I'm the DM for a 4e group and none of us really like minions because of their hit-or-miss nature; its unsatisfying to use an encounter power on them, even when its strategically sound.
I'd still like some dungeons to have puny henchmen, but I'd like them to not necessarily die in one hit. I know that one way to avoid using lots of minions would be to instead use lots of normal enemies a few levels lower than the players, but lets suppose that I want to more or less preserve the monsters' defenses, hit modifiers, and damage.
The idea I came up with was to halve their health and halve their XP, so that they live about half as long, but give half as much reward. Basically I want the DM Toolbox equivalent of the opposite of turning a monster into an elite (p184 DMG1).
Is this a reasonable idea? Is there a more balanced way to reduce monster longevity without making it a minion?
EDIT: I'm not looking for advice on how to make minions more fun. I've already done some reading on that. My question is about ways to "nerf" normal enemies. I want to know if there are reasonable ways to reduce the power of normal enemies without turning them into minions.