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    Survival Endless Guide by festclick636

    Updated: 06/08/13 | Search Guide | Bookmark Guide

    Survival endless FAQ by clickfest
    I've been playing Plants vs Zombies Survival Endless in Game of the year 
    edition for around 4 years now, mainly refining my play with the setup I call 
    Elegant Cob Sun Saver (ECSS). This has two cobs and will be described later. A 
    lot of FAQs have been written about this game mode. I'd like to emphasize some 
    of the less well-known points, and deal briefly with the more familiar ones. 
    First I should acknowledge Draco and evilbob for their systems which I combined 
    into ECSS. Details of ECSS and variants are given at the end, where I give a 
    lot of detail about playing this system. 
    Survival Endless is a challenging game at high levels for two main reasons. 
    It's an Arcade mode, and shows rare random events, the most damaging being jack
    accidents (explosions of the jack-in-a-box zombie which destroy 1 or more 
    important plants like pool glooms). These two features are closely related. By 
    Arcade mode, I mean that, although the game saves your progress in each session
    and allows you to continue next session from where you left off, it doesn't 
    allow you to load an earlier saved game, so you can't repeat the same level. 
    That means you are at the mercy of the random events like jack accidents and 
    dolphins eating pool glooms. You can practice your play but each moment of a 
    game is played once only. 
    Note that it is possible to cheat by backing up game files so you can repeat 
    levels. If you do this, all the challenge of this mode quickly disappears. 
    Since the dangerous "Black Swan" random events are rare, just by repeating a 
    level several times you can avoid them, thus being able to play without jack 
    accidents, for instance. There are then many setups which can be played 
    I don't advocate cheating this way, as for myself there is then no sense of 
    achievement. I only mention it to get across what makes the game mode such a 
    challenge, for those who don't cheat. I have tested over 50 setups up to 100 
    flags, and beyond if they are robust enough to survive that far more than half 
    the time. None of them can survive indefinitely without cheating. Only a 
    handful can regularly (not always, because of the randomness) survive beyond 
    100 flags. Of these, only two variants of my Elegant Cob Sun Saver setup can 
    regularly survive many hundreds of flags in my experience. Other people's 
    experience may differ, but I'd like to explain why I think this is so, without 
    getting into a tedious slanging match about the best setup and playing style. 
    If you don't agree, that's fine. Take my suggestions with a pinch of salt. But 
    you might save yourself some time investigating setups that aren't viable by 
    reading further. 
    Many cob cannons or few?
    Firstly, I divide setups into two main types, those with few or no cobs, and 
    those with many. My dividing line is a bit vague, for reasons I'll go into 
    later, but let us say four or less cobs for the "few-cob" setup. Cob cannons 
    are everyone's favourite attack plant, because of the huge and full 3 by 3 tile
    area effect damage, perhaps 80, to kill football zombies outright (assuming 
    Draco's stats on zombie health are correct), and the 35 second shot-recharge. 
    The first point I'd make is that it isn't as simple as to say, the more cobs 
    the better because you can inflict more area damage per second on the zombies. 
    [Whilst on the subject, I've checked the health of most types of zombie from 
    Survival Day Hard videos and I agree with Draco's table in his FAQ. Highlights:
    jack 17 football 80 garg 150 giga 225 (not checked) zomboni 60. From my 
    Survival Endless videos, I estimate bungee 23 (killed by two attacks from 3 
    glooms + freeze 1 point in 25 damage, see later for plant damage, but not 
    killed by mistimed freeze + 2 attacks of 2 glooms for 17 damage), giga 225 
    (rough estimate: cob + squash + 17 gloom shots + 3 direct winter melon shots at
    260+ damage killed an inner giga, but the same giga had not died after cob + 
    squash + 7 gloom shots + 2 direct winter melon shots at 216+ damage. This 
    assumes cob and squash do 90 damage. I've checked in Survival Day Hard with 
    gatlings that cob, squash, cherry, jalapeno, doom all do 90 damage (against 
    gargs). It would be reasonable for giga to have 50% more health than garg.]
    Why not? Because with any setup there are Black Swan events, especially jack 
    accidents but not only those. Sure, the jack accidents are going to be quite 
    rare with an 8 or 10 cob setup, at least whilst you have all of those cobs. But
    they will still happen. With a many-cob setup, you have to deal with multiple 
    threats almost entirely with the cobs. So if you mess up any single cob shot, 
    or get the timing wrong so you don't fire in time, you generally don't have any
    other attack to fill the gap. That lets in a host of Black Swan events. There 
    are too many to list them all. But they include a greater frequency of jack 
    accident, and gigas or zomboni squashing column 7 plants. Of course, if a 
    column 7 plant is destroyed, it is then possible to lose a column 5 and 6 land
    A key feature of many-cob setups is that a lot of space on the lawn is, 
    unavoidably, given over to the cobs which occupy 2 lawn spots each. There is 
    then less space for other plant defences. A particular consequence of this is 
    that every level with zomboni has to be defended with near-perfect cob shots 
    and timing, to stop the column 7 plants being squashed, even if there are no 
    jacks or gigas (I shorten giga-gargantuar to giga and gargantuar to garg for 
    brevity). So only a few rare levels with no zomboni, jack or giga (about 21%) 
    don't require constant use of the cobs.
    That is why I make the distinction between many-cob and few-cob setups. With 
    few-cobs, any level without jack or giga (about 34%) requires many fewer 
    attack seeds and is an opportunity to save sun, provided at least the setup can
    deal with zomboni without use of any seeds or even cobs. Those are the only 
    few-cob setups I consider. Thus, few-cob setups have more "easy" levels and 
    sun-saving opportunities. Also, I will argue later that, of all many-cob setups
    I've tried, only some setups with exactly 8 cobs, four at the very back of the
    pool and the others on land in columns 5 and 6 are viable to 100 flags. I 
    suspect this is true in general, but your experience may differ. I couldn't 
    find a viable to 100 flags setup of this kind which had more than 4 twin 
    sunflowers. Some people apparently try to survive with only two twins. Some 
    try to ladder their setup to save on sun by not having to replace so many 
    pumpkins. I will argue that neither option is viable beyond 100 flags. For now, 
    just be aware that the large size of cob cannons means you have to cut down on 
    twin sunflowers as well as defensive plants. So long as there are no Black Swan
    events, that is no problem. But the long-term viability of setups is tied to 
    surviving Black Swans. Even if they are rare, you need to be able to afford the
    sun to replace the losses. And I would argue that Black Swans where you lose a 
    cob are not rare enough in many-cob setups. 
    Zombie frequency
    Where did I get those percentages from? I recorded every zombie roster and 
    level in a game that went beyond 1000 flags and in 5 games after that, overall 
    averaging above 700 flags per game, though my playing style changed a lot in 
    the process. That showed that about 44% of levels have jacks (4/9) so there are
    about 22 jack levels per 100 flags (2 flags per level). With my basic ECSS 
    setup I had usually between 3 and 5 jack accident levels per 100 flags, which 
    worked out at 20% of the jack levels, or about 9% of all levels if you prefer. 
    With the variant I had slightly fewer, 18% of the jack levels or 8% of all 
    levels, but with less data so far. Giga, zomboni and bungee each occur on about
    39% of levels independently. That seems enough information for basic strategy. 
    The crucial point is the difference between the frequency of easy levels with 
    few-cob (34% or (1-.44) x (1-.39) as probabilities) and many-cob (21% or 
    (1-.39) x (1-.44) x (1-.39) as probabilities), which is statistically 
    Whilst we're on the subject of saving sun, note that levels with giga, but no 
    jack, though difficult, still often allow for saving a little sun during the 
    lull near the end of the second part when the gigas usually stop coming. That 
    is another 22% of levels on which a little sun can be clawed back, provided the
    setup can deal with zomboni (and all zombies except jack and giga) without 
    using so many seeds. Only gargs need the occasional use of freeze in addition 
    to a single pair of cobs with a viable few-cob setup like ECSS. 
    At higher levels, you tend to break even on some of these levels, lose a little
    sun on some and gain quite a bit on others with a big lull without gigas. Even 
    though you lose sun with ECSS on many, but not all, jack levels, overall you 
    gain sun on the majority. Of course, you can regain huge amounts of sun, 
    between 1000 and 3000, on easy levels if you are sparing with pumpkins and 
    attack seeds with ECSS. 
    Area effect damage
    To explain about many-cob setups, I need to talk more generally about 
    area-effect damage. In Survival Endless, a lot of the plants without any 
    area-effect damage are not effective in a viable setup. That is why you will 
    mainly see only winter melon, cob, fume and gloom as the basic attack plants in
    viable setups. Obviously, the instants (squash, jalapeno, cherry), cobs, doom 
    and freeze (ice-shroom activated by coffee) are all pure area-effect attacks. 
    By pure, I mean all the damage done effects all the zombies in the area of 
    effect, not just one target. 
    You may be surprised that winter melon is not described as pure area-effect. I 
    believe that melon-pult deals 3 damage to the single target zombie, and only 1 
    damage to the 3 by 3 area centred on the target. Winter melon does the same, 
    but each shot slows affected zombies by 50% for a few seconds except those 
    zombies that are immune, which in practice is zomboni and dolphin and in-air 
    balloon zombies. 
    If you don't believe that melon and winter damage works this way, investigate 
    by making and watching videos. I'll mention evidence later on. You can test 
    this by playing one of the other Survival modes like Survival Day, and restrict
    yourself to just melon and winter melon attacks (after digging up any peas you 
    started with). I only mention this because a number of guides give different 
    amounts of damage for plants, so they can't all be right and you may have to 
    test it for yourself. It's also just possible that the damage or zombie health 
    stats are different in the original game (with Michael Jackson dancer) and the 
    Game of the year edition version. I only have Game of the year. 
    On Survival Day, you get just zombie and conehead to start. Use pea and 
    repeater to work out that zombie takes 10 damage (a pea hit I'll call 1 damage)
    and conehead about 27 or 28. Then have a melon in one row with peas above and 
    below to see both direct melon damage (likely 4 per shot as conehead dies in 7 
    shots) and indirect damage when you have zombies in a column in 2 adjacent 
    rows, one getting hit by repeater and indirect melon shots, the other by melon 
    direct. You can then see the conehead with repeater and indirect melon dies in 
    about 22 peas and 5 indirect melon shots. That's consistent with conehead 
    having 27 health and indirect melon splash damage of 1 point per shot. So at 
    least you can see that the splash damage area includes a square above or below 
    the target, and is a lot less than the direct damage. 
    Testing the same way with winter melon, you can see it takes the same number of
    shots so does the same direct damage, the only difference being the slowing 
    effect. Testing with a clump of 2 zombies approaching a winter melon, you can 
    see that the lead one dies in 3 hits, but the 2nd one survives 2 more hits, 
    consistent with the winter melon only doing 4 damage to the single target and 
    1 point splash in the same square (or near it). So it's at least clear that 
    melon and winter melon are not pure area-effect attacks and the splash damage 
    includes the target square and squares above and below. You get the idea and 
    can do your own experiments. Freeze does 1 point of damage to all affected 
    zombies on the screen (as well as slowing affected zombies to half speed for 5 
    seconds), as can be seen with freeze and pea attacks. 
    Melon and winter both fire a shot about every 3 seconds to give 1 damage per 
    second (dps) to the single target plus only 1/3 dps to the 3 by 3 splash
    (area-effect). In terms of single shots, the 4 damage of melon or winter is 3 
    points direct and 1 point splash. 
    The same test for fume and gloom is more difficult to interpret precisely. The 
    exact values and timing could vary quite a bit, perhaps because of the random 
    wake-up time before a plant starts attacking or just the imprecision of my 
    timings. But in my test the results are consistent with a fume dps of 2/3 (one 
    shot of 1 damage per 1.5 seconds) and a pure area-effect range of 4 tiles, and 
    a gloom dps of 2 (one shot of 4 damage per 2 seconds) in a 3 by 3 tile pure 
    Since the gloom damage is so crucial I'll spell out my evidence. A gloom killed
    an ordinary zombie in 3 shots (bursts), not 2, so it's damage per shot has to 
    be less than 5. It killed a buckethead in 17 shots and a football in 20 shots. 
    That is consistent with 4 damage per shot, given a bucket took 65 peas and a 
    football 80 to kill. Also, of course, each gloom burst (shot) consists of 4 
    clouds in rapid succession in each of the 8 directions, so it's natural to 
    assume each does 1 damage. 
    Maybe I'm simplifying too much to get round numbers (or thirds and halves) and 
    the fumes probably fire a little faster and do a bit more dps than this 
    suggests (perhaps 0.7 dps is closer). At high levels the wake-up is less of an 
    issue since the zombies come on continually and the plants almost always have 
    multiple targets, unlike in these tests with only a few easy zombies. 
    The main point is the relative differences, and whether the damage is pure 
    area-effect, and notice that glooms do large, pure area-effect damage, which 
    affects the inner row if they are placed in the pool. So that explains why 
    multiple pool glooms is such a consistent feature of viable setups. 
    If you really insist on using gatling pea, which has no area-effect, only 
    single target damage, and some pea shots can be blocked by dead bodies of 
    zombies, then you need to know that it does 4 dps to the single target, but I 
    don't recommend using gatling because they're going to be less effective at 
    high levels with huge clumps of zombies. 
