It's been a little crazy today, and will be tomorrow- post will happen, but may not happen on time.
Back to business- With 6th edition rapidly approaching, and the rumors sounding... less than encouraging, some have started looking for alternatives. Namely, M42 and more recently, Project Biomorph. I'm going to be taking a brief look at the three(?) competing rulesets- 6th, M42, and biomorph, and see which one I think will be the best, or at least the most popular.
Now, I believe it is a bit too early to judge how good 6th will be- I think the rumors are largely entirely false, mostly the ones that sound like 8th ed. fantasy: random charge distance, maybe. Random psychic powers, disciplines, all that? Total crap. Some of the older rumors seem far more likely (but that's not saying much)- snap fire could happen, and would hurt assault armies a bit more.
I see 6th as the most popular option, simply by virtue of being official- and I don't think GW will be dumb enough to change 6th so drastically from 5th, which did pretty well... knock on wood.
I don't know a whole lot about M42- just enough to write this article- but I can't see it being played very much, as it's deviating too far from normal warhammer to even be considered a "fix": they're making a whole new game based only loosely on 40k, and it seems they're still deciding on basic concepts, like rolling to wound. This far into it, it sets off warning lights as to it's overall success.
Biomorph is looking pretty good, they have their goals pretty clearly stated- they want to fix the problems of 5th, which they have listed out pretty clearly on their site. It's in early development, just outlining with broad strokes what they intend to do. They have a forum where people can discuss and contribute ideas, but it is all headed by Sirbiscuit, and he has the final say in what is in and what is out- this is good. I'm glad he is actively avoiding and planning against the "too many cooks in the kitchen" problem. It's too early to say whether or not it will take off, but it's base in 3++ helps its contributor base.
Then, there will be the people who think it all sucks, and will stick with 5th... or 4th. Or rogue trader.
whatever floats your boat...
Who knows what will happen? It all depends on what 6th looks like, and I think if there will be a split in the playerbase, it will happen about 6 months into 6th edition, when people start figuring out what the new edition is all about, and how good it is.
Only time will tell... but my money's on 6th. I bet you'll only really hear of really dedicated playtester groups playing the fan-made things. So learn 6th for playing pick-up games and tournaments, and feel free to play whatever you want at home...