Plants vs. Zombies: Gold Farming Guide

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| |                                                                         | |
| |    Plants Vs Zombies Gold Farming Guide v1.30                           | |
| |    by Curby                                       | |
| |                                                                         | |
| |    Copyright (C) 2009 Michael Lee, licensed under CC BY-ND 3.0          | |
| |                                                                         | |
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,-----------------------------------------------------------------------------,
|  000: Table of Contents                                                     |
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To jump to a section, search for its section number followed by a colon instead
of a period.

000. Table of Contents

100. About this Guide
  110. Availability
  120. Copyright and License
  130. Searching the Guide
  140. Links in the Guide

200. Introduction

300. Zen Garden
  310. Growing and Selling Marigolds
  320. Collecting Gold from Happy Plants

400. Last Stand
  410. Threats
  420. Destroying Zombies
  430. Defenses
  440. Marigold Field
  450. How to Use the Setup
  460. Alternate Setups

500. Survival Endless

600. Questionable Practices
  610. Time Travel
  620. Hex Editing


,-----------------------------------------------------------------------------,
|  100: About this Guide                                                      |
'-----------------------------------------------------------------------------'

_______________________________________________________________________________
'-- 110: Availability --------------------------------------------------------'

Whether you found this guide on the Internet or through email, please know the
latest version is always available for free from my site [1] and GameFAQs [2].

[1] http://curby.net/docs/games/plantsvszombies-gold.txt
[2] http://www.gamefaqs.com/computer/doswin/file/959255/56559

_______________________________________________________________________________
'-- 120: Copyright and License -----------------------------------------------'

This guide is Copyright (C) 2009 Michael Lee, and released under the terms of
the Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives License [3].

This license gives you my explicit permission to email, repost, republish, and
even sell this guide as long as it remains unchanged and in whole.  In all
cases, this copyright and license statement, and the notice above that the
latest version is always available for free, must remain intact and unchanged.

All trademarks used herein that are listed at [4] are owned by PopCap Games,
Inc. or its licensors and may be registered in some countries. Other company
and product names used herein may be trademarks of their respective owners and
are used for the benefit of those owners.

[3] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/3.0/
[4] http://www.popcap.com/trademarks.php

_______________________________________________________________________________
'-- 130: Searching the Guide -------------------------------------------------'

To jump to a section, type its section number as listed in the Table of
Contents, followed by the colon symbol.  If there were a section numbered 1064,
you'd search for "1064:" without the quotation marks.

_______________________________________________________________________________
'-- 140: Links in the Guide --------------------------------------------------'

URLs are often too long to place in-line with the main text, so they will be
placed at the end of each section as footnotes.  For example, see the links in
the Copyright and License section above.



,-----------------------------------------------------------------------------,
|  200: Introduction                                                          |
'-----------------------------------------------------------------------------'

Plants Vs Zombies [5] is a tower defense [6] game in which you defend your
house from a horde of zombies by placing plants in areas around your house.

This guide describes gold farming strategies for easily earning money after
completing the main game mode.  See the game's readme file [7] or my guide on
GameFAQs [8] for general help with the game.

[5] http://www.popcap.com/games/pvz
[6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tower_defense
[7] http://www.popcap.com/faq/plantsvszombies/1033/pc/readme.html
[8] http://www.gamefaqs.com/computer/doswin/file/959255/56545



,-----------------------------------------------------------------------------,
|  300: Zen Garden                                                            |
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The Zen Garden is unlocked in stage five of the Adventure mode.  You can use
the garden to collect and grow plants, and also to earn money in two ways.

_______________________________________________________________________________
'-- 310: Growing and Selling Marigolds ---------------------------------------'

Crazy Dave sells three potted Marigolds for $2,500 each at his shop, restocked
daily.  Plants in the garden start as sprouts, but can be grown with water and
fertilizer.  Sprouts grow into young plants, then medium plants, and finally
mature plants.  Mature Marigolds can be sold for $3,000 each.

While it takes fertilizer to grow plants, each stage of development grants you
a reward, culminating in a diamond for each Marigold reaching adulthood.  These
bonuses along with the profit of $500 per plant allows you to earn some cash
without playing the game's combat levels.

_______________________________________________________________________________
'-- 320: Collecting Gold from Happy Plants -----------------------------------'

If you're leaving the computer unattended for a while, you can also earn money
from happy plants.  Making happy plants is similar to growing them, but instead
of fertilizer they want music from a phonograph or a spritz of bug spray. Both
the phonograph and bug spray can be purchased from Crazy Dave.  When a plant is
satisfied, its base will be glowing and it will produce coins for about a day.

