Chronobind Strategy & Tips (Final Fantasy XIII-2 DLC)

Final Fantasy XIII-2's Clock Card Game: It's Fun!

The video game Final Fantasy XIII-2's so-called Serendipity Casino includes a couple card games, Chronobind and Serendipity, as part of the DLC (Downloadable Content) episode, "Heads or Tails."

Chronobind's rules seem complicated at first, but it's simpler than it looks. You'll pick it up very quickly once you start playing, but I'll review the rules first. Then I'll cover some tips and winnings strategies to help you pile up those stacks of coins!

You get Fortune Medals for Chronobind just like you do Serendipity Poker, but the main advantage of Chronobind -- besides the fact that it's nearly as addicting as Final Fantasy VIII's Triple Triad -- is that you can build up casino coins FAST, then use them to purchase items and prizes for your party (or, if you like chocobo racing, buy buffs and boosts for your chocobo.)

All screencaps on this page are from my own gameplay in Final Fantasy XIII-2.

(Note: this is from a video game; it's not a real casino, any more than the dragons are real dragons.)

Chronobind Terms

"Bind Point": A spot on the clock where people have placed coins.

"Charging": This really means betting more coins, building the pot.

"Clocking out": When a player moves the clock hand to a bind point, they may choose to "clock out," ending the hand and taking the pot.

Chronobind Rules and Gameplay - An introduction to this minigame

Chronobind is a card game in which you beat the clock -- and other players! The goal is to win a turn with the best card, allowing you to take control the clock hand and make it land on a spot where there's a big payout.

Here's the flow of the game:

  1. Buy-In: Before starting Chronobind, you choose a buy-in amount: this will be the amount of coins in your reserve for the game. Choose 1000, 10,000, or 100,000. As usual, a bigger buy-in means bigger potential rewards...and losses.
  2. Start: Each player is dealt five cards. Then you pick a random card, which will be the starting point for the clock hand. Jack =11, Queen = 12, King = 13, and Ace = 1.
  3. Beginning of each turn: play a card. Everyone chooses a card from their hand to play. You may also play two or more cards of the same number in a different suit.

    Example: I select a card for Sazh to play. Red lights on the 10 and 8 indicate where my selected card could move the clock hand. Ace = 1, so one position on the clock.

  4. "Showdown" phase of turn: which card won? Chronobind's rules are:

    • Highest-numbered card wins, unless...

    • Someone plays the number the clock hand's pointing to. This beats the rest, unless...

    • Someone plays an Ace. Normally, Ace only counts as one, HOWEVER, it trumps (a) the number the clock hand is pointing to and (b) a King, if that's the highest-numbered card played.
    • Playing multiple cards (e.g. a pair of sixes) has no bearing on the Showdown: their card number is all that matters.

    Example: Our Ace wins! It beats out the King, which is the highest card. Ace also beats out the 9, which would trump the King in this Showdown because the clock hand is currently pointed at 9 o'clock. (Cards matching the clock hand get an orange border).

  5. "Movement" phase of turn: The winner of the Showdown moves the clock hand forward or back the number of spaces indicated by their card. (Again, Jack = 11, Queen = 12, King = 13, and here Ace = 1). If the Showdown is a tie, this phase is skipped and the clock hand stays put.

    Example: Since I won with an Ace, I can move the clock forward or back one space. It's a little hard to see, but the 10 has 2 coins on it (marked "x2"), meaning double winnings if I land on that "bind point."

  6. "Charging" the clock: The clock is "Charged" whenever the hand passes or lands on 13. The clock is charged multiple times if the Showdown was a tie or its winner played a set of matching cards (three Jacks, e.g.). The multiple is the number of cards in the tie or matched set. For each "charge," players must add more coins to the pot (see below for how much).

    However, in my example, I'm not charging the clock since I'm not going to move the hand past 13.

  7. "Clocking Out" phase of turn: Whenever a player moves the clock hand to a spot where there are coins -- a "bind point" -- the player may choose to clock out, ending the hand and winning all the coins in the pot AND on the clock. If the "bind point" has multiple coins on it, then the pot is multiplied by the number of coins on the bind point. For example, if you "clock out" on a spot where there are 3 coins, you get 3x everyone's bet plus all the coins on the board.

    Example: Since I landed on a "bind point" (it had coins), I chose to "clock out." It's a "double bind", because the bind point had two coins on it. So my winnings are doubled!

    But what if I had NOT chosen to clock out, or had landed on a position with no coins?

  8. End of Turn: Setting "Bind Points": If nobody "Clocks out," everybody must place a coin on the clock number that matches the card(s) they played. If they played more than one card, they place one coin for each card. For instance, if I played 3 Aces, I'd put 3 coins on the number one on the clock. Each clock number where someone placed a coin becomes a "bind point" for the remainder of the hand.
  9. Before Next Turn: The dealer replenishes everyone's hand to five cards. Return to "Beginning of Turn" (Step 3 above).
  10. End of Game: Sooner or later, someone will "go bust," running out of coins. This usually happens during the "Charge" phase of the turn when everyone contributes to the pot. When the first player goes bust, the game ends. If you have the greatest number of coins when someone goes bust, you win a prize of two times the buy-in. So the prize for the top earner in the 10,000 coin buy-in is a 20,000 coin bonus.

