Plants Vs. Zombies - Survival: ENDLESS! - Guide for Plants Vs. Zombies
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Written by Jason Long (evilbob) Copyright (c)2009 Jason Long. All rights reserved. This guide may not be reposted, in whole or in part, without my written permission. The only website that has permission to display this FAQ is gameFAQs.com. For questions contact me at evilbob65535 at yahoo dot com. ======================================== Searchable Table of Contents ======================================== Copy, Control+F, and Paste the codes in  to search for something quickly. 0. Version History [0VERH] 1. What This Guide Does [1WTGD] 2. Theory [2THRY] 2a. Tips and Tricks [2THY1] 2b. Lexicon [2THY2] 3. Garlic Funnels (30-40 flags) [3FUNL] 3a. Phase 1 [3FNL1] 3b. Phase 2 [3FNL2] 3c. Phase 3 [3FNL3] 3d. Phase 4 [3FNL4] 3e. Phase 5 [3FNL5] 3f. Variations [3FNL6] 4. Fuming Arrow Head (70-100 flags) [4AROW] 4a. Phase 1 [4ARW1] 4b. Phase 2 [4ARW2] 4c. Phase 3 [4ARW3] 4d. Phase 4 [4ARW4] 4e. Phase 5 [4ARW5] 4f. Variations [4ARW6] 5. Other Ideas [5OTHR] 6. Thanks [6THNK] ======================================== Version History ======================================== [0VERH] 1.00 - 6/4/09 Guide complete. Garlic Funnels strategy detailed. Guide posted to gameFAQs.com. 2.00 - 6/24/09 Complete overhaul of guide, including structure. Arrow Head strategy detailed. 2.10 - 6/26/09 Updated all strategies; added some theory. 2.15 - 6/28/09 Updated arrow head to fuming arrow head. ======================================== What This Guide Does ======================================== [1WTGD] This FAQ is not a walkthrough nor is it intended as a general game guide. For an excellent general guide, please see curby's FAQ/walkthrough on gameFAQs.com: http://www.gamefaqs.com/computer/doswin/file/959255/56545 This guide deals specifically with one of the final challenges in the game: Survival: Endless. This challenge is unlocked after completing all other Survival games (and beating the adventure mode). The purpose is quite simple: survive for as many flags as possible during a never-ending onslaught of zombies. It is set on the "pool" level during the day, and almost every zombie in the game may attack at some point (including normally roof-specific and night-specific zombies). It is incredibly challenging and can take hours to play just one game. This guide has been heavily influenced by curby's guide and other reader submissions and it should be noted that the bulk of credit for the core strategies presented here goes to the people in the "Thanks" section. curby's original strategy is what inspired me to create this guide and expand upon these strategies for the special considerations that happen in Survival: Endless. Note that this guide will not talk about the basics of the game. It assumes you have completed the game's adventure mode, unlocked Survival: Endless, and purchased all possible plants and seed slots from the game's store. ======================================== Theory ======================================== [2THRY] Survival: Endless creates a special set of circumstances that are really unlike anything else in Plants vs. Zombies. First, it is truly a random game each time. The first two phases ("phase" is my term for the period of time between your ability to choose new plants; I also call this a "level") always seem to have two flags each, but after that you may have 2 flags each phase or it might switch to 3 or even 4. Typically bungee zombies and balloon zombies don't show up until phase 4, but I have seen balloons (rarely) as early as phase 2. And once you get past 30 flags or so, almost any combination of zombies can show up at any time. Second, all of your purchased seeds - such as gloom-shrooms and twin sunflowers - go up in price for each unit that is already on the field. For example, gloom-shrooms cost 150 sun for the first one placed on the field and 200 for the second one (there is no upper limit to these price increases!). If you lose all of them, the cost will drop back to 150. This makes the most useful plants the most expensive as well - and it plays into strategy considerations. Because of all this, the well-crafted strategies presented in curby's excellent walkthrough don't really hold up over 20+ flags. His original strategy - which I have called "Garlic Funnels" - works very well in the normal and hard survival levels and throughout the main game. My interpretation of this strategy can be found in section 3. Some of the best principles presented in this strategy are: - Multiple gloom-shrooms doing area-of-effect damage to overlapping areas are a powerful force and the main key to all strategies. Their 360 degree attack radius is extremely useful. - A column of winter melons provides an excellent slowing effect over the entire field, which is absolutely essential in allowing other plants more time to do damage. They should be used in the first (leftmost) column to help combat imps that make it to the back lines. - Cob cannon are a powerful tool (although expensive both in terms of sun and space) that can help by providing a sun-free "instant" (or instant kill) that hits a wide area. - Spikerocks are one of the most effective tools against gargantuars (and vehicles) because they slow them down. They're also extremely nice to have against all land-based zombies as they seem to do area damage as well. These are excellent tenets and work very well throughout the game. A few other theories of plant placement and design are: - Early on, you want as many sunflowers on the field as you can keep up with. This is true of any resource-management game. The benefits are tremendous and will help you ramp up your strategy quickly as sun production is crucial. - Late-game, twinflowers are your best source of income for space reasons. 