Tactics 101 (Lightning War)


Advice


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Last article I discussed the faults of aggression in melee tactics and how uncoordinated attacks by a small portion of the group can cause more troubles with little in the way of actual gain. In that article I explained how defensive melee tactics can control the offense of an aggressive enemy to effectively destroy them without compromising positioning or expending too many resources.

Through zone denial a group can draw encounters into a veritable death field of attacks of opportunity, flanking assaults, and full attacks. It can be scary effective.

However as posters pointed out it has its flaws.

Enemies with bows and spells firing from cover. Mounted archers that swoop in to unleash a few nasty shots and run off before they ever get in your reach. Caster’s striking from behind a safe veil of invisibility or spending a few rounds to ensure their minions are buffed to the gills before they charge. These are things that can mess with defensive strategies.

Pathfinder combat typically favors two styles of fighting. It favors careful positioning and control, as noted by GOD wizards, debuffing witches, and summoning clerics. And it also favors raw, powerful, aggression.

Most characters, but especially melee characters can pump massive damage numbers out on enemies with incredible efficiency. A cavalier charging a challenged target is pretty much guaranteed to destroy an enemy. Nova magus’s can ruin boss encounters instantly as they unleash a full attack and not one but possibly several powerful damage spells into an opponent.

The game favors offense. It can never be said enough.
But, in terms of tactics, reckless offense is stupid.

Let’s take the charge action.

The charge action allows you to double move and make a single attack with a +2 bonus. On top of other disadvantages involving entirely movement it also reduces your ac by 2.

On paper being able to eliminate an enemy rapidly by getting in the first attack seems viable. But as I demonstrated last article this can lead you into more trouble than it’s worth when you find yourself amongst a group of enemies cut off from your party and with a lowered AC. Not only are you likely to take quite a bit of damage in return this damage will be difficult to deal with as you have separated yourself from your groups primary support elements (clerics, bards, wizards etc.).

This is often compounded by the fact that many players fail to grasp the concept of allowing the suppressive elements of their group to compromise an enemy’s numbers or actions before first committing to a powerful offense.

It’s all in the prep work.

Aggression assumes that you’re already prepared for a fight. If you are not prepared and you are going on the offense you are acting out of desperation or stupidity. These are things to avoid.
Aggression for us means getting a lot of the dithering work of knowledge gathering and scouting out of the way immediately. It’s about knowing not only positions of enemies but states as well. This helps you prioritize targets early on giving your group an idea of what needs to be suppressed and focused before the fight even starts. This also allows you to get a good idea on how to arm yourselves, how you should position before the assault, and what spells to put in any open slots you might want to use.

Not every fight can be prepped like this, granted, but in my opinion ambushes and unexpected events are best handled using passive aggressive type tactics or a mix of the two.

The real purpose of all this prep work is about time saving. The first round in an aggressive push is the most critical one. You want to push deep into enemy territory while they’re still flatfooted and unbalanced. Therefore you want to make all the setup time typically required by a group to be as little as possible, or if not possible to be done while simultaneously making a hard push into the enemy.

This is a pretty simple idea but it’s worth explaining all the parts of how this first round should look like and gives us an idea on how the subsequent rounds should go.

Part 1: Prioritize and Suppress

Remember that in forge style groups it’s the anvils that are always expected to go first. Anvils, if you recall, have the job of immediately debuffing or otherwise controlling the enemy in an effective way to make the job of the hammers easier.

However this comes with some caveats when being aggressive. You absolutely have to use a suppressive ability that will not in turn hinder your mobility or offense. In short that means no spells that hinder mobility, or if such an option is necessary at least placed in a position where the enemy is far more hindered than your offense. The ability or spell also has to be one that greatly hinders an enemy’s defense or at the very least makes the counter attack extremely difficult.

Prioritization is simply allocating which enemies need to be suppressed, which need to be immediately destroyed, and which ones can be saved for later. Prioritization should be held off until after the Anvil’s action as it does no good to prioritize an inactive enemy with plenty of enemies with actions still roaming about. Who you should prioritize for what order is entirely group and situational dependent. Some groups will typically try to prioritize casters for destruction first, but, given how they love to hug the back behind everyone else this can be impractical. So, rather than give you any hard fast rules for prioritization I’m going to suggest getting with your group and carefully noting each other’s abilities and come up with some enemies that can potentially wreck your group. Learn to identify them quickly and to suppress their advantage so that you can bring your own to bear.
So in the tradition of the last article let’s illustrate our ideas.
Let’s go back to the gnoll scenario. Let’s add a shaman and some wolf pets along with adding bows and a couple of terrain features to the gnolls.

