Early Tournament Success

If you are a 2A going into the first tournaments of this year you have a pretty good idea what you need to prepare for: cap k, coercion k, pov k, politics, states cp, agents, a few T arguments. Compared to last years topic where there were 20 different oil disads, 20 more natural gas disads, and a million other topic specific arguments this list is pretty manageable. Not having a 2ac ready for these is basically inexcusable. Most negs will not have put in enough time to come up with totally new args from camp to the start of the year. Others will have trouble coming up with new arguments thinking if they weren’t turned out at a camp then they can’t be important. It’s certainly possible to win on the neg with just this list of things, but since the majority of aff prep time will be organized around preparing for this argument set you improve your odds by working outside of it.  So this post will be about neg prep for the beginning of the year, and a follow up will deal with the aff.

1. If you plan on relying on the stock neg args listed above, you need a “trick”. Something to catch the other team unprepared and or neutralize the prep they have put in ahead of time to get ready for them. Some examples of this could be

-impact turning advantages states don’t solve for- many aff answers to states fall into stock categories like “international perception”. If you prepare a 2 minute impact turn block to 5 or 6 of these that you can read in the last 2 minutes of the 1NR not only will you catch the aff by surprise, but you will have an independent net benefit to the CP that the aff can’t make defense against (since it was their arg).

-tricky link/uniqueness arguments to supplement politics- affs are going to have spent a lot of time coming up with case specific link turns you probably won’t have answers to. So you need to have generic link/uniqueness shields to insulate yourself from them, or come up with new scenarios the aff isn’t ready for. These things seem obvious in the abstract, and people reading are probably thinking “oh, brilliant, new politics scenario, like I didn’t think of that already”. Yet you rarely see any of these arguments run.


So what are some new arguments/strategies you could come up with? Well first, you should have specific strategies against the big affs- immigration, internet etc. So your new negs should anticipate what kind of cases you would need them for- i.e. what kind of affs will you be unprepared for.  For the most part these affs will be

-smaller- a huge aff would have been discovered already

-target a specific group- there are not frequently small affs that apply to everyone- the aff will try and pick something small that has a fed key warrant so things like prisons, military bases etc

-have some kind of uniqueness trick- for immigration the fact that immigration reform is being debated complicates the uniqueness for a lot of disads. Similarly any kind of targeted healthcare aff can use the overall debate about HC reform to non unique a lot of negative arguments. The advantage to these smaller trickier affs is beating disad links down to almost nothing so that a relatively (in debate terms) minor advantage can outweigh them.

Your first line of defense against these kind of affs is T.

1. Subsets- though a lot of judges will say they hate these kind of arguments (usually based around a definition of substantially or the classic “in means throughout”) the number of rounds won by T subsets is staggering. It wins so much because it has a lot of truth behind it- it is really hard to be neg vs a million small affs. Now obviously when you debate it you will want to be more nuanced than this in your explanation, but a good subsets violation will take you maybe an hour to fully block out and will serve you well. Related but separate- T args about substantial increases are similarly mocked but often successful against truly small cases. These arguments work because there are only a small number of things the aff can say, so if you block them out you can out tech the other team easily. The aff can basically say

-large affs aren’t viable- they lose to pics, are extra topical, don’t have federal key warrants etc

-small affs arent that bad- lit checks, they are good for education to learn about XYZ group (this is the argument most frequently deployed by small K affs),

-your definition is bad/out of context

Those are the main aff args. Against them you have to leverage

-neg ground/limits- too many cases means you can’t prepare, they are too small which creates uniqueness problems for everything, encourages case of the week lame affs that aren’t good for education etc.

2. The second kind of T arg, and one you should prepare for anyway, is the T double bind. What I mean by this is take any word in the resolution and prepare 2 T arguments about it that are the exact opposite of each other. So for example, you could say “social services” are face to face interactions with a social worker, and then have your other one be social services are infrastructure development. That way the aff will always have to violate one of them. The process of writing this kind of double bind is good because you have to think through each argument in depth and prepare all the arguments for both sides. While this may take you a few hours, it will guarantee that in the debate you are more knowledgeable about the issues than the other side and ready to pummel them.

Next, against these kind of small aff’s Kritiks are usually pretty money. The reasons for this are kind of two fold

1. The aff often stretches credulity in constructing their advantage claims- this lends a hand to the neg on any reps K that questions the truth value of the affs claims/indicts the idea that policy makers use false representations in order to justify policies.

2. The alt debate is easier- vs a huge heg aff it is really difficult most times to explain how your alt would do anything to remedy the advantage- mainly because your alt is going to be like hands across America which doesn’t help us kill terrorists. These smaller affs, however, are usually about a certain group getting jacked- well your K nonsense alternative certainly wouldn’t agree with people getting jacked like that- so naturally you can say your alternative does something about this issue.

3- to a lesser extent- the sort of “turns the case” args are better. The classic example of this is affs that do something to help Natives and then claim a colonialism advantage- generally they do something that makes intuitive sense- however the K cards indicting this process are always super good because every one who ever did something colonialist justified it in the garb of doing something intuitive to help the oppressed group.

