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Flanking 5E Strategy [Optimize Your Battle Position In DnD]

Flanking 5E
  Written By: Ashish Arya
Updated On: 11/03/2023
Est. Reading: 6 minutes

If you’re an avid enthusiast of the Dungeons & Dragons game, you’re likely always on the hunt for ways to enhance your gameplay.

The Flanking 5E optional rule might have crossed your path and left you wondering how it can change your gaming experience. Well, fret no more! This blog post will shed some light on this rule for you.

In the world of tabletop role-playing games, a slight shift in strategy can turn the tide of an intense battle. Regardless of whether you’re a seasoned player or someone new to this realm, understanding the dynamics of various rules in play can significantly elevate your game.

The Flanking 5E optional rule is one such element that could potentially give your character the upper hand in the throes of combat. Please stick with us as we delve into the ins and outs of this intriguing aspect.

What is the Flanking 5E optional rule?

The Flanking 5E optional rule is an exciting part of the Dungeons & Dragons game presented in the Dungeon Master’s Guide.

 What is the Flanking 5E optional rule?

In its simplest sense, this rule provides a strategic move during combat scenarios that allows you to gain an advantage over your adversaries.

This rule comes into play when two allies find themselves on opposite sides of an enemy. Now, imagine standing on a battlefield with your enemy directly in between you and your ally.

That’s exactly how the flanking maneuver works in action! This placement creates a situation where your enemy is ‘flanked,’ and it can significantly impact how the following turns play out.

By clever utilization of this rule, you benefit from ‘advantage’ on attack rolls. As thrilling as this sounds, gaining this edge isn’t as easy as simply standing next to an enemy. The rule requires precise positioning and strategic movement for successful execution.

It’s important to note that not all games implement this maneuver. It is considered an ‘optional’ rule for a reason – its application is wholly dependent on the Dungeon Master’s decision to include it in their particular campaign setting.

As such, familiarity with this rule can widen your tactical breadth but always check with your Dungeon Master beforehand.

Also Read: Fire Bolt 5E 2024 [Uses, Rules, Tips & Complete Spell Guide]

How Does Flanking Work in 5E?

Flanking in 5E can seem a bit complex at first glance, particularly for new players. But fear not- once you grasp the basic concept, it becomes an easy and strategic part of gameplay. Let’s break it down:

  • Concept of Flanking: In essence, flanking revolves around surrounding an enemy during combat. Imagine you and your ally standing on opposite sides of an enemy on the battlefield. This gives you a strong positional advantage.
  • Flanked Scenario: This advantageous position is created when two allies stand on opposite sides of their target, thus making the enemy ‘flanked.’
  • Advantageous Attack: The primary benefit of flanking is that the allies gain an ‘advantage’ on their attack rolls against this opponent, which significantly improves their chances to land successful hits.
  • Visual Aids Required: Executing a flanking move successfully often necessitates the use of battle maps and miniatures. It could be rather challenging to implement without these visual references due to the precision needed in positioning.
  • Grid Discrepancies: It’s important to consider the type of grid you’re using during play; square grids or hexagonal grids could pose different challenges and opportunities in executing flanks.

The Flanking 5E optional rule injects some additional excitement into your D&D games by offering a different layer of strategy. However, its success hinges greatly on your understanding and practice with this rule.

Be sure to match your tactics with the enemy’s size and consider obstacles that could thwart your plans before executing a flank.

What are the Flanking Rules?

What are the Flanking Rules?

While applying the Flanking 5E optional rule can provide you with an upper hand, it’s important to understand a few essential details about its use and operation:

  • Allies are Friendly Creatures or NPCs: Your allies aren’t limited to only other player characters. Non-player characters (NPCs), as well as friendly creatures, can also count in flanking maneuvers. This broadens your potential for setting up flanking situations.
  • Incapability Affects Flanking: You must remember that any creature that is incapacitated cannot initiate or participate in a flank. If a creature involved in the flank becomes incapacitated, the flank ends immediately. Keep your allies’ status in check to avoid unexpected combat disadvantages.
  • Only Creatures can Flank: This rule may feel limiting, but only entities with a stat block can flank. That means objects or mechanisms without stat blocks aren’t eligible.
  • Range Restrictions Apply: Don’t go thinking you can reap flanking benefits from a safe distance; that’s not how it works! Ranged attacks do not receive bonuses from flanking, even if there are allies appropriately positioned around the target.

