I’ve drawn on community experience and knowledge, spending days piecing together information from many different sources, trialling it out myself in my three vaults to see what worked.
I don’t claim that this is the only way to succeed, indeed there are many different ways, but I believe that this is the safest and one of the most efficient. I hope you find it useful, and feel free to contact me and let me know how your vault is going!
Last update: Sep 4, 2015
This guide focuses on the safest route, to have dwellers with extremely high HP so that they survive end-game Deathclaws, Molerats and Radroaches; and to give you ultimate peace of mind. For this you need to train their Endurance stat to 10 while keeping them at Level 1 (proof ghostdunks, MatthewMMorrow). The Endurance stat determines how many hit points a dweller gets on their next levelup. This means that in the mid-game you will need to replace all your dwellers with newly trained Endurance 10 dwellers and level them up again. Let’s talk about a safe, quick way to do that.
But first consider this
You need to backup your files if you play. Backup your vault save files daily and after every purchase. Your vault and in-game purchases can be wiped out at any time with the “0 byte” corruption bug. They are also wiped if you uninstall the game. There is no recovery. It happened to me once already, and the official forums are full of stories.
You can play on PC. That’s right, you can use a phone emulator to play, I use the Android BlueStacks. You can use dropbox to sync your saves between your PC and your phone as well. If you prefer to play exclusively on your phone that will still work just fine.
Don’t cheat. After using overpowered mods for Bethesda games you should know that the game is pretty boring if you cheat or mod yourself to power. Such is true of Fallout Shelter. Since your save files are local, there are many ways to cheat, however I hope you heed my warning against it. Just pass the time and if you get a bad box, shrug and say such is the life of the RNG and keep going. In my experience with 4 vaults it doesn’t really matter about the RNG, it will all average out and after a week all my vaults were roughly the same.
Despite the young age of this guide, I’m already starting to restructure it. So the following sections will be a little chaotic at first as I rework the tips into their sections. Please bare with me
Phase I: Build your training hall
We want to maximize the number of dwellers training, and have the smallest population possible dedicated to resource production. This phase will likely last for your first day or two of playtime, depending on how many objectives you are willing to complete and how often you log in. Deathclaws have a chance to come to your vault when your population reaches 60 and above. We will stay bellow that number until Phase III.
If you are reading this and already have an ailing vault dying to Deathclaws and Molerats, consider skipping directly to Phase II.
In this phase we will aim for a final population of 43:
- 3 explorers
- 22 (3×6 + 2×2) production
- 18 (2×6) training
For buildings we want:
- 1x 3-wide Water Treatment Lv2
- 2x 3-wide Power Generator Lv2 (see bellow)
- 1x 3-wide Dinner Lv2
- 1x 2-wide Store Room Lv1
- 2-3x 2-wide Living Quarters Lv1
- 1x 1-wide Medbay Lv1
- 1x 1-wide Science Lab Lv1
- 3x 3-wide training buildings Lv1 (see bellow)
A strong layout should not be ignored. You can always choose to change it in Phase III for an aesthetic one. Many people experience problems with Molerats in the early game, when weapons are sparse. For this reason I suggest butting your buildings with Elevators, which means that 8 of your rooms will no longer be touching dirt and be protected from random Molerat attacks.
To achieve this quickly, during the tutorial use the space underneath the vault door to set up a temporary 1-wide Dinner and Water Treatment. You can salvage the rooms once the tutorial is over (they use up power) to achieve the proper layout, which should not slow you down in the long scheme of things considering how much time you’ll save with a good layout.
You will notice in the example vault I do not have an elevator on the right of the first floor. This means that raiders will go through my top Water Treatment room twice, where I make sure I equip my dwellers with my best weapons. I have not found it necessary to do this on the second floor, which would also make the Living Quarters susceptible to Molerats. If your dwellers can’t handle the raiders going through twice, then I would recommend building an elevator at the end, causing the raiders to go directly to Depth 2, and equip your first Power Generator with good weapons.
If you have difficulty with the Molerats spawning in your right empty stack, post a guard (increase pop to 51) in the Storage Room and in the bottom Living Quarters to fend them off as soon as they spawn. This won’t be needed later in Phase II when your dwellers have more weapons.
To increase your population, I recommend making babies. Manned Radio rooms are problematic at the start of Phase III because they attract Deathclaws, thought they will not do so earlier in the game (before population 60). Dwellers in the radio room also use more food, water and power. You can easily produce 10-15 adults in 6 hours and two logins, much less management than a radio room will take. Try to pair your most unhappy dwellers together, as getting pregnant will raise them to 100% happiness. You can safely use your training population to make babies as well, as it does not reward XP.
