Hunter and Bears, obviously
February 1, 2018 8:16 AM   Subscribe

pick two of the options here. They will defend you; the rest come to kill you. The options are: 50 eagles, 10 crocodiles, 3 bears, 7 bulls, 1 hunter, 15 wolves, 10,000 rats, 5 gorillas, and 4 lions. Your picks are wrong and bad and you should feel bad.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (137 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Depends on how much ammo the dude has. And whether the lions have been fed in the last 5 days or not.
posted by triage_lazarus at 8:19 AM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Rats and eagles. No question in my mind.
posted by Diablevert at 8:24 AM on February 1, 2018 [9 favorites]

How did no one pick the bulls?? I'd go 7 bulls and 50 eagles. Air superiority as a distraction for the hunter and others while the bulls charge around crushing rats beneath their feet and goring all the other animals.
posted by Grither at 8:24 AM on February 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

Eagles/wolves, but there is no combination being offered that's going to keep me alive, so it doesn't really matter.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 8:24 AM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Haven't we learned by now that you always take the eagles?

posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 8:26 AM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Wait, no duck-sized horses?
posted by allegedly at 8:27 AM on February 1, 2018 [8 favorites]

1. How long do we have to train?
2. Can we use steroids?
3. While training, can there be a montage with lots and lots of saxophone?
posted by sexyrobot at 8:28 AM on February 1, 2018 [12 favorites]

Yes, but the question is, if I pick gorillas for one side, does the fight get its own channel?
posted by Quindar Beep at 8:28 AM on February 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

Have to have eagles, no doubt. Really should have included another air option instead of the bulls. Maybe 100 ravens?

I also think you have to take the rats, because if you don't, they are coming for you, and combined with the other attackers, they will slip under the radar and nibble anything to death while it is fending off the bears, gorilla and lions.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:29 AM on February 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

None of the answers is right, just some are less right. You need to pick three to have a fighting chance. (Hunter, lions and gorillas.) (No one sees the advantage to having primate allies.)
posted by Keith Talent at 8:30 AM on February 1, 2018

No need to wonder, Beast Battle Simulator is available now, as featured in Polygon's We Fought a Zoo series.
posted by Peccable at 8:30 AM on February 1, 2018 [4 favorites]

Simple, I'd pick the bear holding the shark.
Or the Burninator.
Otherwise, all I need is myself and a 6 string axe to shred some glorious metal tunes on!

Wait, none of those were options? Bah.
posted by Nanukthedog at 8:30 AM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

I deferred to my animal behaviorist partner and got this:

"All right, let's start with process of elimination. No crocodiles, because as long as you stay away from water you're safe--crocodiles can't effectively hunt on the ground. They can move, but not very fast or effectively, and their hunting strategy relies on ambush. 10,000 rats is a lot, but they're pretty easy to run away from and/or some of the bigger animals could just lay on them, plus they wouldn't behave in any organized fashion so it wouldn't be that useful. I'm thinking the bird is a hawk, but I can't see enough of the plumage to tell--might be a golden eagle. 50 hawks is a lot, and they can divebomb, but you can't fit 50 of them in any skyspace in a reasonable way without them all crashing into each other. They would have to be extremely spread out, which isn't useful in this situation. I don't really trust the hunter. I think I'm going to have to go with grizzly bears and bulls. 15 wolves is a lot, but one good kick from a bull kills a wolf. Lions I'm more concerned about, but grizzly bears are huge and could probably take them down. I'm worried about the gorillas, but I'll stick with my choices."

They also told me I was free to mention the fact that they contemplated all of this while standing naked in my living room, as I caught them on their way out of the shower.
posted by brook horse at 8:33 AM on February 1, 2018 [58 favorites]

I don't know why, but I read this in Dwight Schrute's voice.
posted by ssmug at 8:33 AM on February 1, 2018 [5 favorites]

Gorillas and rats, definitely. Protoss and The Flood.
posted by 1adam12 at 8:34 AM on February 1, 2018 [4 favorites]

How many are stuffed?
posted by pipeski at 8:34 AM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

I think the question you have to ask is if they are defending you and/or attacking you as a unified group, or if natural behavior takes over at all. If the former, then how they normally act is irrelevant - if the latter, you want them to be choked up by their own choices.
posted by corb at 8:35 AM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

More comments from my partner:

Me: Everyone's picking the eagles because they think it's good to have an air option.
Partner: Yeah, eagles just aren't any good at flying in formation or working together. Now, if it were a flock of a 1000 starlings--that would be useful, 'cause they can fly in formation like nobody's business.
Me: Somebody suggested 100 ravens, would that be better or worse?
Partner: Ravens would probably be better at flying in formation than eagles, since they're more social creatures and are used to living close together. I would trust 100 ravens more than 50 eagles, but I'd trust 1000 starlings more.

[a minute later]

Partner: I'm still worried about the gorillas because they're really aggressive, especially Silverbacks. But I picked bulls because they are also super aggressive, and they have enormous knives strapped to their heads.
posted by brook horse at 8:39 AM on February 1, 2018 [38 favorites]

How much damage can real eagles do to a bull or gorilla?
posted by little onion at 8:40 AM on February 1, 2018

Yeah the eagles aren't useful except against the rats. So it depends on how frightened you are of the rats.
posted by Hypatia at 8:44 AM on February 1, 2018

Do I have the right to arm bears?
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:44 AM on February 1, 2018 [26 favorites]

How long can hot air balloons stay in the air? Alternatively, when's the next flight to Tokyo?

I can't see any survival strategy that doesn't involve me running away as fast as possible, or perching on Rockall with my eagle buds.

Any enclosure not in the air or at sea seems impossible to defend from that many rats, and if you take the rats on in the open, the larger animals will get you.
posted by rollick at 8:45 AM on February 1, 2018

I am choosing bulls, also because you can ride one of the bulls away from danger. Other than that, if we are going with natural behaviors I say gorillas, if you can direct them I am sticking with eagles.
posted by corb at 8:47 AM on February 1, 2018

Hunter to do the protecting.
Rats, mostly to stay out of the way, as they are the only one with a high chance of getting past the hunter in any sizable number. Though they could be used to swarm some of the others, or to confuse/distract eagles.

And myself. I'm not defenseless.
posted by mystyk at 8:48 AM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Well the hunter seems an obvious choice, by virtue of having a gun. What she can't kill she can likely scare away. So the only real question is who to pick to team up with her.

I'd have to go with wolves. They're highly intelligent and organized, capable of long-term strategizing and have both cunning and stamina. Wolves are generally scared of bears, though, so the hunter would have to deal with them herself. The alligators are bound by water, and the eagles, while annoying, would not be too difficult to take out, especially if our hunter has a shotgun instead of a rifle. Whatever animals the wolves couldn't take down they could likely send running, because none of these other animals have any degree of teamwork, with the exceptions of gorillas and possibly rats.

