Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Plants vs. Zombies Survival Endless Guide

This guide is designed to give you the requisite knowledge to build your own
Survival Endless layout that will survive indefinitely. Whether youre here
for curiosity, for fun, or for money, this guide will equip you with the
latest and most effective strategies known. You shall be a Survival Endless
master even if you come in here not knowing what this mode even is.
This guide will be broken down according to how every build must deal with
the zombie pressure. Ill be here to show you how each area of the map has
its own tricks up its sleeve and what answers have been given to the problems
presented. Like any game with varied strategy, there is always preference
for who wants to play what. Cob Cannons are such a dominant force in
Survival Endless that every build can be categorized by how many Cob Cannons
there are. Before we go into the detail of Cob Cannons, I shall introduce
you to the regionalization of the map. I will be using Last Stand as an easy
means to show theoretical concepts, because it has the exact same map
(Pool: Day) as Survival Endless.
D.1 The Layout
The map is a 9 column by 6 row grid and youll notice a couple of things
right off the bat. The map is symmetrical, therefore there is always a top
region corresponding to a bottom region that deals with the exact same
pressures but not necessarily at the exact same time. For simplicity, I
will refer to each as pairs. The pairs of rows in the water are referred
to as Pool Rows. The pairs of rows closest to the edge of the pool are
called Inner Rows. And finally, the outermost rows furthest from the pool
are Outer Rows. I do this because then you dont have to count the row to
figure out which Im referring to. This is very easy to visualize.
D.2 The Ground
Youll also notice theres a region of the map not labeled. Its the
front-most 2x2 square on the ground. This is that way for good reason.
No plant can survive there. You will find out very shortly that the primary
difficulty of surviving Survival Endless comes from fighting the ground forces.
The Zomboni, Giga, and Catapult zombies will make quick work of anything
placed there, even with maximum possible DPS (damage per second) from
Torchwood plus Gatling with Glooms helping out.
The corresponding brown region (column 7 counting from the left) behind the
death zone is reserved for highly replaceable plants, because they serve as
a buffer and will undoubtedly come into contact with all sorts of zombies.
Only put easily replaceable plants here. This area is where you would put
your queued up Freeze Shrooms, Spikerocks, or Fume Shrooms, but well leave
the explanations for that later.
The orange region behind that (columns 5 and 6 counting from the left) are
important because they are very safe. Unless a zombie breaks your front lines,
these plants will see very little action. Imps are thrown over it, and
everything else attacks other regions before they get to this one. This is a
very good place for Cob Cannons because of that. It is also the best
determiner for how healthy your base is because this IS your main line. If
any of the plants in this area are compromised for long, you will have some
serious worrying to do.
The green region behind that (columns 3 and 4) are no different from the
orange region except that they are vulnerable to Imps from the Gargantuars.
This restricts them from being Cob spots, but Pumpkins allow any other plant
to be there. The main concern of this region is what should be done to take
care of those Imps and the remaining spots are used toward helping out the
rest of the build.
The final back region, which happens to be blue (and columns 1 and 2), has
very special properties because of the unique pressures it has to face.
Catapult zombies go directly for your 1st column of plants, so this region
MUST contain an Umbrella plant. The remaining 3 slots must then protect
the base from Digger zombies that also happen to target the 1st column. If
that's not enough, this area must also handle the Imps who overshoot the
previous green region. Well discuss later on how that is accomplished, but
now on to the pool regions.
D.3 The Pool
The pool is far, far simpler than the ground because of simpler zombie
design. Only Dolphins and Jacks will give you trouble. Notice how you can
plant things right up front because of the easier nature of these zombies.
The first region, the red (columns 8 and 9), represent the area that will be
directly dealing with the mass of regular zombies, but there is always the
constant threat of an immediate Jack explosion. The Jack steps onto the map
and explodes instantly after, taking out either one or both of the plants
in that region. Although very rare, it can happen at any time without
warning. This fact is very important for the 6 Gloom setup because Glooms
are a vital part of the builds DPS; theyre expensive, and take long to
replace. The vast majority of builds use the power of this setup; there are
exceptions but this regions vulnerability is important to the survival of
A LOT of layouts. Well discuss how to deal with it in detail.
The white region behind that (columns 5, 6, and 7) is a very stable area
because only Dolphins and ambush zombies (that pop from underwater at the
middle and end of the level) nibble at your plants. (column 7 is also safe
from ambush zombies) The Dolphins are the bigger threat because they waste
no time getting over there and getting to work. This area will require
constant Pumpkins most of the time.
The backmost purple region of the pool (columns 1, 2, 3, and 4) is completely
and utterly safe. You will lose before these plants are compromised. They
dont even need Pumpkins. They serve as good Cob spots or areas to put your
Twin Sunflowers.
That concludes all the regions of the map. Now lets move to the plants
youre going to be putting on these regions.
D.4 The Plants
The design philosophy of a successful Survival Endless build involves using
the upgrade plants. These plants get 50 sun more expensive for every instance
of that plant on the field in Survival Endless, which is a unique restriction
for this mode. Many plants start costing 700-1100 sun at any given point.
