Wizards are the best class in Dungeons & Dragons if you want to control the powers of magic and shape the universe around you. But not all wizards are created equal. There are plenty of subclasses of wizards, both official and unofficial, but we’ll be ranking the eight schools of magic – Abjuration, Conjuration, Divination, Enchantment, Evocation, Illusion, Necromancy, and Transmutation – as well as the Bladesong and War Magic subclasses.
10 School of Transmutation
Most of this subclass’s abilities are just done better by other classes. The Shapechanger ability lets you transform worse than a Druid can. The Major Transformation ability has several effects that Clerics can do at lower levels, with the added benefit of destroying your Transmuter’s Stone for the day, the item that gives most of your subclass’s usefulness. Your lowest level ability, Minor Alchemy, temporarily transforms objects from one substance to another, which can be useful, but will mostly be used in crashing the local economy and annoying your DM.
9 School of Enchantment
You can use enchantment magic to beguile your enemies. In practice, this usually means dazing them, casting multiple enchantments at once, and making them not hit you in battle (they might hit your teammates instead, but they can deal with it. At level 14, you can even make your victims forget that they’ve ever been charmed. The main problem with this class is that wizards are not known for their charisma. Sure, you might get some cool powers, but if you want to be the people person of your party, why not play a bard?
8 School of Abjuration
A good school if you don’t like getting hit. At early levels, this functions similarly to some brands of fighter, letting you protect yourself and your teammates. Of course, fighters don’t get arcane powers at their fingertips, but they do tend to be better at tanking than wizards. At higher levels, you can increase your ability to counter important magical effects. There are some fun, goofy builds you can do with this school, but if you’re going for effectiveness you might want to move on.
7 School of War Magic
This subclass is very similar to the School of Abjuration, with less focus on protecting your teammates and more on dealing damage while not getting squished yourself. You get to take your turn early and deal damage before your enemies can react, then switch to defense before they hit back. Still, with good positioning and caution, you shouldn’t be tanking when you play a wizard, so that’s some defense that could be better spent vaporizing your enemies.
6 School of Divination
The School of Divination is great for players who want to play a good utility character. You can predict the future to guarantee future rolls that might pull you out of some tight spots if you’re lucky. The ability to regain spell slots when casting divination spells are great if you want to specialize in this type of magic and not worry about whether you should really waste that spell slot on casting True Seeing. Of course, with your third eye ability, you might not need to cast True Seeing as much. The subclass doesn’t offer much combat potential but is still a solid choice.
5 School of Conjuration
Do you want others to do your fighting for you? Conjuration might be the school for you. Your low-level abilities are mundanely useful: the ability to conjure small useful objects and a short teleportation trick. At higher levels, it is harder for your enemies to unsummon your creatures by breaking your concentration, and your summons themselves get tougher. It’s not a flashy subclass, but if you’re into that type of magic, it’s worth investing in.
4 School of Necromancy
This subclass is very similar to Conjuration. It lets you make minions to fight for you – in this case zombies and skeletons – and makes them stronger. What makes it a better minion-mancy than Conjuration is the fact that Animate Dead is not a concentration spell, leaving you free to summon an army of minions and deal powerful necrotic damage without missing a beat. Your other abilities give you an advantage when fighting undead, shielding you from their worst effects and even allowing you to turn them to your side. Just hope you don’t come across any clerics.
3 School of Illusion
This subclass gets bonus points for being incredibly fun to play. You’ll provide more utility than damage, but the utility is much more interesting than casting Identify every time your party discovers a new magic item. You get improved illusions at low levels, and at high levels you can even make your illusions real for a short time. Perfect for anyone with plenty of tricks up their sleeve.
2 School of Bladesong
There are plenty of subclasses that let you cast and swing a sword and cast spells. Arcane Trickster, Eldritch Knight, any sort of Paladin. Why choose any of those when you can become a Bladesinger and get way more spells? Most of your skills make you magically tougher, faster, and better with light weapons. Choosing this class depends on whether you like to play this type of martial/magic character, but if you do, this is a good choice for it.
1 School of Evocation
Be honest, this is why you wanted to become a wizard: throwing fireballs at people. This subclass lets you deal damage and then deal a lot more damage. You can even shape your area of effect spells so that they avoid damaging your allies – a useful ability for when they complain about how you keep setting off explosions in small rooms. After all, what’s the point of magical power if you can’t use it to vaporize your enemies?