Survivor gameplay: Is Ghost Island living up to its potential?

Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2018 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2018 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

Survivor is offering up a spooky new twist that promises to be a game changer. But is Ghost Island living up to the hype or destined to be another mistake?

Survivor: Ghost Island shot out of the gate with a refreshingly new cast comprised of true fans of the show who have not wasted a second of time playing the game they love. Week after week, the castaways have set their sights on each other, resulting in big moves and blindsides that keep us on our toes. However, the players seem to be flubbing on one of the biggest twists of the season: Ghost Island.

Ghost Island was introduced as a new component of Survivor gameplay, offering the winning tribe a chance to send a member of the losing tribe the island haunted by mistakes of Survivor past. Once on the island, the exiled player must smash an urn and receive a note either inviting them to play a game or dashing their dreams of finding an advantage. For those lucky enough to get the go-ahead, the castaway can either opt to play a game of chance – where he or she can earn an advantage or lose their vote at the next Tribal Council – or forego the game and avoid the risk.

The Ghost Island motif started off as an interesting twist that offered up a new outlet for the strategically savvy players. The first three weeks of Ghost Island upped the ante by allowing the player sent to the eponymous island to sit out of tribal council, meaning they were safe from the vote. However, the following weeks saw the players sent to Ghost Island after the Reward Challenge but returning to compete in the Immunity Challenge and the subsequent Tribal Council.

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Without the promise of safety, Ghost Island seems to lose some of the power it promised to have. Add on top of that the recent trend of the winning tribe allowing the decision to be made by a random rock draw and the twist seems to be falling flat. As a group of players who obviously know their stuff when it comes to the game of Survivor, I would expect them to take advantage of the strategic opportunities afforded to them by Ghost Island.

Now that a solid number of castaways have seen what Ghost Island has to offer, sending the right person can have an enormous benefit or pose a big problem if the wrong player gets their hands on an advantage. Take, for example, if after the first tribe swap your ally ends up on the opposing tribe, it would be to your benefit for your ally to be the one sent to Ghost Island and have the chance to earn an advantage. Obviously, many factors play into making any decision on Survivor, but true gamers will understand the potential Ghost Island has.

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Granted, we are still in the early stages of the game, and there is still a lot of time for Ghost Island to become the powerful tool I believe it can be. With the promise of another tribe swap and the upcoming merge, the power dynamics will be shaken up, and Ghost Island could become the stomping ground for #BigMoves. Fingers crossed that this is the case and an already great season of Survivor will become even more compelling.