In a nutshell, the Adventurers League is divided up into three bits - D&D Encounters - the 2 hour Wednesday night games, D&D Expeditions - a 4 hour a week program more like a standard home-sit-down thing, and D&D Epics - big-ass multi-table affairs that happen at conventions.
At my FLGS, there are about 20 people involved in the Adventurer's League. It's a different experience that the previous RPGA LFR stuff back in the 4e days. Those had the feel of a highly structured, 6-man game of Magic: The Gathering at times. There were very specific rules on how players could earn their XP and their magically morphing magic weapons and armor. It was a head-to-head(s) miniatures skirmish game where DMs were lauded on how fast they could get the party through an adventure. (YMMV, but that was MY experience.)
This new stuff it - well - you just sit down and play D&D. The overall mandate for the DM is spew fun out your ears. DMs are encouraged to change the adventure as they see fit. Players keep track of their swag and xp. The store keeps track of who showed up. And that's it.
Hoard of the Dragon Queen is D&D Encounter's first offering this season. I DMed, and we made it through somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of the first section of the adventure. Plenty of role-playing, plenty of kobold ass kicking, and plenty of heroics.
Honestly, the first bit of HDQ is kind of bland. There is high adventure, sure, as there is a war going on. But there isn't a lot of flavor in the pages. Actually, I consider that a wonderful bonus as I have gallons of my own flavor to pour in. I decided that the chapel would instead be an orphanage, and to focus the town's purpose around taking care of those kids. That ratcheted up the urgency and gave a whole lot of drive to one of the players who had picked the urchin background.
And might I add - again - how happy I am with 5e? I swear it DMs itself. It feels completely natural and the rules rarely intrude. They are probably most apparent when a spellcaster is firing of a new spell for the first time and has to look it up. I don't know - maybe it might be difficult for someone new - but for a person with years of experience with other editions - it's like butter.
I think I have a good description now: 5e is 2e riding 3e's bicycle.
Okay, maybe that description needs some work. But if you've played em all, you get my point. :)
Speaking of points, let's look at something interesting map-wise. Examine these maps - in particular, the shape of the forests in the region where Horde of the Dragon Queen starts:
|3e FR Campaign Guide - circa 1372 DR|
|4e FR Campaign Guide - circa 1479 DR|
|Horde of the Dragon Queen - circa 1486 DR to 1489 DR|
Why does it look as if . . . oh . . . the Spellplague never happened? :)
So yeah, I'm happy - on multiple levels with multiple things.