Of these two, gorillas would be the more formidable foes to contend with. Being endangered, the hunter couldn't shoot them, leaving the wolves to do the dirty work against a physically powerful opponent they have little experience with.

The gorillas then are the real wild card for me, but the wise choice is clear: hunter and wolves.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 8:48 AM on February 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

Seems obvious enough to me, the crocodiles, the hunter and if you need me, I'll be on this boat over here passing the ammo over.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 8:49 AM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Metafilter: super aggressive, and they have enormous knives strapped to their heads.
posted by Quindar Beep at 8:51 AM on February 1, 2018 [8 favorites]

At first I thought the best strategy was to be carried upwards by the eagles, provided that we would have a large enough net that the birds could carry, but supposing a bald eagle can carry 3-4 pounds, I would need 40-53 eagles just to carry me.

But then I thought, there are too many open variables and unknowns and someone should do a proper simulation of all the options.
posted by Laotic at 8:52 AM on February 1, 2018

I definitely want the rats on my side--also as an animal behaviorist!--because rats are bright little fuckers and that's a good-sized rat nation. Rats know how to work together in coordination to get shit done, and as long as you convince them that there's something in it for them, why--why, numbers of attack troops aside, that's a fucking goldmine of spies and intelligence operatives, not to mention the possibility of rats being capable of dropping poisoned meat or other little traps and tricks that you wouldn't expect. Rats are highly trainable and like people; and they have little hands that are more flexible about manipulating things and they go anywhere you want. Rats. Rats 100%.

The rest is a touch trickier. I need some tanks to go with my army of guerrilla fighters intended to harry and sabotage, so that rules out... let's see. Wolves are nice and all, but fifteen is a single pack and that's almost certainly going to involve a bunch of juveniles, plus wolves spook hella easy and I'd need the entire pack to take on even a single bull. For the same reasons brook horse's partner mentions, the gators can go straight to hell. An alligator is dangerous in exactly one situation--in the water--and I'm confident my army of rat saboteurs can deliver enough poison to wherever the damn things are lurking to be useful.

That leaves gorillas, bears, bulls, and the hunter. Fuck the hunter. The hunter isn't bringing jack all to this situation that I can't bring myself. The gorillas are likely to be either clustered in a small family group--which, great, might easily bring down my count of useful gorillas by including some babies or nursing mothers, and also is going to hinder their mobility because gorilla groups move as one unit. No on gorillas.

Bears and bulls present more interesting opportunities. Obviously, it depends on the breed of bulls available to me--a mess of rangy, mean Texas Longhorn types is going to be a hell of a lot more helpful than polled Holsteins. Most bulls these days are polled, so I'm going to bet that unless you're specifically selecting for a horned breed, they're mostly useful in terms of sheer size and speed. Which bears outclass by a country mile. The bears are tempting, but with only three, how can I spread them out to best use my terrain?

But hold on. Let me come back to the eagles. Eagles don't fly in formation or work together well, no--but hang on, if my eagles and my rats are my allies, can I convince the eagles not to eat my rat friends? Because hoo boy, there's both shock troops and mobility in one go--and I don't care about formation, if you disperse the eagles into small squad of three to five per target and tell them go get that bear, that's... surprisingly scary. Especially if you can convince the eagles to pull peregrine falcon moves or owl-like raking moves, the sorts of attacks the raptors use when they're not actually trying to necessarily carry off whatever they're pissed at. It's very hard to defend against that.

So I think eagles and rats--if the eagles can increase my rats' mobility, that's an awesome plus... but even if they can't, I can disperse them easily and provide really, really nasty aerial support attacks that will distract pretty well everything but the gators until my rat saboteurs can get things dealt with. Yeah. There's my pick.
posted by sciatrix at 8:53 AM on February 1, 2018 [24 favorites]

Not enough information! The location of the battle matters - crocs might not make sense in a suburban environment, but they would be useful in a swamp. Weather matters too! Storms mean your eagles are out.

Also, what sort of gorillas are we talking about? There are different species and I need to know if these are all silverbacks, just as the way I was told that the cows were all bulls.

Back of envelope, assuming the others are coming to get me where I am at right now (suburban library), I'm going gorillas and wolves. We need team players here.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:53 AM on February 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

Gorillas aren't really aggressive, but I'd prefer to have them on my side, along with crocodiles because crocodiles scare me more than any other animal and I wouldn't be able to face them in battle with any sort of bravery or honor.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:53 AM on February 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

also, brook horse, ask your partner what he expects the logical outcome of eight silverbacks in an arena to be and get back to me on that.
posted by sciatrix at 8:54 AM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

I think the unspecified problems here are twofold: behavior of the attackers, and terms of engagement: do you get to choose the field of engagement, or no? Will the attackers mindlessly attack, or are their normal instincts (fear of loud noises, fear of each other, self-preservation, etc...) still at play?

A lot of the answers I see here make huge assumptions about these things without them being specified. 10000 swarming rats all mindlessly trying to kill you, regardless of their own fate is a much different animal (heh) than 10000 rats who may or may not attack depending on their otherwise natural instincts.

on preview: not enough information <-- yep, this.
posted by namewithoutwords at 8:57 AM on February 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

How many pounds of each animal are you getting? (based on largest estimate given from a google search)

1,000 of eagle
20,000 of crocodile
3,000 of bear
16,800 of bull
200 of hunter
2,700 of wolf
10,000 of rat
2,000 of gorilla
1,920 of lion
posted by little onion at 8:57 AM on February 1, 2018 [6 favorites]

I would say hunter and bears. Pound for pound you can't get much better damage than a bear, and a gun is a game changer. Eagles? I'm just a typical nerd girl but I could kill an eagle with my bare hands. They rely on a single pounce to kill prey; anything puts up a fight, they are in trouble.
posted by The otter lady at 9:00 AM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

sciatrix: They (not he) said, "I didn't know it was an arena. The original post didn't say it was an arena, right? Although, genuinely, if you put 8 silverback gorillas in an arena and one puny human, they would fight each other, like a bunch of testosterone fueled assholes."

Probably everything would change if it were an arena. I have to agree with "not enough information."
posted by brook horse at 9:02 AM on February 1, 2018 [4 favorites]

The hunter isn't bringing jack all to this situation that I can't bring myself.

A firearm is what the hunter is bringing, presumably. Which is why you want him on your side - not because he'll do anything useful, but because if he can shoot you from long range it doesn't really matter what your other picks are.
posted by anastasiav at 9:04 AM on February 1, 2018 [10 favorites]

I was really really hoping this was a chose your own adventure web game and I am super disapponted it is only a garbage thought experiment.
posted by agregoli at 9:05 AM on February 1, 2018 [12 favorites]

If this is going down right now, I'm 13 floors up in a windowless drywall office with a sturdy metal door and a drop ceiling. In this scenario, the threats from least to great are probably eagles, crocodiles, wolves, lions, bulls, bears, hunter (if he can get his guns past the security desk), gorillas, rats.

