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D&D 5E Length of Combat & Time Taken per Round (collecting data from my games - updated 3/13 with an hour 30 minute 11 round battle!)


Moderator Emeritus
Here is the length of each round in the three encounters listed above (I am using "Round 0" to indicate the time it took to roll and note initiative order) - time is listed as minutes:seconds:

Encounter 5
Rd 0: 1:48
Rd 1: 10:12
Rd 2: 4:20
Rd 3: 2:47

Encounter 6
Rd 0: 1:38
Rd 1: 4:51
Rd 2: 6:56

Encounter 7
Rd 0: 1:54
Rd 1: 7:48
Rd 2: 6:02
Rd 3: 7:58
Rd 4: 11:06
Rd 5: 6:29
Rd 6: 3:28
Rd 7: 2:30
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Moderator Emeritus
I broke down the last and longest combat from Sunday's session (combat encounter 7) and recorded the time taken for each turn and even broke down the individual elements of stuff I did as DM, and when possible, marked out time spent on table talk and rules questions (it wasn't much time). For this reason, the numbers may not perfectly align with those above because sometimes things overlap or I am a second over or under. This ain't a moonshot, so I think I can afford to have an error of +/- 3 seconds. ;)

Ultimately, I think our combat is interesting, fun, and moves at a quick smooth pace. I probably won't be doing this again and it is tedious and takes a lot of time. I will be gathering combat length for a few more combats for my remote game, but I think I will drop back in and take another taste of data when they get to 4th level and see if there is a difference.

The longest individual turn took over 4 minutes, but that turn involved a player using a new spell he'd never used before and that I as DM was unfamiliar with - most of them are in the 30 second to minute mark.

Set-Up: The party and their elven ally have found Janx—an elven dog (basically a cooshee/blink dog hybrid) that is the ally’s companion and has been made sick and aggressive by eating strange melons that a local wizard seems to be planting in different places to makes animals transform into monstrous varieties of themselves (assuming it does not kill them in the process). He is accompanied by three sickly aggressive wolves and the four of them are tearing at a moose corpse. The party druid (a tabaxi) started the fight in wildshaped to wolf form to get close to Janx and see if she could lead him away, as the party hopes to grab a hold of him long enough to force feed him the cure.

Janx was in the middle of giving the druid-wolf a good sniff, while the other wolves expressed their displeasure with a strange wolf’s appearance with growls, when the party’s halfling gloomstalker flubbed a stealth check as he tried to get closer through the brush, instigating initiative.

ROUND ONE (7 minutes 47 seconds)​
1. DM: NPC Ally moves towards clearing, dashing to make up for slowed movement through difficult terrain. She does not make it all the way past the tree line. [21 seconds]
2. Player A: Dashes as bonus action (using cunning action), moves and attacks a wolf, missing (1 minute, 10 seconds)
3. Player B: Moves forward through difficult terrain to get a clear shot at a wolf, shoots bow twice and misses both times (1 minute, 56 seconds)
[26 seconds of table cross talk]
4. DM: Janx moves to flank Player A, bites him, character makes save to avoid being knocked prone, and Janx blinks 30 feet away as a bonus action) (42 seconds).
5. DM: Two wolves (using pack tactics) attack Player A with advantage. One hits and the character fails his save and is pulled prone, and the other also hits. Third one bites at Player B and crits! But he is not pulled off his feet. (1 minute 46 seconds)
6. Player C: Moves and dashes to get through the difficult terrain and break through the tree line (40 seconds)
7. Player D: Still in wolf-form, moves to attack a wolf on Player A, misses her bite. (46 seconds)

ROUND TWO (6 minutes 7 seconds)​
  1. DM: NPC Ally finishes moving through difficult terrain and then readies an action to fire an arrow when there is a clear shot (24 seconds)
  2. Player A: Stands, attacks a wolf, misses, and then disengages (bonus action) to move back fifteen feet (30 seconds)
  3. Player B: Attacks wolf, hits (1 minute 6 seconds)
  4. DM: NPC Ally’s readied action goes off, fires arrow and hits wolf (26 seconds)
  5. DM: Janx delays (11 seconds)
  6. DM: Two wolves bite at Player D with advantage and both miss (36 seconds)
  7. DM: Janx takes his action (waiting for the wolves to get in good position), he blinks behind Player D, flanking and biting with advantage and hitting. Player D is knocked prone. (38 seconds)
  8. DM: Remaining wolf attack is resolved: attacks Player B and misses (7 seconds)
  9. Player C: Moves and attacks Janx, missing (1 minute, 2 seconds)
  10. Player D: stands, tears the throat out of an attacking wolf (1 minute, 7 seconds)

ROUND THREE (7 minutes, 56 seconds total)

1. Player A: Moves, attacks a wolf, crit! Kills it and dashes with a bonus action (1 minute, 52 seconds)
[29 seconds of table cross talk]​
2. Player B: Attacks a wolf and hits (33 seconds)
3. DM: NPC Ally moves to flanking Janx and attacks hitting (34 seconds)
[29 seconds for a rules clarification]​
4. DM: Wolf Attacks Player B, hits and knocks him prone (47 seconds)
5. DM: Janx let’s out a howl! Turns and bites Player C and knocks him prone. Janx blinks 30’ away (bonus action) (49 seconds)
6. Player C: Stands, fires arrow at wolf attacking Player B, hits. (32 seconds)
7. Player D: Moves, grapples Janx (1 minute, 15 seconds)
8. DM: describes 2 Death Dogs arriving (46 seconds)