You may be tempted to upgrade rooms to Level 3, but I would caution against it in Phase I as the strength of Molerats and Radroaches that spawn are dependent on the level of the room. It can lead to some quick wipes and having to use all your stims to keep your dwellers alive, instead of out in the wasteland collecting loot and caps.
Higher level rooms also cost significant caps that would be better spent elsewhere, and the upgraded rooms draws more power as well.
The second power room will be unmanned in this phase, used only when you are short on power by temporarily swapping in the four dwellers from the Med Bay and Science Lab. It will eventually be used to power more training rooms consistently later in Phase II.
For your training rooms, I would recommend building 3-wide of the Endurance, Perception, and Agility training rooms in that order. You can substitute the Perception and Agility rooms for more Endurance rooms if you want to get to Phase III quicker, however you will likely end up needing many more production rooms in the end if you do this. For the dwellers in these rooms I recommend making all-new babies to populate them, naming them with F1 at the end of their names to tell them apart from your boring normal non-trained dwellers. Make sure never to level up training dwellers until they have 10 Endurance, and even with random incidents this is extremely unlikely to happen. If it does, 1 or 2 levels is not the end of the world.
If you’re not worried about occasionally running into power, food and most importantly water (ew, radiation!) problems with your dwellers, then you can set up an extra 3-wide training room with 6 extra dwellers. However this could be risky.
Your explorers should be dwellers with 2-3 Endurance and 2-3 Luck. Equip a +3 Luck Formal Wear once you find them. They should have your best weapons, even better than your door guards. Make sure to always send out any explorers hanging out in the base before collecting another, to conserve stimpack and radaways. You should be calling your explorers back once a way, the caps, weapons and gear is more important than trying to elusively find a fantastic weapon during multi-day jaunts.
You may be tempted to rush your rooms for extra caps, but in practice rushing is extremely inefficient. Not only does it reset the production timers on the room, but the penalty on worker happiness (and your bonus production) is high. I would only rush a room if it was an objective, and even then only if the room was at 25% or lower incident chance. It should be noted that you can complete 100% happiness objectives by rushing a room as well.
If you decide to buy boxes, be aware that they will have the most impact the earliest in the game you do it. Even then, don’t buy boxes to get ahead. Buy boxes to support the game the developer has already provided you with, and expect nothing, not even a single good weapon or dweller in the boxes. This is the only way not to be disappointed. Since for most of us this is a mostly passive game, even the Mr Handy are not that useful since you will be logged out more than logged in.
I want to stress how unimportant being lucky in your finds is (not to be confused with having high Luck stat on your explorers, that, is important). Almost all my weapons are from exploring the wasteland with three explorers. I have had 4 vaults and they are all roughly at the same point, with the survival guide indicating I have 27, 28 and 32 weapons types found in each. All of them have at least 4 explorers with 10+ damage weapons, vaults where everyone is armed with 6+ and gear that is 3+. You may feel unlucky but if you follow this guide it will all average out. The key to gear is just the number of people exploring.
Phase II: Treadmills for all dwellers
First a note on giving up. Never give up. There is not a single situation in the game where starting over with a new vault is better than continuing with the one you have. Even if you have to send out 90% of your dwellers into the wasteland to die, and salvage most of your buildings to start over with a new layout you think is better (only do this in extreme bad layout cases). I’ve had one of my early vaults go thirsty and end up with over 50% radiation to all dwellers, dying to Molerats constantly and I recovered and am happy to say the save is as far as my others who did not suffer such disasters. Unless you are giving up on the game, that is completely OK and probably good for your free time.
In Phase II we will focus on increasing the number of training rooms and explorers. We will start to arm our vault for the coming challenges of Deathclaws and Level 3 Molerats. Note that we still keep our population under 60 so that we do not trigger Deathclaws. This phase should last you roughly a week and a half. Just login once or twice a day, make sure to increment the training, and logout.
