Well then. It looks like the hour of their triumph draws nigh indeed! One can only surmise what masterstroke of villainy is afoot. But then again, plans within plans are the bread and butter of the gaming table. When the minis come out and the initiative count starts to roll, it pays to be a Machiavellian schemer. If you’ve ever heard (or said) any of the following, then you already know what I’m talking about.

“Ugh! Why the crap would you move there?”

“Oh, shoot! That completely screwed up my turn!” 

“In that case I guess I’ll… umm… delay?”

Responding to the ebb and flow of a combat round is no easy task. You’ll have your cloud kill all lined up with that armor-plated lunkhead rushes in. You’ll have a perfect flank set up for your sneak attack when your target unexpectedly explodes. A quick heal-from-death is suddenly more important than a buff; you’ve got to get the orb rather than stab the wizard; it’s too late for area control because the monsters are already up in your grill. In all cases, your turn was almost upon you, and then circumstances changed. The question is how to respond.

I’ve seen some experienced gamers offer flowcharts to their less-experienced protégés. “Turn on power attack if the monster’s AC is less than X. If you only have one round to buff, use Y before you get into melee.” Most of us have similar heuristics constructed in our heads, even if they’re not written out on reference sheets. Combined with one our two default options, it’s usually enough to get you through.

More than tactics, however, I think it’s attitude that makes the difference. There are only a handful of combats in any given campaign where making the “correct tactical play” is mandatory. More often, contributing to team success in any way is enough. So rather than agonizing like Her Majesty, Queen Scratchypaws of the Demonweb Pits, I suggest you go for the gusto like our old pal Magus. You might not hit the optimal play every time, but I think you’re more likely to enjoy the game.

Question of the day then! What is your method for calling the audible when a situation changes? Are you a true Batman wizard, with a backup plan for every occasion? Do you like to strategize amongst the group, talking out the best play (pacing be damned)? Or do you like to make an off-the-cuff call that feels right for the character? Whatever your strat, tell us how you respond to unexpected battlefield developments down in the comments!


THIS COMIC SUCKS! IT NEEDS MORE [INSERT OPINION HERE] Is your favorite class missing from the Handbook of Heroes? Maybe you want to see more dragonborn or aarakocra? Then check out the “Quest Giver” reward level over on the The Handbook of Heroes Patreon. You’ll become part of the monthly vote to see which elements get featured in the comic next!