4 out of 5 rating for Hoard of the Dragon Queen
This adventure can be run as a straight-up railroad of fights, or with considerable roleplaying. It showcases the difference between tiers in much the same way that the old B versus X module lines did. It has several "you cannot win" encounters, where the goal is to simply avoid being the target, and showcases some alternate approaches to actions that aren't actually in the Rules-As-Written.It has a few issues. Namely, mapping issues, some rules changes from the playtest, and some changes that didn't get made fully in the text.The dungeon maps are in 3 scales, and the overland maps in 4 scales as well. Some of the "dungeons" are 5' grids, some 10', some 20', and the grids look to be about 1/4" and 1/5" on the maps. One overland map is combined with a dungeon, at 20' squares, and is about 1/5" per square. One is about 1"=50', one is and one is about 1"=100', another 1"=120mi, and most of these are both ungridded and not clearly labeled for scale. None of the maps are easily photocopied, either, making the making of battlemat maps from them a process of redrawing. The rules changes affect one scene severely - there's a scene where an NPC kicks an unconscious PC as part of the planned action. Unfortunately, this now does two failed death saves, since the effects of unconscious are higher than in the playtest rules. Several other situations are affected as well; one monster used to be a lot less dangerous than its 5E release version; it can, and given the chance, will, make mince of the probably 3rd level PC's who face it. On average, it will drop 4 per round...The traps are not all clearly defined, but there aren't too many of them, and they are thematically appropriate.Several of the encounters are beyond the ability of the characters to "win" them - there's nothing wrong with this approach, but it's fairly old school. Sometimes, the only way to win is to walk away.... other times, it's to fight like you can, and hope the enemy is a coward. There are encounters of both kinds here.It also makes use of the factions. It's a solid, well written, slightly rushed, and very pretty module. I'd rather have PDF, and have maps that can be easily blown up and printed out on a B&W printer.