How To Build A War Magic Wizard In DND

Quick on the draw, steady in their concentration, and all the more powerful when opposed by magic, the war magic wizard is one subclass that enemies will not want to tangle with in Fifth Edition Dungeons & Dragons. All of the features from this class relate to seizing and keeping the upper hand during combat.



Related: Dungeons & Dragons: How To Build A Blood Magic Wizard

As a war magic wizard, you are a bit of a jack of all trades when it comes to the obstacles wizards face in combat. Your Intelligence is so powerful that it grants you durability and speed on the battlefield, and you draw power every time you best another spellcaster.

Features Of A War Magic Wizard

spellcaster shooting purple lightning at another character in a purple void
Ray of Enfeeblement by Campbell White

Arcane Deflection

At second level when you choose this school of magic, you can use your reaction to give yourself a two point bonus to your Armor Class when you are hit from an attack. You can also use your reaction to give yourself a four point bonus to a failed saving throw.

After using this feature, you can’t use any spell slots until the end of your next turn, although you can cast cantrips.

Tactical Wit

Also at second level, you can add your Intelligence modifier to your initiative rolls. This gives you the advantage of being able to act very quickly in battle.

Power Surge

At sixth level, you can build up magical power surges, starting with one at the end of each long rest, and with the ability to accrue a maximum of your Intelligence modifier before you long rest again.

Whenever you cast Dispel Magic or Counterspell to successfully end a spell, you gain one power surge from the lost energy of the spell you thwarted. You can use these accrued power surges once per turn to deal half your wizard level in force damage when you deal spell damage to a creature or object.

While it is quite situational to gain these power surges through use of Dispel Magic or Counterspell, you will also gain a power surge any time you end a short rest without a power surge stored up.

Durable Magic

At tenth level, you have a two point bonus to your Armor Class and all of your saving throws while you are maintaining concentration on a spell.

This bonus to saving throws also applies to the Constitution saving throws that you make to avoid losing concentration, so make sure you apply that bonus!

Deflecting Shroud

At fourteenth level, your arcane deflection feature becomes more powerful. When you use this feature as a reaction, you choose up to three creatures within sixty feet of you. Each of these creatures takes half your wizard level in force damage.

Best Ability Scores For A War Magic Wizard

Art of a well-worn book filled with notes.
Art by Iris Compiet

Intelligence is the most important ability score for any wizard, and the war magic wizard is no exception.

Your Intelligence modifier determines your bonus to attack rolls and damage rolls when spellcasting. As a war magic wizard, it also determines the number that you can add to your initiative rolls and the maximum number of power surges that you can accrue.

Constitution is extremely valuable for any wizard as well. Since wizards naturally have lower hit points, you’ll want to make up for it in extra hit points. In addition, you want to be able to maintain concentration on spells reliably to make the most of your durable magic feature.

As a war magic wizard, you may want to take the War Caster feat at fourth level. In addition to letting you cast a spell as an opportunity attack, this feat grants you advantage on all saving throws to maintain concentration.

Dexterity should also be strong. In addition to determining your Armor Class, Dexterity determines your initiative rolls. Since you already have a bonus to initiative rolls with your tactical wit feature, a high dexterity will help you make the most of this.

Wisdom won’t be necessary all that often, but it is used frequently for saving throws so you can’t go wrong throwing a few points into this skill.

Charisma and Strength should be your lowest ability scores. You won’t need to make any friends or show any brute strength as a wizard, so you can safely dump both of these ability scores.

Related: Dungeons & Dragons: How To Build A School Of Illusion Wizard

Best Species For A War Magic Wizard

Humanoid Rabits called Harengon from Wild Beyond the Witchlight
Harengon via Wizards of the Coast


If you are looking to take advantage of the war magic wizard’s initiative bonus, the harengon is for you. You get to choose your ability score increases for this class, and it’s best to put the points into Intelligence, Constitution, or Dexterity.

You gain proficiency in Perception when you choose this class. You gain the ability to use your bonus action to jump five times your proficiency bonus feet, without provoking opportunity attacks, which is helpful if you find yourself trapped in melee. You can also roll 1d4 and add it to a failed Dexterity saving throw.

This bonus to failed Dexterity saves cannot be used in tandem with your arcane deflection ability, since they both use your reaction. However, this is a good alternative if you are planning on casting a leveled spell on your next turn.

The harengon lets you add your proficiency bonus to your initiative rolls. Stack this with your tactical wit feature to go first in pretty much every combat.


Besides being very on-theme with the war magic wizard, the warforged is a great species to play as a wizard. This species grants you a two point increase to Constitution and a one point increase to another ability score of your choice (you should choose Intelligence).

This species is built for resilience. You gain advantage on saving throws against poison, resistance to poison damage, and immunity to disease. You cannot be put to sleep by magic and do not need to breathe, eat, or drink.

You also do not go unconscious during long rests and are in fact alert. And finally, you gain a one point bonus to your Armor Class.

If you are worried about getting into combat situations that are over your head as a wizard, this is the species to protect yourself.


The hobgoblin is a deceptively good wizard species, especially a war magic wizard. This species grants you a two point increase to Constitution and a one point increase to Intelligence.

In addition to gaining advantage against saving throws against being charmed, you also gain a fey gift which allows you to take the Help action as a bonus action, and even empowers your Help action once you reach third level.

As a wizard your bonus action is usually free, so make sure to use this fey gift a lot!

The best feature of the hobgoblin for you comes from your fortune from the many abilities. This lets you add a bonus to a failed attack roll, ability check, or saving throw a number of times per long rest equal to your proficiency bonus. The bonus equals the number of allies you can see within thirty feet.

Since this ability doesn’t cost anything in the action economy, you can use it in tandem with your arcane deflection feature to great effect.

It’s best to save your fortune from the many ability and your arcane deflection feature for saving throws to maintain concentration – if you play it right you’ll likely never drop concentration again.

Best Spells For A War Magic Wizard

Dungeons and Dragons - Jace casting a spell
Counterspell by Jason Chan

When you choose spells each level, it’s best to choose one that will complement your class features.

Choose mostly concentration spells to keep your durable magic feature active very frequently. Try to favor concentration for both your combat and utility spells.



Detect Magic

This first-level concentration spell lets you sense the presence of magic within 30 feet of you.

This is a concentration spell that lasts up to ten minutes, so you can gain the benefits from your durable magic feature while it is active. In addition, detecting magic makes it easier for you to dispel it, accruing power surges as you do so.

Flaming Sphere

This second-level concentration spell lets you deal 2d6 fire damage to any creature that is within five feet of your flaming sphere. In addition, you can move the sphere around the battlefield each turn.

You gain durable magic benefits while this spell is active, so you can boost your own defenses while dealing damage simultaneously.

Counterspell and Dispel Magic

Both of these third level spells let you end magical spells and effects with ease, rolling an Intelligence check if the magical effects are higher than third level.

These are must-have spells if you want to accrue power surges. You should take both of them as soon as you reach fifth level and use them as frequently as possible.

Next: Dungeons & Dragons: All Official Wizard Subclasses, Ranked

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