4 is the minimum you can scrape by with but more is always better. - Single-target plants are just not useful (with one exception: cattails). Hordes of zombies require area-of-effect damage. Additionally, anything that only effects one zombie at a time - like magnets - becomes useless in late levels due to the extreme number of zombies. - Due to the above, even winter melons and melon-pults are not that powerful as offensive units because their initial damage is more than their splash damage (although winter melons' slow effect is crucial). Only fume-shrooms and gloom-shrooms do true area-of-effect damage against all targets in their area. - Speaking of melons, when it comes to melon-pults vs. winter melons, both types do the same amount of damage, and despite what is written in the Almanac in the game, fire at the exact same rate. Also worth noting is that zombonis are immune to being slowed. - No amount of distance attacks (melons or fume-shrooms) can combat catapult zombies quickly enough to destroy them before they can take out your back-most plants, so umbrellas are still required for column 1 protection. - Pumpkin everything! Pumpkins are one of your most powerful defensive tools and you should use them liberally and keep them repaired. - Pool rows are the "safest" rows because vehicles and gargantuars never appear in these rows. The most valuable and vulnerable plants should be placed here. Moving the bulk of your offensive units to the pool rows is especially key, since all land rows are more vulnerable. Cob cannon in particular cannot be protected with pumpkins since they are two spaces wide, so it is vital that they be in the pool area. The only zombies that pose a serious threat to pool plants are dolphins (and they really only attack specific columns) and jack- in-the-boxes (which can destroy any plant in a 9-square area). However, any plant in the four (and sometimes five) right-most rows can be targeted, so they all need protection with pumpkins. However, even these principles can only get you so far. Another important point is your defense against some of the rare but dangerous zombies such as catapults, bungees, and balloons. These are tricky because they attack very differently than other zombies. You also need a powerful defense against diggers and imps, since they will ravage your rear-guard plants extremely quickly. Many readers have helped by sending in these suggestions: - Cattails are extremely useful against balloon zombies, and they do small amounts of damage to diggers and imps as well. They always target fliers, and then after that the rear-most zombie (whatever is closest to the house). They shoot quickly but their main weakness is that they are single-target attackers. Additionally, once a shot is fired, it will not redirect to another target if the original target dies. However, two cattails will completely defend against all balloon onslaughts, even in late levels. - Umbrella leaves are powerful defensive units, especially for your back (leftmost) row. Catapult zombies will pelt your rear plants mercilessly and bungees will snatch you up, so having at least two umbrellas protecting your leftmost 3 rows is a great defense for little cost. However, while powerful, they are not necessary to defend against bungees on the rest of the field if you have at least two gloom-shrooms protecting each plant. So long as at least two (more is always better) can attack a specific square, plants in that square are safe from bungee zombies. This does not help against catapults, however. - Speaking of bungees, they never attack cob cannon - so these plants don't need any defenses against them. - Additional gloom-shrooms on your second column (from the left) help kill diggers quickly. A total of four gloom-shrooms on the land rows in this column will decimate the diggers and help protect that area from imps and bungees, although they are not a 100% defense and your pumpkins still need some monitoring. And finally, a key issue in many of the designs in this guide becomes the very fine line between defending your front line against jack-in-the-boxes and against zombonis and gargantuars. Somewhat ironically, to defend well against jack-in-the-boxes you need to move your defenses forward, since they need time to arm themselves and the longer they are on the field, the more likely they are to explode - but to defend well against vehicles and gargantuars you need to push your defenses back, so your damage-dealing plants have more time to do their thing. Figuring out the optimal placement for your defenses is one of the biggest challenges to Survival: Endless. Adding all of these principles together makes for some excellent theory around which the designs below are based. The rest of this guide will detail specific strategies and give step-by-step instructions how to achieve them. It is recommended to read through the entire plan for each before starting. =============== Tips and Tricks =============== [2THY1] These are some of my personal suggestions and tricks. - All plants should be unlocked/purchased; 10 seed slots purchased; always start with a rake (it's worth it). - Go crazy with sunflowers early on; don't worry about planting over them later. If you get at least 3 sun from a sunflower, it was worth your time. - Keep your pumpkins