Riot doubles down on Dragons in TFT Set 7.5 to add more “creativity”

Andrew Amos
Sohm in TFT Set 7.5

One of players’ biggest complaints about the Dragonlands in Teamfight Tactics is, well, the Dragons. They have been a balancing nightmare, but for Uncharted Realms and TFT Set 7.5, Riot are doubling down with big changes to give players more control.

It’s a painful truth, but TFT Set 7 and the Dragonlands have been hindered by its namesake Dragons. While interesting and fun on launch, as issues cropped up with balancing and players were funneled into playing around the Colossus-style units, the meta became stale.

There were calls in the lead-up to TFT Set 7.5 to perhaps reduce the number of Dragons, or wane their influence. Riot were never going to outright cull the mechanic. However players might be surprised to see what their final decision was, doubling down on the controversial system.

In Uncharted Lands, the TFT Set 7.5 Mid-Set update, the developers are adding five new Dragons to the roster, bringing the total number to twelve. 

This includes transforming Swain into a Tier 4 Dragon under the new Darkflight trait, permanently ascending his power. Sohm is filling the late-game AP carry void players felt was missing in Dragonlands as the new Lagoon Dragon, while Terra joins as their own standalone beast in the Monolith trait.

That in isolation seems like a completely crazy change, but it makes sense in context. Riot are also removing the Dragon cap and making the trait a vertical worth playing around, giving big stat boosts across the board. They’re also making Dragons easier to hit, lowering their cost and adding Tier 3 (six-cost) Dragons ⁠— Nomsy and Zippy ⁠— and decreasing their power level accordingly.

TFT Set 7.5 keyart
TFT Set 7.5 is introducing five new Dragons as Riot rethinks how the beasts interact.

The changes should, in Riot’s eyes, make the Mid-Set a bit more creative and flexible compared to its predecessor.

“Our goals for Dragons for them to be powerful but also accessible, especially with Uncharted Realms where we’re allowing you ⁠— and even encouraging you ⁠— to play multiple Dragons,” lead set designer Julie Palu told media in a Q&A. 

This is done in one of two ways. The first is with lower-cost dragons. Having dragons limited to Tier 4 and 5 shops meant the mid-game became a lottery. Hitting a 2% Sy’fen or Shi Oh Yu on Level 5 drastically improved your board. Having Dragons in a Tier 3 shop and increasing the sheer volume in the pool balances out that power a little bit ⁠— having more of the OP things means, perhaps counterintuitively, they become less OP.

“Obviously for the first goal of powerful, it’s really hard to do that with a one-cost or a two-cost Dragon, but we feel with six-cost Tier 3 we were able to hit that mark and allow you to get Dragons on your board earlier,” Palu continued.

The second way is by removing the cap on Dragons. Dragon Horde and Alliance was the only way previously to make the most of multiple beasts, but now it’s the standard. Those Dragon-aligned Augments are being ditched for ones that change how players approach the new vertical: either going all in with Age of Dragons, or building around one with Dragon Imperialist.

The fact players can just splash in as many as they want, rather than feeling forced into verticals, has opened up new combinations to explore.

“I’m really happy with the change to Dragons and all the new units,” lead designer Stephen ‘Mortdog’ Mortimer said. “I think it’s going to be a lot more fun than the first half. So far in playtests I’m finding comps to be a lot more flexible. I’ve been a lot more creative which has been a highlight for me.”

It’s also a change Riot have wanted to make for some time. Mortdog admitted “multiple Dragons was something we had on our mind right at the end of the PBE cycle [for Dragonlands] but it was too late to make that change.”

league of legends lol aurelion sol base skin
If all the Dragons are strong, then none of the Dragons are strong? That’s Riot’s philosophy heading into TFT Set 7.5.

However the developers are actively listening to feedback and are at least trying to turn around community perception on the mechanic so TFT Set 7 ends on a high.

“With every set release we learn new things about what we want to do, and so a lot of responses you’re seeing here are direct responses to feedback we’ve gotten or things we’ve wanted to do,” Mortdog concluded.

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