There’s a distinct possibility that there will be one of 20 former Survivor winners voted out of Winners at War on the first day of gameplay. For real.
One of the greatest Survivor seasons of all-time was Heroes vs. Villains, and the mark of the 10th anniversary of the show started with a bang. The opening challenge for flint saw the Heroes tribe and the Villains tribe face off against each other with a dig for a bag and land it (and themselves) on their tribe mat, earning points for successful grabs. It produced a series of heated physical conflicts and many iconic moments that would set the tone immediately.
What made the Day 1 challenge work was that the stakes were low, but the performances were of a higher caliber, showing you just how much these castaways came to play. It appears as though Survivor: Winners at War aims to recapture that same magic the 10th anniversary season brought with its 20th-anniversary venture, though the in-game stakes might be higher than ever.
As part of Dalton Ross’ EW interview with the challenge producers of Winners at War, discussions came around to how season 40 would have a water-based physical marooning challenge to avoid potential injuries. However, as part of EW’s reveal of the starting tribes, that Day 1 challenge seems to be an Immunity Challenge, as opposed to a Reward Challenge that would make sense for players who haven’t had the opportunity to even talk to one another.
When Edge of Extinction was first introduced in a season so aptly named, it turned an 18-player season into a 20-player one, as it added two extra eliminations into the game. With 20 winners fighting it out this time around, this means we now have, effectively, 22 eliminations to get through over a 39-day cycle, meaning the distance between eliminations should, effectively, be forced to happen more often.
Still, to have an Immunity Challenge before a tribe even has the opportunity to talk to one another is a bit too quick, personally, and the fact that voting deliberations will begin in the players’ minds before arriving at their camp and building their shelter seems too wild. It might be a plan to break up pre-game alliances, but it’s another way that a game twist comes at the loss of social play.