Once you make your plants happy, you still need to collect the coins.  Doing so
manually is rather dull, so we enlist the help of Stinky the Snail.  You can
purchase Stinky the Snail from Crazy Dave.  Stinky helps you by collecting the
coins that drop from plants.  Unfortunately he falls asleep after a couple of
minutes, so you need to feed him chocolate to keep him awake and working.

Chocolate is a reward item that occasionally drops from Zombies in the other
game modes.  Once fed chocolate, Stinky will work for about an hour, collecting
coins from your happy plants.  Chocolate can also be fed to happy plants to
make them more productive.  You can save up to ten pieces of chocolate from
other levels, so make the most of your time by feeding nine of them to plants!



,-----------------------------------------------------------------------------,
|  400: Last Stand                                                            |
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Last Stand is the sixteenth Mini-Game and is unlocked after finishing Adventure
mode and winning thirteen other Mini-Games.

In Last Stand, you are given 5000 sun to defend the back yard and pool against
five waves of Zombies.  After every wave you receive 250 sun to repair and
bolster your defenses.  However, you don't get sun from the sky and you cannot
use sun-generating plants.

This Mini-Game is popular for gold farming because you only need to set it up
once and let it run almost completely unattended.  Because of the extra inter-
activity required, the rewards are greater as well.  A single game of Last
Stand can net upwards of $10,000.  The key to earning money in Last Stand is
creating efficient, compact defenses at the front lines so you can use the left
side for gold farming with Marigolds and Gold Magnets.

There is a balance between sturdier defenses and a larger Marigold field.  Both
require physical space on the field, so you will need to consider your priori-
ties.  In the beginning, when you have fewer slots in your seed tray, you may
wish to use a more conservative strategy.  The rest of this guide assumes you
are in the later stages of the game and have access to the full 10 slots.

_______________________________________________________________________________
'-- 410: Threats -------------------------------------------------------------'

There are four main classes of threats to consider.

Hordes of Zombies - Buckethead, Screen Door, Newspaper, Football, etc.
Vaulting Zombies - Pole Vaulting and Dolphin Rider
Jack-in-the-Box Zombies - the biggest threat to your compact defenses
Resurfacing Zombies - require defenses in the water in columns 6-9

_______________________________________________________________________________
'-- 420: Destroying Zombies --------------------------------------------------'

In order to leave room for a large Marigold field, we need to kill as many
Zombies as possible with few spaces on the field.  First of all, we'll use the
Gloom-shroom exclusively for attacking.  Each Gloom-shroom can cover a 3x3
area, so you'll need fewer plants to defend a full six rows.  Also, the fast
attack speed and ability to hit every Zombie in a group all at once makes it by
far the most efficient attacker.  Though some people use three pairs of Gloom-
shrooms, appropriate defenses will allow you to scale down to two pairs and
leave more room to the left for Marigolds.

The most effective defense for Gloom-shrooms themselves is Garlic.  It forces
Zombies into the first and last rows of the field, where they walk along while
constantly taking damage.  However, Pole Vaulting Zombies can jump over one
Garlic, so some players use a second column of them:

         .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                Symbol Legend
         .  .  .  .  .  G  G  g  g                  .  Open Land
         _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _                  _  Open Water
         _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _                  G  Gloom-shroom
         .  .  .  .  .  G  G  g  g                  g  Garlic
         .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

Unfortunately, this is a horrible waste of space.  We want every area of the
field to be used for either making money or killing Zombies.  An extra column
of Garlic pushes your defenses to the left, making your Marigold field smaller.
Additionally, the 3x3 range of the Gloom-shrooms cannot reach the very right of
the above diagram, meaning Zombies are free to wander.  Instead of using up an
entire column to defend against the reasonably small number of Pole Vaulters,
we'll use Pumpkins instead.  This has the additional benefit of providing some
buffer if your Garlic gets eaten up and a few Zombies make it to your first
Gloom-Shrooms.

  Step 1: Attack and Redirection

         .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                Symbol Legend
         .  .  .  .  .  .  G [G] g                  .  Open Land
         _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _                  _  Open Water
         _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _                  G  Gloom-shroom
         .  .  .  .  .  .  G [G] g                  g  Garlic
         .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .                 [ ] Pumpkin

Now with just six slots filled, we've secured the entire field against most
Zombies, and rows 2 and 5 against Pole Vaulters.  We'll now tackle other rows,
other threats, and particularly tough Zombies that make it beyond column 7.

