Last Updated on January 22, 2023
From stalwart abjurers to all-knowing diviners, there is no class in Dungeons & Dragons 5e that wields as much arcane power as the wizard.
This class might start out relatively weak and ineffectual (at 1st level, wizards can easily begin the game with fewer than 6 hit points), but a crafty, careful (lucky) mage who survives the perils of low-level play can expect to grow into a world-shattering, reality-warping spellcaster — arguably the strongest class in the game.
With access to D&D 5e’s most expansive spell list, the largest pool of spell slots available to any class, and the ability to recover some of those spell slots on a short rest, there’s a reason why wizards are popular candidates for multiclass builds that look to expand a character’s arcane skill set.
As insatiable seekers after knowledge and power, wizards also sometimes look beyond the bounds of their chosen magical school in pursuit of new abilities, typically as a way of compensating for areas in which the wizard is lacking.
Welcome to our guide to multiclassing with wizards.
Today, we’re going to look at all the reasons you might want to multiclass into, or out of, the wizard as well as explore some of the most mechanically effective pairings for a Wizard/X build.
What is multiclassing?
Multiclassing is a process wherein a character of one class starts taking levels in one or more (people can get a little nuts about this stuff) additional classes.
When you multiclass into a new class, you start at level one again and must work your way up toward level 20 from scratch.
Because different classes gain different features at different levels – and because some classes synergize better than others – there are some (like the paladin) that are better equipped for multiclassing either into a specific build or that can play nicely with just about any other class.
For a full breakdown of some of the truly wild stuff you can achieve with multiclassing, check out our guide here for a general overview with some examples.
What Do I Want From Multiclassing?
If you’re considering taking a few levels in another class — or even completely refocusing your character around the concept of two or more classes working in harmony — it’s important to consider what you want from such a decision.
Obviously, if multiclassing makes sense for your character’s backstory, a specific character concept you have based on a fictional character, or just seems like a fun change of pace, then none of this advice matters.
Do what you think is fun, chase your bliss, make a Wizard/Barbarian multiclass. See if I care.
(Random DM advice: Give multiclass levels to characters as rewards, the mutagenic effects of touching a big, wobbly, green, glowing thing, or even curses attached to specific magic items; guess who just got three levels in aberrant mind sorcerer?!)
Multiclass builds that try to explore new mechanical interactions, new styles of play, and new ways of utilizing the rules to do badass stuff need to consider two things:
- What is my class good at, and how does this multiclass complement those strengths?
- What is my class lacking, and how does this multiclass build help compensate for those weaknesses?
Opportunity Costs: A Warning About Multiclassing in General
Multiclassing opens up whole new worlds of possibilities in a game that largely tends to lock you into a relatively straight progression path from 1st to 20th level.
With a lot of classes, beyond picking spells and the occasional Ability Score Increase, there aren’t actually very many decision points after you pick your subclass.
Multiclassing, then, can feel a lot like you’ve just exponentially increased your options as your character progresses.
However, figuring out how to multiclass a character build is all about learning to balance opportunity cost. For every level in another class you take, you’re giving up abilities, hit points, spells — you name it — from your own.
As fun as it is to theory craft new and exciting combinations of abilities and class features, there are definitely some serious issues with multiclassing that apply to wizard multiclass builds.
“Made for Dipping”: The Problem With Multiclassing Wizards
One of the things that makes the wizard pretty unique among other player classes is that it’s all about spellcasting rather than subclass abilities.
In fact, I’d argue that the school-of-magic-specific subclass features are some of the least impactful of any class.
Sure, they provide interesting flavor and some good thematic utility (I personally love them all, specifically because they feel like they were designed to be interesting rather than mechanically impactful; numerical bonuses are boring), but it’s all to do with augmenting the class’s spell list.
The spells are the juice of the class.
As such, other than 2nd level when they unlock their first and most-impactful subclass feature, wizards suffer from a lot of “dead levels” where the class isn’t unlocking new forms of utility or impactful abilities tied to their subclass, just more spells.
