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Author Topic: What constitutes a rules-lawyer?  (Read 4942 times)

Offline Fidelis von Sigmaringen

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What constitutes a rules-lawyer?
« on: March 12, 2014, 05:03:34 PM »
Disclaimer: please RAI (read as intended). This is not a thread to re-open any debate, nor is anything written here to be taken personal by anyone.

In a recent thread, it has been argued that “Hard line raw is the definition of rules lawyering, really.”

If at all true, the question remains what is hard line RAW, and what are valid arguments in a rules discussion? Here is my view; I am interested in other views. And do not worry: as it is all personal opinion, there cannot be a correct view. 

As I wrote elsewhere, I wonder, if any of us actually play Warhammer, rather than a peculiar mixture of current rules (frequently not updated), leftovers of previous editions, rules that never existed, and house rules, that people often assume to be official. That does not need to be a problem in a game. Indeed, half of the time, I simply forget to apply rules anyway (usually to my own detriment), but that does not ruin the fun.

That said, I would have thought that in a discussion about what the rules actually are, arguments must be first and foremost based on what is written in the BRB and ABs.
However, more often than not, arguments given in a rules debate are (in no particular order):

- It is not an issue
- We have always played it like that
- It should/should not be
- Otherwise it is useless/overpowered (usually the first argument relates to own troops and the second to enemy troops)
- Fluff  (although that may play a role to give a certain preference in the case of two equally valid interpretations)

Personally, I can find no value whatsoever in these kinds of arguments, unless it is firmly backed by an actual rule written in the BRB or ABs. An opinion based on these arguments  carries little weight in my eyes, even if held by a majority. 

It is further not uncommon of people to argue on the basis of what they genuinely think the written rules are, but, as testified by many a thread , that is not necessarily the case.
That happens to me as much as to anyone else, and that is why I generally “do a Fidelis” (as someone once said) and quote the rules. Most people, I think, will agree that I also usually make the effort and quote all the relevant rules in their proper context, i.e. I do not go cherrypicking.

Then there is, of course, the whole issue of RAW versus RAI.

My default position is this: if there is a way to satisfy all the rules as written, there is no need to refer to RAI. Why?
Because RAI often seem to stand for Rules as Imagined: we play it this way, so it must be intended this way. Yes, all rules need interpretation, but there is a limit. When things clearly do not mean anymore what they mean (“Highest Leadership” is not “highest Leadership” or “maximum range”  is not “maximum range”) that limit is stretched too far. None of us is a mind-reader, and we usually have no way of knowing what the intent of the writer is. As such, what is the benefit of changing the discussion about RAW into a discussion about RAI?  At least, the RAW give you something tangible to discuss.

Nevertheless, I do agree, that RAI have a role to play in (at least) two cases:
 
1. When the RAI are stated in the rules (which makes them in fact RAW).
Example: the 1” rule, which states “This rule is purely for clarity.”
And yet, many are perfectly willing to ignore the clearly specified intent, and use this rule for other purposes, while invoking an unstated (and thus unknown) intent against RAW in other cases.

2. When the RAW make the rule unplayable. 
Example: the Banner of the lost Hold in the current Dwarfs AB. RAW, it apparently cannot be taken by anyone, but no one will doubt that it must be possible for an item to be used.

I think, I can also claim, that I usually try to present the written rules à charge et à décharge. For example, on the last page of a recent thread, a possible problem as a result of RAW was pointed out, while failing to notice that I myself had pointed out that same problem on the very first page of the thread and several times afterwards.

Which brings me to my last point. Certainly, GW writing skills leave room for improvement (to say it mildly), but, apparently, so do our own reading skills, and rules discussions would be fewer and far shorter, if both the rules and posts in a rules debate would be read with greater attention.
 
If the principles I have outlined above are hard line RAW and therefore rules-lawyering, I guess, I am guilty as charged.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2014, 07:02:57 PM by Fidelis von Sigmaringen »
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Offline Finlay

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Re: What constitutes a rules-lawyer?
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2014, 05:12:08 PM »
you know, if you really want to argue with me, you're more than welcome to PM me. :)
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Offline Fidelis von Sigmaringen

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Re: What constitutes a rules-lawyer?
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2014, 05:17:09 PM »
It is not about you - the quote just put it most forcefully. Elsewhere it was phrased as a question, or implied to a lesser or stronger degree. 
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Offline The Ol Perfesser

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Re: What constitutes a rules-lawyer?
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2014, 05:24:13 PM »
I've always thought of "rules lawyering" as being in some way manipulative.

