I'm a newbie DM. It seems that minions in an encounter benefit the PCs more than they benefit me:
- The Barbarian can kill them for free THP and a Swift Charge (I thought they were supposed to slow down the PCs' advance not speed it up).
- The Warden can kill them for free THP.
- The Cleric can kill them for free buffs.
- The Psion and Wizard can kill tons of them with no difficulty -- increasing the number of minions just increases the encounter's XP without increasing difficulty.
Most of the minions get killed before they can attack. If they attack, they usually miss (minions only target AC and my frontline PCs invested in armor feats). Even if by some chance they hit, damage is pitiful and a crit doesn't help.
So, obviously minions are not meant to be a significant attack force, but on the other hand they are meant to have some function in combat other than to provide buffs to the PCs. What is their purpose? The only use I've ever gotten out of them is (very slightly) slowing down chargers, but I think this is outweighed by the barb getting Swift Charge early in the combat. And occasionally I manage to set up a flank to help out one of the heavy hitters. I've been told to use Aid Another on attacks, but I've never actually been able to set up a situation where that's even possible.
Obviously my tactics need a lot of work, but how should I be placing and using minions?