The New Mayor's Handbook - Ch. 1: Home, Sweet Home

Welcome, Mayor!

Animal Crossing New Leaf, the recent Nintendo 3DS release for the series, packs even more stuff into an already dizzyingly long list of features which have collected over each iteration on the title. The game introduces the bulk of these slowly, over days and weeks, to prevent you from drowning in all of it; the rest is left up to the player to uncover.

For a lot of people, this seems to be their first Animal Crossing in the series, or at least their first since the original GameCube edition made its way to shelves roughly a decade ago. As such, I thought I'd put together a couple posts to help ease everyone into their new role as mayor.

Getting Started

When you first start out, you'll be asked some basic things - your name, your gender, the town you're traveling to, as well as what your plans are when you get there. There are two things to note during this exchange. First, the three questions you are asked regarding your plans once you arrive at your destination are what determine your facial features. If you're aiming for a specific look, the Face Guide at the New Leaf Wikispaces page is a great resource.

Second, and much more important, you'll be presented with a map of the town you're moving to, which ought to look something like this:



If you don't like the layout, say so! Rover will present you with another randomly-generated town map to assess. When picking a town, keep the following in mind:

  • Houses (both player and NPC villager types) can go anywhere so long as there aren't any other buildings in the way. What this means is just because the villager houses may be clumped together in the beginning doesn't mean they will as more NPC's move in.
  • Your town can support up to 10 NPC's. Combine this fact with all the buildings you can make through the public works projects, all the trees you'll want for fruit and mushroom harvesting, and flower fields for hybridization, and you'll realize you'd benefit quite a bit from having lots of open space to start with.
  • Beaches can only be accessed via ramps down from the main grassy areas. Note that means in the example above, roughly a quarter of the beach in this town would not be accessible until the player is able to purchase a wetsuit.
  • In the early game, the most reliable source of money is from your beaches - On average, ocean fish are more valuable than river fish and pond fish. Night bugs, while more valuable, are much harder to come by.
  • Later on, you'll be ferrying items between the island and Re-Tail frequently, so you'll have to pay attention to where these are located in relation to each other (more on why in a future post).

When you start out the first thing you should do after the introductory dialog is head north to the Main St. shopping district. In the beginning you'll find: a photo booth - used to take pictures for your Town Pass Card, a form of identification needed to do any online activity; Nook's Homes - the place to go for home renovations and remodeling; the post office - which also contains the only ATM available on the mainland; Nookling Junction - The store which sells everything from furniture to fortune cookies; Able Sisters boutique - The clothing and accessory store run by Mabel, Sable, and Labelle; and finally, The Museum - The same as you'd expect from the previous titles, though missing a few features.

Head for Nookling Junction where Tommy and Timmy will cycle between shovels, fishing rods, and bug-catching nets. Pick up either the fishing rod or bug-catching net, whichever is available (or whichever you prefer if both are in stock). If you're lucky enough to have a shovel as the second tool being sold, put together the 500 bells you'd need and grab it so you can begin collecting fossils right away.

Important note: While you *can* sell items to the two Nook children, it's in your best interest to sell at Re-Tail. Why, you ask? Reese at Re-Tail will actually give you 20% more for your stuff than the Nookling Junction kids would.

Afterwards, head to the Town Hall and ask Isabelle for help learning the ropes as mayor. When she asks you whether you'd rather learn about fishing or bug-catching, choose the one you don't have a tool for. Immediately talk to her again after she tells you to stop by Nookling Junction, and tell her you couldn't find the tool for sale. Isabelle will then give you the tool for free!

Continue going through the dialog with Isabelle to receive a free watering can, which is a tool you can't actually get until a new store is unlocked (which, quizzically enough, requires you to water a bunch of plants to unlock...)

Once you've got the shovel, fishing rod, bug-catching net, and watering can you're all set to begin raking in bells to put towards your home loan. You're going to want to focus on getting to the second level house as quickly as possible, as this triggers Tortimer (the mayor from previous games) to come visit you for the day. When he visits, he will unlock the ability to travel to the Island!

