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Tetra Master Guide

Guide by  Death Penalty
Edited by  TheEvilEye

A purely representative Tetra Master card.Before you read any farther, know this: there is no perk to playing Tetra Master. There are no prizes, the cards aren't worth anything outside the game, and there are no gold stickers for winning. If you play Tetra Master, you play it for the love of the game. Or masochism. Which, as it turns out, amounts to about the same thing. Ahem.

To start a match with an NPC, simply approach them and press square. Plenty of folks play the game, so that won't be a problem. Unlike Triple Triad in Final Fantasy VIII, cards don't have inherent stats (even those in chests). Also unlike Triple Triad, there are no location-based rules and thereby no fear of spreading them. Opponents do get more difficult as the plot progresses, however, so it's safest to start playing early if you're really set on playing. By the third disc, the bar has been raised considerably.

Before play begins, you'll be asked to select five cards from your inventory.

Cards Attributes

There are four things that determine the success of a card in battle: its arrows, its stats, its type, and sheer dumb luck. …Let's start with arrows then, shall we.


You can only flip another card if your card has an arrow pointing to it. Ideally, then, you want cards with arrows pointing in all eight directions, as these have the highest utility. A card with seven or even six arrows is nearly as good as one with eight if you don't leave the arrow-less sides exposed. Cards with fewer arrows but whose arrows are next to each other can be just as useful so long as you play them with their exposed sides facing the outside of the grid or the grey spaces. Thus, a card with arrows facing down, right, and down-right is great for the upper-left corner of the Tetra grid - so long as you get it there before your opponent occupies it. When selecting which five cards to play at the beginning of a match, then, be sure that you have a few arrows pointing in each of the possible directions.


Each card has four stats. Three of these - the first, third, and fourth - are numeric values on the hexadecimal scale: that is to say, ranging from 0 to 9 and then A to F, the equivalent of 0 to 16. The first is attack; the third is physical defense, and the fourth is magic defense. These stats are used in card battles, and all three can increase with use. Their function will become clearer in the next paragraph and the "Gameplay" section.

Card Types

The second of the four stats possessed by each card is used to designate the card's type. There are two initial types: physical (denoted by "P" in the card stats) and magical (denoted by "M" in the card stats). If a physical card initiates a card battle, its attack will be pitted against the opposing card's physical defense stat. If a magical card initiates a card battle, its attack will be pitted against the opposing card's magical defense stat. Additionally, physical cards tend to have higher physical defense where magical cards tend to have higher magical defense. This ends up making a big impact on gameplay, particularly early on, so you'll want to maintain a balance between physical and magical cards in your hand and pay close attention to potential card matchups.

An X-type card gives a distinct advantage over physical or magical types: when it attacks another card, its attack value is pitted against whichever of its opponent's two defense values - physical or magical - is the lowest. You'll want to use X-type cards as soon as possible: not only will they whip up the average physical or magical card, they'll also render unnecessary a lot of tedious type-selection strategy. In addition to the possibility of winning an X-type card by winning a match, there is a small chance after each match that any physical or magic type card you used in the match will upgrade to the X-type. This means that cards don't "level up" per se, or gain experience: the number of matches in which you play a particular card will increase its chances of upgrading, but will not directly contribute towards the upgrade.

An A-type card treats its opponent's defense in the same way an X-type card does. In addition, an A-type card's attack is always based on the highest of its other three stats. Similarly to physical or magical cards, an X-type card has a small chance of upgrading into an A-type card at the end of each match in which it is played. The difference, as you would suspect, is that the probability of this happening is a fair bit lower: about a third less likely.

As for sheer dumb luck, that'll come soon enough. For now, let's move ahead to...


Tetra Master is played on a 4x4 grid. Hence the "tetra" part. At the start of the game, up to 6 of these 16 spaces will be blocked off at random. A coin flip determines which player gets to lay the first card.

The object of the game is to flip as many of your opponent's cards as possible. Once all ten cards have been played, the player with the most cards wins. The winner of the match is allowed to claim any one card from the loser that remained flipped in the winner's favor at the end of the match. If the winner successfully flips all of their opponent's cards - a perfect match - then they receive all five of the opponent's cards at the end of battle. The third possible outcome is a draw, in which case you will be given the option of whether or not to rematch.

There are three ways a card can be flipped: by arrow takedown, by card battle, and by combo. And don't forget, once flipped a card can still be un-flipped, er, re-flipped.

Arrow Takedown

If you place a card so that (1) it has an arrow pointing at an adjacent opponent's card and (2) that other card doesn't have an arrow pointing back at your card, then that card will flip and you will own both. This is the most basic and most reliable flip. By contrast, if you place a card without an arrow facing another card, nothing will happen - whether that other card has an arrow facing your card or not.

Card Battles

If you place a card with an arrow facing another card and that other card has an arrow facing your card as well, then a card battle will ensue. The card that initiates the card battle is the attacking card; the card that was already present on the grid is the defending card. Try as you might, you can't avoid card battles. The reason why these suck so much is that they are based on the aforementioned sheer dumb luck. Here's how the arithmetic goes:

1. The initiating card's base attack and preexisting card's base defense (physical or magical, depending on the attacker's type) are randomly determined from within the ranges on this chart:


2. The base values, however, are not the ones actually pitted against one another. Instead, the actual attack and actual defense values are determined by subtracting a random number between 0 and the respective base value from that base value. In other words, the actual value is any number between zero and the base value.

