Since it is now suggested that Childe banner is coming first, a lot of F2P/light-spender saved up for Zhongli (myself included) are quite disappointed. I know a lot of people in this community is new to gacha games, so I would like to give my two-cents on what I would do in this situation, as some one who have been playing gacha games for couple years.
What is my situation?
The only purchase I made in the game is the Welking Moon, which happened to expired by now, and I don’t plan to renew it at this time. I rolled Keqing in Venti’s banner and so my next 5* is guaranteed to be banner. I did 12 rolls in Klee banner after it, so I am about 78 rolls away from pity. I saved up enough gem at the moment to hit pity, so I am pretty much guarantee to get any banner characters I want, and the one I wanted is Zhongli.
Will I roll in Childe’s banner?
The short answer is no. My biggest reason is that I do not plan to risk losing my banner pity on Childe. To get a guarantee banner pity, you need to at least roll one 5* in the limited banner that is NOT the banner. That means you have first have to hit a 5*, and then you need to hit the 50% chance of not hitting the banner character. This could potentially take months to achieve for a completely F2P, going by the current rate of obtaining gems. This give us a chance to get the banner character that we really want, and I think it is worth it to save it for that purpose.
What about the 4* characters in Childe’s banner?
I will admit that the 4*, especially Diona, is very attractive. The reason being that she is going to be a cryo healer, which is something F2P players really look forward to for progressing in the abyss.
HOWEVER, I do not think it is worth it to roll for her and risk losing the pity. For one, 4* characters are a lot easier to get; Diona will likely appear in other and future banner more frequently, or maybe even in the shop for purchase at some point (probably not as a rate up anytime soon thought). It is simply not worth it to risk losing months of saving up and stacking pity for her.
For people who want to clear the abyss (or at least clear floor 11 with 6 stars, in which case you are likely just losing out on 100-150 gems per 2 weeks for clearing floor 12 with 6+ stars. This is only about 1-2 rolls a month), there are other ways to progress through the abyss without new 4*.
The simplest way is to level up your world level and progress your current characters, which include level them up, ascending them and gearing them (at WL40 you can get ascension, WL45 is when people start farming artifact so you can properly gear your characters, and WL50 you can ascend again).
Another way is to simply keep trying. You will get better at it with practice (and also try at different days as the floor buffs changes and you may get better boost some day). If you need a guide, I would look up Enviosity on youtube, who use strictly F2P characters to 6* floor 11.
If you need to, I would go ahead and sink some resources into characters that you may not have leveled, but will help you clear the abyss. One example is your MC, since geo MC will help you significantly with floor 10 by generating shields to block the burn damage. It is also not necessarily bad idea to level your MC since it is likely he/she will gain new elements in the future and be very versatile and useful in the long run.
I know that a lot of people are asking you to save your resources for your “mains”, but I think it will be worthwhile to invest just enough for you to get pass a specific milestone, like clearing an abyss floor. Especially for F2P, we are not expecting to get a lot of 5* and max constellation 4*, so you won’t be as limited in resources as players who has and wants to level up every 5*. In addition, this is a game, and you should play it to have fun, so go ahead and do things that make you happy. Also, gacha games are meant to be played for the long haul, so by the time you get your next 5* that you really want (as a F2P), you may have stacked up enough resources.
Finally, it does sucks to skip banner
Yes, it does feel bad to skip banner while people around you are showing off that new 4*/5* and saying you must have it. However, as I mentioned, gacha game, especially for F2P players, are meant to be played for a long time. You may miss out on Childe now, but there will inevitably be “better” characters (or at least ones that you want more) down the road. F2P players are not expected to obtain every characters in the game, unless they suddenly decided to stop releasing new 5*, which is unlikely to happen. In addition, limited banner characters are likely to come back (as rerun banner, or in other banner as unlimited, who knows).
This is my personal belief, but I do think that MHY know most of the player base is looking forward to Zhongli, so they put Childe first along with some enticing 4* to get people spend money on Childes’ banner, so they have to spend more money to get Zhongli after (especially Ninguang, which has clear synergy with Zhongli, so putting them on separate banner is kind of a jerk move). However, us F2P/light-spenders need to play smarter than the company. It will feel bad to miss out, but when we use that guarantee pity to get the character we really want (in my case, Zhongli), you will be very happy that you have saved up.