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…

New Poll: Time Spent on Gaming?

Another week, and another poll.  This week’s question is inspired (in part) by a poll over at Creative Twilight which is looking to find out what people’s favorite part of the hobby is.  Not to steal his thunder, I combined that with another comment from TheInnerGeek where he’d mentioned that real life had forced him to cut back on his hobby time.

Cutting back will mean something different to each of us, since we all have different circumstances which dictate how much time/money we have to spend on the hobby.  In this case, TheInnerGeek had suggested that an hour per day was all he could muster now, and at first glance, that seemed like alot.

In retrospect, 7 hours per week isn’t far-fetched for me.  I tend to get in a game most Fridays and spend 3-4 hours there, and then I have misc projects that flash on and off, plus the time spent doing the blog.  I dare say I spend upwards of 10 hours in my average week on the hobby.  What struck me as odd was the way he phrased it: an hour per day.  While I can certainly average that much, it’s been a long time since I could dedicate a block of time each day to my hobby.

So, that’s where we came up with this week’s poll: Approximately how much time do you spend per week on gaming (including painting, modelling, playing, and reading blogs/forums)?  In general, we’re just looking to find out how much time our average reader spends per week on 40k.  As always, we’ll disect the responses in two weeks.

You can vote on the poll to the right, or below.  Also, if you’re interested in balancing 40k and real life, author Tony had a pretty crafty post on the subject last week that you might want to check out.

[poll id=”27″]


Poll Results: Why Did You Choose Your Army?

Our most recently closed poll was concerning why people chose their army.  More specifically, the question was:

What are the main factors that lead you to choose your current army?

Now before we get into analyzing the results (or the underlying question), let’s take a look at those results:

[poll id=”25″]

As you can see, there were a myriad of options available, but not everyone agreed that the list was complete enough.   Hurricane Girl from Craftworld Iybraesil suggested that she’s playing her current army (mechdar) largely because she didn’t want to paint another horde style army.  I hadn’t considered the Monty Python “And Now For Something Completely Different” mindset as a factor.  While Tom (guest poster of Warhammer39999 and proprietor of Longbeard Painting & Modelling) shared that he’s purchased a WHFB army just for the comedic value of “Boing, Boing, Boing!”

There was also some question as to whether I’d worded the choices properly.   I had phrased the response as “Modelling: they seemed easy to assemble and paint.”  Angelic Despot (who needs a blog so I can give him a proper link), reminded me that not everyone’s after the easy win: some people go after a project for the exact opposite reason.  Whether it’s a matter of being able to personalize a force, or overcome a hobby challenge (for instance: those sadists who are converting Tyranid Harpies from assorted kits–like Faolain’s impressive creation here).  Certainly a good point.  I did try to include this in the poll with the option “Rarity: I wanted a force that was unique, so I hunted down rare bits/models,” but maybe it could’ve been worded a bit better.

With the options that were given (however they were worded), fluff and style were the clear front-runners, each capturing 73.6% of the total vote (remember: people were allowed to choose multiple selections).  It should come as no surprise that people can get behind an idealic story or cool looking models, but I honestly expected more people to say they were influenced by how powerful their codicies were.

To my surprise though, more people stated that they chose their force because it was underpowered than powerful.  Granted, I was one of them, so I know where they’re coming from, but still.  There’s got to be a reason why the most powerful armies seem so popular, right?

GW's Inspiration for the Cadian Uniform

Perhaps people aren’t as likely to admit they chose an army because it was powerful?  I would’ve thought the anonimity provided by the poll would change that for the most part, but it’s something to consider.  More likely, I think people spoke from the heart.  So the remaining question is: What is so cool about the Imperial Guard models/fluff?  They’re 15 year old tank models and the infantry are straight out of SpaceBalls!?!

For more interesting reads on the subject, you might want to check out the maple-based programmer Dave G’s blog: N++ Wargaming and his thoughts behind what goes into army selection.

As always, thanks for voting.  There’s another active poll to the right of the site, please take a moment and share your thoughts on that as well.

Spaceballs image from the movie of the same name by MGM.  “Choose One” image from www.explodingdog.com.  Have I mentioned that I love stick figure drawings?

New Poll: Competitive vs. Casual

Image copyright http://www.despair.com

This weeks poll is a two-parter, trying to discern how many people consider themselves casual or competitive gamers along with whether they interpret the rules as they believe they were intended or strictly as they’re written.  This poll was inspired in large part by one our regular new columnists, Tony (see a list of his posts here), more specifically his recent post on Rules as Written vs. Rules as Intended.  Other inspiration was gleaned from GDMNW’s insight in the comments, as well as his follow-up post on his blog here.

