As I was mulling over yesterday's game, another issue popped up: action points. None of them have used any action points yet, and if they'd thought to do so Takom might not have gone down, and the fight would have been over a lot quicker. I don't think they all understand what action points are, because they're very different from the mechanics of the same name that we used in 3rd. I'll go over them next week, before the game, and see if they do any better.
But there's still a significant teamwork angle to the game, and though my experience with it is limited, my sense is that this is a good thing -- at least, compared to 3rd, the only edition of D&D I have any extensive play experience with. The tactical thinking/communication load on players is greater, and this may be an issue for casual players, but it also looks like the work involved in other parts of the system has been reduced.
Thyme's player, one of the least system-wonky person at the table, has mentioned that the system seems a lot easier to handle than 3rd. Part of it is probably presentation, but the system does seem a lot cleaner and clearer in a lot of places, and your character's abilities are more clearly explained and organized.
Thinking about it, the less system oriented players have had an easier time of it than the crunchy ones. Takom, after all, was run by the most system oriented guy at the table, the one who ran a cerebremancer because neither a wizard nor a psion gave him enough options. The ones with less interest in or experience with the system talk to the other players more about what to do, which slows the game down a bit, but also keeps them from barreling into situations where they end up on their own.
And, in my experience, casual players had a bigger problem in 3rd edition: they'd get overshadowed by the gearheads. This never caused massive friction in any of my game, but I could see where it could have been a problem had the situation been slightly different. I've run several campaigns where one or more players were much better at building characters, or more interested in building characters for statistical effectiveness than roleplaying reasons, than the others. These characters had the effect of shutting down combat before anyone else could participate, or dominating it to the point where no one else's contributions were meaningful.
Now, at least, the system players need everyone else to succeed. This could cause its own set of problems, if they decide to start telling everyone else what to do and how to run their characters. But at least it opens the possibility for those kinds of people to get satisfaction out of the game without shutting everyone else out.
It's another reason why I want to run 4e a lot, hopefully with a couple of different groups. It's new and shiny and most importantly it's fun, and that's enough to keep playing it. But I'm still trying to figure out how the game and the table interact; what's supposed to happen, what actually happens, and why.