I was reading an interesting post on Mythmere's blog about some of the differences between OE through 2E and the follow-up comments.
One of the comments (by Brendan) struck a note with me, part of which I cite here:
"The more I have been reading old modules, the more I think this is one of the key differences between old school design and new school design. Old school challenges will often be totally unaffected by PC "build" choices (example: 1 in 6 chance of falling off a slippery beam), whereas new school design keys almost everything against something on the PC character sheet (athletics check, dexterity check)."
What struck me is that I really hate the notion of character builds. I mean I really fucking hate character builds and the god-damn min-maxing that goes along with it. Builds are a reflection of an exception based system and I fucking hate that too. Why? I don't have the time to read all the crap. Moreover, when I'm DMing I know exactly what the character classes do and can't do and can better judge accordingly.
This is actually something (now that I think about it) that I really had to explain to my new old school players. The notion that the ability scores don't really matter that much, it is the player skill that matters most - not which build you have or feats, or whatever.
The flip side of the discussion is that classes can't be too narrow either. I really hated weapon proficiencies back in the day. They were way too limiting. I suppose this is one of the reasons why I like B/X-LL D&D so much. I just don't have to worry about any of that crap.