D&D 5E "Tactics are an Important Part of D&D" (a poll)

True or False: "Tactics are important part of D&D"

  • True.

    Votes: 70 72.9%
  • False.

    Votes: 26 27.1%

Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
Supporter
I think strategy is always important.

I think tactics are MORE important if you're not running theater of the mind. But even if you are, they still matter to a degree.

I'll confess that as a player sometimes find it a bit exasperating when other players aren't tactically solid, especially when using a battle map or VTT.

I went with "yes" because tactics are an important part of D&D to me.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Celebrim

Legend
In case anyone is wondering, tactics broadly mean the use and employment of weapons and exploitation of terrain through movement and denial of movement to the enemy. As such, yes, tactics are an inextricable and huge part of D&D at every table, including the tables that don't think tactics are important.

No matter what edition of D&D you play, there is some limited combat resource where the timing, selection, coordination and implementation of that resource greatly enhances the party's chance of success in combat. In D&D those limited resources are often spells, and how and when and which spells you use in D&D is tactics. (In 4e those 'spells' were called powers and aside from a few mechanical differences, they worked the same way and served the same purpose.)

When I was running large groups of strangers at open tables, one repeated problem that came up was players not directly involved in the current combat deciding to move around and pursue personal goals on their own and almost invariably pulling new monsters into the combat or setting off traps in the middle of combat. This is also tactics, albeit bad tactics. I mention this as an example of the sort of basic tactics that are so fundamental that we hardly ever think of them as tactics like focusing fire to burn down individual targets and not moving on to new rooms until we've cleared existing rooms. You can't remove tactics from D&D and players that are good at them gain advantages over those that aren't in terms of the sort of challenges that they can overcome.
 

Shiroiken

Legend
In combat tactics are not actually necessary to the game, but they greatly improve it. Strategy, meaning tactics used outside of initiative, is just a different playstyle of the same thing (combat as war vs. combat as sport).

By tactics I mean things like cover, elevation, flanking, making use of the environment in other ways, and coming up with plans that are actually sound (and don't only succeed because of DM fiat), and so on.
Theater of Mind does not preclude tactics.
These two sentences contradict each other. In TotM, everything is subject to DM fiat, including the usefulness of cover, elevation, etc.
 

Larnievc

Hero
This poll is open to be looked at from the perspective of a DM or player, and has a very simple premise:

True or False: "Tactics are important part of D&D"

By tactics I mean things like cover, elevation, flanking, making use of the environment in other ways, and coming up with plans that are actually sound (and don't only succeed because of DM fiat), and so on.
I dunno. When I read fantasy novels it’s very rare that the protagonists are a small group of amazingly competent individuals who work as part of well oiled unit.

Unless it’s for the Worf Effect to happen and the real ragtag heroes bumble along and pull a Rocky.
 


Last gaming session we had an encounter that absolutely illustrated the importance of tactics. They stumbled onto some guardians and entered battle willy-nilly as they usually do. They all took a couple 30 HP hits and ran. The guardians were magical and only cared about defending the room they were in. They spent 10 (real-world) minutes healing and planning, then tried the encounter again with a sound strategy that made use of a bunch of their strengths and while they still took some lumps, they beat the guardians with only two people getting as low as half their HP.

Tactics absolutely make a difference, provided the party sticks to the strategy once combat actually starts. I've seen so many times where they say "we'll open with a fireball from the wizard," but then someone charges right into melee before the wizard has a chance to do anything.
 

I'd say the failure of 4E and success of PF1 and 5E shows this to be flatly false, and people saying it's true are kind of fooling themselves.

D&D, in most editions, is about strategy, not tactics. I.e. sheparding your resources over "the adventuring day", and attempting to get ambushes on every possible encounter. Note in warfare ambushes are primarily produces by strategy but can be created by tactics. In D&D that tends not to be the case - they're pretty solely strategic.

Are tactics involved in D&D? Sure, but they're usually extremely shallow and often offer very limited real-terms benefit. 4E was the most tactical edition of D&D by a huge margin and a lot of people definitely didn't like it.
 

Last gaming session we had an encounter that absolutely illustrated the importance of tactics. They stumbled onto some guardians and entered battle willy-nilly as they usually do. They all took a couple 30 HP hits and ran. The guardians were magical and only cared about defending the room they were in. They spent 10 (real-world) minutes healing and planning, then tried the encounter again with a sound strategy that made use of a bunch of their strengths and while they still took some lumps, they beat the guardians with only two people getting as low as half their HP.

