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If my target casts the Blink spell and then Blinks to the Ethereal Plane, can I Ready my action to attack them as soon as they reappear? For example, "shoot them with an arrow when they Blink back to the Material plane?"

I'm wondering about the scenario in which the Villain Blinks and the PCs, who roll good initiative, just stand ready until the Villain blinks back into existence and then they all unleash hell on the Villain at once. It seems to take some of the power out of the spell and I'd like some other perspectives on it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ how does your party fight Phase spiders? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jul 4 '19 at 16:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Don't know, I've never had to run Phase Spiders as a DM. :) \$\endgroup\$ – Kenny Wyland Jul 4 '19 at 18:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KennyWyland OK. I have an idea for an answer, but RL does not permit me the time to dig into that, so I hope someone else arrives at the same conclusion. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jul 4 '19 at 18:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Journer you shouldn't answer in comments, even for this reason; now that the system is clarified the question will likely be reopened very quickly anyway. \$\endgroup\$ – Carcer Jul 4 '19 at 19:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Journer: As Carcer said, don't answer in comments. You should wait until the question has been reopened (as it has now) and then leave it as an answer. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jul 4 '19 at 19:31
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Yes, you can Ready an action for when the target Blinks back

The rules on taking the Ready action state that (emphasis mine):

First, you decide what perceivable circumstance will trigger your reaction.

The villain being affected by the Blink spell returns at the start of his turn:

At the start of your next turn, and when the spell ends if you are on the Ethereal Plane, you return to an unoccupied space of your choice that you can see within 10 feet of the space you vanished from.

Someone suddenly popping out of the Ethereal Plane to the current plane certainly counts as a perceivable circumstance so this is a perfectly valid strategy to try to counter the use of the Blink spell.

However the Blink spell still provides some defensive advantages:

  • By using the ready action, characters are forced to expend their reactions which means that their reactions are unavailable for the rest of the villain's turn
  • The villain can choose a place they can see within 10 ft of where they vanished to return, allowing them to return in a more advantageous position (such as behind cover or simply out of range of melee-focused characters1)
  • Some features such as Extra Attack only function on your own turn so a PC that readies the Attack action will only be able to do a single attack against the villain

1. Suggested by Admiral Jota

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    \$\begingroup\$ @AdmiralJota Very good point, I have added it, thanks \$\endgroup\$ – Sdjz Jul 5 '19 at 17:51

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