Themus’s Guide to Wizards (Mod 17)
Themus’s Guide to Wizards (Mod 17)
by Themus@eugee – PC (/u/dmjason)
Welcome to Themus’s Guide to Wizards (Mod 17). Before diving into the wizard, I want to establish an expectation: this is not a collection of screenshots telling you what to take. This is an informed observation about the wizard class overall, and while I will make mention of my personal picks, it will always be with an explanation of why I do or do not use a power, as well as use-cases for all of those powers. My goal is for someone that finishes reading this document to understand when and why I do or do not use a specific power, feature, or feat.
As far as the structure of this document, I’m covering the tabs on the character sheet in order. While I will have short summaries at the end for the two paragon paths, for most of the document I will cover both paths in the same section. While both are DPS roles, Thaumturge is the stronger AOE build, and Arcanist is the stronger single-target build. I play both equally, using Thaumaturge for trash clearing (and soloing) and Arcanist for boss fights.
There is a lot of testing and math involved with the wizard, most of which was done by Sharpedge; I’m not going to go into the detail that he does, as anything I put together will just be a poor repetition of the work he has done. Instead I will include links to his guide to wizard mechanics in the summary, and simplify my own presentation.
Last Updated: 2019-Oct-14
So on the first tab of the character sheet we’ll cover Race, Attributes, and Equipment. Some of these require more focus than others.
With Mod16 this has become less important than ever; at most any particular race is going to net you 2 extra attribute points or a minor effect. Pick the race that you want to look at for the duration of the character’s life. Any advantage that one race may or may not have over another race is so small that the standard deviation of random number generation is going to be larger than the difference. The cover of my 1st edition players handbook had a human wizard on it; so that’s what I wanted for my wizard. That was the extent of my choice.
So your attributes is really an extension of the Race question, isn’t it? Whatever race you choose, you’re going to have to select an attribute(s) to increase. Let’s look at how your attributes impact your wizard:
- Strength: Stamina Regeneration & Physical Damage Boost
- Constitution: Maximum Hit Points & Action Points
- Dexterity: Critical Severity & Movement Speed
- Intelligence: Control Bonus & Magical Damage Boost
- Wisdom: Control Resist & Outgoing Healing Boost
- Charisma: Companion Influence & Recharge Speed
For both paragons, you want to increase your Intelligence, as all of your damage is magical. For the second attribute I recommend Dexterity to improve your Critical Severity. You want to hit hard and crit harder, and I believe this is the best combination to do so.
But let’s review what the other attributes offer; when evaluating artifact equipment you might be looking at gaining some of these, so let’s understand which is better. Strength offers almost nothing to wizards; Stamina Regeneration is not a significant gain for us. Constitution is a mediocre attribute for DPS roles; more HP is always good, and AP gain never hurt anyone, but I would never strive to get it. Wisdom is the healer’s attritube, and something a wizard should pass on given the choice. Charisma is a solid choice and my third pick after INT & DEX because Recharge Speed is always good, though Companion Influence is lackluster (more on that in Companions). However the Thaumaturge has significant cooldown reduction already, and the Arcanist uses a lot of fast cooldown encounters already, so the impact of Charisma is mitigated a bit.
So this is the big question–what is the best gear to wear!? I won’t focus on that, because that changes all the time. With Mod 17 here, the best gear from Tower of the Mad Mage has equip bonuses that replace all of the level 70 Chult/Barovia items that were clung to in Mod 16. Basically anything that gives flat percentage boosts to damage is probably the absolute best. Sharpedge’s mechanics guide (link in Summary) has a nice breakdown of all the decent equip powers if you want to go for those. However if you have full Successor and Protege gear? You’ll be just fine. All that really matters are your caps, so let’s talk about those, instead.
As of mod 17, the stat caps are typically 60K points for level 80 content, 68K for Lair of the Mad Mage, and 80K for Tower of the Mad Mage. A few stats like Accuracy start hitting a soft-cap around 8-10K before the hard-cap, when adding more Accuracy has the same impact to your overall damage as just adding more Power. The same goes for Deflect, when you reach a point where your life expectancy against incoming damage increases the same if you just add more Hit Points.
So what stats do you focus on hard capping? For both paragons:
- Defense: To overcome enemy Armor Penetration so you always take 50% damage.
- Armor Penetration: To overcome enemy Defense so you always hit for 100% damage.
- Critical Strike: To overcome enemy Critical Avoidance, so you will critically hit 50% of the time.
- Combat Advantage: To overcome enemy Awareness, so you will do 100% combat advantage damage which needs 110k, 118k, and 130k for 80/LOMM/TOMM respectively.
And that’s it. Now before veterans freak out–I’m not saying to ignore the other stats. I’m just saying it’s not essential to cap them, when Power & Hit Points are the other option:
- Accuracy: Capping that you will never be Deflected. But before the hard cap you will get the same overall damage increase from just stacking on more Power. Still, this is the fourth stat you should try to reach the cap on as a DPS.
- Awareness: You take Awareness to counter enemy Combat Advantage. As a DPS this is not an important stat.
- Critical Avoidance: In Mod17, enemies received critical severity, which means you take more damage when you are hit with a crit. This makes Critical Avoidance an important stat for tanks, but of limited use to DPS.
- Deflect: Capping means you will hit the max Deflect chance of 50%, which would be a mitigation of 25%. There comes a point (8-10K before cap) where adding more Deflect doesn’t extend your life expectancy more than just adding more Hit Points, but again as a DPS, you don’t need raise this stat intentionally.
I’ll say again, I’m not suggesting that these stats aren’t important, just that you should get enough from your gear and companion that you don’t need to allocate slots to them.
So Where Do the Stats Come From?
The most obvious is your gear you wear. As I mentioned before there are some older pieces of gear with great Equip bonuses, but you’ll be fine if you’re newer and just go with Spy Guild/Protege/Successor/etc. For your main/offhand you will want to get Alabaster (Mountaineer if RNG hates you), and you should get a good neck/waist (most important is to have the extra enchant slots). I like the Wyvern set because I get DEX/INT from it. Any of the new sets are fine though; the Electric Collar/Charged Restraints are really cheap after all, and there’s nothing wrong with DEX/CHA.
