In this Baldur’s Gate 3 Build Guide I’m going to be covering my Wizard Build for Early Access, and showing you what I’ve found to work best. I’ll be doing more Build Guides at the launch of Baldur’s Gate 3, but for now, let’s look at how you can use an Wizard effectively in the first Act of the game.
Baldur’s Gate 3 Builds: Wizard Guide
Wizards in Baldur’s Gate 3 choose their school of magic at level 2, and for Early Access I strongly advise taking the Evocation School. This is because in order to regularly gain the Arcane Ward from the Abjuration School, you need to constantly cast Abjuration Spells. Abjuration Spells do not need to be cast all that often, and even then the Ward you gain is not overly strong. This means you might as well take Evocation, even if you don’t need its passive benefit of guaranteeing allies passing Saving Throws when hit by your Spells all that often.
Wizards can also gain Spells from Magic Scrolls, allowing them to learn Spells that they wouldn’t normally gain, making them incredibly versatile. Like the Guiding Bolt Spell from Cleric? Find a Guiding Bolt Scroll and have your Wizard learn it! It costs a bit of gold each time, but what’s a little gold if you can cast nearly any Spell in Early Access?
Wizard Character Creation
In this section we’ll take a look at how to setup your Wizard during Character Creation for the best results. You don’t have to follow this to the letter, and it’s likely this will change at full launch of the game. However, this will hold you in good stead during Early Access.
For Background I suggest taking any that provides you Intelligence Skills, since Wizards need a good amount of this Ability to hit targets with their Spells. These are: Arcana, History, Investigation, Nature and Religion.
Race is not overly important for this Class since you can use the item Warped Headband of Intellect to gain 18 Intelligence. This means it’s not absolutely vital to pick a Race with added Intelligence in Early Access. However, any Race with added Dexterity is good for Armour Class. Drow not only has this, but also has Superior Darkvision. This allows them to see in the dark exceptionally well, improving their hit chance in low lighting places (like The Underdark), so they are a solid choice. Another great pick is also Strongheart Halfling for the Poison Resistance, and I will explain why through out this guide.
Last but not least is the Wood Elf, which also grants Darkvision and +2 Dexterity but rather than +1 Charisma like the Drow, you get +1 Wisdom. Moreover, you gain Subrace Traits that will prove effective in how you move as a Wizard, specifically Fleet of Foot and Mask of the Wild. Fleet of Foot boosts your Movement Speed, allowing you to traverse longer distances, whereas Mask of the Wild grants Stealth Proficiency. With this, you can blend into the background and easily find the best places to position your Wizard in order to cast Spells optimally.
For Skills again it’s not super important, but you’ll have high Dexterity and Intelligence, so selecting Skills that fall under these Abilities is ideal. Dexterity has: Acrobatics, Sleight of Hand and Stealth, and I’ve already listed what Intelligence Skills there are.
Wizards need Intelligence to improve their Spell Casting Ability Modifier, which increases the successfulness of their Spells. However, as I mentioned just a moment ago, you can gain the Warped Headband of Intellect rather quickly in Early Access (about 2 hours in). This means they don’t have to invest into Intelligence during Character Creation, and can instead invest into Dexterity and Constitution for extra Armour and hit points.
Wizards will be a bit weak until they gain this item, but 2 hours of a 25 hour Act is worth the trade off I think. Obviously in the live version of the game this may change, and you will likely be better off taking Intelligence during Character Creation. Your Ability spread should look something like this: STR 10, DEX 17, CON 15, INT 8, WIS 10, CHA 14.
Wizard Level 1 Spells, Cantrips & Concentration
During Character Creation you’ll be given many Spells, but you’ll have to choose which to “Prepare”. You can only cast your Cantrips and Prepared Spells, otherwise if you wish to use your other Spells that are not Prepared, you must Prepare them first. Every time you level up as a Wizard you will be able to Prepare more and more Spells.
