While to some people FF8 can be a shadowy amorphous blob of mechanics that you completely ignore, some of us have explored all of them and the different ways to play the game. One way to play is via the card game, and FF8 Remaster makes it fairly easy to get great starting characters.
This guide is only for players who have some experience with the game, as it is late, I have the night off, and have had two glasses of wine too much. I'll fix up any areas later.
This guide is for anyone who likes to power through everything as efficiently as possible rather than making everything a challenge. The sort of people (like me) who have far more fun playing New Game + on a game. Otherwise, this guide is not for you... New players won't find it useful as the concepts of FF8's mechanics are fairly irregular for the FF series, though Xenoblade fans may find some of them familiar.
- Begin a new game of Final Fantasy 8. Go through Tutorial stuff.
- Turn off random encounters (use click both joysticks)
- Gather cards from character in front of the elevator after leaving your first class.
- Equip on Draw (you won't be drawing magic from enemies, this is for draw points and GF's later in the game) and Items.
- Go to Menu > GF > Set Quetzalcoatl to learn "Card" (which will give you the ability to turn enemies into cards). Set Shiva to learn Ice-RF (this is your Ice/water elemental crafting ability).
- Junction Quetzalcoatl and Shiva to your characters (I dumped them both on Squall.
- Go to Ifrit Cave, kick its ass and get the Ifrit card. You will also get 20 AP which will go toward learning the Card and Ice-RF abilities (now 20/40 and 20/30 respectively.
- Junction Ifrit to Squall, go to the GF menu and set Ifrit to learn "Fire-RF" which will allow you to craft fire items.
- Set game speed to 3X (if you haven't already done so)
- Go to the beach outside of Balamb Garden, tap the two joysticks to turn random encounters back on, and 100% of your fights on the beach will be these two ugly fish creatures - kill them until you learn the card ability (also, once you get Ice-RF and Fire-RF, you can set Shiva and Ifrit to whatever skills you want them to learn, I prefer junction abilities first, then buffs.
- After learning "Card" set Quetzalcoatl to learn "Card-RF" (the ability to refine cards), this takes a bit since it is 80 points to learn. But at 3X it isn't very long at 6 points a pop. BUT, before you go further:
- Set "Card" ability to Squall as his 4th battle menu slot, and when you hit the fish creatures down by 250 then use the "Card" ability. You can also use the god-mode built into the game to make this process easier (it always gives you your turn and has your limit-breaker ready). Each fish will turn to a card; get at least 5 of these cards.
- If you WANT to do a low XP run (which makes the random battles easier, but it's really kind of useless given you simply turn random battles off most of the time anyway) you can keep carding the enemies, you'll get the drops, you'll get the AP, you won't get any XP. The only downside is it is a bit of a hassle, and it is more satisfying to kill them. Some players prefer to play as efficiently as possible, personally I see little gain from this unless you're planning on doing some kind of weird 300 hour super-game. For the purposes of this guide, it is just to get obscenely powerful characters. ANYWAY, fight the fish guys until you learn Card-RF.
- Go to your Abilities, and then refine the 5 fish dude cards into Water Crystals, then use the Ice-RF skill to refine them into Water magic (20 a pop) for a full compliment of water spells.
- Go to Balamb Town, go to the dude on the bench and make a left, you'll see a woman on a bench. Use Y to get into the starting menu for card battle, she will display two rules, Open and something else. This something else rule is random. If it is NOT "All" then back out and repeat until you see "All" - when you do, back out, go challenge the guy behind her, and if he ALSO has "All" that means the Rule has spread through the Balamb region. If not, go back to the woman and keep doing this.
- Go back into the Garden, save at the save point. Look for the kid that runs around. Beat him in a card game for Mog (use your Ifrit card).
- Fight the kid a few more times for some decent cards (make sure to save frequently here, as you can lose ALL cards, that means you have to go to menu Exit and reload the save.
- Then go to the Cafeteria, go to the character at the back of the table on the right (using the Y button) and get the Quistis card from him, run back and save (3X makes this SOOOO much easier).
- Keep card battling this guy, I run back and save ~10 battles, or every 2 Elnoyl cards.
- Keep battling him until you get 20 of these (yes, 20, that's approximately 104 battles on average - but they go by much more quickly with 3X speed). I usually use my Biggs and Wedge cards (when you get them from this guy) + Mog + Quistis + Ifrit to battle, it makes for relatively easy battles here, I probably lose once out of 50, which is WHY you should keep saving because doing 50 battles and then losing reverses 20+ minutes of work.
- After this is done, save your Elnoyl cards for later, you now have a major part of Squall's Lionheart weapon. Check on your other common cards - these can be refined to magic and functioned as needed.
- Now play the game as normal, learn junction skills first, and then junction your 100 stacks of magic to them.
- You can keep card-battling at 3X speed in Balamb Garden and refine your magic further to get spells like Thundaga, Blizzaga, and Flare if you want. Junction these spells for characters with 3000 HP and Strength + Vitality to match, you are basically set for a large portion of the game.
- While playing, check all boss enemies with Draw ability to see if they have a GF, take it if they do. Otherwise, don't use drawing to get magic - it is slow, monotonous, and not very effective (even on 3X), the crafting abilities are FAR faster and VASTLY more powerful.
- Prioritize learning the RF abilities to increase your crafting scope. You can also craft enemy drops into magic.
- There are various Guides to get Lionheart, you can get it on the first disk by sacrificing the Brothers Card, or wait until the second to just get the stuff you need from Adamantoise.
- Enjoy your smooth and story-focused adventure.
Anyway, hope this pointform wall of text helps.
Well, I just found this guy's video.... (Bastard!)
I describe myself as a little dose of toxic masculinity.