I'll go hunter and rats. The hunter can set up a blind down the hall and pick off the marauding beasts as they emerge from the stairwell and try to bust into my office; the rats can swarm and slow them down so the hunter has enough time to do the job.
posted by Iridic at 9:08 AM on February 1, 2018 [5 favorites]

I want 1,000,000,000 army ants.
posted by filthy_prescriptivist at 9:16 AM on February 1, 2018 [6 favorites]

Fuck the lions,
Marry the eagles
kill the rats.

Am I doing this right?
posted by some loser at 9:18 AM on February 1, 2018 [34 favorites]

I did the pounds per animal estimate too! My numbers came up different (esp. on alligator and bear; we're probably thinking of different species?):

600 lb. of eagle
8,000 of crocodile alligator
1,100 of bear
14,000 of bull
170 of hunter
1,500 of wolf
6,600 of rat
1,800 of gorilla
1,400 of lion

If you adjust so that each option is scaled to provide roughly 1000 kg (*note the units change) of each kind of animal (using my numbers), you get the choices:

185 eagles
3 alligators
6 bears
1 bull
13 hunters
22 wolves
3300 rats
6 gorillas
6 lions
3? partridges in pear trees

In which case the obvious solution is to take the hunters and the partridges, climb the pear trees with the hunters and shoot until all the other animals are dead. Easy-peasy. Except maybe for the eagles.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 9:20 AM on February 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

Team rats and eagles! Ten thousand rats are the best defensive weapon by far. That's over two tons of animals that can chew through wood, climb, and swim. They could even help you hide from the sniper, who has to reload at some point. Next comes eagles, with beaks designed to rip out eyes and strong gripping talons and a distracting dive-bombing ability.
posted by zennie at 9:20 AM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

No hippos so this is already bogus.
posted by lagomorphius at 9:22 AM on February 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

I don't see a winning choice, but I don't want my head blown off immediately by the hunter, and sure don't want to be swarmed by 10,000 fucking rats. So I guess that's my team.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 9:23 AM on February 1, 2018 [11 favorites]

Five gorillas may sound formidable, but if they are to work together then there is only one silverback. Silverbacks only care about fighting other silverbacks or pushing other gorillas around, so they're near useless, anyway. Having three independent-minded grizzlies that can basically cover you from three fronts is a formidable defense, leaving you with a need for offense. The hunter needs to be on your side, because three long range shots would take out your bears.

With that logic, though, all the large animals are screwed by the hunter who'll pick them off before they even get to you.

The bulls will be in stampede mode but if you take out the one in front with the hunter, the rest will probably break a neck or leg toppling over the body.

The lions and wolves will see the bears and not bother.

Birds can be scared off or dropped in droves with a shotgun (I am assuming the hunter has a shotgun and a long rifle). If you're on land the crocs are toast. So really, it's just 10,000 rats.

Bring some kerosene and a match.
posted by linux at 9:24 AM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

posted by tobascodagama at 9:25 AM on February 1, 2018 [7 favorites]

Eagles are kind of fragile. Give me 50 Swans or Canada Geese and we're talking. Rats and Geese, that's my pick. Otherwise, rats and bulls, as long as the bulls are entire and have their horns.
posted by bonehead at 9:25 AM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

not because he'll do anything useful, but because if he can shoot you from long range it doesn't really matter what your other picks are.

This. One of your defenders HAS to be the hunter, because he is the only one that can kill you from a distance. If he is one of the attackers you're toast, basically. He isn't necessarily one of the best defenders, but he has to be removed from the scenario where he climbs a tree blind and pops you in the noggin before any of your defending animals know where he is.
posted by Brockles at 9:25 AM on February 1, 2018 [8 favorites]

You go to war with the legion of animal minions you have, not the legion of animal minions you want.
posted by 7segment at 9:27 AM on February 1, 2018 [17 favorites]

Eagles and the hunter. The eagles will cooperate to lift both me and the hunter into the air, where we will be safe from the land animals. The hunter will pick off the big ones and then the eagles can dispatch the rats. I imagine they'll need to shoot the gorillas first, before they learn to use the rats as missiles.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 9:29 AM on February 1, 2018 [4 favorites]

I'm going to minmax with the hunter and the rats.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:31 AM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have to agree with "not enough information."

Oh, absolutely--and pass on my apologies for the mispronouning!

Yeah, terrain really, really matters here, especially in the case of gators, bulls--who do very poorly over rough terrain, for example, or narrow trails--and possibly bears, lions, and gorillas for bulk reasons. So do the social dynamics of the individuals we're bringing in, along with age, sex, and familiarity--for example, no one's really considering the lions, but they too are susceptible to the problem of territorial infighting if they aren't lions who already know and are familiar with each other--is this a four-male coalition, or a very small pride, or what?

What breed are the cattle? If your bulls are Dexters, for example, I'm--well, not necessarily going to laugh, but that's a very different kettle of fish from a Charolais which is then different from a Longhorn (usually the most commonly saddle trained breed!) or, say, the buckstock usually used in rodeos.

Are the wolves an actual pack with a family unit? Fifteen adults is a biggish pack--are there yearlings in there? Is anyone pregnant or are there pups to look out for that are potentially distracting? Or have you just thrown fifteen random wolves in a group and hoped it'd sort itself out?

There are so many questions here.
posted by sciatrix at 9:31 AM on February 1, 2018 [5 favorites]

oh god hippos

hippos win everything game over

hide me
posted by sciatrix at 9:33 AM on February 1, 2018 [5 favorites]

> we are cooking on the FODMAP plan for this potluck

In your friends' defense, "some people get sick from X" is a pretty reasonable motivation for eliminating X from a potluck, no? A no-FODMAP menu does a good job of eliminating many things that a small but not insignificant percentage of people are sensitive to. If you've got a party with 15 people and a couple of them are lactose-intolerant or sensitive to gluten or whatever, it seems like a policy like this would be a lot easier than keeping track of who can eat what and who can't and/or what ingredients are in what dish.
posted by a mirror and an encyclopedia at 9:47 AM on February 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

Have we moved on to the part where we're planning a meal using all the carcasses and swapping recipes? Or is that over on the green? "Can I eat this dead bear?"
posted by sexyrobot at 9:47 AM on February 1, 2018 [15 favorites]

(... although I guess gluten was a bad example up there, since it's not a carbohydrate. You could cook a FODMAP-free meal that still included, say, seitan.)
posted by a mirror and an encyclopedia at 9:50 AM on February 1, 2018

One of your defenders HAS to be the hunter, because he is the only one that can kill you from a distance.

Does he have a shotgun or a rifle? The picture only shows a single weapon, so I'm assuming it's one or the other, not both. A shotgun with slugs might work, but then his distance accuracy sucks. Does he have a caliber that could bring down a bear or a bull? Are we talking a forest or a plain here? Guns are limited when sight-lines are reduced. I'm also not certain a big game weapon would be very useful against the rat horde.