healthy! Pumpkins have 3 stages: healthy, wounded, and almost dead. Healthy pumpkins cannot be replaced. Wounded ones have a chip across the top and other damage - the chip is the most noticeable, though. Almost dead pumpkins have severe holes in them and are hard to miss. Generally speaking, it seems like pumpkins appear "wounded" around 60% health, and almost dead close to 20-30% health. For this reason, I tend to replace pumpkins almost immediately when they are wounded. - About the imitater: I always choose pumpkin when using the imitater. While the versatility of this plant is amazing, it sadly has about a half-second delay in deploy time: making it juuuust barely useless for instants and other plants you need to lay down while zombies are attacking. It'd be GREAT as a backup cherry bomb; sadly, it will die before it can explode unless nothing is near it. This, plus the fact that it cannot duplicate other purchased plants, makes it best used for adding to defenses - especially since you need to keep your pumpkins healthy and almost every plant needs a pumpkin. - Feel free to pause (space bar) as often as you can and take a quick look around: see what's coming, see where your recharge timers are, and see if anything is conspicuously missing from your lines. Check your pumpkins often! - Sun maxes out at 9990. That sounds like a lot but you will easily use all of it and still die with no sun left. Getting to maximum sun is a priority. - One good game can last hours - easily 3 to 6, even going quickly - but you can pause as much as you'd like and come back later. I suggest doing so. - If you're trying to make money, I recommend curby's Gold Farming Guide on gameFAQs.com instead. You can easily grab over 100,000 coins when you play to over 60 flags, but it takes forever and requires lots of effort. curby's method is short and easy! - And lastly, just remember that you're always fighting a losing battle: so don't sweat it. :) ======= Lexicon ======= [2THY2] The period of time between which you can select plants I call a "phase" or a "level". This starts as two flags but may get as high as four. Some strategies may need slight adjustment based on how many flags happen during your first 4 or 5 phases. Generally speaking, shorter phases are easier, although longer phases mean you have both a harder time during difficult phases and a longer recovery time during easier phases. Each strategy has a key associated with it which will describe the plants used for that phase. I have generally borrowed this layout and key from curby's FAQ because it is excellent. I like to think of each game of Survival: Endless as having four main stages. The first stage is the beginning: flags 1 through 10 or so, when you're creating your defense. Zombies come (relatively) slowly at this point, giving you lots of time to build yourself up and gather sun. Simple defenses work against them and this part is most like the rest of the game. By about the 12th flag, you should pretty much have everything ready, because then you enter stage 2. This is levels 12 through 20, and this is when the game is actually extremely easy - to the point that you can walk away from your computer with confidence. The zombie levels are ramping up slowly and you already have everything in place. You still have plenty of time to adjust or tweak as necessary. If you're trying to make money (coins), this is the ideal time to plant a gold magnet. During this part, you should be getting up to 9990 sun (the maximum you can get) and generally taking it easy. After that is stage 3, or 20-32 flags, which is much like stage 2 except you actually have to watch the game. This is when some of the more difficult zombies start to appear, although they are still easily handled at this point. However, some interaction on your part is required. It also makes for good practice for things to come. Stage 4 really starts after about 33 or 34 flags, and this is when the game starts getting difficult. At this point, you'll be facing more zombies and the random assortment of zombies becomes more difficult. Suddenly gargantuars and vehicles are a lot more common, as are jack-in-the-boxes. Even regular zombies start to become tricky simply because there are so many of them. This stage lasts indefinitely, although the zombies continue to gather in greater numbers and I believe move just slightly faster as the game goes on. Additionally, this guide typically uses the following description when describing the field, which was effectively borrowed from curby's guide: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 1 . . . . . . . . . 2 . . . . . . . . . <-- zombies go this way 3 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 4 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 5 . . . . . . . . . 