# Thread: Great Weapon Mastery: How to -5/+10 Like a Pro

1. ## Great Weapon Mastery: How to -5/+10 Like a Pro

Great Weapon Mastery
How to -5/+10 Like a Pro

NOTE: I posted this on /r/dndnext some time ago, and thought I'd repost it here to help out my GitP brethren.

Great Weapon Master is one of the keystones of dealing effective damage in 5e. However, unlike most optimization options, there's a right time and a wrong time to use GWM. I've seen some tables that guide the aspiring great weapon master in using the feat properly, but in my opinion there's a simpler way to figure it out. Using the mysticism of middle school algebra, I came up with the following formula.

The Formula

Plug in your attack bonus and your damage (without GWM), and the formula gives you a number called the maximum AC threshold. If your target's AC is less than this number, then power attack. If it's greater than this number, then attack normally.

Attack bonus is whatever you add to your d20 roll to see if you hit, i.e. strength or dex plus proficiency, plus any other bonuses (not including the -5 from GWM).

Damage is your average damage, based on your weapon damage dice and your ability modifier, plus any other bonuses (not including the +10 from GWM).

You only need to calculate this once, and update it when your attack bonus or damage changes. Afterwards you just pay attention to your target's AC. It's worth calculating again for some common buffs, like Bless or Divine Favor, so you know what to do when you are buffed up.

The nice thing is, since the formula is so simple, you can adjust it in your head. Did you get a +1 bonus to your attack roll? Max AC threshold increases by 1. +2 bonus to damage? Max AC threshold decreases by 1.

Example

• My 4th level Paladin's attack bonus is +6
• With my greatsword, the damage is 2d6+4, which is an average damage of 11. However, since I have the Great Weapon Fighting style, this increases to 12.33
• Plugging 6 and 12.33 into the formula, I get a max AC threshold of 15.835. If my target's AC is 15 or less, I should power attack
• My party Cleric likes to cast Bless, which bumps my attack bonus up to 8.5 (on average) resulting in a max AC threshold of 18.335. If I'm Blessed, I should power attack if the target's AC is 18 or less

FAQ

How do I find out my target's AC? Technically, you don't need to know its exact AC--you just need to know if it's below a certain number. You can find that out by attacking it a few times. If my Paladin rolled a 13 and hit, then I know it's safe to power attack.

Should I always follow this formula? Although the formula tells you what will result in the highest damage on average, you still need to use your best judgment. Is the DM describing the target as almost dead? Attack normally. Do you really need to hit them to get your smite spell to work? Attack normally. Need to deal reliable damage instead of swingy spikes? Attack normally.

What about advantage/disadvantage? As a rule of thumb, always power attack if you have advantage, and never power attack if you have disadvantage. If you want an exact AC threshold for advantage, use this formula and replace y with your attack bonus and z with your average damage.

What about Elven Accuracy? Same deal as advantage. If you want an exact AC threshold for Elven Accuracy, use this formula and replace y with your attack bonus and z with your average damage.

What about sneak attack? If you have a single attack on your turn, add your sneak attack to your damage and calculate as usual. If you have two attacks (e.g. two-weapon fighting, crossbow expert, multiclassing), calculate your AC threshold with and without sneak attack, and then use that information to decide when to -5/+10, treating each attack separately.

Does this work for Sharpshooter too? Yes! You'll notice that the max AC for archery is pretty high compared to great weapons. This is because archery tends towards high accuracy (archery fighting style) and low damage (bows and crossbows), so it's almost always advantageous to -5/+10.

How do I calculate average damage of a die? Take the minimum value of the die, add it to the maximum value, and divide by 2. For example, a d6 has an average value of (1+6)/2 = 3.5, and 2d6 is 2*3.5 = 7. If you have rerolls (Great Weapon Fighting style), see here.

How does brutal critical affect the formula? In short, it doesn't, because crits in general don't interact with power attack.
Spoiler
Crits modify your damage per round, but they modify it equally for both sides of the equation.

Remember that the formula is derived from this inequality, which is simply a comparison of damage per round without GWM and with GWM. In words, that inequality means:
DPR without GWM < DPR with GWM
Where DPR is "damage per round with x attack bonus, y enemy AC, and z average damage." If you solve that inequality for x, you will get a formula for all values of x where your DPR with GWM is higher, in terms of y and z. That's how you arrive at the formula in the OP.