The next source of stats (and probably the most important) is your companion. As of this writing, your best gain is from an augment. There are lots of augments to choose from, and the main driver for your choice should be the 3 bonus stats that augment has. I’ll get into the choices I like in the Companion section, but for right now I like any augment companion with a boost to Power or Combat Advantage. Along with that augment companion, you need Bonding Runestones. The better they are, the more stats your augment is transferring to you. Additionally, Bonding Runestones have no cost to unslot, so they are very simple to swap between characters through the shared bank–so it’s a really solid, safe investment. Runestones are a good way to tweak any stats you are coming up short on, or just stack on more power with them if you are capped where you want to be. In addition to your active companion, you also have five enhancement slots (3 offense, 1 defense, 1 utility) which allow you to slot powers from all of the companions you have.
Then you have your mount insignias. One of your first goals should be to get 5 mounts with 3 insignia slots each, and fill them with rare insignias. As far as insignia powers go, I always want Gladiator’s Guile (at least once) on my characters, Wanderer’s Forturne (because I still need RP) and after that I pick up any “when X happens, heal for Y” powers that I can manage (Barbarian’s Revelry, Oppressor’s Reprieve, and Survivor’s Blessing). Epic insignias cost a fortune and are one of the worst returns for investment you can buy. Get rares, fill out any stat gaps you have, and then stack on power.
The last spot you can work on is your enchantments and armor/jewel kits. Again, look at your stats, and if you have any holes left (you really shouldn’t) then plug them, and after that stack on the power and hit points. You can pick up some power and Combat Advantage with armor/jewel kits, and that’s usually my pick there.
For the weapon enchantment, Vorpal is pretty much the best pick for any class; if you want to take something else, go for it, but Vorpal is best. For the armor enchantment there are really two options, depending your tastes. You can go with Soulforged, which will auto-rez you if you die (with a cooldown) or you can go Barkshield, which will keep a small shield that can soak up the occasional hit. The former will rez you if you make a mistake and die, while the latter can possibly prevent you from dying in the first place. It’s honestly a personal preference, whichever you find fits your playstyle the most. Note that if a healer fails to heal you when cocooned on Arcturia, soulforged will still rez you.
So this is the meat and potatoes of any class guide. I’m going to focus on giving my take on every power, feature, and feat, as well as the best use-cases for them. I will conclude this section with what my preferred choices are as well. Before getting into the powers though, let’s discuss what makes the paragon paths different.
The Arcanist specializes in single target damage, with a handful of hard-hitting, fast cooldown arcane encounter powers, all boosted by arcane mastery stacks which build up quickly. They are capable of a barrage of rapid fire encounter powers with the right daily use. Their AOE damage output is lackluster, because of limited AOE powers which tend to be awkward or lack synergy.
The Thaumaturge on the other hand specializes in AOE damage, with full suite of hard-hitting, variable cooldown fire & cold encounter powers, all boosted by arcane mastery and chill stacks, but more importantly, constantly proccing Smolder, which will represent the majority of this path’s damage output. When it comes to single-target, this path is quite capable of dealing solid damage especially in combination with the feat Shatter Strike, but will generally still fall short of what the Arcanist can do to a boss.
- Magic Missile – Fast casting single-target 25 magnitude single-target at-will with a 3 animation cycle. The last strike hits 3 times and adds an Arcane stack. This is the highest damage arcane at-will the wizard has available, and builds action points fastest. In addition, it has the highest chance to proc Nightmare Wizardry for an Arcanist.
- Ray of Frost – Channeled 40 magnitude at-will that hits every 0.5 seconds for 4 seconds, applying Chill every time it does damage. Builds action points slower than other at-wills. On Arcanist this benefits from the feat Snap Freeze to add a 40 magnitude hit with each Chill stack. On Thaumaturge whenever it applies Chill to a target with Smolder, it procs Rimefire Smolder. If the first tick of damage crits, the entire channel will crit. In Mod17 this power was nerfed so that the feature Critical Conflagration only procs on the first crit of a channel, instead every tick in the channel. Additionally, Rimefire Smolder will only proc a max of once per second. This is still the most magnitude per second that either paragon can deliver with an at-will.
- Storm Pillar – This is an 8′ radius, 25-60 magnitude AOE, depending on how long you charge it (up to 1.6s), if you charge it at least 50% it will refresh Arcane/Chill stacks, and if you fully charge it, it will continue to hit the area for 30 mag/sec for 3 seconds. Storm Pillar is not what I would consider a good AOE at-will. However it’s the only one that Arcanist gets, so you take what you can get. It can also be activated instantly, which is handy for killing boulders in the Bore Worm fight.
- Arcane Bolt – This is a slower casting 45 magnitude version of Magic Missile, that on paper looks like it should do more DPS, but actually ends up doing a little less because Magic Missile hits 3 times on the last cast of the combo. The end result leaves Arcane Bolt falling short of Magic Missile in just about every aspect.
- Scorching Burst – Up to 8′ radius, 25-60 magnitude AOE, depending on how long you charge it (up to 1.7s). The radius starts at 1′ and expands as it charges up till you release it. Unlike Storm Pillar, this is actually a decent AOE at-will. The reason is that it procs Smolder, and Smolder on a Chill target becomes Rimefire Smolder, which actually hits pretty hard. As long as you’re hitting chilled targets with Scorching Burst, it’s quite good. On non-chilled targets, it’s about the same as Storm Pillar. All powers that proc Smolder are boosted by the feats Glowing Flames, Critical Burn, and Directed Flames. Also because it’s charged, you can insta-cast this to kill boulders in the Bore Worm fight.
- Chilling Cloud – Medium casting 50 magnitude, 3-combo at-will that does AOE damage on the final hit, as well as add Chill to all targets. On targets that are already chilled, Scorching Burst is going to be better, especially when only used for one or two cycles. When used for a longer duration, Chilling Cloud will keep the targets chilled, meaning it procs Rimefire every third hit. I flop back and forth on which one I use–Chilling Cloud is just fire and forget, while you have to pay attention more with Scorching Burst.
Wizards have a fourth spell mastery slot for their encounter powers. I will detail the effects of putting a power in the mastery slot [M] with each description.
