D&D 5E 5e Flanking - the good, the bad, and the broken?


I've used and not used 5e flanking in games and can confidently say that the rule as written was either written before move based AoO type rules were streamlined and simplified to nil or were written with the Express goal of thwarting tactical grid based combat strategy in play. Either way the rule is awful and should be avoided as free advantage is a gigantic bonus even by old school hit rate standards that 5e dramatically cranked up.

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Advantage for flanking in 5e is a really bad idea.

I'd suggest that if an enemy is already engaged in melee, a PC Rogue could attempt to bonus-action-stealth up 'behind' them and then attack with Advantage that round. But free Advantage every time is not at all balanced.


5e really needs something like 13th Age's mook rules. Lots of fairly easy to kill monsters that are satisfying to take out. But then you go a bit further and makes sure there is also an incentive to take them out (something 4e especially struggled with.

I find 4e Minions (1 hp, half standard damage) are plenty worth taking out, especially if you have any multi target attacks. Last night I took an opp att from one (he missed) in order to Cleave two at once. :)

I find 4e Minions (1 hp, half standard damage) are plenty worth taking out, especially if you have any multi target attacks. Last night I took an opp att from one (he missed) in order to Cleave two at once. :)
I always found that at certain point they just ended up being taken out by pretty much incidental damage like auras.

Also they differ from 13th Age in that 13th age mooks both have more hitpoints, so they aren't necessarily killed by small amounts of incidental damage, and damage against one carries over to others so that you aren't wasting your turn by directing a single attack against just one.


D&D Playtester for WoTC since 2012
Player usually use Flanking every combat, while enemies are only when 2+. I've used Flanking granting advantage, then granting +2 to attack and i finally ditched it. The former overshadows other PC's ability to grant advantage and the latter put even more stress on Bounded Accurary so for many reasons i don't use it anymore. Like this advantage or bonus to attack are more rare, significant and rewarding.


Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Thanks for the feedback so far. Two quick notes - I am not the DM and suggestions for alternatives to the Flanking variant in the DMG aren't on the table. Also "I (don't) like it" is basically "this random person you have never met or come to value their opinion gives it thumbs up or down" - much more helpful are the ones describing why, like combat becomes more static or that unlike in 3.5 there is no cost to it.


Everyone should know that melee classes fall way behind spell casters in damage at higher levels. Flanking helps level the playing field for martials.

Melee combat is inferior to ranged combat because you risk taking melee damage in return. Most monsters lack ranged attacks. And none of the melee fighting styles give a +2 to hit like archery fighting style. Ranged fighting has so many incentives over melee except flanking.

How does a fighter in melee gain advantage without flanking? By giving up an attack to shove a monster prone? Then that disadvantages your ranged party members while also reducing your damage output significantly.

"Cinematic Advantage" that Sly Flourish pushes is one of the worst ideas ever. You risk a die roll in order to gain advantage? And if you fail your cinematic advantage roll your attack doesn't succeed? That's as dumb as casting True Strike

Besides encouraging teamwork and making martials less suboptimal to other classes and fighting styles, flanking also increases the number of tactical options for the players to consider. That to me means more fun.

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