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Not to be confused with Alternative Justification Analysis Cases (AJACs), the “mini-case” format offers more than one justification for the resolution.


Step back a second and think about what an affirmative case actually is saying. You are showing that our policy towards Russia should be changed. If you show just ONE way in which that is true, then it is a true statement that our policy towards Russia should be changed (even if there are 100 other ways we shouldn’t change). So the relationship of a 1AC to the resolution is to “justify” the resolution. A mini-case case structure provides multiple justifications for the resolution.

Why you would do it (besides the “hmm interesting strategy” part):

  • Put your eggs in multiple baskets, defending the resolution in more than one way.
  • You want to argue theory more than that content of the round
  • You aren’t happy with any “big idea” cases that require a bunch of time to develop
  • You need a diversion from your “main” case

Most people do not recommend the mini-cases strategy, including myself. But it’s an option that I NEVER see utilized anymore and may be worth trying, if even for the experience. It CAN work.

My novice year we had three cases (repeal agriculture subsidies, legalize hemp, and something about IPRs in farming). We also had as versions of our case each of the combos (IPR + hemp, subsidies + hemp, subsidies + IPR, and all three combined). We would make our selection based on who we were hitting and our judge. While we were not great speakers at that time, we got the “theory” part behind mini-cases and threw many experienced teams for a loop. We had winning records at all of our tournaments (usually breaking as the lowest-speaks 4-2 or 5-1 team, haha).

How it works: Organize your case with definitions/resolutional analysis like normal, then quickly explain that you need to justify the resolution in just ONE way and will offer two or three justifications but only plan to win on one. This argument is key for the strategy to work and you need to force the other team to acknowledge and argue about the theory here.

The rest of your 1AC should look something like this:




Harm 2

Plan 2

Advantage 2

Mixing it Up: Some people will play with case formats. Our subsidies case was goals-criterion format, our hemp case plan-meet-need, and our IPR case was comparative advantage (I think). You might have a mini-case structure like this:

I. Intro

II. Resolutional Analysis

III. Mini-cases explanation

IV: (Case 1)



V: Plan 2

Advantage 2

VI: Plan 3

Advantage 3

VII. Conclusion

Dangers of Mini-Cases

  • Not every judge understands the relationship of 1ACs to the resolution and winning the round
  • Using this against very novice teams will look “mean” and needs to not be used as such
  • If you really focus on the theory, it can turn some people off
  • Some really good debaters will argue “No, AFF teams must sustain all their argumentation — that’s why it is called debate!” and make you defend ALL your cases

So how do you answer mini-cases? Subject for another post some time, but take a stab in the comments if you wish.

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