I’m not sure if you know this, but if you want to be the strongest you can in Final Fantasy VIII, you need to do things counter intuitively. Leveling your characters means the monsters will level to, and they get a bigger boost with leveling than you do. Basically, you should only start leveling after your Guardian Forces learn the passive abilities which add stat bonuses on level up. This only happens later in the game, so you need to avoid battles as much as you can until you get to that point, or at least until you get the Card ability.
The Card ability turns an enemy into a card, which makes you not gain any experience after the battle, but you still get the AP. This is basically the most desirable scenario, since you continue to learn new abilities, while not making your enemies stronger.
Dollet was an issue with this, though, as will many parts of the game be, since you often get into forced battles. There are ways around this to, but you get to the point of diminishing returns eventually, so I wont be doing that. For now, I just run away from battles I can run away from and that’s about it.
There are several forced battles against soldiers in Dollet, so the party did gain a level or two. Their job was to get to the central square and wait for incoming soldiers, but nothing was happening for a while. Eventually, a bunch of soldiers charged through the square towards a local communications tower, so Seifer took the team there, all the while being the douche he is.
Once near the tower, he charged alone and Selphie caught up with the party, so she replaced him as part of the team. At the top of the tower were two Galbadian soldiers, Biggs and Wedge, the recurring characters of this franchise. They are easy enough to deal with, but get replaced mid battle with another monster. This is the one you can draw the new GF, Siren from.
Once the battle was over, I junctioned Siren to Squall and started going back, with a 30 minute limit to do so. Ont he way back, the party gets attacked and chased by a robot. The idea is, you damage him enough int he battle to force him into recovery mode and then run away. Apparently, it’s also possible to kill him with high damaging attacks during recovery, but none of the spells or attacks I had available could do it. I guess I needed to grind some more or something.
In any case, once you reach the shore, Quistis handles the robot with the ships rail gun (or whatever kind of gun it is). Once I got back to Balamb, Seifer was his usual asshole, so he took the car and ditched the rest of the group, making them walk back home. I got back to the point where I was just about to enter the garden and saved my game. I have a horrible headache, so I’ll do more some other time.
Right now, my plan is to get as many spells to junction as possible and get my party overpowered. That wont be happening until I get “Card” on at least one of my characters, so I’m able to acquire AP without acquiring EXP. I’m getting there, but it will take another boss or two.