ACF and Powers

Elaborate on the merits of specific tournaments or have general theoretical discussion here.
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ACF and Powers

Post by jmarvin_ » Fri Mar 30, 2018 1:55 pm

I think it's high time we reconsider the purist structure of ACF rules and acknowledge the many benefits of power marking for player experience, especially for new players. Many will recall moments where a novice player from their club came out of a hard tournament with a good experience because of a power on their pet topic, and many skilled players will agree about the satisfaction of running a high power count. They are statistically valuable (at least, until we're all running detailed stats tournaments) and introduce exciting new risk-reward game elements. I don't think I need to continue listing off benefits, since we are all familiar with how they work.

At this point, ACF produces the only non-Delta-Burke college-oriented tournaments without power marking, which means it is an exception in the current quizbowl milieu. I know from my own experience as a team leader and from others in similar places at non-powerhouse schools that new players often identify ACF as the less fun, more dour variety of college quizbowl, in large part because of the lack of powers. We can change this perception without making substantial changes to the outcomes of ACF games, the quality and style of ACF questions, etc, by introducing them.

I know there will be many people who disagree with this idea for a variety of known reasons, and rather than preemptively knock down straw men I'd like to leave this post brief and open it to productive discussion.

now hear me out... if we're going to change this then what about bouncebacks....
Last edited by jmarvin_ on Fri Mar 30, 2018 6:21 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: ACF and Powers

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Fri Mar 30, 2018 2:00 pm

I support this proposal, at the very least for fall and possibly regionals.

A history lesson - before 2008, ACF did its bonuses differently. You would not be told whether you got each part (slash what the right answer was), and then you discover at the end of the bonus whether you got each part and your total points. This changed, because only official ACF tournaments would do this (as you can imagine, it was pretty annoying).

I think powers are similar; the vast majority of non-ACF events are now powermarked, and I think ACF should change to do the same.
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Re: ACF and Powers

Post by A Very Long Math Tossup » Fri Mar 30, 2018 2:30 pm

I agree, and even if ACF waits before implementing this at regionals and nationals, it should be implemented at fall ASAP (as fall is one of the most important tournaments for retaining new players)
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Re: ACF and Powers

Post by CPiGuy » Fri Mar 30, 2018 2:33 pm

jmarvin_ wrote:At this point, ACF produces the only non-Delta-Burke college-oriented tournaments without power marking, which means it is an exception in the current quizbowl milieu. I know from my own experience as a team leader and from others in similar places at non-powerhouse schools that new players often identify ACF as the less fun, more dour variety of college quizbowl, in large part because of the lack of powers.
This, so much. As a new player and someone who's been involved with club leadership and retaining new players, powers are an important part of this. Asking people "what did you power?" is a great way to get people talking about what they enjoyed about a tournament. Getting power on a question is an obvious and tangible reward for more knowledge.

Powers might not change the gameplay of quizbowl that much (I don't think more than 1% of games, if that, would have their outcome changed if powers went away), but they make quizbowl more fun and enjoyable, especially for newer players. They do this without detracting from tournament quality or gameplay quality for experienced players.
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Re: ACF and Powers

Post by Aaron's Rod » Fri Mar 30, 2018 2:43 pm

Sima Guang Hater wrote:I support this proposal, at the very least for fall and possibly regionals.
Small side note: Since Regs potentially qualifies you for Nats, I imagine that philosophically the format of Regs should be as similar to Nats as possible.
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Re: ACF and Powers

Post by setophaga » Fri Mar 30, 2018 4:16 pm

CPiGuy wrote: Powers might not change the gameplay of quizbowl that much (I don't think more than 1% of games, if that, would have their outcome changed if powers went away), but they make quizbowl more fun and enjoyable, especially for newer players. They do this without detracting from tournament quality or gameplay quality for experienced players.
As a mediocre player who didn't play in high school, I actually disagree with both parts of this. The addition of powers encourages a bit more risk-taking on both sides and throws more uncertainty into games...I've always noticed many more negs on powermarked sets, whereas at ACF Regs this year I remember most of our games featured one total neg, if at all. (I can totally see your argument if you think this is too few negs!)

