Several weeks back, in the throes of Australian Survivor: All-Stars, I found myself dreaming up the niche crossover event that would fulfill my inner and outer nerd alike. What if I were to take the Top 13 castaways and cast them as the thirteen character classes of modern 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons? At the time, it seemed like a natural blending of two of my favourite things, each built on the back of a hunger for adventure and a complex story of triumph and defeat. But why only roll the dice once, especially with Season 40 now on the table?
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.
Now, Survivor is branded as the “adventure of a lifetime.” A group of unlikely characters from all different backgrounds are 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. The correlations made for natural comparison, and thus, my interpretation of the Survivor D&D Class Archetypes was born.
Emboldened by this thought experiment for Australian Survivor, and with a freshly minted set of Survivor archetypes rolled up, it seemed natural to level up. After all, on another island in Fiji, there is a whole other party of heroes on their own quest to claim the hallowed boon of the Queen’s Blessing as the second two-time winner. Let’s be honest, the very idea of actually seeing a winners season come to fruition was a literal high fantasy naught but a year ago. But throughout the opening eight episodes of Winners at War, it is clear that this is a legendary season that any bard worth their salt will sing of for years to come.
There was one tricky challenge to the D&D Class Archetypes for Season 40. Like the bleeding of the Planes by an Astral Portal, the Edge of Extinction gets in the way with the inevitable return of players reshuffling the boot order. Although one of our early boots could still Underwood their way back into the game down the line, I’ve drawn the line for the Top 13 following the merge, but this does mean that a couple classes have been assigned to players currently out of the game and rolling saving throws on the Edge. I would prefer to be assigning classes without knowledge of where the story for some of these characters has potentially ended—such is the appeal of the open world of possibilities of D&D—but sometimes the dice don’t roll what you’re hoping for, and you’ve got to keep on trekking.
So, how would the Top 13 Winners still at war fit into the 13 character classes of modern 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons? Let’s roll for initiative!
(Card Templates courtesy of Stormknight)
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.
In the most obvious sense, a Survivor Barbarian is likely to be a challenge beast, so it may seem strange that Season 40’s Barbarian is Ben, who has never won an Individual Immunity in his career. However, in this collection of winners, we’re not looking at a parade of musclebound men and women with a single-minded focus on the physical game, as we all know winning Survivor takes more than just winning challenges. So maybe it’s the rugged beard giving Ben the edge, but as he’s linking up with the other “big threats” at the merge, whose only common denominator is being the bigger guys, his approach to the game still touches on the Barbarian’s focus on strength.
A Barbarian is defined by their ability to Rage in the heat of battle, acting with ferocity and unpredictable power. Although we haven’t seen any Ben bombs dropped yet in Winners at War, Ben has been shown to be one of the more emotive players of the cast. There’s the pent-up fury towards Rob in the early days stewed in a feeling of being disrespected by the original Godfather. His tone has been in question in his conversations with Adam on Yara, and he’s certainly been exasperated with Adam’s flip-flopping and probing questions throughout. None of these winners have exploded into a full-on fit of anger, but Ben’s one of the more heated players on the board, even if he takes it in stride and undercuts it with his dorky humour.
There’s a rough around the edges quality to Barbarians, and Ben certainly has that with his occasionally reckless behaviour—be it spilling the beans to Rob on Day 1 or eagerly playing with snakes in a secret scene. Ben has managed to avoid being targeted entirely. Still, even so, he’s caught some good breaks to avoid the worst of the danger. Notably, the Ethan vote where he ended up on the right side of a messy landslide of changing plans and also emerging ahead of Adam in the Yara power dynamics to become the third wheel to Sarah and Sophie. In his first game, Ben was defined by his predictable unpredictability as he used Idols to bash his way through the endgame and draw on his raw survivability down to a lucky fire-making challenge. We’ve yet to see if Ben will revert back to that when he’s targeted in Winners at War, but as it stands, Ben is working to change up his game to be more social and supportive. So while Ben is not a typical Barbarian for Season 40, he does at least have his battle cry of “Agh, shyga!!” to propel him into this class.
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.
