After they somehow managed to beat off the attackers and poured a healing potion down my poor PC's throat, we moved onto the next encounter, getting ambushed again, this time by a blue dragon.
First round the dragon breathes lightning on me, and I'm knocked out again, this time in the first round. In this battle, however, when the dragon is bloodied, it unloads a close burst that knocks out all by the Goliath Warden as a reaction. Then the DM rolls a critical hit on the Warden, and he's out. What's really bad is that the DM hadn't really been keeping track of how badly we were doing until that moment, and now he's got a TPK.
Okay, a little sidebar here. I get that doing +2 or more encounter levels is part of the game. But our team has a serious flaw--no ranged PC's except our wizard, who is mostly working with range 10. So on several occasions now the pre-written adventure the DM has running has had encounters that are largely "snipers" attacking at range. Now we're hit with a Level 12 Solo Artillery attacking us from beyond the range of not just most of the PC's, but all of them. That's what we call in the business a "no win situation."
Second sidebar. I've had PC's die before, but it was in games where life was cheap and dying was easy. I don't have a problem dying, if I know that I'm going to die because I'm either a) stupid or b) putting myself in a situation where I could die easily. If I'm in a "realistic" RPG and the other guy pulls out a gun, I get that being shot with a bullet may kill me. If I do something really asinine, I get that I could pay the price. Getting ambushed by a more-powerful range-oriented opponent who basically hammers us in five rounds into complete submission isn't fun.
And then there's what comes next. The DM is completely flat-footed, takes a little time then comes up with this "you're in a dungeon" situation, runs a few really grim and dark torture scenes, then leaves us virtually unguarded. Hey, the Eladrin and the Warden both teleport, so they're out. I'm thinking we can now do this cool "let's scrounge for weapons" bit but no, it turns out all our equipment is in an easy-to-open chest right outside the door, because most prisons keep weapons in the same wing as the prisoners. I get he's trying to get us back on track, but it was almost worse doing it in this heavy-handed way than knocking us all out in the first place.
A lot of the players were pretty upset about the whole thing. My son was actually weeping in his room that night, because it was his blow that triggered the interrupt that took out his friends. I had to explain to him that things like that happen, and if it wasn't him to caused him to drop to bloodied, it would be someone else. But the inevitable reaction from the players was to immediately begin to think about changing PC's. This is my big problem with 4E--that challenging encounters aren't met with clever roleplaying, but heightened optimization. Everyone wants us to switch to having bow-themed rangers and the like to make sure we can take that person out (of course, then we're vulnerable to close-up combat). I'm thinking more along the lines of "it might be time for us to take a break and do something else."