People would assume that using cheaper unupgraded plants would be the way to
go, but the goal of using upgrade plants is to make a build so good, by
maximizing the effectiveness of each tile, that losing the expensive plant
is extremely rare.
Offensive Plants
Gloom Shroom:
This is the heart and soul of ANY successful Survival build that Ive come
across. The reason why we categorize builds by number of Cobs is because not
every build has Cobs, but every known successful build up to this point has
Glooms. These guys have unparalleled DPS to all the zombies within a 1 tile
radius of itself. With enough of these guys, everything will fall. They do
have a few weaknesses, though. They suffer most from the upgrade plant
penalty. Their price will range from 500 to 1200 sun normally because of the
abundance of Glooms youll have on the field. They also have a long cooldown,
so they can only be built or replaced one at a time in between long intervals.
Dont forget that you need to wake these guys up too since its during the
day, which is another 75 sun. They are also extremely vulnerable to Jacks.
Even though they can make quick work of Jacks once theyre in range, the
Jacks can still explode when theyre close but still alive. Jacks can take
out 1-2 Glooms in an instant, and are considered very dangerous for this
reason. Since Glooms are the bread and butter of nearly every build, the
survival of the build is contingent on keeping them alive. Replace as soon
as possible.
Cob Cannon:
While the Glooms are required by every build, the Cob Cannons are extremely
influential in how you play your build. These guys require two slots and
cannot use Pumpkins. So, any spot where any zombie has a decent chance
of nibbling on these plants will be off-limits. They can easily cost
1000 sun just like Glooms, have a long cooldown, and the void left by their
death can definitely be felt. Replace as soon as possible. They work
exactly like Cherry Bombs with their blast radius, which is a 3x3 area
centered on where you click. They also have the added benefit of having a
lower cooldown of ~30 seconds when the Cob lands. A lot of builds are
designed around the constant use of extreme force of these explosions
at the front of the map. They also have the benefit of being ungrabbable by
Bungee zombies because theyre too big. One can come up with interesting
layouts to make their base less vulnerable to Bungees with this information.
Fume Shroom:
This mushroom is the little cousin of the Gloom. While these do not attack
nearly as fast as the Gloom does, their range is a lot longer. They, like
their cousin, attack all units in their range, which happens to be exactly
the 4 tiles in front of them. This has certain advantages and complements
the weakness of Glooms rather beautifully. These guys are extremely useful
for taking out Jacks and Zombonis, in addition to adding more DPS to
everything in the row. Combinations of Fumes and Glooms can make you
immune to Jacks, which is very important as we shall see later on. They also
have a low cost and low cooldown, which makes them easily replaceable, but
you do need the Coffee Bean. Their overall DPS contribution is small so
their priority is less.
Melon-Pults should not be used in Survival Endless. There has been some
controversy over their DPS vs. Winter-Pults, but Ive personally tested it
myself and Winter-Pults not only do more damage to zombies than their
unupgraded counterparts (unless the shot is blocked by buckets, doors, etc.,
then its equal), but they also provide that lovely splash snare. The snare
in PvZ is very useful because it is a 50% reduction of movement AND attack
speed. Very few builds can live without the synergy potential of snare.
These guys attack their row at any distance and vary their initial timing,
but it stays constant after that. Their impact does a sizeable amount of
damage (4-5) to the zombie theyre targeting and 1 damage to everything
within a 1 tile radius of that impact point. It is highly recommend having
at least one Winter-Pult in each row (even Pool) for this reason. They all
do well to cover for each other. If you only have one in the row, be warned
that it can get distracted by landing Imps if its too far back, or zombies
will just naturally become unsnared by random chance. There is nothing wrong
with adding additional Winter-Pults to the important rows if the build
benefits from it.
These guys have their place in Survival Endless, but its not for what you
think. They are mainly used as buffers for Gargantuars, actually. A
Spikerock can take 9 swings before it dies (3 per spike) or tire pops from
Zomboni/Catapult zombies. They are moderately expensive and their cooldown
is also moderate. So theyre replaceable but not as easily as other things.
Because of this restriction, you cant just wantonly place them like you
could in other modes. They still cant go in the death zone mentioned
earlier, but the brown region right next to that is where they find good
use. In Cob builds, they serve as a deterrent for Dancer zombies, Zombonis,
and Gargantuars. However, they cannot handle them alone. Theyre only used
as a safety net if you make mistakes with the Cob timing. In this fashion,
you can actually afford the upkeep. Another interesting application of
Spikerocks is actually for Digger zombies. If placed in the far left column
where the Digger zombies pop out, they will die before they reach the next
plant. Its rather nifty but I never use them that way because they do not
help with the Imps. You can use them for Imps too, but then they can't be
used for Diggers. Ill explain in detail about this later. They also can
attack any and all zombies within range, ignoring shield damage, treating
most zombies as the 10 hp lamers that they are, which is pretty cool.
