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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    GnomeWizardGuy

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    Default Making Minions Work for You [4e]

    Making Minions Work for You:

    Yes, minions are easy, minions are fodder. But with the right terrain and circumstances, they can be used to a real advantage for your average villain. I would recommend them in 3 circumstances:

    1. Flair:

    Melee minions are at their most useless in a wide-open pitched battle, but they can make such a battle look a lot cooler. Still, spread them out to make it harder for the wizard to fry em all in one go. Either way, they help with 2 main things:

    A) To provide a party without a controller the thrill of a large-scale skirmish on par with those in pirate, swashbuckling, and other fantasy films; or B) To make wizards' spells look cooler. Nothing like frying some pansy minions in one go.

    2. Filler:

    Sometimes an encounter will seem just a hair underpowered than what you wanted it to be. Throw in a handful of minions, and you have given the party little experience for a spare action lost from the party controller. This is time that the real threats can spend getting where they need to be before they can be stopped.

    3. Strategy:

    Carefully consider terrain advantages and the abilities of your villains to maximize minion potential. This works for your ranged minions, of course. But it can also work for enemies who sacrifice their friends, or a lurker disguised as one of the minions (it's kind of like a mirror images spell).

    In terrain without clear line of sight, a few well-placed minions can stick the party defender or striker for a round or two, giving lurkers and skirmishers the chance to sneak around from behind. (This is unique to minions, because 4 minions can certainly cut off more routes than 1 appropriate level baddie.)

    And, if the minions are kept in reserve, then they can provide a round or two of late-fight Combat Advantage, which might be all your bloodied villain needs to throw down an unwary hero. Consider using undead for this, because it provides for a little Flair of its own if the bloodied enemy raises 4 skeletons behind the party to join the assault. (Minions are especially good in reserve, because they don't really lose any actions for coming in late, since they would have been taken out early anyway.)

    Fin.

    Just remember these primary rules of minions:

    1. Keep them seperate, keep them safe.
    2. Having 1hp doesn't mean you must be a tactical idiot.
    3. They are expendable and fun for all to kill.

    And you will have a great time throwing veritable cannon fodder at your PCs for some time to come!

    One HP, One Love,
    -Onefamiliarface
    Last edited by OneFamiliarFace; 2009-02-25 at 02:56 AM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Making Minions Work for You [4e]

    Did anyone think minions are pointless? They were one of my favorite points of 4ed.
    Quote Originally Posted by Alabenson
    Evil Intelligence is knowing the precise ritual that will allow you to destroy the peaceful kingdom that banished you.

    Evil Wisdom is understanding that you probably shouldn’t perform said ritual while you’re standing in the estimated blast radius.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    GnomeWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Making Minions Work for You [4e]

    Quote Originally Posted by BobVosh View Post
    Did anyone think minions are pointless? They were one of my favorite points of 4ed.
    Me too. I just wanted to start a thread about them. I've been hearing around that they are easier than the amount of experience they give is worth, so I actually meant to ask a question along with my post:

    When have minions worked for(against) you?

    Describe a situation, as a player or DM, in which minions were particularly viscious or provided for a cool moment in the adventure.

    As for me, I had a goblin blackblade who hid himself among 3 goblin cutters (admittedly, I used my players' metagaming against them, as they may have assumed minions came in neat packets of four). As the players turned to fight them, the blackblade ended up behind the party paladin and ranger, flanking them both thanks to Goblin tactics. He crit sneak attacked the paladin, before having to run as the ranger cut down his friends. It made it all the more satisfying for the paladin to crush him into jelly when he finally caught up.

