Well, it looked like it took TSR 12 years to actually get around to revising the Dungeons and Dragons game system to actually make it a lot more playable. I must admit that when they did release this edition, and I managed to get my hands on this book (and boy was it popular when it was released because I remember all my friends commenting on how it was pretty much about time that they tossed the first edition and produced something that worked) I was absolutely chuffed. Finally, I noticed, you could actually play a bard from scratch without actually having to get through two classes to possibly reach the status of a bard (if the game even lasted that long).
I sort of chuckled when I read the Goodreads outline of this book. An encyclopaedia of fantasy roleplaying and a perfect companion to the Dungeon Master's Guide. Well, first of all, this is not an encyclopaedia, it is the basic, indispensable rulebook if you wanted to play the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd edition game. In fact you can get away with not having a Dungeon Master's Guide. Okay, not every player requires a copy of the Players Handbook, but having multiple copies (maybe one for every three players) is very useful. I still remember times when I had a group of five all fighting over who gets to use the Players (as we would call it).
I think I still actually have mine somewhere, but then I am not quite too sure about that. I remember getting to the point where I was so comfortable with 2nd edition that I did not feel that it was necessary to change to a third edition (until I actually saw 3rd edition and noticed that it was a lot better). At this stage though the game was still developing, and there were still a lot of areas that needed to be ironed out. First of all they did not have skills so it was still very much based on combat ability. It seemed that the game was more focused on combat than adventure, though if you wanted to do something, such as climb a wall (well you could, but that was limited to the thief) you had to maybe make a dex check, or even say 'you are not a thief so bad luck'.
I also remember that when the made a transition to 2nd edition they released it with a huge fanfare which included three novels about the Time of Troubles in the Forgotten Realms (when the gods were tossed out of heaven and told to wonder around the land until the people who stole the twinkies owned up and said sorry – gee, even the gods in the Dungeons and Dragons worlds act like a bunch of babies, much like some of the players that I know), and these novels also had three modules that were based around them as well. However, I while I must admit that 2nd edition was heading in the right direction, it was not until 3rd edition was released 11 years after that, that I can say that Dungeons and Dragon really became a decently playable system.