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Thread: The Survivor Guy, Week 3: Foot-in-Mouth Disease

  1. #1
    Leo
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    The Survivor Guy, Week 3: Foot-in-Mouth Disease

    Wittingly or not, the editors of Survivor gave us armchair analysts a theme this week. There was little good strategy to be found this time; instead what we found was an abundance of people making the cardinal mistake of blabbing their mouths when they shouldn't have. Even if what they were saying was indeed the truth, there is such a thing in this game as being too frank.

    The best and the worst: Fei Long is really an interesting tribe. You've got the season's premiere physical threat (James), and at the same time you've got what the most pathetic physical performer we've seen in a while in Courtney. The same goes for strategy: some good ones (Todd, Amanda, and maybe Aaron) and the truly abysmal (Jean-Robert and Leslie). One thing is for sure: this tribe got interesting all in a sudden.

    Let's start with the big white whale, also known as Jean-Robert. He's not as alone as we would have believed from last week, based on his conversation with James the two may well be semi-aligned, with Denise a possible alliance member as well. However, that does not mean he's quite of the woods yet. Far from it. All that means is that when he goes down, he might well take his alliancemates (if any) with him in the long term. He is definitely outspoken, but that translates to "annoying" as well. Let's not even mention the foolishness in broadcasting your strategy when your opponent is listening. Genius, ain't he? Again, those qualities might be useful on a casino floor, but not in Survivor. Where does "pissing off you tribe" in a game where your tribemates are the one in control of your destiny fit?

    From a beached whale, let's go to the walking famine victim, Courtney. If we didn't know any better, we'd say she deliberately threw that challenge. She was that bad. Had Leslie not mouthed off, she would probably have gone home. The big if when it comes to her is, when will Fei Long next go to tribal council? The sooner it is, and if Courtney was very much responsible (like she was this time) for their defeat, then Courtney will be in the hot seat. If, however, Fei Long can pull off at least one (and, ideally, more than one) immunity challenge win, then Courtney could well go further than anyone thinks. People will think, "oh, she's an easy target, we'll dump her later", then all of a sudden it's final six or so and they'll think "who is this skeleton walking beside us?", and by that time considerations about who you want beside you in the final two becomes paramount. Courtney might will be ideal final-two material.

    "Credit" for this can go to Todd. He seems to be living up to what we expected of him. Namely, he would start plotting early and hard. While he's in a good position right now, we think he's doing serious damage to his reputation come merge time. He didn't need to target Jean-Robert specifically; the whale would have gotten harpooned soon enough. However, by choosing to target Jean-Robert so specifically - even if he didn't pull the trigger this week - will expose him as the plotter that he is. He didn't have to do that. To us, all you need to do this early in the game is find yourself a good, stable "core" alliance of three, and figure out who else you can add to make a wider alliance of around four or five, if you can do that. He already had his "core" group with Amanda and Aaron. Once you've done that, you can more or less relax and slow down your plotting until the merge. People tend to remember who was responsible for boots, and you do not want the tag of "conspirator in chief" heading into the merge. Once tribal lines cease to be a factor - and with neither Fei Long or Zhan Hu being united, it could be quite soon after the merge - Todd will be gone. He's making himself too much of a known threat.

    The last person to consider on this tribe is James. Like Todd, he's largely performing as we expected. His physical game would always be outstanding, but his social game is even more suspect than we thought. Conspiring out loud with Jean-Robert, of all people, was moronic. We're not convinced he really understands Survivor as a game, either: his comment about being the only one who had read a survival guide may be seen as an indication that he looks at it as a survival game, not a social one. He needed to form an alliance with someone who is reasonably trustworthy (read: not Jean-Robert or Todd) to make it long past the merge. While James will be entirely safe until then, he's headed for serious trouble and might be out very soon after that.

    My eyes! My eyes!: Spare a thought for the poor fellows doing the editing this year. The nudity quotient seems to have been taken up a notch - and, unfortunately, the people doing it are the ones that aren't exactly pleasant to look at. Egads. More to the point, why in the world would they want to go naked? It can't be all that comfortable having your dangly bits out there, can it? Inquiring minds want to know. On second thought, maybe not.

    Mad leadership skillz: Over at Zhan Hu, the (mis)reign of King Dave continues. Don't confuse the fact that Zhan Hu won both challenges with any particular leadership skills from Dave. The reward challenge victory was entirely due to the women - Denise was amazingly useless, and Leslie isn't exactly a pillar of strength either. As for immunity, that was entirely due to Courtney's ineptitude with a machete. (Note, too, that despite that, Fei Long wasn't that far behind.)

    Make no mistake: he's still on the hot seat if they lose. He can't exactly claim something along the lines of "I'm too strong to be voted out", not with both Frosti and Erik in the picture. Unless someone throws in a Courtney-like performance next week, he's still gone if they lose immunity.

    The only interesting strategic tidbit from Zhan Hu comes from Leslie. She thought she might have an alliance with both Eric and Jaime because they were both Christian. Take it to the next level of thinking: do they have an alliance of their own already? We'd be shocked if they didn't. It would make good strategic sense - and the rumors of a showmance give this alliance even more credence. If they are allied, they're playing it very smart: they've found their core alliance, they're keeping low, they're letting the boots present themselves instead of actively gunning for one. (Todd, are you listening? This is what you're supposed to do, not conspiring just for conspiring's sake.) I would not be surprised to see at least one of them - or perhaps both - go far.

