3 3 3 2 1 1 1
20th +6 Signature Spell 5 4 3 3 3 3 2 2 1 1

Playstyle

Wizards are spellcasters that have studied the fundamental forces of magic itself in order to weave it to their will.

Wizards are a class that relies on their INT to cast spells, outsmart opponents, and get themselves out of tricky situations. This reliance on INT will become apparent to players as they realize that they have to use their brain to manage a massive spell list and be the party member everyone relies on to always have a plan (thank Gandalf for setting that unrealistic expectation).

Strengths

The Wizard class is the epitome of a full caster. They have an unparalleled spell list that they can prepare spells from every day to ensure they are always ready for whatever situations may arise.

The Wizard’s strengths really lie in their versatility. Falling from a building? Got a spell for that. Need to kill a clumped together group of bad guys? Got a spell for that. Need to infiltrate a tightly patrolled encampment? Got a spell for that.

Weaknesses

A Wizard’s weaknesses are about what you would expect. They have very low AC and hit points and struggle with anything physical.

Before You Start

Standard Races

Wizards rely on a high INT score to be at their maximum effectiveness. If you truly want to maximize your character’s potential you need +2 INT, but anything with an INT increase is worth considering.

Dragonborn: STR and CHA are useless for the Wizard, and Breath Weapon is overshadowed by spells.

Dwarf: No INT is tough and the Wizard won’t be tanking any time soon. Additional hit points are always helpful, especially with the meager d6 hit dice.

  • Hill: A bonus to WIS can occasionally help with Wisdom saves, but additional hit points aren’t useful.
  • Mountain: Medium Armor proficiency just isn’t worth the poor stat distribution.

Elf: Elves get a DEX bonus which can somewhat help the miserable AC of a Wizard.

  • Drow ElfIgnore CHA for Wizards.
  • High Elf: High Elves get an INT boost and a free cantrip of your choice, as well as an extra language for your roleplaying needs. What’s not to like?
  • Wood Elf: Again, a WIS bonus doesn’t help much and the increased walking speed is easily made irrelevant by spells.

Gnome: An Ability Score increase of 2 in INT is going to make a Wizard much more effective, and advantage on saving throws against magic is cool. Forest and Rock Gnomes both feature situational utility so choose whichever you prefer.

Half-Elf: Not being able to pick up a +2 to INT is going to make the Half-Elf a tough go for Wizards.

Half-Orc: Nothing here is useful for a Wizard.

Halfling: The DEX bonus again marginally helps with AC problems and the Lucky trait is always nice to have, though it won’t be as effective when you are forcing monsters to make saves.

  • Lightfoot: CHA is pointless for this class and spells solve your needs when it comes to stealth.
  • Stout: Let your beefy party members worry about CON. 

Human: Humans are always decent.

  • Vanilla: A middle of the road pick because they increase all their ability scores by 1.
  • Variant: Getting bonus INT plus a proficiency and a feat at first level is typically much better, feats aren’t great for wizards which makes this choice a bit less appealing.

TieflingTieflings get a boost to INT, a free cantrip, and free spells at higher levels.

Non-Standard Races

Aarakocra: The only beneficial thing here is flight.

Genasi:

  • Fire: Ideally the Wizard would like to see +2 INT. The Fire Genasi gets us most of the way there, plus increased survivability from the CON bonus and Fire Resistance, Darkvision, and a useful cantrip to boot.
Gith: Since both subraces come with INT, they are both reasonable choices for Wizards. Githyanki is interesting for the additional armor options, while Githzerai offer good protection from conditions. The spells, while useful as a free cast, can all be obtained by Wizards already.

Gnome:

  • Mark of Scribing: This subclass still receives the +2 INT from the Gnome base class, making it a good choice for a Wizard. The spells associated with the Mark of Scribing Gnome all have to do with language and communication in some regard, making some of them redundant. Still, in the right campaign this subclass could be quite useful, especially outside of combat.
Hobgoblin: Wizards don’t naturally get access to any armor, so the light armor proficiency from Martial Training will do wonders for survivability. The light armor, combined with CON and Saving Face for saving throws and concentration checks creates a good baseline for a sturdy Wizard build.

Human:

  • Mark of Making: Provides the best ability score increases among Human subraces but has overlap with the classes’ spell list.
  • Mark of Passage: Great for mobility focused Wizards like Bladesingers, though they will need to focus on INT as much as possible for future ASIs.

Tiefling

  • Bloodline of Mephistopheles: This subrace has a +1 to INT and the free spells are useful and allow you to select other spells on a level up.
  • Variant – Hellfire: Replaces Hellish Rebuke with Burning Hands and gets access to DEX instead of CHA. 
  • Variant – Winged: Not only do you get INT and DEX to boost AC, the Winged Tiefling has a flying speed of 30 feet. Even if you don’t need DEX, having flying speed is good enough to be worth it.
Vedalken: +2 INT is perfect for a Wizard. Vedalken Dispassion helps when fighting other spellcasters, and Tireless Protection offers you the chance to get some skill or tool proficiencies you may not normally have access to.
Warforged: Most Wizards stay out of combat range whenever they can, with the exception of Bladesinger Wizards. Take INT as the free ASI choice and you have a viable and more durable Wizard build.
Yuan-ti Pureblood: +2 INT would of course be better here, but Magic Resistance is just so good that +1 will do.

Ability Scores

Ability Score Increases (ASI) at 4th, 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level.

Wizards need INT and nothing else is critically important.

STR: STR is not useful to a Wizard unless they are going for a heavy armor build.

