My Space Marine Librarian in Terminator armor can perform a sweeping advance because in the "Terminator Armor" wargear section on page 102 it says "Terminators cannot perform a sweeping advance" it does not say "models in Terminator armor".He was promptly flamed for his incredible rules-lawyering. Now RAW he is absolutely correct, but RAI he is absolutely wrong which leads me to the subject of this week's FAQ:
RAW v. RAI
Now many non-frequent gamers may not know the difference so let me break it down so the rest of this post isn't unneccisarly confusing. RAW stands for "Rules As Written", that is reading the rules and applying them to the game exactly as they are written. RAI stands for "Rules As Intended (or Implied)" in that you apply the rules as it is intended to be played and not exactly how it is written.
The use of either of these is generally clear. I have 6/10 guys behind a building, I therefore get a 4+ cover save reading the rules as written (RAW) in the rulebook. Using the example at the beginning of this post, Terminator armor is bulky and therefore Terminators cannot sweeping advance IMPLIES (RAI) that any model in Terminator cannot perform a sweeping advance, despite what the rules as written are. Same with the 4th edition Space Marine codex where Terminators didn't have Terminator Armor in their entry. A clear case of RAI over RAW (except for rules-lawyering idiots).
Now where might I be going with this? Well I want to help out everyone (including myself) by figuring out when the best time to use RAW or RAI is. A lot of times it is depending on my mood or the situation (which is never good as I am rarely using logic in those cases). When you are playing for fun, RAI should ALWAYS take precedence and when you're playing in a tournament-style RAW should likewise take precedence. However, there are times when using one or the other can be confusing or tricky.
Many times RAW comes off as rules-lawyering or looking either too deeply or not enough into the rules. Some nice cases are our rulings for Pinning Weapons and the Deffrolla. Both of those issues teeter on the line between RAW and RAI but Alex and I decided on RAW for both. Why? Well because when it is hard to tell what is implied in a rule (did they really want you to be able to Ram with a Deffrolla or have each sniper gun able to cause a pinning check?) I feel going with RAW is the safest route until an official FAQ is released. I realize many people disagree and that's perfectly OK. If you are planning on playing fun games I suggest making some fun house rules that use RAW but twist them a bit to make it more of a compromise. For example, if I thought each weapon causing a pinning check is over-powered, I would say on a 4+ at the beginning of the squad's shooting phase, each weapon has the potential to cause a pinning check because they are not shooting to kill, but shooting to make sure the enemy doesn't advance (or something like that). It makes the game for interesting with it still being a fair compromise. The important thing to remember with RAW is that it absolutely cannot be used in all cases, but is the safety net if you can't come upon a decision. You then can use what's written and manipulate it into a house rule since, after all, 40k is meant for fun, not to beat the crap out of eachother!
I like using RAI a lot because it helps me think about how the developers come up with rules so I can create fun little scenarios as I play. However, when answering rules questions I tend to only use it when what is written is absolutely not clear and can logically be drawn to more than one conclusion. That's where it begins to get tricky because everyone is right with their opinion on what the developers intended (since most of us just play the game and don't write the rules!) so it's why we come to our conclusion that matters, not how. A good example of this in our Friday FAQ segments is the Drop Pod ordeal. Alex and I didn't feel the rules were clear and there were two different conclusions that people could logically come to so we decided to look at what was intended. The beautiful thing about RAI is that it really helps to get people in the spirit of the game. Too often gamers get enthralled by competitive play that they forget GW has always intended the 40k rulebook to be a guideline on how to play and not a definitive rules-set. Bottom-line is that 40k is meant to be fun, not competive. In the end, RAI is perfect for creating house-rules because that's what they are: a certain group's interpretation of what is intended in a rule.
DON'T BE A POWERGAMER
Anyone who has played in a tournament has faced cheesy lists, unit abuse and down-right game-breaking crap. However, that's not being a powergamer IMO. Even though i am under the firm belief that fun lists can win tournies too (I've seen it happen!), I belief powergaming lies mainly in rules manipulation. This is usually where a player will be using RAW where RAI is needed (rarely do they use RAI because the game actually becomes fun and the powergamer just can't have that). Another way to be a powergaming dick is by making a ruling up that gives them a clear advantage and acting like it is 100% true to try and play off their opponant's ignorance or frustration, furthering their chances to win. When you need to rely on a rules-anomaly to win a game and not tactical superiority, I have the urge to punch you right in the face.
A beautiful example was in Alex and my last game in our doubles tourney. We played an Eldar guy and Chaos guy (Eldar dude was a great sport even though we tabled his army by turn 3 whereas the Chaos guy was basically what I just outlined above). Alex decides to fire his melta vets out of the top hatch in the Chimera. "But wait!" says the Chaos powergamer, "you can't fire them out of the top hatch because the turret blocks line of sight!" Blank stares of disbelief turn his way. Alex readied his bolt pistol for summary execution as i began to dial Jervis Johnson to fly to Western New York to slap this kid across the head. "Are you kidding me?" asks Alex, the powergamer's Eldar teammate staring at him wondering why he joined teams with him. "Yeah, I mean if you used the laser pointer to draw line of sight from the top hatch it would hit the turret and you can't fire them, sorry man!" At this point, a part of me died as I lost some faith in humanity. The Eldar teammate turns to the wickedly cool Valhallan player (side note: the kid had ALL metal Valhallans. My faith in humanity returned :p) and asked him if this was the case. He turns to the Chaos player and eloquently says "What the hell are you taking about? Of course he can fire out of the top hatch, don't be a douche!" Alex lowered his bolt pistol for another time (probably for the guy that side-swipped his car at the 'Ard Boyz tourney a few weeks later).
I could go on an on, but bottom line is: if you are relying on weird rule wording or your opponants ignorance to win, you are acting in a powergaming manner. So now you know, and knowing's half the battle.