To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of later editions of D&D because of just this sort of thing. Instead of making the system simple and easy to use, so that combat can be done efficiently and in a fun way, each new edition seems to add complexity and force a lot of niddling rules. In the latest release the designers appear to be trying to appeal to Gamists who are currently running around in WoW, not playing D&D. They figure that you can't compete against MMORPGs with table top RPGs because everyone will naturally play the former not the latter and over time table top RPGs will go the way of the Dodo bird if they don't compete. So they made D&D more like WoW to compete and try steal their players with the idea that D&D is now more like WoW in design. Players don't like to die? Fine! No Problem, we make it almost impossible to die in 4e. Etc.
This, in my opinion, was a pretty bone headed decision because table top RPGing is inherently different than computer RPGing. There's overlap, sure, but the overlap is not where they seem to think it is. So we wind up with yet another edition of D&D that's off the mark. Table top RPGing is a fantastic idea, and really fun, when done with a system that makes it easy instead of hard. I tend to go with light-weight or medium-weight homebrew systems that we designed to keep combat and the mechanics from bogging down the story and the fun of the game. 4e seems to me to do anything but that, and so the result is, as you say, ... what?