While a lot of this season has revolved around the reputation and legacy of these winners’ narrative, that is nowhere more evident than with Michele. The Survivor Bard is almost always going to be a key narrator, and Michele has been one of the biggest storytellers of the season. Even though we didn’t hear much from her perspective in the merge episode (similar to the lead-up to the very first vote of the season where, incidentally, she was also one of only three people left out of a consensus vote), she has narrated significant elements of the pre-merge story, especially on New Sele. But more significantly, her main story is about story—proving herself as a worthy winner and rewriting her narrative across her two Survivor journeys as more fact than fiction.
Michele’s game to this point is also fitting to the Bard’s strengths. Although her primary skill lies in her charismatic social game, she has proven herself as a jack of all trades. She’s been a competitive challenge performer (most prominently in her puzzle contributions in the epic Sele 1.0 come-from-behind victory and the close call right before the merge). She’s demonstrated a strategic aptitude in managing the chaotic Ethan boot and working her way up from the bottom on New Sele. In the latter case, her ability to weaponise her charm to counter one of the stronger alliance blocs in the game was incredibly effective and is representative of the Bard’s flawless skills in persuasion and deception.
A Bard also tends to play a support role within the party—or alliance. They’re critical to the party’s success and may be the face of the alliance at times, but they regularly act to embolden others. Michele’s ability to support her closest allies was evident with her buddying up with Jeremy after the Natalie blindside and sticking by Parvati after the swap. Still, she’s also been a font of inspiration key to some of the bigger moments of the season, from calmly handling an irate Rob at the Ethan vote to calming the waters with Wendell through the gift of a Fire Token and suggesting that she’d follow Nick’s call at the vote between Wendell and Yul.
And honestly, what is a more fitting narrative hook for a Bard than the return of an old flame from some past escapade. The story writes itself.
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.
With the more magical classes, we’ve got to be a little more abstract in our interpretations. If Clerics tend to follow gods, then a Survivor cleric is likely to be an acolyte of the Survivor Gods, dedicated to a cause related to the game. In most cases, this is going to be an alliance. Winners at War is shaping up to be a Cambodia-esque season of shifting pairs and trios, rather than a battle of rigid alliances. But of all the winners in the mix, Nick has been one of the bigger champions of “his people.” Most significantly, his comments at the Tribal Council that sent Yul home echoed his David vs. Goliath game where he projected the remnants of the New Sele tribe would be his steadfast alliance into the endgame.
That said, Nick is a Cleric of the Survivor Gods who find their domain in knowledge, secrets, and trickery. He hasn’t had many opportunities to flex his more strategic muscles. Still, his past dedication to tricky gameplay—such as the iconic minority vote split on David vs. Goliath—suggest that he is not beyond invoking duplicity. Perhaps in the literal sense, given how he seemed to pop up in every conversation happening at the merge beach!
One of the key attributes of Clerics lies in their ability to turn away the skeletons of the past. If we’re stretching the metaphor, he was part of Yul’s alliance targeting the players with prior connections to obliterate these ghosts of the past. He also sealed the fate of the Old School players at every turn, successfully turning Amber, Tyson, Parvati, and Yul away to the undeath of the Edge. He may not have been leading the charge, strategically or ideologically, but as the newest winner in the game, it seems fitting that if Nick is to be our Cleric, he had a prominent hand in sealing away the old guard.
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 ability is its ability to “wild shape”, literally shapeshifting into any beast ranging from a wolf to an eagle to a shark. Many of the druid’s spells seek to restore or adjust the natural 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, transforming into a mouse when they need to be stealthy or becoming a ferocious bear in battle. When Jeremy isn’t making literal animal metaphors about being a duck on the water, he’s shown himself to be a well-equipped triple threat. He’s got the strength of an ox, the wisdom of an owl, and the cunning of a fox and has employed them all with great effect this season. He’s been critical to big moves like the Ethan vote and wanted to parlay his Individual Immunity win at the merge into a move to secretly keep a prospective ally in Wendell but was willing to adapt to the temperature of the tribe to let him go.
In this respect, the Druid’s wild shape also represents flexibility and adaptability—the ability to shift between plans and allies with ease. In some cases, this may be literally playing the middle, but in Jeremy’s case, it’s even more natural. Jeremy’s social game is one of careful balance, and he is perfectly in tune with the tribe around him. However, he works to actively manipulate it, building strong bonds with outsiders, especially when he’s also on the outside as with Michele on Sele and Denise on Dakal. But he also forges critical friendships with those across the aisle, such as with Rob or Tony or the other big lions at the merge. Even when he’s left out of a vote, he doesn’t disrupt the delicate balance of the tribe, and he made an effortlessly natural recovery to avoid becoming the target himself.
