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Survivor: China – Advice for the Remaining Eightby Jeffrey Clinard -- 11/14/2007
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I’m back, after a wonderful vacation to Mexico aboard the Dawn Princess. I’d like to thank Brian Towers for filling in these last two weeks; he did a stellar job and allowed me to enjoy my vacation knowing the column was in good hands.
It’s a fact of the game that all alliances must break eventually. What separates the good Survivors from the bad ones is understanding when another player makes the shift from trusted ally to competitor who must go. In the last episode, two separate incidents led me to question the strategic abilities of Todd and Amanda.
The first mistake was keeping Denise in the dark about the vote, particularly after she was excluded from the reward challenge. She went back to camp with most of the former Zhan Hu members, who were looking to recruit a vote. By not being made to feel like she was a part of the alliance by being informed of the plan to vote out Jean-Robert, she should seriously be questioning her position in the alliance.
The second main mistake was to not go after James while they had the chance to blindside him. While I think strength is overrated as an attribute post merge (though it does count for something), the most threatening thing James has is two hidden immunity idols. This gives him an opportunity to brute-force his way through the game like Tom in Palau, using hidden immunity as shields when he isn’t wearing individual immunity. As it stands, there is a strong incentive not to vote for him. However, James is in a position to cut deals using hidden immunity idols; if he’s inclined to change allies, he could always give one to Peih-Gee or Erik to cause the votes to bounce against Todd or Amanda.
The reward challenge used the schoolyard pick-‘em to eliminate somebody up front, which had the desired effect of making somebody feel unwanted. It was Denise, who wasn’t particularly happy at being excluded. The immunity challenge went for a test of balance, with the larger, stronger Survivors being at a disadvantage. Sometimes being small and light is an advantage in challenges, as shown by Courtney’s win.
With eight players left, all players have some chance to improve their positions and go on to win the game. What should they be doing? It’s advice for the remaining eight.
Amanda: The key to your progression is to retain the five votes needed to control the exit of the tribe. It would have been much easier if you had let Denise in on the plan to vote out Jean-Robert, as the original Fei Long bloc would still have no reason to doubt loyalty. As it stands, you’ll have to repair the damage with Denise, or buy Frosti’s vote. I’d suggest the former, as Frosti is a more dangerous opponent when it comes to winning individual immunity.
Courtney: At this point, you have to try to make sure you aren’t slowly losing the game by preparing for some power moves at the end game. Assume three people before the jury; this means you need two strategically weak players at the end. I’d suggest those two people are James and Denise, which means you should target the original Zhan Hu members for now. However, you need to start making the side deals to cut Amanda and Todd out of the tribe a few votes down the line.
Denise: Not being picked for the reward challenge tells you one thing, but not being informed of the Tribal Council is quite another. Simply put, you aren’t a part of the core alliance, which means you need to start looking at people outside your alliance for support. There are two ways to do that. The first way is to hook up with Courtney and James and undermine Amanda and Todd when the Zhan Hu members are gone. The other way is to talk with James about jumping ship and joining the remaining Zhan Hu members against Courtney, Todd, and Amanda after you vote one of them out at the next Tribal Council. Whatever decision you make, you need to make it soon or you’ll slowly lose the game no matter what happens.
Todd: You can’t ever make the mistake of not telling a member of your voting alliance who the target is, no matter how unimportant they are. Survivors who alienate people in their alliance often find out that they retain no loyalty and may consider other options. You need to keep the loyalty of James and Denise for another round, or at least keep Frosti voting with you. As it stands, you’ve considerably weakened your position as you showed a willingness to abandon your allies. At this point, you need to target a former Zhan Hu member, probably Peih-Gee, and accept you probably can’t get rid of James in the foreseeable future.
Frosti: You are in a sticky position as you are the odd person out of all sides. In addition, you’re an athlete in a compact form. That makes you dangerous. Your way out is to either sell your vote to the former Fei Long members and see if the conditions are ripe for a shift when there are seven, or to see if Denise and James are open to the idea of voting with the former Zhan Hu members. In either case, you need to ensure you’re part of a group which needs a swing vote you can provide.
Erik: You have some problems, as it takes five votes to control the exit. That means you have to find two unhappy Fei Long members to vote with the Zhan Hus, or simply work to survive the next vote and see if there is an opportunity at seven. In either case, you need to approach Denise and James and plant the idea they are the low men on the totem pole. If you make it through the next vote, you’ll have an easier time selling them on the idea of a coup as it only takes four votes to control the next elimination.
Peih-Gee: You’ve been given a short reprieve, but you are probably still the next target unless you can swing a few votes. You should at a least try to work out a deal with Denise and James, as that is your best defense against the vote. If you can’t, you might try to see if you can shift the vote to Frosti based on his ability to win challenges; Erik, if you can figure out a good argument; or even James based on the fact he has two immunity idols and a blindside vote eliminates them from play. If all else fails, you’ll probably have to win immunity.
James: In the future, I’d take my bag to Tribal Council, as you might learn things there that make you feel you need to play one of your hidden immunity idols. You have a powerful position as you have the two idols, and you have to make a decision who you can win the game against. Your best bets are against people without strong strategic play, like Denise and Courtney. Suggest the final-three deal, but be prepared to play a hidden immunity idol. You might bluff that you’ll play one next time to ensure your safety. In any case, you need to carefully monitor the other tribe members to try to read if they are attempting to blindside you. If so, use one of your idols.
Jean-Robert: What went wrong? For the most part, the rest of the tribe got sick of you. They no longer thought they needed your vote, and sent you packing as a result.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out these other recent Survivor: China articles here on RealityNewsOnline:
Jeffrey Clinard has been writing about Survivor since it’s second season, and has provided advice for around 200 Survivors. His patronus takes the form of a penguin. He looks forward to attending ice hockey games. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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