- Repel – This is an 80′ single target 375 magnitude, nearly instant cast, with a 10s cooldown. It also pushes the target, which does not make friends. In Mastery it becomes a 140 magnitude AOE that pushes everything. When used on control-immune targets, Repel is a fantastic encounter, when used on things you can push, it can be great for pushing things off ledges, but is also a very fast way to upset group members. For the Arcanist it’s a staple in boss rotations for the quick cast, nice damage, and arcane stack. It’s also one of the limited AOE options available, but scattering enemies has no synergy. The Thaumaturge relies on Repel in a boss-rotation in combination with Shatter Strike to boost the damage to control-immune targets. The only reason to slot it into Mastery for this path is for pushing groups of enemies off of ledges to their doom; they have plenty of AOE alternatives.
- Entangling Force – An 80′ single target 375 magnitude Hold+DOT on a 15s cooldown. Every arcane stack extends the duration 0.1s, and every 0.5s of extension adds an additional tick of damage (increasing to 500/625 magnitude at 5/10 stacks). The Arcanist leans heavily on this power for boss-rotations with their ability to stack arcane mastery 10 times. The Thaumaturge gets a boost to the magnitude of this power from the feat Shatter Strike. Putting this power into mastery increases the magnitude by 10%.
- Icy Terrain – This is a 15′ radius, 200 magnitude point-blank AOE with a 0.8s cast and 17s cooldown. In addition to pulsing the damage ten times, it roots targets in the initial cast for 1.5s, and applies Chill with each tick of damage. On an Arcanist this can apply Snap Freeze up to 10 times per target, and on Thaumaturge this should proc Rimefire Smolder 10 times (from Chill and Critical Conflagration) at once per second. This is a mainstay of the AOE rotation for both paragon paths. When placed on Mastery, in addition to doing 10% more damage, it becomes a placed AOE up to 80′ away. Icy Terrain isn’t really a high damage ability–it’s a carrier for lots of procs, which do heavy damage in aggregate. Because it’s a stationary AOE, it’s often sub-optimal on boss-fights, where the boss can move out of the effect easily. Icy Terrain sometimes fails to hit “floating” enemies reliably as well, so be mindful of this.
- Ray of Enfeeblement – This is an 80′ range, 350 magnitude DOT, single target 0.34s cast with a 16s cooldown. For 10 seconds the target deals 10% less damage. On Mastery, the magnitude increases to 385 magnitude and the target takes 10% increased damage from magic & projectile damage. For both paragons, this power is typically the best power to run on Mastery for boss fights, as it boosts all damage the wizard does by 10% for 10 out of every 16 seconds.
- Shield – This is a 1.6 second cast on yourself, and provides an ablative shield that refills after 6 seconds of not being hit. If activated a second time, it will pulse outward for 175 magnitude and push all target hit, then cool down for 18.5 seconds. Arcane Mastery stacks will increase the severity of the push, and shorten the cooldown. On Mastery the shield is increased by 10%, the push is intensified, and the magnitude of the pulse increases to 193. Shield is kind of a niche use–if you do need the shield, then you probably want it on Mastery, and essentially you’re trading one of your encounter powers for a powerful defensive buff.
- Lightning Bolt – This is a 30′ range, 5′ wide, 150 magnitude column, that casts in 0.72s with a 12.4s cooldown. It will refresh Arcane & Chill stacks on any targets hit. On Mastery the magnitude is increased to 165. Lighting Bolt is one of the few AOE spells the Arcanist has, but it’s not great. The range is very short, the width is very narrow, and the damage is low. Still, with few options for AOE it’s still worth slotting if you must AOE on Arcanist.
- Disintegrate – This is an 80′ range, 300 magnitude single target with 0.35s cast time and a fast 7.1s cooldown. If the target is 20% or less health, it does 50% extra damage (450 magnitude). On Mastery the magnitude increases to 330 (495). Disintegrate is one of the staples of the single target rotation for Arcanist, putting out very respectable DPS.
- Steal Time – This is a 30′ radius 200 magnitude AOE that slows up to 4 times for 2s, and stuns for up to 1.5s depending on how long the cast time charged (it can be interrupted by moving). The duration of both increases by 0.2s/arcane stack, up to 2 additional seconds at 10 stacks. The cast time is up to 1.5 seconds, and takes 15.9 seconds to cool down. In Mastery the magnitude increases to 220. On paper this looks decent, but the reality is that it’s a large AOE on a middle duration cooldown that is easily interrupted. It’s not a great AOE, but it’s not terrible either.
- Shard of the Endless Avalanche – This power summons an icy boulder before you on the first activation (0.74s cast time), and hurls that boulder the way you are facing on the second activation (triggering a 17.7s cooldown). Anything struck will take 125 magnitude and be knocked down; after sitting for awhile, or colliding with at least two targets, it will explode in a 5′ radius for 125 magnitude damage. Also standing near the boulder gives an arcane stack each second. In Mastery the magnitude increases to 138. This is a fun power, but not necessarily a good power. If used on a tightly packed group you might get the full 250 magnitude delivered to 2 or 3 targets at most; in reality it will probably to 250 to two targets and 125 to the rest. But again, there are only 5 AOE encounters for the Arcanist, and one of them is an AE Repel, so this makes the cut if you must AOE.
- Imprisonment – This is an 80′ control power that casts in 0.4s with a 14.2s cooldown. The target is held for 3s and takes 15% extra arcane damage for 6 seconds, and you gain an arcane stack. On mastery the bonus increases to 25% to arcane powers. This power is in direct competition with Ray of Enfeeblement on mastery; ultimately RoF does damage, and boosts all damage by 10%, not just arcane, with higher uptime (10 out of 16 seconds).
- Fanning the Flame – This is an 80′ single target 75 magnitude fire spell that applies smolder, with a 0.6s cast time and enormous 20.4s cooldown. Any enemies within 15′ of the target that have smolder take 25 magnitude fire damage and also inflict 25 magnitude fire damage back to the target. On Mastery the magnitude of the initial hit becomes 83. The idea for this power sounds cool–but in reality it’s terrible. It’s probably the worst power the wizard gets, period. The feedback effect sounds cool, but in reality even if you applied Smolder to everything first (with Fireball or Scorching Burst) hitting a pack of 5 targets would bounce back 125 magnitude to the main target, and only 25 to each of the other four. Even with an enormous pack around the target this power still only works as an okay single target power that has a weak AOE splash, on a really long cooldown.