Now let's add crits into the inequality.

What does a crit do? On a roll of 20, you get additional damage dice. The actual amount of extra damage is irrelevant, as you'll see in a second, but let's assume we're using a greatsword, so an extra 2d6 crit damage (or 7 extra damage on average).

That's a 5% chance to deal an extra 7 damage, so you add +0.05*7 to each side of the inequality, which of course cancels itself out, leaving you with the same formula.

TL;DR: Because crits in 5e only double damage dice, and not static modifiers, they add the exact same amount of DPR with or without GWM and thus don't affect the formula.

How did you calculate this? I plugged a DPR inequality into the venerable Wolfram Alpha, and it simplified it to the formula you see above.

2. ## Re: Great Weapon Mastery: How to -5/+10 Like a Pro

How does the damage possibly affect your to hit (and thus determine when to PA?) I mean, how can using a great sword vs a dagger (if a dagger were heavy and two handed - I know how GWM works) affect when to use it?

Can you explain in layman's terms why this formula works, when on the surface it appears arbitrary?

On the other hand, is there a significant damage range with heavy weapons? I'm AFB, but I can only remember 1d10, 1d12 and 2d6 for heavy... though I suppose Sharpshooter is a better example, having 1d6 Hand vs 1d10 Heavy xbow variance...

3. ## Re: Great Weapon Mastery: How to -5/+10 Like a Pro

So for a maxed Warlock Pact Blade (2 attacks, 4-5 each in Str/Cha) with +Str/Cha to damage (3d6+8-10 = 18.5-21.5) and a bonus from +8-+11, you'd be looking at Max AC of 15-17?

Interesting. I'd always looked on GWM as a wasted feat for a warlock, since the bonuses are so damn high. But a level 12 warlock could easily be fighting things with an AC in that range. Less common as you go up in level from there, of course.

edit: I crunched the numbers myself, and it seems to match the way I do them just fine once I stick it in an inequality and solve for AC. I was just getting focused on the avg damage per hit for a 'typical' AC ... a classic DPR mistake.

4. ## Re: Great Weapon Mastery: How to -5/+10 Like a Pro

Originally Posted by Theodoxus
How does the damage possibly affect your to hit (and thus determine when to PA?) I mean, how can using a great sword vs a dagger (if a dagger were heavy and two handed - I know how GWM works) affect when to use it?

Can you explain in layman's terms why this formula works, when on the surface it appears arbitrary?

On the other hand, is there a significant damage range with heavy weapons? I'm AFB, but I can only remember 1d10, 1d12 and 2d6 for heavy... though I suppose Sharpshooter is a better example, having 1d6 Hand vs 1d10 Heavy xbow variance...
Don't forget any extra damage from things like magic weapons, smite, hex/mark etc.

Basically the more damage you do per attack the less the +10 damage matters and the more the -5 attack bonus matters.

I also feel compeled to mention those feats are completely broken with the -5/+10 being worth almost as much as the ASI before you even factor in the powerful second benifits (bonus attack on crit/kill and ignore cover) and synergy with x-bow expert and polearm master (also two of the most powerful feats before synergies). Nice formulas though.

5. ## Re: Great Weapon Mastery: How to -5/+10 Like a Pro

Originally Posted by Theodoxus
How does the damage possibly affect your to hit (and thus determine when to PA?) I mean, how can using a great sword vs a dagger (if a dagger were heavy and two handed - I know how GWM works) affect when to use it?
Because the minus 25% chance to hit (-5 penalty) applies to the base damage of the weapon.

The higher your base damage before GWM penalty, the more than -5 hurts. Be it from base weapon die, or bonus damage from another source (such as Hex or Thirsting Blade for a Warlock).

6. ## Re: Great Weapon Mastery: How to -5/+10 Like a Pro

Originally Posted by Theodoxus
How does the damage possibly affect your to hit (and thus determine when to PA?) I mean, how can using a great sword vs a dagger (if a dagger were heavy and two handed - I know how GWM works) affect when to use it?
The reason you subtract "average damage without Power Attack" for the formula is to account for the opportunity cost of missing your attack because of Power Attack. The higher your base damage is before the +10, the higher the damage loss is for missing, and the less likely you are to use Power Attack optimally in certain situations. As a result, higher base damage drops the effective AC where Power Attack is optimal.

