Rules and Overview
Triple Triad

Triple Triad is a card game that you can play as you make your way through the game of Final Fantasy VIII. The game operates as a type of side quest that you have the option of completing; that is to say that playing Triple Triad is completely optional and you can skip over it entirely.

Early match of Triple Triad with low level cards

However, for those that wish to play some Triple Triad as they progress through the game, you can use the cards that you win in matches to utilize the “Triple Triad Power Up Strategy”, so it is generally recommended that you pick up rare cards as you progress through the game.

Challenging the MiniMog card holder to a game of Triple Triad

So how do you play?

Getting Started

The first step is to accumulate enough cards to engage in a match of Triple Triad. You need at least 5 cards in your inventory in order to initiate a match, and you will lose cards any time you lose a game, so its better to have even more than 5 when you first begin a match.

Receiving the free cards from the Triple Triad card player in Balamb Garden

The three important routes for obtaining cards in the early stages of the game:

  1. The card player on the balcony of 2F in Balamb Garden will give you a small deck of low level cards that you can get started with. This deck includes a Geezard, Funguar, Red Bat, Gayla, Gesper, Fastitocalon-F and a Caterchipillar, which is more than enough to initiate some games.
  2. Wait until you’ve picked up a few rare cards, such as the Ifrit Card which you receive for free once you have obtained Ifrit by defeating it in the Fire Cavern quite early on in the game.
  3. There’s a small chance that you will obtain an enemy’s card when you defeat them in battle. Alternatively, you can use Quezacotl’s Card Mod ability on enemies with low HP to turn them in to a Triple Triad card.

Using the strategy guide, you should not need to use Card Mod on any enemies as the starter deck you receive from the Triple Triad player on 2F and the rare cards you can earn early on are more than enough. Just save your game in case you accidentally lose a match or two and reset the game to give yourself another chance to win.

Challening a student to a game of Triple Triad near the entrance to Balamb Garden

Initiating Matches

Starting up a game of Triple Triad is very easy. Just press the SquareButton when speaking to someone and, if they are a Triple Triad player, they will enter in to a game of Triple Triad with you. There’s no such thing as initiating too many games and amassing too many cards (again, refer to the Triple Triad Power Up Strategy) so get into the habit of playing as many games as you can as you progress through the story.

Basic Strategy

Triple Triad Rules

The first important point to note when we’re talking about Triple Triad is that the rules of the game can actually change depending on what region you are in. The rules that are in place when you start the game will show up in a small dialogue box at the start of the game.

Queen of Cards explaining the transfering of Card Rules

Rules can be spread from region to region but this “Basic Strategy” section of the Triple Triad guide covers the basics of the game, without any additional rules, which is exactly how games are first played in the early sections of the game (in Balamb Garden and Balamb Town).

Later on though you will need to be cognizant of what rules are in place. You can read more about these rules in the “Advanced Strategy” section below.

All of the triple triad card rules that show up on the Lunar Base

Objective of the Game

When you lay your cards down they will appear blue colored on the board. When your opponent lays their cards down they will appear red colored, but as you and your opponent lay your cards down in each of the 9 squares, you will flip the cards in the adjacent tiles if the number on the card you lay is higher than the number on the card already on the board. A demonstration of this is shown in the steps below:

Step 1 Triple Triad Card Board
Step 2 Triple Triad Card Board
Step 3 Triple Triad Card Board

You can flip more than one card at a time if the card you place on the board has a higher number than the red cards that surround it on two sides, three sides, or if you’re really lucky, on all four sides.

Winning Cards / Trade Rules

So let’s say that you successfully flip over more of your opponents cards than they flip over of your. Let’s say that you win the game 6-4 or 7-3. Now you get to take one or more of their cards as a prize. The amount of cards that you are able to win depends on the “Trade Rule” that is in place when you start the game.

The basic trade rule is “One” which means that you will either win or lose one card depending on whether you win or lose the game. The other trade rules are as follows:

  • One: You win or lose 1 card
  • Difference (Diff): You win or lose the difference between how many blue or red cards there are up. In other words, if you win 6 cards to 4 cards, you win 6-4=2 cards. If you win 7 cards to 3 cards you win 7-3=4 cards. If you win 8 to 2 cards (or all of the cards somehow) you win all of the opponents cards. Just be wary that the reverse applies and you stand to lose many cards if you lose by a lot.
  • Direct (Dir): The cards that are blue and the cards that are red at the end of the match are kept by the respective team, so you keep the cards that are blue only. This rule should be avoided as you run a high risk of losing valuable cards when playing with it.
  • All: You win or lose your entire hand if you win or lose the game. High stakes for each match but it offers the potential to win a high number of cards.