DEX: Wizards have a notoriously low AC so a high DEX is the best way to avoid getting hit. Most wizards use Mage Armor to pump their AC, which stacks with DEX. If you are going for a heavy armor build, DEX can be mostly ignored.

CON: More hit points and better CON saves make the Wizard less squishy.

INT: This is the most important stat for the Wizard, pump this as high as you can.

WIS: Can help with WIS saves and Perception.

CHA: Leave this to other classes.

Best Backgrounds for Wizards

Acolyte: Religion and Insight are already available to Wizards but you do get two languages, and gaining shelter in certain places of worship can be handy.

(SCAG) Cloistered Scholar: Standard choice for Wizards. You get two INT skills, two languages, and better access to libraries for finding more spells.

Sage: Two INT skills and two languages.

Wizard Class Progression

1st Level

Hit Points: Wizards have a measly d6 hit dice. You can somewhat mitigate this by increasing CON since you only need to worry about INT as your main stat.

Saves: People often call INT one of the worst stats because INT saves don’t happen very often.

Proficiencies: No armor proficiencies and the weapon choice is barely worth mentioning. But you weren’t really hoping to swing a greatsword with your wizard, were you?

SkillsUnfortunately the wizard only gets to pick two skills.

  • Arcana (INT): You will probably be the party member who is relied on for Arcana checks, and great flavor too.
  • History (INT): Can be nice if you enjoy lore and roleplaying, but you will make your DM work extra hard!
  • Insight (WIS): Your WIS won’t be high enough to make this worth it.
  • Investigation (INT): This will be one of your go-to skills for exploration encounters.
  • Medicine (WIS): Neat in a pinch, but low WIS can make this tricky.
  • Religion (INT): Same as History but sometimes more useful if your campaign includes gods.

Spellcasting: If you want to cast spells you’ve come to the right place. Wizards are the best at what they do. Wizards have a unique way of discovering and preparing spells via their spellbook. This book allows wizards to copy spells that they have found while adventuring, which allows wizards to know more spells than they get by simply leveling up. The downside of the spellbook is, if it is destroyed or lost, the wizards will be stuck with the spells they currently have prepared until they can find their book or create a replacement. Wizards also get access to ritual casting which is a great way to stretch spell slots if you have time to perform the ritual. Wizards can use an arcane focus as their spellcasting focus.

Arcane Recovery: One of the biggest challenges a Wizard faces is knowing when to use important spell slots. Arcane Recovery makes the spell slot system a bit less punishing.

Optional Rule: Additional Wizard Spells: The expanded spell list offers new options for Wizards but doesn’t feel like it diminishes any of the other classes. More options are usually a good thing and that is the case here.

2nd Level

At 2nd level Wizards get to choose their Arcane Tradition. These options all have their own merits and playstyle.

Bladesinging

The Bladesinger subclass provides everything you need to make an effective melee/spellcasting hybrid character. Not only is it loads of fun, it’s also quite strong.

Check out our Bladesinger 5e Guide!

Chronurgy MagicChronurgy Magic Wizards can manipulate the flow of time and bend it to their will. The features this subclass gets access to are all useful and unique.

  • 2nd Level
    • Chronal Shift: Forcing a creature to reroll their attack, ability check, or saving throw is incredibly strong and is a great use of a Wizard’s reaction, especially since you already get this at 2nd level. What makes this extra cool is that you can use it on allies or enemies and you get to use this ability after seeing if the roll succeeds or fails.
    • Temporal Awareness: Your Wizard will likely max out their INT, meaning that you’ll get a huge boost to your initiative roll. Taking your turn before your enemies in a fight is very valuable as you can immediately use some crowd control to give your party an advantage.
  • 6th Level
    • Momentary Stasis: The nice part of this ability is that it is basically a spell without burning a spell slot. The drawbacks are that many creatures have good CON saves and that it burns an entire action to use. If you fail, you may have been better off just casting a more reliable control or damage spell.
  • 10th Level
    • Arcane Abeyance: This is a very fun feature. If you know you’ll be fighting soon, there’s really no downside to storing away a spell for later. You could give the spell to your ally so that they can buff themselves, or even to your familiar so you can cast two spells in a single round. In the worst case, you can just hold onto the spell and cast it yourself if you don’t have somebody to give it to.
  • 14th Level
    • Convergent Future: Chronal Shift is good because it forces a reroll, but this ability literally just lets you decide the outcome. It does cause you to gain one level of exhaustion, but having a single level of exhaustion really isn’t the end of the world.

Graviturgy MagicGraviturgy Magic Wizards can manipulate gravity and bend it to their will. Not as powerful as Chronurgy, Graviturgy is still quite flavorful with some interesting abilities.

  • 2nd Level
    • Adjust Density: The effects of this ability certainly don’t justify using your concentration. You would be much better off concentrating on a more powerful spell as the effects are quite situational.
  • 6th Level
    • Gravity Well: This adds onto the effect of any spell that you land by moving the target 5 feet. It can be combined quite nicely with certain area of effect spells, and can be used to move a creature into or out of harm’s way. 
  • 10th Level
    • Violent Attraction: Increased fall damage is quite situational, but bolstering an ally’s attack is a nice use of your reaction if you have no other use for it on a turn. If you have a high INT modifier the damage will really add up since you can use it many times throughout the day.
  • 14th Level
    • Event Horizon: Powerful, but risky. Since enemies have to be within 30 feet of you, it’s best to use this if you have good AC, hit points, or at least a fail safe like Shield or Misty Step.

