Many eons ago, in times before, I began a quest to identify the adventurous traits of our Survivor castaways, and determine their character class archetypes if they were to be Dungeons & Dragons characters. I began with Australian Survivor All-Stars, the Winners at War, and the South Africans marooned on Immunity Island. But as US Survivor has entered its New Era, Australian Survivor ventured into the Outback, and Outcasts returned to Survivor SA, I have continued my experiment… in secret…
D&D is a game of heroic adventurers and dastardly villains, so with Australian Survivor literally making its season a combat of Heroes & Villains, what better time to bring it all back. It’s time for The Dice Have Spoken to return!
If you need a refresher on what D&D is and how it’s intersecting with Survivor in this whole exercise, check out my past articles in this series. But the main gist is this: D&D characters are, in part, defined by their “class” archetype – from a skilled Fighter to a cunning Rogue to a cerebral Wizard. With 13 classes in the modern edition of D&D, it seems only fitting to see how the 13 remaining castaways battling in Samoa would fit into these archetypes.
Each class can only be assigned once, so it can be a little bit of a puzzle. The assignments are also made partway through the season – it’s highly likely these roles would shift based on the next stages of the game. But as we approach the merge – the assembly of the party, if you will – this is the time to see how our motley band of heroes (and villains) is shaping up. This season marks the first time I’ve assigned classes to returning players who were part of this experiment in their first season, and remarkably, none of the returnees ended up in the same role as their last adventure.
With this being the 10th season I’ve categorised, I’ve also started to track some trends. Only 6 Classes host a Sole Survivor, with only two having multiple wins under their belt. As we work through the castaways this season, we’ll begin with the class that has historically placed lowest and work my way up to the reigning champion, so let’s get right into it and roll for initiative!
THE PALADIN: MATT SHARP
Average Placement: 9th Place (9.00, range of 4th-14th)
Notable Paladins: Lee Carseldine (AU5), Yul Kwon (US40), Danny McCray (US41), Jonathan Young (US42), Steffi Brink (SA9)
The Paladin is a nexus between a fighter and a cleric: they are a trained warrior, but they fight for something greater than themselves, be it a deity or simply an ideology. They are 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.
Survivor Paladins tend to be physically strong, strategically staunch allies and are generally defined by principles, ideals, or ethics external to the game, representative of a D&D’s paladin’s defining Oath. While Matt hasn’t been the most vocal character this season, one of his most memorable moments was his auction dilemma with Jordie, where the real world impacted his decision-making. Faced with choosing whether he or Jordie would get the call home to their pregnant partner, he made the noble choice to cede the reward.
D&D Paladins exude a protective aura that shields their allies. And while Matt was never the guiding light for his Meat Tray alliance on the original Heroes beach, his commitment to his allies has remained even as the tides turned post-swap. While he’s flirted with flipping or playing a double agent, Matt’s been painted as wishy-washy when it comes to pulling the trigger on such a betrayal. It feels in line with the Paladin’s reliability – and, unfortunately, often an inflexibility. Coupled with their physicality, this often makes Paladins appealing boots around the merge to remove challenge threats, especially if they’re unwilling to turn against their allies.
With (presumably) at least one more vote before the merge, Matt is a Paladin with his back up against the wall on the Heroes tribe. But Matt seems like the perennial good guy. If he can endure the coming fray, and especially if he can land a smiting blow against evil in the form of a notorious villain, he might stand a chance to seize glory.
THE BARBARIAN: SAM WEBB
Average Placement: 8th Place (8.11, range of 4th-12th)
Notable Barbarians: Zach Kozyrski (AU5), Ben Driebergen (US40), Tyson Zulu (SA8), Sydney Segal (US41), Danté de Villiers (SA9)
Barbarians are brute warriors of a D&D party. Violently effective in battle, they can take hits without getting knocked down. One of their 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.
When we have an alliance known as the Meat Tray, we’re certainly serving that slab up for the beefy class that is the Barbarian. Sam’s trademark “Mateship & Loyalty” ideal could have made him a perfect Paladin or Cleric, and though this season has not been without its hot-headed rage-blinded moments on the OG Villains, it’s Sam’s immovable indignance when the game doesn’t go his way that makes him this season’s Barbarian. Sam is calm and confident when the game is going his way – when the people he deems as sneaky are being squashed and when his people are staying true to their word. But as soon as that changes, so does Sam. The audacity of Hayley & Nina to pile votes on him, and for Shaun & Simon to willingly leave him as subsequent collateral, sees Sam resort to paranoid instinct and emotion.
