Who wants 1NR points? Can robots want?

This is a tough topic because the definitive, scintillating take on the 1NR has already been written. With that hanging over my head, I will do my best.


1.CX of the 2AC- This is often overlooked, but the CX of the 2AC is pretty, pretty, pretty important. The aff sometimes has late breaking arguments like perms that start as “do both” but then in an M. Night Shyamalan (spelled that right on the firs try- which is impressive considering if you read this blog you are aware I can’t spell anythng)  esque twist becomes something else by the time the 2AR rolls around. The 1N should make sure to clear up everything in cx like what were the 10 perms made in 2 seconds, what are all the theory arguments vs the counterplan, was there an add on? Some of you are probably thinking “can’t this all be accomplished by flowing?”- obviously. Do people flow? No. Most 1Ns treat cx as a chore instead of a chance to boost their points, so they go through a string of perfunctory questions with no heart. You should be on the attack. This is especially true if your 1NR is always the same issue- like topicality or the security K. Since you know that is what you are going to extend don’t just prep the argument, prep the cx- figure out some good questions you can use to attack the other teams usual list of arguments.


2. Utilize prep effectively- everyone knows the 1NR gets like 45 minutes of prep. So what do you do differently when you have that much prep to give a speech that you can’t do for the 2NC?

A. Read every card, and every part of the card. All the ununderlined. If you are at a tournament that lets you use the internet you can even look up the card. Being able to systematically demolish the other teams evidence will see your 1NR points skyrocket. There should never be a round where you lose because you “mishandled” something or missed a warrant in a card.

B. Chose your evidence wisely- related to A, you should make sure you are reading the most applicable evidence to answer each card. Since you are reading them all carefully and know the warrants you should be able to go through your evidence and pick out the best cards. For example, you are reading security and the aff says “human nature necessitates realism”. There are a bunch of reasons they could advance for this

-evolutionary biology



-animal studies

Those 4 arguments are radically different. Ideally in your file you have cards that answer all 4 arguments. Given how much time you have to prep even if the RIGHT card isn’t already highlighted you have the time to fix that. Same with politics- maybe the best card you have to answer their uniqueness argument didn’t make it into the 2NC uniqueness block, well you can fix that.


C. Make evidence comparisons constantly- doesn’t matter if it is politics uniqueness or the alternative debate on a K, evidence comparisons = points. Since you have so much prep you have plenty of time to write these out and make them as specific as possible.


D. Write out all you can. Just like the way blocks make you sound better, writing out as much of your speech as possible will make you sound better. Sounding better= points.


3. Argument development- some people will make a comment after a round like “how could my 1NR have been better given the 2N left me garbagio to extend?”. Well… there is not a lot you can do with that, but the one thing you can do is work on argument development. Lets say the 2N leaves you with just case defense, a miserable prospect. It may be bad for your chance of winning, but it doesn’t have to doom your points. Lets say your 1NC on hegemony was


-not sustainable

-decline doesn’t cause war

-multipolarity peaceful

-competitiveness not key to hegemony


Those are 4 defensive arguments. That is bad. But each of these arguments could have a lot of potential warrants. You don’t want to extend all 4 in a tag line fashion, you want to develop maybe 2 and add more depth to them. Take sustainability, lets say the debate has so far played out like this


1NC: Heg isn’t sustainable- economics

2AC: we make hegemony sustainable by boosting the economy


To develop this in the 1NR what you want to do is

-explain your warrant- “according to Kennedy the US can’t sustain spending more than 4% of GDP….”

-Answer the aff warrant ” Aff doesn’t boost the economy enough or in a sustained fashion- 3 reasons”

-Add new warrants “Heg also unsustainable because of lack of public support (card), and blowback undermines power (card) etc”


Notice how this is different from the usual 1NR on the case which goes like this


“extend hegemony isn’t sustainable- we can’t sustain it economically- the 2AC has functionally conceded this- here is 5 more cards”


That’s garbage.


4. When in doubt straight turn- the other post gives an example of a 2AC add on, but there are lots of other options. Let’s say you are extending the cap K and the aff read 3 turns

-solves warming

-solves war

-k2 space

What most people would do is read 2-4 answers to each that is a mix of offense and defense. This allows the 1AR to pick and chose which ones (if any) they want to extend and focus their time accordingly.
Now, if you straight turn them there is a danger for sure- if the 1AR is a machine it could make the 2NR more difficult, but assuming the 2NC extended a different strategy coherently most 1A’s won’t have the time/chops to punish you for this. Also since its so late breaking they will have little time to prep/put together a bunch of extensions unless they wrote blocks in advance.


Did you have a mix of offense/defense on the case in the 1NC? Now is the time to focus on offense. Esp if the 2AC was sort of “blippy” and blew through your case arguments you can unload and read 10 more cards on them which makes the 1AR a nightmare to give.


5. Presentation- we are all adults here, the 1NC is usually not a “pretty” speech. What I mean is that most people sacrifice persuasion for pure, utilitarian output in the 1NC. Now, some people are of the opinion that the 1NR should do the same, and with some judges that is probably fine. For a lot (if not most) of them, however, the 1NR will get a lot better points if you throw some persuasion in there so they know the 1NC was an anomaly. You don’t want to go too bonkers and give a conversational speech or anything, but definitely showing that you can do both is helpful. So how would you implement this? Take one or two key arguments and slow down for like 20 seconds (for 40 seconds total) and try and say something smarter than “more evidence”. Make some jokes about a particularly bad affirmative argument like “winners win” or “other debates solve”.


Really the point of 1 and 5 is that a lot of speaker points are about displaying your personality, convincing the world (and Michigan MK) that you aren’t a robot. This seems obvious but it is something a lot of 1Ns don’t do because they have had “faster, more cards” beat into their heads by coaches/lab leaders for so long. If you don’t have a personality… fake it till you make it.













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