_______________________________________________________________________________
'-- 430: Defenses ------------------------------------------------------------'

There are two options to stall jumping Zombies.  The first is to use pairs of
Pumpkins, and the other is to use Tall-nuts.  Tall-nuts are very sturdy, but
Pumpkins allow you to use the space for both defense and other uses, be it
Magnet-shrooms, Marigolds, etc.  Unfortunately, each dual purpose space takes
more sun to set up, and we only have 6000 total sun to work with throughout the
5 waves.  For this reason, we set up a system of hybrid defenses.  Since our
defenses are so compact, we are particularly vulnerable to Jack-in-the-box
Zombies and heavily-armored Zombies such as Buckethead Zombies.  For this
reason, we'll also employ Magnet-shrooms to weaken these threats.

  Step 2: Defense

         .  .  .  .  . [.][u] .  .   Symbol Legend
         .  .  .  .  .  u  G [G] g     .  Open Land      T  Tall-nut
         _  _  _  _  _ [.] T  _  _     _  Open Water     u  Magnet-shroom
         _  _  _  _  _ [.] T  _  _     G  Gloom-shroom
         .  .  .  .  .  u  G [G] g     g  Garlic
         .  .  .  .  . [.][u] .  .    [ ] Pumpkin

We have just answered every threat on the field using little over 3 columns of
defenses (there are still 4 usable spaces in column 6).

Some inevitable questions:

1) What if the Magnet-shrooms are occupied when Jack-in-the-box Zombies appear?

   In the interest of keeping a wide open field for Marigolds, we must make
   some concessions.  In play-testing, Jack-in-the-box Zombies can sometimes
   ruin your day, but the 4 Magnet-shrooms take care of most situations.

2) Why do you have Tall-nuts in front of Pumpkins in the water?

   During the flag waves, Zombies will resurface in the last four columns, so
   they could appear behind the Tall-nuts in column 7.  The Pumpkins exist to
   stall such Zombies within the Gloom-shrooms' area of effect.

3) Why not move the Tall-nuts back to catch all of the resurfacing Zombies?

   That will certainly work, but this setup gives two more open slots in
   column 6 for Marigolds.  Additionally, by keeping Zombies in column 7, all
   Gloom-shrooms can damage Zombies that reach the Tall-nuts.

4) Ok then, why not replace the Tall-nuts in column 7 with more Magnets or
   Marigolds inside Pumpkins?

   In my testing, defenses in rows 3 and 4 consistently received more damage
   than those in 1 or 6.  When I tried 4 Pumpkins in the water, I was having to
   constantly replace the Pumpkins there.  The Tall-nuts not only absorb more
   damage, but they also protect the column 6 Pumpkins from jumpers, so they
   should not need to be replaced.

   Plus, there's simply too little sun available in the level to regenerate the
   Garlics, replace so many Pumpkins, and plant 34 Marigolds.

5) Why don't you use Tall-nuts for your land defenses?

   Pumpkins in rows 1 and 6 were sufficient defense during my testing, and they
   won't need to be replaced.  Since we don't need anything stronger, we might
   as well use Pumpkins and also use the space for another purpose.  I use
   Magnet-shrooms there as they provide an additional benefit.  Magnet-shrooms
   in the 7th column can grab some Jack-in-the-boxes before they explode.  If
   they were in column 6 behind Wall-nuts, the Zombies would be able to walk
   (and perhaps explode) before being within range of the Magnet-shrooms.

_______________________________________________________________________________
'-- 440: Marigold Field ------------------------------------------------------'

Now that we have defenses taken care of, we can plant Marigolds and Gold
Magnets in the remaining space.  Here's how it looks when we start the game:

  Step 3: Profit!

         M  M  M  M  M [M][u] .  .   Symbol Legend
         M  M  M  M  U  u  G [G] g     .  Open Land      T  Tall-nut
         _  _  _  M  M [M] T  _  _     _  Open Water     u  Magnet-shroom
         _  _  _  @  M [M] T  _  _     G  Gloom-shroom   U  Gold Magnet
         M  M  M  M  U  u  G [G] g     g  Garlic         @  Open Lily Pad
         M  M  M  M  M [M][u] .  .    [ ] Pumpkin        M  Marigold

Note that the Gold Magnets are placed in the center column so they can collect
coins from Zombies as well as from Marigolds.  They have a range of roughly 4.

_______________________________________________________________________________
'-- 450: How to Use the Setup ------------------------------------------------'

First you'll need to choose your 10 plants: Lily Pad, Marigold, Magnet-shroom,
Gold Magnet, Coffee Bean, Fume-shroom, Gloom-shroom, Tall-nut, Pumpkin, Garlic.

Then build the setup shown in the step 3 diagram above and start the game.

After the first flag, plant 4 more Lily Pads and 3 more Marigolds.  After the
second, you can plant 2 more Lily Pads, 2 more Marigolds, and replace your
Garlics.  After the third, you can plant your last 2 Marigolds and replace your
Garlics, leaving 50 sun floating.  For the last segment, you'll have 200 sun
left after replacing your Garlics, so you can replace a Tall-nut or Pumpkin if
it's compromised.  The final field after 5 flags is shown below:

  Last Stand Final Layout

         M  M  M  M  M [M][u] .  .   Symbol Legend
         M  M  M  M  U  u  G [G] g     .  Open Land      T  Tall-nut
         M  M  M  M  M [M] T  _  _     _  Open Water     u  Magnet-shroom
         M  M  M  M  M [M] T  _  _     G  Gloom-shroom   U  Gold Magnet
         M  M  M  M  U  u  G [G] g     g  Garlic         M  Marigold
         M  M  M  M  M [M][u] .  .    [ ] Pumpkin

_______________________________________________________________________________
'-- 460: Alternate Setups ----------------------------------------------------'

There are two problems with the above setup.  First, you start with only 25
Marigolds.  Second, the final 32 Marigolds produce more gold than two Gold
Magnets can collect.  Not only do you start slow, but the increased late-game
production is partially wasted as the Magnets can't keep up.  While the theory
is correct and this setup gives an impressive final layout, it simply costs too
much Sun.

The way to improve upon this design is to try to decrease the amount of sun
used in constructing the defense so that a full 30 Marigolds can be planted at
the beginning.  Such a design was suggested by Anraiki [9] and further tweaked
to give:

         M  M  M  M [M] .  .  .  .   Symbol Legend
         M  M  M  M  U  G  G [G] g     .  Open Land      U  Gold Magnet
         M  M  M  M [M][M] _  _  _     _  Open Water     M  Marigold
         M  M  M  M [M][M] _  _  _     G  Gloom-shroom
         M  M  M  M  U  G  G [G] g     g  Garlic
         M  M  M  M [M] .  .  .  .    [ ] Pumpkin

We place the Gold Magnets at the center of the field so that they can pick up
dropped coins and diamonds from Zombies.  The only difficulty this setup has,
besides Jack-in-the-Box Zombies, is Football Zombies that may reach column 5
and start eating your Pumpkins.

Another plan is to put the Gloom-shrooms in the water, as shown by Dijagra on
YouTube [10].  This build only allows for 29 Marigolds in the beginning and
requires 10 slots in the seed tray, but upwards of 32 Marigolds can be up and
running by the second stage.

         M  M  M  M  M  M  m  g  g   Symbol Legend
         M  M  M  M  U  W  .  .  .     .  Open Land      U  Gold Magnet
         M  M  M  M  M [G][G][G] _     _  Open Water     M  Marigold
         M  M  M  M  M [G][G][G] _     G  Gloom-shroom   m  Later Marigold
         M  M  M  M  U  W  .  .  .     g  Garlic         W  Wall-nut
         M  M  M  M  M  m  m  g  g    [ ] Pumpkin

So far, we've been focusing on designs that can run themselves with minimal
interaction.  Zappaengine on Youtube has a setup [11] that can net more money
at the cost of more work during the level.

         M  M  M  M  M  M  M  g  g   Symbol Legend
         M  M  M  M  M [M] .  .  .     .  Open Land      U  Gold Magnet
         M  M  M  M  U [G][G][G] g     _  Open Water     M  Marigold
         M  M  M  M [U] M  _  _  _     G  Gloom-shroom
         M  M  M  M  M  M  G [G] g     g  Garlic
         M  M  M  M  M [M] .  .  .    [ ] Pumpkin

It only needs 9 slots and has 34 Marigolds running from the very beginning.  As
with all setups without Magnet-shrooms, Football Zombies are a serious threat
so watch carefully and replace eaten Garlics and Pumpkins.  You'll have to pay
attention anyway, because there are too many Marigolds for the two Gold Magnets
and coins will have to be picked up manually to maximize income.  Lastly, some
people have reported that Pole Vaulters can sometimes survive two Gloom-shrooms
as in rows 5-6, so you may need a 10th slot with a Jalapeno to catch them.

[9] http://twitpic.com/4z1sb
[10] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsk8mCavptI
[11] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRZPTF_5m2A



,-----------------------------------------------------------------------------,
|  500: Survival Endless                                                      |
'-----------------------------------------------------------------------------'

Survival Endless is the eleventh level of the Survival mode, unlocked after
completing Adventure mode and the other Survival mode levels.

In Survival Endless, you try to survive as many increasingly-difficult waves of
Zombies as possible.  Since the types of enemies you'll face in this mode vary
wildly, it is less appealing for Marigold fields.  However, this mode can drop
all types of plants for your Zen Garden, and plants acquired from levels can be
sold to Crazy Dave for $8k or $10k.

For strategies relating to Survival Endless mode, see my general guide [12].

[12] http://www.gamefaqs.com/computer/doswin/file/959255/56545



,-----------------------------------------------------------------------------,
|  600: Questionable Practices                                                |
'-----------------------------------------------------------------------------'

People have found ways to use external means to influence the game and thereby
gain an advantage.  In short, they cheat.  These techniques are placed here at
the end for the sake of completeness, but I do consider these cheats as they
involve going outside of the game and its normal rules.  Please don't write
just to argue what constitutes cheating; you're free to disagree with me, but
that won't change MY mind.  :-)

_______________________________________________________________________________
'-- 610: Time Travel ---------------------------------------------------------'

As noted above, Crazy Dave restocks his shop with fresh Marigolds whenever the
date changes.  By manipulating the system date, we can restock his shop on
command.  The process on Windows XP is as follows:

Preparation:
  0. Buy three Marigolds from Crazy Dave's shop to make sure he's out of stock.

The Loop:
  1. Make sure all of your plants are fully watered and fertilized.
  2. Press the Windows key on the keyboard to return to the Windows desktop if
     needed (only if playing full-screen).
  3. Right-click on the clock and open the "Adjust Date/Time" dialog.  Adjust
     the date forward by one day.
  4. Return to the game and buy the three newly-restocked Marigolds.
  5. If you want to repeat the process, return to step 1.

Afterwards:
  6. Right-click on the clock and open the "Adjust Date/Time" dialog.  Return
     the date to the correct value.

This can either be used to quickly buy Marigolds for section 310's buy and sell
strategy, or as a way to quickly build a Marigold farm for section 320's away-
from-keyboard strategy.

_______________________________________________________________________________
'-- 620: Hex Editing ---------------------------------------------------------'

Warning: Technical jargon ahead, but it's a 5 second cheat for massive amounts
of money.

Hex editors [13] allow users to easily manipulate the binary data of a file by
displaying file contents in a hexadecimal [14] representation.  Using a hex
editor, we can quickly change an account's money total.

The following is the first 16 bytes of my savegame (user1.dat) displayed in a
hex editor.  The first eight 0s show the hexadecimal address of the data.  The
data is at the beginning of the file, where the address is all 0s.  Then there
are 16 pairs of hexadecimal characters, each pair corresponding to a byte of
data.  Lastly there is a "plaintext" representation of the 16 bytes, but most
of them are non-printable characters and therefore represented with a dot.

00000000   0C 00 00 00  16 00 00 00  CA 20 00 00  01 00 00 00  ......... ......
                                     ^^^^^^^^^^^
The important bytes to change are 0x08 to 0x0B, highlighted above with carets.
These represent your money divided by ten, with the most significant bytes
to the right.  So "CA 20 00 00" is actually 0x20CA in hex and 8394 in decimal.
As you may guess, 83,940 is my in-game money total.  To get more money, replace
some or all of those characters with Fs.  For example:

00000000   0C 00 00 00  16 00 00 00  FF FF 00 00  01 00 00 00  ................
                                     ^^^^^^^^^^^
This gives 0xFFFF which is 65535 in decimal, or 655,350 in-game money.  Note
that changing the number too much will actually cause your money total to go
negative, and there will be too many digits to fit in the display on screen.
To be safe, apply the "four Fs" change above, spend the money as you wish, and
apply it again if you need more.

To truly maximize our money, we need to apply some more computer science.  The
maximum number that the game can work with is a 32-bit signed integer.  This is
0x7FFFFFFF or 2147483647.  Since money is represented in increments of $10, we
round that down to a maximum value of 2147483640.  Remember that the savegame
stores the money divided by ten.  Therefore, the max hex value in the savegame
file will be 214748364, or 0x0CCCCCCC.  We flip the byte order and end up with:

00000000   0C 00 00 00  16 00 00 00  CC CC CC 0C  01 00 00 00  ................
                                     ^^^^^^^^^^^
[13] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hex_editor
[14] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hexadecimal
     
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