Where an individual misuses a rule to their advantage or, so rigidly adheres to a rule that it inhibits the flow (& fun) of the game (and is specifically in their best interest).  For example, someone might overlook an action they could take during a phase but remember it shortly after starting the next phase.  I generally would allow someone to "go back" and take that action that they forgot to do.  But an opponent could rightfully argue that the phase is over and done with and so "no going" back.  That sort of thing.

The most blatant case of this that I can recall, was a few years ago (7ed.) when some were arguing that the Steam Tank (being designated as a warmachine at that point in time) had no crew and so, it would be automatically eliminated if contacted by opposing troops.  It was ridiculous.

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Offline Finlay

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Re: What constitutes a rules-lawyer?
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2014, 05:26:58 PM »
I'll reply properly later, once I've read it properly.

short reply. yes, you're a rules lawyer.

but your points 1 and 2 Preclude you from being hard line. when people speak derogatively about rules lawyering, it is generally about hardliners.



I wonder what would happen if we were to arrange a friendly, pick up game and I took a smith general and thane bsb. Would you refuse to play me?

What would you do if you encountered a list which did this, or a skaven snitch one, in a tourney. The tourney organisers had pre-screened the lists and not found a problem.

When was the skaven book released? (rhetorical, I don't care, it was just ages ago). I can't believe this has never come up in a tourney setting.
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Offline Fidelis von Sigmaringen

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Re: What constitutes a rules-lawyer?
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2014, 05:33:26 PM »
Hmm, it seems I have not made myself clear: for me rules discussions (barring blatant and/or intentional infringements) do not belong at the gaming table. That is what threads are for.
To answer your questions: I would point out that your list is illegal and play you. Tourneys are a different matter alltogether: if you participate in a tourney, you abide by the tourney rules.

Where an individual misuses a rule to their advantage or, so rigidly adheres to a rule that it inhibits the flow (& fun) of the game (and is specifically in their best interest).  For example, someone might overlook an action they could take during a phase but remember it shortly after starting the next phase.  I generally would allow someone to "go back" and take that action that they forgot to do.

I do that in friendly games, but not in a tournament (which, however, I have not played in a long time).
« Last Edit: March 12, 2014, 05:44:25 PM by Fidelis von Sigmaringen »
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Offline shavixmir

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Re: What constitutes a rules-lawyer?
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2014, 05:44:01 PM »
I think rules-lawyering is inherint in the term.

Lawyers busy themselves with the application of rules.
Anyone busying themselves with the application of rules is a lawyer.

Lawyers get paid a lot of money for doing nothing constructive.
Nobody gets paid (as far as I know) for busying themselves with the application of rules in Warhammer.

So, either anybody who does is a philanthropist.
Or, anybody who does doesn't actually exist.

-------------------------
That being said, and argueing from the "they probably do actually exist" point of view...
I actually side with captain Barbossa on this one: "Laws? More actual guidelines, they are..."

And any rule or law should be interpretted as such (okay... I'm willing to make an exception for "rape" and "murder without provocation").
And any form of judicial prudence should be viewed as contemporary; nothing more.
(RAI) Read as intended is utter, utter, utter, utter crap.

Reading means something is being viewed which is written... don't argue.... stick with me...
Writing is a form of communication.
Communication MEANS sending a message from a sender to a receiver....
A message is A and the communication is succesful if A is received.
Hence... if a communication has to be interpretted, it has already failed in its design.

Creating RAI means non-acceptence of the afore mentioned conclusion.
This means if I mean: "I love you all." but write: "I love Hitler", then it's okay... I didn't actually mean that.

See?
Complete madness.
And a complete breakdown of communications.
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Offline commandant

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Re: What constitutes a rules-lawyer?
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2014, 06:02:36 PM »
A rules lawyer is somebody who intentionally attempts to exploit the rules in order to create advantages for himself in a manner which inhibits simulation.

A rules lawyer is somebody who tries to create vagueness in the rules where none exist in order to create an advantage for themselves.

To answer Finlay's question.   I would assume he had simply made a mistake with the Thane, smith set up and move on.   I doubt I would even mention it.

