The P6 maxim. (Stolen from a Baldur’s Gate TOSC strategy guide from over a decade ago)
Basically in any tactical combat situation a good way to mitigate failure is to ensure everyone is where they should be. The defender should be drawing fire, the healer should be supporting, avoiding attention and healing, the striker should be behind enemy lines (rogue) or behind their own lines (warlock) and so on.
Things which effect the party’s ‘placement’ include terrain, obstacles and enemy controllers.
This was evidenced last night when they were inside a squamous far realm tower (Madness at Gardmore Abbey encounter#14) which was quite small compared to the usual dungeon/wilderness areas, it had a chasm and mimics pretending to be a bridge. In addition the floor slides the PCs into a pit of ooze and the walls can restrain/grab adjacent PCs.
The rogue over extended followed by the defender while the healer was still outside. This put them out of healing range and lead to a tense couple of rounds when both the übertank swordmage and rogue were down and dying. The small space did mean that it didn’t take long for the healer to get in range, but it also brought her closer to the danger.
So lessons learned – an EL-1 encounter can be challenging if in a confined space and if they enemies have surprise. Compare this to an EL+2 encounter a couple of weeks ago which they breezed through and I do wonder how accurate 4th Edition monster level/XP budgets are. Usually I just wing it.
And to leave you here is a monster that has no difficulty getting into position, I’m sure that the wheels give him bonuses to move!