I have two great pop culture loves these days. You’re reading this article on a Survivor-dedicated website, so hopefully, you can deduce the first. The second is a more recent infatuation. A few years ago, I finally uncovered the ancient tome of nerdom that is Dungeons & Dragons. With its heroic quests, bizarre & horrifying monsters and the satisfaction of gathering a hoard of polyhedral dice, I was instantly hooked. After all, what’s not to love about the marriage of dynamic and unpredictable gameplay with complex characters and gripping storytelling?
Wait, why does that sound familiar?
For the uninitiated, Dungeons & Dragons (or D&D) is a tabletop role-playing game where players share in the creation of their own fantastical story. Most players will roll up a character—a curious wizard seeking lost magical secrets, a valiant elven knight seeking glory, a dwarven thief out for anything they can steal. Together, this band of unlikely allies becomes a heroic adventuring party. One other player, known as the Dungeon Master (or DM), will guide the adventuring party through their journey, pitting them against powerful monsters, sinister villains, and tenuous allies.
The characters’ personalities drive much of the gameplay, but it is common for the DM to have players roll dice to determine the outcome as an action. Need to swing your axe at the orc in an all-out fight? Make an attack roll! Want to sneak into the bandit’s camp to steal their fire? Roll a stealth check! Want to convince a shopkeeper that you’re definitely selling them a powerful Idol of Protection and totally not a necklace you threw together with beads and string? Roll for deception!
The game itself aids the players by giving their characters abilities that may help them to be especially effective in certain situations. Many of these abilities are governed by what is known as the character’s class. The brawny barbarian is going to be a star when it comes to a physical challenge. The sneaky rogue is going to have a better chance of skirting about unseen. The charismatic warlock is going to know the tricks to sell that poor shopkeeper a bill of goods. A character is not solely defined by their class—not all barbarians are dumb brutes, not all rogues are criminals, not all warlocks are liars—but class abilities act as key tenets that help to define that character’s role in the adventuring party.
It got me thinking: Survivor is branded as the “adventure of a lifetime.” This group of unlikely characters from all walks of life is thrust together in pursuit of the ultimate treasure—the title of Sole Survivor and the dragon’s hoard of gold pieces that make up the prize money. They must fight their way to victory using the abilities at their own disposal in a nuanced game that becomes a story that has fascinated us fans at home for 20 years. Again, doesn’t that sound familiar?
We’re 12 episodes through the gauntlet that is Australian Survivor: All-Stars. It has been an epic journey so far with a pretty eclectic cast of characters. So as a celebration of the halfway-mark of this quest, I thought I’d roll the dice: how would the 13 remaining All-Stars fit into the 13 character classes of modern 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons?
Let’s roll for initiative!
As creator of the Zach Attack 3000, there’s no question that brute strength is this barbarian’s greatest asset. When the party goes into combat mode, Zach brings a reckless attack. However, he’s been working hard to keep that unbridled rage to the battlefield, seeking redemption for his primitive past and recent exile.
Barbarians are brute warriors of a D&D party. Violently effective in battle, they can take hits without getting knocked down. One of their most quintessential abilities is the primal ferocity of their Rage, channelling unbridled emotion into inhuman strength and resilience. They have uncanny abilities to sense impending danger and avoid the worst of it, emerging relatively unscathed.
A Survivor barbarian is undoubtedly a challenge beast—literal strength is the most likely their defining characteristic. Although Zach wasn’t classed among the challenge beasts in the season’s opening, his physicality has always been tied to his gameplay. In his first season, he was the Contender championing to keep the tribe strong, and in his return, he may be showboating less in challenges, but he’s still proving his muscle. That’s not to mention his construction of an island gym with the “Zach Attack 3000” and musculature so impressive that even Lee could not look away from those glutes.
Barbarians are commonly rough around the edges. Zach’s game in his first season was marred by his misogynistic commentary and his outbursts of frustration at the Contenders’ losing streak. Zach has been making an ample effort to change his behaviour in All-Stars, looking to play a more relaxed and amenable strategy—even to the point of aligning with the outcasts of the tribe. So while Zach hasn’t exactly been the pinnacle of unfettered barbarian rage in this season, it’s not like high emotion isn’t in his wheelhouse.
Zach’s biggest storyline this season also maps onto the isolation and sheer survivability of a barbarian. He attempted to align with the Rascal outcasts, Nick, Harry, and Shonee, to seize a majority but was thrown under the bus when the plan fell apart. Although he was blindsided by their betrayal, he survived by the skin of his teeth. Receiving the second-most number of votes at the fateful non-elimination Tribal Council, he was banished to Exile with Shonee but returned to the game with no obvious repercussions, effortlessly falling into a clear new majority with Mokuta.