Although Jeremy is armed with a game twist in the Safety Without Power and thus is not playing a wholly back to basics game that may befit a Druid committed to the natural order, his style of gameplay has strong shades of that Old School mentality. The primary emphasis on social game, with a breadth of capability in other facets of the game, is what defined early Survivor and Jeremy’s even-keeled, calm and steady manoeuvres through a game that has continually undercut his stability is an impressive feat and solidifies him as our Druid.
Whereas the barbarian is a warrior driven by impulse, a fighter is 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 tends to have a solid plan for battle, and they stick to it. Sarah is not an inflexible player by any stretch, but over the course of her Survivor career, she has carefully honed her tactics. And what worked for her in Game Changers is what’s working for her again in Winners at War. She developed a more aggressive and underhanded fighting style in her second season that bubbled under the surface of a laid-back, straightforward, and charismatic social game. She’s still using these tactics now, forging steady social bonds with past allies like Tony to new friends like Sophie and Ben. Still, all the while, she’s holding onto a secret advantage she acquired from the enemy’s camp, and she is undoubtedly waiting to strike.
When a Fighter goes into battle, they are an indomitable force. The closest we’ve come to Sarah being in the crosshairs was the first vote at Yara. But despite being outnumbered along old tribal lines, she held her ground—and her advantage—and came out on top. This second wind has propelled her into the merge in a strong and steady position with numerous allies. This insulation is great for a Fighter like Sarah as it positions them well for their eventual surge into action.
In D&D, Fighters have an ability literally called “Action Surge” that allows them to bolster their resolve to accomplish twice as much as the next person. This can make them especially formidable, and when Sarah is holding an advantage that literally allows her to act twice as she steals someone else’s vote, it’s almost too perfect. Add to that that the Vote Steal is her weapon of choice, bound to her since her use of it in Game Changers, it’s set to become an expertly trained manoeuvre for this stalwart Fighter.
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. Still, more so, a Monk is represented by their flexibility and precision in their strategic game. If there’s a Survivor known for playing an impeccable game, it’s undoubtedly Kim Spradlin in her peerless march to victory in One World. However, in Winners at War, she’s faced far more adversity from the outset and yet has perfectly adapted to find steady ground. Seemingly dropping off the radar as a “Big Threat,” she’s been able to carefully read the room and dodge any impending danger. She was able to suss out the Dakal tribe turning against her in the early days. After the swap, she was able to position herself in the middle of several potential configurations—old Dakal, flipping to Jeremy & Denise, sticking with the women—which all kept her safe.
Kim has yet to make any impactful strikes to outmanoeuvre her opponents, but she is armed with an Idol that only Sophie knows about. Kim has been waiting out the pre-merge in patient defence, and that steely caution allowed her to keep a hold on her Idol even as Denise whipped out two Idols in the biggest move of the season yet. So biding her time, Kim has made it to the merge in a flexible majority and without anyone directly coming after her.
I’m intrigued to see where Kim’s game goes from here. She ran the tables in One World from the top position of her alliance. We haven’t seen her have to dodge and weave in a flurry of action to survive, so in some respects, Kim isn’t the perfect Survivor Monk. However, I’m hoping we can see some of Kim’s calculated approach translate into some devastatingly effective plays in this open field on Koru. And based on her skill in the game and her ability to survive to this point, such precisely effective gameplay is not beyond her realm of capabilities.
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.
To be fully transparent, Yul would have always been this season’s Paladin. There was no question about it—and the only way someone else could claim this class was if Yul missed out on the Top 13. But when Yul saw and shared the recent Reddit thread devising a D&D Alignment Chart for Season 40’s winners and went on to reminisce about his days of playing Advanced Dungeons & Dragons in the days of yore, questing through the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth as a Lawful Good Paladin? Yeah, that sealed it.
