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

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    Default combat strategy challenge

    In another thread it was suggested that I could increase my combat skill from scenario discussions / duels. It was fun and interesting, so I thought I'd throw out another.

    Scenario:
    Your party - all lvl 7,
    Bear Totem Barb, Maul, GWM, 15 AC
    Thief Rogue, long bow, SS, 15 AC
    Moon Druid, 17 AC
    Draconic Sorc, 14 AC
    Life Cleric, 18 AC

    Bad guys - 3 Stone Giants

    Environment - day time, normal visibility, you are in a box canyon, the giants are at the entrance 3 abreast 20' between them, your front line is 40' away, there is room to maneuver and a few small trees (rogue can hide), you are trapped.

    Your Barb will reckless attack the closest giant, your rogue will hide and snipe. What will your Druid, Cleric, and Sorc do round by round, and most importantly WHY? What is your best strategy? What is the expected outcome?

    (is my scenario fair)

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Imp

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    Default Re: combat strategy challenge

    Is the goal to kill all three giants? Or just one then escape?

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: combat strategy challenge

    A few additional parameters.
    Need initiative order
    Need spells prepared (and known for sorc)
    Need some idea on monster tactics
    Last edited by Frogreaver; 2020-09-24 at 09:54 AM.

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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: combat strategy challenge

    Quote Originally Posted by Unoriginal View Post
    Is the goal to kill all three giants? Or just one then escape?
    Or to recruit them for your cause? (My players love attempting this.)

    Because it's a combat challenge and not an adventuring challenge I assume any goal besides "fight to the death" is off the table, but I just want to state for the record that Moon Druid: Pass Without Trace + Charm Monster is possible and potentially converts enemies into temporary allies, so you GROW in strength over time instead of losing strength to attrition.

    That said, the basic strategy I'd pursue in a pure combat challenge is for the Moon Druid to Conjure Animals as close to the giants as possible (where they can threaten opportunity attacks), then seek cover or lie prone as far away from the giants as possible to impose disadvantage on Boulder attacks. Sorc should Hypnotic Pattern the two Giants furthest away from the Barb, then back off and lie prone. Life Cleric Blesses Barb, Rogue, and Moon Druid and also hangs back as far as possible, lying prone.

    The idea is to let the Barb, Rogue, and animals kill one giant at a time. Prone guys may start casting cantrips next round and/or stand up if any enemies are too close to be able to avoid melee attacks next turn, but their damage contribution would be minimal so their main job is just to keep concentration on their spells.

    I can't do a round by round right now, may roll it out later. Expected outcome is three dead giants, a barbarian who's heavily damaged because he keeps going Reckless (sigh), and several leftover conjured Animals that we can use as scouts for the next hour if the druid can communicate with them.
    Last edited by MaxWilson; 2020-09-24 at 10:33 AM.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: combat strategy challenge

    My basic idea on this one is to Have sorc twin polymorph giant ape onto the rogue and barbarian. They would engage in melee 2 different stone giants. Druid would conjure wolves targeting the third stone giant. Cleric would cast bless (2nd level) on the 2 giant apes and Sorc and Druid.

    Hypnotic pattern was a good idea but has a fairly high chance of failure (25% chance of affecting no stone giants)

    Alternate cleric strategy over bless is to cast banishment on one. The stone giant has low charisma saves. 75% chance to be banished.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RogueGuy

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    Default Re: combat strategy challenge

    Yes - non combat is always an option and often the best one, but for the sake of a combat strategies discussion, it's a fight to TPK.

    Pick your spells
    Your party goes in order listed then, giants
    Giants will try to kill all by clubbing in melee, if unable to close - then throw rock at the perceived greatest threat, and they like to gang up on one guy and splat him quickly.

    Max -

    Charm monster: if giant fails wis save w/ ADV, then it regards the caster as a friend, but regards the rest of party as food and the other giants as their best buddies since childhood, right? You have only 1 lvl 4 spell slot / full caster, and can only target one giant / casting, right? What am I missing?

    What animals, how many? If you prefer the Barb to not reckless or GWM, go for it.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: combat strategy challenge

    Quote Originally Posted by Frogreaver View Post
    Hypnotic pattern was a good idea but has a fairly high chance of failure (25% chance of affecting no stone giants)
    If the Hypnotic Pattern fails, next round the sorc will Polymorph the barbarian. Hopefully he gets to keep Rage while a Giant Ape. Also hopefully he will be grateful instead of sore about it since by this point he'll have taken four or more greatclub attacks with advantage and is starting to realize they hurt. :)
    Last edited by MaxWilson; 2020-09-24 at 10:53 AM.

