Fallout Shelter tips and tricks: a comprehensive guide to vault management

This living guide document will help you plan and build a thriving Vault in Bethesda's hit mobile app, Fallout Shelter!

Fallout Shelter, the new mobile game by Bethesda, is an excellent game. However, it does leave a budding Overseer discovering and working out the best strategies on their own. This is appealing in some ways, but frustrating in others.

Trying to figure out how many Dwellers should be assigned to a room? I tackle that here.

Can’t seem to make heads or tails of breeding? I'll answer that below, too.

The long and the short of it is, this guide is here to help.

vault boy fallout shelter tips

Vault Boy approved!

All of the following info is from my own observations of the game, which I have been playing non-stop since it came out. I have done the research and pulled together the best tips and tricks I could come up with and could find scattered across the Internet and collated it here for your reading pleasure.

I plan on it being a living document, answering questions posed to me by readers. So, if I missed something, or you have a great tip that I didn’t discover, leave me a comment, and I’ll fix it for everyone!

Start With The Basics: A Fallout Shelter Beginners' Guide

fallout shelter tips logo fallout

Why is he always winking?!?

The Holy Trinity

Power, water, food.

These are the three most important things in the game. Without any one of these, the Vault will wither and die. Power runs rooms. Water and food powers Dwellers. Water also helps to mitigate radiation damage during raider or Deathclaw attacks.

It seems obvious, but you should strive to produce many more resources than you need at a given moments. Additionally, you should set up the resources and have them producing before trying to breed a large batch of Dwellers. You never want to be in the situation where you have too many Dwellers and you are trying to play catch up by quickly building resource rooms.

fallout shelter tips vault dwellers

Resources are shown in the three bars at the top of the screen

Which rooms should I build? Using the Overseer’s building blocks

Remember the most important rule before doing anything else:

Power is king! Build and upgrade Power rooms first!

And if you follow the below priorities, you should never have any issues:

  1. POWER
  2. Water
  3. Food
  4. Living Space
  5. Everything else

fallout shelter tips vault rooms explanation

The Four Basic Rooms

It also makes more sense to build single rooms and upgrade them and fully staff them before joining them with additional rooms to create larger spaces. This will create less Power issues and allow you to expand at a sustainable rate. But do remember, try to keep the number of rooms down, or else Power will become a major concern.

Power rooms should always be as close to fully staffed as possible unless a new satellite Power station is to be constructed. If this is the case, select the best Power Dweller and place him or her in the new room. This will allow the room to produce at the optimum rate, albeit still slowly. Upgrade the new Power room as soon as possible and appropriately staff all Power rooms as soon as is feasible.

fallout shelter tips power plant upgrade room 

An upgraded Power Plant

Something I have noticed is that the difference between 5 Dwellers in a Power Plant and 6 Dwellers in a Power Plant is negligible. What this means practically is that you should staff other rooms before fully staffing a Power room. Remember: a single room can hold 2 Dwellers, a double room can hold 4, and a triple room can hold up to 6 Dwellers.


  • Power rooms are most important.

  • Expand slowly so as not to run into resource shortages.

  • Upgrade rooms before combining rooms.

  • Staff rooms appropriately.

What do stats mean? Buck up, kiddo, you’re S.P.E.C.I.A.L.!

S.P.E.C.I.A.L. is a clever little acronym that the original developers of Fallout came up with that covers the 7 major stat categories of RPGs. Each Dweller has a different spread of these stats, making them better at certain tasks. The S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats can be raised in a number of ways, but for now, let's just focus on each Dwellers’ raw capabilities.

fallout shelter tips stats explanation special dweller

 An example of S.P.E.C.I.A.L.

  • S - Strength. Strength is the required stat for Dwellers who work in Power-type rooms. Presumedly, this is so they can crank whatever sadistic human-powered dynamo Vault-Tec had installed before the bombs fell.

  • P - Perception. Perception affects how well a Dweller can operate Water-type rooms. It is also the necessary stat for effectively using firearms. A Dweller with a high Perception can run double-duty as a Water Purifier and a Guard. For this reason, I try to place my Water Purification rooms close to my Vault door to allow rapid response to Raiders by my best marksmen. I also try to keep Water Purification rooms in the center of my vault to, again, rapidly respond to outbreaks of Radroaches or molerats.

  • E - Endurance. An oft-underappreciated skill, Endurance affects how long a Dweller can explore the Wasteland. It has little benefit inside the Vault, but this is irrelevant, as a Dweller with high Endurance should be spending most of their time traversing the Wasteland in search of items.

