Final Fantasy VIII Cards guide

Granny's Hand-Holding Guide to Cards in Final Fantasy VIII

From: Sister (

November 15, 2000

This is copyrighted material. Feel free to use it for your personal 

enjoyment, but please don't try to make money off of my work.

Updated February 19, 2001

  --added info on erasing rules in Balamb and the fifteen game 

requirement of 

    playing the CC group

Updated September 12, 2001

  --added new information in several areas based primarily on emails and 

    information gleaned from the FF8 board. Thanks to WindCloud, 


    Iggy9900, Jkrist, Mojoy, Mercurius, and Vilurum (as always) for their 

    help. Please note that this will be the final update of this FAQ 


    I learn something of truly momentous importance.

RPGGranny, a friend of mine at the FF8 board here at Gamefaqs, convinced 

me to write this FAQ. She said she needed a guide that took her by the 

hand and led her through the card game, so that's what I've attempted to 

do. While I can't give you exact, step-by-step instructions on individual 

card games (since you never know which cards your opponent will use), 

I'll try to give you some general playing strategies. To make the game as 

easy as possible, I'll show you how to change the playing rules around 

the world to your advantage.

Now, if you enjoy the challenge of playing Triple Triad with all the 

original rules in place (with Random and Plus in Trabia, for example), 

this is not the FAQ for you. My basic premise is that the easiest way to 

win at cards is to reduce the playing rules to just Open and overpower 

your opponent with better cards.  That's the general purpose of this 

guide. I'll tell you where to go and who to play to most efficiently 

change the card rules, as well as where and how to get all the cards in 

the game.  I'll explain the rules as best I can in areas where you must 

use them for a time, and I will tell you some cards to watch for with an 

eye toward refining magic from those cards. 

Before we continue, there are a few people from the FF8 board that I must 

thank:  RPGGranny, for getting me started; Terence, for helping me better 

understand how the trading rules spread; Rage for his computer advice and 

constant encouragement; and Vilurum. I give Vilurum special thanks, not 

only for his wonderful advice on speeding up the Queen of Cards quest by 

using places other than Dollet for the exchange of cards and his insights 

into card playing on Disc Four, but also for his vast amount of 

assistance and patience in helping me actually get this FAQ constructed 

and submitted properly. As a FAQ writer, he also proofread it for me and 

offered several valuable suggestions, many of which I've included for 

your information. Thank you all.

Now, if you're ready, let's play some cards.

Disc One

After you pick up Quezacotl and Shiva in the classroom, you'll bump into 

a new student from Trabia Garden. Whether or not you take her with you, 

stop and speak to the guy in green on your way to the elevator. He will 

give you your starter deck of cards. Don't try to play yet; you can't 


Update note: Iggy9900 emailed me to say that you can indeed win with the 

original deck of cards. After thirteen attempts, he won Minimog with the 

starter deck. I prefer having some stronger cards before I start playing, 

but I mention it for those who like a challenge.

If you want to begin playing cards right away, choose Quezacotl's Card 

ability to learn first. You will also need to learn Card Modify and the 

various GFs' magic refine abilities (Quezacotl's Thunder Magic RF, 

Shiva's Ice Magic RF, Diablos' Status and Time Magic RFs, etc.) as you go 

if you intend to get a lot of your magic from cards. I learn these RF 

abilities early with my GFs so that I can start converting cards to magic 

early on, but that's entirely up to you.

Once you have Card selected in Quezacotl's menu, head to the Fire Cavern.  

When you defeat Ifrit, you'll receive his card (your first rare card). 

Continue to fight enemies until you've learned Card. It only requires 40 

AP, so it won't take long (note: if you're playing a no-level game, let 

Seifer learn Card for you in Dollet). As soon as Card is learned, 

junction it. To Card an enemy, beat down its HP (just don't kill it) then 

use Card. An enemy at full HP will not Card. When you Card an enemy, it 

turns into a playing card. You'll receive the normal amount of AP but no 

Experience. You can Card a few fish on the beach (their Fish Fins will 

give you Water magic with Shiva's Ice Magic RF) then head to the Fire 

Cavern and Card at least two Bombs (more if you want to use these cards 

for Irvine's Fire Ammo later).