How it looks

For the original strategy this would be problematic since the gnolls aren’t particularly interested in meeting us head on. Therefore we should get aggressive. Let’s assume that we have hourly buffs going already and that we know what our enemy is but not necessarily what they’re capable of and going on assumptions.

First, we’re going to suppress our enemies. Knowing that we’re an entirely melee group we’re going to work on suppressing the enemies ability to effectively fire at us.

So let’s toss down a fog cloud among them to disrupt their cover shooting. Next we’ll prioritize targets based on our current knowledge.

The shaman has to die first, the wolves and gnolls should be further suppressed and killed later.

We want to kill the shaman since we know his spells can do a lot to help his allies and greatly hinder us. We also know that he may have ranged abilities that allow him to sit back and hammer us from behind the archers. By using a fog cloud we create a situation where the gnoll archers will find it even harder to hit us from their current position. Moreover it means that if we get within the fog cloud the gnolls absolutely have to maneuver through it in order to kill us once we get within to engage the opponent.

Glitter dust in this case may have been even more effective but its effects only last the second its dropped and any gnoll who made their save really wouldn’t be hindered. So we chose to save it for later.
This is what the map looks like after the wizard has cast his spell.

Part2:”Move and build.”

Moving is all important in this kind of offensive strategy. You need to be in the right position to affect enemies and since you’re not relying on them to do it for us we have to do it ourselves. That means having as little restricted mobility as possible. No 20ft. movement speeds here.

Barring that, you need to at least be able to do your job at long range. That means archery or spellcasting.

Of course you still need to do things like buff, and build advantages. Therefore your spell and actions have to be limited to standard and swift actions so you can use your move action to, well, move. Unless you are actively engaging an enemy with a full attack there’s no point and no need to spend a full round action on an effect that can expose you to attack, this is particularly true of spells like enlarge person or summon spells. As great as they are it’s better to unleash buffs and effects that will have an effect now rather than next round. Our goal is to eliminate the enemy quickly, not to invest into later power.
Bear in mind safety is a thing as well. Unless you’re confident in your own defenses you shouldn’t rush in behind your melee. If even your melee isn’t confident about the first destroy target than things need to be prioritized differently. Defense shouldn’t be ignored but offense is our goal.

Therefore try to predict enemy movement. Some enemies are going to go after the threats to your destruction target and attempt to save their friend. Others will try and take out support elements. Try to work this out in your mind and move accordingly.

Lastly, the reason the first round is all important is because due to the fact that all enemies are flatfooted before they act it gives you a chance to run freely through them and reach your target without facing reprisal through attacks of opportunity. More over our offensive ability is boosted by the lowered AC’s due to being flatfooted. In short, winning initiative grants us an unprecedented ability to fly into enemy lines and wreak havoc before they can even draw their weapons.
In this we’ve advanced the movement of our party without picking our attack rolls yet. As you can see our cleric has dropped a spiritual weapon on the target while moving forward to provide support. Likewise our wizard too has moved up knowing that he would be cut off from the rest of the party had he chosen to run back as most wizards are want to do. In this way they know what there fighter and rogue are planning as shown by their movement above them.

Part 3: Focus and Destroy

Focus fire the enemy and destroy them one or two at a time. Not enough groups do this, or at least does it wrong, assuming an enemy that is heavily damaged is as good as taken care of they seek another opponent to engage. This is foolhardy. Remember an enemy at one hit point is just as capable as the same enemy at a hundred hit points. By not defeating them you are giving your opponent another action to use against you and cede potential action advantage in order to do damage to another enemy.

In this case everyone who can focus fire an enemy should. Every point of damage matters in these early rounds and in cases where damage is unfeasible positioning or abilities should be used to at least grant offensive advantage to others. For example, while double moving to a target won’t deal damage it can be used to flank a target with another granting them a bonus to attack. Likewise if you simply can’t reach a target in a double move but can do something to those with a single move and a fired shot or cast spell then that should be your primary objective. Damage is what you should always be going for when buffing and controlling aren’t available options to you.