  • C - Charisma. Plain and simple, Charisma is necessary for getting it on. Breeders should have high Charisma to allow them to breed more rapidly, as the time they spend flirting is reduced before they do the deed. Charisma also affects the chance that your Radio Room has of bringing in wanderers from the Wasteland.

  • I - Intelligence. Another simple and intuitive stat, Intelligence shows how smart a Dweller is and thus, how effective they are at science-related tasks. Dwellers with high Intelligence should be sequestered away in Med-Bays and Science Labs, making Stimpaks and RadAways for the rest of the Vault.

  • A - Agility. Perhaps the most comical of the skills, Agility is used in Food rooms. Dwellers with high Agility scores should be in the kitchen, flipping burgers with poise and grace. Evidently, all Vault dining areas are either kung-fu dojos, with cooking ninjas flying through the air, or elegant opera houses, with the cooks practicing ballet on the way to the tables.

  • L - Luck. Another underappreciated skill, Luck increases the odds that you will get Caps when gathering resources from a room. Luck also affects the odds of successfully rushing a room and increases the amount of Caps received if you succeed. Dwellers with high Luck can be placed anywhere, in accordance with their other skills, and they will be a valuable asset.

Each Dweller has a particular spread of stats when you first receive them, but that doesn’t mean they have to be that way forever! Once you get about two dozen Dwellers, you begin to unlock Training Rooms. You can place Dwellers in these rooms to train their respective stats.

fallout shelter tips funny gym workout dweller pregnant

Who is making those poor pregnant women lift weights?!?

It does take a while to train Dwellers and they won’t be helping to produce any resources, but if you manage it correctly, you can cycle Dwellers through with minimal impact to your resource production. The rooms and the skills they train are fairly intuitive and they are found below.

  • Weight Room - Strength

  • Armory - Perception

  • Fitness Room - Endurance

  • Lounge - Charisma

  • Classroom - Intelligence

  • Athletics Room - Agility

  • Game Room - Luck


  • S.P.E.C.I.A.L. represents a Dwellers stats.

  • Different stats correspond with different roles.

  • You should always be cycling your Dwellers to train their stats up in Training Rooms.

How to rush rooms successfully

Rushing rooms is perhaps the easiest way to get Caps quickly, especially if you have a lot of Dwellers with high Luck. It is also useful when you have low resources, and you need a quick boost to get out of the red.

Depending on the stats of the Dwellers assigned to the room, the percentage for failure can range anywhere from about 15% to 30% for the first attempt. The chance of failure increases about 8-10% with each following attempt, regardless of success or failure. If you do fail, one of three incidents can occur:

  1. A fire can break out. This isn’t that bad, and the dwellers inside the room can usually handle it no problem.
  2. Molerats can invade. This only happens in rooms that are touching dirt, i.e. exterior rooms. This is also usually not a big deal, but molerats have a nasty penchant for spreading quickly and gnawing at your wires, sapping some of your much needed Power.
  3. Radroaches. If you have even heard of this game, you know that these seemingly innocuous creatures are the second greatest threat to the safety of your Vault. The small creatures create a huge nuisance and should be stomped out as quickly as possible. Bring your heaviest guns to bear and eradicate them as soon as they appear.

fallout shelter tips fire incident dwellers guide

"No, we're fine, Overseer! Really!"

If you succeed, you get the room’s normal resource amount, plus some Caps and XP for the Dwellers within. As the chance for failure increases, so does the reward.

If you have a room full of well-equipped and capable Dwellers, you should try to rush them as much as possible. If they succeed, bravo! You get good rewards!

If they fail, they take care of whatever incident comes up with relative ease, and they all get an XP bonus. Aside from the risk of a Dweller dying from poor management, it’s a little bit of a win-win.


  • Rushing is good. Do it often.

  • Rushing incidents suck, but with correct management, are mostly just annoying.

How to find and equip the best loot (the core of Fallout)

When you send a Dweller out into the Wasteland, he or she will sometimes find items in the form of outfits or weapons. Outfits grant bonuses to S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats while weapons are, well, weapons. To be able to store weapons and outfits effectively, you should build a Storage room. As you build larger ones and upgrade them, your capacity for holding onto loot increases. That said, you shouldn’t have much loot in storage, as your Dwellers should be wearing what you find.

fallout shelter tips equipment gear weapons rusty funny

Someone should be cleaning those rusty weapons...

