Playing Survivor at Game Night

I’m a long-time fan of the TV show Survivor, and yet again I’m impressed and intrigued with how the current season has unfolded. This isn’t the main purpose of this post, but I want to share one interesting thing that’s happened in recent episodes.

I know I’ll never be on Survivor, but I’ve always thought I’d use a specific strategy if I were on the show. On the first day, I’d try to make an alliance with someone who I don’t think I’d get along with. That way it wouldn’t be obvious to our other tribemates that we were in cahoots, and we’d be able to gather information from different alliances throughout our time on the island.

I’ve never seen someone truly infiltrate an alliance on Survivor (at least not that I can remember), but that changed this week. An alliance of 4 people formed, but 1 of them was instructed to continue to vote with a previous alliance. The ploy worked, so after the other alliance was “blindsided,” they continued to trust the person with information and discussions he wouldn’t otherwise have been privy to.

Anyway, I thought that was clever. But the main thing I wanted to mention today is that as I was watching this week’s episode, I thought of an idea for a Survivor-themed game day. I host board game days every few months for friends, and they’re usually not themed–we just get together and play games. But this one would have a twist.

The idea is that I’d put something fun up as a prize (maybe $20 or something small but precious–a kitten?) for the sole survivor. Most of the day would be spent playing games as normal, but at regular intervals, we’d pause to vote someone out of the competition. The vote is superficial–it’s not like the person would be required to leave. They just wouldn’t be in the running for the prize.

In fact, just like on Survivor, the people voted out would be join the “jury”–they would end up voting on the sole survivor once we got down to 2 or 3 people. So they would still be a part of the social game even after getting voted out.

I thought about giving immunity to people when they win a board game, but I think I’d prefer to keep it simple. I think the social dynamics that might result would be interesting enough. Would people plot and scheme? Would they form alliances? What will people do to avoid getting voted out?

What do you think? Would this work? Or would it be the end of all friendships?

18 thoughts on “Playing Survivor at Game Night”

  1. I really like this idea! I think you’d want there to be some sort of ‘activity’ and theme vaguely surrounding the survivor competition just to give context for what people are being voted out for, but I don’t think that could be too hard and the result would be a lot of fun.

  2. Ooh I love things like this. I don’t think on a single game night Alliances will start to form. On a whole weekend I can see a meta-game like this really shine. I want in!

  3. Immediately after reading this post, I killed Adam and Katy (presumed front runners) in anticipation of maybe someday having such a competition. Now I’m ready!

  4. As far as your strategy goes, I think it would definitely work. I’ve seen it done in Big Brother where a young guy secretly paired up with a middle-aged woman. They each had their side alliance and no one else had a clue until the very end. They did well, both making it to the top 3. If you did make it to the show, do you see yourself as a loyal alliance member or a scheming backstabber?

    As far as your idea goes, it sounds really great! Just like Survivor has challenges that rely on several different skill sets, you could make sure to have a wide variety of games: Euros, dungeon crawlers, dexterity games, and party or co-op games if you start out as tribes. I think it would particularly difficult to do with close friends since everyone knows each other and their strengths/weaknesses. You can’t play dumb and lose an early game or 2 on purpose to not seem like a threat and get further in the game… Great idea, Jamey!

    • Charles: That’s neat to hear it worked out in Big Brother!

      If I were on the show, I’d like to think I would establish real trust with people but still make some big moves to give me a chance to win in the end. In reality, I think I’d get a migraine on day 1, get super paranoid, and drift off into the ocean.

        • I was waiting for your Survivor blog post. This weeks double episode was outstanding. Ben did a great job.

          As you refine this game system, you should consider testing out a multiple day version of this at Geekway to the West.

          If I were on the show, I’d be upfront on Day 1 that I was there for the weight loss and not to view me as a threat. I would think I could be a semi-under the radar participant playing a balanced social and physical game.


          I would really like to see a “warrior” season. Preferably all women or all men who are all physical threats. I would like to see how these players would separate themselves when they were all relatively on equal footing physically. Remove the “get rid of the physical threat” aspect and also remove the “all women” or “all men” alliance possibilities that arise in mixed company.

          • Chris: Since Dave mentioned it above earlier today, I’ve been trying to figure out how it might work at Geekway. It may be tough to track down everyone to vote. An app might be required.

            I like the under-the-radar idea involving weight loss! And if you do lose weight on the show and make it to the end, it’s a nice selling point for your final pitch to the jury.

            I’d watch an all-warrior season!

  5. Jamey,

    While I was intrigued with the show when I first saw it…what, 15 years ago?!?!, my interest has waned, but the core concept is clever. As long as people know up front what they’re getting into, I think it would make for an interesting day.


  6. My initial reaction is that this would be tough to pull off at a game day, however after giving it some thought and seeing the ideas of others, sure, let’s give it a try! I like the idea of theming the day around Survivor as a whole, so maybe some team challenges for reward (winners get yummy takeout, losers get rice and coconut flakes just like real Survivor), as well as immunity challenges throughout the day and tribal between games to vote people out.

    Pending Trevor doesn’t off me before we get around to Survivor Day…alliance? 🙂


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