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Yi Xian The Cultivation Card Game: Formation Master Tu Kui Guide (Life Shop Season)

Formation Master Tu Kui Guide (Life Shop Season)

This guide goes over playing Tu Kui with the Formation Master sidejob, in order to have the best lines towards a Realm Killing Palms board that is but sure to steamroll any other cultivator when fully assembled, and how to get there without perishing on the way there. Written after reaching 6k Dao Mindset in the Life Shop season.

The longer (Tu Kui) fights the stronger he becomes, the momentum is infinite

Realm Killing Palms is, by the developers own admission, meant to be the end-all-be-all endgame build. A fully built RKP deck is a machine that either cannot be killed or cannot be stopped, and the longer the game goes, the more and more damage it represents…if you get there. If you’ve gone on ladder, you might see Tu Kui that opt to gun for RKP boards to go Plant Master, as it cranks the endgame potential of the board to absurd levels, backed by Space Spiritual Field shortening the RKP cycle, and the utility of consumables, however, Plant takes *even* more time to hit its stride, and has very little resource if it doesn’t hit RKP, as such, I’ve gotten around playing Formation Master, which I believe gives Tu Kui the strength that he needs to survive through Immortality Phase and early Incarnation Phase, so that you can let the momentum get you to the finish line.

Before we get to Formation Master, however, lets talk Realm Killing Palms, and the developments in optimizing Tu Kui that have been discovered

Fundamentals in controlling the Physique Card Pool

Tu Kui’s first Immortal Fate is Forge Body: Each Round, you lose 1 Cultivation and draw a card that adds Physique. This guarantees that Tu Kui will have the tools needed to both break through with Physique and maximize the efficiency of Realm Killing Palms. While perhaps it might be tempting to use this to maximize early Physique Cards to have strong options early game, this will hurt your chances of getting the top tier Physique building cards Exercise Soul and Excercise Marrow, and in order to understand that, I’d like to refer to This Guide By Xom which compiles information about how the card pool works. The important parts here are:

  • There are 8 copies of each card in the card pool, and 6 for Incarnation Phase card
  • Exchanging a card removes two copies of the same card from the card pool. Absorbing a card doesn’t do anything to the pool
  • Cards generated by sources like Daoist Rhyme Omen, Immortal Fates, and the Life Shop, don’t come from the card pool

The middle part is the most important one. Exchanging a card removes copies of it from the pool. This normally would be statistically insignificant, since the general pool of cards is so vast, but Tu Kui’s t1 draws from a very small amount of cards (54 in total), and for the lategame, we only want 14 of them, Excercise Marrow and Excercise Soul. As such, exchanging the weaker Physique cards makes accumilating Marrow and Soul much more consistent, that’s half your endboard being served to you in a platter.

We can’t simply throw ALL the physique building cards in the trash though, we need at least some of them. If you’re going to play a Physique card, you want to get it to level 2 only, this increases the amount of exchanges and draws you need to fully be rid of it only by 1, as opposed to 3 if we were to use a level 3 card. One of these cards will always be Embracing Qi Technique, it’s a t1 card which gives two Physique, which is very important to get off the ground, and DX doesn’t have that many good Qi cards until t3. Playing Exercising Bones and Exercising Tendons at level 2 is acceptable, specially Bones, which interacts well with Force and generally helps in the early stages of t5, but if you feel like you can get away with it, exchanging all level 1 versions of them is optimal. It’s generally best to keep the cards in hand, and exchange all 3 of them together so that you can ensure removing all the chaff early, but if you ever find yourself with 4 copies of a given card in hand, it’s fine to combine two of them and play it, and exchange the other two.

This strategy comes with a drawback, however, and it is that your early game is bogged down even more than before. It would be nice to have an Exercise Fist 3 around for the early turns, but in order to remove all the copies of it from the pool, you’d need to draw six of them (4 to use, 1 absorbed, 1 exchanged), whereas if you simply exchange 3 of them, you will never see them again. Our goal is to exchange as many copies of the t1-t3 Physique cards as possible, so once Turn 8 rolls around, we quickly accumulate Marrows for our breakthrough on turn 12, in which we spend the rest of our exchanges in an attempt to assemble our desired board. However, this also means we NEED to save as many exchanges as possible, which is difficult because around 10 of them will be compromised in the early game, as a result, we will be playing patchwork boards for a good half of the game.

And this is where Formation Master comes in.

Formation Master gives you access to Continuous cards, of which DX doesn’t have much that interact with Physique. This makes your deck smaller on second cycle, which is very helpful if you’re falling behind in physique and need to both do your reps and win. Fuluist and Elixirst do the same, but Fulu is very offense oriented (which can be counterproductive if we need to get Physique, or can simply get us killed), and Elixirs give us health (Of which we have an abundance of) and Qi (Of which we need very little). The early game formations serve the same purpose as their Fulu/Elixir “counterparts” of padding the deck out, however, all 3 t5 Formation Master cards come in to play in the lategame to allow us to assemble lean boards much quicker than we would otherwise could while we await for Exercise Souls to slowly be delivered to us. We’ll talk about which of these cards stand out as we go through each phase of the game. First lets talk…


We’re using Physique to Break Through, this means that cultivation and cards are less important to us, which is compounded by Tu Kui having no real Cultivation Gain (save for his t2, which we aren’t taking). We want to preserve our Destiny and Exchanges at all cost, which makes Recuperate and Way of Adaption very tempting, but Fates that help during the fight can do so as well, which is also a consideration. We’re not taking any of Tu Kui’s innates except Stance of Fierce Attack at t5, which is non-negotiable, however, lets talk about them briefly