Now, head to the Training Center in Balamb Garden. Card T-Rexaurs and 

Grats until you receive a Shumi Tribe Card. If you do a lot of Carding, 

you'll occasionally pick up a Level 6 (like Shumi) or 7 card instead of 

the normal enemy card.  It may sound a bit daunting to take on T-Rex with 

Squall alone, but it's really not bad because your level (and thus 

T-Rex's) at this point is so low. Let Shiva hurt him, and he'll usually 

Card after he's lost two or three thousand HP (sometimes much less). Just 

have plenty of Cures on hand. If you intend to do lots of Carding (for a 

no-level game, for example), collect five Shumi cards (here or as you 

play through the game) to teach a second character the Card ability. This 

will speed up your Carding considerably. Now that you have Ifrit, a 

couple of Bombs, a T-Rex, and a Shumi card (this should be your first 

hand), you're ready to play.

Update note: JKrist asked that I mention that you can also pick up Jumbo 

Cactuar by carding Glacial Eyes. I didn't card many of these enemies, so 

I haven't received one myself.  I do know from experience that you can 

also Card Buels in the Fire Cavern for Krysta cards. 

The only rule in Balamb Garden and in the town of Balamb is Open. All 

this means is that both hands are face up, so that you can see your 

opponent's cards and s/he can see yours. This is the best rule in the 

game because it allows you to plan your moves based on your opponent's 

cards. The trading rule (which determines how many cards are traded at 

the end of a game) is One. The winner will choose one of the loser's 


The basic concept of Triple Triad is to turn over more cards than your 

opponent does. Where the numbers of two cards meet, the higher number 

wins. Your opponent's cards (and any he turns) will have a background 

color of light red/pink. Your cards will be blue.  The numbers on the 

left and right of the card grid keep score. The left number tells how 

many cards belong to your opponent, and the right number tells how many 

belong to you.

Head to the save point near the directory and save your game. Watch for a 

girl with either blonde or light brown hair who enters the screen. Either 

one will do - they both have weak cards. To challenge her to a card game, 

press the square button.  My first game looked like this:

Her cards: Anacondaur, Armadodo, SAMO8G, Abyss Worm, Creeps

My cards:  Two Bombs, Shumi Tribe, T-Rexaur, Ifrit


                   |      5      |      6      |      5      |

                   |             |             |             |

                   |  Her - 1st  |  Her - 3rd  |  Her - 5th  |

                   |             |             |             |

                   | 5         1 | 6         3 |4           6|

                   |  Anacondaur |  Armadodo   |  SAMO8G     |

                   |             |             |             |

                   |      3      |      1      |      2      |


                   |      6      |      5      |      4      |

                   |   Me - 4th  |  Her - 9th  |   Me - 8th  |

                   |  (game over)|             |             |

                   |     (I win) |             |             |

                   | 4         5 |2           2|7           6|

                   |     Shumi   |  Creeps     |   T-Rex     |

                   |             |             |             |

                   |      8      |      5      |      2      |


                   |      2      |      7      |      9      |

                   |             |             |             |

                   |    Me - 6th |   Her - 7th |   Me - 2nd  |

                   | 3          7|5           2|8           6|

                   |    Bomb     |   Abyss Worm|     Ifrit   |

                   |             |             |             |

                   |             |             |             |

                   |      6      |      3      |      2      |


In the above chart, you'll see the cards we played and the order in which 

we played them. Here's my first tip on strategy - zero in on the top-left 


Notice the pattern of this game. You'll see it over and over and over 

again as you play Triple Triad. Weaker players (which are most of them) 

will always start in the top-left corner. You stay away from that corner 

(playing cards that can't be turned in other corners) until s/he boxes 

that top-left corner in (s/he can't turn it back after you turn it, in 

other words). After she boxed in the Anacondaur card with Armadodo, I 

turned Anacondaur with a card that she could not turn, so it's basically 

game over as long as I continue to play defensively. Always remember that 

you must only turn one card to win. Don't trade cards back and forth. 

Play defensively (Ifrit in the bottom right, which she can't turn, is a 

defensive play) and wait for one card. Pay attention to this pattern and 

you'll find your games going much more easily. If you happen to go first, 

just play the other three corners until that top-left card is boxed in - 

it works the same way.

