Friday, October 31, 2008

Escaping with Economics

You are a hero with a broken sword (Conan, Boromir, or your favorite Dungeons and Dragons character) being chased by a troop of bad guys (bandits, orcs, . . .). Fortunately you are on a horse and they are not. Unfortunately your horse is tired and they will eventually run you down. Fortunately you have a bow. Unfortunately you have only ten arrows. Fortunately, being a hero, you never miss. Unfortunately there are 40 bad guys. The bad guys are strung out behind you, as shown.

How do you get away? (Use economics to help you escape.)

Note: You cannot talk to the bad guys. They are willing to take a substantial chance of being killed in order to get you--after all, they know you are a hero and are still coming. They know approximately how many arrows you have.

Congratulations to Cody Meglio for providing a clever answer to this week's question. Read the comments to find out more.

1 comment:

Cody Meglio said...

I would escape by raising the marginal cost of fighting the hero above the average cost of doing so. The hero can only kill 10 people (because he has 10 arrows), which is only 1/4 of the total number of bad guys. However, by shooting the person closest to him in the chase (the marauder in front) time after time after time, the hero can raise the marginal cost of running fast and catching the hero. Not wanting to be the person in front (and immediately shot), the bad guys stop chasing the hero. Escaping from the bad guys would be much harder if the villians formed a straight line and acted as a front. Raising the marginal cost would be almost impossible. After all, who would the hero shoot time after time to send a message to (or change incentives for) the bad guys? However, in this example, that is not the case.