- Icy Rays – This is an 80′ range spell with an 18.6s cooldown. On the first activation it places a rune over a target, on the second activation it applies 275 magnitude cold to your target plus the target you runed. If those are the same target, it does 400 magnitude. All targets are stunned 1s and gain a stack of Chill. On mastery the magnitude is 302, 440 if both rays hit the same target. This is a good, solid power. If going single target with Thaumaturge it’s a viable power that hits hard, but it suffers from a longer cooldown, and is usually overshadowed by other AOE powers, which is what the Thaumaturge excels at.
- Chill Strike – This is an 80′ range, 400 magnitude cold power that casts in 0.4s, with a 13.9s cooldown. It stuns for 0.5s and applies Chill to the target. On Mastery it becomes a 150 magnitude AOE, applying the stun and chill to all targets. This is a staple power for the Thaumaturge, especially used in Mastery for a 4th strong AOE which can apply chill to everything at range, before powers that apply smolder land, giving you Rimefire Smolder.
- Conduit of Ice – This is an 80′ range DOT that deals 175 magnitude cold to the target and surrounding enemies, as well as applying Chill to all enemies affected. It casts in 0.8s and has a short 12s cooldown. On mastery the damage increases to 192 magnitude. This is a staple power for the Thaumaturge, as it hits over and over, and on a critical will continually apply Rimefire Smolder to the target in combination with Critical Conflagration. Valuable power both for single target and AOE.
- Fireball – This classic spell from tabletop is an 80′ range, 15′ radius, 250 magnitude fire AOE that applies Smolder to all targets hit. It has a long cast time of 1.1s, and a long cooldown of 18.6s. On Mastery the radius is increased to 20′ and the magnitude increases to 275. This is a mainstay for the AOE thaumaturge; the long cast and cooldown are a hassle, but it’s the hardest hitting AOE they have, and if Chill is applied to targets first, it’s landing Rimefire Smolder on everything when it hits. For sustained use the DPS suffers from the long cast and cooldown, but for a power used once on each trash pack, Fireball performs well.
- Arcane Singularity – This is a huge AOE daily, with an 80′ range and giant 42′ radius of effect. It casts slowly over 1.8s and deals 500 magnitude arcane to everything hit. It also grants 1 arcane stack. This is a solid AOE power for both paragons.
- Ice Knife – An 80′ range single target, 1400 magnitude cold power with a 1s cast time. The target is knocked down and has 3 stacks of Chill applied. Great single target daily for the Thaumaturge.
- Oppressive Force – This is a daily with a 25′ radius around the wizard, which casts in 0.9s, Dazes 1s, grants an arcane stack, and then explodes for 275 magnitude, repelling the targets away. This is an okay power, applying some control, but in most cases Arcane Singularity works better.
- Maelstrom of Chaos – This is an 80′ range, 8′ radius daily that delivers 450 magnitude arcane damage, knocks down the target for 1s, and refreshes arcane and chill stacks. Arcane Singularity delivers a bigger hit over a bigger radius.
- Arcane Empowerment – This shows an 80′ range, but it’s actually a self buff. After a 1.3s cast time, all your arcane encounters are boosted by 10% damage, and recharge extremely fast (2-3 seconds) for 10 seconds. Also the wizard gains 5 arcane mastery stacks. This is the daily that should be used on Arcanist for your boss-killing rotation.
- Furious Immolation – This is a 80′ range, 35′ radius AOE pull with a 2s cast that does 475 magnitude fire, and applies Smolder. Because of the pull and Smolder this is the ideal AOE daily for the Thaumaturge.
- Ice Storm – This is a 40′ radius cold AOE that casts in 1.9s and does 450 magnitude cold. Targets hit are slowed for 5s and knockdown, plus receive Chill. With the huge radius this is another great pick for the Thaumaturge in combination with the feature Frost Wave, otherwise Furious Immolation is usually more useful.
- Control Mastery – All wizards benefit from their Stun, Root, Hold, and Daze lasting 2.5x longer on NPCs than on players in PVP.
- Arcane Mastery – Most arcane powers grant the wizard a stacking Arcane Mastery buff. All arcane damage dealt by the wizard is increased by 0.5% per stack for 8 seconds. The maximum stack is 5, or 10 with the feat A Step Above Mastery.
- Teleport – This is the wizard’s dodge power. It shifts a good distance and uses about 25% of your stamina. You are immune for roughly 1 second after the Teleport.
- Chill – Most cold powers apply stacks of Chill to their targets, which applies a Slow up to 6 times (max stacks). Some powers will Freeze/Stun a target that is at maximum stacks (Ray of Frost, Icy Terrain, Conduit of Ice). The feature Chilling Presence and the Thaumaturge feat Frigid Winds causes targets afflicted with Chill to take increased damage per stack on them. With the Arcanist feat Snap Freeze, Chill inflicts 40 cold magnitude to the target with each application.
- Spell Mastery – Your Tab power gives you a fourth encounter slot, which will boost the damage of any encounter slotted there by 10%, plus provide some additional effects for some powers.
- Smolder – The Thaumaturge has many powers which apply the Smolder effect to the target. This effects is a DOT that inflicts 20 magnitude fire every second for 4 seconds. If applied to a target with Chill, the effect changes to Rimefire Smolder, which causes the effect to be refreshed by Chill. The feature Critical Conflagration causes your critical hits to proc smolder, and the feat Directed Flames causes Smolder to hit once for 75% damage (60 magnitude) instead of a DOT. The effect stays in place though, and anything refreshing it (including Chill on Rimefire Smolder) will cause it to do the damage again. Note that Rimefire Smolder can’t be refreshed more often than every second (this was a nerf applied in Mod17).
Every class can have two class features active at any time, these powers are passive.
- Evocation – This will increase the damage of all your AOE powers by 5%. It’s an okay option for AOE heavy loadouts.
- Arcane Presence – This causes your Cold, Fire, and Lightning damage to be increased by Arcane Mastery stacks, and gives you 5% recharge speed. It’s a decent boost to Ray of Frost if using it as your main at will, but can’t beat Chilling Presence, and both paragons will use a paragon feature for the second slot.