On the other hand, is there a significant damage range with heavy weapons? I'm AFB, but I can only remember 1d10, 1d12 and 2d6 for heavy... though I suppose Sharpshooter is a better example, having 1d6 Hand vs 1d10 Heavy xbow variance...
The variation based on weapon, in either case, is never greater than two, but other factors might influence your damage output for that attack, like, "do I have Sneak Attack (for Sharpshooters)?" Rage damage, special weapon bonuses, etc. might also be important for determining attack and damage here. It's worth noting that while a +1 weapon cancels itself out (being both +1 to hit and damage), Bracers of Archery (to hit) and Giant Slayer (to damage), for example, do not.

7. ## Re: Great Weapon Mastery: How to -5/+10 Like a Pro

Originally Posted by Lonely Tylenol
It's worth noting that while a +1 weapon cancels itself out (being both +1 to hit and damage), Bracers of Archery (to hit) and Giant Slayer (to damage), for example, do not.
Mostly right. Since +1 attack increases the threshold by 1 and +1 damage decreases it by 0.5, a +1 weapon ends up increasing the threshold by a net 0.5. In the example I give in the OP, that's enough to bump a 15 to a 16.

8. ## Re: Great Weapon Mastery: How to -5/+10 Like a Pro

Originally Posted by Desamir
Mostly right. Since +1 attack increases the threshold by 1 and +1 damage decreases it by 0.5, a +1 weapon ends up increasing the threshold by a net 0.5. In the example I give in the OP, that's enough to bump a 15 to a 16.
Right. Wasn't looking at the formula when I said that and forgot. Sorry.

9. ## Re: Great Weapon Mastery: How to -5/+10 Like a Pro

Originally Posted by Tanarii
So for a maxed Warlock Pact Blade (2 attacks, 4-5 each in Str/Cha) with +Str/Cha to damage (3d6+8-10 = 18.5-21.5) and a bonus from +8-+11, you'd be looking at Max AC of 15-17?

Interesting. I'd always looked on GWM as a wasted feat for a warlock, since the bonuses are so damn high. But a level 12 warlock could easily be fighting things with an AC in that range. Less common as you go up in level from there, of course.

edit: I crunched the numbers myself, and it seems to match the way I do them just fine once I stick it in an inequality and solve for AC. I was just getting focused on the avg damage per hit for a 'typical' AC ... a classic DPR mistake.
Pretty much. With +4 Strength/Charisma at 12th level, the max AC threshold is 14. With max stats and proficiency, the threshold is 16 (17 with a +1 or +2 weapon, 18 with a +3 weapon).

10. ## Re: Great Weapon Mastery: How to -5/+10 Like a Pro

Having Advantage lowers the Max AC by quite a lot. Which is why GWM is such a great feat for Barbarians, who can gain Advantage at will. If you or your party happens to have other ways of giving Advantage (Faerie Fire, Paladin of Vengeance, hiding, invisibility), the -5/+10 feats become even better.

11. ## Re: Great Weapon Mastery: How to -5/+10 Like a Pro

Thanks for the analysis Desamir.

My group limits -5/+10 skills to being -proficiency/+proficiency. This means that at low levels when they are more likely to break intended damage outputs, they are only -2/+4. So far everybody has liked the limitation and people still go for those feats.

12. ## Re: Great Weapon Mastery: How to -5/+10 Like a Pro

Originally Posted by unwise
Thanks for the analysis Desamir.

My group limits -5/+10 skills to being -proficiency/+proficiency. This means that at low levels when they are more likely to break intended damage outputs, they are only -2/+4. So far everybody has liked the limitation and people still go for those feats.
Interesting limitation. Let's see how it plays out using the same analysis.

-2/+4: max AC = attack bonus - damage/2 + 19 (math)

-3/+6: max AC = attack bonus - damage/2 + 18 (math)

-4/+8: max AC = attack bonus - damage/2 + 17 (math)

-5/+10: max AC = attack bonus - damage/2 + 16 (math)
That's... rather unexpected. From this point of view, it looks like -2/+4 is actually better than -5/+10--the max AC threshold is 3 points higher! Using the Paladin from my OP, with -2/+4 he should power attack against AC 18 or less. (At level 4, that's practically everybody.) But that doesn't tell the whole story, because we still have to see which version grants more DPR. Comparing -2/+4 to -5/+10, again using the 4th level Paladin from the OP, yields the following graph:

The left axis is DPR, the bottom axis is target AC, the blue line is -2/+4, and the red line is -5/+10. Per the graph, against AC 13 and below, -5/+10 is best. Against AC 14-18, -2/+4 is best. Against AC 19+, normal attacking is best. Remember, this is a calculation for the specific 4th level Paladin in the OP, who has +4 Str, a Greatsword, and the Great Weapon Fighting Style, and these numbers will be different for other characters.