Going back to our example we’ve successfully dropped our friend the shaman long before he could cast a spell. However as you may have noted this ended the turn and now the gnolls have moved into position to pick out the wizard who has effectively been cut off from the rest of the group.

Here’s where things get tricky and why dropping something like the shaman was important.

Part 4: Rinse and Repeat as necessary.

Let’s say the rogue has been knocked prone by the wolves but took little damage. Likewise the fighter was missed thanks to a good AC and the fog cloud . We’ll say the longbow wielding gnolls managed to get a good hit on the wizard.

This kind of thing is to be expected. Aggression often compromises defense to the point where some damage is inevitable. This is okay so long as we understand our group’s limitations and work through them. It’s also good to understand that by eliminating the threat of the shaman early we’ve effectively removed enemy spellcasting resources from the equation while maintaining ours. Action advantage still belongs to the gnolls but without their spellcaster they have few ways to exploit this and beat our group.

So, again, our target is the wolves that are currently doing bad things to our rogue friend. The rogue will delay his turn until after the fighter assuming that he will get a flank in.

The wizard has a tough decision. It’s not in his character to stand there and be shot full of arrows. However fleeing into the fog cloud has its own problems. So he decides a little trickery is in order.
Casting a minor image in the form of the cleric very close to the cleric in the fog cloud the illusion will rush across the two gnolls provoking attacks of opportunity from them. Whether or not they believe or disbelieve is irrelevant (it depends on whether or not the gm allows the saving throw before or after they make the attack) as long as the attacks are made. It then tries to engage the other gnoll. This allows the wizard to slip past the two gnolls undamaged and lets him slip out of pointy death sight.

Next our cleric will redirect his spiritual weapon to start smacking a wolf while he moves deeper into the cloud himself. He prepares to engage the gnolls (or is he?) and protects the wizard’s softer form with his own harder to hit and kill body.

With the gnolls attacks of opportunity blown on an illusory cleric and the rogue facing problems the fighter decides the best course of action is to step up and kill the wolf. With the rogue prone there is no flanking bonus to be gained so she simply steps over the still cooling corpse of the shaman and lays out one of the wolves.

What this looks like at the end of it.

The rogue can be a bit frustrated at this point not having a flank partner. But given how the fighters target dropped immediately it makes little difference in any case. The rogue is likely to take damage regardless of what course they choose. So standing up, getting bitten, and stabbing the wolf is ultimately what they choose risking another bite and drop on the gnolls turn.

This leaves the gnolls in an ugly dilemma. Going after the casters may be the smart deal at this point but therir unwillingness to engage them directly only allows the fighter and rogue with support from the cleric more time to wreck their biggest advantages. Now the effect of the barrier is all but eliminated, the shaman is dead, and with only one wolf remaining. The thing to do here would be to regroup. Let’s get the gnolls out of the way and see what our group looks like going into the next round.

Uh oh. The wizard and cleric are in trouble.

Problem solving and mop up.

Remember this is not a clean way to do things. In this case our prioritization may have been a touch off in ignoring the gnolls completely. Unfortunately we’ll never know because second chances on the same fight are rare for one group.

In the case of passive aggressive combat we simply shift ourselves around our chosen bulwarks so their own capabilities do the cleanup for us. However in terms of aggression we need to reprioritize our targets.

In this case the wolf is no longer the true threat. He only threatens our rogue who can take him out relatively fast. Meanwhile all four of the original gnolls have managed to corner our spellcasting core. With some evasive action and clever footwork the group can redirect its energies and ultimately beat even this.

Deciding to delay his action the wizard calls for the cleric to get out of the way. The cleric takes his turn taking the opportunity to redirect his spell to the wolf and taking it out to free up the rogue to give them a hand. He decides to take an attack on the gnoll in front of him and deals a bit of damage not really knowing what the wizard is planning.

Seeing the opportunity for a do or die moment the wizard shifts to the side and unleashes the color spray he’s been holding this whole time knocking out the remaining gnolls. It’s question of risk assessment. With a +8 bonus making the 17 check is plenty doable and just about guaranteed if he took combat casting. Two of the gnolls get knocked right out. The fighter simply walks up and eliminates the gnoll threatening the wizard and the remaining gnoll is killed by the frustrated rogue who is finally able to get his sneak attack in.

