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I've just started playing D&D with a group, this is my first campaign for everyone in the group. I'm playing an elf Wizard and I feel like I'm struggling with attacks, and am not sure if I'm missing something. I've essentially 2 means of attack:

  1. Shortsword - but I need to be in close, and have little HP so use very infrequently.
  2. Spells - I've been using some spells, but I find that I quickly run out of spell slots. I've just leveled up to level 2 which helps but I'm quite quickly down to cantrips (of which I believe I've got 1 ranged attack - ray of frost).

So I quickly find myself in a predicament. I can just keep on ray of frosting monsters, or risk the chance of dying in close combat. Is this pretty typical, or have I missed something?

I should add that I'm hoping to buy a longbow at some point (but I couldn't afford one last time we were at a shop) and in the current campaign we've had 3 encounters so far and will be continuing the next session straight from this one so I don't have a chance for a long rest.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the Order of the Glass Cannon. Our bones may be brittle, but our enemies are crispy. \$\endgroup\$ – Sean Boddy Sep 25 '15 at 8:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ They will know your might once you get your power spike at lvl 5 \$\endgroup\$ – Jayjay Sep 29 '15 at 23:56
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Is this pretty typical, or have I missed something?

Yes, just as in many good games (tabletop or otherwise), you are given a finite resource which you must learn to economize. It's all part of the game!

At low levels, it's pretty easy to run out of spell slots, you only have 2 of them so it is up to you to manage them and make the most out of what you have. Even as other spellcasting classes such as Bard and especially Warlock, you really need to think about what sort of situations you want to spend your precious 2 1st-level spell slots on.

Without spell slots, you have other options for offense but going into melee with your armorless self is less than advisable so your best bet is to use your cantrips just as you are doing right now. They might look a bit underpowered to you at first, but that is because these level 0 spells give up damage for a slight mechanical benefit. Shocking Grasp prevents your target from taking reactions(thereby allowing you to get away safely), Ray of Frost slows down your target by 10 ft, Fire Bolt sets things ablaze, even Sacred Flame negates cover. These cantrips also increase in damage as you reach higher levels (usually at 5th-level so it is still a ways off)

Don't worry, 2nd-level will come faster than you might expect. Then you'll have 3 1st-level spell slots to contemplate spending.


As a final note, and this may be nothing but if you find yourselves struggling for resources every session, remember: a long rest isn't a "session ender", you can take long rests in the middle. In my group, we have fun over the logistics like bedrolls and sharing them because one guy didn't have one.

There are also guidelines in the DMG on the experience earned in an adventuring day, found in page 84. I felt like I should mention this because it's odd that you've had 5/6 encounters and still haven't gotten to 2nd-level.

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Cantrips are your main damage If you run out of spell slots, you use Cantrips. It's possible to use actual weaponry, but not advised. They deal lower damage and you have only a d6 of health. If you aren't satisfied with ray of frost, try getting some other Cantrips when you increase in level. Longbow would be alright if you had the dexterity, but your Cantrips soon deal far more damage than a d8, so unless you are building a war Mage, it doesn't really work in the long run.

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I happen to be currently playing a 5e Wizard too.

Your spell slots are 'special'. You're not really supposed to run out of them unless you have a few combats between each long rest.

Your cantrips are where you will be getting most of your damage from. Now cantrips aren't weak, you have some pretty strong ones in there. The problem is that the wizard is supposed to be quite 'back line' given your low health and AC, so you want a few long range spells, specifically cantrips.

I suggest getting Fire Bolt. It has decent damage (1d10) that increases by 1d10 every few levels and has 120 range, plenty enough for any fight you're in. You have 3 cantrips now, right? You can get another one at level 4, or you can try and negotiate with your DM to swap out one of your cantrips for it. My DM allowed us to swap out a spell if we've never used it or never had the opportunity to.

Otherwise, you're just going to have to sit it out until you can pick yourself another cantrip at level 4.

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On first levels, your cantrips may seem to be not so effective, so that the use of a weapon is an alright alternative. Be aware, that your cantrips "level up" later, so they are usually stronger than standard weapons (for wizards). It is typical, that you usually use cantrips a lot and that spells slots are tight on starting levels. As a Wizard, you have to think a lot how to use the spell slots the most effectively.

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Yes, you will run out of spells. At low levels I'd fully expect that. However, instead of a shortsword I'd recommend using cantrips for damage (as you point out your wizard is squishy).

At low levels the cantrips are not amazing compared to what the other characters are doing, but most are ranged, have some other minor effect, and are infinite use so you can't expect to do more damage than your friends. I will note that at low levels the damage from combat classes is much more dependent on stats than your spells (e.g. the fighter is doing 1d8+str/dex, and with firebolt you are doing 1d10+nothing). If your teammates have very good stats (18+ at first level), I might understand feeling a little outclassed but it will pass with level.

Now, your real spells should be far better than what your teammates are putting out in a single round, so enjoy them and spend them well. Just wait, in a few levels you will have a lot more options and damage even if they have an 18 strength.

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protected by Community Sep 26 '15 at 13:44

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