A slight derivation of this pattern would be to play beside the top-left 

card. If she plays a card that can't be turned (by her or by you) from 

the bottom in that top-left corner, turn it from the side, but ONLY if 

she can't turn your card. Otherwise, play defensively and wait for your 

chance. Also, if your opponent plays a card that can only be turned from 

the bottom, go in for the kill immediately with a card that can't be 


After you win, you will choose a card from your opponent's hand. If the 

card name is printed in blue, this is a card you've never had before - a 

new addition to your deck. Yellow is a card that you have had but don't 

have now. White means you currently have this card in inventory. In the 

above game, I chose the Abyss Worm card (refines to Tornado magic). 

Choose Card on your menu to check your card inventory whenever you wish.

More than anything else in Triple Triad, practice, practice, practice. 

The more you play, the better you'll get. I was completely lost with the 

card game the first couple of times I played FF8, but now I'm fairly 

competent only because of the sheer number of games I've played. If 

you're new to the game or don't feel comfortable with it, play a weak 

player like this girl until you see the pattern and start feeling more 

confidence in your game. Save often so that if something goes terribly 

wrong, you won't lose all the cards you've worked so hard for.

After you've flexed your muscles a bit and had some practice, save. Now, 

hang around behind the directory and wait for the jogger to run in from 

the left. It's easiest if you can manage to block his path (so he can't 

run until you're done with him), but if you miss him, you can catch him 

again. He always runs the circle of Balamb Garden counter-clockwise, so 

you can find him easily.  Challenge the jogger to a game. He has the rare 

card Minimog - the first card required for the Queen of Cards side quest. 

At this point, you shouldn't have any trouble beating him. You may have 

to play a few hands before Minimog shows up, but he's generally easy to 

win.  The jogger will probably play Minimog in the top-left. Double-check 

the numbers on his cards to make sure he has no card with a 7 on the left 

side. If no 7, play Shumi right beside Minimog, and it's game over. Just 

keep defending.

Now that you've gotten the hang of it, I'll mention a few cards to watch 

for as you go that will refine into magic. It's great having some of the 

stronger ones for your junctions early on.

T-Rex/Armadodo = Dino Bone = Quake

Blood Soul = Zombie Powder = Zombie

Gesper = Black Hole = Demi

Wendigo = Steel Orb = Demi

Blitz = Dynamo Stone = Thundaga

Snow Lion = North Wind = Blizzaga

Mesmerize = Mesmerize Blade = Regen

Belhelmel = Sawblade = Death

Tonberry/Tonberry King = Death

Abyss Worm = Windmill = Tornado

Tri-Face = Curse Spike = Pain

Gayla = Mystery Fluid = Meltdown

Forbidden = Betrayal Sword = Confuse

Elastoid = Steel Pipe = Berserk

Funguar/Bite Bug = Magic Piece = Esuna/Cure/Fire, etc.

Buel/Jelleye = Magic Stone = Haste, Slow, Cura, Fira, etc.

Vysage/Imp = Wizard Stone = Curaga, Firaga, etc.

Many items are great for other things like Steel Pipes for making Aura 

Stones or calling Doomtrain. You can pick up several items needed for 

upgrading your weapons, as well, such as Screws from a Geezard card. A 

few others to look for:

Elnoyle - 10 = 1 Energy Crystal = 10 Pulse Ammo

Iron Giant - 3 = 1 Star Fragment (also refines to 5 Meteors)

Blue Dragon - 4 = 1 Fury Fragment (also refines to 5 Auras)

Death Claw/Grand Mantis = Sharp Spike = AP Ammo

Bomb = Bomb Fragment = Fire Ammo

Cactuar = Cactus Thorn = Demolition Ammo

Adamantoise - 2 = 1 Turtle Shell

If you're looking for items to teach Quistis her Blue Magics, these are 

the ones you can get from cards (thanks to Vilurum for this list):

10 Behemoth cards = 1 Barrier = Mighty Guard

 1 Caterchipillar = Spider Web = Ultra Waves

 1 Creeps = Coral Fragment = Electrocute

 1 Fastitocalon = Water Crystal = Aqua Breath

 5 Fastitocalon-F = 1 Water Crystal = Aqua Breath

 1 Gayla = Mystery Fluid = Acid

 1 Gesper = Black Hole = Degenerator

 4 Malboro = 1 Malboro Tentacle = Bad Breath

10 Ruby Dragon = 1 Inferno Fang = Fire Breath

 1 SAM08G = Running Fire = Gatling Gun

 1 Tri-Face = Curse Spike = LV? Death

This is nowhere near an exhaustive list - just a lot of the cards I watch 

for as I play. 