6 . . . . . . . . . Rows and columns are numbered starting with the top left. Additionally, I sometimes refer to the right side of the board as the "front" and the left side as the "rear" or back of the field. The middle two rows are also called the "pool" rows and the rest of the rows are "land" rows. ======================================== Garlic Funnels ======================================== [3FUNL] This is one of the simpler strategies that works extremely well throughout the main game. My best Endless record is 37 flags using the original version this strategy, although I have updated it with new theories that should make it much stronger and I think the variation at the end of this section would also help. Although more powerful strategies exist, this is included both to serve as a guide for build principles and because it works very well throughout the main game. Credit for the core theory goes to curby. The core idea here is to use garlic to funnel zombies from rows 1 and 6 into rows 2 and 5, where they are then subjected to gloom-shroom attacks from the pool rows. The gloom-shrooms on the pool rows take care of themselves. It also uses a healthy dose of umbrella leaves to protect all rows, and has well- protected cob cannon to supplement the defense. Its main strengths are a low cost and ease of setup and maintenance. Its main weaknesses are vehicles and gargantuars, especially with such a forward design. It also creates two "bulkheads", or points at which zombies are expected to break away or be stopped. It fails in later levels because these garlic-speared bulkheads become impossible to sustain. ======= Phase 1 ======= [3FNL1] Seeds: sunflower, garlic, pumpkin, lily pad, coffee bean, fume-shroom, gloom- shroom, kernel-pult, spikeweed, and potato mine. (Be sure you have purchased a rake.) Your goal for the first level is to make sure you get several tasks done and plant all you need of certain plants so you won't have to select them again. Seed selection becomes the most important part of this strategy, so starting early and getting things out of the way is important. By the end of this level, you shouldn't need to select the sunflower again. Also worth noting: potato mines are the absolute best single-kill plants at the beginning of the game due to their low cost. However, once you get past the first few zombies, you'll never use them again. Final: S S S S . . [.] g + Symbol Legend S c S S S [G] + . . . land G gloom-shroom S S c c S [S][G][G] _ _ water g garlic S S c c S [S][G][G] _ S sunflower + spikeweed S c S S S [G] + . . c kernel-pult [ ] pumpkin S S S S . . [.] g + Notes: - Start with sunflowers on land, garlic in rows 1 and 6, and kernel-pults in rows 2 and 5. Use the rake off the bat and potato mine any cone-wearing zombies to help get your economy off the ground. You should have a full 8 sunflowers on land as fast as possible. Save the water sunflowers for last. - Once you get that far, move to gloom-shrooms on the land rows. Be sure to pumpkin first, then fume-shroom. Throw a kernel-pult or two in the pool to counter pool zombies as soon as you can, but once you get the first two gloom- shrooms going and they are backed up by kernel-pults, you shouldn't have a problem with anyone getting through. - Continue to place gloom-shrooms as quickly as the upgrade seed recharges. In the mean time, build a few more sunflowers and kernel-pults, and be sure you are laying down pumpkins as fast as they recharge as well. Once you start getting enough sun to cover everything, put spikeweed down in your "kill" zone to help protect your gloom-shroom there, and then lay down your spikeweed. - You should make it easily to this point without losing any plants or mower/cleaners. If you lose any of those, go ahead and start over. - If you find yourself with plenty of sun left over, go ahead and place pumpkins or fume/gloom-shrooms from the next phase. Extra sunflowers never hurt, either: as long as you collect 3 sun from a sunflower, it was worth your time. ======= Phase 2 ======= [3FNL2] Seeds: twinflower, garlic, pumpkin, coffee bean, magnet-shroom, fume-shroom, gloom-shroom, melon-pult, lily pad, and spikerock - or anything you still need from phase 1 (you can wait on the spikerock if you need to). Your goal for this level is to upgrade your defenses significantly while boosting your sun production even more. After this level, you shouldn't need lily pads or magnet shrooms again. Final: S G S t M [M][M] g # Symbol Legend m c t t [S][G] # . . . land G gloom-shroom S* S* c c S [S][G][G][G] _ water g garlic S* S* c c S [S][G][G][G] S sunflower # spikerock m c t t [S][G] # . . c kernel-pult M magnet-shroom S G S t M [M][M] g # [ ] pumpkin t twinflower m melon-pult Notes: - You probably didn't need to replace your garlic in the first phase; get ready to keep a constant eye on it from now on. - Pumpkin placement becomes important as you want to make sure no zombies get past your front line. - Start with magnet-shrooms and get them up as quickly as possible. Place a twinflower and spikerock immediately and then you'll pretty much spend the entire rest of the level waiting for those two and gloom-shrooms to recharge. - Melon-pults can wait until other goals are accomplished. - The sunflowers marked with an * are ones you can try to twin if you get a chance, but it's not a big deal if you can't. You'll be replacing them eventually, so only do so if you think you can get enough sun out of them to be worth it. ======= Phase 3 ======= [3FNL3] Seeds: garlic, pumpkin, melon-pult, winter melon, cob cannon, imitater- >pumpkin, cattail, and either coffee bean, fume-shroom, gloom-shroom, or some instants (jalapeno, squash, or cherry bomb) and anything else you're still missing. Alternately, you can bring twinflower again and go for a couple of the sunflowers on the pool. This level is going to be expensive, but you should have the sun to back it up. After this level you shouldn't need melon-pults or cattails again. [W] G m t [M][M][M] g # Symbol Legend [W] c t t [S][G] # . . . land G gloom-shroom S S CCCC b [W][G][G][G] _ water g garlic S S CCCC b [W][G][G][G] W winter melon # spikerock [W] c t t [S][G] # . . c kernel-pult M magnet-shroom [W] G m t [M][M][M] g # [ ] pumpkin t twinflower CC cob cannon m melon-pult b cattail Notes: - Start by winter-meloning your existing melon-pults and then place