Wizard Beginner's Guide - Baldur's Gate 2
Wizards in Baldur's Gate 2 are one of the most overpowered and broken classes if you know how to correctly play them. In the first game you only had access to Level 5 spells at most - during BG2 we'll have access to every spell level in the game which allows us to cast up to Level 9 spells.
You'll be able to cast spells that make you immune to all different types of damage along with even casting spells that stop time. Some of my favorite Wizard spells in this game though are the Contingency and Sequencer chains; Sequencer will allow you to "store" multiple spells in a sequence and deploy them in a single cast in the future.
Contingency will allow you to select a spell that is cast when a certain condition is met. Maybe when you see an enemy, when you're attacked, when your health drops down to a certain amount... All of those are different conditions you can set for the Contingency spells. Wizards also get access to spells like Simulacrum in this version of the game which allows you to create a clone of yourself that can cast and do (almost) all of the same things you can do!
One of my favorite things to do with the Sequencer spells is to load up a bunch of debuffs into it (Lower Resistance, Greater Malison) and launch that at a boss enemy the moment the fight begins. This will allow you to fully debuff the boss in a single cast instead of having to waste a bunch of time at the start of the fight loading him up with debuffs. Alternatively, you can load multiple damage spells into the Sequencer too and deal a massive amount of damage instantly.
To help you understand which Wizards spells are worth using and which are not I have included a complete list of all the spells I believe are worth using. I know this is a bit much which is why I also made an abridged version of this same list which tells you more or less the spells I choose to memorize for each spell level.
(Level 1) Magic Missile & Identify
(Level 2) Mirror Image and Blur, Web if desired
(Level 3) Haste, Fireball or Skull Trap, Remove Magic
(Level 4) Stoneskin, Minor Sequencer (if you don't have better), Greater Malison
(Level 5) Animate Dead, Greater Malison, Cloudkill, Chaos, Breach, Spell Immunity
(Level 6) Contingency (if you don't have better) Improved Haste, Protection From Magical Weapons, Protection From Magical Energy, Mislead
(Level 7) Project Image, Spell Turning, Mordekanian's Sword, Spell Sequencer (if you don't have better), Mass Invisibility
(Level 8) Abi-Dalzim's Horrid Wilting, Spell Trigger, Simulacrum, Power Word Blind
(Level 9) Chain Contingency, Time Stop, Spell Trap, Wail of the Banshee
Most Notable Wizard Spells:
(Level 1) Magic Missile: One of the best spells in a Mage's arsenal; this spell is difficult to resist and deals good damage. Typically I always keep my Level 1 spell slots filled with mostly Magic Missile and some Identify.
(Level 1) Blindness: This spell works both as crowd control and as a debuff; when successful it'll decrease the targets Attack Rolls and Armor Class by -4. Additionally, it has a hidden effect that can prevent enemies from attacking at all which you can read more about on the wiki.
(Level 1) Charm Person: You can use this spell in and out of combat. Many NPCs will have hidden dialogue if you Charm them and talk to them in BG1. Inside of combat you can charm an enemy then turn him on his own allies to literally turn the tides in your favor.
(Level 1) Grease: A low level CC spell that I don't really like; it's like a lesser version of Web. It's an AoE that slows enemies that fail to make a Saving Throw. This spell is praised by many though so I included it in the list.
(Level 1) Spook: Spook is a single target fear spell. This CC is extremely good in BG1 but we're faced with the same problem we had with Grease... Is it better than Magic Missile? No is my answer.
(Level 1) Identify: Last but not least we have the only level 1 spell that can compete with Magic Missile, Identify. This spell allows you to identify magical equipment and is a spell that you'll typically always want to keep memorized on one of your casters.
(Level 2) Web: As the name of the spell suggests, using Web will create a giant spider web on the ground which will immobilize any targets that enter into it. This CC will work on hostiles as well as your own party members so you have to use it carefully. For more information about how to effectively use Web check out my BG1 Beginner's Guide Combat Strategies.
(Level 2) Blur: Blur is a self only defensive buff that is available to Wizards. While under the effects of Blur all attack rolls against you will suffer from a -3 penalty and you'll also gain a +1 bonus to all Saving Throws. Typically all Wizards I use will have either Blur or Mirror image memorized in a couple of slots.