And just like that the fight is over.

The lesson to take away from this example is not how to do things but how to think about doing things. In aggressive tactics risks like intentionally taking attacks of opportunities can pay off in eliminated enemies and future survival. Clever spell use can single handedly push the swing of the fight towards you and even an innocuous and often ignored spell like minor image can be surprisingly valuable. Even deciding to make a concentration check where simply getting away would be less risky can instantly end a fight. Risk calculation is important in a successful group (and just important in gaming in general). Each action taken by this group had its associated risks and rewards and the group chose their risks based upon the low likelihood of risk and the high possibility of a big payoff. Obviously against some opponents the risks taken by this group would be insane, even suicidal. So take risks responsibly and know your opponents well.

And ultimately the group has to be just plain good at its job. None of the tools used here come out of any special book all the spells are core, all the classes are core and the choices these classes made are pretty typical and what you’d expect for a group of this level. It’s easy to expand on the ideas present to include your own group.
Next one of these I might do in video with a demonstration of the beta version of Dreamscarred Press’s upcoming Warlord class.


bump for the afternoon crowd. I know I should stop putting these out at the wee morning hours.


Whenever I bring up the idea of using strategy and tactics to the people I play with, the response is not positive. Excuses run from "that's not what my character would do" to "no battleplan survives the first hit/engagement" to "I've played so long that I've played every optimized character and now I just want to have fun". I want to play a smart game and I get quite a bit of scorn for it. How would you go about convincing such people to play the game as though strategy and tactics matter? Keep in mind that for these people, anecdotal experience trumps any kind of statistical, conceptual, or structural analysis.

Edit: also, I really enjoy your write ups. I'd be interested to see your take on out of combat situations as well.


Sensten wrote:

Whenever I bring up the idea of using strategy and tactics to the people I play with, the response is not positive. Excuses run from "that's not what my character would do" to "no battleplan survives the first hit/engagement" to "I've played so long that I've played every optimized character and now I just want to have fun". I want to play a smart game and I get quite a bit of scorn for it. How would you go about convincing such people to play the game as though strategy and tactics matter? Keep in mind that for these people, anecdotal experience trumps any kind of statistical, conceptual, or structural analysis.

Edit: also, I really enjoy your write ups. I'd be interested to see your take on out of combat situations as well.

It depends on the group. If your gm is a brutal destroyer of parties and devourer of player hopes and dreams then point out all their in character wankery means nothing if they keep dying.

If the gm just hands them encounters on a silver platter there's not much else you can do as obviously they have no real incentive to try.

Mostly what I do is just be subtle about it. When I'm not playing somewhat disturbed or philosophical characters I tend to play ones with a militaristic or professional streak anyway (think guys like professional killers, war veterans, soldiers and the like). Suddenly all my tactical advice is done in character and they're forced to answer for it in-character. It's a lot harder for bob the always roleplaying to explain to Sir Karlan Bladetwist of the Knights of Ozem why he was being a t##~ mid combat and getting the party hurt for it. And, funny thing, if they do improve you've just did a very dirty thing and convinced them in-character to act in a way you wanted out of character.

I'm always a bit bothered by people who think optimization is the same as "not being stupid" or "not being in-character". When I call it Tactics 101 it's not me describing anything advanced or strange. It's very basic stuff broken down and detailed for easy digestion to provoke some thought. It's not breaking the game or powergaming. It's just making the most of what you already have.


one last bump for the night crowd and that's the last one out of my bump bag before i shove it in with the rest.


I love reading these. I know it all already, but it's great for newbie friends


Sensten wrote:

Whenever I bring up the idea of using strategy and tactics to the people I play with, the response is not positive. Excuses run from "that's not what my character would do" to "no battleplan survives the first hit/engagement" to "I've played so long that I've played every optimized character and now I just want to have fun". I want to play a smart game and I get quite a bit of scorn for it. How would you go about convincing such people to play the game as though strategy and tactics matter? Keep in mind that for these people, anecdotal experience trumps any kind of statistical, conceptual, or structural analysis.

Edit: also, I really enjoy your write ups. I'd be interested to see your take on out of combat situations as well.

If you can get one person on board with you then you can function as a team. You will likely immediately start doing better than the other folks.