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    Default Re: combat strategy challenge

    Max has a pretty good idea, with using the summons to try and flood their action economy and maybe know one of them prone, Also not a bad idea to hide/prone for avoiding those big damage rocks that giants like to throw, but I'd rather defeat the enemy in detail.

    a. Cleric Banishes one, party fights the other two. This is made easier if ....
    b. If Sorcerer has Tasha's Hideous Laughter, that might allow you to focus fire on one for a round or two ... then get the laugher, and then get the one who was banished to come back and explaine:

    "You can either join us to help us meet (Objective X) or you can lie in peace with your associates."
    Last edited by KorvinStarmast; 2020-09-24 at 12:07 PM.
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  9. - Top - End - #9
    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: combat strategy challenge

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    Max has a pretty good idea, with using the summons to try and flood their action economy and maybe know one of them prone, but I'd rather defeat the enemy in detail. Also not a bad idea to hide/prone for avoiding those big damage rocks that giants like to throw.

    a. Banish one, fight the other two.
    b. If Sorcerer has Tasha's Hideous Laughter, that might allow you to focus fire on one for a round or two ... then get the laugher, and then get the one who was banished to come back and explaine:

    "You can either join us to help us meet (Objective X) or you can lie in peace with your associates."
    Not a bad plan, but nitpick: Tasha's is a Bard/Wizard-only spell.
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  10. - Top - End - #10
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: combat strategy challenge

    Seems an alternate strategy is to let the barbarian tank (limited reckless) and DPS giants down as fast as possible one at a time.

    Twin haste on rogue and barbarian. Cleric Can use sanctuary turn after turn to make barbarian extremely hard to damage. If he becomes too injured can heal him with channel divinity. Etc.

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    Titan in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: combat strategy challenge

    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
    Not a bad plan, but nitpick: Tasha's is a Bard/Wizard-only spell.
    Whoops, our Arcane Trickster has it, and for some reason I was braining it as a Sorcerer spell.
    He could have it with Magic Initiate or on a scroll, but ... uh .... er ... Oops.
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  12. - Top - End - #12
    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: combat strategy challenge

    Quote Originally Posted by Frogreaver View Post
    Seems an alternate strategy is to let the barbarian tank (limited reckless) and DPS giants down as fast as possible one at a time.

    Twin haste on rogue and barbarian. Cleric Can use sanctuary turn after turn to make barbarian extremely hard to damage. If he becomes too injured can heal him with channel divinity. Etc.
    I think it's worth running the numbers of the Twin Haste vs. action denial strategies to see which one ultimately uses less resources. My intuition tells me that taking giants out of the fight immediately is more valuable than slightly speeding up DPS, but I could be wrong.
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    KorvinStarmast's Avatar

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    Default Re: combat strategy challenge

    My alternate to Tasha's is
    Sorcerer, cast Slow on Giants.
    At least the number of attacks that they make ...
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    (paraphrased) Rulings are not 'House Rules.' Rulings are a DM doing what DMs are supposed to do.
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  14. - Top - End - #14
    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: combat strategy challenge

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    My alternate to Tasha's is
    Sorcerer, cast Slow on Giants.
    At least the number of attacks that they make ...
    Could work. I don't like the save-every-round bit but at least you hit three giants up front.
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    Everything on the Internet is opinion but purple text is my way of highlighting that I am not interested in persuading you to share mine.

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  15. - Top - End - #15
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    GnomeWizardGuy

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    Default Re: combat strategy challenge

    slow is a great spell, but the giants are 20 feet apart. We could get 2 of them or gamble and wait and see if they get closer together - but slowing 2 would be could - could impose a disadvantage on one w/ meta magic.

    Or Twin cast Banishment. It's a Cha save, they have -1. If you banish 2, the fight is over. Divide and conquer. The one giant goes down easily. When the other 2 come back you have readied actions - and now Slow these two - or fear one or w/e.

    When a sorc uses strong control options, unless the party has horrible luck on giant STs, this fight can be easily won. Divide and conquer is a powerful option.

  16. - Top - End - #16
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RogueGuy

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    Default Re: combat strategy challenge

    I thought wolves could only prone large and smaller, but there is no size limit listed, and it's DC 11 ST Save (not athletics) so even with 23 ST, that's a +6 for an effective DC 5.

