Also, I happen to think Magic Missile is a good spell to have/use. Certainly not overpowered, but good.
While understandably due to it's low damage, some others in my playgroup feel it's not worth having/using.
I had thought to ask whether people felt it was overrated or underrated. But trying to get what people feel themselves rather than what they feel others feel seems the more direct way.
1. Thumbs up or thumbs down on a wizard or sorcerer having / using Magic Missile?
I'm obviously a thumbs up. I'll give my reasons why.
2. Thumbs up or thumbs down on a (low to low-mid level) wizard or sorcerer purchasing a wand (or half amount of charges at half cost wand) of Magic Missile. (1 CL-Caster Level). ?
I'm a thumbs up here. Slightly different factors in play.
Overall I feel the "damage done" by any attack or spell should really be divided (or rather mutliplied by) it's percent chance to hit. So while Magic Missile (understandably for balance reasons) does not do a lot of damage. It (leaving aside Magic Resistance for now) has a 100% chance to hit. And damage is cumulative. You can keep doing damage across rounds and have it add up.
While say - Scorching Ray and other spells or melee / ranged attacks often have a half chance or worse chance to miss depending on the target and targeter. This has been crystalized for me several times during roleplay in games on this site. While the melee folks swing and miss for 2-3 rounds at a time. All of them missing for several rounds. So that 4-11 or 7-16 or so damage a melee character 'does' over 3 rounds. If it misses two times out of 3 on a stout enemy. Really is doing a third of what it is on paper. At best it's generally half damage for most attacks other than magic missile. And at least in our group, if we could have it actually roll out to be half - we would be doing much better than actually happens during combat. While 3 rounds of even a (1CL) wand of magic missle would be 3d4+3 (6-15).
That goes to both the 1 and 2. While good counterarguments on the 2 (wand) is that it's cutting into money that could be spent on a magic weapon, etc. I do think though that ensuring the caster doesn't have to pass or not have much to do other than pass. And can instead be 'plinking' away at an elite enemy is very worthwhile. It may take several rounds. And you may not be the damage that takes it down or did the most. But you are very likely to take out especially an elite enemy one or more rounds sooner, and perhaps before it kills one, several, or all of the party if you are consistently putting some damage up on it every round. Even if at mid to late levels, you likely should have enough spells not to need it.
Another great benefit of Magic Missile is that it basically gets past the caster not having Point Blank and Precise Shot and taking a -4 to hit a target involved in melee that they cannot afford to give up. Even touch and ranged touch spells for casters end up with about a half chance or worse to hit due to low BAB and usually low dex (and/or no weapon finesse feat taken to use).
More for non-wand discussion. A wizard can take Toppling Spell with Magical Lineage for no higher spell slot and have it at a good chance to knock down. As it is level of caster (not spell level) + Int modifier. And a Sorcerer (and wizard) can put two feats (School focus, Spell focus) and a trait (more for sorcerer as I think Magical Lineage is better for Magic Missile specialized Wizard) of Magical Adept (I believe) and at 1st level you are doing 2d4+2(or 3 if Evoker Wizard) and at 2nd level 3d4+3(4). With or without about a half chance of knockdown depending on the target. (If you go that route. You will cap out at 5 missiles as soon as 6th level rather than 9 for sorcerer. And potentially at 7th level for Wizard. Though if you have Magical Lineage you can take the MetaMagic -[Intensified Spell] for no spell level bump (1-1) to add up to 5 more levels of damage. Too bad Metamagic does not work well for sorcerers. Oh well, having the sorcerer versatility is very good too.)
Unlike with fire damage, there's not a lot of force resistance out there. Mid to late levels there may be some things immune to magic missle or with magic resistance, but you generally are good for many levels and will have other options by that time.
That's my take. Would love to hear/see if others agree or disagree and their Pathfinder thoughts on it.
1. Thumbs up or down on Magic Missile being a good/worthwhile spell? (I agree Grease, Color Spray, etc can rock.)
2. Thumbs up or down on purchase of Wand of Magic Missle (or half wand - which I might personally prefer)?
And finally - I can certainly understand for those who have played a lot of wizards/sorcerers already - that magic missile is 'old hat' for you. I am playing my first wizard and sorcerer myself, so the old hat feels new and effective for me for now.
Play on. And thanks in advance for any thoughtful feedback.