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Tetra Master is the card game in Final Fantasy IX. It is not an essential part of the game but provides light relief to the storyline, and allows the player to interact with minor characters in a different way. Following Final Fantasy VIII's Triple Triad, Tetra Master is the second of the series to introduce a card mini-game, and uses completely different rules to its predecessor. Tetra Master is completely separate from the main storyline, and progression in the game does not affect achievement in the storyline, and vice versa, apart from one case where you must battle with Regent Cid.

Tetra Master became so popular that it spawned a PlayOnline version of the game allowing fans of the game to challenge others via the internet for a $1 per month charge. The game would be very difficult to attempt without the aid of computer-enforced rules, but this is not to say it hasn't been attempted. This can also be done on the European Version.

Unlike Triple Triad, the cards cannot be turned into any sorts of items. You also do not receive any usable rewards other than more cards from playing the game.

Contents

Game structure

Tetra Master is played between two players on a four by four square grid of blank spaces, where cards are placed as the game progresses. Cards are traditionally pictured with various characters, monsters or other items from the Final Fantasy IX game which are familiar to the player. More importantly, each card features four values written across the card, and may have arrows along the sides or in the corners of the card. The following image is an example of a traditional Tetra Master card:

Image:FFIX Tetra Master Hedgehog Pie.jpg

The basis of the game is for cards on the grid to 'challenge' adjacent cards, whereby the values written on the card are assessed to decide the winner.

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Card values

Every card has four values, or stats. In the example card above, the card has the stats 3-P-6-0. Each of these stats relate to the strength of the card. The second value (P) is always an alphabetical value, while the other three stats increase on a hexadecimal range, meaning they can range from 0-9, then through letters A-F.

  • The first value is for the power of the card. (3 above)
  • The second value is for the battle class of the card. (P above)
  • The third value is for the physical defense of the card. (6 above)
  • The fourth value is for the magical defense of the card. (0 above)

Each of the stats for power, physical defense and magical defense increase on a hexadecimal scale as below:
 

weak —  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F  — strong


Each of the stats represent a range of possible hit points (hp).
 

Value Min Max
0 000 015
1 016 031
2 032 047
3 048 063
4 064 079
5 080 095
6 096 111
7 112 127
8 128 143
9 144 159
A 160 175
B 176 191
C 192 207
D 208 223
E 224 239
F 240 255


Whenever a card's value is assessed, a random value is chosen between the minimum and maximum numbers that correspond to the value. For example, if a card has a value of "A", the strength of that value may be between 160 and 175. The minimum for a card's value is calculated by multiplying the base value to be considered by sixteen. For example:

16 x A (10) = 160.

Power stat

The first value on the card is the power stat. This is the offensive value of the card. The example card (right) has a power stat of 3, which means its actual value is a number chosen between 48 - 63hp.

Battle class stat

The second value on the card is the battle class stat. This value is not based on the hexadecimal scale above, but instead is one of four classes. This stat is represented by the letters P, M, X, and A.

  • P is a Physical battle class
  • M is a Magical battle class
  • X is a Flexible battle class
  • A is an Assault battle class

The battle class of the card determines how the values are assessed in card battles.

These all affect which stat the attacking card attacks. P will attack the Physical Defense stat while Magical will attack the Magical Defense stat. The other two have more obscure effects as they are rarer. X will attack the lowest of the two defenses and A will attack the lowest number on the card.

Physical defense stat

The third value on the card is the physical defense stat. This is the defensive value of the card when facing physical attacks. The example card has a 6, so this may be equal to anywhere between 96 - 111hp.

Magical defense stat

The fourth value on the card is the magical defense stat. This is the defensive value of the card when facing magical attacks. The example card has a 0, so this may be equal to anywhere between 0 - 15hp.

Card arrows

As well as its stat values, each card may have a set of arrows in any of 8 directions. These points are usually referred to by using the traditional points on a compass (eg. north, northwest, west, etc.)

Image:FFIX Tetra Master Hedgehog Pie.jpg

The card above possesses two arrows at west and east on the card (the left and right sides respectively). These arrows come into play when cards are in an attack situation. An attack on a card may only be made when an arrow on the challenging card is facing the resting card on the grid.

There are a few scenarios where the arrows will not affect anything when played:

  1. The first card played will not affect other cards.
  2. When a card is played next to another card, but has no arrows pointing to the opposing card.
  3. A card is already on the board with an arrow pointing to a square and a new card is placed in that square, but the new card doesn't have an arrow pointing to the first card.

Card battles only occur when a card with an arrow is placed facing adjacent to an enemy card with an arrow facing back.

File:Tetra Master card takeover.jpg – The blue card is taken by the red card
File:Tetra Master card battle.jpg – The blue card challenges the red card to a card battle (see below)

Gameplay

In a basic game of Tetra Master, each player has 5 cards, neither knowing the other's hand. A coin-flip decision is made as to which of the two players shall begin.