Be sure to equip your Dwellers with both weapons and outfits as soon as you can to take advantage of the stat boosting nature of outfits and the defensive capabilities of the weapons. Always try to make sure that the outfit matches what the Dweller’s job is.

For example, if a Dweller has high Strength and is working in a Power room, equip him or her with a Strength boosting outfit.

Using outfits, you are also able to make some Dwellers who were previously unsuited for a task into a powerhouse for that job. Typically, this is undesirable, as it is an inefficient use of manpower, but it can be done if needed.

Equip your best weapons to the Dwellers that have the highest Perception, as they will be able to make the best use of them, but don’t let the Dwellers with low Perception go unarmed. During an incident, they should be able to defend themselves until the cavalry can arrive.

fallout shelter tips raiders incident guide

Hmmm... Bazooka or sword?

Fortunately, the game has a mechanic that switches out the Dweller with the lowest combat capability for a newcomer if the room is full. This means that you can bring all six of your sharpshooters to a room and they will kick out and replace the Dwellers already in there, saving you some micromanagement.


  • Gear is love, gear is life.

  • Effectively use gear to improve certain Dwellers.

  • Give the best weapons to the Dwellers with the highest Perception.

How to heal Dwellers: Save me with your love, baby!

As soon as you can, build a Med-bay and slap your Dweller with the highest Intelligence in there to start making you some Stimpaks. These little honey’s heal your Dwellers and can help during an incident or during Wasteland exploration.

You should try to rush these rooms and reach your limit of Stimpaks in storage as soon as possible because, trust me, you can never have enough. Just when you think you have plenty, a radroach infestation occurs or you decide to send out two Dwellers into the Wasteland, each with 10 Stimpaks. You know when a Dweller needs some healing when their health bar has black in it. Each Stimpak heals about 40% of the bar.

fallout shelter tips vault medbay rooms

I'm glad you like making Stimpaks. You'll be doing it forever.

RadAway is a little less important, but vital for long Wasteland excursions. Created in the Science Lab, RadAway allows your Wasteland explorer to stay away from the Vault for even longer, hopefully finding some good loot in the process. Radiation damage is shown by the red in the health bar and can be seen in Vault residents after Raiders have broken in.

After Raiders break the Vault door, radiation from the Wasteland seeps in and damages anyone and everyone.


  • Stimpaks heal Dwellers’ health. RadAway removes radiation.

How to breed: "If Roses Still Grew in the Wasteland…"

"I would wander forever to find you one."

That’s just one of the cheesy, sappy pick up lines that your Dwellers will use to get into each others’ pants. Somehow, it works and if you leave two Dwellers of opposite sex in a Living Area for long enough, they will do what humans do and make little baby Dwellers.

fallout shelter tips breeding vault dwellers funny

Bow chicka bow wow...

Unfortunately for us, the breeding mechanics are somewhat simplistic and are difficult to utilize effectively to make the best babies. It is not as simple as putting two Dwellers with high stats into a room and BOOM, you've made a baby with high stats.

Research is ongoing, but it appears that the highest stat of the two Dwellers is passed along to the offspring, giving the child a “3” to start in that stat (as opposed to the normal 1 or 2). The rest of the stats seem to be randomly distributed.

For those of us who breed Pokemon, this is infuriating. In Pokemon, through painstaking breeding programs, it is possible to achieve a perfect Pokemon. This doesn’t seem to be the case in Fallout Shelter. So take your two best Dwellers, fix them up in something nice, and let the magic happen.

Also, keep in mind to responsibly breed. If you have one stud father all your children, they won’t be able to breed with each other. This rule only seems to apply to directly related (within one generation) Dwellers.

fallout shelter tips vault dwellers breeding funny

Beware of making unprotected smilies!

Also important to note, don’t have all your women pregnant at once. The reason is twofold. One: pregnant women can’t respond to incidents; and two: the resulting baby boom will drain your resources as children cannot help produce resources, but will still use them. Typical kids.

You cannot tell when a pregnant woman will give birth to a toddling Dweller, but you can tell when a baby Dweller will mature into an adult by looking at your Dweller roster.


  • Take some Dwellers with high stats and let them go at it.

  • Maintain a healthy gene pool by having multiple breeders.

  • Pregnant women can help produce resources, but cannot respond to incidents.

  • Babies don’t produce resources, but do drain them.

How to fight Radroaches, Raiders, Molerats, fires, and Deathclaws

I love the smell of Radroach in the morning...

