Updated Wed, Mar 13, 2013 by gunky
Some spell and skill combinations have good synergy, and it may take a lot of practice and tweaking to find the right sets and combos that best suit your playstyle. It kind of depends on whether you favor the "control" aspect of the class, or the damage-dealing parts.
Solo play relies very heavily on keeping some distance between you and your targets. The chief issue with this is, the Control Wizard can't attack while on the move. If he's attacking, he is rooted in place. And because so many of the tougher enemies have knockback and stun attacks which interrupt long casting inductions, this can be problematic. For the sake of survival, it is best policy to employ cheap hit-and-run tactics: start from max distance, pop an Encounter spell, follow up with Magic Missile or Ray of Frost until the enemy gets close, teleport away, pop another Encounter skill, teleport again, MM/RoF, rinse, repeat. This style of play significantly decreases the class's DPS and may not appeal to every player, but it does make the class more challenging than something like the Guardian Fighter, who can often just stand there with his shield raised and soak up the enemy's assaults.
This gets much easier in the mid-teens, when the player gets his first companion. I went with a Man-at-Arms, who was a reasonably effective melee tank and was able to hold enemy aggro while I stood way back and rained icy death on the enemy. This allowed me a lot more freedom to experiment with interesting spell synergies, and was much closer to the group-combat experience.
When running without a pet, I would start multi-target fights by singling out a weak mob with Chill Strike, which is often enough to kill standard-strength mobs outright, but if they still had a sliver of Hit Points left, I could finish them off quickly with Magic Missile or Ray of Frost. After the opening assault, I would drop an Icy Terrain at my feet, followed by a Conduit of Ice on the strongest attacker. This is sort of a "set it and forget it" combo. The Icy Terrain creates an area-damage hotspot that also stacks the Chill debuff on any enemy within it, and the Conduit of Ice deals area damage over time which scales up with each stack of Chill. It's often enough to take out two or three standard mobs clustered around a central point (my pet, say).
For single-target fights, you will want to alternate between stacking Chill and Arcane Mastery while staying on the move. Start at max range, open with Ray of Frost for one stack of Chill, then a 3-round burst of Magic Missile for a stack of Arcane Mastery. Teleport away, blast with another Ray of Frost (or a strong Encounter attack like Chill Strike), move again, another salvo of Magic Missile, move again.
For group content, a different skill set might work better. Theoretically, the Control Wizard shouldn't need to worry so much about teleporting around the room to stay alive, so he can place more focus on less-lethal debuffs and long-channel skills.
I didn't find Entangling Force to be particularly effective for solo play, but it would be great in a dungeon - use it against an enemy caster as an interrupt. Ray of Enfeeblement is also better for group content where debuffs are handy for the rest of the group, than for solo play where your limited selection of Encounter spells is best filled with high-damage attacks.
One thing I saw a lot during my group runs was Control Wizards using their huge knockback attacks at inappropriate times. Situational awareness is beneficial for every class type, but when you have skills that can create problems for the entire rest of the group, it's even more important to know when to use them and when to hold them back. Some examples:
When it came time to choose my first companion/pet, I saw no reason to go with anything other than the Man-at-Arms. The healer companion is not an effective choice because the Control Wizard is not built to withstand a long, sustained beating anyway. The wizard companion would be redundant and not likely terribly helpful for boss fights and such. I considered the dog for a moment, but it's a single-target "striker" and not an aggro-magnet. The melee tank pet was an easy choice to make.
I found that he would typically survive to about halfway through a dungeon-boss fight, and from there I would be on my own. With the handy teleport ability (and depending on the boss in question), I would be able to revive him a few times during boss fights. If I timed it right, I could wait for the boss to start a long attack induction, teleport over to my fallen soldier and get him back on his feet before the boss closed in, which would allow me to open up some distance between me and the boss and quaff a few potions to top up my health. Then the soldier would die again, and I would go back to my shoot-jump-shoot-jump tactic.
Picking a paragon path at level 30 will depend on the player's preferred play style. The Oppressor path enhances control abilities, extending the durations of stuns and roots and dazes. This is most ideal for group play, where debuffs and CC have the most benefit. The Thaumaturge path boosts raw damage output, allowing the Control Wizard to hit bigger DPS numbers and making solo play more engaging. The Renegade path affects spell synergies, increasing the effectiveness of Arcane Mastery and Chill benefits. This is for the people who employ the good old "Grease + Burning Hands" tactic in tabletop games, making good use of spell combos for extra effect.
How was your experience with the Control Wizard during the beta weekend? Share your tips, tricks and other insights in our comments!