My own thoughts, for what they're worth...
A "complete working examples" section would be invaluable. The most useful part of the man pages for the command line & admin tools was the example section... it ties everything together. Same for the examples in the admin guide... a complete example to compliment the conceptual words is priceless. Funny you mention it, but i was also disappointed in the N-Way configuration example (17.4.3)... but because it was in the "new" config file format, which i wasn't using.
Anyway, I understand you want readers to read thoroughly and try creating their own configuration from scratch... but i've found it's rare that a user will spend the time to "properly" understand something before they actually try making it work. Rather, they try something, research/fix the error, try again, research/fix, etc... whatever it takes to get it working as quick as possible. In my experience, syntax diagrams and working examples are the most important, time-saving (and sanity-saving) pieces of documentation. Having working example configurations that are commented thoroughly ("see section ____ for more info on configuration specifics for this", "modify the following statements with your own specific values", etc.) might be the best solution.
Thanks again for all your help