This means that, yes, any given card, no matter how good it may be, can be defeated by any other given card, no matter how crappy it may be. Over time, this will make you a nihilist.

Now, if you place a card with arrows facing multiple enemy cards with arrows facing your card, you can only battle one of them. You'll be given the opportunity to select which of the cards you want to battle first. If in defeating the first card you flip the second card by combo (see below), then no additional card battle occurs; if defeating the first does not lead to the second being flipped by combo, then a second card battle will ensue - one whose results may reverse the results of the first card battle. There are, as such, three factors to consider in these situations. First, which enemy card(s), if any, will combo the other card(s)? After all, combo-ing these right off the bat will allow you to bypass having to battle these as well. Second, of these, given the shenaniganry of card battles, which enemy card do you stand the best chance of defeating? And third, which enemy card will allow you to get the most additional combos? To answer these questions, you'll need to read up on...


A combo can only occur after a card battle - not after an arrow takedown. If one card beats a second card in a card battle and the second card has an arrow pointing at a third card, then the third card flips in addition to the one flipped via card battle. Combos can get pretty out of hand. If the card flipped via card battle has arrows pointing at a three different additional cards, then all three of those cards flip too.

The card which started a card battle can also spawn combos from itself. If one card beats a second card in a card battle and the original card has an arrow pointing at a different card altogether, then that card flips as well. This is essentially just an arrow takedown, but the card battle always takes precedence: the arrow takedown doesn't count unless you win the card battle first. Again, combos can get really out of hand. If both the original card and the card defeated via card battle have arrows pointing at different cards, someone's gonna be in trouble. There is one end to this madness: there is no such thing as a second-degree combo. Given that the board is only 4x4, however, one degree of connection still can cover quite a bit of ground.

Avoiding combos is thereby one of the most important and most difficult aspects of Tetra Master. Without further ado, then...


You miss 100% of the shots you don't take, but, since there's no point in making a metaphorical shot in Tetra Master, the real winners are the ones who don't take any. That said, here are a couple general strategies you'll want to keep in mind if you really like taking shots / metaphors.


Get a reliable card in a corner. Any card can lose any given card battle, sure, but a strong corner card is about as reliable a card as you'll get; it's certainly as reliable of a first move as you'll find. It's true, this move won't get you a lot of flipping action, but remember, you only really need to flip one card more than your opponent does. Further, this strategy is especially useful when you don't have a many good all-round cards yet. A good corner card, after all, only needs three arrows.

The Best Defense is a Good Defense

This strategy stems from the same line of thought as the previous one. In the "Card Types" section of this guide (and probably your own experience), you learned that a card with a low stat for one of the two defenses, either Physical or Magical, is a huge vulnerability no matter how many arrows or how high an attack it has. Because many otherwise-good Physical cards have garbage magic defense and vice versa, this can be a source of frustration for first-time players: you flip an opponent's card only to have both immediately flipped by your opponent because your card had a 0 for magic defense. With that in mind, prioritize defensive stats in picking a deck - both magic and physical, if possible. Remember: a card is only as good as your likelihood of keeping it.


The card most worth flipping is the card that can't be flipped back. Let that sink in. It may be a card protected in part by the field layout; it may be a card in a corner that, once flipped as the end of one of your combos, is no longer within range of a combo; it can also be a card buffered on other sides by cards without arrows facing it. There are a lot of different scenarios to ensure quarantine, but if you just keep the concept in mind you'll notice them. A quarantined card is often the difference between a loss and a draw - or a draw and a win.

Pick Your Battles

This is just a reiteration of the last sentences of the "Card Battles" subsection, but it bears repeating. First, which enemy card(s), if any, will combo the other card(s)? After all, combo-ing these right off the bat will allow you to bypass having to battle these as well. Second, of these, given the shenaniganry of card battles (considering especially the card type matchup), which enemy card do you stand the best chance of defeating? And third, which enemy card will allow you to get the most additional combos? These considerations constitute an equation you'll want to balance before deciding.

Save the Best for Last

It's halfway through the game, and you've played your best card in order to capture three enemy cards at once. Then your opponent, with one convenient card (maybe it's an A type, maybe your card had one side without an arrow, or maybe your card just had bad magic defense), flips your card as well as the three you'd just captured. If those three cards were in a corner, or wedged behind some grey blocked-off spaces, you, my friend, are screwed. Take to heart Qui Gon Jinn's adage "there's always a bigger fish": assume your opponent could have something big to end with, and make sure you'll be bigger. The one obvious caveat here is that if you've gotten down to your second-to-last move and it looks like the board is locking down, you may need to jump the gun while you've still got the chance.

Collector Levels

I mentioned earlier that there's no real point to ever playing this accursed game. I stand by that assessment, but with the addition of one technicality: you'll gradually move up in Collector Levels. This is a purely honorary title and unlike some other minigames there isn't even a key item at the end of the tunnel, so it's still nothing to get worked up about. Collector Levels are not based on your win/loss record; instead, they're based on the diversity - not even the quality, mind you - of the cards in your inventory. Seriously, not worth it. If you're after made-up titles, look, I'll give you one right now for free. You are henceforth the Grand Poobah of Miniguide Reading. Now go play something else.

Point Values

Totally Unique Card
15 Points
Unique card with repeat arrow combination
10 Points
Repeat card
5 Points
Repeat card with repeat arrow combination
0 Points
A-type card
+2 Points
X-type card
+1 Point

Collector Levels

Points Required
Caves of Narshe: Final Fantasy IX
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©1997–2021 Josh Alvies (Rangers51)

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