Order of ScribesAn Order of Scribes Wizard excels at learning new spells and is at its best when it has a huge spellbook to pull from. If you want to play this subclass, make sure you have a plan on how you will get access to lots of gp and spells to copy.

  • 2nd Level
    • Wizardly Quill: The best part of this feature is that you can copy spells into your spellbook much faster, though it will still cost gp. 
    • Awakened Spellbook: Great for role-playing and adds even more utility to spells. Being able to change damage types of your spells on the fly is great if you know that a certain enemy is resistant to a specific damage type. Additionally, sometimes you want to pull off your ritual spells without waiting or burning a spell slot, and this lets you do just that once per day.
  • 6th Level
    • Manifest Mind: This is a good scouting tool and can be used to maintain oversight of an area. Interestingly, you can cast spells from the location of the Manifest Mind instead of your own, so it’s a great way to set up an ambush or combo if you’re creative.
  • 10th Level
    • Master Scrivener: Sadly the spell scroll created with this feature cannot be given to anyone, making it essentially a bonus spell slot. Not that that’s a bad thing, it’s just way less powerful than it could be.
  • 14th Level
    • One with the Word: Advantage on all Arcana checks is perfect for a Wizard. Using the secondary effect, mitigating damage by temporarily sacrificing the ability to use certain spells, is really not good unless you have built your character to take advantage of this. The best way to go about this is to collect vast amounts of gp throughout your adventures and use it to copy new spells into your spellbook. The least useful spells can be “burnt” with this ability to avoid damage and you will hopefully still have your good spells to use as normal.

School of Abjuration

The School of Abjuration is a powerful and easy-to-use Wizard subclass that focuses on the defensive aspect of spellcasting.

  • 2nd Level
    • Arcane Ward: Bonus hit points of twice your Wizard level + INT modifier is no joke, especially early in a campaign.
  • 6th Level
    • Projected Ward: Helping absorb damage for others improves the usefulness of the ward.
  • 10th Level
    • Improved Abjuration: Better ability checks for Counterspell and Dispel Magic is really useful.
  • 14th Level
    • Spell Resistance: Advantage on saving throws against spells and resistance against magic is just amazing in the late game.

School of Conjuration

The School of Conjuration is all about summoning creatures and objects.

  • 2nd Level
    • Minor Conjuration: You better hope your DM allows shenanigans with this one, as it is only as good as they allow it to be.
  • 6th Level
    • Benign Transposition: Any form of teleportation is good, though Misty Step is far better since it is a Bonus Action.
  • 10th Level
    • Focused Conjuration: No more pesky enemies breaking your conjuration concentration is huge, but ideally you wouldn’t get hit in the first place utilizing the Wizard’s extensive defensive spells.
  • 14th Level
    • Durable Summons: Not exciting but helps your summons be tankier later in a campaign by giving them 30 temporary hit points. At high levels this may let your summon live for an extra turn.

School of Divination

Wizards from the School of Divination can reveal things from the past, present, and future. While this may not sound particularly powerful when it comes to combat, the School of Diviniation is easily one of the best subclasses.

  • 2nd Level
    • Portent: Portent is just busted. Saving rolls for the ideal moment can change outcomes drastically, and you can even replace your enemy’s dice roll. Use it and abuse it.
  • 6th Level
    • Expert Divination: Casting more spells per day is always welcome. With Expert Divination, you can cast more divination spells, learning more about your situation, while also regaining spell slots. 
  • 10th Level
    • The Third Eye: There’s a lot packed into this one feature. If your race doesn’t have Darkvision, this is a great way to get it. You also won’t need a spell like See Invisibility. Besides that, The Third Eye is pretty situational.
  • 14th Level
    • Greater Portent: Portent is already so good, so why not make it better? At this point, Portent is one of the most powerful abilities in D&D 5e.

School of Enchantment

As the name implies, Wizards in the School of Enchantment can enchant people and monsters to obey their commands. 

  • 2nd Level
    • Hypnotic Gaze: This feature can get you out of a sticky situation when you are far too close for comfort to an enemy that wants to smash your face in. Ideally, you would use this as a last resort since it only has a range of 5 feet, or to take the strongest enemy out of the fight for a round.
  • 6th Level
    • Instinctive Charm: Redirect enemy attacks, but they need to be near another enemy and do a saving throw.
  • 10th Level
    • Split Enchantment: Enchanting two creatures for the price of one literally doubles the effectiveness of single target enchantment spells.
  • 14th Level
    • Alter Memories: This is only good if you like casting charm spells and is therefore very situational.

School of Evocation

School of Evocation Wizards like to blast their enemies with big flashy elemental spells. If want a straightforward damage-dealing mage, this is the one for you.

  • 2nd Level
    • Sculpt Spells: If you like casting big spells like Fireball, something the School of Evocation is known for, this makes sure your allies won’t get singed.
  • 6th Level
    • Potent Cantrip: Potent Cantrip improves cantrips that require saving throws since they will always at least do half damage. It’s a nice consolation prize since those saving throw cantrips often have secondary effects, though they won’t trigger on a failed save.
  • 10th Level
    • Empowered Evocation: Adding your INT modifier to damage rolls of evocation spells makes them that much more devastating. This is especially good to power up cantrips or spells like Magic Missile where the damage would be added to each missile.
  • 14th Level
    • Overchannel: Another great way to improve your low-level spells that would be outshone in high-level fights. Watch your hit points though.

School of Illusion

The School of Illusion focuses on deception through illusion magic. This subclass requires the most creativity to be effective, as well as a DM that sometimes lets you get away with silly ideas.

