I started playing Fallout Shelter on cookiemonger’s iPad about a week ago.

I’m not sure how to describe it — first I suppose I should say it was exactly the game I needed at the time. Not that that has clouded my judgment, not really.

It’s a fun game. Build rooms, assign vault dwellers to them, attract new vault dwellers, build more rooms. Balance food, water, and power.

That’s all there is to it.

Your vault’s population limit is 200, and there are about 24 floors for you to build rooms on, not counting the ground half-floor. You protect your dwellers from periodic incursions by scavenging weapons and armor from the wasteland.

As far as I know, there’s no endgame, so it’s kind of like Dwarf Fortress Lite.

I say that because some of the hazards can wipe out your dwellers if you aren’t careful. When I was somewhere in the 40-70 range of my population, a radroach infestation spread through my rooms and killed off about half my population before I could move or heal them. It took me a while to recover.

What I noticed was that while hazards like fire or roaches can spread horizontally or vertically, sometimes jumping elevators to reach other rooms on the same floor, they can’t move diagonally. I went to some pains after that to stagger my rooms so another outbreak couldn’t wipe out my vault.

Doing that almost made the game too easy.

I haven’t had another major catastrophe since then — the most difficulty I’ve had is after I’ve sent out a major expeditionary force or had a “baby boom” and my resources go out of whack. I’ve had some gear shortages from time to time…

Actually, what I noticed was this: in the early game, it makes sense to put gear where you need it. Once you can field large numbers of explorers, you want to start assigning gear to keep your storage clear. It doesn’t make sense to stockpile gear because it literally does nothing for you while unequipped.

What I’ve noticed is that perhaps the single most important stat for the Wasteland is Luck. Because Luck is what gives you the good loot. Sure, a high-level explorer can stay out longer, but a luckier dweller will find better stuff.

I have one dweller at the level cap (50) who routinely finds low-level garbage. His Luck is middling — somewhere in the 4-6 range. Meanwhile, I have some very lucky neophytes with 7-8 Luck who routinely find plasma weapons and railguns within the first four to six hours of exploring.

Charisma isn’t… entirely useless. I’ve seen the positive effect the radio station has on my vault. And I assume it plays a role in Wasteland exploration. But the fact that dwellers don’t get experience from the radio station is terrible. They routinely get slaughtered, in spite of good stats and gear.

Hazards seem to be based on dweller level and room size.

If you have low-level dwellers in a room with a high-level dweller, your low-levels will be ganked by roaches. I’ve found it most effective to keep dwellers of about the same level together. If you have merged rooms, try to keep them full.

I’ve noticed that 2-3 dwellers in a x3 merged room will be worn down. It’s better to move the dwellers to a smaller room than leave them with too much space.

Apart from my early- to mid-game catastrophe, my vault has always been exceedingly happy. I’ve never seen my happiness drop below 80%, and that was with rooms full of dead bodies (waiting to be revived) tanking my happiness.

My recommendation is to try and keep dwellers in rooms where they do well — Strength in power plants, Perception in water treatment, Agility in diners, and everyone else either breeding, training, or exploring.

I really do not recommend picking up the radio station until later. If you can avoid it, there’s no point unless your dwellers are super-depressed.

Your main way of expanding your population will be through breeding your dwellers. Bear in mind that pregnant women won’t defend a room. This is both good and bad. Good that you can’t lose them to a hazard — bad that they will abandon the room to be defended by whomever remains behind.

For that reason, I recommend segregating your male and female population — remember, this is a game about survival. If it were about social equality, you could be more egalitarian about it.

The women in my vault tended to have higher Agility, so they were in food services until I could afford training rooms. Once I could train my dwellers in every stat, my rooms tended to be a little more diverse.

I don’t know what I’d change about the game — with the lack of anything like Perks, skills, or “special abilities,” and without variety in room effects, the game is straightforward. Given time, every vault will look the same — or fail.

Once I hit the population cap and “stabilize” my current vault (#385), I may create a new vault to test out the lunchbox bug I’ve been hearing about, and maybe implement my staggered-room strategy a little earlier. Otherwise, I don’t see this game holding my interest more than another week, tops.