This is a very good smoker. If they have it, get the one that is a little larger so you do not have to cut briskets, ribs, etc in half. You do not need to soak wood chunks, but I do recommend you soak chips if you use them. I recommend smoking ribs for a first smoke. If smoking spareribs, use the 3-2-1 method (3 hours smoking, 2 hours in foil, 1 final hour unwrapped) at a temp between 230-250. If using baby back ribs, use a 2-2-1 method. Make sure you get a good thermometer. I recommend the Maverick ET-732. Most of all have fun and experiment!!