  • 2nd Level
    • Improved Minor Illusion: If you’re creative you’ll get more utility out of your minor illusions by combining sound and image.
  • 6th Level
    • Malleable Illusions: Again, you’re gonna have to be creative to get the most out of this ability.
  • 10th Level
    • Illusory Self: “Get out of jail free card” once per short rest if you’re facing down an attack.
  • 14th Level
    • Illusory Reality: Turn your dreams into reality. The sky’s the limit here.

School of Necromancy

The School of Necromancy is all about commanding undead creatures but doesn’t offer too much beyond that.

  • 2nd Level
    • Grim Harvest: Yeah you can regain some hit points, but it doesn’t work with cantrips and you have to deal the killing blow on an enemy. You get more hit points back if the spell is from the School of Necromancy, but these aren’t typically among the best damage dealers.
  • 6th Level
    • Undead Thralls: You get Animate Dead for free and your undead will be stronger. Perfect for a necromancer.
  • 10th Level
    • Inured to Undeath: This ability could either save you multiple times in a campaign, or not come up even once. Hit point reduction can be a party killer so at least it’s some insurance against that.
  • 14th level
    • Command Undead: Very useful if your enemies are undead, but you will have a harder time if they are intelligent.

School of Transmutation

School of Transmutation Wizards can transform materials at will, manipulating matter into whatever they see fit. Unfortunately this school is relatively weak compared to other Wizard subclasses and doesn’t do much to differentiate itself from a regular Wizard.

  • 2nd Level
    • Minor Alchemy: Changing a substance into another substance for 10 minutes is not a riveting prospect.
  • 6th Level
    • Transmuter’s Stone: The ability to give yourself or a party member a variety of different buffs is the best ability in a Transmutation Wizard’s arsenal.
  • 10th Level
    • Shapechanger: You get polymorph for free and can use it without expending a spell slot, but it can only be cast on yourself and the creature must be a beast whose challenge rating is 1 or lower. This is a huge penalty to the spell and makes it nearly useless in most situations.
  • 14th Level
    • Master Transmuter: Get instant value from your Transmuter’s Stone, but it can’t be reformed until after a long rest. This is risky and is pretty situational.

War MagicWar Magic Wizards are great at keeping themselves in the fight and holding up powerful concentration spells as long as possible.

  • 2nd Level
    • Arcane Deflection: Shield provides a better bonus to AC, but +4 to a saving throw if you fail can make all the difference in the world. Not being able to cast cantrips for a turn isn’t the worst drawback, but make sure you have some spell slots left and want to use them.
    • Tactical Wit: Your Wizard will likely max out their INT, meaning that you’ll get a huge boost to your initiative roll. Taking your turn before your enemies in a fight is very valuable as you can immediately use some crowd control to give your party an advantage.
  • 6th Level
    • Power Surge: The idea behind this feature is really neat, though in practice it falls flat. You only gain power surge if you have Dispel Magic or Counterspell and use them successfully. This means you need to be in an area with lots of magic or fighting spell casters for this to even come online. The extra damage from expending a power surge is very low considering the specific circumstances required to get one.
  • 10th Level
    • Durable Magic: Some of the best spells require concentration, and most higher-level Wizards want to constantly be concentrating on a spell when in combat. Durable Magic makes concentration spells so much better by drastically lowering the chance you will break your concentration.
  • 14th Level
    • Deflecting Shroud: This may be lackluster for a final subclass feature, but it improves Arcane Deflection at no extra cost to you. The damage isn’t much, but at least force damage is rarely resisted. 

3rd Level

Optional Rule: Cantrip Formulas: It’s great that Wizards can finally replace their cantrips. Sometimes you pick a cantrip because it sounds cool only to discover you don’t need it at all. This completely negates that and is a perfect addition to the class.

18th Level

Spell Mastery: Spell Mastery makes the Wizard really shine. Unlimited casts of useful utility spells can help you through any situation.

20th Level

Signature Spells: This is like an enhanced Spell Mastery, allowing you to prepare two extra spells each day.

Best Wizard Feats

Many feats aren’t suited to the Wizard Class, but we will go over the ones that you may consider.

  • Alert: Being up higher in the initiative order can be very valuable for a wizard as it allows them to drop a big spell before the enemy has a chance to react.
  • Elemental Adept: The bonus damage is negligible but if most of your damage comes from one element then go for it.
  • Fey Touched: A small boost to INT and a free cast of Misty Step once per long rest, this feat is probably better suited to a class that doesn’t get Misty Step.
  • Keen Mind: A small bonus to INT isn’t enough to make up for the other useless parts of this feat.
  • Lucky: Lucky is a feat that is useful to any character but is slightly less powerful on spellcasters because they won’t be making as many attack rolls. It is certainly a good resource to have for defensive purposes though.
  • Metamagic Adept: The Sorcerer is an extremely powerful class partially due to the flexibility Metamagic provides. Combined with the extensive spell list available to Wizards this feat opens the door to some strong combos.
  • Observant: A +1 to INT and +5 bonuses to passive Perception and Investigation make this a good feat for Wizards.
  • Resilient: A Wizard might consider using Resilient to gain proficiency in CON saving throws.
  • Spell Sniper: Increased range and ignoring cover on spell attacks is fantastic.
  • Telekinetic: Some bonus INT, an extra/enhanced cantrip, and a really good use of your Bonus Action. Shoving a creature can save an ally or move an enemy into danger.
  • War Caster: Advantage on CON saves and casting spells as opportunity attacks are both beneficial components of this feat.