    The different area-effects and modes of attack make it difficult to compare 
    fume and winter melon. But if you have both, so the winter does the slowing 
    and the fume does the pure area-effect, it seems to work quite well in 
    combination. You could say the fume is more powerful in a single row once the 
    targets are in range, since its area-effect damage is greater. This combination
    is used in the outer rows of ECSS (and many few-cobs) with a winter melon and 
    two fumes (3 fumes in ECSS variant). It's particularly vital against zomboni 
    since they are immune to slowing, but take good damage from the fumes, and 
    clumps take the same fume damage. It's clearly better to have several fumes 
    than several winters because of clumping, at least in terms of area-effect dps.
    For zomboni and dolphin, I believe the effect of winter melon is the same as 
    melon-pult. In particular, dolphins and zomboni are not slowed by winter melon 
    attacks, as it's easy to see in actual play. However, note that in-air balloon 
    zombies are always slowed by freeze, and dolphins are only immune when they are
    not eating and in the pool. They can be frozen either whilst eating or before 
    entering the pool. Zomboni, of course, are completely unaffected by freeze and 
    winter melon slow effect. 
    Another good way to see that winter melon attack is not pure area-effect 
    without the hassle of video testing is to see how clumps of zombies die in a 
    few-cob setup. By a clump I mean several zombies in roughly the same column, 
    like a couple of gigas on land. You will notice that these land clumps don't 
    all die together, but one by one with a gap of seconds in between. If all 
    damage were pure area-effect, they would all die at virtually the same time. 
    Also, note whilst on this example, that the slowing effect of winter melon 
    makes successive clumps of gigas, and other zombies that survive, bunch up so 
    you can get four or more gigas in a clump at high levels, even if they only 
    appear in 2s. This effect is much less visible in many-cob setups, since almost
    all the damage is dealt by cobs, but it is still present. There are still gaps 
    between cob shots during which winter melons may be attacking. 
    Other useful plants in Survival Endless
    The only other plants you might see in a viable setup are those with unique 
    attacks. That is why you see winter melon, not for the partial area-effect 
    damage, since that is relatively little dps, but for the slowing effect. That 
    is crucial to slow down jacks, gigas and footballs, for instance. Other special
    plants you may see are umbrella (protection from catapult and bungee), twin 
    sunflower for sun, cattails for the ability to shoot down balloons (so you 
    don't need to keep a slot for blover on a difficult level). Cattails also have 
    the ability to attack anywhere on the screen, which is nice, but less useful at
    high levels since their damage has no area-effect, just hitting a single 
    target. But popping balloons and hitting imps and diggers behind the front 
    lines are such handy special attacks (only jalapeno can do this also, but not 
    so frequently) that a pair of cattails feature in many viable setups.
    I don't recommend using "fire-pea", gatling plus torchwood, because not only is
    it not area-effect, but the fire cancels the winter melon slowing effect. So 
    gigas will squash everything at high levels, because they are not slowed 
    consistently and they come in clumps, so you can kill one or two but the 
    remaining ones in the clump will start squashing. In this game it is never 
    simple, you have to consider how different attacks work in combination, not in 
    isolation. All attacks have different strengths and weaknesses. 
    Video timing will show that a cattail does about 1 damage per second. Melon or 
    winter melon fire about every 3 seconds. So the single-target dps of winter 
    melon is slightly more than cattail at about 4/3 but the splash dps is a measly
    However, note that cattails fire at targets anywhere on the screen, whichever 
    target is furthest forward, so they contribute damage continually where it is 
    most needed. If you have no more room for land winter melons, an extra cattail 
    can contribute damage to land targets (especially outer rows in few-cob 
    setups). Is it worth sacrificing that spot for a pool winter melon? You see 
    what I mean about how you have to consider how attacks work in combination. 
    It all depends on the particular features of your setup. The pool winter melon 
    is a safer bet because of its splash damage and slowing effect which could also
    affect an inner row. But you'd have to experiment to be sure. 
    Some setups, even viable ones, use spikerocks. I don't recommend them near the 
    front because they are only pure area-effect against land zombies other than 
    garg, giga and zomboni. That is not ideal since giga and zomboni are two of 
    the most dangerous four zombies with jack and football. And of course, a jack 
    accident could destroy two spikerock and they are expensive in sun to replace. 
    Just be aware that giga or zomboni destroy a spikerock in 9 hits. At high 
    levels, there are so many giga and zomboni that the spikerocks near the front 
    won't survive long in few-cobs, because you have to use a lot of freeze 
    attacks which don't affect zomboni. 
    They survive a bit longer with many-cob setups, whilst all the cobs survive, 
    but I will explain later that because of seed recharge times they still need 
    to be replaced quite frequently at high levels.
    Some people put spikerocks at the back. I also don't recommend that because it 
    is an inefficient use of lawn space (compared to having a pair of column 2 
    glooms in pumpkin which deal with the digger and imp threats adequately),  
    which cuts down on your passive plant attack damage or number of twins. It is 
    nice to have immunity from diggers, but not at the cost of passive attacks 
    against other zombies or less sun generation. Some people also "ladder" their 
    setups, by which I mean cleverly allow ladder zombies to place ladders on their
    land plants at relatively low levels. It's a nice idea, because you don't need 
    to replace pumpkins on laddered plants and imps can do no damage with laddering
    and back spikerock. But it means you can't use jalapeno which destroys the 
    ladders in that row. 
    I'll explain later how you can't do without jalapeno in a superviable setup 
    (one that regularly survives many hundred flags), even if it is used in some 
    setups which are viable to 100 flags. 
    Some many-cob setups use pool tallnut to keep dolphins from jumping forward. 
    This cuts down your defenses against all other zombies. I would prefer to have 
    pool glooms, but with 10 cobs you may have no choice to protect the column 5 
    and 6 pool cobs from dolphins jumping on to them and eating them. Otherwise, I 
    would try to avoid it since pool glooms affect the inner land rows with their 
    area-effect, where some of the most dangerous attacks appear, like giga and 
    Many-cob cycles
    Back to many-cob setups. The crucial point here is the shot recharge time of 35
    seconds. To cover both sides, you need to use pairs of cobs, firing them as 
    close together as you can manage. Since new columns of zombies come on with 
    a gap varying between about 6 and 10 seconds, it's the average that's 
    The average varies between just over 7 seconds for levels without giga and over
    8.5 seconds for levels with giga, from my Survival Endless videos. 
    Let's say 7 seconds to be sure of hitting zomboni, then to hit them regularly 
    without a break you would need 10 cobs (5 x 7 = 35). So the first point is that
    setups with less than 10 cobs have to use other attack seeds, like the 
    instants, freeze or doom, because the cobs will run out for at least one 
    7 second attack slot. 
    Check these timings with your own video evidence or a timer, if you wish. It's 
    crucial to know about timings to plan and optimise play. 
    You can put 4 cobs at the very back of the pool in columns 1 to 4 and they are 
    safe from all attacks, whilst most of your front of pool defences survive, 
    since land zombies can't reach them and pool ambush zombies pop up further 
    forward. You can also put land cobs in columns 5 and 6 since imps will be 
    thrown over them, though there are lots of Black Swan threats to these exposed
    cobs and zomboni and giga are a constant threat if you don't maintain 
    near-perfect timing or miss a single shot. 
    But that only allows you to place 8 cobs more or less safely (in practice those
    land cobs will need replacing in the long term, as I'll explain later). The 
    only other place I've seen cobs go is in columns 5 and 6 of the pool. There 
    they are in range of pool ambush zombies, who appear at the beginning of the 
    second and third parts. To keep them alive necessitates hitting the spot in 
    between them with one cob at least, with near-perfect timing just as the ambush
    zombies are about to surface. Note that they do damage as they surface, so they
    need to be hit underwater, and the window of attack is very small. If you can 
    hit that window consistently in Arcade mode without cheating and/or repeating 
    levels, congratulations. Otherwise this placement is not viable as these cobs 
    get destroyed by the ambush zombies. 
    Even if you can manage the 10 cob timing and hit the ambush zombies regularly, 
    you have used at least one cob not fired at the front, so you will still run 
    out of cob attacks and have to supplement with instants, doom or freeze. 
    There's a similar problem with bungees. With 8 or 10 cobs, your land plants 
    nearer the front won't all be covered by the 2 glooms that is the minimum to 
    protect them (freeze is also needed to be safe but the attack window is pretty 
    wide and can be managed regularly, provided freeze and coffee are recharged. 
    On few-cob setups I recommend freezing bungees every time. I count to 3 after 
    the targets land before activating the ice-shroom or imitator with coffee. That
    is about 2 or 3 seconds delay. A common beginner mistake which I made myself 
    long ago is not to delay long enough. The window is more than a second wide and
    presents no problem with a little practice). 
    If you don't want plants stolen (not the cobs, they're too large to be taken by
    bungees) you'll have to use more cob shots, probably two more, or have four 
    umbrellas to cover everything. Having four umbrellas is important for 
    many-cobs, because you can deal with bungees automatically without needing 
    freeze, so you can just concentrate on the cob shots at the front. But it does 
    mean that you don't have guaranted gloom protection for column 4 land plants 
    against imps whose front section lands in this column, assuming you have the 
    obligatory winter melon in each land row. 
    Pumpkin replacement costs are pretty high with many-cob setups, because with 
    even 4 cobs at the back of the pool, the cattails (if you have them) have to be
    in column 5 or higher. That's because otherwise pool ambush zombies could eat 
    cobs further forward than the back 4 columns. 
    That makes their shots at imps have to bend round and travel a long way, which 
    delays them so they don't help against imps much, unlike with 2-cob setups with
    cattails in column 1 or 2. They help less with diggers, too, though even column
    1 cattails have to bend their shots around to hit the back column. 
    Just notice that having to supplement cobs means having to spend more sun. With
    10 cobs, or even just 8, you'll generally have at most 4 twin sunflowers, 
    unless you sacrifice needed defensive plants and make the setup unviable that 
    way. So there is a difficulty in avoiding running out of sun unless all 
    significant plant losses are sufficiently rare. 
    In my experience, jack accidents are very rare with many-cobs, but loss of cob 
    is not nearly rare enough and quite expensive to replace with at least 8 cobs.
    Your experience may differ. However, it's fair to say that running out of sun 
    is much less of a threat than a catastrophic loss of more than two cobs at a 
    time making the setup unviable with a moderately difficult zombie roster (giga
    or zomboni). 
    It is clearly not possible to replace both cob and pool gloom losses on the 
    same level if you have to supplement the cob cycle with all 3 instants and 
    doom, because you only have 10 slots maximum. 
    Whichever you leave out you will be creating Black Swan events that could lead 
    to losses of both in the same level after one is lost and not replaced. This is
    in contrast to few-cob setups such as ECSS where the setup is still 
    (super)viable after a jack accident and the 7 second attacks can still be 
    maintained, though with more difficulty and occasionally missing one attack or
    using a single instant. With a lot of many-cobs, if you lose a cob you can't 
    maintain your attack cycle since you are already using the instants to maintain
    it and doom for the bungees or the lost cob shots to deal with them. 
    But there is one more viable 8-cob system where you may be able to supplement 
    attacks even after losing one or two cobs (no more), which I'll describe 
    8-cob setup of David Pearlman
            [t][G][M][W] CCCC  S  .  .     Symbol Legend
            [u][G][W][u] CCCC  .  .  .     .  land           G  gloom-shroom
             b [W] CCCC [t][G][G][G][G]    t  twin sunflower F fume-shroom
             b [i] CCCC [t][G][G][G][G]    b  cattail        W  winter melon
            [u][G][W][u] CCCC  .  .  .     CC cob cannon    [ ] pumpkin
            [t][G][M][W] CCCC  S  .  .     u  umbrella leaf  i freeze spot 
                                           M  gatling pea      (ice-shroom)
                                           S  spikerock
    Supplementing the cob cycle
    There is a viable possibility with 8-cobs I should mention (credit goes to 
    David Pearlman for this setup). If the setup has four land umbrellas and 6 
    glooms at the front of the pool with two cattails in column 5 and twins in 
    column 6, then bungees can be dealt with automatically. In the back 5 columns
    the umbrellas protect all plants. In column 6 of the pool the nearest 4 glooms
    kill bungees because bungees are wider than 1 tile. There are more twin 
    sunflowers in column 1 of the inner row and land glooms in column 2.
    Bungees can't steal cobs because they're too large. Any plants in column 7 
    (such as spikerock) will not be stolen because the first two cob attacks will 
    kill bungees. That means doom or freeze are not required to deal with bungees. 
    Then you have doom and instants to supplement cobs. In odd cycles, you can use 
    doom and cherry and that's as good as cobs. In the even cycles, if your cobs 
    haven't recharged, you can use inner squash and jalapeno. Often, against gigas,
    the greater average gap between columns of zombie types means your cobs may 
    recharge in time without needing the supplementary attack. 
    The even cycle supplements, with inner attacks only, mean that gigas and 
    zomboni will squash the outer column 7 plant unless it is an empty tile or 
    spikerock. Either way, the next cob attacks (or doom and cherry) will kill the 
    gigas and zomboni in column 7 or 6. If we have around 5 cycles in the 1st two 
    parts with no giga, that would mean zomboni get in only 2 chances to hit outer 
    spikerock. There are between 1 and 4 zomboni in a row. So they inflict 
    between 2 and 8 hits on the outer spikerocks, which will mean that new 
    spikerocks will survive more than one such level. With giga, there are perhaps 
    7 cycles of columns in the 1st two parts and perhaps 3 chances for outer gigas 
    and zomboni to hit the spikerocks. With giga, but no zomboni, the spikerocks 
    might take 3 to 6 hits and still survive more than one level. With both giga 
    and zomboni, the spikerocks might be destroyed in one level. 
