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For a Wizard who plans to be in battle, what factors should be considered when deciding between taking a level or two of Fighter or of Cleric, and when?

Fighter 1 would give the heavy armor proficiency and the proficiency on CON saves, and seems like a good way to go.

Cleric 1 would also give heavy armor proficiency, proficiency on WIS saves, and progresses the spell slots. L1 Cleric healing (and other) spells could be cast from higher level slots making this a nice "bonus" set of spells to have available.

I realize there are trade-offs and it's not a factual question to ask which is better, but are there factors I'm failing to take into consideration?

Is there an argument for taking the first level of Wizard first? It seems like you lose out on more than you gain that way.

(If it matters, we'll start playing at Level 3)

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Outside of the Wizard's saves, the consideration of the spellbook (as some DM's may have restrictions on buying your book as you become a wizard), and the character's history and background, there is no real advantage to choosing Wizard at first level if multiclassing as a fighter.

The fighter would lose heavy armor proficiency if multiclassed in to, and a high Con save has serious advantages, as you pointed out. The weapon proficiencies are a nice addition depending on character concept, but that is something you gain regardless of whether you take it at 1st level or not.

As for the cleric, they gain the armor proficiency regardless of what level if you choose an appropriate domain, they gain spells, and they promote normal spell progression. Overall, mechanically, I would say that Cleric is the stronger option. They aren't likely to do as much damage with weapons, but access to Cure Wounds and similar spells that are normally barred from Wizards is certainly a huge bonus.

If cleric is chosen, the choice of which class to take first isn't nearly as clear, nor is it as important.

Ultimately, look at the class features of fighter and cleric to decide which one you think is better for your goals. If you choose Fighter, it is advantageous to take it at first level. If you choose Cleric, it isn't really important which you take first.

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I would take a look at taking 2 levels of fighter, to gain Action Surge. The ability to cast two non-cantrip spells in a turn is very powerful, if you want to improve your combat capabilities.

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Another good option could be Barbarian, if your character has a decent Constitution. Starting there gives you more hp than any other option, proficiency in weapons, shield, and light/med armor, and adds your Con bonus to your AC if you wear no armor. You also get the good Con and Str saves. Plus, rage is a good surprise to pull if/when you run out of spell slots.

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