In this phase we will aim for a final population of 52:
- 6 explorers [up from 3]
- 28 (4×6 + 2×2) production [up from 22]
- 24 (3×6) training [up from 18]
For buildings we will mainly want some upgrades:
- 1x 3-wide Water Treatment Lv3 [upgrade]
- 2x 3-wide Power Generator Lv2 / 2x 3-wide Nuclear Reactor Lv2 [swap]
- 1x 3-wide Dinner Lv3 [upgrade]
- 1x 2-wide Store Room Lv1
- 2x 2-wide Living Quarters Lv2 [upgrade]
- 1x 2-wide Living Quarters Lv1 [build]
- 1x 1-wide Medbay Lv1
- 1x 1-wide Science Lab Lv1
- 5x 3-wide training buildings Lv1 [build]
If you have extra 10+ damage weapons, and +3 Luck Fancy Wear, increase your explorers up to 6. While outside the vault they don’t use up food or water. This will mean opening your vault door more often, and more raiders as a result, but your defendants should have 4-6 damage weapons by this point and make quick work of them. You can also consider sending them out for longer now, possibly until they run out of stimpacks. Don’t worry too much if they die, reviving them is always worth it and does not cost a lot compared to the caps they bring back.
All production dwellers should be equipped with +3 primary stat gear (over +2+1 or +2+2+1 even), and all dwellers should have weapons.
Before we build the 4th and 5th 3-wide training room (I suggest Strength, Luck), we need to be able to support the power, water and food needs this will put on our vault.
If you have 5-6 damage weapons in your Water Treatment or Dinner, and the dwellers there are Level 10+, consider upgrading the building to Level 3 for the extra food and water.
To increase our power, you will need to staff the second Power Generator room with 6 dwellers early on. In fact, you will need to salvage your second 3-wide Power Generator and build a 3-wide Nuclear Reactor. To do this without staying above 60 population (and incur Deathclaw wrath) we will follow four steps:
- Send out a single dweller to die in the wasteland. Once they are dead, do not “remove” them yet.
- Birth babies to hit population 60.
- As soon as you hit 60, unlock the Nuclear Reactor
- Immediately “remove” the dead dweller in the wasteland
This will drop you back down to population 59, and you should drop it back further by sending dwellers into the wasteland until you are stable with your food/water. You can increase it again later if you wish, but stay bellow 60. The whole thing will take just a few seconds, making it extremely unlikely you will get attacked by Deathclaws.
Like in Phase I, if you’re not worried about occasionally running into power, food and most importantly water (ew, radiation!) problems with your dwellers, then you can set up an extra 3-wide training room with 6 extra dwellers. However this, like in Phase I, could be risky.
The rest of your time will be spent clicking to accept training skillups, and moving maxed skill dwellers to other training rooms. At a minimum, every Lv 1 training dwellers needs to have 10 Endurance. It is very helpful for them to have 10 in their primary stat, like Perception for Treatment Plant dwellers. Finally you can train their Luck to 10 for extra caps, but this may only be worth doing for your new explorers. Explorers can further benefit from training in every single stat, but it’s up to you how patient you want to be.
Before a dweller is ready to be placed in a production spot, you need to level them up. Their 10 Endurance can be further increased with Endurance gear, +3 should be easy to come by but if you’re lucky you have a +5 or +7! Equip it, a good weapon, and send them out into the wasteland. They will level up extremely quickly in the wasteland. The maximum level is 50, after which you can put them to work, sending your old weakling production staff to die in the wasteland. Being the overseer means making hard decisions.
Phase III: Deathclaws attack, but you’re ready
Congratulations, you’ve reached the end game. Your production buildings are staffed by beefy 10 Endurance Level 50 dwellers with 7+ weapons, your explorers are out in the wild collecting mad caps, weapons and gear. Now what? Well, you can safely push past population 60 now. You can even invite Deathclaw attacks and gain passive vault happiness by building a staffed Radio Room. You may want to increase your number of explorers as you grow more confident against constant Deathclaw attacks.
Consider setting yourself a goal. This is a cowlick game. You may have avoided farmville, but the wasteland was calling.
It’s addictive and without a goal you will start to feel the grind extremely quickly. Three example goals are:
- I want to complete my Survival Guide until I find it too grindy
- I want to complete the Google Play Game Achievements until I find it too grindy
- I want to fill the vault with buildings and reach max pop of 200
You can add interesting cosmetic goals too, like:
- I want only redheads in my vault
- I want a specific vault layout (save up your caps before bulldozing!)
Notice the first two example goals are RNG based so it is totally OK to say “Good Enough” and uninstall. Most of all, do what you think is fun.
After playing a few cowlick games I cannot stress how important an exit strategy is.
There are many communities out there for overseers to come together, share tips, and generally laugh at their dwellers’ antics. Some notable mentions are:
- Reddit’s /r/foshelter
- Reddit’s /r/falloutshelter
- Reddit’s /r/fallout_shelter
- Bethesda’s Fallout Shelter General Discussion
Using this guide you should get yourself to Deathclaw ready within a week or two. You can also apply this to your existing vault, as you can always “make a few generation” and change strategies.
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