If you don’t want to read a K, you will often need to employ a uniqueness counterplan to help out your disads. At camp a few people were employing the “ban social services” cp. This is basically the hatchet when you need a scalpel approach. Affs- you should invest 30 minutes to cut a few disads to this style of counterplans- a few quick cards on different social service projects that are good ideas. So how should you run a uniqueness counterplan intelligently? Well there are basically 2 ways to do it

1. The precedent CP- this cp does something that prevents future social service expenditures- so if the aff arg is “SS coming in future” the precedent cp is a good way to stop them- examples may be line item veto or some kind of court action (which directly establishes precedent)

2. The Rollback cp- this is what you use when the aff has a specific program that passed in history- so the aff gives hc to natives and says “this other bill that also gave a different kind of native HC passed a year ago” or something like that. The rollback cp just repeals the specific things the aff is talking about to try and cushion your link U a little bit.

The biggest problem with the “ban all ss” cp is the permutation. So lets look at an example

neg DA- the f99 T-rex will get funded now, buying inhalers for prisoners with asthma will trade off

aff- non unique and no link- the plan costs 5 dollars, we just gave 20 dollars to foodstamp programs

neg- CP- repeal all social services

Aff- permute – do the plan and repeal all other social services- all other SS cost 9 billion dollars, the permutation results in 5 dollars being spent on SS- this is way less than is being spent in the sq- even though more is being spent in a world of the perm than a world of the CP alone, the amount of money spent in the perm is insufficient to trigger the link because the sq spends 9 billion and the link isn’t triggerednow


An oldie but a goody. If you spent a weekend preparing ASPEC and some agent counterplans really well it would not be time wasted. A lot of these affs will be pretty good vs states but have virtually zero agent defenses- issues that are discussed as important areas of federal action are rarely defended as X federal agent must do it specifically. In a minimalist sense all you need is courts and congress, that way no matter what the aff agent is you will be ready with a CP (and if the aff says “all 3” just cp to do 2 and read a DA to 1). When prepping agents you need to get some bases covered

-solvency blocks

-perm answers- this includes “perm links to 1NC DA”, new DA’s to the perm, and new net benefits that only doing the CP alone solves


Thats about it. But remember, you don’t need a million of each of these things- you need a few done well. Its better to have a well blocked out with good evidence 30 page hollow hope DA than a giant courts bad file  because you only need to win a reasonable risk of the DA and win the CP solves the case.
Second, employ some critical thinking. I judged about a dozen agent debates this summer where the aff went for “courts don’t solve social change” style arguments without having a single advantage that was predicated on social change. So think about what are the internal links to specific aff advantages and prepare more defense for the ones that might have an agent specific solvency argument.

This is getting a bit long, so in closing here are some arguments that you can look into producing.

-“Middle man” counterplans- these have become more popular in college recently and were big towards the end of the SSA topic. Basically give the stuff to someone, and have them give it to people in poverty. Potential middle men are like NGO’s, religious organizations, the states etc. Net benefits are usually politics and then some arg about why the middle man improves solvency or sometimes an independent net benefit about improving the cred of the middle man. These CP’s often require you to prepare a T argument that says the rez requires the aff to give the SS directly to people in poverty.

-condition counterplans- a few of these got turned out by Umich and I’m sure a million more will get written during the year. They obviously have the benefit of solving the whole case. If you write a good set of generic blocks it will be easy to prepare several things that you can condition on and keep the aff guessing.

-PICS- about time someone dusted off the classics like exclude native americans, shun states who hang the confederate flag etc. But in addition to that there are a lot more relevant topic pics- particularly if the aff is broad or goes to more than 100% of the poverty line. Politics is an easy net benefit to these, as are spending da’s and tradeoff.

9 thoughts on “Early Tournament Success

  1. andrew

    how do you think the “persons in poverty” pic will do (based on its sucess at camp)? do you think it’s a viable strategy despite all of its competition issues?

  2. Scott Phillips

    I don’t think many people will have that in their plan if past topics are any guide, they will say think like “topically designated” or other such nonsense instead. If they do have it in there, as long as you have a great perm block you are probably ok.

  3. JZ

    I think teams will have to think harder than just “topically designated”.

    “USFG should provide healthcare to topically designtaed people” still mandates means testing….and thats the better net benefit.

  4. Peter Nikolai

    Why wouldn’t “perm do both” shield the aff from the link to means-testing bad? If the perm still gives health care to everyone doesn’t that solve the reasons why means-testing is bad?

  5. David Mullins

    ideally the cp would be the usfg should provide healthcare to people in the united states, so the perm would be severing out of “to topically designated”. the negative would just have to win a standard of textual competition.

  6. Nick Donlan

    PN – neg would say that the perm sets up two programs (usfg should provide healthcare to topically designtaed people in th us and the usfg should provide healthcare to people in the us) – one of which still means tests and links to the net benefit

    SP – the net benefit at the ddi was that the stigma of targeted SS reduces participation and “hurts agency”

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