In summary, it looks like -2/+4 isn't exactly a straight nerf to the feat; it just weakens it against low AC (12-13) creatures, while making it stronger against mid and high AC creatures.

13. ## Re: Great Weapon Mastery: How to -5/+10 Like a Pro

Originally Posted by Tenmujiin
I also feel compeled to mention those feats are completely broken with the -5/+10 being worth almost as much as the ASI before you even factor in the powerful second benifits (bonus attack on crit/kill and ignore cover) and synergy with x-bow expert and polearm master (also two of the most powerful feats before synergies).
Actually the above formula clearly shows that youre often better off not using the -5/+10 for DPR.

I hardly call that broken. Situational yes, broken no.

14. ## Re: Great Weapon Mastery: How to -5/+10 Like a Pro

Originally Posted by Malifice
Actually the above formula clearly shows that youre often better off not using the -5/+10 for DPR.

I hardly call that broken. Situational yes, broken no.
'Only' using it at against AC 18 or lower (with a Bless up) at level 6 is hardly situational.

15. ## Re: Great Weapon Mastery: How to -5/+10 Like a Pro

Originally Posted by Tanarii
'Only' using it at against AC 18 or lower (with a Bless up) at level 6 is hardly situational.
Bless pre cast, PC's at level 6, and vs a specific AC range (with no disadvantage to the attack), using a heavy weapon, in melee, is not situational? Thats very situational. Optimal even.

Dont get me wrong, with buffs and situational stuff (like advantage) against low - medium AC foes its a good feat. But its not in any way reliable, and it remains situational.

16. ## Re: Great Weapon Mastery: How to -5/+10 Like a Pro

Originally Posted by Tanarii
'Only' using it at against AC 18 or lower (with a Bless up) at level 6 is hardly situational.
If you are referring to the example in the OP, that's a level 4 Paladin. At level 6, it bumps to AC 16 (19 with bless).

17. ## Re: Great Weapon Mastery: How to -5/+10 Like a Pro

Originally Posted by Desamir
If you are referring to the example in the OP, that's a level 4 Paladin. At level 6, it bumps to AC 16 (19 with bless).
Using vengance for advantage or devotion for sacred weapon?

We talking about the feat in isolation, or how it works better with buffs from multiple sources?

18. ## Re: Great Weapon Mastery: How to -5/+10 Like a Pro

Originally Posted by Malifice
Using vengance for advantage or devotion for sacred weapon?

We talking about the feat in isolation, or how it works better with buffs from multiple sources?
At level 4, AC 15 is with no buffs; AC 18 is with Bless. At level 6, the +3 proficiency brings it to AC 16 with no buffs, or AC 19 with bless.

With advantage only (e.g. Vow of Enmity), it bumps up to AC 17 at level 4, or AC 18 at level 6.

19. ## Re: Great Weapon Mastery: How to -5/+10 Like a Pro

Originally Posted by Desamir
At level 4, AC 15 is with no buffs; AC 18 is with Bless. At level 6, the +3 proficiency brings it to AC 16 with no buffs, or AC 19 with bless.

With advantage only (e.g. Vow of Enmity), it bumps up to AC 17 at level 4, or AC 18 at level 6.
What about with disadvantage? Or low HP Mooks or badly wounded goes where it doesn't matter? Or if your cleric is out of bless spell (or you don't have a cleric, or he's concentrating on something else?).

Don't get me wrong - when buffed to the wazoo and with advantage it's great. The lower the AC the better.

It's certainly not broken though.

Also - opportunity cost. You could have instead bumped Str by +2. Every time you fail a Str check or save by 1, or miss your target AC by 1, talk to me.

20. ## Re: Great Weapon Mastery: How to -5/+10 Like a Pro

Originally Posted by Malifice
Don't get me wrong - when buffed to the wazoo and with advantage it's great. The lower the AC the better.
his formula shows that with a bog-standard situation, no disadvantage and bless up, it's good against AC 18 or lower at level 4. That's effective always-on at that level, without advantage or 'buffed up the wazoo'.

