Wizards… Who doesn’t know what a Wizard is? Dungeons & Dragons is one of the most influential reasons why Wizards are well known in pop culture. Most people have a basic idea of what you mean when they hear “Fireball” or “Lightning Bolt.” And those two spells are part of the most essential spell school for wizards. The Player’s Handbook allows any Wizard to focus on the School of Evocation, the primary damaging school for any caster. These Wizards are important for sieging, defending against sieging, adventuring, competitive crop-picking… The list goes on. So let’s see what this school can teach you in our Evocation Wizard 5E Guide.
Burninate the Countryside: Enchantment Wizard 5E
The Evocation Wizard is not necessarily the best damage-oriented Wizard, but it’s up there. By focusing on damage, you cement your role as a backline caster. Though, you may occasionally want to walk up front to guarantee that a Cone or Line hits.
As with all Player’s Handbook wizard school subclasses, you begin with the Savant skill.
Beginning when you select this school at 2nd level, the gold and time you must spend to copy a Evocation spell into your spellbook is halved
This ability is pretty whatever. If your GM is good with handing out Spellbooks, most casters know an Evocation spell or two. You can probably avoid learning the basics (i.e., Fireball) and get them at a discount. Unfortunately, when it comes to copying them off of scrolls, dungeons don’t normally supply evocation spells; They prefer to have utility stuff, like Protection from Good and Evil. You could get lucky and find some scrolls, but you’ll be better off going for spellbooks and purchasing your own scrolls.
In the case that your GM is bad with making spellbooks or having you fight Wizards, this ability will be completely useless. Try to stay in a big city with a library long enough to get some spells ready, but don’t leave anything to chance; naturally learn the spells you need to learn.
You gain two abilities at 2nd level, and this one is not bad at all.
When you cast an evocation spell that affects other creatures that you can see, you can choose a number of them equal to 1 + the spell’s level. The chosen creatures automatically succeed on their saving throws against the spell, and they take no damage if they would normally take half damage on a successful save.
You’ve probably been a Wizard, or watched your Wizard, and saw a situation where a Fireball would solve everything… But your Fighter and Barbarian would get toasted too. Maybe you threw the Fireball anyway and it wasn’t worth it. Or, maybe if you could’ve chucked a fireball, you would have saved the King from the army of ghouls about to destroy him… But also destroy him too.
Well? Now they just take no damage.
Most Evocation spells that offer a save have half damage be the success condition. Your most important Area of Effect spells – Fireball, Lightning Bolt, Cone of Cold – do so. So now, when you get to level 3, and your Areas of Effect get huge, you can avoid dealing damage to 4 other creatures. That’s great!
This does say “other creatures,” so talk to your GM before you drop a fireball at your feet with a cocky smile. You’re not out of the woods unless they say so.
You know, the moment I saw the name of this effect, I knew something was up…
Starting at 6th level, your damaging cantrips affect even creatures that avoid the brunt of the effect. When a creature succeeds on a saving throw against your cantrip, the creature takes half the cantrip’s damage (if any) but suffers no additional effect from the cantrip.
This… Isn’t necessarily bad. But it’s not great.
So, there are currently 10 Wizard Cantrips that deal damage and ask for a saving throw. 6 of them have decent range (i.e. more than melee/cone range). And, of those good-ranging cantrips that ask for a save, only 1 of them is Evocation. You’re going to want to pick up Frostbite as a cantrip for your Level 10 ability. Frostbite has okay damage at scaling d6s, but if they fail the save they take an attack roll penalty. Nice!
The rest of the cantrips are pretty solid. I’d highly recommend picking up Toll the Dead, allowing you to slam a creature with d12s if they were damaged before. Halving d12s essentially gives you the same damage of succeeding at a normal cantrip.
The reason this is bad is probably pretty obvious… You’re in a weird spot if you’re asking your GM to take half the damage of a cantrip. Any extra damage is good, but this’ll probably be dealing 1-2 damage per dice on a success… That’s kinda pathetic. Still, you’re gonna be happy when your enemy succeeds, and then just dies to Toll the Dead dealing half anyways.
On a side note, if you choose a cantrip like Acid Splash which has a Dexterity Save, and you hit a Rogue, Evasion now works against this. That means this ability actively nerfs your Dexterity-based cantrips against Rogues. That’s hilarious.
At long last, the School of Evocation offers you a really good reason to take it.
Beginning at 10th level, you can add your Intelligence modifier (minimum of +1) to the damage roll of any wizard evocation spell that you cast. The damage bonus applies to one damage roll of a spell, not multiple rolls.
This damage is fantastic for quite a number of reasons. The first; cantrips. Now, when you cast Frostbite, Lightning Lure, or Poison Spray, your damage increases by your Intelligence (which is hopefully +5 by now!). When you miss your Frostbite, your damage gets boosted by another… 2-3 damage. Nice! More importantly, landing it gives you 5 more damage, which is almost like you upgraded your Cantrip by 2 dice.
