D&D 5E Feedback on Late Combat Tactics?

Mark1733

Explorer
When dealing with combat tactics, I am horrible. I try to be creative, but it can include stupid tactic that get my monsters killed. So I am looking for feedback on the following "late game" Deathlock strategy. Assume my spell selection for this monster includes Misty Step, Armor of Agathys, Arms of Hadar, and Blink. Assume no Polearm Masters. Also, assume that this Deathlock has associates or minions who will aggro initially, soften up the party, and try to maneuver enemies into close proximity. Assume I will Eldritch Blast the first few turns. Turn 1: Misty Step into a group of enemies with upcasted Armor of Agathys active. Absorb attacks, if any, and deliver damage back. Turn 2: Cast Arms of Hadar. Absorb more attacks, deliver more damage. Turn 3: Cast Blink or Misty Step again and move out. I am thinking, depending on dice rolls, of course, if I can get 3 or more foes in close proximity, I could deliver some good damage.
 
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Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
Well I can see how that tactic would trivialize the Deathlock. While having a buffer of Temp Hp is a good thing. Strictly speaking, planning on tanking damage is a sure way to lose hard.

I also see you are using the old MToF stat blocks (albeit with some tweaks), instead of the new MotM stat blocks.

I recommend the following strategy:
Have the minions rush into melee with the party, and grapple someone (or at least body block them so they can't otherwise run away) Then have the Deathlock cast Hunger of Hadar. (This will hurt the minions too, but minions are disposable!) Letting the spell soften up the party for a few rounds while they try to escape. Keep in mind that Hunger of Hadar makes the targets blind, even if they can otherwise see in darkness, preventing them from using Misty Step and other spells that require you to see the area you are teleporting too. Zombies (and especially ogre zombies) work well for this, as they are basically just giant sacks of HP.

After the party escapes the Hunger of Hadar, have the Deathlock use Spider Climb to keep away from melee combat and plink away at the party with Eldritch Blast (preferably from behind a bit of cover), while the remaining minions keep harassing the party. Keep Dispel Magic in your pocket should one of the party members attempt to get close by using their own mobility magic.

This will not be unbeatable by any means, but it should make the Deathlock last significantly longer.
 
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Am I missing something? A MtoF Deathlock only has 2 leveled spell slots, and your plan seems to involve using 4. If you are using the MoM version then they have one each of their spells (grumble, grumble from me for not having an NPC warlock align with the most basic and iconic elements of PC warlock rules), which still doesn't let him Misty Step twice.

And a 36 HP monster shouldn't be ending its turn near enemies if you want them to survive to the next round, not even one with 15 temp HP from a 3rd level Armor of Agathys, because the whole party is going to focus fire on the mage who conveniently came right up to them. The cold damage from Armor of Agathys might give them pause depending on initiative order, and their understanding of the spell. But if someone ranged happens to be up first they might well get through that armor before anyone can take damage making a melee attack against it.

Personally I would just have the Deathlock cast Blink and pew pew with his Grave Bolt, hopefully being in the Ethereal plane enough rounds to make the fight last. I'd use the other spell slot for a ranged AoE at whatever the most dramatic juncture was.

Now if you were using a Deathlock Mastermind, or if you just increased the HP of your Deathlock to be less likely to drop in a round, some sort of tanking strategy might be more viable (not good for the Deathlock, but a compelling fight that lasts a satisfying length).
 

Stalker0

Legend
Well I can see how that tactic would trivialize the Deathlock. While having a buffer of Temp Hp is a good thing. Strictly speaking, planning on tanking damage is a sure way to lose hard.

I also see you are using the old MToF stat blocks (albeit with some tweaks), instead of the new MotM stat blocks.

I recommend the following strategy:
Have the minions rush into melee with the party, and grapple someone (or at least body block them so they can't otherwise run away) Then have the Deathlock cast Hunger of Hadar. (This will hurt the minions too, but minions are disposable!) Letting the spell soften up the party for a few rounds while they try to escape. Keep in mind that Hunger of Hadar makes the targets blind, even if they can otherwise see in darkness, preventing them from using Misty Step and other spells that require you to see the area you are teleporting too. Zombies (and especially ogre zombies) work well for this, as they are basically just giant sacks of HP.

After the party escapes the Hunger of Hadar, have the Deathlock use Spider Climb to keep away from melee combat and plink away at the party with Eldritch Blast (preferably from behind a bit of cover), while the remaining minions keep harassing the party. Keep Dispel Magic in your pocket should one of the party members attempt to get close by using their own mobility magic.