Gatling Pea/Torchwood:
Finally we have Fire Pea builds! These guys are really great at burning
down just about anything, but it's tough to push back a huge wave when
there's Zombonis and Screen Door zombies and Gigas to deal with. By
themselves, they cannot manage certain units, but with the help of Freeze
Shroom or Cob Cannons, there seems to be work-arounds. Their strength is
that they melt things. Their weakness is their inefficiency with their
shot. If their shot gets blocked, they suck really hard. Diggers and Imps
can get in the way real quick, so some players put a Split Pea in front of
the Torchwood to handle both the Digger and the Imps in that row, since
the Split peas can shoot a double fire shot backward. It contributes about
as much as 1 Gloom's worth of DPS to Diggers and 1.5 Glooms to Imps. Some
other people put Fumes in front to counter Screen Door, or Spikerock to
counter Giga/Zomboni. But there are still a lot more limitations to them.
They only damage things right up in front, and unsnare potentially
dangerous zombies. Unsnared Gigas are scary. You normally have to dedicate
an entire row to Peashooter/Torchwood, and it only seems to be viable for
the outer row. They serve as an alternative to Fume/Winter-Pult since
the bread and butter DPSer types are few and far between. They're fun
builds and they're useful if you want a challenge.
That concludes the offensive plants. Youll notice that Ive omitted a great
deal of plants you normally would use in other modes. However, in Survival
Endless, they either do a negligible amount of damage because of their
single target nature, or their use is too impractical for the magnitude of
units youre going to face. Now, we shall move on to the niche plants.
Niche Plants
The niche plants, as the name implies, serve a very specific and unique
function that is either required or recommended for any and all layouts.
Luckily there arent too many of them.
Umbrella Plant:
These guys are absolutely necessary, end of story. They serve the function
of blocking (within a 1 tile radius of their placement) the Catapult shots,
which ignore your Pumpkins and destroy your plants with just a couple of
hits. The Catapult zombie will always attack the backmost plant of its row,
so it is required that you put an Umbrella Plant in the blue region on the
map (ground columns 1 or 2) because only in those spots can the Umbrella
reach the back. For builds where you potentially leave the back columns
open, it'll still attack the farthest back planted tile, so you cannot avoid
it. After that, Catapult zombies can be ignored. Umbrella Plants also
have the added bonus of blocking Bungees from stealing your plants. Aside
from the necessary 2, you can have additional ones in your map. Bungees are
usually not a big threat for reasons we shall see, so its not entirely
recommended. You can make interesting designs using a combination of
Umbrella Plants, Cob Cannons, and Gloom Shrooms to block off your valuable
plants from this threat.
These guys are very useful for constructing a build before its completion,
also good for picking off some zombies in a significant amount, and also
good for helping with Digger zombies sometimes, but theyre mainly used for
Balloon zombie control. You need two of these Cattails to take care of air
indefinitely. There is another stipulation, and thats if the Cattails are
too close to the front (3 tiles or less from the right edge), then they have
a chance of letting a Balloon zombie pass. Cattails attack the closest
zombie to them (always air first) and continue sending lagging shots to a
unit until it is dead. The closer they are to their target, the less
downtime they have in between target switches, which means more DPS.
Cattails are also not necessary and as an alternative you can bring along
a Blover.
Twin Sunflowers:
Theyre powering your army and providing you with the currency to build your
plants up. These should be kept in safe spots and in spots that are not very
useful for other offensive plants. The number of Twins required will be
dependant on your play style. If you must make regular use of Cherry Bomb,
Jalapeno, Squash, and Freeze Shroom, then 5-6 will be your recommended
amount, because you also have to deal with Jack accidents and Pumpkins.
If you rely on Cobs and little use of items, you can get away with 2-4
Twins depending on the skill of the player and the maintenance required of
the layout.
Gold Magnet:
For those who want to use Survival Endless as a means of getting money,
having about 2 of these on the map gets the vast majority of coins that
drop. A lot of optimized Survival builds are designed for those who are way
past their need for money and are only it for the challenge. So, you can
usually take one of these builds and replace 2 of the less necessary plants
for Gold Magnets. Just make sure you know what youre doing, otherwise
youll find out the hard way.
This is a no-brainer, an absolute must, and I usually forget that this is
even a plant. Whether or not you need the Imitater version of this depends
on the maintenance requirements of your build, which is the sum of your debt
accumulated by Imp, Digger, Dolphin, and Football zombies. Jack explosions
and Gargantuar/Zomboni squashings also affect this, but its hard to factor
their small influence into it.
Now that were done with the tools youll be working with, its time to take
a look at the opposition youll be facing.
D.5 The Zombies
The Horde:
These are the Regular, Conehead, Buckethead, Newspaper, Pole-Vaulting, Pool,
Pogo, Ladder, and Screen Door zombies. For all intents and purposes, these
guys can be ignored if youre doing the build right. Theyre the lowest on
the totem pole because of their relatively unexceptional nature and are good
for fodder and money.
Jack-In-The-Box Zombie:
Jacks are quite possibly the simplest and most complex special zombies of
Survival Endless. If not for these bastards, we wouldve had a fully
automated build by now. Alas, Survival Endless actually requires thinking,
and we have our thanks to these guys, the killer of Gloom builds. They can
be worked around. They are of average health, equivalent to all the other
bipedal specialist zombies (17hp) and they attack normally too. Their one
special feature is that at (seemingly) random intervals, they explode and
take out anything within a 1 tile radius. This can be disastrous for close
range plants because there seems to be no way around getting close with the
zombie horde all the time. Well, Ive already gone on long enough about how
evil they can be, so what can people do to handle this threat? Well, theres
one way of taking care of inner row Jacks, and two ways of taking care of
outer row Jacks.
