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Determining the Dominant Strategy in Teamfight Tactics 

League of Legends is a famous 5v5 multiplayer game. In the traditional game-mode, 5 players on each team each select one champion to play, and battle it in Summoner’s Rift. In the traditional game-mode, timing and game sense are two of the most important skills. However, after nearly a decade of success with League of Legends, Riot Games decided to add a second game-mode: teamfight tactics.

Teamfight tactics is more like a card game than like a battle royale. Every player starts out with 0 coins and 0 champions. Each champion has certain traits, and when you have enough champions with the same trait on the board simultaneously, the trait is activated on the left side of your screen and you get bonus stats. As each round progresses players earn coins and can use these coins to buy champions that are randomly generated on the side screen.



There are 5 possible ways you can change your coin balance:

Refresh: If you choose to reroll, it’s possible to see the same champions you had in a previous reroll. We’ll discuss rolling odds in a bit.

Buy XP: Your player level determines how many pieces you have on the board (if you’re level 3, you can have 3 unit pieces).

You will passively gain experience each round, but you can spend gold if you’re looking to increase your level and max number of units (up to 9 using experience).

You can see how many points to hit your next level at the bottom left of the button and you can see your current level at the bottom right of the button.

Lock: If you like the options given by a roll but don’t have enough gold to buy everything you need, consider locking your shop so you can buy when you get more gold for your next round.

Sell: You can sell your units by dragging them onto the shop or by clicking them and pressing E.


To make your team stronger, you have one of two options: Either you need to get champions that have the same traits as your existing champions so they get the buff, or you can level up to increase your team size by 1. These are two opposing strategies: One can either spend their gold refreshing their champion select in hope that a champion with a certain set of traits shows up; or say they already have the champion but not enough room on the board, they can spend their gold to buy XP. Clearly, refreshing is a much more risky strategy, but the payoffs can be great. Refreshing is dependent on luck and RNG much more than strategy, and good players will often wait till end game to spend their gold.


Although it is impossible to create a payoff matrix for such a sophisticated strategy game, it is possible to find pairs of opposing strategies. I think the most obvious pair of opposing strategies is to spend your gold early or to save it for the end game. Both strategies have their merits. Spending gold early can give you a massive advantage. Again, there is nuances on what gold can be spent on – refreshing, more characters, or XP – but all can be helpful in gaining an early advantage over remaining players. Alternatively, some players – myself included- prefer to wait until late game to invest their gold. This way, you can wait until you know which traits you are looking for to complete your team before refreshing. Additionally, saving gold grants additional bonus gold every round depending on how much you have.

Each bastion represents 10 gold, and the image above details how much bonus gold you receive each round. Including this in the game design makes economizing and playing for the late game a more appealing strategy, as you end up earning a significant number of bonus coins that can change the outcome of the game.

This, along with the ability to refresh once you already know which traits you are looking for, makes waiting until the late game to spend your gold the dominant strategy in my opinion.


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October 2020