Re trees, bears climb a fair sight better than humans do and can outrun us on most ground. they can also push a lot of trees over. Those are grizzlys in the original tweet. A human hunter (or you) couldn't get away from them, especially if they're implacable zombo-bears.
posted by bonehead at 9:59 AM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Clearly the hunter and the rats are the best choices. If you can't choose the terrain, you're toast no matter what you pick. If you can choose the terrain, you and the hunter can hole up in a building and pick off all the other creatures at leisure except for the rats, ergo the rats must be on your team.
posted by dazed_one at 10:04 AM on February 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

Rat king! I chose the rats and they form a five-ton rat-king voltron. Then I pick the eagles just so they can circle above and witness the devastation my rat king defender dishes out.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 10:04 AM on February 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

You have to take the hunter, to take them off the table. It's not just because of range, though that's a big issue for sure; it's that they're a human and humans are the pettiest, meanest, most deliberately pyrrhically vengeful creatures in the whole matrix. An angry bear will fuck you up in an act of animal desperation, but an angry human will fuck you up at their own expense in a slow-burn campaign of dedicated, post-rational ideological spite.

So, hunter and rats. There's no combination of hunter + anything, or anything + anything really, that can confidently overwhelm the collaboration of the seven things you didn't pick, but with the hunter you're not up against a human and with the rats you can run just tremendous amounts of interference. And in the end you and the hunter have got a quick out if things have gotten inescapably dire.
posted by cortex at 10:05 AM on February 1, 2018 [6 favorites]

My strategy is assuming an open arena or something, in which case we will have me and the Hunter back to back in the middle of a triangle of grizzly bears. With a bit of maneuvering (dodging bull charges for example). Hunter picks off the larger beasts and I will handle rats, eagles, wolves and possibly crocs if they're under 10 feet. (Just grab jaw and flip). I might sub lions or gorillas for bears, just for numbers, but pretty sure 3 bears will be adequate, given their ability to take damage and keep fighting. I will enjoy wringing the necks of eagles. Screechy fuckers.
posted by The otter lady at 10:06 AM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

What breed are the cattle? ... are there yearlings in there? ... is this a four-male coalition?

I was assuming that species/general makeup were roughly indicated by the pictures (e.g. we would get 4 male adult lions). A bit of Googling (as I am not nearly so familiar with differentiating animal species and my partner is busy playing BOTW) reveals that the bird is actually a common black hawk, the bears are indeed grizzlies, and the bulls are a Spanish bullfighting breed though I'm not sure of the specifics. Use that information as you will!

Of course there's nothing say that is necessarily the case, but it would at least put some reasonable limits/give a basis for our parameters. Perhaps we could also say that in any of the pictures that involve two animals, we are assuming that the social dynamics are cooperative (e.g. all the lions know and cooperate with each other) but pictures with only a single animal would assume that none of the animals are familiar with each other (e.g. all lone gorillas)?
posted by brook horse at 10:11 AM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Rats for sure—so many rats!—and then for me a tossup between bears & lions. Probably lions, as they’d make the best team with the rats. (Source: Aesop.)

Also: I am gonna be SO MAD if this just reveals what I think about sex or what character on Friends I’d be.
posted by miles per flower at 10:11 AM on February 1, 2018 [4 favorites]

You have to make the assumption that the writer did, which is that natural instincts are out the window by the very nature of the problem. Attacking you and especially defending you at all costs is already outside all natural behaviors--so you have to assume all natural instincts, except where they help in their mission, are out.

I think you also have to assume you get prime adult specimens just as pictured. So no family groups in gorillas, for example, just silverback males.

It also makes a huge difference where this is. An open salt flat is a lot different than, say, being dropped into variable terrain, or a city. Or a swamp.

The biggest problem is that an unarmed human is going down against any single one of the animal groups. So your allies have to take them down before they get to you. The only thing I personally could come out on top of in a fight is a small number of the rats, and even then I'm guessing only a few at any one time. Your hunter friend is going down similarly if anything reaches them.

Hunter and rats. Rats work on slowing down anything which is incoming, and hunter then picks them off.

Assuming an expert marksman who is able to shoot without error (which is like coding without error, hah), you're going to need a big gun to single-shot-kill all of the critters. There are 95 non-rat opponents.

Let's assume your hunter can carry 50 pounds of ammunition. That's 400 rounds of .458 Winchester Magnum, 1000 rounds of a typical deer-hunting rifle like a .270, and even only 7,000 rounds of .22 long-rifle, which isn't going to single-shot kill anything above the rats without very precise shooting, and even then maybe not.

You want the rats on your side for the ammunition-portability problem alone. I mean, I guess if hunter friend is in a jeep packed with 1,000 pounds of ammo, sure. But you might as well specify hellfire missiles or grenades, or a helicopter, at that point.

That said, the eagles are a huge problem. Hitting a target in the air with a rifle is not a trivial problem.
posted by maxwelton at 10:11 AM on February 1, 2018 [5 favorites]

Although, if we're going by the pictures in the tweet, that hunter looks like he has a shotgun for birding. Not sure how many headshots he'll be able to pull with that.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:15 AM on February 1, 2018

Clearly the answer is 10,000 ferrets.
posted by slkinsey at 10:16 AM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Turns out you get to choose your own battlefield. You also get a weapon but there are limits. You can also double up on animals.

This changes everything.
posted by brook horse at 10:25 AM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

TWO hunters. done.
posted by numaner at 10:27 AM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

The hunter also works in the coal industry and he's hard-core Republican. We have got the rest of them at our mercy. I don't need a second.
posted by The_Vegetables at 10:28 AM on February 1, 2018

I'm getting me some rat whacking sticks while my hunters pick off all the animals, one with a high caliber rifle, the other with a shotgun.
posted by numaner at 10:28 AM on February 1, 2018

You have to get the hunter - just need him on your side. The eagles bother me as an opponent but they're not a good defense. Gators - just stay away from the water. Grizzly bears are just all kinds of nasty, far more than the gorillas. But lions for the win. Cats are nature's most perfect killer and while I'd prefer Amur Tigers, lions would work. Plus they're used to hunting in a pack. They're not much for stamina but they don't need to be charging, just working defense. Given how my housecats can take down woodpeckers and attacking blue jays, the eagles don't stand a prayer. Per wiki, Lions have been known to work together to bring down hippos or even a semi-mature elephant. Lions.
posted by Ber at 10:29 AM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Man I wish I had the spare time to implement this as a crappy little PICO 8 sim.
posted by cortex at 10:29 AM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Unfortunately he's going to go all all Ayn Rynd-y on me when the battle is over and endlessly brag that he did everything. I'd rather die.
posted by The_Vegetables at 10:29 AM on February 1, 2018

If the scenario is everything mindlessly attacking you and only you and you don't have any shelter/defenses/cover then you are dead anyway no matter what you pick. But if you pick the rats then most of the rest will die either directly or from infection from hundreds of rat bites, so at least you get revenge? So pick the rats and the hunter and tell the hunter to shoot you in the head before the lions eat your guts while you are alive.