- Chilling Presence – Causes all targets affected by Chill to take 1% increased damage per stack (6% max) and double on frozen targets (12%). Very strong feature for both paragons if using Ray of Frost, which applies tons of Chill and Freeze.
- Orb of Imposition – Increases control duration by 20%. This feat falls a bit flat versus so many better options.
- Eye of the Storm – On casting an encounter or daily power, you gain 10,000 critical strike for 5 seconds, with a 20 second cooldown. As crit is very easy to cap, it’s pretty worthless.
- Storm Spell – Every time you critical, there is a 30% chance you will deliver a 100 magnitude hit (that will crit). So it’s basically a 15% chance to do a critical 100 magnitude hit–extremely good feature.
- Storm Fury – When struck you inflict a 50 magnitude hit on the attacker, with a 3 second cooldown. It’s not that this is a bad effect, but as a wizard you should not be getting hit enough for this to be good.
- Arcane Power Field – After activating a Daily (which should be Arcane Empowerment) your damage bonus from Arcane Mastery is doubled for 8 seconds, and you inflict a 50 magnitude hit to all enemies within 30′ every 2 seconds. If you aren’t using Ray of Frost as your primary at-will on Arcanist, this is better than Arcane Presence.
- Critical Conflagration – Critical severity increased by 10%. Whenever you crit you apply Smolder to the target. Combined with the feat Directed Flames this is a staple of Thaumaturge damage. On chilled targets this will apply Rimefire Smolder.
- Swath of Destruction – Smolder damage is increased by 5%, and targets affected by Smolder take 2% increased damage. Sounds good, but that’s only 4 extra magnitude, 3 extra magnitude with Directed Flames, and Chilling Presence will apply about 6% increased damage on average.
- Combustive Action – When a target affected by Smolder is killed by another power, regain 1% of your Action Points, with a 1 second cooldown. It’s not a bad power, but doesn’t compare to the damage increasing options you have.
- Frost Wave – On Daily use, apply 3 stacks of Chill (capable of Freezing) in a 30′ radius around you, and refresh the Freeze on already frozen targets. While this is a very good power, starting with Mod 16 using dailies more than once per minute or so is very rare, so it doesn’t apply often enough to give up a stronger feature for it.
- Alacrity vs Spell Twisting – Alacrity causes your encounter powers to cool down 2 seconds when you use a Daily power. Spell Twisting grants you a stack of the same name when you use an encounter power (up to 4 max). When you use an at-will power one stack is consumed, giving you 1% of your Action Points. Using a daily more than once per minute is rare, and you will constantly use your at-wills between encounters. Spell Twisting is the clear pick for me.
- Assailing Force vs Snap Freeze – Assailing Force causes your encounter powers to have a 10% chance of granting this buff. The next encounter power used will do double damage, consuming the buff. Shard of the Endless Avalanche will only do double damage on the explosion. Snap Freeze will cause the application of a Chill stack to inflict a 40 magnitude hit. If the hit that applies the Chill crits, so does the Snap Freeze. Both of these feats are solid picks. If you are going with Magic Missile as your primary at-will, then Assailing Force is the way to go; if you prefer to use Ray of Frost as your primary, then Snap Freeze will be better for you.
- Chaos Magic vs Iced Lightning – Chaos Magic gives your encounter powers are 10% chance to grant one of three effects: +100% at-will damage, +100% recharge speed, or 20% AP returned, all over 5 seconds. Iced Lightning causes the powers Storm Pillar, Lightning Bolt, Storm Spell, and Storm Fury to inflict 10% increased damage on targets with Chill. Chaos Magic is a good boost no matter which ability you gain, while Storm Spell is the only power you will reliably be using on a Chill target, and even then it’s only adding 10 magnitude. Chaos Magic is my pick on this one.
- Nightmare Wizardry vs Striking Advantage – Nightmare Wizardry causes critical strikes to have a 10% chance to grant combat advantage for 10 seconds. Striking Advantage causes combat advantage damage to have a 20% chance of dealing 80 magnitude lightning to your target. This is a matter of Striking Advantage looking better on paper, but in practice a ranged DPS is often at the mercy of others for getting CA, and thus Nightmare Wizardry ends up majorly increasing CA uptime.
- A Step Above Mastery vs Elemental Reinforcement – A Step Above Mastery allows Arcane Mastery to stack 10 times (instead of 5) and grant 1.5% damage per stack (instead of 0.5%), plus the stacks last 10 seconds (instead of 8). Elemental Reinforcement causes Arcane, Cold, or Lightning powers to grant 5% damage for 10 seconds. If you don’t cast the same damage type in a row, the bonus is doubled to 10%. The ideal powers for a single target rotation are all Arcane though. Plus, with A Step Above Mastery gives you 15% increased arcane damage at 10 stacks, making it my preferred feat.
- Relative Haste vs Smoldering Recovery – Relative Haste speeds up the cooldown of your powers by 1% per Chill applied to all targets, max of 10%. Smoldering Recovery causes Smolder damage to return 0.25% of your Action Points. Even with a hefty amount of Smolder happening (remember Rimefire Smolder is limited to 1/second now), the AP gain isn’t massive from Smoldering Recovery. However you will constantly be applying Chill to everything, and benefit from all your powers 10% recharge boost with Relative Haste, which is my preferred. Either of these feats are decent though.
- Glowing Flames vs Icy Veins – Glowing Flames causes Smolder procs to radiate 20% of their damage to enemies within 15′ of the target. Icy Veins causes encounter powers to apply a stack of Chill to all foes within 15′. With a multitude of ways to apply Chill to targets, and Rimefire Smolder restricted to 1/seconds, I find Glowing Flames to be much more desirable in an AOE environment, where a huge feedback loop of Glowing Flames bounces among all the Smoldering targets.
- Frigid Winds vs Shatter Strike – Frigid Winds causes you to do 1% more damage per stack of Chill on your target. Shatter Strike gives you a 20% chance to stun frozen targets for 5 seconds and deal 250 magnitude every time you damage them. Plus, all of your control powers gain 100 magnitude on control immune targets (bosses). Frigid Winds is nice, though it does not affect Smolder/Rimefire/Glowing Flames damage. It’s not quite as good as Chilling Presence, but decent. However Shatter Strike is very powerful on control immune targets, greatly boosting the single target output of a Thaumaturge, making it my pick. However both of these feats are solid choices.
