How to Play
June 28, 2017
"Why 30 cards?", you ask. When you collect 30 different Triple Triad cards, your deck capacity recieves an upgrade. You'll be able to add 2* cards to your hand in any number, meaning only 3*+ cards are restricted. While a similar extension exists at 60 cards (3* becomes unlimited), hitting 30 massively increases the strength of your hand, and will enable you to reasonably face basically every NPC opponent in the game.
Before getting this upgrade, you'll be struggling to defeat a number of your opponents, and some may be near impossible. Afterwards, however, it's all within your grasp! Hitting 30 is the first major milestone of your Triple Triad career, but it can be daunting to escape the launch pad, so to speak. So here's some things to consider!
All cards in this are listed as Name (#). The # refers to the number of stars. I am moderately certain right now that cards with higher stars are less likely to drop. This doesn't mean it's impossible to get these cards right away - but five star cards are probably not where I'd look for drops when heading to 30.
Get your first five cards from the tutorial at the Golden Saucer.
Your major objective is, first off, to diversify your options. While your initial deck will serve you very well in dealing with opponents that have Plus, that won't count for too many opponents. You will want to secure yourself one 3*+ card (most obtain Godbert Manderville from King Elmer, then move on from there), to serve as your real powerhouse. You'll also want alternative cards for situations where 3s and 4s just aren't going to cut it. 1* cards that have 6s or 7s - Tonberry, Chocobo, Amal'jaa, Ixal, Kobold, Tataru Taru, and Moogle. Take a look at these and try to secure them to give you some 'offensive power' against better equipped foes, even if by a bit.
There are a total of 22 different cards that can drop from the Card Packs. The packs are relatively cheap and effective. The Bronze pack in particular is easily refreshed. Pay at the MGP counter to get up to 500 MGP; collect 20 more MGP from, well, anything - then buy a pack. Refresh your MGP back up to 500. Etc etc - this effectively makes a bronze card pack cost 5000 gil and a couple minute's effort. I would not spend forever trying to get every single Bronze pack card however, as every card there is obtainable in other ways, and generally fairly easy too.
Silver pack cards are very useful, although, again, most of them are obtainable elsewhere through one means or another; you may also score one of three 3*+ cards here which are great for starting your deck off. Finally, as you might expect, the Gold packs are where you're more likely to get cards you won't easily get your hands on pre-30 - but cost a significant chunk of MGP, and every card in them is 2*+, meaning they'll see less actual use.
While this is technically enough to get you very, very close to 30 cards from this alone, it's not realistic to expect to win some of the rarer cards from these packs. Eventually you'll put in the work for them, but for now, use these to suppliment.
There are a number of additional cards you can purchase with MGP. I do not suggest buying cards directly with MGP. Barring Nanamo Ul Namo (5) and Cloud Strife (5) - which are well outside your likely price range - all of these cards can be obtained relatively easily by winning them from opponents, and I highly suggest you do so and buy packs instead.
If (or rather when) you recieve duplicates of cards you already have, either from packs or from NPCs, you can sell them an NPC in the Card Square for MGP.
There are many NPCs throughout Eorzea you can face to obtain cards. To be frank with you, some are straight up out of your league right now. But only some.
Regional Rules are a huge assist to this. The Regional Rules of each area change every day (in real time). While I would not normally recommend facing, say, the Indolent Imperial in Mor Dhona with a 1* deck, if the Regional Rule happens to be Plus or Reverse? Go for it and win you a bunch of really nifty cards!
Note that the majority of low level drops overlap with a card pack, dungeon drop, or direct purchase, but this isn't a bad thing. It's also entirely possible that these opponents may drop more cards than have been confirmed so far. I'll try to keep this up to date.
(These opponents have decks largely consisting of 1* cards, and so you can face them reasonably with your starter deck and maybe one or two additional cards)
(These opponents have hands largely consisting of 2* cards, and don't regularly have Plus. You can likely still beat them soundly if you've obtained some cards with 5/6s or have other favourable Regional Rules in effect)
(These opponents have very powerful cards, but always have rules you can use to your advantage! Use your starter deck or similar cards when facing Plus and reap the benefits)
Remember that there are always more possible opponents depending on Regional Rules; and even without Regional Rules I was able to squeak out wins against several other NPCs before hitting 30. That doesn't mean I would farm them for cards, but it was possible, and you never know!
This is the most basic rules wherein all five cards in each deck are made visible to both players.
A slight variation over the previous one where only three random cards in each deck are made visible to both players.
When "Sudden Death" is in effect, any match that ends in a draw will be restarted from turn one. Your deck for this new match will consist of the cards you had control over at the end of the previous game. Sudden Death will continue until one player wins or until five more consecutive drawn matches have been played, at which point the game will result in a draw.
A rule wherein your chosen deck will be replaced with five cards selected at random from your entire card list.
A rule wherein you are required to play each card in the order that it appears in your deck.
A rule wherein the card you play each turn is selected at random from your deck.
A rule wherein the conditions for capturing cards are switched so that smaller numbers are more powerful than larger numbers.
A rule wherein the all-powerful "A" becomes susceptible to capture by the lowly "1".
If the Reverse rule is also in play, a "1" will then become vulnerable to capture by an "A".
Ascension / Descension
This rule affects card from the same type (Beastman, Primal, Garlean, Scion).
When placed on the playing grid, the number values on these cards are increased or decreased by one for every card of that type that is in play.
Numbers that are increased to "11" or more are considered to be of "A" rank, on the contrary numbers that are decreased to "0" or less is treated as a "1".
A rule wherein one card from your deck is switched with one of your opponent's before the match begins. The cards to be swapped are chosen at random, and are returned to their original owners at the end of the game.
Same is the simplest rule. If this rule is in effect, if your card matches the numbers on two or more cards on each side, you will capture those cards.
In this field, there are two red cards.
Place a card on the top left, compare sides...
...each side matches, so the Same rule is enacted, capturing the cards.
This works in a similar sense to Same, in that you compare sides. With Plus, you add adjacent numbers (each side is separate); if they have the same sum, you capture each card.
Another field with two red cards. We'll place a blue card at the top left.
We will compare the sides as with the Same...
...but as sums. The sums match, so...
...the Plus rule is enacted, capturing the cards.
This rule is only applicable when Same or Plus are active. Once you activate either rule, any cards adjacent to the flips are compared as if you had actively placed that card down yourself. Combo captures normally (greater number captures lower number), and does not apply Plus or Same again. This rule is incredibly dangerous, as it can turn the tide of a match completely.
Your opponent has the upper hand with 6 tiles occupied.
Luckily, you have a card...
...that enacts Plus.
However, combo is in play...
...turning that around quite nicely.
That last card is not captured through Combo, even though it enacts the Same rule.
If the last card were weaker, it could have also been captured; Combo can be applied as long as the next adjacent card is weaker. Combo can potentially flip the full board. This can be turned against you just as easily, so be wary!