The Hobgoblin was well trained, their defensive stance making it difficult for the Rogue’s rapier to find an opening. With a silent understanding that came from years of fighting side by side, the Fighter came up behind the hobgoblin, splitting his attention and making his moves uncertain, vulnerable. Not long after, the Fighter’s great axe found the meat of the hobgoblin’s shoulder and the Rogue’s rapier found the soft spot between his ribs. Two on one was the odds they preferred.
Flanking is an optional rule in Dungeons and Dragons 5E, intended to add more tactical depth to combat. The rule itself is straightforward:
When a creature and at least one ally are within 5ft of the same enemy on opposite sides, that enemy is flanked. Each of the creatures flanking has advantage on melee attacks against it.
For this to work, you need to be precisely opposite with the enemy between you; the aim is to form a straight line through all three creatures.
Advantage is a powerful mechanic and can facilitate party members’ abilities if you work together, like granting a Rogue Sneak Attack or making it easier for a Fighter using Great Weapon Master to get their +10 bonus damage.
A popular, though unofficial, alternative to this rule is to offer a +1 to attack rolls instead of advantage, as advantage is relatively easy to come by; this makes flanking less redundant and allows it to stack with advantage from another source.
Now we’ve explained what flanking is, let the strategizer in you start thinking about how best to use it to your advantage. If you enjoyed this article, check out how critical hits work since you’re more likely to get one with that flanking advantage. Good luck, and remember, the bad guys can flank you too.