Whereas the Survivor Cleric is devoted to a cause related to the game under the provision of the Survivor Gods, the Survivor Paladin’s cause tends to be more of a moral outlook. This oath may be to uphold classically “good” morals—honesty, integrity, et cetera, et cetera—but a player may still be classed as a Paladin if they are crusading for a darker principle, such as revenge. In Yul’s case, it’s not even a crusade of morality, but something far greater. In his preseason interviews, Yul revealed that he was going into Winners at War for the money, but not for himself. Instead, the victory prize would go towards ALS research, as inspired by his friend and former tribemate Jonathan Penner and his wife Stacy Title, who is battling ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease). As a champion of something so powerful and important beyond the limitations of the game, there is something truly heroic in Yul’s quest to play for a noble cause.
However, within the game, Yul’s stringent principles also map onto a Survivor Paladin. His calculated and intellectual approach matches the class’ fighting discipline. He was staunchly committed to his in-game cause of trusting his divine sense and eliminating the unholy alliance of poker players governed the early strategy on Dakal. He sought to utilise Fire Tokens as a fair currency amongst the layers of duplicity. He uncharacteristically turned on his own alliance on New Sele. Still, even then, the cause was painted in a valiant light as he sought to remove a dangerously unpredictable player in Wendell who also seemed to be amplifying contentiousness with Michele due to their own complicated past. Unfortunately, Yul’s efforts to smite down Wendell fizzled out, and he was banished to the Ever-Changing Chaos of Limbo that is the Edge. Will he return from the Outer Planes to once again walk the beaches of Fiji? Only time will tell.
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 biggest 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.
With the unexpected highlighting the pure survival this season, several providers could have become the Ranger on this feature alone—be it Tony and Yul’s competing methods of harvesting breadfruit or Sandra’s shark (do do do do). However, survival requires both food and shelter, and there’s no questioning who is the master builder on Survivor. Two seasons running, Wendell has emerged as the woodworking king, putting his real-life skills of furniture design to use to construct beautiful shelters and camp amenities. And if you have any doubts on this front, remember that when Wendell arrived at Sele after the tribe swap, he made comment that the camp was a “fixer-upper”; the very camp built by Boston Rob, who was lauded through Island of the Idols for his island mansion.
Game-wise, Wendell also embodies elements of the Ranger, especially as the ‘loner’ in my dichotomy. Although he was a firm member of an alliance with Nick, Yul, and Sophie in the early days, he never seemed to be leading the charge. Instead, he preferred to lean into his laidback style, where he just said it “like it is.” This zigging towards blunt honesty when the rest of his alliance zagged with a subtler approach saw Wendell stand out like a sore thumb on New Sele. This singling out continued through into the merge. Even though he again found a friend in Jeremy, he stuck out enough to be noticeable but was not essential enough to anybody’s game to survive the vote.
In this sense, Wendell’s inability to adapt is in line with the Ranger’s limited focus. Wendell can excel when he’s in a relaxed environment where he can keep it chill—such as the steady march of the Ghost Island endgame—but when things heat up, especially stoked by an old flame in Michele, we saw Wendell became more combative and abrasive. As we characterised Nick’s part in clearing out the Old Schoolers, Wendell too could be said to have found in them a favoured enemy—and their near-extinction marked the coming of his own demise. However, I don’t believe that the Ranger’s inherent limitations are a bad thing; we’ve seen Wendell literally win out in his favoured game before. But this time, he just couldn’t hide in plain sight and became the consensus merge boot. But maybe Extinction will be right up Wendell’s alley, and he could return from the grave with a new path ahead.
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.
I would suggest that there are two tentpole moves in the Winners at War pre-merge: the blindside of Ethan Zohn that truly signalled the beginning of the end for the Old Schoolers and the dethroning of the Queen. Whereas the first was a complex shifting of alliances and sub-alliances, attacks and counter-attacks, the latter could only be described as a Sneak Attack—and that’s the Rogue’s defining ability. This move alone classifies Denise as a perfect Rogue, using her cunning and guile to deceive Sandra, effectively steal her Idol and assassinate her in a one-vote blindside. And that’s not to mention the reliable use of her own Idol to safeguard her plan. It was a heist and a death strike in one.
