Another poster who stated that he or she deviated from the rules told me to call what he or she does "house rules" before. I refused. So I'm afraid you'll have to find someone else to push back on in this regard. This isn't me advocating slavish devotion to RAW for its own sake.Since we're actually in pretty close agreement, we are going around in a pretty tight little circle. The way you're putting it that keeps making me want to push back is just too reminiscent of that 3.x era "..but it'll be a house rule." Dismissal.
The endless polling probably didn't hurt.As an exercise, it could be interesting. And it is fair to try to judge a game's merits in a vacuum like that.
In a practical sense, designers of each edition have been decidedly familiar with the ones that came before, and, clearly, motivate to address issues past eds had, be that with their mechanics, or their fanbase. IMHO, much of 5e makes a lot more sense if you come at it from past experience with the TSR era, for instance - I suppose, in part, because Mr Mearls was intentionally going back to that era looking for inspiration, as part of that elusive quest to re-capture the peak popularity the game enjoyed in the 80s.
Miraculously, he succeeded.
Hard to argue with that.
There you go again parsing the rules and organizing them in some sort of level of relative importance. Pointless and problematic in my view.They're a much higher-level part of the ruleset, sure. If you follow them faithfully, you /will/ end up ignoring some lower level rules much of the time. Not that the rules contradict, just that the higher level rules spell out the precedence of the DM. For instance, a group could run into much the same issue with "the skill system" if the DM's style tended towards calling for checks in virtually all circumstances. He's still playing by the high-level rules, following the process, but by focusing on the less functional details of the system, he gets into trouble. Hypothetically, that can be solved by changing his style and exercising more judgment, or by overhauling the skill system. Neither is better - though one is certainly more work.