How often do you use minions?

Inez Hull

First Post
I'm curious as to whether DM's out there load fights up with 'em, use them in a mix with other roles, or don't use them much at all.

I find one of the biggest differences of feel in 4E to previous editions is the lastability (is that even a word?) of humanoid monsters like goblins, orcs etc. In previous editions it was usually numbers of these opponents, especially once past the first few levels, that made them challenging, whereas in 4E "standard" orcs can be really tough, I guess depending on how often they are encountered as minions plays a big role in this.

Also, as players what is your preference in regards to encountering minions?

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The only time I use them as DM is if I'm running a pre-made adventure and I don't have time ahead of time to yank them out and replace them with something else.

As a player, I find them non-challenging and boring, but that could be because most of my PCs have at least one area effect power and usually, it's an At Will power.


First Post
As a DM, I love using minions. The only problem is that they are worth far too much XP, so I just reduce their XP by half for accounting purposes. As far as I can tell, my players love chewing through hordes of minions, so I provide a lot.

My DM hates minions, and I think it's been about 10 levels since we've seen any. I don't really mind; it makes my job as Defender easier (not to mention my signature "Come-and-get-it-and-spam-close-bursts" strategy much more effective at defending).


First Post
It's kind of hard to measure how often I use them. I might do 4-5 encounters all involving some minions, then I might go another 4-5 without using an encounter. But they'll usually be scattered here and there. I like fights with lots of minions when there also is another objective on the table because PC's will be much more willing to provoke opportunity attacks from minions than anything else. Waves of minions are always fun when you want to keep the pressure on without taxing resources too much. For me, minions (like most other monster types) are more of a tool for encounter design than anything else.

I also use tough minions occasionally. I'll vary the mechanics for it slightly, but it basically means they may need to hit (or damage) the minion twice to kill it.

As player, I like fighting some minions at least occasionally because when I build a character, I'm likely to spend at least an encounter resource on being a little more effective against minions, and wouldn't want that resource to be wasted. What I don't like is fighting 20 goblins none of which are minions. That just feels like a drag. I don't mind taking on 8-10 standard monsters (for a party of 5), but any more than that, and I know the fight will slowly head toward at-will slug fest. Controllers do help out a lot in such fights though.


First Post
I use minions with solos to give the solo CA.

I use Ranged minions with elites and hazardous terrain to really scare PCs (move > stand > Standard >attack > minor > prone is harsh when it gives them complete cover, smart readying and use of area bursts becomes essential).

All my melee minions are 2-hit minions. 1 hit to bloody, 1 hit to kill, any single attack that does Fort defense in damage kills it.

I will frequently use minions as part of a combat skill challenge. Waves of stuff coming every round while the PCs are trying to do something else. One instance of this they were trying to fix a portal. The Wizard had the best odds of success... and the best AE. 10 minions appeared every round, charging in waves from three different directions (ceiling being one, round 3 was a good surprise). There was a time limit till the BBEG got there (7 rounds, they weren't ready to actually fight him yet, running villain, they barely got out in time ), so it was a real critical decision making process.

Minions are super dangerous when utilized properly, and an ever-escalating minion war vs the PCs is actually a fun hobby for a creative DM, because no matter how hard you try, they shouldn't ever be TPK dangerous, but can easily be "this fight is going to cost us a daily and a bunch of surges."


In my campaigns I use them where it makes sense. For the squad of guards or crowd of militia that just aren't "adventurer timber" they're very handy; and for story and setting they make the point that the PCs are heroes, not just Joe Average with some motivation. :)
To make minions more meaningful, I've given orcs (In Siege of Bordrin's Watch) an "extra hit" trait (hit, make save, just bloodied), and I've boosted damage and defenses a bit.
I also find that minions' XP value is appropriate when their numbers are PCs+1


First Post
They haven't been too common in our game, being used about once per adventure.

Now that Solar Wrath is only Burst 3 instead of half the battlefield, maybe minions will see more action.

Shin Okada

I use minions once per 3 or so of encounters, I guess.

There are powers and abilities which are made to deal with minions. So if a DM don't use minions, players who took such powers will frustrate.

In regard to the effectiveness of minions, it depends largely on terrains and width of the battlefield. Also, there are some non-minion monsters who are tailored for co-working (and even summoning/creating) minions.

Also, encounter's setting and DM's tactics may make minions more important. For example, you can place minions so that PCs (especially controllers) have decide if eliminate as many minions as fast or concentrate fire on stronger monsters.

I use them all the time. Probably at least 50% of encounters have a few minions. Some have lots, a few have none. They add interest to encounters and spectacle to the game. I have to say though I don't really care too much about minions and encounter budget unless they have a particular shtick.


