Most seasons only have about 1-3 players who really have any idea what they're doing. It's just that we remember poor gameplay of recent seasons and forget the older ones. Part of it is editing, but I think the larger factor is that it's harder to strategize when you're starving, sleep deprived, paranoid, and fearful.
I just went and scanned casts of previous seasons, and there's roughly an average of 2 good players;
I was curious who others felt were the upper echelon of each season's strategic thinkers. So here's how the "game" works: for each season, you select the top 4 players. This can be based in part on strong gametheory (i.e. Guatemala Brian or Penner, who understand the game but fail to execute) but should primarily be based on actual deployment of good strategy, whether that be alliance building, future planning, people manipulation, social skills, strategic use of challenges/twists/circumstances, or whathaveyou.
You then have eleven "marbles" to allot to those players based on their respective skills: the maximum you can give to one player is 8, minimum is 1. So two possible examples could look like this:
AzMarie (8), Kyle (1), Sophie (1), Catherine (1) where one player clearly dominates, or
Joanie (3), Danielle (3), Leslie (3), Brooke (2) where it's perhaps more evenly divided.
After a handful of posts (assuming they happen), marbles get added to decide top dog for each season. Try not to unfairly stack points/dock someone you think deserves points as a strategy to ensure a personal favorite wins. That isn't fun. (Example: Giving Sekou 8 and Yul 0. Difference of opinion is appreciated, but let's be realistic.)
Winners of each season will then face off against winners of other seasons. For that reason, it is not a cumulative disadvantage to give a player only 4 marbles if they had better opponents, or an advantage to give a player 8 if they had weak ones.
For players competing in multiple seasons, season-specific performance is the one being considered. For example, when analyzing Palau, only Stephenie's game in Palau is considered; however, when considering Guatemala, her gameplay in Palau can be extrapolated if it justifies her score in some way (i.e. fewer marbles because she got to learn from mistakes, or more marbles because it demonstrates how her game evolved).
After minimum (too optimistic?) 5 or so posts, we can move on to the next 3 seasons.
Borneo Richard (6), Kelly (3), Rudy (1), Jenna (1)
-Hatch is obvious. Kelly, because I think her strategy of quasi-defection to the other tribe gained valuable jury votes and her use of alliances was crafty, even if it wasn't as purposeful as Hatch's. I dock her points for kicking Sue to the curb. While I can't blame her for thinking she'd beat Rich, she should have realized she was losing a valuable jury vote. Rudy and Jenna get pity marbles for understanding essential elements of the game, even if they had little actual control.
Australia Tina (4) Amber (4) Colby (2) Michael (1)
-Australia can be difficult because it was new enough that everyone seemed too nice and there was no Richard to keep things interesting. Tina had a strong handle on the game from start to finish, even if I think she made huge mistakes. Amber is underrated: she had strong reason to believe she was F3 with Jerri and Colby, in which case she has a good chance at F3 IC, where she takes Jerri and wins 7-0. Her backup plan was an appeal to Kucha at F7 to take out Ogakor, which was stupidly rejected by Elisabeth and Rodger. Colby made two stupid mistakes (burning Jerri too early, opening the door to be usurped by Amber/Kucha) and, as has been much discussed, taking Tina to FTC), but he gets points for having control of the game. Mike gets pity marble for allegedly being aligned with both Jeff/Nick/Alicia and Elisabeth/Rodger, making him the obvious powerplayer in a Kucha F6.
Africa Lex (3), Teresa (3), Kelly (3), Ethan (2)
-Africa was a bit of a clusterfuck of poor gameplay. Despite Lex practically handing the game to Samburu, he appeared to have the best handle on a large enough number of players (Ethan, Tom, Brandon) to go unscathed except, evidently, the one he needed (Johnson). Teresa gets mad props for working her options at all times: being the least reviled of minority Samburu, throwing a wrench at Boran with the Lex vote, aligning with Kelly to overthrow Boran, being the last Samburu standing, and attempting to put together a women's alliance at F6. Kelly gets credit for a strong handle on gametheory, gaining the upper hand at nuSamburu, and knowing when to flip, an underestimated virtue. Ethan didn't piss anybody off and won. He didn't do a whole helluva lot else, but it's worth something.
Edited by Oholibamah, Sep 9, 2012 @ 10:41 PM.