Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Rules, we read them, we infer them.  Some players want to be That Guy when it comes to rules.  Here are some thoughts regarding RAW vs RAI.

Closest that I could find that was "You got peanut butter in my jelly!  No, you got jelly in my peanut butter!"  Trust me its a two-fer.

JJ typing.  Rules, they can sometimes turn into an ugly requirement for a game.  Knowing the confines of the rules is key to knowing how to play and sometimes, well most of the time, win.  This post has been brewing in my head for a while.  Now that I have a way to present it, I can be free of these torturous thoughts.

RAW = Rules as Written.  RAI = Rules as Intended.

Let me get one thing out of the way regarding intent.  We never can know what someone intended.  (Possibly using an extreme example) This is a big reason why people are found innocent or guilty.  You can't prove intent.  You can provide information to convince someone your case has more merit.  You can guess what the intent is and perhaps be really close.  Unless someone tells us honestly their intent we will never know.  Some of us may have even experienced that our best intentions were poorly received or didn't turn out the way we wanted.  I'm sure parents can empathize with that statement.

Exercising Rules as Intended is a thinking error.  One best avoided.  Yet we look at a rule and see how it works in the game, but because its specifically worded a certain way we can't use what's intended.  We have to use what's written.

Here are some examples:

Preferred Enemy 40k6 pg 40

Many of the galaxy's warriors train hard to overcome a particular foe, allowing them to predict the enemy's battle-stances and thus land a blow or shot with greater ease.

This rule is often presented as Preferred Enemy (X) where X identifies a specific type of foe.  If the special rule does not specify a type of foe, then everyone is a Preferred Enemy of that unit.  A unit that contains at least one model with this special rule re-rolls failed To Hit and To Wound rolls of a 1 if attacking its Preferred Enemy.  This applies to both shooting and close combat attacks.

RAW: Models can re-roll 1's that fail to hit and wound but not armour penetration.  Grey Knights preferred enemy are Daemons.  Re-rolling to failed to hits against Heldrake and Slaanesh Chariots but not Armour Penetration even though both have the special rule Daemon.

RAI: Now here's where That Guy comes in.  One can argue that because Heldrake and Slaanesh Chariots have the special rule daemon Grey Knights players can re-roll the 1 when it comes to armour penetration.  Yet the written rule doesn't say Armour Penentration rolls of 1 can be re-rolled.

Necrons Codex 5th ed pg 44

Wraithflight: Canoptek Wraiths are never slowed by Difficult Terrain, and automatically pass Dangerous Terrain tests.

40k6 pg 48

Beasts; Movement Beasts are not slowed by difficult terrain (even when charging).

FAQ 40k6 Rulebook pg 5

Q: Do models that ignore difficult terrain when moving or charging still fight at Initiative step 1 if they charge through difficult terrain?
A: Yes

RAW: Both Canoptek Wraiths and Beasts attack at Initiative Step 1 when charging through difficult terrain because FAQ trumps Codex and Basic Rulebook.

RAI: Another That Guy moment.  Because the rules stat that Canoptek Wraiths and Beasts are not slowed by difficult terrain they shouldn't attack at Initiative Step 1.  Yet some clearly uninformed FAQ changes the rule.  Means even though they ignore difficult terrain they still attack at initiative step 1.

There was an Eldar FAQ that said you can take cover saves from wounds caused by psychic power Mind War.  Since there's a new codex, and FAQ already, can't use that one.

In closing, really RAW and RAI doesn't matter.  Comes down to the friendliness of your game and how players get along.  Great compatibility between players will allow more flex with the rules.  Tournaments do not generally promote RAI > RAW because everyone is playing to win.  Games at the basement, and store, table run rules differently than those on the tournament table.  This is not a disservice to the game or player.  Rather I believe a strength for the player so they can better articulate when the rule a comes into question.

slainte mhath


  1. You do run into a wall sometimes where there is a rule that must do something, but RAW it doesn't. It is really hard to make a decision on those things.

    An example is invulnerable saves on vehicles in 5th. RAW you can only make invulnerable saves vs wounds and vehicles don't get "wounded". Then you run into vehicles in Sisters of Battle armies with invulnerable saves (and able to buy flicker fields in DE for vehicles). Pretty much everyone I knew just played it where they got to roll the invulnerable save vs glances and pens, but that isn't RAW (although it is a logical step from the rules must do something).

    1. Yeah, Flickerfield wasn't officially explained until the Dark Eldar FAQ. I remember those fond "conversations" about Flickerfield. Looking back on them clearly I was looking for some sort of confrontation.


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