another one each time it recharges. - Pumpkin EVERYTHING! Use the imitater->pumpkin to help you get the back rows while you use the regular pumpkin to replace defenses. - Don't neglect your garlic - the magnets are counting on you! - Try to save up for cob cannon. If you have enough sun, go ahead and dig up the rear sunflowers and plant kernel-pults. - Squash are a decent, relatively quickly charging one-shot defense. Jalapenos are much better but are more expensive and take longer to recharge. Cherry bombs are even more expensive but hit a nice area. All are good. ======= Phase 4 ======= [3FNL4] Seeds: garlic, pumpkin, umbrella leaf, kernel-pult, cob cannon, spikeroot, spikerock, imitater->pumpkin, winter-melon, and jalapeno - or something you left out before. Finally, phase 4, where we see our hard plans come to fruition. This is the final step in the base strategy. At this point you should have an obscene amount of sun saved up. Also, since we passed 10 flags, bungee zombies and loads of vehicles should start coming into the picture. At this point the types of zombies you face each level is fairly random, but there are a few more defenses we need to set up first. [W][G][W][t][M][M][M] g # Symbol Legend [W][u][t][t][u][G] # . . . land G gloom-shroom CCCC CCCC [b][W][G][G][G] _ water g garlic CCCC CCCC [b][W][G][G][G] W winter melon # spikerock [W][u][t][t][u][G] # . . u umbrella leaf M magnet-shroom [W][G][W][t][M][M][M] g # [ ] pumpkin t twinflower CC cob cannon b cattail Notes: - Go ahead and pluck those last kernel-pults and sunflowers and plant umbrellas. That will cover 2/3rds of the field, and your remaining pieces of land are now your "special" spots. If you see a bungee zombie targeting anything in rows 1 and 6 in the last three columns, quickly throw an umbrella plant into the appropriate spot to cover it (the umbrella will get eaten immediately but that's ok). If they target something both above and below: well, sorry. It's not a perfect defense. - Once you have 2 cob cannon, start digging up the remaining sunflowers in the pool lanes and replacing them with kernel-pults and then cob cannon as well. Try to wait until the cob cannon has recharged and you have enough sun before you dig up the sunflowers: the idea is to squeeze as much sun out of them as possible before they go. ======= Phase 5 ======= [3FNL5] [W][G][W][t][M][M][M] g # Symbol Legend [W][u][t][t][u][G] # . . . land G gloom-shroom CCCC CCCC [b][W][G][G][G] _ water g garlic CCCC CCCC [b][W][G][G][G] W winter melon # spikerock [W][u][t][t][u][G] # . . u umbrella leaf M magnet-shroom [W][G][W][t][M][M][M] g # [ ] pumpkin t twinflower CC cob cannon b cattail Generally, you'll want: - garlic, pumpkin, spikeweed, spikerock, jalapeno (all levels) - imitater->pumpkin, cherry bomb (when you have room) - umbrella leaf when facing bungee zombies - coffee bean, magnet (as necessary; good to take if you have the room and are facing gargantuars or zombonis as they will likely get a magnet or two) - whatever else gets killed At this point, the game is about damage control and wise cob cannon usage (and to some extent, luck of the draw based on which zombies are attacking each phase). Your twinflowers will keep you afloat - but hopefully you have several thousand sun banked up, because you'll need it. Keep your spikerocks as healthy as possible, especially rows 1 and 6. Eventually, the game will become all about the spikerock recharge timer, as you'll be blowing through them incredibly fast. Try to use cob cannon to ease their load when you can, but generally save your blasts to both fend off imps and kill gargantuars. Ideally, if you fire two cob cannon in rapid succession at a gargantuar, it won't get to throw its imp - but zombies never make things easy. Sometimes you'll miss, and sometimes you'll barely get another gargantuar in the second blast, causing him to throw. Just accept that it will happen and try to defend as best you can. Jalapenos help a great deal since they can take out imps and hit things still coming - although they work best on rows 2 and 5 - but don't be shy about digging up a garlic and using one there if you can do it quickly enough. Also, don't be afraid to dig up an umbrella plant and throw a cherry bomb down if you need to - those are cheap to replace, and if you need one you probably brought them on this level. Keep an eye on your pumpkins and on your garlic, especially the pumpkins on the magnets just behind the garlic. Later levels with dozens of pole-vaulters or dolphin zombies are merciless on your 2nd-line pumpkins; keep them as healthy as possible, too. Long-Term Zombonis and gargantuars are your worst nightmares; eventually the spikerock timer just won't be able to keep up with them and you'll be using every trick you have just to keep them at bay. Fortunately, this strategy does a pretty decent job at fighting while losing; you can often keep the zombies off for a good couple of flags past the point where your field is no longer viable, especially since the worst types of zombies can't hurt your pool plants. However, scores of dolphins will seriously mess you up if you start losing gloom-shrooms, so keep those pumpkins healthy. Sadly, gloom-shrooms end up being the most difficult plant to replace due to the 3-seed slot cost, so do what you can to keep them running, as their defeat will signal your impending loss. ========== Variations ========== [3FNL6] Stronger Garlic Funnels One change to this strategy is to replace some of the magnets with more gloom- shrooms. Magnets - being single-target plants - become