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Strategic Overview of Survivor: Does Andrew Have a Strategy?by Jeffrey D. Sadow -- 09/26/2003
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It might be a bit early to start understanding the fault lines in the Drake tribe (hey, maybe we ought to call them “crew” rather than a “tribe” – I don’t think any self-respecting pirate would call himself part of a “tribe”), but the seams have come wide open among the Morgan crowd.
The most interesting story to date here has been the poor decision-making by Andrew. First, he too-enthusiastically took on the “leader” role, making himself at the latest an immediate post-merge casualty, and then he doesn’t even seem to do all that well in that role. The ultimate humiliation came when Jeff Probst at Tribal Council essentially asserted that the crew’s lack of sleep from inferior housing conditions stemmed from his poor leadership.
But his worst mistake to this point probably came in lobbying for a broken man, Osten, to stay in the game. Theoretically, Osten is a superior physical specimen to the eventual ejectee after their second immunity challenge defeat, Ryan S. Andrew, however, seemed to have based his decision on pushing out Ryan as much on a belief that Ryan did not try hard enough as Ryan’s physical weakness. That reflects poor judgment in terms of who really is trying hard when Osten goes around telling people that he would not mind being voted off (while the possibility exists that he may just be sandbagging people for strategic purposes, if he is it’s an awesome acting performance).
Even if Ryan got the boot for physical weakness, the group must remember that not all challenges are physical. If Osten mentally has gone out to lunch, Ryan would prove more useful in these types of challenges.
Likely, Andrew’s fixation on Osten comes from a desire to create a troika alliance comprising of the Morgan Behinds (making Ryan O. the third member). He can get a classic five-person group going with them and Darrah and Tijuana, the latter of whom already has shown a desire to affiliate through Osten. If Andrew could bring these five into a post-merge environment, they might stand a chance of going far, with the Morgan Behinds sending two of its members to the finals.
Of course, this works only if he can take all five into a merge. Keeping Osten rather than Ryan jeopardizes this arrangement. At the rate they’re going, maybe just a pair will go into a merge. From Andrew’s perspective, they have a one-person margin of error over the next four (probably) immunity challenges.
That would be the player whom to date has shown the most strategic sense of their group, Lillian (maybe because of her experience understanding teenage boys, the level at which her compatriots have played to this point). She accurately saw the greater value of a weak Ryan compared to a dispirited Osten. Her problem, in large part not of her own doing, is her age differential compared to the others. She’s hung out to dry now and her best bet would be to convince Darrah that Osten is a greater liability now. But for her to survive, she’d have to get Tijuana or Ryan or both to agree as well, and that seems impossible. It looks like the return of the Knuckleheads for Morgan by their imminent getting rid of Lillian.
The fissures that appear on the horizon for Drake center around Rupert. While milk-drinker Shawn is slowly writing a ticket for eviction by his lack of sharing the coconut a few days prior and by his losing the spear tip and appearing to search half-heartedly for it, at the same time Rupert didn’t do himself many favors by complaining so bitterly about the loss (because he invested in himself that much of his tribal worth depended upon his catching fish). Nascent alliances may start to form around these two characters, who seem destined to clash, at this point favoring Rupert in no small part due to the aura of competence he exudes compared to Shawn, principally by his locating the lost tip.
The tribal raiding wrinkle brought in for this installment creates interesting dynamics. Certainly Sandra earned a lot of enmity over at Morgan for being the officially-sanctioned thief, adding her to their target list (along with Rupert for his stealing their shoes the previous week, if they ever find out) if anybody is left from Morgan to punish them after the merge. It does not credit her skills that she took the assignment, first of all, but once taken, that she lacked the diplomacy to minimize their bruised feelings.
This situation could work to someone’s advantage, however. In any coming power struggle at Morgan, the weaker party of should consider volunteering to have one of its own, if Morgan can ever win a reward challenge, to get named the hatchet man. Once over there, they can offer to ally with Drake after the merge. It could work the other way as well, depending on how things at Drake shake out.
We’ll just have to keep an eye on how (or if) the strategy progresses.
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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