Saturday, October 6, 2012

All in the Cards - It's Triple Triad Talk Time

Alright.  I know I said last night that I would talk abut some games getting a release date and such tonight, but I just spent the last hour and a half save scumming Final Fantasy 8 on my Vita solely for Triple Triad-purposes, so I'm going to talk about that tonight.  Because I'm just gonna.  After all, as you all might remember or might have noticed, I have a whole little 'genre' of posts, I suppose you could say, that is dedicated solely to the discussion of cards and/or card-based games titled appropriately "All in the Cards".  As this post itself has that branding, I am furthering this idea and such, and just interested in really talking about Triple Triad tonight.  Even though it's my first time in a -long- time playing the game, I'm already getting some sense of 'nostalgia' sweeping back and after a rocky start, I've settled into a strategy that will generally have me win or, at worst, draw.  Defeats were few and far between when I started getting cards tonight at least, but again, I didn't keep those because I am a save scumming cheaterbaby.

Anyways, I'm up to 27 unique cards from the 7 you're handed at the start of the game should you chose to talk to the first non-story-important person (barring the three students in the classroom) you come across, with about three of those cards having duplicates to them.  (One of them, in fact, having two dupes.)  This is progress since that, in itself, means 31 wins, since the only winning rule I've encountered so far, what with being at the very start of the game is "One", meaning simply you pick -one- card from the loser's hand to take for your very own.  I cannot recall the other rules off-hand, but I suspect there's an "All" and then another rule that only allows you to pick from cards you actually 'flipped', but that's mostly conjecture on my part.  I don't remember the rules of Triple Triad so much as the very basic aspect of strategy I thought of years ago (which was not very strategic) and very basics as to how the game is played.

For those of you that don't know or don't remember how to play Triple Triad, I can offer a nice little primer here using the screenshot above as a basis.  As you can see, the playfield is a three by three grid, totaling nine squares in all.  Each player picks five cards for their hand which are revealed in normal circumstances, leaving it as more a game of understanding the strengths of your cards and the probabilities of how the other player is going to play his.  If you look at the cards, each one has four numbers (ignore the A) which reflects upon each side of the card.  So taking the Tonberry card on the right side, the top border is 4, the left border is 4, the right border is 6 and the bottom border is 7.  The goal is to use those numbers to 'flip' placed cards by being higher than them.  (There's another way to do it as well, but I've found it very situational and haven't pulled it off myself)  It's a quick and easy to understand game in that sense, but it offers a depth that's...rather deceptive.

So let's sort of visualize that game as it could play out, try to follow along if you would.  For the purposes of this, let's imagine Red won the right to go first and does so by placing their Tonberry in the upper left corner, playing on that cards fairly high numbers for the right and bottom borders, which are the only ones exposed.  Blue responds by throwing their Moogle under it, using the 9 on the top border to flip it.  Red retaliates by placing the 5574 thing (can't figure its name at the moment) to the right of the Moogle using the 4 of the left border to flip the Moogle since the Moogle's right border is 3.  At this point, Red is ahead since of the three cards on the board placed, two of them are his color.  Blue evens this up by throwing their Tonberry in the top middle since 7 > 5.  This is pretty much the precise moment that Red has lost, mind you, since Red does not have a card that can flip a Blue card that's on the board, yet Blue still has a few really strong cards in hand.  Buer, Anaconda (That's not the name, I don't think, but it's close) and Grendel can be flipped from just about any position playable by Ifrit and the soldier, so the only matter is placing the cards to see just how much Blue wins -by-.

Triple Triad is certainly a game governed by the cards where you can tend to win by overwhelming force.  It's all about utilizing which sides your cards are strong with when the situation calls for it.  Corner cards, as in cards that have two strong borders at a right angle are very good for defensive starts, since it ensures you can place a card down without losing one if you're so inclined.  Ifrit is a good example of this as with a border of 9 and 8, you could put it in the bottom right corner and not really worry unless your opponent has a card with a 9 or an A on the right border.  (A, I believe, is All, as in beats everything, even a 9.  Not sure about another A)  Regardless, higher numbers are better as Triple Triad is a game about putting down cards with higher numbers than the cards you put them down next to.  To that effect, I don't think there is a realistic scenario in the above screenshot where Red -could- win unless Blue....just...played like an idiot.  Blue's cards are just that much better.

Every card -does- have a weakness, however, as you can see above; cards with two considerably strong sides tend to have weaker edges to make up for it (more the Moogle than....say, Ifrit), so you do have to consider that when you're picking out your hand.  You almost have to visualize how you want to control the board before you pick to think of a strategy, and then it also relies on luck partially, depending on if your strategy accounts for you placing first or not.  The best-laid plans can be destroyed by this because you only have so many cards and so many places to put them where they'll make a real, honest difference.  Say Blue's strategy solely relied on throwing Ifrit down in the right corner to start (and didn't have super awesome cards on top of that, say Ifrrit is the best card Blue has) and Red goes first and does that instead.  If Red's Right corner card has a left border that is a 6 or higher, then bam, that strategy is potentially ruined.  You can still play Ifrit to the left of that card, as the worst that can happen is you -don't- flip it (and use its border as a corner to protect its middling 6) and you'll still have the 9 and 8 facing out, but that could very well be the first step to a Draw, depending on how it works out.

Fans have long joked that Triple Triad honestly kind of -needs- to be its own game and I'm certainly one of the folks echoing that statement.  It's...kind of perfect as a pick-up-and-play game, which would make it perfect in this sort of gaming culture we've crafted out for ourselves.  Release it as a relatively cheap 'hub' app, sell boosters as "DLC", though with the ability to earn cards through winning (both against human and computer opponents) and bam.  That, my friends, is a money farm right there that has yet to be sown.  Though, knowing Squeenix's practices, they'd sell the Triple Triad game itself (with like a minimal starter set of cards) for $30, price each card individually at $1.99-$4.99 and wonder why nothing's selling.  Still, we have the game itself as is within each copy of Final Fantasy 8, and for the price of $9.99, that's...quite a bargain.  I mean, I know I'm not alone in people who have loaded up FF8 -just- to play Triple Triad.  I'm far from an outlier in this, and that's kind of amazing, I think.


  1. If I recall, the rules for taking cards were-

    One (take a card of your choice),
    All (Take all the other cards),
    Random (Take a card from the enemy at random),
    Own or something (The cards you flipped, you get, the cards they flipped, they get).