Exactly. For us the rules are secondary to generating the fun unless they are getting in the way. Or just fail to do what I want them to do for my current game. But for us 99% of the fun isn't based off someones using the kung-fu grip feat at the right time, or putting complicated mechanics together for max effect, its from player interaction and player decisions, and bad dice rolls. My OD&D clone gets out of the way and provides a framework for our antics that works fine. Most of my group said they had no desire to go back to AD&D, which I would gladly run, so I took them back even further, just disguised it a bit from them. At first they were a bit hesitant, "how can I be a great hero with a d8 HD, and my fighter has a 14 STR..." but the stats don't matter all that much since the bonuses are mostly +/- 1 for most things and the lower damage dice worked well with the lower HP values for foes. We are having a blast from a single 144 page volume, though I can use most of my D&D stuff up to 2e without much issue if I need to. The rules put most of the work on me to be a fair, fun, and impartial referee so its a good thing I rule. 3.x I was looking up the rules too often in our massive pile of rule books and 5e was just far too easy and I was re-working stuff too often.Interesting question - and answered pretty well in the posts above. In my experience it tends to be where you came in and made the most investment - time and money. I still play basically 1st ed rules but have added a few extra things from 2nd ed (like the secondary or non-weapon skills). Does it limit play? Not in my opinion because the way we play is much more collaborative group puzzle solving...plus beer/wine and a belly full of laughs. The basic rules do limit initial character selection and development but is that really why you are playing the game? There are plenty of other fun things to do with it and at the end of day it's more about you and your group of friends getting together on a regular (or irregular) basis. We are still playing after 35 years - marriages, kids, divorces and a ton of other real life nonsense getting in the way. When we want to switch pace or fancy a change someone else in group runs some Call of Cthulhu, RuneQuest, or Traveller for a while and/or we start a new campaign. For AD&D I think I have almost every module, rule book and supplement issued for both 1st & 2nd Ed. Why change to a new edition of the same game? Will we role play any differently? I don't think so...
Its a vast difference between systems at our table. In my S&W game its "oh crap a spider...save or die...RUN AWAY, RUN AWAY!" In 5e its more "well its a 100 foot drop so I'm going to jump off the side and try to land a headbutt...yeah I'll take damage but 8 hours of sack time cures cancer and if I "die" we have revivify and I'll get a 20 minute nap in" totally different focus. One is more Fafhrd and Grey Mouser the other is a Micheal Bay take on wuxia. I know someone who wanted over the top action vs having to be cautious and worry about logistics and henchmen would not enjoy our game as much but its rocking for us. Not pure nostalgia, I'd be running 1e, but just a better fit for what we are doing. And I could just rework 5e for that but why?