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Teamfight Tactics Guide by PsiGuard

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How to Play Teamfight Tactics (TFT)

By PsiGuard | Updated on November 20, 2019
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Teamfight Tactics Guide

How to Play Teamfight Tactics (TFT)

By PsiGuard
Introduction

Hey everyone, welcome to my beginner's guide for Teamfight Tactics (TFT)! In this guide I'll be covering the essential information that you'll need to know as a new TFT player, as well as a few general tips and tricks to help you start winning some matches.

Since the meta is changing rapidly due to successive balance changes from Riot, I won't be covering any currently strong/overpowered champions or compositions. Instead, use the information in this guide to get a general sense of how to play the game mode, then you can check out other players' tier lists to figure out what the best champs and comps are.
TFT Basics Back to Top
TFT is an 8-player Free-for-all game mode, where the last surviving player wins the game. Each player has their own game board where they'll battle other players with their teams of champions that they assemble throughout the game. Your champions will automatically fight neutral minions and enemy champion teams in regular rounds of combat.


Combat Rounds

Each combat round, either your team will go to an enemy's board, or enemies will spawn on the opposite side of your board. You can position where your champions will be at the start of combat, but once the round begins, your units will be outside of your control until the end of the round. Each round you survive will earn you gold, experience, and sometimes item drops.

After each round, you'll see a breakdown of the damage contribution of your champions from the last round. This is a great resource to help gauge which of your champions are offering the most value to your team, and which ones might need to be replaced, repositioned or upgraded to improve their usefulness.

The current stage can be tracked using the bar at the top. This is good to keep an eye on so you know when the next minion, Carousel or boss round is.



Health Pool

Every player starts with 100 health. You'll take damage if you lose a round of combat based on the number and quality of the enemy units still alive at the end of the round. Narrowly losing a round will only cost you a small amount of HP, but if you get crushed and there are lots of strong enemies still alive after combat, you'll take a lot more damage. Your current health total is shown on the right side of the screen.


The Shop

The goal of the game is to purchase champions and upgrade them by purchasing copies of the same champion. Each champion can be upgraded twice by combining three of the same champion together. For example, 3 Ashes will make a 2 Star Ashe, and 3 2 Star Ashes will make a 3 Star Ashe.

There are a limited number of each champion in the game, so if many players buy the same type of champion, you'll be less likely to find that champion in your shop. The champions available to buy in the shop will update after each round, plus you can spend gold to reroll your shop to get a new selection of champions.

You can also click the Lock/Unlock button on the top-left of your shop to lock your shop's current selections. This will prevent it from rolling a new set of champions at the end of the next round. This can be useful if you see some good champions to buy in your shop, but you don't have enough gold (or don't want to spend the gold yet) to buy them.


Upgrading champions is important, but so is creating a strong team composition, so you'll have to look for duplicates of champions you own, as well as champions that suit your current lineup. Every champion has an Element and a Class (sometimes even 3 tags). You'll usually want to gather more of the same Elements and Classes to activate special bonuses. More on this later.


Shared Draft (AKA The Carousel)


Every 5 rounds, all players will teleport to the center of the map where a small selection of champions will spawn, each carrying 1 item. Each player will be released from a restrictive circle to take their preferred champion by walking into it. The turn order is based on all player's life totals, with the bottom players acting first and the top players getting to pick later.

There are enough champions for every player to get one, but some champions will of course be more highly contested. It can be beneficial to have a lower life pool if it allows you to get an early pick to grab an important champion.


Element of the Game

Each game of TFT is different, including the state of the board you'll play on! When the game starts, a random element will be selected to be used for that game. This element comes into play in a few ways:
  1. Qiyana's element will match the element of the game.

  2. The Dragon that spawns as one of the bosses later in the game will also match the element of the game.

  3. Elemental Hexes will spawn on the board, granting bonuses to any champion that is placed on top of it. The first hex spawns right away, and the second spawns when the game reaches stage 3-1.
Elemental Hexes grant the following effects:
  • Inferno: Gain attack speed for the duration of combat
  • Ocean: Start combat with additional mana
  • Mountain: Gain permanent health that stacks between rounds and remains even if the champion is moved off the Elemental Hex
  • Cloud: Gain dodge chance for the duration of combat
One last note: Elemental Hex buffs use up an item slot. If a champion with three items starts combat on an Elemental Hex, they won’t receive the Hex's buff.
Economy Back to Top
Gold and Experience

Gold is used to purchase champions, refresh your store, and buy experience points to level up more quickly. You'll earn gold and experience at the end of each round. Experience points are important because your player level determines how many champions you can have on the board at once as well as which rarity of champions are likely to appear in your shop. The higher your level, the more likely you'll see rare champions in your shop.

