Last Updated on January 22, 2023
When cunning illusions and conjured outsiders no longer cut it, a Wizard can always rely on an old favorite: fireball!
The Wizard list is full of spells waiting to be unleashed on foes, many with differing damage types and secondary effects.
The Evocation Wizard takes these spells and puts them forth as their main tool of choice, not just a fallback plan.
What Is an Evocation Wizard?
Wizards that call upon the elements of the world to rain fire and ice down on their foes take the mantle of Evoker. As Evokers, these Wizards use their arcane knowledge to tear apart groups of foes with their mighty blasts and create space for their allies to go in and clean up the stragglers.
More specifically, Evocation Wizards cast damaging spells that affect large spaces to spread damage out across their foes.
These Wizards are great for clearing out multiple foes with low hit point totals. By swinging the numbers back in their party’s favor, an Evocation Wizard provides value to the team.
Black Citadel Rating System
Color and Tier ranking is very helpful when you’re trying to digest a lot of information. In our ongoing series of 5e class guides, we use the following color-rating scheme:
- Red – C Tier. Red options can sometimes be situationally useful and might make for an interesting narrative choice but are largely less effective than other tiers.
- Green – B Tier. Solid but nothing that is absolutely critical for a build, or Green can be very good but only in very specific situations.
- Blue – A Tier. An excellent choice. Widely regarded as powerful in some way, useful, highly effective.
- Purple – S Tier. The top of our rankings. Objectively powerful or transformative in some way. No choice in D&D is essential, but these options are worth strongly considering when you create your character.
Our goal here is to provide scannable but comprehensive guides for you as you develop your character.
While we might sometimes make reference to unofficial or homebrew content to illustrate a point (or just because it’s too cool not to talk about), every option we suggest is legal in the official rules for D&D 5e as published by Wizards of the Coast.
The Evocation Wizard’s Defining Abilities
Many of the Evocation Wizard’s class features are not flashy. Instead, these feature improve on what the Evoker wants to do: sling spells that deal damage to a large swathe of foes.
While this feature won’t come up often, being able to save some gold over an adventure can help an Evoker buy their expensive material components a little faster.
Most Evokers will choose evocation spells as their freebie spell choices each level though, so it’s hard to know how much this will save you overall.
Most evocation spells create large areas of elemental firepower that an Evoker’s allies would rather didn’t also singe them.
This feature helps the Evoker prevent friendly fire on their melee allies by creating safe pockets inside of an area spell.
Because of this feature, it’s not as imperative for an Evoker to go early in the initiative count compared to other Wizards. You’ll be able to twist a spell into the shape you need regardless of what the battlefield looks like.
Compared to other schools of magic, evocation isn’t as dense with concentration spells.
This means that, when an Evoker uses one of their signature school’s spells, its effect will complete after the wizard’s turn finishes. Unless the Evoker plans things out, they can run out of spell slots.
So, this feature allows an evoker to still contribute damage even if they are forced to rely on cantrips. Cantrips normally deal no damage on a successful save, meaning this is better than wasting a turn doing nothing.
On the surface, this feature doesn’t add much damage to your spells.
However, since the area spells Evokers are known for only use one damage roll for all their targets, this feature can add you Intelligence modifier to the damage you deal to multiple targets with these area spells.
By this level, an Evoker might be using up to a dozen dice for the damage rolls of their spells. Having the ability to treat all those dice as their maximum result can mean a spell turns from damaging to devastating.
However, being restricted to lower-level spells means that you won’t get use with some of the more impressive evocations you have at this level.
Plus, using this feature more than once per long rest can sap a lot of the Evoker’s limited hit points just to deal a little more damage.
The Evocation Wizard’s Limitations
As a blaster, an Evocation Wizard sidelines a lot of what makes the Wizard an interesting class to play.
Big spells that deal damage are flashy and exciting, but the Wizard spell list is the largest one in D&D 5e. Buried within that spell list are some encounter-changing spells.
For example, Evokers have the fewest number of rituals tied to their school of choice. In fact, there is only one evocation ritual in the game: Leomund’s tiny hut. It’s a good spell, but a lack of rituals hurts utility.
