Most people presently debating have some pretty terrible ideas about how to be a 2A. Like most bad ideas in debate, they started out with a small insight that slowly lost its merit the more and more exaggerated it became. For example, putting case high in the 2AC order is a decent idea if you are bad at time allocation as it will prevent you from dropping the case. However, putting it first, even above T makes close to zero sense and has encouraged an absurdly shallow tag line style of debating the case which is the root cause of most affirmatives losing to strategies like politics and case defense. So many of the things listed here will make you go “what? that’s the opposite of what I do” (that’s why you get low points) or “thats not what people did in the semis of XYZ tournament I watched” (those people are prob. also doing things wrong/they aren’t in the semis BECAUSE they put the case first) so try to keep an open mind.
1.Blocks- if you give a 2AC that is less than 80% blocks that is a failure to prepare. I’m not saying you need to be a slave to pre-written arguments and never deviate from them, but it is pretty rare at this point in the season that you will debate something you have NEVER heard of and if you have heard of it you should have a block. A block means you have thought in advance, prepared a set of arguments, highlighted/revised them to make them as efficient as possible, and ranked them in order of quality. If you skip arguments in a 2AC block something has gone wrong- if a later argument is more important it should be earlier in the block(with rare exceptions). You should have practiced reading your blocks and know roughly how long they take, which brings us to
2. You need to allocate your time in advance, i.e. before the speech. It’s shocking how many people now don’t even try to do this. I mean literally go through every argument/page and try and figure out how long you want to spend there, don’t just guestimate. If you ever have problems with coverage this is the only way to fix those problems. When trying to allocate time you need to think about how threatening an argument is (how likely are they to extend it, how good is their evidence vs how good is your evidence, what things can you blow off because the judge doesn’t like them etc). If a 2A gets up and says “the case, and then the off in 1NC order” that means they have not thought through this process.
3. Think about argument interaction. Politics is a bad disad, the best answers to politics are defensive arguments targeted at the link/internal link. However, when politics is combined with a 20 plank advantage counterplan where you have no hope of winning a solvency deficit now you need to probably focus on generating offense on politics (link or impact). Similarly many cases have a good case specific link turn strategy to economy disads like bizcon, but when the negative reads a uniqueness counterplan that wrecks that strategy you don’t want to be stubborn and stick with it, you need to investigate dedev. If one disad is the net benefit to 2 counterplans then you want to load up on answers to that, and make less answers to the disads that aren’t net benefits. Did the neg read an econ disad and the neolib K? Well maybe this isn’t the round to read dedev, instead mitigated the disad and concede the econ impact to use as offense vs the K. Arguments interaction can radically change what is the “best ” option for you to do in the 2AC. One example of this is when a no plan team debates FW and the cap K. Frequently the best links to the cap K come not from the 1AC but from the much more radical arguments teams read to impact turn framework. If you know this is the case, and your judge is not a big FW fan, there is no reason to get into trouble by reading those FW answers anymore.
4. Have a strategy planned in advance. This requires you to think ahead and contemplate what you want your 2AR to be about. Take the neolib K as an example. Not having a strategy means you read basically random arguments in the 2AC- some offense, some alt indicts, some challenge flag answers like epistemology not first etc. Then the 1AR sort of runs and guns extending random crap. The 2AR is a disorganized mess and you lose. Instead what you want to do is plan on a set of arguments you will be going for in the 2AR and then organize the 2AC around that. Lets say your 1AC advantage is warming and the neg reads neolib, in the 2AC you want to have a set of arguments that both defend your environment impact and indict the alternatives ability to solve warming, and lastly if they have an external impact you need defense against that. All those arguments packaged together set up a strategy- you are going for cap /the case good for enviro, alt fails enviro, enviro impact outweighs. Sure you could basically jettison the case and just say “cap solves war” but that is gonna require you to re-start debate in the 2AC which is generally a bad idea. The same thing applies to any other K (or CP/DA strat)- you want to have a set of arguments that work together synergistically.
5. Theory: Break glass if necessary. In this era of debate not a lot of people are winning on theory, generally the neg gets away with multiple conditional options and the aff sort of has to deal with it. This applies equally to FW, conditionality or pics bad, and any other theory argument. This creates two problems
A. People who fully commit to FW in the 2AC when they have no hope of winning it
B. People who never make any theory arguments even when its their only chance to win
These create a dilemma obviously, how do you know when theory is appropriate? You should decide by
A. Checking the judge philosophy first- ultimately you want the ballot, so start here
B. Decide if you can win on substance- if the PIC or K has disadvantaged you so much that you think substance is hopeless that’s the time to make a theory argument.
Many people in lab the last few summers have said something like “well yea but I want to get a time tradeoff” . I’ve already written before about how you need to have your basics down before you start worrying about trying to manipulate the other teams time, but more importantly this almost never ever works. The neg will make like 4-5 answers and theory is a loser at that point, the days of people responding to a 10 second conditionality bad 2AC with a 2MN block are over.