Everyone who’s played a table top role playing game has come across a min-maxer in their time. These are the players who derive joy from milking the rules of a game for every advantage they can get. They often build their characters towards “optimal” power curves, attempting to make sure they are the strongest players in the group. If you have one or more of these players in your game, you might be feeling a bit discouraged.
Min-maxers can be a problem in DnD. That’s not to say they always are, but they tend to unbalance games and plots. An example of how this can go wrong from a DM’s standpoint is when one player is significantly stronger than another. The weaker player may feel helpless in battle and stop having fun because they cannot catch up to the min-maxed character in the group. If you throw stronger monsters at the mix-max player, you put other characters in deadly situations. But if you balance encounters around the weaker players, the min-maxer will swoop in for guaranteed victory and hog the glory.
So what do you do?
How to Deal with Min-Maxers
First off, and we cannot stress this enough, talk to your players! If a disruption of the game’s balance is causing it to be un-fun for one or more players, discuss that with your group. If they don’t have any solutions or refuse to change how they play, you can move on to other tactics.
If you’ve talked to your group but the problem persists, you can do a few things to add some balance. Min-maxed characters are often mechanics focused because that’s how they manipulate the rules to get an edge. If you have one or more in your group, you can throw in non-combat encounters more frequently to minimize the distortion to your game. This puts non-combat focused characters on an equal or potentially greater footing than the min-maxers and allows them to shine where they otherwise might not have had a chance.
Another way to deal with min-max combat issues, especially when you have more than one in your group, is to move to wave based combat. Waves work to balance the party through exhaustion and positioning. A lot of weak enemies are deadly for a very different reason than a single strong one is. Often a min-maxer can’t be everywhere at once and wont have the skills to deal with multiple weaker creatures, where the rest of the party can still handle these foes. If the balance starts to shift, send in wave two and adjust the combat.
Lastly, if you have exhausted your other avenues, you can always put in smarter monsters. Stronger monsters are one thing, but smarter ones will attempt to pick off the biggest threat first. This can make them hard to deal with for weaker players, but it forces teamwork and cooperation which allows everyone to have fun regardless of their play style. If anyone is upset that they need to work with their team to be effective, then they don’t belong at a DnD table in the first place.
Have you experienced any min-max or munchkin style players in your games? Maybe you have problems with a different type of player. We’d love to hear about it! You can reach out to us on Twitter or via our contact page.