Swaney Strategy Blog – Cambodia Episode 9

Whether the weather is good
Whether the weather is not
We’ll be together whatever the weather
Whether you like it or not

Undoubtedly, the game of Survivor has drastically changed since it first aired in 2000. While the current editions are heavily focused on the strategic aspect of the game, those who could withstand the elements dominated early seasons.

Early boots such as Ramona (Borneo), Diane (Africa), Jessie (Africa), and Tanya (Thailand) were all voted out because of their inability to handle the elements.

While Survivor has seemed to gravitate towards lush, tropical beaches, every location has pitted castaways against brutal conditions. Each and every cast has faced their fair share of hardships, but a few seasons stand out to me.


Survivor: Africa

Castaways in Season 3 were whisked away to the Shaba National Preserve in Kenya. With temperatures easily surpassing the triple digit mark, castaways likely dreamed of the beaches of Borneo and Herbert River as they shared a watering hole with safari beasts and their droppings. Additionally, tribal camps were located in thorned enclosures to deter wild animals, while castaways had to conduct nightly watches to serve as lookouts. More on these enclosures later.

Survivor: Guatemala

In Season 11, castaways had to endure a grueling 11-mile hike in the incredibly humid Guatemalan jungle before they even reached their camps. Probst was quick to announce the triple digit temperature at what seemed like every challenge. With crocodiles looming everywhere in the one place that seemed refreshing, castaways resorted to dumping buckets of water over themselves to cool down.

Survivor: Samoa

“Rain, rain, go away.” – A Samoa cast member, probably.

While Samoa looks like a place that would promote easy living, the rain pummeled castaways for days on end. Rumor has it that it didn’t stop raining for 10 days. Players were quick to show off their shriveled hands and crafty rain shelters (two thumbs up Erik Cardona).


While each of these profiled seasons presents its own particular set of hardships and challenges, I want to take a closer look at how external aspects like weather can affect how strategy can develop or be inhibited.

As previously mentioned, tribal camps in Survivor: Africa were set in tribe-built thorned enclosures. Rather than having the tribe broken down into beach people or shelter people, this cast was forced into being enclosure people. There was no happy medium, as the only legitimate excuse to leave the enclosure was to retrieve water or firewood. Feasibly everywhere in the enclosure was in earshot, so it was practically impossible to have a confidential conversation with someone about anything, let alone strategy. So, when all things are said and done, it comes as no surprise that the largest alliance intact before the merge was the one that dominated the game. In the case of Survivor: Africa, the strategy was massively impacted, in this case negatively, by the lack of physical space.

Last week’s episode of Survivor showed the start of a rainstorm that will continue for a long time. Local forecasts indicate that an approximate 3.5” of rainfall occurred between Day 21 and Day 27.  With this massive amount of rainfall over such a short period, it is likely that the tribe will confine itself to the shelter. Just like Survivor: Africa, I don’t see a ton of strategic developments occurring in such close quarters. While there is sure to be some strategic talk, I would imagine that everyone is keeping tabs of who is talking to whom.

So, while I hate to say it, I envision these next two boots (this upcoming episode is a 2-hour episode with two boots) to follow as close to the current status quo as possible. It is likely, based on this, that members of the Witches Coven or Joe, who have been talked about as targets in previous episodes, are likely to be eliminated.

Do I hate this?  Yes and No. Yes – if this prediction holds true, this is likely to be a lackluster episode in a hard-hitting season. No – I would rather one night (even if it is two hours) of mediocre strategy if next week’s episode shows promise of strategic and game development.



Stephen Fishbach – It’s no secret that Stephen has been gunning to make a big move by targeting Joe. When Joe was safe yet again, he set his eyes on Wiglesworth – a perceived end-game threat with good ties to everyone. He took the initiative to approach the Witches Coven and then brought the plan to Jeremy and Spencer. He beat Spencer to the buoy and gained himself a huge advantage in the game.

Jeremy Collins – Presented with the Wiglesworth boot, Jeremy chose to align with Spencer and Stephen over Tasha, Wiglesworth, and Joe. With Joe’s name on everyone’s tongues as a boot if he’s not immune, Jeremy sought to keep two “meat shields” over three players that could target him as a threat.

Witches Coven – Very rarely in Survivor does sitting back and waiting for things to develop pay off. In this case, it worked out brilliantly for the Witches Coven, who were approached by Stephen to work together. Rather than trying to name their own target, they chose to go with whomever Stephen said, knowing that their trio would remain safe.

And the winner of the Swan Award is…


Stephen was willing to sacrifice his own game at the expense of making big moves. This paid off for him, as he can point towards the Wiglesworth boot as something that he coordinated and led – something he couldn’t do at the end of Tocantins. Plus, his advantage could pay dividends in a tight spot.

Disclaimer: Swan icon made by Freepik from

Shawn is 24 years old and lives in Virginia. After catching the first season by accident, Survivor has become his passion. A graduate of Washington and Lee University, Shawn has worked in many different jobs, including college volleyball coach, bakery assistant, organic farmer, bartender, and non-profit assistant. Above all, he is eagerly waiting for the day he can play the game he has loved since he was 8 years old.

  • Cole

    Haha. You gave Stephen the Swan award and he went home.