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Specifically when you’re engaged in an encounter that includes some clearly larger threats and clearly weaker threats, which creatures should I attack first?

  • Does it make the most sense to focus your fire on the weaker enemies to reduce the number of actions the DM has against you?

or

  • Is it better to focus on the heavy hitter in hopes the weaker ones will surrender?

Or, does the answer lie elsewhere? Should I attack the same enemies that my party has already been attacking over anything else?

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a little broad in scope (although I understand where you are coming from) since we don't know which class you are playing and what classes are in your party. In a larger party the answer will vary somewhat from a smaller party, and, if you have debuff/crowd control abilities, features, or spells the answer may be "debuff the enemy" rather than "attack the enemy". Can you shed a little light on the class you are playing and the party composition? That may help get you a better answer for your case. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 11, 2022 at 14:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think you would be better describing a particular scenario such as a party of X members of y classes at z level Vs 1 ogre and 3 goblins or whatever. Alternatively you could focus on 'what things do I need to account for in a tactical assessment of an encounter so I know where to focus my damage / debuff / attention etc'. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Feb 11, 2022 at 14:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Disagreeing with the closure: some of the best writing on this Stack has been in-depth, explanatory guides to new players that teach ways of thinking about the games we're playing/running. James--and plenty of future readers--could benefit from someone writing a great answer along the lines of "here are the things I generally think about when approaching combat, here are the factors that influence the cost-benefit of various actions, here's how I talk to my party-mates about them...." Plenty of users have played all classes in hundreds of combat encounters and have the necessary expertise. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Feb 11, 2022 at 17:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 An example by OP would make the question much better to answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Feb 11, 2022 at 18:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ e.g. Are you interested in a case of a Troll and 10 goblins? A Kobold Alchemist and 12 Kobolds while you are in a tunnel? A Lich and 7 Ghasts? 1 Ancient Red Dragon, 3 lvl 7 Dragon-sorcerers and 5 lvl 3 Cultists (Fighter 2/Socerer 1)? All those pose much different things to look at, changing the economy what to kill first. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Feb 12, 2022 at 11:20

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