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The upcoming Neverwinter Heart of Fire update comes with a full balancing pass that affects all classes to some extent. We’ll be going over all relevant aspects and tackle the most important points related to the current meta and builds within our extensive preview series. Today we’re starting with Control Wizards, which get an upgrade in the control department while DPS builds might need to switch to a different set of Class Features and Feats.
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Crowd Control and PVP
Cryptic is truly honoring the class name with this balancing pass as wizards indeed get plenty of improved control abilities. Many powers have been reworked to grant either more or new crowd control. Prime examples are Steal Time, Entangling Force, Frost Wave, or Alacrity. Overall this should make for some interesting tank / control builds in PVP. For PVE this obviously doesn’t do much as control is hardly a factor in the current meta and boss fights. But depending on future designs of dungeons, the control potency of wizards might come in handy at some point.
There might even be a current niche. Both Steal Time and Glacial Movement are able to buff a group’s movement considerably, which could help in the new “Tales of Old” format or for pure speed runs.
Of course most CWs are interested in their precious DPS. The reports out of the preview server vary to say the least. But the overall consensus nonetheless seems to be that wizards will slightly be better off. You almost certainly will have to redo your builds though. In an attempt to make more Class Features viable, the devs nerfed the heavily used “Chilling Presence” and buffed “Arcane Presence” and “Arcane Mastery”. It’s clear they want to move away from the current chill-based builds. As compensation, damage was buffed by 25% globally. It seems to be a wash, but some lean more towards a nerf. Also wizards might suffer from the Paladin’s Aura of Courage no longer multi-proccing the most.
In terms of trash mobs you should still be good with your current Spellstorm builds. You might want to look into Evocation, which got buffed. In decent groups that one-rotate mobs it could now perform better as Chilling Presence (nerf + needs some time to build stacks). In terms of single target you have a nice synergy based on Arcane Mastery, which now considerably buffs both Disintegrate and Ray of Enfeeblement. Add in a reworked Arcane Power Field (doubles the damage bonus from Arcane Mastery) and Disintegrate turns into a nuclear weapon vs. bosses.
Oppressor No Longer a DPS Path
In terms of feat paths, DPS will have to move away from Oppressor as the devs reworked its capstone. It’s now more of a control power that debuffs enemies and does little damage. There’s a healthy discussion whether Thaumaturge or Renegade will take over the reign. But both capstones are not exactly stellar, so there’s a lot of potential to go in either direction based on your group’s need and personal play style.
Not Much Help for Buffers
While DPS should turn out ok for CWs, the class is not getting much help for their support role. The Renegade capstone is reworked to feature a greater variety of buffs that can now proc independently. The most important one “Chaotic Fury” however has been nerfed from 30% to 20% damage bonus. Most endgame groups run an Oppressor buff build based on “Frigid Winds” and “Controlled Momentum” anyway unless the group lacks a reliable source of Combat Advantage. So an inferior Renegade path lost even more support viability.
Even with the demise of DO DCs, there’s plenty of other classes (HRs and SWs, specifically) you should take before CWs in that 4th support slot behind your usual OP/DC/GF setup. It means CW buffers should remain a niche build in content for more than five players.
Players need to tune their DPS loadouts a little, but the damage output should look ok, especially in single target fights. The addition of more control is nice for PVP, and could turn into a feat in PVE depending on future content as well. On the other hand, the support role remains an afterthought. Getting into groups will remain tricky even though the two DC meta is no longer a thing.
The big issue of Control Wizards are their capstones. None is particularly strong up to a point where some theorycrafters consider not even picking one. Also the devs need to further look into tree purposes. They apparently want Oppressor to be the control path, Thauma DPS, and Renegade the buffing one. As it stands however Oppressor might still be the best (bad) support choice while Renegade could outperform Thauma in the damage department.
Overall the impact feels minor considering the overall numbers of tweaks. The list of Heart of Fire Control Wizard changes is long, but in the end not much should change for the class. I’m not sure whether your glass is half empty or half full, but there’s arguments for both sides. Either way, more changes won’t come until Module 16 as confirmed by Noworries in the feedback thread. So that’s what you’ll be dealing with for at least the next four months.
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