The last tribute exits the room, and I lean back in my chair to look over my notes as the door shuts behind her. This year’s tributes are an interesting group, with very few tributes underperforming. With so few tributes falling below the bar, I have my work cut out for me deciding their training scores.
The Careers from Districts 1, 2, and 4 typically make the strongest showings during their training sessions, with the male tributes usually focusing on the more brutish weapons. So the District 1 Male’s focus on poison and knives was an unconventional and unexpected start. While I was impressed by his crafting of an incendiary potion which allowed him to light his knives on fire, his ability with those knives left a little to be desired. At close-range he was able to perform as expected for a Career, stabbing and slashing at dummies, but he did miss a few long-range throws. Careers typically make it far in the Games regardless, but I don’t expect to see this one in the final 2. He gets an 8.
The female tribute from District 1 is by far more talented than her district partner, and showed superiority with every weapon she touched. In her allotted presentation time, she managed to launch several knives into the heads of moving dummies, all while blocking randomly-fired dummy arrows with a shield strapped to her left arm. She finished off her flawless performance by slicing off the heads of every knifed dummy with a steel katana. Her admittedly unexpected brutality will take her far in the Games, and perhaps all the way to the end. I give her a perfect score of 12.
The male tribute from 2 fits the mold for a standard male Career. Within the first five seconds of his allotted presentation time, he had already slammed a spiked mace into the chest of a dummy. He spent the rest of his time firing several well-placed arrows into the chest of a stationary dummy and then smashing that dummy’s head off with a well-placed meteor hammer launch. While I wish he had displayed some skills on moving targets, I can’t deny his obvious talent. He scores a 10.
The female tribute from 2, similar to her partner, fits the mold for a typical female Career. Female careers are usually less brutish than their male counterparts, preferring to be deadly at long range. Her performance with a crossbow impressed me, and her ability with a shield showed that she can protect herself at both short and long-range. That being said, her abilities at close-range offensiveness are questionable at best. She did launch a few knives at a stationary dummy, but I’m not sure if she’ll be able to do much besides block with a shield if someone manages to get within an arm’s length of her. Though judging from the precision of her fired arrows, that may not happen. She gets a 9.
District 3 usually does not impress in the Games, with their tributes rarely reaching the top 10. But the male tribute stands in contrast to the weaker tributes from his district. His skill with a katana was a pleasant surprise, as was his brutality with a broadsword. Maybe if he hadn’t wasted time firing off a few missed shots with a bow and arrow, I would have given him a higher score. It’s clear that any kills he makes at long-range will be based solely on luck. Up close and personal though, he’ll be a force. A 9 suits his talents.
The female from 3 also exceeded expectations from her usually sub-par district. Unlike her district partner, she is particularly apt with a bow and arrow. After firing a few arrows into a stationary dummy, she’d noticed the leftover potion that the boy from 1 crafted. After studying it for a moment, she was able to recognize it as an incendiary potion and ended up firing a few flaming arrows across the room. So she’s able to recognize potions and utilize them. But can she craft them on her own? That remains to be seen, and I hope she lives long enough to answer that question. She gets an 8.
The male from 4 is a strange and somewhat terrifying addition to the mix of tributes this year. His presentation started off typically for a Career; he fired off a few crossbow headshots into both stationary and moving dummies, and then smashed their heads off with a meteor hammer. But as more and more dummies were taken out, I started focusing less on the destruction and more on the tribute himself, specifically on the manic grin plastered across his face. While the Capitol enjoys a tribute with bloodlust, they typically prefer a victor who isn’t insane. Still, he’s going to kill a lot of tributes. I give him an 11.
The female from 4 did not stop moving for even a second during her performance. Starting things off by sending a volley of arrows into the head of a moving dummy, she then grabbed a small axe and launched it with a grunt at that same dummy, splintering arrows and slicing the dummy’s head open right down the middle. Grabbing an axe and a shield, she then weaved her way through the moving dummies, blocking and dodging arm swipes while chopping off dummy limbs. She’s smart; she knew that I wanted to see both close and long-range combat. She will be a force in these Games; I give out yet another perfect score of 12 to a female Career.
District 5, like District 3, always has big shoes to fill after following performances from Career tributes. You’d think that would push their tributes to outdo themselves, but the male tribute from 5 did little to impress. His performance amounted to blocking a few volleys of fired dummy arrows with a small shield, and then firing one single arrow at a stationary training dummy, missing it completely. He grinned sheepishly up at me as he exited the room, knowing that he failed to meet my expectations and eliciting a bit of pity from me. Well, at least he blocked everything. He gets a 5.
The female tribute from 5 showed a bit more initiative than her district partner, grabbing a bow right away and shooting an arrow into the chest of a dummy after aiming for a moment. But this proved to be a fluke as her next arrow sailed over the dummy’s head. Unfazed, she had tossed the bow aside and grabbed a spear, which she launched at the same dummy. The spear stabbed into the dummy’s foot: a barely passable shot. Her time ran out as she finished blocking a few fired dummy arrows with the same shield her district partner used. District 5’s tributes seems to be on the defensive this year, but at least this one can hit a target every once in a while. She earns a 6.