    Hypnotic pattern is a 30' cube so you can only target 2 giants at once (unless they clump together), WIZ save should be DC 15 with giant's +4 = effective DC 11 so 50%. So 25% both fail, 50% one fails, 25% none fail.

    Twin polymorph is 100% effective, but RAW = no more Rage or Reckless or weapon use, but +300 hp and 2x 3d10+6 is game changing. The 12 AC is a bummer. If possible the two apes should double team one giant (if the other giants aren't threatening the casters), right? Giants and Apes are +9 to hit, but Giants are 2x 3d8+6. Giants are 90% to hit for 19.5 each hit = 35 dpr vs ape 60% to hit for 22.5 each = 27 dpr so pretty much even if they go 1 v 1.

    A giant will kill 1.75 wolves every round, and each wolf will do ~ 5.9 dpr. So 8 wolves vs 1 giant = 4 or 5 rounds, and just about 50-50 who is just barely standing at the end.

    (none of these account for crits, bless, etc 'cause I haven't played w/ probs in forever, so I'm winging it).

    Cleric casts banish - DC 15 vs -1 CHA save = effective DC 16 so 75% success.

    Banish plus twin Apes and 8 wolves or raptors looks pretty good to me ...

    What would be better? Is my math right-ish?

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    LordCdrMilitant's Avatar

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    Default Re: combat strategy challenge

    Okay, read down further, objective is to destoy the giants, not just to escape.

    All things considered, in order to plot tactical maneuver, I'd need to know where the trees are exactly.

    That said, part 1 would be the barbarian not doing reckless attack and instead trying to keep themself alive. Part 2 would probably be to attack at range and kite, keeping the giant using their stone-throw ability ideally at 60+' range to minimize incoming damage and throwing summons in front of them to further tarpit their attacks.
    Last edited by LordCdrMilitant; 2020-09-24 at 01:31 PM.
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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: combat strategy challenge

    Quote Originally Posted by Chugger View Post
    slow is a great spell, but the giants are 20 feet apart. We could get 2 of them or gamble and wait and see if they get closer together - but slowing 2 would be could - could impose a disadvantage on one w/ meta magic.
    I think you might be able to get three if you turn the cube on its side, but you just made me realize: I could get more mileage out of Hypnotic Pattern by Readying Hypnotic Pattern instead of casting it immediately. They both have the same concentration cost so there's no real downside. Ready it to go off on [as many giants as possible, preferring the ones farther away from the Barbarian] when [it becomes clear that the number of targets is at a maximum, i.e. either (1) three giants are all at least partially within the same 30' cube, or (2) one of the giants moves to attack someone who isn't the Barbarian]. I would expect a DM to accept that as a reasonable trigger that my PC would be able to directly perceive.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: combat strategy challenge

    Is it too late to change the name of the thread?

    You are definitely talking tactics here, and tactics are as far from strategy as your local government is from the United Nations.

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    Default Re: combat strategy challenge

    Quote Originally Posted by LordCdrMilitant View Post
    Okay, read down further, objective is to destoy the giants, not just to escape.

    All things considered, in order to plot tactical maneuver, I'd need to know where the trees are exactly.

    That said, part 1 would be the barbarian not doing reckless attack and instead trying to keep themself alive. Part 2 would probably be to attack at range and kite, keeping the giant using their stone-throw ability ideally at 60+' range to minimize incoming damage and throwing summons in front of them to further tarpit their attacks.
    I think the Barb's determination to commit suicide is part of the scenario, isn't it? It's not a tactical challenge where you control the whole team--I believe it's a tactical challenge where you're working around uncooperative teammates, as tends to happen in real life.
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  21. - Top - End - #21
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: combat strategy challenge

    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
    I think it's worth running the numbers of the Twin Haste vs. action denial strategies to see which one ultimately uses less resources. My intuition tells me that taking giants out of the fight immediately is more valuable than slightly speeding up DPS, but I could be wrong.
    In most cases I’d agree with hypnotic pattern Being better. I’m just not sure about this case. Maybe a twin banishment over a hypnotic pattern?

    This is a fight I’m more concerned about the worst cases. A few good rolls by the giants. A few bad rolls by the PCs and whoever is their target could be nearly downed. Giants varying up tactics to say throw rocks at the Druid if they aren’t engaged in melee could also have a profound effect.

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    Default Re: combat strategy challenge

    Quote Originally Posted by Frogreaver View Post
    In most cases I’d agree with hypnotic pattern Being better. I’m just not sure about this case. Maybe a twin banishment over a hypnotic pattern?

