Thursday, February 14, 2013

Survivor: Caramoan Episode 1 Thoughts and Best/Worst Plays of the Show

Some thoughts after a pretty good first episode of Survivor: Caramoan (Fans vs. Favorites 2)...

General thoughts on the twist

The Fans vs. Favorites twist produced one of the best season ever (#3 in my most recent rankings), so going back to it was a no-brainer. With that said, without Erik's giving up of the immunity necklace, we'd have a much different thought about it. Erik likely would have won thanks to an immunity run, and superfans would have been frustrated that strategy didn't win out. It's also forgotten how much the fans deferred to the favorites. This season we could be headed down the same road.

A lot of smart people (see the Rob Has a Podcast podcast) think that the fans need to be intermingled with the favorites as soon as possible, in order to produce the best TV. I think that the better game would occur if the favorites and fans do not get intermixed until much later.

One of the reasons that the fans end up deferring to the favorites is because they haven't had that much experience playing the game and actually surviving on the island. The longer they play, the more confident they get in their survival and Survivor skills. This gives them more confidence to stand up against the favorites. As well, it lets the fans build more stable alliances, which they would be more likely to keep than after 6 days.

The one major danger with my proposal is that we would probably end up with another Pagonging situation if we go into a merge with equal fans and favorites. Of course, if there are more favorites and fans, you still get to see the favorites manipulate the fans in the same way that you would if they were integrated early in the game. The only difference is that the fans would actually hold some power, presumably being swing votes in a favorites power struggle.

The problem with being a fan

The fan complex was best exemplified by Matt after the reward challenge. The fans had just been beaten very handily by the favorites, with the favorites showing that they are actually more dominant physically than the fans. What does Matt do? Laugh in amazement that he is playing with these favorites. As I said above, the fans haven't had much of a chance to adjust to actully playing Survivor. If they continue with the "I can't believe I'm playing" attitude, they are going to get destroyed. It's also something that will end up favoring the immunity threats - I can see Reynold doing well because of this very reason - he's strong enough to continue on until a merge, then he can start winning individual immunity.

One thing that will hurt Reynold is his lack of awareness of his cuddling situation. He was smart to target Allie as an alliance partner; his read on her being not as noticable was pretty strong. But then he decided to start a showmance with her and get a little more frisky at night, and everybody notices this. You have to be extra aware of what you are doing on both sides. The favorites have seen most everything before, so they know what to look for. But the fans also know what to look for; they are fans for crying out loud! They pay attention to everything on the show and know all of the key things to look for as well!

There's also something to be said for not arguing strongly in the early going, unless you know that everybody else is on your side. In the case of Matt, he chose to fight with Shamar over whether fire or shelter was more important. Shamar came across like he was in the right because it wouldn't be that hard to last one night while sleeping on the beach. Not getting water would be much worse for them. And as an added bonus, Shamar gets to be the hero when he creates fire. Matt is lucky that Michael threw him a lifesaver and offered a floater alliance to him.

The problem with being a favorite

The favorites are in a better situation than the fans. They are more experienced, so it is easier for them to adjust and get going quickly. They know how to handle victory and defeat. And they know what did and did not work the last time they played and can adjust accordingly. This last advantage is a double-edged sword though.

You can know what your weaknesses are, but you don't necessarily know how much you have to do to correct it. So there's a chance that you will overcorrect and end up blowing your game. Take Francesca, for example. She knew that her problem last time was being in a minority alliance and getting picked off. This time, her approach was to create an alliance with everybody and then she woudl be good. However, she seemed to think that as soon as she got the alliance agreement from everybody, she was done. That left Dawn and Andrea questioning their alliance, as Francesca wasn't talking game enough, and ended up leading to her eventual torch snuffing.

Phillip also fell into the same problem. He looked good initially, realizing that you want to run the alliance but not appear to be running it. And he started out fine, but lost his way when he talked to Erik. It was a mismash of passive/aggressive positioning and awkward attempts to pretend like he wasn't running an alliance, which Erik saw through immediately, going so far as to call it a Boston Rob strategy. Phillip might have won the day, but the war is very much in doubt.

There's also your previous experiences working against you. Even though there has been no indications about a hidden immunity idol, Francesca came up with a scheme to split votes to guard against a hidden immunity idol that didnt' exist, and would have ended with her getting voted out. Brandon starts to get paranoid about Mikayla Andrea, and so he and Erik come up with a plan to instead vote out Andrea without telling Cochran (who would be a member of their alliance.) The best way of acting woudl be to keep things simple and to vote out whoever they wanted to go (Phillip, Corrine, Andrea, Jeff Probst, whoever.) But instead they over complicated the plan and could have screwed themselves over.

They weren't screwing around with the challenges

A reward challenge minutes after arriving on the island which is basically tackle football? Check. An immunity challenge that involves going up and down a 4 story structure? Check. If this is an indication what to expect for the challenges this year, I'm looking forward to it.

If anyone has a hidden immunity idol...

Did anybody see any hidden immunity idol clue or other reference to it prior to Francesca bring up the possible existance. Maybe this year isn't going to be that big of a year for hidden immunity idols?

It isn't just important to have impressions of others, it is important to know what impression others have of you.

 - Laura on Michael (paraphrased) "He's looking around and you can tell that his is very observant. He's a strategist like me and maybe we can work together."
 - Michael on Laura (paraphrased) "She looks like she's 18. What is she doing here?"

Making opinions of other players is important. But even more important is knowing what others think of you. It's a poker skill of sorts, being aware of the personality and habits that you are projecting to others, but an essential one. Without it, you end up in trouble. That Laura example is one. A bigger one was Corrine and Francesca. Corrine I'm sure thought that everything was fine between her and Francesca, but Francesca took her silence on talking game to be out of character, and caused Francesca to distrust Corrine and lobby for her ouster. That could have been disasterous.  It also works for Francesca not knowing that her lack of discussion of game with Andrea and Dawn would make her a possible target.

Best play of the week:

Michael's decision to talk to Matt and tell him that he was willing to work with him to determine what the best path was for the both of them was great. You pull in somebody who will now be loyal to you, and you give yourself options. Do you want to work with the Showmance 4? No problem. Think they might be a threat? Vote one of them out. And you can still manuever after that, as your 2 plus the minority 3 would then become a majority. Giving yourself many options in the early going is an incredibly strong position to be in.

Worst play of the week:

Erik and Brandon's plan to switch the vote at the last possible second to Andrea. If you wanted to create confusion from your alliance and risk a blown vote which ends up costing your alliance, this was a brilliant move. In all other cases, not so much. The worst part is that it was an unnecessary move unless you really thought that keeping Andrea around would mean that she would be able to destroy your alliance. Once you vote out Phillip or Corrine, you have a 6-3 advantage (including Andrea in the 6). You can vote out Andrea on the next vote and still keep a 5-3 majority. And on he next vote, Andrea won't be expecting getting voted out. She'll think that he actions cemented her loyalty. Keep It Simple, Stupid is good advice for most Survivor plays, but it is unbelievably excellent advice in the early going. People are still getting used to each other. There's no point to messing things up and drawing attention to yourself being a paranoid person.

Final thoughts on the booted player:

Francesca was essentially the 11th fan: she wasn't in the game long enough to have any sort of real experience to fall back on, and it showed. She chose the wrong speed for all of her plays: she was fast in the early going, then came to a stop in the middle, before speeding up her game again at the end, trying to plan for something that she didn't really need to. If she ever comes back, she might get a better feel for how the dynamics of the game are.

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Anonymous Abby said...

Apparently, she hasn't learned the first time. She is too smart for her own good and played too aggressively as well.

4:45 AM  

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