Underrated or Underpowered: Wild Magic

Hey all! Today we’re blowing ourselves up as we take a look at Wild Magic Sorcerers. Come see what we’ve got to say about these embodiments of Chaos!

Hey all, we’ve got another subclass, this one for my favorite class the Sorcerer! I have some personal experience with this subclass and I know lots of people love the idea of Wild Magic Sorcery, so let’s get right into it and discuss what it’s all about!


Let’s just get this out of the way, I have a huge bias towards Sorcerers. I think they’re awesome, and I love that they compensate for less spells known by being able to augment and change their magic. I love the innate chaos that comes with Sorcerers, so if I seem a little passionate about this article, there we go!

Little Ball of Chaos

Wild Magic Sorcerers are defined by the raging currents of magic surging through them, constantly looking for an outlet and occasionally flaring up from just a normal spell cast. Wild Magic Sorcerers get a huge table that fills an entire page in the PHB with various effects that segways into their first ability they get at level 1, Wild Magic Surge. I’ll actually be talking about this ability later, since I have lots to say about it and I don’t want to front load this article!

Tides of Chaos is another ability this subclass gets at first level, and it allows you to roll any attack, saving throw, or ability check with advantage once per long rest. while by no means bad, getting one inspiration per long rest is very underwhelming. However, there is the caveat that the DM can force you to roll on the table after you cast a spell, and doing so will let you regain your use of Tides of Chaos. I’ll go more into detail about this later, but having an ability that is ruled over by the DM can be very problematic and completely change the outcome of the class. Some DMs may have you surging every spellcast while others may never want you to get your Tides of Chaos back. The ability is very hit or miss and sadly very DM reliant.

Level 6 brings us Bend Luck, a very welcome reaction based ability. However, the goodness of the ability just about ends there. This ability allows you to add or subtract 1d4 from any attack roll, ability check, or saving throw that is within your vision at the cost of 2 sorcery points. This ability is kind of like Bardic Inspiration on a reaction that costs a good chunk of your main class resource. At level 6, using this would use up one third of your sorcery points! While it can certainly come in clutch every once in a while, the ability is extremely underwhelming and is much too costly for what it provides in my opinion.

We get the Controlled Chaos ability at level 14, which simply lets us roll “with advantage” on the Wild Magic table, rolling 2d100 and choosing which outcome we want. Again, the usefulness of this ability is contingent on actually getting those magic surges, but it’ll save you from becoming blue, dipping below the legal age to drink ale, and fireballing yourself and your party. Not a terrible ability, but similar to everything else, it’d be nice if we could get more out of this level.

Finally at level 18 we get Spell Bombardment. A simple ability, if you roll max damage on one of the damage dice of your spells, you can add an additional die to the damage! For example, if you roll a 6 on one of the 8d6 you roll for a fireball, you can add an extra d6. This serves as a not so reliable way to basically always upcast your damage spells, and while it may only add on average a few points of damage, the points can definitely stack up. Keep in mind you can only use this once per turn, so remember that before you think all of your Scorching Rays will deal an extra d6. This ability works particularly well with Empowered Spell and I admit, is probably my favorite ability of the subclass.

Let the Chaos Consume You

Alright, so this is where I’ll begin to rant a little bit about Wild Magic and why I think it’s innately flawed the way it is.

The first thing to establish is that very clearly Wild Magic is the core mechanic of the subclass. The other sorcerer subclasses have core mechanics as well as ways to help supplement the weaknesses of Sorcerers in general. Most importantly, these abilities are reliable. Divine Soul Sorcerers will always have one extra spell that they can switch to any spell from the Cleric spell list, Dragon Souls will always have the permanent mage armor and extra health, Shadow Souls will be able to cast darkness and see through that darkness. For a core mechanic, Wild Magic is not only too random, but you can go an entire session without even seeing the ability.

The second problem is how DM dependent the ability is. In a perfect world, our DM will always be there to remind us when to roll, tell us when we get Tides of Chaos back, and be prepared to deal with all the outcomes of Wild Magic. In practice, the DM is going to be busy managing 10 initiatives, 4 enemy stat blocks, and the actions of all the other players. Loading a large mechanic such as Wild Magic off onto the DM and making it up to them to determine when you roll is awful for both player and DM. The player should be in control of their character and not have to rely on the DM to play their class and the DM should not have to remember to constantly remind the player about this ability. In a perfect world? It works great. But in practice? I’ve personally seen it fall apart and the subclass basically be forgotten.

Finally, this subclass does not play well with other players. No one wants to be the player that gets blown up by your fireball, gets hit by confusion, or gets randomly poisoned, takes damage, or is subject to a slew of other status conditions. The game is mostly about teamwork and working together, so being an active detriment to other players, if you guys aren’t prepared for it, can get a lot of player’s panties in a bunch.

“What’d you roll Kevin?”
“… a 7”
“Alright, I need all of you to make Dex saves”

Conclusion

To finish off this article, I just want to say that I really wish that the Wild Magic Sorcerer was better. I love the idea of it, but in execution it’s woefully Underpowered. All of its abilities are on the weaker side to balance out the magic surges, but with there being a chance that you’ll never even see a magic surge in session, it creates a relatively underpowered class when you stack it up against other Sorcerer subclasses.


Another one in the books! Thank you all for coming to have a look at the article. As always, please take a stroll over to our twitter and instagram and interact with us there! We’re always looking for conversation and ideas for new articles. Thank you all again so very much 🙂

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