less useful except against diggers after about 30 flags. [W][G][W][t][M][M][G] g # Symbol Legend [W][u][t][t][u][G] # . . . land G gloom-shroom CCCC CCCC [b][W][G][G][G] _ water g garlic CCCC CCCC [b][W][G][G][G] W winter melon # spikerock [W][u][t][t][u][G] # . . u umbrella leaf M magnet-shroom [W][G][W][t][M][M][G] g # [ ] pumpkin t twinflower CC cob cannon b cattail The forward-most magnets are the best to replace since that helps do more damage to your kill zones - but putting them directly behind your bulkheads makes them very vulnerable. Keep your cob shots ready for row 1 and 6 threats. (One perk is that column 8 is effectively protected from bungees as well, which makes emergency umbrellas less unnecessary.) I haven't tested this variation but I would suspect it would probably average 40-50 flags. However, its main weakness remains units that cannot be diverted appearing in rows 1 and 6. ======================================== Fuming Arrow Head ======================================== [4AROW] This is my most powerful strategy. My best record is 101 flags (yay triple digits!). Credit for parts of this design goes to snapple37 and curby. The main idea behind this strategy is a design that splits the zombies up naturally without bulkheads and attacks them from indirect angles as they proceed along the field. However, if you remove your defenses too far from the front, you become increasingly vulnerable to jack-in-the-box zombies, which do catastrophic damage very quickly. So, you have to supplement the arrow head design with a few fume-shrooms on rows 1 and 6, which - while making the overall strategy weaker in some ways - do a better job against jack-in-the-boxes. As these end up being the most troublesome zombie on the field, it is worth the trade. Other core principles are using gloom-shrooms to cover the back rows completely and ditching magnets and forward umbrellas. Because every exposed area is covered by multiple gloom-shrooms, umbrellas aren't necessary except to defend against catapults. Some new ideas are ditching winter melons in pool rows and making spikerock completely optional. Pool row winter melons are useful, but almost every pool zombie dies within seconds anyway so they just don't warrant the space. Spikerocks are still useful and can be planted, but they are not necessary most of the time and saving sun is usually more important. The main strengths are that it defeats all types of zombies except jack-in- the-boxes in specific spots. In fact, through many levels, this design is so efficient that you will gain sun even while replacing damaged plants aggressively. It is somewhat weak against zombonis and footballers, but this is a necessary trade-off to cover against more jack-in-the-boxes. ======= Phase 1 ======= [4ARW1] Seeds: sunflower, garlic, pumpkin, lily pad, coffee bean, fume-shroom, gloom- shroom, kernel-pult, spikeweed, and potato mine. (Be sure you have purchased a rake.) Again, your goals here are to get certain plants finished so you won't need them again - although your core seed select will change far less for this strategy. Early: S S S . . . . g . Symbol Legend S c S S [G] . . . . . land G gloom-shroom S c _ _ _ _ [G] _ _ _ water g garlic S c _ _ _ _ [G] _ _ S sunflower [ ] pumpkin S c S S [G] . . . . c kernel-pult S S S . . . . g . Get 4 sunflower up before anything else. Set up land kernel-pults and garlic early and use potato mines for early defense, especially against the first cone-headed zombie. Next, try to get to 12 sunflowers as fast as you can. Then move to land-based gloom-shrooms and try to make sure you can put down a gloom-shroom, lily pad, or a pumpkin each time they recharge and get as many out as you can. Put your spikeweed down near the end (start at least halfway before the second flag) and if you have more time, get more gloom-shrooms out there. Don't forget to dig up your first kernel-pults or you'll need sunflowers again next level. Final: S S S [S] + . . g . Symbol Legend S S S f [G] + . . . . land G gloom-shroom S c c S S [S][G][G] _ _ water g garlic S c c S S [S][G][G] _ S sunflower + spikeweed S S S f [G] + . . . c kernel-pult [ ] pumpkin S S S [S] + . . g . f fume-shroom ======= Phase 2 ======= [4ARW2] Seeds: twinflower, garlic (optional), pumpkin, lily pad, coffee bean, fume- shroom, gloom-shroom, spikerock, melon-pult, and jalapeno (and/or cherry bomb or cattail if necessary). Bring along any seeds you didn't finish from last time if necessary. Also be on the lookout for early fliers. You may not really need to bring garlic along; it's only useful if your old garlic are eaten before your rear defenses are set up. Mid: m S S [f] + . . . . Symbol Legend S S S [G][G] + . . . . land G gloom-shroom S c c t t [S][G][G] _ _ water + spikeweed S c c t t [S][G][G] _ S sunflower # spikerock S S S [G][G] + . . . c kernel-pult m melon-pult m S S [f] + . . . . [ ] pumpkin f fume-shroom Melon-pults on rows 1 and 6 should go first, then rear defenses. If you have ladders this phase, you'll want to place the foremost pool glooms before concentrating on rear defenses; you have no ability to remove ladders once they are placed so be sure to kill those guys quickly. Overall you'll want to lay down a twinflower, spikerock, and gloom-shroom as often as their recharge timers will allow. Also, remember to never dig up a sunflower until you can afford its replacement. Final: m S f [f] # . . . . Symbol Legend S t m [G][G] # . . . . land G gloom-shroom S c c t t [S][G][G][G] _ water # spikerock S c c t t [S][G][G][G] S sunflower m melon-pult S t m [G][G] # . . . c