  • Overwhelming Power: This gives you a Continuous card for a Force early game. Typically, the Force Tu Kui start using Gather Force and Vigorous Force is actually extremely powerful early on, and can one cycle kill many cultivators, the problem is that, in order to build Physique, we’re saddled with Embracing Qi Technique. Going EQT>Gather>OP>Vigorous is just too slow, and putting the EQT later just risks killing the opponent before building physique. If you come out of t1 with a Vigorous Force 2, it’s still worth to pick it when there’s nothing better, essentially being a burn card
  • Courage to Fight: I would literally pick No Fate than picking this. 1 Wound is hideous, as most sects can multihit better than you can multihit them at this stage of the game, and 2 Physique Cap on its own doesn’t help you break through. If you have Falling Mountain in rotation and ALREADY picked +2 Physique Cap in t1 AND the other 3 options cost Destiny or Exchanges then MAYBE pick this.
  • Cracking Fist: Lets you play Crash Fists without self dying. This is very good, as most DX cards seem to conspire with killing you. If your t3 board is Crash Fist heavy (for example, you fstumbled upon level 2 Subdue Dragon, or are doing Truncate Stuff), this is worth picking, as it is essentially bonus health during the phase of the game where you’re most imperiled. Be mindful as it makes playing Elusive Footwork harder

Now, for the general fates, you should take:

  • Regenerating Body: ALWAYS take this. It makes keeping up with physique inmensely easier, makes you tankier (more than Bodybuilding if you get to second cycle), and also continues to provide value lategame. I cannot stress just how different games are when you get one (or even two) of these in rotations. You’ll be playing a lot of continuous cards, so make sure not to play a Continuous card on turn 1 if you can help it to get value out of this on second cycle.
  • Solid Foundation: This gives you both Destiny AND some Max HP to work with, and the downside doesn’t matter to us since we’re commiting to going second and doing Physique Breakthroughs. If this wins you a game that you would’ve otherwise have lost, it’s better than Recuperate
  • The Way Of Adaptation/Recuperate: This gives us what we want, upfront. If you see both of them, it’s truly a judgement call on which one to take, depending on current Destiny, amount of powerful t4 opponents (Xingzhi, Yifeng, Lingyuan, Qinrui, Xiaoyue), and offerings in the Lifeshop.
  • Inheritance of Physique Building: I’m leaving this one last because it’s the one that requires the most nuance. The two crucial aspects you need to take in mind here are that cards drawn from this do not come from the card pool, and also cards that you’ve depleted from the card pool cannot be drawn from this. Both of these factors are *crucial* in making this one of the better picks. As such, if you’re able to deplete a card from the pool by exchanging before breaking through, you should do so to improve this fate in case it shows up. One (or two) extra copies of a given card also changes the math on removing it from the pool. I’m not gonna go into all the math but here are my fast pointers
    • If you’ve not depleted Embracing Qi Technique on breakthrough, getting and exchanging an EQT is inefficient, play level 3 EQT. The same advice goes for if you decide to use some other Physique card at level 2 and it draws one copy of that.
    • If you get one copy of a Physique card (that you’ve not combined), you can exchange 3 copies of them and deplete the pool perfectly
    • If you get two copies of a Physique card, you should combine them and play it. You can then decide to make it level 3, or to exchange the other 3 copies, depending of the ebb and flow of the game.

These 5 are what you’re yearning for, however, there are other fates to discuss, some of which are more or less relevant at specific breakthroughs:

  • Mark of Dark Heart (t2/t3): This gives you both Internal Injury and Regeneration, which interacts with Falling Mountain, Crash Fist Truncate, and most importantly, Elusive Footwork. If the BIS options are not available, taking this at t2 can be very good later in the game, t3 is a bit more commital, but it still won’t be bad and can enable Tiger Pouncing from time to time, in combination with Double Trouble or Bearing the Load
  • Firmness Body: Gives both health and Physique Cap, which is good on paper. It’s better than the unlisted options in that it helps your fights *marginally*, but 2 Physique Cap on its own is not great (and I’m not picking Courage to Fight), and the amount of health it provides is meager until lategame, definitely pick it over Body Building and any of the other unlisted options. What’s worth noting is that the first one makes the second one much more attractive, as it lets you break through a turn earlier
  • Physique Master(t4): Gives Physique Cap and some Physique to boot, but its really bait. There is no benefit to getting the t2/t3 version of this, as it doesn’t expedite any breakthrough, however, if you’re falling behind in your reps and the Big 5 aren’t around, take it. T4 gets a special mention because it gives +4 Physique Cap on its own, which is enough to get you to t5 a turn earlier. I value Destiny more than an early breakthrough since Forge Body slowly gets better over time, but if you’re healthy in Exchanges because you found a Way of Adaptation, or the Life Shop is somehow feeding you exchanges, it’s a good option
  • Shattered Dao(t2,t4): This is essentially a poor man’s Way of Adaptation, since you’ll probably be holding a ton of cards in hand anyways to safely exchange, it deserves a special mention in t2 where it quickly fills your hand after having played t1 super aggresively, which is good for lining up upgrades. T4 also has a very high volume of good cards, so it’s fine to take there over the other unlisted options.
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Daoist Rhyme Omen

Most of our strength is backloaded, and we do not care about cultivation at all, so there’s less overall opportunity cost when it comes to picking an Omen card. This is the build’s Omen priority

  • Crane Footwork
  • Realm Killing Palms/Exercise Soul
  • Motionless Tutelary Formation
  • Exercise Marrow
  • Anthomania Formation/Meru Formation/Echo Formation
  • Elusive Footwork (If you picked Dark Heart on t2)
  • Surging Waves/Overwhelming Force
  • Gather Intense Force
Formation Master Tu Kui Guide (Life Shop Season)

Now you might squint and this list and ask “Wait we are building RKP, why are we taking a card over RKP?”, the answer is that RKP isn’t great the moment you Break Through. It only is good on those rounds when you hit Subdue Dragon/Crash Footwork on the way there, and of course we cannot guarantee that. Crane Footwork, on the other hand, is useful on breakthrough (Make sure to have 40 physique before playing it! Rookie Mistake), it is always in demand, you will field it on literally every board you play, and you need several of them to go for the tighter lines. Its easier to win a lobby without RKP than it is to do so without Cranes. If the lobby is heavy on 5e characters, then maybe do pick up RKP over Crane, as our stall backup plans are less effective against basically the entire sect.