And in some ways, it’s reasonable. His danger-sensing concern about being a contingency vote helped secure him into a secret majority that was poised to blindside Hayley & Shaun. But at the same time, his predictable emotionality fits perfectly with the Barbarian’s tactics to lash out at the things they dislike until they stop moving. There’s a bluntness to a Barbarian, and that also tracks with Sam’s uncanny ability to put his foot in his mouth, such as outright telling Gerry he was willing to lose him at the non-elimination vote that made Gerry a designated spy.
I think Sam’s found himself a strong alliance with Nina & David, who bring intelligence and wisdom to help counterbalance Sam’s streamlined tenacity. I feel like this Barbarian could be well-poised to make a deep run thanks to his allies pointing him at the right targets and an already-demonstrated ability to impossibly survive against the odds. But I do think his blunter edges might make it difficult for him to secure a win with such a savvy cast.
THE SORCERER: SHONEE BOWTELL
Average Placement: 8th Place (8.11, range of 1st-13th)
Notable Sorcerers: Tarzan Herlaar (AU5), Adam Klein (US40), Chappies Chapman (SA8), Maryanne Oketch (S42), Thoriso M-Afrika (SA9), Cody Assenmacher (US43)
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.
Survivor Sorcerers tend to be defined by the fact that they exude “character,” and while that doesn’t mean they are incapable of deft strategy, they are more often seen as their larger-than-life persona first and foremost. As the first three-timer for the franchise, Australian Survivor is in Shonee’s blood at this point, and her charismatic ability to seize control of the game is as effortless as a D&D Sorcerer’s access to innate magic.
In her last game in All-Stars, Shonee was classed as a Warlock thanks to her ability to survive, thanks to twists granting her unexpected life in the game. But this time around, Shonee hasn’t needed nearly as much luck – or at least, it’s felt as though she’s been making her own luck with Idol finds and her magnetic social game. She and George might have been asking if God likes Paige, but Shonee’s not relying on any powers beyond her own. Despite being targeted at the first Tribal, she easily deflected the focus, charmed allies, and clambered her way to the top. Her casual creativity also mirrors a Sorcerer’s skillset, as she blatantly communicates across Tribal lines post-swap and hands over Idols for a gambit, all the while carrying a snarky confidence.
It’s often difficult for the “Character” to win Survivor, but it’s certainly not impossible. Shonee is about as experienced as they come. The only Survivors to have played more days on the Island than her are Boston Rob, Parvati, Ozzy, Cirie, Tyson, and Sandra. She’s far from a Level 1 Sorcerer, just trying to understand the origin of their magic. Shonee knows how to make sparks fly, both for entertainment and remarkable gameplay. So it’s just a question of whether she can maintain the charming spell she’s cast through the first half of the season in order to claim the crown.
THE WARLOCK: GERRY GELTCH
Average Placement: 8th Place (8.09, range of 2nd-12th)
Notable Warlocks: Shonee Bowtell (AU5), Natalie Anderson & Tyson Apostol (US40), Santoni Engelbrecht (SA8), Jeanine Zheng (US43)
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.
Survivor Warlocks are almost entirely marked by survival against the odds due to twists – or conversely, victims of the whims of the Survivor Gods, thanks to cosmic intervention gone wrong. While this season’s non-elimination twists have been thankfully non-intrusive so far, Gerry’s game – and likely, survival to this point – is tethered to one turn of fate that changed his path entirely. Being sent to the Villains as the Heroes’ “spy” granted him the forbidden knowledge of clarity about his place in the Heroes pecking order and afforded him a crucial opportunity to pledge his service to the Spice Girls.
It’s given Gerry a second life in the game where he has agency, but only insofar as he remains bound to his new pact with the Villains George, Shonee, Liz, and Stevie. There’s a tenuous quality to that partnership that feels perfect for a Warlock turning to the dark side. Gerry’s curmudgeonly spite towards the Heroes who wronged him is the icing on the cake of the embracing of his fate in the game. And in a sense, his willingness to return to the Heroes despite being given the option to stay with the Villains pre-swap is further evidence of his fittingness to be a puppet of nebulous powers that be.