    I'm deliberately being pessimistic here to cover worst case scenarios. In
    practice, most new columns of gigas only contain 2 or 3 gigas, with only 1 in a
    row and some row(s) having none. And some new columns of zombies, even in the
    first part, will have no gigas at all. And in the second part, there is often a
    lull without any gigas (but there will still be gargs if they are in the zombie
    roster). Zomboni are more frequent, but occasionally a row has no new ones. Most
    often, there is 1 or 2 to a row, 1 being the average, but sometimes what looks
    like one zomboni, but survives to be killed by the outer fume and gloom damage
    in 2-cob, is shown to be 2. With gigas and gargs obscuring the view, the count
    of zomboni is only approximate. 
    Replacement of the outer spikerocks can often be done on levels without jacks, 
    but with jacks there is a choice between pool gloom replacements in case of 
    jack accidents, or cob replacements, or spikerock replacements. You'd 
    generally leave out the spikerock and bring pool gloom replacements, or leave 
    out the pool gloom replacements and bring cob replacements. Clearly, you may 
    have to play levels with no outer spikerocks, but you also may have to play 
    some jack levels without pool gloom replacements if you need to replace lost 
    Levels without gigas usually have around 9 or 10 columns in each of the 1st 
    two parts and the new columns continue for about a minute to a minute 30 s. 
    Despite the average gap being only a little over 7 s, there are only going to 
    be two full cob cycles in each part, and part of a third cycle, perhaps 
    occasionally a full 3rd cycle. So the cob cycles can be supplemented with the 
    use of a doom or two in each of the 1st two parts.
    With gigas, there may be 12 to 14 columns in each of the 1st two parts and the 
    columns last between 1:30 and 2:00. The greater average gap of 8.5 seconds 
    means you'll not need to supplement in every cycle. In any case, you can 
    maintain attacks against all new columns and use only two doom in each of the 
    1st two parts unless a part has four complete cob cycles of columns (lasting 
    2:20). It's reasonable to expect that with the extra delay you will get all 
    cobs recharged in time for the 4th cycle. After hitting the last new column of
    gigas, you'll have no more zomboni so can use a freeze attack. 
    Then, you can maintain powerful attacks provided you can place up to 4 doom and
    still place all the instants needed to supplement the cobs. You have two inner 
    tiles in column 7 (if you leave them empty of permanent plants) and four land 
    tiles in column 8 which you can use to plant doom and instants, which should 
    allow you to keep 2 of the slots for instants and freeze and the other 4 for 
    doom. But it means you can't have inner spikerock and maintain the most 
    powerful attacks. 
    Even if you lose one cob, you can still supplement cobs with slightly weaker 
    attacks. In the odd cycles, use single cob and squash, along with cherry and 
    doom as before. In the even cycles, use single cob and freeze, along with 
    jalapeno and squash as before.  
    Losing two cobs seems a big problem, but you can supplement with some even 
    weaker attacks. In the odd cycles, a single squash in one inner row, along with
    cherry and doom as before. In the even cycles, freeze, along with jalapeno and
    squash as before. Obviously, there are going to be more rows without an 
    effective attack against zomboni, but at least you can avoid two columns in a
    row without using a cob pair. 
    This arrangement, which I've only seen in one setup, which also has outer 
    gatling (I wonder about replacing the gatling with fume so you have pure 
    area-effect damage and only one seed slot to replace instead of 2) to deter 
    minor zombies from getting forward to eat the outer land cobs during the weak
    supplementary attacks, has at least the possibility of being viable with 4 
    twin sunflowers. 
    There will be greater pressure on pumpkins but it's possible to bring pumpkin
    and imitator on each level. Whether this will let you gain sun on levels 
    without cob or pool gloom losses, I'm not sure. 
    But some estimates can be made. Twins produce 50 sun about every 23 s. 25 sun 
    falls from the sky about every 10 s. With an average 6 minute level and 4 twin
    sunflowers, that's about 4000 sun gained. If we assume the use of 4 doom, 4 
    cherry, 3 jalapeno, 3 squash, that is 1925 sun spent at worst. With 30 s to 
    recharge pumpkin, that is 12 chances to use both pumpkin and imitator in the 
    level at most, for 1500 sun spent. So we should gain at least 500 sun in the 
    worst case without plant losses, quite a bit more with a more realistically
    lower use of pumpkins or on levels without giga. 
    500 sun gained is about the minimum for viability. To avoid running out of
    sun, it then depends on the frequency of lost pool glooms and cobs and 
    spikerocks. The outer spikerocks aren't a huge expense at 500 sun for both,
    and they have to be replaced less than once a level on average. The first cob 
    cannon costs 700 for the two kernel pults and the 500 sun cob, then it's 50
    more sun for each additional one. The 8th one costs 1050 to replace. So it 
    might take about 2 levels to regain the sun spent on replacing a single lost 
    cob. Similarly, it's 450 to replace the first pool gloom, 50 more for each 
    additional one. So with 10 glooms, it costs 1750 sun to replace two lost pool 
    glooms after a jack accident. That might take about 4 levels to make up. Jack 
    accidents are going to be very rare with 8 cobs, so the cost of gloom 
    replacement is probably manageable. But loss of cobs may be less rare, 
    depending on the skill of the player in maintaining the attack sequence and 
    coping with cob losses. But provided you can reach a point where you lose a
    cob in less than every 3 levels you have a chance. 
    Superviability is a different matter. Not only do you have to be able to play 
    on with one lost cob and replace it, but you could lose two or more. You can 
    maintain some kind of weak supplementary attacks with 6 cobs, but with less 
    than that you'll get overrun on a moderately difficult level, with zomboni or 
    giga, losing all of the land cobs. If the next level has zomboni or giga 
    you'll likely not finish it with even 6 cobs, and take more losses of the land
    cobs you do replace. I suppose it's possible you could limp through a couple
    of such levels and restock on an easy level without jack, giga or zomboni, but
    you can't rely on it, and you'll have spent a lot of sun on cobs and 
    supplementary attacks with few cobs. 
    There are other Black Swan events effecting the land cobs in 8 cob setups: 
    balloons dropping on them (unless you use blover and no cattails, which
    loses you a seed slot to blover), pole-vaulters jumping onto them. And there 
    are many more once you've lost one or two. Also, even with no losses you will
    likely lose two inner cobs if you miss two consecutive 7 s attacks, putting 
    you in danger of losing with any further losses. 
    Pumpkin damage on land in the columns where imps land is a big problem with 
    8-cobs, as mentioned earlier. If you have no cattails it's worse.  
    A big problem with imps and pumpkin damage is that the imps will be being 
    thrown with virtually every 7 s attack and that doesn't give you much time to 
    use imitator pumpkin, with its 4 s delay, in the imp territory, without the 
    imitator being chewed on before it has deployed, which makes it as weak as most
    plants in that time and able to be destroyed by the big clumps of imps at high
    levels. But at least you can use imitator pumpkin further back on land in 
    column 1 or in the pool.
    A significant difficulty with 8-cobs is with the variation in the gaps between
    new columns of zombies. You can fire your first 4 cob pairs timed to coincide
    with the new columns appearing. But in the next cycle, you have to wait for the
    cobs to recharge in pairs, and the gaps between columns may be of different 
    length so that the shots are not precisely timed as the new columns appear. 
    Only with the occasional supplementary attack do you have leeway to fire 
    earlier or later to synchronise with the columns. 
    You also don't see the progress of the cob shot recharging, only seeing the 
    cobs pop out moments before you have to fire. That means, if your reactions are
    not very fast, you will build in slight delays in each cob cycle after the first
    in the first and second parts of a level. This problem still exists for 2-cob, 
    but for most attacks you can see from the seed roster how close to recharging 
    the seeds are and so you can prepare for the next attack. 
    Also, with freeze, you can plant but delay using coffee until after a non-freeze
    attack which creates greater efficiency in overlapping attacks. Plus, a freeze 
    attack in 2-cob is sufficient, even against zomboni, since zomboni are killed by
    passive fume and gloom damage with a full setup, and so gives you time for 
    maintenance, especially as imitator freeze is brought on tough levels. 
    With 8-cob, there will only rarely be freeze attacks as supplements when a cob
    or two is lost. If there are no pool gloom losses or spikerocks lost, then the
    outer zomboni will be killed by outer spikerock, at the cost of some hits, and
    the inner zomboni will comfortably be killed by the average 80 gloom damage
    crossing columns 9, 8 and 7. Zomboni have 60 health.
    But if there is a jack accident, and two pool glooms are lost, then inner 
    zomboni will not be killed by the remaining single gloom damage of 20 before
    squashing the inner land cob on that side. You can only possibly replace one
    gloom at once, with 50 second recharge on the gloom seed. Even if you could do
    this instantly, with two glooms the inner zomboni will only take 50 gloom
    damage crossing columns 9, 8 and 7, not enough to kill them. The average splash
    damage from both the inner and outer winter melons on that side will be 10,
    just enough to kill them. But if the winter melons are distracted or the 
    zomboni are out of range of any splash shots, or they take below-average 
    damage, then they'll still survive. So it then comes down to whether the next
    cob pair will hit them in time. 
    Zomboni will take 15 seconds to cross columns 9, 8 and 7 before squashing the
    inner land cob in columns 5 and 6 on the weakened side. Because of the
    variation in the gaps between columns and cob attacks not being in synch with 
    columns, it can't be guaranteed that the next cob pair will arrive in time to
    kill the zomboni which get forward, probably into column 7, as well as the new
    column appearing in column 9, however perfect your timing and reactions. 
    For example, you could have one column gap of 6 seconds and the next of 10
    seconds. If you fire cobs, then freeze, then cobs, it could be 16 seconds
    between the last attack and the first, though I admit this is unlikely. 
    Perhaps the column gaps have been chosen to just avoid this if your timing and
    reactions are very good. 
    Also, note that if an outer spikerock is lost, during the freeze attack
    zomboni in that row will get forward with little damage (just an average 20
    from splash), so again unless the spikerock is instantly replaced you are 
    dependent on the next cob pair hitting in time. It is possible for both 
    spikerock to be lost within a few seconds of each other. With the 50 second
    recharge on spikerock, you can only replace one of them. And, of course, if
    you brought cob replacements or pool gloom replacements you probably won't
    have spikerock replacements also. 
    After all this criticism of many-cobs, I should at least point out some of 
    their advantages over few-cobs. Land zombies are generally restricted to 
    columns 8 and 9 by the cob attacks and winter melon shots (sometimes 
    referred to as the "winter box"). That means each winter melon shot slows all
    the affected zombies on land. There will rarely be winter melon distraction
    (except when imps land in column 3 and winter melons hit an imp instead of
    firing further forward and when a shot at column 7 zombies doesn't slow
    zombies in column 9). All this greatly reduces the frequency of jack
    accidents, but doesn't eliminate them. Loss of cobs is probably a bigger
    Other slight advantages of 8-cobs are being able to bring pumpkin and imitator
    pumpkin on each level (though the imitator may be tricky to deploy against 
    imps, as mentioned earlier) and being able to bring pool gloom replacements on
    many (but not all, with cob losses) jack levels. However, replacing a pool 
    gloom whilst maintaining the cob cycle is a challenge, you'd need very fast 
    reactions, or have to delay the replacement, perhaps between huge waves. 
    Another advantage of having mostly cob attacks is that they can be targeted 
    precisely near the front of the lawn (column 9 usually) whereas with few-cob
    the non-cob, non-freeze attacks may have to be targeted in column 8 because of
    zomboni ice blocking column 9 planting. Also, of course, the 3 by 3 
    area-effect of cobs is superior to that of jalapeno and squash which only 
    affect one row. However, as noted, in 8-cobs the cobs will need supplementary
    attacks which still have these drawbacks, but the supplements will still be a
    smaller proportion of all attacks than with few-cob, even after losing 2 cobs. 
    I'll admit that if you have incredible reaction time, theoretically 8-cob 
    setups of the viable kind I described above could be more superviable than 
    ECSS or ECSS variant, because you can usually replace pool gloom losses on the
    same level as they happen and the superior winter box makes for much reduced 
    chances of multiple jack accidents on one level. With ECSS and ECSS variant, 
    you can't usually replace the pool gloom losses on the level where they 
    happen, leaving you at the mercy of multiple jack accidents with very little 
    you can do about it. But this may be less significant than the threat caused 
    by lost cobs in 8-cobs, (since you never lose cobs in ECSS) which also can't 
    usually be replaced (without sacrificing the outer spikerocks) on the level 
    where they happen and put you at risk of multiple cob losses ending your 
    I'm not sure how superviable such an 8-cob would be if the spikerock are only
    replaced on the very easy levels without jack, giga or zomboni so that cobs 
    can always be replaced on more difficult levels. 
    Note that with viable few-cobs like ECSS, one lost pool gloom is replaced at 
    the start of the next level, with cobs used as the first attack and the next
    up to fume in pumpkin during a freeze attack, with the coffee added when you 
    have a non-freeze attack and the gloom when it recharges. so it's much easier
    to manage. Of course, the biggest risk is of further losses on the jack 
    accident level since no pool gloom replacements are brought. 
    I won't discuss 6 cob setups in detail, because they are clearly less viable. 
    Whatever you add in the extra 4 tiles isn't going to be worth having 2 more 
    cobs. That is why my dividing line for few-cob is 4 cobs, placed at the back 
    of the pool where they are as safe as they can be. 
    Pearlman 8-cob playtest
    After losing my ECSS variant game at 2665 flags (killed by 2 balloon and
    giga the level after a jack accident. I should have brought blover and not
    replaced the glooms), I've tested out the Pearlman 8-cob, up to 482 flags
    with 9890 sun and full setup so far. Since this is my first game with this
    system, it definitely seems superviable. 