If you have terrain that you can control and thus limit the number of attackers at one time, then you pick the hunter and the wolves. The hunter can take out the large animals and wolves are quite good at killing small animals like rats. As long as the raptor isn't a lammergeier it's going to have to come into contact to attack, and the wolves can also take them out then. It's probably not co-incidental that this reproduces the hunter and dogs combination from human history.
posted by tavella at 10:32 AM on February 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

Let's assume your hunter can carry 50 pounds of ammunition.

But with hunter + eagles the eagles can steal more ammunition as they carry you and the hunter aloft.
posted by corb at 10:37 AM on February 1, 2018

The salt flat is a hard problem.

How far are your opponents at the start? If they start out a football field away vs a random drop where you might end up right next to a lion is a huge difference. Effective rifle-range is a couple of hundred yards at most, closer the light the caliber. That said, the rifle becomes useless once the difference is measured in feet; all a dying bull has to do is fall on you for you to lose.

10,000 rats means 200+ rats per each ground-based opponent, of which there are only 45. And in the short-term you can ignore the alligators, so that's now 35.

Rats can leap 2+ feet into the air, so your best defense from the eagles is going to be laying on the ground, carpeted with rats. But laying on the ground is going to make it difficult for the hunter to cover anything other than a limited arc.

One rat trouble is going to be spacing. 10,000 rats at one-rat-per-square-foot is a circle with a radius of only 60 feet. Your hunter needs to get the fastest incomers down quickly.

Varied terrain with any sort of cover makes hunter + rats invincible.
posted by maxwelton at 10:42 AM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Yeah, give me the hunter to shoot things and the rats to swarm everything else ("go for the eyes, my pretties!").
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:53 AM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Look, I appreciate author's intent or whatever, but being able to pick your battlefield makes the whole thing silly, because you pick a swamp and like 2 crocs and it's over.

The One True Set of Conditions:
  • Battlefield is lightly forested with grassy clearings. Isolated areas of rough terrain and some hills or knolls, but nothing extensive.
  • Approximately 100-200 acres - a large urban park size.
  • You and your defenders have limited time to scout the area and position yourselves as desired.
  • Attackers are introduced at the edges of the area, one group at a time, over one hour or so.
  • Attackers will work together within their group, but will not strategize with other groups, nor will they attack or interfere with other groups.
  • You have perfect communication with your defenders, and they will obey your orders to the death, but you do not have direct motor control or other mental link.
  • Attackers will attack to the death, ignoring natural instincts like fear and solitude.
Eagles scout and warn you of approaching attackers, especially the hunter. Rats primarily ensure that hunter cannot get within range of you, until they swarm him under. Eagles gang up on bears, gorillas and wolves first, while waves of rats overwhelm bulls, crocs, and lions.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:54 AM on February 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

Not enough information! The location of the battle matters

Fighting in desert is very different from fighting in canopy jungle
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 11:02 AM on February 1, 2018

My first pick is rats and bears, but that's without any special info about the setting (terrain, how enclosed) or how the animals are motivated/what their understanding of the situation is.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:09 AM on February 1, 2018

Previously and a suggestion to add to the matrix..
posted by k5.user at 11:09 AM on February 1, 2018

if [the hunter] can shoot you from long range it doesn't really matter what your other picks are

This is a good point. I was thinking the hunter is limited in defensive capability by what kind of gun/how much ammo, but I wasn't thinking about the offensive side -- a hunter might not be that great against bears depending on the gun, but if they only have to shoot one human, eeergh. That's persuasive enough that I'd say it might be worth taking the hunter out of the options entirely. I guess it depends what kind of defensive fortifications we assume I can build.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:20 AM on February 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

Bulls are a lot more dangerous than many people think. The cape buffalo is considered the most dangerous quarry to hunt in Africa, and the 19th century Western US, bull vs. bear fights were a regular thing. And the bulls held their own against grizzlies. So right off the bat, seven bulls against three bears is an easy pick.

Crocodiles are pretty limited unless acting as ambush predators. The eagles can be nasty, but I don't think they'll be much help against gorillas, bears and crocs, and they would only be particularly useful on open terrain. I'd probably pick the hunter in that situation, since he can do a lot of damage if he can see the other animals coming. Otherwise, I'd pick the wolves. Wolves are a lot nastier than dogs, individually, and in a group of 15, there's not much they can't kill.

But 2 vs. 7 is probably a losing proposition no matter how you cut it.
posted by Edgewise at 11:21 AM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Assessing the matches using D&D 5e, gives some interesting insights. Here, we're assuming 10 combat "rounds" in a minute---D&D runs in 6 second intervals. The average human has 4-6 "hit points" (hp). A "hit point" is a loosey-goosey thing in D&D, incorporating physical damage, piece of mind/morale and endurance. When a creature takes damage equal to its hp, it is immobilized and dying. A typical human can move in combat at 30 feet/6 second round. The "challenge rating" (CR) for each creature is noted, as per the rules. Note that for both the rats and the eagles, I'm using the swarm rules.

Skip down to the bottom for the tl;dr

500 Rat Swarms (~25 rats per) (CR 1/4) hit an unarmored opponent 50% of the time, for roughly 2100 hitpoints of damage per round. They can take 24 hp before the swarm is dead. They have a speed of 20 ft/round.

5 swarms of Eagles (CR 1/4) hit 70%; for 4 damage. Total of 25 dam/round for all animals. They fly at 60 ft/round and can take about 24 damage before all being dead. (NB, using swarm of ravens rules)

15 Wolves (CR 1/2) hit at 70% for 7 dam bites, at ~75 dam/round for all. They have the special ability to pull prey down and get advantage for being a pack (Advantage is adds nearly 25% to their chance to successfully bite). They move at 40 ft/round and can each take about 11 hp damage.

10 Crocs (CR 1/2) hit at 70% for 7 damage, at ~50 dam/round. They can also grapple, making them very likely to finish a kill if they get their mitts on you. They're slow at 20 ft/round, but tough at 19 hp.

7 Bulls (CR 2) hit at 85% for 14 damage. They do about 85 damage/round total, but that can go up by 9 for each one that charges. Nasty. They're very tough at 38 hp each and can run at 50 ft/round. (NB, using the Auroch stats)

5 Gorillas (CR 1/2) hit at 75% for 6 damage, but they do it twice, so around 50 damage/round for the troupe. They have a speed that's roughly human at 30 ft/round, and 19 hp.

4 Lions (CR 1) hit at 75% for 7 damage, so around 20 point/sec for the pride. However, they are social, like wolves, getting advantage with help from other lions nearby, and they can pounce upwards 20 feet, knocking their prey over and allowing another attack.

3 Brown Bears (CR 1) hit 75% of the time for 10 damage, and they do it twice per round for a total damage output of 45 per round. They move at 40 feet per round and can climb at 30. They can take about 34 hp of damage each.

