There are two flavors of Sorcerer in Player’s Handbook 2. One of them gives you some pragmatic bonuses and useful abilities. The other one gives you random, bizarre effects that sometimes blow up in your face. Which one am I going to play? If you could see the maniacal gleam in my eyes, you wouldn’t have to ask.
I really loved 3rd edition sorcerers. I was more than happy to sacrifice a little versatility for the ability to cast without memorization. I’m not even going to get into my whole rant on why spell memorization is an utterly boneheaded game mechanic, so suffice to say, I thought sorcerers were the bees’ elbows.
Thus, I was greatly looking forward to 4E sorcerers. Aaaaaaannnnd…was promptly disappointed. They fill the striker role. They use the arcane power source. They wave their arms around and stuff explodes. Cool, but I wasn’t really looking for Warlock, Part 2. They do some hefty damage (I noticed a fair number of nd12 damage values, and some serious bursts). The Dragon Magic class feature offers some bread and butter bonuses, like resistance, an AC boost and extra damage. Still, it feels too much like a Warlock with a new kind of pact. There’s nothing bad about it, it just wasn’t as cool or different as I was hoping.
Then I saw the second set of class features.
Sorcerers who use Wild Magic “harness” the forces of chaos to fuel their spells. Your damage might be of a random type, with a random secondary effect. Maybe your enemy is dazed, maybe immobilized. Your burst spells might be unexpectedly large – hope none of your buddies were standing too close. After each extended rest, you gain random resistance. Interestingly, the psychic damage type shows up a lot in sorcerer powers. I like the proliferation of psychic damage, but at the same time I was hoping it would would stay rare until they eventually release a psionicist class. Many of the Wild Magic spells have varying effects depending on whether you roll even or odd with your attack roll. It’s a cool, fun mechanic. Plus, sorcerers have built-in critical hit and miss effects (basically, when you roll a 1, you blow up).
That’s the sorcerer in a nutshell. You can play it either as a very straightforward artillery unit, or as a Roman candle on a merry-go-round: fun, dangerous and awesome.