D&D 5e Combat – Initiative in Adventurers League
So after playing for a while with people in D&D Adventures League games, I’ve noticed a strange behavior when players roll for initiative and the dexterity check is a tie. When they tie, they will compare each other’s dexterity, or do a d20 roll off. High number wins. DMs usually don’t even institute this, and it’s almost an automatic reaction by the players. It is like a competition to see who will get the better initiative. And then they stick to that top spot like a badge of honor. This can be bad. First, the decision should really be looked at strategically for the team. The question should be Who should go first, instead of I should go first. Secondly after initiative order is determined it isn’t changed. (well sometimes…)
Strategy & Team Play
The players that roll the same initiative should discuss with the other team mates, is it better for the wizard to go and throw some spells at the creatures before the fighter rushes into battle, or maybe in another instance of a tied check, the fighter can rush up and then the thief can get his sneak attack in on his turn. There are a lot of different scenarios that can happen, and players can work together to make the best decision. It is a team game. Plus this is the only time that you can mess around with the initiative order. If you happen to want to go after some event, then you can Ready an action. But when you forgo your Attack action on your turn, it’s replaced with a Reaction after your turn is over. If it’s a spell then you have to maintain concentration even spells that normally don’t have concentration, and if you’re a melee combatant that means you’ll only get one reaction, and any opportunity attack possibilities or any other reactions are a loss. Remember you can only have one reaction until the start of your next turn.
When initiative is rolled and you have something like what we have below, The dexterity check results need to be recorded because of things like Thief’s Reflexes feature.
Dexterity Check results:
- 18 – Player 1/Player 2 tied
- 17 – MONSTERS
- 15 – Player 3
- 12 – Player 4
- -1 – Player 5
Then the players can discuss who will go first, Player 1 or Player 2. And if you have any doubts that this is not rules as written (RAW). then just look to page 189 in the Player’s Handbook or Page 69 in the Basic D&D rules. The “players decide the order among their tied characters.” There is always the DM clause, and the DM can ask for a roll-off between players, but why take this away from players unless they just can’t decide.
- Player 2
- Player 1
- Player 3
- Player 4
- Player 5
Now if it is my personal game, I will probably let the player’s change up their initiative order in the above example and have an option to use Delay, and that is ONLY if they ask. But then they will have to stay at that lower initiative order for the remainder of the game. I like the older Delay rules, and maybe they will show up again as an option in the DMG. Maybe not. If you decide to add Delay, be reminded that you are adding some more tactics into the game and it can slow combat down, and you may lose track of a player’s turn in the initiative order.
With all that said, I hope you are enjoying your games, and if you have any questions or issues that I could discuss on here let me know.