The Sims 4 community is a little sadistic, and unabashedly so. The sandbox capabilities of EA’s otherwise family-friendly life sim have always encouraged us to explore those morbid curiosities with a proud lack of compunction. You’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who didn’t delight in deleting pool ladders in The Sims 2, and it’s a unique kind of hilarious to install some of the best Sims 4 mods like Life’s Tragedies, trigger random acts of violence, and let chaos reign.
Fan-made community challenges are another way we like to make life harder, both for our digital playthings and for ourselves. My own attempt at the 100 Infants Challenge ended in starvation, thanks to a few recent base-game updates that turned regular gameplay on its head. To this end, I caught up with a fellow Simmer to chat about her experiences navigating one of the most intense, comprehensive, and difficult-sounding challenges of them all: the Ultimate Decades Challenge.
“My challenge began with my 1st generation, young adult Founder: Thobian Wielder,” said Flamestormer on Reddit. “In the year 1300, he married Lilith Wielder, and they started their life on the lot “2 Olde Mill Lane”, located in Henford-on-Bagley, with only a small farm and house to their name.”
Wilding out with the Wielders
The first thing you should know about the Ultimate Decades Challenge is that it will take you a long, long time to complete. The original challenge saw Simmers playing through each decade methodically, from the 1800s to present-day USA, but Flamestormer is working from Morbid Gamer‘s revised rulebook that starts off in the 1300s instead.
This is the third Sims challenge Flamestormer has embarked on, but the litany of major base-game updates over the last two years alone has introduced a new life state, in-game social media apps, and a compatibility system to make condition-based gameplay a whole lot harder. Especially, Flamestormer has found, when you’re meant to be roleplaying historical stories.
“I have an override for the phone, which makes it look like a book instead of a phone,” says Flamestormer. She’s not using any cheats, but certain mods have helped her to work around the game’s modern proclivities, including a religion mod, Ye Olde Cookbook, and Medieval Activities mod. Another allows children to cook for each other, and for them not to be taken away by social workers for missing school. Who had time for school in 1300 anyway, especially when kids were far too busy trying not to die from the common cold?
“Cottage Living was definitely a good addition,” Flamestormer says of how newer Sims packs, such as The Sims 4: Cottage Living, have taken some of the sting out of her monumental challenge. “It gave me a world with the aesthetic I wanted, the Simple Living lot challenge also made gameplay more challenging and fun, and the option to have a proper farm with farm animals made it also more fun for me to keep my Sims occupied.”
Simple Living is a home lot trait that requires all food to be prepared with freshly farmed, foraged, or bought ingredients, and doesn’t allow any electricity to be fed to the home. As a consequence, Flamestormer can only use items and furniture marked with the Simple Living trait. It might be a frustrating restriction, but a roaring fire sounds far more medieval than auto-lit bathrooms.
Another recent expansion, The Sims 4: Growing Together, is an appreciated addition when it comes to the Ultimate Decades Challenge. “It did add the nice addition of having children be able to develop adult skills, such as fishing and charisma, earlier than before,” says Flamestormer, “which does make it more interesting to let them do more ‘adult’ tasks.”
When Lilith gave birth to the family’s third child, however, things quickly got trickier. “Around the time their oldest turned 1.5 years old, in 1303, Lilith gave birth to a new baby. Sadly, he was stillborn,” Flamestormer sadly reported on Reddit. “Thobian and Lilith still decided to name him Henry, before burying him in their yard. Their eldest children, now toddlers, made their lives surprisingly a little easier, and both were able to grieve properly for the child they never got to know.” Ouch.
Death in the family was only made harder to manage once randomly-acquired quirks and infant characteristics kicked in. “One of my toddlers had the Picky Eater, Light Sleeper, and Hates Bedtime quirks. This caused her sleep and hunger needs to almost never be full, and caused them to easily slip into orange or red without me noticing. I don’t mind a challenge every once in a while, but it got to a point where I almost constantly needed to focus on her, just to make sure she actually ate something or actually slept.” Thanks for that, Parenthood and Growing Together.
The kids don’t seem to be the only ones that were categorically not alright. With a short life span set for the whole family, the five day-long infancy stage meant that Lilith was constantly having to breastfeed the twins and, subsequently, eternally famished. “She either had to starve for a bit, or I would need to end up making extra food just for her because the others weren’t hungry enough yet.
“It also added the annoyance of sims constantly ‘checking on’ toddlers, infants and newborns autonomously, even with autonomy off,” says Flamestormer of another occupational hazard of Sim parenting post-infants update. “Whenever I looked at another sim for a moment, my male Sim was either feeding the baby with a bottle, putting it somewhere on the floor, taking it to the complete other side of the lot and leaving it there or causing my other sims to not be able to interact with the baby.” Since bottle-feeding wasn’t really a thing until the 16th century, this was a historically-inaccurate no-no for Flamestormer.
She went on to describe how the terrible twos just kept on kicking. “Sims autonomously refused to cook or sleep because their actions constantly got overwritten by their need to check on the baby, making it nearly impossible to properly play with my Sims as long as they had anything toddler aged or younger in their household.” This is something I’ve experienced in-game myself; parents will neglect all of their own needs to tend to the babies, even if it means collapsing in a pool of their own urine from exhaustion. Again, ouch.
We’ve only just begun
By 1309, things took an even more dramatic turn for the worse. Both Thobian and Lilith succumbed to the flu and died, leaving their six children orphaned and being cared for by neighbors.
So what’s next for the Wielder family, with the eldest heirs being just eight years old? “I do think the next 10 years will be a lot harder, as a part of it will be played with no teen-or-older aged sims,” says Flamestormer. “I am planning on keeping the religion mod and have all Sims be Worshippers of the Watcher until there is a time where it makes sense for them to convert to a different religion or become atheists.”
It seems newer Sims packs have had their pros and cons when it comes to the Ultimate Decades Challenge, but it’s not going to be all wool-farming and lord-praising from here on out. Following the historical canon, Flamestormer expects the devastation of plague and famine will greatly reduce the times she can feed her sims, and might even result in her having to kill some of them off. For accuracy purposes, of course.
Check out some other games like The Sims 4 for more life sim antics, from Animal Crossing to Yonder.