Friday, August 7, 2015

Rules as Written vs Rules as Intended (Rant)

So there have been a lot of rules conundrums lately, all of which seem to be surrounding the latest Space Marines and Dark Angels releases. So many so that an FAQ REALLY REALLY REALLY needs to get released, but GW seems to be in no rush to do so.

WARNING This may be my longest post ever, so continue on if you dare.
Now everyone seems to have drawn opinions and conclusions on each of these, but I list them for purposes of demonstrating how many issues seem to be polarizing gamers.

Codex Confusing
-Skyhammer formation- Can ICs join and deploy with it?
-Loyalist Space Marine Summoning- is it allowed?
-Librarius Conclave- Can the other psykers cast at the end of the phase?
-1+ FNP- Can it exist, is it legal?
-Chapter Tactics- are they invalidated by a Blood Angel, Dark Angel or Space Wolf joining squads with a Space Marine squad?

And in nearly every case, the root of the debate seems to spring forth from poor choice of wording and syntax errors.

And it is in my opinion, if you are taking the side of poor grammar over the reasoning supported by fluff or a logical string of thought based on precedence or or clear intention, then you are dead wrong.

Sorry, but you are. In this day and age of no FAQs, it should be rules as intended EVERYTIME in my opinion.
The only scheming the GW board does.
GW is not some overly clever syndicate of schemers who dance around the English language in order to create obvious loopholes in their own rules. If anything is evidence to this it is the recent release of Age of Sigmar, where everything has been brutally simplified for ease of understanding and a coalescence of clarity. Add to this all the rumours of a simplified 30k to release in the near future. GW has never been one to try and induce muddied rules, but rather have done so either through lack of care, foresight or competence, I know not which.
So first of all, let me start with the ICs joining Skyhammer. What makes this one particularly annoying is that it seemed commonly accepted they couldn't be part of a formation to benefit from Special Rule before this came along. It only came into question when this turbo-charged formation came into existence.
RAI- Special rules do not confer between Characters and Units unless is specifies it in the rule. Therefore a Special Character joining a Skyhammer formation would not get the benefits of Turn 1 DS assault. Why? Because this is SUPER POWERFUL and open to extensive abuse.
RAW- in this case it goes into what is the difference between squad and unit, when does the IC join and become part of the unit, how do formation rules transfer, etc. etc. It seems to be up in the air as written and by the vocab I can see both side.s
SO- Even thought the RAW are completely muddy, the RAI agree with the no IC side, so that is the side that should win IMO. Arguing over semantics when it clearly shouldn't work that way is fruitless. Example in normal game- Infiltrators. ICs can't join Infiltrators and normal units can't be joined by Infiltrating ICs. Now this exists in the Errata, but at one time it didn't and the argument FOR joining is essentially the same argument used now for PRO-IC skyhammer people.
Next up: Loyalist summoning. This is the DUMBEST of the debates as it is based off a typo between the digital and printed versions. Basically the printed version allowed it and the digital didn't. When Black Library admitted they messed up, people still rejected it as it wasn't a ruling from GW but rather a publishing company. So
RAI- Codex SM can summon daemons. This is to represent renegades I guess, rather than full on CSM. Think along the lines of Soul Drinkers or possibly Relictors or the Astral Claws before they fully fell, and any number of other renegades.
RAW- Depends on which version you are reading. Digital- No. Printed- Yes.
SO- Well Black Library said their digital team made a copy paste error essentially. Go with the Printed. That is the verdict. End of debate. RAI has a fluff justification that I just gave (and yes, I still think it is weak and not very good for the game, but that is what it is intended and I support it fully. Forge the narrative and what not.)
Librarius Conclave. Can only one psyker cast if he is using the super warpcharge buffs/power picking, or can the rest cast at the end of the phase.
RAI- Well the fluff description makes a really good case for only the primary psyker casting and the rest acting solely in support. So any psyker within 12" isn't meant to cast that turn.
RAW- Another can open to interpretation. So the rule states they can't cast until the end of the phase. The is different from all other start of phase/end of phase rules where it says at the end of the and gives specific permission. However, you go to the rules on phase ending/starting, and it seems to describe allowing things using this wording to happen at after (or before for starting) every other action in that phase.
SO- Once again, split over terms of words on the RAW camp. This is possibly one of the worst examples, as it would have been really easy to say "at the end of the phase" or "after the nominated librarian" or "Cannot until the next turn" or "cannot this turn". All of those would have been infinitely more clear and logical. However, based on the narrative the unit seems to be pushing, along with the obvious OPness of the conclave if they can cast, then I would say RAI. Top this off with the rules as to how the psychic phase should end, and I think it becomes clearer.
1+ FNP. So this is the new hotness of Tournament Tech it seems. Or potential hotness I guess. Really works by stacking +1 FNPs to Iron Hands, utilizing an apothecary, Chapter Tactics, Warlord Traits and the Gorgon Chain. Sure it takes luck to pull off because of the Warlord Trait, but there are ways to increase the likely-hood of that happening. AND it all happens relatively cheaply to create an invincible character. And to get around the 1 Auto fail, people point out that FNP is NOT a save/
RAI- This shouldn't be allowed. 1 should auto fail. The only reason it is "not a save" is so that you could still take it on "no saves allowed" checks. The fluff behind this is because it is the character's willpower keeping them alive, even if the weapon is uber powerful. Every other similar mechanic has an auto-fail clause. My guess why FNP doesn't is because a- even though it is not a save, it is still often thought of as one, and even still uses the word "save" in the USR to describe it. and b- when the rules were written no one would have conceived of a 1+ ANYTHING in 40k. The only reason there is no blanket "1s always fail" clause for the game is because characteristic tests exist...
RAW- Well the math stacks up and FNP is "not" a save. Probably the most cut and dry of the RAW cases I present.
SO- I think I made the case well enough above. To boot, anything that automatically happens is not healthy for a game. There should always be calculated risk and an element of luck. And if you are in the camp "Well D and Double strength beat this, so whatever", remember this will almost ALWAYS be taken on a T5 biker, 2+/3+ (probably rerollable) chapter master, that may or may not have Eternal Warrior or It Will Not Die. When combo'd up, the only thing left that can have a chance of removing this guy in 6 turns is a void grenade IMO. IT is way OP, bad for the game and the only counters are few and far between, especially in smaller games and possibly don't exist at all for certain armies.
Lastly, I come to Chapter Tactics. SO the chapter tactics special rule says if a squad of one chapter is joined by a character of another chapter they both loose their chapter tactics. EG Ultramarines joined by an Imp Fist Chaplain don't have Ultra rules, and the Imp Fist is just as plain. In the SM codex though it then refers to Chapters to mean units with the Chapter Tactics special rules. So where this breaks down then is Dark Angels, Blood Angels, Space Wolves and Grey Knights. These do not have Chapter Tactics. They don't need them since they are their own books, they can just give rules to the Squad. All Blood Angels have Furious Charge. If they were in the SM codex, this would be their chapter trait. However, they aren't, so why bother wasting space defining it as such?
RAI- When a Space Marine of another Chapter joins a squad, everyone kinda defaults to Codex Astartes Standard rather than fighting as their particular chapter. Everyone looses chapter tactics.
RAW- This only happens when Codex SM chapters mix, not other SM Factions.
SO- To say that BA, DA, SW and GK are not chapters is kinda dumb. All throughout the codicies in fluff and even in some rules, the word CHAPTER is used. In Blood Angels for instance, Dante and Seth are referred to as CHAPTER masters. BA, DA and SM all have CODEX ADEPTUS ASTARTES on the cover. And fluff wise, what is the difference of a DA Chaplain or BA librarian joining a Ultamarine Squad and an Imp Fist or White Scars one doing it? Are the codex SM marines just incompetent? No! There is no difference. It just feels like the SM codex was written out of context of other codices, and this is a general feeling for alot of books, so it is highly believable IRT to this rule. And it is being fought for essentially to continue to allow the spamming of BA Sanguinary Priest or DA Librarians without suffering any penalties and still gaining Battle Brother allies. Bottom line though, they are all Chapters. The Intention is that mixing chapters leads to a loss of individuality. Futhermore, why do these 4 chapters get away with it, but NONE of the Forge World ones...
He knew a little bit about warfare.
And IMO you should play rules as intended anyways, because that is the way the game was designed and tested to be played. To do so otherwise breaks the construct of the game and destroys the fun of it. I am going to use roleplaying games as an example. I have been in NUMEROUS rpg campaigns that ended prematurely  because the GM felt the player characters had broken them. We never did anything against the rules, but we still violated the basic principle of the game.

