Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, First Edition
I'm reluctant to say it, however, because if I were to run the game now, I'd give it a massive overhall, probably to the point where even moderate purists would howl that it isn't D&D anymore.
AD&D is the first edition I played, before quickly moving on to 2e. I like AD&D for the "feel," not necessarily the rules (first thing: use ascending AC). Maybe its nostaglia talking, but there's an aura mystery with those books, as if playing the game will really take you to another world. Sword and sorcery and all that.
Just look at that cover of the PHB: who wouldn't want to try to get those gems on that idol? My question is: Are those thieves with the rest of the group?
The rules themselves worked for their time, still do in many respects. But never liked minute combat rounds and segments. I few years ago I did run AD&D. People had fun, but problems arose whenever a player needed to level up his character--all the combat and saving throw tables were in the DMG. The Dungeon Master certainly held his cards close to his chest.
But maybe that's good thing. Maybe players shouldn't be worried about the mechanics of the game. Maybe they should just focus on describing their actions to the DM, rather than pouring over their character sheets looking for an extra modifier.
AD&D 2e, which I ran throughout the 1990s, codified the rules--but a lot that "mysterious feel" was lost. I've written about this before.
With 3.0/3.5e the magic was pretty much gone. Oh sure, I had fun with it as player. But as a DM I found myself getting bogged down with all those rules and stat blocks. I found myself overly concerned with "balance," so whenever I created my own adventures I'd stat-out every customized monster and NPC. I got so sick of this, that after I awhile I just usually ran published adventures (I wonder that was the point with 3.0/3.5e, to force DMs to give up doing stuff on their own and buy modules--there were plenty available).
As for 4e--what 4e?
Right now I'm running Swords & Wizardry, which is a lot of fun and has brought back that First Edition "feel." I'm considering, however, switching to DCC RPG.