As a Survivor fan, it's easy to be the backseat driver. We can easily imagine what it would be like to play the game or how host Jeff Probst and his team could possibly make it better after 20 years on the air. A former Survivor contestant, who was closer to the actual driver's spot, has some ideas to change up the game that I am totally here for.
The changes suggested range from starting with two games of Survivor at once to advantage scavenger hunts. But, Nick Maiorano's idea to “assign a monetary value to fire tokens and prohibit bequeathing” would definitely shake up the game. Fire tokens came heavily into play last season on Winners at War. They were so powerful, in fact, that contestant Natalie Anderson was able to buy advantages that transported her back into the game and into a final spot. Nick Maiorano wrote,
That way, players could cash them in at the season's end. Let's pretend they're $500 each. Could five fire tokens ($2,500) buy a swing vote? Could it buy an idol? Could it buy someone to step down from an immunity challenge? Assigning a real-world value feels imperative for fire tokens to work. Unless you implement a season-long silent auction...
But, not allowing transfer of fire tokens between Survivor players might be too restrictive. In Winners at War, Tony Vlachos had to hustle to get fire tokens because he was in jeopardy of getting booted from the game. He got the tokens (through impressive mind game tactics) and ended up winning the season. It's these do-or-die moments that often make Survivor so compelling. Perhaps, though, it would encourage more risky moves to attain the fire tokens in the first place.
Another intriguing idea by former player Nick Maiorano was to replace the all-important immunity necklace altogether, saying,
In a similar vein, the immunity necklace feels too safe and straightforward nowadays. I would replace the necklace with food, comfort, and/or a secret advantage/idol. Preferably an advantage/idol that has an expiration date such as one or two Tribal Councils. Maybe even give the winner a choice of what item they want. A secret advantage/idol in lieu of the necklace would cause more uncertainty and decision-making.
It is hard to imagine Survivor without the individual immunity necklace, as it has single handedly saved many players from certain eliminations and solidified the huge social power of the game. Replacing it with other hidden rewards, like the hidden immunity necklaces, might propel players to feel less safe without a guaranteed option. It's an improbable change to the game, after being a 20-year staple of the show, but that might be the very reason to get rid of it.
Nick Maiorano also suggested that Survivor should allow finalists to vote. This is another unlikely change to the game because the assumption is that the finalist would, obviously, vote for themselves to win the $1,000,000 prize. Maiorano claimed,
Some finalists, even winners, say they would have voted for their competition to win over themselves. Are some people truly selfless? Are some greedy despite all indications they played an inferior game? Are some players completely delusional? I think these questions need answers. Hopefully, one season there'd be a payoff.
Though this could potentially backfire by the obvious happening, it would be intriguing to see if die-hard Survivor contestants that purport respecting the level of gameplay would truly vote for the deserving winner, even if it weren't them. I mean, imagine Coach making it to the end and being forced to vote between himself and a better player – would he? I don't know, but it would make the final vote read that much more exciting.