DnD5e 6th Level Beatdown – Tactics and Tables 1

Here’s where I’ll talk about thoughts on the beatdown table. Thanks to a handy pointer, I see the right AC for challenge rating 6 is about AC 15, not 16 or 17. OK. So mote it be.

I’m probably not picking the best tactics, weapons, spells, etc. But I’m going to try. 


Without his rage on (but why? OK, OK, that’s one of my categories) he’s throwing down 2 attacks with his battleaxe at 1d8+4. Nothing special here.

While raging, though, if you pull all the stops, you get 3 attacks (a bonus action due to Frenzy) and advantage due to reckless attack, boosting hit chances to nearly 90% vs. AC 15. Damage increases to 1d8+6. 

My guy took a shield to hit AC 18. Drop that and pick up a 2H weapon and for one minute you can increase the “10-round burst” to 330, and the 10% loss in AC by dropping the shield probably won’t kill you that much more.


A lot of your powers involve helping others help themselves. You can hand up to 4 d8s to your friends to use for ability checks, attack rolls, damage rolls, or saving throws. You regain this ability every short rest. So this counts for 10-round burst damage, in my book, adding 18 to the total.

Otherwise, the most damaging cantrip is but a 2d4, so that’s not as good as two hits with a rapier. However . . . bards are potent spellcasters, with 4/3/3 1st/2nd/3rd level spell slots. That’s ten spells at one per round, for a minute. Thunderwave (1) and Shatter (2) are the most direct. Thunderwave is 4d8 with a 3rd level slot, as is Shatter. So looking at 3x 4d8, 3x 3d8, and . . . wait a minute,

Sleep basically does 5d8 damage in effect. It’s just it doesn’t do damage. But it’s 5d8 at 1st level, 7d8, and 9d8 with the right spell slots. Heck, it’s not damage, but a sleeping foe isn’t hitting you back either. No saving throw – they just snooze (they can be woken up if their friends decide to do so).

So if you have to kill ’em dead, the noise spells will do actual damage. The 2d8 for a 1st level spell more or less equals your rapier damage, so let’s assume that our bard will throw four turns of rapier attacks and then six shatter stuff. This physical damage output will be about 21d8 for the spells, and 36 HP for physical attacks. 130HP that you deal out, plus 18 more bardic inspiration. That’s 148 HP from our Bard.

However, if he goes all Sleep, all the time, he can cause an average of 306 HP of critters to just fall asleep, no saving throw. Since some might wake up, practically it’ll be less, but this is a darn nasty way to fight if you can pull it off. Especially if you’re fighting small clusters of foes, where you can drop a few low HD critters each round.


One attack, and he won’t get more, but powerful spellcasting, equal to the bard in spell slots (a full caster class). His Sacred Flame cantrip is worth 2d8, and if we assume about a 50% hit rate (1d20+4 vs DC 15) that’s 4.5 damage per turn. His hammer is also 4.5 per turn.

But hooo, boy. Spells. He can open with Call Lightning, for 3d10 (4d10 outdoors) per turn (DEX save, again figure 50% make it for half-damage). This lasts for 100 combat rounds, well outside our 10-round burst consideration. That one spell is thus worth about 82.5 HP per creature targeted, but you only get synergy there if you have more than one target standing shoulder-to-shoulder. Still, in the right circumstances, that one spell can hit for 320+ HP, though low odds of that.

Otherwise, you’re playing the bard’s game with Shatter and Thunderwave for about 130 HP, but again, those are area effect spells. 

The Table Thus Far . . .

9 thoughts on “DnD5e 6th Level Beatdown – Tactics and Tables 1

  1. Allow me to suggest a crude power metric:
    Assume a hypothetical spherical CR 6 cow (HSC6C) that has appropriate AC, Attack, and Damage for CR 6 and neigh-infinite HP. Figure out its average damage per round to the character, then divide HP by that to see how many rounds the PC lasts. Then figure out how much damage the PC does to the HSC6C in that time. (Assume PC goes first with init +2 or greater, otherwise HSC6C does.)

    There's a lot of simplifying assumptions that can be poked at in more detail, but it gives a single number to compare and/or rank.

    1. That's very interesting. It also brings in the topic of defensive abilities and magic, but if the HSC6C is always doing an average damage and assuming partial hits each round (you hit 0.65 times for 8.2 points of damage), there's no variability so you can just assume things go to plan ("The paladin invokes his Lay on Hands when he drops below 30 HP lost.")

      I think there's something here, though I also think it increased my workload. 🙂

    2. On reflection, a HSC6C is the wrong monster to use, since it isn't intuitive. Use a hypothetical orc, and report how many 15 HP horc increments you could kill in an infinite conga line of death scenario. (Note – for usefulness as a metric, you shouldn't actually waste any overkill HP as in an actual CLoD.)

      1. "HorcPower" is more sensical than "HSC6C" and a bit punny.
      2. Most DnD players have some sort of idea about how tough an orc is.

    3. I love Horcpower. I'm picturing an endless field of Horcs, one per five feet as far as the eye can see, but who can only attack you from the front square. This will give things like fireball and lightning bolt their true worth: one fireball will probably flambe 22 orcs. Call lightning will zap four per strike.

      I might pick a slightly beefier monster, or make my Horc a nastier version of the orc, so that the "overkill" problem is mitigated somewhat.

    4. I'd go with ogres in a scattered pattern. Lightning Bolt and Fireball rarely get everyone they possibly could, but getting 3-5 ogres in a blast isn't impossible. And ogres are a more level appropriate challenge for 6th level characters than orcs are.

    5. I'll probably crib the ogre stats once my MM arrives and all them Horks, because Horkpower is just cool. The scatter thing neither helps nor hurts in this case, since there will be a representative "you get hit every turn" attack, so the high density is not truly relevant; its just a figure of merit.

    6. 5e scales "flatter," so orcs are still reasonable for 6th lvl characters, and are more intuitive. I did consider ogres, but they have an even worse AC (11) than orcs (13), which will distort the value of attack bonuses. I could see using the CR 6 AC(etc) of 15, but you lose some of the intuitiveness of using Orcs as a std of measurement. (They keep the standard horc in a stasis field in Waterdeep/Greyhawk/Sharn).

  2. The tempest cleric should do slightly better with direct damage than the bard, since he can use his Channel Divinity feature to maximize the damage from one casting of Shatter. My F2F group actually has a Tempest Cleric and a bard, and doing a guaranteed 24 damage as a fight opener is better than hoping with 3d8 damage.

    Call Lightning gets crazy if you can target multiple foes, but even as single target spell it's better than the cleric's melee attack. 3d10 (save for half) averages 12.375 dmg/round if the foe makes the save half the time, which is ~3 times better than a melee attack for 1d8+2. It isn't as good as the Barbarian, but it's respectable.

    1. Part of the trick of the way I'm approaching things is that the "continual damage" column is either melee damage or cantrips, with no extra powers that can't be used every turn forever without fail.

      So if Channel Divinity runs out, it doesn't get counted. If Shatter is a 1st level spell, it can run out, so it doesn't get counted.

      Both of these would/should be counted in the 10-round burst, though.

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