This is part of my RPG series of entries here at SOB. See the inaugural entry in the series for more details.
The players reacted more by thinking “What’s the logical thing for an adventurer to do?” rather than “What’s the logical thing to do according to the rules?”
This is exactly what I like more about any other edition of (A)D&D than about 4E; the rules of 4E really seem to encourage thinking in terms of the rules rather than thinking in terms of the characters’ motivations much more than any previous edition. There’s nothing wrong with preferring the 4E approach (what some call “gamist”, and others call “ludus”), but it gets frustrating sometimes being told by 4E fans that my preference is “wrong” because 4E is better for “roleplaying” than previous editions. This is usually followed by a statement like one I saw earlier today or last night (I don’t remember which) that Craft skills are useless at higher levels because you can get better armor by purchasing it than by making it yourself — which of course is a ludicrous example of missing the point of roleplaying. This is in contrast with my own take on the lack of Craft skills in 4E — that their lack means your character is less fully fleshed out with details that might lead to a high-level character painstakingly making a ring himself to give to his true love when he proposes marriage.
Yes, it’s true, that ring won’t give you better armor at higher levels, but it does contribute to a roleplaying experience with more depth. The difference is what priorities are being served best by a given system.