ROUND FOUR (11 minutes, 56 seconds)
  1. DM: First Death Dog makes two bite attacks against Player D, both miss. Echoing bark as bonus action (NPC ally, Players C and D, and Janx make Wisdom saves, Player C fails). Second death dog bites twice at NPC Ally hitting once, she makes a successful CON save. (2 minutes, 14 seconds)
  2. Player A: Moves to Player C to grab elixir off his pack (I made him make a DC sleight of hand to pull it free quickly and easily without needing to use an action, he makes it), bonus action to dash to Janx, and pours elixir down the grappled elven dog’s throat (2 minutes, 48 seconds)
  3. Player B: Stands, casts Zephyr Strike (bonus action), moves to Death Dog by NPC Ally, attacks and hits. (4 minutes, 19 seconds)
  4. DM: NPC Ally casts Magic Missile at Death Dog (30 seconds)
  5. DM: remaining wolf attacks Player C and crits! Player C rolls STR save and fails, falling prone (44 seconds)
  6. DM: Janx breaks free of grapple and then blinks away into thick brush (40 seconds)
  7. Player C: is frozen in fear until the end of his turn, speed is 0, no actions or reactions. (0 seconds)
  8. Player D: turns to bite death dog and misses (41 seconds)

ROUND FIVE (6 minutes 25 seconds)​
  1. DM: One Death Dog double bites Player D and she fails her CON save. She changes back to tabaxi form The other crits NPC Ally. (1 minute, 27 seconds)
  2. Player A: Moves and attacks a death dog, misses and crits! Killing it (1 minute, 15 seconds)
  3. Player B: Fires arrow at death dog, misses (30 seconds)
  4. DM: NPC Ally disengages trying to draw death dog away from prone paladin (28 seconds)
  5. DM: Remaining Wolf attacks Player C while prone (22 seconds)
  6. DM: Janx takes no action trying to spit out elixir (6 seconds)
  7. Player C: Stands, moves to attack death dog and kills it. (57 seconds)
  8. Player D: Uses feline agility ability to double move through difficult terrain to reach where Janx is hiding in the brush, grapples Janx again. (1 minute 14 seconds)
[6 seconds assessing situation and other DM narration]

ROUND SIX (3 minutes 25 seconds)​
  1. Player A: dashes to flank remaining wolf and attacks (54 seconds)
  2. Player B: move over towards where Player D is grappling Janx through difficult terrain, dashing (27 seconds)
  3. DM: NPC Ally dashes through difficult terrain towards the scrum, pulls out second curative elixir (22 seconds)
  4. DM: Janx Blinks out of grapple, reappears on other side of brush (14 seconds)
  5. Player C: eats some goodberries and as the only one left on this side of the brush with Janx, engages with him (38 seconds)
  6. Player D: casts thorn whip, hits Janx and yanks him back into the brush (50 seconds)

ROUND SEVEN (2 minute 26 seconds)​
  1. Player A: Hustles over and joins grapple (50 seconds)
  2. Player B: Moves to scrum and readies to the “Help” action for Janx tries to break free of the grapple. (1 minute)
  3. DM: NPC Ally runs over to Janx to pour second curative elixir down his throat, but totally misses, wasting it. (23 seconds)
  4. DM: Janx blinks away again, reappearing 30 feet away, but then immediately collapses. (13 seconds)

It probably bears noting that my group using a houseruled version of ready and delay that actually moves your place in initiative order.


Moderator Emeritus
I ran a session of my Revenants of Saltmarsh remote game again yesterday. Once again there was only one combat (the party fled the scene of the last combat and did a lot of exploring trying to find the specific passage they are seeking, and hoping to avoid - in their words - "having to kill more 'innocent troglodytes'" and then ran into a couple of troglodyte scouts).

The set-up for the combat had the party climbing a series of subterranean cascading waterfalls. As they reached the top, the party paladin was squating in the mud holding the rope and the party bard was climbing, when the trogs attack from the other side of the underground stream (with steep banks). The halfling rogue and the paladin's xvart sidekick were already up when this happened.

Session #Encounter #EncounterCombat TypeParty LevelIG RoundsRW TimeAverage / Rd
2 trog scouts
4 at 5, 1 at 4

Unfortunately, I was unable to record how long it took to determine initiative because I asked everyone to roll and record it before we took our break and proceeded to pause the recording. And while I remembered to restart recording right before combat actually started, I missed the establishing of initiative.

The individual round lengths are as follows:

Rd 1: 3:31 (a surprise round, plus the trogs used the "opening volley ability"
Rd 2: 13:28
Rd 3: 15:50
Rd 4: 7:01

Round 4 ended before the last two PCs got to act. Rounds 2 and 3 were greatly slowed down by some lack of clarity with the battlemat in terms of distance and positioning that required repeated clarification.

