Powers in Quizbowl

Old college threads.

How many tournaments should have powers?

All tournaments
Keep the status quo
Fewer tournaments or none at all
Total votes: 50

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Powers in Quizbowl

Post by wd4gdz »

I tried to make a poll, and hopefully there are enough answers. However, if your feelings can't be found in a poll choice, please elaborate.
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Post by Sima Guang Hater »

I'd take the "more tournaments than status quo, but not all" option
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Captain Sinico
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Post by Captain Sinico »

I find that powers, though fun in some ways, tend not to be terribly fair. Power placement is rather arbitrary and some questions are far easier to power than others in the mean. I don't see a way to avoid that without a large population of testers to norm the questions out with.
Indeed, if you look at it, it's often the case that certain questions are powered in nearly 100% of matches, while others are powered in about 0% of matches, and this effect is exacerbated when neither team is extremely good. This means part of the effect of powers is tantamount to allowing certain questions (usually ones with early buzzer races) to count more. I can't see how that's desirable.

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Post by No Rules Westbrook »

Yeah, I can't really answer either, because I support the "more tourneys than status quo and feel free to use them, but not at ACF Nats and not at every single tourney" would-be option.

I really like Kwartler's quote in the other thread that ACF and mACF tourneys should be a "game that hates being a game." Of course, game here connotes an activity where there is an excessive amount of chance and luck involved (or unimportant/silly skills are demanded) - and not an activity devoid of fun (though probably devoid of funn).

Anyway, that said, I'm all for powers on a fairly regular basis and for people designing innovative types of tournaments (side tournaments for instance and stand-alone ones too). Within reasonable bounds of innovation, of course...i.e. don't stray into the "funn zone" above.

One thing to note, for discussion, is that inserting powers can be trickier than you might think at first blush. It's tough to be consistent and tough to accurately predict what will get you an "ideal" distribution of powers and regular buzzes, i.e. not impossible to power anything and not so commonplace that the moderator's voice grows hoarse from yelling FIFTEEN in increasingly more boisterous and comical tones. It's especially difficult if you're creating powers for subjects/topics on which you're not an expert; deciding what does and doesn't deserve power can be a minefield
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Post by Strongside »

My opinion about powers in tournaments has changed over the past year. When I was high school I really enjoyed having powers in tournaments.

This is my second year of collegiate quiz bowl and I have started to like powers less. I agree with Mike that powers are very subjective, and it is very difficult to accurately place powers in an appropriate place. I believe that getting a tossup early and getting a bonus should be satisfying enough for most people.

This is not to say that powers should be eliminated from quiz bowl. I feel that powers sort of make the tournament less credible and harder to take seriously. This might be because NAQT has power and ACF does not. This isn't a slight to NAQT and I do not hate NAQT questions, but it is harder to take a tournament seriously if it has tossups where the answers are "new car smell," and "how many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop." I feel powers are a bit gimmicky, and the less gimmicky a tournament, the more credible it is.

One thing I don't like about powers is that moderators forget to note that the question was worth 15 points too often. This happened to me at Deep Bench, D2 Sectionals, and I am pretty sure it happned in the championship game of a tournament in high school where my team ended up losing in overtime and it might have cost us winning that tournament. Sometimes I ask the moderator after the question if it was a power, but I don't like to do that because it interrupts the game, especially if it is a timed match. Another reason why I don't like timed matches.

Another reason is that I was second in powers at the HSNCT in 2006, but I only had two powers in 13 rounds at this year's ICT. I definitely improved in that time span, so that is one of the reasons I don't like powers. Am I being selfish in that sense? I suppose so, but it's another reason why I don't like powers.
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Post by cvdwightw »

I agree with all of Ryan's points. I find powers to be similar to the three-point shot in basketball or the two-point conversion in football. Yes, it's more-or-less gimmicky, but it adds a new dimension of strategy to the game, allows teams a remote possibility of coming back from larger deficits, and when combined with the usual moderator theatrics makes the game more fun to watch.

I think the biggest reason to include powers is to provide further discouragement for sitting and encourage aggression. If you're pretty sure you recognize an early clue, you might sit and wait for a better clue to be 100% certain, and then you might get beat in a buzzer race despite having better knowledge. If you've got that extra 5-point incentive, you might feel it's worth the small chance you might be wrong.