- Dwarf great-weapon fighter w/ executioner axe
- Human great-weapon fighter w/ big-fucking sword
- Goliath warden w/ greatsword
- Wilden bear shaman
- Gnome illusionist
Ronak decided to try out a classic concept by combining the gnome with every illusion-keyword power he could pile on from Dragon articles and Arcane Power. We were both skeptical, since one of them didnt even deal damage but simply pulled a target towards the center of effect. Uh, yawn. He stuck to his guns, despite all things considered, and in the end we were oh-so-glad he did.
The first encounter opened up with a trio of gnolls just kind of gnawing on..."food". Simple and straightfoward. We rolled initiative and set upon them, using Branch's spirit Bear Muffin as point since anyone next to him got a constant bonus to NAD, unless he already made an attack during the round. With the combination of an all-defender phalanx, thp from Bear Muffin, and the gnome's ability to impose attack penalties and slide shit around, only New-Guy-Lex took any damage at all.
To be fair, he took quite a bit of damage as the gnolls manage to chew through four of his healing surges in one combat. You see, Josh is a fan of playing monsters as he thinks they should be played, and decided that the gnolls wanted to take down the dwarf first since they got first blood on him. This included having them provoke opportunity attacks to get to his leathery dwarf skin-and beard that probably had rotting meat in it anyway (and hyena's are scavengers!).
With that warmup out of the way, it was on to encounter two, which had a pack of hyenas, some gnolls with spears, and a few archers in the mix to shake things up. Things might have been a bit more hectic if Ronak wasnt able to drop sleep on everything except the archers (who would waaay in the back) and essentially change this battle into weak-sauce. We just kind of ignored the archers as we proceeded to turn everything else into spotted pin cusions. It was more anti-climactic than when Optimus came back to life in Transformers 2 (warning: that was a spoiler back there).
The biggest problem we had was when we were afraid that one of the archers was going to get away and trigger the third encounter before we could rest up a bit for it. Again, Ronak used one of his illusions to draw the gnoll away, and then we just stood in front of the hallway and mauled him to death.
Last encounter: gnoll demonic scourge, more hyenas, another archer or two, and a well. Dun dun duuuuun! Ronak used his goddamn illusion that pulls monsters to cause all but one hyena to pitch itself into the well and cause the scourge and other hyena to go prone in front of it. He then spent the rest of the battle constantly trying to use his at-wills to force creatures to blunder into the fucking thing, until a grell floated out of it, apparently pissed off that things kept (literally) dropping in on him while he was trying to nap.
With three defenders it was extremely easy to control the battle, as each of them paired up with something not in the well and traded blows while the gnome and shaman just provided support to whoever complained the most. Eventually it was reduced to Grell versus Party, and in the end Josh just declared us the victor to avoid a repetitive battle of attrition.
Having given the wilden a run, I have to say that I only noticed that I was a wilden because I was using a dryad mini to represent Branch. That was basically it. I could have played another dwarf, but I wanted to mix things up a bit. I should really try out a barbarian or druid, something that can better head into melee, and see how the various aspects hold up then. I used the bonus-damage one once because I kept forgetting about it the entire time until the last battle. Myeeeh... Otherwise, lots of fun to be had. Illusionists rock, even if not all the powers roll out shit-tons of damage.