I think opinions on ACF powers depend heavily on general attitudes toward negging and risk-taking in quizbowl, which I feel are progressing towards the positive, due to the relatively few people still active who did not play NAQT sets in high school. I particularly enjoyed ACF Regs this year because of the lack of negbait and good middle clues that stopped many fraud answers (for the most part). Had powers been instituted on the Regs set, I think we would have seen many more negs and not more powers; however, had the set been less well written, the power incentive could lead a more aggressive but not necessarily more knowledgeable player to fraud an answerline early.

Furthermore, I've always appreciated the dichotomy between ACF's strict, academic, distribution and longer, more objective questions, and NAQT's more whimsical answerlines and cross-category clues. There seems to be a movement in quizbowl to narrow this divide to make ACF more accessible to NAQT high school players, but I actually think for those new to quizbowl as a whole in college, ACF's formats make a lot more sense with regard to straight-up knowledge. For me, it's more rewarding to get a middle clue on an ACF set out of power than to devalue that middle clue on a powermarked set because it's out of power.

That said, I think there's a place for powers at the Fall level, especially if the set is written like it was this year, with short questions, strict difficulty control and clues accessible to both players straight out of high school quizbowl and new collegiate players. I do think powers add a level of "fun" to a set at a lower level, but at higher levels and longer questions, where middle clues are far more important than at early levels, they just add more frustration and incentive to neg, which has never been ACF's style.

Again, this is just my (probably unpopular) opinion, but I'm wondering where some other people who started playing in college stand on this issue, besides Eric and Conor.
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Re: ACF and Powers

Post by Corry » Fri Mar 30, 2018 4:17 pm

I also support this proposal. I believe there was a thread back in like... 2008 where someone proposed the same thing, and a bunch of veteran quiz bowl players immediately shot down the idea. However, I didn’t find any of their reasons to be particularly compelling back then (well, back when I first read the thread in 2012) - and I suspect that those reasons would appear even more unconvincing today.

At this point, I suspect that the only reason why ACF hasn’t already added powers is institutional interia.
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Re: ACF and Powers

Post by theMoMA » Fri Mar 30, 2018 4:31 pm

I've made my opinions on powers at higher difficulty levels known, so I don't feel the need to rehash those arguments here; you're welcome to view them in this thread, to which I simply add that I feel similarly about powers at Nationals level, with an additional point along the lines of what Sameer raised above: I think that not having powers at Nationals is very cool and interesting because no one has any incentive to get a tossup other than what they think gives their team the best chance to win, and to me, this is the purest form of championship-level competition on circuit questions, just as Chicago Open is the purest form of competition for open-level superteams. If Nationals were to remain without powers, I would propose that Regionals not adopt them either, as Alex said above, for the sake of consistency at the qualifier tournament. This is just one person's opinion; obviously, you don't have to agree with me.

My main purpose in wading into this thread was just, I see, given actual life in Sameer's post. What I was going to say in slightly longer form, and will now say in brief, is that people should not assume that their own feelings about powers are somehow imputed to other "new players," just as I should not, for instance, bolster my argument against powers at ACF tournaments with the unsupported assertion that new players are likely to be intimidated by powers, and thus, that we should keep ACF rid of them. The fact is that we simply don't know whether "new players" have any collective opinion on powers whatsoever, and unlike in other debates about making the game more palatable to neophytes, there's no clear inference to draw, because there are logical reasons for new players to favor or disfavor powers alike.

If you like powers, cool; I agree with you to a point. But I suggest putting those arguments in your own voice.
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Re: ACF and Powers

Post by cchiego » Fri Mar 30, 2018 5:31 pm

Powers are great. Conor's post summed up the advantages nicely. It's a way to demonstrably reward players for depth of knowledge. For specialists in particular, a 2-0-1 statline looks and feels much better than a 2-1 statline with identical buzzes. I'd even say this is more important on harder sets when you might have fewer opportunities to buzz in the first place like the harder ACF sets.