However, an ideal Rogue not only strikes from the shadows but stays within them, and there is nowhere for Denise to hide after making such a renowned move. For this reason, I considered whether Denise was more of the Monk—striking in a flurry of calculated blows—while Kim was the Rogue skulking in the shadows, but Denise’s play was such a perfect sneak attack that I stuck with my gut. And the truth is, sometimes Rogues get caught in the act, but where they shine is in managing to dodge the consequences with uncanny skill. Even that seemed to be in Denise’s wheelhouse in the immediate aftermath of her move on New Dakal— which suggested Tony would be the next one out. And even though her name was on people’s lips after the merge, she evaded danger yet again by winning Immunity at a perfect time.
Denise’s projected willingness to go with the flow also matches the Rogue’s slipperier and deceptive tendencies. Despite aligning with Adam on Day 1 and briefly entrusting him with a fragment of her Idol, she was part of a counter-counter-plan against him at the Ethan vote, and she expressed a willingness to cut him loose at the merge if the numbers moved against him. There may be no honour among thieves, but in a game that can reward deceit, there’s a real chance that she could steal the crown. If I’m honest, I think Denise will have a hard time eluding the target brought about by her big move, but I would love to see her infiltrate her way to the end.
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.
I’ve characterised the Survivor Sorcerer as a sheer force of personality. Adam has been one of the principal characters of the season, and his freely expressed raw emotion and his impulsive and reckless decision-making has made for a wild ride. Like him or not, there is something magnetic about Adam’s unfiltered personality. He owns his ups and downs, from the emotional triumph grabbing the key at the Immunity Challenge, drawing on words his mother Susie had said about him, to embracing his indignity at Rob’s audacity in implementing the Buddy System or his unwavering (if incorrect) faith in the fact that Ben or Sarah had an Idol to his confidence facing down the storm while others huddled for warmth in the misery. Adam is fantastically unbridled in expressing his emotion, and that expression of his innate self makes him a perfect Sorcerer.
However, a Sorcerer isn’t limited to being a vessel of chaotic emotion, and Adam’s status as a superfan winner is an origin story that emboldens him further. Survivor is in his blood, and he’s actively sought to draw upon history and his fandom to propel himself in the game. From asking Denise if he can be her new Malcolm to criticising Rob’s attempts to seize unilateral control of the tribe, Adam has demonstrated an awareness of where Survivor has come from, where it’s going, and how he can ride that wave. Even his survival of the merge vote is proof of his ability to draw on this font of history. Recognising that the tribe would coalesce around a consensus target and reading the room that being one of the more unconnected players on Koru, it was down to himself or Wendell, something he pointedly questioned if his opponent also realised.
That said, Adam’s game has been far from perfect. In embracing his superfan origin and his love of the game, he’s tried to pull the strings with near-disastrous results. Most prominently, his attempt to overcomplicate a simple plan is a perfect representation of the Sorcerer’s experimental use of magic. Sele had a plan in place to cleanly eliminate Parvati, but Adam was determined to further manipulate the move in his favour, by trying to curry favour with Rob & Ethan by letting them in on the plan. What would have been a magical flourish if he could have pulled it off, instead sent a surge of wild energy through camp that nearly backfired into sending him home. Now, after surviving the merge vote, I could see Adam becoming restless with a need to experiment with impulsive creativity again—that’s just the Sorcerer’s way.
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.
The greatest elder power on Survivor is the fickle pantheon of Survivor Gods. As such, a Survivor Warlock is the recipient of a stroke of fortune 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 at the perfect time. In any case, this formative event at the hands of the game’s twists and turns is a defining moment in their story, for a pact with the Survivor Gods is not easily broken. With one of the Top 13 figuratively back from the dead, there’s no doubt that Tyson is this season’s Warlock.
Even though he’s a very capable player, and has brilliantly sought to surround himself with other threats upon his return, there’s no chance that Tyson’s Winners at War journey can be divorced from the boon of a second life granted by his patron, the Edge. Even if he wins out in the end, it will always come back to this—the first steps of the pact began with peanut butter and were sealed with a snake puzzle. But now that he’s back in the game, he does have a chance to carve out a new path for himself. After all, Tyson’s skill set is perfectly suited to the Warlock’s capabilities. His snark is so casual it’s almost otherworldly, and it makes him a highly charismatic force in the game. Coupled with his intelligence and knowledge of the game, he’s a force to be reckoned with.
