Preface: What’s this about?
All right, I keep getting quite a few PMs about my wizard and how I built him. It is also a question that comes up fairly often on the forum and many players look for ideas how to build their very own wizard. So, let’s put on our robes and the wizard hat and look a little at the class.
I’d like to preface this by saying that what I write and discuss here reflects only my own experience and what does and doesn’t work for me. At least so far! This doesn’t mean that it will work for you too, or that it is the best approach, or that it represents the pinnacle of theorycrafting. In fact, there is little theorycrafting in here. The game is new and without a test server or a training hall, it is a little tricky to really test out builds.
I do invite readers and other Control Wizards to chip in their input and thoughts! Nothing you will read in this message should be considered gospel.
Okay, now that the robe is on and the wizard hat too, and you are still reading, let’s start!
The Race: What should I be?
In other DnD-based video games, picking the right race for your class was fairly important. It is not meaningless in Neverwinter, either, but it is much less crucial. This means that you can really pick any class that appeals to you, and you will be fine! There are some races that are better on the paper (but the actual impact on your performance is not significant), so let’s look at them.
Tiefling: In my opinion, this is the best race for a wizard. Even without the awesome tail, it comes with +2 to Charisma (CHA) and +2 to Intelligence (INT). You could trade the latter for +2 CON, but — don’t be crazy! INT is the main stat for Control Wizards as it increases your damage and the recharge rate of your spells. The two secondary stats are CHA and WIS, and for a Renegade Control Wizard, CHA is extremely sexy.
It’s almost sexier than INT (and there are people who will say you should focus even more on it than I suggest), because it gives you 1% for every point in CHA over 10. As a Renegade Wizard you like crits. You would, in fact, trade your wizard hat for an extra bag of crits! You also get a racial that increases your damage by 5% if a mob’s health is below 50%, so, 2.5% extra damage. You do a LOT of damage all over the place, so why not do some more?
Human: Most common race in DnD’s world, and also the most common race in the game! Humans are, plainly put, always good and never wrong. You don’t get any special racials and you don’t have a tail, but you do get three extra feats (23 instead of 20) and you can put +2 in an attribute of your choice. Whether the three extra feats make up for both the +2 CHA and the Tiefling’s racial is something that isn’t entirely decided yet, but personally, I don’t necessarily believe so. My CW is human, but in retrospect I think I should have chosen the Tiefling. The extra +2 go to INT.
Other solid choices: Drow for the +2 CHA and the constantly triggering Darkfire. Wood Elf for the +2 INT and the 1% critical chance, and the racial’s to have resist against slowing effects is really neat for PvP. All other races offer little to our wizzy needs, but as I mentioned above, it really is not as important as it may seem. If you want to be a Halfing mage, a Half Orc with a brain and spells, please go for it! It’s a game! Have fun!
The Stats: Should I be bright or charming?
When you create your character, you roll virtual dice for your stats. It’s a bit of an illusion, though, because there are only 12 distinctively different sets of results that you can get (we call them “arrays”), so you will never have to re-roll more than a few times to get what you want. You can see the arrays here.
The Control Wizard’s main stats are INT, CHA and WIS. For a Renegade Control Wizard, we care about damage and we dig critical hit chance, so INT and CHA will be our focus. Very important is that CHA also increases your Combat Advantage damage, 1% per point, and not only will you nearly always have Combat Advantage in groups, the Renegade feats synergize with it. I’ll cover this later. Wisdom (WIS) is not useless, far from it. It increases the duration of your crowd control effects, increases the rate at which you gain Action Points (which means more dailies more often), and recharges your spells faster. That is neat!
So, then, which starting attributes should you choose? I’ll propose two alternatives and you will have to choose. “OH NO I HATEZS CHOICES!”. I know, sorry! But you are a wizard, you have high INT, put it to good use!
18/13/13 (INT, CHA, WIS) is an obvious choice, and a solid one. As a Tiefling you would start with 20/15/13 and then use your level up attribute points for CHA and WIS, for an end result at level 60 of 20/21/19 (20/19/19 for humans). It is balanced and doesn’t lock you too much into a specific path and keeps your options open. For the minor stats, put the 8 into STR or DEX, depending on wether you want 1% AoE damage resist or 1% DOT damage resist at level 60. I put the 8 in STR. And this is the array I chose for my wizard.
16/16/12 (INT, CHA, WIS) is what I would probably go with now if I remade the character. A Tiefling would start with 18/18/12, a Human with 18/16/12, and level-up points would again go to CHA and WIS. At level 60, this will give you 20/24/18, a human would have 20/22/18. This is still pretty balanced and if you decide you want to respect your wizard, you are pretty flexible (you cannot change the starting attributes when you respect, only the points you spent after you created your wizard). I believe this is the overall better choice, especially if you are a Tiefling, especially for a Renegade build. If you are unsure if Renegade is what you want and you want to play it extremely safe, then pick the first option, because INT will work no matter what.
