Is it harder to win the game of Survivor as a male or as a female? Well that is the main question I’m going to be exploring in the Survivor Brainstorm this week over the course of three separate articles with this one being the first.
This whole idea came to me while watching Sophie Clarke’s final tribal council speech in which she said that she wished she wasn’t a young girl because young girls were at a disadvantage in Survivor. She then went on to call Coach a young girl that she carried through the game (which was hilarious). This got me thinking, what gender is really at a disadvantage in the game of Survivor? I originally wanted to propose that Sophie was right and that men were at a greater advantage in the game, but I have since changed my mind to hypothesize that women are at a greater advantage of the game. That’s right, I hypothesize that women are at a greater advantage in the game of Survivor over men. Maybe they just have more of the tools to naturally be better at Survivor or maybe men need to feel in charge while they can slip under the radar. Whatever it may be that is what I am going to explore in these next three articles. Starting with this one, How To Win The Game of Survivor as a Female.
Effective Game Winning Strategies For Female Players
Attach To The Big Guy and Play To His Ego: (Amber, Natalie W., Sophie)
Amber, Natalie White and Sophie all used this strategy to incredible effect. They each recognized early on in their games that their was a big, brash man that was going to alienate people and not be able to win jury votes. They were subconsciously thinking about the end of the game in the early stages and consciously decided to align with the big man to get themselves to the end of the game. In Amber’s season it was Boston Rob, in Natalie’s season it was Russell and in Sophie’s season it was Coach. Rather than trying to go against that person and be voted out like everyone else who would go against them, they aligned with them, stroked their egos and made subtle moves along the way to build their cases for why they should win. They also made sure to remain in equal or greater control over the game than their male companion, which was absolutely essential in their wins. Amber made all the same moves as Rob and was in large part an equal contributor. Natalie made herself look unassuming to Russell while making social relationships with Galu as Russell alienated them. Sophie let Coach think he was in control while she was really the one that was strategically making the moves. All of these players effectively argued their cases at final tribal council and emphasized why they were really the one’s in control and why they were the one’s carrying their big man rather than the other way around. Natalie Tenerelli and Monica Culpepper used this strategy as well but never made any moves and never had any control over the situation, which is why the were both never going to win. So to effectively use this strategy you absolutely have to have some level of control, which you can maintain by playing to the big guy’s ego. Although this isn’t one of the best ways to win the game, it’s a highly effective one.
Remain Under The Radar: (Vecepia, Jenna, Sandra, Danni, Michele)
Remaining under the radar sometimes can go hand and hand with the attaching to the big guy but it’s a little bit more complex. Instead of just remaining under the radar to your male companion and making him think that you are nowhere near as good as him, you’re doing that to everyone, making everyone think that you are nowhere near as capable as everyone else. They key to remaining under the radar is to always go where the numbers are going and always seem flexible to voting out anyone. Sandra does this perfectly. She’s willing to vote out anyone at any cost as long as it isn’t her and as long as that is where the numbers are going. By doing this, she is able to always stay in the majority, always remain likable and someone that the majority wants to keep around, and she’s able to always take the pressure off of her. By doing this strategy you have to give everyone a reason as to why you are not a threat to win. Sandra was terrible in challenges, possibly the worst ever, but sometimes it almost seems like it’s intentional. Sandra uses the fact that she’s bad in challenges and uses the fact that she’s a mom to make herself look unassuming and non-threatening. Vecepia and Jenna meanwhile would let all of the conflict occur around them while they would bite their tongues and not get involved. They remained open to working with people who back-stabbed them and they never made any real waves to try and show why they were the best. Danni meanwhile, would make incredible social bonds with people while never making herself seem like a strategisy. She made herself so likable that Rafe and Stephanie wanted to vote out everyone else before her, which came back to bit them when she won the final challenge. Danni never gave anyone a reason to see her as a threat, until she won the final challenge, took herself to the end and won 6-1 thanks to never making any enemies and being just an amazingly likable person. Michele is the most recent player to effectively use this strategy, as she switched allegiances at the merge to go with the majority alliance and then managed to escape several votes due to being completely non-threatening. She was also willing to vote off anyone, including her allies Nick and Julia while still managing to remain likable to all. Players like Chelsea Meissner and Sherri Beithman have used this strategy and lost by remaining too under the radar. Meaning they did not make any big moves or even small moves at all to build a resume, while also sitting next to people with far more impressive resumes, including most notably better social relationships. I can’t emphasize how crucial the social game is to effectively playing this strategy, the players who have mastered this strategy did so by remaining likable to all. No one ever had a reason to vote any of these players off because of how good their social games were.