Can this barbarian win? The reliance on the sheer physicality of a barbarian makes them a likely candidate for an early juror, voted out as a challenge threat. Also less likely to be an instigator or leader, they could be a natural casualty of adversaries trying to weaken their opponents. But if a barbarian is the muscle in a party that gets the upper hand, it’s going to take a lot to take them down. For Zach, his odds depend on whether or not his new alliance with David, Mo & co can hold the numbers at merge—if so, he’ll keep fighting for a while, but if not, he’s a big, easy target on the front lines.
This master of wordplay would be apoplectic were he to be cast in any other role than the party’s bard. With social, strategic, and puzzle-solving acumen, Nick is a jack of all trades. Singing a song urging rest and party cohesion has sometimes fallen on deaf ears, but he is always on hand to inspire his closest allies as they unearth great treasures.
The bard is the iconic storyteller, intelligent and charismatic, a singer of songs and tales, and a dashing charmer. Their abilities grant them a diverse set of skills, making them a well-rounded addition to any D&D party. Many of their magical melodies also serve to support their allies, granting them the inspiration to succeed in their own pursuits and revitalising them with assurance in defeat.
A Survivor bard is an eloquent narrator, and given Nick’s background as an English teacher and his iconic “throne for a king” poem from his first season earning an All-Stars reprise, it’s almost too easy to assign him this class. He has remained one of the foremost voices this season, but more significantly is how he has parlayed his charisma into his gameplay. Nick has repeatedly championed the idea of tribe cohesion, reflecting the bard’s utility in supporting other adventurers as much as themselves. This line of inspiration hasn’t always worked out for him, and he’s certainly in a dangerous spot in Mokuta right now, but in D&D, you can sometimes roll low on a critical check, falling short even in your best skills.
Nevertheless, a bard has the ability to be at least reasonably good at everything. Nick is no slouch in the challenges and has certainly proved his worth as the season’s Puzzle Prince. Strategically, he’s insightful and knowledgeable about the game. Socially, he’s avoided the snake label thrust upon him in his first season, instead projecting a charismatic likability that’s kept him out of the direct firing line until recently and in the good books of many players in the opposing alliance.
His unequivocal support of his closest allies—even as the majority has turned against them—is further evidence of his role as the bard, building up Shonee after her Idol find and fighting to use his advantage to protect Phoebe. He’s sought to make magic happen, eliminating risky threats like Henry and trying to conjure a counterattack against the odds in planned—but foiled—blindsides of John, Zach, and Moana.
If I were to go back and map these class archetypes throughout Survivor history, I would suspect a lot of winners, runner-ups, and 3rd or 4th place fallen angels would be bards, if only because the edit of the season will likely make one of them the narrator. Bards at their best are also highly connected and well-rounded, but more likely to be a first mate than a captain, so may avoid too many direct hits. The flip side of a bard, though, is what seems likely for Nick. Despite their flexibility, a bard can struggle if no one is listening to their song, and as it stands on Mokuta, Nick’s melody is petering out with his allies. If he can sneak through to merge and reconnect with the Rascals, he might stand a chance to change the tune, but it’s looking like a somber coda right now.
A staunch acolyte of the burning goddess Vakama, Brooke has armoured up for battle. Turning away the ghosts of the past and enemies that just won’t die, she has also held up her holy Idol to cast a shield to protect her companions. This cleric channels her power to protect and fight for the glory of her sect.
A D&D cleric is most likely a priest or other divine agent of a god. Their dedication to this deity grants them their ability to cast magical spells to heal their allies and guard against forces of evil, especially undead abominations. However, the nature of an individual cleric’s ideology varies widely, depending on the domain of their deity—a servant of a god of life or a sun goddess will manifest their faith very differently to an acolyte of a trickster god or a goddess of storms.
As we broach into magical classes, we have to get a little more creative in our Survivor interpretations. A Survivor cleric is defined by a dedication to a cause—most likely represented by an alliance. Brooke’s position in the game has been governed by her status as one of the dual heads leading the Vakama alliance alongside Locky. Her commitment to her alliance has never been in question, often prioritising the success of the whole, because the success of the cause advances her own goals. For Brooke, Vakama is her cause, and she’s fighting hard for it.
