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The Scribe Wizard – When Balancing Around Combat Power Harms Subclass Identity

Content of the article: "The Scribe Wizard – When Balancing Around Combat Power Harms Subclass Identity"

When looking at the changes between the UA and Tasha's versions of the new subclasses, there is a strong pattern that indicates the designers made their pass through caring primarily about the combat power of the subclass and concerns about class identity were secondary. To me the scribe wizard exemplifies this most clearly. I had been playing a level 7 UA scribe wizard before the book's release. I enjoyed the subclass even though I would admit that it would never be in the top tier of wizard subclasses. It felt like a universalists wizard; after all, it halved cost for all spells. The idea of altering a spell based on what other spells you prepared is a great idea and the ability to changing damage types could encourage taking spells I would not normally learn even though in practice you can get every single damage type besides radiant from three 1st level spells. The 6th level master scrivener ability to upcast a 1st or 2nd level spell felt like an early signature spell encouraged taking a spell that scales better than damage spells. The capstone feature, becoming essentially a knowledge lich is really cool and fitting for a wizard whose goal is to know every spell possible, even though it was probably over powered.

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In attempting to fix the over powered aspects, Tasha's version gutted a good deal of identity of the class. It replaced universal halved copy cost with quicker copy time, which makes it less of a universalist and more of a good administrative assistant. Changing damage types needed to be fixed, but it was done in a way that forces the wizard to focus even harder on damage dealing spells. Instead of buffing the manifest mind to make it worth using, an ability lifted from 3rd level feature that was essentially find familiar from an artificer UA, the final version saw it in a nearly exact form swap with the master scrivener feature. Not only did this swap not fix the problem that manifest mind is made redundant by find familiar, but it also made scrivener less useful as 1 level upcasted 1st and 2nd are not all that useful at 10th level.

TLDR – The UA scribe wizard was set up to be a universalists, learn all the spells, wizard. It definitely had things that needed to be fixed, but in attempting to fix the complaints and the failure to properly address the problems with Manifest Mind, the Tasha's scribe is less of a universalist and more of a weaker version of the evoker.

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