Food for thought: It is a choice you have to make whether you put the level up attribute points that you get at levels 10, 20, 40 and 50 into INT/CHA (more damage) or WIS/CHA (more balanced, better crowd control, increased AP gain). Currently, I favor INT/CHA.
Note that if you were to want to focus more on CC, things might be different and you would want more WIS. But this is not what this guide is about, so I focus on what I feel works well for a Renegade wizard. As mentioned before, don’t get too OCD over the starting stats. It’s really not going to gimp your character. Promise!
The Power Feats: More to the Point
Between level 10 and 30 you receive a total of 20 Feats. If you are a Human, you are featyful and get 23! Below is an image that shows how I spent the base 20 points at level 60 (ignore the Paragon points on the right side — we’ll get to those soon!):
The feats were chosen with damage, critical hits (and their effects) and general usefulness in mind. Let’s quickly look them over, starting with the top row (green are feats you put points into, red ones are feats I did not take):
Controlling Action (0/5): More Action Points when damaging controlled targets. Until we know what exactly counts as controlled, there are better choices.
Fight On (5/5): Shorter cooldowns on your Encounter skills means more damage means happy wizard!
Blighting Power (0/5): Pretty meh, we skip this, since we are not building a frost/cold-based wizard. We build a critically flashy wizard!
Learned Spellcaster (0/5): Sounds good, but I feel that the return for 5 points is on the weak side (this is not 5% more damage).
Weapon Mastery (3/3): Moar Critz! It’s what you want. You love crits and you would fondle them if they were fondable. Get this!
Battlewise (0/3): You don’t care about less threat at this point in time, the Cleric will hog it all anyway!
Lightning Teleport (0/5): Stamina gain when you kill something. Not relevant in PvE, and I think too little to matter in PvP.
Prestidigitation (1/3): I had to look at this word several times before I got it right! It’s good, and this is where as a human you might consider 3/3).
Toughness (2/3): We need 5 points in this colum and this is arguably better than Controlling Action. A case could be made that 2/5 Controlling Action is better than this and may in the future turn out to be proven.
Wizard’s Wrath (3/3): Awesome feat, all your AoE attacks do more damage! It’s a no-brainer, you are an AoE damage dealer!
Arcane Enhancement (3/3): Increase your arcane damage and thus makes your Magic Misile longer and bigger and more powerful! MM is the main source of your damage, and this buffs it.
Focused Wizardry (3/3): Even more AoE damage! Woohoo! From 1-59, you should really be #1 in dungeons most of the time.
At level 30 you get to chose your path. At this tine, you get the choice between being Spellstorm Mage, a Spellstorm Mage, or a Spelstorm Mage. My suggestion is that you go for Spellstorm Mage. Instead of normal feat points, you will now get Paragon Feats. You’ll get 30 of those. Refer to the screenshot above to see where I put mine. Start with the Renegade points and work your way up.
Let’s look at the Renegade ones first:
Critical Power (0/5): APs for crits. This is good, but we can do better with our points.
Nightmare Wizardry (5/5): You don’t need a lockbox key for this. You gain Combat Advantage when you crit, and CHA, which we love, boosts your Combat Advantage damage. Now you can see how the synergies fall into place!
Phantasmal Destruction (5/5): Higher crit damage when you already do more damage when you have Combat Advantage? Yes, you want this!
Masterful Arcane Theft (5/5): More damage for Steal Time and Ray of Enfeeblement, both of which you will be using.
Reaper’s Touch (5/5): A ton more damage for Magic Missle when you are with 20ft of an enemy. Lovely in PvE and PvP.
Unrestrained Chaos (0/5): I don’t use Maelstrom of Chaos and found it disappointing, so not buffing it.
Energy Recovery (0/5): Chilling Cloud, really? You’ll have Ray of Frost on your RMB, and not even use it all that often. Skip!
Chilling Advantage (0/5): We are not focusing on cold spells enough for this to be relevant.
Tempest Magic (5/5): More damage when the target is below 30%. Awesome, we want that! (When we have the Renegade feats).
Malevolent Serge (5/5): You are an AoE damage dealer, you kill trash all the time, so why not do more damage as a reward?
That’s it, we are out of points!
We Gots Powers!
So, young Padawan, now that we have covered the feats and the stats, or the stats and the feats, if you like thinking in chronological order, let’s now look at the spells and passives, collectively called Powers!