Now that you have Minimog, we're ready to move on. Your next opponent 

will have better cards than you've met thus far so remember to play 

defensively. It is much better to play to a draw than to lose. If you 

lose, your opponent will automatically take your best card (Ifrit at this 

point). You can always start again from your last save, but if you've 

played several games and picked up several good cards, it's a pain. Don't 

be greedy. Play smart.

After you save, head to the front entrance and play the old man at the 

window. He has level one, three, and five cards, so you can bulk up your 

deck if you wish. I'm looking for two cards in particular here - Malboro 

and Elastoid. These are both great cards for your playing hand. Once you 

have them, go save then head for the cafeteria. Go to the dining room to 

find two guys sitting at a table on the right (the one in back's behind a 

plant). Challenge the one in back to a card game. He has the Quistis 


Be aware that Quistis can turn any card in your hand, so be on your toes. 

Here's how my game went:

His hand: GIM47N, Ruby Dragon, Iron Giant, Quistis, Malboro

My hand:  Shumi, Elastoid, Ifrit, Malboro, Bomb


                   |      5      |      7      |      6      |

                   |             |             |             |

                   |  Him - 7th  |  Him - 9th  |   Me - 8th  |

                   |             |             |             |

                   |4           5|4           2|4           5|

                   |             |             |             |

                   |    GIM47N   |    Ruby     |    Shumi    |

                   |             |             |             |


                   |      9      |      6      |      6      |

                   |             |             |             |

                   |  Him - 3rd  |   Me - 4th  |   Him - 5th |

                   |             |             |             |

                   |2           6|7           2|5           5|

                   |             |             |             |

                   |   Quistis   |   Elastoid  |  Iron Giant |

                   |             |             |             |


                   |      7      |      8      |      7      |

                   |             |             |             |

                   |  Him - 1st  |   Me - 2nd  |   Me - 6th  |

                   |             |             |             |

                   |2           7|9           6|2           7|

                   |             |             |             |

                   |   Malboro  |    Ifrit     |   Malboro   |

                   |             |             |             |


Quistis is mine. Go to the dorm and save. At this point in the game, you 

have all the rare cards you can get, so you have a choice. You can 

continue to play and build up your deck or move on with the game and 

build your deck later. If you want to play cards, be sure not to change 

into your uniform at the dorm (you'll automatically begin the Dollet 

mission). If you decide you want to play for a while, you might want to 

run to Balamb to try and change the trading rule.

The trading rule can be changed in two ways, both of which involve the 

Queen of Cards. Since you can't play in other places at the moment, we'll 

discuss the only available method for now. Leave Garden and run to the 

town of Balamb. Save your game in the hotel (you don't have to pay for a 

room - just run upstairs). Now go to the train station and find the woman 

in white on the steps (she'll be near the gift shop). This is the Queen 

of Cards. Challenge her to a game and see what trading rule she's playing 

with. There are four different ones in the game:

One - Winner takes one card from loser

Diff - Winner takes number of cards from loser equal to the difference in 

their scores (for example, if you win a game with a score of 3-7, you 

would choose four of your opponent's cards)

All - Winner takes all of loser's cards

Direct - Each player wins the cards that s/he turns in the game

Challenge the queen to a game. If she's using the Diff rule, wonderful. 

She's very weak here, so just play and take her cards. Now run past her 

and challenge the train conductor. If he's using the trading rule Diff, 

perfect - you're done. Go save. If he's using One, challenge the queen 

again. If she uses Direct, quit and try again. I'm not positive, but 

based on games I've played, whether the Diff rule "takes" or not is 

random. I've had the queen use Diff then have others in the region use 

One (it didn't "take"), and I've played her one time with Diff and it 


A note of caution about the All rule - it's great playing with All 

because you get all of your opponent's cards when you win. When you've 

played with a rule for a certain amount of time, however, the rule 

degenerates, so to speak, to the next rule in line. Thus, All will 

degenerate to Direct - the worst of the trading rules (thanks to Vilurum 

and Terence for explaining this to me). If you can get Diff, I would 

recommend that you stick with that. You will build your deck much faster 

with Diff than with One, so if you get it in place, go ahead and play 

some cards (either now or after the Dollet mission - it doesn't matter). 