In this vein, clerics are classically viewed as the party healer, and many of Brooke’s early decisions in All-Stars reflect this protective approach to the game. Look no further than her utilising her Idol in the third Tribal Council in an attempt to protect an ally over herself. To extend the cleric’s religious metaphor, Brooke has also been active in converting new followers, forging a close friendship with Shonee that brought her into the Vakama alliance.
While the cleric’s specific attributes can vary based on the nature of their deity, they all have the ability to turn back and destroy undead creatures. Fittingly, Brooke’s greatest opposition to the Vakama alliance was Mat Rogers, an opponent that survived certain death against the odds time and time again. On a more personal note, the most recent episode saw Brooke face off against a skeleton from her own closest, evening the score with Flick to put that particular ghost of the past to a final rest.
Clerics feel like they should be well-poised to go deep into the endgame of Survivor. Assuming their cause, or their alliance, keeps the faith, the cleric will benefit from that loyalty. The risk is that a cleric is seen as a champion of the alliance and targeted in an effort to remove the beacon holding the group together—or in Brooke’s case, that the alliance does not have the numbers and become martyrs to be picked off in an easy Pagonging. With the merge shaping up to be a battle between Vakama & the Rascals versus Moana & David’s contingent with Lee & Sharn in the middle, it will be a narrow fight, and Brooke will need to pray for some divine intervention.
Acclimatised to the coastal lands she’s called home for many days before, this druid is adept at taking many forms. Transforming from a challenge beast to a social butterfly to a clever cat, Sharn moves effortlessly at the centre of the party dynamics. Even when mistakes are made, she somehow makes a natural recovery and continues to work her magic.
A D&D druid is another spellcaster, drawing their magic straight from the source of nature itself. One with the land and its creatures, the druid’s defining characteristic is its ability to “wild shape,” literally shapeshifting into any beast ranging from a wolf to an eagle and maybe even an ancient dinosaur. Many of the druid’s spells seek to restore and maintain balance, heal and protect allies and call upon nature itself to aid in battle.
A Survivor druid is characterised primarily by their own form of wild shape. In one respect, this is a versatility in the skills of the game. In D&D, a druid can become a mouse when they need to be stealthy or transform into a bear to defend their allies. Similarly, Sharn is well-equipped in all facets of the game. She can hold her own in challenges (and in fact, holds the Individual Immunity record in Australian Survivor), and her social and strategic gameplay made her one of the best to never win. Her diverse skills were quickly recognised by Henry as a reason to target her this season, but she’s managed to slip past that target and continues to make her mark.
In another respect, a Survivor druid’s wild shape is reflected in the ability to effectively play the middle, seamlessly shifting between alliances to be who she needs to be with everyone. She’s brought into nearly every plan, and even when she’s forced to choose a side at Tribal, she’s able to maintain her relationships with those she’s voted against. How many times has she abandoned Nick’s plans, and yet he still keeps working with her. Even her biggest risk in her last Tribal, where she flipped her vote from Moana to Phoebe on the revote, has seen her make a strong recovery as Moana still trusts her, and she is able to keep Nick & Lee believing she can work with them. Although David’s trust in her is shattered, Sharn’s ability to keep everyone on side is impressive.
An ideal druid would also have a strong affinity with the land itself—climbing trees, fishing the coastline, befriending the tribe’s chickens. Sharn doesn’t quite fit this bill, but she’s the only player remaining who came into All-Stars having lived the full 50 days on these exact beaches in her first season. In that vein, Sharn knows what the atmosphere of Survivor can create at its toughest. She’s faced the gale winds of resentment and bitterness at Final Tribal Council, and based on her first confessional this season, she’s aware that she’ll need to read the weather patterns heading into the merge to avoid another storm.
Based on this interpretation of the druid’s abilities, they should be a big threat to do well in Survivor—a social player who can manage their relationships well, while also supplementing this with strength in challenges and on the strategic front. The trick, however, is not drawing too much attention lest they become prey for other monsters on the hunt. Sharn is a great player, but over the last few episodes, it seems like she may be becoming more vulnerable as her tribemates cotton on to her playing the middle. That said, we’ve seen Sharn bounce back from mistakes before, and if she can embrace the snake within, she could easily slip through the cracks into the endgame.
You don’t get abs like hers without discipline and training, and Jacqui is a stalwart example of a practiced fighter. A devoted soldier and fierce defender of her allies, she can go toe-to-toe with the best. She’s faced an uphill battle to start but has taken advantage of a second wind to secure her position for the battles ahead.