    From actual play, I see that you don't need to use more than 2 dooms on any
    level (which can be placed in the inner rows in columns 7 or 8). That's
    because there's no more than 14 columns of zombies in a huge wave, even with
    gigas. In fact, without gigas you have 9 columns in the 1st part so you only
    need one supplementary attack (doom and cherry is strongest), and 10 in the
    2nd part so you need two supplementary attacks. 
    On levels without jack you can bring doom and freeze, and beef up the weak
    supplementary attack by using freeze, jalapeno and squash. The benefit of
    this is that it stops affected outer zombies getting too far forward before
    you can use cobs again, especially balloons which can move very fast
    I sometimes bring freeze and sunflower (not doom) when there's no zomboni
    and I've lost significant sun, and plant the sunflowers in inner rows in
    column 7. 
    I've found that using imitator pumpkin immediately after firing a cob pair
    is usually the right timing to avoid the imitator being eaten by imps whilst
    it is transforming. If I'm in any doubt I cancel the imitator with a right
    click and wait for a better chance. Since practising this timing I've not
    had the imitator pumpkin eaten by imps up to 482 flags. 
    Since pumpkin and imitator pumpkin are brought on every level, it's not been
    too difficult to keep up with pumpkin replacement so far, with just the
    occasional ragged pumpkin and none eaten through up to 482 flags. 
    Just as with my 2-cob setup ECSS, I concentrate on the column 3 land
    pumpkins and the pool gloom pumpkins in column 7 for most repairs, and then
    repair all others which are under less pressure. 
    The setup is good at maintaining high levels of sun. You usually will gain a
    few hundred sun on a level, not counting replacement costs. I find that
    gigas rarely bash the spikerock because they are slowed so effectively by
    winter melons and the cob barrage. So I only have to replace spikerocks
    (usually when they have only 1 white spike left) on less than 30% of levels
    up to 482 flags. And jack accidents only happen on between 4 and 10% of
    levels up to 482 flags. 
    Finally, once I'd practised the timing and aiming of cobs and use of
    supplementary attacks, cob losses only happened singly most of the time, on
    about 6% of all levels. But occasionally I'd make a bad mistake and lose 2
    or 3 cobs. But, despite having to improvise, it didn't seem an impossible
    situation to recover from, which I did, but I don't have enough experience to
    know whether such situations are always survivable with more difficult zombie
    rosters than I had.
    These levels of losses are simple to replace and regain lost sun, especially
    if you can add sunflowers on levels without zomboni. My lowest sun after 100
    flags up to 482 flags was 4065 sun, after a sequence of levels where I had 3
    jack accidents (losing a total of 5 pool glooms) and 2 single cob losses. 
    Most of the time my level of sun was between 8000 and 9990.
    I also found that jack accidents weren't a significant threat to the inner
    land cobs. It was not too difficult to maintain the cob cycle and keep
    destroying inner zomboni (and all other zombies) after jack accidents. I
    usually would replace the pool glooms bit by bit so I had time to keep firing
    There were definitely a few Black Swan events threatening land cobs, but they
    were fairly rare and not much threat up to 482 flags. 
    I found that the gatling were very effective in gaining you time at the end
    of a huge wave, by killing off the outer zombies whilst you recharge your
    cobs. It's necessary to start each huge wave with a pair of cobs recharged,
    or about to recharge, but that isn't too difficult to do consistently. With
    gigas, in the 3rd part I'd fire 3 pairs of cobs and attempt to keep the same
    gap between them as during the cob cycles in the earlier parts. Without
    gigas, I'd just fire one pair, wait, and then maybe fire another to stop
    gargs bashing spikerock once I had 2 pairs recharged. 
    The gatling are also quite effective in killing off single pogos and single
    balloon drops which move over the outer cobs, though they don't work so well
    against groups and the main safeguards for the land cobs are maintaining your
    cob cycle and using freeze in a supplementary attack when possible. 
    Some problems I could see which might threaten viability at higher levels are
    as follows. Sometimes the cobs don't recharge in sync with the new columns of
    zombies, leaving a delay of a second or several. This could be a problem with
    increased frequency of jack accidents at higher levels on occasion. 
    It could also mean more threats to the land cobs. There may be ways around
    this with more practice. Freeze seems the best way to gain time for cob
    On levels with jack and bungee, you want to replace the pool glooms after a
    jack accident before the bungee drops, because otherwise there could be
    bungee thefts of pool twins or column 7 pool glooms. That means you're pretty
    much forced to bring lily, fume and gloom on these levels and so you have to
    miss out either freeze or doom. Against zomboni you need doom, and there is a
    greater threat to the outer cobs without freeze during the weak supplementary
    I haven't tried hitting the bungees with cobs and this would create more
    problems with the cob cycle so I don't think it's the answer, at least not
    for me. 
    Using both doom and freeze seems best for guarding the outer land cobs. With
    just freeze and no doom, there is a small risk that the outer squash attack
    won't stop everything, especially not balloons in the air, which could drop
    on the outer cob there. I use the more powerful jalapeno in the inner row to
    keep the inner cobs safe.
    As ever, the worst problems are likely to be a combination of rare events, so
    I'll have to keep playing the setup to see how it performs. 
    Now I've played the setup to 900 flags with full setup and 8090 sun. I've
    learned to take bungees more seriously. If you don't use a freeze or cob, very
    rarely bungees can get lucky with the timing of gloom bursts and survive to
    steal a column 6 pool twin sunflower, even without any lost pool glooms. With
    lost pool glooms, they can also steal a column 7 pool gloom if you don't use
    freeze or cob. My solution is to always have freeze ready for the first bungee
    drop and freeze the bungees with the usual timing (count to 3 after the
    targets drop). 
    This means the usual 5th attack of doom and cherry on levels without giga. But
    with giga, the 5th attack has to be freeze (and squash and jalapeno in the
    inner rows). That's because there are at least 10 columns in the 1st part with
    gigas so a second supplementary attack is needed, which is doom and cherry in
    the 10th attack. 
    For the second bungee drop, at the start of the 3rd part, freeze is not
    usually available and I always use a single cob aimed in the centre of the
    square of 4 tiles containing the pool twins and the column 7 pool glooms,
    followed by a separate cob pair with the usual aim and timing. With correct
    timing this will always destroy bungees in this little square, and has the
    handy bonus of destroying pool ambush zombies in the same square. 
    Even though the bungee thefts are very rare, and so easily replaced and
    recovered from, I prefer to completely eliminate them this way to avoid any
    extra risk where multiple losses of different types occur together. 
    I've practiced my timing, aiming and sequencing of cob attacks and
    supplementary attacks enough in this one game to have no cob losses between
    600 and 800 flags. But this requires constant attention. A minor mistake in
    firing a cob, or missing the aim, can result in a lost cob, and a major
    mistake can result in a loss of multiple cobs. 
    I lost 3 cobs in one level at 884 flags when I made several bad mistakes. The
    next level had giga, zomboni, balloon, dolphin, pole, catapult, bucket. I
    replaced all 3 cobs in the 1st part and had no further losses and dropped to
    5065 sun at the lowest point after replacing all the losses on following
    levels before recovering to 8090 sun at 900 flags. 
    On this level I also had a jack accident destroy two pool glooms. 
    I don't know if a loss of 3 cobs on one level, with or without jack accidents,
    is always going to be survivable, or if you can then always recover to a full
    setup and peak sun. And I haven't experienced a loss of 4 cobs, which might
    well be fatal.
    Few-cob setups
    I don't have much experience of playing 4-cobs, though I have tested several 
    and some are viable to 100 flags. I find that they play a lot like 2-cobs, but
    with weaker passive plant damage because of the extra cobs, which means more 
    Black Swan events which can be more costly. Having the extra cob attacks every
    35 seconds or so doesn't seem to me to make up for this, and the timing varies
    continually making it difficult to practice. Your experience may vary, and I 
    don't rule out that such a system could be superviable with correct play. Just
    that for me two-cob is easier to play and I already have superviable setups. 
    Back to two-cob setups. First, I'll restrict myself to ones in which zombonis
    can be dealt with without significant plant damage whilst there are no lost 
    glooms, and more generally any level without jack or giga can be dealt with 
    using fewer seeds than normal, so saving sun. In practice, that means having 
    8 pumpkinned glooms in the front of the pool and two more inner row glooms in
    columns 5 and 6, and two outer fumes in columns 4 and 5. The only fume in 
    danger from zomboni is the column 5 one if in pumpkin. This assumes also that 
    each land row has at least one winter melon. 
    In case you don't think you need all 8 pool glooms, I'd point out that the 
    setup has to remain viable after a jack accident destroys a couple of them. At
    high levels, if you don't have this redundancy, zombonis will, on rare 
    occasions, unpredictably, squash the inner gloom or whatever inner plant you 
    have in column 6 even without a jack accident. That means more danger from 
    outer gigas and zomboni which are not being damaged by the lost gloom. 
    Similarly, I don't recommend leaving out the second inner gloom in column 5 
    because of this crucial redundancy. In fact, at very high levels this no 
    longer seems redundant, but necessary, to me. Your experience may differ. 
    Consider also that your system has fewer glooms covering each other after a 
    jack accident. If you had less than 8, dolphin and other pool zombie attacks 
    would no longer be killed quickly enough at high levels to stop them munching 
    right through pumpkins and pool glooms. I know this since, even with 8 pool 
    glooms, and even without a jack accident, it is sometimes quite challenging 
    to keep up with pumpkin replacement at high levels. You can very rarely get 
    2 crucial ragged pumpkins at the same time and have to choose only one you 
    can replace with basic ECSS. This is much rarer with ECSS variant.
    Of course, if a jack accident does destroy two pool glooms and you have 
    zomboni, even with the original 8 pool glooms it's very likely that one inner
    gloom will be destroyed on the weakened side. This rare situation is obviously
    quite dangerous and a big test of the viability of a few-cob setup. That my 
    ECSS setup is superviable despite such events is the biggest testament to it. 
    Few-cob setups which aspire to be superviable must survive this test several 
    times in a long game. 
    Note that I don't consider fume losses significant with 6 twin sunflowers as 
    fumes can be replaced with cost only 150 sun for the fume and coffee. That, 
    plus two cobs and a freeze spot in the back of the pool, is the core of my 
    recommended superviable setup ECSS. The cobs and freeze spot are needed to 
    deal with gargs on easy levels (no jack or giga) without significant losses 
    and few seeds used beside freeze and cob shots. I use puff-shroom to delay 
    footballs and gargs where possible to try to protect those outer fumes. Note 
    that placing puff-shroom in column 8 works well since they won't be squashed 
    by catapults or otherwise wasted too early by huge clumps of minor zombies. 
    I consider a single winter melon in the pool to be useful but maybe not 
    essential. Even though dolphins aren't slowed, at least the other pool zombies
    besides balloons are generally affected by the area-effect part of the damage 
    and slowing effect of the winter melon and one inner row will be slightly 
    strengthened by the area-effect damage and slowing. Balloon zombies over the 
    pool are shot down by 2 cattails at the back of the pool -- they then 
    disappear (can't swim?) so are no threat, provided blover is brought and used 
    sparingly on easy levels. Watch out for 2 balloon easy levels, where blover 
    is essential even with 2 cattails. I don't recommend having too many more 
    cattails than that because you're sacrificing area-effect attacks 
    unnecessarily. But one or two more may work out if your pool is still secure, 
    and you have to weigh up the merits of cattail versus winter melon. 
    I recommend the cattails in column 1 or 2 because they make a big difference 
    to imps, who will otherwise do too much pumpkin damage. Your experience may 
    Land balloons, footballs and gargs can all threaten the leading fumes, but 
    these can be replaced and aren't a significant loss on easy levels. I bring 
    imitator pumpkin and pumpkin on easy levels as I need only occasional freeze 
    (ice-shroom without imitator) to deal with bungee, garg and dolphin. On an 
    easy level it's possible to freeze dolphins as they start eating after their 
    forward jump. This isn't guaranted to stop all dolphins in a clump but stops 
    enough to be useful. It's obviously not cost-effective in sun because the 
    freeze attack with coffee costs 150 sun, more than a pumpkin, so it should 
    be used only rarely. But it can be helpful not to have too many crucial 
    damaged pumpkins all at the same time, with the risk of several going ragged 
    at the same time, so that's why I do it. I cut down the frequency when I'm 
    low on sun and replace less pumpkins. 
    Freeze is also needed sparingly to avoid gargs squashing anything.
    Loss of leading outer fumes on a tough level may seem difficult. It is another
    minor test of viability of a few-cob that has them. But several of the 7 
    second attacks don't involve coffee and with practice the fume can usually be 
    reactivated at the next one of these without compromising the timing of 
    attacks. An exception may be if seed recharging is not at its usual level, 
    perhaps because of multiple zomboni and jack levels. Then it may be necessary 
    to wait until the second 7 second attack which doesn't involve coffee. But 
    this situation is sufficiently rare to not affect superviability of ECSS. 
    My basic ECSS setup is then completed with back inner umbrella to protect 
    from catapults and some bungees, plus two column 2 glooms in pumpkin to defend
    against diggers and most imps. My variant setup simply has 2 more outer fumes
    in column 7 which are replaced at the end of each level when lost. 
    Quite a number of few-cob setups exist which can deal with easy levels with 
    sparing use of sun. Not many others have 6 twin sunflowers in safe positions. 