For inner row Jacks, you require two pool Glooms and 1 Fume that attacks
Notice how the absolute right edge is about a third of another tile, which
means zombies can be attacked before they even get on the grid. The Fume
can be closer but not too close for obvious reasons. Immediate Jack
explosions should not plague you as long as you satisfy those conditions.
I've never personally witnessed a Jack explosion with this setup, but
the rarity of Jack accidents requires a humungous sample size before we
could get statistical confidence.
For outer row Jacks, you can Cob them before they reach your plants (which
doesnt work out so well for those inner row Jacks since they explode
before you can react) or you can use a special arrangement I discovered a
while back to lead to the first Cobless build, which was a big deal because
it was unheard of to not be using 6 Cob Cannons to get past 100. Heres the
bare minimum required to be Jack immune in their exact positioning.
It also has the added bonus of taking out Zombonis by itself along with most
any other zombie except Football zombies and Gargantuars. Now, well get a
little more into discussion about this arrangement because there actually is
some variability at a cost. For some odd reason, that exact distance from
the right edge makes the build perfectly immune, no matter what. If the
arrangement is moved forward one tile, itll be crushed rather quickly, so
the only alternative would be to move it back. As it turns out, the farther
back you move it, the more vulnerable to Jacks it becomes. One tile back,
it may take your Glooms Pumpkin (if the Gloom has no Pumpkin when the Jack
nicks you, then it dies) with a very small chance of taking it out in one go.
This is still perfectly manageable and Ive seen it put to good use in a lot
of the minimalist Cob builds, where they only have 2-4 Cobs and let the
zombies come to them, allowing the small number of Cobs to recharge in time.
Just remember that every tile you scale back, you lose 2 possible spots to be
used for other plants, like Winter-Pults.
As a final note, Ive studied a lot about the nature of Jack explosions and
their timing. The positions at which they explode are constant and occur
usually as they cross the border from one tile to another. This a rough
estimate and not necessarily true the farther back in the base you let them
go. Also, the farther they get, the more likely chance they have of blowing
up since their missed opportunities for exploding continue to go up. At
first its, say, 1/8, then 1/7, then 1/6, etc. These are just some things to
keep in mind, and one day itd be really helpful to find out exactly where
all the explosions occur. The final thing Id like to mention is what really
makes Jacks a force to be reckoned with. When youre in the later waves
where multiple Jacks come out, they have a very deadly cascade effect as a
product of not only weakening your defenses but increasing their probability
of exploding as they go along. One blows up and takes out a Gloom, so the
other 2 live, then another blows up a couple seconds later, and so on. This
means that a chain of Jacks can take out 3 Glooms in an instant, possibly 4
if they take out your replacement before it can help. That is also something
to keep in mind and Jacks are always to be taken seriously.
Now, for Jack recovery, I'm going to assume you've sustained heavy losses,
otherwise there's nothing to recover from and you're fine and dandy. But
that will not always be the case. When you hear a Jack Explosion, there's
two possibilities, Inner Row or Outer Row. It is definitely within your
interest to figure out which. Drop everything and assess the situation.
Once you have a successful endless build, the only serious threat are
these guys, so there is never harm in being too careful. If its Outer Row,
depending on the setup, you're usually safe and it's a lot easier to
notice the damage since you're not going to be having Zombies obscuring
your plants on the main line. Inner Row, on the other hand can get pretty
messy when Gigas come out. I always check my 6 Gloom first if I'm using it
and I'll immediately replace a Gloom if 1-2 are taken out. Cannot stress
that enough. Immediately. Every second you hesitate is another second
only your 2 Glooms are handling the Gigas and not 3 or 4. My next step is
delay. Freeze Shrooms are great for this, and you don't have to go
overboard with consumables unless the pressures really on. I'll Cherry Bomb
afterward and that'll usually take care of 2 waves of zombies. Cherry Bomb
is best if your build needs consumables for the outer row too. After that
the Gloom/Cob cooldown should be up and your second replacement is finished.
If you run into more desperate situations, time delay is everything. Throw
cheap squashable plants to protect your other plants, because you don't
loss of your good plants begetting more loss of your good plants.
These guys are the ice machine rovers of death. They cannot be slowed and
have a surprising resistance to damage especially by Winter-Pults. They
leave a trail of ice behind that blocks placement of any plants there
(sorry consumables!). Jalapenos can melt the row it affects but its not
that useful for this function because of its long cooldown. Zombonis also
flatten any plant in its way, making it especially dangerous and it is the
second most likely reason youll die in Survival Endless, next to
Zombonis are usually taken care of by Glooms or Cobs, same as everything
else. Inner row Zombonis that are not taken care of by Cobs or Spikerocks
are taken out by the 6 pool Gloom setup.
