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Virtual Chinchillas Genetics Guide

Written by Chris Hamilton (AKA GrayRodent)
Last updated: April 2012

Since the introduction of color genetics and realistic award placement in v-chins there have been many inquiries about how it works and many misunderstandings about it. This guide is for everyone whose goal is to achieve the highest possible quality ratings in their chinchillas for the Virtual Chinchillas game. This document will attempt to explain the underlying principles of genetics used in v-chins and how it compares to real-world breeding. Included are proven strategies for achieving high quality ratings in the game and tips for players just starting out.

Please note that v-chins is constanstly changing and this documentation may not always be up to date. This guide does not cover the game's interface in any detail and focuses solely on strategy.

Old vs New

In older versions of v-chins, points were the sole inherited value. Parents with high points would have children with high points. Caring for these chins and taking them to shows would increase these points and higher award placements were given by the virtual chinchilla judge based on these accumulated points.

Earlier versions of the game ignored the inheritance of colors and chose them at random. Players enjoyed adding new colors to their collection and playing to rack up as many points as possible.

In new versions, the chinchilla judge now places awards based on four categories of quality which are inherited. Just like in real life, animals with these inherited qualities cannot be influenced by points. Now to get high quality chins it is necessary to carefully plan and breed individuals to improve each successive generation. Improvement is guaranteed when you follow an effective strategy and v-chins are doomed to failure when you don't.

In addition to judging by quality is the introduction of color genetics. Now color is inherited from immediate parents and based on real-world principles. Outcomes are idealistic in order to prevent strange or unrecognized color classes and to alleviate some of the headaches real breeder's face in getting clear color clarity for a given color class. The outcomes are probabilistic meaning that your chances of getting a certain result may be more or less based on dominant and recessive gene types. We don't have partials here which makes it easy. If you can read a punnet square you can figure it out easily.

What's Your Strategy?

Different players may play v-chins with different goals in mind. Perhaps it is to sell the most on the market or get the highest points. If your goals demand quality you will require a good strategy.

Sometimes its tempting to just go for it and see what results but this is a slow game that works at a slow pace. It may take months of careful experimentation to see patterns emerge. The good news is you don't have to do that because we're covering it here. To get good quality in your v-chins, breeding just any old combination won't do. You should know what quality is, how it is measured, and how to make the most of what you have.

The Measure of Quality

If you're aiming for quality it might help to understand how it is measured in the game. Real chins are judged based on standards set by the fur industry to produce the highest quality pelts. Breeders of pet chinchillas should be interested in these real-world standards because the qualities that make for luxurious pelts also make for beautiful pets. In v-chins the virtual chinchilla judge will base his judgment on four simplified criteria:

Conformation
A chinchilla should have a "blocky" stance. That is when the space between its shoulders is roughly the same as the space between its hips. Chinchillas tend to have a narrower stance in front than in back which is considered to be an undesirable trait.

Color
Color clarity in real life takes several qualities into account that makes for esthetic pelt coloring. This includes things like veiling on animals that have it. Veiling is the dark pattern along the back of the chinchilla caused by the black tips in the fur. Color clarity evaluation also takes into account the whiteness of the whites as well. In the game this rating is simplified. Just like the rest - put the best with the best to get the best.

Fur quality
Fur quality deals primarily with the density of the fur. Fur that stands up and is smooth and uniform is most desirable. Fur that is too short, too long, or too small in diameter, or not dense enough causes the fur to lay down. In the game there is one fur quality trait that lumps it all together.

Size
Size is certainly important for pelters but is also desirable for pets. The bigger and more desirable the animal is, the higher the price that can be fetched.

Quality Numbers

Each v-chin is assigned a quality number that is based on the four quality categories combined. It can range from 1 being the lowest to 10 being the highest. Anything less than 5 will probably take a couple generations of careful breeding to get a 1st place award. Anything 8 or above will be placed as Grand Show Champion, the highest award possible.

It is important to see what the judge says about strengths and weaknesses. The messages are designed to be as intuitive as possible. Simply going on numbers will not give always give you a good result. Remember to pair chinchillas to breed weakness out. If one is strong in one area it will help fill in where the other may be weak. Otherwise you will see no improvement in that particular quality category.

