> or is there already a way to set a default for that and I'm just not
There isn't a way to set the default, and I believe Kinetic already
requested this and it got archived (but Technopatra will know for sure).
However (and getting to new posts has been one of the complaints about
the usability of phpbb since the new eplaya was unveiled, so you're not
alone), you can try using the little yellow "next unread" icon in the thread
listing. That'll take you to the last post it thinks you read. Problem with
that is that it resets itself every time you log out, so it's only useful if you
stay logged in and read everything before logging out. But it's there, and
can make things a bit easier to wade through.