Even with the 6 Gloom, they will reach that third tile from the edge if its
a Spikerock or a plant with a Pumpkin. Unpumpkined Fumes can survive
surprisingly, which is why that inner row Jack setup actually works, which
Ill link again.
Outer row Zombonis are taken care of similarly. You can either use the outer
row setup for Jacks or rely on the all-powerful Cobs.
Id like to make a note that you should notice which plants have Pumpkins
and which dont for good reason. Yes, you do actually need 2 Fumes and 1
Gloom as they are bare minimum for this to work.
Now youre probably all wondering why Pumpkins can make or break whether or
not you get flattened by Zombonis. The answer lies in the fact that Pumpkins
add width to the plant. If the Zomboni touches the plant, it gets flattened,
so a Pumpkin decreases the distance the Zomboni has to travel to reach your
plant. Pumpkins make your plants fat. It really is that close and it is
definitely worth it because now you can ignore even the monstrous Zombonis.
Unpumpkined plants are obviously vulnerable to Football zombies, so you can
use Pumpkins in the Zombonis absence or just deal with the replacement
costs. (150, big whoop)
Balloon Zombie:
Make sure you either use 2 properly placed Cattails or always bring the
Blover card when they come around. Balloon Zombies can be snared by Freeze
Shroom only and when their balloon pops, they can sometimes land on those
unpumpkined plants annoyingly.
Football Zombie:
They're more just annoying than difficult. They're the zombie that makes you
want to Pumpkin your front but can't because of Zombonis. They'll eat your
snare too because they just won't die. When Football Zombies are in the
composition, I usually pay extra attention to the snare application over
the waves. Freeze Shroom is very good at destroying any damage/snare debt
accumulated as a result of these jerks.
Catapult Zombie:
Make sure to put an Umbrella in each 2x2 back corner, then you can forget
about them. If youre not damaging the outer row Catapults, theyll
eventually get bored (technically run out of ammo) and move forward.
Dolphin Zombie:
Hes another of the more complicated zombies but with a very simplistic
effect at the end of the day. He can take initial hits before entering
the pool, but never enough to be killed off. He jumps in with
invulnerability and arcs over your plants with invulnerability. He also
happens to be immune to snare when in this leap-frogging process. Hes not
actually invulnerable, because he can be killed at any point by a Cob, and
Freeze Shroom works on him too. If you have the standard 6 Gloom, hell land
on your third column of Glooms and start nibbling away. Without the Cob,
you can only kill him so quickly, so he is usually guaranteed to get bites
off. If hes snared prior to getting into the pool or Freeze Shroomed,
then his damage will be vastly reduced. Dolphins require the most frequent
Pumpkining because of their numbers and speed, so you must always keep
watch of that. Winter-Pults are very unreliable with their start times for
attacks, so good luck getting them to nail the Dolphins.
Digger Zombie:
These guys are very straight-forward, too, and you actually dont want to
use Magnets for them. There will be just too many of them for your poor
Magnets so you need dedicated ways of kicking their butts when they pop
out of the ground. That leaves you two viable options, Glooms or Spikerocks.
A Spikerock will take them out with no damage felt but at the expense of
doing no damage to Imps (unless you build another 2 Spikerocks for their
column, usually 3-4). Returning back to Glooms, there is a Gloom arrangement
where you just leave the back column empty, forcing the Diggers to walk a
tile. It is a similar concept to the Spikerock. With 1 well placed Gloom,
you can achieve Digger immunity and have 1 Gloom's worth of DPS for Imps.
The only issue is that this takes up a whopping 3 spots. However, the 2
blank spots aren't entirely unusable and can be used for Freeze Shroom
slots. There are some builds that rely on stockpiling a large number of
Freeze Shrooms so this has its obvious use. For 95% of the other builds
out there, you can do the standard 2 Gloom and fill up those back slots
with whatever.3 Glooms are required to take out a Digger without a single
nibble. 2 Glooms is a good balance since they sometimes take them out with
small damage or no damage at all. Glooms are affected by the same variable
starting time as Winter-pults, essentially, so how much damage you take from
a Digger is dependent on when the Gloom wants to get off its lazy butt. This
randomness will plague you in a lot of things, and this is no exception.
Bum, bum, buuuum. The most intimidating zombie ever conceived for this game.
The only zombie in the game that can sustain a heavy damage consumable. Some
people say he IS the difficulty of Survival Endless and he is the biggest
reason you will fail. He specializes in crushing noob builds and laughs as
he strolls right past your Starfruit and Threepeaters. Nothing short of
unmitigated rape will stop these titans. You might think youre cool for
putting down 8 Cattails and you took down that one Giga all by your lonesome,
but fast forward 50 flags and now 12 Gigas come out with 8 Zombonis and the
Football zombies are eating all of your snare. Yea, good luck. Go find
another guide. Theres no solution.
Just kidding. Even though Gargantuars can take a heavy damage consumable,
they cant take two. The red eye Gargantuars, a.k.a. Gigas, are only 50%
more HP, so they take 3. (their Imps are also 50% more hp) Henceforth, I
shall refer only to Gigas, because if you can take down Gigas, you can take
down their weaker counterpart. As a matter of fact, some builds even ignore
the weaker brother, *cough* Cobless setup.
