After some additional time playing 4th Edition I offer these more recent observations.
Movement, area spells and the lack of extra cost for diagonal movement really does make the action move faster. That said, I still don't know if I favor the approach. When playing the 4th Edition game I just went with it and tried not to think about the discontinuity of the approach. Last week I played in a 3.5 game and the additional time to calculate movement and spell area effects was noticeable.
WoTC online tools for 4E make character upgrades and decisions faster. I do not know how you would find all the options in books, and whether the cost of that sized library is worth it. The options in just the core books are a bit limited and the huge number of options available in the on-line tools is tempting. The DM has a subscription and we logged in as him to make the updates.
In the last session my Mage character was hit with a strange poison which brought me to zero hit points and kept me unconscious. It was an usual situation, and the numbers were a bit of an oddity, but the net effect was I was not going to die from the poison but there was no way to trigger a save roll or nor death save until additional damage from another source hit my character. So I was out for a few rounds with nothing at all to do. Seeing that, the DM gave me control of a bad guy. I happily attacked the party until I realized if I used an area power that hit my character it would trigger events which would likely have brought my character back into the battle. The bad guy wouldn't know that, and I didn't want to take advantage of that in playing the bad guy. Awkward.
I still find formal skill challenges to be awkward. In the last session an NPC leads us through the explanation of how we prevent a machine from blowing up. Unfortunately it ended up being a bunch of rolls rather than role playing. I would still rather see a DM give players a problem and let them figure it out with their own minds and using rolls as a last resort.
Where has Barad been?
Life got complicated the last several months. Some family issues and the loss of my job. Not to worry, it will all work out in the end.
Blogging may continue to be spotty. My 3.5E group essentially ended a while back and there is no outlook for interest in reforming in the near future. The 4E Zeitgeist campaign I joined is on hiatus, and it may be a permanent end. I am having difficulty getting interest from my group who plays in my d20 past Victorian Shadows campaign. In the mean time I am a guest in my sons 3.5E group and am looking for a local table top D&D group to join.
Until next time, all the best. The dice never lie.