An Evoker isn’t barred from getting other spells, though. The problem is that this subclass doesn’t offer any support or boosts to that style of play.
Everything is focused on dealing as much damage as possible without harming your allies.
If the goal of your character is to bring as much arcane firepower as possible, then the Evocation Wizard subclass works well.
However, if you find that you can’t blast your way out of a problem, your features won’t help you slip into other roles as easily.
Building an Evocation Wizard
Before you start creating your blaster Wizard, there are some key parts of their build you should think about. To get the most out of your spells, here are some of our tips for building an Evocation Wizard:
Evocation Wizards don’t add much to demands the Wizard class already has for ability scores. Still, if you aren’t familiar with the best stats to boost for solid Wizard builds, here are our recommendations:
- Strength: Evocation Wizards don’t use Strength at all for any of their class features, so this is an easy stat to ignore.
- Dexterity: All Wizards like Dexterity since it improves their AC, initiative, and some useful skills. With a 14 here, you can get to a 15 AC in your robes using mage armor.
- Constitution: Wizards need as much help as they can get to improve their hit points and concentration checks, so this stat should be as high as you can get it without sacrificing other important stats.
- Intelligence: The main stat for all Wizards, Evokers included. You’ll want this stat maxed out to improve your spell-save DC, increasing the chances your spells do high damage.
- Wisdom: While not useful for Wizard class features, Wisdom is a common saving throw and ability score for skill checks. A 13 here also lets Evocation Wizards multiclass into other spellcasters like Cleric and Druid.
- Charisma: Another dump stat. Wizards don’t benefit much from multiclassing into the Charisma-based casters, and none of your blasting features use this stat.
Overall, Evocation Wizards are like most other Wizards: single-stat builds. Some Dexterity and Constitution are important, but you won’t need to max those out like you do Intelligence to make an effective Evoker.
Before the changes to racial ability score boosts from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything and the reworked races in Monsters of the Multiverse, races that offered an Intelligence boost were your best bet.
With your casting completely reliant on this ability score, just about any race that raised Intelligence was an okay pick at worst.
However, now that many races offer the choice of what ability scores are boosted to the player, we have to look at your racial choice differently. Now, racial features matter more than they did before.
So, here are some of our recommendations and their ratings for Evocation Wizards:
- Aaracokra: Even though their fly speed was reduced in their reprint, having constant access to flight means that your Wizard becomes a lot more difficult to hit. Plus, the extra spell is nice, but it’s not as amazing as always-on flight.
- Custom Lineage: Feats are powerful because they expand on or improve what your Wizard can do. Getting a feat early on to improve your concentration or expand your spellcasting options is great.
- Mountain Dwarf: In addition to great ability score changes if using the Tasha’s rules, this race gives your wizard armor proficiencies they would have to multiclass or spend feats on to get.
- Eladrin: Misty step is one of the best 2nd-level spells, so getting access to a version of it that doesn’t count as a spell means you can teleport and cast powerful evocations on the same turn.
- Fairy: Much like Aarockra, flight is a powerful tool to have on a Wizard. Plus, the spells on this race are great and can’t be acquired by Wizards normally.
- Rock Gnome: While any gnome works well as a Wizard, Rock Gnomes have features that expand on the scholarly and inventive aspects of a Wizard.
- Half-Elf: Even if you can’t move the Charisma boost for this race to a different ability score, resistance to some status effects and extra skills are nice.
- Variant Human: Much like Custom Lineage, early access to feats is powerful. This choice lets you split your ability score boosts to two different stats, but it’s otherwise mechanically the same as Custome Lineage.
- Lizardfolk: While their jaws and weapon creation won’t come up much, a racial feature that gives mage armor AC all the time and some extra skills can save you on spell slots and expand your skill versatility.
- Shadar-kai: Much like Eladrin, Shadar-kai can teleport without casting a spell. However, the Shadar-kai trade the varied effects of Fey Step for damage resistances, making them more durable than Eladrin.
- Tortle: This race gives any character a starting AC equal to that of half-plate or splint armor, all without the carrying capacity and gold expense that comes with those armor sets normally.