Last year’s male tribute from District 6 was a powerhouse who was strong enough to get absorbed into a strong alliance with Career tributes. With that comparison in mind, this year’s male tribute from 6 failed to meet the mark. While his aim and precision with knives was impressive, his sloppy work with a katana took away a lot of the excitement I got from watching him slice dummy necks and ankles with knives in his two hands. Tributes often make the mistake of using weapons they have little experience with, rather than allowing me to give them the benefit of the doubt on whether they can use them or not. His score might have been at Career-level had he not attempted to use a katana, but he’ll have to settle for a 7.
The female from 6 outshone her district partner, but only just. I wouldn’t have expected her to go straight for the wooden club as her weapon of choice, and I doubt her fellow tributes will either. The way she bashed the head of the dummy she attacked actually made me flinch, something quite rare for someone in my line of work. And while a club might not be deadly on the first strike, the axe that she followed up with in her performance certainly might be. She’s strong, but not as strong as other tributes in the Games this year. I give her a fair score of 8.
Historically, District 7 has been one of the strongest non-Career districts in the Games, despite their tributes having never reached the finale. The male from 7 this year met expectations, butchering his way through a sea of dummies with his axe and then sparring with a moving dummy while wielding a spear and shield. While there was nothing really wrong with his performance, I wasn’t exactly overwhelmed with what he offered. I’m sure he’ll put up a few good fights during his time in the arena; he earns a respectable 9.
The girl from 7 didn’t touch an axe even once during her performance, which immediately captured my attention. Spending most of her time at the alchemy station, she managed to craft a potion which looked quite similar to the incendiary potion used by previous tributes. But when she’d dipped a knife into it, the metal immediately corroded away rather than lighting on fire. I had marked this down as a positive note until I noticed her frowning and realized that the potion’s effect was not her original intent. Clearly flustered, she’d tried starting over again, only to run out of time. The arena is no place for a perfectionist; if she doesn’t relax and adapt then she won’t make it three days. I give her an average score of 6.
Whereas District 7 is one of the strongest non-Career districts, District 8 is by far one of the weakest, with none of their tributes making it past 18th place in the past 5 years of Games. The male tribute from 8 this year at least has some skills with a katana, as he was able to decapitate a few stationary dummies. However, his strikes were not as clean as they could have been, and his final attempt left his katana wedged halfway into a dummy’s neck. His performance not having done much to eliminate my bias towards District 8 as one with weak tributes, I give him a score of 6.
The girl from 8 gave a similarly underwhelming performance, choosing to forgo any display of offensiveness and spending her entire time blocking dummy arrows with a shield. The sheer look of determination on her face all throughout her 5 minutes told me clearly that she fully expected to miss blocking a dummy arrow at any given moment. While she did leave the room unscathed, I don’t see her leaving the arena the same way. She gets a passable 5.
The male tribute from 9 is not going to win the Games. I rarely if ever say that about a tribute outright, but his performance amounted to him gingerly cracking a whip at a stationary dummy, and then fumbling around at the alchemy table until his time ran out. Maybe with some allies he’ll make it past the first day, but he’s absolute cannon fodder. I give him a weak score of 3.
The female tribute from 9 is beautiful, but that’s about it. Her talents with a bow are passable at best, and she somehow managed to slice herself while attacking a dummy with a knife, cutting her performance short. The only way I can see her making it far in the Games is to get others to do the dirty work for her. On her own though, she won’t last long. I give her a 4.
The male tribute from 10 kicked things back into gear with an impressive performance with a crossbow, firing several arrows into a stationary dummy’s head and chest. He also displayed his brutality with an axe. Severed dummy arms and legs aside, he didn’t come across as particularly intimidating, and he seemed pretty tired out after his performance. I can see him as a dark horse this year; he gets a 9.
The female tribute from 10 was the only tribute I actually spoke to. After standing motionless in the center of the room for two minutes, I informed her that she would receive a score of “1” if she failed to display any talents. She’d calmly explained to me with a smile that she’s not a violent person, but that she’d try her best. A couple minutes later, she’d fired at least seven arrows into the head of a moving dummy. Hidden talents are always more impressive than those shown outright. She earned her 10.
The tributes from District 11 always do either very well or very poorly; the male from 11 this year seems like he’ll lean more towards the former. Like many other tributes that preceded him, he showed aptitude with a crossbow at long-range. What made him stand out was his brutish, albeit unfocused, performance with a meteor hammer. He clearly didn’t know exactly how to use it, but I can’t deny the results, which amounted to several completely destroyed dummies. He’ll go far. I give him a 9.
The female from 11 looked like she had some hidden talent when she first walked into the room. What followed, however, was a mediocre display of her abilities with a slingshot. While I can see her possibly taking someone’s eye out, I can’t see her making a kill in the Games, let alone getting out in one piece. She earns a 5.
District 12 draws the short straw in having their performances compared to every other tribute that preceded them. Maybe that’s why the male tribute gave what I can only call an average performance. Most of his crossbow arrows hit their targets, and most of his axe swings were effective. Most. Since I don’t have any strong feelings about his performance, I give him a 6.
The female tribute from 12’s performance is the freshest in my mind. Her choice to use a crossbow influenced me to make a note to limit the number of bows available in the Games. Nevertheless, she did a decent job hitting the moving dummies. She also showed promise with a staff, blocking the swinging arms of one of the moving dummies. I can see her going quite far in the Games, but to the very end? We’ll see. She gets an 8.