In that spirit, my desire/quest for the best way to represent fighters has brought me back around to one of my favorite on-again/off-again love affairs. Specifically, that is using the original 2d6 combat system from Chainmail. The reason I like it is its simplicity. Essentially, to-hit numbers are fixed based on cross-referencing armor type vs weapon. Improving ability is represented by increasing the number of attacks. That achieves two objectives that I feel should be modeled in skillful combatants:
1) It gives the skilled fighter tactical options. He is free to distribute his attacks among his opponents as he deems fit. I know there is the so-called "Combat Machine" class ability, but it only applies if all opponents the fighter is engaged with are 1HD or less. So, an 8th level fighter can wade into 8 goblins and start cracking heads. Great. If there is a hobgoblin bully-boy leading the goblins, a hobgoblin has 1+1 HD, btw, our 8th level fighter is reduced to one attack. That just ain't right.That makes combat a frightening prospect. I genuinely like higher-level characters being able to enter combat with a certain level of confidence. I genuinely dislike players entering combat with a smug attitude because their character has 53 HP and that ogre can only do 10 points max per turn.
2) It abstractly represents a higher possible damage output. I believe a skillful opponent should be something to fear. An 8th level fighter with a dagger in the "Alternative Combat System"? He might scratch you for 4 points. An 8th level fighter with a dagger under the Chainmail system? He'll hand you your liver with the possibility of a maximum of 48 points of damage!
For any of you interested in pursuing this sort of thing for your own game, I refer you to:
Forbidden Lore by Jason Vey. The pdf is free, the link is near the bottom of the page, along with some pretty cool Conan stuff. You will need access to Chainmail to really use it, but if you have the Ready Ref sheets from Judge's Guild you might squeak by. The combat tables for 2d6 combat are in the Ready Ref sheets.