    Have they learned nothing?: You'd think people on the 16th season of Survivor would at least be familiar enough with the rules so they wouldn't bite them in the rear. So what in the world happened to Fei Long? By sitting out Courtney in the reward challenge, they had to use her in immunity. Oops. Which is more important, immunity or reward? Given that it was pretty clear that she is a weak link, challenge-wise, why didn't they use her in the less important reward challenge instead? Did these people actually watch the show before going to China?

    The hardest thing is to do nothing: As you might have guessed from our bits on Todd and Eric/Jaime, we have a very firm opinion on the proper strategy is pre-merge. The short version is: find one or two people you can really trust, form what I call a core alliance with them. If you can - but it's not essential - form a broader alliance with a few more people (ideally, floater types) to take into the merge. All alliance members should try to stay out of trouble - don't fail at challenges, work reasonably hard around camp, don't give the rest of the tribe a reason to consider you a possible boot. You don't try to go after anyone specifically for deep, long-term, strategic reasons; instead you let the short-term situation dictate targets. Go after challenge failures, bad leaders, and the sort. If this strategy can be summed up in two sentences, they would be: Don't overthink yourself. Do the obvious thing.

    There are a couple of reasons why we like this strategy. Trying to vote someone out now for reasons that only pay off far down the road is foolish; the game of Survivor is so fluid you can't plan for the long term. This is especially true pre-merge. If this sounds like an under-the-radar strategy, to some degree it is. Playing under-the-radar is a valid strategy (despite how many Survivor fans dislike it), and the one area where it is particularly potent is pre-merge. Lay down a good foundation for your mid-game strategy, but don't do too much right up front.

    There are three people in particular who we think are doing something close to this: Amanda on Fei Long, and the pair of Eric and Jaime on Zhan Hu. They all have that small, core alliance we talked about, and I would not be surprised if Eric and Jaime have already brought in Frosti and Sherea into some sort of wider alliance. Amanda, meanwhile, has her own main alliance with Todd and Aaron. They're all working hard (or, at least, hard enough not to be called out), set themselves up so they won't have to go to the merge without a firm partner (James, in particular, is a good example in this season of this very problem), and they're won't be regarded as big enough threats to go out soon after the merge. It's not a bad place to be game-wise. We'll make a very early prediction: at least one of the final two will come from this group of three.

    Is this mike on?: As we know from her biography, Leslie is a talk show host. One of a talk show host's worst fears has to be saying something amazingly stupid while they think they were off the air, when in fact they were still live. In effect, that's what happened to her.

    For whatever reason, she wasn't quite able to form a connection with her tribemates. Whatever the cause, she ended up already down in the social game long before the reward and immunity challenges. Then, of course, she compounded that mistake by being a tad too truthful. She had a point in what she said about Zhan Hu having more heart than Fei Long. It's fair to say they wanted the win more - losing three straight will do that to a tribe. As for her insights on Zhan Hu's tribe life, well, King Dave must have been on his best behavior. Even when she was right, though, she said it in a way that made everyone doubt her loyalty. There is nothing more deadly to a Survivor player than to be considered disloyal. Ultimately, that's what did her in: she was too upfront about what she was saying, and didn't realize what kind of impact it would have on her tribemates. She's a nice enough person in real life, we're sure, but real life and Survivor are miles apart. You can't behave in one the way you would in another.

    You'd think Leslie would have learned something in the past five and a half years of applying Survivor, wouldn't you? We like reader mail - send it to us via PM!

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    Premium Member canuckinchile's Avatar
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    Re: The Survivor Guy, Week 3: Foot-in-Mouth Disease

    Let's start with the big white whale, also known as Jean-Robert.
    This guy is lucky to still be around, IMO. And I agree, only Courtney is probably more at risk, if she doesn't pick up her challenge game.

    Thanks for the analysis Leo, and hopefully they win some clothes in a reward challenge!

  3. #3
    Endlessly ShrinkingViolet's Avatar
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    Re: The Survivor Guy, Week 3: Foot-in-Mouth Disease

    Thanks for an insightful and thoroughly entertaining article, Leo! I was cracking up while reading it, and you really outdid yourself with the wit.
    Let's start with the big white whale, also known as Jean-Robert.

    From a beached whale, let's go to the walking famine victim, Courtney.

    He didn't need to target Jean-Robert specifically; the whale would have gotten harpooned soon enough.

    More to the point, why in the world would they want to go naked? It can't be all that comfortable having your dangly bits out there, can it? Inquiring minds want to know. On second thought, maybe not.

    Mad leadership skillz: Over at Zhan Hu, the (mis)reign of King Dave continues.

  4. #4
    everything under the sun lopevian's Avatar
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    Re: The Survivor Guy, Week 3: Foot-in-Mouth Disease

    That was excellent, Leo! Thank You.
    I think everything the "big white whale" does, including nap, is calculated.

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    Re: The Survivor Guy, Week 3: Foot-in-Mouth Disease

    I disagree. I feel like Jean Robert thinks hes a good player when as of now it does not appear that way

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