Playtest - every encounter on a battlemat grid

Played every single combat on a grid with minis (When you have tons of paper minis, 30 orcs is no problem)

First, I dislike the fact that I have to open the books to see what spells do, and I also have to open the Bestiary to see monster stats that are needed in combat.

The shortened monster stat blocks in the adventure need two very commonly used stats: Initiative modifier, and Movement speed. In one of the combats with kobolds and rats. I had to open the Bestiary to look up both kobolds and rats in two different places. Not all the kobolds have the same movement speed either, because of armor.

Tens of enemies all with SPRING ATTACK!
In one combat there were 18 rats, not dire rats, normal cave rats. Now the rules say only 8 creatures can surround and attack a single player at a time. But! since the movement rules say you can move before and after an attack, that limit really has no meaning. It's as if every creature in the game has the 3.5 edition "Spring Attack" feat. I had two rats move up and stay adjacent to a player since rats attack with Advantage when there are at least 2 adjacent. Then I had all the rest of the rats move up 10 feet, attack, then move back to make room for the next rat. All 18 rats can attack the same person.

I was surprised at how quickly I rolled all 18 attacks, it was fast because rats only do 1 damage so I didn't have to roll damage. A problem arose when the players started killing those rats. The wizard did not have burning hands memorized and no other area effect spells. So the players had to spend a long time killing 18 rats.

Next, the party entered a room with around 30 kobolds. They all have ranged attacks with throwing daggers. Since there are no cover rules for allies standing in front. I just started rolling 30 dagger attacks vs the Rogue (all with Advantage because the kobolds outnumber them). Why target the Fighter or Cleric in front? Did I miss-interpret cover? Everyone at the table came to the same conclusion that allies do not grant cover, so I am not alone. Am I supposed to be nice and spread attacks? If so, should this edition be named "D&D Nice"?

Orcs! it says they can charge as their "Action". It doesn't say if it ends their turn. So using the new movement rules which says you can move before and after your "Action", the orcs can step back 5 feet, use their charge, then use the rest of their move to step back to where they were before their charge, or out of the way for more orcs. It also doesn't say if they need to move a minimum number of squares. So; can an Orc charge 5 feet in a straight line? In the first combat with orcs I had the orcs move right through the ranks of everyone and had 6 orcs charge the wizard. 6 Orcs charging a wizard with AC 11, each getting an extra 1d6 damage, is not a pretty sight.

The only thing that would prevent 30 orcs from charging through to the wizard with the lowest AC, was if the Fighter and the Cleric of Moradin stood right next to each other in the hallway. This strategy would be meaningless in an outdoor combat or in a larger room. The Orcs can move and charge and get to the wizard with little effort and demolish him.

Grease Spell
The wizards cast it on the second orc encounter with 20 orcs, it says when a creature enters grease it makes a DEX roll or falls prone. It doesnt mention duration of the prone. It doesnt mention anything about ending their turn or action. Standing back up only takes 5 feet, does that mean at most Grease wastes 5 feet of their move? Should it say creature remains prone as long as they are in the area,which forces them to crawl? Should it say they fall prone and end any future actions? Is it difficult terrain? The orcs could charge through it very easily depending on how you rule.

Defender Mechanic and timing of Reactions
Kobold Chieftain rolls a critical hit on the Fighter next to the Cleric of Moradin. Cleric of Moradin says "I defend Fighter" as a Reaction. Now, does the DM re-roll the entire attack? Does the DM roll one more dice and take the worst of that and the crit? Does the DM say "too late I already rolled"? I could see DMs ruling either of those 3 ways. So you'd have inconsistant experiences. (I would be a very unhappy DM if you took away my crits, is that meant to happen?)

As DM: do I slow down every attack waiting for the Moradin cleric to React or not. After 6 orcs charged toward the Fighter and Cleric of Moradin I found myself constantly looking to the Cleric saying "eh, this one? eh, this one? eh, this one?" over and over until he saw the fighter got hit, then he used it.

Also: it is not readily apparent on the character sheet of the Cleric of Moradin that he can only react once per round. "Reaction" is not even capitalized. Using plain english the player easily came to the conclusion he could do it over and over again.

