This week the D&D team is back with two Arcane Traditions for the Wizard.
Last week we got a 28 page long document about the Mystic. It was fun writing that analysis, but also quite tiring. Thankfully, this week’s Unearthed Arcana is only 2 pages long. Also, we have already seen one of the Traditions, Theurgy, in a previous Unearthed Arcana installment called The Faithful. The other one is War Magic. Let’s begin.
As I said, we have seen this one before. It’s a blend of divine and arcane. I liked this concept but it may be a bit difficult to successfully create such a combination.
- Divine Inspiration. You get to pick a Divine Domain. The ones suggested are Knowledge and Light because they thematically fit the Tradition. In the previous installment, the Arcana Domain from Sword Coast Adventurers’ Guide was also suggested. I believe it goes well with the Theurgist so I guess it was removed it because WotC wants to emphasize that just the Core books are more than enough to play. I agree with this statement and I’ve also mentioned before that even the Core books aren’t absolutelly necessary.
- Arcane Initiate. This one grants you access to the Spell List of the Domain you have chosen in the Divine Inspiration feature. You can replace one Wizard spell with a Cleric spell whenever you gain a level in Wizard, given that you meet the level requirement. Also, if you already know all of the spells from the Divine Domain’s list, you can pick any Cleric spell you want, as long as you meet the level requirement of course. This let’s you get healing spells at one point. Also, note that any Cleric spell you pick is considered a Wizard spell, which is the only addition to the feature from the last time it was presented. Moreover, they can’t be copied by any other Wizard. That’s an interesting detail that may or may not become relevant, but it could be a cool idea for the DM use.
- Channel Arcana. That’s pretty much the Cleric’s Channel Divinity feature, but without the ability to Turn Undead. Instead, you gain the Channel Divinity option from the Divine Domain you have chosen, along with Divine Arcana(see below for that). I believe that the Channel Divinity options in 5th Edition are very good. I believe the decision to not grant the Turn Undead option to Theurgy was made mostly with flavor reasons in mind, which I applaud. The number of Channel Arcana uses is the same as for the Cleric’s Channel Divinity.
- Channel Arcana : Divine Arcana. You can use your bonus action to add a +2 bonus to your next spell attack roll or saving throw DC. It’s pretty a straightforward feature that increases the chance of you next spell successfully hitting the target.
- Arcane Acolyte. At 6th level, you gain your chosen Domain’s 1st level benefits, except weapon and armor proficiencies. That’s pretty good, in my opinion. Actually, the Light Domain’s Warding Light is a good addition to the defensive strategies of the squishy Wizard.
- Arcane Priest. At level 10 you gain the Divine Domain’s feature that is granted at level 6. I can’t say much about that. The Cleric in 5th Edition is a beast. Gaining features by this class is good. The only thing that can be considered a downside is that we don’t see new features. This Tradition’s features are Cleric features or slightly modified ones.
- Arcane High Priest. At level 14 you gain the Divine Domain’s feature that is granted at level 17. This happens because the classes scale differently, with the Wizard getting their last Tradition feature at level 14 and the Cleric getting their last Divine Domain feature at level 17. Flavor wise, this happens because Wizards have a deeper understanding of magic than Clerics do. Going back to the Light Domain, Corona of Light is pretty good for the Wizard.
Overall, the Theurgy Arcane Tradition is fine. I don’t think there were any important changes since last time. I believe it is a fun option, but also one that may cause some problems, since it’s picking features from another class. You don’t know how it can break things until it has been play tested enough. Anyway, if you want a Wizard that heals then you can pick this one.
War Mages use Evocation and Abjuration to excel in battle. This is an option created based on the feedback on the Lore Master, from Unearthed Arcana: Warlock and Wizard. In fact, in my analysis article there were a few comments about a War Mage option by a reader.
- Arcane Deflection. When you are hit by an attack or fail a Constitution Saving Throw, you can use your reaction to add +2 to your AC or +4 to your Saving Throw roll. However, this costs you the ability to cast spells other than cantrips until the end of your next turn. So, instead of having a number of uses per short or long rest, this can be used as many times as needed but you can’t cast any spells apart from cantrips on your next turn. As I see it, it’s a bit weird. The Shield spell grants a far better bonus to your AC, can be used as a reaction as well, and it’s available from level 1. So the only reason to use Tactical Wit, when it comes to bonus to AC, is when you are out of spell slots, you don’t want to use one, or you don’t know the Shield spell. The +4 to the failed Constitution Saving Throw is a much better bonus. However, it’s still specific because it’s applied only to Constitution Saving Throws. I believe that Constitution was chosen here in order to help Wizards succeed their Saving Throw against breaking concentration. Also, this bonus is applied only for one attack or Saving Throw. It’s an okay feature that provides a defensive boost, but I think it could be slightly better.
- Tactical Wit. You get a bonus to your Initiative rolls equal to your Intelligence modifier. That’s not bad, since Intelligence is the Wizard’s primary ability score. I believe this feature was influenced a bit by the Lore Master’s Lore Master feature. That sounded a bit weird.
- Power Surge. This one boosts one spell that requires a Saving Throw by multiple targets, by increasing the damage dice by two. This means 10d6 damage by a Fireball spell cast with a 3rd level spell slot. Thankfully, there are some restrictions. The damage boost is applied only to damage done the turn the spell was cast, and you can use this feature only once per short or long rest. However, even with these restrictions, a well placed spell using this feature can end an encounter sooner than expected.
- Durable Magic. This feature gives some extra value to the concentration mechanic. When you concentrate on a spell you have a +2 bonus to your AC and all Saving Throws. It makes it harder for the enemies to break your concentration, by making you harder to hit and also increasing the chances of success on the Constitution Saving Throw. This combined with Arcane Deflection gives you a +6 bonus to a Constitution Saving Throw, which is actually quite a bonus.
- Deflecting Shroud. That’s an upgrade for Arcane Deflection. Now it also deals damage. When you activate Arcane Deflection, you can pick any number of creatures within 10 feet of you and deal force damage equal to half your level. So that’s 7 force damage per target, when you get this feature, up to 10 damage at level 20. I believe it is a good upgrade for Arcane Deflection. The damage may not seem a lot, but it is guaranteed damage that is also applied to multiple opponents. However, in order to fully utilize this feature, you must have a lot of enemies within 10 feet of you, which isn’t really a good thing for Wizards.
Overall, the War Magic Tradition is good, in my opinion. It provides a couple of defensive strategies along with some good offensive boosts. I also like its flavor, which I believe was missing from the 5th Edition Wizard. Arcane Deflection bothers me a bit but I think it’s a bit better than I’m making it appear to be.
This week’s Unearthed Arcana was a good one. I found it a bit weird returning to the Wizard so soon, especially when one of the two options was almost identical with its previous version, but I believe this was done because of the Lore Master feedback. Anyway, that’s all for now. You can read the full article here and download the PDF here. And don’t forget, the survey about the Mystic can be found here.
P.S: If you don’t already know, the Beta Phase 1 for D&D Beyond has begun. You can join by going here.