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House of Cards
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Recurring Survivor Challenge
Description: A recurring skill challenge
Appearances: Gabon
Heroes vs. Villains
Redemption Island
South Pacific
Caramoan
Blood vs. Water
Game Changers

House of Cards (also known as Teeter Tower) is a recurring skill and balance challenge in Survivor. It debuted in Survivor: Gabon as the Final Immunity Challenge, and was reused in Heroes vs. Villains, Redemption Island, and Blood vs. Water. A variation of the challenge was introduced in South Pacific, Caramoan, and Game Changers.

Rules

Each castaway begins the challenge with 150 to 200 wooden tiles. Using the tiles, they must build a house of cards up to a certain height. The first person to reach this target height would win. However, if there is a specified time limit, the person with the tallest house of cards when time expires would win.

The Teeter Tower variant complicates the challenge by requiring castaways to build the house of cards with one hand, while using the other hand to steady a wobbly platform on which the tower is built.

History

This challenge was first used in Survivor: Gabon as the Final Immunity Challenge. In this case, each person had 200 tiles and had 30 minutes to reach ten feet. The person who reached ten-foot mark first or whoever had the tallest house of cards after the time was up would win immunity and a spot in the Final Tribal Council. Bob Crowley struggled in the challenge, unable to build a stable house of cards. Sugar Kiper built a tall house of cards, but its instability caused it to fall at the last minute. Matty Whitmore built a stable house of cards seven feet tall. In the end, Susie Smith built the tallest house of cards, at eight feet tall, within 30 minutes and won immunity.

This challenge later reused in Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains as an Immunity Challenge. In this case, there was no time limit, and contestants had 150 tiles. Russell Hantz and Jerri Manthey got an early lead and it ultimately came to down them. In the end, Jerri edged out Russell when he ran out of cards in his hand and she won immunity.

This challenge was also used in Survivor: Redemption Island as a Redemption Island duel between Matthew ElrodMike Chiesl, and David Murphy. The rules for that duel was that contestants had 150 tiles to build an eight-foot tall house of cards. Mike had a steady house of cards, with Matthew right behind him. Mike's house of cards however, threatened to collapse at the eight-foot mark, allowing Matthew and David to catch up. Still, Mike was able to finish his house of cards, along with Matthew, eliminating David from the competition. As soon as Mike was finished, his house fell down almost immediately.

A small variation of this challenge was also used in Survivor: South Pacific. Known as Teeter Tower, the final five would place their hand on a very uneasy balance beam that would flatten a table. While holding the balance beam down, the castaways would build a house of cards. Ozzy Lusth and Sophie Clarke had to rebuild their houses twice due to their usage of all tiles. Frustrated, Sophie attempted to convince Albert Destrade into dropping his stack to pick up her pieces, which he refused to do and host Jeff Probst told her that castaways were not allowed to physically receive help from other castaways. Eventually, Ozzy caught up to her and made it into the final four.

The Teeter Tower variant reappeared in Survivor: Caramoan. This was originally an Immunity Challenge, but was changed to a Reward Challenge due to Erik Reichenbach's evacuation the previous night. After many attempts and the towers falling down repeatedly, John Cochran was able to reach the target and win an advantage for the Final Immunity Challenge.

In Survivor: Blood vs. Water, the challenge was again used as a duel. The castaways had to stack a tower eight feet high in thirty minutes. If after 30 minutes, the castaways couldn't stack a tower 8 feet high, the winner would be whoever had the highest tower. Laura Morett completed her house of cards after 27 minutes to come in first. Caleb Bankston was leading against Tina Wesson by almost 2 feet as time was expiring, but with seconds left to go, his tower collapsed and Tina, stopped building, in fear of her tower also collapsing. Tina counted the time until the challenge ended, and when the time ran out, Caleb ended up being eliminated.

The Teeter Tower variant of the challenge was used in Survivor: Game Changers. Aubry Bracco initially had the lead, but had to re-stack her cards after she was unable to reach the mark, allowing several others to catch up. However, Aubry managed to quickly re-stack and reach the mark, winning herself immunity.

Winners

Episode Challenge Type Winner
Gabon
"Say Goodbye to Gabon"
Individual Immunity
(Final Immunity)
S17 susie t
Susie Smith
Heroes vs. Villains
"Jumping Ship"
Individual Immunity S20 jerri t
Jerri Manthey
Redemption Island
"Rice Wars"
Duel S22 mike t
Mike Chiesl
S22 matthew t
Matthew Elrod
South Pacific
"Loyalties Will Be Broken"
Individual Immunity S23 ozzy t
Ozzy Lusth
Caramoan
"Last Push"
Individual Reward S26 cochran t
John Cochran
Blood vs. Water
"Rustle Feathers"
Duel S27 lauram t
Laura Morett
S27 tina t
Tina Wesson
Game Changers
"Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow"
Individual Immunity S34 aubry t
Aubry Bracco

Gallery

Trivia

  • 5 females and 4 males have won this challenge.
  • Redemption Island and Blood vs. Water are the only times this challenge has been won by more than one person as, in both instances, it was used as a three-way Redemption Island duel.
  • This challenge is the first (and only) individual Immunity Challenge that three-time returning player Jerri Manthey has won.
  • The challenge appeared in all seasons to feature the Redemption Island twist.
  • When this challenge is used as Teeter Tower, only returning players have won.
  • This challenge, along with Snag, Drag and Bag and Jail Break are the only challenges to appear in every season featuring Redemption Island.
    • It is the only one of the three to not appear as a duel in all of these seasons.
  • Survivor: Gabon is the only season to use this challenge to not have any returning players in it.

References