    Some setups, like Fuming Arrowhead, have 4 twin sunflowers and the outer rows 
    set back a column. This is perhaps easier to play, with the fumes safe, and 
    more time before the outer gigas squash things, but there is more danger from 
    both inner and outer jacks, and more danger of outer gigas getting a long way 
    forward, which is dangerous because the next lot of outer gigas may avoid 
    being slowed for too long. I found this setup barely viable but not 
    superviable, because of these problems.
    Currently the basic ECSS has a jack accident rate of 20% of levels with jacks,
    tested over more than 2000 levels past 100 flags over 6 games and the variant 
    setup with extra fumes, which is somewhat different to play, has jack accident
    rate of 18% of levels with jacks but only tested over one game of over 1500 
    flags so far. My hope is that the most dangerous Black Swan events, where 3 
    pool glooms on one side are destroyed, are significantly reduced in frequency 
    with the variant, without significantly increasing new or old risks. Only time
    will tell. 
    The seed roster on difficult levels with ECSS is: Jalapeno, cherry, squash, 
    coffee, ice, imitator ice, doom, puff, fume, pumpkin. Each level finishes with
    at least one doom planted and another almost always nearly recharged. The 
    first 4 of the 7 second attacks are outer doom and cherry, cobs, jalapeno and 
    squash, inner doom. That makes for a powerful start and very rarely any jack 
    accident during these attacks. 
    After that, freeze is planted in the outer row behind the outer doom crater 
    in the basic setup, or sometimes in the inner row in the variant. A 3rd doom 
    is used as soon as possible on any level with gigas, but not otherwise. That 
    is because the outer gigas in the first part may otherwise get too far forward
    and squash too often. Without gigas, the first part is usually too short to 
    have doom recharged to use at the start of the second part if you use a 3rd 
    doom in the 1st part. 
    A single outer doom is generally used on tough levels at the start of the 
    second part, and no other dooms.  
    The gigas usually (but not always) run out before the end of the second part 
    so further doom is not needed, and is available to plant without being 
    activated at the end of the second part. On levels without giga, especially if
    there are no buckets, the first part may end too soon for the outer doom to 
    be ready if a 3rd doom is used. With gigas, inner doom is planted and not used
    at the end of the second part, and outer doom is ready in time for the next 
    Without gigas, jalapeno is generally used to clear the way for outer doom at 
    the end of the 2nd part and then freeze and 2 cobs on the same side as the 
    doom are used to spin out the 3rd part as long as possible. Doom may only be 
    about 2/3 recharged at the end of the level, but will be ready for the inner 
    doom 4th attack on the next level. 
    There is generally no difficulty with having jalapeno ready on easy levels, 
    and I bring squash usually as a backup, but on levels with jack, but no giga, 
    there is no guarantee that jalapeno will be available at the end of the 2nd 
    part. Improvisation may be needed, but most often the two doom attacks are 
    still available on time on the next level. There are too many different 
    situations for me to describe all improvisations, and on rare occasions I 
    start the next level without both doom attacks available. This is rare enough 
    to be superviable at present. 
    I use cobs when available and squash with one of the other instants when 
    available. I try to avoid using jalapeno and cherry together unless 
    improvisation is forced, it seems to be less flexible. I try to plant imitator
    ice in the freeze spot after using the freeze spot freeze, since this gives 
    more time for the imitator without missing the next attack. But improvisation 
    or mistake can force planting and using imitator ice further forward and risk
    delaying an attack. Zomboni on difficult levels can put more pressure on seed
    recharging and often lead me to improvise a little. My favoured solution is 
    to use squash on its own as an attack on whichever side seems to have most 
    jacks. But the zombies sometimes don't play fair and maintain attacks every 
    7 seconds -- if jacks come on any faster improvisation may be needed. 
    Another problem with zomboni on tough levels that I should mention is the 
    potential loss of a spot to plant in the inner row in column 8 due to zomboni 
    ice. That is another reason why I strive to start each tough level with two 
    doom attacks and cobs and two instants. It makes this loss fairly rare with 
    good play. Obviously, loss of planting on one side will still occur sometimes,
    and may force some single instant 7 second attacks on the other side. I always
    try to supplement with freeze attacks from the freeze spot when possible. It 
    is up to your judgement whether it is worth using outer jalapeno as an attack.
    I would say, only if there are gigas. 
    There may be an issue with jalapeno cancelling the slowing effect of winter 
    melon or ice-shroom, but if you have puff-shroom you can delay the damaged 
    gigas until they are hit by winter melon. 
    On giga levels, at the end of the 2nd part I plant but don't use inner doom.
    The sequence I use for the 3rd part in ECSS basic or variant is to quickly 
    fire both cobs (both sides) and then use inner squash and outer jalapeno on 
    one side and cherry on the other side. Then I use puff-shroom if available to
    repeatedly delay the gigas that got hit with jalapeno. If no puff-shroom and
    no jalapeno, I use a couple of freeze. Of course, if there are bungees I start
    off by freezing the bungees. If no bungees, I often use a freeze as the gigas
    get closer to the glooms, just to make sure my inner doom doesn't get squashed
    if there are a lot of gigas on that row. Also, as the outer gigas on the side
    hit with cherry get close to column 6 and squash recharges I use that on them.
    Generally the outer gigas on the other side will die after repeated
    puff-shroom delays and I usually place the outer doom when they do, just 
    before the level ends.
    In ECSS variant, at the start of part 3 I plant a column 6 outer fume on the
    side where I want to put outer doom in column 7 and activate it when coffee is
    available after freezing bungees. I wait until the zomboni are dead before 
    planting the other outer column 6 fume and activating. Sometimes you need to
    be quick to do this before the level ends, so that coffee is ready to be used
    in the first attack on the next level. Coffee recharges in 7 seconds and there
    are 5 or 6 seconds before the first column of zombies appears on the next 
    I don't have enough data to reliably estimate the frequency of jack accidents
    on tough levels with zomboni, but I assume it must be higher than average. The
    trick is to try to avoid entirely missing out a 7 second attack, which invites
    a jack accident, but not to use any more seeds more frequently than usual, so
    you can still maintain the 7 second attacks when possible. Because of the good
    start with 2 dooms, the loss of planting doesn't usually occur until late in
    the first part and so it's usually possible to ride it out without jack 
    accidents. Then the problem is usually fixed by the second part because of 
    the delay between parts. 
    For some reason, the loss of planting occurs even more rarely in the second 
    part, and it is so rare to occur on both sides that I haven't had an example 
    in the last 6 games. That's not to say this isn't a dangerous situation, with
    a few Black Swan events that could be very problemmatic. It's also why I now
    restrict my use of doom so much, so that there are not too many inner craters.
    Planting an instant in column 7 may be possible if there's no crater. However,
    this situation doesn't affect superviability of ECSS tested over 7 games, and
    is another good potential test for other few-cob setups. 
    In other words, I can't guarantee maintaining 7 second attacks without fail 
    all the way through every difficult level, so don't expect it. What I can do 
    is improvise when that fails well enough for the setup to be superviable. If 
    that seems unsatisfactory, all I can say is that I don't know of anything 
    better. Your experience may differ. 
    When I say "improvise", I really only mean depart from regular repetitive 
    play. I've played so much now that I know what decisions to make and don't 
    have to make up play on the spot. But for those with less experience of any 
    setup, I'd recommend trying to find a repetitive sequence of play to avoid 
    seat-of-the-pants improvisation as much as possible. That includes having as 
    few different seed rosters as you can. 
    Another good test of a superviable setup, able to survive many hundreds of 
    flags regularly, is that you don't run out of sun on those rare occasions when
    you get many tough levels in a row, which can happen due to randomness. For 
    instance, the chance of one tough level (jack and giga) is about 66% and so 
    the probability of 10 tough levels in a row is about (.66)^10 or around 2%. 
    With ECSS you still lose relatively little sun during such a sequence. 15 
    tough levels in a row is already more than 500 to 1 against, so no problem for
    surviving many hundred flags. 
    The fact that you can actually gain a little sun on some of the levels with 
    giga, but no jack helps you through such sequences. You'd expect about 4 or 5 
    jack levels in 10 tough ones, maybe 6. So you'd only have about 1 or 2 jack 
    accidents to deal with in such a sequence with ECSS played correctly. If an 
    average jack accident costs 2500 sun (lets say 2 1/2 glooms lost to factor in
    zomboni squashes of inner glooms pessimistically) that means between 2500 and
    5000 sun lost on average to jack accidents, and so if we lose less than 500 
    sun on average per tough level not counting jack accidents it should be 
    survivable, as is certainly the case with basic ECSS. With the variant I use 
    with 2 extra fumes, it can cost up to 300 more sun per level if they are, 
    pessimistically, assumed to be always lost and have to be replaced at the 
    end. So I would expect to have to revert to basic ECSS without extra fumes 
    once I drop below 5000 sun, which rarely happens in practice. So both setups 
    pass this test. 
    On the subject of the variant setup and lost extra fumes, if a level has jack
    and zomboni I try to replace one of the extra fumes at the end of the 1st part
    if I can activate it with coffee safely. If there are bungees, I freeze them 
    first and then use the outer doom to protect the extra fume, and try to 
    activate it when I have a non-freeze attack. This may not always be feasible
    to do depending on zomboni ice, whether jalapeno is recharged and if gigas are
    threatening column 6, but it's important to do when possible to counter outer
    jacks in case of a jack accident on that side and loss of the inner gloom to
    Note that many-cob setups tend to have long strings of "tough" levels in a row
    frequently, since any level with zomboni is difficult, as well as those with 
    jack or giga. Bungees may be a problem, too. So these may have even more 
    difficulty passing this test. 
    I haven't touched on the really rare Black Swan events yet. One is when 3 
    pool glooms are lost on one side. That is a very dangerous situation. With 
    zomboni and giga as well as jack, it is likely to lead to a lost game in the 
    near future, with a catastrophic domino effect of further losses to jacks, 
    gigas and zomboni. If you have only gigas, no zomboni, it can still be 
    survivable in my experience, though maybe not with bungees, and a lot of 
    improvisation is needed. This bad, but very rare, situation is the main reason
    for the variant ECSS setup with extra fumes, to try to reduce or eliminate 
    this Black Swan. 
    This loss of 3 pool glooms on one side can occur in a single jack accident if
    the jack has survived to get further forward than usual, perhaps by not being
    hit with a distracted winter melon. Or, it can be that the jack got just a 
    little further forward and blew up just the pumpkin on the 3rd pool gloom, but
    just as dolphins were jumping forward, so they ate the unprotected pool gloom.
    Another way it can happen is with multiple jack accidents, the first destroying
    two pool glooms only, but the next destroying the 3rd pool gloom as that jack 
    gets further forward in the absence of two pool glooms to attack it. All these
    situations are thankfully pretty rare, so don't affect superviability, but 
    they do prevent an "immortal" setup. 
    Other Black Swans include jack accidents losing two pool glooms on both sides
    of the pool. This is slightly less rare and generally survivable if you have 
    enough sun to replace all or most losses. Even with zomboni and giga, though 
    that is very difficult and costs even more sun because of zomboni squashing 
    inner glooms. If you're unlucky enough to get zomboni, giga and jack again on
    the next level that might not be survivable as you have up to 6 glooms to 
    replace, too many to have a viable setup for the first part, but it still 
    doesn't affect superviability because that is so rare, only affecting 
    "immortality" which no setup has in my experience.
    Every setup has its own unique strengths and weaknesses, and its own Black 
    Swan events, of varying frequency and cost, to deal with. I'm here trying to 
    explain some of the most important that I know of which affect the viability 
    of setups with whatever number of cobs. I hope my explanations have value and
    show that many interrelated factors have to be considered. It is not enough 
    to maximize damage without having the sun generation to replace losses and 
    catastrophic Black Swans sufficiently rare. 
    Frequency of adverse events needs to be carefully weighed to inform the most 
    effective playing style for any setup. 
    I've tested over 50 different setups to as near to 100 flags as I can. Most 
    don't usually make it that far, because their Black Swan events are too 
    costly and too frequent. A final requirement of a setup to be superviable is 
    that running out of sun is a Black Swan event whose odds are at least several
    hundred to 1 against. So I would dismiss setups which lose significant sun 
    (more than 500) on most levels at high numbers of flags -- even if viable, 
    they will not be superviable. Again, the frequency of "easy" levels where 
    expensive seeds can be used more sparingly to save sun without substantial 
    risk is important here, as is the number of twin sunflowers in safe positions. 
    That's another reason why I favour few-cob setups that can deal with zomboni 
    with only passive damage over many-cob setups which may have fewer 
    opportunities to save sun to recoup losses over the long term. Basic ECSS has
    taken me to over 2600 flags without cheating and I hope to get further with 
    the extra fume variant of ECSS. 
    Timechart of zombie columns and attacks
    The zombie columns come on at varying times between 6 s and about 10 s. On the
    first part of levels with jack but no giga they average a little over 7 s. But
    with giga, they average over 8.5 s. There are also varying numbers of columns.
    With jack, but no giga there may be 9 columns in the first part and 10 in the 
    second part, but with giga there are more total columns, maybe 23 to 25, but 
    big variations between the number of columns in each part. Perhaps this is 
    related to the random distribution of gigas, I don't know. The second part is 
    generally longer but there is a bigger average gap between columns, up to a 
    little over 8 s for jack, but no giga. It can stay at about 8.5 s or increase 
    to 9 s with giga -- it's tough to give a precise figure as the gigas block the
    Few-cob setup
    This variation seems designed to make it just about possible (if no zomboni) 
    to maintain attacks against each column of minor zombies through a tough 
    level, if you can save a little time by planting and delaying the use of 
    freeze and imitator freeze. You can't speed up the use of non-freeze attacks 
    but by overlapping the freezes with non-freezes and delaying you can use the
    non-freeze attacks as often as possible but not waste too much time with 
    unused freeze. The point is to be more efficient when you have both a freeze 
    and non-freeze attack recharged. By planting the freeze, but using the 
    non-freeze, then using the freeze for the next attack, you gain about 7 s of 
    recharge on the freeze.
