This year, things have begun to change with WotC's D&D encounters program. Five weeks ago I joined 2/3 of the way through the first season of weekly encounters in Undermountain. The first 2 weeks I died. I blame this partly on the fact that we were fighting a beholder at level 1. Disappointed that my rogue got killed by a room full of mushrooms, but not discouraged, I came back for the final 2 weeks and successfully slaughtered skeletons and spiders while staying much less slayed.
While it was fun, joining halfway through does not work well for understanding the storyline, limited though it was. This week, however, was the start of a new season of encounters in the Dark Sun campaign setting. After joking about WotC being unable to count the horns on a tiefling's head, the atmosphere became tense as we fought for our lives to escape the wreckage of our caravan with as many supplies as possible. We escaped, scarred, just as additional hordes of monsters came to scavenge the debris.
What is next? My chances of finding a real D&D group have definitely increased significantly. And it's summer again, which means that Steve can finally make his DoP GN D&D campaign. Especially if I make a macro to message him on Xfire about it every 10 minutes.