Monday, 23 April 2012

#41 The Hunger Games: Winning Strategies

If you’re anything like me then when you saw or read The Hunger Games, there was one thought on your mind. “How could I kill that many children?” See, like most geeks, I have drawn up detailed and infallible plans in the case of a Romero-style zombie apocalypse. Zombies, after all, are stupid and easy to outrun, even if in practice they do end up killing everyone.

But The Hunger Games presents a more dangerous challenge. Here your adversaries aren’t just wandering around aimlessly, they’re actively hunting you down, and they’re crafty and quick and can fit in small spaces.

This worried me a great deal, so, much like Batman compensates for his lack of super powers with detailed and unstoppable contingency plans to take down everyone in the Justice League, so I have decided to compensate for my complete lack of physical strength, speed or agility by finding the deadliest Hunger Games strategies I could, and developing ways to defeat them.

These are the results of this study. Hopefully the writers, bloggers and Tom I got to contribute won’t actually read the blog, otherwise all this effort will have been for nothing.

Adele Wearing
One of the minds behind Alt.Fiction and the Unbound Blogzene but notably she is also one of writers for The Girls' Guide toSurviving the Apocalypse, meaning she’s spent a great deal of time coming up with survival strategies.

Special Abilities: Kickboxing

Strategy: “Faced with a grand game of murderkilldestroy I have a fundamental problem. I'm an idiot in a fight. I kickbox competitively and so this is a proven fact. I am not especially fast, or skilled, I always get beaten and I keep going forwards no matter how hard or how often they hit me. My team think I'm fearless, I suspect I just don't know any better.

Now this is bad enough when dealing with one girl who has gloves on, I've had black eyes and a busted nose in spite of safety equipment, but go a bit Hunger Games and it gets a whole lot worse. I have no weapons skills, well, I did archery at school and I wasn't a bad shot IF I could remember which eye to close. That was some 20 years ago now.

I'm average weight, height and fitness for a woman in her 30's, I am not naturally athletic in any way and I haven't climbed a tree for those same 20 years. Katniss I am not.

So where does that leave me? Largely I suspect, if I'm smart enough not to join in any initial melee, slinking away until I can form an alliance or two. I am, actually, pretty smart and not an entirely bad strategist. I can also, when my livelihood and therefore presumably my life, depends on it, pull a little charm out of somewhere. My strategy then, if I'm not among the first to fall, is pretty simple, identify the strong but dumb ones, manipulate them into being my defensive circle and when the field is a little smaller, start setting them on each other. I pretty much have to get through this thing without going toe to toe with anyone, coz I'll lose. So that's it, not very honourable or dignified, but sometimes it's survival of the sneakiest and any anthropologist will tell you, it's in our DNA.”

Plan to Defeat: Form an alliance with her early on. When she’s least expecting it, stab her in the back of the knees.

Grant Howitt
Grant Howitt, as the designer of Drunken Bear Fighter and one of the organisers of Zombie LARP is clearly no stranger to brutal death arenas where nobody gets out alive. On the other hand, he has neither seen the film nor read the books of The Hunger Games, making him something of a wild card.

Special Abilities: He can be very shouty.

Strategy: “Despite my proven success rate with surviving the undead, I'm not as skilled at actively murdering living human beings for sport. They move around too much. They hold weapons, can run, and use advanced tactics like "standing behind walls so to not get shot" and "not chasing hungrily after thrown glowsticks."

Basically, all my normal avenues of approach (including, to an extent, sending wave after wave of "team-mates" against them) are useless. Also, I haven't seen the film. Or read the book. Or even watched a proper trailer, really. There were some posters on the tube, so I guess I'm going to have to go with that for research because I'm a BUSY* MAN. Here's my findings, condensed into some tips:

1) GET A GUN. That girl in the coat, her with the hair and the face - she uses a bow and arrow a lot - that's her first mistake right there. A quick examination of current military forces shows that only a fraction of a percent use bows rather than guns (that fraction of a percent being made entirely of John Rambo and no-one else) as guns are easier to carry, shoot further and faster, and don't require you to carry around a backful of weaponised chopsticks in case trouble comes a-knockin'.

Plus, they're cooler - there's a reason Neo doesn't unfurl his leather trenchcoat to reveal a dizzying array of compound sports bows, mainly because they would jangle around the place and get stuck on things - which brings me to my next point.

2) IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU ARE COOL AS SHIT. SLA Industries was a formative text in my upbringing, and it taught me the art of stylish ultraviolence. So it's important that you give the viewers what they want, if ratings are anything to go by (these things are televised, right? I half-watched an advert on telly, it looked like it had Lenny Kravitz in it or something) but, and this is the important thing here, don't be a dick about it. Be incredibly violent, but also self-effacing and really down-to-earth. If you break someone's arm against a future-tree and artfully dash their brains out with a rock, try not to grin while you do it but make sure that any camera operators get your absolute best angle at all times.

Also, look a bit sad after you kill someone. Like how Spider-Man must feel. In fact, point three:
Sad like that! Perfect!
3) BE SPIDER-MAN. He's the scrappy underdog everyone loves! Plus he has magic glands under his wrists that kick out sticky fluid at a moment's notice, and the proportional strength and speed of a spider, and their famous powers of precognition which explains the rise of wholly authentic but unintelligible spider psychics in the late Victorian Era. Did you know how many innocent psychics were stepped on, just because they were spiders, or perhaps because they were chasing after a tasty-looking fly mid-seance? Lots, I bet.

Although being Spider-Man is probably fairly tricky, because you need to get bitten by a spider and not inherit the super powers of cold sweats, excruciating pain and death, like most bite victims do.