I really don't get the arguments about "purity" and gamemanship here. I can't recall any time in my 8 years of playing actually thinking "I'm going to sacrifice the purity of the game by buzzing with a guess on the 2nd line of the next question no matter what in a vain attempt to get 5 points to tie a 45-point game." Is it any worse to have a team that's leading by 85 points going into TU 19 in a game with no powers simply taking their hands off the buzzer to obviate the risk of negging?
The addition of powers encourages a bit more risk-taking on both sides and throws more uncertainty into games
I would be open to comprehensive data showing that powers (rather than other things associated with NAQT like timed matches, shorter questions, a different distribution, etc.) actually had this kind of effect. I suspect, however, that these other things are being confounded with "powers" in some people's perceptions.
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Re: ACF and Powers

Post by Cheynem » Fri Mar 30, 2018 5:45 pm

I have no opinion on powers. I think they're fun and I wouldn't mind if quizbowl had them or didn't.

I do question the assertion that powers play no role in affecting the outcome of games. In a 20 tossup packet, that's potentially 100 points in swing involving powers.
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Re: ACF and Powers

Post by jacke » Fri Mar 30, 2018 6:01 pm

Cheynem wrote:I have no opinion on powers. I think they're fun and I wouldn't mind if quizbowl had them or didn't.

I do question the assertion that powers play no role in affecting the outcome of games. In a 20 tossup packet, that's potentially 100 points in swing involving powers.
This is certainly possible, but one must consider that both teams had an equal shot at getting that power, so it's not really unfair per se.

For what it's worth, I think it's hard to argue against having powers, especially considering almost every other tournament has them and nobody has any complaints for their inclusion (at least I've never heard any), other than where they are placed.

I only got five tossups at ACF Fall being the noob that I am, and one or two of them were in the first or second line, and it just left me wishing "man, that would have been 15 at any other tournament!"
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Re: ACF and Powers

Post by Cheynem » Fri Mar 30, 2018 6:29 pm

To be clear, I don't think powers are unfair, but they do play a role in the game's outcome in my opinion, just as negs do. That doesn't make them good or bad, just a note that if you're going to have powers, you have to place them carefully because they are important.
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Re: ACF and Powers

Post by jacke » Fri Mar 30, 2018 6:44 pm

Cheynem wrote:To be clear, I don't think powers are unfair, but they do play a role in the game's outcome in my opinion, just as negs do. That doesn't make them good or bad, just a note that if you're going to have powers, you have to place them carefully because they are important.
That's true, sorry for misrepresenting you. However, the same can be said about anything. Buzzing in? That can affect the game's outcome. Having bonuses be three parts? That affects the game's outcome. Having team size be four players? That affects the game's outcome.

I hope I am not perceived like I'm trying to insult your intelligence or anything, Mike. Simply put, I have a sneaking suspicion that someone might jump off from this point and use it as an argument for why we shouldn't include powers, but I just don't think it's a valid (or perhaps specific is a better word here) criticism of power inclusion.
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Re: ACF and Powers

Post by jacke » Fri Mar 30, 2018 6:45 pm

Certainly, though, if ACF sets became powermarked, it should be done meticulously, as you suggest.
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Re: ACF and Powers

Post by jmarvin_ » Fri Mar 30, 2018 7:15 pm

theMoMA wrote:My main purpose in wading into this thread was just, I see, given actual life in Sameer's post. What I was going to say in slightly longer form, and will now say in brief, is that people should not assume that their own feelings about powers are somehow imputed to other "new players," just as I should not, for instance, bolster my argument against powers at ACF tournaments with the unsupported assertion that new players are likely to be intimidated by powers, and thus, that we should keep ACF rid of them. The fact is that we simply don't know whether "new players" have any collective opinion on powers whatsoever, and unlike in other debates about making the game more palatable to neophytes, there's no clear inference to draw, because there are logical reasons for new players to favor or disfavor powers alike.

If you like powers, cool; I agree with you to a point. But I suggest putting those arguments in your own voice.
I'd like to clarify that my "new players" comment was not a projection of my own thoughts onto the putative "new player," but an (admittedly-anecdotal) observation about my experience dealing with actual new players. Others have had similar experiences, as shown above in the thread. You're right that perhaps it's too bold to generalize these player's experiences as I admittedly had done, but I think it says something that Sameer—to take his thoughts very seriously and not to discount them—is the first person I've ever seen make a complaint about powers from a new player's standpoint, when I have talked to many new players at my schools and others with nothing but positivity about them.
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Re: ACF and Powers

