Last night was my first session with the new gaming group, and our first run through 4th edition D&D rules using the pre-rules release module, "Keep on the Shadowfell." The guys were all nice and, after BBQ sausages and chatting for a bit, we divvied up the character sheets and dug into the game.
Due to the fact the characters were pre-made, there was some question as to why and how some of the abilities were arrived at, but we played what we had. Within 5 minutes, we were ambushed by kobolds and found out that they weren't the same as the 3.5 edition cannon-fodder kobolds. Seems most critters have racial abilities, and kobolds are Shifty... they can 'shift' (move 5') as a free action. That meant they could come up, hit us, then move back. Then, when we went for 'em, they'd shift back again (using the free action) and we couldn't come in range. Enormous pain in the ass, given we were mostly close-range fighters.
Powers were pretty complementary. The Warlord and Paladin had group-enabling powers, most of which were activated with an attack. Paladin's was a once-a-day power that did 3d8+5 damage to a single target and allowed any one ally within 5 squares (25') to use a healing surge.
Healing surges are a handy new addition. Everyone has X healing surges per day. Only one can be used in combat. That's called a second wind. A healing surge gives you back 1/4 your health. While a second wind can only be taken once per combat, lots of abilities courtesy of the Warlord, Cleric or Paladin can allow someone to take a healing surge in addition to a second wind already taken.
Anyhoo... at the end of the night, we had a TPK... a total party kill. I've never been in a gaming group that's been wiped out, certainly not in the first game. The final encounter, however, was a bit overkill. Not enough minions (a great new 'fodder' feature for select baddies') and too many decent-strength kobolds. We also couldn't have outrun them, anyway. They could move farther each round than we could.
Overall, the rules are decent and work well. Game flow is vastly improved and there's a lot less of the "crap, I'm out of abilities - guess we have to camp" situations. After an encounter, a group can pause for a few minutes, use up healing surges to heal and regain once-an-encounter power. This allows for a lot more get-up-and-go and keeps things moving.