Actually, I totally don't. Radroaches suck. They are the bane of my existence and they will be for you too. You can set up well-armed response teams and organize your Vault to optimize travel paths for quick response all you want; Radroaches will still drive you crazy. At this point in the game, there are 5 different types of incidents, each with a unique set of concerns.

  1. Fight Raiders - Wasteland thugs that break down your Vault door and mess your day up. The threat posed by Raiders is twofold. They can directly cause damage by attacking your Dwellers, and they cause indirect damage by letting radiation in through the broken door. The door won’t be repaired until the raiders are dead, so make sure to respond to them rapidly and with well-armed Dwellers. The Raiders’ strength and damage output seems to scale in accordance to the amount of Dwellers you have in your Vault. One way to mitigate the damage caused by raiders is to station two very well-armed Dwellers right at the Vault door as guards.

    fallout shelter tips vault dweller guide raiders

    Huh, I've never had two swords in my face before...

  2. Fight Molerats - These little buggers will appear in areas of the Vault that are in contact with the outside dirt. They don’t do a lot of damage to your Dwellers (although they can kill them if you aren’t paying attention) but they do eat your Power. While you should have excess Power most of the time, if they strike during a carefully planned Vault expansion, it can cripple you. They also have a tendency to move rapidly from room to room, so micromanagement is key to responding effectively to a molerat threat. Be sure to bring the big guns with these guys. You don’t want them chomping on your Power any longer than they have to.

  3. Fight Radroaches - They can appear anytime, anywhere. Kill them as quickly as possible. They seem to attack the weakest (lowest level) Dwellers first, causing massive casualties if left unchecked. These are the second most dangerous threat, wipe them out as soon as humanly possible.

    fallout shelter tips vault dweller guide radroach

    Nope. Totally not overkill.

  4. Fight Fire - As mentioned above, fire is totally not a big deal. Just slap some Dwellers in the room and wait a few minutes. They should put it out with minimal problems. However, do not send only one Dweller to a room on fire; they will certainly die. Try to send the maximum amount for each room. Remember: equipment doesn’t matter when responding to a fire.

  5. Fight Deathclaws - If you have ever played a Fallout game, you don’t need any further explanation. Bigger, faster, and deadlier than Raiders, Deathclaws can easily wipe out a Vault. You better bring your best micromanagement skills when these bad boys come knocking.

fallout shelter tips vault dweller guide deathclaw

Run. Just run.


  • The Wasteland is dangerous, but it’s the threats inside the Vault that should worry you the most.

Miscellaneous Tips, Tricks, and Advice:
  • Completing Daily Objectives can give you a huge leg up, whether in the form of bonus Caps and Lunchboxes.

  • If an Objective says “Equip X items,” you can just unequip an item, click off the screen, and re-equip the item. This counts as far as the game is concerned.

  • “Have X Dwellers pregnant” does not mean “at one time.” Spread it out a little.

  • You can check the status of Dwellers, including specific stats, by clicking on the Vault door logo in the corner.

  • You can also sort Dwellers by any of the column parameters by simply clicking on them.

  • You can watch the progress of your current Wasteland explorer(s) by clicking on their status. This is also how you ask them to return.

    fallout shelter tips vault dweller guide james special dweller

    You're doing good, Liam Neeson! Err.. I mean, James!

A Job Well Done

Fallout Shelter is as difficult as you want to make it. If you play things right and heed this guide, you should have a thriving Vault in no time. If not, you will be in for a bad time. Trust me. I learned the hard way.

Leave your questions or comments below and I will incorporate them in the next update!

I will be updating the guide as new builds are released, so be sure to check back often!

fallout shelter tips vault dweller guide overseer door

But it's up to you to keep them happy!

Published Aug. 19th 2015
View Comments
  • Brad_1285
    Radroaches are actually way easier to deal with than the moles. I don't even pay attention to a roach attack. So far the only things that have crippled my vault are 1. Radiated water (too many babies in the beginning; it happened only once) 2. Moles (though it isn't a problem anymore) and 3. Deathclaws (the bane of my existence; I just recently stocked myself up enough to make it a minor issue). The part about kids stats is for the most part correct. I have high stat characters and have been making babies with 5's. By far the best thing I have done was destroy the first elevator (bottom part, anyways) and put my elevator on the far right. Raiders don't get past the first floor and Deathclaws are easily predictable now. It sucks that you can only set up the base structure in the beginning (I did it for my OCD, but it turned out strategically marvellous).

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