Rule of thumb, always snare the Gigas. Unsnared Gigas will squash their way
to your Umbrella Plant before you can even press the space bar to rest
your arthritic hands. There are three ways to handle Gigas: Cobs, Glooms,
Firepeas, or some combination of all those. It turns out that 3 tiles and a
Spikerock gives you enough room to Cob the living hell out of Gigas if you
have 6+ Cobs. So, for Cobs, both outer and inner rows are handled exactly the
same. The Inner Row only seems to require 1 cob blast though if you have the
6 Gloom watching your back, since having 3 Glooms worth of DPS apparently
helps out somewhat.
Now for those of you wondering how you can stop 12 of these guys without
constantly bombing them with napalm, well you have to pump your build with
more Glooms, like crack (or Fire pea like crack). And you still have to use
heavy damage consumables, just now theyre cards instead of cobs, and they
cost sun, not spots. They never really wanted to balance a build strong
enough to handle 20 Gigas without cheating (the number always changes
because God laughs at you), so there you go. Either Cob spam or Cherry
Bomb, Freeze Shroom, Jalapeno, and Squash spam. So, how do you manage
without sucking on the teat of Cob Cannons? Well, you do literally stuff
as many Glooms as possibly you can.
Exhibit A.
Take note of the seriousness of this photo. These are god slayers and take
their job very seriously. Also take note of the Freeze Shroom in the
picture. Its a reminder that the Gigas must be snared the whole time. It
also shows that these 5 Glooms cant do it alone and they need a Freeze
Shroom when the Gigas in range of all of them. 5 Gloom beatdown while
frozen equals dead Gigas. This requires Freeze and Imitator Freeze.
There are other ways of taking out Gigas. Exhibit B.
Note that you still require full snaring and 4 open spots. The Winter-Pult
obviously doesnt have to be up front. This one takes up more space than
Exhibit A but is more independent because you dont need the Freeze Shroom
Now, for the outer rows. Theyre a little more difficult to handle because
of Jacks. You cant just put 4 Glooms in a row and call it a day. If we take
our answer to Jacks and Zombonis, and add an additional Gloom to the mix, we
can work without Cobs.
This setup has precisely enough DPS to take out normal Gargantuars by
themselves, and since Gigas are only 1 consumable away you use Cherry Bomb,
Jalapeno, and Squash to bridge the gap. This is the first non-Cob outer row
solution to Gigas that doesnt get its butt handed to it by Jacks. Scale
it back and it has the effect described in the Jacks section.
I just want to add that all these answers to Gigas make their younger
brother garbage. You can ignore Non-Gigas with these heavy damage-dealing
formations outside of some crazy flukes.
To top it off, people can use the minimalist form of the Jack/Zomboni answer
in conjunction with a small number of Cobs, usually 2-4. This requires
that you scale it back at least 1 or 2 tiles from the original position,
because the build is placing a lot of emphasis on those Cobs. Heavy Freeze
Shroom spam also seems to make this work.
Now, for Firepea:
-(By Market Trojan Prince)
The arrangement seems to be 4 Gatling and a Torchwood for the entire row.
Those Spikerocks there also are necessary and must be maintained during
downtime waves. On another note, dead Gigas absorb peashots, which sucks.
Aside from the above listed methods, there arent any more tested ways of
dealing with Gigas that isnt highly situational or impractical. I'd also
like to make a note that these are the only methods that can handle things
by themselves. Hybridizing and synergizing is definitely recommended. There
is but two more zombies to deal with.
These fat midgets have the potential to be very annoying if you dont watch
out for them. When a Gargantuar reaches its 50% hp mark, hell take the
time to throw the little guy from his back to about 5 tiles ahead of him.
Imps land on the plants in columns 2,3, and 4 the vast majority of the
time. So they breach basically the two back regions on the map. Since many
Gargantuars can come out at any one time, there will be many Imps at one
time. However, their attack is slow and their health is low, so you dont
need to Pumpkin often when they show.
One way discovered so far to take care of Imps effectively is to also
use Glooms in the back.
Like so. The formation doesnt need to be exactly that, but the Glooms must
be in range. Now, to discuss Gloom placement. Even though Gargantuars
throw their Imps relative to their own position when they get to 50% HP, the
range at which they land can be generalized. If they move too far in, they
wont even bother throwing their Imp. This can make things more difficult be
cause that throw serves as a good way to stop the Gigas for a short while.
No throw means less time to DPS them down before they reach your plants.
Only bases that are scaled really far back have to worry about this, though.
With that in mind, there are two columns that Glooms can be placed in to hit
99% of the Imps that land. The red bracket is where they land, and the
yellow bracket is the area for effective Gloom placement.
Notice that the right side of the yellow bracket is not within range of
Digger zombies, so ideally the left side of that bracket is the most bang
for your buck since it hits 99% of all Imps and 100% of all Diggers. Id
also like to point out that the transition from 2 Gloom to 3 Gloom coverage
for Imps is not very noticeable.