Basic Tips

Here are some basic tips to help get you started:

  1. Save your better cards for later on in the game especially if you have to go first. Playing your high level cards early gives you fewer opportunities to strategically flip your opponent’s cards.
  2. Don’t set your opponent up with opportunities to flip multiple cards, especially towards the end of the game. To do this you need to place cards strategically so that your opponent can’t attack the middle of the board and hit multiple blue cards at the same time. Keep your opponent locked in.
  3. Be mindful of the cards that your opponent still has in their hand. Unless the “Open” rule isn’t in force, you should be considering what options your opponent has at all times. Can they flip a few of your cards if they play their cards correctly? Then assume that they will, anticipate their attack, and plan defensively.

Basic Rules

Here are some of the rules that you will come across that are easy to deal with and don’t require any advanced strategy. Continue reading the section below for the more complicated rules.

  • Open: This rule allows you to see your opponents cards and tends to be beneficial as it allows you to plan your strategy around what cards your opponent can potentially play. In theory, this means that your opponent can see your cards as well, but in practical experience, this doesn’t tend to improve your opponent’s odds.
  • Elemental: This rule will cause random elemental symbols to appear on the board. If the card you have has the same element as the element that appears on the board, the card will receive +1 to all 4 numbers. Alternatively, if the card does not have the same element as shown on the board, it will receive -1 to all numbers. This rule is very straightforward to strategize around and does not significantly impact your odds of winning or losing a match.
  • Sudden Death: If your game ends in a tie, the “Sudden Death” rule means that another game will start up, except that you will have 5 cards made up of the cards that were colored blue when the game ended. If there is an uneven number of blue and red cards the remaining cards are split randomly. This rule is fairly easy to avoid but can add some complexity.

Advanced Strategy

The best strategy for getting ahead in Triple Triad is to practice, practice, practice. This Advanced Strategy section is aimed at providing more information about the more complex rules that you will come across as you progress through the game and how to deal with them.

Inspiration for this section of the guide was pulled from a post made by reddit user u/Xiaounlimited titled “Triple Triad: Same, Plus and Combo Rules explained for newcomers” which provided an amazing overview of the various with diagrams which have been replicated here, but full credit to Xiaounlimited for their original explanation.

Note that there are two sections specifically geared towards removing rules from specific regions. Links to these sections are below… but there are times where you will be forced to play games with the more complicated rules in place, and its easier to deal with these complex rules if you have a solid understanding of how they work. The details of these rules are included below.

A list of the more complex rules:


The “Same” rule is considered one of the easier rules to deal with though it does involve paying a bit more attention to your card games when it is in effect. The way it works is if the card you or your opponent places on the board matches numbers on two or more sides you will capture those cards. Refer to the illustrations for more information:

Step 1 Triple Triad Card Board
Step 2 Triple Triad Card Board
Step 3 Triple Triad Card Board


This rule gets a bit more complicated but it operates in a similar manner to the “Same” rule. The only difference is that, instead of comparing whether the two values are the same, you add the two values together. If the two values match then you flip over both cards.

Step 1 Triple Triad Card Board
Step 2 Triple Triad Card Board
Step 3 Triple Triad Card Board

In the example above, the numbers on the bottom add up to 7 (5+2) and the numbers on the right side also add up to 7 (3+4), which triggers the “Plus” rule and flips both of the cards blue.

As you can see, this rule requires you to do quite a bit of quick math in your head. Not necessarily for you to plan ahead for your own moves, but rather this rule makes it difficult to plan ahead for your opponents moves.

Your opponent will quite often trigger the “Plus” rule and, without sitting down and over analyzing each game, line-by-line, you’re likely to be caught off guard. Therefore, its recommended to just avoid the “Plus” rule altogether, where avoidance is possible option that is.


The Combo rule is where things get even more complex and yet even more straightforward. Combo does not add any additional rules per se, instead, once you flip a card using the “Same” or “Plus” rule, the game goes through another evaluation of the Plus/Same rule as though the newly flipped cards had also been placed by you or by your opponent. Therefore, if the cards you or your opponent just flipped also trigger the “Plus” or “Same” rule, you will flip those cards as well.

The challenge with “Combo” is that its very hard to anticipate these complex moves ahead of time and you will quite often be caught off guard by a massive combo on the part of your opponent taking all of your cards near the end of the game. Just know that this rule is incredibly challenging to deal with and, in many cases, saving your game and reseting when you lose a bunch of high level cards is your best bet.


And that’s it! Just remember that there’s an element of random luck to all Triple Triad games so make sure to save your game often and reset the game if things get too out of hand.

Acquiring the Squall Card from Laguna on the Ragnarok