I am DMing for a group of brand new players who come into D&D without really much of any role-playing experience, even as far as video games. The group is small with 3 players; A Forest Circle Druid, a Beastmaster Ranger who likes to get into melee, and a War Domain Cleric.

We are running through the "Lost Mines of Phandelver" campaign to start with. I am new at DMing myself. We play without maps or tokens, mostly because I work 55 hour weeks and don't have a lot of time to make maps. The party is currently level 2 and so far I haven't been making any changes to the combat encounters.

The Issue

Some encounters are starting to follow a pattern where the enemies come at the players, who are basically standing side-by-side. The number of enemies tends to be about four, and so on their turn they move into attack range in (almost) a 1-on-1 face-off with one player character facing two enemies. Then there is a boring brawling match where each player or the enemies roll to hit, roll damage, and repeat. The player who beats their enemy first moves on to help a teammate, until they win the battle.

The players do use spells at the start of the battle to quickly take out one or two enemies before the bash-match, but don't want to use too many resources too quickly (a concern that is well-founded)

This happened once before, and I wrote it off as something that will get better, but on our last session it happened again and I was suddenly very aware that the players were bored as the combat dragged on while everybody was getting poor attack rolls. I tried to make the enemies change tactics, by grappling and shoving, which slightly mitigated the effect but was too little and too late to turn the overall battle into a good experience.


While at least roughly following the starter campaign encounter concepts, how can I keep combat from becoming a boring brawling match for this party?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Please let us know if you disagree about the duplication (and duplicates are more than okay - it helps other users find answers when a question is asked differently.) If you do disagree, please clarify what the difference is so we can reopen. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Mar 2, 2020 at 16:18
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I do know my players aren't naturally tactically inclined so I didn't come across those questions the way they are phrased. I was kind of hoping for maybe some specific encounter tweaks to be on the lookout to making for the Starter campaign and this party specifically, but in a broad sense I think the overall advice still remains the same - thinking more about the terrain/area and having more varied enemies. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 2, 2020 at 17:06


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