Essentially, what we’re trying to determine is how many people consider themselves casual gamers and how many competitive.  Granted, even casual gamers are competitive to some degree (and inversely, competitive players can play casual games).  While most people really fall into both camps at various times, we’re asking you to pick which is most applicable to you overall.

Likewise, we’re trying to determine whether you interpret the rules as written (RAW), playing things exactly as they’re written in the rulebook–or if you try to discern an underlying intent on some rules, modifying them slightly to make the game more “balanced.”  Unlike the above, chances are you’ll fall directly into one of these two categories.

Being a two-part poll, it’s a little tricky in the wording, but I have the utmost faith in followers of the old-school website and am sure you’ll be able to figure it out.  Please feel free to vote using the poll to the right, or immediately below this post.  As always, the poll will be open for two weeks, and the following week, we’ll try to disect the findings.  I for one, am really interested to see how things turn out…

[poll id=”26″]

Poll Results: Importance of Stats?

The last two polls we’ve had on the sites were concerning which are the most important stats and which are the least important.  I had wanted to do a write-up of each seperately, but opted to combine them into a single assessment so as not to skew the results of the later poll with my thoughts on the first.

The first poll asked people which were the most important stats, and the results were as follows:

[poll id=”22″]

The clear frontrunners here being Toughness, Save, & Wounds.  TheKingElsar from Mind War pretty much summed up the mindset for the first two when he said in his article-esque response:

“Toughness : Resistance to damage is applicable in all 3 phases – it determines the places a unit moves to – towards or away from the enemy, in and out of cover/building/transports etc. It determines what can be allowed to shoot them with impunity…and it determines the ability to tarpit or grind a win out of combats.

Save : Determines a unit’s basic resistance to damage in addition to T (and of course W.) While a lot of people claim the ubiquitousness of cover in 5e as some sort of reason why Save is irrelevant, IMO this is a red herring. Firstly, Cover is not so prevalent as many claim. Indeed, the recommended table coverage of terrain hasn’t really changed since 2e. Use of TLoS to determine of terrain blocks a shot isn’t new either – the only new thing is the ability to claim cover for being shot ‘through’ a unit. While the default cover Save being 4+, people also claim that even a 3+ isn’t important – but it is, when facing mediocre or weak a-i firepower, such as Lasguns. The difference between a 4+ and a 3+ when shot by 7 Lasguns is significant, very much so. The difference between this and a 2+ even more extreme. Save allows you to determine what kind of situations a model can be placed in in order to gain maximum usage with minimum risk. If it WASN’T so important to have a good Sv, then TH/SS with their bog standard other stats and low mobility would be overlooked in almost all corners of the Blogosphere/Forums.”

He also had an interesting argument as to why BS should be on the list, but popular opinion ixnayed that in favor of wounds (another universal resistant stat).  The long and the short of it seems like these three stats work for you in every phase of the game, and (baring low AP weaponry), always provide some sort of benefit, while the others are more situational.

On the subject of the least important stats, we get the following:

[poll id=”24″]

Again, three more front runners.  This time we see Weapon Skill, Leadership, & Initiative getting the top (er… bottom) picks, though things are quite as clear-cut as they were with the first poll, there’s definitely some angst out there towards Weapon Skill & Leadership.

And rightfully so: there are some real snoozers in when it comes to the statline.  In the days of 2nd edition, Weapon skill was arguably one of the most important stats, because it could possibly earn you a free “attack” for every point in that stat, but that all changed with the 3rd edition assault phase.  Since then, WS is practically a wasted stat.  You’re either rolling a 4+ to hit, or a 3+ to hit with virtually every unit in the entire game.  With very few exceptions *cough Tyranid psychic powers*, there are only a couple of units that will ever require a 5+ to hit in assault: Eldar Avatars, Greater Daemons of Khorne, etc.  This is the one stat that needs an overhaul more than any other.

But Leadership is a close second.  The reason it was highlighted is undoubtedly because of the proliferation of units that ignore (or almost ignore) the stat altogether: fearless and stubborn units are far too common to make the stat worthwhile.  The changes to assault phase modification go some way to raising the importance of the stat in 5th edition, but the special rules that ignore leadership make units like snipers almost completely worthless (though that still doesn’t stop me from fielding them).

I can’t say as I’m too surprised by the overall results of either poll though (except that one person who said Toughness was the least important stat… what were you thinking?!).  Did it shape up how you thought it would?

Thanks to everyone who participated, and a special thanks to those who commented with their thought process.  Also, keep in mind that there’s another poll going on  the right side of the site.