Post by Cheynem » Fri Mar 30, 2018 7:15 pm

The only reason I brought that up is above someone noted that "powers almost never decide the outcome of games," which I think is incorrect. I don't want people thinking that powers are some sort of fun thing that has no bearing on winning and losing--meticulous, careful power placement is necessary because those 100 points could play a huge role in deciding who wins and who loses. You are correct that this is not an argument for or against powers.
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Re: ACF and Powers

Post by csheep » Fri Mar 30, 2018 7:39 pm

cchiego wrote:Powers are great. Conor's post summed up the advantages nicely. It's a way to demonstrably reward players for depth of knowledge. For specialists in particular, a 2-0-1 statline looks and feels much better than a 2-1 statline with identical buzzes. I'd even say this is more important on harder sets when you might have fewer opportunities to buzz in the first place like the harder ACF sets.
I agree strongly with this. Most new players don't enter the game as wide-ranging generalists who can confidently buzz on a variety of categories; most can get buzzes on topics of special interest and, most commonly, what they currently study in their major. As such, new players are much more likely to be powering a smaller number of questions than getting lots of late buzzes across many categories. And 2-0-1 is indeed much more satisfying than 2-1.
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Re: ACF and Powers

Post by Mike Bentley » Sat Mar 31, 2018 9:50 am

csheep wrote:
cchiego wrote:Powers are great. Conor's post summed up the advantages nicely. It's a way to demonstrably reward players for depth of knowledge. For specialists in particular, a 2-0-1 statline looks and feels much better than a 2-1 statline with identical buzzes. I'd even say this is more important on harder sets when you might have fewer opportunities to buzz in the first place like the harder ACF sets.
I agree strongly with this. Most new players don't enter the game as wide-ranging generalists who can confidently buzz on a variety of categories; most can get buzzes on topics of special interest and, most commonly, what they currently study in their major. As such, new players are much more likely to be powering a smaller number of questions than getting lots of late buzzes across many categories. And 2-0-1 is indeed much more satisfying than 2-1.
Eh, I think the majority of new players actually start as just bad generalists who aren't getting almost any buzzes and those they do get are in the giveaway range. If you're at the point where you're able to put up a 2-0-1 stat line in a round you're probably already pretty committed to playing quizbowl.
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Re: ACF and Powers

Post by everdiso » Tue Apr 03, 2018 3:20 am

I'm going to hop in here to defend the unpopular side and say that I don't like powers in general. I think the reward for knowing tossups earlier is beating more teams to them. That's kind of the central, basic tenet of pyramidal tossups, and powers arbitrarily mess with it. Consequently, I don't like them in academic or trash and at any difficulty level (even Fall). I recognise that this is an uncommon view and I'm not going to push for getting rid of powers in MUT or anything. But I do really hope that ACF continues not using them.
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Re: ACF and Powers

Post by magin » Tue Apr 03, 2018 9:21 am

I like powers as a player, but I think there are a few issues with powers from a set editing perspective that haven't been mentioned in this thread. Although all tossups in a set ideally gradate difficulty the same way, in practice, that doesn't happen most of the time. Powers exacerbate any issues with misplaced clues or tossups imperfectly gradating difficulty. If a set has different editors for science and history, their questions will often have different difficulty levels; power-marking might give science players or history players an advantage, depending on which questions are structurally easier.

Of course, editors spend a lot of time trying to sand away differences in tossup difficulty between questions, but we're all fallible, so it's never completely ideal. Still, as an editor, you lose fairness unless you make sure your tossups gradate difficulty as closely as possible. Adding powers almost always makes a set less fair; that seems fine for most sets, which aren't trying to determine a national champion, but for ACF Nationals, I think the set should be as fair as possible, meaning no powers.

And ACF Nationals not having powers makes it fairer for ACF Regionals and ACF Fall not to have powers in order to give players the same kind of questions to practice on.

So for non-ACF tournaments, I'm all for powers, since the goal isn't necessarily to create the fairest possible tournament. But for ACF tournaments, I think powers are not the correct call from a set editor perspective.
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Re: ACF and Powers

Post by Monstruos de Bolsillo » Tue Apr 03, 2018 11:13 am

magin wrote: And ACF Nationals not having powers makes it fairer for ACF Regionals and ACF Fall not to have powers in order to give players the same kind of questions to practice on.
How is the question any different? The only difference between the two is that one is powermarked, but given the text is the exact same, I don't really see how they aren't the same kind of questions.
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