Who Wins a Max Damage Round?

Thanks to @TheRequiemMan for this art piece!

Hey look! More idle curiosity! So, if Percy can take out a good chunk of Vox Machina in one turn, who walks away from that fight?

This gets complicated, so we’ll assume everyone rolls their max initiative, then maxes out their damage. We're also going to assume that they will act according to their Max Damage setup no matter how everyone else sets up. Note: There was an update to Keyleth. Turns out her Goristro form gets her to 287 damage.

There is are two big choices here that determines who dies before they get a chance to act. The first involves setup. If there’s a prep round before everyone starts killing each other, everyone gets their various concentration spells (including Keyleth’s Shapechange and the twins' Hunter's Marks), Grog gets to rage and enlarge, and Vax gets to use Haste. For the sake of not nerfing everyone, we’ll assume everyone rolls natural 20s on their concentration checks whenever they take damage. If there’s no prep round, pretty much everyone loses a big chunk of damage except Percy, and Grog's and Keyleth's health pools are significantly reduced.

We also need to choose how targets are prioritized. We assume that once a target is chosen, everyone attacks until that target drops. Here, we’ll look at two versions: highest HP first vs lowest HP first. As a reminder (and to add Percy to the list), we’ll be assuming these HP values:

  • Grog: 277
  • Pike: 154
  • Vax’ildan: 138
  • Vex’ahlia: 144
  • Keyleth: 153, plus 310 from Goristro form
  • Scanlan: 180
  • Percy: 173

If we assume highest possible initiatives, the order falls out like this (we’re assuming the maximum damage setup here, so Grog does not have the Sword of Kas, and we’re rolling initiative before any prep spells take place, so Keyleth rolls as half-elf Keyleth, not Goristro Keyleth):

  1. Percy
  2. Vax and Vex
  3. Scanlan
  4. Keyleth and Grog
  5. Pike

For the sake of keeping things interesting, we’re going to assume Grog always fails his Relentless Rage save with a natural 1, if he gets a prep round. Otherwise, it pretty much shakes out with VM continually trying (and failing) to kill Grog until the DC is impossible. If you don’t particularly care about the details, the winner of each scenario is bolded and there’s a summary paragraph at the bottom of the article. Note that this does not represent in any way a likely scenario of events: the odds of every dice rolling its max value are astronomical. We just thought it was entertaining.

Prep round, Highest HP targeted first:

Thanks to Shapechange, Keyleth now has the highest HP at 463, so Percy targets her first. Goristros are resistant to all non-magical physical damage and lightning damage, so:

  • Percy deals 134 with his first shot, leaving her in Goristro form with 176 HP
  • Second shot deals 56 damage, leaving her in Goristro form with 120 HP
  • Next two shots deal 81 damage each (Animus is magical and deals full damage to goristros), dropping her from Goristro form and leaving her with 111 HP.
  • The fifth and sixth shots drop her entirely with a combined 162 damage. Percy targets Grog next.
  • Shot seven deals 30 damage (no Hex, everything but psychic halved), but Grog uses Stone’s Endurance, so he reduces that by 17, leaving him with 264 HP.
  • Percy's last shot again deals 30 damage, leaving Grog standing with 234 HP.

Next up are the twins. The PHB has the highest dexterity as the tiebreaker, but they both have the same dexterity. Either way, Grog is still standing, so if Vax acts first:

  • We'll assume Vax has his Hunter's Mark on Grog. Grog halves a good chunk of Vax’s damage, so he does only 125 on the first dagger, leaving Grog with 109 HP.
  • Vax's second and third daggers drop Grog with a combined 206 damage. Scanlan is his next target.
  • Dagger 4 deals 51 damage (no Hunter’s Mark), which leaves Scanlan with 129 HP. Vex is next, and we'll assume her Hunter's Mark was on Scanlan.
  • Vex’s first arrow goes into Scanlan for 238 damage, so Scanlan drops. Percy is the next target.
  • Vex's second arrow hits Percy for 190, dropping him immediately. She next orders Trinket to attack Pike.
  • Trinket bites Pike for 28 damage (no Hunter's Mark), leaving her with 126 HP. Keyleth, Grog, and Scanlan are all down, so Pike acts next, targeting Vex first.
  • Pike hits Vex with 220 damage from Inflict Wounds, but Vex uses Uncanny Dodge to halve it, managing to stay up with 34 HP. Spiritual Weapon drops her with 69 damage.
  • At this point, everyone else in the initiative is down, so Vax acts again. He’s only got 1st level spell slots left, so if he uses his bonus action to move Hunter’s Mark to Pike and manages to hide as his hasted action, he can take Pike down with 290 damage on two attacks. Trinket’s still up, but there’s no way he can take down Vax before Vax takes him down, so Vax wins.

