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

NotAYakk

Legend
As an alternative that provides flanking, but doesn't result in conga-line or trivial advantage:

Flanking
A creature who both starts and ends their turn surrounded becomes Flanked until the end of their next turn. While Flanked attacks on the creature have advantage.

A creature is surrounded if there are 2 foes of the same size or larger on opposite sides of them. For every size smaller the foes are, it requires 1 more creature to surround them.

...

This is designed to encourage mobility. It rewards threatening a flank with forcing the target to either suffer from advantage or do something about it.

Getting out of a flank can involve moving and suffering opportunity attacks, forced movement on the surrounding creatures, both of which make the battlefield more dynamic.
 

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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
So, what experiences do you have with it? The good, the bad, the broken?

I'm currently playing a rogue in a game that uses the flanking rules.

I find flanking doesn't cheapen other ways to get Sneak attack bonuses, because, flanking position is already included in a standard way to get Sneak Attack: "You don’t need advantage on the attack roll if another enemy of the target is within 5 feet of it..."

Basically, if I am in a flanking position, I'd be getting sneak attack anyway - the Flanking merely gives me advantage to make me more likely to hit.

I started feeling a bit put out by the easy advantage when the party Barbarian took the Great Weapon Master feat and he started using flanking to offset the -5 to hit. In practice he mostly whiffs with it, even with advantage, though, so for now it doesn't bug me.

This party is large (7 players) playing online. I suspect the easy advantage can make our fights run a little faster, as it increases chance to hit, which is probably a savings for a game that tends to grind slowly due to the medium.
 

ECMO3

Hero
Because if this, advantage doesn’t break bounded accuracy. It makes your rolls much less swingy, but it doesn’t actually allow you to hit a higher AC than you could have done anyway. +2 AC might have less impact on the average roll you’re likely to make, but it has much more impact at the extreme ends - the bounds - of your accuracy.


The bigger problem IMO is it cancels disadvantage which does break bounded accuracy if you consider the methods to get disadvantage part of that. Disadvantage can make it near impossible to hit something because of the bell curve you mention and reduces the the chances of a critical hit by 95%. Advantage applied to cancel disadvantage will flatten this cancel this and turn what would be a near certain miss to a fairly common critical hit.

Advantage on its own from flanking is not that big a deal, advantage from flanking to cancel disadvantage is a HUGE buff and a HUGE nerf to things that give disadvantage (invisibility, dodge, PGE, poisioned, frightened etc). Normally that would take an entire action to cancel the disadvantage (cast FF on the invisible guy, dispel my fear, drink antitoxin, have someone else use an action to help .....). Flanking allows you to cancel a disadvantage affect with movement alone and not using an action or bonus action at all.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
The bigger problem IMO is it cancels disadvantage which does break bounded accuracy if you consider the methods to get disadvantage part of that. Disadvantage can make it near impossible to hit something because of the bell curve you mention and reduces the the chances of a critical hit by 95%. Advantage applied to cancel disadvantage will flatten this cancel this and turn what would be a near certain miss to a fairly common critical hit.
That still doesn’t break bounded accuracy though, because it doesn’t change what ACs you’re capable of hitting, which is what bounded accuracy is about. It just makes you more likely to hit ACs that are within the range you can hit.
Advantage on its own from flanking is not that big a deal, advantage from flanking to cancel disadvantage is a HUGE buff and a HUGE nerf to things that give disadvantage (invisibility, dodge, PGE, poisioned, frightened etc). Normally that would take an entire action to cancel the disadvantage (cast FF on the invisible guy, dispel my fear, drink antitoxin, have someone else use an action to help .....). Flanking allows you to cancel a disadvantage affect with movement alone and not using an action or bonus action at all.
Advantage is indeed a huge boon, whether it’s adding a second chance to hit or canceling disadvantage; though in either case it helps less the further the number you need on the die is from 10.5. But it never breaks bounded accuracy because bounded accuracy is about what you are capable of hitting (which advantage and disadvantage don’t change), not how often you hit (which they do).
 

ECMO3

Hero
That still doesn’t break bounded accuracy though, because it doesn’t change what ACs you’re capable of hitting, which is what bounded accuracy is about. It just makes you more likely to hit ACs that are within the range you can hit.
No it does because 20 hits any AC and disadvantage dramatically reduces the chance of that. Giving advantage to someone who has disadvantage and a target 20 will mean that creature will get hit 20 times as often.


Advantage is indeed a huge boon, whether it’s adding a second chance to hit or canceling disadvantage; though in either case it helps less the further the number you need on the die is from 10.5. But it never breaks bounded accuracy because bounded accuracy is about what you are capable of hitting (which advantage and disadvantage don’t change), not how often you hit (which they do).
This is not true. If you need a 16 to hit for example, disadvantage will reduce the number of hits and the damage you take by 75% eliminating that disadvantage multiplies that damage taken by 4.

For example if an enemy does 1d8 damage and attacks you 20 times needing a 16 to hit with disadvantage, you will on average take 4 damage. If he gets advantage to cancel this and make it a flat roll you will take on average 27 damage.
 


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