Poll Results: RAW vs. RAI and Competitive vs. Casual

Competitive vs. Casual is the new buzzword of the internet–more so than Grey Knights, Mechanized, or Melta Spam.  That’s why we tried to disect the topic in our most recent poll.  While we were on the subject, I thought I’d try to tackle a related dispute on RAW vs. RAI. 

Originally, I’d considered making each one of them a seperate poll, but there were distinct advantages if I could combine them.   Analysis of a question that simply stated “Do you prefer RAW or RAI,” doesn’t take much space, as it isn’t a very probing question; however, combining the two can give us a little more meat to disect.  While it can be difficult to word a question on multiple topics, the fact that each of these really only has two acceptable answers lended itself to combining them into a single question.  Unfortunately, the polling system we use doesn’t allow for very lengthy polls, so we had to simplify the question as much as possible.

Before the poll began, I had some preconceived notions as to what I’d see.  Though I wasn’t sure how many responses I’d find on either camp, it seemed to me logical that two answers would be much more prevelant than others.  It would make sense to me that those players who considered themselves to be “Competitive” would be more likely to frequent tournaments.  As such, having such a clear-cut interpretation of the rules would seemingly end any disputes in games.  Conversely, I’d expect that Casual type gamers would be more prone to house rules and anything else to “make the game more fun.”  Although reduction of arguments could also justify popularity of Casual players choosing RAW.

So, going into this poll I really expected the following results (from most popular to least):

  1. Competitive & RAW
  2. Casual & RAI
  3. Casual & RAW
  4. Competitive & RAI

Though I’m not sure how many people consider themselves Competitive and how many Casual, I think that sways the RAW/RAI choice considerably.   Now that I’ve said that though, I wonder which of these two options is really influenced by the other.  Does the nature of the gamer (competitive/casual) influence their rules interpretation, or is it the opposite?  Or, do you think that the two are really mutually exclusive?

But I digress…  Since my logic led me to believe the Casual vote would be somewhat split betwen RAI and RAW, I put Competitive/RAW up top, followed by the other options as described.  Well, what was the end result? 

[poll id=”26″]

Ok, so I was wrong.  But isn’t that why we have such polls in the first place?  So, let’s try to address the difference between what I was expecting, and what happened. 

Firstly, in the area of Competitive vs. Casual, 72% of respondants considered themselves to be Casual gamers.  Of course, the two really aren’t mutually exclusive, as most players will play to win, regardless of their choice.  Casual could mean that they “play more for fun,” focus on other aspects of the hobby (such as painting/modelling), or just don’t play as frequently.  Additionally, the term “competitive” often has negative connotations, conjuring up images of rudeness, so people might be prone not to call themselves by that term.  Also, there’s a matter of audience.  Since I consider myself a casual gamer, perhaps the content on the blog is more tailored to like-minded individuals.  Nobody on the site does much army list analysis, or min/maxing, so perhaps the results are also swayed by the other content within the blog.

These are just some of the reasons why casual gamers might have turned out in droves for voting.  I’m sure there are other possibilities as well, but how about the RAW vs. RAI debate?

Analysis here shows that 64% of respondents chose Rules as Intended over those as written.   More surprisingly, both Comp and Casual players were more likely to choose RAI.   I really found that result shocking.  Granted, only one additional competitive player chose RAI, so that’s really a balanced result, but I was still shocked that the two options were so close.  Perhaps there really isn’t a correllary between the two? 

Conversely though, Casual players were twice as likely to choose Rules as Intended, so it seems pretty clear there is some relation on that regards.  It would just appear that the inverse isn’t necessarily so.  I wonder why that is?

I suspect GW is partly to blame.  Perhaps people are more prone to interpretation of the rules because many of the rules are just unclear, and when played directly as written, make for some fairly absurd combinations? 

Rushputin (of the Warpstone Pile) is a full-on RAW mentality–in order to reduce conflicts:

“If we were to play a game tomorrow, RAI would cause confusion and heartburn: your RAI is almost certainly different from my RAI. If we played by RAW… we’ll, we’re all working off the same documents.”

Conversely, I like Angelic Despot’s stance in defense of RAI:

“One reason I don’t necessarily agree with the idea that RAW makes it easier to define a common standard held by gamers who’ve never met is that for many I suspect (certainly people like me) don’t have the brain power to study the rules closely enough to understand all of the rules 100% as written.

I don’t mean that we’re stupid, just that we read the rules, think we understand them, and play. Perhaps not realising that some of the rules we think we understood are actually misinterpretations of rules that may not be written clearly. Or they may be old rules from previous editions and subtle wording changes have escaped us. We skim the rule, get the intention, because we’re familiar with the concept from previous editions, and don’t perhaps pick up on a change that a very close reading would pick up.”

I think the gidst here is that we’re not all lawyers, and we might be missing some nuance on how things really read.  So, perhaps it’s easier to interpret to the best of our ability, and come up with a decision both sides can agree upon.

It seems pretty clear though, that neither camp is going to back down anytime soon.  With such a complex rule system, things will always be somewhat open to interpretation.  So, unless GW tones things down to the level of monopoly (which, I’m sure nobody wants), these arguments are here to stay, but as long as we can have civil discussions like Rushputin and Angelic Despot do, what’s the harm in that?

By the way, if you like charts, go check out Rushputin’s 2010 Year in Review, that man is a chart loving fiend…  If you have any input on the subject (or my assuredly flawed interpretation), please leave a comment.  As always, there’s another poll running to the right, please take a moment to vote on that as well.

“Casual Friday” image from unknown source, stolen from another blog…

5 comments on “Poll Results: RAW vs. RAI and Competitive vs. Casual

  1. In the last few years GW have gotten much better at making rules easier to understand. Of course they still aren’t perfect, but the difference between 4th Edition and 5th Edition is pretty huge, both for the main rulebook and for the codices. As their ability to write rules improves, need for RAI diminishes, so maybe in a few more years time this won’t be an issue any more.

    • I really was unaware of the argument before 5th edition, as I played solely
      with a couple of close friends and it was clear to us RAI was the way to
      go. After expanding my circle, I was introduced to the dilemma.

      Was it really worse in 4th edition? Worse than the Tyranid codex for

  2. I can’t say I’m surprised casual far outweighed competitive. I find competitive gamers to be the very vocal minority in 40K. I believe competitive RAI beat out competitive RAW as a result of audience. You, like myself, probably don’t draw the super-competitive gamers and those who consider themselves competitive gamers are most likely local competitive gamers, as I am, instead of those who attend national events and such. As a result they tend to favor RAI as they may be competing but they’re competing against friends and people they play with often, IE: a more casual competitive environment.

    • Yeah, that’s probably the key differentiator. I’m not hardc0re enough to
      attract true competitive players to my site. Perhaps if I did more army
      list analysis? But that’s not really my thing… I’m definitely casual, and
      it’s fine with me if that’s the sort of player that’s attracted to this

  3. Pingback: RAI vs. RAW: a new convention « Warp Signal

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