- Yuan-ti: This race kept its magic resistance in the reprint, meaning you can dish out magical damage while shrugging off any return fire your foes might have in response.
For the most part, any race that doesn’t appear in Monsters of the Multiverse and also doesn’t boost your Intelligence will be a bad choice for your Evoker.
In general, backgrounds are about creating the character you want to play.
While there is some argument to be made about optimal choices for an Evoker Wizard, your background choice gives you a chance to flesh out an interesting character for your roleplay.
With their need for Intelligence and use for Dexterity, backgrounds that offer skills related to these ability scores will work well for an Evoker.
Plus, Perception, a common skill in the game, isn’t on the Wizard skill list. So, any background that offers Perception is worth looking at to keep your Wizard’s wits about them.
Wizards are one of the few Intelligence-based characters in D&D 5e. This means that you might be the only one at the table with a high Intelligence modifier.
You can put that to good use by taking the knowledge skills like Arcana, History, and Religion that other characters might not normally consider.
Insight and Medicine also show up on the Wizard list. While Insight can come up somewhat in social encounters, Medicine is a skill that the player and DM have to actively work into the story.
Overall, pick up skills that rely on Intelligence for their modifier to get the most out of your unique stat reliance.
Feats, though optional, are a great way to add some variety to your characters or shore up their weaknesses.
While there are lots of feats in the game right now, here are some of the big ones we wanted to point out for Evokers:
- Alert: While not as important for damage spells, going first means you can cast large area of effect spells without having to rely on your Sculpt Spells feature.
- Elemental Adept: Sorcerers have an easier time specializing in one type of damage, but there are plenty of spell choices for common damage types like fire on the Wizard list.
- Fey-Touched: An Intelligence half-feat and access to two free spells a day? There are few feats in the game that are this good, let alone good enough for a Wizard to take.
- Lucky: Every adventurer loves getting advantage on their dice rolls, so having the ability to do it on any dice roll three times per long rest is amazing.
- Metamagic Adept: Wizards in general have a lot of buff and summon spells that can benefit from the Extended Spell option, but Evokers particularly will want Transmuted Spell to alter their damage types in certain fights.
- Resilient (Constitution): Even if you plan on blasting every turn, concentration is critical to staying effective as a Wizard. Plus, this feat helps shore up a common saving throw that Wizards don’t get natively.
- Shadow-Touched: Much like Fey-Touched, this feat gives an Intelligence bump and access to two spells. However, the spell selection is limited, meaning you won’t have as many powerful choices here as you do with Fey-Touched.
- Telekinetic: One of the few Intelligence half-feats in the game, access to a handy cantrip, and a Shove attempt as a bonus action to group up enemies means this feat goes well for anyone slinging area-of-effect spells.
- War Caster: While it may not seem like it at first, getting advantage on concentration checks is better than having the Constitution saving throw proficiency in the early levels.
Overall, the optimal feats to take for an Evoker allow them to more easily cast their big spells. Plus, picking up any feats that improve your concentration means that, if you take damage, you’re less likely to waste the spell or spend a turn and another spell slot reapplying the spell.
If your table allows you to multiclass, then a whole other set of build options opens up for you.
Evocation Wizards do well by focusing on their Wizard levels, but a few levels in other classes can shore up some of their weaknesses.
If you want a way to get proficiency in Constitution saving throws and up to medium armor without spending a feat or losing spellcasting progression, Artificer is the way to go.
Plus, Artificers are an Intelligence-based caster and have a spell list that differs from the Wizard list, meaning you won’t have to split your Ability Scores to get access to new spells like faerie fire or cure wounds.
Taking Artificer as your first level and then switching to Wizard from then on works well. Otherwise, three levels will get you the Artillerist subclass for bonus action damage to pair with your spells.
While it doesn’t give Constitution saving throws, a level of Cleric gives Wizards the armor proficiencies and spell choices they can’t get from their own features.
Plus, Clerics get to choose their subclass at level one, meaning you can get class features useful for your whole adventuring career for just one level.
For example, the Knowledge Domain can get you expertise in a few Intelligence skills, the Life Domain improves the healing spells you can prepare as a Cleric, and the Peace Domain gives you a scaling effect similar to bless without using a spell slot.
