The first of these visions was articulated by Jonathan Magin in this year's ACF Fall discussion thread:
From my experience playing them, I think the 2012/2013 iterations of the set are comparable to 2017 in this regard, though my memory of tournaments from that time is quite poor.magin wrote:I'd also like to talk more broadly about the goals the editors had for ACF Fall, and the measures we took to achieve them. I've seen a few comments in this thread about how Fall was easier compared to the last few years; this was by design. Since it's a novice tournament played by many people who have never played quizbowl before, it needs to be as accessible as possible while still being enjoyable for more experienced players. To that end, we spent a lot of time making tossups and bonuses more accessible, and erring on the side of easier answers rather than harder ones. For instance, I thought that many new teams would not be able to answer a bonus part on Pirandello, so we made Waiting for Godot the easy part instead. This may have made the overall bonus seem easy to players familiar with the college canon, but I'd rather have that than new teams zeroing a bonus on an author they've never heard of.
An alternative version of ACF Fall, that of the 2014 set, had a different vision described by Matt Jackson as such:
Since "regular-minus" sets in the fall have been re-established as a regular occurrence, I feel as though the role of "bona fide introduction to college quizbowl" has been usurped, as that tournament has (As intended) attracted teams that would have been considered "too strong" for any iteration of ACF Fall. That said, I do not think that makes this an invalid way to go about constructing an ACF Fall set, though I don't think anyone is really calling for Fall to be as hard as MFT / EFT / EMT / MUT (and indeed 2014 Fall was a good bit easier than any of these tournaments).Adventure Temple Trail wrote:So I read through all of ACF Fall in a pretty detailed manner over the past few days, both as a test to check how my low-level generalism is doing these days and to see how the set turned out. I really liked the set -- I think it's by far the most interesting and well-crafted ACF Fall there's been in years, in terms of creating questions that weren't just 'the millionth novice tossup on cholesterol' or what have you. Much of that came from this editing team's admitted willingness to spice up difficulty a bit beyond the "high school with a small plus sign" of the past few Falls, or to put it another way to view the tournament as a bona fide "introduction to college quizbowl" with more outliers / a larger high-difficulty tail rather than a "farewell to high school". It seems from statistics that the field was largely able to handle this. But it also speaks well of this editing team's ability to go back to the sources, including easy works and basic concepts, and find fresh clues for them which reflect depth of engagement with things that a wide number of teams get exposure to.
Stepping into the realm of semi-cautious conjecture, here are the general principles I think most of the collegiate community generally agrees ACF Fall should adhere to:
- The tournament should use a college distribution, but with material that (for the most part) would not be out of place at a high school tournament
- The tournament should be a "sanitized environment" for newer players where they aren't getting beat up by elite high school teams and collegiate dinosaurs
- The tournament should be easier than any of the major high school national championships
Wading further into the realm of pure speculation, I do also think that something of an "Eh, it's Fall" attitude persists. What I mean by this is a general sense that ACF Fall is a lesser tournament, or that a lot of complaints you may hear during games of Fall (about buzzer races, etc.) "can't be helped," etc. Some consequences of this can include a lack of tournament vision and inconsistency (2015 / 2016 were noted as being highly disjoint in difficulty) and lack of attention paid to otherwise suboptimal questions ("Could I improve this tossup's structure? Eh, it's Fall."). This sucks for a lot of teams for which ACF Fall is one of the main events they look forward to each year, as it best suits their knowledge levels, and the real editorial craft ends up going elsewhere. I am glad Magin and his team had a vision in mind and put critical thinking into their questions and approach this year, and the reaction to the tournament seems to further indicate that they were successful in doing so. However, I get a strong sense that this attitude is still out there, and could potentially negatively affect a future ACF Fall editing team.
I feel as though this attitude may stem from people regarding Fall as a place mainly for high-school-has-beens to rack up easy points, then move on (or keep coming back each year with the same purpose). Without going into details, I suspect that this can also potentially infect editors' attitudes. If such is indeed the purpose of Fall, is it fair to call it a "novice tournament?" Is it an "introduction to college quizbowl?" Or is it meant to serve up the Nth tossup with has-been clues?
From here, I think it's prudent to weigh the two visions of ACF Fall - presented by the 2014 and 2017 editions - and look at the potential consequences of trying to adhere to each one, and what they mean for Fall's role in the yearly tournament schedule. I don't have a strong preference for one or the other, but I do think it's better to try to pick one to stick to rather than muddle in "farewell to high school-ish" territory. Adoption of a coherent philosophy / approach / vision for ACF Fall can help reduce the "Eh, it's Fall" attitude by clearly defining what the tournament is supposed to be and giving editors a framework and clear set of expectations.
P.S. I don't want to limit us to just these two visions - perhaps there's a third vision for Fall out there I'm not thinking of (or more!)