    As a point of note: I rolled the Blackblade's bluff (or stealth, can't remember) check and opposed it to the party's passive perception to see if they noticed that he carried himself better than the others.
    Last edited by OneFamiliarFace; 2009-02-25 at 03:23 AM.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    DwarfFighterGuy

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    Default Re: Making Minions Work for You [4e]

    Many monsters with the "leader" roll have powers that synergize well with minions. Powers that grant temp HP are particularly powerful when used with minions.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Awesomologist's Avatar

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    Default Re: Making Minions Work for You [4e]

    I've actually found Minions to be not only useless but just a pain to manage. I often find myself wondering why I put them in the encounter when they're gone by round 2.
    That being said, these are good tips and this reply is in no way just a quick bookmark...
    Melkor, Tiefling Warlock Avatar by Nevitan

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    ClericGirl

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    Default Re: Making Minions Work for You [4e]

    We've chosen to houserule minions in our games.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Making Minions Work for You [4e]

    Quote Originally Posted by THAC0 View Post
    We've chosen to houserule minions in our games.
    In what way?

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Planetar

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    Default Re: Making Minions Work for You [4e]

    While Minions are rarely more than a speed bump, a lot of times that can make a big difference. 2 minions who attack from the rear is hardly difficult, but if you force the ranger who was standing in the back to waste a turn taking out these minions, rather than concentrating fire on the big bad, that can make a huge difference.

    As other people have mentioned, pure melee minions are pretty useless, but minions that attack from a range, or have an ability to immobilize or slow the party (or even a few key members of the party) are exceptionally useful.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    ClericGirl

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    Default Re: Making Minions Work for You [4e]

    Quote Originally Posted by Asbestos View Post
    In what way?
    Pretty much that higher level minions have very low levels of damage resistance, which prevents one-shotting them or using low level magic items to kill them.

    Some of the math behind the decision: http://vedronspotionshop.blogspot.co...1/minions.html

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Yakk's Avatar

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    Default Re: Making Minions Work for You [4e]

    I like using a "damage pool" for minions.

    Basically it takes (minion level) to kill a minion. Leftover damage, or insufficient damage, is accumulated in a "damage pool", which helps the next kill. "Blow through" damage is discarded.

    The minion's level is already visible. It requires keeping track of one more HP value (the collective minion damage pool). It generates a nice effect where an autodamage effect that hits a clump of 5 minions for not-quite-enough damage can kill 3 of them. And it keeps minions as 'stateless'.

    It also works well with temporary HP -- minions with 5 temporary HP get a +5 level boost to their soak.

    I also use status-effect less minions -- well, simplified status effects.

    Player feature tokens still exist (marking, cursing), and is up to the player to keep track of (using some visual widget).

    There are two other kinds of status effects: Prone, and Dead Next Turn. Everything else is gone.

    Status effect stronger than being dazed: make an immediate save or die. If you win, be knocked prone.

    Status effect equal to or weaker than being dazed: be knocked prone.

    Continuing damage: Apply it immediately. If it is enough to kill, use 'die next turn' marker instead of immediate death.
    Continuing damage > 1/2 level: save or die at the start of your next turn anyhow.

    The idea of all of this is that each minion isn't trivial to kill, yet bookkeeping for an arbitrary number of minions consists of the minion's undamaged stats, looking at the board (is it lying down? Is it dying next turn), and keeping track of one "damage pool" per side in the fight.

    You could relatively easily have a force of PCs + 20 minions against a force of 60 minions using the above rules, and things wouldn't bog down (beyond rolling to-hit issues), because the minions have no individual state beyond "am I lying down" and "do I die at the start of my next turn".

    The "do I die at the start of my next turn" is actually there for flavour -- it seems more fun to have minions melt _after_ they take continuing damage, instead of immediately. ;)

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Making Minions Work for You [4e]

    Quote Originally Posted by THAC0 View Post
    Pretty much that higher level minions have very low levels of damage resistance, which prevents one-shotting them or using low level magic items to kill them.

    Some of the math behind the decision: http://vedronspotionshop.blogspot.co...1/minions.html
    They're a bit weaker than you claim in your article. When you claim they're fine against single damage source PCs you assume that all 4 minions in a group attack every round until one or more die. This is fine for ranged minions, but doesn't work for melee minions.

    In a tight passage all four at once may be impossible.

    In any case all four at once probably involves bunching up (very bad for minion life expectancy).

    My own thought was to simply double the numbers of melee minions (8 in place of 4) and multiply by 1.5 for ranged minions (6 in place of 4).