If Vex acts first:

  • We'll assume Vex has her Hunter's Mark on Grog, but Grog halves all of Vex’s damage, so her first arrow deals only 119 damage, leaving him standing with 115 HP. 
  • Vex’s second arrow deals 95 damage, which leaves Grog with 20 HP. Trinket bites him for 40 damage, dropping him. Vax is next, targeting Scanlan.
  • We'll assume Vax's Hunter's Mark is on Scanlan, so Vax’s first dagger takes him down with 186 damage. Percy is the next target.
  • Daggers 2 and 3 once again deal a combined 182 damage (no Hunter’s Mark), dropping Percy. Dagger 4 hits Pike for 51 damage, leaving her with 93 HP. Once again, Keyleth, Grog, and Scanlan are all down, so Pike acts next, targeting Vex.
  • Inflict Wounds hits Vex for 220 damage, which she halves to 110, leaving her with 34 HP. Spiritual Weapon once again drops her.
  • Once again, everyone else in the initiative is down, but this time, Trinket acts before Vax.
  • Trinket bites him for 28 damage, leaving him with 71 HP. Vax acts next.
  • He’s only got 1st level spell slots left, so if he uses his bonus action to move Hunter’s Mark to Pike and manages to hide as his hasted action, he can take Pike down with 290 damage on two attacks. Trinket’s still up, but there’s no way he can take down Vax before Vax takes him down, so Vax wins.

Thanks to @Kaahlan for this art piece!

Prep round, Lowest HP targeted first:

This plays out like the scenario outlined here up until Keyleth, so Percy takes down the twins with 5 shots. Since Keyleth technically has a total of 463 HP while in her Goristro form, he targets Pike next, forcing the Plate of the Dawnmartyr to activate with last three shots. Scanlan acts next, targeting a 1 HP Pike. He easily drops her with Inflict Wounds, dealing 220 damage. Bigby's hand then targets Percy, dealing 160 damage. Percy's still standing with 13 HP.

Grog and Keyleth, like the twins, tie for initiative and have the same dexterity mod, so the outcome depends on who goes first. If Keyleth acts first:

  • Goristro!Keyleth targets Percy with her charge attack, dropping him with 187 damage. Grog’s up next, targeting Scanlan.
  • Grog’s first two strikes deal a combined 240 damage to Scanlan, dropping him. 
  • His frenzied bonus action attack targets Goristro!Keyleth, dealing 120 damage and leaving her with 190 HP. He still has an action surge.
  • His last two strikes combine for 224 damage, dropping Keyleth from Goristro form and leaving her with 119 HP. Everyone else in the initiative is down, so Keyleth acts next.
  • At this point, Keyleth can no longer deal max damage. Since she still has unlimited Wild Shape and most of her spells, things get a little complicated and hard to predict. If she manages to immobilize Grog before he can catch her, she can take him down, but if Grog catches her, he can still consistently deal approximately 500 damage a round. The variables get a little too crazy for us to feel comfortable speculating, so we're happy saying Grog or Keyleth wins.

If Grog acts first:

  • Grog drops Scanlan with his first two strikes. He next targets Keyleth.
  • His next three attacks drop Keyleth out of Goristro form with a combined 344 damage, leaving her with 103 HP. 
  • At this point, Keyleth can no longer deal max damage. Since she still has unlimited Wild Shape and most of her spells, things get a little complicated and hard to predict. If she manages to immobilize Grog before he can catch her, she can take him down, but if Grog catches her, he can still consistently deal approximately 500 damage a round. The variables get a little too crazy for us to feel comfortable speculating, so we're happy saying Grog or Keyleth wins.