Play The Mother Role: (Tina, Cirie, Denise)
This strategy goes hand and hand with the remain under the radar strategy but is typically used more by older women and usually involves even more social game. Even though you are remaining under the radar by being the unassuming mom around camp, you’re playing into the fact that you’re a mom to get people to trust you and like you. In contrast to the games of Danni, Sandra, and Vecepia; Tina, Cirie and Denise were in powerful positions in the majority rather than at the bottom of the alliance just narrowly scraping through every single vote. These three women used their status as a mom to make themselves look nonthreatening but also remain trusted by all. Each of them were able to connect with each player from their season on a personal and game level. They also worked hard around camp and allowed others to come to them for advice. Tina would empathize with people like Elizabeth and Roger in order to attract them on to her side. Similarly she would sympathize with people like Colby and Keith to get them to stay on her side. Cirie would work hard around camp, remain neutral in all the crazy Casaya fights and even on the odd occasion act as the camp nurse (yes Shane Powers, I’m talking about you). Denise meanwhile allowed herself to be absorbed into the majority alliance by working hard around camp, remaining likable by all and using her size, stature and status as a mom to appear nonthreatening. This also allowed her to win more votes than Skupin and Lisa in the end of the game. Players like Missy and Mama C (Carolyn Rivera) have used this strategy ineffectively by not building enough of a resume to win and not making enough social relationships. The key to playing the mother role like so many other Survivor strategies, is to be sociable with everyone and get everyone to like you.
Post-Merge Explosion: (Parvati, Kim, Natalie A.)
Victims of Natalie Anderson’s post-merge explosion in San Juan Del Sur.
Of the four strategies I have outlined, this is probably the hardest to accomplish. You have to somehow make big moves while still making sure to not become too much of a threat to others. For players using this strategy, you almost want to go to sleep for the pre-merge part of the game. All you want to do is make social relationships and bonds that are going to help you advance yourself in the game and are going to come in handy for when you make your post-merge explosion. At the start of Micronesia, Parvati immediately made an alliance with Amanda, James, Ozzy and Cirie. In One World, Kim immediately banded together the women, particularly Sabrina and Chelsea. In San Juan del Sur, Natalie formed an alliance with Jeremy, Missy and Kelley and remained open to all the different facets of alliances on her tribe. All of these players worked at getting the numbers around them in the pre-merge part of the game to make it easier for them to explode (in a good way), in the post-merge. In the post-merge part of the game, Parvati made a humongous move against Ozzy and was seen as the leader of the Black Widow Brigade alliance in charge of all the rest of the massive blindsides. Kim made incredible moves against Jay, Tarzan, Michael, Troyzan and Alicia before winning challenges on her way to the end. Natalie meanwhile made a hilariously clever move against Alec, before blindsiding Jon and Baylor right in front of the jury’s eyes. The key to the post-merge explosion is to vote people out in a way where you aren’t betraying them, somehow still remain under the radar, and use a tight group of people to help you make these big moves. Another key thing that helps a lot for women is making big moves against men, like all three of these women did effectively. When it gets into a situation where a woman is making big moves against other women it typically gets cattier and tends to be disrespected like Twila in Vanuatu or even Aubry in Kaoh Rong. All of these women would have been immediately targeted had they started to make big moves in the pre-merge part of the game. Very few men have even been able to be effective at having a pre-merge explosion and Tony is probably the only winner. It’s generally not a smart idea. Players who have mastered this strategy were relatively quiet in the pre-merge. They didn’t make big moves, they just worked on developing social bonds and alliances that they could use to help them make their post merge explosion.