    However, with bungees there's a little more pressure since you can't use 
    freeze at the very end of the 1st or 2nd part because you must keep it for the
    bungee drop. And with zomboni, there is a lot more pressure on timing because
    there are few chances to plant and delay use of outer freeze because the 
    zomboni can squash them. Footballs can also eat outer freeze though much less
    frequently as you can often delay them with puff-shroom and freeze. It needs
    practice to know when you can plant the delayed freeze and when you have to
    use the freeze spot instead. 
    Many-cob setup
    Note that the average gap between columns is usually well below 9 s, so you
    can't quite get away with having 8 cobs and using no other attacks. On giga
    and zomboni levels, there will be around 12 columns in each of the first two
    parts. That takes around 95 s. That is over 2 full 35 s cycles of cobs but
    less than 3. So you'll probably have to supplement the cobs with other attacks
    twice in each part. You can use doom and cherry the first time to affect all
    the rows but they won't be recharged in the second cycle (50 s recharge). If
    you then use squash and jalapeno in the 2nd cycle, you don't hit the outer
    land rows. Zomboni will definitely squash the column 7 plant unless it's
    spikerock. If spikerock, the zombonis (up to 4 in a clump at high levels)
    will hit the spikerock, doing an average of 2 hits damage. Gigas also come on
    in clumps of 2 at high levels, and since the outer ones will take 3 cob shots
    to kill, when you use inner jalapeno and squash (in case of jacks) they will
    have an extra 6 to 9 seconds, which may be enough for them to attack the
    spikerock. So the outer spikerock will take maybe 4 shots in the first part
    and 4 in the second, and so both need replacing after a couple of such levels. 
    There's also an issue with bungees. If you don't freeze them those in the
    middle could steal an important plant if you only have 2 umbrellas. If you
    freeze them, it's tough to also hit the front ones and the first column of 
    zombies with cobs on time. But if you have 4 umbrellas, you don't need freeze
    and they can't steal anything in the first 5 columns and you can cob the start
    on time and get bungees who try to steal spikerocks. But they can still steal
    any non-gloom in the pool column 6 (which could be twin sunflowers), which you
    can only prevent with 8 pool glooms. You want the front of the pool filled
    with glooms to help against jacks. 
    ECSS Setup details
    ECSS basic
            [t][G][W][F] F  .  .  .  .     Symbol Legend
            [u][G][W][t][G][G] .  .  .     .  land           G  gloom-shroom
             b [W] CCCC [t][G][G][G][G]    t  twin sunflower F fume-shroom
             b [i] CCCC [t][G][G][G][G]    b  cattail        W  winter melon
            [u][G][W][t][G][G] .  .  .     CC cob cannon    [ ] pumpkin
            [t][G][W][F] F  .  .  .  .     u  umbrella leaf  i freeze spot 
    ECSS variant 
            [t][G][W][F] F  .  .  .  .     Symbol Legend
            [u][G][W][t][G][G] .  .  .     .  land           G  gloom-shroom
             b [i] CCCC [t][G][G][G][G]    t  twin sunflower F fume-shroom
             b [W] CCCC [t][G][G][G][G]    b  cattail        W  winter melon
            [u][G][W][t][G][G] .  .  .     CC cob cannon    [ ] pumpkin
            [t][G][W][F] F  .  .  .  .     u  umbrella leaf  i freeze spot 
    I haven't mentioned pumpkin replacement. Of course, I assume that you have 
    Walnut First Aid so you can replaced damaged pumpkins without digging them up.
    It is a bit of an art-form, replacing pumpkins whilst collecting sun from 6 
    twin sunflowers and maintaining 7 second attacks regularly. It takes a lot of
    practice to get right. I focus on the land winter melon pumpkins as top 
    priority as they are under regular attack from imps, which is not funny at 
    high levels. You seriously don't want to lose any winter melons because you 
    didn't replace the pumpkin in time. Unslowed gigas are scary.
    Next priority is the column 7 pool gloom pumpkins. These come under regular 
    attack from dolphins. Part of the skill is switching these priorities 
    correctly when you have both dolphins and gigas. Of course, the giga imps are
    50% tougher than garg imps. The other pumpkins I don't replace on tough levels
    until they are ragged. 
    On the subject of imps, garg imps have 3 health so giga imps most likely have
    4.5 or 5 health. That means you'd best hit giga imps with two glooms since one
    burst from one gloom is only 4 damage. This is managed by ECSS bearing in mind
    that imps are wider than 1 tile. 
    On easy levels, with imitator pumpkin, it all depends on how much sun I have. 
    If I have nearly peak sun (9990 sun), then I replace the priority pumpkins 
    with even slight damage, then the others with slight damage, but I still 
    replace ragged pumpkins first unless they are not under immediate pressure on
    the level. 
    With lower sun, I am very sparing with pumpkin replacement just as I am on 
    tough levels. I only replace a slightly damaged land winter melon pumpkin if 
    there are 3 of them damaged in that column, favouring the outer ones. With the
    column 7 pumpkins, only if two are slightly damaged, favouring the one not 
    protected by a pool winter melon in the same row. 
    I use freeze quite a bit on easy levels to freeze dolphins if I have lots of 
    sun, but only rarely otherwise. The timing for coffee is when they're in the 
    pool and dipping before their big jump forward, or just before. That protects 
    the column 7 pumpkins fairly well, but isn't worthwhile if you're low on sun.
    I aim to finish an easy level with all damaged pumpkins replaced if I have 
    near peak sun. I'm careful not to use freeze too near the end of a part when 
    there are bungees. 
    A reminder about bungee width: they are wider than 1 tile so those which try 
    to steal the column 3 land winter melons are in range of 3 glooms, not just 
    two. You should still always freeze them because if you're particularly 
    unlucky without freeze and the 2 seconds between gloom shots and wake-up time
    the bungee might only take one blast from 3 glooms for only 12 damage and 
    survive to steal the winter melon. 
    It's also theoretically possible for bungees to steal the column 5 fume even 
    with freeze if it only gets 2 blasts from the 2 glooms (total 17 damage with
    freeze) but this doesn't seem to occur with good freeze timing. But with poor
    freeze timing bungees can even steal inner glooms, despite having 3-5 glooms in
    Note that tactics vary depending on the zombie roster towards the end of each
    part, so I usually pause the game at that point to check the zombie roster 
    I've recorded at the start. In particular, you need to check if there are 
    bungees so you don't accidentally use freeze and not have it available for the
    bungees. But you also need to know if there are gigas or not, so you know if 
    you have to use jalapeno and plant outer doom, or just plant inner doom 
    against gigas. And without gigas, you need to know if there are zomboni or 
    buckets and to check if jalapeno is ready before deciding how to play it, 
    improvising if necessary. 
    I don't record the whole zombie roster, mainly just jack, giga, garg, 
    football, zomboni, bungee. But you may find it useful to also record balloon, 
    dolphin, digger, dancer, buckets as I do, which can show the extra pressure on
    pumpkins besides imps. Buckets can make the 3rd part last longer, useful if 
    there are no gigas. 
    Also, I record catapults if it's an easy level to remind myself not to forget 
    and replace umbrellas with sunflowers and have my back twin sunflowers 
    destroyed by catapults. It's easier to avoid mistakes with a checklist you 
    refer to at the right time. Then you can focus on your timing without 
    distractions, as long as you remember to pause the game when needed. 
    The seed roster on easy levels without balloon is: Jalapeno, cherry, squash, 
    coffee, ice, doom, puff, fume, pumpkin, imitator pumpkin. On an easy level 
    with balloon (or 2 balloon) replace squash with blover. Note that the instants
    are usually not used, except for jalapeno at the end of the second part to 
    clear space for outer doom. Squash may be needed to defend the outer doom if
    cobs aren't ready. The idea is to make sure they are all (except maybe squash)
    fully recharged at the end. Failing that, cherry should be if not used. Blover
    is used to stop balloonists dropping on pumpkins and damaging them. 
    Freeze and cobs on the same side as the outer doom is a way to delay the 3rd 
    part when there are no gigas so that inner doom is 2/3 recharged by the end of
    the level, which should be enough for it to be ready for the 4th attack on the
    next level (and for the 3rd doom next level against gigas and outer doom at 
    the start of the 2nd part to be available in time). The freeze is necessary 
    against jacks and also helps the level last longer. The cobs on the same side
    protect the outer doom from even garg and bucket and let the zombies on the 
    other side survive longer. You can use squash if the cobs aren't ready, but 
    they usually will be with practice. Sometimes there is a danger of the 3rd 
    part ending too soon with only weak zombies, so then you can miss out the 
    cobs. With jacks, jalapeno may not be ready and you may not be able to plant 
    outer doom because of zomboni ice. Pause the game, check the zombie roster, 
    and decide whether to wait for the ice to clear or plant inner doom. Sometimes
    buckets can make the 3rd part last long enough. It's important to start most 
    levels with outer doom and later inner doom, but if you can do it most of the
    time that's good enough. Don't expect to do it every time, I know I can't. 
    If you're low on sun and there is no bungee or catapult, you can bring 
    sunflower and umbrella, and replace the back umbrellas with sunflowers for the
    level, but it's important to replace the umbrellas at the end of the level. If
    there's no zomboni, you can just bring sunflower and plant them in inner rows
    and defend with puff-shroom if you have it, or maybe pumpkin them. Bear in 
    mind that with football or garg these sunflowers may not last the whole level,
    even in pumpkin, so you may not gain much sun from them. But it's usually 
    worth doing. Of course, you can be very sparing with pumpkin replacement and
    attack seeds to save sun, but be aware that gargs require the odd freeze as 
    well as cobs to stop them squashing plants at higher levels. 
    It's up to your judgement how tricky the level is based on the zombie roster 
    and whether you want to bring sunflower or not and what to leave behind. Just
    don't forget blover against balloons. It can be very bad if there is bungee 
    and balloon, or even 2 balloon, and you don't have blover. To stop the 
    balloons you might over-use freeze and not have it available for the bungees,
    which might steal an important plant. So always bring blover if needed and 
    only bring sunflower if you're confident the level won't put you under 
    pressure. I recommend always bringing imitator pumpkin, also. I tend to take 
    less risks with sunflower at higher levels, when many "easy" levels are 
    actually quite demanding.
    After a jack accident, the lost pool glooms have to be replaced on the next 
    level. Make sure to finish the level with the jack accident with coffee, 
    fume, pumpkin all recharged. If it's a tough level (jack or giga, 66% chance)
    the seed roster is: Cherry, squash, coffee, ice, imitator ice, doom, lily, 
    fume, gloom, pumpkin. Start by using lily, fume, gloom, coffee, pumpkin in 
    that order to replace one pool gloom and use cobs for the first attack (since
    coffee is recharging). Then replace the second pool gloom up to sleeping fume
    when you use a freeze attack and the pumpkin is recharged. Wait for an attack
    not requiring coffee to activate the fume, and take care to promote it to 
    gloom as soon as gloom recharges, to avoid losing an inner gloom to zomboni 
    or giga if you can avoid it. 
    There's more pressure on seed recharging and plants because of the missing 
    instant, jalapeno, and missing free delay, puff-shroom. It seems better to 
    have cherry, with its 3 by 3 area-effect affecting both land rows as well as 
    a pool row, rather than jalapeno, which only affects the inner row. Of course,
    if you have gigas cherry is valuable against the outer ones. If you don't, 
    it's up to you whether you'd bring jalapeno in place of cherry to use it to 
    place outer doom if there are zomboni, but no giga, but there is not that 
    good a chance it will be recharged, and so it may be necessary to plant just
    inner doom, and not be able to start the next level with outer doom. My 
    current practice is to bring cherry in all cases. These situations don't occur
    often enough to get reliable frequency estimates of adverse events. 
    If the level after the jack accident is easy (no jack or giga, 34% chance), 
    bring imitator pumpkin and blover if there are balloons, and jalapeno, lily, 
    fume, gloom. It's up to your judgement what else to bring depending on the 
    remaining number of seed slots and the zombie roster. 
    An exception to the tough level roster: If you have 2 balloon and either giga
    or jack, bring: Cherry, squash, coffee, ice, imitator ice, doom, blover, 
    puff-shroom, fume, pumpkin. I found in one level with giga and 2 balloon and 
    bungee, without blover the balloons used up one of my lawnmowers. It's an 
    incredibly rare Black Swan that's only happened once to me, but better safe 
    than sorry. 
    ECSS damage and zombie movement speed
    I'll deal with the key zombie types separately, to calculate passive plant 
    area-effect damage (mainly glooms and fumes, but some from winter melon 
    splash) in different situations in addition to the damage you should inflict 
    with your seeds in 7 second attacks. This is important so that you know how 
    well your setup can survive in normal play and which plants are going to 
    survive anything but a jack accident. If you know where the passive damage 
    plus 7 second attacks is always enough to hold the line without losses, 
    barring jack accidents, even after a jack accident, and where it isn't always,
    then you know where to concentrate your attention. 
