Shawn Swaney looks back to Survivor: Caramoan in the first strategy blog of the season.
For all of its detractors, Survivor: Caramoan had plenty of memorable moments. If you look away from the obvious Cochran winner’s edit and Brandon Hantz’s meltdown, this season boasted some of the greatest one-liners and downright awkward moments. By muttering the phrases “dog bar,” “Dawn’s teeth,” “Shamar,” and “Stealth R Us, ” you’ll go through more mood swings than Dawn had crying fits.
What Caramoan didn’t have, despite the season’s tagline, was a newbie tribe full of legitimate fans…and a proper grasp on basic addition.
Now, one doesn’t need to attend the Brad Culpepper School for Counting to understand this, but I’ll spell it out. In a tribe of ten, four is a minority, not a majority. This very principle left four members of Gota (Eddie, Reynold, Allie, Hope) on the outside looking in after building an alliance solely on friendship. When Gota went on a losing streak, the alliance of four was first to be targeted.
The same thing happened in Survivor: One World when the jocks rallied together on the male tribe. Minority alliances are an entirely viable strategy, but only when it’s not obviously isolating you from the rest of the tribe.
Just like in Caramoan, another group of the pretty people/jocks have seemed to band together in the Millennials tribe in the first episode of Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X.
In creating the “Triforce,” Jay, Taylor, and Figgy, seemingly ostracized the rest of their tribe (or ostracized themselves from the tribe). Compliments are definitely due for Mari and Hannah, who apparently rallied the rest of the tribe for a numbers advantage.
With the Triforce, however, it’s very much a “the devil you know situation.” At the current status quo, the four (including Michelle) will always be on the bottom and stand no chance of changing that until the swap. Unless they buck their ideas up this week and try to corral players like Will and Zeke to their cause.
At Gen X, however, the closest-knit alliance was indeed the majority, and it led to Rachel being voted out. Apart from Rachel, CeCe was the only person not to vote with the numbers. Additionally, the perception of a strong majority alliance leaves people like David and Ken on the outs.
When the swap happens, and it will, the players that are alienated are always the first ones to find greener pastures. That’s why, in the premiere episode, I’m drawn to look closer at David’s gameplay.
David’s “I’ll vote with you as long as it’s not me” strategy ensures his place in the majority, but as the clear first one out in the alliance. He knows that he’ll end up on the bottom sooner or later. All he needs to do is bide his time and wait for a swap. If he lands in a Gen X heavy tribe, his stock increases as a loyal number or flipping to change the status quo. If he falls on a Millennial heavy tribe, he can easily play up the fact that he was on the bottom and target others.
David has the makings to be the quintessential floater. If the Millennials start losing challenges (which I don’t see happening), the same situation presents itself for the remaining member(s) of the Triforce.
Harkening back to Caramoan, Eddie played a very similar game, despite having a very different physique to David. He flew under the radar because there was always a bigger or badder target. The Erik medevac left Eddie one challenge away from the final tribal council and a very possible win.
While lying low and jumping ship isn’t the most glamorous gameplay, it does provide you with a clear path of where to go and how to get further. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised when all is said and done, to see someone not currently in a majority situation walk away from Fiji a millionaire.