This is why Glooms for Digger zombies are probably more useful than
Spikerocks. Why? Because, if you lay down Spikerocks to take care of Digger
zombies, you have 0 Glooms to take care of Imps. This is what the setup
would look like:
So for 3 slots, youre getting 3 Glooms worth of damage to Diggers
(3 Glooms = 2 Spikerocks) and 1 Glooms worth of damage to Imps. If you use
Glooms for Diggers, like the one shown earlier, for 2 slots you get 2 Glooms
worth of damage to both Imps and Diggers. Now, simple math dictates that
3 + 1 = 2 + 2. So for 2 slots, you get the same overall DPS. Not to mention,
the difference between 2 Glooms of damage to Diggers is minimal compared to
3. Its all about diminishing returns and maximizing your effectiveness per
tile space. However, some people have made successful builds using Spikerocks
in the third row to take care of Imps too, which looks really cool, but still
an inefficient tile placement until proven otherwise. Only high # cob builds
can afford to sacrifice 4-5 spaces for what can be handled in 2.
One final note is that Imps are very wide and heavy-set, so their hitbox is
actually larger than where they land. So, horizontally speaking, Glooms can
reach them about 1.3-1.4 tiles away aside from the normal 1 tile range. We
shall see that this is the same for Bungees too.

These guys come every beginning of a flag (end of first half and end of
second half), but not at the beginning of the level. They vary in number,
even in the later flags, from just about 1 to 10 at a time. There are
multiple ways of dealing with Bungees. You can either block them with
Umbrella Plants, which is somewhat hard to manage with a very large base,
or DPS them down before they pick up your plant and leave. So, how does one
go about that? Well, snared Bungee zombies surprisingly stay down twice as
long, but they have 23 health so it is still quite a feat to bring these guys
down in time. You can use a properly timed Freeze Shroom, which will freeze
them in place if theyre out and not moving, snare them, and damage them.
The key to timing it is to see the targets land, wait 3 seconds, then Coffee
Bean the Freeze Shroom. If it works out, they should be frozen as quickly
as they possibly can. This way, your Winter-Pults, Glooms, or Cobs can
handle them. You can also Cob them without any help if you have good
timing and reaction speed.
The final way is for your base to handle it all by itself. This requires
extreme Gatling plus Torchwood DPS (which doesnt always work especially
if they're behind the Torchwood), or Winter-Pults and Glooms. With enough
Glooms, theyll die snared or not, which means your 6 Gloom front will
always be safe. However, if you dont have space for such a large amount
of Glooms, youll need to enlist the help of Winter-Pults. Because
Winter-Pults and Glooms both start at random times with their attacks,
their delay can be so long that you need at least 1 Winter-Pult and 4
Glooms just to secure a plant 99.9%. 3 Glooms will be around 90-95% security.
If you already have a Winter-Pult in every row, every plant not covered by
an Umbrella must be in range of 4 Glooms for that kind of security. But
like the Imps, the Bungees are wider; therefore their horizontal hitbox
allows them to be hit by Glooms 2 spaces away. This does not work
vertically but it does have an effect on diagonals. To clarify what I mean
exactly, consider the following:
A and B are Glooms, X is a Bungee, and underscores are blank spaces:
X _ A
_ _ B
Both B and A will attack X, because X is within 2 horizontal spaces of
the Glooms. If you fail to achieve 3-4 Glooms for some spots, whenever
those spots get targeted, you must use a Freeze Shroom or be prepared to
replace the plant.
D.6 Build Practice
Actually Building Your Layout In-Game
I won't go into too much detail about it because it's very easy to do.
I'll just tell you what I normally do.
-For the first level, I bring:
Imitater Sunflower
Potato Mine
Lily Pad
The beginning is all about getting your economy up. The only focus should
be building Sunflowers uninterrupted until 80-90% of the map is Sunflower.
Now, obviously, the early zombies won't let you go that easily. That's
why I bring the Potato Mine. You can use the Rake too, but you'll need
the Mine for the 2nd and possibly 3rd zombie. Now, I'd be careful about
your initial Sunflower placement. I normally put them all in one row. I'm
making sure to place the original Sunflower every time the cooldown is up
so I want the odds of me having to use a Potato Mine early to be as
low as possible. That's why I stick to one row and just a throw two
Garlics up front and call it a day. Another tip is to always prioritize
original Sunflower over Imitater when you can only afford one in the
beginning. It takes like 3 seconds for Imitater to activate unlike the
instant original, so if the cooldown of the original comes up before those
3 seconds, it would've been faster just to wait. Also, a rule of thumb for
Potato Mines, 3.5 spaces is about the proper amount you need to place away
from the zombie.
So after you're done and you're all Sunflowered up and you got your Garlic
protecting the Outer Rows, you'll notice Potato Mines don't cut it
anymore. You have to stop Sunflower production a little bit to save
for a Cattail but they literally take care of the rest of the wave
for you. Once you have two, you can focus on producing more Lily Pads,
making more Sunflowers, and starting to add Pumpkins and Glooms to your
build. That's pretty much it for the first level. The rest is pretty easy
and I leave that to you.
