House of Cards is a recurring skill 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 known as Teeter Tower was introduced in South Pacific, later re-appearing in Caramoan and Game Changers.
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 control a handle that steadied a balancing board on which the tower is built.
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, but 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 Matt Elrod, Mike 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 Matt right behind him. Mike's house of cards however, threatened to collapse at the eight-foot mark, allowing Matt and David to catch up. Still, Mike was able to finish his house of cards, along with Matt, eliminating David from the competition.
A scaled-down variation of this challenge debuted in Survivor: South Pacific. Known as Teeter Tower, the final five would use one hand to hold a handle that steadied a balancing board. With their other hand, 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 help each other. Eventually, Ozzy caught up to her and completed his tower, winning immunity.
The Teeter Tower variant reappeared in Survivor: Caramoan. This was originally planned to be 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, no castaway stacked 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 to avoid having her tower also collapse. Tina counted the time until the challenge ended, and when the time ran out, Caleb was 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.
"Say Goodbye to Gabon"
|Heroes vs. Villains
"Loyalties Will Be Broken"
|Blood vs. Water
"Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow"
- Gabon is the only season in which this challenge was used, but not have a returning player in its cast.
- 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.