First Post
I use them all the time as well. My group is 8 players at full strength, and now that they're mid-paragon, the combinations they can pull off are starting to get really powerful. Minions allow me to increase the numbers of threats without making things any more complicated for me to track. My key, is that I mostly use them as fancy kind of hindering terrain. A way to split the party, harass the back line, and ensure that 8 PCs don't suddenly mob and destroy my BBEG in the first or second round.

They can really add a thematic element to an encounter. Sure four or five of them isn't all that spectacular. But I make sure if an encounter has minions, they either spawn every round, or there's a ton of them, and it's led to some memorable encounters.

Besides I love watching my players faces when they invade a vampire's lair, and suddenly 20 vampire spawn start crawling down from the ceiling, or I throw three or four handfuls of glass counters on a map of a quarry, and tell them their NPC friend is about to be sacrificed in front of a crowd of undead minions. Suddenly, the druid is performing an aerial assault on the group's leader, the fighter is parting the red sea with boulder charge, and the wizard and morninglord can't stop laughing as they nuke 10x10 squares clear of zombies. Five rounds later, the group gets to feel like the biggest heroes ever because they've assaulted over 100 bad guys and won.

The key to using them, is like fanboy2000 said, as salt and paper, a way to add flavor to the encounter, and not as carefully calculated XP fodder.

Inez Hull

First Post
Thanks for the responses, it tends to support my gut feeling that fairly frequent use of minions can be a good thing. I also like the idea of two-hit minions.


Minions are super dangerous when utilized properly, and an ever-escalating minion war vs the PCs is actually a fun hobby for a creative DM, because no matter how hard you try, they shouldn't ever be TPK dangerous, but can easily be "this fight is going to cost us a daily and a bunch of surges."

By level 9 and sometimes earlier, every encounter, minions or not, for smart players costs a few dailies. At that level and higher, a group of 5 PCs has 15 dailies plus quite a few item dailies. It's worth it to have different PCs blow off 2 dailies per encounter to speed things up and to use up fewer healing surges. The number of encounters per day at that point are limited to healing surges, so it doesn't make sense to try to save dailies for a BBEG fight. Even with a 6 encounter day, that's 2 Dailies per fight for the first 5 non-BBEG fights and the group still has 5 Dailies plus item dailies left over for a BBEG fight.

It's worth it at level 5 to have a different PC blow off one Daily every encounter as well.

Minions are not a factor in this at all since most players won't waste dailies on them anyway. As for minions being super dangerous, they are not unless the DM decides to throw 50 at the group or some such. The chance to hit minions is typically greater than 50%, so it makes sense to even include the PC Defenders in large area effects and not worry about it.

Minions are nice for what they are made for... fill the ranks...

when i think about older editions, standard orcs have been especially squishy minions all the time as a single fireball killed them instantly even if they made their saving throw... Maybe they don´t give the right amount of xp... but from a mechanical standpoint they have their niche...

and even if it is just using them as hindering terrain that dazes your controler (as he will use up his standard actions to fire off at-wills) and that slows your defender or striker and maybe grants combat advantage or does a little damage (maybe indirect by having your controller include you in a large area of effect spell)

Also they effectively reduce your PC´s overall power by forcing them to pick their powers with possible minion encounters thrown at them...

@Karin´s Dad:
Minons are super dangerous WHEN UTILIZED PROPERLY... (but not all minions have the potential - especially MM1 minions... but that´s a general MM1 problem)
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I would agree that GENERALLY minions aren't too dangerous, but I don't really care. Its fun when they DO present a hazard, but I never feel bad when they just go down. Last night we had an encounter where I wanted to have a bunch of orcs but not more than an even level encounter. So I threw in 4 orc minions. They didn't DO much, but they let me make the scenario more plausible. The wizard jumped in and zapped one with an MM (player didn't wait to find out what was what) which was nice for the other monsters. Another one managed to get in the way of the rogue on her way to bringing the hammer down on my custom artillery monster. The warlock squashed the other two by dropping stuff on them off a balcony, so they actually lasted a total of 2 rounds and never got in a shot, but it was OK. Tactically it gave the other monsters (which were surprised) a chance to move around a bit.

A couple weeks back some minions managed to do a pretty good number on the rogue by lurking in a spot where they could hide, they hit her 4-5 times. The week before that some artillery minions taught the wizard about the utility of AoEs (kind of a new player).

Overall though I don't expect more of them than to be set dressing and a minor speed bump. As others have said they often fill the same role that a few orcs or whatnot did back in the old AD&D days, no real threat but they can gum up the player's plans or just be a nice general nuisance.

MM2/3 minions are a nice refinement, though sometimes I actually would rather use the more vanilla ones. The new ones are more dangerous but there are just times when dangerous isn't really the point.

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