Another classic mutliclass for Wizards to get Constitution saving throws and armor. Fighter won’t progress your spellcasting without taking three levels to get Eldritch Knight, which isn’t usually a good trade for Evokers.
However, two levels of Fighter gives access to Action Surge, which can allow you to cast multiple non-cantrip spells in a turn once per short rest.
If you really need a group of enemies to go down, opening with Action Surge into two big blasts can really change the course of a battle before it begins.
In case you need some help getting started, here’s an example of how you might progress your Evocation Wizard over their career.
This build won’t be the best Evoker you could possibly make since it relies mostly on the Player’s Handbook.
Instead, it shows you what you can do with the subclass. Take a look:
You have the largest number of choices to make at Level 1, so let’s talk about what those choices mean.
To start, you’ll need your Ability Scores. Each table has a different way they generate these, so let’s use the standard array as a baseline:
- Strength: 8
- Constitution: 14
- Dexterity: 13
- Intelligence: 15
- Wisdom: 12
- Charisma: 10
Since we have odd scores in our Dexterity and Intelligence, Variant Human seems like a good choice. We can round out those scores while also snagging a useful feat.
Since concentration is an important part of any Wizard’s toolkit, War Caster is our choice.
Next is our skills. Since Arcana and History can be picked up by a background, choosing Investigation and Insight means our Wizard can interact with the environment around them well.
Plus, Variant Humans get an extra skill proficiency we can use to get the highly useful Perception proficiency.
For the background, Sage works well. It provides Arcana and History to round out the Evoker’s education and offers some interesting world tie-ins thanks to its Researcher feature.
Next is the starting equipment. From the starting choices, a dagger, component pouch, explorer’s pack, and spellbook will give your Wizard everything they need to get going on their journey.
Next will be your cantrips. You’ll want a mix of damage and utility from these since they can be used whenever you like.
Firebolt will give you solid damage at good range, while frostbite gives you a saving-through option to use against high-AC opponents. To round things out, minor illusion gives your Evoker something tricky to do if needed.
Finally, you get to pick your starting eight spells. Since you can prepare four of them right now, you’ll want a healthy mix of utility rituals and spells you can cast in combat. We recommend this list:
This list will give you plenty of ways to deal damage, protect yourself from harm, and provide utility to the party via scouting and magical detection.
Don’t forget that you have Arcane Recovery at this level too. This feature will let you get spell slots back during a short rest, so don’t hesitate to take breathers with your party to do so!
This is the level where you become an Evocation Wizard. With that choice, you’ll gain access to the Evocation Savant and Sculpt Spells features. From here, you’ll be able to weave spells around your allies when you cast them in an area.
You’ll also gain two more spells this level and every Wizard level after this for your spellbook.
To add more spells to use with Sculpt Spell, take Thunderwave as another close-range option. Comprehend Languages will let you read almost any text in the game, improving your academic abilities.
No new class features at this level, but you get 2nd-level spells!
Scorching ray gives you another damaging blast for your foes. Misty Step can give you a way to break away from an adjacent foe or travel to areas not normally reachable for you.
For our first Abiltiy Score Improvement, it’s probably best to boost your Intelligence to 18. This will improve the accuracy and save DC for spells, meaning we can deal damage more reliably now.
Speaking of spells, pick up Shatter and Enhance Ability this level.
Shatter will give you a long-range area spell you can use to hit your enemies. Enhance Ability works well outside of combat to give yourself or an ally a better chance at succeeding an ability check.
At worst, you can use it on someone for Dexterity ability checks and boost their initiative rolls.
You also get another cantrip at this level. Since you have a good split of damage types, Mage Hand is a nice choice to increase your ability to interact with the world around you.
Third-level spells are special in D&D 5e because they represent a big boost in spellcasting power. For Evocation Wizards, this means Fireball!
This spell has high damage and covers a huge area for the level, making it a very efficient blast.
For your second spell, Leomund’s Tiny Hut works well to keep your party safe during rests.
