And now for one of the more controversial subjects of the Games Workshop hobby - alternative rule systems.
By their own admission, Games Workshop is a miniatures company above all other things. The mechanics of the game we call Warhammer 40,000 haven't actually changed much since 1989 - it has always been IGO-UGO, separate rolls to hit, wound, and save. Through four-plus revisions and editions, these mechanics have evolved into a comprehensive set of battle rules. But they are still cumbersome, and do not represent the flow of battle. To most 40k players this isn't an issue - they want a universal game they can play in a store or club, that is supported by a major corporation, and that will always have a steady stream of new models. But a handful of players aren't interested in a universal game they can play with strangers, and are more interested in finding rules to support the models they have (whether produced by Games Workshop or not).
Many free alternate rules exist, and have for years. And I have investigated them on several occasions, only to go back to 40k every time. The reasons for this vary tremendously. Some are systems like Stargrunt, which are free and supported, but really aren't any less complicated than 40k once gameplay actually starts. Others have been gaining popularity, like Two Hour Wargames and Fast And Dirty. Both are pretty good systems which seem to have been created around fixing specific problems with 40k, and play much faster. But both of these have charts for everything. I'm tired of consulting so many charts! A quick reference sheet should be one or two pages, not four to eight! Also, neither system seems capable of supporting 100+ model games. So none of the alternates jumped out as being viable in my mind.
Until I discovered Forge Of War.
This ruleset is absolutely fantastic. It has an initiative/command system loosely reminiscent of Epic:Armageddon, which has been widely recognized as GW's best system. It introduces a D-Marker system similar to Epic 40,000's use of Blast Markers, so that might be why I enjoy it so much. And it resolves fighting/close combats with a single modified roll, with modifiers very intuitive and easy to remember after your first few games. Best of all, the Yahoo group has very playable stats for most 40k units. One of the group members created a very complex calculator to automatically convert stats - balance is maintained at GW codex levels. I have played a variety of games using Imperial Guard, Orks, and Space Marines - all function exactly as they do in 40k. In fact, I've played two test comparison games; playing a standard 40k game, then replaying the same mission/armies using Forge of War. In both of these comparisons, Forge of War produced almost IDENTICAL results to 40k - in about half the playing time.
So here is my challenge to anybody interested in trying something different. Download Forge of War from The Game Shed, join the Yahoo group, get the most updated 40k stats, and play a demo game or two. I'm not saying you'll never play 40k again... but you will be pleasantly surprised by the gameplay of Forge of War.