It’s crucial to mention again that all these rules depend on whether your Dungeon Master has chosen to apply the optional 5E Flanking rule.

Always confirm this before implementing flanking strategies into combat encounters.

By understanding and playing by these guidelines while applying the Flanking 5E optional rule, you up your chances of gaining an advantage over your enemy’s attacks during combat scenarios in D&D games.

Read More: Guiding Bolt 5E Spell Explained [Illuminate Your Targets In DnD]

Common Complaints About Flanking in 5E

While beneficial, the Flanking 5e optional rule attracts its share of criticism.

Common Complaints About Flanking in 5E

These concerns stem from varying aspects that some players and Dungeon Masters feel could potentially disrupt the essential spirit of the game.

Requires Miniatures and Battle Maps

One common contention with this rule relates to logistics, namely the mandatory requirement for miniatures and battle maps.

The placement and movement during flanking require substantial tactical visualization that isn’t as easy to accomplish without these components.

The added effort can sometimes deter people, especially those who prefer using their imagination rather than physical objects.

Can Slow the Game Down

Flanking demands strategic positioning from all involved characters on the map, which might slow down gameplay.

The extra time invested in planning can affect the pacing and flow of the gaming session, making it less engaging for some players who relish a fast-paced environment.

Bonuses Too Easy to Obtain

Apart from logistics, another grievance concerns how easily obtainable bonuses are through flanking. Some argue that this ease creates an imbalance within the gameplay, diminishing the overall challenge that combat scenarios ought to provide.

Bonuses Too Easy to Maintain

In tandem with obtaining bonuses too quickly, maintaining them is equally straightforward once you have successfully flanked an enemy.

There’s little incentive for players to switch up their strategy or think creatively on their feet when they can stick with one proven method.

Diminishes Class Feature Value

Certain classes in D&D thrive on gaining advantages over enemies through tactical maneuvering or unique abilities during combat sessions.

When every individual has ample access to flanking benefits as a default choice, it diminishes the value of specific class features designed to offer similar perks.

Overpowers Advantage System

By providing players with ease of obtaining advantage via flanking, it potentially overpowers the existing advantage system.

Critics argue that this rule overemphasizes tactical positioning above other important aspects, such as character abilities or environmental influences.

Creates Unrealistic Battle Formations

The last concern stems from the logic behind Flanking 5e and its use in gameplay. It’s argued that cohesive enemy groups wouldn’t realistically let themselves get surrounded so easily.

Although D&D is a fantasy RPG, this criticism voices concerns regarding immersion and realism.

While these concerns can be significant, they are subjective to each table and its Dungeon Master.

The utility of the Flanking 5E rule varies across game scenarios, and its implementation can offer as much value as it might detract, depending on its usage and the players’ preferences within your gaming group.

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FAQs about Flanking 5E Optional Rule

What does flanking mean in the Dungeons & Dragons game?

Flanking refers to a tactical maneuver where two allies position themselves on opposite sides of an enemy, gaining an ‘advantage’ on attack rolls.

Is the Flanking 5E rule applicable in all D&D scenarios?

No, this rule isn’t always applicable. It’s an optional feature that can only be included if your Dungeon Master decides to implement it into gameplay.

Does flanking affect all characters in a combat scenario similarly?

Not necessarily. While flanking can offer tactical bonuses for players, its effect largely depends on character class and specific combat conditions that your Dungeon Master decides upon.

Can my character get flanked by enemies in D&D 5E?

Yes, if two enemies have positioned themselves tactically with your character caught amid them, you might become ‘flanked’ and be at a disadvantage during attack rolls.

How does the Flanking 5E Optional Rule factor into online D&D gaming sessions?

For online sessions, visual aids like digital battle maps or tokens can replace physical objects for executing successful flanks. It requires careful coordination among players and may affect pacing depending on group preferences.


  • Ashish Arya

    I'm a tech enthusiast and lifelong gamer, hailing from the beautiful city of Chandigarh. My passions range from immersing myself in worlds like GTA V, COD, SIMS, Roblox and Minecraft to exploring the latest innovations in laptops and technology. Armed with a Bachelors Degree in Computer Application, I love sharing my insights through writing and engaging with fellow enthusiasts. Join me on my journey through the ever-evolving realms of gaming and tech!