(Level 2) Invisibility: This spell makes your character invisible until you attack or perform a specific action. I recommend you check the wiki as there are quite a few different skills you can use while invisible that will not break it. Unlike the Improved Invisibility Level 4 spell this one provides no benefits at all during combat. One of the biggest benefits to Invisibility is using it on a Thief and having them scout a dungeon and disarm all of the traps.
(Level 2) Detect Invisibility: When you are playing on Story, Easy or Normal this spell won't be that effective. For the most part no one will use stealth and any enemies that do can't one shot you. However when you start ramping the game up in difficulty you'll want a spell like Detect Invisibility to get Thiefs out of stealth.
(Level 2) Mirror Image: Mirror Image is a self only defensive buff that is available to Wizards. Casting this spell will create duplicates of your Wizard providing you with protection as typically one of your illusions will be hit with attacks instead of you. Each time an illusion is damaged it disappears. Blur and Mirror Image are the 2 most useful Level 2 spells in my opinion.
(Level 2) Horror: This is the AoE version of Spook which fears an entire group of enemies. I'm sure one of your characters has been feared before in this game and you've seen how long it lasts and how useful it can be -- well with this spell you can do the same to enemies!
(Level 3) Fireball: One of the best AoE spells in the game if you're playing on lower difficulties. Throughout almost all of BG1 this spell will completely decimate groups of enemies. However, the more you go up in difficulty and level the more Skull Trap will outshine this spell.
(Level 3) Skull Trap: When used correctly this can be one of the most powerful AoE damage spells in BG1 and in BG2. Skull Trap allows you to place a trap on the field (which doesn't go away when you rest) that explodes and deals 1d6 damage per level of the caster -- with no cap. This spell will not explode until an enemy steps into range of it which means you can stack multiple Skull Traps onto each other then pull an enemy into them and blow them all up. Even better, most enemies will have no resistances to the type of damage Skull Trap does (magical).
(Level 3) Invisibility, 10' Radius: This spell is a lot like Level 2 Invisibility except that it will work on your entire group when you cast it. Aside from all the scenarios you can imagine this spell being useful (like sneaking into a room of enemies to get the jump on them) you can also use this spell to end combat in a worst case scenario. Say you're fighting a tough enemy that can only be damaged with +3 weapons and your 2 chars with +3 weapons just died. Use this invis on your whole group to break combat and give yourself an opportunity to get to safety.
(Level 3) Melf's Minute Meteors: Arguably one of the best spells you can get for Level 3. This spell allows you to conjure essentially a throwing weapon with a massive THAC0 bonus which will deal 1d4+3 each time it hits a target. Each cast of this spell will give you 1 meteor for every level your Wizard is and they last until thrown. The best part about this spell is it will raise your attacks per round to 5, when Improved Haste is active you'll get a total of 10 attacks per round! This is absolutely insane and allows the Wizard to deal some serious damage.
(Level 3) Protection From Fire: Most of the magical damage you'll take in this game is fire damage so having some protection against it is obviously a good idea. The downside of this spell is it's single target only so keep that in mind.
(Level 3) Slow: Slow is an AoE debuff that reduces the movement and attack speed of any enemies hit by it by half. I'd highly recommend this spell when you play on Core Rules or higher since decreasing the amount of incoming damage from enemies is very important. This spell will only take affect on targets that are hostile to the caster; meaning that any members in your party who are in the AoE radius will not be affected.
(Level 3) Spell Thrust: Depending on the difficulty you're playing on this spell will either be very useful or not at all. Essentially all the spell does is it strips all spell protections off of your target if they're below the 5th spell level. You'll be using this spell against many enemy mages that you fight in this game since they're the only ones who can use these protections. However, on most lower difficulties I do not think mages use many spell protections.
(Level 3) Haste: Haste is one of the best spells in the game; Improved Haste is a better but single target only version of this skill. I prefer using Haste for most of BG1 especially when I am using the Animate Dead or Pet strategies. Buffing your entire group + your summoned pets with 1 spell saves you so much time. 10/10 I recommend this spell to everyone.
(Level 3) Hold Person: Hold Person is a very powerful CC spell that is available to both Priests and mages; the biggest downside to this spell is that it only works on humanoids. One extra benefit that I like about this spell is the game's AI will automatically use it during most fights which is equally good and bad depending on your playstyle. For Wizard I would kind of recommend not using Hold Person because you have many other valuable level 3 spells that you have to use.