    Giga and garg
    Slowed gigas or gargs take about 10 seconds to cross 1 tile, half as long if 
    not slowed. In the inner row, provided there have been no gloom losses, gigas
    will be confined to columns 7, 8 and 9 unless one survives to squash the inner
    column 6 gloom. That means every inner winter melon shot in that row (assuming
    the winter melon is not distracted by imps or dropped balloons) will splash 
    the gigas if they are in column 7 or 8. 
    The gap between winter melon shots is 3 seconds. So inner gigas should be 
    slowed within 3 seconds of entering column 8 if not before. So we can expect 
    the inner gigas to spend at least 5 seconds (unslowed) in column 9, at least 
    7 seconds (part slowed after 3 seconds) in column 8 and at least 10 seconds 
    (slowed) in column 7. The average gloom damage over that time they take will 
    then be 5 x 4 + 7 x 6 + 10 x 10 = 162. Note that gigas are wider than 1 tile 
    so whilst their front is in column 7, part is in column 8, so they're in range
    of all 5 glooms. 
    Gargs will be killed (150 health). Gigas will be killed by any non-freeze 7 
    second attack they're in range of (cob, doom, squash, jalapeno, cherry). If 
    not killed, gigas will be made to throw their imps and take at least 2 more 
    seconds. If they took two non-freeze attacks whilst in column 9 (if slowed 
    earlier) they could throw it then and take only 2 x 4 = 8 average gloom 
    damage. But they'd take over 100 more damage and be killed in column 7, if 
    they get that far. Otherwise, they'll take at least 2 x 6 = 12 average gloom 
    damage if they throw the imp in column 8, for 174 total. If they throw the imp
    in column 7, that's 2 x 10 = 20 average gloom damage, for 182 total. 
    In the at least 24 seconds gigas spend in columns 7 to 9 there will be at 
    least 2 of the 7 second attacks (which can vary between 6 s and 10 s) if you 
    manage them on schedule. If both these were non-freeze, only one could fail to
    hit the gigas (squash can't cover all 3 tiles) and the gigas will take 90 
    damage from the other and be killed. If they're still alive, it means the 
    squash missed them and the other attack was freeze. 
    In the 5 seconds frozen, they receive at least an average 5 x 4 = 20 extra 
    gloom damage, bringing the total passive damage to 194. If frozen in column 7,
    the gloom damage is 5 x 10 = 50 for 224 total. Since their health is 225, they
    will be hit with at least one winter melon splash damage and die. Otherwise, 
    with a total of at least 29 seconds in those columns, in that time there will
    have been at least 3 of the 7 second attacks in almost all cases (except if 3
    in a row are 10 s apart). 
    So, either they are hit with a non-freeze, non-squash and killed, or another 
    freeze. If another freeze, this adds at least another 5 x 4 = 20 average gloom
    damage. The total is now up to 214 damage. This time, if the second freeze 
    hits in column 8 or 9 the giga dies, with a winter splash.  A surviving giga 
    which stops to squash the inner column 6 gloom will take another 3 seconds of
    column 7 gloom damage (3 x 10 = 30), before they are able to squash it (which 
    takes 5 seconds), and be killed. 
    Another threat to the gigas about to squash the inner column 6 gloom is that 
    they have been in columns 7 to 9 for 33 seconds. Since the shot recharge time 
    of the cobs is 35 seconds they should be killed by a cob shot most of the 
    time, though in practice the cobs are often not used until about 5-10 seconds
    after they recharge. 
    It should be more damage, also, because of winter melon direct and indirect 
    shots and because zombie types take some damage even when off the lawn 
    (especially the inner rows because of the column 9 pool glooms). Given all the
    assumptions, despite this calculation inner gigas can't be assumed to be 
    always killed without squashing the inner column 6 gloom, but the damage 
    numbers do suggest that this will happen most of the time with good play. In 
    practice, they never squash the inner gloom with good play, and even with 
    mistakes made it's extremely rare. 
    Also, any gigas that do spend 5 seconds squashing the column 6 inner gloom 
    will take enough gloom damage, with winter splash, to be killed. The lost 
    gloom can be replaced with fume when there is a non-freeze attack to wake it 
    with coffee, and the extra range on the fume makes it almost as good in that 
    row as the gloom was (but the damage to the outer row is lost). 
    This calculation rests on many assumptions. I assumed that zomboni ice didn't
    block planting in inner column 8. The gigas and gargs may receive less than 
    average damage depending on the timing of the gloom and fume shots. Some gargs
    on easy levels may not be slowed early enough so that freeze is necessary to 
    kill them, because they may be out of range of winter melon shots that hit a 
    column 7 garg or giga (or football, etc.) when they are in column 9. And there
    is the problem of winter melons being distracted by imps or dropped balloon 
    zombies or shooting zombies in column 7 and the splash missing those in column
    9 and their random wake-up time and long gap of 3 seconds between shots 
    creating Black Swan events where gargs and gigas don't take as much damage. 
    Also, your timing might not be ideal or the zombies might come on a little 
    faster than every 7 seconds at times. 
    Inner gigas need to be in range of 2 non-freeze 7 second attacks to be sure of
    killing them. On very rare occasions if they are in range of only one 
    non-freeze attack they might survive to squash an inner gloom. This is so rare
    that I don't have a reliable frequency estimate.  
    The calculation for outer gargs and gigas is much more complex. But if we make
    the same assumption that they are slowed 3 seconds into column 8, they spend 
    at least 32 seconds in outer columns 5 to 9. During that time there are at 
    least 3 of the 7 second attacks. At least one must be a freeze (except at the 
    start where there are 4 non-freeze attacks which will kill the first few 
    columns of gigas) so adding another 5 seconds and often a further 7 second 
    attack. Once again it is very likely that a cob attack will hit the gigas. It
    is also quite likely that they will be hit by two freeze attacks, and forced 
    after the last doom in the first part and the first and only doom in the 2nd 
    Outer gigas and gargs can cross columns 8 and 9 without gloom damage. But they
    take about 7 damage from 1 fume crossing column 9 if slowed and about 14 
    damage from 2 fumes crossing column 8 if slowed. In column 7 they take an 
    average 20 damage from 1 gloom plus 14 damage from 2 fumes, if slowed, which 
    they generally will be by column 7 if no walking zombie has got further than 
    outer column 6, which is usually the case if the column 5 fume is still alive. 
    This is your clue to replace a lost column 5 fume as soon as you have an 
    attack which doesn't use coffee against gigas.
    Crossing column 6 they will take an average 40 damage from 2 glooms plus 14 
    damage from 2 fumes, if slowed. Let's suppose our gigas and gargs are slowed 
    from 3 seconds into column 8 on. They take about 96 damage from glooms and 
    fumes and about 8 damage from winter splash from the point they are slowed. 
    Provided they are hit by one non-freeze attack, gargs will die, and in any 
    case delay to throw their imp. Gigas will die if hit by 2 non-freeze attacks.
    But it can be seen that extra delays from puff-shroom are needed to contain 
    the gigas otherwise. 
    Also, gigas or gargs surviving to column 5 could help new gigas and gargs 
    coming on to avoid being slowed for longer. That's why in ECSS variant I add 
    outer column 6 fumes to keep the gigas pegged back for longer. Obviously, 
    zomboni will squash these extra fumes shortly after the first 4 attacks in the
    level, but they will still have helped a little before that. The longer you 
    can keep that winter box going the better. 
    Having 3 fumes with ECSS variant means that outer gargs will take an average
    56 damage from glooms and fumes crossing columns 7 to 9, and another 4+ 
    damage from outer winter splash from the time they are slowed. So gargs die
    before squashing the column 6 fume if hit by a non-freeze 90 damage attack. 
    And gigas die before squashing the column 6 fume if hit by 2 non-freeze 90
    damage attacks. This shows that the column 6 fume can survive fairly well
    against gigas and gargs, if not zomboni. 
    The analysis is too complex (for me) to show that outer gigas always are 
    killed by column 5 without any losses other than the column 5 fume, but helps
    show that this will happen most of the time, barring jack accidents and 
    missing 7 second attacks. 
    You need to be wary of counting in average winter splash because imps, 
    whether garg or giga, will usually land in column 3 and distract the winter 
    melons so they hit imps and do not fire further forward. This is usually a 
    small fraction of the total winter melon shots but could be significant if 
    you have giga and garg, which can mean lots of imps being thrown without 
    much break. Also, winter melon shots at targets in column 5 or column 6 won't
    splash zombies in columns 8 and 9. Dropping balloons can also distract 
    winter melons. 
    Cattails often fire at the outer rows as the zombies there get further forward
    but this is single-target, not area-effect, damage.
    The most challenging situation with gigas is after a jack accident. The 
    analysis is quite complex, but I'll do my best. First, consider the most 
    frequent situation of a jack accident destroying two pool glooms in columns 8
    and 9 on one side. Whilst the column 6 inner gloom on the weakened side 
    survives, there is no effect on outer gigas. 
    Then consider inner gigas. Again, whilst the inner gloom survives, the inner 
    gigas take 14 damage from 1 gloom crossing column 8, and 80 damage from 4 
    glooms crossing column 7. So, provided an inner giga is hit by two non-freeze
    attacks, it will die, taking 274+ damage. If hit by only one non-freeze 
    attack, it will take only 184+ damage, with extra gloom damage whilst frozen.
    This shows that gargs are usually killed at this point.
    We are reduced to the case of a giga with a missed squash and hit freeze to 
    still be alive, as before. But such a giga has only been in columns 6 to 9 for
    27 seconds. Although very likely, it's not always the case that there will be
    another attack. And the giga may still not have taken enough damage to throw 
    its imp. So there is a greater risk of the inner column 6 gloom being squashed
    by gigas. And of course, if there are zomboni it will almost certainly be 
    Let's assume that the inner column 6 gloom is squashed. The remaining things 
    to check are whether the gigas will be killed before squashing the column 5 
    backup inner gloom or the outer column 3 winter melon. 
    This time the total gloom damage is only 74 crossing to inner column 7, and 
    another 60 crossing column 6, taking at least 37 seconds including the freeze.
    There will certainly be another attack, though, and more gloom damage whilst 
    frozen. And a cob is highly likely, though not certain to hit. Gargs will 
    throw their imp and certainly be killed with gloom damage.
    In practice, the column 5 inner gloom is not squashed by giga without more 
    jack accident losses or bad play, but this is not well supported by the 
    damage analysis I've given.  
    There is, of course, a little more single-target damage from direct winter 
    melon shots. But the main factor, I think, is that many of the inner gigas 
    will be hit by 2 (even 3, at the start) non-freeze attacks and so die much 
    more quickly, probably in column 8. That means, with minor zombies in the 
    inner row cleared out by these attacks, the next column of gigas (outer and 
    inner) will be hit by inner winter melon splash much earlier, probably in 
    column 9. Also, at the start of each level, the winter melon attacks slow the
    first columns of zombies much earlier, in column 9 or even off the lawn. The
    3rd doom attack in the first part on a giga level also damages many columns of
    gigas at once. Thus, a lot of the time the gigas are slowed more, and the 
    difficulty of the level in terms of gigas is more about the times when you 
    only have freeze attacks. 
    To allow for this factor, contrast the damage calculations above with the 
    assumption that the gigas are slowed by 3 seconds into column 9. This adds 5 
    seconds to their progress time and increases the fume and gloom damage 
    received in columns 8 and 9. 
    In the case of inner gigas with no lost glooms, this extra damage shows why in
    practice the gigas don't generally start their squashing animation on the 
    inner column 6 gloom before being killed, though this occasionally happens 
    towards the end of the 1st or 2nd part. 
    In the case of outer gigas with no lost glooms, the extra 5 seconds (total at
    least 37 with one freeze) means there are at least 4 of the 7 second attacks 
    (I've never seen 4 columns in a row all 10 s apart, one will be only 5 to 7 s
    gap). After the starting 4 non-freeze attacks, and after the 3rd doom in the 
    first part or doom in the second part, this means they're hit by at least two
    freeze attacks, making 42 seconds and virtually ensuring a cob shot. This 
    explains why gargs don't usually threaten the column 5 fumes; since they threw
    their imp and have less health they will be hit by the cob shot and killed. 
    Outer gigas that cross column 5 (after the fume there is lost) will take 
    another 40 gloom damage. With the extra fume damage they will take over 237 
    damage if hit by the cob shot or another non-freeze attack in range and be 
    killed. Even if not hit by non-freeze there should be an opportunity to delay
    them with puff-shroom or fume in emergencies, in columns 5 or 6, which will
    add enough gloom damage to kill gargs. Without zomboni, a puff-shroom delay
    in column 7, 8 or 9 will often mean they are in range of the non-freeze 
    attacks that affect the outer row (doom on that side, cherry, cob and if no
    jack sometimes outer jalapeno). This helps explain why giga levels without
    zomboni are generally easier to manage.
    In the case of inner giga after a jack accident destroys two pool glooms on 
    that side, without further losses, the extra 5 seconds, total 32 with freeze,
    guarantees another (3rd) attack. So even with a missed squash and freeze, 
    there is either another freeze or a non-freeze hit. In the case of the 
    non-freeze hit, the giga has taken 190+ damage and will delay to throw an imp
    in column 7, taking at least another 16 gloom damage. It will then take enough
    gloom damage during its squashing animation to be killed before it can squash
    the inner column 6 gloom. In the case of a second freeze, total 37 seconds, 
    there is another attack, which can't be squash, so again the giga will die 
    unless subject to 3 freeze and missed squash. This gives further support to 
    survival of the inner column 6 gloom against giga without zomboni in most 
    Another factor is the pool winter melon splash slowing affecting the nearest 
    inner row. For that inner row, excluding distraction by dolphins, column 9 
    will be slowed by each shot, giving even more slowing time to that inner row. 
