This is the second part of my how-to-play guide for Final Fantasy Trading Card Game (FFTCG). In part one I provided an overview of the game and the basic mechanics of play. Here I will walkthrough game setup and the structure of a turn. If you are new to the game, I recommend reading part one of my guide first.
To play a game of FFTCG you need a 50-card deck, an opponent, and a way to determine who will start.
Before explaining the game setup, I want to take a look at the layout of the play area (Field):
Play Area (Field)
Both players require space to play their cards, known as 'the Field'. The Field is divided into four zones:
Zone one is simply the Field. Play Forwards, Summons, and Monsters to the Field. Typically, cards are arranged in rows, with Forwards in the front nearest the opponent. Backups and Monsters are arranged behind the Forwards.
Zone two is the Damage Zone. When a player takes damage, they reveal the top card of the library and place it in the Damage Zone. A player loses when placing their seventh card in this zone.
Zone three refers to the player’s Deck.
Shuffle the Deck and place it face down at the start of the game. A player will not look at, or shuffle, the deck unless an action or ability directs them to do so. A player loses the game if they cannot draw from their Deck.
Zone four refers to the player’s Break Zone. Place cards discard from play into the Break Zone.
Note: An ability that removes a card from the game, removes it completely.
For a typical layout of a Field, imagine a horizontal rectangle. The Damage Zone and Deck are in opposite corners, nearest your opponent. The Break Zone is below or beside the Deck. The Field is between The Damage Zone and the Deck and Break Zones. Starter sets include an A3 paper Field template, which new players can use to familiarise themselves with this concept.
Preparing to Play
- Both players shuffle their decks and set out their Field.
- Determine the starting player.
- Both players draw a starting hand of five cards.
A player can perform one mulligan (redraw). To mulligan, shuffle the cards back into the deck and draw five more cards.
Players will now take turns until one can satisfy a win (or loss) condition.
Turn all dull characters (turned sideways) to the active position (upwards).
Players ignore this phase on their first turn.
The player draws two cards from the top of their deck. Note: The first player draws one card on their first turn.
First Main Phase
In this phase the player can perform the following actions, in any order:
- Play a Character
To play a Character, pay the Crystal Point (CP) cost and place the Character onto the Field. Play Forwards and Monsters active (facing upwards). Play Backups dulled (facing sideways).
Note: Forwards cannot attack the same turn they are played, unless they have the Haste trait (refer to the Character Traits section below).
- Cast a Summon
To cast a Summon, pay the CP cost and activate the card’s effects. Place the Summon into the Break Zone after use.
Note: A Summon can be cast after your opponent has activated an ability or cast a Summon, on either player’s turn.
- Use an Ability
The player may activate actions and/or abilities of cards in play, by paying the required cost.
Note: Some actions and abilities have the dull symbol in the cost (an arrow at a right angle). These cannot be triggered on the same turn that the card came into play, unless that card is a Monster.
Before the attacking player declares an attack, both players may activate abilities and cast Summons. The attacking player goes first, followed by the defending player.
- Declare attackers
The attacking player chooses an active Forward to attack, and dulls it. Alternatively, if the attacking player has multiple Forwards of the same Element, they can form a party:
Consider Forwards in a party as one unit. A party's power equal to the combined power of party members.
- Declare blockers
The defending player may block the attack with any active Forward.
- Damage Resolution
A blocked attack
Attacking and defending Forwards deal damage to each other simultaneously - unless one has the First Strike trait. See the Character Traits section below.
A Forward is immediately moved to the Break Zone if it takes damage equal to or higher than its power.
A blocked party attack
The defending player chooses how to divide the damage dealt to party members. The benefit to the attacking player is that one or more party members is likely to survive.
An unblocked attack
The defending player takes one point of damage if the attack is unblocked. The player puts the top card of their Deck into their Damage Zone.
When taking damage, the defending player must reveal the top card of their library and add it to their Damage Zone. If the revealed card has the EX symbol, the player can trigger the EX Burst effect immediately.
- Resume the attack
After damage is resolved, the attacking player may attack again, with another active Forward. Once the attacking player decides to end their attack(s), they move to Second Main Phase.
Second Main Phase
The player can take the same actions described in First Main Phase.
All "until end of turn" effects cease.
All damage dealt to Forwards that remain in play is removed.
The player must discard down to five cards.
Play passes to the next player.
Action, special abilities, and Summons, do not resolve immediately when used. Instead, the effects go "on the stack". This gives the opposing player the chance to respond, by using an ability or casting a Summon as an interruption.
Effects from abilities or Summons played as an interruption are also placed on the stack. Both players can continue to add to the stack.
Once both players have finished activating abilities and casting Summons, effects on the stack are resolved in reverse order.
Note: Resolve EX Bursts, Field abilities and playing Characters immediately.
Some Characters have traits which are denoted by keywords in bold print, in the card’s text area. Some common traits are:
Forwards with Brave do not dull after attacking, but can still only attack once per turn.
- First Strike
In combat, Forwards with First Strike deal damage before the opposing Forward. When both Forwards have First Strike, deal damage simultaneously.
When a card with Freeze is played, a Character is targeted and dulled. A frozen Character is not activated in the player’s next Active Phase.
Forwards with Haste can attack and use abilities with the dull symbol on the same turn as they are played.
The game ends immediately when either player fulfils a win (or lose) condition.
I hope you found this guide useful. Compared to other games of its type, FFTCG is very easy to learn. Its streamlined design makes it a good introduction to Trading Card Games. It also has enough room for players to develop their own decks and strategies.
Starter set products make an ideal starting point for new players, each contains one (or more) pre-constructed, ready-to-play decks.