Motionless Tutelary over Marrow follows the same principle. Marrow is a card we very much want, but it will slowly come to us. Tutelary is a huge 28 health stopgap that helps us against the bullying of powerful t4 cultivators, and if you find a second one that’s 42 health (or 56 if you feel like just throwing them down separately). They also increase the effectiveness of your Marrows by a smidgen. Tutelary naturally loses effectiveness as you build up chase, so get it while it’s at its best. Exercise Soul, on the other hand, is a card we need not only soon but in droves, so its higher on the list. Additionally, Omen cards don’t come from the pool, which gives us a 7th Soul in rotation, which can be very important.

The rest of the cards are simple: All 3 t5 FM cards are GOOD, but we only ever need one of each (ideally, either Anthomania Formation, or Echo Formation, are level 2), so they’re lower on the pecking order. Elusive Footwork with Dark Heart is an interesting way to play a bunch of cards that are otherwise very difficult to field. Surging Waves and Overwhelming Force are part of a backup build/engine in t4, and expand upon in t5 with GIF.

Meditation Phase

The start of the game is the best chance we have to both get rid of as many copies of our meditation phase physique cards, and also to get a good start on our reps. As such, we generally both exchange aggresively to find pairs and remove Exercising Fist. On turn 1, however, we’re kind of flailing, and a bunch of our cards kill us. Do spend 3 exchanges on round 1 before picking our sidejob, keep the following cards:

  • Mountain Cleaving Palm: Try not to combine them unless you get a very tight turn 1 board (Two level 2 cards)
  • Embracing Qi Technique: Your core Physique card and your escort mission for half of the game
  • Exercising Fist: You play this on rounds 1 and sometimes 2. Exchange them by round 3, if you happen to draw 4 at once, then combine two and exchange the other two and you have an Okay card.
  • Youthful Vigor: This is your main Qi outlet early. Sky Piercing Claw is awful, Vigorous Force is Okay if you just find it at level 2
  • Crash Fist – Bounce: It’s the crash fist that kills you the least. Makes weaving in some expensive CF a bit less painful
  • Mountain Falling/Any other Crash Fist that you happen to find level 2

If you have Excersing Fist and no EQT, dont exchange it and play it in round 1, if you have two, play them separately, then exchange them after finding EQT which should come to you. If you have both EQT and Exercising Fist, and are facing a cultivator that’s hard to outspeed (Long Yao, Lu, Wu Ce, etc), then play them both and generally be ready to lose, just try to get the 6 physique. You should not absorb your hand unless youre confident in your win, this will usually require for you to hit two upgrades. Its not really important to break through with Physique to Foundation, but it still helps to keep Physique up early in case Tendons doesn’t come in early.

Next turn FM cards come into play. Both Thunderfilia and Impact Formation are alright if you happen to upgrade them, but Fraccide Formation has the longest staying power. Having one of this at level 2 is very good at chewing through odious cards like Striding Into the Wind, and it interacts favorably with Force. Its OK to absorb it, but try not to exchange it.

You want to get out of Meditation with EQT 2, and hopefully enough level 2 cards and/or Mountain Cleaving Palms.

Foundation Phase

DX Foundation Phase is honestly full of very mediocre cards, most of which kill you, which is why we want to spend 0 exchanges here if possible (If you have to get rid of Physique cards, we do that still). You should generally be absorbing down all cards every turn unless either of these two things are true: a) There’s a card in your hand that you need to hit an upgrade, or b) Outspeeding isn’t very practical because the lobby is dense with cultivators with speed or you picked Solid Foundation on 2. We generally give up on outspeeding here after the Daoist Rhyme, and just hog cards in our hand to try and scrape for upgrades and options. Some cards, like Standing Firm, Crash Fist – Entangle, and Cure Formation, actually become palatable after upgrading them, but not enough to mention them. Here are the highlights:

  • Exercise Tendons: Basically another escort mission. 5 damage and 4 defense is paltry but we need Physique. If you’ve taken beatings for the first 3 rounds and didn’t find Destiny, its fine to combine the first 2 so that its slightly less sad
  • Detect-Horse Palm: Better Tendons. Much like with Mountain Cleaving, we play these separately for a while just because they’re so good.
  • Strong Force: Replaces Youthful Vigor if you didn’t upgrade it in Meditation
  • Ghost Howling: This is for sure not worth playing until its at least level 2, but if your first few cards are Physique cards, it can be better than Youthful/Strong Force. It also interacts well with Bearing the Load later
  • Scutturtle Formation: Pretty decent at level 2, not so much vs Cloud whose early game has many off turns. Best against 5e due to FoW and their starting decks generally being full tilt on the aggresion
  • Cacopoisonous Formation: This is literally the best t2 card in our disposal. You should always play this, as it fixes a major issue with both DX Physique and Force where, if you fail to kill, you can’t finish the job because you’re going through your build up cards, the II finishes the job. Level 2 Cacopoisonous pads your early game incredibly well.