Finally our hunters: I'm assuming a 3rd level fighter (decent but not fantastic), practiced with their weapon. The hunter can moves 30 ft/round (climb 15), and has 15 hp. The hunter will hit around 70% of the time. The hunting rifle does 7 damage per shot, with a range of 240 ft, the shotgun roughly the same to 90 feet.

Lots of numbers, but there is one clear standout: the rats. Even with restrictions on how many could surround a defender at once, there are just so many rats. They've got to be the top of anyone's list.

The utility of hunter with either weapon is limited. They can only get so many shots off before the ranges close and the animals can attack, even without counting charging or using dash actions. Unless terrain is vastly in their favour, they're going to get overwhelmed quickly. And remember the hunter is at disadvantage (-25% to hit) at close range.

Eagles are kind of meh, they can fly, but they don't do a huge amount of damage. Wolves punch above their weight because of the pack hunting ability. Lions too. Bears look great but there aren't enough of them.

Bulls may be overstated---I'm using the stats for wild Aurochs which are probably bigger than Spanish bulls---but they still pack a really mean punch, especially if they have an opportunity to charge.

So rats, forever and always first, followed by bulls/wolves/bears depending on terrain.
posted by bonehead at 11:28 AM on February 1, 2018 [9 favorites]

If you can double up, does anybody think double rats? 20,000 rats is a lot of rats.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:44 AM on February 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

Let's make things interesting. Add 100,000 wasps, 100 ravens, 50 German Shepherd Dogs, 100 housecats, 6 swordwielding humans, and 1 war elephant. You get to pick 4 now.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:56 AM on February 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

These options are so well balanced that it's really hard to choose. Whatever you choose, I think you're at the disadvantage in this encounter. Anyway, here goes:

Everyone is thinking about this backwards and choosing the best the offensive capabilities, by doing this you're failing to account for what you're defending against. You absolutely have to choose the hunter, not because it's the best one to have on your team (it's not due to poor swarm handling capability), but because if you don't you're going to get most-dangerous-gamed while you're distracted by all the other animals. The second choice is harder, I'm leaning towards the gorillas because they seem most able to handle the eagles. But damn, 10k is a lot of rats.
posted by cirrostratus at 12:07 PM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'd love to see a double rats deck (I have decided that this is actually a deck-building game that we're all pretending not to be admitting we play), but I have a hard time seeing the marginal utility of that second ten thousand being anywhere close to the utility of the first crop.
posted by cortex at 12:09 PM on February 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

OK, double rats, and my arena is a Chuck E. Cheese on a Saturday afternoon. I just run away as fast as I can.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 12:16 PM on February 1, 2018 [4 favorites]

If I can choose terrain then I will be somewhere deep in the swamp, in a hidden cabin, guarded by my crocodiles and my rats. Enjoy wading through all those deceptively-deep waters and thick trees, y'all.
posted by egypturnash at 12:20 PM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

I only need 1.5. I'll take the 10000 rats, and the hunter can remain neutral. I don't need the hunter to defend me, just not to try to kill me.

That's over 100 rats per other animal. I'd be hard pressed to say a swarm of 100 rats couldn't make short work of any of the others.

As for the eagles' air attack, I lie down and let my rats swarm over me.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:22 PM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Rats are slow, but can fit through small spaces. Rough, enclosed terrain with low light, like an abandoned mineshaft or a old mall would be perfect for them.
posted by bonehead at 12:24 PM on February 1, 2018

Armor. Armor made of live rats.
posted by dazed_one at 12:24 PM on February 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

@DevilsAdvocate, I think you're on the right track here, I just have a hard time not seeing the rats eventually losing an incredibly long battle of attrition with the eagles.

That said,
@cortex, the marginal utility 20,000 rats over 10,000 is huge. The rats are worthless until they hit a critical mass, at which point they absolutely dominate. My figures point the rat critical mass being somewhere between 10k and 20k.
posted by cirrostratus at 12:27 PM on February 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

So rats, forever and always first, followed by bulls/wolves/bears depending on terrain

Everyone is thinking about this backwards and choosing the best the offensive capabilities, by doing this you're failing to account for what you're defending against.

This is why rats plus eagles is the killer combo. The rats can overwhelm any ground based animal, but can’t touch the eagles. 50 dive bombing eagles can blind or knockdown the hunter/you and then you’re toast and the rats can’t do anything about it. With the eagles on your side, the same applies to the hunter. They may be able to take a couple shots at you, but if you can survive the initial attack the eagles should be able to fuck ‘em up enough for the rats to get to them. And then it’s just a case of swarm power.
posted by Diablevert at 12:31 PM on February 1, 2018

Good point. If you are able to direct strategy rats + eagles is a powerful combo. You just have to direct them to focus everything on taking out the hunter first while you run. Otherwise, if you can't direct strategy you have to have the hunter on your side.
posted by cirrostratus at 12:33 PM on February 1, 2018

No hippos so this is already bogus.
posted by lagomorphius

I would have expected a different objection from this user.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:39 PM on February 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

Underground labyrinth, minotaur style.
Rats and gorillas, please.

No good sightlines for the hunter.
No room for the eagles to fly.
No water for the crocodiles.
The narrow corridors make pack-hunting strategy or charging kind of a no-go for the wolves, lions, and bulls.
That leaves the bears as the biggest threat.

My gorillas stay close and take on whatever makes it through my long-ranging ratties, masters of the maze.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 12:50 PM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

No hippos so this is already bogus.
posted by lagomorphius

I would have expected a different objection from this user.

I know what you're thinking.
posted by lagomorphius at 12:59 PM on February 1, 2018 [4 favorites]

Ooo, underground labyrinth is good.

How about: middle of a lake, rats and eagles.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:02 PM on February 1, 2018

Catgirl with Katana, Catgirl (alternate outfit) with Flame Thrower.

...wait I'm playing the Capcom vs Everything version of this game, aren't I?
posted by happyroach at 1:05 PM on February 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

Rats are way overpowered. It's basically infinite rats.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:13 PM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

A single hunter with a gun will be useless against a mob of attacking animals coming from all sides. I'll take the rats for sheer numbers (Great defense, able to distract and overwhelm opponents) and the bears as they're my pick for most able to kill. Presumably we are talking big, aggressive grizzlies. Rats and bears!
posted by emd3737 at 1:23 PM on February 1, 2018

why is everyone expecting the hunter to be an elite combat sniper and not just another weekend warrior halfway through a sixer of coors and waving an AR15 with little to no trigger discipline
posted by poffin boffin at 1:26 PM on February 1, 2018 [10 favorites]

however if it's like. zombie reanimated simo hayha who doesn't need to stop for food or rest and who has the high ground while armed with a cheytac intervention? that's a different story. the largest targets will be eliminated when they're still a mile away.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:49 PM on February 1, 2018

furthermore what if the hunter is a yautja with all canon abilities and weapons
posted by poffin boffin at 1:51 PM on February 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

Nah, it’s just some dude named Hunter. Never used a gun before, but he plays lots of Call of Duty so he feels pretty qualified.
posted by dephlogisticated at 2:16 PM on February 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

why is everyone expecting the hunter to be an elite combat sniper and not just another weekend warrior halfway through a sixer of coors and waving an AR15 with little to no trigger discipline

Hunting regulations are pretty tight because in the past, those weekend warriors with even worse equipment decimated animals across every continent mostly. Don't you like seeing a buffalo? Isn't it quaint? Bears used to exist in a lot more US states.
posted by The_Vegetables at 2:18 PM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Can I put in my bid for 5 toddlers? Not because I think the toddlers will do any good, but because in the off chance they get mauled by a bear or shredded by an eagle, or anything, well there's some humor to it - dark but... humorous.. Really any of those options could be interestingly deadly to the toddlers... And I'll take the hunter.