    This is a fight I’m more concerned about the worst cases. A few good rolls by the giants. A few bad rolls by the PCs and whoever is their target could be nearly downed. Giants varying up tactics to say throw rocks at the Druid if they aren’t engaged in melee could also have a profound effect.
    Yeah, Twin Banishment would definitely be better than (but 240% as expensive as) Hypnotic Pattern due to Stone Giants' low Cha save. I don't tend to learn Banishment, but if you have it it's definitely better in this case.

    I'm not too concerned about worst-case scenarios in this fight because all that's at risk is HP, and it's not all that hard of a fight in the first place. It's not like the fight against the Nightwalker + Wraiths where perma-death was on the table.
    Last edited by MaxWilson; 2020-09-24 at 03:33 PM.
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  23. - Top - End - #23
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RogueGuy

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    Default Re: combat tactics challenge

    Fair point - Tactics is a more correct term (vice strategy).

    LordCdr - can you be more specific?

    So if the Sorc will twin banishment (vice polymorph) - what will the others do? Are you suggesting Bless for cleric, conjure wolves for Druid, attack for Barb/Rogue?

    So 30' cube = 42' diagonally, so just enough to target 3?
    Last edited by da newt; 2020-09-24 at 03:15 PM.

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    Default Re: combat strategy challenge

    Quote Originally Posted by Chugger View Post
    slow is a great spell, but the giants are 20 feet apart.
    The cleric is supposed to banish 1, and the sorcerer slow the other two since Max reminded me that the Tasha's can't be a Sorcerer spell as a default.
    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
    I think the Barb's determination to commit suicide is part of the scenario, isn't it?
    It's not a tactical challenge where you control the whole team--I believe it's a tactical challenge where you're working around uncooperative teammates, as tends to happen in real life.
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    Last edited by KorvinStarmast; 2020-09-24 at 03:28 PM.
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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: combat tactics challenge

    Quote Originally Posted by da newt View Post
    So 30' cube = 42' diagonally, so just enough to target 3?
    Technically it's bigger than that if you tilt it right. A 30' cube is sqrt(30'^2+30'^2+30'^2) = 51.9' from lower right corner to upper left corner, for example, so in theory you've got 50' to play with. It's up to the DM though to decide if targeting a small fraction of a stone giant's body is enough to affect the whole stone giant with the stone. I would generally say "no, you have to affect the center of mass," but since you're the virtual DM of the thread it's up to you to decide what's possible.
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    Default Re: combat tactics challenge

    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
    Technically it's bigger than that if you tilt it right. A 30' cube is sqrt(30'^2+30'^2+30'^2) = 51.9' from lower right corner to upper left corner, for example, so in theory you've got 50' to play with. It's up to the DM though to decide if targeting a small fraction of a stone giant's body is enough to affect the whole stone giant with the stone. I would generally say "no, you have to affect the center of mass," but since you're the virtual DM of the thread it's up to you to decide what's possible.
    If it helps, according to another thread RAW the cube area affects any square it touches even if only a smidge.
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    PaladinGuy

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frogreaver View Post
    My basic idea on this one is to Have sorc twin polymorph giant ape onto the rogue and barbarian. They would engage in melee 2 different stone giants. Druid would conjure wolves targeting the third stone giant. Cleric would cast bless (2nd level) on the 2 giant apes and Sorc and Druid.

    Hypnotic pattern was a good idea but has a fairly high chance of failure (25% chance of affecting no stone giants)

    Alternate cleric strategy over bless is to cast banishment on one. The stone giant has low charisma saves. 75% chance to be banished.
    I'm missing something here...why is one 25% chance of failure less acceptable that the other 25% chance of failure?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Valmark View Post
    If it helps, according to another thread RAW the cube area affects any square it touches even if only a smidge.
    Well, sort of. According to RAW the DM has a number of ways to choose to resolve it. Some of them say different things than others (you can ban spellcasting that doesn't snap to a grid; you can play Theater of the Mind; you can use token-counting; you can use templates; you can eyeball stuff and make a decision that seems realistic to you as DM), and then Sage Advice comes in and says something else on top of that ("cones affect every square they touch"), and ultimately it's still up to the DM which method to use and whether or not to pretend that giants are shaped like 15' x 15' x 15' Gelatinous Cubes for purposes of spell adjudication. :-)

    For purposes of this thread I'm okay with whatever @da newt decides.