Offline Mogsam

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Re: What constitutes a rules-lawyer?
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2014, 06:25:11 PM »
Someone said to me at a tournament "there's this stupid rule that let's me"....

I thought he was being ridiculous. If it's a stupid rule then don't use it. Just because it gave him a massive I intended advantage doesn't mean he should use it.
Curse you and your ability to stay within the lines.

Offline Finlay

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Re: What constitutes a rules-lawyer?
« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2014, 07:08:09 PM »
right.

Fidelis.

You are a rules lawyer. That's not a bad thing, per se. (although, it sort of is. GW say it is.)
Your acknowledgement of points 1 and 2 preclude you from being a hardline RAWer. a hardline RAWer, to me, is someone who is deliberately misinterpreting or warping the rules to get an advantage. Both 1 and 2 fall into that.


RAW in general is fundamentally flawed for warhammer, because they don't care to write an air-tight set of rules, or release faqs or errattas to do so.
You wanting to hang your hat on RAW only, "I would have thought that in a discussion about what the rules actually are, arguments must be first and foremost based on what is written in the BRB and AB", "At least, the RAW give you something tangible to discuss." is flawed from a RAW argument, as GW specifically tell us not to do this. so I'll "do a Fidelis" to prove it.


page 2, brb "The most important rule: In a game the size and complexity of Warhammer, there are bound to be occasions where a situation is not covered in the rules, or you can't seem to find the right page [explicitly telling us, on the first page of the book, it is not an airtight rulest, fundamentally undermining the value of RAW]. Even if you know the rule, sometimes it is just a really close call, and players don't agree on precise outcomes.

Nobody wants to waste valuable gaming time arguing, so be prepared to interpret [explicitly telling us, on the first page of the book, to use RAI, not RAW]  a rule or come up with some suitable solution for yourselves. If you find that you and your opponent cannot agree on the application of a rule, roll a dice to see whose interpretation will apply for the remainder of the game"

paghe 3 brb "it is important to remember the rules are just a framework to create an enjoyable game. winning at any cost is less important than making sure both players... have a good time. What's more, Warhammer calls on a lot from you, the players. Your job isnt to follow the rules, it's also to add your own ideas and sense of fun to the game. Much of the appeal of warhammer lies in the freedom and open-endedness this allows, and it is in this spirit the rules have been written [the rules have been explicitly written for RAI, not RAW]".


This is why even if you're not trying to manipulate RAW, which I'm not sure you are, you shouldn't stick to it in such a black and white manner. You and commandante's unwillingness to even admit there was ambiguity, despite a thread on warhammer.org, warseer, WE and Bugman's ALL had people on both sides, is part of this. It ain't black and white, it ain't meant to be, and GW admit it ain't.



an important aside: have you ever seen any tourney rulings which indicate this LD ruling for skaven or Brets?
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Offline iamtheeviltwin

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Re: What constitutes a rules-lawyer?
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2014, 07:08:23 PM »
A rules lawyer is somebody who intentionally attempts to exploit the rules in order to create advantages for himself in a manner which inhibits simulation.

A rules lawyer is somebody who tries to create vagueness in the rules where none exist in order to create an advantage for themselves.

To answer Finlay's question.   I would assume he had simply made a mistake with the Thane, smith set up and move on.   I doubt I would even mention it.

This is the core of being a rules lawyer...the rules lawyer is not just someone well versed in the rules, the rules lawyer is someone who bends, manipulates, and breaks the rules to gain advantage.  The person who finds "loopholes" to exploit for his advantage/the opponents disadvantage.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2014, 07:18:05 PM by iamtheeviltwin »

Offline Fidelis von Sigmaringen

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Re: What constitutes a rules-lawyer?
« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2014, 07:26:52 PM »
@ Finlay: You may notice that I have continuously differentiated between a game and a rules discussion. And there must be a minimum of commonly accepted rules (the BRB), or otherwise you cannot play the game. If people are in doubt about a specific rule (as in the recent thread) and ask what the actual rules are, I do not think that an answer amounting to "just make them up as you go" is either helpful or wanted.
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Offline Finlay

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Re: What constitutes a rules-lawyer?
« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2014, 07:29:58 PM »
:)
I don't care about the rules.

