Part 105: Part One Hundred and Five: Abolish the Card MonarchyPart One Hundred and Five: Abolish the Card Monarchy
You may remember that before I started that stuff with chocobos, aliens, and lakes, I spoke to the Queen of Cards. This strange woman is the lynchpin of the game's second card-based sidequest, which is by far the worse of the two.
Right off the bat, the ultimate villain of cards rears its ugly head. What an auspicious start. While I understand the concept behind rule mixing and think that's fine, I will never accept the idea of asking you to do it upwards of half a dozen times as a good one.
To kick off the Queen of Cards quest, you need to lose a rare card to her. Progressing the quest involves losing several cards, the first of which is MiniMog. Outside of this quest and losing Ifrit's card to Caraway to get Rinoa's, you never get anything for losing a game of cards. If you do the sensible thing and win a game of cards against the Queen, nothing special happens.
And it's not like she has particularly good cards, either. I threw this game and I still had to work to do it. She starts in Balamb, too, so unless you pollute the whole region's rules with Same or Random or whatever, the only rule in town in Open.
But, once you lose a rare card to her, the Queen will decide to move to a new region. Here's the rub, though: she decides where to move semi-randomly. From Balamb, she can go either to Dollet (which is where you want her to go) or to Deling City (you don't want her to go here). She'll go to Deling City 62.5% of the time, which is of no use to the player. You can only move on with the quest if she goes to Dollet.
I was lucky and in all the times I had to make her move during this quest, she only went between Balamb and Dollet.
When she does go to Dollet, she just hangs out in the pub. Any time you talk to her, she opens with this speech. I know you're the fancy card referee, lady.
In Dollet, the Queen of Cards gains a new option on her dialogue menu.
(The normal menu looks like this.)
By asking about her father, we find out he paints the Triple Triad cards. So she got her job as "Queen" through nepotism. That's how royalty usually works.
Queen of Cards: If I can get my hands on a MiniMog Card, my father can use it to paint a new card.
She'll also give you a hint about what card she wants for the next stage of the quest. This was on a save where I didn't give her MiniMog, which is why she's asking for that.
Or, if you've already given her a card, she'll mention that she gave it to her son. Her dad's a painter and she's out of town a lot, so if you've been attentive to the Dollet lore, you can figure out who her son is before we see him. It's the kid who lives with the painter and was adding bones to his painting during the Dollet dog quest.
Queen of Cards: My father made a new Kiros Card based on that card. It's somewhere in Deling City.
In addition to passing your old cards off to her kid, the Queen will let you know about your "reward" for your loss: new cards! Once you lose specific cards to the Queen, you can win the cards her dad makes from random folks out in the world. If you're smart about what you lose to the Queen and when, then running around to collect cards is the bulk of the quest. On the other hand, though, due to a weird thing that I'll explain when it comes up, you don't actually have to do this quest to get the reward. No losing rare cards, no chasing the Queen, none of the busywork.
But that's another day, today we're on this.
There are five cards the Queen needs to complete this quest. I've already given her MiniMog, so I have three on hand. Naturally, one of the cards is a card made by her father - that's actually the only thing that stops you losing all five cards to her at once.
Now, I'm not taking the most efficient route possible through this quest; you can get it done in two games (I'll take three) but even for that, you have to play a game in Dollet. However, Dollet uses the Random rule, which is undesirable. Random's gotta go.
To abolish Random, I have to get the game to generate a certain random number. I wasn't lucky enough to have it just do that for me, so I decided to try to manipulate the RNG a bit. When I did that, I bounced right off the GameFAQs thread where a bunch of people posted about how to do that, so I just ran around and challenged different people to cards until it worked. I also looked at a draw point, which I think burns some values off the card rule value RNG.
Anyway, once I got rid of Random, I went back to the Queen. Elemental is nothing to worry about, but I also had to manipulate the trade rule a bit. I wanted to keep the number of times I had to play against the Queen to a minimum, so I challenged her and quit until she used Diff. as the trade rule; All would be better, but anything that takes multiple cards away from me works. As long as it's not Direct, which is the worst trade rule and I hate it so much. Getting the Queen to change her trade rule is pretty easy, since she does it fairly often. Everyone else, though, uses an annoyingly complex system involving region dominance. Generally, the game would be totally fine with One being the only trade rule - the only opponent you have to trade multiple cards with is the Queen. Triple Triad is probably my favourite one of these little minigames you can do anywhere, but all the stuff around how rules spread and change is far too complicated and mainly just serves as a hassle for the player.
I managed to lose again, and by the three-point margin needed to get rid of all my cards.
