Thanks for your replies and your encouragement! It's great to know that this tactic was not completely covered in cheese!
I am not an expert at evaluating cheese.
But I have to say, as a DM I really like it, when players find smart and creative ways, to deal with combat, instead of just headbutting into everything. I don't mind if a combat becomes one-sided here. The encounter was still a challenge that was solved with a good plan, instead of just raw stats and luck.
Of course to keep encounters a challenge, the DM has to make sure the same trick doesn't work in every fight. But that is a matter for future encounters.
Just thought I should add that the previous times I did this fight, they ended up being rather drawn out with the Ancient Mephits flying all over the place, so I was curious what the fiery balls would do. I got a little more than I bargained for, since while my intent was for the party to watch from a safe distance and enjoy the chaos that the two Flaming Spheres would wreak, the party had to fight for their lives as the fire spread faster than I could move them and Gale got singed quote a bit.
Not cheese. You used tactics. You saw the enemies' weakness and you exploited it, that's just good planning. As a DM, I would've allowed it, and after I had looked at what the woads and other enemies could do, perhaps threw a curve ball in to make it interesting, but all in all, a good plan. smile
Now I'm curious what the curve ball would be ... Can the Flaming Spheres be put out by water in PnP? I don't remember their Intelligence, but would the Wood Woads and Mephits be smart enough to deduce that two fiery balls don't just appear out of nowhere and that their casters have to be nearby?
I agree, I would have allowed it too (I'm not gming D&D, but Call of Cthulhu and there, my players often get creative too).
Actually, I was just aching to torch that place since I always found the Mephits annoying and there was so much dead wood just waiting for just the right spark to light it all up.
This is a really good use of Flaming Sphere, It's not cheesy at all. As a DM, I like to reward creativity. I would roll perception checks for the Wood Woads and Mephits, versus the party's stealth check once they started burning.
Depending on how difficult of a fight it may have been intended to be, I might consider adding another wave of Wood Woads and Mephits to come into combat.
Depending on where it comes from, my party could find itself sandwiched between the flames and the second wave! The fire was so wide-spread that the party was forced into a small patch of wet ground. The fire burned itself out eventually, though.
It becomes cheese only if the enemies are unrealistically permissive of being destroyed by it.
In a tabletop situation, this would be a strong tactic and a good edge to give yourselves, but the creature, being creatures, wouldn't sit there in the fire and die - they'd get out and start looking for the source of the disturbance, so it would probably still end up in a reasonable fight, just one where the party, through a clever opening gambit, had a distinct upper hand.
In the game, where the enemies will just blindly sit about and do nothing until they are killed, because they can't detect player characters from their current situation, then yes - that becomes cheese because it's circumventing game-play and making the game behave in unintended ways to your benefit. Swen would approve, and likely wax poetic about what a great spell flaming sphere is because it lets you cheat the game like that.
I'd say the enemies' behavior is just typical of computer games in general, in that they always fight to the death when fleeing from indestructible balls of fire would have been the better course of action. The Wood Woads battled the Flaming Spheres to their deaths.