Whereas the barbarian is a warrior driven by impulse, a fighter is a master of practiced martial prowess. While their chosen tactical manoeuvres and honed fighting styles vary dramatically, they are an athlete through and through. Some fighters are archetypical soldiers, and some may be commanders of the battlefield, but all are resilient in the face of adversity. Able to call upon a second wind when the going gets tough or surging into action at just the right moment, they may seem straightforward, but that doesn’t make them ineffective.
A Survivor fighter is going to be a relatively predictable player. They have their way of playing the game, and they’re going to stick to what works. This doesn’t mean they are inflexible, and many will have a few surprising tactics up their sleeves, but in most cases, you know what you’re going to get. Almost certainly a challenge threat, the fighter will also commonly be a soldier or commander in a firm alliance and will display an indomitable spirit.
Jacqui is undoubtedly a tough cookie, and her dedication to her physical fitness (highlighted in her bodybuilding scenes) and her alliance is unbreakable. Despite being one of the oldest contestants on the season, she has proven herself to be a force in challenges having won the Mokuta Individual Immunity in the lead-up to the fire-making double Tribal Council. Her loyalty to her alliance with Moana, Tarzan (and previously Mat) is representative of the fighter’s unswerving commitment to a path of action.
It’s tough to speak about much of Jacqui’s strategy, given we haven’t heard a lot from her directly. Still, she appears to be taking a straightforward approach of staying loyal and following the orders of her alliance’s leadership. Nevertheless, she’s escaped a few close calls on her original Vakama (surviving the Daisy vote by the grace of Mat’s Idol), and she’s taken advantage of that second chance to prepare herself for the long game ahead. Looking back on her first season, Jacqui showed an inclination towards strategic thinking, so even if she had to ask Jonathan to clarify if an advantage was in play when an odd-numbered tribe reached a 5-5 tied vote, it’s not wholly unimaginable that she’s plotting manoeuvres that we’re not seeing.
Not all fighters are followers—in fact, Mat Rogers himself would have likely been a fighter. Nevertheless, such fighters are likely to suffer a similar fate to the barbarian, either picked off as a challenge beast in the early merge or be a loyal foot soldier who goes deep into the game in someone else’s alliance. I can see Jacqui easily facing either fate depending on whether or not Mo & David can keep their alliance on track, and it would not be unimaginable to see Jacqui battle her way to the Final 4, 3, or even 2. However, without an action surge—a move she instigates and can take ownership of—I can’t see this fighter becoming the season’s champion.
Honed in mind and spirit, Harry is as flexible as he is quick-thinking. With the stillness of mind to place himself in harm’s way, he has been waiting in patient defence to land the right calculated blow. Drawing upon the energy of his allies and enemies in equal measure, he is willing to go with the flow, but beware when he surprises with a stunning strike!
The monk is a master of martial arts, dextrous, and physically agile. But their physical prowess is equalled by their mental fortitude, for a monk can catch an arrow in mid-flight as easily as they can stare down fear without blinking. They are dangerous in combat, able to land blows with unexpected speed, or even stun their opponents still, but know when to bide their time. Lastly, they are intrinsically conscious of the energies of the world around them, drawing on this ki to enact their devastating abilities.
In Survivor, a monk can easily be a player with the type of physical agility that will serve them well in endurance and balance-based challenges, but more so, a monk is represented by their flexibility and precision in their strategic game. This is why Harry is our monk, as nearly all of his tactics in the first 12 episodes correspond to the myriad of abilities possessed by this D&D class. First of all, Harry’s social awareness has been on point throughout. He’s been willing to watch and gather information, reading the dynamics of the tribe. Despite being closely aligned with her, he saw the tide turn against Shonee. He voted against her at the Exile vote in an effort to flow with the tribal dynamics, and similarly followed the motion of Vakama to not side with Mat, even though he was uncertain of his place with the core Vakama alliance.
Importantly, though, this laidback approach is not just self-preservation, but it is a patient defence, as Harry has spoken often about the importance of timing his moves just right. In his first season, we saw that he can land a flurry of blows when he needs to, but he’s careful for now, and that is serving him well. But even when waiting to make the right offensive play, a monk is still up in the action during a fight, dodging and deflecting blows. Harry has been no stranger to such danger, and with uncanny peace in the face of doom, he has been willing to put himself directly in the firing line. He’s offered himself up as the contingency split vote in a play to earn trust and later banking on the trust when AK warned him not to waste his Tribal Nullifier advantage. In D&D, a monk can readily resist fear—and there are few ways to be more fearless than some of the risks Harry has taken this season.