On top of that, his Survivor journey over his four seasons has been one of personal growth, as he’s unlocked the magical secrets of defeat, love, and fatherhood. He’s learned much along the way, and even within this season, his banishment to the Edge has armed him with knowledge to employ now that he’s back in the game. He is the only player actively in the game with full knowledge of how the Fire Token currency works, and he has a firsthand uncanny insight into the dynamics of the first seven members of the Jury, having lived with them in the pocket dimension of Extinction. He is also a living cautionary tale against allowing the threats to eat each other, and he’s using it to recruit Tony, Ben, and Jeremy into a necessary buffer. Tyson is not out of the woods yet, and with this crop of savvy opponents, he would have to have truly ungodly mystical power to survive to the Final 3. But stranger things have happened, and the patron of Extinction has led its servant to glory once before…
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 constantly 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, generally prefer to fight from the back rather than the fray.
Sophie began this season by inducting Yul as her “nerd shield”—there’s little doubt that she’s our Season 40 Wizard. Intelligent beyond a shadow of a doubt, a superfan of the game who has done her research, and capable of exercising control over the battlefield without being in the thick of the fray, are the fundamental traits of a Survivor Wizard. And Sophie has demonstrated them all throughout the opening half of the season. She has consistently shielded herself with strong, smart allies like Yul and Sarah to give her a partner she can work with as intellectual equals, and it has afforded her the ability to play an actively cerebral game.
She was a key cog in Dakal’s early dynamics as part of Yul’s alliance targeting the poker players. Still, Sophie was able to forge a strong enough bond with Kim that she was entrusted with half an Idol—gathered information that is still pertinent to this day. At the swap, Sophie was able to team up with Sarah, find her own magical artefact in her very own Idol, and survive being ostensibly outnumbered with her Advantage intact. At the merge, she was able to subtly achieve her goal of keeping Adam around as an advantageous ally for her game and also remove Wendell, weakening Jeremy and removing the only player we’ve seen actively mention Sophie as a dangerous player.
Although Sophie is no slouch in the challenges, her under-the-radar game has been phenomenal. She’s stayed out of the limelight—so much so that Tyson notably ‘forgot’ her when listing off the sleeper agent threats—and that suits a Wizard just fine. Even from a distance, she’s been making magic happen. Her keen insight and awareness of the strategic and social landscape have been a fantastic demonstration of a calculated under-the-radar game. She’s still in a powerful position moving forward, so the question will be whether she can keep up the wards to protect herself and her allies while sniping her targets with a well-placed magic missile.
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, and so it should be no surprise that an Artificer’s game is largely defined by their use of these precious artefacts. The legend of Tony has been defined by his “bag of tricks” from the beginning. And although Tony has yet to find an Idol or Advantage to add to his collection, that hasn’t stopped his madcap inventions. After all, just look at the insane construction that is Tony’s breadfruit ladder!
Tony’s need to be on the move and constantly recreating his game got him into trouble in Game Changers, and he’s made a valiant effort to be more restrained this time out—and it’s worked wonders. A smarter, calmer Tony has allowed him to survive to the merge, even with a potentially close call at the Sandra vote, and it hasn’t stifled his approach to the strategic game. Perhaps it has even allowed him to play with a clearer mind, as he was the first on Dakal to hear the truth in Tyson’s original warning about the big threats getting picked off. His game since has been one of trying to invent new ways of driving that point home, whether it’s emphasising his hyena/lion dichotomy, trying to frame Denise as the biggest threat in the game after her big play against Sandra, and recently teaming back up with Tyson to assemble an alliance of like threats. As is always the case with Tony, there’s a lot of throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks, but this time around, it’s a little more focused in his strategy, and it’s paying dividends.
But Tony can’t fully contain his unbridled need to create, sometimes inventing his own problems as with his reconstruction of his Spy Shack. A completely ineffective experiment in every sense that ended up putting his name into the conversation to go home, it was just one glaring example of Tony’s tendency to go into overdrive when Tribal Council is on the cards. That said, like all the best Artificers, Tony is a creative player who can make even the most unlikely ideas work out in the end to the befuddlement of player and viewer alike. So who am I to judge whether or not the next Vlachos idea is a good one or not?
ROLL FOR SURVIVAL
So there you have it: a full-fledged party of Survivor winners ready to take on whatever random encounters come their way on their quest for the greatest treasures in the game’s history.
So until next time, adventurers, keep on rolling.