Things are relatively calm in Balamb Garden, so it’s time to play some cards! You can start this immediately after Balamb Garden becomes mobile, if you wish, but since you can’t complete it until after the events at Fisherman’s Horizon, it’s been postponed until later in the guide for the sake of continuity.
In any event, if you talked to random characters in Balamb Garden you may have heard of some group of card snobs lurking about, seeking new, dynamic players. You can prove you’ve got what it takes by winning numerous games around Balamb Garden - just play the gatekeeper repeatedly (you’ll need to have 15+ games under your belt, so if you’ve been neglecting cards you may have to play a bit).
Once you’re ready, return to the 1st Floor Hall area with the elevator and directory and look for a male adult student walking around. He won’t appear in this area every time you enter, and it can take a moment for him to walk off screen, but you’ll know it’s him when you talk to him, as he’ll mention cards. If you have played the requisite number of games he’ll challenge you to challenge him when you’re ready.
He’s one of the weakest card players in the CC Group, which makes sense, as he possesses the lowest royal suit - Jack. The strongest cards he’ll play are Level 6 Boss cards, which makes him about as formidable as some of the players you may have played in the early parts of the game. Needless to say if you’ve been wise about abolishing rules and collecting cards, your formidable deck should thrash his thoroughly.
Emerge victorious and he’ll tell you about the structure of the CC Group, which of course is comprised of a court named after various card types and suits, in order: Jack,
More CC Group members await to be conquered, so let’s go through the Garden counter-clockwise and mop them up. First head up to the Training Center (having Diablos’s Enc-None will make this much less annoying) and when you reach the fork at the beginning turn right to reach the area with bridges spanning some water. At the end of a dock you may find a man in a green jacket who will sell you items if you talk to him, but if you challenge him to a game of cards he’ll admit to being "Card Magician Joker". Challenge him again and he’ll offer to upgrade your Battle Meter if you win.
Card Magician Joker - some title, but do his cards back it up? Well… mostly no. He can play Level 6-7 Boss Cards, but he’ll do so rarely. It’s tempting to stock up on them here, but you can find better opponents in this questline. He does have the rare Leviathan card, however, so you’ll want to play him repeatedly until he finally plays it.
This is your first significant prize from this quest, and in all honesty, Leviathan is a pretty nice playing card. Two strong sides (left and up) and one supreme side (right) make it easy to fit in almost anywhere, but it can be easily flipped by Level 6-7 Boss cards. You can use Card Mod to turn it into three Doc’s Codes, which will teach a GF the Med Data ability. This ability "doubles the effect of medicine" which… yeah. Leviathan will serve you best as a card.
Next up is Club. Head to the northern-most of the ring-hall areas (which connects to the Dormitory) and look for another male student. Talk to any adult male students you find and he’ll mention he’s Club, another member of the CC Group. He doesn’t have any cards of particular interest, so defeat him to move the chains then go hunt your next victim.
Return to the southern-most section of the ring-hall (the lobby with the elevator and the directory) and wait for the familiar pair of girls to walk up from the south and stop near the directory to chat. Doubtless you’ve seen them before, and they just so happen to be the Diamond Duo - collectively Princess Diamond, the next member of the CC Group, and the last two you can play if you haven’t been to Fisherman’s Horizon yet. Challenge them (they won’t talk about cards otherwise) and defeat them to earn the privilege to challenge the best card players in Balamb Garden.
These two might not have any rare cards, but they do play every Level 7 Boss card, and quite regularly too. Consider farming these cards from them, as some of them are quite useful - or at the very least, it’s nice to have them all in your collection. Once done, it’s time to talk about some of these new cards…
Level 7 Boss Cards
To start out, consult the list of Level 7 Boss cards below to see what Card Mod can get you:
|Cards||Card Mod Items|
|BGH251F2||1 = Protect Stone x10|
|Catoblepas||1 = Rename Card x1|
|Gargantua||10 = Strength Love x1|
|Jumbo Cactuar||1 = Cactus Thorn x1|
|Mobile Type 8||1 = Shell Stone x10|
|Propagator||1 = G-Mega-Potion x1|
|Red Giant||1 = Meteor Stone x5|
|Sphinxara||1 = G-Mega-Potion x1|
|Tiamat||1 = Flare Stone x10|
|Tri-Point||40 = Jet Engine x1|
|Ultima Weapon||1 = Ultima Stone x1|
First let’s get all of the less interesting stuff out of the way. BGH251F2 can be refined into ten Protect Stones and Mobile Type 8 can be refined into ten Shell Stones, which is fine if you need to refine Protect and Shell, but you should have been able to nab these elsewhere. Jumbo Cactuar can be refined into a Cactus Thorn, which you can just as easily obtain from normal Cactuar cards. Next, both Propagator and Sphinxara turn into G-Mega-Potions, which will restore 1,000 HP to all your GFs. If you use GFs regularly they might come in handy, but they’re almost certainly not worth trying to stock up on. Finally, Catoblepas can be refined into a Rename Card, should you need to change a GF’s name for whatever reason.
