Oh yes, I remember my first Edition War very clearly, though I didn't realize I was fighting one at the time. In the short term, I did lose--I wouldn't get anybody to play 3e for awhile. But I won in the long run, because I learned some valuable lessons.
A month or two after 3e came out, I started going to school at Iowa State University and joined the Guild of Wargamers and Roleplayers there. They met Saturdays in the Memorial Union. I couldn't wait to meet some like-minded people who wanted to try out 3e like I did. I was excited for the new edition and really wanted give it a shot. Somebody mentioned I should talk to the roleplaying groups down the hall.
I ended up being in a group of 15 players and one harried DM, all packed into little conference room. I'd only heard stories of groups that massive, but there I was, rolling up a character. They were preparing to take their characters on some grand expedition.
What followed was madness.
Two hours later we still hadn't started the adventure. The DM looked haggard from getting bombarded with questions. The DM looked haggard from getting bombarded with questions. Half of the players weren't paying attention. The other half were getting annoyed at the first half.
Surely, I thought, somebody here would be interested in trying a different game, since this one is going nowhere. I wanted to, in part, to help the DM out. So I asked if anybody was interested in playing 3e.
Boy, did I get an ear-full. I didn't get criticized by everybody in that group, but the minority sure made up for the the majority.
"I don't wanna have to use miniatures to play D&D."
"They nerfed rangers in 3e."
"I'm not gonna buy another set of expensive books. Wizards of the Coast is just trying to make more money."
"We're here to play AD&D 2e, and that's that."
I tried to defending my viewpoint, but it was no use. So I shut up.
Sometime after that the expedition finally began. Our first encounter consisted of goblins riding teradactyl-like flying mounts. Only half of the group had missile weapons that could hit them. My character, a rogue if I remember, didn't. The combat took forever. I'd wasted an afternoon, gotten criticized for even bringing up 3e, and now my character couldn't do much of anything except hide. So I bowed out.
I eventually did get a 3e group going, but nobody from that 15 player group joined. It took awhile. I remember spending a couple Saturday afternoons down the hall in a smaller conference room waiting for players who said they'd show up but didn't.
1. Don't recruit for your game in another DM's session.
2. DM's should use the power of "no" to avoid running large groups.
3. Know when to walk away instead of trying to explain your position.
4. Some gamers would rather do "nothing" for an entire afternoon rather than try something new or different.
It's the last lesson that puzzles me. I'm sure these gamers have their reasons. Some of players in the aforementioned group kept telling me that the DM was a great DM. Little did they know, however, that said DM told me he wanted to start killing off characters to get people out of the group--even he admitted the campaign wasn't going anywhere.
Last year, when I was running Swords & Wizardry at my FLGS, a Pathfinder player walked up, wondering what we were doing. It turns out his group wasn't meeting that night after all. So we invited him to join us. Give S&W a try. He kinda turned up his nose at the prospect.
Instead he sat by himself for 2-3 hours at nearby table, looking over his Pathfinder books, while we played S&W and had a great time.
Is this where have Edition Wars have gotten us? Gamers would rather do NOTHING, rather than TRY another version of D&D?