ACNH Hard Mode

What is ACNH Hard Mode? Early Days

I’ll be participating in the ACNH Hard Mode challenge, which many of you probably know from the buzz on YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, etc. If you don’t know what it is, read on! On January 28th, I started a new island on stream called Nutmeg. My last few islands, Catopia, Moonstone, Star Hollow Lollypop and Willow, have all been heavily powered by treasure islands. I do host six treasure islands after all. 😉 I was able to buy a spare Switch in order to have a third playable island. With an extra switch on hand, I wanted the challenge of a no treasure island, no time travel, restrictive playthrough. This is similar to the Nuzlockes you see in the Pokemon community, for example. This playthrough already gives me the vibes I had in March 2022, starting my first island Pangea.

Welcome to Nutmeg

My #ACNHHardMode island, Nutmeg

If you’re interested in watching my first day on Nutmeg, you can watch the VOD on YouTube here.

  • Airport Colour: Orange
  • Native Flower: Cosmos
  • Native Fruit: Apples
  • Starters: Antonio and Muffy

I’ll be following the rules of Animal Crossing New Horizons Hardmode for Nutmeg’s playthrough. I’ll be streaming this island on YouTube while I stream my spicy island Catopia on Twitch. Since I can’t stream every day, I’ll include updates here on of my progress!

What are the rules of ACNH Hard Mode?

There are a few different ways you can play “hard mode” in Animal Crossing New Horizons, but I’m following the ruleset by Nintentalk’s community. The images below are from Nintentalk’s Discord server. According to the rules, you can time travel within a 7 day period, but I’m opting to go for no time travelling for an extra challenge. I’ve included the images here for reference.

What makes Hard Mode hard? Restrictions are put into place that slow down your progress, and makes earning money more difficult. Additionally, your villagers may come and go with the breeze, and you can’t restrict them from coming or going with a few minor exceptions. A few of my go-to money making schemes, like planting huge orchards, are off the table, since you’re restricted to 9 fruit trees and 4 coconut trees for direct selling of fruit. You may not catalog items. You can only sell materials and crafted items to the Nookings, bugs to Flick, fish to CG and weeds to Leif. Honestly, this idea is really cool, because what are the Nooklings supposed to do with all those fish you give them?!

ACNH Hard Mode Rules from Nintentalk’s Discord Server
ACNH Hardmode: Daily Checklist from Nintentalk’s Discord Server
ACNH Hardmode: Where to Sell Infographic from Nintentalk’s Discord Server

How’s it going so far?

Day 1 of ACNH Hard Mode

On Day 1 of Nutmeg, I was able to get my island map with no rerolls, meaning I only have to get one of my starters’ photos before letting them leave the island. However, Muffy is a QUEEN so I’ll be keeping her as long as possible. Please don’t bubble, Muffy! I’ve done long villager hunts for her before, so I feel lucky to have her as one of my starters. Antonio is super cute too.

I managed to pay off my 5000 nook mile balance to Tom Nook, plus purchase my wet suit with miles so I would be able to go sea creature diving on Day 2. I donated enough creatures to Tom Nook to get my museum tent kit and settled Blathers’ spot near the beach.

Although I unlocked Nook Miles +, I struggled with my daily checklist for Day 1. I completed 4 of my 5 x2 quests, but the fifth one, I couldn’t complete. Funnily enough it was Catch a Sea Bass. A sea bass?! The most common of all fish?! I went up and my short stretch of my beach often throughout my stream, plus after the stream I played until 1AM on the couch trying to complete this and a sea bass never spawned. It was a valiant effort, but I had to go to bed, so it is what it is. You can’t win ’em all.

Day 1 Tent
I popped a fireplace in a balloon so my tent is a bit dangerous but cozy! You need to wear a custom design you made each week, so I started super basic with this heart tank. I’m not time travelling on this island, and you can see I stayed up late playing. 🙃

I caught couldn’t catch a sea bass! No, wait- it’s at least a C+!

Day 2 of ACNH Hard Mode

Day 2 was played fully from my couch. Blathers moved into the island, so I made friends and gave him bugs he hated me for and fish and fossils he loved me for. I got the minimum required for him to open the proper museum, so I’m making good progress. I played for about 2 hours in the evening, just gathering creatures, snowflakes, and popping balloons. Timmy wanted supplies for the shop, and I managed to get all the wood, hardwood, and softwood. I got 29 stones and 14 iron – still a ways to go on the iron front! I got stung a few times, but wasn’t able to catch the wasps. I’ve always struggled with catching bugs and fishing, which is why my gameplay is usually decorating sessions, start to finish. But, this is a challenge after all!

I earned enough nook miles to purchase a third row of pocket space. Thank goodness for that.

My beach is an absolute wasteland of bugs, fish, and creatures stacking up, but I’m patiently waiting for when I can donate more to Blathers. It’s Sunday, but I don’t have anything available to host a market, and I barely have any bells so I won’t be finding any other hard mode players this week to trade with. I’m looking forward to Day 3 tomorrow!

Day 2 House
My tent got an upgrade – plus a few more balloon items that don’t match. When your storage is tiny, everything is on display! 😂

What are Pange’s Current Islands?

My chat asked me a few times on stream if I deleted Moonstone to make way for Nutmeg. I haven’t finished Moonstone yet, so I have no plans to delete it any time soon. 💜

I’m currently playing ACNH on three separate islands now:

  • Moonstone, my galaxycore island. This is a space themed island that I play on my OG vanilla Switch. It’s a vanilla playthrough, no mods, but I do fly into the treasure islands to get items, pay off my bills with Tom Nook, etc. I started this island in January 2022, so it’s approximately one year old but still a work in progress. The island is about 80% done. I also play Happy Home Paradise on this island.
  • Catopia, my citycore island. This is the island I typically play on Twitch on Thursdays and Saturdays. It will eventually have all cat villagers, with a city nestled into paw print mountains. I started this island in November 2022.
  • Nutmeg, my ACNH Hardmode island. It’s most likely going to be normcore, with a traditional island feel. I started this island January 28, 2023.

I’m loving having this “hard mode” island to play with alongside my spicy decor island and my vanilla decor island. It’s totally up to you how you want to play your game – modify how you see fit, and have fun!