Disadvantage and crits, Boo
If you are attacking with Disadvantage and you roll a natural 20 on one of the dice, you get that excited adrenalin jump on seeing the 20, (any long term D&D player experiences that) but then it gets taken away because of the Disadvantage forcing the lower of the two. That to me just seems like a bummer. Rolling dice that don't count makes for a bad game experience. so much so it reminds me of rolling confirms in 3.5.

Stealthing and the Rogue
It was not clear to the Rogue player exactly how he could use Hiding and stealth to his advantage. An example should be spelled out. The rogue can hide behind a larger creature. So he could hide behind his ally (I assume he cant hide behind an enemy, that too is not clarified). Then the next round he can move out of hiding, up to 25 feet, and make a melee attack with advantage because his ability says he gets advantage if he STARTED the round hidden. That was nearly missed until I explained it to the player.

Armor and casting wizard spells.
My wizard wanted to put on the Scale Armor he found. I couldnt find any rules that say wearing armor prevents spellcasting. The only drawback to the armor was Disadvantage on STR, DEX checks, and attacks, but the wizard could just use magic missile and other spells that dont require attack rolls.

Advantage (two dice)
I liked rolling two dice when someone has Advantage. I thought though about a potential situation, if in the future you have an area spell that requires multiple attack rolls, and you happen to target multiple orcs who just charged and are granting Advantage. You'd have to roll each pair of two dice separately because the dice have to be grouped and you wouldn't want them intermixing.

Low bonuses are good
The low bonuses in general made it extremely easy to roll 15 kobold saving throws vs the Sleep spell. It also made it easy to roll 18 rat attacks.

Its not very clear how to determine surprise. In 4E, if there are hidden enemies, you can have every player roll a Perception check and anyone who fails is surprised. If a friendly enemy springs an unexpected attack, you can do the same thing with Insight checks vs a Bluff DC.
What if a stealthing Rogue sneaks up on a room of Kobolds who are hiding? The halfling sees the kobolds and informs the rest of the players with hand signals. Do the kobolds get surprise?
Maybe some concrete examples should be illustrated. Surprise has always confused me in every edition. If some players try stealthing, and other don't how close can the non-stealthers get?

30 kobolds and 30 orcs and 30 goblins
After a while killing 30 of a single monster gets a little old. Especially since all 30 are exactly the same. It's like a 4E encounter with all minions. It's cool once or twice, but then if your DM kept throwing encounters with nothing but minions it would get old fast. Are they there to make the wizard look awesome? If so the wizard should start with an at-will area effect spell.

In the DM's Guidelines it says if the party wishes to flee, ignore the melee rules and let them flee. I allowed fleeing with no penalty, and no monster attacks. It actually makes fleeing a very good strategy, too good. The party messed up and let the room of 30 kobolds know they were there.  So the party fled, took a full rest, and came back with different spells memorized, and put most of the kobolds to Sleep.

Minor monster stuff:
Kobolds Strength in Numbers
It applies to all the monsters in the encounter correct, regardless of their positioning. What if I rule that kobold chieftain's courtesans in the next room hear the fight and are coming, do they count? When do they count? What range?
The Kobold Chieftain doesn't get "Strength in Numbers"?
Do sleeping Kobolds count towards "Strength in Numbers"?

The Kobold Dragonshield wording says "The Dragonshield can go on the defensive" This makes it sound as if the Dragonshield needs to spend his "Action" on his turn to ready it. I could easily see a DM thinking that. It should just say "As a Reaction the Dragonshield can interpose his shield."
Can the Dragonshield block a Magic Missile? I ruled yes.

Slash between two attacks on monster stat block such as +2(1d6+1)/+2(1d6+1)
Nowhere in the rules does it say monsters who have a slash between their attack bonuses means they can make multiple attacks. Only because I am used to seeing old D&D monsters do I know this.

Agree with most of it. Couple answers to things I knew.

Wizard Casting & Armor
Wizard character sheet, under "casting a spell," last sentence says you cannot cast wizard spells while wearing armor.