Warlocks have yet to secure a win since I’ve been assigning these classes. And in major part, I think it’s the simple fact that for a player to be so manipulated by luck, fate, or misfortune early in the game, it’s hard to make a full recovery without a massive swing of fate in the other direction. Although he’s in a great place now, his pact will lead to a dead end one way or another: with his Spice Girls patrons, they hold all the power, but without them, he has no power at all.
THE CLERIC: DAVID ZAHARAKIS
Average Placement: 8th Place (7.83, range of 2nd-13th)
Notable Clerics: Brooke Jowett (AU5), Renier Louwrens (SA8), Genie Chen (US41), Chrissy Zaremba (AU7), Tejan Pillay (SA9)
A D&D cleric is most likely a priest or other divine agent of a god. Their dedication to this deity grants them the 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.
For Survivor Clerics, I’ve tended towards framing their devotion to a tribe or an alliance as the correspondence to a D&D Cleric’s deity. They’re concerned with the protection and uplift of that party and serving the ideals of the group, often to a fault. David has been such a supporting character this season that it’s hard to distinguish too many specifics about his game. But he has consistently been seen supporting his alliances, whether the Meat Tray or, more recently, the faction of Sam, Nina, and Liz, with keen awareness and wise intuition.
David’s been most clearly defined by his relationship with Sam (his #1) and Nina (he’s her #1), and that crux position where others look to him for guidance is perfect for a Cleric. He even played a significant role in the debacle with Simon’s Idol, as he was the one to impart the plan to Flick across tribes, including the instruction of utilising the Triangle of Destiny to sway Stevie, further emphasising how much of a team player David is.
But now that David is at the centre of the splinter faction within the Heroes, the ideology that defines his game is much more ambiguous than many Survivor Clerics who have committed to tribe loyalty above all. But some Clerics serve ideals of War or Trickery, and I could see David channelling those ideals as we head into a messy merge. Or at least becoming seen as the embodiment of them by the rest of his tribe. I’ll admit, this class assignment is one of the most nebulous, thanks to David’s limited portrayal on the show, so here’s hoping he can Turn it up in the back half.
THE BARD: GEORGE MLADENOV
Average Placement: 7th Place (7.33, range of 3rd-13th)
Notable Bards: Nick Iadanza (AU5), Michele Fitzgerald (US40), Shan Smith (US41), Jordie Hansen (AU7), Meryl Solkiewicz (SA9)
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.
Survivor Bards aren’t always at the centre of the story, but they always define the narrative of the season. And with King George, he does both. His boisterous confessionals constantly frame the events of the game around him, lionising himself as a living legend and relishing the vicious mockery of his foes. But the story of Heroes vs. Villains wouldn’t be nearly what it has become without the furor he’s caused. His cutting words eviscerate his adversaries so effectively that he nearly single-handedly gave us a Tribal Council as long as a US episode. His spontaneity and improvisation keep everyone on their toes, both with his breakneck strategy and willingness to trumpet tribe secrets on the challenge mat.
Last time George played, he was the season’s inventive Artificer, and while his savvy for the game has only sharpened with time, his second game has truly been defined by the force of personality. While challenges may not be his strongest asset, few have survived a battle of wits against him as he’s effortlessly pulled off magic trick after magic trick to survive against all odds, and with a showman’s flair to boot. Losing his initial alliance of Anjali & Jackie only to immediately fall in with Shonee & Liz, his outwitting of Simon at the infamous Tribal Council, his continued good fortune with flipping minority numbers to a controlling majority…
The trouble many Bards face in Survivor is that the ability to weave a compelling narrative is an obvious threat at Final Tribal Council. And I expect few would choose to go up against George’s skill with words if given the choice. His brash and loud song is no magical secret, so perhaps there’s a world in which he can charm his way into being seen as easy to beat. But more likely, it feels like he’ll continue to draw attention with his entertaining performance that he’s making plain to his competitors, and they’ll silence his song if only to magnify their own myth.
THE WIZARD: NINA TWINE
Average Placement: 7th Place (7.11, range of 1st-13th)
Notable Wizards: AK Knight (AU5), Sophie Clark (US40), Kiran Naidoo (SA8), Hayley Leake (AU6), Sam Gash (AU7), Marian de Vos (SA9)
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.