    Example: Charging the Clock. Notice the table with 1x, 2x, 3x, and 4x amounts on the right of the board. This shows you what your current winnings will be if you land on a 1x, 2x, 3x or 4x "bind point." Also notice the four stacks of coins in front of each player...

Stacks and Charges

Each time someone "Charges" the clock, you must add (bet) 1 coin to each of your four stacks.

Each stacked coin is worth .05% of the buy-in. So, in a 10,000-coin game, each stacked coin = 50.

When someone wins, the bind point determines how many of your stacks they take. 2x = two stacks.

Chronobind Strategy and Tips

How to win LOTS of Casino coins

Even though Chronobind ends after the first player goes bust, so you can't clean everyone out for all they have, the game is so fast-paced that your coins add up more quickly... IF you win.

You probably won't understand most of these until you've played the game for fifteen minutes or so, long enough that you understand the basic flow of the game. So you may want to try a few trial runs of Chronobind and THEN read these tips.

  • Nobody can "clock out" in the first turn, before coins have been placed on the clock. So it's a good idea to discard your lowest card or card(s) then. Low cards can win a showdown IF the clock hand lands right on that number, but otherwise they're useless. Clear your hand of low cards to make room for Kings, Aces and Queens.

  • If you land on a bind point, clock out. It's almost never worth being greedy and hoping to grow the pot; there's too much risk someone else will clock out.

  • Charge the clock when you can: when moving the clock hand, try to go past 13. It means betting more, but it means more winnings!

  • The clock shows a record of all cards already played in the hand: one coin on each number for each card played. Use this to guess what cards people are holding.

  • Remember that your cards serve a double purpose: to win the Showdown and move the clock hand. You'll have to juggle your chances of winning this turn with the advantage of landing on that spot.

  • Look one move ahead: When selecting cards, check if they'll move the hand to another spot where you have a card that could win. As you move your cursor over your hand, the clock turns "destination" numbers for each card red, showing where that card can move the clock hand.

  • The King causes the clock hand to make a complete circle and land on the spot where the clock hand is pointing. If it's a bind point -- it has coins on it -- you can clock out and win the hand! But watch out for Aces, which trump Kings.

  • When the clock hand lands on a spot that has one or no coins on it, there's a good chance someone has that number in their hand and will play it. An Ace can beat them, so you can win the Showdown.

  • Similarly, if you have an Ace in your hand, look for high cards that will land the clock on an empty spot NEXT to a good bind point (2x or 3x). Next turn, someone may play the empty spot's card, which you can beat with the Ace. (Of course, someone else may have the same idea.)

  • When should you play pairs of cards? It's a good way to clear your hand of low cards and get something better. But if it's a high card, you may want to play one, and hang onto the other, in case someone else ALSO plays it. The tie leaves the hand where it is, and the next turn, you can swoop in and try again! Just watch out for those Aces.

  • If the clock hand lands on a low number and you've got that card it your hand, it may be worth playing it to clear that low card and prevent anyone else from controlling the clock in that turn.

  • When you're trying to decide whether to move the hand clockwise or counter-clockwise, the clock's numbers will flicker both of your potential landing spots. Confusingly, the 13 will brighten as well, if a move would send the hand past it (charging the clock.)

  • AFTER SOMEONE GOES BUST -- if you wind up with more coins than when you started at buy-in, then click "start" and SAVE. On the other hand, if you've lost coins in your last game of Chronobind (or Serendipity Poker), click "start" and EXIT to Final Fantasy XIII-2's title screen. Exiting will erase all winnings and losses since your last save, or since your last stop in Historia Crux.

The Ace/Queen Gambit: My Favorite Trick - They go together like afros and chocobos

I'm feelin' good about this hand, Sazh...

I've discovered that if you have a Queen and Ace in your hand, you've got a handy toolset. They complement each other. The Queen moves the clock hand 11 spaces, and the Ace moves it one, which on a 13-number clock comes to exactly the same thing.

This means you can use the Ace to win a Showdown and move the hand OFF a bind point, then (hopefully) win the next turn with the Queen as the high card, moving the hand BACK and clocking out.

This is especially effective when the clock hand lands on the 13. The next likely move is for multiple people to play their Kings, enriching the 13 spot. With an Ace, you can beat them in the Showdown, and with a Queen, you can move back next turn and clock out.

It's tricky to pull off, because you'll have to consider whether the Queen could be beat (either by another card matching that clock hand, or a King).

In the example above, I have to weigh risks: no Aces OR Queens have been played yet, so there's a good chance I could get tied or even beaten if someone pits an Ace against my Queen. So it may be better to hang onto the Ace/Queen gambit for later. However, I'm guessing that someone has a King and might clock out, so I'll chance it. (This time, it actually worked, and my Ace/Queen gambit won the hand...phew!).

Again, you can check coins on the clock face and see how many Queens, Kings and Aces have already been played to help you decide.

© 2012 auronlu

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