You can buy experience points in increments of 4 for 4 gold. Check the XP bar below the Buy XP button to see how close you are to the next level. Buying XP isn't really useful unless it actually levels you up, so it's best to save your gold until you're ready to spend a bunch of it to reach the next level.


Interest

You can increase the gold you earn from each round via interest. You earn +1 gold for every 10 gold in your bank, up to a max of +5 per round at 50+ gold. This means it's generally optimal to have 50 gold in your bank when possible and to spend the rest on champions, experience or rerolling your shop. Sometimes you'll have to do with a lower budget if you need to spend your gold quickly, but saving up for a stronger economy can be a powerful strategy, even if you lose some health in the short term.


These little golden things on the left side of the board show how much gold you'll gain from interest at the end of the next round.

Due to the importance of saving gold for high interest, you'll usually want to avoid rerolling your shop or buying more than 1 or 2 sets of experience points in the early game. Instead, spend your gold on important champions that appear in your shop and save the rest to increase your income.

If you're just shy of the next interest breakpoint (e.g. 39 gold), you can sell one of the champions on your bench for the gold you need to reach the next multiple of 10 gold. This is only advisable if you have a champion you can safely get rid of without weakening your composition or progression. You can also choose to spend some of that excess gold by rerolling your shop a few times while you look for champions you want. You'll make the same amount of gold from interest whether you have 30 gold or 39 gold, so it doesn't hurt to spend some of that 9 gold on the current round.


Win Streaks and Loss Streaks

Your gold per round is also affected by win streaks and loss streaks. Both kinds of streaks are beneficial for your income, so it's very good to keep winning if you're on a win streak.
It can sometimes be best to keep losing if you're already on a loss streak as well in order to make some money to get you back in the game. If you're trying to continue a loss streak, try to put up a strong enough fight that you barely lose the next round to minimize the damage you'll take.
Champions Back to Top
Champion Rarity

There are 5 tiers of champion rarity, ranging from 1 gold at Tier 1 to 5 gold at Tier 5 (or even higher in special cases). At the start of the game, you'll mostly see tier 1 and 2 champions, but at high levels you'll start seeing more of the higher tiers. High tier champions are generally stronger than their low tier counterparts, but they're harder to acquire and upgrade, since they're rarer and cost more gold. You can sell any unit by dragging them into your shop for a full refund.

While building your composition, keep an eye out for high tier champions available to you. It may be prudent to pivot to a different strategy if you suddenly have access to some high tier units with a different Element or Class than you originally had in mind. It can also be viable to throw in a Tier 4 or 5 champion that doesn't perfectly match your team's Classes & Elements if the champion is strong enough. High tier units that are upgraded are the strongest in the game, so you may want to save some of your items for one of those units.

Rarer units not only have a lower chance of appearing in your shop or the Shared Draft, but there are also fewer of them overall. This makes Tier 5 units difficult to acquire and even more challenging to upgrade. Keep an eye on your opponents' boards to see what champions they're picking up to get a sense of how difficult it will be for you to find those same champions. It can even be beneficial to buy a champion you don't plan on using if it's a rare and important champion for an enemy's composition. Use this strategy sparingly though, since you have limited space on your bench.


Mana and Abilities

Every champion has a basic attack as well as a special ability they can use once they reach maximum mana. Champions gain mana every time they attack an enemy. Some items can also increase a champion's mana gain or allow them to start with extra mana.

Some abilities will be cast and then reset that champion's mana to 0, while others transform that champion's attacks or summon allies for the remainder of the round.

For a full list of every champion's ability, check out our TFT Champions Cheatsheet.


Elements & Classes

Each champion has at least 1 Element and 1 Class (sometimes multiple). These traits usually do nothing on their own, but if you gather enough champions of the same Origin or Class, you'll activate a special bonus. To create a strong team, you'll need to buy and upgrade champions that synergize well together and activate as many Origin and Class bonuses as possible.

You can see the current active and inactive Elements and Classes in your team on the left side of the screen. Greyed out icons are incomplete/inactive bonuses, Bronze is the first level, Silver is the second level and Gold is a fully activated Element or Class.

