TFT Set 8 design philosophy shift sees champions shine as heroes

Star Guardian Kai'Sa in League of LegendsRiot Games

With various mechanics shaking up the flavor of every expansion, Teamfight Tactics is a complex game. However at its core are the champions. Riot is trying to make them shine like heroes in TFT Set 8, buffing their relative power in a design philosophy shift.

Teamfight Tactics is a game with a lot of moving parts. Your champions fight for you, but you need items and trait synergies to really buff them up. In Gizmos & Gadgets, Augments arrived onto the scene as another way of boosting their power.

However among all the systems changes and different mechanics, the core part of those comps ⁠— the units themselves ⁠— lost their shine. It was all about hitting best-in-slot Augments and items, rather than pushing your carries to three-star. The latter was an afterthought, and only if you had the economy.

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That didn’t sit well with TFT’s lead developer, Stephen ‘Mortdog’ Mortimer.

“Basically when you looked at TFT at a really deep level, we had these awkward states which I thought were not correct,” he told Dexerto. 

“The example I used when talking with the design team was a three-star Ezreal with no items was far weaker than a one-star Ezreal with three items. That perception felt very odd considering items were something everyone gets, but a three-star Ezreal is something you have to try to get.”

So in TFT Set 8, they altered their design philosophy to let champions shine like heroes in Monsters Attack

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This was achieved in multiple ways. First, items across the board were toned down in power. Various stat adjustments, like removing dodge chance from Sparring Gloves and making attack damage from B.F. Swords a percent scaling stat instead of flat scaling, were one lever. Mortdog stated item power across the board was down 25%.

Hero Augments were introduced to try and really highlight specific champions for their strength as a carry or support. 

Individual champions also have more base power. Across the board, base stats were buffed to make three-starring a unit impactful regardless of items and Augments. While it’s still best to play for those strong pairings, it won’t feel as bad if you don’t hit perfectly. 

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“We wanted to shift the power into the thing the game is asking you to do ⁠— upgrading your units, upgrading your traits ⁠— so that’s what presented that,” Mortdog continued. 

Lunar Beast Aphelios League of Legends LoL skinRiot Games
Individual units are stronger in TFT Set 8 and should shine above every other mechanic in the autobattler.

“There’s a world where we didn’t go far enough, but that’s the key thing we were looking at. We want players to look at an army and recognize the power intuitively through the champions, not the items. Champions are the star of the game.”

New traits like Threat ⁠— which isn’t really a trait more than a classification for an individually-strong unit ⁠— also play into this philosophy.

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“I think they’re quite balanced, and maybe even slightly underpowered,” he mused. “They’re incredibly flexible, which is the point, but this set is broken up into two parts. 

“One is this incredibly flexible end-game state with a lot of four and five costs, and the other one is the actual verticals ⁠— Supers, Anima Squad, Star Guardian. Both have paths to success and it’s really nice when you get to this awkward spot of ‘I’ve just leveled up, let me throw in a Threat.’”

All this is also to say that more broadly, Riot are continuously adding more agency to Teamfight Tactics. Item Anvils are another new feature encapsulating that: in Boss Battles (PvE rounds from Stage 4-7 onwards), players will get a Tome of Traits-like drop to select items and components from.

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“This is something we will be using more in the future, but it gives you a bit more agency so you’re not stuck with something you don’t want,” Mortdog said.

“This means no more getting Mortdogged by your caster build getting a Deathblade while your opponents get Shroud and Zephyr. It should be a big step up in integrity in the end game.”

If your late game items are going to be easier to hit, general strength is a lever to balance them against the rest of the game. But if you thought Teamfight Tactics was getting a bit muddy between champions and how they interact, these minor adjustments in TFT Set 8 will remind you who the stars of the show are.

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