There is an old song sung by comedian Fred Dagg (and rehashed by Sportscafe) called "We Don't Know How Lucky We Are, Mate" that I found myself humming this morning.
Recently I've dipped the toes back into 40K, drawn in by GW's narrative and advance of the storyline. That's led me to have a couple of games with my Emperor's Children which I've really enjoyed getting out on the table.
Before I ventured in, I knew the rules were bloated....216 pages of mini rulebook before you even move onto the various extra supplements and codexes you need (in my case only two - CSM and Traitor Legions). I've been lucky in that I've had two locals show extreme patience playing these initial games, answering all my questions which have been legion.
While I have enjoyed playing, my key takeaway has been how bloated the rules are. The game mechanisms, army composition etc have so many layers of complications for little foreseeable payoff IMO. To be successful - in the first instance - is more about rules knowledge than tactics. I'm sure at the very high end that when both players have invested hours and hours in trawling the rulebook and codexes, tactics are the key decider (after force composition) but for the casual player rules knowledge trumps all.
I contrast that with Kings of War where the casual player can pick up the rules very easily and after 2-3 games the focus changes from learning mechanisms to on-table tactics. IMO this is the hallmark of an elegant ruleset - easy to learn, hard to master. This shouldn't be a surprise given that the rules were written by Alessio Calvatore. He learned his skills as a designer at GW before going freelance.
Part of the problem with 40K is that the rules are five editions on from the last reset. Mechanisms that started stripped down have had 16-17 years of layers plastered on top. I think of it as layers of wallpaper and paint on a wall - at some point you just have to strip everything back to bare bones.
I am so looking forward to the next edition of 40k if the rumours of a major reset come true. The ruleset needs to be Sigmar-ised where the extraneous detail is stripped away leaving a skeleton that allows the process to start new.
In the interim I'm very thankful for the Kings of War ruleset.....We don't know how lucky we are mate!