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Final Fantasy TCG: Game Guide for New Players (Part I)



This is the first in a two part how-to-play guide for the Final Fantasy Trading Card game (FFTCG). My aim here is to provide an overview of the game for new (or potential) players. I will cover what you need to play, key gameplay mechanics, and how they fit together. In part two I will step through game setup and turn structure.

What is FFTCG?

FFTCG is a two-player trading card game. Launched internationally in 2016 by Square Enix and Hobby Japan - It is the second iteration of the game, originally released domestically in 2012.

The game is based on the long running and hugely popular Final Fantasy video game series. Players create their own dream team of characters from across the series and face off in epic duels.

Expansion sets (known as The Opus Series) add new cards to the game, when released. The original card set (Opus I) made 216 cards available. At the time of writing, ten additional expansions (Opus II - XI) are available - adding hundreds more cards to the game.

What do you need to play?

All you need to play is a deck of fifty cards and an opponent.

A range of Starter Decks and 2-Player Starter Sets are available to new players. These products are an ideal entry point into the game.

Each starter deck is a pre-constructed, ready to play 50-card deck. Starter decks are predominately themed around a specific game, allowing players to focus on their favourite instalments in the series.

2-Player Starter Sets, such as Wraith vs Knight contain two ready to play decks and a quick start guide. This will enable you and a friend to get directly into the action.

Game Overview - The Basics

How to win

There are three victory conditions in a FFTCG matchup:

  • Deal seven points of damage to your opponent.
  • Deal damage to your opponent when they have zero cards in their deck.
  • Your opponent cannot draw their next card (E.G. their deck is empty).

Deck construction

Each player must have a deck of exactly fifty cards. The deck cannot contain more than three copies of the same card. Players can use pre-constructed decks or create their own from a personal collection of cards.

The game launched with three types of card: Forward, Backup, and Summon.

Forwards are combat characters. They attack your opponent and protect you from your opponent’s attacks. Forwards have a power value in the bottom right corner of the card. This value represents both its attack and defence attributes.

Backups are support characters. They do not join combat but provide useful abilities and Crystal Points. See 'Mechanics of Play' for an explanation of Crystal Points.

Summons have an immediate effect, and then discarded.

The Opus IV expansion introduced a fourth card type, Monster, in December 2017.

Monsters are support characters that activate immediately. A monster can become a Forward through an ability.

Key Game Mechanics

- The Eight Elements

Each FFTCG card is aligned to one of eight elements: Fire (Red), Ice (Light Blue), Wind (Green), Earth (Yellow), Lightning (Purple), Water (Dark Blue), Light (White), Dark (Black).

The elements each have a speciality, such as focusing on dealing damage, defence, or drawing cards. Consider constructing decks with cards from multiple elements, to benefit from card synergies and open up new strategies.

Card designs heavily feature the colour of the aligned element to aid identification. The element symbol will also be visible on the card, in the text section.

- Crystal Points (CPs)

CPs are the key in-game resource, it is the mechanism through which a player will pay for a card - See 'Playing a Card'

A play will generate CPs by discarding cards or Dulling Backups.

Discarding a card from your hand generates two CPs of the same element as the discarded card. Multiple cards can be discarded in this way to generate CPs. Note: Light and Dark cards do not generate CPs when discarded.

Dulling a Backup means to turn the Backup sideways, indicating it has been used. Doing so will generate one CP of the same element as the Dulled card.

- Playing a Card

To play a card the player must generate enough CPs to meet the card's CPs cost. You can pay CPs to play a card; at least one CP must be of the same element as the card about to be played. Light and Dark cards can be played by spending CPs of any element.

A player can overpay for a card, but any unspent CPs are lost. Surplus CPs cannot be used to play another card or activate an ability.

Only one card of the same name may be in play at any one time - unless the card has a symbol showing three overlapping cards besides its name.

Backups enter play dulled and a player cannot have more than five Backups in play at any one time.

A player can only have one Light or Dark character in play at any one time.

- Abilities

Forward, Backup, and Monster cards often have an ability the player can utilise during the game.  The four types of ability are:

Action Abilities

An action ability has a cost to activate (typically CPs and/or dulling the card). The player must pay the cost to activate the ability.

Field Abilities

Field abilities are ongoing, passive effects that will remain active whilst the card is in play.


An auto-ability triggers when the stated condition (such as the card entering play) is met.

Special Abilities

A special ability will appear as orange text with and ‘S’ icon next to it. To activate a special ability, the player must discard another card of the same name, from their hand - in addition to any other cost.

End of Part One

I hope this guide has helped you get a feel for what FFTCG is, and if it would be a game for you.  In part two I will explain how the game is setup and step through each phase in a game turn.