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I’ve an Arcane Archer character who chose the Banishing Arrow option for the Arcane Shot feature.

In our campaign we often come across hobgoblins riding worgs.

If I wanted to really put a thorn in the side of the enemy, when the mount and rider are charging into combat, would it be better to target the rider or the mount with a banishing arrow?

Is one strategy optimal over the other?

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The Worg

Although the hobgoblin and the worg are both a CR 1/2, their CR calculations are vastly different and the hobgoblin is wayyyyy more dangerous when they have their worg by virtue of their Martial Advantage feature which lets them deal an extra 2d6 damage when an ally of theirs is within 5' of their target. And that's what the worg is. Furthermore, the worg changes the hobgoblin's speed to 50, has more than twice as many hit points, has a lower armor class (and is thus an easier target), and has base attack damage that's much higher than the hobgoblin's (barring Martial Advantage).

Using the Monster Statistics by Challenge Rating table from page 274 in the DMG reveals the following:

Worg CR Evaluation

When reviewing the worg's CR calculation you'll find that at 26 hit points and an AC13, the Defensive CR is a paltry 1/8; however, with a +5 to hit and an average damage per round of 10 plus a chance to knock you prone, you're knocking on Offensive CR that's somewhere between 1 and 4, maybe a net of Offensive CR2. If you banish the hobgoblin, the worg is still dangerous on it's own and given that many times in D&D the best defense is more offense, this is a threat you need to eliminate ASAP.

Hobgoblin CR Evaluation

So let's take a look at the hobgoblin's CR more closely. If you banish the worg, you take away the strategic advantage that hobgoblins have built into their CR calculation and thus make them much less dangerous. With 11 hit points, they'd sit at the Defensive CR of 1/8 but their high AC of 18 isn't seen until CR13; obviously we don't take the average on this but you get the idea they've minimal hit points under all that armor. Their Offensive CR component isn't that impressive either, they barely tip over the 1/4 mark by themselves with their Longsword or Longbow which average only 5 damage per round. However, the Offensive CR goes all the way to 1 when they get to regularly add in their Martial Advantage feature.


If you just eliminate the hobgoblin, you still have to deal with 26 hit points barreling at you at 50'-100' per turn. And once it gets there, it's going to deal a lot of damage plus be knocking allies prone.

If you eliminate the worg, though, you just have a hobgoblin running at you firing their longbow. Given that most parties have ranged options to return fire with, this is definitely better. Scratch that, it'd have to burn an action to drop its shield (Getting Into and Out of Armor, PHB 146) to fire the longbow, which just makes your situation all the better.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The Hobgoblin CR is 1/2. Having the Worg or not does not affect this. The CR of each creature is established without any bearing on the other. The CR evaluations are not a good way of determining the answer. The stat blocks are what should be used because of the varying features. \$\endgroup\$ – Eternallord66 Mar 9 at 14:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Eternallord66 what would you propose as an alternate? \$\endgroup\$ – Pyrotechnical Mar 9 at 18:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ As i stated in my comment. Compare the features because trying to analyze the CR the way you did doesn't make any sense. They do not have a different CR if they are together as opposed to being separate. Maybe comment on the speed of the individuals and the difference of a hobgoblin on foot compard to mounted. I do believe the correct answer to this question is to banish the worg but your reasoning about CR doesn't work. \$\endgroup\$ – Eternallord66 Mar 9 at 20:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Eternallord66 for the most part, this answer already does what you ask. I indicate at the beginning that they are both a CR 1/2 and thus that alone is not a sufficient determining factor. But from the CR review we can see that the worg's CR stems primarily from their offensive contributions while the hobgoblin's stems more from their defensive contributions. I had considered a brief discussion on how CR is also calculated from playtesting as well, but I lack any information on that to back up the claim for these monsters specifically. \$\endgroup\$ – Pyrotechnical Mar 10 at 11:40
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In addition to the answer from Pyrotechnical, if you banish the mount, the rider may also fall prone which would be another reason to prefer the mount as a target. By PHB (page 198):

If an effect moves your mount against its will while you're on it, you must succeed on a DC 10 Dexterity saving throw or fall off the mount, landing prone in a space within 5 feet of it.

As banishing the mount would 'move' it to a different plane, this rule would apply.

Note: I am confused whether this should be a comment or an answer. It is a partial answer and we should refrain from partially answering in comments, but it also is an improvement to Pyrotechnical's answer, and we should improve answers in comments.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "partial answers" in comment under the question are forbidden, but under another answer they are generally OK — author of that answer can then incorporate additional content into their answer all right. Or flag comment for deletion. On the other hand this answer works as a standalone answer, too. \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot Mar 9 at 10:44

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