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What Vanuatu Survivors Should Have Learnedby David Bloomberg -- 09/17/2004
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This is the eighth edition of an article looking ahead to what Survivor contestants should have known before they set foot on the airplane that would take them away from the life they knew and to the life given to them by Mark Burnett. Each time, players have more history to draw on as far as how they should play the game – and how they shouldn't – and thus this article gets modified appropriately. So it's time to bring us all up to date and take a look at what the contestants on Survivor: Vanuatu should have learned by the time they got there.
While the first run of the show had different people with vastly different ideas about what would be going on – some thinking it would be all fun and games (such as Jenna L.) while others actually playing to win (such as Rich, Rudy, and Susan) – players should definitely know better by now. For example, players should not act like Colby did and decide that his friendship with Tina was worth more than a million dollars – in fact, that decision earned him a Reality TV Hall of Shame Moment. This game is about winning a million dollars, and people should be playing to win that prize.
In the first series, the best player ended up with the prize (and was our first inducteed into the Reality TV Hall of Fame). It could be argued that Tina was the best player of Survivor 2, though she attributes much of it to luck, and there is some cause to do so, though there is also plenty of reason to attribute it to her skills at dealing with people (which is why she was also inducted into the Hall of Fame). Luck has shown its face in other series as well, and even Sandra, who won the most recent “regular” series, said it played a huge role for her. But the effects of luck can be minimized, and that's what this article is all about.
Survivor: Africa saw some people revert to the cluelessness of the first series, owing mostly to those who admitted they had not paid much attention to the first two. Ethan, the winner, said that he watched the previous series; Silas, who lost, said he hadn't. There is a big hint in that – but is it a hint everybody knows?
Survivor: Marquesas showed us how to lose. You lose by showing your hand and practically daring anybody to go against you. You lose by being obnoxiously lazy. Much of the reasoning behind Vecepia's win stems from the irrational anger of several members in the Rotu 4 alliance who were tossed out by Neleh and never forgave her for daring to want to win the game herself. We did see that you can win by making whatever alliances are necessary – even if you need to switch them at a moment's notice. But in the end, it goes back to the Rotu 4.
Survivor: Thailand showed us that even people who read these rules and try to follow them, like Shii Ann did (and she even quoted them in her final words!), have to also remember to expect the unexpected. Shii Ann did exactly what she should have if the situation had been as everybody thought it was. But the producers pulled a fast one on them. Shii Ann was toast. It also showed that a master of strategy like Brian can still win (which is why, you guessed it, he is in the Hall of Fame) – though it sometimes takes a creative way of looking at the way to do so. By making several individual alliances, Brian set himself up to either succeed wonderfully or fail horribly (if the others talked to each other and realized what he was doing). His skill allowed him to do the former. In All-Stars, Boston Rob tried to be the next Brian and almost pulled it off. But he was dealing with (former) friends, which made it somewhat more difficult.
Survivor: The Amazon showed us that the best player doesn’t always win. Rob Cesternino was one of the best Survivor players ever. And I’m not just saying that because he read these rules and played accordingly. But in the end, he was foiled because he was too much of a threat to Jenna. He lost because he couldn’t stay on the beam longer in the final immunity challenge. While most of the game is mental, there is definitely still a physical aspect, and Jenna beat him using it. This series also showed us what can happen when you try Brian’s strategy of promising different things to different people and they talk to each other, as Deena did just that, according to Rob in an interview with RNO, and she ended up getting the boot for it.
Survivor: Pearl Islands showed us once again that you can have the best plan in the world, but if you can’t survive the final immunity challenge, it just doesn’t matter – it happened to Jon just as it happened to Rob in the previous series. As mentioned earlier, Sandra herself admitted, in her interview with RNO, that luck played a major role. But she did have some strategy in her willingness to sell her vote as long as it wasn’t her. It wasn’t terribly satisfying to most fans of strategy, but it won her a million dollars. Still, there was nothing to prevent anybody else from doing the same thing to her.
Finally, All-Stars showed us a few things, though much of what went on there has to be taken with a grain of salt because it was a special edition and almost everybody knew everybody else. As mentioned earlier, it showed that the Brian Heidik strategy of promising different things to different people can still work – or at least get you to the Final 2 – you just have to play it right.
Anybody who wants to be on the show needs to know a few things to survive. In previous cases, hunting, fishing, and making fire were downplayed – though still important. In Survivor: Marquesas, there were no rations and true survival skills should have risen in importance. However, as we saw with Hunter's removal, that wasn't necessarily the case. Once again, on Vanuatu, there will be no food provided, so survival skills could be an issue. Still, as I said above, while physical skills can be important, the mental game is what allows a player to make it to the end. It depends a lot more on how each person gets along with their fellows than whether or not they can make fire by rubbing two sticks together. If there was any doubt about this, the results of Amazon should lay them to rest. Matthew was definitely a more physical “survivor,” but the jury voted for the better player. As Rob Cesternino said in his aforementioned interview, “I think the strategic part of the game is the most important. Even though the physical part of the game is important, these are not X-games. This is the most amazing strategic game ever created and that's where the fun in the game lies.”1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Next-->
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