8 ways to level up your TFT Basics

August 27 2021

8 ways to level up your TFT Basics
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Teamfight Tactics can be an incredibly difficult game to first enter with competitive goals in mind. While specifics can be taught with experience, here are some rules of thumb that can help you roll your way to victory.

1.When In Doubt, Save Gold

Like any army-building game, Teamfight Tactics tends to weigh much of the effectiveness of its units towards the late game. This is no different in Dawn of Heroes, with incredibly powerful units like Akshan and Gwen rounding out the top. It can be easy to see an early 3-star drop from a minion round and want to roll for a second and third copy, or to tilt-roll after not finding the copies you need. However, TFT is a game where decisions in the present round will have ramifications for the rest of the game. 

Where you can, default to hitting multiples of 10 with your gold rather than picking up speculative units outside of your main comp. The quicker you are able to hit the fabled 50 ahead of your opponents, the larger the delta in experience will become later on, should you decide to slow-build experience. This requires playing the comp that the game gives you, rather than trying to force your comp from an early roll or personal preference.

Thanks to the way that interest compounds in TFT, gold that you save can effectively produce gold that otherwise wouldn’t exist. None of this is to say that hyper-rolling can’t be an effective strategy, with comps like Hellion encouraging searching for early 2-stars. Alongside previous traits like Nobles & Knights, there are exceptions to the rule that will incentivize you to spend gold early & often. But as a rule of thumb, unless you’ve got something to buy or plenty to spend, save the gold. 


2. Don’t Be Afraid To Pivot 

Not every game of Teamfight Tactics is going to start out with a dream roll where you’re handed three Draconic units on a silver platter, or the like. Sometimes, the traits you’re using in early rounds will have absolutely nothing to do with your final composition. Usually, the start of stage 4 is when you’ll know whether what’s on your board is your endgame plan. Leveling up to 6 at 4-1 is the default for most compositions, and the ability to determine what traits you’ll be pursuing is the key draw of this choice. Look for early 3 and 4 cost champions here, overlap traits where possible, and set up the strongest team you can. Most of the time, the subsequent rounds will determine exactly where you’re headed.

Look for pivotal champions that your opponents aren’t collecting, often there will be at least a few people who don’t level to 6 on 4-1, so rolling early to find expensive champions can be crucial to finding your strategy. Put together the strongest board you can ahead of 4-3 and then settle in; if you’ve managed to assemble enough champions to give you confidence in your comp headed forwards, well done. If you’re not as confident about your comp, save money to hit level 7 on 5-1 and apply this same logic again. Being able to make your way towards 8 and 9 with a flexible gameplan can enable some of the most powerful compositions in the game.

3. Learn From The Masters 

As with any game, watching top players master their craft can be one of the best ways to learn. With Teamfight Tactics, there’s plenty of Challenger-level players who produce content for you to consume and up your game with. From Scarra to K3soju to Kiyoon, there’s no shortage of top-level game knowledge ready for you to siphon from and use for your improvement. 

The key is finding somebody that matches the way you like to play the game and consuming their content consistently. This tip can be more ethereal than the others, as what sort of strategy advice will appeal to your personal taste can vary wildly. Included are some recommendations for content creators to take note of, and should one of them strike your fancy, we can wholeheartedly endorse their strategic insights and gameplay tips. 

K3Soju

Currently in the Top 10 TFT players in North America, K3soju mixes a relaxed, relatable tone with top-tier advice. If you enjoy hearing somebody with a sense of humor joke through the highs and lows of Teamfight Tactics play, K3soju is the streamer for you. With a consistent streaming schedule and a seemingly endless taste for requeueing, ‘Soju’ is one of the easiest access points to high-level knowledge for players looking to expand their skill set. Check out K3Soju on twitch

Becca

High Challenger in her own right, Becca doesn’t have to prove her TFT pedigree to anybody at this point. More chill than most other streamers, Becca’s a great way to chill out and enjoy some great gameplay. Peaking at 767 LP, you’ll be getting some of the highest skill lobbies available on the NA server when you take a look at Becca’s stream

Deisik

Deisik is EUW’s rank 1 TFT player, and hovering in the high 1000s for LP for months, Deisik’s a force of nature when it comes to grinding TFT. Slightly less gregarious than some of the other players proposed, Deisik’s stream is a great way to watch a top player excel. You won’t always get showmanship or an in-depth explanation for every decision, but if you’re willing to divert your attention and figure out why he’s taking the actions he is, there’s a lot to learn. See for yourself.

There are plenty more options available, and all you have to do is swing by online streamers for TFT at any given time, and you’re sure to find a wealth of talent playing their hearts out for you to learn from. 

4. Try A Variety Of Compositions 

As much fun as it can be to steamroll your way through your first games of a set on a certain composition, dominate your opponents and run it back, it can cost you in the long run. Especially when learning a set, the first-hand knowledge of how a composition plays will give you incredible value heading into an evolving metagame. While playing against a composition can help, playing it yourself can teach you what items it will prioritize, when it wants to save gold or roll for key units, and the default ways it wants to position in units heading into the endgame. 

This isn’t to say you have to go out of your way to force compositions you haven’t tried, instead that actively noticing when the game provides you with an opportunity to test an unused comp will give you a more holistic view of the set. This is as important as ever in Dawn of Heroes, where the introduction of new spatulas and the armory can entirely shift how comps will play from game to game. Being able to get in early and try out compositions, even if it’s inside of a Normal game rather than Ranked, means you won’t be operating with a strategic blindspot.  