Sacred, Chicobo, and Alexander were the orders of the day.
She also took one of my rare Geezards!
Once you've sent her to Dollet once, the Queen will say this when she wins one of the cards she wants. Here, she actually says it three times in a row because she won three cards.
And then she fucks off back to Balamb.
Now, let's go get my cards back. Thankfully, the Queen gives the cards to her son immediately after acquiring them, so I don't have to leave town and re-enter or anything.
Annoyingly, Squall does this any time you move past the easel.
I eventually paid the Queen 30,000 Gil to spread Open to Dollet for me to make this very slightly easier, but I won all my cards back from her kid.
And then I went to Timber!
And then I said "no" to this horseshit a dozen or so times!
If you lose Alexander to the Queen of Cards and she goes to Dollet (or is already in Dollet), the Timber pub owner has the Doomtrain card. This is the one you need to get from doing the Queen's quest and then lose to her in order to unlock the fifth card. I just want to say, this quest involves entirely too much running around and makes far less sense than the CC Club quest, which was just Squall joining the school card club.
After Timber, it's back to Balamb to dump off Doomtrain!
Losing the card was nothing special, but I ended up making one fatal mistake here. I thought the Queen was using the Diff. trade rule, but oops! She was using Direct. Direct makes losing or winning cards much more annoying, since you just take whatever's your colour at the end of the game. Now, you as a player can be careful that your rare cards aren't flipped red, that's not the issue. The problem is that, in order to win a specific card off an opponent, they have to play it on the board (not guaranteed if the player gets first play), then you have to flip it (easy), and then the opponent has to not flip it back (total crapshoot). Like Random, Direct is one of those rules that's fine in a real life sense, but bad for a minigame in a video game that the player is meant to win (it's also bad for grinding cards).
Also, any challenge in a region with the Queen in it has a 1 in 3 chance of spreading whatever trade rule the Queen is using out from her. Because I played this one game, and because my luck was apparently spectacularly bad, Direct is now the fucking trade rule everywhere.
At least I had the good fortune that she headed off to Dollet, so I didn't have to deal with chasing her around.
The kid has the train card now, of course.
Queen of Cards: My father made a new Phoenix Card based on that card. I gave it to an aide of a high official in Esthar.
She has a line hinting at the whereabouts of each of the cards her dad makes, but I missed the middle three. Sorry! She also managed to somehow get into Esthar to give a guy a trading card. How did she do it?
Now that I've given the Queen the cards she needs (and subsequently took them back from her kid), it's time for some globetrotting. First stop is Deling City, where some random dude has:
The Kiros card! The Kiros card is great for refining, since it turns into three Accelerators. Accelerator is an item that teaches Auto-Haste to a GF. Auto-Haste is one of the most useful abilities in the game: it makes your ATB gauge fill 50% faster (just like regular Haste, nothing special here) but it also makes you totally immune to Slow or Stop.
Next stop: FH. There are actually two cards to get in this area.
Flo has the first one.
It's the Irvine card! This one refines into 3 Rocket Engines, which teach Spd+40%. That's worse than Auto-Haste, because it doesn't make your bar fill as fast and it doesn't make you immune to anything.
The other card in FH is this one, which has nothing to do with the Queen of Cards. I just forgot to take it off Mayor Dobe earlier. The Quezacotl card turns into 100 Dynamo Stones, which exist primarily to raise compatibility with the GF (i.e., they're crap). Or you can use them to make 20 Thundaga spells each.
He's not technically part of FH, but you have to go through it to get back to Garden, so this guy is next.
He's got the Chubby Chocobo card - this was inspired by seeing the Chicobo card, and that's the only one of these that really makes sense. You can make Chubby Chocobo into 100 LuvLuvGs. LuvLuvG is a compatibility item, but it's the best one - it raises compatibility with every GF!
Chubby Chocobo isn't just a card-based easter egg - he can show up in the game, but it relies on you playing Chocobo World, so you're not likely to see it in the western release.
Now for our last stop on the card collecting tour: Esthar.
For this one, we need to talk to the Presidential Aide.
He has the Phoenix Card! Phoenix is a secret GF that, whoops, I haven't show off yet! The card refines into 3 Phoenix Spirits, which teach Revive to a GF. Revive is okay, I guess? It's not usually an ability I use, honestly. But, Phoenix Spirits can also be refined into 100 Full-Lifes each! That's the good shit.
As icing on the cake, Open spread to Esthar after I won the card. Will it be useful? Hardly at all. But hell, it's something.
Finally, going to Esthar puts us right where we need to be to move the story on.
Let's go meet a president, eh?