Playing a Wizard, seekers of arcane knowledge and spell casters with the potential for immense, raw power and versatility, can be tremendously fun in Dungeons & Dragons. Unsurprisingly, the Wizard class is best defined by the selection of spells placed into their spell book, which are chosen from a long, broad list so that it is difficult to find two identical Wizards in terms of their selections. Like all classes, there are also feats that can be taken, and some can make a big impact on how you play, and survive, a campaign.
For the unfamiliar, a feat can be taken in place of an ability score increase when a character reaches certain levels within their class. When exactly you decide to take a feat over an ability score increase will be up to you, but we will also include some suggestions at each point this will occur, which are levels 4, 8, 12, 16, and 19, as well as level 1 for Variant Humans. Finally, we assume your goal to be making it far into the game, to level 20 and beyond, and so we will be thinking of the best long-term choices.
This is by far on of the best feats in the game, speaking in general and not only for Wizards. It can be characterized by three main components:
- Warcaster grants advantage for saving throws for constitution when making a concentration check caused by damage,
- If your hands are full of weapons and shields, the movement is not required to cast a spell, and
- If a creature applies an attack of opportunity on you, a spell may be used against them instead of an attack.
The advantage provided for concentration check is so important here, because it an excellent way to provide assistance to your constitution. Often the fate of our party may fall upon our ability to maintain concentration, and due to the advantages provided by this feat, it is one that we recommend taking as soon as possible. This means level 4, or right away if playing a Variant Human.
Lucky may be even more important for Wizards, and actually works in conjunction with the first feat in assisting concentration feats, but not everyone likes this feat. As Warcaster already makes it far less likely for Wizards to fail their saving throws, Lucky assists further by providing advantage to those throws.
Now, Lucky does not last forever, but for the purposes of Warcaster we do not need it to. Lucky simply allows for another opportunity to make a saving throw if we fail the first time. Past that, we can also use Lucky to help deal with potential incoming critical hits made against us.
With this in mind, players need not take both Lucky and Warcaster, but instead can likely get away with one or the other depending on their playstyle and party.
The feat grants a total of +2 hit points per level, which can stack up over the course of your journey to level 20. As Wizards, we already suffer from some of the lowest, if not the lowest, hit points in the game. Being careful to avoid damage is not always possible, as an unforeseen trap, an ambush, or simply a focused DM might bring a lot of pain to our Wizard.
Toughness negates this over the long term by allowing us to catch up to our party, or if they too take the same feat, to not fall ridiculously far behind in terms of hit points. Remember, one cannot be an awe-inspiring great Wizard if they fall to the first paper cut they encounter.
Unlike some other classes, Wizards benefit greatly from preparing for everything. Applying defensive buffs and getting ready to battle are important, and if the party is ambushed, this is not possible. Alert as a feat provides +5 to Initiative and makes it so that they cannot be surprised, and instead can ensure their party is never ill-prepared for an encounter.
While this feat is important, the choice of taking it before raising your intelligence is a tough call. In some cases, simply knowing how a DM develops their story can be enough to decide. Some DMs simply love ambushing parties, and others do not, but the choice will always vary.
Feats That Might Take A Back Seat To Intelligence Increases
Every class has some feats that are largely circumstantial in their benefit and may not warrant being taken over an ability score increase. This is especially true because those feats listed above are useful in almost every situation, and we would want those soon, but at the same time, we also have the goal of hitting 20 intelligence by level 20. With that in mind, we would take the following only when the situation calls for it.
Resilient Constitution is a feat that we consider important, but not until the higher levels unless we have rolled an abysmal early constitution score. This feat assists on every constitution saving throw, meaning that it provides good value, but at the lower levels is not necessary if we have taken Warcaster.
Healer is a feat that can be helpful at low levels by assisting characters making death saving throws, and during rest periods, but there are other classes that do a much better job. If you are in a party where there is literally no one else or no other manner to provide healing, this is not a bad feat. Still, we are playing a Wizard, master of the arcane arts. Spending resources on a feat to apply band-aids means that our party has not made the best decisions in choosing classes and skills.
Wood Elf Magic is a great example of a feat that is largely circumstantial. First, one needs to play a Wood Elf as their Wizard, which few do and is not recommended for the class. However, if one does have this race and class combination, the benefits boil down to a free cantrip and spells, as well as the ability to cast one of them for free, once per day, effectively granting additional spell slots, in a manner of speaking. This is rarely seen as a feat, but again, one needs to first choose a sub-optimal race for their class, and few make this choice.
Elemental Adept is a feat that is overall going to make, for example, your fireballs do more damage, however, rarely will the little additional damage output be worth an entire feat. This allows resistances to the chosen element to be ignored, and for any rolls of a 1 to become a 2. As a result, the additional damage will hardly ever be what is needed to save the party from an untimely demise.
Apart from the feats listed above, there are of course numerous others that one can take, but they are the most circumstantial, and should mainly be considered if there are numerous situations in a campaign that call for them. Otherwise, what we have listed above should allow your Wizard to perform as they are expected, which is to cast spells, maintain concentration, and make constitution saving throws so as not to be a party liability.
Compared to other classes, Wizards often require careful resource management and thinking ahead to maximize their potential, and to avoid being left all but defenseless in a fight. We require rest to recharge our spells, and as such, we want to make each cast count for as much as it can. Taking the feats listed above will make you a valuable addition to the party, one that can be counted on in any encounter.
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