"If it's causing you more stress than it's worth... it's not worth it." - Yellow
Question #92681 posted on 01/31/2020 6:39 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Let's say the government goes completely totalitarian on us and suddenly we live in a repressive state like North Korea or Panem. If I'm the rebel leader, which US city (or area) should I focus on taking over first, as a central base from which to launch our revolution? Some things to consider:

---Hopefully, this area will have combat assets like military bases or munitions plants - but remember that I have to capture them before I can use them, so they can't be places where the evil government's forces are already highly concentrated.

---Defensive geographical features, like mountains, gorges, rivers, etc. are a plus. The more self-contained the city, the easier it will be to put up blockades and defend our keep.

---Size is a delicate balancing act: it would be nice if there were enough people in this area for me to rouse a rebel army, but the bigger it gets, the harder it will be for me to capture it in the first place.

I'm sure there are many other factors I've overlooked, too, but I know that you guys are smart and thorough and will help me spot them. Which city is my best shot?

Help me, 100 Hour Board - you're my only hope!


P.S. Take as long as you need on this question. I don't expect full-blown totalitarianism until at least 2024.


Dear Australia,

The #1 thing to remember is that you will in no way fight the US Military and win. That would be pretty darn near impossible. The United States has greater military spending than the European Union. This means that they have tanks, fighter jets, drones, nuclear missiles, rocket launchers, satellites, bullet proof armor etc. They also have the Marines. If you can somehow sway part of the military, you have a shot, but I'm assuming in this scenario that's not an option. This means you have to play an entirely different game.

The name of the game is resource control. The millitary needs fuel and food to work, so you're going to have to find ways to disrupt that. If you can wait out the government, you have some shot of surviving.

The tricky thing is how to cut off fuel and food without getting caught and killed. It would be really easy for the government to monitor and report suspicious activity, so you would either need the press on your side, or at least some encrypted communication.

I'm torn between 2 approaches:

  1. Start in the Midwest and just burn all the farms. All of them. Complete chaos. Ideally you also find away to prevent income shipments.
  2. Incite complete chaos in a major city and hope others catch on.

Basically, you need mass revolt to spread the totalitarian government thin and exhaust their resources.

So basically I would just recommend being politically involved to prevent this from ever happening because the odds would not be good for present day American Rebels.




Dear Insurgent,

Why the focus on a physical area to take over? Make your target virtual. 

The internet is surprisingly fragile. With just a few attacks in the right places, along with some cut cables, the entire thing could come crashing down. While it's still too much for just one person to handle, a relatively small group of people could succeed.

You probably don't want to take down the entire internet, because it's a valuable resource for you and the rebel cause as well as the government. However, you should target key government pain points. Multiple teenagers have hacked into government systems (and other large companies), successfully stealing and manipulating data. Just imagine the havoc you could wreak by changing messages between different branches of the military. Or stealing most of the government's money. Or changing the launch codes for nuclear weapons. You would have the power to make the entire system fall apart. 

The scariest part about this plan is that it's actually feasible.



Dear Risk Taker,

The first part of the US I would go for would probably be Alaska. I haven't put extensive thought into it, but this is my reasoning:

1. Alaska has a lot of natural resources and geographical features to hide in and to exploit in waging war.

2. If I picked anywhere inside the continental US to start with, they would likely be able to demolish major cities and wage total war from multiple sides, but Alaska would be easier to hold until we could get an endgame strategy.

3. Alaska kind of seems like District 13, and it worked for them.

4. Alaska seems like a great place to use guerilla warfare, which hasn't been worth it for the US in the past.

5. The US specifically bought Alaska to be used in wartime, so I assume that there will be some sorts of military resources that we could use.

Those are just some things that I am taking into account with my decision, though I don't know how it would end up going, especially because my move would likely depend on the current situation of Russia and Canada at the time of the dystopification of the United States



Dear Risky,

The geographer in me would never let myself live it down if the answer to this question didn’t include some maps. So I decided to whip some up.

First, I mapped all the military bases and munitions plants in the United States, based on information from these Wikipedia articles.


Then, I added a layer for urban areas in the United States and limited it only to urban areas that are above average in population and square mileage.


Lastly, I only kept urban areas that had at least one military base and at least one munition plant. What we’re left with is nine areas to choose from. I’ve listed them here as cities, but keep in mind that I was actually working with the metropolitan area associated with these cities, so the area could extend into several states.

City Military Bases Munitions Plants Population (2010) Square Miles
Albany, NY 2 1 594,962 283.7
Chambersburg, PA 1 1 50,887 35.1
Dallas, TX 1 2 5,121,892 1726.0
Davenport, IA 1 1 280,051 137.5
Fayetteville, NC 2 1 310,282 189.5
New York, NY 5 1 18,351,295 3435.4
Philadelphia, PA 1 1 5,441,567 1908.8
St. Louis, MO 1 2 2,150,706 879.7
Virginia Beach, VA 8 1 1,439,666 555.3


From here, there are pros and cons to all of them. New York and Philadelphia might be too big to handle or too close to high concentrations of government forces. Likewise, Virginia Beach has a LOT of military presence which could be dangerous, but it's also right on the ocean, which could be good protection. And speaking of geographic defense, Davenport and St. Louis are both on the Mississippi River and Albany is on the Hudson River, but being on a river could actually end up making the city more vulnerable. Plus Davenport often floods, so that seems like a bad idea. Dallas could be good because it's sort of in the middle of the country, but it doesn't really have a lot of defensive geographic features. Chambersburg is really small, but it is right up against the Appalachian Mountains, which could be good. Lastly, Fayetteville is also on the small side, but it does have a pretty solid military presence with Fort Bragg. Plus, you could slowly expand to larger metro areas like Raleigh and Charlotte.

In the end, I think I would either go with St. Louis or Fayetteville, but I've given you some maps and a table, so you can come to your own conclusion!