Consumable Tips
My general philosophy with consumables is to use them as effectively as
possible. That requires two things. Infrequency (timing) and placement
(spacing). Now when I say infrequency, they very well may be used every
time their cooldown is up, but I want your attitude to be "reluctant to use
it unless for good reason." They cost Sun, and you don't know when you will
need it, so don't waste it. Aside from using them less often, you can just
make use of them better to achieve the even more efficiency. For example,
Jalapenos attack the whole row. They can attack 2-3 waves worth of zombies
if you wait long enough, so you can double or triple the effectiveness of
these guys just like that. Cherry Bombs work this way to a lesser extent
and can reach 2 waves at a time. Cobs are just free Cherry Bombs but they
follow the same rules.
Freeze Shroom is my favorite consumable, so I'll give a disproportionate
amount of time to them. Despite people saying that Freeze Shroom is only
good for Gloom/Fume builds, EVERY build could use more time. Let's get past
the obvious, though. This guy Freezes things in place, but where should
things be frozen in place? Close to your plants, duh! Freeze next to your
Glooms, your Spikerocks, your Fumes, whatever. Timing is of the essence.
Many builds require that you Freeze properly and in optimal DPS positions.
Next, you need to protect these guys from getting killed. Do you have spots
well protected by Glooms? Queue some Freeze Shrooms there. It's always nice
to have at least 1 dedicated slot to Freeze Shroom, because wasted Freeze
Shroom is probably the second leading cause of death aside from Jack
accidents. You can use Freeze against Gigas to help burn them down, against
Jacks to prevent their explosions, against Diggers/Dolphins to stop their
nibbles. Freeze Shroom is very versatile and powerful. You get more sun
and less cooldown on all the rest of your cards because of that bought
time. You can also rest yourself and set the game to your pace. Every time
a hard wave starts, open with a well-timed Freeze for good measure. Stops
Bungees and ambush zombies in their tracks and it makes your snare rotation
more efficient. Leaving them asleep is perhaps their best attribute,
because now you can have more Freeze Shroom than a person should ever have.
Something a little less known is that a Freeze Shroom will still activate
if it's awake when killed/flattened, so you can time it where a Giga swings
and activates the Freeze Shroom for you.
One last note, Puff-Shrooms are great if you have extra card slots. They're
free and amazing against Gigas. Their low cooldown makes them excellent
buffers against Football zombies too.
D.7 Build Theory
If you don't understand the fundamental workings of what's going on, it is
very difficult to establish truly successful survival builds. I think one
of the most fundamental things we can talk about is the orthodox 6 Gloom.
The reasons why you have successful builds, usually, are those pool Glooms.
You can't just put a Gloom out in front on the ground, otherwise it'll get
squashed. That space must be earned by enough pool DPS to clear enough
zombies for the Inner Row. The bare minimum is not until 3 tiles; this
has been experimentally proven. Therefore, the closest you can get to
working on the Outer Row starts 3 tiles back. So we have the Pool Row
covering for the Inner Row. And the Inner Row covering for the Outer Row.
So, now you can see that the highest DPS possible buys you the most freed
tiles for the subsequent row. More tiles usually means a stronger defense,
so a good objective for designing your build is to squeeze in as much DPS
as *necessary* for all 3 types of rows.
There is one more factor we must consider too with build theory. We must
understand that all we're really doing is bringing a Zombie HP pool to
zero before it reaches our base. That's a set number in terms of time
and hp per wave. So then we can treat each tile as a unit of damage done
over a distance.
Let's look at a build using this row analysis.
Let's take the inner row for example. Disregarding the Freeze Shroom, that's
3 on-screen tiles before the zombies reach your plants. This means in 3
tiles, you need to do enough damage to kill them. Since they travel at a
constant rate, that can be equated to seconds. If it takes X seconds to cross
a tile, you'd need to do Y damage in X seconds. Going from 3 tiles to 2 tiles
is 66% of the distance and thus you're doing 66% of your original damage. If
your original damage amount was the bare minimum to survive, then you need a
50% damage increase to compensate. (1.5 x 0.66 = 1.0)
Now, I obviously wouldn't scale the Inner any more forward, because that
would contradict what I already said about it being impossible. 50% is a
tremendous increase in DPS, but the farther back your build goes, the less
the penalty there is for making it 1 tile closer. For this build, the Inner
row is most vulnerable because it is the closest to the horde and loses a
Gloom right off the bat if you mess up. The Outer row is most incompetent
because it has the weakest defenses at its disposal. Instead of 5 Glooms
and 3 tiles like Inner, Outer has only 2 Glooms and 2 tiles where those
Glooms get to do their damage. Fumes help too, and I've always been under
the impression that Fumes attack at 1/4th the speed of a Gloom, so 4x the
distance with 1/4th the DPS = 1 tiles worth Gloom damage. Still not
nearly as much as the Inner row though. By looking at builds with this
perspective. You can quickly figure out the vulnerabilities and strengths
of any layout.
After learning all this theory, its time to see these things put into
practice. Its one thing to memorize the tactics laid down by your
forefathers, its another to see these in action. Like I said, I categorize
these builds by their number of Cobs, from 0 to 8. There are builds that
are more than 8, but theyre no different from the 8 Cob.


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