Monday, March 11, 2013

The Walking Prisoner's Dilemma

Last night, the Walking Dead embraced the prison the crew has been inhabiting for some time by simulating the Prisoner's Dilemma. 

Spoilers below

The show took far more seriously than the third and most egregious Matrix movie the problem of making an agreement when there is no government around to enforce it.  Rick and the Governor are chatting away about reaching an agreement.  It moves from splitting turf to Rick perhaps turning over Michonne. 

The big question is, of course, how does Rick know that the Governor will not renege?  This is the trick in much of post-apocalyptic tales and in International Relations and Civil Wars: how to design an agreement that is self-enforcing.

In this case, it is pretty clear that there is no trust to smooth the deal, that the temptations to cheat are huge, especially for the Governor since he is just a bit crazy (or cray-cray as Teen Spew would say).  Given that Michonne also happens to be one of the best warriors, this would seem to be a foolish decision if Rick turns her over.

Indeed, there is more than PD going on here, of course.  All one needs is PD to figure out the situation and scream at Rick not to make a deal.  But Rick has shown to be poor at tactics, operations and strategy. 

What else is going on?  When Rick said, "Michonne or your girls" that was a false choice, of course.  Why? Again, turning over Michonne is no guarantee that the girls and boys will be safe.  Indeed, it is very likely that this deal makes them less safe.  There is also another game to play--Rick's credibility within the group.  If he turns over Michonne, who is next to be sacrificed for his kids?  Meryl (however it spelled), certainly but why not ultimately Glen or Maggie?

So, plenty of reasons to not make the deal.  Another thing to consider: even if the Governor can through the back door of the prison, with the doors locked, Rick's team is on defense, and it takes more people to engage in offense than on defense unless the offensive folks are super-special or have better tech or both.  So, the fact that the Governor has more people is important but not determinative.  That they really cannot attack through the front due to all of the ZombiesWalkers shows that the Governor is not thinking that many turns ahead.

So, again, Rick should stay on defense, improve his fortifications, and make it hard to attack.

But will Rick do this?  Probably not.  As I said above, he is not a great planner at any level.  Maybe his ghost-wife can provide some instructions.


Robert McClelland said...

Having greater numbers, the governor could simply lay siege to the prison until the defenders were forced out into the open.

Steve Saideman said...

That is one possibility, but a siege would not be easy--it would require patience on the part of a bunch of rookies with not that many non-coms/officers to enforce discipline.

J.Collins said...

Fully agree with you on Rick's lack of strategic thinking, however, tactically I wouldn't dismiss him completely in this area. His raid on Woodsbury to rescue Glenn and Maggie really caught the Governor off guard, costing the town seven casualties versus one for the Prison crew.

Mrs. Spew said...

These people have the strategy skills of slugs in a beer trap. The prison is a large concrete building, Woodbury is a town. If the town has wooden walls, all you have to do is set multiple fires to the walls at night and make a lot of noise to attract a herd of Walkers to the town. Flaming Walkers and falling walls will keep the townsfolk way too busy to stage a siege of the prison. Also, why haven't Darryl and Merle gone out, found the Governor's snipers and killed them, letting the prison crew clean out the front yard of Walkers? The Governor can't afford that many snipers to hang around and it's doubtful that they are military trained anyway. It is possible, though, that the Governor has got some dynamite or other explosives that could blast the prison, so the prison crew should be leveraging their advantage now before the Governor sets up his attack. This is what I mean -- I can't watch the show because they are so stupid I just want the Walkers to eat them.

PocoBrat said...

I don't know Mrs. Spew; but I now know whom I'd vote for as leader in the post-apocalypse.