Allies as Cover
How to Play doc, page 11, under Cover, under Half Cover, says you can hide behind another creature.
Grease: "Any creature in the area must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw or fall prone. Until the spell ends, creatures moving through the area must make the same saving throw or fall prone."
So if an orc charged in and fell down, he could stand up (at a cost of 5 ft of movement).  If he then decided to keep moving, he would need to make another save.  The DM might also rule that the falling breaks momentum enough that the charge is ruined.

Defend: Yeah, the timing of this needs clarification.  I ruled that you can declare it after the attack is rolled, as it makes it more useful.  You also don't need to wait before making every attack.
But you could just as easily rule the other way and make the player declare it before the attack is rolled (this is how the spell Shield of Faith works).  I would not ever reroll the first attack.  The point of the advantage/disadvantage is that you don't care about what the first roll is beyond hit or miss.  You just pick up a second die and roll it.

Reactions: It specifically says on page 9 that reactions can only be used 1/round.  Words don't have to be capitalized to be meaningful (in fact, in the section on reactions on page 9, the word is used 4 times, and not once is it capitalized).  The text for defender clearly indicates that it is a reaction.

Advantage vs. Lots of Targets: You could also just roll a handful of dice.  Then separate into hits and misses.  Reroll the misses and make a note of the hits.  Then reroll the hits and make a note of the crits.  Done.

Surprise: This happens if one side is unaware of the other.  Handle with Wisdom vs. Dexterity contest.  It would be nice to have more info about determining distance of perception.

Fleeing: When the party fled, rested up, and returned to the cave, why were the kobolds still just sitting there as if nothing had happened?  Why hadn't they fled the cave (seeing as how attackers got past the defenses)?  Or why hadn't they set a ton of traps?

Strength in Numbers: Potential kobolds do not count.  I would say that it has to be kobolds directly involved in the fight.  So once the kobolds from the next room open the door and join the fight, they count.  If they are staying in the room with the door shut, not so much.

I would rule that sleeping kobolds do not count.  They are no longer participating in the fight.  The way things seem to work in D&D Next is that you need to think about how it would actually work in the world, not just look at the mechanics in a vacuum.  Kobolds get it because they are cowardly, but if they outnumber the enemy they gain courage.  Would they get this courage if all their allies were asleep?  In the next room?  No.

Dragonshield: "As a reaction, the dragonshield interposes itself between an attacker and an ally within 5 feet of it."  So you don't have to take an action to set it up.  The first line is just descriptive text. 
As for blocking magic missile, you could certainly make that call as a DM.  You could also rule that magic missile can't be blocked because it doesn't involve an attack roll.

Nice breakdown!
It's nice to see people taking this seriously and actually posting little discoveries and (politely) comparing them to other editions.

(I really don't have anything else to add). 
FWIW [4e designer] baseline assumption was that roughly 70% of your feats would be put towards combat effectiveness, parties would coordinate, and strikers would do 20/40/60 at-will damage+novas. If your party isn't doing that... well, you are below baseline, so yes, you need to optimize slightly to meet baseline. -Alcestis
Enjoyed reading this. It made me realize that how I played other editions has influenced my reading of the rules. I have read or not read actions into the game.  The kobolds threw spears because that is what they would do in earlier editions.

I never had to ask the cleric if he was going to react. It was assumed all attacks against his allies w/in 5 ft would be at DA. Including spears thrown at the mage. Since most missed on the first d20, only one roll was done.

Yes, it stinks when you roll a 20 only to reroll a 1!
I started playing D&D in the 80's. I've played D&D, 1e, 2e, and 3.xe (and many other RPGs). I also played Magic since it came out (except for a few years around the change of the millennium. I say this so you know a bit of my experience, not because I care about editions.
Sounds like the split move/attack/split move is already causing problems with kiting, lol. That was predictable! Another oddity along the same lines that I note is that without OAs there's pretty much no disadvantage at all to using a ranged weapon effectively in melee. Just back up 5' (or more) and then fire. Shift let you do this in 4e too, now you can actually run past someone and shoot them, lol. Rather strange...
That is not dead which may eternal lie
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