    I've considered HP pools or damaged states, but those reduce the utility of cleave, cloud of daggers, warlock rods, and other things that are SUPPOSED to be good minion killers. If a party tries to be good at killing minions they should be good at killing minions.

    Increased numbers means that they'll be a hair too strong against pure single target foes who have no cover at all, but those are the people who SHOULD be in trouble against a horde of minions.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Yakk's Avatar

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    Default Re: Making Minions Work for You [4e]

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Lampert View Post
    I've considered HP pools or damaged states, but those reduce the utility of cleave, cloud of daggers, warlock rods, and other things that are SUPPOSED to be good minion killers. If a party tries to be good at killing minions they should be good at killing minions.
    Low amounts of auto-damage is too good at killing minions is the problem.

    At level 1, 4 minions to a normal monster is quite doable.

    At level 30, 4 minions to a normal monster can, and should, be laughed at. Because the amount of auto-damage (that is worth even using on normal monsters, mind you) you can have access to is such that you could wipe out armies of minions without breaking a sweat.

    I mean, there are encounter powers that almost cover 8x8 areas in auto damage fields. It isn't a matter of not bunching up, as much as it is "no number of minions matter".
    Last edited by Yakk; 2009-02-26 at 07:49 PM.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    ClericGirl

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    Default Re: Making Minions Work for You [4e]

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Lampert View Post
    They're a bit weaker than you claim in your article. When you claim they're fine against single damage source PCs you assume that all 4 minions in a group attack every round until one or more die. This is fine for ranged minions, but doesn't work for melee minions.

    In a tight passage all four at once may be impossible.

    In any case all four at once probably involves bunching up (very bad for minion life expectancy).

    My own thought was to simply double the numbers of melee minions (8 in place of 4) and multiply by 1.5 for ranged minions (6 in place of 4).

    I've considered HP pools or damaged states, but those reduce the utility of cleave, cloud of daggers, warlock rods, and other things that are SUPPOSED to be good minion killers. If a party tries to be good at killing minions they should be good at killing minions.

    Increased numbers means that they'll be a hair too strong against pure single target foes who have no cover at all, but those are the people who SHOULD be in trouble against a horde of minions.
    I didn't write the article, and I'm not a stat person, so I'm not going to argue anything here. :)

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
    AgentPaper's Avatar

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    Default Re: Making Minions Work for You [4e]

    I like the idea of just giving them a flat damage resistance of (con mod). Low level minions have maybe a 1 or 2 bonus, so it doesn't really change anything. At high levels, you get more of it, but it never really gets too high. A fighter with cleave will still tear apart any minions, as long as his strength mod is higher than the enemy's con mod. If the minion takes damage less than their con mod, they take no damage. You could also probably change this so that minions do take damage on a miss, as well, though I'm not sure what the ramifications of that would be.

    I'm going to start using this as a houserule, and we'll see how it works out.
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    Myatar_Panwar's Avatar

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    Default Re: Making Minions Work for You [4e]

    I like Yakk's rule system, and my use it in the future (thanks!).

    For a future encounter, I was planning on having kind of a solo encounter of around equal level to my PC's, and a constant stream of minions.

    My plan will involve around 6 "portal" type things, which every turn produce a minion after the combat starts with the solo. You can destroy the portal as if it was a minion, but as long as it stands, it will produce a new minion each turn. The solo can re-build one portal per turn as a free action, but as minions are summoned at the beginning of their turn, they still miss one summon.

    I think this will hopefully be a fun and memorable end to a small adventure cluster, keeping the players busy with the solo, but still worrying about taking out the minions and their source. Only thing I'm worrying about is that it can become quickly overwhelming if the players choose not to attack the minions and the portals or if they roll badly. Though it is the last adventure of the adventure, so it is meant to be challenging. Thoughts on improving it?
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    Tengu_temp's Avatar

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    Default Re: Making Minions Work for You [4e]

    Am I the only one who likes the idea that minions always get one-shotted, no matter what attack you use, and that high-level characters can kill armies of them without breaking a sweat?

