Balamb Garden (Disc 1)
Once you get back to the bottom of the stairs in Balamb you’ll be greeted by Xu, Quistis and Headmaster Cid. Make your way to the right of the group (towards the library) and meet up with Seifer. The story continues when you talk to him.
Walk back to the elevator area when you are done and lastly, after you hear over the intercom to head upstairs, take the elevator up to the second floor. One of the Garden Faculty members will walk in after some time and start announcing names.
Once the speeches are done be sure to talk to Cid once more to receive a “Battle Meter”. The elevator will take you back to the second floor where you should make your way back towards the classroom to meet up with the rest of the exam takers (including Seifer). Now you have to power through a bunch of talking, stories and videos. Enjoy!
Make your way to the training center (map shown below) and meet up with Quistis. She will explain how the T-Rexaur in the area are to be avoided due primarily to their strength and the difficulty involved in defeating them. There is a trick to beating T-Rexaur’s though. Quistis will give you a quick explanation on how to junction for status effects and this is primarily what can be use to defeat T-Rexaur. T-Rexaur is susceptible to Sleep attacks, so if you junction Sleep magic to your attack you can essentially put a T-Rexaur to sleep every time you attack.
Siren, your newly acquired GF, has an ability called ST-Atk-J which will give whichever character you junction Siren to the ability to junction Status magic to their regular attack. You can obtain the Sleep magic from nearly all of the enemies in the training area, so find one and stock up (make sure you get up to 100 stocked). In addition to being susceptible to Sleep, T-Rexaurs are also weak against ice attacks. So Blizzard magic and summoning Shiva work really well. The benefit to utilizing Shiva is that the casting of a GF won’t wake a T-Rexaur up, so you can have one character use Shiva while the other character attacks utilizing the Status Attack Junction with Sleep to put T-Rexaur back to sleep after each attack. You could just run away from them but it is way better to take the extra AP for your GFs.
Taking the path on the right leads to a draw point for Blizzard magic. Both paths lead to the back of the training center which is where you need to head in order to find the secret area Quistis was talking about. Don’t forget to save on your way by. Quistis will give a big long speech about how she is giving up instructing to become a regular SeeD member – probably because she’s got it bad for Squall.
On your way back to the entrance someone will scream for help – as part of the story you will now be thrown into battle against Granaldo.
Boss Battle: Grenaldo
Granaldo’s little minions as well as Granaldo itself do next to no damage. Additionally, your sleep status attack works against this boss as well so this is a trivial boss fight at best. I wonder if it can even be classified as a boss fight… Focus on Granaldo first and then take out his minions.
Exit the training center after the fight and you will part ways with Quistis for now. Head back to your dorm to continue the story. When Squall wakes up from his little nap be sure to grab the [Weapons Monthly, April Issue] off the table in Squall’s room.
Make your way towards the entrance of Balamb Garden and you’ll meet up with Cid who will explain your next mission to you. At the conclusion of his speech be sure to talk to him one more time and he will present you with the [Magical Lamp]. You can use the Magical Lamp to fight Diablos – if you beat him he becomes your new Guardian Force. More on that below...
Head out of the Garden and make sure you save before you attempt to use the [Magical Lamp].
Boss Battle: Diablos
In order to beat Diablos you need to understand how his attacks work. Diablo primarily uses gravity based magic such as the spell Demi. Demi can never kill you itself because it only reduces a character's HP by a percentage rather than a fixed number. His regular attack can do up to 200 damage on a character, so this one can be a killer, but Diablo does not use his regular attack very often. His most powerful attack, Gravija, works in a similar fashion. It will reduce each of your characters HP by 75%, so it’s an incredibly effective attack, but similar to Demi it can never kill you outright.
One of the best strategies for defeating Diablo is to use his own magic against him. Demi reduces Diablo’s hit points by a percentage, which makes it incredibly effective the more early on you use it (hitting for upwards of 3500 damage on the first attack).
Because of Diablo’s overall strength and due to the functionality of Gravija, many of your characters are going to get to utilize their Limit Breaks during this battle. This is a great way to both inflict huge amounts of damage to Diablo (Squall) and to fully heal your team (Selphie – just keep clicking “Do Over” until you get a Full-Cure).
If you mess up a couple of times just retry from your previous save until you get him. Having Diablo at this point in the game is of great benefit. Once you have obtained him you should make sure to have him learn the Mug ability as soon as possible to start stealing some very impressive items from bosses.
Once you receive Diablos as a Guardian Force you should immediately begin having him learn his Mug ability as this will come in infinitely useful very soon.
You can now make your way to Balamb town or you can wander back into the Garden to find Headmaster Cid for some Triple Triad card time. Headmaster Cid is up in his office now (you can get to him by riding the elevator up to “3F”.
Cid is a very high level card player, and besides the Seifer Card, you can win a myriad of useful high level cards off him. Additionally, you can use the “Card Mod” ability that Quetzalcoatl has to get some pretty high level magic and abilities going. It’s a very effective way to level up your characters early in the game. Read more about it in the Triple Triad section.
On your way to Balamb you can avoid any random monster encounters if you stay on the road. That functionality gives me Zelda flashbacks...
Head over to the Inn and read the [Timber Maniacs] issue sitting on the table. Reading the Timber Maniacs issues as you find them will unlock parts of the back story that you can read about later on in the game. They are truly unimportant to the progress of the game, but hey, you might as well read them as long as you don’t have to go out of your way, right?
For more information about the Queen of Cards side quest head to the Queen of Cards side quest section.
Make sure you save just outside of town before you continue as you may need to reset the game and start fresh if you do not get the preferred outcome right away.
If you are interested in collecting the Triple Triad cards or if you are interested in using the Card Mod function to really beef up your team (and I highly recommend it as this will make the game much easier) then it would be a good idea to complete some of the optional side quests with the Queen of Cards at this point in the game.
The Queen of Cards is located near the train station entrance in the town of Balamb. The first thing you are going to want to do is spread the “Diff” trading rule. The “Diff” trading rule allows you to win more cards from your competition each time you challenge someone to Triple Triad. More information about the trading rules can be found in the Triple Triad section.
Challenge the Queen of Cards to a game of cards – you do not actually have to play through the game, but continue to challenge her until the “Diff” trading rule comes up. When the “Diff” rule does come up you should play that full round of Triple Triad against her. After you have completed the match, challenge one of the other Balamb residents to a match. If the “Diff” rule comes up during this match it means that the “Diff” trading rule has been successfully spread throughout Balamb. You are good to go.
The Queen does not actually have any specific cards herself. In order to win specific rare cards from her you first have to lose specific cards to her. After you have lost a specific card to her she will say that her father can create a new card using this one as inspiration when you meet up with her in her home town of Dollet.
Therefore, the second thing that you are going to want to do is lose a specific card to her now as you are about to meet up with her again in Dollet in the next part of the game. You will be able to immediately reap the rewards.
Lose the MiniMog Card to the Queen of Cards. You can do this easily by selecting the MiniMog Card along with a bunch of terrible, low-level cards. Speak to the Queen of Cards once more after you have lost the card to her and she will tell you where she is headed. You want her to say that she is headed to Dollet. Hit the reset button if she says that she is headed to Deling City. Completing this portion of the Queen of Cards side quest will reward you with the Kiros Card in no time.
You are done this part of the side quest for now.
(End of Optional Side Quest)
Make your way to the train station and hop on the train to Timber. Whilst on the train you will receive a copy of [Pet Pals Vol.1] from Zell. Time for a short interlude to play Laguna…