Balamb Garden (Part 1) (Disc 1) - FF8 Guide
At the top of every page of my Final Fantasy 8 Walkthrough I will have a list of the most important GF Abilities for you to learn as well as my personal preference for who to junction GFs to for this part of the story. The game's auto order for GFs learning abilities is extremely terrible so it's strongly recommended you interfere and do the abilities in the order I provide here.
Throughout the game you can also refine Cards into Items and then the Items into magic. I've provided a list of the refinements that you can do for the cards that you will most likely have in your possession at this time during the story below as well. This same information will be provided at the top of every page during the full walkthrough, keep checking it as it'll change as the story progresses.
GF Abilities to Learn:
Quezacotl: Card, Card Mod, T Mag-RF, Mid Mag-RF, Boost, Vit-J, Elem-Def-J, Elem-Defx2, Mag+20%, Mag+40%, Mag Bonus
Shiva: I Mag-RF, Str-J, Elem-Atk-J, Elem-Def-J, Elem-Defx2, Vit-J, Spr+20%, Spr+40%, Spr Bonus, Boost
Ifrit: F Mag-RF, Str+20%, Str+40%, Str Bonus, HP-J, Str-J, Ammo-RF, Elem-Atk-J, Elem-Def-J, Mad Rush, Boost
When you begin the game you'll first be prompted to name Squall then once you gain control of him in the classroom speak with Quistis. Return to your 'study panel' (pictured above) and inspect it for a tutorial menu as well as to acquire your first two GFs. If this is your first time playing Final Fantasy 8 you may want to go through some of the instructions in here too.... This game is very complex and not at all like the other entries in the series.
Once you're done with everything inside of the classroom exit it to bump into Selphie, a future party member but for right now just a silly girl who asks if you can show her around. It doesn't matter what you choose, but if it's your first time playing you may want to show her around so you can be shown around too.
If you gave Selphie a tour of the building you will want to return to the 2F where you'll speak to the guy shown in the screenshot below. He gives you your first set of Triple Triad Cards which are too terrible to beat anyone with.
Also, if you gave Selphie a tour of Balamb Garden you've already seen the screenshot below on the right. It's the board in the main hall of Balamb Garden when you first walk in, if you inspect it you can select one of the many different locations and instantly teleport to it. This can save you quite a bit of time.
There's only one other thing to do in Balamb Garden before heading out and that's collecting the Occult Fan I book from the Library. If you inspect the bookshelf closest to the central hall you'll be able to find this book, if you're having trouble finding it use the screenshot below.
Before leaving the Library you can also talk with the girl here (nearby where you get Occult Fan I) who is involved in Zell's Love Quest. You won't receive any tangible reward for speaking with her, but it will add more scenes to the climax of the side quest later on.
When you try to exit Balamb Garden Quistis will join you and give you another introduction on how Junctions work which you'll probably want to pay attention to. This game is super confusing and it doesn't do the best job explaining things to you up front. Luckily there will be plenty of time to learn later on.
Once you're outside Balamb Garden, those of you playing on the Steam version will want to Save then log out of Final Fantasy 8 completely. On the launcher before logging into the game you'll see an option that says "Magic Booster".
This gives you 100 of about 25 different spells, most of which are extremely powerful Junctions at this stage of the game. None of the spells it gives you are game breaking (meaning nothing you can get later than Disc 1) but it makes things much easier at the start and saves hours of Drawing magic.