SPOILER! Survivor Tribe Swap Tomorrow: A Historical, Game-Changing Twist

AJ Wilson
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In the preview for tomorrow’s episode of Survivor: Island of the Idols, it appears we are getting a tribe swap! Also known as a tribe switch, a tribe swap is when players are redistributed into new tribes, guaranteeing new dynamics.

The first tribe swap in Survivor: Africa

The swap is actually the most common twist in Survivor, appearing in thirty of the past thirty-nine seasons. So, it’s time to look at the game-changing ability of one of the best twists ever introduced.

Different Types of Tribe Swaps

It’s important to not that there are several different types of swaps, with each affecting the game in a different way. As such, it’s important to know the differences.

  • Traditional Tribe Swap: Tribes exchange the same amount of members, keeping each tribe with same amount of members they had before the change
  • Tribe Shuffle: All castaways draw new buffs, and the tribes are redistributed evenly.
  • Schoolyard Pick: Two players are selected as captains and take turns drafting new tribes.
  • Tribe Expansion: A whole new tribe is added to the game, and all players randomly draw new buffs.
  • Tribe Absorb: An old tribe is dissolved, and the players on that tribe are randomly assigned new tribes.

Early Tribe Swaps

The first tribe swap occurred in Survivor: Africa, and was a traditional swap, sending three members of Samburu to Boran and vice versa. This swap ended up being disastrous for the original Samburu tribe, who were all voted out before the Final Four.

Swaps also occurred in Marquesas and The Amazon. Also, the first absorb happened in Survivor: All Stars, along with a shuffle. Afterward, Vanuatu featured a traditional swap, while Palau saw the Koror tribe absorb the Ulong tribe when only one woman, Stephenie LaGrossa, was left on it. The tribe swaps featured on Survivor: Guatemala and Survivor: Panama were moderately uneventful, although Panama’s was an absorb.

Strategic Swapping

Over the next few seasons, we began to see more strategy being added into the tribe swaps. One of the most infamous moments in Survivor history occurred, when Jonathan Penner and Candice Woodcock mutinied from Aitutaki to Rarotonga, causing a unique tribe swap to occur. While good in theory, this move proved to be disastrous, as the entirety of Aitutaki after this mutiny made the Final Four.

A schoolyard pick occurred in Fiji, with the only major changes being which players lived in the luxurious Moto camp. However, the tribe swap in China sent two players to the opposing tribe and vice versa, resulting in players throwing challenges to keep their original tribe numbers.

Swapping Goes on Hiatus

After a swap in Micronesia and two switches in Gabon, the tribe swap went on a three season hiatus, missing Tocantins, Samoa and Heroes vs Villains. This is the longest period in the show’s history without a swap taking place. And after showing up in Nicaragua, the swap was again missing in Redemption Island and South Pacific.

Back With A Vengeance

The first tribe expansion, which took place in Survivor: Cambodia.

Ever since the tribe swap’s return in One World, its been present and ever-evolving. For example, Survivor: Cambodia was the first season to feature a tribe expansion, which has since occurred in Millennials vs Gen X, Game Changers, Ghost Island, David vs Goliath, and Edge of Extinction.

Additionally, Philippines, Cagayan, Worlds Apart and Kaoh Rong featured absorb swap. Likewise, Caramoan, Blood vs Water and San Juan Del Sur featured shuffle swaps.

Island of the Idols

While we won’t know for sure until tomorrow, last week’s episode indicated it would be a shuffle. With the original Lairo tribe down by two members, it looks like this swap is in favor of the original Vokai tribe. Historically, when a tribe has a numbers disadvantage at a shuffle, they tend to lose more members after it.

However, one change with this swap are Boston Rob and Sandra. Between the two of them, Rob and Sandra have participated in FIVE tribe swaps, so their knowledge about them should be very good.

Sandra’s second tribe swap on Survivor: Game Changers.

Can the Lairo tribe survive the impending tribe swap? Or will Vokai’s numbers overwhelm them? Tune into Survivor: Island of the Idols on Wednesday at 8/7 Central to find out!

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