A monk defined more by the agility in the game over their literal physical agility is likely to do very well in Survivor. Harry is positioned in a fantastic place as it stands—even on the dwindling Vakama, he has a read of the room and trusts AK, which could benefit him if their tribe returns to Tribal again. When the merge hits, he’s also shown a willingness to slip into the background and wait for his time to strike—he played that strategy to great success last season, and I would not be surprised to see him re-enact it again this time around.
Though mocked for his custard-arm, and his efforts to smite down his foes have not always succeeded, Lee has nonetheless proven his strength on the battlefield. His sworn oath to the tenets of mateship remains a sacred vow, but this paladin’s loyalty to his principles and his closest companions lends an aura of determination.
The paladin is the nexus between a cleric and a fighter: they are a trained warrior, but they fight for something greater than themselves, be it a deity or simply an ideology. A paladin is defined by a sacred oath to uphold moral tenets, be they honour and courage, standing as a beacon of hope, or enacting holy vengeance. Whether in the heat of battle or protecting their allies, commitment to these divine principles is the paladin’s first priority.
As such, a Survivor paladin is likely to be the player most driven by their moral outlook. This is not always “good” morals—honesty, integrity, you know the drill—and a player may be still be classed as a paladin if they are crusading for a darker principle, such as revenge. But when it comes to Lee, once the captain of the S.S. Mateship in Season 1, is there really any doubt as to who will be our paladin?
That said, Lee’s All-Stars game, from what we’ve seen of it, is not nearly as dominated by playing according to a moral bar that is distinct from the amoral game of Survivor. Nevertheless, Lee still appears to be playing a mostly loyal and honest game. Through their losing finalist connection, he seems to be working closely with Sharn. Through his interactions with both Nick and Phoebe, there appears to be a fondness for working with his fellow Season 1 compatriots—and notably, not dredging up any animosity with Nick, who dragged him over the coals in Final Tribal Council. Lee has also been one to stick to his word at a vote. Even when plans change around him, holding to his vote for Moana at the recent revote and even all the way back to his rogue vote for Michelle at the season’s first Tribal.
A paladin is also likely to have physical strength, which is undoubtedly in Lee’s wheelhouse despite his patchy record with sandbag-tossing at the start of the season. Also gifted with divine magic to heal and support allies, Lee’s huge displays of encouragement for his tribemates is reflective of a supportive spirit.
Paladins are positioned well for a deep run in Survivor. They’re physical without being as threatening as a fighter or barbarian, and they’re likely to have positive social connections if they’re driven by a positive moral ideal. However, their biggest strength can become their biggest weakness, if their sacred moral oath hamstrings their ability to play a cutthroat game—as Lee experienced in his first time out. This season, we’ve seen glimpses of a far more jovial and laidback Lee, so I’m optimistic that he could avoid the pitfalls of his previous outing. However, we haven’t seen a lot of his gameplay, and without making a huge play to smite down an opponent, I’m not sure if he’ll earn the reputation to win.
Even before he embarked on the adventure of a lifetime, Locky has sought adventure in his daily life. Leading his party through dangerous terrain, he spent much of his energy tracking his favoured enemy before finally slaying his quarry. Now that his allies dwindle, can he hide in plain sight, or will the hunter become the prey?
The ranger is the expert hunter and tracker, with a keen knowledge of survival in the wilds. Usually, a leader or a loner, they know exactly what to do in the right circumstances. However, this is the ranger’s most significant limitation. In essence, they are at their best when tracking a favoured enemy or traversing a favoured terrain, but outside of these fields of expertise, their utility is diminished.
When you have a literal adventuring guide on the cast, it’s difficult not to cast them as the ranger. However, Locky’s approach to the game also fits with the ranger’s strengths and weaknesses as the class is viewed as a Survivor archetype. There’s no denying that Locky immediately seizes upon the leadership role in any given season—he’s an alpha male, physically strong, and for an added bonus, he knows a thing or two about the wilderness, making him a valuable asset when it comes to literal survival.
And when it comes to gameplay, Locky certainly has a favoured terrain—a preferred style of gameplay, where strategy is governed by holding a traditional majority alliance. When that stability is taken away, such as it was when he was blindsided in his first season, he becomes unmoored and frustrated. He’s gravitated back to his favoured style of gameplay with commanding the Vakama core alliance in All-Stars, and he’s bristled in situations where that strategy has met with conflict, such as Mat’s brazen showcasing of the Idol he found. Speaking of Mat, Locky also tends to hone in on a favoured enemy—be it a strategist like AK in his first season, or the Godfather this time around. He’s determined to defeat that foe, causing conflict in that rivalry.
