The latest Teamfight Tactics set, Gizmos & Gadgets, doesn’t hit live servers for another week or so, but that hasn’t stopped many players from trying it out on League of Legends’ Public Beta Environment. And while the development team makes changes daily, Upcomer’s TFT enthusiasts have been busy grinding games to get a feel for Set 6.
How have Augments changed the way you play TFT?
Warren Younger: In TFT: Fates, the Chosen mechanic rewarded players who could play a wide array of strategies, since being handed a powerful Chosen out of nowhere allowed players to pivot. In TFT Set 6, I feel a somewhat similar way. Certain augments promote certain playstyles and, depending on what augments show up at certain parts of the game, I feel rewarded if I’m able to make the optimal choice.
At the same time, I think that augments can let players just hammer in one comp over and over again, taking player-based augments instead. I don’t think this is a bad thing, though. So weirdly enough, the augments haven’t changed the way I play TFT, they just make playing the game feel better.
Jason Krell: Augments have been interesting so far, but they mostly move up the point at which I consider overcommitting to a particular comp. And while that’s half a joke, it’s also half true. I really wonder how many people go into a game wanting to play a particular way, see an augment that lines up with that, pick it and then fail to find the pieces they need to succeed. It has certainly happened to me a few times.
Still, augments have also brought a lot of fun into my games of TFT Set 6. While it can suck to see someone high roll off the face of the Earth with the perfect tier 3 augment into an insane win streak, games usually haven’t played out in such a polarized way. However, I am glad to be someone who lives in Plat or Diamond most of the time. I can only imagine how good Masters or higher ranked players will be at capitalizing on crazy good opening augments…
Michael Czarnowski: As a relatively new TFT player, augments felt like a team-focused version of the Radiant items that were in Set 5.5. The ability to give added progress to specific traits, or give item-like effects that can add to your team build, seems much more flexible than the radiant items. It can make a run that seems lost into one you can re-tool into a win more than the Radiant items, in my opinion.
Plus, other augments can lend to your playstyle. If you love teams that hyper roll, you can get an augment that suits that. If you want to go on losing streaks or even reach level 10, like I did, you can get an augment that suits that. Or, if you want to build an unkillable team with Bloodthirsters and a healing augment, you can do that. I love the variety these augments produce, for myself and the other seven players in the match, and they change the way I play for sure.
Coby Zucker: Augments have a pronounced effect on how I tackle a given game. The first augment is particularly impactful. It forces me to commit to a certain approach for the game. I’ll touch on this later but with how early you get the augment and the directional approach they push you towards, it makes playing flexibly a bit frustrating while simultaneously discouraging one-tricks. I tend to stray away from the spatula/bonus trait offers unless it’s the second or third augment when I’m already comfortably entrenched in a given comp. Instead, I go for things like target dummies, extra economy or bonus items.
In a way, I’ve been lucky. Augments seem to punish inflexible players, both in terms of people who one-trick comps and those who always choose to push level/lose streak/play strongest board. The opening augment has so much agency in making you play a certain way depending on what you get. As an example, if this were Set 5, you would be in trouble as an open fort rat player if your only good opening augment was the target dummies, which are good for power-spiking early. In short, it’s a good time to go with the flow.
Where do augments rank in terms of set mechanics?
Younger: I love that going into each game I have a new puzzle to solve. Galaxies were really fun because each game played differently from the last. Chosen were also fun on paper because each game, players would have a new Chosen to play around with. The armories in TFT: Reckoning gave players much-needed item agency, too. I think the Augments are the best mechanic yet because it’s like picking three galaxies except you get to pick your own. It feels really good when your plans come together.
Perhaps the most important part of the Augments system is that, even if I’m down bad, unlike in TFT: Reckoning, I feel an urge to queue up more because I’m just excited over the augment possibilities. The mechanic is so fun and it reminds me of the lucky lanterns in TFT set 4.5 where I also had the urge to continue to queue up. It’s too lit.
Krell: I would say augments have to be at the top, even if it is extremely early. I’m not the kind of player who complains about how a set mechanic “ruins” TFT, since I usually just try to find the fun from each one. I liked Galaxies, Chosen and both Shadow and Radiant items (Elemental Tiles were a good first try, too), but Augments have a lot going for them.