We can't get any more rare cards until you're done with Dollet. When 

you're ready to start the Dollet mission, go change into your uniform.

Update note: I have seen several messages from people distressed with 

having the Direct rule all over the world. From the ones I've seen, 

they've almost invariably started out with the All rule, so, again, I 

would urge people to stick with Diff. 

Once you've finished your mission in Dollet and are back in Balamb, you 

can play cards in earnest. First, save at the hotel. Establish Diff with 

the queen if you can, then get all of your other card playing out of the 

way before you play her again. You'll be sending her to another town, and 

there's the possibility that you could change the trading rule again 

before you want to if you play her before you're done playing cards here. 

We'll discuss other card-playing opportunities before we start the Queen 

of Cards quest.

Go to Zell's house and talk to Ma Dincht. Now leave and return, and 

she'll play cards with you. Again, zero in on the upper-left corner. She 

won't give you any trouble, and you can pick up some good cards from her. 

Just be very careful about how you play when Zell's card finally shows up 

in her hand. You don't want to lose Quistis. I'll show you how our game 

went when she finally used Zell.

Her hand:  Zell, Turtapod, Grendel, Gayla, Jelleye

My hand:   Elastoid, Malboro, Shumi, Ifrit, Quistis


                   |      8      |      2      |      6      |

                   |             |             |             |

                   |  Her - 1st  |  Her - 3rd  |   Me - 4th  |

                   |             |             |             |

                   |6           5|7           3|7           2|

                   |             |             |             |

                   |     Zell    |  Turtapod   |   Elastoid  |

                   |             |             |             |


                   |      4      |      2      |      6      |

                   |             |             |             |

                   |  Her - 5th  |  Her - 7th  |   Me - 8th  |

                   |             |             |             |

                   |2           4|4           1|4           5|

                   |             |             |             |

                   |   Grendel   |    Gayla    |    Shumi    |

                   |             |             |             |


                   |      7      |      3      |      9      |

                   |             |             |             |

                   |   Me - 2nd  |  Her - 9th  |   Me - 6th  |

                   |             |             |             |

                   |2           7|7           2|8           6|

                   |             |             |             |

                   |   Malboro   |   Jelleye   |    Ifrit    |

                   |             |             |             |


If you have to go first, play Malboro in the lower-left corner. She'll 

probably turn it with Zell, then you can turn it back with Ifrit or turn 

Zell's card and continue from there. Once you have Zell, go save. 

Remember for future reference that Zell must be in your party whenever 

you want to play cards with Ma Dincht. Now you can play more in Balamb or 

return and play in Balamb Garden. If you're trying to get Lion Heart on 

Disc One, you'll need twenty Elnoyle cards. Players who carry Elnoyle 

(level 5) include Ma Dincht, the old man at the window in Balamb Garden, 

Dr. Kadowaki, Cid, the cafeteria lady on the left, the Trepie in the 

cafeteria who had Quistis' card, and the guy standing at the first bunch 

of shelves in the library. Cid probably plays with Elnoyle the most at 

this stage of the game, but he's a better player than are all the others. 

Should you go for the Elnoyle cards now, just be aware of what you're in 

for. The one time I acquired Lion Heart on Disc One, I had exactly 1,021 

cards in inventory when I received that twentieth Elnoyle card. You might 

as well settle in for the evening. If you're going to play a lot, you 

might as well get the Seifer and Diablos cards first.

After receiving your Timber assignment, speak to Cid to get the Old Lamp. 

Leave the screen and return; Cid will be gone. Go to the save point by 

the directory. Save and use the Old Lamp to fight Diablos. When you 

defeat him, you'll receive his card. With Diablos to add to your hand, 

you're ready to try Headmaster Cid.

Cid is one of the better players in the game, so be very attentive when 

you play him. Take the elevator to the third floor (after you save, as 

always) to find Cid in his office and challenge him to a game. The hand I 

use for Cid: Quistis, Diablos, Malboro, Elastoid, and Ifrit. Play until 

you win Seifer. Seifer is a very strong card. Once it's yours, your hand 

is pretty much unbeatable for most of the rest of the game. Seifer is a 

wonderful addition to your hand because he covers that top-left corner 

we've been discussing (as does Diablos in a pinch). Seifer can't be 

turned from the bottom or the right except by very, very few cards (none 

of which you'll see in normal game play), so once he's turned that 

boxed-in top-left corner, it's game over. If you're going to stay here 

and play Cid for a while (for Elnoyles, for example), replace the Quistis 

card with Seifer and continue.

