I completely understand the comments about stat blocks, especially since it is online content.
With this particular article, the focus was meant to be on creating a sketch of an encounter. The main goal I had was to be thought provoking. In my ideal scenario, a player would get a rich feeling for the environments and enjoy playing in Dark Sun more. A DM would get enough ideas that by the time they reached the encounter they would want to change it somewhat. The silt is a bit of an example of that, as I presented two options that will play fairly different. A DM that is short on time might grab one without making changes (and, of course, print the monsters from the MB or Compendium), but usually they would want to make some changes.
We did discuss internally both providing statistics and providing maps. Maps, as you might imagine, are a cost. I loved the idea of maps, but I understand cost issues and I do think even maps detract a bit from the point of the article. Far fewer DMs would use those maps than we probably expect. In the end, though, it really was about keeping the focus on the design goals. I still think leaving these elements out was the right decision - especially statistics.
To share a bit more about the writing process, this is an article I pitched to the team and which was then assigned to the Dark Sun issue. This was probably as close as it gets to an "easy for me to write" article, in that I really like designing 4E encounters (and do so very often for published work) and I really dig Athasian ecology. I co-wrote an AD&D netbook on the subject
in the 90's, I wrote a blog about Athasian terrain for 4E
, I studied ecology at Duke, and I think about environmental and ecological issues all the time. It was a fun article to write and one that I felt very good about writing. One of the biggest challenges was trying to figure out how to write things from a somewhat fresh angle. The DSCS covers these terrains and two different writers described the terrains in the original and then revised Dark Sun boxed sets. It was challenging to cover the necessary information without being unoriginal or duplicating needlessly.
Finally, I confess to not having playtested the combats. Some are based on combats I have run (silk wyrms are mean!!!!), but many are just a feel for what would work well based on other similar combats. I would very much enjoy getting to run these. I love Dark Sun, love 4E combat design, and can't get enough of Athasian terrain! If you end up using any of these I would love to hear what you changed, what you liked, and how it played out!