Wizard Of The Tavern

Which 5e Wizard is the Best for Defense?

So I have done a post on the bladesinger, the war mage, and the abjuration 5e wizard. All of which have incredible defensive power. I figured, why not today we talk about which of the wizards has the highest survivability against a wave of attacks. Which, in case you haven’t noticed, is what we are talking about today.

The abjuration wizard gains additional hit points to protect himself from an onslaught of attacks. Making him effective for taking a hit but not dodging a hit.

A War Wizard gains a mini shield that he can do at any time at the cost of only using cantrips his next turn. 

Meanwhile, a bladesinger gains additional AC as a bonus action equal to his intelligence modifier. 

Therefore, to decide on who has the best defense, I evaluated their survivability from attacks as well as saves using the monster creation chart on page 274 of the Dungeon Master Guide to figure out how much damage a monster will do in a full round. 

Tankiest 5e Wizard Against Attacks

The average damage from a monster was calculated using the formula Damage=(21-AC+To hit bonus)*DPR+(DPR-Ability modifier)/20. After that, I subtracted a wizard’s hit points from the damage. 

For that, I assumed all wizards in 5e had a 14 con, and a 15 AC. This way we can keep it fair for the abilities. 

After creating a baseline, I decided to take a look at their level 3 abilities and compare them to each other.

In terms of a monster doing a full wave of melee or ranged attacks against, the abjuration wizard wins. 

On average, the abjuration wizard will have 14.35 hit points after being attacked. 

Meanwhile, the war wizard is actually the worse when it comes to survivability from melee attacks. The war wizard has an average of 3.17 hit points after a wave of attacks.

Interesting enough, the bladesinger is also a solid wizard for 5e survivability, with an average of 10.19 hit points. But that wasn’t all, the bladesinger underperforms the abjuration wizard every level by roughly 4.17 hit points. 

Except, level 20. At level 20 bladesinger actually has higher survivability than the 5e abjuration wizard. At level 20, an abjuration mage will have .3 hit points once a monster attacks them. However, a bladesinger will have 1.68 hit points. 

Now, this doesn’t seem like much, after all, it’s only 1.65 hit point difference. That said, you need to remember this is the average. Monsters will occasionally hit harder. As such having more hit points after average means higher chance to survive if they do above average damage.

Tankiest Save Wizard In 5e

Now, this is for being hit from monsters, what about from saves? Well, that is a little bit more challenging. The reason being, there are differences in saves. 

A fireball will call for a dexterity save and gives an exact amount of damage. A hold person though, calls for wisdom save and paralyzes you. No damage actually taken from save but definitely going to hurt you.

Because of this, saves in this regard are going to be against damage effects. 

To do this, I used the most iconic spell in the game, fireball. The spell, Fireball deals 8d6(28) damage if you fail a dexterity save. If however, you pass, you take half damage. Then what abilities am I taking into account for each class? 

Well for abjuration I am using their level 14 ability, spell resistance. For bladesingers, their tenth level ability song of defense. And, for war wizards, arcane deflection and Durable Magic.

To do this I adjusted the damage for each level of what the max an enemy caster can cast, and what their DC is. 

Before I release the results, I should also mention bladesinger was a little unique. The reason why was because their tenth level ability allows you to choose the spell slot. So obviously you can do level 1 to level 9 and reduce the damage taken. 

As a result, I asked people on Reddit and friends, what is the highest people are willing to expend a spell. The average a person was willing to expend was 4th level. So, I am using the assumption that if you are being hit from a serious damaging spell, you will use a 4th level spell.

Tankiest Save Wizard Results

The results were a little less obvious than I hoped. The strongest, by average, is bladesinger with average damage from a fireball dealing 23.64 damage throughout a bladesingers life span.

That said, abjuration came in a close second with a fireball dealing 26.51 damage throughout a 1-20 campaign. 

And finally in last, the war wizard, with a 29.83 damage throughout a war wizard’s lifespan. 

I was actually surprised since I was giving a war wizard a +6 to their save do their abilities and they still came in last. That said, objectively the bladesinger is best for surviving damaging saves, you also need to look at cost and access. I have mentioned numerous times that most campaigns end at around level 8. Therefore, higher rating comes to early level abilities. 

Because of this, the war wizard is strongest for saving against spells early on with an average reduction difference being 12.61% from spell attacks. In comparison to both abjuration and bladesingers until tenth level. 

From there the bladesinger takes the lead being 56.39% better than the abjuration wizard and 47.95% better than war wizards. Assuming they expend a 4th level spell slot from level 10-13. After that, the abjuration decimates the field from level 14-20. Reducing damage from spells an additional 44.44% in comparison to war wizards, and 13.34% in comparison to bladesingers.

Therefore from level 1-9 war wizards are the best for damage saves, level 10-13 being bladesingers, and level 14-20 being the abjuration wizard for the best choice. 

This is not taking into account the cost of protecting. Obviously abjuration is best for cost since it is passive, but you don’t get it to level 14. While bladesingers have the highest cost of using a 4th level spell to reduce damage. 

So, now that you know the numbers I will leave it for you to decide what is the cost you are willing to pay.


In conclusion, personally I would choose the war wizard for saves since their ability will come into play for most campaigns and while the others are better numerically, they will see less application.

However, for pure survivability from attacks, the abjuration wizard is best for surviving since it gains more “hit points” than damage reduction from the other classes for every level but 20. 

All in all, if I had to choose one tanky 5e wizard to play universally, I would choose abjuration wizard as if a campaign will go to level 20, it will have the lowest cost and highest returns in comparison and is tankier than the other classes for most situations starting off at the early level of 2.

Let me know what you all think though! Did you agree? Disagree? I found the results really interesting as I thought war wizard was better than that but mathematically does not seem to be the case.

P.S. If you enjoyed this post and want to analyze your own spells, monsters, and party, download my D&D calculator! It’s a tool I use to calculate true DPR for spells and monsters in my campaigns. If you are still unsure by my little blurb then check out the review I made and see all the nifty abilities it has!

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