Build 7: Hobgoblin Iron Wizard
All the fun of a straight-classed God Wizard with no delays whatsoever to spell learning progression, except without the squish.
In fact, you are so non-squishy that your durability outclasses many martials, all while having the devastating arcane powers that come with an undiluted Wizard 20 progression.
Hobgoblin Abjurer 1-20
Stats (Point Buy): 16 Int / 17 Con / 15 Dex (You can lower Con to 15 and/or Dex to 13 if you want more in other stats)
ASIs: Moderately Armored (+1 Dex), 20 Int, Resilient (+1 Con), Lucky
Spoiler: Race ChoiceOur race is Hobgoblin, for a few reasons.
First, it has ideal stat modifiers for point buy builds. +1 Int means you don't need to take any more ASIs than necessary to max Int. +2 Con means that you can start with 17 and have it get bumped up to 18 when you take that one half-feat every Wizard loves, Resilient (Con).
Second, your access to light armor means you can take the Moderately Armored half-feat to bump your Dex and give you Half-Plate and a Shield. This gives you a base 19 AC (plus the ability to benefit from magic shields and armor). And as a Wizard, you have lots of abilities that act as force multipliers on your base AC, which means that ultimately you end up harder to kill than many martials. While other races grant Medium Armor proficiency outright, they don't give you that important shield proficiency.
Third, Saving Face is just amazing. It lets you get a +5 bonus to a saving throw (or other type of d20 roll) after seeing the roll, once per short rest. And while getting the full bonus requires you to have 5 allies visible within 30 feet of you, this requirement is very easy to meet, since it totally counts familiars and skeletons and paladin mounts and the like. Compare to getting the ever-popular Lucky feat.
Those are the main reasons. Some icing on the top is that you get a better weapon proficiency (relevant at tier 1), and that your proficiency in light armor means that you don't need to spend any precious level 1 spell slots on Mage Armor at levels 1-3, and that you get Darkvision.
Being an Abjurer means that you have higher HP than a Fighter (your Ward makes up the difference in HD size and then some), and the 18 Con puts you even further ahead of the usual HP curve. And you have the base AC of a Dex+Shield Fighter. And you know how people keep saying that EKs are the tankiest Fighters because of their defensive spells? Well you get all of those defensive spells (Shield/Absorb Elements/etc), plus lots more slots for them, plus even better defensive spells (via higher level slots). And Save Face + Lucky + Resilient + Spell Resistance + defensive spells means your saves are pretty ironclad across the board.
Later on, you get Spell Resistance (which gives you Advantage on saves against spells, and resistance against damage from spells), which means you are basically as durable against spells as a Yuan-Ti Ancients Paladin with a boosted Counterspell.
Your Concentration is very difficult to break when it counts, too. First the enemy has to succeed at hitting you at all (getting past your control effects, then hitting your high AC through all your defensive abilities, etc), then you can reduce the damage you take with your ward and/or Endure Elements or Spell Resistance for a lower DC save, and then you've got up to a +15 / Lucky Constitution saving throw.
Your martial weapon proficiency only really matters at tier 1, when firing crossbows is better than cantrips. Unlike the other Wizards, you'll be firing a Heavy instead of a Light one for a little extra damage. If you want, you can even mix things up with Booming Blade in melee (in which case, see variants for War Caster). Another, more important tier 1 benefit is that you'll be spending a lot less spell slots on defensive spells. You only need to use Shield AFTER something misses you, which will happen considerably less. And you only need to use Mage Armor if you don't already have armor. This means you'll have noticeably more spell slots in the early game.
The real upshot is that you get these benefits while having a true uninterrupted spell progression. You get your Fireballs and Hypnotic Patterns at level 5, not 6. You get your Contingency at level 11, not 12. And so forth. Basically your plan is to do standard God Wizard things about as well as any other God Wizard, while just happening to be Made of Iron: surviving more damage than the party Fighter and having ironclad Concentration.
Spoiler: Some important notes on Abjuration spells
I'm not going to reproduce an entire Wizard guide here (perhaps something for later...), but I will comment on some of the notable Abjuration spells, just so you have a handy reference for stuff that recharges your ward and is worth picking up with Abjuration Savant.
