Everybody has a few favorite rulesets, different ones for different periods, some old some new. What I would like to know is what are yours, and why do you like them?
For me it goes like this;
Ancients; WRG 5th edition, largely for nostalgic reasons, it is painfully mechanical in parts but if you are playing with people that have a working understanding of the rules, it moves pretty quick.
Dark Ages; Here I favor the Warhammer Historical Rules, to my mind the way the rules emphasise heroes and elite leadership nails down the spirit of the period. It is also well suppported by Army Lists and uses the familiar Warhammer/40K mechanics.
Middle Ages/Renaissance; Here I must say that there is nothing that really moves me. There are some workable sets but just not much that jumps out at me.
Age of Reason; With this one I am going to blow my own horn, I like my home-brewed rules they reflect my perception of combat in the era of linear tactics. I am working on tightening them up and will publish them here eventually.
Napoleonics; I am rather smitten with Black Powder right now, it seems to capture the spirit of the times and is easily adaptable to reflect the idiosycracies of national armies. Another plus is that it can be played with any armies that are based in a fairly similar manner. Don't be put off by the gigantic quantities of figures in the units that were photographed to illustrate the rules, we used our Nappies that were based for the old Empire rules (twelve figs to a battalion) and it worked just fine.
ACW/Franco-Prussian/Etc; Here I am thinking that Black Powder may fill the bill, another contender is Ever Victorious Armies. Both possess quick, clean mechanics and are highly adaptable to handle changes in technology. E.V.A. has a points list that allows you to create troops from an ala carte list of skills and weapons that is pretty neat.
WW1; Nothing ever seems to get a grip on the period wiothout turning into some weird version of a board-game with all sorts of steps and reactions in every turn, either that or they end up as a Wild West skirmish games with really dangerous weapons. Not happy with anything so far.
WW2; Here I will once again let my ego run rampant and say that I like my rules the best (really, why wouldn't I?) They are also on the list for a polish up and publish.
Moderns; I don't play, I don't care. Now for modern Colonial affairs AK-47 Republic is a great set of rules with a very different slant, I like them a lot and will probably build a few armies.
Naval; Wooden Ships and Iron Men for sailing era, my own rules for pre-dreadnoughts/ACW.
Air Combat; Wings of War, mechanics that a seven year old can understand in ten minutes but a tough and challenging game due to the need to think ahead and the highly variable damage system.
Sci-Fi; Space Hulk wins hands down, super clean mechanics and a riot to play, but it really is just a very pretty board-game. 40K is right behind that with well refined mechanics, a mileu that has the depth and breadth of a good novel and a selection of army types that are different and fun to play. There is a reason that GW is the biggest force in wargaming and 40K is a big part of that.
Post your favorites in the comments