Potent Cantrips come online this level, meaning your Frostbite cantrip will do half damage on a successful saving throw now. It won’t be a huge change, but it at least means you can count on doing some damage every turn now.
For your two spells at this level, choose Counterspell and Haste.
Counterspell will help you keep yourself and allies safe from other spellcasters while Haste give you something to concentrate on and a buff to use when blasts don’t work as well.
Another odd level, another new spell level! Wall of Fire gives you a new tool that combines crowd control and damage to keep foes boxed in.
Dimension Door also expands on the teleportation you had from Misty Step, except now you can bring an ally along with you during your spatial jaunts.
With your Ability Score Improvement here, boost you Intelligence to 20. With a maxed-out stat, you’ll be as accurate and damaging as you can be with your spells.
For your spells here, pick up Ice Storm and Arcane Eye.
Ice Storm lets you deal some damage and knock foes prone for your melee allies while Arcane Eye is a fantastic scouting tool to pair with your familiar.
With access to 5th-level spells now, you can get Cone of Cold and Wall of Force. These evocations increase the damage and crowd control you can do each turn.
Empowered Evocations at this level mean that you get to add five damage to all of your evocation spells. Suddenly those blasts centered on a group of foes will deal a lot more total damage!
For your new spells, take Contact Other Plane and Rary’s Telepathic Bond. With your damage and battlefield control handled, some utility options can help even things out.
Also, since you get a new cantrip, Prestidigitation will represent your total command of the arcane at this point by giving you flashy, though minor, magical effects you can create.
Now that you can choose 6th-level spells, pick up Chain Lightning and Contingency.
Chain Lightning will give you better damage results while Contingency gives you a way to escape via Dimension Door before something terrible happens.
With our Intelligence capped, our Ability Score Improvements can go to feats again. Let’s take Resilient for Constitution saving-throw proficiency.
This choice improves your concentration checks and gives you a common saving-throw proficiency.
For your spells, Mass Suggestion and Disintegrate give you crowd control and damage options for this spell level.
With access to 7th-level spells, it’s hard to pass up Prismatic Spray and Simulacrum. The damage offered by creating a simulacrum of yourself is too good to pass up, even if the illusory double is much weaker.
With Overchannel now, you can maximize the damage from spells like Fireball or Cone of Cold to keep them relevant at these higher levels.
As for your spell choices here, Plane Shift and Teleport will give you options to move the party around as needed.
While other spellcasters struggle to find good spells at this level, Wizards have good choices like Sunburst and Demiplane.
Sunburst adds a rare damage type in radiant to your arsenal while Demiplane gives you a extradimensional space to store all sorts of valuables.
For this Ability Score Improvement, Lucky gives us a way to improve our accuracy and saving throws whenever we like.
When it comes to spells, taking Maze and Clone here give you another crowd-control option and a backup plan in case a fight goes south.
Since you have Demiplane, remember that you can store the vessel from Clone inside there!
Finally, access to the pinnacle of arcane magic! Wish is a given for Wizards of these levels, and Meteor Swarm is a given for Evokers. With these two spells, you can wreak all kinds of havoc on your foes.
At this level, Spell Mastery means you can choose some low-level spells to treat almost like cantrips. Choose whatever you like, but Shield and Scorching Ray mean you have offense and defensive always on tap.
For your spells, pick up Foresight and Time Stop. While you might not cast these spells often, they offer advantages not found in other spells in the game.
For your last Ability Score Improvement, take Alert. While the initiative bonus doesn’t mean much to us, preventing surprise at this point means we can keep some nasty monsters from getting the drop on us.
When it comes to spells, you have what you need at this point. Feel free to go back to some earlier levels and pick up rituals, utility spells, or other fun tools for you to use.
As your Spell Mastery choices, Counterspell and Fireball are the clear choices.
Counterspell keeps you safe from incoming spells while the free casting of Fireball can replace cantrips that would deal half Fireball’s damage at this point.
Evocation Wizard Beginner’s Guide DnD 5e
When browsing through the subclass options for Wizard, many folks have their attention turned toward the Evocation Wizard. Many players love the idea of slinging fireballs on their foes.