Now for the more interesting stuff. Tri-Point cards can be refined into a Jet Engine, which will teach a GF the Spd+20% ability. Certainly interesting, but it takes an absurd forty Tri-Point Cards to get this item, and it’s nowhere near important or effective enough to justify that amount of time.
One Tiamat Card refines into ten Flare Stones, making this a far, far easier grind than the 10x Ruby Dragon = Inferno Fang = 20x Flare option. Ten Flare spells per card is far better than two, after all, and Flare is a fantastic junction for HP, Strength and Element Defense. Definitely worth grabbing a Tiamat Card whenever you have the chance.
Red Giant can be directly refined into five Meteor Stones, which in turn can be refined into a Meteor spell. This is a rather slow process, as harvesting twenty cards (the amount you’ll need for 100 Meteors) is a slow process, but the payoffs are… very, very tempting. It junctions well into Meteor (just behind Full-Life and Ultima), Strength (second only to Ultima) and Magic (behind Pain, Triple and Ultima) and boosts both earth and wind when junctioned to Elemental Defense.
Strength Love refines into two Aura Stones, which is a very good spell, but this is a terrible way to get it. If five Meteors per card isn’t enough to justify a grind, then 0.2 Auras per card is out of the question. Especially considering that a Fury Fragment (4x Blue Dragon cards) refines into two Aura Stones and a Steel Pipe (1x Elastoid card) turns into one Aura Stone.
Finally there’s Ultima Weapon, which junctions into an Ultima Stone. Ultima is the best junctioning spell in the game for every stat save for Spd-J and Hit-J - where it’s merely the second best junctioning spell. Obviously getting your hands on as many Ultima spells as possible is a grand idea, and while 100 Ultima spells would require 100 Ultima Weapon cards, there’s no shame in grabbing an Ultima Weapon card when you can to secure a slow trickle of Ultima stock. Not really worth grinding for, despite the quality of the spell (you’ll be able to get more later), but if you find yourself needing a card to pick, it’s worth considering.
Lots of decent top-tier spells you can start stocking by using Card Mod on Level 7 Boss cards, but the grind is real, and honestly, you’re about to start finding these spells in the environment and on enemies, so we’re going to advise not investing too much time into grinding cards at this juncture. It’ll make you stronger, sure, but the boost isn’t as dramatic as getting Tornado, Quake, Meltdown and Pain (and other spells) was at the beginning of disc 1.
Your next opponent is Knight Spade, who can be found in on the second floor, in the hallway/bridge just off the elevator. Like many Garden residents, he’s not always there, so exit and enter the screen until you find two male students standing in the hallway - the one to the right is Knight Spade. Impressed by your victory over Diamond, he’ll deign to play you, fielding Level 8 Boss cards (as well as other, inferior cards). Defeat him and he’ll mention another player, another new player whose rise through the ranks has been meteoric. Interesting…
After the Garden is mobile you’ll be able to challenge the next member of the CC Group, who happens to be none of than Xu. Guess there’s some synergy between an understanding of tactics and card skills? You can challenge Xu as soon as the chatter is done on the bridge after you’re done with the Garden Festival - before actually piloting the Garden, in fact. Play her and defeat her to advance the quest, and keep at it until you win her Carbuncle card.
Emerge victorious and she’ll mention the only superior player in the Garden - the King of the CC Group. Finding this King will take a bit of sleuthing, so talk to Nida on the bridge and he’ll express his surprise at Xu’s membership in the CC Group, which Quistis claims to have known. Guess her and Xu are pretty good friends… Leave the bridge and head down to the Infirmary and challenge Kadowaki to a game of cards to learn about her own past affiliation with the CC Group.
With that done, go back to your Dormitory room and rest until the CC Group King arrives to challenge you.
The CC Group King is none of than… Quistis! Makes sense - Cid, Squall, Quistis and Xu, the leadership of Balamb Garden are a regular bunch of card nerds! Despite her vaunted title, Quistis isn’t significantly more difficult than most of the other CC Group members, fielding a mix of Level 8 Boss cards and lesser cards. She also has the Giglamesh card, and if you’re lucky she’ll play it on this first game. Either way, defeat her and she’ll tell you that you can challenge her again at any time… but only on the bridge. Makes sense. Go to the bridge and play Quistis until you win the Giglamesh card and put an end to the questline.
As far as Card Mod goes, the Carbuncle Card will turn into three Glow Curtain items, which will teach GFs the Auto-Reflect ability and Giglamesh can be refined to ten Holy War items, which "makes all party members invincible". Top-tier items, to be sure, and ones not to be squandered. Keep Carbuncle as a card - Auto-Reflect is quite a commitment, and if an enemy doesn’t only use spells it’ll hinder your own ability to buff and heal, and the instances where it’s useful really don’t warrant an equipable ability. Giglamesh, however, should be scrapped for ten Holy Wars - don’t use them until you’re told to, as they are precious enough that you should only use them against the strongest foes.
And with that you’re done with the CC Group. Time to go see how Balamb is faring!