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Strategic Overview of Survivor, Episode 8: Swing Votesby Jeffrey D. Sadow -- 11/05/2004
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We heard all about appealing to swing voters to bring President George W. Bush a reelection victory, but in the end, it was pitching to his base that bagged him another four years. Forgoing a similar strategy potentially has doomed the males in Survivor.
The folly of cutting John loose rather than naked Julie has become all too clear now: to reiterate, had naked Julie been voted out last time, at the merge the Three Amigos (Lea, Chris, Chad) would certainly have had Rory, likely have held on to John, and then made Twila an offer she couldn't refuse (why stay with the women and a tie instead of going for the sure winners with the guys?). Or, had John wavered, both Twila and Scout could have been brought on board. Instead, the guys ignored their base and gambled on bringing in two disparate outsiders rather than one, and it has made them likely more extinct a gender in the game than many of the volcanoes around them.
Twila's power has grown immensely as a result of her abandonment, at least temporarily, of the males. (That was definitely the way to go instead of sticking with the men, as long as naked Julie was with her, because a kind of reversion to form seems less suspicious in order to play out the tactics described below.) At the same time, she seems unaware of her pivotal position by her downplaying of cementing a dyad with Scout. She must realize that Julie hung with her only out of convenience and that her power becomes more than doubled by accepting Scout's begging attachment to her. Having somebody pledge such loyalty to you without any requested reciprocation is a gift of the highest order in the game, and she would be very wise to take it.
If grabbing hold of this bond, then she must understand how to use this power. She must realize she has the dyad to carry her close to the end and must figure out how to use it correctly to knock off strong opponents. That comes first from seeing that the situation is not 6-3 but rather 4+2-3, and that the strongest opponent left is Ami.
This means it's time to put on the dancing shoes. Simply, she and Scout defect to the Three Amigos and next time take out Ami; always take out the leader when you have a chance because it demoralizes the troops. If Ami wins immunity, then jump to remove Julie because she has the greatest potential of defecting to the guys to give them power independent of the Twila/Scout axis. Then get Ami, unless she's been gotten which means moving on to Julie (or, if she wins immunity, Eliza, for reasons addressed below).
Now with a 2-2+3 arrangement, it's time to change partners, leap back over to the women and decapitate the men by taking out Lea. At this point, it's probably best to stay there one more move and break up Chad and Chris because Eliza has demonstrated her own happy feet before and Leann hasn't shown much (always take out the strongest dyad first). But in taking out one of the guys, you must tell the other he's with you to the final three where it will be every man (given Twila's psychology and Scout's preferences, literally) for himself so he won't be tempted to jump to the brunettes. Except for untimely immunity wins, this is an exceptionally clear path.
The only thing that can interfere is if both sides get wind of this fancy footwork and try to eliminate this swing dyad. But the incentive for both sides will never be to do that. For example, let's say after the first jump making things 3-2+3 both sides see this and collectively vote out Twila. But they can't: if they do so, it's now 3-1+3 and Scout makes or breaks one of the groups. If you're the guys, recipients of the gift Twila and Scout gave you by defecting to you, why risk losing this - meaning, if they eject, with the gals' help, Twila, Scout could go back to the gals and the guys would be in the same hole they were before?
The same logic holds for the next two jumps. The trick is, by busting up this dyad, both sides put themselves at risk moreso than accepting whatever gift the dyad gives you. Only if a side is willing to take a chance can the dyad be stopped. Even better for Twila and Scout, they become more powerful a combination each time anybody but one of them gets voted out. At four remaining, they are practically invulnerable.
This cannot be overstated: Twila must secure a partner, and Scout is more than willing to align herself with Twila. If this dyad works together, Scout and Twila almost assuredly write themselves a ticket to the final three. And again, to prove that this cannot be overstated: if Twila and Scout hook up and begin to hop between alliances, they almost assuredly have a place in the final three (their preferred partner being harmless Leann, who would win few jury votes if any out of respect for Twila's or Scout's superior strategy and play).
That's really all there is to it. Single defectors (for example, let's say Eliza gets itching to cross over again) are discouraged from ever making a move because the dyad's two votes always trumps that person's one. Minority coalitions always will welcome the dyad but by the time they become a majority they have no power to hold the dyad back from another defection; only if they risk everything can this cycle be broken. Twila particularly, and Scout also if Twila is smart, have the power to control the game now. Let's see if they know what to do with it.
If you haven’t already done so, make sure to check out the other Episode 8 columns already posted:
Jeffrey D. Sadow is an associate professor of political science at Louisiana State University in Shreveport where he teaches, among other things, classes in international politics, international organizations, and diplomatic history. He has published in the area of gaming simulations in international politics.
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