You’re not in a hurry to break through to t3 in round 5 using Physique, but it is still feasible to get there if you hit Tendons on round 4 and have a sufficiently stall-y fight. Usually, your deck wants Tendons to be the first (non-continuous) card, then EQT somewhere further down. Ideally you kill after the second Tendons but before the second EQT, 6 physique which keeps your pace nicely. Watch out for very aggressive early game cultivators like Xingzhi, Ximing, Long Yao, or Xiaoyue, where you probably can’t beat their aggressive boards, there’s a good chance you can’t win with your no exchanges board against them. Frontload your physique instead and try and do as much damage to preserve your destiny

Virtuoso Phase

Virtuoso is usually where DX really picks up, but remember, we’re trying to preserve exchanges, which means we’ll not benefit as much from it. The Physique cards here are more playable, which means we can get rid of Tendons from our board, its fine to exchange them one at a time to benefit from the first exchange bonus (The first exchange in any round between t2 and t4 has a higher chance of getting a same phase card), but you want to have spare Physique cards in hand in case of emergency. Other cultivators will start picking up steam here, so our goal is to be able to squeeze the most value out of the blue cards that fall on our lap. Here are the mentions:

  • Exercise Bones: Boss card. Interacts positively with Force and can, alongside Regenerating Body, singlehandedly keep up your reps. Its fine to upgrade one of these and exchange the other two. If you have Regen Body and/or are healthy in Destiny, it’s not so important, however, if you draw 3 and have no alternative ways of getting Physique (other than EQT which should, annoyingly, still be there), do keep the level 2 and exchange the third.
  • Bearing the Load: The single best card at catching back up when you’re behind on your reps. You never combine them, specially since they’re generally best when played separately. If you have Internal Injury on your side via Cacopoisonous or Double Trouble, it can actually be a good card to forward a win condition. You’ll have to be wary of the Entangle come t4 though
  • Windward Palms: No downsides, doesn’t kill you, hits hard, no notes
  • Crash Fist – Truncate: Besides the obvious Dark Heart interaction, Truncate picks up some value later on, so you should generally keep them. This early, we’re interested in its interactions with Double Trouble and, very rarely, Ghost Howling
  • Crash Fist – Subdue Dragon: In tandem with Crash Footwork, we can make a Windward Palms (or, in a pinch, an Impact Formation) hit Very Hard.
  • Spiritage Formation: This is a huge chunk of Qi in a faction that generally lacks it. Having just a level 1 Spiritage Formation can allow you to be much more aggressive with some otherwise costly cards like Mighty Force and Double Trouble. It also has incredible synergy with Surging Waves in t4.
  • Double Trouble: This READS like it’s symmetrical, but since you hit first, and they bleed first, it sure isn’t. The main problem with this card is that other sects generally out-multi-hit us, and DX defensive options to let the II do the work aren’t great, besides Bearing the Load. We’re not exchanging to really dig for those Windward Palms and Pouncing Tiger that Xiao Bu loves to bring out. If only there was a card that helped with these weaknesses…
  • Hexproof Formation: There is a reason i’m putting these cards in this list together (but don’t play them in this order). Spiritage>Hexproof>DT is a very bursty start to the otherwise paltry Physique boards, and, in general, block is hard to come by on DX. During t4, they can also mitigate Styx Agility in case you need some spare chase and haven’t found Cranes. It also gives 3/4/5 Hexproof, unlike Magnanimous Righteousness 2/3/4 (and it scales in defense), which makes it easier to keep up with your self-debuffing. Incredible card at making cope boards with all the janky self-debuffing in DX. Just be mindful about your Bearing the Load, as you don’t actually (usually) WANT to block your Entangles

Unless you hit some of the ace cards in this list and the last, you’re probably still going to be behind in the power curve. Its fine to spend one exchange per round here if you’re falling behind, but we need to hold fast. Do NOT, under any circumstances, miss the Physique Breakthrough on Round 8. If you’re lagging behind, play the most defensive board possible and pay with your Destiny. We’re almost there, and we’ll be getting a taste of freedom soon.

Immortality Phase

Despite its name, this is the phase where we are most vulnerable. Some players will roll down here, which inperils us quite a bit. Its fine to spend at least 1 exchange per turn here, as most purple cards can be used either right now, or later in p5, or even more if your Destiny is low (sub 50). We have to live for the longest 4 turns in the match. Here are the highlight cards:

  • Crane Footwork: Yes
  • Exercise Marrow: Strangely enough, Marrow is also not very powerful early on. I’m not happy to field it at level 1. It will still beat out most level 1 Physique options in our grip. Its fine to have it be your Physique anchor while the rest of your deck does something else. Upgrade the first one if possible, keep two level 2 separated until you start getting Souls
  • Motionless Tutelary Formation: Big Boy Defensive card, usually trades for two opponent cards. It lets you survive dangerous bursts like Chaos Swords, and makes Marrow a smidgen better. A cool trick about Tutelary in the context of DX is that you can still play cards that produce some agility under it, it’s a good time to play one Soul or one Surging Waves to set up for next turn.
  • Octagnes Lock Formation: You basically never see this card ever, but it is going to be key in t5 for certain matchups. Most people don’t have heavy chase boards early into t4, so it’s not great here, but if you see that it can do full damage, it’s worth fielding it. Probably its most important interaction is against Sword Formation decks, where it will heavily reduce the damage done from Kun Mirror Flower, and eventually Rule Sky Mirror Flower lines.
  • Elusive Footwork: This is another source of Qi if you didn’t find Spiritage Formation, though this has the benefit of being an infinite one as well, as well as maybe get you through some Agility breakpoints. Its rare that you’ll get use of this without having Dark Heart, as our earlier boards are very light on things like Crash Fists, but it is possible to play for Footwork>Hexproof Formation>Styx Agility>Double Trouble as a backup way to go for the t3 line
  • Surging Waves/Overwhelming Force: I’m putting these two together, but it really is all Surging Waves’ show. In combination with Spiritage Formation, you can use Surging Waves very quickly to cap out on Force, and then either do big damage via Crash Fists with Inch Force, or just immediately cash it in via Overwhelming Force and chase out. They’re more useful separately, so try and keep them like that.
  • Styx Agility: I’m never happy to field this over Crane, but definitely keep them around. They enable Elusive Footwork without having access to Dark Heart, and sometimes you can, in fact, do extremely dumb stalling very early on just off the back of Cacopoisonous, Marrow, Bearing the Load, and Soul Seizings
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I’m highlighting only a few cards here, because these are the ones that retain utility until t5, but I do mean it when I saw most cards here are strong. Inch Force and Continue have utiltiy with Surging Waves. Soul Seizing is very good if you still have Bearing the Load around and are doing II stuff. Hey you sometimes play Crash Citta, unlike Footwork, it doesn’t get turned off by Cracking Fist. With the exception of the Crash Fists and Marrow, most of these cards are also at their best separated, so see which ones you can implement in your build. This should be around the time your EQT should be outliving its usefulness, remember to absorb it instead of exchanging it.