Survivor Wizards are hardcore strategists, and while Nina has not had too much time to prove her acumen thanks to the Heroes’ winning streak and consensus targets, she’s clearly been studying up to blast onto the scene as a force to be reckoned with. Given her lineage as the daughter of Survivor’s Queen Sandra, Nina is unambiguously a student of the game, and she’s approached this season with precision. Her budding side alliance with David & Sam is poised to be in a kingmaking position as we rapidly approach the merge. And she deftly helmed a scheme to take down SurvivorAU’s Queen Hayley with calculated efficiency. But though the plan was foiled by the Mutiny, Nina is taking it in stride; a wizard can always recover their magic to strike again.
Wizards prize themselves not only on their intellect but their flexibility and variety in their magic, accumulated through diligent preparation. Nina spent the first several weeks of the game gathering information, giving herself options within the tribe. Oone minute she’s strategising with Hayley during the Jordie & Liz ultimatum; the next she’s weighing up an assassination attempt with Sam & David. She even has been notable in sitting out challenges, perhaps to ward against another injury, perhaps to intentionally lower her physical threat level. But in any case, Nina may have had a quiet start to the season, but there’s no doubt she’s thinking and playing hard.
In Brains V Brawn, Hayley was the Wizard and emerged victorious, so seeing Nina set her sights on another master of the mind is ambitious – another trait fitting for a Survivor Wizard. But can she outsmart her opponents? The setback with the Mutiny isn’t ideal, but Nina’s intelligent and deliberate approach to the game could give her the adaptability to adjust. And if she can make it far – especially with the support of Cleric David and the force of Barbarian Sam – her calculated gameplay could be well-respected by this intelligent and game-savvy cast.
THE MONK: HAYLEY LEAKE
Average Placement: 7th Place (6.94, range of 2nd-13th)
Notable Monks: Harry Hills (AU5), Shay Lajoie (AU7), Mike Turner (US42), Killarney Jones (SA9), Cassidy Clark (US43)
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.
Survivor Monks are difficult to pin down. Despite being in the crosshairs throughout the game’s early stages, they manage to duck and weave the blows coming their way as they ready their gutsy counter-attacks. This is Hayley’s game to a point this season, skillfully maneuvering past the ominous Winner’s Curse to embed herself within the fabric of the Heroes tribe. Shaun was one of the loudest voices pushing to target her in the early days, and now she’s one of his few reliable allies. Once dodging the early blows, Hayley has settled her game with patience, avoiding taking a dominant role in the tribe’s strategy. It’s a move of self-defence, and while it may have cost her potential allies like Benjamin, it’s helped her last this long.
But Monks don’t hide in the shadows. They are ready to strike unexpected and risky blows at any point, and despite her somewhat tenuous position in the game, she’s been at the centre of multiple challenge throws. It’s dangerous to bait an attack. And both times she threw a challenge, her name was on the table. But that sort of insightful risk is part of what can give the Survivor Monk the opportunity they’re waiting for. That said, were it not for the Mutiny, Hayley’s risk-taking would have likely stunned her with a blindside.
There’s still an upside for Hayley, despite her questionable position as it stands. If she can make it to the merge, she is observant and agile enough to slip through the cracks, and that might give her the momentum she needs to make a deep run with a brisk step on the wind. However, with her own crown – and one won as the Wizard of her first season – she’s unlikely to completely evade notice, and Monks go down quickly when they’re caught.
THE RANGER: SHAUN HAMPSON
Average Placement: 7th Place (6.67, range of 1st-13th)
Notable Rangers: Locky Gilbert (AU5), Wendell Holland (US40), Nicole Wilmans (SA8), Naseer Muttalif (US41), Mike Gabler (US43)
The Ranger is the expert hunter and tracker with a keen knowledge of survival in the wilds. Usually, a leader or a loner, 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. However, their ability to hide in plain sight and to mark their foes for relentless pursuit can still make them a force in any circumstance.
It’s easy to cast survivalists and outdoorsy folks as the season’s Ranger, which certainly has room for the lone wolf archetype. In fact, some of the most successful Survivor Rangers are defined more by their ability to quickly settle into a favourable position. Shaun isn’t a woodsman by trade, but as a returning player, it’s easy to label Survivor itself as a favoured terrain, and given how effortlessly he picked back up where he left off. Not just because he’s still passing around fake Idols, but from the jump, he slotted back into Survivor as a challenge beast and rallying point for his tribe. Thus, he makes a great case for the season’s Ranger.