kernel-pult [ ] pumpkin m S f [f] # . . . . f fume-shroom ======= Phase 3 ======= [4ARW3] Seeds: pumpkin, coffee bean, fume-shroom, gloom-shroom, melon-pult, winter melon, cattail, cherry bomb, two more that you still need or jalapeno/squash Start using winter melon immediately and use it each time it recharges; these really help your effectiveness. Do rows 1 and 6 first and then 5 and 6. This level is all about the recharge timers: gloom-shrooms are very expensive at this point so you'll be saving up as much as possible. Be sure to get two cattails down by the end of the level (or earlier if balloon zombies are on present). If you have diggers, go ahead and pumpkin column 1 as quickly as possible. Final: [W] G [f][f] # . . . . Symbol Legend S t W [G][G] # . . . . land G gloom-shroom b c c t t [f][G][G][G] _ water # spikerock b c c t t [f][G][G][G] b cattail W winter melon S t W [G][G] # . . . c kernel-pult [ ] pumpkin [W] G [f][f] # . . . . ======= Phase 4 ======= [4ARW4] Seeds: pumpkin, imitater->pumpkin, coffee bean, fume-shroom, gloom-shroom, cob cannon, cherry bomb, umbrella leaf, two more that you still need, or jalapeno/squash, or magnet and gold magnet Phase 4 almost always has balloons or bungees or at least catapults, so you'll need to set up your umbrellas quickly. If you don't have any of these, go ahead and enjoy the extra sun production as long as you can. The nice thing about this strategy is that you don't need more than two umbrellas to protect your whole field, since everywhere else is fairly-well protected by gloom- shrooms. The rear two are there to counter catapults. Mid: [W][G][f][f] # . . . . Symbol Legend [u] t [W][G][G] # . . . . land G gloom-shroom b c c t t [G][G][G][G] _ water # spikerock b c c t t [G][G][G][G] b cattail W winter melon [u] t [W][G][G] # . . . c kernel-pult [ ] pumpkin [W][G][f][f] # . . . . u umbrella leaf Save the cob cannon for last. If you have diggers this level, get those back rows protected with pumpkins as quickly as possible. Everything is expensive at this point so if you don't get every last pumpkin, that's ok. Just be sure to hit them up soon. Final: [W][G][f][f] # . . . . Symbol Legend [u][*][W][G][G] # . . . . land G gloom-shroom b CCCC t [t][G][G][G][G] _ water # spikerock b CCCC t [t][G][G][G][G] b cattail W winter melon [u][*][W][G][G] # . . . CC cob cannon [ ] pumpkin [W][G][f][f] # . . . . u umbrella leaf *These spaces are easy to change up because they are not a key part of the defense yet. They are best used as twinflowers as long as possible, but they also make ideal spots for gold magnets. You don't even need a coffee bean to wake up a magnet: just place a gold magnet on a sleeping magnet and then sit back and relax. I have found that only one gold magnet is needed to get just about every coin that drops; save the other slot for another twinflower. Eventually, you will replace whatever you have with two more gloom-shrooms - probably when your flag count is around the late-20s - to complete your rear- guard defense against diggers and imps. ======= Phase 5 ======= [4ARW5] Seeds: pumpkin, imitater->pumpkin, spikeweed, spikerock, jalapeno, cherry bomb, squash, coffee bean, fume-shroom, gloom-shroom [W][G][f][f] #* . . . . Symbol Legend [u][G][W][G][G] +* . . . . land G gloom-shroom b CCCC [t][t][G][G][G][G] _ water # spikerock b CCCC [t][t][G][G][G][G] b cattail W winter melon [u][G][W][G][G] +* . . . CC cob cannon [ ] pumpkin [W][G][f][f] #* . . . . u umbrella leaf + spikeweed * optional At this point, you'll probably want the same lineup each level. On levels with jack-in-the-boxes, swap out squash for lily pad - useful if they destroy a pool gloom. If, for some reason, a different plant somewhere else on the field gets destroyed and you need to replace it, I recommend swapping squash, spikerock, and spikeweed, in that order of priority. All other plants are crucial. Your cattails and cob cannon are safe forever. You can put pumpkins on the remaining twinflowers once you're at max sun, but it's not really necessary. Keep a constant eye on your pumpkins: columns 1, 3, and 7 these are some of your most important ones and will take the most damage from diggers, imps, and dolphins respectively, but the others need monitoring, too. Column 4 on rows 1 and 6 will get hurt by footballers, but it's easy enough to handle. Spikerocks really are not that necessary to this design, and unless you have max sun, don't worry too much about replacing them. Rows 1 and 6 are most vulnerable, and spikerocks help a great deal against waves of gargantuar, but this design can destroy all vehicles and normal zombies before they hurt you. In particular, it's almost never worth actually upgrading rows 2 and 5 spikeweed to spikerock, because these are the plants most vulnerable to jack- in-the-boxes. If you have the sun, go ahead and put down some spikeweed on 2 and 5 and spikerock on 1 and 6, but unless gargantuars are coming, don't feel like you need to defend them. On levels without jack-in-the-boxes, zombonis, or gargantuars, if I had the sun I would plant extra spikeweed in rows 1 and 6 just to help kill footballers and other normal zombies. Expect these to get destroyed, however. Long-Term Effectively the game becomes all about the random assortment of zombies, and how many waves have jack-in-the-boxes verses how many waves that don't. You can build up sun during most levels so you'll be able to react better during the difficult ones. At 50 flags, I had full defenses and max sun, so it is very possible to slowly build yourself back up, especially if you