Alright, today we are talking about the wizard tank, the 5e abjuration wizard. For one reason or another, the abjuration wizard for 5e is one of the tankiest builds that effectively gives you the hitpoints of a fighter.
Let me say that again, your wizard has the hit points of a fighter. Yeah, insane.
But let’s talk about what makes them so tanky so you can play your 5e abjuration wizard to its full potential.
How I Am Evaluating Them
For those who have read my previous reviews, feel free to skip this. If you haven’t, welcome! This is going over how I evaluate how strong a class is. There are three things that I am reviewing in the in-depth guide. I look over how strong the subclass is in combat, how much utility it has, and, if applicable, its’ roleplay ability. This way everyone’s playstyle can be shown to fit their needs.
Now, when deciding if something is good for a guide, I look at what the subclass is trying to accomplish. Then look at how successful it succeeds in that task. For instance, in a previous article on the Divination Wizard, I concluded, it attempts to optimize a spellcasters save or suck spells. I then figure out how well that ability succeeded in forcing enemies to fail depending on the stat, and see how soon it comes online.
If it is accomplished at level 2, then it is early game. Level 6 it is Early-Mid, Level 10 Late-Mid, and Level 14 is late game. I rate earlier tiers better as most Dungeon and Dragons Campaigns do not go beyond level 8. Without further a due, let start this review on the Divination Wizard.
GOLD- “That’s gold Jerry! Gold!” If an ability is highlighted gold, then this means that this ability not only is what defines your subclasses but accomplishes it better than almost any other subclass. I rarely do Gold ratings, so definitely pay attention to them if you see me do it.
Sky Blue –If the ability is sky blue, it means that this ability is a defining trait in your subclass but for one reason or another is not game-breaking like gold.
Blue- If it is just blue, then it’s a good ability but there are plenty of other abilities that perform better. Still better to have in a subclass than other colors.
Black. Black is ok. These are your more niche abilities that have bonuses in some situations but not useful in others.
Purple – Purple is for very niche abilities. They have times when they are good, but these are rare and almost never come up. Not the best color to see for an ability.
Red- Red is dead. It is the worse color to see on an ability. That said, no matter the color, an ability can work so don’t ignore a subclass if they have a red. Enough imagination and can-do attitude will make it okay but not optimal.
Abjuration Wizard 5e (Early Game)
The abjuration’s strongest ability, Arcane Ward comes online at level 2. Thus, giving credibility to the class for being one of the largest hitpoint classes in the entire game. Even being able to surpass a barbarian in hitpoints with the right build.
But, due to a low 6th and decent 10th level ability. The class fails to really achieve anything again until level 14 where it gains advantage on all spell saves and resistance to spells. A phenomenal ability to be sure.
Therefore, this class attempts to increase your survivability via hitpoint maximum. So, when playing this class it is recommended to put a focus on hitpoints.
However, due to the wizard having few abilities that help make the wizard a more effective caster, the class gets a solid blue rating for increasing a wizard’s survivability but little else.
Abjuration Wizard 5e: Abjuration Savant & Arcane Ward
First on our list is the player’s handbook standard, Abjuration Savant. Now all player’s handbook wizards have this feature but in a different variation.
What it basically does is give allow to spend half the time and gold to copy abjuration spells into your spellbook. Which, with 27 abjuration spells to be able to copy, is a rather solid number.
Next, we have Arcane Ward. A fantastic ability that protects a mage like no one else.
Wizards are known to be the easy to hit squishy adventurers that should be targeted in a fight.
Unfortunately, arcane ward is not for increasing a mages armor class. (Check out war wizards or bladesingers if you are looking for high AC mages.) However, what arcane ward does do, is make for a wizard with great hit points.
Arcane Ward creates a permanent shield around you that has 2x wizard level + Int Modifier. This means a wizard with 14 con and 16 intelligence at level 2 will essentially have 21 hitpoints. A fighter at this level with 14 con will have 20 hit points. So, a level 2 abjuration wizard has more hit points than fighters with 14 con.
But that is not all, your ward technically isn’t your hit points. Because of this, if your ward takes damage, you don’t make a concentration check. And, if your ward takes some damage and you take the rest, the DC for concentration checks lowers.
It is an extremely useful feature that can be exploited in many ways. In fact here is a forum going over ways to exploit the 5e abjuration wizard.
So how effective is this ability in the grand scheme of things and not just at level 2. Well, to do that I actually did a few comparisons for the abjuration mage.
Arcane Ward: The Math
The first was a comparison of a mages regular hp and an abjurations hp. In general, a 5e abjuration wizard will have 50% more hp than other wizards at level 2. Then, have 36.89% more hit points at level 20.
I then wanted to know just how much tankier the 5e abjuration wizard is by hitpoints. Therefore, I did a comparison between the two tankiest known classes for hit points, the fighter, and barbarian. The results were interesting to say the least.
In terms of barbarians, an abjuration wizard will have anywhere from 7.79%-9.73% less hit points than a barbarian.
That said, a fighter will actually have less hit points than an abjuration wizard with a 5% difference at level 2, and 1.83% difference at level 20. Thus making the 5e abjuration wizard tankier than a fighter with the same con.
This is of course for hit points alone, as a fighter will have a higher AC than an abjuration mage in the long run. In fact, a dexterity fighter who will eventually have a 17 AC at level 6 will have higher survivability than an abjuration wizard every level except 2,3,8, and 9.
After that, I compared the damage capabilities a monster has at each level using the stats provided on page 274 of the Dungeon Masters Guide. If a monster was to do an entire round against the wizard with an AC of 15, most mages would actually drop to zero hit points.