Because the hunter is their mom. And the mom will defend my toddler army with a sense of brutality and protectionism unmatched by the other, unrelated species... really you think you can get a wolf and a eagle to coordinate and work together? Are you people crazy? They'd spend more of their time attacking eachother or inadvertently hurting eachother - you'd be defenseless... Whereas me, in my 5 todler bjorn vest will be defended by the hunter.

Wait... how many of you didn't consider that this hunter might be a woman?
posted by Nanukthedog at 2:22 PM on February 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

Never used a gun before, but he plays lots of Call of Duty so he feels pretty qualified.

this is definitely the most realistic scenario tbh
posted by poffin boffin at 2:38 PM on February 1, 2018

so now the hunter is Ripley and the wolves are your toddlers. the rest are of course assorted xenomorphs and facehuggers. good luck...
posted by supermedusa at 2:42 PM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

i can't believe i have to go watch Predators again now
posted by poffin boffin at 2:50 PM on February 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

why is everyone expecting the hunter to be an elite combat sniper and not just another weekend warrior halfway through a sixer of coors and waving an AR15 with little to no trigger discipline

Let's just go with what we see in the photos and their labels. It said hunter, not weekend warrior, and the pic shows a long barrel shotgun, not an AR-15 or a long range rifle. This means that long range sniping and spray & pray are off the table; so with only one shotgun and nothing else, I change my mind and remove him from the team. That leaves me with three grizzlies. As to the second option: 10,000 rats is definitely a lot, and if I don't get my can of kerosene, then they're on the team.

Rats and bears, then.
posted by linux at 2:53 PM on February 1, 2018

Eagles for the distraction, rats for the kill. Rats can chew through some pretty tough stuff, and if they went for the eyes first, it's all over. You can lose a lot of rats out of 10,000.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:04 PM on February 1, 2018

what if it's not actually 50 eagles but don henley and glenn frey in their 50s
posted by poffin boffin at 3:53 PM on February 1, 2018 [13 favorites]

When my brother was young, he went through a phase.
WHO WOULD WIN a saber-tooth tiger? Or a great white shark?
WHO WOULD WIN a great white shark? Or a Tyrannosaurus Rex?

I can only imagine the impressive animal combinations he'd have found if there had been internet!
posted by aniola at 4:28 PM on February 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

(Imagine the AskMe questions!)
posted by aniola at 4:29 PM on February 1, 2018

With all due respect, sciatrix, I believe that your analysis of bulls is flawed. Many beef bulls are polled, but few dairy breeds are. Dairy bulls also are typically much more aggressive than beef bulls. Jersey bulls are small, relatively speaking, but exceptionally ill-tempered, and they have knives on their heads! I can also say, from abundant experience, that cattle are much faster than most people realize. I choose bulls and gorillas, me.
posted by wintermind at 4:35 PM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Somebody should fire up starcraft 2 and see if two ghosts + 10k zerglings, controlled by two human players, can win against ~100 other mixed units controlled by a computer.
posted by Pyry at 4:40 PM on February 1, 2018

I had a flock of chickens once. And a cat. That cat surprised me by being at the bottom of the pecking order. It got shooed away any time it got too close. Which means I'd pick eagles over lions.
posted by aniola at 5:23 PM on February 1, 2018

The rats get an attack of opportunity every time something's in an adjoining cell, right? This is going to break the DM for sure.
posted by zompist at 6:49 PM on February 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

The rats get an attack of opportunity every time something's in an adjoining cell, right?

I haven't played DnD in years, but aren't there special rules for swarms? The DM would just put all the rats into half a dozen swarms max for their own sanity.
posted by Pyry at 6:51 PM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

So I started off with the hunter and the bears (because wtf people - BEARS), but I'm starting to come around to the idea of rats. Then I proceeded down a rabbit hole of which animal wins in a fight: gorillas vs. lions, lions vs. bears, hippos vs. bears, etc, which led me to r/whowouldwin, which caused me to get sidetracked from the original mission and get caught up in an argument with someone for the last hour over General Grievous with 250 stormtroopers vs. the Lannister army of 50k (with wildfire) and now my night is shot to shit.
posted by triggerfinger at 6:53 PM on February 1, 2018 [6 favorites]

Rats + Hunter in a walk...

Some quick math shows that there are 113+ rats for every land-based eyeball
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 7:10 PM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Rats/bulls. The bulls are tall enough that you could crouch down in between 3 of them and be protected from gunshots until the rats can take out the hunter. Similarly they can shelter you against the eagles.

Although *killing* the eagles is a major problem. Maybe the rats can make tight formations such that an eagle can't pick one up without having a couple more pounce on it?
posted by equalpants at 7:35 PM on February 1, 2018

which led me to r/whowouldwin

The answer is always China Miéville.
posted by brook horse at 8:13 PM on February 1, 2018

This isn't even hard, because they let us choose the landscape. Eagles and rats, and it's not even close. Landscape: about halfway up the side of a good rocky mountain, we get the high ground. We’ll even make it a little harder on my side, just to be sporting. No snow to speak of, no special climbing equipment required. Steep enough that the wolves can't reach me, but we'll say for the sake of argument that the grizzlies can still bearly climb the rocks and that the lions - having spent summers visiting their cougar cousins - are also still in the hunt. The gorillas are mountain gorillas, and are killing it, and the hunter is doing fine. For now. The wolves circle and howl from the highest rocks they can climb. Below them, the bulls tear up the alpine turf in a frenzy, while the crocodiles… sleep.

So let's talk about the hunter. The hunter was only ever really in the game because of the long shot. But I’m hiding behind some big rocks far above, with no reason to stick my head out. That gun is of no use on me. They could try to start a landslide, but they don't know exactly where I am, plus then everybody would die. Meanwhile, 10,000 rats are surging down the rocks, leaping, biting, making every surface slick with fur and blood. And 50 eagles are attacking from above and behind. If the hunter has a shotgun and can make a couple of spectacular one-handed shots while clinging to the rocks and fending off attack, maybe I lose an eagle or two or twenty or thirty rats before the hunter has to reload. At which point the remaining rats and eagles sweep the hunter off the side of the mountain.

