So how do you interpret rules? (Cue smart-alik comments like “by reading them”. You know what I mean!) I know that there at least used to be a big controversy over interpreting rules in a Rules as Written (RAW) or a Rules as Intended (RAI).
RAW was strictly how the rules were written, regardless of any strange consequences. RAI was how the writers intended the game to be played, so any of those strange, unrealistic things that were possible under the RAW were things that you couldn’t do, because the writers did not have that intention in mind.
A fantastic example of these differing views involves turning vehicles. The Dark Eldar vehicles are long and narrow, and some people discovered that if you deployed them side-ways, right up against the edge of the deployment zone, you could turn them straight on your turn and instantly be a few inches closer without expending any movement. At least, that was the RAW ruling. The RAI crowd screamed WAAC as they are opt to do and cried out in unison against such jerk moves.
Now, while there are some problems with the RAW method (mostly that you can find all sorts of ways to abuse the rules if you are clever), RAI is no better to me. Now, rather than allowing people to abuse the game system, you are claiming that you divinely know how the rules should actually be interpreted and what they actually read as is irrelevant.
For a while I sided with the RAW because, despite its flaws, it removed subjectivity from rulings and thus could be most counted upon as consistent (plus with RAI you can still have clever jerks who simply find a way for anything they don’t like to be against how the rules ‘should’ be). Recently(-ish), however, I’ve gradually come to the decision that you should be using a mix of the two.
To do this you begin with everything being RAW, but don’t allow anything that isn’t plainly stated in the rules. Now, of course this can be subjectively done, especially when you consider how confusing the multi-assault rules can get (who goes first, what can each model attack, how do we decide Combat Resolution, can I make a Sweeping Advance, etc.), but you don’t run into quite so much as RAI has.
To illustrate what I mean, I’m going to point to the same thing that Algesan used when he was illustrating Occam’s Razor: the discussion about the assault rules that went on over at B&C for a while.
If you look at the rules, they seem pretty straightforward. You cannot assault a unit other than the one you shot at, except for any passengers if you shot and killed a transport (pages 33 and 67, mid right-hand column for both, specifically the clause beneath the bullets and the Note, respectively).
RAW though, you need to notice two things. The first is that the Clause (from pg. 33) is beneath the header “Disallowed Assaults”, so it must, at some point, disallow you from assaulting. That would be when you shoot and kill a unit. You cannot assault any other unit (because of the clause), nor can you assault the unit you just shot (because it is dead), so you cannot assault at all (hence, disallowed). Then you look at the Note (pg. 67) and we see at the end that it says that you may only assault the passengers if you are allowed to assault.
So, you shoot and kill a Rhino with your Meltagun and are all ready to assault the Las/Plas Squad within. You can do that because of the Note, right? Wrong. Since you killed the unit you shot, the clause disallows you from assaulting and thus, you cannot assault the passengers (since to do so you would need to be allowed to assault, under the restriction in the Note).
There are two explanations from this point, either the entire second half of the Note is self contradictory and pointless, or the Clause does not apply when you kill the unit you shot at (make up a reason for why, but that is the most plausible explanation that makes sense with both the Note and the Clause). Since the Note being useless makes no sense, it must be that the Clause does not apply if you killed your target with shooting (and thus may assault anything you please).
RAW, this is what you get. And this is my problem with a straight RAW interpretation of the rules. Here, when you follow it through, what you end up with is something that directly contradicts what the rules appear to be saying. Instead, you get to this conclusion by assuming something that is not in the rules, verifying it with a phrase from something that is not directly connected to the Assault Rules but, by virtue of not being a rule, drastically changes how the Clause is to be understood, and all the while a single line added to the Clause would make the meaning straightforward and clear.
This is why I am wary of a straight RAW reading of the rules. You need to begin with the assumption that what the rules are written with the intention that you can understand them on a first read through without having to get all technical on certain phrases or words. Or, alternatively, you need to find another interpretation if the one you’re using could be much more easily stated in the rules. This isn’t to say that there is no RAW answer to the above problem, it just isn’t necessarily as plausible in a RAW sense.
For the purpose of a counter-point to the above, I’m going to detail the different assumption that I make to get what the rules appear to say. When confronted with the discrepancy within the Note, I assume that the phrase at the end (specifically, “if it is allowed to assault according to the Assault Rules.”) does not apply to the Clause. That’s it. While the reason for the assumption doesn’t matter too much (because it is an assumption and thus does not need definitive supporting evidence), you could claim that first the Note removes the status for the Clause to disallow an assault (thus it does not trigger the restriction on the Note, although this does require the Note to be considered an Assault Rule, and you could make that case), or you could claim that, despite being under the heading “Disallowed Assaults” the Clause does not actually disallow any assaults. Like I said, not perfectly in line with the RAW, but aside from that more plausible.
And that’s pretty much all I have on the subject. I’ve been working on a number of Vassal games with lists that I haven’t really touched in months, and it is looking to be an interesting experiment that I should have ready in, oh, about a week or so (finals the next few days may postpone that, but we shall see).
Oh, rather than risk forgetting. Trivia: How many Heavy Weapons can you put in a Crusader Squad? I’ll see any attempted answers and give my response in my next post.