Getting familiar with a new set in TFT is one of the most exciting parts of playing the game. There are new synergies to explore, new champions to play and new comps to abuse. But getting familiar with a new set can be tricky. With Set 4.5 is here, and this is my process for getting familiar with the new set.
Tip 1: Read the abilities!
Did you know that Aurelion Sol deals bonus damage on his second cast?
The first thing to do when the new set comes out is to read the all the new abilities, traits, and champion stats! This might seem obvious but its amazing how many people never get round to it. I had a conversation with a master’s player towards the end of Set 4 who didn’t know that Kindred’s ability reduced healing. Small things can make a big difference. Every stat in the game is useful to know, but here’s a few examples of good things to look out for:
Champion Range: This is important for positioning; you don’t want champions stuck and idle in the backline, which something I still see a lot of on ladder.
Example: Morgana has had her range reduced this set to 420 (or two hexes) down from 3 in the previous set. This means that she needs to be closer in order to attack and if poorly positioned, can get stuck behind other units and do nothing.
Who Abilities Target: Again, important for positioning and for understanding a champion’s value.
Example: Aurelion Sol always targets the farthest enemy meaning that you can anticipate which enemies will be hit by his ability and position him to hit the maximum number of champions. This means that sometimes you can actually do more damage by positioning him on the rightmost tile of the second row, rather than all the way at the back. Careful though because he can end up getting killed! We can already see high ranked players experimenting with Aurelion Sol by placing him in either the front or back lines.
Chosen Stat: This can make a massive difference, particularly if it’s mana. Chosen Cassio was filthy in the last set.
Example: Rakan is the only champion in the new set to get reduced mana as a chosen unit. This means that as a chosen he get his first spell cast off much sooner, something that can make a massive difference in fights.
Tip 2: Plan and learn before playing
Early on in a set there are likely to be lots of ups and downs. Things that work one day may seem to be terrible the next as the meta rapidly shifts and new playstyles emerge. The key at this stage is to focus on learning as much as possible. If your focus is on learning, you’ll find that sooner or later the wins will come.
Learning is easier said than done though. While grinding 50 games will certainly teach you something if you’re not going into them with the right approach and mindset, you’ll get a lot less out of them than if you go into the games with an enthusiasm to learn. These next few tips are some things you can do to make the process of learning more efficient.
Tip 3: Test specific builds but don’t force it
This is one I learnt from watching streamers and YouTubers. They would often go into games looking to try out specific builds. A lot of the time they’d try them but surprisingly often they’d do something else.
This was because at any one time they had two or three things they wanted to try and would adjust depending on the opening items and chosen unit they got. Going into a game looking to try a single specific build is a good way to get a feel for what the build is like if you don’t hit everything (as you likely won’t), but if you go in with two or three in mind, you’ll likely have a lot more success. This works best if the builds require different items. A good example from this set might be if you wanted to test Tryndamere, Aurelion Sol and Kayle.
If you get early swords and bows look to test Tryndamere.
If you get early rods and tears, try Aurelion Sol.
If you get early bows, try Kayle.
These don’t have to be perfect–we are all trying to have fun–but just having a few different ideas in mind when you go into a game means you are less likely to get stuck if you don’t hit the items you want. That said even if you are testing builds tip 4 is important…
Tip 4: Play aggressively, level up, and slam items
This is a big one that I think is under-appreciated. Especially when a new set comes out people often want to try a new champion with a perfect build. They end up keeping tons of items on the bench, loads of gold in the bank, and losing loads of rounds attempting to get the perfect set up. While this will occasionally pay off, you’ll learn a lot less about what works and what doesn’t and play a lot of frustrating games.
Keeping good habits even when trying new strategies and playing normals is really important. Not letting items build up on your bench, taking early Chosens and leveling if you will have 30 gold left over are all really good habits to get into. For more good habits to get into and approaches to take, check out these 8 heuristics to improve at TFT.
In particular, slamming items even if you’re not sure of their value is a good way to test things out. Sometimes it wont work, but its almost always better than having them sat on your bench. If you’re struggling to win, its almost always better to slam items and level up than it is to roll. This is because slamming items has a value with far less variance than rolling and doesn’t hurt your economy.
Keep in mind, with the Lantern mechanic in Set 4.5, slamming items is even more encouraged because there is a high chance of getting an extra item from the Lantern
Again, if you’re not sure which items to slam, you can always check out the meta snapshot and scroll down to see which items are strong and versatile.
Tip 5: Focus on yourself and watch the fights
This is another one that seems obvious but its amazing how many players don’t do it. Lots of people I know will play TFT while playing other games and watching Netflix/YouTube. While this is fine if you’re just playing TFT to pass the time, you’ll learn a lot less and struggle to improve. Even during rounds where you don’t have much to do, watch how the fights play out, who gets CC’ed, whose shielding who etc. You pick up so much information about the value of champions, items, and decisions from this.
Particularly early on in the set and in lower ranks, watching your fights is crucial. If you don’t understand entirely what’s happening in those fights you don’t have a real sense of the value of your decision making and positioning. Much like in League of Legends where team fights can seem overwhelming to keep track of, this is a skill that takes time to develop and requires knowledge and practice. Eventually, you will learn to recognize the abilities and champions and what impact they’re having.
Tip 6: Have Fun (and take a break if you’re not)
Honestly, this is the best tip of them all. TFT is a game that encourages learning and self-development, but it’s easy to let that get in the way of having fun. All these tips are good but if you have a way of playing that’s fun for you then stick to that. There’s no single right way to play, learn or improve, but enjoying yourself while doing it is always going to be a big advantage.
There will almost certainly be times with a new set where the game is a frustrating and you lose rounds and games. If you’re not having fun and getting frustrated with things not working, take a break and come back to the game. If you want to get your TFT fix without the grind you can always hop on over to YouTube and watch a few games to see if you can learn something from that. Again, this work particularly well early in the set as there’s lots to be discovered and youtubers and streamers will likely have ground out hundreds of games on the PBE already so that they can provide you with content and knowledge.