Mastering the Constructives

At this point, you should know the basics of what a case is and what a constructive is. This article covers the ways to build a maximally strategic constructive.

For starters, though, we’ll review what a constructive is. In Lincoln-Douglas and Policy, the Neg will actually answer the Aff’s case in the constructive (as well as present their own case), which creates a slightly different set of requirements: they need to split their time between their own offense/off-case positions and the Aff’s case. We will discuss specific considerations for answering the Aff in the 1NC.

First, identify the proper number of off-case positions. Remember, off-case positions are the arguments read as separate positions “off of the case” (counterplans, disads, kritiks, procedurals, or neg cases in Lincoln-Douglas). These are contrasted with arguments “on the case” which are about answering the Aff’s case. A large quantity of off-case arguments can be strategic in taking away valuable Aff rebuttal time, spreading them thin. They can also give multiple options for the 2NR. However, they can trade off with time dismantling the Aff case, giving the Aff an avenue to offense. A plethora of off-case positions can also result in short, underdeveloped arguments. While there is no hard and fast rule, ask yourself “Could this be a 2NR option?” If not, the off-case argument shouldn’t be in the 1NC.

Second, prioritize offense. Non-strategic 1NCs have a high number of counterplans, defensive arguments on case, and other arguments that ultimately don’t add a new 2NR out. This allows the Aff to focus their energy on beating the Neg’s only real 2NR options, while undercovering everything else. A 1NC with multiple disads, offense against the case (case turns), and perhaps a few procedurals like T or theory are much stronger.

Third, know when to use preemptive arguments. These can be useful if you’re worried about rebuttal time (and because you get to extend the argument as “dropped”). However, these arguments are defensive, so you don’t want to spend too much time on arguments you cannot win on.