Ah, yes. I was wondering how the 1st room would go...
Did you try to gang up on one of them?
How far did your group get?
*** [be warned... there be spoilers aplenty ahead] ***
We chose cleric, paladin, warlock, wizard and druid/ranger, so we knew we were good on healing but a little weak on firepower. So we promised ourselves we would be sure to use airtight tactics and always... ALWAYS... concentrate fire on one target at a time to take them down as fast as possible. We hoped that would counterbalance our reduced firepower.
So, we fumbled around a little getting into the building in the sand. We tried to prep to make sure we were tied together in case it collapsed. We weren't surprised when the statues attacked and actually started taking them out fairly quickly. Our plan of concentrating fire went well. After the two gorgon statues were destroyed and the real gorgon appeared, two of us quickly deduced that we would be better off fighting the real gorgon and a manticore statue than fighting the real gorgon and the real manticore. Unfortunately, our other players didn't hear those instructions and the the next player immediately killed the manticore statue the very next turn. Enter one angry Manticore. Noise = 1, Us = 0. Arrgh.
At this point, the groups next to us were SO LOUD (the loudest jerks I've ever heard) and were so completely unwilling to quiet down after being asked politely, the DM asked the DCC folks to help. They worked with the GenCon people and got us a new table in a room across the hall. We settled in and the room was loud but not nearly so. Then the game coordinator for the group who was supposed to be using that table, who GenCon had bumped but not notified, started screaming at us that it was her table. Our DM asked her to take it up with the GenCon folks who had moved us there. She started yelling and swearing loudly. The DM asked her what game was supposed to meet there so we could maybe help by steering them to their new location. She said "Muppet Heroes LARP." And god help us, we couldn't help it, we all laughed in her face. Sorry. Well, that didn't improve her mood much but soon enough the Muppet LARP was moved and we could finally get back to playing.
So we tried to concentrate fire on the gorgon, who had already taken damage. Four of us surrounded it and started wailing (of course, "wailing" is a strong word... we were missing 3/4 of the time.) It breathed and trampled us but we were still in good shape. Our fifth, the warlock, was targeted by the manticore who flew and clobbered him each round. The cleric could barely keep him alive. Our only hope was that he was at least distracting the manticore until we could deal with it.
Finally, the gorgon fell. We turned our attention to the manticore, who glibly flew away. Only the wizard seemed to have ANY ranged attacks that were effective over 5 squares away, and since the manticore was consistently flying 5 squares away... we were all stuck. Our best strategy was to hide in the "room" and ready actions with what ranged attacks we had. When the manticore appeared, we fired away... usually missing. He kept dropping tail spike bombs into the room then flitting away, mostly unharmed. We sat, round after round... stewing with no clue how to remedy this... and we were 2 hours into a 4 hour game. Arrrgh.
Then we started burning dailies and they mostly missed (arrgh.) Finally, and I mean finally, the wizard caught the manticore with a sleep spell. Manticore missed his saves and fell asleep and stayed asleep for 4 rounds. That was enough for us to kill it (but barely... he was almost untouched at the point he fell asleep.)
Frustrated and horribly rattled, we plunged into the 2nd room, more than 2.5 hours into it and only through the first encounter. Arrgh.
We didn't spend much time on the astrolabe. We did history/religion checks and got solid info on the constellations, then turned the dial to point to the Heavenly Arch. It seemed to be the only one that didn't spell out some negative result. Unfulfilled but scrambling to get deeper, we pointed it to the Heavenly Arch, crossed our fingers and started for the next room down. The Druid/Ranger, with his 22 perception, looked down into the room to scout out our path (with a light spell from the wizard.) Apparently, the DM told him there were dark shapes flitting about the telescopes. None of the rest of us heard this little piece of info... Noise = 2, Us = 0.
So, we drop down into this un-guarded telescope room (so we thought.) We were immediately attacked by everything, all at once as hell broke loose. The Druid/Ranger was first to step down on the floor and the spectral things surrounded him and literally took him from full hit points to 12 hp in one round. We charged into the room, battling for our lives. All thoughts of concentrating fire just flew out the window as we all attacked willy-nilly. It was a mess. The cleric immediately attempted to turn undead, which missed (of course... arrgh) so did no damage but did scatter the things to the corners of the room (miss = push 4 and immobilized.) So we had a free round with the tar monster. We did a little damage to it but we only had 20 minutes left and thought we might push on to the next room (smells of desperation, and it was.) We got the door open and all of us into the hall but the specters followed and started attacking us from within the walls. And then time was up.
I don't think we did much damage to the tar monster and almost NO damage to any of the spectral horrors and I don't think we did anything that would even look like "concentrating fire." We totally fell apart.
So, short version... we got spanked. Each year I've been frustrated but this year I was really, really frustrated. We did a lot of things right so I'm not frustrated with my team at all. I am frustrated by the things we couldn't control, like the volume of the room and the distraction of having other gamers screaming at us. It didn't help that the first room was so difficult, but we're there to overcome challenges. Anyway, I had a lot of fun and I'll definitely be in the tournament again next year.