Globe of Invulnerability: The obvious use is keeping your enemy's spells out. A non-obvious, creative, and powerful use is using it to "Sculpt" spells around your globe. Note that you can target places within the globe, people inside are just excluded from the effects! Have fun with that.
Like that one? Then you'll go nuts for the next one: If you (or your party members) cast a spell within a Globe of Invulnerability, you can't be counterspelled (even by an upcast counterspell!) (Yes, really!)
Shield: So let me tell you a bit about armor class. It has increasing returns. As in, the graph for your effective hit points relative to the enemy's chance of hitting you looks like this:
Note: Graph necessarily doesn't take into account crit chances, since how much that impacts the curve is monster-specific. But the curve retains its general shape.
So this spell was already great mitigation when it was being used by standard 15-or-so AC Wizards. For you, it's much better. Large enemy groups especially have almost no chance of hitting you, which is a big deal because for many builds those guys are incredibly deadly throughout the game.
Not only will you be considerably harder to hit when Shield is activated, it's also better for you because you'll end up spending less spell slots on it than a typical Wizard, since people will be hitting your base AC less often.
When you reach tier 4, you can and probably should take this as one of your Spell Mastery choices, allowing you to boost your AC at will as well as recharge your ward to full quickly.
Absorb Elements: Fantastic mitigation that becomes even better now that it regenerates your ward. Yeah, it only regains 2, but look at it this way: the Life Domain's perk only restores 3 extra. Every bit counts.
Combined with your good saving throws on demand (via Saving Face, and later Resilient and Lucky), you can cut down tons of damage from save effects.
Mage Armor: This is an essential pick for other Wizards. For you, it's entirely unnecessary, which means you basically have an extra spell slot compared to other Wizards. Very noticeable at early levels.
Alarm (Ritual): A ritual that converts downtime into ward points. And makes your downtime safer to boot. And yes, this is the only Abjuration ritual on the Wizard spell list.
Banishment: One of the best single target lockdown spells just so happens to be Abjuration.
Counterspell: The Abjurer's Counterspell is the best version of Counterspell, and it restores your ward too.
Protection from Good and Evil: This is a situational spell that competes for your Concentration, but very good at the situations it excels at. And "aberrations, celestials, elementals, fey, fiends, and undead" isn't exactly a small chunk of the Monster Manuals as it is!
Full on immunity to fear, charms (which tons of effects in 5e key off of, way more than people seem to generally realize, from Dominate to Hypnotic Pattern to harpy songs), and possession. Disadvantage on all of the monster's attacks. First level spell slot. This is fantastic value if you're fighting the right creature types.
For comparison, Blur is a second level Concentration spell that only does the "disadvantage on attacks" part, but is self-only and has a tenth of the duration and monsters that don't rely on sight (or can see through illusions) can get around it.
- You can pick any Wizard subclass with a Moderately Armored Hobgoblin, really. Abjurer just makes the comparison to the Fighter's durability that much more straightforward. Anyways, want to make, say, a War Wizard who gets +9 or more to all saves at level 2? You can do that.
- I would always take Moderately Armored first and Lucky last, but other than that you can take the ASIs in whatever order depending on your priorities and playstyle.
- The Svirfneblin Abjurer is another option that often gets brought up; it'll have more ward regeneration but ultimately can be burst down more easily than the Hobgoblin in many situations. You'd basically replace Moderately Armored with the Svirfneblin magic feat that lets them cast Nondetection (an Abjuration spell that recharges your ward) at will. Note that the Svirf will have only a 25 ft movement speed, lower Constitution, Gnome Cunning won't stack with Spell Resistance, and the ward regeneration advantage largely becomes irrelevant in tier 4 (when they get Spell Mastery).
- You can lower the Dex to 14 with no loss in AC; it just benefits your Dex saves, Initiative, and low level resourceless options.
- If you roll stats, you might have extra slots for feats. In which case, here are some good ones:
- War Caster for even better Concentration saves (the main reason to take it), and the ability to Booming Blade or Banish people who try to walk away from you when they realize they can't hit you through Blur/Shield or whatever.
- Alert, for the same reason it's good for everyone.
Let me know your thoughts!