It just goes to show you, you can never be GMing too long to learn something new. I had anticipated this game to generate a lot of enthusiasm, but instead I made several mistakes that curbed that enthusiasm. Everyone seemed to have fun, just not quite as much as I had hoped. I’d like to analyze the causes behind this situation.
I had started the game asking for initiative. That worked beautifully. They got excited immediately and they payed attention. I described a fortifying wall surrounding a magic gate (I’ll leave explanations to the player recaps) and lots of goblins trying to take down the gate. I also introduced a new PC in the middle of the fight. All of this seemed to go well. The problem occurred when I sprung my trap on them.