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When playing Final Fantasty 8 you'll discover the mini card game built into it early on. While completely optional, this fun and addicting card game can help you to obtain advanced items and magics throughout the game - even in the beginning. To get cards though, you're going to have to beat people at the game, and that means you need to learn how to play it. First off, grab your initial set of cards in Balamb Garden. You should also only start playing after you've completed the Fire Cavern and have the Ifrit card.
Let's use his card as an example to explain basic play.
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Reading the Cards
Take a look at the Ifrit card shown here. Each of the four numbers displayed corresponds to a side of the card. The top side has a value of 9, the left 8, the bottom 2, and the right 6. The flame icon indicates that this card's element is Fire, but this only matters in the Elemental advanced rule variation.
The values on cards can range from 1-A, A having a higher value than 9.
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Triple Triad as played with two players using five cards each on a 3x3 game board. The player who plays first is randomly selected. The goal of the game is to flip your opponent's cards by laying down cards who's adjacent side has a higher value. For example, in the following image progression my opponent has played a card with a value of 7 on its left side, and 3 on its top side. In order to flip that card I would have to lay down a card that had a value of 8+ on it's right side, OR a card with a value of 4+ on it's bottom side. I don't have a card with 8 on the right, so I play a card with 5 on the bottom instead. This causes the initial card played to flip, giving a score of 4-6.
However, immediately following that move, my opponent plays a card with a bottom side value higher than my top side value, causing my card to flip to him, resulting in a 5-5 score. The game continues just like that, with both players trying to flip the most cards to gain an advantage.
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With the basic rule of Open in play you can see all of your opponent's cards from the start. This means you can predict what cards he will lay down where, and can attempt to counter these moves. Before laying down any card, you want to know whether or not your opponent will be able to flip it. Look at their cards to see if the opposing edges are higher than yours. If you see that they can in fact flip your card, look at your own cards to see if you would be able to flip it back.
Many players try to play defensively by choosing cards that only have one low value edge, but you must remember that this means that the card may very well only be flipped once. If your opponent manages to flip it, make sure that you have a card that can flip it back. While it is tempting to open strong, it is best to save your most powerful cards for the end of the game. For example, in most games you can play Ifrit in the bottom middle and none of your opponents cards will be able to flip him. While this starts you out "safe", it takes away your ability to save the day should things go wrong towards the end of the game. It is better to use weaker cards to try to bait your opponent, then seal the deal with Ifrit at the end.
As you travel the world throughout the game, you'll learn various rules and variations effecting how the game is played, how cards are chosen, or how cards are traded. Learn all about these in the FF8 Triple Triad Rules Guide.