Standards First

Before we begin breeding we must consider our goals. Some of us may aim to get as many color choices as possible but it is important to begin with the highest quality standard greys possible. What do standards have anything to do with our colors like white or beige or violet? You might know that the standard grey is the color of chinchillas in the wild. It is from these that we get the other colors. Colors are the result of genetic mutations that occured in rare occasions in the 200+ year history of the chinchilla industry.

These mutations did not come without problems. The first generations of each mutation color were smaller than their relatives, and their pelt qualities were quite poor. They had to be bred with standards to improve their line or they would die off and the mutation would be lost. Even after many generations of painstaking work these animals tend to have inferior attributes to their grey cousins and when bred with each other result in a degradation of overall quality.

Another problem with mutation colors is the possibility of a lethal gene, which in the game, results in a failed pregnancy and more time wasted for recovery.

Therefore, no matter which colors we want the most in our herd, our priority should be attaining the highest quality standards possible.

Standard Benefit

Breeding two mutations together can increase your chances of getting a mutation color but always at a cost of quality. Some outcomes, such as a homozygous (homo) beige color and Violet Wraps, requires two mutation chins to be bred. To get a decent outcome for these you must use exceptional breeders because you will get lower qualities than those of the parents.

Although not all good jobs have standard benefits there is always a benefit when you breed a standard with another chinchilla. To improve the quality of your stock remember this standard benefit rule:

  • Standard to Standard OR Standard to Carrier = Maximum benefit
  • Standard to Mutation Color = No benefit
  • Mutation Color to Mutation Color = Negative benefit.

In v-chins if both parents are of equal quality in the game breeding a standard to standard can result in an offspring with higher qualities than its parents. Breeding a standard to a mutation color provides benefits as well but not as much. Breeding two mutations will produce equal quality at best but most likely will not.

Keep in mind there is uncertainty built into the game so you won't know exactly how individual ratings will be affected but you will notice a pattern consistent with these rules.

Lethal Factors

Some mutations can carry a lethal gene and if inherited from both parents you will not get a baby. To prevent a lethal combination remember these two colors: VELVET and WHITE.
Velvet, also known as Touch of Velvet or TOV carries a lethal gene with it. White does too. Remember this and avoid some headaches.

Males and Females

In real life chinchilla pregnancy is over 100 days and then the babies must be weaned. And then there should be some recovery time to make sure she gets back to a good weight before mating again. Males and females must be acquainted and carefully introduced prior to breeding to prevent fighting. Then there's waiting for estrus to occur. In the game be glad you don't have to deal with all that!

In v-chins every pairing is a success and pregnancy can be as short as a day or as long as five days. Recovery time is three days for females and males can be bred as many times as needed in a day. Which means that it is crucial to have the highest quality males possible because you will breed multiple females to every male. And when it comes to standard males you get the standard benefit over that.

Complimenting Qualities

Since the four qualities (Conformation, color, fur, and size) work independently of each other, as in real life, it is good to compliment your v-chins with opposing qualities. That is, if one is strong in one area but weak in another, it may be possible to pair it with a mate having opposite strengths and weaknesses. The offspring can get a better placement by inheriting the strengths. By exploiting the standard benefit you can get better breeders to put with your mutation colors and get good quality offspring.

Culling

In the game it's easy to get rid of chinchillas that have less than desirable traits. Culling can be done in one of four ways. If your animal is still somewhat decent you can try to sell it on the open market. If it's bad then please don't. Remember that you have a reputation to uphold. A wholesale license will allow you to sell any chinchilla for 50.00 to the wholesale dealer. You can pay 100.00 to put it in a shelter or retire it for free. I highly recommend saving up for the wholesale license once you've got some good stock. I use that feature regularly. Just don't forget to un-equip any valuable items or you loose them. Be careful not to sell stock that you should be breeding with. It is just as bad to keep stock that will hold you back. The idea of culling to is to improve your herd.

