Dungeons & Dragons Wizard Starting Tactics

Ready and rolled up for adventure, you are ready to enter the Dungeons & Dragons game with your new wizard.

What are a few starting game challenges for a wizard class?

Hit points, spell management, and damage output.

Hit points are the starting point for all wizards, arcane casters, and magic users in the game. At the mid to higher levels you get access to spells and abilities like mirror image, blur, stoneskin, etc. but at the early levels one hit can literally kill you.

As a mage you need to pay attention to positioning in combat. While the fighters and brawlers in the party will be engaging most encounters head on, and you will (should) be in the back of the party stack, wizards are vulnerable to missile weapons.

Stay aware of what looks safe, and what really is safe.

Spell management is next.

Lower lever spells and less of them at the lower levels.

If possible avoid direct damage dealing spells.

Area effect or control spells are more potent and have the ability to tactically effect more in the game during an encounter.

Hitting one orc with a single magic missile.


Charming that orc with charm person.


Sleeping a few orcs with a sleep spell.

Early one, damage spells that you do take can be augmented by throwing daggers and slings since you should be in the back or the party.

As you get some coin, purchasing some low level wands of magic missile, rays of frost, etc. will help expand your damage.

And finally, something to boost extra spell slots like a pearl of power.

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2 Replies to “Dungeons & Dragons Wizard Starting Tactics”

  1. Is there actually any need for throwing daggers and slings? 5th Edition offers Wizards access to a basic damage Cantrip for ranged attacks that will utilize their innate Int bonuses for Attack value.

    Otherwise definitely agree. If you do take Damage spells they should include secondary effects or be AOE. I think Thunderwave for example is a great 1st Level spell to have in the arsenal.

    Rituals have helped offload some of the Utility magics from taking up spell slots.

    1. Certainly it depends on the version of D&D…

      AD&D 1st edition magic-user. 1 spell of magic-missile for the entire 10+ level dungeon, can’t rest between encounters to re-memorize, as the wandering monster tables are brutal, so its down to daggers and slings.

      AD&D 2nd edition magic-user. Same as 1st edition, only you get a slight bonus for taking that weapons proficiency bonus in daggers, slings, or darts.

      D&D 3.X Wizard. A bit easier to rest between encounters, but still handy to have a brace of throwing stuff at the ready.

      D&D 4.0 Wizard. MMO meets RPG, just spam anything “at-will”. No need for missile weapons or a backup blade.

      D&D 5.0 Wizard. Depends on the DM? Many around here don’t play with cantrips or minor effects for some reason. Rest times are more forgiving in 5th, but a prolonged encounter, or quick string of them could have the wizzy reaching for darts and daggers.

      D&D Basic/Expert red & blue box. AD&D light? Still need that backup gear, but rest times and random encounters a bit more relaxed?

      That said, I think 5th edition has the best value for playing a wizard or similar arcane class.

      Just wish the monk was a bit better, but I’m spoiled from playing most of my monk’s in AD&D when quivering palm and other attacks actually changed the game, and the enhanced speed and number of attacks made a big difference.

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