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.