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Consider Optimizing a Wizard that does no direct damage in D&D 5e:

  • asked thirteen months ago,
  • closed as "too broad" that day by 5 users,
  • some commentary prompted OP to specify criteria, still on the same day,
  • reopened by five different users after those ^^ edits,
  • closed two hours later by a diamond mod as "too broad,"
  • edited non-substantively (mostly trimming it up a bit) today,
  • reopened by 5 users today.

The sum total rep of the sixteen close- and open-voters above is approximately one billion--these contradictory votes should all be taken as a sign this post needs discussing rather than just ping-ponging back and forth between open and closed, in my opinion. We're clearly in a grey area!

I've gone ahead and locked it for a week so we can hash it out here:


Should this question be closed as "too broad," or is its unusual direction of CharOp well-described?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ related: Are Character Optimization question on-topic? Though do be aware: the three types laid out in that meta's best answer aren't scripture and shouldn't be assumed to cover the entire landscape. Perhaps we'll learn something new from this question =) \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Apr 28 '18 at 2:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ 1 billion / 16 = 62.5 million average. Did you mean 1 million or was that just hyperbole? \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Apr 30 '18 at 0:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ It was just hyperbole, sorry. The total could be pushing half a million, though--plenty of 20-50K users among those votes, and then mxy's in a whole other category.... \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Apr 30 '18 at 0:54
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Yes, it is too broad

My reasoning is as follows:

The question can be split on these steps, from my understanding:

  1. "What are all the Wizard spells that don't do damage?"
  2. "Put all those spells in a tier-list, according to my criteria"
  3. "Justify your tier-list."

It's basically asking for an extensive guide, given some (still broad) criteria. In the end, the expected answer seems to be the Treatmonk's guide after removing the spells that do damage. This is a lot, not a specific question about a specific problem.

I say still broad criteria because optimization on something like DPR is one thing - you have a reward function (DPR) to maximize, while minimizing some cost function or given some restrictions. It's still math. "Team synergy" and "Versatility" are not a clear reward/cost funcion and must be quantified by the answerer through some subjective way.

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On topic in theory - too broad in practice

In theory it should be simple enough to make an argument about the pros and cons of any given spell and compare them to one another.

However, the devil is in the details: the OP is asking for the best at each level from 1 to 14 - the daily spell list for this wizard goes from 3 to at least 16 (and probably more) - that's a lot of spells.

Further, the wizard now has access to a large range of spell slots which means spells that were good at low levels but cannot benifit from higher level spell slots may fall off the list.

In addition, we need to optimise this to support 4 other PCs who will each make their own (unknown) choices about an increasingly wide array of character options. Now throw some unknown magic items into the mix too.

Also, in my experiance, a lot of synagies between PCs are emergent - it is very difficult to see how this spell combined with that ability against those monsters turns out to be totally awesome until that exact circumstance comes up.

What would be on topic

I have this pacificist wizard who is level 4 going to level 5 in a party of A, B, C. I have these spells in my spellbook now. What spells should I add and what should I prepare for my 7 slots?

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On topic.

The question describes how to build the character with respect to its party and level range. It allows multi-classing, feats, and standard point buy.

Standard point-array, feats and multi-classing allowed. Wizard supports the following party members: monk, warlock, barbarian, ranger. We can focus on levels 1-14.

It has a base concept already researched and assumes that this base concept can be improved by improving its spell list (how else is a Wizard optimized aside from its spells?).

I seek feedback on how to optimize my spell list.

However, it does mention that any suggestions aside from spell lists are taken into account and valued. While the question was based in a guide with its own suggestions, other options are welcome.

However, recommended feats and schools of magic to get the right fit for this concept are welcome.

The question also lists how answers are to be judged, and has already 2 detailed answers (one of which actually points out how the concept cannot be done within the current ruleset, which is also a valid answer).

That being said, if there is some way to improve this question and make it less broad, feedback is appreciated (either here or on the question itself).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Help Center/Asking: "Your questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much." There are various books and guides on Wizard optimization, both netbooks and paid products. I'm not sure how this effectively reduces the scope to "not a book" except inasmuch as answerers ignore part of the scope of character options. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - Justice for Monica Apr 28 '18 at 18:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk Erm, that's.. reasonable, I guess. So to be clear, how is this question any different? Tons of guides and books on how to maximize DPR, any class/race/feat combo, you just ignore levels 2-20. Mind you, I don't want to sound like I'm being stubborn, I'm genuinely asking why both questions have different qualities. \$\endgroup\$ – BlueMoon93 Apr 28 '18 at 18:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's scoped down enough that there's an objectively best answer. Sure, in a way it's not fair that DPS can be summed up in a number while "do good at stuff in general" can't be, but... \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - Justice for Monica Apr 28 '18 at 18:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk So all optimization questions must be objectively summed up in some score value? Is it possible to optimize any sort of spell-based character, where their damage output wildly varies based on situation? \$\endgroup\$ – BlueMoon93 Apr 28 '18 at 18:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ No, they just should be answerable in shorter than book form. It's a continuum; that question is on the very short side of the continuum, yours is over on the long side of the continuum. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - Justice for Monica Apr 28 '18 at 18:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ A'ight. So I guess the question should remain closed then ^^ \$\endgroup\$ – BlueMoon93 Apr 28 '18 at 18:46

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