(Level 3) Remove Magic: Remove Magic is an AoE version of Dispel Magic that will only affect enemies in the targeted area. Some status effects on your own party can be dispelled too but it will not strip away your buffs which makes it loads better than Dispel Magic.
(Level 3) Vampiric Touch: This spell when used will give the caster temporary hitpoints that will last for an ingame hour. Usually it's best to use this spell prior to combat on a summoned creature, some random critter you pass in the world or even on one of your own party members. You can use Vampiric Touch on a party member to get your mage a lot of bonus HP then heal the party member up and proceed as originally planned. All in all it makes a great pre-combat buff.
(Level 3) Flame Arrow: At lower levels this spell is just ok but as you level up every 5th level you'll throw an extra Arrow which will start to drastically increase the amount of damage you can do with this skill. The biggest downside of this skill is that you deal fire damage which is some of the most heavily mitigated damage in the game.
(Level 4) Greater Malison: Essentially what this spell does is it creates an AoE area that applies a -4 penalty to all Saving Throws that hostile creatures make. This spell does not affect party members that are standing the AoE which makes it even better. Arguably you'll want to use this spell as much as possible since it'll make all of your debuffs and spells hit more often and/or deal more damage.
(Level 4) Fireshield (Blue): Fireshield (Blue) is a self only buff that places a shield on the caster that gives 50% Cold Resistance as well as inflicts 1d8+2 cold damage to anyone attacking you in melee range. This skill can be combined with Fireshield (Red) to deal significant damage to enemy melee units.
(Level 4) Fireshield (Red): Fireshield (Red) is a self only buff that places a shield on the caster that gives 50% Fire Resistance as well as influcts 1d8+2 fire damage to anyone attacking you within melee range. Much like with the previous Fireshield, this one can be combined to deal significant damage to all enemy melee units.
(Level 4) Spirit Armor: This spell can be cast on yourself or on any other party member. It'll set their AC to 1 and also provide them with a +3 bonus to Save vs Spell. It's a good spell to use on classes that can't wear good armor and this spell stacks with things like Improved Invisibility, Mirror Image and Blur. Using all of these defensive skills at once will make your character extremely hard to take out.
(Level 4) Stoneskin: Stoneskin is arguably one of the best skills in the entire AD&D ruleset because it makes you immune to physical attacks and lasts for an extremely long time. How this skill works is you will gain a 'stoneskin' for every 2 levels; at level 10 you get 5 skins and at 20 you get 10. What 10 skins means if you can take 10 physical attacks before your Stoneskin wears off. This is the most important buff for you to use in the game, make sure you always have it active.
(Level 4) Minor Sequencer: Another amazing spell, it's difficult to explain how this works (even the spell description is really long) but basically you create a spell gem that contains 2 level 2 spells. It will consume these spells until you rest at which point you'll get them back (and you'll keep the sequencer aka spell gem). At any point in the future you can use the sequenced spells and it'll instantly cast them. One combo that is especially nice is Mirror Image and Blur as both of those spells can save your life if you're getting heavily attacked.
(Level 4) Wizard Eye: This allows you to see through the fog of war. If all you plan to use Wizard Eye for is scouting then it is a waste of a spell slot. However, you can use this spell with summons such as Animate Dead to send them into another room and still issue commands to them. This works too for Wizard abilities like Simulacrum; you can get complete control of this summon and remotely take out an enemy such as a Beholder far away from your actual group.
(Level 4) Improved Invisibility: This spell is like regular Invisibility except it doesn't last as long and it can also be used in combat as well. Any enemies that attack you while under the effects of Improved Invisiblity will suffer a -4 penalty to their attack rolls. Additionally, your character will have a +4 bonus to all Saving Throws.
(Level 4) Secret Word: Unless you're playing on a difficulty harder than Core Rules you probably will never need to use this spell. What this spell does is it dispels one spell protection (below the 8th level) from an enemy; typically in the lower difficulties the only enemies that will use spell protections are bosses.. Specifically caster bosses.
(Level 5) Breach: When you play on Core Rules this spell will start to become very useful; I would argue you can get away with not using it on lower difficulties. What Breach does is it dispels a complete laundry list of combat protections on the enemy, far too many to name here. Once you start playing on harder difficulties you'll have to use this against enemies who have lots of buffs.
(Level 5) Chaos: Essentially this spell is a very buffed up version of Confusion; you can use this on an entire group of enemies and then easily take them out. Depending on what difficulty you're playing on quite a few enemies are susceptible to this.
