Fundamentals of TFT

Here are the basics of TFT. There are two things you need to worry about. First is resource management and second is your team composition. This guide will walk you through EVERYTHING you need to make decisions in your game. Think of this as a framework to use to make optimal decisions.

Resource Management

First, let’s go over Resource Management.

There are 3 resources in Teamfight Tactics:

  1. Gold
  2. Health
  3. Items

You must maximize your resources in order to make the best team composition. This involves balancing all 3 of these throughout the game so that you don’t fall too far behind in certain stages. For example, if you lose all of your HP early on because you saved all your gold, you will need to win every single fight in the late game to do well. If you use all your gold in the early game and win every round, you will not have enough of an economy to build a late game team composition and get outscaled. Same goes for saving and using items. Items can be saved in order to make perfect items in the late game, or they can be built early on so that you save HP. Again, this is a balance.

Here’s how gold works: The more gold you have the easier it is to get even more. Gold is also worth more in the early game than it is in the late game. Gold can be traded for champions, shop refreshes, and experience. This may sound very simple, but maximizing gold is the singular most important part of TFT. Why do pro players always have a lot of gold? they save it up. But then, why do they have so much health all the time too?

Health is a little different from gold, but what if I told you that TFT players are alchemists. We can turn gold into health and health into gold. Here’s how: If you spend your gold, you save health (theoretically) and if you don’t spend your gold, you lose health. This isn’t always the case, but it is most of the time. Of course this is all dependent on your board strength at the time, but that’s for the second part of this guide.

This brings up the question of how much gold should we spend each round? Well, that brings us to the issue of gold efficiency. We already discussed the 3 ways to use gold, but I’ll simplify it into 2.

  1. Shop Refreshes and Champions
  2. Experience

So shop refreshes and champions strengthen your team, but it’s not guaranteed that you will become stronger because you can get unlucky. However, it gives you a huge potential to get stronger by getting unit upgrades or rare units that can fill out key synergies.

Experience gets you levels. Levels allow you to play more units and give you higher shop odds. The difference between spending your gold on experience vs shop refreshes and champions is that leveling up gives you guaranteed board strength because you will always be able to field more units. However, this upgrade isn’t that big unless you already have a unit that is powerful for your team to add in. This means if you are leveling up to strengthen your team, make sure you actually have someone good to put in. Often times I see people leveling because they saw it in a guide, but then they put in a worthless unit because they didn’t have anything else. This can often be a waste of gold. Instead, what they should do is either roll at their current level or level up and then roll after.

So when spending gold we have 3 options:

OptionProsConsWhen to use this
Refreshing Shop and Buying Units (aka rolling)Can drastically improve your team with upgrades and higher cost units. You can stop rolling whenever you feel like itNot guaranteed to improve your teamRoll when you have a lot of pairs on your bench already. Reroll comps also do this because they like to roll on a certain level.
Leveling UpGuaranteed team upgrade because you can field an extra unit. Also higher unit oddsDoesn’t make your team that much stronger unless you have a key unit to put in. You MUST meet the leveling threshold to reap the benefitsIf your team is already passable but needs a minor upgrade, consider leveling up. Works best if you have a strong unit to put in on your bench
Leveling Up and Refreshing Shop and Buying UnitsGet both guaranteed board strength from leveling up while also having a chance to improve your team from the roll downVery expensive. Sometimes you can level up but not have enough gold to roll and have a good chance of getting strongerIf your team is weak and if you have a lot of gold

Now let’s bring health back into the equation. There are 3 stages of health: Low, Medium, High.

If you are High health, you can choose to not spend gold to ‘use your health as a resource’ by converting it into gold. The only time you would spend gold if you are high health is if you are on a big win streak and win streaking would get you more gold in the long run. You can also spend gold passively without losing anything by investing in levels if it doesn’t cost you any interest. This is good because leveling up is a guaranteed upgrade, so you aren’t really ‘losing out’ or risking anything by leveling. This ensures your late game is still keeps it’s potential.

If you are Medium health, perhaps you can choose to either refresh your shop and buy units OR level up. However, I would only recommend rolling if you have a lot of pairs on your bench. If not, I would level up or wait to ‘natural’ pairs before rolling. That leaves leveling up as the other option. Since it’s just a marginal but guaranteed upgrade, it’s pretty safe to do if you have medium health. You would need to assess the strength of your board to decide if you need to do more, but worst case, you will just become Low health later on, which is still playable.

If you are Low health you need to do something drastic because there’s no breathing room. You either have to roll a ton right now or level up and roll. Those are your only two options. You cannot sit there and passively level. You can’t do nothing either. You must spend your gold because your health resource is low!

Finally, that brings us to items. Items are a bit odd. You can ‘greed’ your items to get perfect items later which gives you late game strength. Alternatively you can ‘slam’ items to get value from them earlier on. Use the same logic with gold as you do with items. The only thing you need to balance is knowing which items are good for particular comps because once you make an item, you can’t unmake it. Therefore you should try to build ‘flexible’ items in the early game. These won’t be best in slot (BIS) items but they will save you a lot of health which will in turn allow you to have more gold. At the same time, you don’t want to just slam for the sake of slamming if the items are horrid because they still need to be somewhat useful. Nevertheless, use the same logic with gold as with your items. If you are low health, you need to build items. If you are high, you can afford to greed.

Lastly, when do we make these decisions? There are generally a few stages where you do this, but it’s not a set in stone rule, you can break the rules if it makes sense. The stages are 3-2, 3-5, 4-1, 4-5, and 5-1. After stage 5, gold isn’t really an important resource anymore so feel free to spend it. It’s really just there to ‘cap’ your board, but if you spend all your gold on 5-1, you can make a board that’s good enough to top 4. The excess gold is there if you want to get 2nd or 1st.

