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The Three-Tribe Format is a major tribe division twist that increases the number of competing tribes during the pre-merge phase of the game from two to three. It is the single most recurring twist in Suitman's Survivor besides Hidden Immunity Idols, which feature in every season. It first appeared as a one-off twist for the all-returnee cast in Survivor: All-Stars, and did not appear again for ten seasons, when it returned in the all-newbie Cursed Hand. Since then it has become a more frequently recurring twist, especially in recent seasons, having now appeared a total of twelve times as of Survivor: Canary Islands.

A variation of the twist, the Four-Tribe Format, featured in Survivor: Seychelles and Survivor: Solomon Islands.

Conception

The idea behind the three-tribe format is to change up how the numbers work in the game. Whereas the basic two tribes can give one tribe an automatic numbers advantage, the extra tribe switches this up so that one specific tribe would have to get others on their side for a majority. Seasons with this format most commonly feature 18 castaways due to it being the most ideal number to still maintain equal numbers distribution, however this was increased to 21 for the all-star Survivor: Polynesia season. The downside to the three-tribe format means that the small numbers cause one tribe to fail more dramatically at the immunity challenges and lose a large chunk of their tribe. To stem this, a tribe switch usually dismantles one of the tribes, leaving the remaining two with mixed numbers from all three tribes. There have been variations to this. Survivor: Conqueror's Crusade featured two tribe switches which dismantled the Batelov tribe in the first swap, and then re-setablished it after the second, which ran until the merge. Kiribati featured multiple switched due to the Roulette Wheel twist, which changed the format between two and three tribes with each swap. Unfinished Business introduced the Solenzo tribe after a tribe swap, introducing the three-tribe format into the game after previously starting with the basic two tribes, and Canary Islands introduced the Graciosa tribe after a tribe swap, also introducing the three-tribe format into the game after previously starting with the two basic tribes.

Three-Tribe History

All-Stars

The sixth season, Survivor: All-Stars, was the first to feature the three-tribe format. It was brought in to complement the significance of it being an all-returnee cast for the first time.
Charleroi Leuven Seraing

Cursed Hand

The sixteenth season, Survivor: Cursed Hand, was the second to feature the three-tribe format. It divided the tribes of all-new castaways based on their color level through the Color Level Hierarchy twist.
Chingola Lusaka Solwezi

Reclamation

The seventeenth season, Survivor: Reclamation, was the third to feature the three-tribe format. It passed off the standard returnees vs. newbies idea in favor of placing three of each across three tribes.
Alotau Madang Talasea

New Zealand

The twenty-second season, Survivor: New Zealand, was the fourth to feature the three-tribe format. It divided the tribes of all-returnee castaways based on their classification in the Failures vs. Finalists vs. Favorites twist.
Kaota Mamoe Takoto

Japan

The twenty-third season, Survivor: Japan, was the fifth to feature the three-tribe format. It divided the tribes of all-new castaways by random draw.
Nagoya Okazaki Tahara

Conqueror's Crusade

The twenty-fifth season, Survivor: Conqueror's Crusade, was the sixth to feature the three-tribe format. It divided the tribes of all-winner castaways by random draw.
Batelov Kanina Rusava

Kiribati

The twenty-seventh season, Survivor: Kiribati, was the seventh to feature the three-tribe format. It divided the tribes of new and returning castaways based on their employment and aspirations through the Occupational Hazard twist.
Buariki Paelau Riaria

Polynesia

The thirtieth season, Survivor: Polynesia, was the eighth to feature the three-tribe format. It divided the tribes of all-returnee castaways based on their classification in the Strong vs. Social vs. Strategic twist.
Savave Tanrake Vaiaku

Unfinished Business

The thirty-second season, Survivor: Unfinished Business, was the ninth to feature the three-tribe format. It divided the tribes of all-returnee castaways into two tribes from the beginning, by random draw, but introduced a third tribe in a tribe switch.
Banfora Garango Solenzo

Puerto Rico

The thirty-third season, Survivor: Puerto Rico, was the tenth to feature the three-tribe format. It divided the tribes of new and returning castaways based on their classification in the Fans vs. Fools vs. Floaters twist.
Anasco Bayamon Corozal

Ayia Thekla

The thirty-third season, Survivor: Ayia Thekla, was the eleventh to feature the three-tribe format. It gave three "legend" former castaways the opportunity to build their own tribes of new and returning players, in a twist known as Bloodlines.
Larnaca Nicosia Paphos

Canary Islands

The thirty-eighth season, Survivor: Canary Islands, was the twlefth to feature the three-tribe format. It divided the cast castaways into two tribes, veterans against newbies, from the beginning, by random draw, but introduced a third tribe in a tribe switch.
Alegranza El Hierro Graciosa

Entitled vs. Earned

The thirty-ninth season, Survivor: Entitled vs. Earned, was the thirteenth to feature the three-tribe format. The full cast of twelve Entitled and twelve Earned castaways were divided by a random draw, courtesy of the Roulette Wheel.
Kapalai Malacca Redang

Suitman's Survivor Twists
Back to Basics Blackjack Idols Chaos Cards Continuous Mutiny Cursed Hand
Cursed Necklace Dastardly Dilemma Double Tribal Council The Earned Trials Exile Island
Extra Vote Flexible Idols Four-Tribe Format Fused Together Head of Household
Hero Duels Hidden Immunity Idol Idol Bonds Idol Halves Idol Rivals
Immunity Freeze Immunity Pacts The Imposters Instant Idols Juror Removal
Last Chance Saloon Legacy Advantage Looting The Madhouse Make Your Mark
Neglect and Reflect Idol Occultus Island Odd Necklace One Day Merge One Day Tribes
One World Performance Equals Power Power of Veto Public Vote Ragnarok Island
Redemption Island Retribution Island Returning Players Revelation Idol Reverse & Revoke
Risky Reward Rivalry Arena Roulette Wheel Share or Steal Slot Machine
Territory Wars Top of the Heap Three-Tribe Format Tribe Division Twists Tribe Mutiny
Tribe Switch Tribes of the Future Viewer's Chieftain Viewer's Voice Vote Blocker
Vote Stealer Worlds Collide
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