- Chilling Advantage vs Critical Burn – Chilling Advantage grants you 4% Critical Severity for each stack of chill on the target (24% max). Critical Burn gives you a flat 10% Critical Severity plus 25% more critical damage from Smolder. Chilling Advantage will be great for boss fights, where the Chill has time to stack up. With targets that die quickly like trash, Critical Burn is my pick for being better in burst-damage fights like trash clearing. Both are solid feats though.
- Directed Flames vs Rimefire Weaving – Directed Flames changes Smolder from a DOT to do 60 magnitude damage instantly when applied (as well as whenever it is refreshed). Rimefire Weaving causes cold powers to grant 10% extra damage to the next fire power, and vice versa. Rimefire Weaving is a nice feat, but I find myself running 3 cold encounters and 1 fire, so alternating requires Scorching Burst. On the other hand Directed Flames is the core of my Thaumaturge strategy, making Smolder procs a significant portion of my damage when applied by critical hits and chill.
These are passive skills for all wizards.
- Arcana – This is the wizard gathering skill. You don’t need kits to loot Arcana nodes.
- Brisk Transport – After using Teleport, your movement rate is increased 10% for 2 seconds.
- Improved Technique – All of your control effects are improved by 5%.
- Controlled Momentum – After using any control power, all allies within 30′ receive a 2% damage increase for 6 seconds.
Boons accomplish a couple of things for your paladin. First (and most obvious), they give you increases to your stats. Second, they increase your item level, 25 points at a time. Lastly, at the Master Tier, they give you access to some pretty strong bonuses. So how do you earn boons? Two ways:
So the primary way you earn boons is by completing campaigns from previous modules. There are a lot of them, and one can quickly get overwhelmed with the idea of doing all of them. The first thing to do is relax–you don’t have to do them all at once. My advice is to just pick a campaign, and do the quests for it. If you have more play time, do another one. If you get bored, stop and run a dungeon or hang out with guildmates. Some of the campaigns (Maze Engine, Sharandar, Dread Ring) are very small time commitments each day, while other campaigns (Tyranny of Dragons, Storm King’s Thunder) are massive, long treks that require significant amounts of time daily that drain your soul, and finally the latest campaigns (Chult, Ravenloft, etc) are progressed with weekly quests instead of dailies.
My advice is to just work on them when you feel like it. If you really don’t feel like it, you have another option: campaign buyout tokens. You can find these both in the ZEN store and in the Auction House. If you are earning 100K AD a day from doing dungeons and other stuff, you can buyout most of the early campaigns within a week. Even the newer campaign buyouts can be earned within 2 weeks. Getting to 60 total boons is a big deal though, as that’s both 1500 item level, as well as unlocks all 3 of your Master Boons.
So what boons should you take? Remember that I value Defense, Armor Penetration, Critical Strike, and Combat Advantage heavily; they are your priority to cap. The other stats I see value in, but don’t believe you should go out of your way to cap them; your companion and bondings will mostly take care of them. Because of that, I don’t like taking those stats in boons, either. My focus is on Power > Other Stuff > Hit Points.
In the first four tiers there is a 5-point boon that grants 1250 Power at 5/5. You should take all of these as your priority. Also in the first four tiers, there is a 5-point point that grants 5% increased damage & damage resistance to a specific enemy type at 5/5; I also like taking these. Finally, in each tier there is a special effect, for Gold Gain, Movement Speed, Companion Influence, or Control Resist. I like to take all of these as well. Grand total that’s 60 points of boons. If you like a different set of Boons in Tier 1-4, go for it. I think these are the best bang for your buck, but they aren’t super critical.
Tier 5 is important though. You can put 4 points in two boons (8 total) at this tier. For both paragons I prefer to choose Critical Severity, and Recharge Speed. Critical Severity and Recharge Speed are both rare stats to pick up, so they are great to get here. The AP gain boon isn’t a terrible pickup, either if you prefer.
At Master Tier you get 3 more points to spend, 1 for every 20 boons you have spent. For both paragons I like Deathly Rage, it’s a significant damage bump, particularly on a character that tends to do lots of rapid hits instead of one big hit.
The second set of boons you receive is from joining a guild. The Stronghold gives you access to three boons, Offense, Defense, and Miscellaneous, and which ones you can select depends on the structures in your guild. You can get quite a few extra stat points from these. I’m not going to get into how to build the structures and maintain them, that’s well beyond this guide–we’re just going to look at which boons to take:
- Offense – Power. As always, Power = Damage. Get more power.
- Defense – Hit Points. Again, Hit Points don’t cap, and make you live longer. Get Hit Points.
- Miscellaneous – Mount Speed. Really take what you like here, but Mount Speed is the most useful.
That’s everything I have to offer on your boons; they are quite worth getting, whether you do that by grinding the campaigns out, buying them in the auction house with AD, or just breaking out the wallet and buying some campaign completions using ZEN.
Companions changed a lot in Mod 16, so I’ll start with the basics in case the reader is new to the game or at least new to this mod.
How do they work?
Your companion tab has a couple different sections. First, you have your summoned companion. This is the companion that will follow you around and battle your enemies beside you. They can level up to 40 when legendary, and they higher level they are, the higher their stats. When your companions hit their max level (35 at epic for example) you can use Companion Upgrade Tokens (from Lockboxes or ZEN Store) or Astral Diamonds to upgrade them to the next color. (White > Green > Blue > Purple > Orange) You can have lots of companions. The base stats of your companion are determined by their level, the amount of Bolster they have, and your Companion Influence. I just introduced two new terms there, so let me explain them.
Bolster is a percentage multiplied by the base stats of your summoned companion, that is determined by the five best quality pets you have in that category (Fighters, Creatures, Invokers, Mystical, Beasts). For example, I have a Bullete Pup on my wizard, which is a Creature companion. My best five companions in that category are 1 legendary, and 4 epic. You get 3% bolster for a legendary, and 2.5% for epic, so that’s 13% bolster to any Mystical companion I summon. Companion Influence is gained from various sources, including Charisma, Dark enchantments, Insignias, and Boons. It also boosts the base stats of your summoned companion, regardless of category.