Best Wizard Spells

Wizards have access to a lot of spells. Therefore, we think it would be the most beneficial to only talk about our favorite spells at each level, and which ones to avoid. Just remember that this doesn’t mean the ones we don’t mention are necessarily bad or don’t have a purpose. For your particular campaign, your mileage may vary.

For a full list of Wizard spells click here.

Cantrips

  • Booming Blade: A powerful option for a Bladesinger, avoid it otherwise.
  • Fire Bolt: Pick this if you need a damage-dealing cantrip.
  • Frostbite: Frostbite has a very interesting secondary effect (giving disadvantage on target’s next attack). The problem is that it requires a CON save which many monsters are very good at. The School of Evocation’s Potent Cantrip feature could make this a bit more appealing.
  • Green-Flame Blade: A powerful option for a Bladesinger, avoid it otherwise.
  • Mage Hand: Being able to do things at a distance is useful. Set off traps safely, or open doors while you hang back.
  • Message: Often pointless due to unavoidable metagaming, unless the situation specifically calls for it.
  • Mind Sliver: Many creatures are weak at INT saves and psychic damage is rarely resisted. Plus, the 1d4 subtraction from their next saving throw is pure gravy.
  • Minor Illusion: This cantrip can be the most flexible tool available to a Wizard if used creatively.
  • Poison Spray: CON saving throws are usually the hardest to get to stick and poison is a very common resistance/immunity. Plus, the range sucks.
  • Prestidigitation: Like Minor Illusion, there is a lot of utility here if you use it creatively.
  • Shocking Grasp: Advantage against metal armor and preventing reactions for a turn bundles damage and utility. If you have any armored enemy up in your business and need to get out of dodge, this is a solid choice.
  • Toll the Dead: Good damage, rarely resisted damage type, and solid range.
  • True Strike: Wasting a whole turn just to gain advantage on a single creature the next turn is not what you want to be doing.

1st Level Spells

  • Absorb Elements: A great way to mitigate elemental damage that scales well.
  • Burning Hands: One of the better AoE damage spells you can get at 1st-level but there are better direct damage spells and better mass effect spells. This is a filler spell that can be great if you catch a group of enemies close together.
  • Cause Fear: At low levels, this spell is a great way to inflict the frightened condition on a strong enemy.
  • False Life: Wizards often struggle with taking hits, so some temporary hit points could keep you in the fight.
  • Find Familiar: Familiars can do everything except actually attack. They can provide help actions in combat, steal things, scout for your party, and even be used to deliver touch spells on your behalf. Some DMs may not be amused.
  • Hideous Laughter: This spell is a great way to take a creature out of the fight for multiple turns, as long as it has INT of at least 5.
  • Illusory Script: Not sure what they were thinking with this one. It does basically nothing.
  • Jump: A very poor mobility spell. Hold off until you get Fly, Spider Climb, or Misty Step.
  • Mage Armor: Can solve some of the Wizard’s low AC issues early in a campaign, especially if you have some DEX.
  • Magic Missile: Your standard first-level damage dealer. This spell always hits which is nice. Very useful if you need to make an enemy caster drop concentration.
  • Protection From Evil and Good: Protective spell against many creature types you face in D&D 5e.
  • Shield: Boosting your AC by 5 for an entire round can make the difference between casting a spell or making death saving throws on your next turn. This spell is an extremely effective way to deal with the Wizard’s measly AC.
  • Sleep: Sleep is a spell that sometimes feels overpowered at the beginning of a campaign. With a good roll you can basically end an encounter in one turn.

2nd Level Spells

  • Acid Arrow: Just use Magic Missile instead.
  • Augury: Augury is a lot of fun for both players and DMs and provides some guidance in more open-ended campaigns.
  • Continual Flame: This is basically a cantrip, but costs you a spell slot.
  • Darkvision: Essential if you or party members don’t have natural Darkvision.
  • Dragon’s Breath: Give’s an ally something like the Dragonborn’s Breath Weapon. It doesn’t say anything about not being able to use it on your familiar, a fire-breathing owl sounds pretty cool.
  • (EEPC) Earthbind: Good when facing annoying flying creatures, otherwise won’t do much.
  • Flaming Sphere: Not the best damage, but AoE and the ability to move the sphere as a bonus action are useful if up against a horde of weak enemies.
  • Invisibility: Incredible for scouting, infiltrating, or escaping.
  • Levitate: Can be used to get up high, or completely remove a melee attacker from combat. Levitate can be good at any level.
  • Suggestion: Never underestimate the power of suggesting a course of action to an NPC. Yes, Mr. Scary Guard, why don’t you give us the keys to your king’s treasure vault?
  • Misty Step: Who doesn’t want to teleport? And you can do so as a bonus action while avoiding opportunity attacks. This spell can save your butt since you won’t have many hit points as a Wizard.
  • Knock: Great spell if you don’t have a Rogue around and works better than Thieves’ Tools anyway since it works automatically.
  • Scorching Ray: Decent damage dealer at this level, and you can choose up to three targets. The worst part about this spell is that, if you are attacking from a hidden position, only the first spear gets advantage on the ranged spell attack. The best part about this spell is your increased ability to crit.
  • Tasha’s Mind Whip: INT saves are rare, and this spell gets some very useful bonuses if it connects. Preventing a reaction is perfect for avoiding opportunity attacks and moving out of harm’s way.