Team Composition Conditions

Let’s move onto team comps. Team comps decide how strong you are which makes you save HP, which as we learned can get you more gold, but what makes a team comp good? Well first there’s raw stats. High stats beat low stats, but there are also multipliers. What are these? Well I broke down team comps into two categories and then into subcategories:

  1. Damage
    1. AD/AP
    2. Attack Speed/Mana
    3. Crit
    4. Resistance Shred
    5. Anti-heal
    6. Damage amplification (GS/GB)
    7. Ableness to do damage (Range or QSS/EoN)
  2. Tank
    1. Health
    2. Resistances
    3. Healing (on your damage dealer)
    4. Anti-damage (crowd control, debuffs, or backline access)

You will notice that almost all good TFT comps right now and historically fill these conditions. Of course sometimes raw stats such as AD/AP and Health can be so high that you don’t need to fill the other conditions, but those comps are generally considered “OP” and get nerfed promptly. For all the other comps, they need to have decent raw stats but combine it with other things such as resistance shred, healing, or anti-damage. These are either multipliers for your team or anti multipliers for your opponents.

As you progress through the game you will need to add more and more of these conditions or raise your raw stats to stay competitive. So what’s one example of how this works? First could be how to decide itemization for a tank. Some people may argue that having 3 Dragonclaws is great against magic damage dealers. Dragonclaw gives a ton of magic resistance so it should be the best item against magic damage. However, what if I told you that 2 Dragonclaws and a Warmogs is actually more effective against magic damage even if we ignore the existence of Magic Resistance Shredding. The reason why is because of math and effective hp. You can go ahead and do the calculations yourself or lookup an effective health calculator online, or you can just trust me bro. Essentially what’s going on is that sometimes stacking 1 stat isn’t as effective as spreading the love. Stats synergize with each other, so 3 MR and 1 HP would multiply out to 3, but 2 MR and 2 HP would multiply out to 4. That’s not the actual equation you use to calculate effective HP, but essentially I’m trying to say that stacking a stat is often worse than investing in multiple stats due to math.

Let’s get into the raw stats though. In the early game you can get away with a small amount, mid game you want a medium amount, and the late game you want a big amount. How do we get more of them? Well either upgraded champions or rarer champions give more stats. Ideally you have both though. Other ways are through traits, items, and augments. Now remember how we said we should invest in different stats? Well let’s add a bit more by saying we should invest in different conditions as listed above. We want anti-damage such as crowd control. We want resistance shredding from Statikk Shiv or Freljord. After that, anti-heal and ableness to do damage is important too. Note that some conditions are binary while others are on a spectrum. You either have or don’t have anti-heal, but you can have almost unlimited AD.

When you pick out which units you want in your team, you want to try to invest in all the conditions listed above by filling out what I call a baseline. This would be fulfilling all the binary conditions while having an average amount of the conditions that are on the spectrum. Maybe by Stage 4-1 you have most of these covered. After that you want to focus on getting a high amount of stats. By Stage 5 you should fulfill all the conditions. Obviously some conditions are optional. For example, anti-heal isn’t necessary if opponents don’t have healing or if your team has high single target damage. In high single target damage comps, the opponents do not have time to heal back up, so it’s not necessary. Then stuff like critical strike isn’t always available. You get critical strike chance from the glove item, so items like Guardbreaker or Hand of Justice increase crit. If your carry is spell reliant, then having Infinity Edge, Jeweled Gauntlet, or Jeweled Lotus is necessary because this gives so much damage scaling it’s almost ridiculous. It’s like opening your third eye of damage. Combine critical strike with other damage amplification such as Ascension or Guardbreaker.

Lastly you need to be able to deal damage. Having all these items is nice, but you need to be able to do damage. Historically ranged characters have been great carries because they naturally stay in the back and deal damage without interruption most of the time. Melee damage dealers, however, need to have some way to deal damage that is different. Firstly you can build a Rapidfire Cannon to turn into a ranged unit. Other ways are to build a Quicksilver to avoid CC or an Edge of Night. You can also just be tanky. A lot of legendary melee carries are just so tanky and deal so much damage that you don’t need specialty items for them to work. Lastly, healing is a great complementary condition for most damage dealers. Melee carries obviously need healing a lot more than ranged carries, but it’s still an important stat on both. Hextech Gunblade, Bloodthirster, or Hand of Justice? I like Gunblade for backline carries because it also heals your tanks. Bloodthirster is great for melee carries because it gives a shield. Since melee carries need more protection, BT is preferred. Hand of Justice works on both, but Hand of Justice works best on carries that like critical strike.

We’ve talked a bunch about damage, but what about your other units? After all, your team consists of 8 units and you generally only care about one damage dealer. The rest of your units either need to add to traits to increase your damage or they need to provide utility. This can be something like a Taliyah for your Shurima comp. You add more Shurimas to your build which strengthens your main carry which is usually Azir, but she is better than Renekton not because she is a higher cost unit but because she provides utility to your team with her knock up. There are many other debuffs such as Chill, Resistance Shredding, and many others that really help your team. When you consider units to add onto your team later in the game, make sure they actually contribute something listed above.

Tanks are much easier. Just stack Health and Resistances. Something like Warmogs, Dragonclaw, and Bramblevest are great starter items because they provide everything. You can also experiment by adding in resistance shredding with Ionic Spark or anti-heal with Sunfire Cape.

That’s really all there is to a TFT game. Resource management and then filling out team comp conditions. Just make sure you do this every game and try to improve on it.