You’ll be facing more tuned decks, so the way you come out ahead is to make sure to match up well against them. You’ll have to shoulder through the burst decks with Tutelary and Marrow, try and undercut the scaling decks with Force, Double Trouble, Octagnes, and a bit more health that they expected, generally, pay attention. There will still be unwinnable matchups, mostly coming from decks that are basically complete on t4 like World Smash and Overcome, so here our goal is to get reps in and minimize destiny damage.

Don’t miss the bus on Round 12 (or 11, if you managed to get Physique Cap), we’re just getting started. Before this round starts, I suggest using all available time you have to move every card you care about for t5 to the left of your hand (move them in and out of the board and then replace them with every other card, you should practice this a bit). The rolldown is about to get frantic, and you have very little time.

Incarnation Phase – Part 1 (We got there)

We’ve arrived at our destination, but there is still work to be done. You should have either a healthy amount of exchanges or a healthy amount of destiny, with any luck, both. In this part of the guide, we’ll talk specifically about which cards are looking to keep and why.

  • Exercise Soul: It’s a half-chase and it deals an increasing amount of damage every time you play it. The difference between having Stance of Fierce Attack and not having it is huge, and the ability for both this (and to a lesser extent, Marrow) to repeatedly poke at the opponent is great for chewing through Combine World, Guard Ups, and chipping at Sword Formation stuff. Do not combine these. We’ll go over Combining Souls later in the guide. Worth noting, Souls will probably not chase in Round 12 because you’re short of Physique. Consider this in your calculations.
  • Realm-Killing Palms: Well, this is what we’re here for. RKP is probably not gonna be great on Rounds 12 (or 13 (or 14))) unless you either have the Subdue Dragon line or came across a good number of Souls already. I would recommend combining the first two, but if you somehow come across 4 of them, keep 2 of them separated. Sometimes someone REALLY has to die
  • Meru Formation: Meru Formation is essentially a second copy of Crane Footwork, and it allows you to play fast cycling decks that get off the ground very quickly. Don’t combine these, ever. If you happen to have 3, and the handsize to support it, sure, combine two and have Meru 1 and Meru 2 at your disposal, but Meru 1 is really the card we care about here. The risk, as a DX player, is always going to be that you chase into it due to Agility. We’ll go over how to not mess up your Meru further down in the guide
  • Anthomania Formation/Echo Formation: Putting these together as they go hand in hand (Though Echo Tutelary is a nice way to gain a Lot Of Life early on in t5). Anthomania essentially represents a win-condition on its own, and in combination with Marrow and the tight loops that can be assembled via Meru Formation, you can obliterate certain opponents essentially for free, just be careful around other DX players. Even without Echo Formation, sometimes you play Anthomania on its own. We need a Continuous card to enable Meru, and against a Multihit opponent, its better than Tutelary if we’re full chasing.
  • Gather Intense Force: The final piece of the Surging Waves/Overwhelming Force deck, and another deck that benefits from Meru getting it off the ground a round earlier. The Formation Force deck is probably the weakest of our 3 main end-game strategies, but it also is one of them that comes together the fastest, since all of the cards in it are good at level 1 (Spiritage Formation, ideally, is level 2, but you have more time to find it). It’s definitely also the funniest.
  • Soul Cleaving: Good to keep into more Duan Xuan players, or against Anthos/Yan Chens. Styx Agility comes in useful here. Sometimes, rarely, this is part of your Anthomania set up, in case you want to fnflict more suffering.
  • Crash Fist – Shocked: Despite its staggering 8 health cost and the fact that we’re not often producing Force, Shocked is probably the best placeholder from RKP, as our main deck is a fast-cycling deck that gains a bunch of ATK Up, Physique, and heals for anywhere between 12 to 28% health per loop (plus some change) depending on the exact composition. Keep it around. I have never fit it and Inch Force in the Force deck to give them a whirl, but then we’d just be building the usual Force Crash deck, which I have little experience with and generally requires Vast Universe.

Your goal fresh into t5 is to spend your exchanges to assemble the skeleton of any of your main decks and get the physique up to cap so that your Souls are ready for round 13. Sometimes you’ll be playing half of some decks (Using the Surging Force package alongside Marrows), sometimes you’ll be playing Antho Echo but won’t have clean chasing. Sometimes you have some t3-t4 card that has leveled up quite nicely like a Double Trouble and it will still be part of your lists. Once again, your biggest opponent is analysis paralysis, which is why the last part of the guide suggested having things in your hand in order. Some cards, like Double Trouble or Windward Palms, are good on round 12 exactly but usually not past that, so those stay in your deck. Pray you got as many Cranes as the Immortals are willing to part with, and once we go into Round 13, our options will open up.

