Thursday, February 26, 2015

Survivor: Worlds Apart Episode 1 Thoughts

There's Never A Right Choice

They brought back a variation on the twist they introduced in Survivor Caguayan, where selected players were given a choice of getting a bit of food and a clue to a hidden immunity idol, or a larger amount of food. This time they put in a twist, where instead of one person having to make the decision, they had 2. This changed the dynamic significantly.

In Caguayan, it was one person faced with the decision. That meant that only that person knew the truth about the decision (and actually was the only person aware of what comprised the decision.) This also meant that only one person had the knowledge of what was in the hidden immunity idol clue, and only one person had to keep up a lie. It was almost a no-brainer to choose the smaller amount of food and the hidden immunity idol clue.

By adding a second person to the decision, the thought process shifts significantly. All of the sudden, two people have to remain on the same page and keep up the same story. Considering that this is happenning on day 1, the reward for this choice is far out paced by the risk of having the other person blowig the story. As well, choosing the idol clue puts you into an alliance by default. Both you and the other person know what the clue is, so it only makes sense to team up to look for it and also haave it to use for both people who have the clue. This is especially dangerous because if it turns out that the person who you are tied to is a bad player with a bad attitude, you can't do much. You can't go to the other side and say that you had been lying before about the food received, but now you are telling the truth. All that is going to do is put a larger target on your back. So it is essential that you are partnering with another strong person who has been completely honest with you. Good luck in finding that.

We saw this play out with the No Collar and Blue Collar teams, where they chose the "Honest" box instead of the "Deceive" box. A main part of the reasoning was that there was no reason to antagonize their fellow castaways. But it also gave the players flexibility in that they can play the game as is. Now granted, there was some grumbling that the food they received was too little to be the "honest" selection, but that is much easier to overcome.

The white collar chose to the lesser food and to deceive, which ended up being a predictably disasterous play. The lie they told was found out to be a lie almost immediately, and put the target on So and Joaquin very quickly. Part of that was that the lie was not very believable, but it was also in part because the So/Joaquin pairing just weren't strong enouh players to pull off a move like that. And they also were not strong enough players to recover from their initial appearance of being deceitful. As Max said, he would have made the same choice as well, but he would have come up with a better lie.

I would be curious to see how they vary this twist the next time they run it. They have to swing back to makig the choice more tempting, so maybe the gain for the individual would be greater in some way. Or maybe they would just rn it the same as the first time the twist was run, knowing that the knowledge that the offer was being made would be in the tribes in the first place.

A Comparison Nobody Wants To Be Involved In

So Kim was originally supposed to play in Survivor: San Juan del Sur, but she and her sister were pulled when her sister experienced a medical emergency. Instead, So was put on the Worlds Apart cast. For her troubles, So was the first castaway voted from the game. But is this enough to make her the first boot that you felt most sorry for?

I think she ranks among the first boots that I feel the wort about, along with Franny from Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites 2 and Tina Scheer from Survivor: Panama. But ultimately, I put Tina's boot from Survivor: Pannama as the first boot that I feel the worst about. Franny's boot was kinda amusing in that we have symmetry with Sandra - one person who has won both times she has played the game, and one perso who has been voted out first both times she has played the game. And So just played the game horribly, including putting in a possibly all time terrible performance at Tribal Council.

Tina's story was similar to So, in that Tina was also supposed to play in a previous season (Guatamala), but was pulled at the last second. The difference is that Tina was not pulled because the person she was supposed to play with had a medical emergency; instead Tina was pulled because her son had died. When she played in Panama, you could tell that Tina was still dealing with the grief of her son's passing. It was difficult to watch her pay tribute to her son, especially knowing that she was ultimately destined to be voted out. You couldn't help but feel bad for her, and wish that she wasn't in the position she was in.

The Value of Being a Survivor Superfan

Being a Survivor contestant and a superfan comes with a lot of baggage to overcome. In the early going, it can put a target on your back as you are considered to have more knowledge of the game and thus an advantage over everybody else. But there are times when you need to use that knowledge to your advantage.

When Joaquin and So decided to take the immunity idol clue and thus less beans, they also had to decide how to spin their choice. Joaquin was not experienced in the game, so when So came up with the iidea of saying there were 3 boxes and they chose the "neutral" box, he didn't have the knowledge to disagree. But it was a lie that was doomed to fail, thanks in no small part to Max and Shirin.

The first problem with the lie is that to anybody, it would be difficult to seem plausible. There were 3 choices - honest, neutral and deceive - and neutral only gave a small amount of beans? Did that mean that deceive gave no beans but something else, and honest gave the most amount of beans? And even if that was the case, why the heck would you ever choose neutral?

The second problem is something that a superfan would pick up on immediately. Anytime there is a choice to be made by a Survivor, there is never a mushy middle option. When they ran this in Cayguayan, there were only two options - big bag of food, or small bag of food and an immunity idol clue. When you win a reward challenge, there is always a choice of who you want to bring with you for reward, but somebody isn't getting chosen. In other words, there are always consequences to your choice. Max and Shirin picked up on this immediately, and basically knew that they would have to consider anything So and Joaquin said to be suspicious.

There was also another moment where Max's superfandom came in handy. When he was considering who to vote with, he knew that he had a solid group of three - himself, Carolyn and Shirin. But Max knew that he wasn't in a solid enough position to just vote with Carolyn and Shirin, but instead was in a swing position with Tyler. So he went to Tyler and they both decided which pair they were going to go with.

The upshot of this is that Max put himself in the majority alliance with Carolyn and Shirin, did not alienate anybody in his tribe, and established himself in a power position without being viewed as a significant threat.

I'm deinitely going to have more to say about Max as the season goes on - he is by far the most fascinating player to consider from many different angles. But so far I am impressed by his game play and am looking forward to watching him play more.

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