Let me give and example. I just finished a Black Crusade game that only lasted 5 sessions. We had already made our characters WAY more powerful than they should have been via clever use of equipment procurement and talents (we had +8 to our initiative and I myself was +10. To a d10 roll. I was ALWAYS faster than the maximum the dice could give). We had a nurgle psyker in the group and a slaaneshi flesh moulder. One of the things the flesh molder could do was boost a characteristic. SO the psyker had him boost his willpower, already a considerable 60/100. Because of the talents between them, and the bonuses to the ritual they performed, and the flesh shapers already considerable skill in his art, they were able to pass the check required to improve his willpower by 5 degrees of success, giving the nurgle psyker a 110 willpower, which meant AUTO SUCCEED ALL TESTS. When the GM decided that this was to broken of a way to do that, the psyker's player INSTANTLY had a plan be which involved possession of himself and then using his already considerable willpower and bonus to force the daemon into submission, the end result being he had a will power of 110. So at the end of the session, we all concluded the game was broken and to move on. It just killed all the fun. And while it may have been fun for the nurgle psyker's player, it wouldn't have been for the rest of us.

These rules weren't intended to allow this to happen, but as written, we the PCs abused them. And it killed the game.

Now apply that example to 1+ FNP rolls. It may be fun to you to have an unkillable beat stick, but it is obviously breaking the construct of the game, and it is not fun for your opponent.

RAI is more fun. And it never feels dirty or cheap, as it typically is the route less OP and does not rely on poor wording or open interpretations.

Chances are, if your opponent feels like they are being cheated, your are on the less fun side of the argument. My recommendation, don't diminish your opponents fun and play RAI. I think you will find you have as much, if not more fun, since BOTH people are enjoying the game.
BUT!!! At the end of the day, none of this should or would matter IF IF IF GW just would release FAQs/Errata in a timely matter and actually cared about the rules they wrote...