Fallout Shelter: Vault 12

Fallout Shelter: What is it?

Currently out as iPhone app game (and Android now, so I hear) is Fallout Shelter. The website is here: http://www.falloutshelter.com/, and it comes with its own Fallout-flavored introduction video:

It's been my little game obsession for the past number of weeks, and although I'm not a big phone-game guy, man has it been enjoyable.


Vault 12

You start with choosing a vault number (from 000-999), and although I first went with 666 (a pretty popular option, I'd imagine), I gave up on that one and started anew with Vault 12.

The game basically leads you easily through the first set of actions: recruiting lost humans into productive dwellers, creating rooms to farm the various resources (power, food, water), sending dwellers out to loot the wastelands, and otherwise just making a comfortable  home. The intro lead-in is very intuitive, and makes it a real pleasure to learn the basic moves. I'm not sure if there is a way to avoid it, however. I've started 3 vaults in total, and each time I had to go through the various tutorial moves, which might be annoying if you want to just go at it on your own.

The early game

Learning to play is trivial, as the game leads you through the process of acquiring your first dozen dwellers, and your first few rooms. The game sets goals for you which lead you through the main elements of the game (resource management, weapon and clothes acquisition, game mechanics such as Rushing a room). Most of those goals reward you with Caps (i.e. bottle caps, the game's money economy). And occasionally, completing those goals wins you a lunchbox. A lunchbox with 4 random cards that give you things like food, power, and the occasional weapons, and dwellers.

But beware! There are hazards. In the first release of the game, these come in the form of large radioactive cockroaches (rad roaches), random fires, and raiders from the wasteland. That, and other concerns, such as running out of resources. Not enough water? Expect the dwellers to get radioactive poisoning which reduces their overall hit points.

One nice part of the game is the variations in scale. Zoom out and your playing vault management. But zoom in and you get lots of cute details, and get privy to the conversations of your various dwellers. Although the game starts with resources management, there is much more that starts making itself known. For example, each dweller has the 7 SPECIAL stats (Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck). Each one plays its role in the dwellers effectiveness either in managing the various rooms, or in different aspects in surviving the Wasteland when scrounging for supplies. And you can build rooms to train these stats. Dwellers also have other motivations, such as happiness. 

Soon, you start to realize that there is definitely a bit of min-maxing that can be performed by training your dwellers, as well as outfitting them with specific uniforms that improve specific stats. Before long you notice that all your power plant workers are wearing military uniforms (that improve Strength, the relevant stat), and your med bay and science lab workers are wearing lab coats that improve their Intelligence. It starts to look like a little city. Jillian Werner writes a very good article called How To Improve Your Fallout Shelter SPECIAL Stats that goes into this in good detail.

As far as tips and such, not much needs to be said about the early part of the game... just follow the instructions and read the little tips and hints they provide when the game is loading, and you will get the gist of it.

The mid-game

Once you get thriving and start to crawl up towards 60 vault dwellers, you will have a full fledged complex. Soon, you'll be unlocking the larger (and much more expensive) rooms, such as Gardens, Water Treatment Plants, and Nuclear Reactors. And the glorious Nuka Cola plants, which provide both water and food resources in one!

My first Nuka Cola Bottlery!

My first Nuka Cola Bottlery!

There are already a few folks out in internet land have written about this part of the game, and provide excellent tips. I know because I also incorporated similar methods prior to finding the articles, and can vouch for their usefulness. Examples include:

One thing to note is that the raiders and other annoyances get tougher as time goes on. They start carrying bigger weapons, and the radroaches and fires that break out in your complex become harder to fight.

These are some laser-toting punks! They start getting tough later in the game...

These are some laser-toting punks! They start getting tough later in the game...

Once you start min-maxing the roles of dwellers so that your rooms run more efficiently, you will have additional dwellers that you can use for other tasks... exploring the wastelands.

It's important send out wasteland explorers more and more often, as they will start coming back with better weapons and suits. The initial set of suits are of the +3 variety, sometimes referred to as common uniforms. The total bonus is 3 points to your stats, whether that's to one stat (+3 Strength for Military Fatigues) or something with 2 stats (+2 Strength and +1 Agility for Combat Armor). You will immediately start hoarding the +3 suits and provide them to the workers for those particular rooms (+3 Strength for power workers, +3 Agility for food workers, +3 Perception for water workers, +3 Intelligence for medical and science workers).

Advanced suits provide 5 points of bonus, and can be referred to as rare. Examples include the Officer Fatigues with +5 Strength, the Ninja Outfit with +4 Agility and +1 Luck, and the Greaser Outfit with +2 Charisma, +2 Agility, and +1 Luck. Needless to say, these advanced suits are somewhat hard to find. I recommend outfitting your explorers with these suits (especially the +2/+2/+1 variety), and outfitting the worker bees with the +3, +4/+1, and +5 variety (which give you just the stat you need to run your job in your Vault room).

A line of colorful explorers coming home to roost.

A line of colorful explorers coming home to roost.

Another min-maxing strategy is to start training in Luck as much as you can. It takes a while before you can build the Game Room (50+ dwellers). But once you have one, cycle various dwellers in there from all walks of life. The more luck you have, the more lucky bonus Caps you get when collecting resources from a room. The only stat these busy bee dwellers need is the one for their room, and Luck.

In my next Fallout Shelter post I'll write more about The Late Game strategies that I've found work, for larger vaults. And an amazingly detailed document on Fallout Shelter efficiency.