Survival Tactics – Tony’s F9 Flip and Spencer’s use of minority votes

s28 - logo I’ve been a fan of Survivor since Season 1 was airing. I took a long break (from Season 5 to Season 23) from the show but when I picked it up again, I found not only a renewed interest but a totally different appreciation for the game. When I was watching Seasons 1 to 4, it was a show to me. Now, I see it as a difficult game with actual strategies applied to it. I’ve told a friend of mine, another Survivor fan, that I view each season trying to take away lessons on how to play the game. I’ve also been wanting to write about Survivor, but I’ve never pulled the trigger for two reasons – one, I don’t think I know Survivor as much as other people, and two, there’s never been a good enough topic to talk about that someone else hasn’t already covered. Episode 8 of season 28 has not one, but two topics that I think is great to discuss, the first of which is Tony’s flip at Final 9.

s28 - final nineNine players left in the game (from left to right): Jeremiah, Spencer, LJ, Trish, Tony, Woo, Jefra, Kass, and Tasha.

Tony’s move – a Good one or a Bad one? There are nine players left in the game at this point, six of which are in the majority alliance:

  • Tony
  • Trish
  • Woo
  • LJ
  • Jefra
  • Kass

In the minority are the following three:

  • Spencer
  • Tasha
  • Jeremiah

Let’s assess Tony’s alliance real quick:

  • There’s LJ and Jefra, originally from the Beauties tribe and is very likely to be a tight pair.
  • There’s Trish, originally from the Brawn tribe with Tony. She’s supposed to be really tight with Tony, but from what we’ve seen so far she’s shown to be quite aligned with LJ as well.
  • We have Woo, originally from the Brawn tribe. He’s not someone that Tony brought into his original alliance, so it’s hard to determine where his loyalties lie.
  • Finally, we have Kass. Originally from the Brains tribe, she was the one who flipped away from the opposing alliance to give Tony and co. the majority.

After getting four votes from the minority alliance during the previous Tribal Council, Tony probably realized that it would be easy for someone in his alliance to take him out if they wanted. Let’s say that LJ moved first – he could take Jefra and/or Kass and form an alliance of five/six with Spencer, Jeremiah, and Tasha and take control of the game. Even if LJ doesn’t make that move (he didn’t), he could wait until final seven and take Jefra, Trish, and one remaining minority player (maybe Tasha or Jeremiah) and vote out Tony. LJ could do that at final five/six with Jefra, Trish, and one other remaining player. That’s just LJ – I can see Trish making those same moves given her bonds with LJ and Kass.

s28 e9 - LJ soloLJ was a legitimate threat to Tony’s game.

Before the vote last episode, LJ suggested that they split their six votes between Spencer and Jeremiah to force a tie in case one of them played a Hidden Immunity Idol. Taking advantage of an opportunity, Tony asked the minority alliance to vote out LJ, and with a lie about how LJ wanted to blindside him, Tony was able to get Woo to vote for LJ too. Was that a good move?

s28 e9 - tony and wooA fist bump to seal the deal – will this move put an abrupt end to Tony’s and Woo’s game?

First, let’s take a look at what happened immediately after, and what each one is probably thinking:

  • Trish, Jefra and Kass were surprised. They probably felt betrayed by Tony, especially Jefra who is LJ’s closest ally.
  • I’m not sure where Trish’s loyalty would lie especially now that LJ’s gone – would she still trust Tony?
  • This should have been a good wake up call for Kass – if Tony did that to LJ, someone who’s been with them since the swap, what makes her think that Tony’s going to be loyal to her?
  • Woo is probably as tight with Tony as he could get. What’s going to happen if he finds out (maybe from Trish) that Tony lied/was wrong about LJ?
  • The majority alliance now only has a two person advantage over the minority. If Jefra and Kass flip, there will be another shift in power which could spell doom for Tony.

So no, I don’t think it was a good move at all. I understand why Tony is threatened by LJ, but his move just caused several different problems for him.  What would have been a better move, then? If I were in Tony’s shoes, I would have formed an alliance within an alliance and ride that alliance of six as far as it could take me. I would have found people that would commit to taking me to the end:

  • A final four pact with LJ, Trish, and Jefra sounds good. Within that pact, a side deal with Trish and Jefra to take LJ out at final four because he’s a threat to win the game.
  • A final four pact with Trish, Woo, and Kass would work as well, with a final three of Trish, Tony, and Woo taking out Kass at final four. The only problem here is convincing Trish to take out LJ at final five or six.

Sometimes, not making any moves (and preventing people in your alliance from making any moves) is a move on it’s own. Riding the final six is a viable strategy, especially since we’ve seen players like Boston Rob, Kim Spradlin, and Coach successfully employ it.

s28 e9 - tribal councilAnother “Cagayan blindside” at tribal council.

I’ll give Tony some credit though – strategies rely on specific skillsets. The move I outlined above may not be viable for Tony’s personality and strengths. In a vacuum, Tony’s flip at final 9 was not the best move but it might have been the best move for a player like Tony. It remains to be seen if this will win Tony the game or be the start of his downfall.

Spencer’s use of minority votes – underrated

Early on, I’ve been a fan of Spencer and his gameplay. He’s vocal and visible without taking on any leadership roles, he gets along with the majority, is willing to say what people want to hear most of the time. He always has his eyes on the end game without taking his fingers off the pulse of the current situation, and while his game hasn’t been perfect, in my opinion he’s been handling his situation better than most of the other players this season. With that said, I’ve been taking a look at all of Spencer’s moves and I’m quite shocked at how very little credit he got for telling his minority alliance to vote for Tony.

s28 e7 - immunity challengeWinning immunity isn’t the only thing that Spencer did in Episode 7.


So this is what happened – last episode, with only four votes against the majority’s six, Spencer told his alliance to vote for Tony in case he does something stupid at Tribal Council. Well, Tony didn’t do anything stupid at Tribal, but seeing those four votes definitely got those wheels turning in his head. The eventual result? LJ gets voted off instead of another player in Spencer’s alliance.

I’ve never put much value in where the minority votes are directed, but seeing how things are turning out this time around changed my perception. Just think about this – would Episode 8 play out this way if Spencer and co. voted for Kass, Jefra, LJ, or even Woo? Tony’s confessionals just serve as proof as to how those votes spooked him out badly, and his resulting moves are going to give Spencer some space to maneuver.

As I said earlier, I’ve been watching Survivor seasons, paying attention to different moves and strategies. With these two episodes, I can say that minority votes should not be taken for granted. Even if you’re in the minority, there’s an off chance to create opportunities if you direct your votes toward people who won’t be able to handle the thought of being voted out of the game.


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Filed under S28, Survivor

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