Erik Tenkar says that he's played AD&D Second Edition more than any other edition, but he detests it because of its rules bloat.
Meanwhile, at the same time, a discussion in defense of Thac0 arose on G+.
AD&D 2e has been largely passed over in the Edition Wars, I feel. But when it does come up, rules bloat and Thac0 become the deal-breaker. Critics won't even try 2e because of these concepts. Even though everybody seems to agree that the 2e campaign settings are neat.
I've heard these arguments since the early days of 3e, and these arguments are unfounded.
Back then I used Thac0, and I didn't know any different. It worked. Now I use Base attack Bonus /Ascending AC, but I can still calculate Thac0 in my head. Its not that difficult. Also, using Thac0 to condemn an entire system just shows a person's ignorance and fear; ignorant that they can easily replace Thac0 with BAB/Ascending AC, and fearful of trying something that worked fine in the past. Perhaps even the fear of not keeping up with the Joneses.
The same goes with the idea of rules bloat. It's been touted time and again in both rule books and in the Edition Wars: you only need the core books to play D&D, in whatever version. Everything else is optional. From 2000 to 2008 we saw two whole cycles of official "splatbooks" from Wizards of the Coast, the first for 3e, and then they recycled the material for 3.5e, all of which produced dozens of standard and prestige classes, hundreds of feats, spells, and so on. This doesn't count all of the stuff churned out by third party publishers.
I concede, it was annoying back in 2e when a player kept hounding me to play a Bladesinger from The Complete Book of Elves. Yet it was also annoying during 3e/3.5e watching players sift through a stack of splatbooks to find the key feat, spell, or prestige class so their characters can be min/maxed. And then they get upset when I told them "no." So I can empathize with Tenkar.
What's even more interesting is that these criticisms often come from people (at least in my experience) who've never played 2e. Or, in the case of the G+ poster, come from those playing 4e. In the mid-to-late 2000s, my gaming group was convinced that 3.5e was the best. At that time, I'd gotten weary of running 3.5e and wanted something more simpler. AD&D 2e called to me.
And yet my group, even though I'd been running great games, refused to try 2e. Thac0 and Rules Bloat were the deal-breakers. I tried to explain that we'd use BAB/Ascending AC, and that I'd limit what you can use from the splatbooks (just as we had been doing with 3/5e). But to no avail.
So if Thac0 isn't that bad or replaceable, and rules bloat easily curable (just say "no"), then where does the idea that AD&D 2e is compromised by Thac0 and rules bloat come from?
The real answer, I've discovered, really has little or nothing do with Thac0 and rules bloat at all...
Where do you think these arguments against 2e originate?