However, an abjuration wizard will actually have a higher chance of survival. After doing a math comparison, it became apparent that the abjuration ward will increase your survivability the highest at levels 8 and 9. Leaving you with roughly 25-33 hitpoints after a full damage round.
Making the Abjuration Ward, strongest when fighting monsters fit to take on level 7-10 adventurers. Afterward, the ward begins losing potency in increasing your survivability till eventually giving you roughly .3 hit points after a full round of damage at level 20.
Next is the projected ward. This allows you to transfer your ward over to an ally within 30 feet of you using your reaction.
Which makes it as good of rating as you are willing to sacrifice your own survivability for. Using your entire arcane ward to protect an ally why might be noble and life-saving for them decreases your survivability.
Which arcane ward does a lot for. At level 20 your abjuration ward only gives you roughly .67% chance of surviving a full round of attacks, but at levels like level 9 give you an 83.3% chance to survive a wave of attacks.
Therefore, one needs to be careful about their decision to protect others.
As such, I gave this feature a black rating of being okay. Because it is only really useful to do if it is to protect an ally from going under. Any other time and the cost of your survivability and theirs creates a negative return.
I give you the best wizard anti-spell ability. What this does, is add your proficiency bonus to the spells that call for an ability check. Which, for a wizard, is primarily counterspell and dispel magic. Now against spells level 3 or lower, this is useless as counterspell automatically succeeds on those spells.
But level 4 or higher spells force you to make an ability check using your spellcasting modifier (Intelligence). The DC for these spells is 10+ their level. Due to this fact improved abjuration actually increases your chances to succeed the check by 20% at level 10 and 30% at level 20.
This means, at level 10 the average wizard only has a 30% chance to counterspell a 9th level spell. However, the 5e abjuration will have a 50% chance to counterspell that 9th level spell. Greatly increasing your odds.
Of course, this is only as good as how many spellcasters you are fighting. Since it’s primary purpose are for counterspell and dispel magic. So, if you are in a campaign that has magic being rare, then bring this rating to black. A highly magic intensive campaign, it could potentially go up to sky blue rating.
I had to reread this ability to make sure I read it appropriately. This gives you advantage on all saves against magic effects. Now this alone use to be an amazing feature that the closest race to gain this benefit would be gnomes.
This said Volo’s Guide to Monsters released a playable race called the Yuan-ti Pureblood. These make for fantastic wizards by having an intelligence boost, but also have the ability to gain advantage on all saving throws against magic at level 1.
Really taking some of the power out this level 14 ability.
That would be if that was all it did. Spell resistance does more than that though. Solidifying this ability as sky blue.
The second part of the ability states, “you take half damage from all spells.” A huge boon for any player especially wizards to increase their survivability.
The best way to show this is using the biggest damage spell, meteor swarm and seeing how much higher an abjuration wizard’s survivability is in comparison to any other wizard.
Meteor swarm usually has a Dexterity DC of 19, failure deals to you 40d6 (140) points of damage. Therefore, a wizard with 14 dexterity has a 15% chance to beat the DC. Making the true damage from the spell 129.5 points of damage.
The 5e abjuration wizard though sees a 46.56% drop in the damage of meteor swarm. Transforming 129.5 points of true damage to only 60.29 points of damage.
This is significant as the average wizard only has 122 hitpoints. Automatically dropping them to zero hit points with one spell. Meanwhile, an abjuration wizard will use up his entire ward and only take 15 points of damage to his actual hitpoints. Cementing this skill as a fantastic ability for any player.
Recommended For 5e Abjuration Wizard
So, now that you know what abilities the 5e abjuration wizard has and how good they are, let’s look at some recommended choices.
Now for races, I love a hitpoint based class for abjuration wizards. As such, the dwarves really shine in this regard. Hill dwarves stand out the most due to their ability of +2 Con, and every level they gain an additional hit point. This makes your con solid. Additionally, the one-hit point alone puts you almost on the same hp as a barbarian.
The second race I would recommend is variant human and choose the tough feat. This will give you 2 more hp every level. Thus making your hp surpass that of a barbarian. Really a cool idea.
For a 1st level spell, I recommend the spell alarm. It is a ritual that can recharge your ward once depleted and is one the abilities to make the ward more OP. As such, I consider it a must for 5e abjuration wizards.
As for second-level spells, abjuration does not have any notable spells. So, a good pick I love is hold person.
Then already talked about for the 10th level ability, Counterspell. It really is a must for all wizards, especially abjuration.
Finally, a good quirk to give your abjuration wizard is a sense of honor and protection. It will justify using your projected ward more, and create a sense of duty and mixed feelings when seeing a comrade go down.
The 5e Abjuration Wizard is definitely one that focuses on hit points and survivability more than casting. Unlike the bladesinger, that attempts to increase your survivability via AC, the abjuration wizard will have a higher chance of being hit in comparison, but can take more hits as well.
Therefore, plan accordingly with this class. If you are in a campaign where the DM is trying to kill you, then this might be the best choice for you. That said, since the 5e abjuration wizard does little else but increases survivability, I recommend playing like a usual wizard.
If you weren’t thrilled with the abjuration wizard, then check out my other guides on tanky wizards. Most notably the bladesinger and war wizard. Both do their jobs extremely well and I go over why in detail there.
P.S. Now that you know the general information for the abjuration wizard. Why don’t you kick it up a notch with Wizard’s Mastery: A Complete Wizard’s Guide! Giving you even more information then than this for all ten wizard subclasses with ways to make your gameplay more memorable and more unique. Check it out today!