Let's make sense of the confusing The Challenge: All Stars 4 rules

Key art for The Challenge: All Stars, season 4, streaming on Paramount+, 2024. PHOTO CREDIT: Paramount+
Key art for The Challenge: All Stars, season 4, streaming on Paramount+, 2024. PHOTO CREDIT: Paramount+ /

Wait, what?! When TJ started explaining how The Challenge: All Stars 4 works to the new cast of 25 veterans and legends, it became clear that this season wouldn't be like all the others. There are intricacies that will keep the game spicy and as political as ever, and you might have to rewind a few times to fully understand what TJ is talking about (or maybe it's just me).

The latest season of Paramount+'s The Challenge: All Stars brings back a crew of familiar faces and former winners, such as Brad Fiorenza, Rachel Robinson, Cara Maria Sorbello, and so many more of the show's most dominating and, in some cases, polarizing personalities. While the colorful cast of characters will liven up the fourth season, so will the show's most complicated rules yet.

If you're a little bit confused, or even more than a little confused, as you're attempting to pick up on what TJ's throwing down in season 4, let's dive into all of the ins and outs of the gameplay. What are those stars all about, and how can they get one? Deep breath... Here we go! WARNING: Mild spoilers ahead from the first two episodes.

How the stars work and how to get one

Before the first daily challenge, TJ revealed that the challengers will be playing the game as individuals, competing for the $250,000 grand prize (others will split $50,000). Some of the daily challenges will still be played in teams, as episode 2 reveals. In the first daily challenge, the six players to finish the competition first — three women and three men — each earned one of the six stars that are up for grabs. Possession of a star is required to run the final. However, just because you win a challenge doesn't mean you're guaranteed a star, though you are safe from elimination.

The group of the daily challenge's losing players are voted on by the "middle group" to go into the elimination round. The middle group is kind of like The Authority from season 3. They are safe and cannot be chosen or voted on to go into the arena. But once they are gathered in the arena, the winners of the daily challenge have the option of swapping places with one of the two contestants voted into elimination in order to earn themselves a star. If they already have a star, they can still choose to hop into the arena to win a star for someone else.

For instance, and here's where the spoilers come in, Brad and Cara Maria were the winners of the first challenge and their stars were safe. But TJ still gave Brad the option of competing in the men's elimination round in place of either Steve or Tyri to earn another star to give to an ally. He chose not to. In the second episode, Laurel and Nicole were on the winning team and both opted not to compete against Tina (who had no arena opponent since Janelle quit the show before playing in the arena).

Here's another twist: The winner of the elimination round can steal a star from any star holder, though it seems that if the daily challenge winner has a star, theirs cannot be stolen. For example, Steve won against Tyri and stole Brandon's star. When Tina won by default, she stole Averey's star. TJ also explains that you can steal a star for someone else. Tina could have stolen a male's star to give to another male and vice versa with Steve. If she'd already had a star but was still in the arena and won, she could have stolen a star for her ally Veronica. That's definitely one way to mix up the game and incentivize winning the daily challenges to keep your star secure or snatch one for your allies.

If Brandon and Averey want to win back their stars, their course of action is either to be in the losing group and get voted into the arena or win a daily challenge, put themselves in the arena, and hope to be the winner. As of the first two episodes, it's unclear what happens if someone with a star ends up in the losing group and gets voted into the arena, though it's likely that whomever beats them in the arena will automatically steal their star for themselves or be able to give it to someone else.

The Challenge: All Stars 4 rules breakdown:

  • The contestants compete as individuals. The daily challenges will either be played as individuals or in teams. Relationships and alliances are more important than ever.
  • There are six star holders and possession of a star is necessary in order to compete in the final challenge for the $250,000 grand prize.
  • The losing group of the daily challenge will be voted on by the middle group for the men's or women's elimination round. The winner(s) are safe from elimination but can choose to swap places with one of the two players voted into the arena to steal a star.
  • The victor of the arena can steal a star for themselves or for any other player.

Keep in mind, the rules and gameplay are subject to change after the first two episodes as TJ surely introduces new twists that shake up the game and keep the challengers on their toes. But these are the basic rules of the season as established by the season's premiere. We'll have to keep watching to see who ends up with the six stars and how cutthroat they have to be in order to get them. It's going to be a season for the books!

The Challenge: All Stars streams new episodes on Wednesdays exclusively on Paramount+.

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