Grid blocks

Just before the game commences, up to 6 grid-blocks can be placed on the game grid randomly. These will blank that grid square out of game play. Blocks are useless in play, and simply prevent a card from being placed in its grid square. Any arrow facing a grid block is useless.

A card is played

Once the game is set up, the starting player may play his first card at any unoccupied grid square on the board. After the first card is played, the opposition may play a card, and game continues with player turns alternating in this fashion.

Neutral card play

If a card is placed next to another card, they may interact. Should neither of the cards have arrows facing each other, there is no interaction. This is a neutral card play.

Card capture

Should the challenging card have an arrow facing a resting card, while the resting card has no arrow facing in the opposing direction, the resting card is taken.

File:Tetra Master card takeover.jpg

Card battles

Should the challenging card have an arrow facing a resting card, while the resting card has an arrow facing in the opposing direction, a card battle takes place. (If there are two or more such target resting cards, it falls to the challenger to select which is battled first. This may well have consequences for combos.)

File:Tetra Master card battle.jpg

It is in these situations that the card stats are used.

  • The first two values are used for the challenging card.
  • The last two values are used for the resting card.

 — Physical battle

If the challenging card has a battle class stat of P (physical), the power value of this card challenges the physical defense of the resting card. For an example of this, see below:

Challenging card     Resting card
4P51 6M05

In the scenario above, the challenging card's power value (4) is assessed against the physical defense of the resting card (0). The challenging card would be a heavy favorite to capture the resting card.

 — Magical battle

If the challenging card has a battle class stat of M (magical), the power value of this card challenges the magical defense of the resting card. This works with the same principle of a physical battle.

 — Flexible battle

If the challenging card has a battle class stat of X (flexible), the power value of this card challenges the weaker of the two defenses of the resting card.

 — Assault battle

If the challenging card has a battle class stat of A (assault), the strongest of all three values on this card challenges the weakest of all three values of the resting card.

Battle mathematics

When a card battle takes place, the winner is decided upon in three phases. Each of the phases are discussed below using the following example:

Card A Card B
Example:
5P33
attacks
2M10
Phase 1:
  • The challenging card's power value is randomly chosen within the stat range.
say, 85 (stat 5 = between 80 and 95)
  • The defending card's defense value is randomly chosen within the stat range.
  • The challenging card's battle class is physical so physical defense is chosen.
say, 23 (stat 1 = between 16 and 31)
Phase 2:
  • Next, a random number is chosen between 0 and the power value chosen for the challenging card (85).
  • This is the actual attack score.
say, 71
  • A random number is chosen between 0 and the defense value chosen for the defending card (23).
  • This is the actual defense score.
say, 3
Phase 3:
  • The scores from phase 2 are subtracted from the stat values in phase 1.
Card A: 85 - 71 = 14
Card B: 23 - 3 = 20
  • The highest difference wins the card battle.

In the scenario above, even Card B with a low stats was able to defeat Card A.

Combos

A combo (short for combination) is a series of card take-overs that stem from one. When a card is defeated and captured in a battle, any enemy cards pointed at by the arrows of the defeated card are also captured. If you lose the battle, you also lose control of all your own cards that the attacking card has arrows pointed at.

Strategies

Tetra Master's gameplay skill is hard to judge due to its element of randomness. The following are various strategies that advanced players often use in gameplay.

Grid blocks

Every game may have up to 6 grid blocks preventing cards from being placed there, or none at all. These sometimes create spots where one or two cards can be placed in complete immunity - when a corner of the grid is free, while the surrounding grid squares are blocked. Cards that are weak or have less useful arrow arrangements are better off with such immunity. Cards that are placed there cannot be captured, and therefore are not lost by the player at the end of the game. Grid blocks may also act as strongholds. In some possible arrangements on the grid, there is only one way to challenge a card protected by grid blocks. Cards which are semi-protected by grid blocks can become immune by the protection of another card. If the card has no arrows facing the protected card, the card cannot be captured by direct attack nor any combo move.

Selecting your cards

Selecting a useful set of cards can sway the game in your favour. Cards which have many arrows are useful because they can carry various challenges. These may not be a favourable choice for some players as they also leave themselves and others victims to combo moves. Some players may choose to select cards which have arrows only on a certain side or corner of the card. These cards are useful because they are less likely to be involved in combo moves, and may hold immunity of cards wedged in a corner.

Combos

The more skilled players choose to use combos to gain sudden advantage during the game. In these situations, a player may appear to be losing, when in fact he may be arranging his arrows in a way where he can reclaim all of his captured cards.

Winning

The player who controls the most cards when all cards have been placed is declared the winner. The winning player may take one of the cards from the opposition's set, but only one which was captured during the game. If the player wanted a specific card, a priority of his gameplay must be the final control of that card to allow it as a choice of prize after the game.

A game win is declared "perfect" if either player succeeds in controlling all of the cards at the end of a game. In this situation, the winner claims all of his own cards and the opposition's cards as his prize.

It is also possible to Draw, where both players finish with an equal number of cards. This usually triggers a rematch, but that is not a necessity.