(Level 5) Cloudkill: This spell deals good poison damage if you stand inside of it and has a chance of instantly taking out weaker enemies or enemies unlucky enough to roll poorly on a Saving Throw. Usually this spell is best used to take out enemy casters from a distance and interrupt their ability to cast spells.
(Level 5) Spell Immunity: When you cast this spell you will be able to make yourself immune to 1 spell from a school of your choosing. For the most part you will be using this spell on higher difficulties to make yourself immune to Abjuration so that you can resist Remove Magic and Dispel Magic against high level enemies like a Lich. Immunity to Alteration will help you avoid Flesh to Stone and Disintegration based attacks like Sphere of Chaos.
(Level 5) Spell Shield: Spell Shield is a self only buff that you will want to use on your mage to protect yourself from other mages. With this buff you'll protect yourself from many different mage spells that strip your defenses from you. Much like all the spells of this type, people on lower difficulties will not need to use this very often. Those of you on higher difficulties know that a mage without his defenses is a dead mage which is why this spell is important.
(Level 5) Animate Dead: Arguably the best summon spell in the entire game since undead get an innate resistance to all physical damage except crushing and an innate resistance to magical damage. The biggest downside of this spell (for a Wizard) is that it is a level 5 spell. Clerics get the same exact spell at level 3 and arguably you should use Animate Dead on them instead of on your Wizard.
(Level 5) Lower Resistance: Lower Resistance lowers the magical resistance of a single target. Useful against powerful Drow or other enemies that have exceptionally high magic resist.
(Level 6) Death Spell: This is a very powerful spell that will instantly kill all enemies with lower than an 8 Hit Dice. One notable enemy type that this will instantly take out is trolls, basically all types of them will be one shot by this spell. This will save you the trouble of having to knock them down then deal fire or acid damage to them to take them out.
(Level 6) Improved Haste: Probably one of the best spells in the entire game. This spell will double the amount of attacks you can perform each round (up to a max of 10) and it doesn't Fatigue you when it wears off. Using this spell on a Fighter/Mage that dual wields is going to pump out some serious DPS on enemies.
(Level 6) Mislead: Essentially what this spell does is it casts Improved Invisibility on the Wizard and then creates a duplicate to act as a distraction where the Wizard used to be. This spell is exceptionally powerful to get a surpise jump on an enemy or group of enemies.
(Level 6) Protection from Magical Energy: This spell is great and a must use before going into a fight against caster enemies on higher difficulties. It essentially makes you immune to lots of magical based attacks. One added bonus of this spell is it lasts for 1 round per level which is 6 seconds of real time per level.
(Level 6) Protection from Magical Weapons: Much like with the previous spell, this one is amazing and it makes you immune to all attacks from magical weapons -- which is basically all melee attacks at this point in the game.
(Level 6) True Sight: This spell will dispel any illusion effect around the caster. Invisibility, Improved Invisibility, Mirror Image and more all will be dispelled. What's more is True Sight will continue to dispel these spells every round until it expires.
(Level 6) Contingency: This spell is kind of like Minor Sequencer except that it works slightly differently. For this spell you're able to select 1 spell as a "Contingency" which is a spell that will automatically be cast when a certain condition is met. Some of the possible conditions are getting hit, HP dropping to 50%, 25% or 10%, spotting an enemy, being helpless or becoming poisoned.
(Level 7) Mass Invisibility: This spell will give you Improved Invisibility on your whole group. It's worth using before tough battles because it gives you +4 to Saving Throws which is a huge help against those tougher enemies; it'll also allow you to get the jump on a lot of enemies since you'll be starting the fight invisible. Before entering combat this should be the last spell you cast because once you're invisible you can't target any group members with other buffs.
(Level 7) Mordekainen's Sword: One of the better summons that you can create in the game. This sword is immune to almost all damage and it'll last 6 seconds IRL time per level of your Wizard. So, very likely almost 2 minutes or more.
(Level 7) Project Image: Arguably the most useful spell in the entire game in terms of the amount of bang for your buck. This spell will create a mirror image of the wizard who can't use physical attack but can use all spells HLAs and items that the Wizard has on them... Best of all is when you use a spell or an HLA it doesn't consume anything on your actual Wizard.
