TL;DR: It depends if you hunt mostly on magic shield or health, and also if you think your damage output is sometimes lower because you're focusing on healing yourself instead of attacking. If you're still in doubt after reading this, get the Lion Wand as it's more versatile.
Full answer: It really depends. Let's start off by checking the properties of each Wand:
You see a lion wand (Range:4, magic level +2, life leech chance 100%, life leech amount +18%).
Imbuements: (Empty Slot, Empty Slot).
It can only be wielded properly by sorcerers of level 220 or higher.
It weighs 21.00 oz.
You see a falcon wand (Range:5, magic level +3, protection fire +8%).
Imbuements: (Empty Slot, Empty Slot).
It can only be wielded properly by sorcerers of level 300 or higher.
It weighs 33.00 oz.
There are several differences between the two wands, however, one characteristic of each Wand is more important the the others:
- The Lion Wand has a permanent Life Leech property. This 18% amount is between the value of Intricate Vampirism (10%) and Powerful Vampirism (25%)
- The Falcon Wand has a higher Magic Level bonus of +3 ML, against the Lion Wand's +2 ML.
The other properties are secondary, and it's worth noting that both wands can receive the same imbuements, which for mages are, pretty much always, 2 out of these 3: Mana Leech, Critical and Magic Level boost. The Fire protection is completely situational, and their range and base damage element are even less important since the wand damage is minimum compared to the damage dealt by spells and runes. So when is each of the two properties above more valuable?
The main question to ask is: are you hunting on Magic Shield? If you're hunting on a very hard spawn with magic shield (spell or ring) on most of the time, then the Falcon Wand will always be a better option, since the Lion Wand's life leech will be useless. If you hunt on this style on most of your hunts, go with Falcon.
If you're usually hunting on life, then the question is harder to answer. Honestly I believe it changes from player to player, their level and hunting style. But ask yourself this: do you frequently find yourself focusing on self-healing so badly that you end up missing attack turns (or for example attacking using a rune instead of using your waves, which deal more damage)? The more often this happens, the higher the value of the Lion Wand's life leech is. As a Druid, this is much easier to answer, and the Cobra Rod (equivalent to the Lion Wand) has a very high value because it allows the Druid to heal itself thorugh the life leech while also healing the Knight using Heal Friend, when Mass Healing is out of range and/or on cooldown.
As a secondary criteria, think about how often you hunt fire damage dealing creatures, since these will add another benefit to the Falcon Wand. But keep in mind it won't mean anything on another hunts, and you'll like switch hunting places after some levels. Also, remember that 8% is not really 8% when you stack up protection. For instance, a mage with a typical fire protection set (Falcon Circlet, Firemind Raiment, Magma Legs, Umbral Master Spellbook, Shining Sun Catcher and Blister Ring) has 33.2% Fire Protection. Adding a Falcon Wand gives you 5.4% protection, and not 8%.
You may also consider that the Magic Level increase of 1 is good, obviously, but not absurd, and it likely has a lower impact on a magic shield hunt than the free and permanent Life Leech has on life hunts. With this in mind, considering you maybe aren't even always on your maximum Magic Level potential (e.g. using plasma rings, using the Hireling magic level food boost, etc), the Lion Wand is probably a better option as your first expensive wand.
At the end of the day, I'd say get both of them when you can. As a Druid, I own both the Cobra and Falcon rods, but I got the Falcon first and maybe wouldn't have both if the order was reversed. Anyway, since now I have both the answer is quite simple: Falcon Rod when hunting hard creatures on magic shield, Cobra Rod when hunting weaker creatures on life.