We had some more 4th edition excitement tonight. Unfortunately, we only got through one more encounter, the second kobold fight on Kings Road. I was a little late, we had dinner right in the middle of it, people kept getting up to do stuff on their turn, people kept taking ages to decide what to do -- it happens. Most of the delays were decision and/or rules lookup based, so I have confidence that the situation will improve as we get more comfortable with the system.
That one encounter was pretty thrilling, though. Four of the five characters present (Brandis's player was not in attendance) were bloodied, and the fifth, Scourge, was an infernal pact warlock whose temporary hitpoint-related powers we misinterpreted. Thyme got knocked unconscious twice. And Takom, uh . . .
Turns out that, in fine D&D tradition, the getting surrounded by kobolds is pretty bad news for the wizard. The two crits didn't help much, either, but that main of it was just the familiar equation of three dragonshields vs. one 1st-level wizard. After a short period of mourning for the fallen (and a bit of gloating by the DM, because I actually managed not to wuss out and have the kobolds attack a different, better defended character) Takom's player has replaced him with Ubuntu, the tiefling paladin, which ought to be entertaining.
The most interesting thing about the affair is that while the kobolds were the proximate cause of his demise, the incident was really due to poor communication by the players. If Stonefist had realized what he was trying to do earlier, he would have been able to use his daily exploit, covering strike and move him out of range of the otherwise extremely difficult to get away from kobolds.
It'll be interesting to see if the players can learn to better co-ordinate their tactics. It occurs to me that it could just be that the system is too complicated, and requires the players to keep track of too many things -- their allies capabilities in addition to their own -- but right now I think it's an area where they could significantly improve if they just talked to each other more.
Of course, some of this is probably my fault. My 3rd edition fights tended to be way too easy -- and around here, I'm the DM who actually cares about combat -- so they're just executing the "charge in and start hitting things" routine that has always brought them success in the past. I may encourage them to go hit up the dragon graveyard before they invade the kobold lair (though as the module expects, they are now very enthusiastic about wiping out those damn shifty kobolds; so far they've been just exactly the right mix of vexing and smashable) so they can get some more practice with the edition's assumptions before taking on the allegedly killer Irontooth encounter.