Though I missed out on an estimated 14 hours of game play trying to get it to work (though I made an admirable effort to catch up the rest of this weekend), there was one side benefit to all the troubles I had.
Vista has a feature that optimizes your boot files and programs. It learns what to do every time you boot, and changes accordingly. The result, ideally, is a much faster boot once it learns what to do. In my case, that feature never really amounted to much because I don't reboot very often. Mostly, I leave the computer in Sleep mode--that allows me to have a nearly instant-awake PC, it sucks very little power while I'm not using it, and it can still wake up periodically to perform scheduled maintenance or other tasks.
In the last week, though, I've had to reboot around two dozen times as part of my troubleshooting process. While it's a bit of a pain, the great benefit is that it gave Vista a chance to optimize my boot times, and now it's really fast. I now go from power button to web browsing in half the time.