While no one is losing sight of Shaun’s physicality, and it might be easy to be fooled by his outward projection of masculine alliances, honour through swearing upon his children and loyalty to the Heroes ideal, all of that only further evidences that his true game is hiding in plain sight. From the get-go, Shaun indicated that his outward expertise would disguise a stealthier game, and he’s held to that. Whether it’s weighing up early big plays like targeting Hayley, concealing his Idol from the allies who shared the clue with him, and attempting cross-Tribal subterfuge and quietly reneging on his sworn deal with Simon when the facts changed, Shaun has been sure to prioritise self-sufficiency.
Survivor Rangers have a pretty good track record (the second most wins, thus far!), but those who have fully faded into the background have benefited the most. Shaun is going to have a hard time being overlooked, so his chances will really come down to how effectively he lines up his shot when it comes to marking his quarry and revealing his hidden game. However, it feels like he might find himself out of his element based on the forces moving against him right now.
THE FIGHTER: FLICK PALMATEER
Average Placement: 6th Place (6.11, range of 1st-9th)
Notable Fighters: Sarah Lacina (US40), Mark Wales (AU7), Hai Giang (US42), Felix Godlo (SA9), Noelle Lambert (US43)
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.
Flick’s got a lot going for her as a Survivor player between her physicality and her ease with the social game, and that has helped armour her against some challenging fights throughout this season. Whereas she was classed as the Druid for her first season due to her malleability, this season, she’s played a much sturdier and more consistent game with the resilience of a Fighter. She’s locked herself in with the Heroes so much that they’re passing her Idols (at least, as they believe), and despite ending up losing what could have been a surefire majority post-swap and the comedy of errors of the cookie Idol adding insult to injury, Flick proved she is indomitable – a key trait of a Fighter.
Rather than languishing in the embarrassment or confusion of the fake Idol, Flick brought the fight straight back, surging into action to turn the focus on Simon. It was a bold play, but one that led her allies to throw a challenge to protect her and to actively endanger her target Simon. Flick hasn’t been the most tactical overall. Her tendency to end up on the wrong side of the vote, not taking full advantage of the implicit immunity of the “Idol,” not trusting Benjamin enough to be able to learn the sword is a stick. However, her tenacity to keep going when the chips are down is exactly the kind of second wind that can carry a Fighter through.
If Flick can make it to the merge, she’s got an army waiting for her with the OG Heroes, and while they’re off fracturing themselves, Flick will thrive with a party at her back. Her biggest challenge, though, will be to survive to that point. As a returning player, she’s a prime target, easily outnumbered on her tribe, and a clear threat whose strength of will got her one challenge away from winning the whole game once before. And that fighting spirit isn’t going anywhere.
THE DRUID: STEVIE KHOUW
Average Placement: 6th Place (5.89, range of 1st-13th)
Notable Druids: Sharn Coombes (AU5), Jeremy Collins (US40), Flick Palmateer (AU6), Erika Casupanan (US41), Omar Zaheer (US42), Palesa Tau (SA9)
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 shapeshift 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.
Looking to the stars and seeking a path of destiny in the natural world? Why, of course, Stevie is our Druid this season. Most Survivor Druids are defined by their versatility and ability to camouflage, transform or remain adaptable in the social game. They often seek to project one appearance while masking another – and bonus points if they’re using animal analogies. Stevie has ticked that box to a degree with his assertions about canine loyalty, but he’s also proven his adaptability.
While he initially sought to align with the boys and seek vengeance on Shonee, when that balance was unsettled by George’s intervention at the complicated Fraser boot, he shifted his path to cultivate new relationships and see them thrive. That’s not to say he’s out of the woods, though, as Stevie’s desire to play a self-described sneaky game is often at odds with the reality of the social politics. A Druid can change their shape to suit the challenge, but that doesn’t always mean they make the right choices; sometimes they’re a goldfish when they should be a bird.
Regardless of his skills in transformation, Stevie is a player who ultimately wants balance, and not just because he’s teaching tai chi. For all his talk of sneakiness, he wants reliability and certainty in his allies, and he’ll uphold that loyalty to keep his people in power. There’s a good chance that Stevie could make it far this season, but I’m not certain he’ll have the primal savagery needed to emerge on top at the end of it all.