Locky is not ineffective when outside of his comfort zone. Even though he favours a straightforward and loyal game, he’s willing to flirt with duplicity, such as taking the Reward Ticket with Phoebe and lying about who is eligible to use it and hiding the cookie jar from anybody not in his alliance. This sets Locky up to be a more effective Survivor ranger than most, able to adapt to more than one or two styles of play.
In this vein, a ranger is usually at high risk of flaming out during the merge if they can’t adapt to an unexpected twist in the game’s trajectory or if they let a fixation on eliminating certain adversaries distract them. As we’ve seen before, Locky can adapt in a more chaotic post-merge as he did in Season 2, but in All-Stars, he’s heading towards the merge with what is currently a strong Vakama alliance that could serve him well if they can secure a majority. But if not, as long as he can stay aware of his surroundings and adapt when necessary, Locky could survive.
“I’ll play from the shadows,” she said. Just like a rogue to skulk out of sight before landing a sneak attack! Moana’s cunning has proven to be an unexpected and underestimated asset, evading the attention of her enemies as she lines up her next assassination.
The rogue is the stealthy scoundrel, using diversion, misdirection, and every other trick in the book to stay out of sight. From the shadows, they may be the one disarming the traps, stealing the diamond, or sliding the dagger into someone’s back. Quick, effective, and effortlessly elusive, the rogue can be hard to pin down at the best of times. At the worst of times, you won’t even see them coming.
Moana is a perfect fit as the rogue, and she’s even dressing for the part in that black hoodie. So many great Survivor players display rogue-like attributes, as the class represents deception and sneakiness in its most direct form, but what really makes for a Survivor rogue is the concept of playing under the radar to devastating effect. Moana has made this intent explicit with her approach of playing up the “quiet girl in the shelter” in order to be underestimated. She utilises a spy network of allies to gather and disseminate information, and she has learned secrets such as Mat & David’s cross-alliance agreement and created them, building her own secret alliances with David and Sharn.
Playing under the radar is one thing, but making a move in stealth mode is much harder. While Moana’s not quite as hidden as she once was, with Phoebe pointing out her game in her last Tribal, Mo was responsible for executing an effective sneak attack against Phoebe that only backfired because of the fire-making twist. Even then, she recovered and still managed to avoid being seen as too dangerous. She’s used the perception of herself as an introverted loner to mask her more duplicitous gameplay, and so far, she’s amassed enough allies that she’s evading the attacks coming her way.
Simply for the fact that Survivor is a game that favours underhanded tactics and sneaky moves, a rogue is in an excellent position to go all the way and win. The critical point in a rogue’s trajectory, however, is when to drop the disguise and reveal the full extent of their game. Too late, and the rogue might be seen as having played too far under the radar. Too early, and the rogue can be voted out for being untrustworthy or simply too slippery to leave in the mix. For Moana, she’s dangerously close to the latter, and it’s a good thing she has a blustering shield in David to hide behind or else her cover would be blown. If Mo can make her stealth check and slip back into the shadows, she’s definitely a contender to assassinate the competition.
But a humble lime farmer, Tarzan never realised the font of magic that dwelled within. This sorcerer’s power is not governed or granted but originates from a sheer force of personality and presence. From behind a beard that would make any wizened magician envious, Tarzan’s wild magic is unpredictable and often out of his control—and yet still he stands.
The sorcerer is defined by the source of their magical capabilities. It is not learned through study or gifted by some powerful being—it is innate, in their blood through arcane or otherworldly ancestry or even linked to the very springs of raw, primal magic itself so wild it can take on a life of its own. Magic breaks the laws of nature, but sorcerers can break the law of magic, often utilising spells in a flurry of creative metamagic.
Without literal sorcery to draw upon, a Survivor sorcerer may be defined by the sheer force of personality. They are larger than life, seemingly more of a television character than an actual human being. Tarzan fits this identity to a tee. He was only on Season 2 for a grand total of four episodes, and yet he won the hearts and minds of Australia to the point of being one of the biggest characters in this season’s limited promotional material. Heck, Tarzan isn’t even his real name, but a name bequeathed upon him to the point where it transcended ordinary Mark Herlaar. We saw the origin of this Survivor character, and now he’s back.
The downside is that we haven’t exactly seen much of Tarzan’s game. He’s been a loyal ally to Jacqui, Mat, and Moana, and has had a few killer quips (“Why don’t you chew on this!”), but we simply don’t know what else he’s doing. An ideal sorcerer would be playing a creative and rule-breaking game, maybe even surviving in spite of their glaring mistakes. But with Tarzan, he’s merely been moving along with the numbers.
