Some players pointed out, that the Sorcerer seems kinda lacking, if you compare it with other arcane main-casters like the Wizard and the Bard, while even the Warlock seems kinda stronger in comparison, even though this is a totally different class right down to the base.
Especially the Sorcerer vs. Wizard aspect is argued and since even the dumbest person can write and talk about it, an idiot like me is as good as anyone else. And to do it, we need some basics for it.
Why are the Wizard and Sorcerer competing? This comes mostly because of the fact, that it didn’t make a real difference if you played Sorcerer or a Wizard until 4e: Same spell lists, a little difference in mechanics, different fluff-texts. Technically the Sorcerer did knew less spells, but could spam them more easily without preparing any of them, while the Wizard got a ton of spells before, but had less spells per day and had to be more careful, which spells he had to learn.
Since most builds survive on just a few spells and spells outside them were only prepared by carefully considering what would be probable useful that day, the Sorcerer win out most of the time. Better spell slinger, supporter with all the utility needed, even though sometimes you’d want a special spell that no Sorcerer would have as a known spell. Something like Animate Rope would be like wasted capacity for most players.
Sharing the same spell list, it was unavoidable for those two classes to compete. So now the 3e-players are just comparing the class outright, while in 4e those both classes had a very different take, where the Sorcerer as a Striker was more damage focused while the Wizard as a Controller had the better battlefield control.
And how does the Bard fit in? Another 3e aspect was, that the bard became a so-called spontaneous caster like the Sorcerer, but wasn’t a main-caster yet (someone who get spells up to 9th level), even though he had a own spell-list, which was very similar to the 5e spell-list in variety, his capacity was lower and so the Sorcerer was simply the better caster. Now the Bard upgraded and made a MA of Magic and has the same spell-slots per day as a Sorcerer, but more known spells, which would make him theoretically (in a way) the better caster now.
Now we know what kind of background these discussions have, but are those prejudices derived from earlier editions right in the first place? First of all, we need to remember, what are the basic differences between a Sorcerer and a Wizard.
Wizard: A Wizard is a man who got 30 years old while still being a virgin… wait, false one. The Wizard who can actually cast spells is someone, who studied years of hard mental and sometimes physical labor to be able to tap into the power of the universe, controlling the elements by using graphs, signs, words and discipline. Somehow like a mathematician.
So a wizard should be able to be a great caster, who is able to cast most spells (depending on his studies, the spell-list could vary) and from all the classes would be the one, who has the most flexibility and skill in using arcane magic.
Sorcerer: A Sorcerers are people who already have magic in their blood, who never needed much studying and learned most of their skills in practice. They don’t know, what they’re actually doing, they just can and as long it’s effective, it’s not that important. So logically their spell-list should have some more primal form of magic, the simple but powerful spells which pretty much acts more on thought instead per planning. But since they’ve that special connection to magic, that Wizards will never know, they should be able to cast spells more powerfully than those.
OK, so far so good. Now we take a look at the Sorcerer and how this class fulfilled my expectations, while comparing his abilities with the wizard’s.
Spellcasting: At start the Sorcerer have 2 known spells, 4 cantrips, he have always as much spell-slots as a wizard of the same level. The Wizard has 6 spells in his spellbook, 1+INT he prepares and 3 cantrips. Over the course to level 20 the Sorcerer have always one more cantrip, while he stops at 15 known spells (the bard will have 22), while the Wizard have at least 44 in his spellbook and most likely (depending on INT) 25 spells prepared.
Even though the Sorcerer have a single more cantrip, the Wizards wins out due availableness of spells. And since the Sorcerer lacks Ritual Casting while the Wizard have a superior version of it, the Wizard is the better Wizard… kinda obvious.
Spell-list: Sorcerer’s spell-list isn’t as flexible as the Wizard’s, like already guessed. The Sorcerer is firstly lacking every spell, which have the name of a Wizard in it (like Mordenkainen, Melf, etc.). And most spells are more simply natured, less finesse, more like the raw power of the schools. And the only spells the Wizard don’t get are druidic, I’m a little disappointed to not see some Sorcerer-only spells, like Dragon Breath or Chaos Sphere, but maybe Origin-Only spells might appear in the future.
Font of Magic: This trait gives the Sorcerer the use Sorcery Points (SP) and one of their main uses is the option to regain spell-slots as a Bonus Action or to use spell-slots to regain SP. It reminds of Arcane Recovery of the Wizard and after having a delayed start and strength, it grows much better in terms of time (Bonus Action vs. Short Rest) but the number of spell-slots is lower at some point and of course it means, that you’ll have no SPs for other traits. But again it’s a plus, that you can translate spells into SP, if you don’t need spell-slots (especially the high ones) you can just make them into SP and afterwards use these SPs to create more lower level spell-slots. I do think, that’s much more flexible than the Wizard, especially since even short rests aren’t as short anymore. And as a bonus: You could actually create more spell-slots than you could can hold using this feature, even though I don’t see how a bonus action could be so valuable to do it before your spells runs low. Since you use SP for other features, too, I’d hold on them.
