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Strategic Overview of Survivor, Episode 1: Standing Infirmby Jeffrey D. Sadow -- 09/16/2005
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(Some readers may have wondered where my attempts to pick a Survivor winner using statistical methods were earlier this week. Since it was known that two members of a previous cast were returning, I decided that this would contaminate the actual results, not knowing the characteristics of the two plus whatever experiential factors they brought in, so much that I could not model reality. Hence, I joined colleagues here in making picks based on judgment and intuition, published today.)
Often, players of relatively advanced age can go far in Survivor not only because they bring a wealth of experience to the game, but also as other players generally view these senior citizens as non-threatening. They know that if an older player comes with them close to the end, that the player, older with less reserves, after a month or so will be so worn down that this person won’t prove a real threat to win the last, crucial challenges (Kim J and Lil notwithstanding).
However, this kind of contestant, while being able to give off the impression of being carried, cannot allow it to go too far and become viewed as an actual liability. So when Jim showed up at the first tribal council with his arm in a sling, even he knew it was all over for him.
Had Jim suffered a less-severe infirmity, the smart move would have been to dump Blake. The group would not have missed one young buck in a tribe full of them, and Bobby Jon for now brings more to the tribe with his experience (which helps him and Stephenie for now but, close to merge time, will cause their ejections unless they find some good allies and quickly. If, of course, he doesn’t go earlier from the effects of ill health – history shows people who suffer early don’t usually last long, which puts him, Blake, and perhaps Judd in disadvantageous places, creating a natural alliance among themselves).
Interestingly, women clearly dominated this initial episode. Gary, with the most to lose if found out as many of his compatriots will believe he has had his fame and fortune and deserves no more on this show, took advantage of this by hiding behind Stephenie’s pantaloons when possible. He will have a tough time concealing his leadership abilities and athleticism and perhaps should bond up with the middle-aged women to protect them from the majority youngsters.
On Nakúm, by virtue of her background Margaret took charge (a fact not unnoticed by Jim who cast his only tribal council vote against her) as she ministered to the falling men around her. This tribe’s rough introductory period, unless she turns out totally unlikable, will form in her cohorts an impression that she must stay around at all costs, punching her ticket to the merge and possibly beyond. This will turn against her as endgame approaches so she also must find some good allies, possibly among the other females, expeditiously.
While it’s hard to start looking at the strategic aspect of the game from the first episode alone, already these patterns of note have emerged.
If you haven’t already done so, make sure to check out the other Episode 1 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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