I need to say something here first, however. You can have many more spells at their max rank than you will have in your active spell slots. Unlike in other games, you will need to change your setup of spells depending on what you do and where you are. Preference here matters as well. How to spend Power Points is a major source of fretting and worrying about making a mistake and then having to get a Respec Token. While many of us are perfectionists, there really is a lot of wiggle room here when it comes to Powers. A few points you may have preferred to put elsewhere will not break the game for you and will not completely gimp you.
I also do not believe that there is One True Way of spending Power Points, at least not for now. Little theorycrafting work has been done, spells are subject to balancing patches, and everyone is still busy learning and experimenting. Plus, people have different playing styles, different preferences. The following discussion of spells/powers is from the perspective of a Renegade Control Wizard. Other types may value spells differently (almost certainly). Plus, this is from my personal experience. I may change my mind on some of those spells as I dive more deeply into the Epic Dungeons and get further owned by others in PvP. So, again, there is no gospel here, just opinions — and you are very welcome to contribute your own!
The purpose is to provide guidance and ideas, not to give you a build that you just have to follow blindly. Don’t do this. This may not be the best, and it may not be the best for YOU.
Any more disclaimers and this will turn into a legal document. So, nibble on your wand (well, orb, we have no wands here!), we’ll dive in!
At Will Powers:
Magic Missile: Max this. It is your bread and butter spell and the major source of your damage. You will always have this on your left mouse button.
Ray of Frost: It is not anywhere as good as Magic Missile, but it is decent enough and you will likely always have this on your RMB. It gives you another way of crowd controlling targets, even if it takes a bit of time, and with its help you can keep a PvE target disabled for an entire fight. It is not flashy, but nevertheless solid. There’s nothing that strikes me as a better RMB At Will power. You can safely max this, but don’t have to.
Chilling Cloud: I really find it underwhelming. It may have its uses, if you build a different type of wizard, but I just found it unimpressive whenever I played with it. I didn’t put points here when I respecced most recently. RoF is a superior choice.
Storm Pillar: Some people like it, and I tried hard to like it too, but I didn’t find it useful. I’m not a fan of “hold the button and charge it up” type of abilities because channeling beams keeps me rooted long enough already, and I don’t need another ability that requires it. I put no points here.
You will swap these in and out depending on what you do, which is why they are called Encounter powers!
Chill Strike: I like this spell quite a bit and I slot it for Spell Mastery when I do PvE (both solo and group) and Foundry Quests. It does a LOT of damage and also freezes one target. I maxed this with three points.
Conduit of Ice: I like it for both group and solo PvE. I used it for a long while in PvP too (has an interesting psychological effect on people!). I maxed it.
Entangling Force: This is THE number one crowd control spell we have, and it’s great both in PvE and PvP. It’s almost a bit like being a Sith! I maxed this, and so should you.
Repel: This is a knockback. I maxed this, but I really only use it in PvP, and then not always. It is definitely a “matter of preference” kind of spell, so whether you invest into it is up to you. Don’t use it in dungeons, though, it’s really annoying for everyone and hurts your own dps, too.
Shield: Absorbs damage and you can “explode” it and knockback enemies around you. It also has a nice BLING sound when it recharges! I maxed this and used it extensively in the level 40-55 range when I felt very squishy. I use it in PvP, obviously, and frequently slot it into Arcane Mastery (however, Enfeebling Ray may be better in this slot, for PvP). It’s not needed in group PvE. I did max it and find it essential to have in the arsenal.
Icy Terrain: I maxed this and toyed around with it, and I feel it has potential at least in solo PvE and Foundry Quests. It synergizes (playstyle-wise) well with Steal Time. I don’t use it often and this needs more testing, but I maxed it. Points have to be put somewhere after all.
Sudden Storm: This is a popular spell that many people swear by. I find it a bit cumbersome to use, but it does offer high damage and is worth having. I maxed it, even though I rarely pull it out. I see many wizards using it, so it can’t be terrible.
Ray of Enfeeblement: Not being a fan of channeled spells, I was reluctant here, but the damage and the debuffing make this a premium choice for all aspects of the game, including PvP and bosses. You may not need it while you level, but you will want to have access to it. I maxed it out.
Icy Rays: More freezy stuff. I have no experience with this spell and have never used it. It may be great and I am in the dark, in which case someone will post and point out that I’m totally missing one of the best spells! I put zero points in it.
Steal Time: Now, THIS is an amazing spell! Everything about it is awesome. Yes, you have to be close to targets to use it, but especially when you level, mobs will be close to you anyway! In group PvE, you can teleport in, cast, teleport out. Yes, it has a short cast time, but it is very good. When you get it at level 45, it will really change your game (I found the levels right before 45 a bit slow). After Arcane Singularity, this is my second favorite spell in the game.