Envy may help you out as you start making the other players look like wanks with a standard or even non optimized build that isn't being stupid.


Tark's posts on tactics have made me realize that I am apparently super aggressive when I play PCs.


You still threaten when you are prone, and in the guide here you say the rogue does not


CWheezy wrote:
You still threaten when you are prone, and in the guide here you say the rogue does not

My mistake. But easily the fighter's too. Nobody's perfect.

Scarab Sages

GOod Job Tark. :)
Nice read... I will read again when i a more awake tho.
How many of these have u made?


Black Lotus wrote:

GOod Job Tark. :)

Nice read... I will read again when i a more awake tho.
How many of these have u made?

I think I'm up to 4 now.

A couple of uncomplete guides and a couple of long strategy articles. One of which I feel is a must read.


TarkXT wrote:
Black Lotus wrote:

GOod Job Tark. :)

Nice read... I will read again when i a more awake tho.
How many of these have u made?

I think I'm up to 4 now.

A couple of uncomplete guides and a couple of long strategy articles. One of which I feel is a must read.

Do you have a post with all the links thus far? And which article in particular? I find these articles of yours interesting and helpful for some situations.

Scarab Sages

I did a search in his posts for "tactic" And it came up with 4 posts.
Then I got interested in his other stuff, and read his vary long cleric guide a few times.


Are you giving this advice as a DM or as a player. I know I get to use coordinated tactics WAY, WAY, WAY, WAY, WAY more as a DM than I ever do as a player.

Just saying.


More for players than gm's. GM's don't have the same incentives to get better. IF a GM improves his tactical abilities it's to challenge his players more easily and grant them the satisfaction of defeating very dangerous encounters.

However a character has to survive. As Ashiel is often quick to point out the game really really hates characters. I would argue that as rough as it is on characters it can be very indiscriminate and thus with intelligent and coordinated characters it all evens out. As futile as it feels at times all my efforts here are aimed at removing ignorance from the many obstacles that prevent players from doing at least half intelligent things in combat. Nevermind the shenanigans that ensue before initiative is rolled.

After the video I'm torn between doing one on buffs and a NOT tactics article dealing with getting people to coordinate in combat.

As for all the articles everything is under my profile name.

@Grizzlyarcher: This is the article in question. Or if you prefer a cleaner Google Drive version

Essentially it's the culmination of a lot of reading of guides, developer posts about the game, personal experience, and a simple study on what people consider to be good and bad. The end result is a simple breakdown and explanation of what it is to succeed as a group and how the group works to achieve that.


Awesome, thanks for the links.

Which video?


A party of players has 4-6 differing levels of tactical ability and ideas about their character concept. A simple tactic like a high ac fighter blocking the door rarely gets used, why? Because the rogue player wants to flank, the archer doesn't want to fire through cover, no-one has a reach weapon or for any other number of reasons all relating to a simple lack of co-ordinated planning. Adventurers RARELY use coordinated tactics except for the most obvious like flanking or fireball first mop up second.


strayshift wrote:
A party of players has 4-6 differing levels of tactical ability and ideas about their character concept. A simple tactic like a high ac fighter blocking the door rarely gets used, why? Because the rogue player wants to flank, the archer doesn't want to fire through cover, no-one has a reach weapon or for any other number of reasons all relating to a simple lack of co-ordinated planning. Adventurers RARELY use coordinated tactics except for the most obvious like flanking or fireball first mop up second.

Then of course you have the druids dropping entangles in such a way the charging characters can't charge, casters who refuse to buff certain characters for roleplay reasons and people blocking line of sight for the archers.

Oh yes, we've been there before.

But, things aren't going to fix themselves. Players have to be willing to dialogue about the issues and work together. The reluctant combatant whose a veteran of twenty battles and still doesn't know what he's doing is an idiot, not a well roleplayed character. Likewise a group that has fought, bled, adn nearly died together who happen to notice a complementary set of abilities shouldn't be making the same mistakes at level 4 as they did at level 1.

Dialogue is important. Pointing out these articles just saves a lot of time explaining details on the rough ideas.


