So after much muddling about with various characters, only two of which surpassed lv.20 (a Monk and a Necromancer), I finally decided it was time for a proper Wizard. I must say, starting out with Chain Lightning and no staff is slow and painful. Unfortunately, getting the staff at lv.3 doesn't make it much better. Meteor at lv.4 seemed pretty cool, but I was still a sitting duck after blowing my CD's. Then comes Wild Magic, and it helps to have more crits, but that's rather unreliable. The third active ability, Blizzard, finally gives you something to work with. You can start kiting melee mobs, which is nice, but it gets tricky real quick in tight spaces.
Finally, at lv.7, you get Teleport. Now THIS is something I could work with. The problem with Blizzard was that you couldn't specify a location, but pair it up with Teleport and you can put yourself where your Blizzard needs to be and then port away as necessary. This also resolves the difficulty inherent to tight spaces; sometimes you can even start to use them to your advantage. Teleport takes some getting used to, but it's the first real tool you have to combat your general squishy-ness as a Wizard. It's important to manage this cooldown in such a way as to really make the most of your 5 ports. This makes for some interesting gameplay. As your health begins steadily dropping, it becomes very tempting to tap furiously in an effort to run from danger... thus blowing your limited ports in mere moments. You have to keep your cool despite pressing danger to ensure optimal teleporting throughout battles. Luckily, the cast time for Teleport is very quick (though not entirely negligible).
So then Elementalist at lv.9 is a nice boost, but it's Conflagrate at lv.11 that really starts to bring it all together. This skill buys you precious time by incapacitating your biggest threat while you clear the trash. Or, if you have enough space for solid crowd control, you can save Conflagrate to stall that heavy hitter at the very last minute. Yet another option is to effectively silence a caster right before he gets off a heal. Lots of options here... but that 20sec CD can be tough. You only get to use this once in most battles, so use it wisely.
You get Mass Destruction at lv.12, which is, again, a nice boost, followed by Thunderbolt at lv.14, which is incredibly useful. The damage is great, but the knockdown is simply fantastic. This skill saves my butt on every CD. The best part about Thunderbolt is how easy it is to use. You don't have to think much about when or how to use it; just collect mobs and let'er rip!
With lv.16 comes Glacial Spike. That kid at the Mage Tower is super jealous. This skill really packs a whallop, but you need to setup a line of mobs to get the most out of it. While this seems like a really fun mechanic, it feels cumbersome in practice. If I didn't have my trusty Teleport, I'd almost never get big combos. But even with it, I commonly hit only 1 or 2 extra mobs. I probably just need more practice, but it feels like too much overhead in the heat of combat to consider proper Glacial Spike usage.
Student of the Mind at lv.18 is awesome. Any class can make use this and my only dissappointment is to find this excellent passive skill buried so deep in the Wizard tree. This will basically only be used by heavy casters; I guess melee heroes have Impending Doom in their favor (which I have yet to experiment with).
Lastly, the big finisher at lv.21 is Time Stop. First, I have to say that the name of this skill is terribly dissappointing. It's just too straight forward and without any pizzazz to it. Second, five seconds just isn't a lot of time... and 40 seconds is a lot of time. A Witch's Lasting Affliction passive can bump you up to seven seconds, and Student of the Mind cuts six seconds right off the top, but I'm not sure I can make room for all these passives with Staff Master all busy clogging things up. Furthermore, what can you do with a bunch of frozen mobs hanging out all over? One Chain Lightning and then you're stuck wishing these mobs were better grouped for more effective AOE tactics. Ok, so you spend some time corralling them all together before using Time Stop and then you can unload your AOE's with glee. But I need to take care of casters faster than I can corral a mess of mobs, so some skills might be on CD by the time I can use Time Stop. And let me tell you, seeing a dozen mobs sit perfectly frozen and helpless while I just go *pew*pew* with my staff at one lucky goblin is the absolute epitome of feeling useless.
After completing the class and messing with all these skills, I wasn't particularly satisfied. It would probably make sense to go down the Witch skill tree from here, but my Necromancer has already done that. So, after much debate (and 3 levels of unspent stat points), I dumped everything into strength and had a nice chat with the Battlemage trainer. It was a little slow at first, but his Ghost Hand technique is perfect for putting casters right where you want them. Then the Ox shared a few secrets with me too. I quickly found that Whirlwind complements Flame Weapon's Mana Strike and a Wizard's Thunderbolt fantastically. And then with a little extra endurance training, I could pair Aegis with Adrenaline Rush.So, after undertaking a long and arduous path to learn the Wizardly ways, I must say that my beloved archetype is found wanting. However, the Battlemage skillset has risen to the occasion to become an unlikely hero. My next new hero may try to become a Battlemage right from the start in an effort to understand how the class works by itself, and without the added benefit of already having stacked INT and a bottomless wallet. The trick there will be figuring out how to unlock the Battlemage class as early as possible while minimizing the expenditure of skill points outside of STR or INT.