Once you’ve gotten a feel for most of the primary compositions, feel free to let your intuition reign and prioritize or force comps as you see fit. As always, stay flexible in case you need to pivot, but understanding what comp you’ll be pivoting from or into can make those transitionary steps far easier to navigate. 

5. Don’t Rush Your Items

When compared to other autobattlers, TFT’s items are one of its most defining traits. A good item pool can carry you all the way to 1st place, while poor component choice can land you all the way down in 8th. Early on, many players will default to picking up offensive components like B.F Sword, Recurve Bow, and Needlessly Large Rod in order to enable their composition’s carry, even if they’re not sure what it is yet. Recently, defensive items have received several buffs that make taking Belts, Cloaks, and Armor more tempting. However, generally, it’s more important to ensure that your key units can put damage downrange than it is to beef up your tankline. While there are absolutely compositions that need certain defensive items, more often than not you’ll feel worse for missing items with more stopping power when the game comes down to those crucial rounds that determine top 4. 

While you won’t be able to presciently predict your exact composition, sets will often evolve into a place where certain item components are more likely than others to be used to propel your carries into the stratosphere. Right now, both B.F Sword and Needlessly Large Rod prop up in basically any composition you could consider. Prioritizing offense over defense is a good rule of thumb, and at least until you can formulate a more specific tier list in your own mind about how the items interact. This has become especially relevant with the addition of The Armory and Divine Blessing orbs. Receiving a bunch of extra item components part-way through the game can let you assemble items that were previously off-limits to your run. Forging subpar items early, only to have a Divine Blessing orb drop components that could have turned those ingredients into top-tier trinkets can be a serious gut punch. Avoid this by waiting until after the Divine Blessing arrives to forge your key items, as long as you can survive the disadvantage of waiting that long to set your comp up for success.

6. Don’t Blame Bad Luck, But Sometimes You’re Unlucky

Sometimes you load into a game and it’s all downhill from there, you can’t seem to get the units you need or the components required to make your comp function. TFT is a game with clear and present variance, and if you play enough, you’ll encounter games that are basically impossible to win. With the right strategies, you can minimize the number of games that feel this hopeless but you’ll never be able to eliminate them entirely. Bad luck and rolls should never be the first excuse you reach for upon finishing an unsatisfying game. 

Instead, first recognize what small decisions were still under your control early on that could have prevented you from ending up in the position you were in. Did you roll early and lose interest on your gold, leading to a struggling economy? Did you try to commit to a composition without scouting your opponents’ boards to determine who you’d be fighting for it? Were you too stubborn in your comp choice to pivot when the game offered you a valuable early roll? 

After determining what was under your control, even if the game felt absolutely rigged against you, focus on those rather than the poor luck. You have no ability to control TFT’s random elements, and therefore it isn’t worth much attention when reevaluating your play since no action you can take will change the outcome. It’s fine to discount a game as poor luck, but if you’re consistently pinning your losses on poor rolls, there’s likely more fundamental reasons for the losses. 

Unfortunately, there’s no replay system for TFT, but the most common issues are sticking with a composition you’re not rolling the champions or items for, and otherwise forcing a strategy. TFT is a fluid game where you can be at the whim of your items and shop, and it’s often better to acquiesce to what you’re offered than to waste resources finding what you might want. This leads us to our next tip...

7. Read The Patch Notes

Teamfight Tactics Patchnotes

Patch notes can be found on the Teamfight Tactics website. Screenshot by the editor.

This may seem like an extremely obvious piece of advice, but if you’re a casual TFT fanatic and you struggle in ranked play, the Patch Notes are invaluable. Knowing which units have gone up or down in power and how traits change is crucial to finding consistency in a rapidly changing metagame. While most of the larger features won’t change drastically, small, iterative changes can be just as influential over the lifespan of a TFT set. It’s worth taking the 5-10 minutes before you queue up after a patch to get the gist of the landscape. What got you far early on can be a liability later on if you’re not aware how it’s changed or gotten less effective. 

You don’t have to crunch the numbers on every tweak, going deep in the tank won’t do much for your average TFT player. Instead, try to use the patch notes to inform your new comp/unit/item prioritization. After a while, translating text to gameplay heuristics will become an easier mental exercise and you’ll be able to stay up to date on the latest changes. 

8. Vary Your Positioning 

Since the early days of TFT, many players have fallen victim to defaulting to the same positioning. The basic spreads are clear, your primary carry in the far right corner, and the rest of your comp positioned around it to protect it and buy you time. There are also evergreen compositions like Assassins that have their own standard deployment, flush along the back of the board, or bruiser comps that front-load their units to get them into combat quicker. 

Learning how to position a composition in order to maximize its effectiveness can be a difficult process in trial and error, but it can help to yet again seek the advice of seasoned auto-battlers. Tuning into streams, checking guides, and even just experimenting are all great ways to learn how best to arrange your units. In any case, make an active effort to examine your composition’s function, and remember the important points of your opponents’ positioning. Is your composition looking to support two carry units, just one, or more? Which champions do you want your opponent to be damaging? Does your opponent have holes in their battle like that you can abuse to get an important unit dealing damage to an enemy’s carry? Ask yourself where you can optimize your team’s placement, and how it will help enable your comp.

And most importantly, don’t forget to have fun!

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Nicholas James

Nicholas James
Nicholas James

Duelist Cypher, Honeybadger PMC, Draconic One-Trick. Checking for typos is like clearing corners: I do it or I'll feel dumb.