(Level 7) Ruby Ray of Reversal: This is another spell that is used to strip Mage's defenses or other high level boss enemies. On Core Rules and higher you'll definitely need to use spells like this but otherwise they typically are not needed.
(Level 7) Spell Sequencer: Much like the level 4 Minor Sequencer spell this one allows you to pick 3 different spells of Level 4 or below. Really there are too many combinations to name but you can choose between different defensive combos and combos with powerful spells like Flame Arrow which will almost one shot many enemies.
(Level 7) Limited Wish: This spell does a wide variety of different things, some of them are 1 wish per save game and some of them are repeatable wishes. I recommend you check the wiki for a complete list. Ultimately, this spell is worth it for playing around with outside of combat but not too useful in combat.
(Level 7) Spell Turning: When you have this spell active it will reflect any spells cast on the Wizard back at the original caster. This spell has a total of 12 "spell level" charges meaning it will reflect a total of 12 spell levels back to the caster. It could do 12 Magic Missiles or 5 Magic Missiles and 2 Breach (breaking on the last Breach). Essentially the amount of spells it reflects depends on the level of the spell.
(Level 7) Finger of Death: You have a chance of one shotting your target with this spell, otherwise they take 2d8+1 damage. It's basically a gamble and if you're someone who saves and reloads a lot you can always change the outcome of these gambles to what you want.
(Level 8) Abi-Dalzim's Horrid Wilting: Arguably the best damage-based spell you can cast for this spell level; it comes with the added bonus of being party friendly too. This spell will deal 1d8 damage per level, enemies are allowed a Saving Throw roll which will result in them only taking half damage but even in that situation it's still insane damage. Pair this spell with Chain Contingency so you do Abi-Dalzim's Horrid Wilting x3 and you'll decimate the entire field of enemies.
(Level 8) Incendiary Cloud: This is going to be your other damage spell for level 8. Incendiary Cloud does even more damage than Horrid Wilting since it will continuously proc the damage it deals instead of only doing it once.
(Level 8) Power Word, Blind: It's essentially an AoE blind which works better than the original Blind since there are no Saving Throw rolls for it. For those of you who don't already know, in BG2 when an enemy can't see you they do not attack you which means this spell will reliably take enemies out of the fight.
(Level 8) Simulacrum: One of the best spells in the game. When you use this spell it will create a duplicate of the caster with all of the spells, abilities and items the original caster has. Essentially you're able to duplicate one of the most powerful people on your team and get a 7th party member out of them. This spell works best on mage hybrids like Fighter/Mage.
(Level 8) Spell Trigger: This spell works similarly to the Minor Sequencer and Spell Sequencer spells that came before it. The main difference is you're able to put higher level spells into this Spell Trigger which gives you even more possible combinations.
(Level 8) Maze: Another CC that is available to you at level 8. This one will incapacitate a target for an amount of time that depends on the target's Intelligence score. What that means is this CC will be more effective on dumber targets like Fighters or other melee that can't cast spells.
(Level 9) Chain Contingency: This spell is a lot like Contingency which you get at Level 6; the main difference being you can choose higher level spells with this version. Essentially how this spell works is you can choose 3 different spells that will be cast when a certain condition is met. There are so many different choices I won't name them all here but some of them can be found in my BG2 Beginner's Guide Combat Strategies page.
(Level 9) Imprisonment: Another extremely powerful spell that will instantly remove an enemy from the fight. This spell can be used against some of the hardest enemies in the game like Beholders. One thing worth noting about this spell is you will get the EXP when it is successful but you will not get any items. So be careful who you use this on.
(Level 9) Spellstrike: You can use this spell to dispel almost all magical protections on an enemy. If you're playing on Core Rules you probably will not have to use this spell very often but as you move up higher and higher in difficulty you'll need to use this a lot more to strip enemy mages of their defenses.
(Level 9) Time Stop: Many people consider this one of the best spells if not the best spell in the entire game. As the name of the spell suggests it literally stops time and lets you perform pretty much any actions you want while time is stopped. You'll see many Liches and other high level mage enemies use this spell against you often, now you can turn the tides!
(Level 9) Wish: Wish does a large variety of things, both positive and negative. Your Wisdom score plays a large part in what wishes you get when you cast this spell. I recommend you check out the wiki page for a much more indepth explanation of what this spell does.
(Level 9) Spell Trap: Spell Trap absorbs spells that are cast on you and refunds you with additional daily spell casts.