Players like Stephanie, Aubry, Twila and Dawn have used this strategy but failed at getting the votes because their allies were left feeling betrayed by the moves they made. The key to performing well with this strategy is to make sure that no one ever feels betrayed by the big moves that you make. It’s hard to please everyone; Kim lost Troyzan’s vote and Parvati lost Ozzy and James’ votes. But, there are several ways in which you can betray people and still get their votes in the end, most notably keeping your social bonds on a game level and backing up your game at final tribal council, emphasizing why it was necessary for you to make the moves you made.
So there it is. Four effective strategies that women can use to win the game of Survivor. But there’s still one more thing to explore. How is this different from males? Well first off if you check out How To Win The Game of Survivor as a Male, you’ll discover that a typical strategy for males is to be the leader of their alliance and go with their allies all the way to the end. So that made me think, can a woman ever be the leader of an alliance and win? That folks is our question of the day.
Question of the Day: Can a Woman ever be the Leader of an Alliance and Win?
Answer: Yes, but it’s something that only two of the greatest women to ever play the game, Kim and Parvati, have managed to do so successfully that they won the game
So, why were Kim and Parvati so successful at being the leader of an alliance when Dawn and Stephanie weren’t? In both Kim and Parvati’s cases they were the leader of an all female alliance. That is the first thing to note, a woman has not ever been able to successfully win the game by being the leader of an alliance that had both men and women, even Parvati in Heroes vs. Villains. More importantly though, what Parvati and Kim did so well that others who have tried have struggled with was keeping their relationships within the context of the game and emphasize why it was necessary to betray certain people so that they could win. But Kim and Parvati also did not betray everyone. They went to the end with people that they did the backstabbing with and they went to the end with people that had less impressive resume’s than them. Dawn also did this by going to the end with Cochran, but Stephanie certainly did not as she went to the end with Danni, someone who hadn’t betrayed anyone.
So why was Dawn unsuccessful? Dawn was the leader of an alliance and made strong moves to eliminate Andrea and Brenda. Her resume was certainly strong, but she fell short. Eight votes short in fact. This was in large part due to the fact that the social relationships Dawn built in the game were on a personal level, not on a game level. This led her allies to feel extremely betrayed when she voted them out. Dawn betrayed every single person that she was aligned with. BUT so did Cochran! So why did Cochran win? Because he kept his relationships to a game level rather than a person level.
Similarly, Stephanie LaGrossa made herself everyone’s best friend and everyone’s number one ally, and then voted every single one of them out except for Rafe on her quest to win. Who was the only person that voted for Stephanie to win? Rafe. In contrast to someone like Jeremy, although a different gender, Jeremy didn’t vote out his strongest allies. He had no hand in getting out Savage or Stephen, he only flipped against Kimmi because Kimmi flipped against him first, and he took his other allies, Spencer and Tasha, to the end of the game with him. This helped him win votes of not just people like Stephen and Savage but everyone else as well as he manages to come across as being a trustworthy and likable guy in the eye’s of the jury and everyone watching at home. In contrast, Stephanie found out that when you make too many promises with too many people that they end up feeling betrayed when you vote them out.
Neither, Stepanie nor Dawn would have won their games by by being the leader of an all-female alliance like Parvati and Kim, and still playing the way they did. This proves once again how important social game is and how important it is to keep relationships on a game level. So to answer the question in a broader sense. The answer is yes, it can be done, but it is so hard to do effectively that you are better off playing in to one of the other strategies if you are a female player. It’s just one of the unfortunate things about being a female player in the game of Survivor.
So that ends my first article of three for this week’s Survivor Brainstorm. Stay tuned for Part’s Two and Three, when I talk about How To Win The Game of Survivor as a Male and then form a conclusion as to whether men or women are more disadvantaged in the game of Survivor.
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