D&D 5E Are ranged attacks too good in 5e?

ECMO3

Hero
There is no such thing as "geared like a fighter." It's far more likely not to be a fighter and be much easier to kill.
A group of 6 goblins, with the abilities and stats in the MM, and played intelligently in appropriate terrain is a very difficult encounter for a 1st-level party of 6 and the chance of all party members staying above 0 hps in such a scenario is small.

A group of 6 goblins that blindly charges into melee is going to be easily wiped out by a 1st level party .... even a 1st level party with no melee-oriented characters at all and even if they are wearing breastplates.

It is not smart for a goblin to bum rush even if it is a wounded wizard with no spell slots and 1 hp ..... and Goblins are not stupid.
 

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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
A group of 6 goblins, with the abilities and stats in the MM, and played intelligently in appropriate terrain is a very difficult encounter for a 1st-level party of 6 and the chance of all party members staying above 0 hps in such a scenario is small.

A group of 6 goblins that blindly charges into melee is going to be easily wiped out by a 1st level party .... even a 1st level party with no melee-oriented characters at all and even if they are wearing breastplates.

It is not smart for a goblin to bum rush even if it is a wounded wizard with no spell slots and 1 hp ..... and Goblins are not stupid.
Why do you ignore the 8 wisdom goblins have? Wisdom would be the primary stat for making wise decisions like that.

You are correct that I was thinking of goblin as dumber than they are. Goblins are unwise, though. The smart, but unwise man knows that smoking is bad for his health, but starts smoking anyway.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
In our last session I had 5 goblins attack the PCs in the camp at night. They volley fired at the PC watch and then would slink back and hide in the dense tropical forest. 5 goblins played even semi intelligently make a great harassing force.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
I really should have created a poll for this thread, lol. It seems that we've gotten bogged down in debates about playstyles and table variance (which is so common I really should expect it). I think I've gotten my answer though.

Are ranged attacks too good in 5e?

Short answer: it depends.

Long answer: group composition and encounter design matter a lot. One player in a group can find that ranged attacks are superior because hard cover is rarely an issue, and there are lots of enemies out of reach of melee in combats, and their melee are efficient at keeping enemies locked down (heavy armor clerics with spirit guardians, PAM/Sentinel Fighters, castes with good "crowd control").

Another player can find that there's a lot of ranged enemies firing back at them, their fighter is a dual wielding Champion who only cares about "moar damage", and their casters only care about blowing things up.

Tactical ability of individual players can matter as well.

TLDR: on paper, ranged attacks seem very good. The weaknesses of the style can be obviated in games with multiclassing and feats especially. In practice, there are a lot of variables that can make melee a stronger or weaker choice than ranged attacks, such as mobility of enemies, difficult terrain, enemies that make good use of available cover, obscured areas, presence of spellcasters, and what percentage of the party thinks melee is a good idea in the first place.

Typically, in most parties, people seem to like to melee. Even some Bards and Wizards get in on this! An all-ranged party might do very well in the vast majority of combats, but they need to consider the weaknesses of their style and tailor their group's options accordingly.

In the end, it is probably better to try and not overspecialize, and always have a good ranged option available.
 

There is no such thing as "geared like a fighter." It's far more likely not to be a fighter and be much easier to kill.

Ummm....we were specifically talking about Fighters and initiative. Why would the PC not be geared like a fighter? Metal armor, martial weapons, etc.?

Or is your scenario:
- A goblin...who is basically designed for hit and run archery...without a bow, in heavy armor....
- ....with below average Int and Wis.
- vs. a Fighter in a dress with a wand.
 

Why do you ignore the 8 wisdom goblins have? Wisdom would be the primary stat for making wise decisions like that.

You are correct that I was thinking of goblin as dumber than they are. Goblins are unwise, though. The smart, but unwise man knows that smoking is bad for his health, but starts smoking anyway.

So if a Wis 8 PC does not charge headlong into combat, is that bad roleplaying?

(And yet ANOTHER thread turns to the meaning of an 8 attribute, and metagaming!)
 


James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
It might not be a Fighter, perhaps? It could be a Ranger, Cleric w/ medium armor, Rogue, or a Bladesinger who seems to be completely unarmored (but may very well have better AC than the Fighter at the moment).
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
So if a Wis 8 PC does not charge headlong into combat, is that bad roleplaying?

(And yet ANOTHER thread turns to the meaning of an 8 attribute, and metagaming!)
In the end it comes down to how the DM wants to roleplay their monsters. Are they craven? Foolhardy? Cunning? Courageous? These are personality traits, and if the DM says "in my world, most members of race X act like this" that's their prerogative. Or maybe they see individual monsters as not being clones of each other, and some do things differently than others.

It's ok for monsters to make bad decisions- real people do it all the time.
 

It might not be a Fighter, perhaps? It could be a RangerCleric w/ medium armor, Rogue, or a Bladesinger who seems to be completely unarmored (but may very well have better AC than the Fighter at the moment).

Cleric and Bladesinger can cast ranged spells. No need to rush in.

Rogue can dash in AND attack. (But probably wouldn't, unless Swashbuckler)

I guess if it's a strength-based melee ranger (do people do that?) then it would probably be medium armor, not heavy armor. I don't think that suddenly tips the scales in this particular debate about winning initiative.

So, yeah, I'd still want to win initiative.
 

In the end it comes down to how the DM wants to roleplay their monsters. Are they craven? Foolhardy? Cunning? Courageous? These are personality traits, and if the DM says "in my world, most members of race X act like this" that's their prerogative. Or maybe they see individual monsters as not being clones of each other, and some do things differently than others.

It's ok for monsters to make bad decisions- real people do it all the time.

Sure. That was definitely a digression from the digression about initiative.

I'd still rather win initiative than not. Like I said a few posts ago, even if the DM wants to play goblins like they are bad video game AIs, I can still walk up close and Hold Action.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Cleric and Bladesinger can cast ranged spells. No need to rush in.

Rogue can dash in AND attack. (But probably wouldn't, unless Swashbuckler)

I guess if it's a strength-based melee ranger (do people do that?) then it would probably be medium armor, not heavy armor. I don't think that suddenly tips the scales in this particular debate about winning initiative.

So, yeah, I'd still want to win initiative.
Oh or a Monk.

EDIT: and how did I forget Barbarian?

I wish melee Ranger was a better build, I really like Hordebreaker and Whirlwind Attack.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Ummm....we were specifically talking about Fighters and initiative. Why would the PC not be geared like a fighter? Metal armor, martial weapons, etc.?

Or is your scenario:
- A goblin...who is basically designed for hit and run archery...without a bow, in heavy armor....
- ....with below average Int and Wis.
- vs. a Fighter in a dress with a wand.
A fighter is a class that uses the same weapons and armor as a dozen or more other professions that aren't as competent. There is no "dresses like a fighter." There is only guy with weapon and armor.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
So if a Wis 8 PC does not charge headlong into combat, is that bad roleplaying?
If he does it's good roleplaying. Just like someone roleplaying one of the negative personality traits you choose at character creation is engaging in good roleplaying. Playing your wisdom appropriately like that is a good way to get inspiration.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
It might not be a Fighter, perhaps? It could be a Ranger, Cleric w/ medium armor, Rogue, or a Bladesinger who seems to be completely unarmored (but may very well have better AC than the Fighter at the moment).
Or a man at arms, or local militia, or a green mercenary, or...

There's no way to look at how someone is armed and armored and tell he's a fighter.
 

ad_hoc

(he/they)
I really should have created a poll for this thread, lol. It seems that we've gotten bogged down in debates about playstyles and table variance (which is so common I really should expect it). I think I've gotten my answer though.

Are ranged attacks too good in 5e?

Short answer: it depends.

Long answer: group composition and encounter design matter a lot. One player in a group can find that ranged attacks are superior because hard cover is rarely an issue, and there are lots of enemies out of reach of melee in combats, and their melee are efficient at keeping enemies locked down (heavy armor clerics with spirit guardians, PAM/Sentinel Fighters, castes with good "crowd control").

Another player can find that there's a lot of ranged enemies firing back at them, their fighter is a dual wielding Champion who only cares about "moar damage", and their casters only care about blowing things up.

Tactical ability of individual players can matter as well.

TLDR: on paper, ranged attacks seem very good. The weaknesses of the style can be obviated in games with multiclassing and feats especially. In practice, there are a lot of variables that can make melee a stronger or weaker choice than ranged attacks, such as mobility of enemies, difficult terrain, enemies that make good use of available cover, obscured areas, presence of spellcasters, and what percentage of the party thinks melee is a good idea in the first place.

Typically, in most parties, people seem to like to melee. Even some Bards and Wizards get in on this! An all-ranged party might do very well in the vast majority of combats, but they need to consider the weaknesses of their style and tailor their group's options accordingly.

In the end, it is probably better to try and not overspecialize, and always have a good ranged option available.

The last bit about not overspecializing is important. This is something 'optimizers' don't want to do but is actually the optimal way to play.

It's better to have some difficulty overcoming most types of challenges than have some challenges be easy but more of them insurmountable because of hyper-specialization.

Common advice for DMs is to cater the game to the character's strengths sometimes even going so far as to say a DM is bad if they don't change the game due to party composition. So the players hyper-specialize and the DM ensures they succeed and then ranged attacks are deemed to be too powerful because everything is easy.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Or a man at arms, or local militia, or a green mercenary, or...

There's no way to look at how someone is armed and armored and tell he's a fighter.
HAH! My Int 8 Barbarian views everyone as a Fighter. Strong Fighter, Puny Fighter. But all are fighters. ;) I guess that's one downside to having a common word be the class name.

But I agree with your overall point. You can't generally tell by looking at someone how well they will actually fight.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
If he does it's good roleplaying. Just like someone roleplaying one of the negative personality traits you choose at character creation is engaging in good roleplaying. Playing your wisdom appropriately like that is a good way to get inspiration.
I find the best way to play low mental stats is generally to telegraph the unitelligent/unwise thing you are about to do to the rest of the party. Then they can intervene - and if they don't or fail to do so there are generally much less hard feelings if your 'bad tactics' cost a PC death. It's also quite fun to roleplay out the kinds of scenarios such brings.
 

ECMO3

Hero
Why do you ignore the 8 wisdom goblins have? Wisdom would be the primary stat for making wise decisions like that.

You are correct that I was thinking of goblin as dumber than they are. Goblins are unwise, though. The smart, but unwise man knows that smoking is bad for his health, but starts smoking anyway.
They have an 8 wisdom, which is hardly aweful and it says specifically that they use small holes, caverns, pack tactics and try to get at their enemies from behind.

Consider how many PC wizards have an 8 or 10 wisdom and how carefully they select the spells to cast and figure where to place them.
 

ECMO3

Hero
In our last session I had 5 goblins attack the PCs in the camp at night. They volley fired at the PC watch and then would slink back and hide in the dense tropical forest. 5 goblins played even semi intelligently make a great harassing force.

I think the most deadly encounter published in an official WOTC module is the very first one from LMOP.

for CR 1/4 they are awesome if played intelligently.
 

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