For Sharpshooter it's even more drastic, since your base damage is much lower than a two handed weapon, and your hit bonus is even higher if Archery Style.

Edit: I think -5/+10 is broken, but not because it's broken on its own. Rather because it's sorta-broken and synergies too well with other sorta-broken elements. Mainly Reckless Attack or Prone for advantage. Bless hadn't occurred to me before but it should have, as its close to broken on its own.

21. ## Re: Great Weapon Mastery: How to -5/+10 Like a Pro

Originally Posted by Malifice
What about with disadvantage? Or low HP Mooks or badly wounded goes where it doesn't matter? Or if your cleric is out of bless spell (or you don't have a cleric, or he's concentrating on something else?).

Don't get me wrong - when buffed to the wazoo and with advantage it's great. The lower the AC the better.

It's certainly not broken though.

Also - opportunity cost. You could have instead bumped Str by +2. Every time you fail a Str check or save by 1, or miss your target AC by 1, talk to me.
Couple things worth noting:
• A Paladin can cast Bless himself (and usually will, since it is the optimal use of a 1st level slot).
• The "cleave" feature of the feat works well against low-HP or badly-wounded targets.

Originally Posted by Tanarii
his formula shows that with a bog-standard situation, no disadvantage and bless up, it's good against AC 18 or lower at level 4. That's effective always-on at that level, without advantage or 'buffed up the wazoo'.

For Sharpshooter it's even more drastic, since your base damage is much lower than a two handed weapon, and your hit bonus is even higher if Archery Style.
Assuming a 5th level fighter with Sharpshooter, a +8 attack bonus (+3 stat, +3 proficiency, +2 archery style) and a longbow (1d8+3 damage, 7.5 average). That results in a max AC of 20.25, which encompasses all enemies CR20 and lower (except for the Ancient Green Dragon). Using Sharpshooter against an AC 15 enemy results in a DPR increase from 10.5 to 15.75, a 50% increase.

22. ## Re: Great Weapon Mastery: How to -5/+10 Like a Pro

Originally Posted by Desamir
Couple things worth noting:
• A Paladin can cast Bless himself (and usually will, since it is the optimal use of a 1st level slot).
• The "cleave" feature of the feat works well against low-HP or badly-wounded targets.

Assuming a 5th level fighter with Sharpshooter, a +8 attack bonus (+3 stat, +3 proficiency, +2 archery style) and a longbow (1d8+3 damage, 7.5 average). That results in a max AC of 20.25, which encompasses all enemies CR20 and lower (except for the Ancient Green Dragon). Using Sharpshooter against an AC 15 enemy results in a DPR increase from 10.5 to 15.75, a 50% increase.
Awesome. Run the numbers again, this time taking into account if the archer (instead of sharshooter) bumped Dex by +2 for a +1 to hit and damage 'always on'. And then also factor in the plus 1 to initiative, AC, dex saves and skills etc.

Subtract all damage you take when your AC gets hit by 1 from the damage you deal. Every time you fail a dex save by 1. Every time you miss by 1 etc.

The fears are situational AND they carry an opportunity cost. You need to factor in both to see a true value of the feat. These maths only factor in the former.

23. ## Re: Great Weapon Mastery: How to -5/+10 Like a Pro

Malafice, your crusade to defend the -5/+10 feats is getting out of hand. You're attacking people whom are only interested in crunching the numbers with your counter-arguments.

Edit: for clarity, I don't mean me. I mean desamir. You're welcome to attack me as much as you like with counter-arguments. :p

24. ## Re: Great Weapon Mastery: How to -5/+10 Like a Pro

Originally Posted by Tanarii
Malafice, your crusade to defend the -5/+10 feats is getting out of hand. You're attacking people whom are only interested in crunching the numbers with your counter-arguments.

Edit: for clarity, I don't mean me. I mean desamir. You're welcome to attack me as much as you like with counter-arguments. :p
Dude how are you reading my posts as attacking anyone? I'm just saying the feats are balanced taking into account the situational nature of them and the opportunity cost.

There ain't any attack there!