TarkXT wrote:
strayshift wrote:
A party of players has 4-6 differing levels of tactical ability and ideas about their character concept. A simple tactic like a high ac fighter blocking the door rarely gets used, why? Because the rogue player wants to flank, the archer doesn't want to fire through cover, no-one has a reach weapon or for any other number of reasons all relating to a simple lack of co-ordinated planning. Adventurers RARELY use coordinated tactics except for the most obvious like flanking or fireball first mop up second.

Then of course you have the druids dropping entangles in such a way the charging characters can't charge, casters who refuse to buff certain characters for roleplay reasons and people blocking line of sight for the archers.

Oh yes, we've been there before.

But, things aren't going to fix themselves. Players have to be willing to dialogue about the issues and work together. The reluctant combatant whose a veteran of twenty battles and still doesn't know what he's doing is an idiot, not a well roleplayed character. Likewise a group that has fought, bled, adn nearly died together who happen to notice a complementary set of abilities shouldn't be making the same mistakes at level 4 as they did at level 1.

Dialogue is important. Pointing out these articles just saves a lot of time explaining details on the rough ideas.

I completely agree. But when 2 of your players 'just want to turn up and roll dice' you get these situation yes?


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This is a nice article followed by a bunch of reasonable responses...

however, as a player of a fairly mentally challenged barbarian, I have to say there is nothing more satisfying than leaping recklessly into the midst of a group of enemies and making full use of my raging/power attacking/cleaving awesomeness!

It may not be tactically optimal but it is cinematic and fun and in character. Not all of our characters are tactical geniuses or even just geniuses.


I think there is a big difference between a player that does not know what his character should do (Rookie) and a veteran player who knows that his character does not know what to do, or does not care for whatever reason. Just because a player chooses to have his/her character do something that is not optimal does not mean he is "doing it wrong". There are many reason that people in "real life" don't make optimal decisions (intelligence, experience, ability, fear, anger, pride, personal agenda, etc.) and the same applies to fantasy characters.


Mike Franke wrote:
I think there is a big difference between a player that does not know what his character should do (Rookie) and a veteran player who knows that his character does not know what to do, or does not care for whatever reason. Just because a player chooses to have his/her character do something that is not optimal does not mean he is "doing it wrong". There are many reason that people in "real life" don't make optimal decisions (intelligence, experience, ability, fear, anger, pride, personal agenda, etc.) and the same applies to fantasy characters.

I would argue that none of what I'm doing is necessarily optimization. But rather the application of common sense to a mechanical system. You can apply this stuff to a bunch of level 2 warriors and still get surprisingly decent results.

But, when I hear about a group nearly wiping because of "roleplaying" I wonder what exactly was fun about getting other people in the group killed and other players mad at you.

I also wonder when such incompetent characters aren't left behind by the more competent ones. "Real life" incompetents in such instances face severe consequences from their employers and peers if they manage to survive their experiences. Why shouldn't it be the same for a group of adventurers who face deadly threats on a daily basis?

Granted I understand why such roleplaying can be fun and interesting. Been there, drank deeply of the kool-aid, done that. But I draw the line at harming my group with my eccentricities.


Sensten wrote:
How would you go about convincing such people to play the game as though strategy and tactics matter? Keep in mind that for these people, anecdotal experience trumps any kind of statistical, conceptual, or structural analysis.

I have very little time for these players.

Its supposed to be a party, not just a party until the melee starts and a free-for-all after that.

That said, I am a bit of a despot player, but things work better and most people now just give me free run to coordinate.


TarkXT wrote:

But, when I hear about a group nearly wiping because of "roleplaying" I wonder what exactly was fun about getting other people in the group killed and other players mad at you.

I also wonder when such incompetent characters aren't left behind by the more competent ones. "Real life" incompetents in such instances face severe consequences from their employers and peers if they manage to survive their experiences. Why shouldn't it be the same for a group of adventurers who face deadly threats on a daily basis?

Granted I understand why such roleplaying can be fun and interesting. Been there, drank deeply of the kool-aid, done that. But I draw the line at harming my group with my eccentricities.

I know where you are coming from and especially in a PFS game I expect people to pull their weight. I don't want my character killed because the guy next to me does not know how to play.

I'm not sure that is what people on this thread are talking about though. I think they are talking about expected actions that maximize potential outcomes as if they are the only reasonable actions. Maybe what I really take exception to is the word "incompetence". If I play my barbarian as full of rage instead of coldly calculating that is not incompetence. If I play a paladin as full of of righteous indignation instead of tactical acumen that is not incompetence. They are not 16 Int manoeuvre fighters who I would expect to fight differently.