3rd Level Spells

  • Animate Dead: More options for your bonus action and another body between you and the baddies.
  • Bestow Curse: If you can get within touch range, the effect that causes the enemy to make a WIS save or waste their turn is extremely powerful.
  • CounterspellAlways get Counterspell. Even if you don’t want to pick it up as soon as it is available to you, come back and get it at a later level. It can literally save lives when facing a powerful spell caster. 
  • Dispel Magic: Extremely useful to have in every party.
  • Enemies Abound: Enemies abound only works in fights with more than one enemy, if your allies are willing to ignore that enemy, and if the enemy isn’t immune to being frightened. Really only useful for causing a stir from a hidden position.
  • FireballFireball is the first spell that comes to mind when thinking about a 5e Wizard. Huge AoE and amazing damage for 3rd level.
  • Fly: More useful than Levitate in many situations, but concentration could make this end badly.
  • Hypnotic Pattern: Great crowd control that can completely win a battle on its own.
  • Haste: Lovely buff for non-caster party members, just make sure you don’t immediately have your concentration broken and waste a 3rd level spell and the buffed party members’ next turn.
  • Intellect Fortress: This can make certain fights a lot less scary when used against the right enemies, namely those that use psychic attacks and require a lot of mental saving throws.
  • Summon Undead: The best options at this level among the summon spells from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.
  • Tiny Hut: This spell is both better than it looks at first glance and worse than it looks on a second glance. Being able to long rest uninterrupted or use it as cover anywhere you want is really useful. However, if you abuse it your DM will make you pay, like setting up an ambush just outside the dome. Even still, this spell is a fan favorite.
  • Tiny Servant: In a way similar to Find Familiar, the servant can be used to scout or to stand guard for you.
  • Vampiric Touch: If you’re close enough to an enemy to want to do this small amount of damage, you’re in big trouble.

4th Level Spells

  • Arcane Eye: How could we write a Wizard guide and not mention our namesake? Luckily, it’s a great scouting tool and can be moved as an action, making it worthy of this list.
  • Banishment: Get rid of creatures from another plane, or take out a big threat for most of the combat. They have to perform a saving throw, but CHA is often not a high stat for those enemies.
  • Charm Monster: This spell can help you avoid combat altogether, especially if you cast it before initiative is rolled so that they don’t get advantage on the saving throw.
  • Dimension DoorTeleport, with a friend, over a much longer distance than Misty Step. Unfortunately, it’s a full action to cast.
  • Black Tentacles: The potential for damage over time and restraining the target makes this spell pretty great. They have to burn their action to attempt to leave the restraints as well.
  • Faithful Hound: Just get Alarm if you want an ability like this, the damage doesn’t justify the 4th level spell slot. So yeah, that’s gonna be a no from me dawg.
  • Greater Invisibility: Being able to attack or cast spells while invisible is a huge upgrade from regular invisibility. Give it to a melee party member and watch them get advantage on every attack and disadvantage on attacks against them, bonus points if it’s a Paladin.
  • Hallucinatory Terrain: Nice if you want to roleplay Minecraft, I guess?
  • Ice Storm: You already have Fireball, and Ice Storm is weaker. The terrain control doesn’t make the weaker damage worth it.
  • Polymorph: Buff an ally or turn an enemy into a rat while you obliterate his friends!
  • Secret Chest: Hide stuff in the ethereal plane. Very, VERY situational.
  • Sickening Radiance: This spell does a lot. Radiant damage, prevents invisibility, and gives levels of exhaustion which can be devastating when they start to stack. The only drawback is that it also hits your party members, so be careful.
  • Stone Shape: Can be used to deal damage if you get creative, or circumvent annoying parts of caves and dungeons since they are usually made of stone.
  • Summon Aberration: These summons are powerful, and one even has a fly speed.
  • Summon Construct: These summons are great when you need something to help tank damage for you.
  • Wall of Fire: Plenty of damage and allows you to divide up the battlefield to your advantage.

5th Level Spells

  • Animate Objects: Turn your trash into treasure. Send an army of pebbles at your opponents for 1d4 + 4 damage with +8 attacks.
  • Cloudkill: Not great in an open field but if you can get the drop on an enemy or contain a group of enemies within the spell it can be very effective because it deals damage turn after turn, as long as the caster keeps concentration. It can also be effective to block off a vantage point used by ranged enemies.
  • Creation: Allows you to make a rope, or a rock. Yeah.
  • Far Step: It is technically better than Misty Step, but most of the time you can just use Misty Step and save yourself a precious 5th level spell slot.
  • Seeming: Disguise your whole party. Not bad when trying to get somewhere you aren’t meant to be.
  • Skill Empowerment: This spell is very flexible since you can give any creature Expertise in any skill. It is quite expensive at 5th level and it works best when the creature needs to use the same skill multiple times.
  • Telekinesis: Pretty versatile, allowing you to move a creature or object. Knock those pesky enemies of yours off a cliff, or access items that you wouldn’t be able to or aren’t safe up close.
  • Telepathic Bond: Allows your party to communicate when they normally wouldn’t be able to.
  • Wall of Force: You’re just making a wall. So what? You can split up opposing forces, hide behind an impenetrable wall, or make a dome over your party. It is immune to Dispel Magic but can be disintegrated.
  • Wall of Light: This is one of the weaker walls since the damage is much lower and blinding creatures requires a CON save, which many creatures are good at.