You can hover any of the Element/Class icons to see what bonuses the tag gives, as well as which champions are in that Element or Class. The number next to the Element/Class icon indicates how many champions of that Element/Class that you have on the board.

For a full list of all Classes and Elements, check out our TFT Champions Cheatsheet.

Items Back to Top
Items can be acquired by defeating neutral minions in combat and through the Shared Draft carousel. The mystery drops from minions are revealed when you walk over them and can contain an item, champion or gold. There are 9 item components that can be combined with any other component to form a full item. Every item has only 2 components and can be crafted by placing the components onto a champion.

The items you get throughout the game are somewhat random, though you do have the option to pick a champion in the Shared Draft carousel that's holding a key item you want. Selling a champion places their held items back into your inventory so you can add them to a different champion.

Equip items by clicking and dragging them onto the champion of your choice. You can add items to your champions in combat, but be careful when doing so since they jump around a lot and you can easily misclick.

Items and item components both increase the champion's base stats, but completed items have additional unique effects that can drastically change how that champion operates. Check out the full list of items and their individual effects and plan ahead to figure out which items will be best for your team composition. Also keep in mind that AP items increase a champion's ability damage, while AD items increase a champion's basic attack damage. Even traditionally AD champions can use AP items to enhance their abilities!

The Spatula component provides no stats, but upgrades into special items that can add Class tags to any champion, or even increase your total team size! Plan out your uses for the Spatula carefully and don't equip it to a champion until you're ready to upgrade it into a full item. Adding a new class to a champion can allow it to fit better into your team composition and will also grant that class' active bonuses to the equipped champion.

If you're high on HP, it can be worth holding onto a few item components until you find exactly the right items to combine with. You don't need to immediately equip your items to a champion, though of course it'll increase your chances of winning the next round. You can also choose to equip an item to a champion that you're planning on selling soon, since you'll get the item right back when you sell the champion.


It's worth noting that you cannot undo the combination of two components into a full item. Make sure you know what you want to craft before you combine any items! You can see a preview of what item will be crafted by dragging one item component over another component (but don't release the mouse button). You can also check out our TFT Item Cheatsheet in order to plan ahead for what items you want to build for your comp. You can also use the item filter to get a quick idea of what items you can build with your current components in game.

Example Compositions Back to Top
Looking for some team comp ideas, or want to share your favorite combos with the MOBAFire community? Check out our TFT Team Comps page to browse or create your own team comps!

Quick Tips to Improve Back to Top
Here's a few quick miscellaneous tips to help point you in the right direction as you practice and improve at TFT:


1. Use loss streaks to save up 30-50 gold, then start spending at the appropriate level.


2. Don't reroll your shop early in the game. Instead, wait until you have reliable income from interest.


3. You can pivot your composition by selling weaker units and building a new composition around rarer ones you've acquired.


4. You can buy units that other players are trying to build in order to make it harder for them to acquire.


5. In the mid game, check the top few players' compositions to see what you'll likely be dealing with in the late game.


6. It can be smart to place important ranged carries in the middle of your team, or put some tankier champions next to them to defend them from assassins.


7. If you have some extra gold, buy units from your shop that you may use in the future, then sell them if you don't end up needing them.


8. In Shared Draft rounds, check for champion synergies, key items and champion rarity. Rare champions or champions with full items are valuable, but it can also be good to pick up an important item component or a champion that fits your team.


9. Sell extra units in order to reach the next interest break point. If you have 49 gold, selling a 1g unit will get you to 50.


10. Many items can stack their effects. Two Guardian Angels will revive your unit twice per combat round!


11. If you lose a game, check out the team compositions of the top few players. You might find a new strategy to use for next time.


12. You can intentionally take some damage to give yourself a better chance at a good champion or item in the next Shared Draft phase.


13. When running a comp with many assassins, put your frontliners way at the back. This will pull the enemy frontline forward so your assassins can jump on their backline.
More Strategy Info Back to Top
Thanks for reading my Teamfight Tactics guide! Hopefully you now feel a bit more prepared to hold your own in this complicated game mode.

I definitely encourage you to check out xFSN Saber and other TFT content creators to learn more about the latest meta trends and strategies.

Saber actually partnered with us to create a TFT guide to the Economy Strat along with some tips on Army building and unit composition. Definitely check the video out as it's a great explanation of one of the strongest meta strategies currently.


Scarra is another great resource for TFT content, so be sure to check out his videos as well for more insight.

Hope you enjoyed the guide. See you next time! :)
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