Managing Virtual Money

Although this does not relate directly to genetics it can affect your ability to buy breeding stock. Obviously starting out virtual cash is hard to come by and you know that it's best to stick to the essentials. What might not be obvious is what is essential. With all the items available it is important to know that only a few of them have practical value. The rest will give you an increase in points for a chinchilla. As you know points can be improved but quality is permanent. Things like a cage, water bottle, chew toys, etc. are needed for a real chin but not in this game. Don't buy these starting out.

Items for breeding are certainly essential. Each female should have a breeding collar. You should familiarize yourself with the procedures for pair breeding and ranch runs. Keep in mind you don't have to buy the expensive ranch run cages to breed. It takes a lot more clicks but can save some money starting out by using pair breeding with multiple v-chins.

Males must be equipped with a baby safe cage before you are allowed to breed in the game. Remember that ranch run cages are used with the males. The only thing a ranch run cage does for a female is add points.

Items for taking a chinchilla to a show are important. It is possible to share items by adding and removing them from different individual chins. It is a pain but it can be done. Starting out all you need is the data from your chinchilla judge. Most players just paste that into the notes for each animal. These notes are also important for selling. Start with these items:

  1. Travel cage
  2. Grooming kit
  3. Dust bath house

It is important to play the games to get virtual money. Check the classifieds often for good breeding stock. Once you start raising quality chins consider selling them on the open market.
You don't need a ranch brand but if you're selling chins regularly it can help sales to get your name out and market your chins.

Colors

Now we get to the part everyone is probably most interested in. If you have skipped to straight this part you will fail if you haven't read about the importance and use of standards above.

Since it is not practical to list all the possible color combinations and their probable outcomes I'll recommend you use the charts found at chinchillaclub.com to see how probable an outcome is given two colors. In real life is it not good practice to mix colors together since it can take many generations of breeding the same color to get good coloring. In the game color outcomes are always ideal, so mix away.

Here are some pointers on color that might help you make sense of it all:

Black and Brown Velvet
The velvet gene is not a color as much as it is a gene that exaggerates any markings that would otherwise be subtle. This includes the black veiling (expressed as black hair tips above the white bar on a standard grey) along the back and face giving the markings a dark or black appearance.

A Standard with TOV is called a Black Velvet. A Beige with TOV is a Brown Velvet. Other TOV crosses exist in reality but only these two are included in the game as of now.

Don't forget homozygous velvet (inheriting velvet from both sides) is a dead velvet.

Ebony
Ebony is not a color as much as it a gene that results in the extension of the color down over the belly of the animal. Ebony is a crucial gene in making color wraps such as the famous violet wrap where the belly is not white but the same color as the fur on its back. In most animals the ebony gene will darken the veiling and the belly. Real world solid wraps are very difficult to accomplish but in v-chins you get idealistic color results with every wrap.

Ebony comes in two flavors. There is a light ebony and plain ebony. Light ebony is a heterozygous ebony meaning the chinchilla inherets one ebony gene from one parent. Ebony chinchillas inherit ebony genes from both sides. Therefore, to get ebony you must breed two chins with the ebony gene.

Homo Beige
Homo beige requires color genes from both sides. Breed two beiges together to get a homo beige which looks slightly different from a regular hetero beige. Breeding a homo beige to a standard will always give you a hetero beige.

Carriers
Standard carriers look like standard grey chinchillas but carry mutation color genes that can be exploited. Don't forget these also carry the standard benefit, at least, enough to prevent a quality downgrade caused by breeding two mutants. It is also possible its offspring will inherit the standard gene. It may take a few times of getting colors you don't want but eventually you'll get it and it will be improved quality. Remember you can always cull the lesser ones from your herd.

White Mosaic
White Mosaic comes from a mixture of white and standard.

Don't forget a homozygous white chinchilla equals no chinchilla.

Sapphire and Violet
Sapphire and violet are recessive genes. They can exist in standard carriers but must be received by both parents to be a sapphire or violet.

In Conclusion

I have covered what I think would be the basics of strategy for quality in the game and enough about colors to make sense of how the game uses it. It may seem like a lot of information but in practice it is all very repetitive and easy to remember after you've done it for the umpteenth time. In the long run you will see good results if you understand the concepts behind these strategies and wisely use them to your advantage. Enjoy the game.

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