(And a Plug for my Superhero Simulation Ascendant)
If you're going to hand-wave instead of simulate or game the situation out, why are you even playing a game?
If gaming that includes simulation is wrong, I don't ever want to be right. Preach on, brother.
Looking at the start there, where Gygax allegedly denounces simulationism... I think the discrepancy would be better described as... not adhering to realism. Caring about the exact type and shape of polearm, is a realist position, and one that fairly doesn't impact AD&D play, for one reason or another (but something you could do, if ya wanted.) But how many of the previous wargames had aging and infection as considerations I wonder? Oh sure, they had the ballistics and logistics and dangers of war and long treks through a true wilderness (probably, I am too young for that era to know *exactly*), but I suspect some aspects AD&D/ACKS gamers take as important and necessary parts just aren't there.
I don't read a lot of the theory on game design, so I hadn't been exposed to these concepts. This resonates well with me! In the pre-internet days, my group of isolated wargammers wanted to play something fantasy-oriented. We weren't exposed to D&D or its contemporaries so we made our own games. Slowly, D&D players came out of hiding and joined our group. We integrated favored rules from the systems we were being exposed to, but everything was largely homebrewed. Eventually, I lost our homebrewed game in a flood and I never owned the original D&D books. So we moved onto other systems in the 90s. Eventually we adopted newer play styles, but our boredom caused us to hop systems multiple times a year. I have played, read, and/or own just about everything that's out there prior to the pandemic. When I came across ACKS it was a breath of fresh air for its emphasis on philosophy. My group's been playing it ever since, sans the campaign. I think a lot of the OSR get lost in the rules and concepts that set themselves apart from the pack, instread of the philosophy. There are some that implicate but don't quite get there.
There really does need to be more exposure for simulationist style of play. I know there's a lot of people out there looking for it. Years ago when newer playstyles were emerging, I was running a simulationist-style game and I had to cap my game at 16 players per session. The games ran smoothly! I had a wait-list to get into my games and I'd get lectured that I was playing wrong by "DMs" who had adopted the newer playstyles. When I switched to modern styles of play I had trouble keeping player too. Now-a-days, with all of the hate marketing that's happening I think a lot of people don't realize that there's anything but the us vs. them garbage. I've talked to dozens of people that would rather play videogames than modern RPGs because "it's not for me anymore" and they seem to have forgotten how to play whatever originally inspired them.
A month ago I ran 9 one-shots at my house. It was using ACKS and it was all families with pre-teens. The parents had been exposed to WotC versions of D&D. They were dumbfounded with how much easier this game ran compared to what they knew. It wasn't just the rules and the hex crawling. It was the philosophy, the knowledge that they weren't invincible and that if they pursued a course of action they needed to be thoughtful and creative. That dying was ok and could be fun and impactful, and the kids learned from their choices. The knowledge that they truly had freedom of choice. They noticed an absence of the seemingly typical piles of notes and dialog - aka the lack of tons of "DM" prep. That I wasn't a DM but a referee, a judge. That character creation was quick and their kids easily understood. The list goes on and on, and they had never been exposed to those ideas. The kids all instantly imagined their thieves were ninjas or spys (a lot of people liked thieves), their mages were once evil but now a "good guy" or a mad scientist, a princess off to recue the knights, knights in shining armor or paladins, in one case a Judge Dredd cleric, etc - and they became that through play and not an elaborate build. The kids hadn't been trained that their character was the center of the universe so it played very differently than the parents had been expecting. Everybody had fun and the parents got to see how their kids minds worked as they played along with them. There was a lot of people looking for the ACKS book, so I pointed them to DriveThruRPG if they couldn't find an existing book on Amazon or elsewhere on the web. I wish there was a simpler character sheet. I had binder paper where I wrote out the game stats on one side and instructed them to fill in what was needed from their choices/rolls and to put everything else on the back. It was to keep them from constantly looking for what they could do.
Thanks for the hardwork and keep it going!