    Quote Originally Posted by NecessaryWeevil View Post
    I'm missing something here...why is one 25% chance of failure less acceptable that the other 25% chance of failure?
    I think it's because Hypnotic Pattern (1.0 targets affected on average, if it hits only two giants) is potentially competing with Twin Banishment (1.5 targets affected on average), whereas clerical Banishment (0.75 targets affected) is not competing with Twin Banishment. I.e. for the cleric it's "might as well Banish," although I think Command II: Flee is actually superior (1.0 targets affected on average) on top of being 50% cheaper.

    I'm changing my tactic plan to:

    Sorc: Ready Hypnotic Pattern (target maximum number of giants whenever all three giants are in the cube or a giant starts moving toward someone who isn't the Barb) and fallback/drop prone to protect concentration.
    Cleric: Command II (Flee) and advance towards giants to draw fire/buy time. On subsequent rounds I might Toll the Dead or whatever, maybe even advance and Dodge to keep a giant occupied, depending on what happens elsewhere.
    Moon Druid: Conjure Animals (as close as possible to giants) and fall back/drop prone to protect concentration.
    Last edited by MaxWilson; 2020-09-24 at 04:23 PM.
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    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: combat strategy challenge

    Quote Originally Posted by NecessaryWeevil View Post
    I'm missing something here...why is one 25% chance of failure less acceptable that the other 25% chance of failure?
    Opportunity cost. Sorcerer can do something else highly effective like twin polymorph or haste. Cleric doesn’t have anything super effective that he could alternatively do.

    ————————————————————

    So I’ve ran the twin polymorph+bless+conjure animals a few times. Assuming the party splits this into 1 giant vs 1 ape, and another giant vs 1 aoe and 1 giant vs 8 wolves so that No giant focus fires (assuming threat of OA’s from apes or wolves is enough to lock giants down (would be in my games). Casters then focus with cantrips on whatever ape has taken the most damage.

    The party comes off having lost no actual hp in most simulations I’ve ran.

    —————————————

    @Max - Command flee won’t work unless your cleric speaks giant (fairly unlikely). By the stat block these giants only speak giant.
    Last edited by Frogreaver; 2020-09-24 at 04:41 PM.

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

    Join Date
    Nov 2018

    Default Re: combat strategy challenge

    Quote Originally Posted by da newt View Post
    In another thread it was suggested that I could increase my combat skill from scenario discussions / duels. It was fun and interesting, so I thought I'd throw out another.

    Scenario:
    Your party - all lvl 7,
    Bear Totem Barb, Maul, GWM, 15 AC
    Thief Rogue, long bow, SS, 15 AC
    Moon Druid, 17 AC
    Draconic Sorc, 14 AC
    Life Cleric, 18 AC

    Bad guys - 3 Stone Giants

    Environment - day time, normal visibility, you are in a box canyon, the giants are at the entrance 3 abreast 20' between them, your front line is 40' away, there is room to maneuver and a few small trees (rogue can hide), you are trapped.

    Your Barb will reckless attack the closest giant, your rogue will hide and snipe. What will your Druid, Cleric, and Sorc do round by round, and most importantly WHY? What is your best strategy? What is the expected outcome?

    (is my scenario fair)
    Negotiate? Stone giants are reasonably chill dudes who mostly want to be left alone.

    If that fails...

    Round 1, Cleric casts bane, Sorcerer upcasts a 5th level heightened banishment holding action if nessecary it then full moves back and goes prone. Druid casts move earth in front of the prone sorc and also hides behind it. 3 stone giants fit the heuristic of "time to go nuts" for a sorc as it saves more resources over better economy party wide than the sorc expends.

    Fight over.

    Ok there's still one giant but it's almost certainly willing to talk now, if not, it's very, very, very, very, dead. As are its buddies when the sorcerer blinks them back into a deathtrap. (Provided these are native to the plane at all.)

    There are other ways through this that involve more thinky or planning. I'm lazy, the sorc can do this (or similar) 3x a day this is a deadly++ encounter, this is default kit with MA existing. Hit button.

    Edit: If you're wondering why the druid is casting move earth in front of a prone sorc instead of Canimals/etc the answer is "rocks hit really hard and the stone giant has something close to a 25% chance of dropping a rock on the sorc through disadvantage and shield. A high roll rock can just, body concentration through prof(con). (Anyone else concentrating on anything relevant without cover with more than 1 giant standing is probably eating something like 30-60 damage. Stone giants are low key brutal on casters.)
    Last edited by Nhorianscum; 2020-09-24 at 10:17 PM.

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