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Offline Finlay

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Re: What constitutes a rules-lawyer?
« Reply #13 on: March 12, 2014, 07:32:45 PM »
there must be a minimum of commonly accepted rules (the BRB)
GW say this is not the case
Quote
, or otherwise you cannot play the game.
seeing as GW say ths is not the case, we do a pretty good job.

Quote
what the actual rules are, I do not think that an answer amounting to "just make them up as you go" is either helpful or wanted.
except this is EXPLICITLY what GW says. there are no actual rules.

I don't care about the rules.

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Offline Fandir Nightshade

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Re: What constitutes a rules-lawyer?
« Reply #14 on: March 12, 2014, 07:35:35 PM »
Like Shav said...and Barbossa....they are guidelines.

Still if someone asks how a parry save works people will quote the brb and be right in that regard.

Offline shavixmir

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Re: What constitutes a rules-lawyer?
« Reply #15 on: March 12, 2014, 07:37:19 PM »
I just want to make perfectly clear... For the the ob

Sorry. I got too drunk to actually finish that sentence...
« Last Edit: March 12, 2014, 07:41:24 PM by shavixmir »
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Offline Finlay

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Re: What constitutes a rules-lawyer?
« Reply #16 on: March 12, 2014, 07:41:43 PM »
I think bugman's has just found another good RAW fuck up.

"if a dispelling player does not have any wizards a dispel can still be attempted but the number of dice is limited" - pg 29.

this is then not mentioned again.
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Offline Fidelis von Sigmaringen

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Re: What constitutes a rules-lawyer?
« Reply #17 on: March 12, 2014, 07:42:37 PM »
@ Finlay: Frankly, I cannot see that. What I find is that GW recognises that not all situations may be covered by the rules, or that sometimes player may not agree on the application of a rule. They do not say: There are no rules." I also notice that you have in fact misquoted the part you have put in bold. The actual text is "Your job isn't just to follow the rules, it's also to add your own ideas and sense of fun to the game", which, of course, gives a completely different meaning than the one you imply.
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Offline shavixmir

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Re: What constitutes a rules-lawyer?
« Reply #18 on: March 12, 2014, 07:43:00 PM »
there must be a minimum of commonly accepted rules (the BRB)
GW say this is not the case
What?
You're saying that the rule-making authority have actually stated that there is no minimum of commonly accepted rules???
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Offline Fidelis von Sigmaringen

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Re: What constitutes a rules-lawyer?
« Reply #19 on: March 12, 2014, 07:45:09 PM »
See my post above.
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Offline Finlay

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Re: What constitutes a rules-lawyer?
« Reply #20 on: March 12, 2014, 07:47:40 PM »
there must be a minimum of commonly accepted rules (the BRB)
GW say this is not the case
What?
You're saying that the rule-making authority have actually stated that there is no minimum of commonly accepted rules???

Yep, says on page two and three of book.

See my post above.

You're wrong, raw.
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Offline Fidelis von Sigmaringen

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Re: What constitutes a rules-lawyer?
« Reply #21 on: March 12, 2014, 07:52:12 PM »
Your quote: Your job isn't to follow the rules, it's also to add your own ideas and sense of fun to the game"
Correct quote: "Your job isn't just to follow the rules, it's also to add your own ideas and sense of fun to the game"

I doubt many, would argue that the correct quote allows you to ignore the rules. And some would say that such an incorrect quote as yours is, in fact, the sign of a rules-lawyer - in the bad sense.
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Offline Finlay

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Re: What constitutes a rules-lawyer?
« Reply #22 on: March 12, 2014, 07:54:46 PM »
The word doesnt Chang my argument at all.

You are not meant take the rules as black and white, be all and end all. Does the just change that?

No.
I don't care about the rules.

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Offline PhillyT

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Re: What constitutes a rules-lawyer?
« Reply #23 on: March 12, 2014, 07:56:34 PM »
I wouldn't call hardcore RAW rule lawyering.

Rule lawyering is the manipulation of rules, or the inconsistent enforcement of rules by following rules or reminding people of rules only when it is advantageous to the person lawyering.
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Offline shavixmir

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Re: What constitutes a rules-lawyer?
« Reply #24 on: March 12, 2014, 07:59:19 PM »
Finlay man, you are better than that!

It only says that if you can't agree (due to complexity and if you can't find the page) that you should use a rational method to create an outcome... So you don't waste time.

Like if you don't understand en passant, and don't believe my expanation, that we roll on a D6
If you lose your pawn or not.

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