aren't too quick to replace mid-field pumpkins and spikerock. (Column 7-9 pool pumpkins and column 1 pumpkins should ALWAYS be replaced quickly.) The trick to survival is to use your cob cannon, cherry bomb, and jalapeno timers effectively to constantly cover the field with instants. In particular, you will be watching the rows 1 and 6 gargantuars. These are the most serious threats to your defense (that you can really deal with, anyway), so you'll want to slowly but surely make certain you hit each gargantuar in these rows with at least one instant. Doing this will keep your entire defense alive and destroy large numbers of normal zombies as well. It's tricky, but with practice you'll know when to fire and when to wait just a touch longer to get even more enemies in the blast. Zombonis are also a major hassle, but bringing along squash really helps in this respect. Squash have a faster recharge timer - and much smaller area of effect - but they work great against 3 or 4 zombonis stacked on top of each other. Use these on rows 1 and 6 to keep your spikerock healthy enough to fend off the gargantuars. If you don't have gargantuars on a level, use the cob cannon against zombonis or waves of dolphins. Dolphins are one of the most damaging unit to pumpkins because they aren't being slowed, do lots of damage per chomp, and there are just so many of them. I often used cob cannon to catch dolphins (fire just after they throw the dolphins in the air) to ease the burden on my poor pumpkins on column 7. If you don't have gargantuars, dolphins, or zombonis, either try to catch jack-in-the-boxes or footballers. Never let your cob cannon sit idle, unless you're saving them for the next wave. Eventually you'll start to experience very bad combinations of zombies - and they will start to happen often enough that you'll run low on sun, spelling your downfall. Overall, it becomes a matter of luck: as long as you have plenty of "recovery" time between difficult levels, you can hang on. ========== Variations ========== [4ARW6] The thing that will eventually destroy you with this design are jack-in-the- boxes on rows 2 and 5. Occasionally, they just have an incredibly short timer, and they will detonate in column 9 taking out your column 8 and 9 gloom-shrooms. Usually you can recover from one side being destroyed (as long as you have the sun), but finally so many jack-in-the-boxes will be coming they'll hit both sides at once, putting you 4 glooms down - and this will spell your doom. The reason this is so bad is two-fold. First, your overall offense is severely weakened, since rows 2 and 5 are vulnerable - especially to vehicles and gargantuar (not to mention more jack-in-the-boxes), and you'll be spending like mad to protect what you have left. Second, having gloom- shrooms up to the edge of the pool is MUCH stronger than having them further back. This is because zombies entering the pool are forced to start on top of your column 9 glooms, which means they're getting hit by 4 glooms at once. If they are allowed to get in the pool, they bump up against the glooms and only get hit by 2 at once. Worse yet, because of the recharge timer when you're rebuilding you're going to have only one gloom-shroom out front for a period of time - which means simple cone-head pool zombies suddenly become a real threat in huge numbers. The only way to solve this issue is to throw lots of sun at the problem - about 1000-1200 per space at this point - and dropping over 4000 sun is no joke. Because this design is so effective you will gradually gain sun on most levels (especially if you're more stingy with your pumpkins), but if this happens to both sides at once, you may not be able to come back. If you have less than 4000 sun when it happens, then you're pretty much sunk for sure (although you will be able to hang on for several more flags). Because of this, the only variation on this design is to replace the column 5 gloom-shrooms on rows 2 and 5 with fume-shrooms. Doing this makes rows 1 and 6 even MORE vulnerable to zombonis and footballers (and makes the spikerock rows no longer optional), but it -might- be able to take out those vicious column 9 jack-in-the-boxes in time. However, because they blow up so early, it may not even matter. I was not able to completely test this variation. [W][G][f][f] # . . . . Symbol Legend [u][G][W][G][f] + . . . . land G gloom-shroom b CCCC t [t][G][G][G][G] _ water # spikerock b CCCC t [t][G][G][G][G] b cattail W winter melon [u][G][W][G][f] + . . . CC cob cannon [ ] pumpkin [W][G][f][f] # . . . . u umbrella leaf + spikeweed ======================================== Other Ideas ======================================== [5OTHR] This development of this guide is a continual process and more ideas are always welcome. If you have suggestions for new design ideas or useful tweaks for existing designs please feel free to write in and I will be happy to credit you. Also, theories only remain untested because I can't take the 4+ hours necessary to test each one of them; if you are able to test a design feel free to send in your results with as much detail as possible. ======================================== Thanks ======================================== [6THNK] - Thanks to curby for an excellent guide and strategies! - Thanks to snapple37 for the arrow head core strategy! - Thanks to Ian, 10up, and others who pointed out the usefulness of cattails. ======================================== Plants vs. Zombies - Survival: ENDLESS! Copyright (c)2009 Jason Long. All rights reserved. Version 2.15. Last Updated 6-28-2009