Wizard Cantrips & Arcane Recovery
There are some excellent Wizard Cantrips to choose from during Character Creation, and I highly recommend Acid Splash, Dancing Lights and either Fire Bolt or Ray of Frost. Acid Splash has a small AoE effect, which is nice for hitting multiple enemies. Dancing Lights is great for creating Light so your party members who don’t have Darkvision can see and hit things more easily in dark places. And, Fire Bolt and Ray of Frost are just good at dealing damage.
With Fire Bolt, specifically, you can set the ground on fire to affect multiple enemies within that same vicinity. This can either be done by blasting barrels of oil or using Grease first and then following through by casting Fire Bolt.
Arcane Recovery allows you once per day to recover either two Level 1 Spell Slots or one Level 2 Spell Slot in Early Access. So use this when you need to eek out another cast or two before Resting. This can only be used outside of combat.
Some Wizard Spells require Concentration in order to remain active. You can tell which these are because it will say on the Spell itself. Concentration can be broken if you cast another Spell that requires Concentration. So for example if you cast Witch Bolt on an enemy, but then you cast Protection From Good and Evil, you would stop “Concentrating” on Witch Bolt and begin Concentrating on Protection From Good and Evil.
But, that is not the only way Concentration can be broken. If you take damage while Concentrating on a Spell then you must make a Constitution Saving Throw, and if you fail then the effect of that Spell ends. Should you succeed in your Saving Throw, however, then you maintain your Concentration and the Spell continues. This is why it is important for Wizards to have Constitution, because they have Spells that require Concentration and they are wasted if it is constantly broken.
Level 1 Spells
Wizards have a large variety of Spells, so it can be difficult to choose which to use. A few I can highly recommend are Magic Missile, Mage Armour, and Thunderwave. Magic Missile cannot be protected against, cannot miss, and you can select up to 3 targets. This makes it very useful when you need to finish off a low health enemy but still hit your primary target, or when you cannot hit the enemy with another spell easily.
Mage Armour is semi-permanent, and will stay with you until you Long Rest. Between your Dexterity Modifier and this Spell you should have 16 Amour on your Wizard, which isn’t too shabby for Level 1.
Thunderwave is an excellent AoE that can knock enemies backward, often to their deaths. Once you hit Level 2 you won’t damage party members caught in its blast either, making a larger case to take it. Its one drawback is its rather short range.
Wizard of Evocation Level 2
At Level 2 you’ll get to choose your Subclass, and I’ve already made my case for why you should take Evocation School already. Additionally, you’ll gain another Level 1 Spell Slot, and you can choose 2 more Spells to learn. There are some great Spells here such as Chromatic Orb and Burning Hands. Chromatic Orb is a Ranged Spell whose element changes depending on the type of damage you want to inflict. So you can hurl a fireball at targets and create a burning surface or deal Lightning Damage and create an electrified surface. There are a lot of choices to be made with Chromatic Orb, making it a versatile Spell.
Burning Hands, on the other hand, is a very powerful Spell to use in the melee range when enemies are near you, allowing you to deal 3-18 Fire Damage. Should they succeed with their Dexterity Saving Throws, they still receive half of the damage, making it a win-win condition for you.
Wizard of Evocation Level 3
At Level 3 you’ll gain another Level 1 Spell Slot, two Level 2 Spell Slots, and you’ll gain access to Level 2 Wizard Spells. There are a lot of great Spells here, and if you didn’t pick Drow for your Race I highly recommend taking Darkvision to keep your Spells accurate in low light areas. Scorching Ray is also an incredibly good Spell that can hit up to 3 targets, or deal a ton of damage to one, giving you more versatility.
I also really like the Shatter Spell because it’s a rather large AoE and can be devastating in fights where there are a lot of enemies. Misty Step is great for getting up high, where Spells that count as ranged attacks gain Advantage. Alternatively, if you’re able to acquire and wear the Amulet of Misty Step from the Shattered Sanctum, you automatically gain this, letting you choose another potent Spell. Ray of Sickness is one of these Spells, and it’s a big reason why this is so great, as I’ll explain in a moment.
I highly recommend that you save before taking this level up, and then play around with some of the Spells to see what you like, and then reload if you don’t like them.