25. ## Re: Great Weapon Mastery: How to -5/+10 Like a Pro

Originally Posted by Malifice
Awesome. Run the numbers again, this time taking into account if the archer (instead of sharshooter) bumped Dex by +2 for a +1 to hit and damage 'always on'. And then also factor in the plus 1 to initiative, AC, dex saves and skills etc.

Subtract all damage you take when your AC gets hit by 1 from the damage you deal. Every time you fail a dex save by 1. Every time you miss by 1 etc.

The fears are situational AND they carry an opportunity cost. You need to factor in both to see a true value of the feat. These maths only factor in the former.
With +2 Dex from an ASI, a +9 attack bonus and 1d8+4 damage results in 12.75 DPR. From this new baseline, the previous Sharpshooter calculation (15.75) yields a 26% damage increase.

Some considerations:
• If the target has half-cover (e.g. shooting over an ally), which reduces the baseline DPR to 11.05 but does not affect Sharpshooter DPR, we yield a 43% damage increase from Sharpshooter instead.
• If the target has three-quarters cover, which reduces the baseline DPR to 8.5, we yield an 85% damage increase from Sharpshooter instead.

26. ## Re: Great Weapon Mastery: How to -5/+10 Like a Pro

Originally Posted by Tanarii
his formula shows that with a bog-standard situation, no disadvantage and bless up, it's good against AC 18 or lower at level 4. That's effective always-on at that level, without advantage or 'buffed up the wazoo'.
That seems like a loose definition of "good." What's he getting in that situation, less than +0.2 DPR? Anyway, this doesn't need to become another thread about whether -5/+10 is "broken" or not.

27. ## Re: Great Weapon Mastery: How to -5/+10 Like a Pro

Originally Posted by Desamir
With +2 Dex from an ASI, a +9 attack bonus and 1d8+4 damage results in 12.75 DPR. From this new baseline, the previous Sharpshooter calculation (15.75) yields a 26% damage increase.

Some considerations:
• If the target has half-cover (e.g. shooting over an ally), which reduces the baseline DPR to 11.05 but does not affect Sharpshooter DPR, we yield a 43% damage increase from Sharpshooter instead.
• If the target has three-quarters cover, which reduces the baseline DPR to 8.5, we yield an 85% damage increase from Sharpshooter instead.
Now subtract from that increase of DPR, the extra damage taken by the character with an AC and Dex save of 1 less. Also, factor in the problems involved with losing initiative checks to monsters (and being forced into melee) and failing dex based skill checks by 1.

More than accounts for the slight increase in damage in specific situations and vs a range of AC's.

28. ## Re: Great Weapon Mastery: How to -5/+10 Like a Pro

I think the discussion can be skewed because not everyone is "forced" to use the standard array. And really, most of us are looking at least level 8 fighter till we have a maxed strength and can select GWM. Maybe a human variant will risk taking it a level 1 instead of heavy armor master. Maybe you have a 6 man party who has a cleric or a wolf totem barbarian, maybe you have a paladin with plate armor who is not having to cast shield of faith and can cast bless. There are a lot of variables.

29. ## Re: Great Weapon Mastery: How to -5/+10 Like a Pro

A lot of peeps still think 'dex based fighters are boss' and OTOH we also have threads where peeps complain about GWM being OP.

Let the martials who want to be strength based hard hitters with big heavy sharp swords be strength based hard hitters with big heavy sharp swords.

Breaks nothing other than giving a situational damage spike (at opportunity cost). Let the barbarians have their toys.

30. ## Re: Great Weapon Mastery: How to -5/+10 Like a Pro

Originally Posted by Malifice
A lot of peeps still think 'dex based fighters are boss' and OTOH we also have threads where peeps complain about GWM being OP.

Let the martials who want to be strength based hard hitters with big heavy sharp swords be strength based hard hitters with big heavy sharp swords.

Breaks nothing other than giving a situational damage spike (at opportunity cost). Let the barbarians have their toys.
The only dex based fighter worth it, is an armored rogue. Otherwise, you are stuck at 3 or 4 attacks for base damage. GWM was created to allow a melee fighter to keep up with the wizard dropping fireballs. So many enemy are resistant to slashing damage anyhow.

My advice is to have the DM stop sending in goblins, we just had out butts hand to us by hobgoblins in half plate and then some demon I can't spell. My fighter did what he was best at, took hits and let the cleric and wizard go to town. Actually during the fight, I had to give up attacks to shove prone the hobgoblins. They are tough.

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