Save your exchanges as much as possible until relatively many of the cards for your desired deck are available in your phase, then exchange the cards in one breath.
It’s also good if the cards you’re exchanging for remain useful in your endgame deck. Considering the proportion of later-phase cards in most endgame builds, generally speaking, the later the phase at which you start exchanging, the better. Of course, there are exceptions, which require you to understand the deck and gameplan you’re aiming for.
Exchanges outside of this are less helpful for endgame, but you need early exchanges to maintain strength to protect your Destiny total.
When you’ve collected enough of the cards you want at your current phase, you can break through. (That is, when the proportion of useful draws and exchanges diminishes below a critical point.) Don’t forget that you can still get earlier-phase cards at later phases, so if you can wait until you get there, it’s often better to wait and exchange the cards all at once.
Generally speaking, not every phase has cards you want. (Or it has too few, and exchanging is not cost-effective.) When you reach a new phase, you may wish not to exchange, yet fear being too weak if your deck stays the same. In this situation, an oft-seen strategy is to stay a little longer at the earlier phase and in one breath exchange for a deck strong enough to last you until you reach the phase at which you want to exchange for your desired deck.
(It’s as though you’re skipping a phase. Often the desired later phase is Immortality or Incarnation, and the earlier phase is Meditation or Foundation, where the shallow card pool makes it easy to upgrade cards. The resulting deck may not even be weak by the standards of Virtuoso.)
Also, don’t forget to consider the average quality of the cards drawn each round, and the max HP increase from breaking through.
Immortal Fate Choices
The benefit of each Immortal Fate can be modeled and quantified to a certain extent; for example, drawing one card can be decomposed as follows:
- A. Seeing one card, equivalent to one exchange
- B. Holding one more card, which can be exchanged or played in the deck
- C. +1 cultivation
The effect of the same Immortal Fate also differs per phase. Think more and play more to gradually understand what’s worth choosing.
Generally speaking, character-specific Immortal Fates are designed to have a greater benefit as measured by the model than other Immortal Fates of the same phase.
Of course, you must also consider the synergy with your subsequent build and strategy:
For example, if you’re in a dominant position and have a lot of Destiny, choose Thunder Tribulation to snowball and increase your cultivation for even higher endgame strength; if you’re weak and low on Destiny, choose Recuperate to gain time to build your deck and stabilize.
If you’re lagging in cultivation behind most or all of your opponents, and you’ve already reached Incarnation, choose Solid Foundation and you can much ignore the cultivation loss and get only benefit.
With Yan Xue’s initial Immortal Fate, Bloodline Potential, choosing Recuperate lets you draw more cards.
Playing Sword Intent / Dharma Spirit Sword, choosing Meteor Quench can give you one more turn to build up your combo.
Cultivation has two benefits: breaking through sooner; and going first in battle.
The former is as already discussed; later phases have the powerful cards that most decks really want. The sooner you break through, the sooner you improve the draws and exchanges you get each round. (Which can snowball.)
The latter’s dynamic is that it only matters who’s ahead, and it doesn’t matter whether the difference is 1 or 20, so you should only go for it if you can win the contest. Always keep your eye on the cultivation of the other players (which basically depends on their Immortal Fates, how many cards they hold, and possibly Talent Elixir [TL: or Flying Owl Reishi / Dao Fruit]), in order to judge the cost-effectiveness of contesting their speed and determine your policy on competing for cultivation.
For example, if most of your opponents get more cultivation than you from their character-specific Immortal Fates, and the few characters whom you can compete are near to elimination, then contesting cultivation is relatively cost-ineffective. Conversely, if you easily outspeed most of your opponents, then competing with the remaining one or two opponents playing high-cultivation characters is also relatively cost-ineffective.
But note that later in the game, once the gap in cultivation is established, it’s hard to change. Cultivation often matters more and more the later it gets in the game. (Between endgame decks, the direction of victory or defeat is often decided in the first few turns, and going first is crucial.) It’s not the same as before when you judged the cost-effectiveness.
In the finals, losing in cultivation is a dire disadvantage. (Because you won’t face any other opponents, every round you suffer the disadvantage of going second.) You must consider your own chances of making the finals, the individual chances of your opponents, and the importance of the first move against each of their decks.