I pose a conundrum to ya. A riddle, if you will. What's the difference between you and a mallard with a cold? One's a sick duck and the other... well, I can't remember the rest, but your mother's a whore. -Sean Connerie
Kinda on the subject. Is 4th Edition worth buying and getting involved in? Do people that spent the money still play it or does it get old quick? I just hate the thought of dumping hundreds of dollars to not play or have a new edition come out in a year....
Remember its easy to call another person an idiot, it is much harder to prove you are not one yourself!- Bubba Love
You absolutely have to MinMax your char, only a few Powers to work with, and in general Chars are very similar. Combat is OK, but that seems to be the only thing which was considered in making the Rules.
Also they left out the Druid after talking so much about it in the Preview edition.
Nice is, you can cast your At will powers as much as you want. Not so nice is, that you only have 2 At Will Powers available. So much for the variety.
I like 4th edition. It is simpler, but for my group that was a godsend as it got someone who wouldn't try 3.5 to get involved. My group is spread out all over the north east so we don't get to play that often, so unfortunately I don't know how well a campaign would go. My intuition is it puts a burden on the group to be more involved in their character because there are less written rules for non-combat actions. This doesn't mean they're restricted, it just means its up to the players and DM to make that aspect of the game come alive.
I'm torn on the powers. On the one hand I wish you had access to more variety of powers. On the other hand, I don't see why it's an issue. I mean, any melee class from 3.X had about 6 or so actions it could take, and they boiled down to a standard attack, a full attack, or one of the few special moves (disarm, trip, grapple, etc...). In contrast, 4th ed. 2 at wills, 3 encounter, 3 daily and 3 utility powers by level 10. At 11 - 20, you mostly replace your attack powers with better ones, but you then get a few special abilities (1-3) and 3 new paragon powers (usable in addition to the others), plus 2 new utility powers. So you're packing about 12 different combat options just in powers alone. You can still make melee basic attacks or ranged basic attacks, there's a simplified version of grappling that is more to hold a guy in place than to deal damage, and, though I'm not aware if there are rules for tripping/disarming, I don't see why you couldn't easily make them up using the "generic resolution rules" of DMG pg 42.
For any melee class, you essentially have the variety that Tome of Battle gave to 3.x melees. Casters have the same variety which makes them feel a little more stale (particularly wizard/cleric/druid). It's sort of addressed by rituals (long casting spells that handle most of the old caster non-combat stuff).
Finally, as for classes, they released 8 with the PHB, a bunch of variants w/ the first splat book (Martial Power) which I think was really well done, and a few others with the forgotten realm stuff. The PHB2 comes out mid-march which has 8 new classes including druid. I'd like to see how that adds to the variety of the game. There's definitely a lot less option than there is in 3.5, but thats because 3.5 has a HUGE library of books available. 4th only has...8 or so books? Most of which don't even focus on the classes.
My conclusion: If your gaming group is a little more casual, likes the combat aspect and either doesn't care about or really cares about the roleplaying aspect, 4th edition should work fine for you. If they love theorycrafting, character building and are so-so on RPing, then 3.5 is probably the better bet.