UPDATE 21 NOV 2009: A commentor, jelo has been continually experimenting and has now achieved more than 100 flags with a vastly superior setup to my own!
The strategy is described here.
And if you want to reach 200 Flags, try his updated setup HERE!
UPDATE 4 Nov 2009: Influenced by jelo’s design, I’ve come up with my own variant:
This setup is based on maximizing plant utility.
Fume Shrooms: Both columns can begin firing on zombies as soon as they take a step onto the lawn. Splash damage hits all in the row. Can be modified to add one more Fume instead Winter Melons of behind the two Fumes on rows 1 & 6, as so:
Gloom Shrooms: Pool rows decimate water zombies and handle rows 2 & 5. The four at the back are placed to knock out Digger Zombies within zero to two bites – I found Spikerocks too slow to down them, so decided that the overlapping Gloom blasts would be quicker. The ones in column 2 are also able to hit thrown Imps (at surprising ranges!) and Bungee Zombies. Alone, they may not be able to stop Bungees in time, but that’s why I have…
Ice Shroom: One original and one Imitater. Leave it asleep until Bungees are about to drop down or Gargantuars become threatening, at which point I wake with a Coffee Bean. You can also plop down a Chomper as soon as the ice hits to get as many as 8 bites on a frozen Gargantuar, as long as no vehicles are there. Beware of the delay in popping though!
Spikerock: jelo’s layout doesn’t utilize them, but I like their stalling Gargantuars a lot. The furthest right column doesn’t have any, so that Gargantuars can wander into range of more Glooms at rows 2 & 5, and get hit more times at rows 1 & 6, before finally pounding on the wall of Spikerocks. They’ll pop Zombonis as well, but Catapults will usually be stopped short of popping their tyres on the Spikerocks (lost a few back column plants to their attacks though). All in all, leaving the rightmost column free saves a lot of damage, Sun and micro-ing.
Cattails: As per jelo’s advice, there are four to deal with overloads of Balloon Zombies.
Winter Melon: You’ll note that I pack in many more than jelo’s strat. The extra two on rows 1 & 6 are to compensate for the lack of pool Gloom Shroom pwnage there, which is why the landed Glooms are stuck at 2 & 5 to make room. The slow and heavy splash damage make them indispensable.
Twin Sunflower: For quick Sun recovery in case of Jack-in-the-Box Zombie mishaps. You can try replacing with anything you fancy – spare Ice Shrooms, Cob Cannons – as the rear pool plants aren’t really necessary for damage. You may need the extra Sun recovery later, however.
Pumpkin: Protect everything you can! Spikerocks excluded of course.
At later stages, some must-have seeds based on what’s coming…
Jack-in-the-box-Zombie: Lily Pad, Fume Shroom, Gloom Shroom, Coffee Bean – to replace exploded Glooms.
Gargantuar, Zomboni: Spikeweed, Spikerock, instants – to replace smashed Spikerocks and take them down faster.
Bungee Zombie: Ice Shroom – to delay for defenses to kill them before they grab.
And in general, Pumpkin, Imitater Pumpkin, and instants like Cherry Bomb, Jalapeno, Squash, Ice Shroom and Chomper as needed. (See Ice Shroom entry above for how Chomper is used.)
Older postings follow below.
Plants vs. Zombies is a great tower-defense style game. It’s my second purchase via the game downloading service provider, Steam – at only USD10. Read these articles or watch some Youtubes to find out more:
Playing and beating all the various game modes unlocks Survival: Endless mode, where wave after wave of zombies comes at your defenses, pausing every now and then for you to swap some of your defense choices.
After trying out my own preliminary defense layouts and reading the excellent strategies at GameFAQs guides, here’s my current finalized layout and explanation of my placement choices (Note: see very bottom for update on layout):
The red target bullseye is where I usually launch Cob Cannon nukes (along with the corresponding square on the other side of the pool).
Here are some scenes from waves of zombie attacks, including a Cob launch at the spot I was talking about that fries a top-right Gargantuar:
Every plant placement serves a specific purpose.
If you’re familiar with the usual strategies for Survival: Endless, the first thing you probably noticed is my unusual use of Gatling Peas in the top rows and Winter Melons in the bottom rows. Most guides will go for only Winter Melons in all rows. But I have my own reasoning for my choice.
First, I wanted to see which was more effective: 6 Winter Melons, or 5 Gatling Peas with one Torchwood at the front to ignite the peas (20 flaming area-damage peas = better than 24 single-hit peas). I didn’t mix the two together in adjacent rows, because apparently the fire will neutralize the cold slow effect.
In practise, they kill zombie waves about as quickly since they both do area damage. The Gatling rows are however more consistent, releasing a constant stream of flaming peas, while the Winters lob in slow volleys. In practise, the Winters usually end up a just a little slower to mow down the zombie waves (see the progress of the zombies in the action pics above), but since they also slow with their cold, it evens out in the end.
Second, since the cost of shop-purchased plants goes up by 50 Sun with every planting, using 7 Gatlings and 7 Winters is significantly cheaper than going for 14 winters. Third, since Gatling and Winter seeds have a very slow cooldown between plantings, it’s quicker to replace one of each that falls to zombies.