This will not be unbeatable by any means, but it should make the Deathlock last significantly longer.
I'll echo a lot of this. I think the tactical key to many 5e monsters is to eek out more longevity. PCs can take a monster down quick, and it doesn't matter how good their offense is if they get got in 1 round.

Teleports especially I think are better used for escape than to dive in. I don't know what your lair setup is, but doing stuff like misty stepping over a chasm or behind a wall (with a small slot so you can see to the other side) are great ways to get in some offense but then mitigate the counter attack.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
When I ran a deathlock wight, I leaned strongly on its disguise self at-will, so it appeared to be a helpful NPC in need in a moment of urgency which ended up causing the party to split itself, and then I narrated the horrific reveal of its face melting off revealing its true desiccated rotting face beneath. That made its single-target hold person and Life Drain much scarier when there were only 2 PCs in the same room with it.

"Late game" tactics for the deathlock wight sound almost like an oxymoron to me – it's not designed to slug it out round for round. This is a tricksy monster at its core.
 

Mark1733

Explorer
Am I missing something? A MtoF Deathlock only has 2 leveled spell slots, and your plan seems to involve using 4. If you are using the MoM version then they have one each of their spells (grumble, grumble from me for not having an NPC warlock align with the most basic and iconic elements of PC warlock rules), which still doesn't let him Misty Step twice.

And a 36 HP monster shouldn't be ending its turn near enemies if you want them to survive to the next round, not even one with 15 temp HP from a 3rd level Armor of Agathys, because the whole party is going to focus fire on the mage who conveniently came right up to them. The cold damage from Armor of Agathys might give them pause depending on initiative order, and their understanding of the spell. But if someone ranged happens to be up first they might well get through that armor before anyone can take damage making a melee attack against it.

Personally I would just have the Deathlock cast Blink and pew pew with his Grave Bolt, hopefully being in the Ethereal plane enough rounds to make the fight last. I'd use the other spell slot for a ranged AoE at whatever the most dramatic juncture was.

Now if you were using a Deathlock Mastermind, or if you just increased the HP of your Deathlock to be less likely to drop in a round, some sort of tanking strategy might be more viable (not good for the Deathlock, but a compelling fight that lasts a satisfying length).
You weren't missing anything... I completely overlooked the number of spell slots and thought it had more. Sorry about that.
 

Mark1733

Explorer
Well I can see how that tactic would trivialize the Deathlock. While having a buffer of Temp Hp is a good thing. Strictly speaking, planning on tanking damage is a sure way to lose hard.

I also see you are using the old MToF stat blocks (albeit with some tweaks), instead of the new MotM stat blocks.

I recommend the following strategy:
Have the minions rush into melee with the party, and grapple someone (or at least body block them so they can't otherwise run away) Then have the Deathlock cast Hunger of Hadar. (This will hurt the minions too, but minions are disposable!) Letting the spell soften up the party for a few rounds while they try to escape. Keep in mind that Hunger of Hadar makes the targets blind, even if they can otherwise see in darkness, preventing them from using Misty Step and other spells that require you to see the area you are teleporting too. Zombies (and especially ogre zombies) work well for this, as they are basically just giant sacks of HP.

After the party escapes the Hunger of Hadar, have the Deathlock use Spider Climb to keep away from melee combat and plink away at the party with Eldritch Blast (preferably from behind a bit of cover), while the remaining minions keep harassing the party. Keep Dispel Magic in your pocket should one of the party members attempt to get close by using their own mobility magic.

This will not be unbeatable by any means, but it should make the Deathlock last significantly longer.
I checked out an article about the new stats in the MotM. I see the differences. Thank you for the recommendation.
 


ECMO3

Hero
When dealing with combat tactics, I am horrible. I try to be creative, but it can include stupid tactic that get my monsters killed. So I am looking for feedback on the following "late game" Deathlock strategy. Assume my spell selection for this monster includes Misty Step, Armor of Agathys, Arms of Hadar, and Blink. Assume no Polearm Masters. Also, assume that this Deathlock has associates or minions who will aggro initially, soften up the party, and try to maneuver enemies into close proximity. Assume I will Eldritch Blast the first few turns. Turn 1: Misty Step into a group of enemies with upcasted Armor of Agathys active. Absorb attacks, if any, and deliver damage back. Turn 2: Cast Arms of Hadar. Absorb more attacks, deliver more damage. Turn 3: Cast Blink or Misty Step again and move out. I am thinking, depending on dice rolls, of course, if I can get 3 or more foes in close proximity, I could deliver some good damage.
If you have blink, that should be the opener I think, other that that it is fine. AOA should also be precast unless this Deathlock is completely unaware he may have a fight coming.
 

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