Metamagic: Here lies the true strength of the Sorcerer and the reason, why the Wizard compares so hard. Metamagic let you enhance a spell you’re casting in specific ways. Normally, you’d get 4 of them, but I won’t be surprised, if there is a new feat incoming, which would grants you the ability to pick a Metamagic and use it once per day or something like that (and of course more Metamagic to choose from in general). And Metamagic works with multiclassing, so you can metamagic Cure Wounds or other spells that way. But now to the specifics.
- Careful Spell: Let people up to the CHA-mod automatically success a save in spell area. Evoker’s Sculpt Spells do almost the same, but even let your allies take no damage at all, but works only on evocations. For most iconic spells it won’t matter, since a lot of area effects are evocations, but there are a lot, which aren’t too, like Circle of Death. But I guess your allies will still hate the half damage. So stick to control-spells, like Fear.
- Distant Spell: Doubles the Range of every spell. Spells which already have a range, have that ranged doubled, touch spells gains 30 feet range. Stacking with Spell Sniper, so you can bring a lot of mayhem out of save distance. The Wizard can’t copy it at this point. Enhanced range may make spells more useful, like Witch Bolt, which effect text only states ‘target stays within range’, so more range = less chance to escape your spell.
- Empowered Spell: An easy way to bring up your damage, only 1 SP, if you get a really bad damage roll and re-roll as many dice as CHA-mod. Evoker’s Empowered Evocation and Overchannel are enhancing your damage, too, while both Origins brings one option as well, the Draconic early, the Wild late.
- Extended Spell: This bit of Metamagic is a spell-saver, if you expect some combats with almost to time in-between (like dungeoneering a fortress), doubles simply the time of duration. But most likely it comes most handy during exploration, since spells like Enhance Ability are more meant for them. And of course the clerics and druids will getting all giddy, since they got some spells worth getting extended. No Wizard gimmick here.
- Heightened Spell: Disadvantage to a high-level spell, which shouldn’t be saved? Sold! And no Wizard here either.
- Quickened Spell: Cast a 1 action spell as a bonus action spell? Great for spell-slinging and again the Wizard lacks the possibility to copy it. One of my favorites is here Sunbeam, since you can cast it as a bonus action and use the action to throw a second beam (which is not spellcasting and therefore won’t be affacted by the ‘bonus action spell’-rule).
- Subtle Spell: Seems at the least powerful at first glance, but might be the most powerful. As long there are only verbal and somatic components, you can actually stealth a spell, makes it more easy to stay hidden and have some out-of-combat use. Like charming the person you’re talking to without its companions even noticing it (and it makes it hard to Counterspell it, since the spell happens without anyone noticing it). Wizards could need it, but won’t get it.
- Twinned Spell: Even though an enchanter have access to targeting two creatures with 1st level and above with a normally single-target enchantment, the Sorcerer makes it much better: Any single-target spell can be twinned by spending level as SPs (1 for cantrips). Haste, Disintegrate, Finger of Death, so many spells to choose from…
Since every Sorcerer have access to those, it makes a Sorcerer more versatile with the few spells he knows. Using right, it can compete with a Wizard in regards of Spell-Slinging and damage easily. But the evoker is still easier to pull off imo.
Sorcerous Restoration: Regain 4 SPs each short rest at 20th level. Actually a neat feature, but less powerful than other 20th level features. In the end it makes short rests actually making sense outside regaining hit points and might come in handy, but won’t really outweight the Wizard’s signature Spell Mastery or Signature Spell, which allows him to simply cast more worth of SPs in spells.
Sorcerous Origins: There are only 2 subclasses for now, so it lacks simply the variety of the Wizard (Three, since the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide came out).
Draconic Bloodline: More elemental damage, survivability and two nice features (wings and fear aura), which will make your Sorcerer better at standing in the front. As long the DEX is right, he’s as tough as most clerics. A good standard choice, shaping the Sorcerer in a more combat oriented class.
Wild Magic: I love this feature, but it’s too dependent on DM and uses to actually measure its power. But it brings ways to increase your odds, much later your damage and when rolling on the Wild Magic table (which depends on your DM), anything can happen. You might regain all SPs or end up as a potted plant until the start of your next turn. But hey, it’s not ‘tamed magic’, after all.
Conclusion: Of course the Wizard could do solme of the stuff the Sorcerer can, since there are 7 Arcane Traditions, which are mastery of a limited area of magic, while only 2 Sorcerous Origins are out. More options means more overlapping in most cases and that the Wizard with all Arcane Traditions seems to be stronger is just natural.
And Wizard’s Class featured are more about the tradition than anything else, while the Sorcerer works well on his own, while the Origin adds up to that basic. While an evoker could be a better spell-slinger, his special features only works for that.
In the end you have to say goodbye to the idea, that a Sorcerer and Wizard are still practically the same class. As long the Sorcerer remains that restrictive in the spell-list, he’ll definitely won’t replace a Wizard, but might be more fun, since there seems to be more room to adapt to the situation.
And like always: It’s more of the fun factor. If you want to be a strong, destructive spellcaster, choose the Sorcerer or the evoker, both are pretty stable choices. If you prefer to use magic for more, take the Wizard. If you want to use the features the Wizard won’t get and get more fun of the spells you know: Take the Sorcerer.
But I can say the following: The Sorcerer is not weaker than the Wizard! Only if you use only theorymachine without using real situations (in a fictional game-world).