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Making Minions Work for You [4e]

    Not the only one, probably. Yes, the whole point of a minion is that it gets killed fast, but higher level minions should be harder to take out than lower level ones, and they just aren't. If you want to take out hordes of them at high levels, you should be using low level enemies anyways.
    Last edited by AgentPaper; 2009-02-27 at 04:31 AM.
    Excellent avatar by Elder Tsofu.

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    Tengu_temp's Avatar

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    Default Re: Making Minions Work for You [4e]

    I think it makes more sense that higher level characters beat up minions much faster and easier - who would go faster through an army, a demigod or an experienced, but completely normal fighter?

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
    AgentPaper's Avatar

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    Default Re: Making Minions Work for You [4e]

    An army of low-level things, yes, but most high level minions are supposed to be dangerous, though not as much as non-minions. The fact that an army of devils poses no real threat to a party around their level is a bit...anticlimactic.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Last_resort_33's Avatar

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    Default Re: Making Minions Work for You [4e]

    A speed bump might not be much, but putting one on a racing track during a race in which the loser dies, might pose a problem.

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  21. - Top - End - #21
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Making Minions Work for You [4e]

    Quote Originally Posted by Last_resort_33 View Post
    A speed bump might not be much, but putting one on a racing track during a race in which the loser dies, might pose a problem.
    Which is my point. As-is, minions seem to be more like a coin on the track than a real speed bump. At high levels, at least.
    Excellent avatar by Elder Tsofu.

  22. - Top - End - #22
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Yakk's Avatar

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    Default Re: Making Minions Work for You [4e]

    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    I think it makes more sense that higher level characters beat up minions much faster and easier - who would go faster through an army, a demigod or an experienced, but completely normal fighter?
    Sure -- but what is the right ratio, challenge wise, between minions at level 30 and normal level 30 monsters?

    4? 6? 8? 10? 20? 50?

    And if you throw 50 minions at a party at level 30, what happens if they get lucky and go first?

  23. - Top - End - #23
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Making Minions Work for You [4e]

    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    Am I the only one who likes the idea that minions always get one-shotted, no matter what attack you use, and that high-level characters can kill armies of them without breaking a sweat?
    High-level characters should be able to kill armies of LOW LEVEL minions without breaking a sweat.

    The whole point of HAVING high level minions is to have minions where four of them are about as good as one standard of the same level even against high level foes. That's what their XP says they're worth, that's what encounter design is based on, and they're clearly not.

    You want a level 30 to cut through armies? Well, hypothetically, it takes something like 640 level one minions to give the same XP as a single level 30 standard (don't have the XP table handy to check this). Those level 1 minions shouldn't make high level characters break a sweat, and they won't. But if 4 level 30 minions as part of a larger encounter can't inflict a 80 or so damage on a level 30 character before they die then they're not doing their job. And there's almost no chance that the four level 30 minions will do their job (in fact IME unless they've got a good ranged attack there's almost no chance that even level 1 minions will do their job against level 1 PCs).

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Making Minions Work for You [4e]

    I once had a group of minions one-shot a ranger. The party had come upon a group of goblins robbing an overturned wagon. The party was holding its own against the goblin warriors, when the 4 minions hiding in the wagon rushed the ranger and knocked him unconscious. Cue sounds of "Run!!" "We're all gonna die!" Of course, they were gone the next round, but they made that combat a lot more interesting and fun for the players.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    ClericGirl

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    Default Re: Making Minions Work for You [4e]

    Issues with minions exists, but at low levels can be ignored - from what I've seen.

    The big catalyst for our group to change things came at paragon tier, when the DM realized that my warlock was one-shotting two high level minions per round with a level 5 item as a minor action. :)

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    Kurald Galain's Avatar

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    Default Re: Making Minions Work for You [4e]

    Quote Originally Posted by Tengu_temp View Post
    Am I the only one who likes the idea that minions always get one-shotted, no matter what attack you use, and that high-level characters can kill armies of them without breaking a sweat?
    No, but the problem arises that low level characters can kill armies of them without breaking a sweat.

    For instance, a low-level spell like Stinking Cloud simply wipes them all away. Arguably, even Flaming Sphere and Grasping Shadows (both level 1) can do some of that.
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