This means that, when it comes to multiclassing, wizards are sort of an all-or-nothing-much option.
The subclass features you get by taking a wizard to 6th level instead of 2nd probably aren’t going to be better than the benefits you’re going to get from the extra four levels in another class.
What you would get from four extra levels of wizard are more spells and spell slots, and if that’s what you’re after, why not just play a straight-up wizard?
Essentially, if you want to multiclass into (or out of) wizard, you’re either going to want to put two levels in wizard and everything else into the other class, or go full wizard with enough levels in your secondary class to get access to a subclass or some other early-game power spike.
It’s also important to note that the main attraction of playing a wizard is access to 9th-level spells — big ticket examples of which include stuff like wish, meteor swarm, and power word kill — which the class unlocks at 17th level.
Therefore, with any multiclass build that takes more than three levels in a class other than wizard, you’ll never unlock a 9th-level spell.
(And this is assuming your campaign makes it all the way to 20th level, which more or less never happens unless your campaign starts off at super-high level).
A lack of 9th-level spells (or just high-level magic in general) doesn’t have to be the end of the world, however. There are plenty of spells in D&D 5e that punch above (and below) their level.
Smart players that I’ve seen really use wizards with maximum effectiveness are the ones who treat their spell lists like a way to solve problems, not to cast the biggest, most destructive high-level spell they have access to (that’s what sorcerers are for).
A smart wizard can accomplish just as much in the right situation with a few well-chosen 1st-level spells and a bit of creativity.
What Are Wizards Good At?
When considering a multiclass build, you want to find options that accentuate your character’s strengths and compensate for their weaknesses.
Even before wizards can call down devastating meteor showers to wipe out entire cities (or just wish the whole city out of existence with a snap of their fingers), just a few levels in this class can start to turn your character into one of the most versatile problem-solving toolkits in the game.
Sure, sometimes the solution to problems is “more fireballs,” but there are virtually limitless ways to outfit wizards to fill just about any role in the party (with the exception of healer) by choosing the right spells.
More importantly, there are plenty of things wizards can do that other classes can’t even dream of.
You’re basically a great big magical toolkit with the right spell for any situation.
Wizards have the longest spell list of any class (suck it, sorcerers and clerics) and the largest pool of spell slots (suck it, warlocks and druids).
They even start out with a respectable pool of cantrips that allow them to be effective even when they’ve run out of leveled spells — not as many as warlocks or sorcerers but still good.
It’s all a far cry from previous editions of D&D, when a 1st-level magic user had exactly one spell per day; a freshly minted wizard in 5e gets two 1st-level spells and a generous helping of three cantrips, making them consummate problem solvers, damage dealers, or even social manipulators right out of the gate.
Then, once wizards reach third and fourth tier play, they start to get really scary — gaining access to a bigger pool of higher-level spells, including some uniquely wizardy gems, which tend to be seriously weird and wonderful.
It’s like if a baby sea turtle grew up and became Godzilla. Unfortunately, as we all know: most of those baby sea turtles don’t make it.
What Are Wizards Bad At?
In a word: surviving. Wizards (along with sorcerers) have the lowest hit dice size in the game (a measly d6), which means you’ll need to put precious ability points into Constitution.
They also can’t wear armor or use shields, and they have access to a truly dismal list of weapon proficiencies.
All this means that every wizard between levels 1 and 3 is exactly one bad round of combat away from death-saves territory.
Obviously, wizards have access to some great defensive spells, from mage armor to shield and blur.
However, every round of combat or spell slot you spend focusing on keeping yourself alive with magic is another turn you don’t spend bathing your enemies in arcane fire, or levitating, or whatever other things wizards like to do.
Multiclass options that let wizards improve their survivability, either through being able to wear better armor, accumulating more hit points (a level in any class other than sorcerer has a chance of netting you more with its bigger hit die), or getting access to some other abilities like healing magic, are best.