The grizzlies, gorillas, and lions might manage to swipe or catch a single eagle each, but there are 50 eagles to account for and 10,000 rats swarming them. It would be over quickly. Worst case scenario, if the rats were suicidal and the eagles were near-sighted and stupid, I could lose every rat and half the eagles and still be golden at this point. I’d climb down to a spot just out of reach of the wolves, close to a cliff or ravine or some such, and throw rocks at them while the eagles push and drag them over the edge.

At this point, It’s so easy that I release any remaining eagles and rats from my service (and honestly, that would probably still be most of them). Now I just drop large rocks on the heads of the bulls from safely above. The crocodiles are, at best, in a torpor. Don't even need to kill or avoid them. But just to be safe… rocks from above. Mountainside. Eagles and rats. Easy peasy.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:22 PM on February 1, 2018 [4 favorites]

I choose the eagles and the hunter.

The eagles airlift me to safety while the hunter acts as a decoy. After the rats have eaten the hunter they will eventually get hungry and eat all of the other animals, which would have no chance at all against 1,000 sufficiently motivated rats, let alone 10,000. Then the eagles eat the rats.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 9:22 PM on February 1, 2018

The rats get an attack of opportunity every time something's in an adjoining cell, right?

I haven't played DnD in years, but aren't there special rules for swarms?

A swarm takes up a single square, though the number of creatures that makes up a swarm is specifically not defined.

I have decided that this is actually a deck-building game

Yeah, halfway through the thread I found myself wondering if there were any new SmashUp expansions I hadn't bought yet.
posted by Tentacle of Trust at 9:49 PM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

One great white shark vs a hundred piranha... oh, wait....
I'm team Hunter and 7 Bulls. That hunter can strategize with me, and I really don't want to have to outsmart him and his hoard of rats.
Push comes to shove, we can ride the bulls to a better location... maybe....
posted by TrishaU at 10:20 PM on February 1, 2018

Bit late to this, but the original meme doesn't say anything about actually having to fight anything, just that they're trying to kill you.
So, depending on how much control I have over the rats - at ≈ hamelin level, I take two servings of rats, and bodysurf as far away from the rest of the mob as I can, while a small rearguard hinders pursuit. Then I'm pretty much a fugitive 4 life. (Thirty years later, I am blindsided by a gorilla outside my motel room before I can get my pipes out of their holster)
Otherwise, wolves+upside-down crocodile used as makeshift dogsled.
posted by Berreggnog at 2:44 AM on February 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

If we're bypassing natural animal behavior in favor of combat mechanics I'd definitely go with rats or double rats, and not just because I think rats are cool. With 20,000 rats, you'd have 30,000, no, 50,000, no 100,000 rats before you knew it.

And even with just 10,000 rats, I don't think people really understand how many rats that is.

Rats are incredibly tough. Pound for pound they're easily one of the toughest, meanest, fastest and smartest critters on the planet short of a badger or tardigrade. Disregard cute fancy pet rats and consider the oversized common city rat. There's a reason why rat traps are strong enough to break most of the fingers on your hand, and why rats exist basically everywhere there's food - especially human food.

I once had a rather traumatic experience that involved exterminating a bunch of wild pest rats. I really hated doing this because I actually like rats, and this was definitely some fucked up Steinbeckian "it needed to be done" shit because this art space had more rats than people in the kitchen and we were justifiably facing a city health inspection.

It was really alarming how tough they are and how hard they are to kill. We're talking like 2-4 pound overfed city rats surviving the biggest, toughest old school Victor snap traps we could find and running around with the traps on their frickin' heads like angry party hats. I had rats come out of traps and pop 3-4 feet straight up off the ground aimed at my face like fur missiles. I saw rats survive getting whacked with shovels, clobbered with boots and come out of it fighting mad and in full ownership of some intense agility and speed.

This rat war and massacre took us something like 7-8 hours, and it's been almost ten years and it still makes me feel freaked out. The death toll? A measly twenty rats. It felt like hundreds.

The idea of having 10,000 rats come after you in any organized way is utterly appalling. Consider each rat is in a healthy 2-3 pound range. That's... 20,000-ish pounds of rats. Ten standard US tons of angry rats. At two rats per square foot, that's 5,000 square feet of rats. Consider upping that average rat size to a not unheard of 4-5 pounds since we're talking about war rats, here. Consider 50,000 pounds of rats. Now consider 100,000 pounds of rats for double war rats.

While individual rats are often easy prey, every time I've heard about or seen packs of rats on the move whether it's in a nature documentary - I've never seen other animals of any size or nature stick around to see what happens next or try to fight off or attack a rat pack. It's like army ants or piranha or something. No, pretty much every animal on the planet is going to go "OH FUCK THE BITING THEY'RE GOING FOR MY EYES AND ALL MY SOFT BITS RUN AWAY!"

Everyone and everything flees, because you can't fight a rat pack.
posted by loquacious at 2:48 AM on February 2, 2018 [14 favorites]

If I choose the terrain this is easy.
My terrain of choice is the London Underground (at night, or otherwise deserted) and if I have to be specific, Bank/Monument station.

If I can double up on picks, 20000 rats.
If not, I'd probably go rat/bear.

The hunter would be completely useless because he'd have no sightlines, and almost certainly isn't from around here so would be hopelessly lost in Bank/Monument.
The Eagles would be easy prey for rats because they'd be constrained in the tunnel.
A bull is not going to be able to navigate an escalator, especially not with 1000 rats all over it.

Me and my Rat Army would be unassailable by anything less than a full army battalion equipped with tactical combat terriers.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:52 AM on February 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

you can't fight a rat pack

Nor should you. Everybody knows they're mobbed up.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:04 AM on February 2, 2018 [6 favorites]

First of all, there's no counter here for the eagles. From what I've seen of a Cooper's Hawk at work in dense woods, they'd be inside your decision loop and ripping up your face before you knew what hit you. Even if you had the hunter, lions and rat-throwing gorillas to defend you. In the absence of, say, a corvid option, you have to have them on your team.

Next, the rat choice is ridiculously overpowered. No doubt this will be nerfed in the next patch down to a few hundred. With 10k, the carnage would be lopsided even if we don't allow them to be paratroops.

I wanted to choose the grizzlies because they'd be the hardest to bring down, or the wolves because wolves are the coolest, but the specs don't lie.

Lions seem to me to be more suited for offense than defense. Gorillas' opposable thumbs don't stack up to jaws, claws, and horns. Crocs are useless on land. For the amount of shooting the hunter would need to do, she'd need something belt fed and water cooled.

That leaves us with the bulls. There's something to be said for a squadron of heavy, tough, hi-speed interceptors with horns defending your position, but only if the rats get nerfed.
posted by whuppy at 7:55 AM on February 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

the rats' ult has been reworked for the 5th time due to constant forum complaints from the eagles, those stupid winged one tricks
posted by poffin boffin at 11:10 AM on February 2, 2018 [4 favorites]

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