Incarnation Phase – Part 2 (Your Decks, Meru, and You)

After the rolldown and with a clearer head, you hopefully have a handful of usable cards, and the 65 Agility required for Souls to give Agility. There are now 3 deck archetypes that we’re looking to keep at all time, or more accurately, two deck archetypes, and a funny thing that sometimes comes together. These are the decks, with some example boards:

  • RKP: Straightforward, we play Crane, Soul, Marrow, and RKP in some order, maybe toss a Continuous in. Sometimes we want to kill on turn 4, sometimes we want to cycle and go for the long game. In a drawn out lobby this will be our strongest deck and what we’ll mostly be bringing out…given we actually hit RKPs
    Formation Master Tu Kui Guide (Life Shop Season)
  • Anthomania: Affectionately known as Cringe Turbo. Anthomania Echo Formation, in tandem with the chase from Cranes and the healing from Marrows, can make slow work from most boards that seek to kill through multihit burst but have weak or no scaling that can beat ATK down. Unrestrained Sword, Wu Ce Post Action, Force Crash, and weaker half boards just wither as you keep flexing your flower collection.
    Formation Master Tu Kui Guide (Life Shop Season)
  • Overwhelming Force: The rarest of the 3 boards. This essentially leverages either Spiritage Formation or a Dark Heart Elusive Footwork to repeatedly use Surging Waves and Overwhelming Force to great effect. The deck’s scaling depends entirely on its level of Gather Intense Force, though there are times where it comes together frighteningly quick, and can beat up boards even without scaling. Never aim for this deck, but keep it in your back pocket.
    Formation Master Tu Kui Guide (Life Shop Season)

A problem that might arise with a fast cycling board is that it takes turns off to play their Continuous cards, and we’re no Fuluist to just DWF our problems away. Here is where Meru Formation can come in handy. First and foremost, it is an alternative to Crane that does not give us ATK Down, and second, it shortens the amount of time it takes to get a full cycle deck going by 1 turn. Unlike other FM decks like Ximing and Yan Xue that want to skip over 2 or even 3 cards, we only ever need to skip over 1 to achieve our goal. Meru 2 decks are possible, but our strongest deck, RKP, is actually really bad with Meru 2 (As you will not be playing that many Physique generating cards between RKPs. As such, you should always keep a Meru 1. Here’s some example midgame lists leveraging Meru.

Formation Master Tu Kui Guide (Life Shop Season)

Formation Master Tu Kui Guide (Life Shop Season)

Formation Master Tu Kui Guide (Life Shop Season)

As mentioned before, you never want to chase INTO Meru. The easiest way to avoid this is to never put it in front of Cranes. Fortunately for us, all of our unupgraded cards have 10s and 5s for agility, which makes it easy to manage, as long as the Meru is never in front of where you get to 10 agility, you’re okay. You can visualize it in the above decks, as the Agility line up for them is:

10 5 5 0 Meru 0
10 0 10 0 Meru 0
0 Meru 5 5 5 5

Where the Continuous card is doesn’t really matter, as long as it is before the first Meru.

Incarnation Phase – Part 3 (RKP, Souls, and Agility)

The Anthomania decks and the OF decks are very set in stone, however, the real difficulty comes from managing agility breakpoints as you go in upgrade levels. Crane and Exercise Soul are usually the most important cards in our deck, and therefore, combining them shouldn’t come lightly. here’s some important pointers to take into account

  • Until you have a third one, do not combine the first set of Cranes. Two separate Cranes and a Meru let you play lean version of both Antho and RKP just by using Marrow, and the +3 Agility is difficult to use beneficially for the Meru loops. Place the second Crane on the Meru pocket, to insulate against Cide
  • If you have Four Cranes, whether or not you should combine them depends on the amount of Souls and Marrows you have, and the decks you’re playing. For example, if your current best deck is Meru Anthomania, by having max Crane, you can play a Crane, a Soul, and 2 Marrows, alongside Meru and Echo Formation. Soul gives you physique, health, and atk up, which is an improvement over playing 2 Cranes. If you don’t have a Meru yet, and don’t have more than 2 souls flying around, keep your Footworks close to your chest.
  • There is virtually no reason to combine Souls until you have at least 4 of them, and the main line to use them requires 5. A deck made of a row of Souls with an RKP at the end and maybe a Marrow 3 somewhere is actually quite legit, and can shred some midgame decks. However, if you have 3 souls, and your Destiny is against the wall, combine two of them, as it might be determinative. It’s very rare that you’re playing uneven amount of Souls unless you have Crane 3
  • You should virtually never combine into Soul 3 until you see all 6 souls. Your strongest 3-4 turn kill line relies on having at least two Souls 2 and a Souls 1, as such, by doing so, you will cut yourself off of the RKP deck’s most powerful line for a number of rounds, which can be game determinative. The benefit of combining to Souls 3 is that Crane 2 and Souls 3 is 20 Agility, so the strongest version of the Antho deck can use it to, once again, get more benefit out of its Marrows. If there’s no RKP in sight deep into the game, and Antho’s been keeping you up, it’s probably worth doing. You’re bound to hit more Souls while you wait for RKP

RKP can play a very strong grind game and sometimes you will against Sword Formation decks, but also frontload all its Physique and agility to try and kill the opponent before they can build up. Usually, this will require having hit a sizeable amount of Souls, and at least two RKP, however, since I very much recommend combining the first two RKP (Unless you have access to the Subdue Dragon line), it most likely take 3 to really pop off. If we’re lacking in Souls or RKP upgrades, we can supplement our raw damage with Octagnes Locks.