4) DO NOT GET BITTEN BY SPIDERS. I can't stress this enough, even in light of tip number 3. Spiders are either dangerous (vis Black Widow) or useless (vis Daddy Longlegs) and getting bitten isn't going to help you any, especially if you're fighting a number of other photogenic teens to the death in a post-apocalyptic woodland setting (is it in the woodlands? It looks a bit woody from all that performance gear they're wearing).

SURE, it seems like a good idea NOW to carry a tupperware full of venomous spiders and radioactive material in your backpack next to your Colt .45, but it's going to be distracting popping it open during a fight and shaking the spiders down your top in an effort to get on some of that superhero goodness. Plus we all know it takes a WHOLE NIGHT for the powers to kick in, at which point you wake up and no longer need glasses.

Anyway, that's probably enough words. In summary - get a gun, break people's arms and then look a bit sad about it, something about spiders. Great."


Plan to Defeat: Put spiders in his hair.

Kim Curran
Kim Curran writes science fiction for young adults, including her soon be released novel Shift. Writing young adult fiction means Kim is familiar with The Hunger Games’ genre, and has no scruples about subjecting children to horrific death. A worthy adversary.

Special Skills: A crack shot sniper (In videogames and paintball)

Strategy: “I’ve always fancied myself as a sniper. Ever since taking out Sniper Wolf in Metal Gear Solid 1 with my first shot. And then there was that time I went paint balling and I hid up a tree and took everyone down without them seeing me. That was fun. Till I couldn’t get back down and I had to call for help and I was pummelled with paintballs as punishment. But bruises the size of dinner plates aside, sneaky sniper would definitely be the way forward for me.

So, that would be my strategy. Run. Hide. Get a weapon. A Dragunov SVD if there happened to be one handy (my sniper rifle of choice). If not, I would try and jury-rig a cross bow or a blow dart with darts tipped with juice from those poisonous berries. And then I’d run and hide again and slowly, patiently, take everyone out one by one.

I certainly wouldn’t go running off looking for some boy who might or might not have a crush on me. And as for any small Rue-like contenders, sorry, sweetheart, you’re on your own. I’m here to win.

Once I’d won, I’d take the rifle or dart or crossbow and use it to take President Snow out, thereby ending the Hunger Games once and for all. And then I would declare it Kim Day. The day where, instead of killing each other, children would be chosen from all the districts in Pan Am to make me cake. And I would award the winning cake bakers with more cake!

So I would win the Hunger Games with a Russian semi-automatic sniper rifle. And I would win their hearts with cake.

Where do I volunteer?”

Plan to Defeat: Sneak up behind Kim with a big rock. Hit her with big rock.

Tom Harvey
Our blog’s favourite buttmonkey, Tom Harvey is the bassist of post-sadcore fun pop rock band Hello Bear, who this month released their first album. If you Google Tom’s name and his band’s name, this picture comes up:
I did that
Special Abilities: Is able to eat lead paint without any apparent side effects.

Strategy: “I would initially run to safety, without trying to grab supplies. I would wait for the initial carnage to grind out, from a safe distance (possibly up a tree), and then pick a target from the survivors. I would track them, and attack them when deemed appropriate, using some sort of blunt object (branch, rock etc.). This would be the basis of my general strategy - sucker punching. Pick off individuals tactically by not letting them know of your presence until it's too late. The Barcelone tactic of waiting out the opposition, people will fall to complacency, and then i shall pounce. Alternatively I'll just follow the hardest one, let them kill everyone, then brain them when they're not looking.”

Plan to Defeat: Paint the mouth of a tunnel onto a rock face. Hide behind a boulder. Wait.

What’s your Hunger Games winning strategy? Write it in the comments below and I promise not to use it against you!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Competition Time: Can You Think Of A New Apocalypse?

Yes, it’s competition time at Chris Writes About The End Of The World. We have been given the shiny prize of free tickets for two adults and two children to go to The London Dungeon, where you will be taken underground, shown various horrific and gruesome things and then get a chance to go on various rides that will scare the poop out of you, because here at Chris Writes About The End Of The World we’re still kind of fuzzy about the meaning of the word “prize”.

See the haunted terror in his eyes? That could be you!

“What could I possibly do to deserve this?” you’re probably asking right now.

Well, it would have to be something pretty bad, let’s be honest. We’re thinking, apocalyptically bad. Yes, to get these four tickets to darkness and terror, we want you to come up with a brand new apocalypse. Killer zombies, killer asteroids, killer aliens, killer plagues, killer robots, killer plants, killer words, killer apes and killer dolphins, all the grass dying, nuclear war, global flood, the earth being obliterated to make way for a hyperspace bypass, everything randomly turning into crystals, greygoo (although technically that’s robots), all the men on the planetmysteriously dying, all the women on the planet mysteriously becoming sterile, and whatever it is that’s supposed to happen in the book of Revelation are all pretty played out. I want you to wipe out all human civilisation, leaving nothing more than a few desperate survivors, in the most imaginative and creative way possible.

Suggestions can be as brief as you want (For instance, “a terrifying disease that turns everyone who comes into contact with it into a mime”- OH you can’t have that one now!) although obviously the more detail you put in, the more impressed our panel of judges will be.

The winner will not be burned alive at the stake. Actually, I should probably check that...

Entries will be judges on Originality and Awesomeness. The panel of judges will be made up of me, and some random person I rope into judging the competition once I’ve got all the entries in. The decision of the judges is final and cannot be bought, although this should not stop you from just randomly sending them cakes filled with money.

Send your entries to: chrisfarnell at with the subject line “A Brand New Apocalypse”.

You’ve got two weeks (Until the 24 April) to get your entires in, and the winner will be announced the week after that. So, GO!