Tactics absolutely make a difference, provided the party sticks to the strategy once combat actually starts. I've seen so many times where they say "we'll open with a fireball from the wizard," but then someone charges right into melee before the wizard has a chance to do anything.
I mean this seems like a superb example of strategy, not tactics. You even called it "a sound strategy". I think conflating the two terms is unhelpful myself, even though it is common. If the question is "does strategy matter in D&D", then I'd answer it very differently myself.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
For TSR-era editions of D&D, yes, tactics are vitally important as you’re all but guaranteed to get a pile of dead characters without them. Tactics are less and less important as WotC editions roll by. The game’s balance and design allow for PCs to blindly charge into combat, so they do.
Is this really a pattern? It was 3e and 3.5e (due to full attacks, and the lack of inter-character synergy), and IMO it's true of 5e, but not 4e. 4e required teamwork, support, careful use of your resources. I have plenty of first-hand experience, much to my chagrin, with "once we got coordinated, and tactical, we started winning."

Separately, I'd argue TSR D&D wasn't "tactical." It was logistical--what is usually called strategic, not tactical. It leaned into the word "campaign"; each combat was a battle, one step in the whole war. WotC D&D is far more tight-focused. This has been a trend in D&D since before there was "D&D." D&D grew out of wargaming: "hit points" once measured how many "hits" a squad could take before being no longer fighting fit, but Chainmail turned it into a single person's ability to continue fighting. Early D&D retained that wargame ethos/conceit, hence the "FFV" epithet. But D&D has steadily done more and more of that "from an individual, low-level perspective" shift over time. In jumps and starts, to be sure, but it's a clear trend across the decades.

Old-school D&D was strategic. Note, for example, your own description here: speaking negatively about being allowed "...to blindly charge into combat." That's VERY much a strategic/logistical judgment, annoyed by a game that doesn't have strategic consequences for (claimed) unnecessary combats. Meanwhile, new-school D&D is can be tactical...but it often isn't. Because tactics aren't rewarded, ruthless personal optimization is rewarded.

I find a significant portion of the problems with D&D can be traced back to the fact that many DMs do not realize how the official rules and their personal house-rules/rulings/tweaks create perverse incentives. 3e/3.5e was CHOCK-FULL of perverse incentives that dragged the game away from its intended goal--which is the bigger reason why I say 3e/3.5e is a "badly designed game," beyond the implementation issues (which are a matter of balance, not whether the design is good.) A well-designed game makes it so the effective play choices are also (a) the fun play choices, and (b) the experience intended by the designer. Both 3e and 5e have some very big problems with rewarding players who do things that are not the intended design experience.
 
Last edited:

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
I'd say the failure of 4E and success of PF1 and 5E shows this to be flatly false, and people saying it's true are kind of fooling themselves.

D&D, in most editions, is about strategy, not tactics. I.e. sheparding your resources over "the adventuring day", and attempting to get ambushes on every possible encounter. Note in warfare ambushes are primarily produces by strategy but can be created by tactics. In D&D that tends not to be the case - they're pretty solely strategic.

Are tactics involved in D&D? Sure, but they're usually extremely shallow and often offer very limited real-terms benefit. 4E was the most tactical edition of D&D by a huge margin and a lot of people definitely didn't like it.
People often do not realize what they actually want. I find that this is true in both directions WRT 4e. There are a lot of people who claim to want a "tactical" game, but in truth they really don't like tactical thinking at all. Instead, those folks generally want a combat system which is very nearly not there, just barely present enough to give the feeling that a serious obstacle is present but not actually inducing any problem-solving thinking, whereas the "real" game is in (as you say) the strategic/logistical layer. Then, on the flipside, there are a lot of people who think that making a game "tactical" makes it boring and staid and dry, so they actively avoid trying to engage with such a thing, but they would in fact be pleased with a game that actually supported tactics if they allowed themselves to play it without prejudice.

(Just so it's clear...I was in the latter category until I actually engaged with 4e. Because, as much as I speak positively of it today, I was a straight-up 4e hater for its first couple years, due to former friends presenting it in the worst, most hostile way possible and straight-up confidently speaking falsely about it, and I took them at their word.)
 

Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Upcoming Releases

Top