6th Level Spells

  • Circle of Death: Fireball type effect, but at 6th level, and a CON save to boot. Boo!
  • Contingency: This is an interesting one. Instead of casting a spell, you can save that spell to be automatically cast when certain criteria have been met, lasting up to ten days.
  • Disintegrate: Live out your power fantasy as Thanos. The damage can be great, but a successful save negates ALL damage. Still, people love this spell so it needed to be addressed.
  • Mass Suggestion: Better than regular Suggestion in many ways. No saving throws, target up to twelve creatures, and a duration of 24 hours.
  • Mental Prison: 5d10 psychic damage no matter if they save is pretty powerful. The secondary effect can be cheesed by the DM by somehow moving the target out of the illusion, but that shouldn’t be the case because they can’t see or hear and are restrained.
  • Globe of Invulnerability: Block all spells 5th level and lower in a 10-foot radius around your Wizard. This spell can get really helpful as you start to face more enemies casting spells.
  • Move Earth: Still trying to live out that Minecraft fantasy? Go for it.
  • Scatter: It has uses, but none that are particularly worth a 6th-level spell.
  • Sunbeam: Not a bad spell for those grindy fights. Blinding opponents, repositioning the beam on each turn, disadvantage for undead make this a solid choice.
  • Tasha’s Otherworldly Guise: Bonus action to gain +2 to AC, damage immunities, and flight make this a solid defensive spell. Even though the spell grants the ability to make attacks with INT and allows you to attack twice, you will rarely use these features as a wizard unless you’re a Bladesinger.
  • True Seeing: Gain the abilities of truesight, spotting secret doors, and seeing into the ethereal plane, all without concentration. This will be effective at some point but a 6th level spell is steep.

7th Level Spells

  • Crown of Stars: Good damage, doesn’t require concentration, and a great use of your bonus action. It helps to set it up before combat as it lasts an hour.
  • Etherealness: This spell allows you to fly or move through solid objects, while not being affected or able to affect creatures not on the Ethereal Plane. You can only target yourself but there is no concentration. Pretty middle of the road all around.
  • Finger of Death: It’s a CON save, but they still take half damage on a success. If you want some single target damage, it’s not a bad pick.
  • Forcecage: Capture a creature with no saving throw for up to one hour. They can attempt to escape with magic, but a CHA saving throw can make it tricky. You can also use this to move a creature by placing the creature only partially within the area.
  • Prismatic Spray: Only 10d6 damage on a failed save, and the damage type is random. This spell just isn’t reliable enough to be worth it.
  • Project Image: Can be used to distract enemies or as a pretty bad scouting tool. You or your party members should have better ways to do this by now.
  • Reverse Gravity: Super cool and effective. The only way a creature can avoid the effect is by succeeding on a DEX saving throw, but even then they only grab onto a fixed object to avoid falling up. Besides flying creatures, most will have a tough time escaping this.
  • Sequester: There just aren’t many practical uses for this spell outside of a plot device.
  • Simulacrum: This spell is great. Make a copy of yourself to get extra Counterspells, or make a copy of a captured monster.
  • Teleport: Instantly transport yourself and up to eight willing creatures. Of course there is a chance of a mishap, but a full party teleport is nothing to scoff at.
  • Whirlwind: The damage isn’t worth the 7th level spell slot and Reverse Gravity is better for lifting creatures off the ground.

8th Level Spells

  • Antimagic Field: You want to be able to cast spells as a Wizard, and this spell prevents that. Maybe there is some powerful magic around you that you want to stop, but you’re better off tackling that problem with a spell of your own and taking another 8th level spell instead.
  • Antipathy/Sympathy: Attract or repel creatures that you choose. Force melee creatures away from you or ranged creatures towards your melee allies. It also lasts for ten days, which is very long.
  • Clone: Voldemort, basically. If you die, your soul is transferred to the clone, as long as the vessel it is in is undisturbed. You don’t get your equipment back unless you are able to retrieve it, however.
  • Control Weather: This is one of those spells that could have massive repercussions outside of combat. Its effect is extremely powerful though its uses may not be.
  • Dominate Monster: A whole hour is a lot of time to get up to no good if you manage to charm a strong creature. It’s great in combat but if the creature takes damage, it gets to take another shot at the WIS saving throw.
  • Illusory Dragon: This spell can absolutely decimate a large battle, sending enemies running and doing a fair amount of area of effect damage.
  • Maddening Darkness: Magical darkness is always useful for strategic purposes in combat since nothing can see through it. Another bonus here is that the darkness can do quite a bit of psychic damage when a creature starts its turn inside it.
  • Maze: Banish a creature with no saving throw for up to ten minutes. Maze is really strong because to return, it must pass a DC 20 INT check as an action. The only caveat is that it is a concentration spell.
  • Mind Blank: A full 24 hours of immunity to psychic damage, reading thoughts, divination spells, and being charmed. Mind Blank is surprisingly effective during high-level encounters as a defensive spell.
  • Power Word Stun: You can auto stun a creature that has less than 150hp, but they get to make a save at the end of each of their turns.