See also:  Yi Xian: The Cultivation Card Game Puzzles (Sect Esoteric Inheritance)

The main line we care about be taking is:

Crane 2 > Souls 2 > Souls 2 > Souls 1 (or 2) > RKP > RKP

With level 1 RKPs, and between 75 and 100 Physique, this deals 110 damage. You’ll notice that we’re gaining 11 Physique, which misses the breakpoint for RKP by 1. As such, a single Regenerating Body pushes 8 more damage in. Having Souls 2 also does the same and instead gives 12 more damage, and you can imagine how the math improves by having higher level RKPs. This is what we’re representing and what other cultivators have to respect. However, if we expect the opponent might rush in to play some dangerous defensive card like Dive, AM-Tiger, or Combine Worlds, we can delay the burst by playing Marrows, or Octagnes Lock. Alternatively, if we expect to need a second bigger hit rather than two back to back medium hits, we can play a Meru line to get back to our RKP faster than our opponent will reach theirs. Its not Space Spiritual Fields level of good, but it has a better long game in case it somehow goes the distance against very powerful defensive setups such as Musician Bu, UWF Hua, or Earth Mu Hu.

Once you get the 6th Soul, you will notice that its better to play three Souls 2 than it is to play Souls 3-1-1, you deal 4 less damage and get 1 less Physique. This IS enough to put you off some physique breakthroughs which is why generally we want to avoid Souls 3. If you found Souls from Omen or the Life Shop, you can more confidently make Souls 3.

Incarnation Phase – Part 4 (Matchups – 1)

Alright, we got here, what are we dealing with today? And what are our best odds? For all of these matchups, assume we want to play some variation of RKP, which I will elaborate on and then explain whether or not we should field Cringe instead

  • Cloud Sword Sect: High Defense, high Qi, and scaling everywhere. Lets cover our basics
    • Sword Formation: Heavy Sword Formation decks actually have a tough time against a tight RKP loop, since Souls will continuously push against their defense, and therefore their damage output, its best to place your RKP early to shred their numbers first, and come back with a vengeance. Octagnes Lock is your best Continuous for your Meru lineups, as it reduces the output of the otherwise unmitigable Kun/Rule Sky into Mirror Flower lines. I’ve not gotten this matchup much with the OF deck, but if they’re bleeding Qi (That is, they’re spending on Kun because they haven’t hit as many Rule Sky/Chain Swords, you can outscale them with GIF
    • Sword Intent Dharma: Lin Xiaoyue doing Xiaoyue things, or Fulu Yan Xue that hit All The Things. Believe it or not, you can Antho this deck. Sometimes. Usually, they will aim for a very tight line that goes into Inspiration Sword, Flying Fang, and Dharma. A good amount of upgrades on Anthomania and Marrow should let you survive it, and after that you cycle better than them. The problem is, if they catch on to you doing this, they can play two Sword Intent Surges back to back and go for a very slow, but very painful Flying Fang/Cat Chaos instead, at which point no amount of mitigation will save you. Take this chance to go for your own RKP
    • Unrestrained Sword/Cloud Sword: Putting both of these here because they both lose to Anthomania, but not always. US could theoretically still have a pocket, very upgraded US1 to beat all your ATK Down, but even the optimal FM Yan Xue line does a measly 12 more damage every 2 turns, which by now you should be healing way over. Cloud Sword is trickier. Yan Xue’s Avalanche could do you in, and Moon Shade can keep up with the Antho draining. Once again, goading them into taking a greedier line and jumpscaring them with RKP is ideal
    • Cloud Dharma: This is a battle of hitting your cards. RKP can kill earlier, theoretically, but missing the kill is painful. A funny card to consider for this matchup, however, is Hexproof Formation, which can mitigate 40% of the damage by stuffing Cloud Sand and maybe stuff a Dragon Roam if you time it correctly.
  • Heptastar Pavillion: Set aside your Cide copypasta, it’s actually not very good against us (though you have to pay attention to it, make sure to put Cranes before RKPs). I will preface this by saying that, in general, Anthomania is bad against Star Power, which basically should cover half of what I need to write, go for it only if their cycling is weaker than you, and definitely don’t do it against Wu Ce Polaris who doesn’t even has to stop to as much as breathe for Qi.
    • Formacide 5T: Surprisingly weak to Anthomania. While Formacide damage is completely unaffected, its rarer to see people actually play two Formacides, most of them will only use one, and of course, Antho shreds 5T’s damage. If White Snake or Fury Thunder are involved, you might want Hexproof Formation again.
    • Post Action Wu Ce: Dies to Antho, next
    • Post Action Tan Shuyan: This is a recent development with the new Tan buffs, but the full Tan line involving Echo Formation doesn’t do something concerning until Turn 5, which is more than enough time to put two RKPs through her skull, even going second
    • Musician Yan Chen: The tricky part here is predicament. Fortunately, Predicament is technically not that great vs RKP anyways, but you have to be mindful of its existence, you don’t want both your Crane AND your Octagnes to be bricks.
    • Exodia: If you’re facing FM, outracing an Anthomania and getting the kill is not always impossible, but when it comes to Painter, AM-Tiger is a huge, HUGE problem here. Exodia takes 6 turns to do their thing (since they have to play 2 Continuous cards), as such, you’ll have to find the kill before then, I’m not joking where I say if you can’t you’ve probably lost. Octagnes is okay here, since we have a bit more time than we would otherwise, also, sometimes Exodia players will be holding cards, so check their fates and see if outrunning them is feasible, it’ll work once, and hopefully that’ll be enough.