By the time you leave Balamb for Timber, you can have all the 1-5 level 

cards (except Pupu) plus the rare cards Seifer, Diablos, Ifrit, Quistis, 

Zell, and Minimog. Pupu requires a side quest later in the game; we'll 

discuss it then. Now let's start the Queen of Cards quest.

The Queen of Cards has five rare cards that you can acquire through the 

course of the game. You must give her the card she wants. She will give 

this card to her artist father who will make a new card based on it. You 

will then acquire the new card. Here are the cards you'll need to give 

her, the cards created from each, and what the new cards mod into:

Minimog = Kiros = Three Accelerators (teaches GF Auto-Haste)

Sacred = Irvine = Three Rocket Engines (teaches GF Speed+40%)

Chicobo = Chubby Chocobo = 100 LuvLuvGs (raises compatibility with all 


Alexander = Doomtrain = Three Status Guards (teaches GF Status Defense X 


Doomtrain = Phoenix = Three Phoenix Spirits (teaches GF Revive)

For a new card to be made, the queen must first give a specific card to 

her father in Dollet. She has eight regular locations around the world 

where she can be found (if you prefer to chase her everywhere). The 

easiest way to handle the queen, however, is to shuttle her back and 

forth between Balamb and Dollet. We'll start the quest by giving her 


Save at the hotel. Challenge the queen and purposely lose Minimog to her. 

Her cards are very weak, so have Minimog and four level 1 cards in your 

hand. You must let her have Minimog to continue, so play to lose. After 

she's won Minimog, speak to her (X button). She'll tell you that the 

region is getting boring, so she's going somewhere else. If she says 

she's going to Dollet, go save. If she says she's going to Galbadia, 

reset and do it again. You don't want her in Galbadia because from there, 

she tends to travel to FH then to Esthar then to Lunar Gate. From Lunar 

Gate, you must search for her (she won't tell you where she's going from 

there). So, stick to Balamb and Dollet. You'll be resetting a lot as you 

change card rules, so I'll mention the soft reset feature. Pause your 

game (Select button). Press L1, L2, R1, R2, and Start all at the same 

time. While holding these five buttons down, hit Select again. The game 

will start over. This way you won't have to jump up and hit reset every 

few minutes. Play and reset until the queen tells you that she's going to 

Dollet. Now that she's on her way with Minimog in hand, you can head for 


One other note while we're in the town of Balamb: if at any time you 

accidentally spread rules in Balamb, you can erase them. Go to the docks 

and look for a man crouched down near the water with his back to you. He 

won't be here if Open is the only rule in Balamb. If there are other 

rules present, and he's not there, leave town and return and you should 

find him. If you play cards with him, he will erase ALL the rules in 

Balamb, including Open. Should you somehow really mess up the rules here, 

use this guy to wipe them out then return and spread Open. I forgot to 

mention this guy when I first wrote the faq because I'd never used him. 

I spread rules in Balamb a couple of times to see for myself how it 

worked (I'd read that he charged you 10,000 gil to erase the rules, but 

this isn't the case - just play). When I spoke to him, he was stuck in 

Balamb because he'd ditched class and Balamb Garden was gone when he got 

back. Whether this means you can't find him on Disc One, I'm not sure. He 

is definitely there on Disc Two after Balamb Garden is mobile. Hopefully, 

you'll never need him, but I thought I'd better mention him, just in 


Iain Wilson
Guides Editor

Iain originally joined Future in 2012 to write guides for CVG, PSM3, and Xbox World, before moving on to join GamesRadar in 2013 as Guides Editor. His words have also appeared in OPM, OXM, PC Gamer, GamesMaster, and SFX. He is better known to many as ‘Mr Trophy’, due to his slightly unhealthy obsession with amassing intangible PlayStation silverware, and he now has over 500 Platinum pots weighing down the shelves of his virtual award cabinet. He does not care for Xbox Achievements.