The downside of these two stats is that they boost the base stats of the companion, not their stats after you include their gear and runestones, so the end result is these two stats have a much smaller impact on your companion than you might hope. Let’s move on to the gear.
On the right side of the Companion window, you have 3 slots for Bonding Runestones, and 3 slots for Companion Gear. The Bonding Runestones each transfer a portion of your pet’s stats to your character. The Companion Gear slots can only equip gear specifically for companions; you will get a Pearl Ring of the Companion, Choke Chain of the Companion, and Plated Belt of the Companion during the Undermountain campaign–these are the best gear you can get for them right now. Each piece of companion gear has 1-2 slots that you can put runestones, which work like enchantments for companion gear. With Mod 17 there has been new companion gear introduced which you can opt for to improve your stats even further.
The catch here is that your Bonding Runestones transfer the stats of your companion including the gear and runestones. At max rank, 3 rank 15 Bonding Runestones will transfer 210% of your pet’s stats to your character. Additionally, if you use an “augment” companion, rather than fight beside you they have a bonus of 1000 stat points to three of their stats, and transfer 100% of their stats to you. That means that you get 310% of your augments stats transferred to you, and an extra 3100 in three stats, depending on the companion you use.
For this reason, augment pets are the optimal companion for reaching your stat caps. As far as which companion you should use? You want an epic augment at least, and getting it to Legendary (1 million AD to upgrade) should be a priority. This also is why getting up to rank 15 Bonding Runestones is also critical. Plus, because Bonding Runestones don’t cost gold to take out of their socket, you can freely swap them between your characters, making them an incredibly good investment.
The last section of the Companion tab is the enhancement section. Along the bottom you have 6 slots; the top left is your companion power. Each companion you own has a different power that you can slot here. My preferred one is either Power, or Critical Severity if you have a companion that offers it. The remaining slots are for enhancement powers, which again are offered by each companion. It’s important to note if a companions enhancement can be put into Offense, Defense, or Utility slots, which vary by class. A wizard has 3 Offense, 1 Defense, and 1 Utility slot.
There are hundreds of pets and different options for these enhancement powers, and each player will have ones they prefer. With both paragons I aim for all the Power & Combat Advantage I can manage. In my defense slot I use Laughing Skull (4K power), in my offense I use Tamed Velociraptor (10K power), Deepcrow Hatchling (8K power), and Staldorf (8K advantage), and in my utility I use Barbarian Shaman (4k power/2k advantage).
You might want to focus on other stats, maybe to reach caps. This is really a personal customization here. I will acknowledge that a huge source of Combat Advantage is from these enhancement slots–you can pick up 24K Combat Advantage with the right enhancement companions, but in Mod 17 when you unlock the trial you can pick up a piece of companion gear with 12K advantage on it, which is then tripled by your bondings!
Ah… mounts. There are tons of mounts in the game, and we love them for getting us from point A to point B quickly. They also offer us another avenue to increase out stats however! This is done with Insignia Slots. You can have up to five mounts in your “Stable”, and each one will have up to 3 insignia slots (rare and better have 3 slots, while white/green have 2). Your first goal with mounts should be to get 5 mounts that are rare or better, unlocking 15 insignia slots.
The combination of insignia types you use will unlock various Insignia powers, but none of them are going to be earth shattering changes to your character. I like Gladiator’s Guile (movement speed when stamina full) and Wanderer’s Fortune (refinement stones drop from kills) a lot, as well as anything the heals when I kill, crit, deflect, get controlled etc. If you use the same insignia power twice, the second one will be half effect, the third will be a quarter (the max you can have). What’s more important is that you have 15 insignias. Green insignias are better than nothing (and very cheap) while Rare ones are the best bang for your astral diamonds.
You can get most stat combinations on insignias, you just need to look through them. My preferred insignia is of course Dominance, which has Power as the primary boost. Some insignia types don’t have Dominance available, and I use Brutality with them. Free free to tweak your insignias to fit your stat needs, though ultimately most people are going to end up with Dominance/Brutality in the end as they hit their stat caps.
You also get access to an Equip Power gained from your available mounts (I use +5000 power from Guard Drake) as well as a combat power if you have a legendary mount (which I do not).
As I said in the beginning, my goal was to explain how all of the abilities of a wizard work, in both paragons, so you can make an informed decision as to how you will run your own character. At the same time, I’d like to give a summary of what I run myself, now that I’ve explained all of these powers and mechanics.
When I’m on my wizard, instead of swapping powers back and forth I tend to swap between loadouts instead; I use Thaumaturge for trash clearing and soloing (where AOE is most useful) and I switch to Arcanist for boss fights. However listed below I will include what I would change my powers to for boss fights in each paragon path:
A quick side-note about Arcanist, and whether you should use Magic Missile, or Ray of Frost for your single-target at-will. Both of them do the same ballpark of final damage output, but get there in different ways. Let’s break down how they work:
Ray of Frost
Ray of Frost with Snap Freeze is delivering 160 magnitude per second to the target and applies Chill which boosts all of your damage through Chilling Presence on that target. A large portion of your damage comes from your at-will, meaning a steadier damage output while your encounters are on cooldown, and your encounters get a fluctuating boost from Chilling Presence.
Magic Missile with Assailing Force is delivering 100 magnitude per second to the target and builds arcane stacks which will reach your max faster. When Assailing Force procs you do double damage with the next encounter, and your daily is boosted through Arcane Power Field. While your at-will damage output is weaker, your encounters and daily are more powerful with procs.
Like I said earlier, they do roughly the same damage output. The primary difference in which one wins on any given parsing sample boils down to one factor–which one procced Nightmare Wizardry the most? So this is a random chance that we don’t have a lot of control over, but you can try to maximize the number of crits/second you can deliver. Ray of Frost can crit up to 16 times over 4 seconds, for an average of 2 crits/second. Magic Missile can crit up to 20 times in the same 4 seconds, for an average of 2.5 crits/second.
So Magic Missile is slightly more likely to have a higher uptime on Nightmare Wizardry than Ray of Frost. Ray of Frost delivers more damage when encounters are on cooldown. I currently use Magic Missile, but I swap between these two at-wills pretty regularly. Which one you choose will be a personal choice; neither is wrong.