Yet maybe, just maybe… Could it be that the wild magic within him is so powerful that it acts on its own accord? Despite being in the minority, Tarzan himself was never in danger. Was he saved by a surge of protective wild magic? He was swapped into a tribe where a new majority conveniently assembled around him. Did his innate magic conjure up the perfect buff for him to draw? I know, this one’s a stretch, but this is D&D—the only limit is your imagination.
Ordinarily, I’d expect a sorcerer to be a high variance class when it comes to Survivor. Creative gameplay can certainly be a ticket out the door if it backfires. However, when it comes to a sorcerer like Tarzan, whose power comes in the form of a big character, I would expect the success rate to increase as players with a more tangible threat like physical strength or strategic acumen are targeted before those getting by on personality alone. Nevertheless, at best, a character like Tarzan is destined to go out somewhere around Final 5 or 6 at most—a lovable and earnest figure with an endearing origin is dangerous in their own right, even if they don’t realise the full extent of their power.
Invoking her beguiling influence as she dons her sunglasses of eldritch sight, this warlock is as charismatic as they are iconic. Even before Shonee’s pact with the Survivor Gods granted her the boon of a second life, she sought power buried deep in ancient wells. Some may see her as a dark horse, and she rises to seek vengeance and sandwiches in equal measure.
The warlock is granted their magical abilities through a pact with a powerful entity, anything from an eldritch elder horror to a cruel devil to an archangel. Their magic is a boon often granted in exchange for the warlock’s service—perhaps to uncover an ancient secret or to learn the means of releasing or protecting a great power. Their abilities are often strange, peculiar, or even dark, but their charismatic personality helps them to make a good impression as they pursue their given quest.
As far as I’m aware, no Lovecraftian beings have taken a vested interest in a game of 24 people on a Fijian beach, but we do know that the Survivor Gods are fickle beings. As such, a Survivor warlock is probably going to be the recipient of a stroke of fortune (good or bad) at the hands of the game itself. An unlucky warlock might be doomed into a terrible tribe swap or have an external factor, such as a medevac or quit, steal away an essential ally. A lucky warlock might be bestowed the boon of an Idol or Advantage found at the perfect time, or as is most likely in Australian Survivor, a convenient non-elimination round. Regardless, this event out of the player’s control is a defining moment in their game, for a pact with the Survivor Gods is not easily broken.
For Shonee, it’s obvious to see where her pact lies, having been unequivocally saved from elimination by the Exile Beach twist. Not only did it keep her torch lit, but she only had to endure one night on Exile with company. And upon returning to the game at the tribe swap, she found herself in a perfect position to enact revenge on those who voted her out and worm her way into a new majority alliance. But further to that, Shonee had utilised the powers of the Idol, found beneath the tribe’s water well, to escape elimination once before.
Yet a warlock should be more than just a pawn in a cosmic game, and Shonee’s impeccable social game is a perfect fit for a charismatic character class. Effortless in her ability to charm, Shonee’s persuasion and deception stats are off the chart. On top of this, she’s a savvy player, able to weaponise her social game and willing to take strategic risks as we saw in her first season, culminating in the risky 2-1-1 vote that ultimately sent her home.
The success of a warlock’s game depends significantly on their charismatic social game. Even a warlock whose pact with the Survivor Gods is unsavoury can make an excellent recovery in the post-merge if their social skills are up to snuff. For a player like Shonee, who benefited from a lucky break and has parlayed that into an even better position in her new tribe, the merge should theoretically be a perfect playing field. I would not be surprised to see Shonee’s social game take her into the endgame again, assuming she can evade the target of being a social threat and manoeuvre her way out of falling into the minority alliance.
A diligent student of the craft and keeper of the books, AK has studied the traditions of history with a keen eye. Keeping his distance from immediate danger, this wizard helps to control the battlefield to bestow an upper hand to his closest allies. All the while, he divines the potential future of his path and draws upon this portent to guide his party to success.
The wizard is the learned magician who has gained their arcane powers through diligent study. Learning spellcraft is an addiction as much as a vocation, and they are continually searching for new spells to copy into their ever-growing spellbooks. Wizards tend to gravitate towards one particular school of magic—perhaps divination to read the future, evocation to channel the destructive power of the elements or even necromancy—but are capable and generally eager to try just about anything. It’s also worth noting that wizards are traditionally one of the physically weakest classes, and as such, usually prefer to fight from the back rather than the fray.