For me the fun of the game is seeing how difference character concepts handle the same situation. If everyone does the same thing because it is optimal regardless of class, ability scores, background, etc. that is not very fun. I would rather remember the paladin who ran to save the orphan girl knowing he would be surrounded by enemies and possibly die or the barbarian who charges the enemy without waiting to see what his team will do or the cleric that heals his in danger comrade even though everyone "knows" that it is more important to kill the BBG and healing in combat is for fools. To me, that is what those characters should do.

Those are the stories I remember fondly. Not the time I delayed so that the cleric could buff me before I moved to aid the Paladin who placed himself just so that the BBG would draw an attack of opportunity...etc.

All that being said,I realize that in order to be successful sometime you have to play the game just like this thread says and I took good notes on your ideas for future reference.


I am okay with a barbarian (or other heedlessly charge pron class) charging into the enemy at the first sign. I just take that into consideration for my tactics.

I like playing a controller wizard. He is extremely intelligent and has a tactical mind; he doesn't let his emotions get the better of him. That is my character. The rampaging barbarian belongs to a different player. We are all friends at the table, so while I understand that the barbarian will charge, the barbarian's player will understand when I drop a wall between him and the awaiting hideous death.

Too often what I see is a player going to extreme lengths to make sure they get "their turn" on every round. So they will put themselves in the middle of a group of enemies because "that's the only place I can get to where I can attack!" They are upset that they had to move so far to get an attack, they are upset that they are now surrounded, but they will absolutely refuse to NOT move up and "miss a turn".

This is frustrating for me as well, but for an entirely different reason. So I spend my turn trying to limit the enemy's counterstrike. I drop walls to split our opponents in half. I put summoned monsters in doorways to stop reinforcements. I drop clouds or other duration area of effect spells in the middle of the enemy. Anything to reduce the number of effective attacks that the enemy can take in return and think how much more effective all of these tactics would be if the party didn't position themselves as if the were trying to prevent me from doing so.

I will say that generally these actions are appreciated by the group. They do recognize after the fact that some of my actions saved their bacon. They still don't change their tactics, but it is something.


How did the rogue get a sneak attack in this scenario? Concealment negates sneak attacks. In fact this entire scenario just bones the rogues ability to contribute to offense. Fog cloud is concealment granting even within 5 feet and is a common anti rogue defense.


It's a good thing Shadow Strike is a feat available to rgues at 3rd level isn't it?


TarkXT wrote:
It's a good thing Shadow Strike is a feat available to rgues at 3rd level isn't it?

I just house rule out the concealment limitation. Rogues need their feats for things other than just allowing them to function at the most basic level.


IDK, there is still the 20 percent miss chance and the feat tax still sucks. Fog cloud just doesn't seem like the spell for an offensively oriented party. It hurts your parties DPR, and it mostly is a defensive spell. A one round stun spell just seems better. With winning the initiative + half of the enemy failing their saves that's 2 rounds of offense without much opposition. An offensive party can afford to have short duration debuffs because they don't expect combat to last long.


It's a feat tax I'd expect every serious rogue to take. Just as one would expect power attack on nearly every serious melee character. Concealment can come from many many many sources.

And as for the miss chance keep in mind that's a 50% miss chance against archers, reach, and others. 20% miss chance is a pretty small price to pay for the reward of not havinga wizard collecta number of finely crafted gnoll arrows.

Beyond that, this is not a perfect scenario. It's not meant to be a perfect scenario. Mainly because no one will ever encounter an absolutely perfect scenario. Even with the spell you present it's making a lot of assumptions based on ifs for a one round gain. Fog cloud proved useful the entire combat. DPR doesn't even tell half the story.


In my experience, dropping a cloud is definitely preferable to getting perforated by entrenched archers.

However, I think I would have preferred an obscuring mist because it is dismissible and a spell level lower even though it centers on the caster.

Obscuring mist ->melee the archers--Dismiss the mist->hammer the boss with full backstabbing, flanking, and ranged attack options. Being a caster standing next to a mook trying to switch weapons isn't that bad of a place to be if you're being aggressive as a caster.

I'm not criticizing tark's example, just pointing out that there are many alternatives.

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