THE ROGUE: LIZ PARNOV
Average Placement: 5th Place (5.33, 2nd-11th)
Notable Rogues: Moana Hope (AU5), Denise Stapley (US40), Anela Majozi (SA8), Dani Beale (AU6), Phil Dickson (SA9), Jesse Lopez (US43)
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.
Liz has easily been the breakout character from among the new players this season, which is a remarkable effort when she’s aligned herself with two of the franchise’s biggest names and boldest personalities. Yet opportunistically slipping into the fold and waiting to strike in her own way? That’s some classically roguish behaviour. Liz has embraced being the Villain but has also remained markedly out of the firing line while other newbies have become collateral. Never targeted on the original Villains, and even with the blown Idol gambit post-swap, it was Jordie who took the fall while she reaped the benefits of the tribe’s fracture.
While Liz might not have landed an eviscerating sneak attack herself, she was poised to be a crucial part of the assassination of Queen Hayley, perhaps even with her own Idol trinket still in her pocket. But when presented with an opportunity to Mutiny and protect herself, Liz was savvy enough to ensure a cunning getaway while not completely burning her bridges with Nina, David, and Sam.
In a season dominated by the big personalities and gameplay of the returning players, Liz is positioned incredibly well to be the threat no one sees coming. Easily underestimated as a newbie, but with a crash course of experience thanks to bold allies like Shonee, George, and Jordie, she’s quickly become an expert with a lot of tricks up her sleeves. There are a lot of adversaries to dispatch to get there, but I could see Liz being the last one standing, holding the dagger.
THE ARTIFICER: SIMON MEE
Average Placement: 5th Place (5.33, range of 1st-13th)
Notable Artificers: David Genat (AU5), Tony Vlachos (US40), George Mladenov (AU6), Drea Wheeler (US42), Dino Paulo (SA9)
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.
Survivor Artificers tend to be intelligent strategists, but where they distinguish themselves from similarly intelligent Wizards is that the Artificer’s strength lies in trinkets – the good old Advantage. In the modern age of Survivor, Artificers tend to do very well in the game, and as the class with the most wins, there’s a lot to live up to. But the trouble with a flash of genius is that sometimes the inventive ploy works, and sometimes it blows up in your face.
I think you’d be hard-pressed to think of too many players who have had Advantages define their game through misfortune more dramatically than Simon. Even his legacy before this season was tied to Advantages backfiring when he went home with two Idols in Brains V Brawn. But the Cookie Idol saga has been so iconic for the season that Simon is undoubtedly our unlucky Artificer. It’s not just that the Cookie Idol has impacted round after round of play thanks to Simon’s misinterpretation of its purpose.
It only gets to that point because Simon proactively leveraged it and tried to utilise it as the all-purpose tool for every job to empower his game. Firstly, to solidify his bond with Jordie, then to prioritise self-preservation over giving in to George’s manipulation, and then after the swap? It may have been the Heroes who pushed Simon to sacrifice it to prove his loyalty. But he still managed to leverage it into Shaun locking himself into a swear that protected him over Sam while also cleverly contingency planning to send the Idol to the other side in a harebrained scheme to take out George.
Sure, Simon’s become a bit of a punching bag for the season’s narrative thanks to his mistaken reads, misplaced confidence, and rug-pull after rug-pull. But just because he’s had bad luck doesn’t fully overshadow his inventive gambits. His earnest eagerness to keep trying to light a spark saved him with a literal fire challenge to avoid an incoming blindside, after all! That said, Simon’s reputation has taken rough hits through the pre-merge, and with almost no allies and no other Advantages in his toolbelt, he’s going to have to really reinvent the wheel to earn another victory for the Artificers.
ROLL FOR SURVIVAL
So there you have it: a full-fledged party of Australian Survivor players ready to continue their battle through this gruelling campaign. Will the Artificer maintain its reputation as the reigning class, or will a new challenger emerge to slay the dragon and seize the loot? Only time can tell.
So until next time, adventurers, keep on rolling.
Hi, Austin. Will you be back recapping the upcoming season of US Survivor? I always enjoyed your recaps the most, because there weren’t nearly summorizing what we had already seen, but they had the added value in analyzing the gameplay or providing another, unique point of view.