Survivor Sequester Mini FAQ: Helping you understand the game’s rules

Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

Learn the rules of Sequester before the Survivor Sequester Mini on May 23.

As we have covered numerous times on our site, 20 castaways from past seasons will be competing in a Survivor Sequester Mini live on the game’s website on Saturday, May 23. In effect, they will be playing against each other in an online reality game that mixes aspects of different reality competitions, headed up by host and showrunner Audrey Middleton (Big Brother 17 houseguest).

I’ve been getting a lot of questions from our fans about how exactly Sequester works, and it’s hard to explain due to its very flexible, dynamic structure. However, I will provide my best attempt at explaining the format, some expectations for twists, the powers players can obtain within the game, and more.

The basics

At its core, a Sequester Mini competition sees players vote each other out in subsequent rounds over the course of a five to six-hour period. Starting with 18-20 players, they will be randomly assigned to one of five virtual hangout rooms akin to a Zoom meeting, listening to a YouTube stream to hear the host explain the rules of each voting round while their mics remain muted. The players will also introduce themselves at the top with a funny video, explaining fun facts about their life.

Once the rules of the voting round are explained, players can unmute their mics and, usually, can talk to others both in their room and hop around to the other rooms to whip the vote. However, there are hard limits for the number of people that can be in a room, as moderators will force players to stop talking and will halt discussions until enough people leave to reach the room limit.

That kind of dynamic where players hop between virtual rooms presents exciting moments in Sequester, as players can sometimes overhear their own name mentioned by another. That kind of awkwardness sometimes creates sparks, as players will be able to turn things around and potentially save themselves from being targeted.

Once the discussion period is announced, room moderators will ask players to mute themselves as the players send a direct message to the host, Audrey, indicating who they will be voting out. You can vote for yourself, and it is a strategic viability in certain situations.

It is at that voting period that players can play a Locus of Safety (LOS), which is the equivalent of a Hidden Immunity Idol, played anonymously. It can be earned in a specific way announced at the start of the game, but usually involves players being the first to enter their vote or messages Audrey and be the first to spot a visual clue on the host’s stream.

Additionally, at the beginning of certain rounds, Audrey will explain whether or not it is a drag round. If that is the case, whoever is voted out will take someone of their choice with them, adding a wrinkle to the kinds of targets that figures who are actively against each other. It helps speed up the pace of play and becomes integral in the endgame.

In the past, some Sequester Mini games saw some of the first several players come back into the game and compete in a buyback, being tethered to others for several rounds until a clean sweep resets the game. However, it seems as though that aspect has been lessened or completely removed, and I can imagine that will be the case with 20 Survivor players’ time being considered quite valuable.

The Final Nine will begin the jury phase, with the ninth-place finisher becoming the first member of the jury. Players voted out will hang out in a private jury lobby to discuss the game and, once a Final Two has been decided, will approach them one-by-one to ask a question or provide a statement akin to old-school Survivor jury segments. They will then vote to decide a winner, earning the honor and pride that comes with it.

Voting round formats

What makes Sequester Minis dynamic is the fluidity of how people are voted out. Usually, the game starts (or is quite early) with a round where players in each room nominate one player to be put on the voting block. Once those players are selected, then people can hop around as normal to campaign for safety.

There are many “staple” rounds that the Survivor Sequester Mini players should know. A specific number of votes being required is a definite expectation, with rounds like having the lowest number of votes, the highest number of even-numbered votes, and having a threshold of votes to keep the votes a secret (5 to 8) are common.

The game is quite twist-heavy by nature, and rounds like room roulette can be brutal in the eyes of those who don’t believe in the gods of random number generation. Room roulette will see rooms picked by roulette wheel designated safe one by one, with only the last room’s participants eligible to be voted out. If you’re the only one in that room, that means instant elimination!

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Other twists include tether rounds where players are tethered to one another by random selection. Voting out one player removes the other, which makes it difficult to share who players are tethered with as it can help keep some safe or double down on the reasons why to target someone else. Bounty rounds work similarly where if a player’s bounty is eliminated, they are granted known immunity for the next round.

Things constantly switch up to keep players on their toes, with rounds like pillowcase allowing players to gain round immunity if they keep a pillowcase over their head (but cannot strategize and won’t be immune if anyone else keeps it on their head.)

The most important rounds players should know about are those from the Final Six onward. Traditionally, there will be a round that sees players quizzed on the intro video packages the players made at the top, with the player(s) who answers all the questions correctly being granted immunity. The Final Five round will see all the players huddled into Room 1, where they will likely openly discuss who to target before voting anonymously.

Final Four is a similar round, but there’s a harsh dynamic where the player voted out will drag the third-place finisher along with them. With that being a constant, it makes the prior rounds at the Final Seven onward important, as bringing a known pair to the end of the game is likely going to secure at least one of them the win.

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Sequester Minis are fast-paced by nature and strategically driven by quick social interactions. Watching the clips embedded in this piece will help showcase how the game plays for the audience, and further strategy think pieces can be found in places like Taran Armstrong’s Twitch account. We’ll be providing our Survivor Sequester Mini power rankings on Friday, May 22, before the main show airs on May 23 at 8 p.m. ET.