Once you reach Level 3, you’ll also be able to cast some Level 1 Spells as Level 2 versions, using Level 2 Spell Slots instead of Level 1 Spell Slots. This works out tremendously for this Build because it allows you to cast some of the better Level 1 Spells as more powerful versions. For instance, you can cast Thunderwave at Level 2 for an extra 1-8 damage. Or you can cast Magic Missile at Level 2 and it shoots and extra missile.
Wizard of Evocation Level 4
At Level 4 you’ll gain another Level 2 Spell Slot, as well as another Cantrip and 2 more Spells. Additionally, you can pick a Feat, and I highly recommend taking Ability Improvement to get Constitution to 16 and Dexterity to 18. This will help with your HP, and your AC, making you harder to kill. You’ll be at 18 Intelligence at this point, but you cannot increase it because the Headband sets the total to 18 no matter what the actual value is.
Of all the Builds I have made so far Equipment plays a much larger part of this Build than any others, and hopefully it will give you a small glimpse of what sort of things you might be able to do at live release.
For your Weapon you’ll want to use the Staff of Crones. At first glance this Staff doesn’t seem all that great since it appears only to allow you to cast the Spell: Ray of Sickness. However, you get to cast this Spell without using a Spell Slot, effectively giving you a 2-16 damage Cantrip every turn. This is a reliable amount of damage, but there is a catch. You will take 2-8 damage every time you use this Spell, which is where the Poison Resistance comes in handy.
If you didn’t take Strongheart Halfling during Character Creation you will need the Ring of Poison Resistance to help nullify half of this damage, saving you valuable HP. This can be found inside the inner area of the Goblin Camp, just before where you rescue Haslin. Note that the damage prevented is rounded up, not down. So if you would take 3 Poison Damage, you will only take 1 instead of 2.
For Necklace you’ll want The Sapphire Spark as soon as you get to Ebonlake Grotto in The Underdark. This necklace is sold by Blurg, and adds 1-4 Psychic Damage to each Magic Missile. Yes you heard that right! This means the Magic Missile Spell will go from dealing 6-15 damage to 9-27 damage at Level 1, and 8-20 damage to 12-36 damage at Level 2 and it can’t miss!
Wizards do not have Armour Proficiency so you will be wearing Clothing when playing one unless you chose a Race that provides Armour Proficiency. Make sure that you do not use Armour you are not Proficient with or you will not be able to cast Spells!
Prisoner’s Robe, which adds 1-4 damage to any Poison Spell the wearer casts, would be great for this Build. However, it does not consider the Ray of Sickness cast from the Staff a “Spell” since it doesn’t use up a Spell Slot, and so does not provide the increased 1-4 damage. However, Ray of Sickness will benefit from Prisoner’s Robes when casting it normally, so if you have the Robe consider slotting the Spell itself.
Lastly, if you didn’t invest in Intelligence during Character Creation then you’ll need the Warped Headband of Intellect to get your Intelligence to 18. If you did invest, then you will not need this item.
The Staff of Crones seems to apply Spell Casting Modifiers of Intelligence, Charisma, and Wisdom (whichever is the Modifier of the Class). This means it works on any Spell Casting character, and can work on Warlocks, Rangers, Clerics and even Eldritch Knights in Early Access.
You can use this setup on Gale if you bring him along in your party, you just won’t get quite as much effectiveness because of his Ability spread. Or you can use the Staff on Shadowheart to give her a decent Spell to cast every turn. Her damage is usually poor, so this can really boost it. I don’t recommend using it on Wyll as much because Eldritch Blast already does significant damage and does not need any items to make it more effective.
Remember that not all Spells make use of high ground, and only those that operate as Ranged Attacks do so. If a Spell uses an Ability Saving Throw to defend then you don’t gain Advantage from casting Spells from elevation. Keep this in mind, and plan accordingly.
Lastly, don’t forget you can learn Spells from Scrolls! Save these and give them to your Wizard so that it has all the Spells in Early Access that you want!
Stay tuned for more Baldur’s Gate 3 content as we take a look at Classes and Builds, and be sure to drop by our Twitch channel if you have questions about the game. If you need something specific, check out our Baldur’s Gate 3 Wiki which is being worked on night and day!