Xanathar’s Guide to Everything: War Wizard

Xanathar’s Guide to Everything: War Wizard

By Chris Booth Twitter  Instagram  Website

Since Xanathar’s Guide to Everything was released late last year I’ve been gradually reading through all of the new subclass options that are included. Today I’ve reached the last one: the lone wizard class. Wizards have had it good for a long time, with one subclass for each of the eight schools of magic included in the Players Handbook, so it’s kind of fair that they only get one new option in Xanathar’s Guide.

Those eight original subclasses are nice and neat, but the war wizard from Xanathar’s Guide is here to mess things up. The eight original subclasses help to give the sense that wizards learn magic through academic study of a particular, compartmentalised field of magic. Rather than sticking to a pure, compartmentalised discipline, the war wizard takes what it finds useful from two schools, evocation and abjuration. This wizard is much more interested in the practical application of wizardry than knowledge for knowledge’s sake.

The war wizard uses what they know of abjuration to protect themselves in battle and uses their evocation to turn up the knobs for the damage on their attack spells. When a wizard chooses the war wizard specialisation, they gain the ability to use their reaction to raise their armour class in response to a specific attack or to add a bonus to a saving throw. They can also add their Intelligence modifier to their initiative rolls, as a way of representing tactical expertise. At higher levels, the war wizard can store magical energy which they can use to increase the damage their spells inflict, can increase their armour class whenever they concentrate on a spell and can even turn magical attacks back on their enemies.

I have to confess that I don’t think I’ve ever played as a wizard. Something about them has always seemed a bit too academic and clinical for me. I like the idea of a wizard who is a bit more of a generalist, integrating and applying knowledge from different areas of study. I’d be interested in seeing how other, more traditional wizards respond to a war wizard. Would they see them as ill-disciplined and unorthodox? Would they question the way that magical research is being applied by a war wizard? My guess is that the war wizard would find these concerns a luxury afforded only to some confined to an ivory tower.

What’s next?

I’m pretty excited about the May release Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, but that’s still a while off! In the meantime I’ll still be publishing a review each Thursday, so let me know if there’s something you reckon I should cover here.


I’m an illustrator and dungeon master living on Wurundjeri land, in Melbourne, Australia. I like RPGs as an opportunity to bring people together to tell a story. Currently training to be a real-world cleric.

2 thoughts on “Xanathar’s Guide to Everything: War Wizard

  • 15th February 2018 at 4:05 pm

    I don’t think wizards are that clinical, mostly because I grew up in 3rd edition where they had to actual prep specific spells each day and predict which spell they’d always need, that was clinical. They don’t get the flare of sorcerer and those metamagic feats but they can learn every spell on their list with effort and have a significant list of spells they can cast ‘all day errday’ with ritual casting. I genuinely don’t think that stigma is deserved as much, at least in 5E.

    I want to play a war magic wizard but I also still want to eventually try a lot of different wizards as well. I think the PHB archetypes for wizard are pretty bland, especially in a combat game and when you compare it to an evocationist which is among the most bland of them all, war magic really stands out.

    My halfling divination wizard with the Lucky and Bountiful Luck feats some day is going to be pretty epic!

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    • 21st February 2018 at 6:37 am

      Halfling diviner sounds like a fortunate combination…
      When I say clinical, I just mean that the original subclasses keep things neat and orderly.

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