WOW...it seems my games FLY by with combat.

Rounds with 5 players take a little over a minute overall. I'm not sure why it's so much faster with us then others (in this thread).

Even at high level we'd be hard pressed to be over 2 minutes with our rounds. People tend to know what they want to do and have all their numbers added up so when we get to each player it's normally just rolling dice and moving on.

I have a hard time imagining 30 minutes or longer for 5 rounds of combat!

Then again, many of our combats are less than 5 rounds as well. I think the average is somewhere between 2-4 rounds in general.

I must have fast moving games (or fast moving combat) or something.
Would you ask them if they mind videoing this, and then you can post it? I am very curious to see a high level game, with 5 players, with 2 minute rounds.

I wonder how much of this contributes to most campaigns not getting to 13th level? I mean 3 hours for one fight is as long as we play each week. I can see how sometimes the slow but exciting part is needed, but still.
I think it is one of the contributing factors. But other things, such as time, people living life, and people wanting new characters also has an effect.

In the spirit of my "It's Official! Most of my encounters are 'Deadly'" thread, I have started collecting data in my current (and newish) in-person game regarding how long combat takes in real time. This is data I have long wanted to collect but kept running into the logistical snags of forgetting to start the stopwatch or losing track of the number of rounds. This time, however, I have recruited the players in collecting the data and we have successfully collected info from the last three combats and hope to continue to do this as the campaign advances.

The reason I want to do this is because I was curious about comparing my feeling (combats in my game tend to flow easily and quickly with everyone making choices without hemming and hawing) to reality and to compare it against the common claim that D&D combat takes too long and suggestions that range from it takes 20 minutes to play out one round to it takes 20 minutes for one person to take a turn! (If I had to play that way I'd be unhappy too!).

So I began timing our combats in our 9th session and determining the average time per round (a round meaning everyone gets to take their turn - players and opponents). There is one snag in this data however. The average time per round is thrown off slightly because I find it easier to remember to start the timer if I do it as soon as I call for initiative to be rolled. So, the total time I list below includes the amount of time it took for everyone to roll initiative and for me to jot it down on a dry erase board. I stopped the timer as soon as we got out of initiative. As such, the average time per round should be slightly faster than listed.

Session #
EncounterCombat Type
Party Level
IG Rounds
RW Time
Average / Rd
2 hellhounds*
3 wolves
4 wolves + Rabid Blink Dog**

I think it is a fair expectation that as the group advances in level and things grow more complicated the average time per round will go up, but it will be interesting to me to see by how much. They just hit 3rd level at the end of the last session.

For the record, most combat in my games is done on a grid and we often play with terrain and have a pretty tactical approach. However, we do occasionally have theater of the mind combats, so it will be interesting to see any difference. In fact, I went back and added a category to the table while prepping this post to indicate if the combat was G (grid) or ToM (theater of the mind) for future reference).

The average of the averages is 6 minutes and 53 seconds per round. That strikes me as a perfect amount of time for four players to make their choices and take their actions and for the DM to run the monsters. In the future I am going to try to remember to hit the "lap" button every time a round is done, to test my theory that rounds go faster as the combat progresses, however, doing all of this is predicated on whatever I have to do to collect this data not actually interfering with the flow of the game since that would undermine the whole point of the exercise and potentially disrupt the fun. I don't want either of those to happen.

I may try to collect this data for my online game as well to see if there is a marked difference (though that game has 5 players and the characters are 4th level).

Anyway, I don't have much to say about this data yet (there is a long way to go to have a decent sample size), but wanted to set up the thread for future sharing of info and preliminary discussion. I will say, however, that so far so good. Combat in my games moves along at a pace that works and doesn't feel that different from the combats at the end of the last campaign with these same players which ended at 7th level (well, not "ended," that campaign is on hiatus until these characters reach that level).

* These hellhounds were tweaked to be CR 2 version (instead of CR 3)
** The "rabid blink dog" (really a homebrewed sick cooshee) was not defeated and got away, so they will have to face it again.
This is great stuff. Thanks for starting the thread. The numbers you post do not surprise me. In part, because all of you are at a lower level. It is the higher levels (in my opinion 8 or above), that tend to streeeeettttccchhhh.


Eternal Optimist
I ran a session of my Revenants of Saltmarsh remote game again yesterday. Once again there was only one combat (the party fled the scene of the last combat and did a lot of exploring trying to find the specific passage they are seeking, and hoping to avoid - in their words - "having to kill more 'innocent troglodytes'" and then ran into a couple of troglodyte scouts).

Rd 1: 3:31 (a surprise round, plus the trogs used the "opening volley ability"
Rd 2: 13:28
Rd 3: 15:50
Rd 4: 7:01

That seems a surprising amount of time for the combat! Longer than I expected.



Moderator Emeritus
That seems a surprising amount of time for the combat! Longer than I expected.

Remember, this is the group that plays over Zoom using a table camera for the minis, so I have to move everything for everyone.

Furthermore, as I said in the post

Rounds 2 and 3 were greatly slowed down by some lack of clarity with the battlemat in terms of distance and positioning that required repeated clarification.

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