Incarnation Phase – Part 5 (Matchups – 2)

  • Five Elements Alliance: Prairie essentially makes your damage mitigation useless long term, and Water is one of the few decks that can scale quadratically and therefore keep up with RKP. Antho is almost never going to come up, except the times it does. OF is very funny against this sect
    • World Smash: Surprisingly, loses to Antho, with a caveat that it better be a GOOD Antho. World Smash is a tight cycling deck so you better have full uptime on your formation. Theoretically, a World Smash player could weave a Prairie into their line and make our lives harder, but not only have I not seen them do that, but enabling that would require them to take a slower line (to enable Wood or Fire Spirit, unless they’re Lingyuan with either of those). Your healing will still find some value in mitingating the FoW damage. In general, I trust that Antho will do well, but if you have the RKP kill and can weave a bit around their Combine Worlds, why not just go ahead and kill them
    • Mono Fire/Mono Metal: I’m bringing these up together because, shockingly, these are the matchups where OF is objectively good, but only because the idea of a DX player having block is a jumpscare. Against Fire, you can actually block Heart Fire, as they won’t have built as much ATK Up as a Wood>Prairie or an UWF build might. And against metal, as long as you can line your OF against their Tripod, and assuming you both chase at the same speed, you should literally never get hit. Of course, if they don’t chase well, or are Tiger with Vigorous and probably Flying Brush, things are a lot messier.
    • UWF Nangong: I’m saying Nangong but I generally mean the UWF line that goes through Prairie and then Combine Worlds. Unless your opponent is Fulu or is a Nangong with Burning Seal, the Meru Line is actually excellent, as it ideally will get to your second RKP (Which you will want in position 5 rather than 8), JUST before they get back to their second Prairie, which is usually lethal. USE MARROW EARLY. You have two turns to heal up before youre basically unable to heal for the rest of the fight. You can also, instead of fast cycling, Marrow early, then play a bit slower to wait out the Combine Worlds and poke it with Souls to, once again, shred them before their second big Prairie
    • UWF Hua: They set up Iron Bone *immediately* and there’s a decent chance you’re under Thousand Evils. Harrowing matchup, and will generally boil down to playing a long ass amount of Souls. Their kill turn is very far away, so generally you should be able to get away with this.
    • Earth: Very scary and usually a battle of hitting. Your best friend is, once again, the fact that Stance of Fierce ATK is constantly chipping at Combine Worlds, that being said, you want to avoid to throw your RKP INTO the Combine Worlds. As much as that’s gonna eat them up quite quickly, the next turn Steep is going to be, well, Steep. If you’re able to set up a way to play both RKPs on the same turn, do it, but you might still need to cycle back to them to get the job done

Duan Xuan: We’ll have more to talk about next season, I guess. Something that’s important however, in every phase of the game, DX players will hold cards since they’re building with Physique. In the early game, its low opportunity cost to just offload some junk cards and try and gain a speed advantage over your fellow Physique cultivators. As the game draws to a close, you should also seek these opportunities and offload backup decks and cards that are outliving their usefulness

  • RKP: The mirror is a chicken game. If you Marrow too much, your opponent can play more Souls and Cranes and get back to their RKP faster, but if you don’t Marrow at all, you can get 3tk’d. As with any mirror, level of hitting, speed ties, and a lot of very small factors will be determinative
  • Crash Force: Dies to Antho, but its close. The real problem occurs when an attentive DX player sees you attempt this and brings in Truncate, which cuts off your healing extremely quickly. Its good to whip out as a surprise vs Force players, but if you hold it out for too long, you might get punished
  • Musician Bu: Absolute nightmare matchup. The threat of Anti-Chase is always there, and she can slap 4 weaken and 2 reduce attack in the blink of an eye. Having a spare Soul Cleaving goes *a long way* in making it through alive, but I would never count in a cycling strategy against it

The Life Shop

The Life Shop tends to be one of our biggest enemies. We really value destiny, and people gaining Cultivation accelerates the game against us. We’ll see what fate departs the Life Shop as the season changes, but here are some quick pointers.

  • T3 card offerings are very good: Most DX blue cards are good, and level 2 generally is where you want them to be but we can’t afford to spend rolls here. Its worth noting that if Bearing the Load or Exercise Bones shows up here, once you have two of them in hand, you can buy the third one and exchange them all to be rid of them perfectly.
  • Cultivation is useless to us unless it costs 0, Exchanges can wait all the way to t5 so wait until they cost 0 or you are at death’s door anyways. Card draw can do the same. Scroll of Breakthrough and Scroll of Reciprocity are our mortal enemies and we’ll have to try harder to survive.
  • Max HP items can be good early if your deck is strong. You don’t want to lose Destiny taking them and then Destiny losing games, so make sure you’re confident in what your board looks like
  • Upgrade Scrolls are tricky to use. The biggest issue with them is that they destroy your Meru if they hit it. Try and find some time early in T5 to hit a live card, while you hold mostly other Level 2 cards and absorb the rest. If you have Meru and a multitude of Souls, Cranes, Marrows, Anthos, or RKPs, its worth the gamble. The guaranteed upgrade in Scroll of Fusion is best spent on RKP or Soul. Scroll of Equilibrium can singlehandedly win you the game, though it will likely reduce the amount of pieces you can hold in your hand since you’ll have many more unupgraded cards.
  • Pact of Enlightenment is generally bait. It costs 18 Destiny and we expect to get most of our best cards either by exchanging or by Forge Body.
  • Pact of Concentration can be taken after finding 1 Meru and a couple of Continuous cards. Go get your RKPs.
Written by Swapgo

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