    This indirectly affects the nearest outer row because the inner gigas die 
    earlier and so the inner winter melon splash affects the outer row a little 
    further back. It's just a shame that ECSS doesn't have 2 pool winter melons to
    extend the effect to both sides. That can't be done without sacrificing a pool
    plant, the best choice being a twin sunflower, but that makes the setup less 
    superviable because of the danger of running out of sun with a long sequence 
    of tough levels. 
    By the same token, the pressure of the gigas, mainly in the outer rows, tends 
    to increase through the first part once you start using freeze attacks. But 
    the gap before the second part, and the giga lull, helps you get back on track
    in the second part. The difficulty of dealing with gigas after jack accidents 
    is also dependent on how soon in the level the accident occurs -- the later, 
    the easier it is. 
    As for the winter melon, there are all kinds of Black Swan events which make 
    play difficult. Having the extra fumes in column 6 in ECSS variant, even 
    though they're destroyed by this time, has impeded the gigas earlier on and 
    makes things less difficult. The gigas also are delayed by squashing the 
    column 5 and 4 fumes in turn (about 5 seconds for each squash). But there is 
    no guarantee that you will have a jalapeno to save the day and the best you 
    can do is use both puff-shroom and fume (not activated) as delays and keep up 
    your 7 second attacks as normal. 
    Only if the winter melon is about to be squashed should you risk an extra 
    attack outside the usual 7 second attacks, because you could pay for this with
    a missed 7 second attack later; however, losing the winter melon threatens a 
    quick loss so it would be worth trying if you have any kind of attack left. 
    In practice, though the column 4 fumes are sometimes destroyed, there is very
    rarely a further threat with ECSS. And with ECSS variant, the loss of winter 
    melon didn't happen at all up to 2000 flags. 
    Jacks cross a tile in about 5 seconds if not slowed. Crossing inner column 9,
    they'll take on average 20 damage from 2 pool glooms, enough to kill them, so
    they won't normally reach column 8 even if they don't get slowed by winter 
    melon. That's why jack accidents usually cost two pool glooms, and occur in 
    column 9. The jack explosion area of effect is 3 by 3 tiles. 
    But, because glooms take 2 seconds between attacks, it might be that in those 
    5 seconds they only get off 2 attacks and do 16 damage, not enough to kill the
    jack with 17 health. It's very unlikely that no other damage is done to the 
    jack in that time, but it could happen, which accounts for the most dangerous 
    Black Swan event where the jack survives to column 8 and explodes destroying 
    3 pool glooms. Freeze doesn't stop the explosion once the animation of the 
    jack stopping to explode begins. So those first two pool glooms won't always 
    save you. After a jack accident which destroys the usual two pool glooms, more
    jacks on that side could get forward because they don't take gloom damage 
    until column 7. This leads to a similarly devastating but very rare Black Swan
    when a second jack explosion destroys the 3rd pool gloom.
    In ECSS variant, whilst the extra fumes survive and land winter melon shots 
    affect inner column 8, the security provided by winter melon slowing is 
    increased. But zomboni will eventually destroy these extra fumes and survive 
    to outer column 6, thus making the outer winter melon shot less likely to 
    affect inner column 8 or 9. Gigas will also, less frequently, squash them 
    after a while. So the inner winter melon is the main safeguard. Its attack 
    every 3 seconds should still slow jacks caught in the area-effect, so the 
    problems arise only if the winter melon is distracted by imps or balloon drops
    or, more likely, by a zomboni, football, giga or garg in inner column 7. 
    I can't give precise estimates of frequency of these most dangerous Black 
    Swans, because of their very rarity meaning I don't have enough data. And the
    consistency of play obviously is important and the frequency could slowly 
    increase at higher levels (there's no consistent evidence of this which can be
    seen above the noise of random variation, but you'd expect with more zombies 
    and not all attacks pure area-effect this should happen). But both basic ECSS 
    and ECSS variant are superviable in my play, with ECSS averaging over 700 
    flags a game over 6 games, likely more with improved play, and the variant 
    surviving its first game to 1500 flags and counting. So these Black Swans may
    be assumed to be several 100s to 1 against from the existing scanty data. 
    Zomboni also take about 5 seconds to cross 1 tile. So they average around 50
    gloom damage crossing inner columns 8 and 9. They have 60 health so will 
    comfortably be destroyed before crossing column 7 with another 50 gloom 
    damage. In particular, they take on average 70 damage up to column 7 even if
    the column 9 gloom is destroyed in an off-lawn rare jack explosion and so 
    still don't usually threaten the column 6 inner gloom.
    In particular, the level after a jack accident destroying two pool glooms in 
    columns 8 and 9 on one side, you can replace one pool gloom immediately if you
    were careful to leave coffee, fume and pumpkin recharged at the end of the 
    level with the jack accident. Zomboni will then not usually threaten the inner
    gloom in the time before gloom recharges and you can replace the second pool 
    gloom. But there is the usual caveat about getting less than average damage, 
    so on rare occasions they could squash the column 6 inner gloom. Again, with 
    the extra fume variant this has never happened yet. 
    Outer zomboni take 3 fume damage crossing column 9, 7 fume damage crossing 
    column 8, 7 fume + 10 inner gloom damage crossing column 7 and 7 fume + 20 
    inner gloom damage crossing column 6 for 54 damage. Add to this the 4 
    average outer winter splash if they are hit 3 s into column 8 and the 2 
    average inner winter splash with the same assumptions whilst they are in 
    column 7 and 8 (provided the inner row has targets and shots centre in 
    column 8). Thus, with all these assumptions, we expect outer zomboni to 
    usually die before squashing the outer column 5 fume if not in pumpkin and
    in practice they never do with a full setup. 
    If this fume is in pumpkin, it can occasionally get squashed because the 
    pumpkin is wider than 1 tile and when the pumpkin is squashed, so is the plant
    inside it. 
    Even after the column 5 fume is lost, zomboni would take another 20 gloom 
    damage crossing column 5 which more than makes up for the lost fume damage 
    and kill them even before the column 5 fume is replaced. Nevertheless, it
    should be replaced as soon as there is a non-freeze attack to cover use of
    coffee on tough levels. 
    Slowed footballs are the same speed as zomboni, but have 80 health so they 
    often chew the column 5 fume pumpkin until killed by the next pair of gloom 
    attacks. They also may not be slowed until column 7 or 8, so can survive long 
    enough to be a problem. Puff-shroom can be helpful to delay them if there 
    aren't gigas to delay, and can even help column 6 fumes, in pumpkin or not, to
    survive for quite a while in ECSS variant.
    If the column 5 outer fume is lost against football, they can survive to chew
    the column 4 fume pumpkin if not slowed early, so this should always be 
    replaced when there is a non-freeze attack to cover the use of coffee. 
    Sometimes an outer jalapeno can help if there is no way to replace the fume
    without it being eaten, but that needs careful judgement if it's a level with
    jack and you risk not having the jalapeno available for a 7 second attack or
    at the end of the second part. 
    Inner footballs, on the assumption they are slowed 1.5 s into column 8 with no
    glooms lost, will take 71 gloom damage in 11 s crossing columns 9, 8, and 7 
    before they start chewing. Those frozen or hit by a non-freeze attack will 
    die. But this is with average damage and slowing. Sometimes they will get 3 s
    into column 8 (which is 1/2 s into column 7) before being slowed, and cross in
    9 1/2 s taking 61 gloom damage. They will still take another at least 20 gloom
    damage if frozen and die before chewing. But any winter melon distraction 
    could mean they survive to chew the inner column 6 gloom's pumpkin. Similarly 
    if they take below-average gloom damage. Most often, the direct and splash 
    winter melon damage will still kill them before they chew, but not always. 
    In ECSS variant, inner footballs never survive to chew the column 6 gloom's
    pumpkin whilst the outer column 6 fume survives, virtually guaranteeing 
    slowing in column 8. 
    Other zombie types
    All other land zombies (excluding balloons) are comfortably destroyed before 
    they can do damage because of the fume and gloom damage mentioned, if no 
    plants are lost. Even with the standard loss of two pool glooms to a jack 
    accident, this remains true for all but garg, football and bucket. The 
    analysis for gargs was given above in the section on gigas. Footballs and 
    buckets may do a little more pumpkin damage but that's not particularly 
    Note that pool zombie types other than dolphin are hit by 4 pool glooms once 
    they enter the pool and are generally slowed continually by the pool winter 
    melon. In particular, they take 40 gloom damage if frozen, which only buckets 
    can survive, but the gloom damage as they approach and enter the pool will 
    usually still kill them combined with the freeze damage if they're already in
    the pool. With lost fumes or glooms, buckets can occasionally do significant 
    chewing damage to pumpkins. With lost pool glooms, more pumpkin damage there 
    will happen from dolphins and buckets, and careful pumpkin management will be
    required to avoid pumpkins lost to chewing.
    A viable, but not very superviable, variant is obtained by replacing the inner
    twin sunflowers with winter melons, and the pool winter melon with twin 
    sunflowers. This variant has only 5 twin sunflowers, so will lose too much sun
    per level at high levels. But if you're not too unlucky it may make 100 flags 
    a little more easily than ECSS. Having 2 winters in inner rows is helpful 
    against jacks and gigas especially. I call this EWCSS (W for winter). 
    Earlier I noted the probability of getting 10 tough levels (jack or giga) in a
    row. You might well avoid this up to 100 flags, but it becomes relatively 
    frequent by 500. Such a sequence will likely mean a loss by running out of sun
    as you have only 5 twins. 
    If you play enough times, you may make 500 flags if you're really lucky and 
    skillful. But I wouldn't bet on making 1000 flags. 
    I haven't tried modifying this variant further so you have one winter melon 
    and one gatling pea in the inner rows. Gatling pea is 4 dps but only to a 
    single target, and dead bodies block pea shots for a time. But with only one 
    fume, at high levels zomboni will squash the gatling. 
    You might wonder about playing without the two cattails. I don't advise this,
    though I haven't tried every variant. Firstly, you have to play every tough 
    level with balloons by bringing blover and missing out an instant. That puts 
    you under too much pressure with seed recharging, especially if you get 2 
    tough balloon levels in a row, unless you have more than 1 pool freeze spot. 
    If you have more freeze spots and use more freeze attacks, outer gigas may not
    be contained as they take relatively little damage whilst frozen, being in 
    range of between 0 and 2 inner glooms. 
    I much prefer only using blover on easy levels. It is more pressure to do it 
    on tough levels and maintain your timing of 7 second attacks. 
    An even more frequent problem is that imps will now survive longer and chew 
    the land winter melon pumpkins, to the extent that you may not be able to keep
    up with pumpkin replacement on levels with giga, or jack and garg. Back 
    cattails do help with imps a lot. Perhaps the most dangerous situation is on 
    levels after a jack accident. If you have balloons and choose to replace the 
    lost pool glooms, you will have to miss out 2 instants. It doesn't seem like 
    you can maintain 7 second attacks without, maybe, 3 or 4 freeze spots. Even 
    then, outer gigas will probably go on a rampage, especially if you've lost an
    inner gloom to zomboni on the jack accident level.
    If you want to try this, I suggest 2 outer winters and two freeze spots (no 
    pool winter). But I don't think 2 winters will hold the gigas. A further 
    problem is that you may not be able to start every level with inner and outer
    doom because of the lack of instants, which means more frequent early jack 
    accidents, more frequent loss of inner planting due to zomboni ice, and a 
    problem with finding a repeatable sequence of play, so you have to improvise 
    a lot. 
    I've tested this to 100 flags, finding it (barely) viable. As expected, more 
    seed recharging pressure, missed 7 second attacks, pumpkin damage,  giga 
    squashing, pressure on sun, and more frequent jack accidents than ECSS basic. 
    On the positive side, you can replace one freeze spot with sunflower on any 
    easy level and still freeze bungees easily from the other spot, even with 
    zomboni, and without bungee you can have sunflowers in both freeze spots on 
    easy levels. That won't make up for long sequences of tough levels in a row, 
    One cattail just isn't enough at high levels to deal with all the balloons, in
    case you were wondering. In fact, on very rare occasions (one time ever in my
    play) two cattails isn't enough on tough levels with 2 balloons if you don't 
    bring blover. 
    At the time of writing, I'm at 1500 flags with my first game of ECSS variant, 
    hoping to break 3000 flags for the first time. So I haven't tested a variant 
    with the pool winter melon replaced by a 3rd cattail. I'm hopeful that this 
    will have increased outer damage per second, and that the greater pressure on
    the column 9 pumpkins won't matter if it's as rare as off-lawn jack accidents
    in losing column 9 pool glooms. Maybe you can be the first to test this 
    system. The 3rd cattail might also go in column 5 to be closer to the outer 
    gigas and balloons. 
    A small variation I'd been considering to ECSS variant was to switch the 
    places of the inner twin sunflowers and inner winter melons. The idea is that
    most imps land in column 3 and the inner winter melons are sometimes 
    distracted by imps. However, my game with ECSS variant is now at 2252 flags,
    and several times now I've had tough levels with jack and zomboni where I've
    had a Black Swan combination of jack accidents and lost two inner glooms on
    one side and then zomboni squashed the column 4 inner twin sunflowers and 
    outer zomboni squashed the outer column 3 winter melon. This has happened 
    with and without gigas and gargs, but though it's a very difficult situation
    it can often be survived. With the switch, it would probably not be 
    survivable at all. So this switch doesn't seem worthwhile, especially as it
    puts the column 3 inner pumpkins at greater risk from imps. 

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