Shard of the Endless Avalanche: I haven’t played with it very much, but what I saw I found rather disappointing. I’m curious if other CWs out there have made positive experiences with this spell. I skipped it.
Ice Storm: This is the first Daily Power you get, and you get it automatically. I’m torn on this spell. I kept it at 1 point, but used it in my secondary slot when I leveled. It’s good for the knockback (don’t use it in dungeons, it is a dps loss for you as it scatters monsters all over the place) and the damage is very solid, as well. It is safe to max, but it is not necessarily what you will always want to use. It’s certainly a candidate for 3 points.
Arcane Singularity: Awesome in every way, PvE and PvP. In PvE, it bunches up monsters so you can do even more AoE, it does damage, it lowers the pressure on the tank (the cleric, really!), and it looks way cool, too! This daily has never left my “1” slot ever since I got it, and this absolutely deserves to get maxed out. A strategy I use is to use AS on groups, teleport close, and start casting Steal Time so that it finishes right when the mobs drop down. Then I follow up with a tabbed Chill Strike.
Oppressive Force: As mind-bogglingly good Arcane Singularity is, as disappointing I found Oppressive Force. I haven’t found a good use for it where other Daily Powers don’t perform better. Perhaps you will!
Ice Knife: While I feel that during leveling Ice Storm is a better choice, once you start doing epic dungeons, Ice Knife is an excellent pick for bosses and elite mobs. It is my secondary daily next to Arcane Singularity.
Maelstrom of Chaos: A level 50 Daily Power that at first left me rather unimpressed. I’m not regularly using but, but other folks swear by it. Points here are well spent.
Class Features (passives)
Orb of Imposition: The first passive you get, and it increases the duration of your CC. I maxed this and swap it in when I want better crowd control. It’s situational for my playstyle, but may become more essential with harder content.
Arcane Presence: Not terrible, but for our build not really that useful. I skipped this.
Chilling Presence: Same as above.
Evocation: 15% more AoE damage is massive. This is one of my top-three passives for my Control Wizard. Definite candidate for 3 points.
Storm Fury: Very meh, and not really worth the slot, in my opinion. If I am below 50%, I blink, have a CC ready, drink a potition or scream “MOMMY!”.
Storm Spell: 10% of your attacks will do extra shock damage. This is an excellent dps boost and depending where I am, I use either Evocation or this one.
Eye of the Storm: This is a must have! You get it late, but when you do get it, it should never leave your bar. It procs frequently (5% is more than it seems)
and 8 seconds (with 3 points) of nonstop critical hits with all spells is really, really good. This is a core part of the Renegade Control Wizard.
You will notice that even if you max every power/spell that I maxed, you will have spare points. Around six or eight. How you spend those is up to you to decide. You can also save them if you like and decide later.
For dungeons and group PvE, the Cat is by far the best companion. It gives you +255 Critical Chance and +225 Recovery at rank 25, but this is not what makes it so fantastic. You can give it a ring, a necklace and a belt, and the stats on these items are added to yours. That ring with +300 Power that you give the Cat? That is +300 Power for you. It’s basically like wearing three rings, two necklaces and two belts! (Not all stats transfer, +HP for example does not.) Stats from runes (two offensive, one defense) also transfer directly to you. If you use an Eldritch runestone in the defensive slot (“Owner gains x% of the pet’s stats”), the built-in bonuses to Critical Chance and Recovery that the Cat gives you are appropriately increased. This does notaffect the bonuses from the ring/necklace/belt that you give to the Cat.
This is the best 960k AD that you will spend on your Control Wizard. If you get it early, leveling it won’t be such a pain. It is a non-combat companion and cannot be killed. (Cryptic likes cats, unlike other companies — remember what always happened to Mr. Bigglesworth in that other game?)
While leveling, I used the Cleric. She doesn’t last very long at higher levels, but her heals are percentage-based, so she is still useful. I still used her at level 60 for doing Foundry Quests. Once my gear improved and I was able to nuke monsters more quickly, I switched to using the Phoera for its extra AoE damage (this would also be my second choice for dungeons, if you are not ready to buy the Cat yet). The nice thing about the Phoera when soloing is that it draws “aggro” and manages to off-tank monsters for a bit. It’s not a tank, but it allows you to free-cast for a bit. It’s fairly affordable in the AH at the time of writing (below 300k AD). I also like my wolf, but that is just because I had him since the very early levels.
Gear sets at level 60
FAQs and thoughts on stats and gear will eventually be put here, as well as general gameplay tips and suggestions. Please do read the comments from other players as there may be a lot of very useful information, especially alternative perspectives.