Dailies: Arcane Empowerment, Arcane Singularity
Features: Arcane Power Field (MM) OR Chilling Presence (RoF), Storm Spell
Feats: Spell Twisting, Assailing Force (MM) OR Snap Freeze (RoF), Chaos Magic, Nightmare Wizardry, A Step Above Mastery
|Trash Clear||Magic Missile/Ray of Frost, Storm Pillar||Steal Time [M], Lightning Bolt, Icy Terrain, Shard of the Endless Avalanche|
|Boss Fight||Magic Missile/Ray of Frost, Storm Pillar||Ray of Enfeeblement [M], Disintegrate, Repel, Entangling Force|
- Trash Clear: I avoid using Arcanist for AOE at all costs; but after Bore Worm, there is a large 3-wave AOE fight that you’ll be in Arcanist for unless you double back to a campfire, which I never do. Even then I usually just use the single target loadout and lean heavily on Storm Pillar. But if you are going to do AOE, Steal Time on Mastery is good for applying lots of control on the packs, then toss in your other three AOEs just to help kill them.
- Boss Fight: This is where Arcanist shines. Rotation is simple–Magic Missile/Ray of Frost except when you’re casting encounters. Priority for the powers is left to right, but don’t wait on a power if it’s not up in time. Ray of Enfeeblement [M] will boost Magic Missile/Ray of Frost just as well as an encounter power. When it’s time to use your daily, pop your Artifact (I use Wyvern), then your daily, and continue the left to right priority, except Ray of Enfeeblement is lowest priority as long as you cast it within the last 10 seconds. You want to land as many encounters in a row before the daily expires.
Dailies: Ice Knife, Furious Immolation
Features: Chilling Presence, Critical Conflagration
Feats: Relative Haste, Glowing Flames, Shatter Strike, Critical Burn, Directed Flames
|Trash Clear||Ray of Frost, Scorching Burst||Chill Strike [M], Fireball, Icy Terrain, Conduit of Ice|
|Boss Fight||Ray of Frost, Scorching Burst||Ray of Enfeeblement [M], Repel, Entangling Force, Conduit of Ice|
- Trash Clear: This is what I feel like Thaumaturge was born to do. Depending on how far I am from the pack when damage starts I lead with one of the cold powers to apply Chill, then toss in Fireball to get a nice Rimefire Smolder hit. After that I dump my remaining AOE and use Scorching Burst if anything is still alive, or Ray of Frost if down to one target. At certain points in LOMM there are some nice ledges to push golems and dinosaurs off of, so I’ll swap in Repel on Mastery in those spots. Sometimes I just leave Repel [M] loaded to annoy my guildmates, but we’re good friends so don’t do that if you want people to like you.
- Boss Fight: Thaumaturge is capable of decent single target damage, much more so than Arcanist is capable of AOE damage. Ray of Enfeeblement [M] has priority, and should be ready right before each Entangling Force and Conduit of Ice, and every other Repel. Just cycle through them while keeping Ray of Frost pouring into the target, and toss in Ice Knife to taste.
So here’s what many of you came for–what gear am I running? This fluctuates plenty, so this is just the most current list I’ve updated:
- Head: Protege’s Charmed Hat (Tactical)
- Armor: Ebony Stained Robes (Radiant / Barkskin)
- Arms: Protege’s Charmed Gloves (Tactical)
- Main Hand: Alabaster Orb (Radiant / Lightning / Radiant) – Magic Missile
- Talisman: Alabaster Talisman (Radiant / Radiant) – Critical Severity / Power
- Feet: Mage of the Maze’s Gaiters (Tactical)
- Neck: Wyvern’s Eye Necklace (Tactical / Radiant)
- Right Ring: Ebonized Raid Ring (Radiant / Radiant)
- Left Ring: Ebonized Raid Ring (Radiant / Radiant)
- Waist: Wyvern-Skin Belt (Tactical / Radiant)
- Shirt: Shirt of the Sharp-shooter (Radiant)
- Trousers: Pants of the Sentinel (Radiant)
- Primary Artifact: Wyvern-Venom Coated Knives
- Secondary Artifacts: Trobriand’s Ring, Staff of Flowers, Arcturia’s Music Box
- Summoned: Bulette Pup
- Silver Icon of the Companion (Empowered / Empowered)
- Silver Talisman of the Companion (Empowered / Empowered)
- Prestine Belt of the Companion (Empowered / Profane)
- Enhancement: Potency
- Powers: Minstrel, Deepcrow Hatchling, Staldorf, Tamed Velociraptor, Barbarian Shaman
- Insignia Powers: Gladiator’s Guile, Wanderer’s Fortune, Barbarian’s Revelry, Oppressive Reprieve, Survivor’s Blessing
- Insignias: Dominance, Fortitude (Enlightened), Brutality (Crescent)
When leveling or soloing, I stick with Thaumaturge; it’s got great AOE damage, which is the majority of what soloing is about, and when needed can swap in single target powers for a nasty boss mob. Nothing complex about the rotation; I lead off with Icy Terrain or Conduit of Ice depending on the range, and then dump encounter powers. If there are multiple targets left and my AOEs are cooling down then I use Scorching Burst, otherwise it’s Ray of Frost till everything dies or an encounter power comes up.
- Janne’s Neverwinter Info & Guides – Janne’s site covers everything you could want to know about game mechanics, has many useful guides, and some great calculators and a character builder!
- Rainer’s Neverwinter Pocket Wiki – This is a direct link Rainer’s Mod16 Pocket Wiki which has a list of just about everything in the game. I use it a lot so search for specific companions for enhancement slots!
- Rainer’s Offline Character Planner – Rainer does tons of testing for all things Neverwinter, and has a great YouTube channel worth subscribing to. This link is to his offline Character Builder, which is free, updated regularly, and a great way to tinker with character build options.
- Sharpedge’s Wizard Mechanics Guide – Sharpedge did amazing work in determining the ins and outs of all things wizard, including gear options much more detail into the powers than I’ve gone into here. It’s an invaluable resource for any wizard and I treat it as my almanac when thinking about how I prefer to play my wizard.