See that puppy? That is most judges during the 2NC. Why so sleepy? Well usually its because the 2NC is a poorly thought out list of cards without much to hold our interest. It doesn’t matter if its topicality, politics, or the death K most people seem to think the 2NC is an ev race and just try to jam as many cards into the speech without a strategy, organization, or any break between them. It doesn’t so much matter what kind of arguments you like to read, what matters is that you make the best of them, that you focus on your craft.
1. A lot of people give the same 2NC regardless of who is judging or what the 2AC said. This is an epic mistake, the key to points is generally judge adaptation. It doesn’t matter so much what your argument is, it matters more what your judge wants to hear. More so than any other speech the difference between good and bad points in the 2NC is are you saying things in a way the judge wants to hear. Lets assume your stock neg argument is “some dumb K”. What most people would do is have an overview that they read every round. What people who want good points would do is have multiple overviews like this
A. The policy judge- this OV would be read when your judge is more of a meat and potatoes politics fan. This overview would emphasize a lot of impact arguments like root cause or turns the case and would be presented in plain language- NO JARGON
B. The Kool Aid Drinker- this is the other extreme, this judge LOVES the K so this overview would try and focus on some high theory concept like ontology and probably involve lots of clever analogies and less strict “arguments”
C. The Sad Panda- sad pandas are judges who don’t want to be there. They are often tired/falling asleep or watching netflix on their computers. This overview would try to grab their attention with lots of jokes at the expense of substance. It would probably involve a very small number of arguments (like 1) and would be very repetitive (something you generally want to avoid) in order to guarantee they get it. One of the things that really helped me get points in HS was knowing a lot about judges/their lives outside of debate so I could make specific jokes targeted at them.
2. Blocks. Many people who get less than ideal points as a 2N get the same comments over and over again
“I don’t know what the impact is”, “I’m confused what the alternative does”, “you didn’t have a case list on T” etc. For whatever argument you want to extend in your 2NC, figure out what the common objections are and have well developed blocks for them so you never leave anything out. If after reading them you still get these comments, you either need to revisit your blocks or your prefs.
So if you are reading a K you should have
Then when you get the pairing and know what you are debating you either need to write new explanations or modify those so that they deal with the case. A good rule of thumb is 1 minute per advantage. That minute can be link arguments, turns case, or alt solves (preferably all 3).
If you are reading T you need
-An Overview. This should: explain your interp, why they don’t meet, your offense, a case list of what does and does not meet. This puts most of the important arguments in the OV guaranteeing you don’t forget them and that they can be perfectly scripted.
-AT: Counter interpretation
-AT: likely aff offense such as overlimits
3. Strategy- many negs just don’t have it. Are the things you are extending working together? If you are extending Neolib and the TPP disad probably not. Does your speech make sense with the 1NR- i.e. are you leaving the 1NR with a meaningful speech? If you extend a K for 8 minutes and the 1NR is politics you aren’t, dropping the case means the aff can blow off politics. Does the block clean up potential problems like kicking out of DAs correctly, answering theory args etc? Most people dump this on their partner and then get angry when they mess it up. Remember 1Ns are basically mildly sentient robots, one step above Siri, if something goes wrong on the neg ship its your fault as a 2N because you are the captain now. All of these things combined are the strategic plan, and before you get up to give the 2NC you should of thought about it and made decisions based on a complete strategy, not a random list of things.
Strategy is more complicated than that though. Lets say you figure you have roughly enough time to read 2 “turns case” cards on politics- how do you pick them? Well, you need to think about your strategy. Lets say you have a CP that very clearly solves Adv 1, but questionably solves Adv 2. Obviously you would want to read turns case for Adv 2 because that is the threat to your strategy. If you read a multiplank advantage CP and politics you need to be very careful what kind of new link cards you read in the 2NC- you can’t read generics like “losers lose” that could potentially link to your counterplan. If you know the 1NR is extending T you don’t want to read your “fairness is resentiment” cards on framework. All of these examples seem pretty obvious, but its shocking how often neg blocks extend contradictory arguments.
A big one I’ve seen lately is impact defense + a K. Most impact defense makes an argument like economic interdependence/rationality/democracy checks war. You don’t want to read this type of defense with a K that argues the economy/rationality/democracy are bad because if you do you have just read multiple disads to your K. Its actually pretty hard to figure out consistent defense and a lot of K args.
4. Different is good. No one wants to hear the exact same TPP 2NC for the 20th tie
-the disad turns and outweighs the case
-here is our U wall with 6 random cards
-PC makes the DA work/momentum
-Surveillance reform is controversial
-TPP solves every impact
This isn’t to say “no politics DA” (though dear god that would be fantastic…) but if you want to read something 100 other 2N’s are reading you gotta make sure you are the best if you want good points. Sometimes I will judge the same debater at tournament A and give them a 28.5, then later I will judge them again and give them a 28. Did they forget how to debate? No, usually the difference is in the first debate they had their shit together on whatever argument they extended, and then later in the second debate they didn’t. They were still “as good” at debate in both rounds, but in the second round what came across was a lot worse.
Now imagine you judge 100 debates in a year, probably 40 of which involve the TPP politics disad. Well if after your 2AC I think you are the 17th best TPP 2NC, how good of points should I give you?
So how do you change it up?
A. Smart- after hearing 10 U walls a 2NC that goes through the WARRANTS in the evidence as opposed to just reading cards distinguishes itself from the rabble and gets more points
B. Funny- watch the daily show, steal political jokes. Make jokes. If you know enough about your issue to make a specific joke about an aff author or aff argument that helps as well. Jokes that have nothing to do with the debate are still good but less so.
C. Closeness. This one is a bit more intangible. But if you really DESTROY the other team, you get better points. This is harder to do when you are going for a disad that everyone in the country goes for- so when it happens it is truly magical. It requires you to be on top of everything (best, most recent ev, know about all relevant events etc) and this knowledge generally comes from doing the research yourself, which many won’t do.
5. Time allocation. When I was in HS 15 years ago and went to camp almost every instructor constantly hammered us on the importance of time allocation. Like flowing and line by line, this appears to have gone the way of the dodo. I see a lot of 2Ns who basically commit the same mistake: they allocate their time based on how many arguments they have, not based on how threatening the other teams arguments are. What do I mean by this? I see a lot of 2ACs to say the Neolib K that are like this
1> FW (10 seconds)
2-5 Perms (6 seconds)
6-8. Legalism good (30 seconds)
9-10. Case outweighs (20 seconds)
11-15 Rando cap good impact turns (1+ minutes)
Now, where is the threat? Assuming you don’t drop it, 1-5 can be dealt with quickly because the aff arguments are garbage. Legalism may or may not apply depending on your alt. Case outweighs- meh. The danger is the impact turns- you can win all the above and lose on the impact turns. This 2A prob reads this blog and put their best args at the end HOPING the 2N would be a K debater and be too top heavy and not get there- and many 2Ns are willing to oblige. Just because you have 20 arg FW 2NC, a 5 minute perm block, and 600 schlag cards DOESN’T mean you have to read them all. You need to figure out when enough is enough and then move on. If you don’t, you are going to have a bad time.
The same is true of theory arguments. Pics bad and conditionality aren’t the greatest, but when you have a devastating case specific pic and the aff has no other options you want to make more than 5 arguments to each of these, prob more like 15 because its the ONLY way you are going to lose.