The Sunday campaign was going pretty well, I feel. The players were engaged in the plot. There were challenges beyond combat. It was rough in the beginning as people found their way in the world, but things had really come together by what ended up being the last session, with some collective problem solving and magical archeology going on.
The Wednesday campaign, the "tavern" campaign, was more of a mess. I packed way too much stuff into the first outing. This was because I knew it would be interrupted by travel and I wanted to get things well underway before then. The problem was one of inertia: a fully laden freight train takes much longer to get underway than something a bit more streamlined.
The first adventure had two factions of mysterious motives and methods, and there was the underlying mystery behind the campaign itself, all present at once and with not enough clear delineations between them. Despite the fact that I was trying to convey the two factions opposing each other, players were still relating clues they found at one faction's campsite to what the other faction was doing.
The adventure was also just too big in scope. It was combat-overland trek-combat-combat, which was so the opposite of what I wanted it to be.
When I was talking with gamingdragon about what I'd do differently, I thought about giving the players a more comprehensive campaign briefing instead of letting them find out what's going on gradually. In the course of that conversation I realized that the size of the first adventure really was the problem. It doesn't need to be big and complex and sprawling across the countryside... it should be something local and immediate. I'll be using the "Dungeon Delve" model as an example. I don't want players to have too many mysteries to ponder at once and I don't want to take them away from the tavern for so long.
This isn't to say that the Wednesday campaign wasn't fun, just that I wasn't accomplishing my goals as a DM. There were some great moments in every session. They just tended to happen in or around combat, and there wasn't much plot progression. I think the narrative rather than map based approach will help there (Wednesday had one player who had trouble connecting to the map server, and several players who were getting severe lag in their map updates).
I think using the abstract system will also speed up combats so they don't last as long. There will be less to take in. You can deal with your options (approach that enemy, back away, etc.) in the abstract instead of dealing with the minutia of counting squares. It should be more like the old style of figure-out-what-you-want-to-do-and-say-i