7

The Hunger Games universe presents that the wealthier districts have special training and volunteers for their tributes ("Careers"). While it certainly seems reasonable that the poorer districts could not support such an effort, it also seems reasonable that they would develop some tactic or strategy to combat such dominance of the wealthier districts.

One plausible method for the disadvantaged defeating the advantaged is through absolute numbers, which also makes sense on an individual level. If you are disadvantaged and want to have any hope of survival, wouldn't you prefer to fight a weaker opponent? Thus defeating the strongest opponents is most beneficial to all weaker opponents.

I have only seen the first three installments of the movies and have not read the books, but it is not clear to me why this strategy was not employed, other than to enhance the story-telling.

  • 1
    Didn't weaker tributes ally themselves with stronger ones in order to kill other stronger ones? I don't understand the question. – Major Stackings Nov 28 '15 at 6:44
  • @MajorStackings In the first installment, we see the tributes of 1 and 2 going around killing the outliers, and the few weaker tributes working with them are killed for not fulfilling duties. – Paul Nov 28 '15 at 6:53
  • Then I'd say it was a lack of trust that prevented their banding together. – Major Stackings Nov 28 '15 at 7:01
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    @MajorStackings Possibly a bit more complicated than that. From a game-theory point of view, it's something similar to playing chicken: if lots of weaker tributes made the same decision, it'd be worth it; but from the point of view of the first weaker tribute to request an alliance with another, what's the point? See my answer below. – Rand al'Thor Nov 28 '15 at 11:01
  • Also might add that strength in numbers is no guarantee against superior foes. Not when you are talking about the number of fighters that are in the Hunger Games (24), at any rate. There is no reason why 4 or 5 well-trained and deadly careers couldn't see off all the other tributes in a pitched battle, particularly at the cornucopia (banding together isn't going to help the weaker tributes if they do not have weapons/resources to make the stand). – The Giant of Lannister Nov 29 '15 at 0:57
17

Occasionally this does happen:

  • in the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss and Rue team up, followed by Katniss and Peeta later on
  • in the 75th, weaker tributes such as Mags, Wiress, and Beetee team up with fighters such as Katniss, Finnick, and Johanna.

But all these alliances are special in some way: in the 74th, both alliances were made in the middle of the Games rather than being prearranged; and in the 75th, there were all sorts of motives going on as most of the tributes were old friends and quite a few of them were in on the plan for rebellion.

Alliances are usually arranged beforehand, by the tributes' mentors. From each individual tribute's point of view, it would make more sense to team up with stronger tributes such as the Career pack than weaker ones. Who'd request an alliance with a weakling when they could have an alliance with some brute from District 2? And when they don't manage to get in with the Careers, another weakling to join up with wouldn't make much difference. Sure, it would be good for them if ten weaklings teamed up, but someone has to make the first step, and just two is hardly better than one.

And if you're thinking about alliances made in the arena, such as Katniss's two alliances in her first Games, remember the Cornucopia bloodbath. It's fairly normal for around half the tributes to die in the first hour or two of the Games. That leaves six Career tributes (Districts 1, 2, and 4 are all Careers in the books, and they all tend to survive the bloodbath due to their training) and about the same number of other tributes surviving. Even if all the rest managed to trust each other to team up at that stage, they'd still be weaker than the Careers.

  • The problem with teaming up with a group of careers (or other tributes notably stronger than yourself) is, one your common enemies are defeated, what do you think happens next? – LindaJeanne Nov 28 '15 at 18:33
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    @LindaJeanne So you run just before that happens, as Katniss and Peeta were talking about doing in the Quarter Quell. – Rand al'Thor Nov 28 '15 at 21:29
  • @LindaJeanne Well, you try to kill the other remaining contestants, of course. Except, with the strongest contestants gone, you now actually stand a chance. – Misha R Dec 10 '15 at 2:43
8

To be honest, most of the time it doesn't seem to make sense.

  • You don't usually gain major advantage in allying with people unless you either have:

    • Advantage in combat. But to have advantage in the kind of melee combat that the Arena offers, one needs to be trained in teamwork - two untrained people with knives or swords against a trained fighter don't really present much of a bigger challenge

      To top that off, Careers seem to frequently team up in the first place, in which case even piling up a bunch of weaker contestants against a single career hoping to overwhelm him/her is not feasible - you will be dealing with a Career pack, and we are back to Careers actually knowing how to fight in a group vs. those who don't.

    • access to resources to be pooled (and weaker tributes tend to have very scant resources, since Cornucopia is largely off limits unless they wish to be killed by Careers from the get-go)

Any instances of non-careers teaming up seem to be unique to a situation, or totally useless:

  • Katniss had a very specific plan involving getting Career pack away from the supplies; so Rue was helpful merely by being able to be in a different place as a diversion (to light fires)

  • Katniss and Peeta were both well-trained (especially Katniss) and opposing a single Career fighter at the end, in a very special situation (dogs attacking). Please note that prior to that, Peeta was pretty well useless to Katniss as ally, his purely accidental killing of Foxface being just that, an accident.

  • 75th games saw people with a grand strategy and tactics arranged well before the games started.

6

The Hunger Games are designed so that there is only one survivor. Alliances must be temporary. In the end, the last survivor must betray his or her friends. (You might note that Heavensbee makes just that point in the design of the 75th games.)

Assume that a dozen non-Careers gang up on half a dozen Careers and defeat them. What next? The winners of the fight, already injured, would have to turn on each other. For an individual who wants to survive, it would be much smarter to let the others take the risks, and to stay at the sidelines of the fight. Either by running away during the initial bloodbath, or at least by holding back during the frantic melee.

  • +1 Yes, that's probably the reason the non-career tributes wont usually seek alliances. – user68762 Nov 3 '17 at 17:01

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