But, what goes into playing an Evocation Wizard at the table? What sort of roleplaying expectations and inspirations should we be using to build up a fun and enjoyable character?
Those are the questions this guide hopes to answer!
What Is an Evocation Wizard?
An Evocation Wizard is a Wizard who dedicates their study to the school of magic centered around controlling the elements. This control is displayed as the Wizard rains down balls of fire, storms of ice, and tendrils of lightning toward their foes.
Overall, an Evocation Wizard acts like the heavy artillery for the party in a combat.
While other characters might be able to deal more damage to a single target, an Evocation Wizard can remove a cluster of weaker foes with a wave of their hand and arcane words muttered under their breath.
This doesn’t mean an Evocation Wizard only goes around blasting their problems, however.
Much like heavy ordinance requires discipline in real life, Evocation Wizards ground themselves with study and focus during their spell preparations to be able to call up their spells in mere moments during the heat of battle.
Roleplaying an Evocation Wizard
Part of what sets characters using the same subclass apart is the setting and roleplay that the players engage in to drive the story forward.
While inspired by wargaming, D&D has long progressed past those roots and solidly into storytelling space. So, to make an evocation wizard feel fun and unique, you have to consider how you will roleplay them at the table.
One place many players struggle with Wizards is in the stats required to play the class. Wizards rely on a high Intelligence score to cast their spells, meaning that a Wizard has a higher Intelligence than almost any real-life person.
How can you hope to convey that in roleplay? The common advice is to have your character go out of their way to gather information and make plans.
Both of these qualities convey a high intelligence and work well with the skills many Wizards tend to be proficient in anyway.
However, Evocation Wizards are more than just a standard Wizard. These characters control elemental magic to a finer degree than others of the same class.
Asking what that means to your character can inform the player a lot about what their character believes about the world and themselves.
Finally, go through the Backgrounds in the Player’s Handbook and the This Is Your Life section in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.
Both of these chapters offer tables of possible outcomes for things like personal ideals, upbringing, and even strange events the character may have witnessed.
You can take an Evocation Wizard in almost any direction for their personality and beliefs. However, you won’t know what those are unless you sit down and ask those questions!
Examples of Evocation Wizards in Media
While Wizards are varied in media, there are some standouts that can be called Evokers. Here is a list of some of them for you to get inspiration for your D&D character:
- Merlin: While powerful Wizards stuff all kinds of magic, many incarnations of Merlin call on fire and lightning to bring down the foes of Albion.
- Mordenkainen: Perhaps the most popular D&D wizard ever, Mordenkainen possess arcane power unknown. Still, Mordenkainen is able to contend with extraplanar threats and upstart player characters alike with his spells, making him a powerful Evoker.
- Raistlin Majere: The only Wizard in the Dragonlance setting to adopt all three robe colors during his life, Raistlin used his magic to protect his allies and, eventually, to get his way. Raistlin is a great character example of what happens when you crave power too much.
- Steven Strange: While he calls himself Sorcerer Supreme, the good doctor is a Wizard by D&D definitions due to the study and practice he places on his spells. While Strange relies on cunning plans most often, he isn’t afraid to blast his foes apart when the situation calls for it.
The interesting thing to take away from these Evokers is that none of them have personalities that overlap. Each character feels different due to their various backstories, historical ties, and decisions they make during their lives.
The idea with presenting these characters isn’t for something you copy but rather something that shows you how arcane power can shape a character’s worldview and priorities.
Evocation Wizards give D&D players a chance to explore what it’s like to command powerful arcane spells that can devastate foes.
Will these characters revel in their might or be afraid of the pain and anguish they can cause with the wiggle of a finger?
Whatever path you choose for your Evoker, be prepared to contend with the outcomes your spells will create. Arcane might rarely comes easily!
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Rich is an avid D&D player and DM. He has been playing since the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st and 2nd editions. He has run campaigns of various editions with family and friends for over 20 years. Playing DnD 5th Edition in person at local game stores and online with VTT’s over the past 10 years has provided a consistent connection to how the game has grown. He strongly believes in understanding the source material, but catering the games to your individual players. Feel free to ask anything in the comments or drop him an email: [email protected].