Thursday, April 17, 2014

Starting The Apocalypse

This blog was created in April 2014 and reflected the rules as they existed at that time. I was an adjudicator for the tournament and involved in maintaining the rule set, but it's 2017 now, I've stepped down as adjudicator months ago, and the rules have changed considerably. This blog will be kept as an historical footnote; however, I am now in the process of creating a blog that reflects the new rules. That can be found here.


Sure, this is a Sims 3 Apocalypse Challenge blog. It's not my first. There's a pretty decent chance it won't be anywhere near the last. But this time, we're not going for story.

This time, we're going behind the scenes. How does one play this challenge? What decisions do I make, as a player, to kick things off and keep things moving? How do I decide to deal with adversity?

I don't claim to be perfect. I've played the challenge many times, and I have a fairly active part in the Facebook community. I even help out with the website. So I'm not a novice, either. There are a lot of rules for this challenge - it can be very intimidating for new players. Hopefully, this blog might help dispel some of that daunting mass of rules in the hopes of discovering why we willingly play with such a laundry list of restrictions.

Because it's fun!

Anyway, let's get down to it. I've chosen Appaloosa as my starting town. I have all current Sims 3 expansions (which, given Sims 4 isn't far away, is likely all the expansions that will ever exist) through to Into the Future. I've never played with Island Paradise before, and I've barely played with Into the Future. Normally, I don't play with Generations or Pets active. I'm choosing to do so here for illustrative purposes, and perhaps to showcase some of the pros and cons of this stance.

I'm playing with a few of Twallan's mods, which can all be found here:
  • Error Trap
  • Master Controller (with the additional Cheats package)
  • Overwatch
  • Story Progression
  • Traveler
None of these are required of course, but with the exception of Story Progression they all greatly aid the stability of the game. Many players have problems with the default Sims story progression - especially with supernaturals not spawning frequently enough. I leave Story Progression with default settings except for turning off the stories.

Before creating our Sim, I first pop over to the Options screen to configure the aging settings:

They are slightly different to default settings; babies and toddler stages are shorter (as is elder), young adult and adult stages are slightly longer. Since I'm playing with Pets, let's go ahead and change those too:

I've shown dogs here, but cats and horses are the same. Essentially the baby stage is minimal, and the elder stage 1 day longer than the default for dogs (cats and horses have different defaults, but in the Apocalypse Challenge, one size fits all).

Next, I set the weather options:

As you can see, we start with only winter enabled. I'm Australian, so I've set the temperature to Celsius, but obviously that doesn't have any game impact. We are allowed to set whatever we like as the lunar cycle; I've made it the maximum of 10 days, but you can leave that at the default of 6 if you prefer. You're even allowed to disable the cycle, but if you do that you have to remember which day of the week is "zombie day". As you'll discover, there is a lot to remember already in an Apocalypse Challenge, so I am not going to add to my burden.

Finally, let's set the Demographics:

As you can see, I have everything ticked here. Note that since I'm using Twallan's Story Progression mod, the Enable Story Progression won't do anything for me, but it doesn't hurt and I'm trying to make it representative for people that don't like using mods. I've also selected to opt out of the celebrity system. This can be changed when I start the Music or Film careers; until then, celebrities are basically a disadvantage as you can't keep any of the gifts and you have to put up with paparazzi. It's not fatal, but again - I don't see any reason to make things harder than they already are.

It's time to create our household. You can start with a Sim of almost any supernatural species, and you can start with a pet as well if you like. But I'm going to keep things simple here and go with a human female, young adult. There are pros and cons to each gender:
  • If you have a male founder, you have more time available. As long as you lift Hopelessness and get married before you become an elder, in principle your founder can be uncontrollable and still help produce the next generation (control his spouse and have her invite him to Try For Baby).
  • On the other hand, if you have a female founder, you can marry any male of young adult age and older and not have to worry that they are past their fertile years. It can be difficult to tell whether any randomly met Sim is a young adult or an adult - at least, I find it hard to spot.
Past experience has taught me that I would rather rush through lifting a restriction than risk marrying someone that was already too old to get pregnant. So I'm going with a female founder, and I start by randomising everything for her appearance. By all means take your time to make your founder look the way you want to; I am choosing this for expedience.

I definitely don't want randomised traits though. It is a truism that if you ask 5 Apocalypse Challenge players what the best founder traits are, you'll get 10 different opinions. Here are my choices, along with my reasoning:
  • Ambitious. Especially with a female founder, I will need to lift her career restriction as quickly as possible, and Ambitious is good for any career. It also gets you more Lifetime Reward points!
  • Friendly. It can be really tough to meet and make friends in an Apocalypse Challenge; every little bit helps. Good alternatives here are Charismatic and Schmoozer, but Friendly is a decent middle ground (Charismatic lives and dies by how many Sims you manage to meet, and Schmoozer is only useful at work).
  • Genius. A lot of careers need Logic skill, and you will likely have a lot chess playing time anyway.
  • Inappropriate. At the start of an Apocalypse Challenge (until you lift Medical) you can't shower or bathe. Inappropriate Sims can use a sink to sponge bath themselves. Note that you must be careful with Inappropriate Sims not to let them offend people in conversation. An alternative here is Slob; Slobs don't get to sponge bath, but they aren't bothered by being messy.
  • Workaholic. Workaholic means I can use Work Hard for longer without stressing out my Sim. There are good alternatives here; Athletic is worth considering as a lot of careers use Athletic and it's useful to get to Athletic 10 before becoming an elder, but since elders are uncontrollable anyway I prefer Workaholic for the founder.
Of this list, you'd probably find most people agree with Ambitious and Inappropriate (or Slob) as being good picks; the rest are debatable. None are crucial, but try to avoid negative traits for your founder - you'll get plenty of those with your next generation anyway. No need to go looking for trouble.

Now I pick the lifetime wish. This is important; without the ability to lock wishes, this will be the main source of Lifetime Reward points for the founder. There are a few rules of thumb for this:
  • Don't pick a career oriented wish. Your founder may not get that career, and then it's just wasted.
  • Don't pick a reward that you can't complete because of Apocalypse restrictions. For example, Blog Artist requires you to have a 5 star blog; you can't have a blog at all without lifting both Science and Gamer, so that's right out. More subtle is Bottomless Nectar Cellar; you can't travel without lifting a lot of restrictions, so you're never going to be able to make that with your founder.
Basically, you want a skill oriented LTW. There are a bunch of possibilities - Chess Legend is not too difficult (you can call over chess opponents on Mondays and Thursdays, as long as your board is outside or you're in a nearby lot). Illustrious Author is well within reach. But I like to keep things flexible with Renaissance Sim. Yes, that means I have to master 3 skills instead of only 2, but they can be any 3 skills, which is often easier.

There are some other choices. Heartbreaker is tricky, but possible. Perfect Student is certainly possible, and if you're going to get that at all you want it for your founder. But you can't go far wrong with a skill oriented LTW.

Finally, choose your favourite colours and foods, and your star sign. The best choice for food is probably Peanut Butter and Jelly as you'll probably make a lot of those. The rest you can leave as random (I got favourite music Soul, favourite colour lilac, and Virgo). I'll name my Sim Miss Anna Struction.

If you like, you can add a pet cat or dog. Be aware that this will make it difficult in terms of food at the start of the challenge; I don't recommend it, regardless of how useful pets can be. I'm forgoing that choice here.

Time to take a snapshot:

Almost ready to start, but I think that's enough for an introductory post! The next step is to choose a place to live, and then head to University. I'll tackle that in the next post.

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