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Strategic Overview of Survivor: Unfathomable Plansby Jeffrey D. Sadow -- 10/03/2003
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Another episode, another pair of Morgan losses. Nothing new here… until we look deeper under the surface to see some interesting strategic possibilities.
Lillian gets the boot here, courtesy of a decision calculus I cannot begin to fathom if we take Andrew’s pronouncement literally, that some greater strategic process got served by choosing her to exit. If anything, the opposite should have occurred. Maybe a listing of assets of Lillian compared to Darrah, the other person considered for ejection on behalf of the Morgan Behinds plus Tijuana, can bring us to understand Andrew’s statement.
Lillian was a hard worker. Darrah is a babe. Lillian had skills like making and maintaining fire. Darrah looks good. Lillian contributed to camaraderie and morale. Darrah is eye candy. This isn’t to say that Darrah may not have a fine strategic head on her shoulders, be as strong as Rupert, and as smart as a whip, but she’s sure taking her time showing it, according to her tribe.
Now it does seem apparent that the Tijuana and the Morgan Behinds (wouldn’t that make a great name for a Tejano band?) have formed an alliance potentially much to Andrew’s advantage. He has put himself at the center with a firm ally in Ryan. However, Osten as a partner seems shakier given the bond developing with him and Tijuana. Andrew needs a counterweight that (thinking way far ahead, and with a lot of luck) would place him best in a 2+1+2 alliance, where he and Ryan are one dyad and Osten and Tijuana potentially the other. The person in the middle he would feel he could use in case Osten did throw his lot in with Tijuana when it came down to determining the final four.
Lillian would serve that purpose much better than Darrah since she now thinks Osten a great liability, plus she fits the profile of a classic “disposable,” minimally threatening to win the final challenges. If anything, Darrah seems to communicate most with Tijuana, which would harm Andrew’s chances if those females hooked up, and at physical challenges at the end could do better than Lillian.
So in both the short term and long term, Lillian seems to be the one to keep. I can’t figure it out. Maybe Andrew’s just a strategic genius way above our capabilities, as his leadership has shown to date (yes, my students think I can get pretty sarcastic at times).
Of course, the long term doesn’t seem likely for this bunch, if we take their statements at tribal council as accurate. It was all about how they just had to “put it all together,” or “it’s a matter of time before we got to win.” Statements akin to these show a real misunderstanding of the tribe’s weaknesses, being misallocated resources growing smaller all the time, which I suppose should have not surprised us given their performance right off the bat in the village. They are becoming weaker rather than stronger and will lose more often than they win until the merge…
Unless Drake starts doing stupid things like throwing challenges. The previews for the next episode suggests this may occur in three days. When in the tribe you have an irritant who hasn’t shown us much guile like Jon, the smart player uses him. Unless he lays around and does absolutely nothing, Jon minimally will contribute to staving off tribal physical fatigue, and a strong psychological will can make him unable to cause any real mental fatigue.
Rupert, for one, could make real hay here since Jon, in terms of maturity, must remind him a lot of troubled teens the big man works with in real life. Rupert, because of his high profile in challenges, should know that he’s an immediate target when the merge moves tribal challenges to individual contests. The big guy also should pick out some other physically weaker members (maybe Trish, Michelle, and Christa, given backgrounds which suggest some intellect, and with Sandra out because of her known antipathy to Jon) to isolate Burton and Shawn. He could form a dyad with Jon to compete with the other males, bring the selected females in to make a five-person group, and will have a strong chance to survive to the final five. If he gets there, he then has to figure out how to bring Jon with him to the final two.
Also revealing strategically was Drake’s internal debate about taking the presumed only cooking vessel when they had a chance to grab a Morgan item after winning the reward challenge. Christa showed the wrong attitude by agonizing over whether they should deprive Morgan of the ability to boil water. WWBD? Well, Brian Heidik probably would not have spent a microsecond letting emotion get in the way of strategic game play. Again, Rupert showed in his comments that he understood that if you can’t commit to total war, you have no business fighting it.
So, the cauldron of future conflict, filled with strategic opportunities, continues to boil at Drake while Morgan, with no pot to use to boil, inexpertly grapples to get off of life support.
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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