Areas of Effect are really upgraded by this ability. On average, +5 to damage doesn’t do too much to your damage; a Fireball deals an average of 28, so this’d make it an average of 33. Only about a 20% damage boost, right? That’s not too impressive.
But it is; this hits multiple people! So that 5 extra damage is dealt across a wide spread of opponents. That’s a big boost in damage that can help guarantee some unconscious enemies.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t work well with effects that launch multiple attacks; Scorching Ray isn’t terribly effective with this. You could theoretically save the damage for the last hit of your Ray and try to guarantee a K.O., but… You want to use this with Area of Effects whenever you can.
Your level 14 ability is staggeringly strong… If you’re willing to take some damage.
When you cast a wizard spell of 5th level or lower that deals damage and isn’t a cantrip, you can deal maximum damage with that spell.
The first time you do so, you suffer no adverse effect. If you use this feature again before you finish a long rest, you take 2d12 necrotic damage for each level of the spell, immediately after you cast it. Each time you use this feature again before finishing a long rest, the necrotic damage per spell level increases by 1d12. This damage ignores resistance and immunity.
Yes, this is as good as it looks.
A Cone of Cold that is maximized by this ability does 69 damage. 5th level Fireball, 65. Immolation… Well, Immolation isn’t supposed to maximize the lingering damage. Talk to your GM if they’re alright with the lingering damage getting maxed out!
If they’re alright with lingering damage being maxed, then Immolation deals 53 and then 24 on each dot. 5th level Wall of Fire deals 53 damage, and then 48 on each tick. That’s clearly insanely strong, and even if you only maximize the initial damage, you can still get some beefy hits out!
Your first Maxed spell of the day is going to be a 5th level spell. It just is. You really want to get as much damage out as you possibly can, and this ability makes 5th level spells more damaging than the average of some 7th or 8th levels. That’s super efficient, and exactly what an Evocation Wizard normally lacks.
So then you look at 2d12 damage and you get a bit worried. “That’s a lot of damage for a d6 class to take,” you probably say, trembling in your robes and Wizard hat. And you’d be completely correct! A 5th level spell deals 10d12 damage to you, averaging 65. Hopefully, your Cleric won’t mind tossing a Heal at you to keep you afloat!
Besides, you’re probably okay with lowering your spell level. A level 3 fireball only deals 6d12, and hits for 53 damage when maxed. A level 2 Scorching Ray deals 41 damage in total, and only deals 4d12. You’ve got options here!
Try to not… Actually kill yourself with this. That won’t be hard; every spell maximized hits for 1d12 more per spell level. That could theoretically be a level 5 spell that deals 20d12 to you, if it’s your third per day. Without feats, that might knock you out immediately… And if your GM does Massive Damage rules, you could take 200% of your health easily!
If the BBEG needs to die, and you’re willing to risk losing your own life, then remember that you can always use this ability. Always. But, maybe have the Gold in your pouch to afford a Revivify. You’ll need that Divine Defibrillator!
Best Race for Evocation School Wizards
Unsurprisingly, despite having an ability that lets you deal half damage with Cantrips, you still want enemies to fail their saves. High Intelligence will get you there, and let you land more Ray spells. If you want the best possible chance to avoid Overchannel killing you, Constitution will be important. It’ll also make you more comfortable wading near the frontlines for your smaller Cone spells. Dexterity won’t be bad for that, either!
Gnomes are some of the best Wizards in the Player’s Handbook. Your slower walking speed is a bit of a shame, but matters less when you don’t need to be in melee. Darkvision saves you a spell slot, and Gnome Cunning is awesome flavor for a Wizard; an Anti-Magic ability, just to protect you from those nasty Wisdom saves thrown at you!
All 3 currently available options are great! Forest Gnome’s Dexterity is good for AC to protect you from hits, and Minor Illusion is a free cantrip. The Svirfneblin (or Deep Gnome) from the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion gives some stealth boons over their Forest brethren. My personal pick for this class is the Rock Gnome. That Constitution is so nice, and Artificer’s Lore makes Intelligence (History) into a valid means of item identification. Tinker’s not the most useful for a Wizard, but you can still make shenanigans ensue with good usage of the Music Box, Toy, or Fire Starter… Or, you could magically enchant them, if your GM’s cool!
Another EEPC option is Fire Genasi. +2 Constitution, +1 Intelligence; perfect! Though you’ll need to invest in Intelligence a lot early on. You get a cool version of Darkvision, resistance to the most common element in the game, and you get Produce Flame, soon to be Burning Hands. Sadly, Produce Flame is an attack roll and Conjuration, so not too useful for you. Burning Hands has some use, at least! Cool Wizardly flavor, and a good excuse to take Elemental Adept, if you want.
Conclusion – Our Take on the Evocation Wizard 5E
That wraps up our Evocation Wizard 5E Guide. The Evocation School is pretty good! Thanks to the new Evocation options from newer books, you’ve got some options when you sling wizard spells. It lacks a bit of the utility of the non-Spell school Wizard subclasses, but… If you just want to deal some damage and not worry about your party, you could do far worse.