9th Level Spells

  • Foresight: The buff that does everything you could ask for. Lasts for 8 hours (no concentration!), the target can’t be surprised, has advantage on rolls, and other creatures have disadvantage on attack rolls against the target.
  • Mass Polymorph: Take up to 10 creatures out of the fight or turn your entire party into T-rexes.
  • Meteor Swarm: Nuke your enemies with this one simple trick! 20d6 fire damage and 20d6 bludgeoning damage, or half on a successful DEX save.
  • Prismatic Wall: Another great wall, this time with no concentration. It is virtually indestructible, and your allies can pass through unharmed.
  • Psychic Scream: INT saves are good, but the damage is pretty average. The best part of this spell is the chance to inflict the stunned condition and explode the heads of any creature killed by it for some morbid hilarity. 
  • Power Word Kill: Very mechanically interesting spell. Essentially, you can auto kill a creature if they have less than 100hp. Now, as a player we do not know how much HP a monster has, but an Investigation or Insight check might allow some clues as to whether or not they’re close. Still Meteor Swarm can do, on average, 140 damage (70 on a save), and can hit multiple creatures so this might not be that worth it.
  • Time Stop: You can’t target other creatures during your 1d4 + 1 extra turns, but it’s a great opportunity to move into position and buff yourself.
  • True Polymorph: If you manage to concentrate successfully for an hour, the effect can be permanent. The added flexibility of turning a creature into an object, or vice-versa, is really powerful.
  • Weird: Compared to the other 9th level spells, Weird just stinks. Basically Fear with some damage.
  • Wish: Wish is the best spell in DnD 5e, hands down. Its regular use allows you to duplicate any other spell at 8th level or lower. However, it can also be used to regain all hit points for your whole party, change the outcome of a roll, or gain immunity to a spell. Some DMs may allow you to wish for basically anything, but at the risk of something going terribly wrong. This can make for some really cool deus ex machina moments.

Best Multiclass Options for Wizards

Multiclassing is always an opportunity cost, you have to determine if taking a level of another class is worth what you will lose from the original class. Many factors come into this decision, with the main factor being how long your campaign will run and, ultimately, what level you will be playing until. With Sorcerers and other full casters, you want to avoid taking more than 3 multiclass levels, or else you won’t be able to get access to 9th-level spells.

Another thing to take into consideration is the additional class’ primary ability scores. Ideally, you want to use the Wizard’s high INT to synergize with the additional class, but there is only one other class that uses INT to this extent (the Artificer). That said, multiclassing will work with classes that use a different primary ability score and can help smooth over some of the Wizard’s weaknesses. 

Be warned though, Wizards are possibly the best single class build on their own. Dipping into another class delays or locks you out of very powerful spells at higher levels. 

Artificer: This is the obvious choice since Artificers are also INT-based casters. Artificers open you up to medium armor and shields, giving a significant boost to AC. Take at least two levels of Artificer to get access to Infuse Item, or three if you want to gain an Artificer Specialist, of which Artillerist or Battle Smith would make the most sense. Taking more Artificer levels is not advised as it will delay gaining higher level Wizard spells too much. However, as a full caster, multiclassing into Artificer will not slow down your spell slot progression.

Cleric: A classic option is to take one level of Cleric to get access to medium/heavy armor, shields, and a whole host of new spells including powerful healing options.

Fighter: Taking one Fighter level gets you access to a massive amount of weapons and armor, as well as shields. The Defense Fighting Style can also help stack AC even higher, making you much more durable and making it easier to maintain concentration. A second level of Fighter gives you Action Surge, allowing you to potentially cast two spells in a turn, creating the opportunity for some powerful combos.


Hope you liked the guide! If you have any questions or feel like we missed something for the 5e Wizard, go ahead and post a comment below. If you like our content subscribe to Arcane Eye!

Roland Drews

Roland Drews is a content creator and editor at Arcane Eye. When he isn't watching basketball or noodling on his guitar, you can find Roland reading, writing, or playing D&D. He currently lives in Bonn, Germany with his girlfriend Jess.

8 thoughts on “The DnD 5e Wizard Guide

  1. Magic Initiate is really really good for wizards, especially human, suprised it’s not mentioned here.

    1. I would disagree! Wizards already have access to the biggest spell list out of any class, and choosing a spell from another class means you have to cast it with a different modifier. Perhaps a spell like Healing Word would be okay, but I’d rather have the ASI to INT or a feat like War Caster 🙂

  2. Reviewed the builds, and loved them! Let´s see how you guys think about this.

    Right now I am building a fighter/necromancer, who is balanced to do meelee damage and

    use animated undead as army.
    Race: High Elf (Dex + Int) or Human.
    Stats focus: Dex/Int/Con

    Rapier + Dagger + Shield + Crossbow hand

    Feat lvl4: Defensive Duelist

    Fighter 1 (Defense Style) -> Wizard (Necromancer) 5 -> Fighter 4 (Battle Master) -> Wizard 1 -> Fighter 2 -> Between to add 1 and 1 of each class.

    Fighter to begin with better hit points, weapon and armor proficiencies. Use the army of

    undeads as allies, spells (Lvl 3) to maintain them every 24 hours, and use melee

    (finesse) & ranged weapons to do damage. Additional spells to control the battefield or

    self defense. Bonus actions will be used to command the undeads all the time, no exception.

    1. Love it, feels very Diablo-esque! Don’t forget that you don’t get Undead Thralls until 6th Wizard level so I would go for that as quickly as possible.

  3. Meet Skendria the elven wizard/rogue:

    High elf, wizard of Illusion 7/rogue 3, made for a combo of sneak attack and spells. Began with rogue to gain light armor proficiency and thieves’ tools, and uses a ring of protection. I took the charlatan background mostly for flavor.

    +2 shortsword is useful for tight spots, so is the amulet of the planes.

    One of her first spells was find familiar… Kenrius the cat is one of the best scouts in the world, and can also bestow curses.

    In the rest, I got fireball, misty step, and dimension door plus a bunch of spells I can’t really detaliate (among the lines of Fly, Arcane Lock, and Continual Flame), and then I picked the Mobile feat for improved evasion. That’s pretty much it.

    1. That sounds amazing! I’ve never played a Kenku myself but they have a ton of interesting possibilities.

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