While it requires a 1,000 bell payment be made for the boat ticket, you can easily make hundreds of thousands of bells per hour if you know what you're doing, thanks to the Island's special properties. I encourage you to explore this on your own, but if you really wanna know, check out the Tips & Tricks post coming soon!

A Mile In My Shoes

This final section of the chapter will show you the morning routine of Mayor Ikaruwa of Potos Village. This whole list takes about 45 minutes to complete, and hopefully will give you an idea of the stuff you'd want to do to ensure you experience a little bit of everything the game has to offer.

  • Check my mail: Easy enough to do - if you have a blinking envelope icon on your mailbox, you should see what's up. You never know, it may be a present.
  • Water the flowers: Using your watering can, press A while facing your flowers to water them. You'll know you got them if the flowers drip with water for a moment, then show sparkles emanating from them. This is really only necessary if you care about flower hybridization - something that will be covered in a future post.
  • Take a walk: Get your shovel out and begin looking for star-shaped cracks in the ground. In clear weather you should find a total of 5 - one will be called a Pitfall Seed, which is used to prank villagers and other players; the other four will be fossils. If it rained at any point the day before you'll have 8 total cracks, because 3 will be occupied by Gyroids, waist-high, collectible fire hydrant-shaped robots that dance and sing for you. If you see any weeds (long grass) or clover patches, use the Y button to get rid of them. This is to ensure your town's cleanliness rating stays perfect.
  • Collect fruit: No sense letting it sit on the trees - Put the shovel away, then press A while walking into a tree (put away tools by pressing down on the d-pad; left and right quickly brings your tools back out). In New Leaf fruit can be stored in stacks of 9, which makes collecting fruit nowhere near as annoying as it was in previous titles.
  • Hit rocks with a shovel: Every day you'll have two special rocks - one that will crumble when hit and leave behind a rare gem (for use with furniture projects later on), the other is lovingly referred to as the "Money Rock", which will spit out bags of bells every time you hit it. The first time you hit the rock it starts counting down a timer. When the timer hits zero, you're done getting bells for the day. To maximize the amount of bells you get, dig two holes to hold your character in the corner right against the rock, then start wailing away on the rock. If you can get all 8 bags before the timer hits zero, you'll net 16,100 bells.
  • Identify fossils: Head to the museum and have Blathers check your fossils out. This way you can either donate them (yay!) or sell them (boo!).
  • Buy a fortune cookie: These are available once a day from the little Nook kids. There are 50 total fortunes, almost all of which will net you some nintendo merchandise you can't get any other way, or a random piece of rare furniture.
  • Talk to Sable: Sable is the hedgehog manning the sewing machine in the corner of the Able Sisters boutique. Talking to her every day will get her to slowly open up to you and let you in on the backstory of the three sisters. More importantly, talking to Sable for 10 days will unlock the QR Code machine, which allows you to turn your custom patterns into QR codes you can share with people, as well as the ability to scan QR codes from other people to make into clothes in your game. SUPER COOL!
  • Check the bulletin board: You only need to bother with this if you see a bird perched on top of the board. Upcoming events will be announced here such as bug and fish catching competitions, festivals, holidays, etc.
  • See if there are any traveling merchants: There are a few stores run by nomadic merchants - Katrina the fortune teller, who will tell you something you can do to increase your luck for the rest of the day; Crazy Redd the art dealer (which is how you get paintings for the museum), and several others. They'll be covered in more detail in a later post.
  • Check what's the item of the day at Re-Tail: Every day the thrift store will have two things that they offer premium purchase prices for. This will either be specific bugs, fish, fruit, or shells, or more generic things like any furniture, any shirts, any pants, etc. This way you know what to keep an eye out for

Phew! Well, that's a lot to take in for a first post, so we'll stop here. The next post will be all you need to know to get the most out of interacting with the various NPC's in the game.

Please let me know if you have any questions, or comments to add to the post!