Notably, if you lose a card by being beaten in a game of Tetra Master, and then immediately play a second game with the same character, the character is likely to have your lost card in his playing deck; the game gives you a chance to reclaim your lost card.

When you win there is a very slight chance that your card can upgrade. Receiving one higher attack power within limites per card, an X type (if attack type is currently P or M), an A attack type (if attack type is currently X), one higher physical defense within limits per card, or one higher magical defense within limits per card.

Collector's Level

Within the game Final Fantasy IX, one's collector's level increases and decreases as they play more Tetra Master, depending upon how many unique cards that player owns. There are 100 unique cards in total to be found in the game, some of which are very secret and hard to obtain. However, many players elect to go to extreme lengths to achieve a full deck so to have 'mastered' the game. Because some cards can only be obtained once, the ability to reclaim a lost card (described above) is invaluable, and kind, as far as the creators of the game are concerned. Many of the unique cards are only available during sidequests or alterations to the storyline, but there are usually at least two opportunities to recieve each card (an example of this is Namingway, which can be found in the Desert Palace but can also be won in the Treno Card Tournament, depending on the player's actions.)

To achieve the highest collector's level is the ultimate feat in the game. The requirements are as follows:

  • The player must collect one of every card in the game.
  • Every card must have a different arrow pattern.
  • All cards must be built up to a battle class of "A".

The Card Game in Real Life

There was a real version of the game released for a short time in Europe. It was different from other card games of the type because instead of buying booster packs you bought one set of the cards; every set came with the same cards. Each set comes with 120 cards, two ten-sided dice, a German manual (there is also a black-and-white English translation but this may or may not come standard), a double-sided playing board featuring two scenes from Final Fantasy IX, ten yellow counters and ten red counters.

The game rules are basically the same with a few modifications so that it can be adequately used on paper.

Bonus Cards

No card has an X or A type normally; there are instead bonus X and A attribute cards that, if drawn, can be applied to the card you play for its fight. Each set comes with five X cards and three A cards. There are also collector level cards; there are eight in each set, represented as levels. You start at level one and upon defeating your opponent you remove the top Level One card to reveal the Level Two card. First to Level eight is the winner of the game. The levels are:

  1. Beginner
  2. Novice
  3. Player
  4. Fan
  5. Leader
  6. Coach
  7. Advisor
  8. Director

Each set comes with five Block cards that both players can place at the start of a round. And finally, each set contains two damage cross referencing cards. File:TetraMasterCrossReferenceCard.jpg To use this card, you compare the attacker's attacking value (left) to the defender's defending value (top) and the number that the columns intersect on is what the attacker must roll, that number or higher. You use one die as the tens digit and one as the ones digit which colors are chosen before the roll so the attacker cannot cheat.

Taking opponent's cards on winning is optional.

Other than these few rule modifications the game plays the same.

Cards

List of Cards
001 Goblin 021 Carrion Worm 041 Ash 061 Ifrit 081 Blue Narciss
002 Fang 022 Cerberus 042 Wraith 062 Ramuh 082 Hilda Garde III
003 Skeleton 023 Antlion 043 Gargoyle 063 Atomos 083 Invincible
004 Flan 024 Cactuar 044 Vepal 064 Odin 084 Cargo Ship
005 Zaghnol 025 Gimme Cat 045 Grimlock 065 Leviathan 085 Hilda Garde I
006 Lizard Man 026 Ragtime Mouse 046 Tonberry 066 Bahamut 086 Red Rose
007 Zombie 027 Hedgehog Pie 047 Veteran 067 Ark 087 Theater Ship
008 Bomb 028 Ralvuimago 048 Garuda 068 Fenrir 088 Viltgance
009 Ironite 029 Ochu 049 Malboro 069 Madeen 089 Chocobo
010 Sahagin 030 Troll 050 Mover 070 Alexander 090 Fat Chocobo
011 Yeti 031 Blazer Beetle 051 Abadon 071 Excalibur II 091 Mog
012 Mimic 032 Abomination 052 Behemoth 072 Ultima Weapon 092 Frog
013 Wyerd 033 Zemzelett 053 Iron Man 073 Masamune 093 Oglop
014 Mandragora 034 Stroper 054 Nova Dragon 074 Elixir 094 Alexandria
015 Crawler 035 Tantarian 055 Ozma 075 Dark Matter 095 Lindblum
016 Sand Scorpion 036 Grand Dragon 056 Hades 076 Ribbon 096 Twin Moons
017 Nymph 037 Feather Circle 057 Holy 077 Tiger Racket 097 Gargant
018 Sand Golem 038 Hecteyes 058 Meteor 078 Save the Queen 098 Namingway
019 Zuu 039 Ogre 059 Flare 079 Genji 099 Boco
020 Dragonfly 040 Armstrong 060 Shiva 080 Mythril Sword 100 Airship



This article uses material from the "Tetra Master" article on the Final Fantasy wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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