Rows 2 and 5 seem to have far fewer Gatlings and Winters and thus much lower damage output, but the Gloom-shrooms in the pool make up for it.
Gloom-shrooms are standard issue for most Survival: Endless strategies. The three columns at the far right in the pool are usually enough to take out any pool zombies, including annoying Doplhin Rider Zombies who will bypass the first two columns but die to the third. They also heavily area-damage zombies coming via rows 2 and 5, which makes possible freeing up some plots for utility plants in those rows.
Speaking of utility plants, notice the Gloom-shrooms in column 1 (the leftmost)? They’re there to deal with those ever-annoying Digger Zombies, who will bypass your forward defenses. Originally, I tried using Magnet-Shrooms to stop them:
But even with 4, the cooldown was too slow to stop all the Diggers, and just two Cattails were too slow to take down Diggers which reached the back row before they bit into the Pumpkins (and soon-exposed plants inside) too much. One Gloom-shroom’s area damage is enough to drop Diggers of any number after just three or four bites (as you can see from the first few pics at the start of this post), more than making up for the fact that it doesn’t contribute anything to the front-line battle – rows 2 and 5 are adequately covered by their pool-planted compatriots, anyway.
Meanwhile, the other utility plants in rows 2 and 5 are four Umbrella Leafs, which are VERY necessary against Bungee Zombies. In a round with Bungees, a wave of attackers will often begin this way:
If you have no suitable defenses, it’s instant bye-bye to several hundred or thousand Sun worth of upgraded plants! A particularly unlucky grab can lead to your being overrun due to sudden reduction in offensive power. Umbrella Leafs at the right spots will put paid to such vandalism:
During a round with no Bungees (see the zombie lineup at the start of each flag before you choose your seeds), you can dig up the Umbrellas and plant Sunflower to recoup some Sun. If you can get 150 Sun from one, you’ve paid back the cost to plant the Sunflower and replant the Umbrella. You could put in offensive plants, but they won’t really reduce the already-minimal takedown time. You could also plant a Gold Magnet to collect all the loose change being dropped by pwned zombies, but honestly, money making should be done in a coin-collecting run.
The two Cattails are enough to stop all Balloon Zombies that try to fly by. They’re towards the front to pop the balloons faster, and take out Dolphins marginally faster. They were placed early on in the starting stages to take down the first few weak zombies with their homing shots, but by this point they add almost nothing to the damage output of the Spikes, Glooms, flaming Gatlings and Winters.
The Spikerocks at the far right are the toughest plants available and key to surviving later levels, as they are the only plant that can take more than one hit from a Gargantuar or roll-over by a Zomboni or Catapult. They pop (kill) the latter two with one blow, and deal area damage to all zombies that walk over them.
From experience, I chose three columns of them to give enough breathing space when large waves of Gargantuars come – survival will boil down to instants (Cherry Bombs, Jalapenos, Squash, Cob Cannon launches, etc) and the cooldown timer on the Spikerock seed. Two just wasn’t enough.
Unfortunately, Jack-in-the-Box Zombies will still occasionally explode before you cn take them out, leaving scary gaps in the defenses that you must scramble to replant before Gargantuars, Zombonis and Catapults come:
The Cob Cannons are there mainly to take down Gargantuars quicker. As I said, survival or brain-eatenness will boil down to how long you can keep replacing Spikerocks that fall. The quicker Gargantuars die, the less time they have to whack your Spikerocks. In a pinch and with some lead time, a Cob launch can also end a too-heavy wave of Diggers or Dolphins that might threaten your back rows. Since each takes up two plots, they can’t be protected by Pumpkins. But it’s unlikely that any zombies will make it that far left across the pool.
Four Cob Cannons should give you plenty of leeway to authorize launches:
If you spend the first rounds just collecting Sun (see next paragraph), having only two Twin Sunflowers should provide enough Sun to replace an plants or Pumpkins you happen to lose.
And of course, everything is Pumpkined (except the Cob Cannons which are too large – but as I said, will likely never be hit). Beginning the first few rounds by planting ALL plots with Sunflowers, except the three columns of spikes and two Cattails, and keeping it that way until the zombie waves neccesitate more offensive power, is how you collect enough Sun to Pumpkin every plant and set up all those expensive upgrades. Using the Imitater as another Pumpkin will help speed up the process.
And once the setup is finalized, I’ll usually choose the following if I don’t need any specific seeds to patch zombie-eaten holes in the defenses:
The Spikes are for Gargantuar-stomped replacement, the Pumpkin and Imitater for repairing Dolphin and Digger damage, and the instants for emergencies and assisting cob Cannon whacking of Gargantuar waves.
The rest of the slots are for Umbrella replacement exercises, or whatever you think will be eaten and need replacing during the round. I’ll bet on Lily Pad, Fume-shroom, Coffee Bean and Gloom-shroom seeds to fix up your pool-bound Gloom-shrooms in the very unfortunate case of a Jack-in-the-Box explosion in row 2 or 5!
Go ahead and try your own placements – and have fun!
UPDATE: After having lots of annoyance from tons of Imps being thrown by injured Gargantuars directly to column 3, I decided to relocate the Cattails there to deal with them quicker:
This also helps take down Diggers faster, two or three bites if the Cattails start shooting at them immediately.
Lol, someone decided to try my Instants-Only idea: