Tetra Master is the card game featured in Final Fantasy IX. It follows in the footsteps of the popular Triple Triad from Final Fantasy 8, but is far more complex and challenging. The object of the game is the same as Triple Triad: convert all of your opponent's cards into your cards. The person with the most cards at the end wins. Just about everyone in the Final Fantasy 9 world is willing to play. Challenge people in the game by talking to them with the Square button.

The game is played on a 4x4 grid. Before the game starts you pick out five cards that you want to use. A few spaces on the playing grid are then randomly blocked off. A coin is flipped to decide who goes first. You then alternatly place cards on the playing field until you're out of cards. Each card has up to eight arrows on its sides (four on the edges, four in the corners). These arrows determine which way the card can attack, and also provide defense. To easily take an opponent's card, you simply need to place your card so that its arrow touches a side of an opponent's card that is unprotected (i.e. it doesn't have an arrow). If you place a card so that it's arrow touches an arrow on an enemy's card, a "card battle" will commence. This is where it gets really interesting. Each card has individual statistics: attack, defense, and hit points. Your card's attack points and the enemy's defense points determine how many HP will be taken off. If your card is strong enough to drain the enemy card's HP to 0, the card becomes yours. However if the opponent's card is stronger, your card will become his. Also when a card is fliped, either by being defeated in a card battle or losing a card battle, any card touching the flipped card's arrows will also be flipped. You have to chose carefully which cards to engage in card battles with. Thankfully each card has some stats printed at the bottom, giving you a clue as to how powerful the card is. Also cards that are used often will level up and its stats will increase.

Square did a really good job with this card game. It is fun, challenging and addictive. They took everything that was great about Triple Triad and made it better. There is a lot more strategy involved in this game. Cards of the same type can have different stats and arrow placement. You can't become invincible just by having a few super strong cards. Randomly blocking out grid spaces makes things interesting. There are 100 cards to collect and also card collector points and levels to try and obtain. There are even card tournaments. You might end up spending more time playing Tetra Master than the actual game.

Tetra Master is the card game from Final Fantasy IX. If you feel like a loser because you can't beat the AI at it, then this is the node for you!

First off, the little numbers on the cards. The instruction booklet says nary a word about these, so here's what they mean. The first number is that card's attack power. It's a hexadecimal digit, 1 to F. The next one, a letter, is the card's attack type. Most cards have either a "P" or an "M" here. P meaning physical, M meaning magic. There's no difference between the two, besides which defense stat it rolls against. The next two numbers (or letters, as they work the same way as the offense power) are the defensive powers of the card. The first is defense against physical attacks, and the next is against magic attacks. When two cards engage in battle, the one with the higher stat will get more hitpoints, and probably win (upsets do happen, though). There are a few exceptions, such as cards that have an "X" instead of a "M" or "P". X cards will simply choose whichever of their opponents' defenses are weaker, and attack via that method. Obviously, Xes are good to have.

When you choose your hand, make sure you have all 8 directions covered. Example, if you have no cards with a arrow pointing straight up, you'll be quite sorry when you need an up arrow card to pull off a combo move to win back the half of the board that you just lost. Ideally, you should have at least one, if not two cards that have each of the 8 directions. Avoid cards with two or less arrows, if possible.

There are two types of moves in Tetra Master: offensive and defensive moves.

Defensive moves are made when:

  • You have the first move.
  • You own all the cards on the board.
  • None of the cards the AI owns are reachable.

To make a good defensive move, consider that you want to prevent the worst possible scenario, which is your opponent getting some huge combo move. Try to place your card so that none of its arrows point to your other cards. Shield as many of your open spaces on the card as possible. Ideally, you should have all your open spaces blocked off by walls or the edge of the board, and all your arrows pointing to unused spots. This ensures that:

  • Your opponent will probably have to fight you to get the card, so you at least have a chance of keeping it.
  • Your opponent can't use that card to pull of some disgusting combo move.

Offensive moves are made when:

  • There are opponent's cards on the board that you can access.
  • You have cards that could theoretically beat said opponent's cards
To make a good offensive mode, remember that you always want to try to get killer combos. Remember that when you win a fight (and only a fight, not just a normal capture) you get every card pointed to by the arrows on the card you fought. Hence, if the choice presents itself, try to attack cards with the most connections to opposing cards. Also, try to attack cards you have a good chance of beating. That means, attack cards with lower numbers on them. If you have a 3M11 card, it's usually safe to assume that it will beat a 1P10 card quite handily. A sort of preverse thing to do here, when you start facing off against really powerful opponents on disc 4, is to put some "weak links" in your hand. That is, one or two cards that you know you can beat with your more powerful cards. You can use these as stepping stones to pull off combos, in the event that your opponent happens to capture them. Also, consider making a defensive move if you plan on playing a weaker card and are afraid your opponent might use it as a gateway for a big combo later on, rather than using your puny card to arrow capture a powerful card. They can always get them both back with a combo.

If you play a card and it meets arrow-to-arrow with more than one other card, you get to choose which opposing card you wish to fight. Always choose the best combination of opposing card weakness, and combo potential. And don't be afraid to take risks. While that 3M11 card probably will beat the 1P10 card, there's no guarantee that it won't be an upset.

A good idea is to do most of your Tetra Master playing near a save point. That is, save your game and then go play serveral Tetra Master rounds. If you do well, go back to the Moogle and save again, and proceed with the actual game. If you do horribly, always try to win back your lost cards in a rematch (since the opponent will always play cards they won from you in a rematch). However, if all hope is lost hit the reset button on your PlayStation and live to play another day.

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