Thanks to @hey_raybeam for this art piece!

No prep round, Highest HP targeted first:

No one gets any concentration spells, so Keyleth is not in Goristro form, and Percy targets Grog first. Without Hex and with no rage, it takes two shots to drop him with 332 damage. Scanlan is the next target, so shots 3, 4, and 5 drop him with 207 total damage. Percy next targets Pike, knocking her out with 207 damage. Her Plate of the Dawnmartyr activates, leaving her at 1 HP.

Next up is the twins. For the sake of not nerfing them entirely, we’ll say they were hidden or that their targets are engaged with someone attacking them so they get Sneak Attack. Neither of them, however, gets Hunter’s Mark. If Vax acts first:

  • Per our rules, Vax targets Pike before Percy. His first dagger takes her out with 174 damage. He next targets Percy.
  • Dagger 2 and 3 combine for 182 damage without Hunter’s Mark, taking Percy down. Next target is Keyleth.
  • Dagger 4 hits Keyleth for 51 damage, leaving her with 102 HP. Vex is up next.
  • Vex takes down Keyleth with her first arrow, dealing 226 damage. She next targets Vax.
  • Arrow 2 deals 178 damage, but Vax gets to halve it to 89 with Uncanny Dodge, leaving him with 49 HP. Trinket then bites him for 40 damage, leaving him still standing with 9 HP.
  • At this point, everyone else in the initiative is down, so Vax acts again. He’s only got 1st level spell slots left, so if he uses his bonus action to move Hunter’s Mark to Vex and manages to hide as his hasted action, he can hit her for 148 with Whisper, which Vex then halves with Uncanny Dodge, leaving her with 65 HP. The Dagger of Venom hits her for 63 damage, leaving her at 2 HP. It's now Vex's turn.
  • Vex can't fail to drop Vax, so Vex wins.

If Vex acts first:

  • Vex targets Pike before Percy. Her first arrow drops her with 226 damage, and she moves on to Percy.
  • Arrow 2 drops Percy with 178 damage, and Vex next targets Keyleth.
  • Trinket attacks Keyleth for 28 damage, leaving her with 125 HP. Next up is Vax.
  • Vax drops Keyleth with his first dagger for 174 damage. He moves on to target Vex.
  • Dagger 2's damage gets halved by Uncanny Dodge, so it and dagger 3 combine for 154 damage, knocking Vex unconscious.
  • Dagger 4 hits Trinket for 51 damage. Trinket is still up, but there’s no way he can take out Vax before Vax takes him down, so Vax wins.

No Prep round, Lowest HP targeted first:

Once again, Percy needs 5 shots to take down the twins. Keyleth is his next target, taking 207 damage from three Animus shots with no Hex. She's unconscious. 

Next up is Scanlan. He drops Pike to zero with an Inflict Wounds. Her armor activates, bringing her to 1 HP. He doesn’t have a bonus action attack from Bigby’s Hand, so Grog is next, and targets Pike first. 

Grog's first strike drops Pike to zero with 98 damage. He next targets Percy, and drops him with 196 damage from his next two strikes. His fourth and final (because he's not raging) strike goes into Scanlan for 98 damage, leaving him with 82 HP. 

At this point, Scanlan has almost all his spells, including several Polymorphs. Much like before with Keyleth, there are too many variables at play for us to feel comfortable speculating on an absolute victor. Grog or Scanlan wins.

Thanks to @stevethegoblin for this art piece!

Moral of the Story:

Percy’s pretty much done no matter what he does. If he attacks the tanks, he helps the twins survive long enough to kill him and eventually win the fight. If he attacks the twins, the tanks destroy him and ultimately wind up in a war against each other. Pike’s also not in a great position; lowest in the initiative combined with a middle-of-the-road HP pretty much ensures she gets knocked out before she gets to act in most cases. Everything else pretty much depends on who acts first and how creative Scanlan and Keyleth get in a war with Grog.