Speaking of which, while there are very few areas of the arcane arts that wizards don’t have access to, arcane magic and healing simply don’t go hand in hand; giving your allies their hit points back has always been the province of divine magic.
If your party is desperately in need of a healer and you’ve got the spell slots going spare, then multiclassing into cleric, paladin, or druid can be a solid avenue toward unlocking a splash of magical medicine.
Of course, I would personally just grab the magic initiate feat and save myself the trouble.
Example Wizard Multiclass Builds
So, keeping in mind that we want multiclass pairings that dip into or out of the wizard class for a few levels and either accentuate the wizard’s ability to be a powerful and versatile problem solver or help compensate for the class’s lack of early-game survivability, let’s take a look at a few options.
Just remember that each class requires you to have a minimum prerequisite value in one or more ability scores to be able to multiclass into it.
To multiclass into wizard, for example, requires an Intelligence score of 13 or higher.
Armorer Artificer / Abjuration Wizard
The Armorer artificer solves pretty much all the wizard’s survivability problems and even lets this firmly back-line class get down and dirty in melee.
Three levels in Armorer artificer are all you need to give your wizard proficiency with heavy armor, simple weapons, shields, and Constitution saving throws.
Most importantly, whichever version of Arcane Armor you decide to opt for (not to mention the fact that it functions as a spellcasting focus), it allows you to use your Intelligence modifier for attack rolls, which means you’ve suddenly gained a whole load of staying power and survivability.
The one thing that artificers struggle with is a general lack of high-level spellcasting, a problem that the wizard neatly solves.
Suggested Build: Wizard 1-2 (Abjuration), Artificer 1-3, Wizard 3-17
Alternatively, if survivability is your main concern, just start out with three levels in Artificer, then fully divert yourself into wizard.
Psi Warrior Fighter or Eldritch Knight / Abjuration Wizard
Fighters and wizards may seem completely antithetical, like water and oil. However, these classes mix together surprisingly well.
The fighter not only brings more hit points and weapon and armor proficiencies, but it also brings super-powerful abilities like Second Wind (regain health in a pinch) and Action Surge (take a second action once per short rest — a huge boon for a wizard).
I would advise taking no more than three levels in fighter — enough to get access to a martial archetype — and then diverting fully into wizard as fighter subclass features aren’t especially powerful in the 6- to14th-level range, and you won’t be able to use extra attack to its full potential if your build is still focused on spellcasting.
Choosing a martial archetype that focuses on using its Intelligence — like the Eldritch Knight, the Rune Knight or the Psi Warrior — is going to be the way to go, and if you’re playing a custom-lineage character or a variant human, picking the Magic Initiate feat at 1st level can do a lot to smooth the transition between fighter and wizard.
Suggested Build: Fighter 1-3 (Rune Knight/Eldritch Knight/Psi Warrior), Wizard 1-17 (Abjuration)
Any Sorcerer / Any Wizard
While the purpose behind mixing the two arguably most “spellcastery” classes together isn’t initially apparent, there’s actually a lot that wizards and sorcerers can do for each other.
Sorcerers get a bigger pool of cantrips and their signature Metamagic ability. Wizards have access to more leveled spells and a much, much bigger list of spells — many of which could definitely benefit from a bit of metamagic tweaking.
Just be careful that balancing Intelligence, Charisma, and Constitution doesn’t leave your ability scores feeling lackluster overall.
Suggested Builds: Wizard 1-2 (Evocation), Sorcerer 1-18 (Draconic Bloodline) / Wizard 1-2, Sorcerer 1-3, Wizard 3-17
- About Author
- Latest Posts
I played my first tabletop RPG (Pathfinder 1e, specifically) in college. I rocked up late to the first session with an unread rulebook and a human bard called Nick Jugger. It was a rocky start but I had a blast and now, the better part of a decade later, I play, write, and write about tabletop RPGs (mostly 5e, but also PBtA, Forged in the Dark and OSR) games for a living, which is wild.