The Reclamation of Phlan Epic event was tremendous. I highly recommend -- it was like spending a day of heavy gaming at a convention. We spent 6 hours power-leveling in various groups through encounters designed to get us ready for the 3 hour main event. My brother-in-law did need a tank, and wanted to spend as much time as possible in diplomacy with a captured goblin and attempting to talk himself into command of a keep after its leader was killed.
Fortunately, quite a few other players were inspired with reckless indifference towards danger. We had set up a defensive position in a tower next to a breach in the fort's walls during an orc invasion to have my brother-in-law lure the attackers into an ambush, but the cleric wakes up to say -- "I'm standing next to him in front of the breach in the walls and my movement is terrible, so I'm not retreating." Fortunately, the cleric was designed for area of affect attacks that knocked down the first wave while the rest of us rushed to assist. I actually had to chase the third wave of orcs into the moat -- where I got knocked out with a critical hit by the orc leader. Fortunately, the party mages and cleric were able to instill fear and then kill the orc before I drowned.
We were a small group of 4 (two 1st level "new to D&D" players and my sister and I at 4th level) players in the Epic event because my brother-in-law was asked to use his usual character to balance out a mid-tier table. It was interesting to see the GM balance our missions to avoid one-shotting the new players and still make them (and us) relevant to the overall story. Basically, we had to focus on the main objective and were able to ignore the side objectives -- which scored lower points for our team and tier, but let us continue.
The new players actually shone when we chose to add an extra "side quest" to stall for time before going into the graveyard. And so we were tasked with stealing from (or fighting) a ghost anyway (the opposite of what we planned). If the ghost became hostile, there would have been a party wipe -- I had the only magic weapon but was a melee fighter, with magic support from a 1st level bard, a 1st level warlock and a 4th level sorcerer. We went in cautiously and used diplomacy to convince the ghost not to attack because we weren't threats. The warlock and sorcerer were able to determine the locations of the items we needed, while the bard sang to the ghost because "it was probably lonely guarding this place all the time." A well-timed roll of 20 allowed us enough distraction to use our NPC retainers as cover for some sleight of hands rolls (all over 15). Every time we rolled, we ended up holding our collective breaths. But our luck held and we were bold enough to acquire 6 of the 7 possible items. That boldness alone doubled our quest points, and the ghost hummed the bard's happy tune, oblivious to having been robbed by an insanely reckless party.
We even finished that portion of the adventure before the owner of the FLGS returned to our table as the NPC vampire unleashed upon the lower-level tiers. He roamed from table to table, daring us to kill him as a single player chased after him with the stake necessary to kill him. The Paladin who accepted the challenge had been weakened after getting his attention for 8 attacks. While our table could do only minor damage, she dropped the stake and returned to her table. I was the only player able to pick up the stake and follow without risking immediate death. We didn't have to discuss long, as allowing the vampire to escape would have terrible consequences for the overall quest. The vampire attacked his favorite prey at the next table then realized that I was able to dual wield two magic weapons to attack him (my +1 long sword and the stake). So I became the focus of his attacks at the next two tables, but the vampire realized that I could gain a third attack with my Superiority Dice (a class ability) every time he missed. One of the tables saw him coming and prepared -- they unleashed a magic item they obtained as a reward to do 48 points of explosive damage plus their other formidable magic attacks -- and I contributed by double critting (thanks to advantage) to do over 30 points of damage. The vampire was angry, and chose to charm me while my table watched unable to help. Helpless to resist after failing the save, I lost 1/3 of my HP and was told that I would probably die at the next table because he'd have another two attacks I couldn't resist. The vampire taunted that I could drop the stake and let him escape, if I wasn't willing to die a hero. So I risked it. The next table watched as I went down to 3 HP in the vampire's clutches (the FLGS owner shocked that I had enough HP to survive), then unloaded everything they had. The last attacker at the table was a lowly 1st level player with the Sacred Flame cantrip (1D8), who cried something about only being able to defy him with his weak might. And his roll of 7 damage was enough to kill the vampire!
With a dragon slain by the high tables, another major challenge met by the mid-tiers, and the lower tiers able to finish off the vampire, the tide of battle had turned. My party even survived in my absence, with the assistance of NPCs they were able to recruit before going into the graveyard (a reward passed down from a mid-level table). What a great day of memories, which may have rekindled a desire to play D&D again periodically.
"If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts." - Albert Einstein
"When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal. - Nixon
"I don't stand by anything." - Trump