A Survivor wizard is almost certainly a Survivor superfan, representing the wizard’s studious nature. AK certainly fits this mould, among many other long-time fans on this cast, but what sets AK apart as this season’s wizard is how he’s translated that knowledge into his approach to his second chance to play. Much like Nick, AK has learned a lot from his first time out and is playing a much more methodical game in All-Stars. Positioning himself as “The AKountant,” he is the literal bookkeeper of his alliance. He runs the numbers on each plan, predicting the possible outcomes of each and every play and advising the Vakama core alliance on the best method of attack. As such, he’s the power behind the throne—the vizier who has been able to subtly manipulate the Vakama tribal dynamics to favour his long-term game.
As we head into this coming week, AK is perfectly situated between the pairs of Brooke & Locky and Harry & Shonee—an enviable swing vote position if Vakama returns to Tribal and an insulated position if Vakama is able to enter the merge unscathed. This is also a great embodiment of a wizard’s optimal tactics to stay out of direct danger. AK has never been in the conversation to be voted out, and yet he has been instrumental in influencing nearly every vote.
As a superfan and keen observer of strategy, I’m always hopeful that a wizard will go far in the game. The biggest pitfall for the archetype is that they are easily pegged as the strategic mastermind, making them a front-runner threat that can rarely escape that target. AK could easily be seen in that vein come merge. Still, he’s a smart player who has only improved since his first outing, who has intentionally insulated himself around other threatening players. If they can be his meat-shields, he certainly has a good shot, especially if his alliances can survive the early onslaught of the merge.
Having the right tool for the job is never enough for this artificer—two magical items is the minimum! David’s inventions may seem unnecessary or excessive, but somehow the madcap magic holds it all together. It may be a flash of genius, or it may be insanity, but when it comes to innovative ideas, he’s the man for the job.
The artificer is a master of invention as they tinker and create all manner of curiosities, many of them infused with some sort of magical essence. Defined by their innovation in crafting everything from potions to clockwork servants to firearms, an artificer is as creative as they are diligent. Hard-working and intelligent, they are reliant on their tools of the trade, but even in the direst circumstance, they’ll have some kind of idea that just might work.
There’s nothing more magical in Survivor than the power of an Idol or an Advantage. So it should be no surprise that an artificer’s game is primarily defined by their use of these precious artefacts. Or if they are hard to come by, an artificer would be the first to make a fake, for the threat of an Idol can be just as powerful as the real deal. So without a doubt, David is the artificer. Not only does he wield two Idols as we speak, but he manufactured a fake early in the game, and all of this is on top of his first season, where he set an Australian Survivor record by getting his hands on three Idols throughout the game.
But while artefacts are a straightforward representation, a Survivor artificer is defined by their innovative gameplay. In a sense, this attribute may be similar to the sorcerer’s creativity, but the distinguishing feature between the two is that an artificer’s inventive tactics are more likely to be infused with manipulation of game dynamics, be they advantages or twists. However, they can also extend to classic interpersonal manipulations, and nothing has been more convoluted than David’s secret cross-alliance partnership with Mat Rogers that saw him dictate the entire Tribal, flushing two Idols and ensuring his ideal target went home. In the same vein, David sniped an Idol out from under Phoebe and attempted to use it as a scare tactic and showboating move as he voted her out.
However, the line between a genius and a madman is a fine one, and David’s restless need to keep reinventing the game and one-upping himself could be a self-destructive trajectory. Artificers are almost always going to overplay their hand at some point, whether by unintentionally showing their cards or going in too hard too fast. For that reason, I suspect that artificers are rarely going to make it into the late-stage Jury as they’re simply too unpredictable and dangerous to keep around.
That said, a cunning artificer who can utilise all the tools at their disposal could lead the charge, and if they can lay a path for themselves to the end, they stand a good chance of having a flashy resume at Final Tribal. For David, though, I’m predicting a laboratory accident as one of his overly complicated schemes blows up in his face. There are too many even-keeled players in this cast, and the other strategic players have been actively playing low-key games, which leaves David exposed as the biggest player.
ROLL FOR SURVIVAL
There we have it: our All-Stars all suited up as an adventuring party! So as we head into the back half of the epic quest that is Australian Survivor: All-Stars, we now know the important questions. Who’s going to slay the dragon? Who’ll rescue the LaPaglia? And of course, who gets to keep that sweet +3 Sword of Immunity?
Until next time, adventurers, fare thee well.