First, there are so many options right off the bat. There are more Augments than every Galaxy, Chosen option and special item combination combined. Plus, they give players the sort of agency everyone wants while keeping it to three sets of choices for players with less experience. I’m less concerned about Augments getting stale and more worried about whether the TFT team can come up with anything that reaches these heights again.
Czarnowski: Of course, I’ve only played with three set mechanics, personally, with Shadow and Radiant items being the first two. In comparison to those, I think Augments are the best just because of how much it can change a run. If I have a build that I’ve been going at in the last set, I can get what I want and the Radiant items can be cherries on the top.
Plus, being able to see the other players and what wacky combination of Augments they have forces me to adapt quicker and do more, but not enough to make me feel overwhelmed. So that’s why Augments are at the top for me.
Zucker: Augments have the potential to be one of the best set mechanics. Unlike Set 2’s elements, Augments are a part of the game you can’t ignore. Set 3’s Galaxies and Set 4’s Chosen mechanic started to develop the idea that the mechanic should be hard-baked into the way the game is played. In Set 5, Radiant items were touted as being one of the best mechanics for the competitive integrity of the game. Augments definitely follow in those footsteps.
The operative design element is choice. There’s obviously still some RNG, but not on the level of, for example, the Chosen mechanic. When Augments are fine-tuned for balance, I think they will add the most value to TFT as a competitive game. In spite of this, I don’t think they’re the most fun mechanic. Sure, they let you do some wacky stuff, but they rarely fundamentally change the way the game plays out. I might be in the minority here, but I actually found Galaxies were the best at that.
What is your favorite champion, trait and augment?
Younger: My favorite champion of all time is Irelia from TFT: Galaxies. The reason I liked her was that she was able to melt enemy teams in an instant but it wasn’t AoE damage. She wove around entire enemy teams until they all died. Fiora feels similar in TFT: G&G.
My favorite trait probably has to be Yordles. The fact there is a hidden boss that only shows up after you three-star all the Yordles is so cool to me. It feels like it’s an alternative win condition. It’s like summoning Exodia. Although Viegar doesn’t win the game for you outright, at least on the PBE, I really appreciate Riot trying something new.
As for Augments, Rich get Richer is so cool. Throughout the five complete sets of TFT, we as players have been trained to know that the maximum econ a player can get from passive gold is five. Save to fifty gold and get five gold per round. This Augment breaks those rules as it pushes the maximum interest gold to seven. Playing at above 70 gold with that Augment is such a new experience. Because of that, it’s my early pick for favorite Augment.
Krell: In terms of individual champions, I’m leaning toward Talon at the moment. I’m a sucker for melee carries that slowly bleed the board away, and that’s literally all Talon does. Plus, I felt so clever when I realized how much better he is with a Runaan’s Hurricane. Anyway, at three stars with a) the right items and b) Imperial, Socialite and Assassin 6, this dude wrecks face.
In terms of overall traits, though, I can already tell I’ll either lose more LP to forcing Mutant than any other TFT comp I’ve played (or hit Challenger). I just love every single unit in this trait, and the way it constantly changes every game will keep playing them fresh. Plus, this allows me to cheat and show love to Kai’sa, who may somehow be better than her Set 1 iteration. However, I’d be remiss not to acknowledge that Enchanters may be my sleeper pick for off the beaten path-comp.
But, when it comes to Augments, I feel like I haven’t had any consistently enough to call it a favorite. I like Golden Ticket a lot because rolling and hitting three star units is one of the best parts of TFT, but there are so many good ones I’m sure will make the favorites list by the end.
Czarnowski: For my favorite champion, as much as I love Twisted Fate, it has to be Blitzcrank. His ability to pull someone from the start and knock them up better than even Thresh could in the last set seems very powerful. Plus, having three traits makes him more flexible in team builds than Thresh. You can go Scrap, Bodyguard or Protector, with the latter two being very good for tanking.
My favorite trait so far is Socialite, from a creativity perspective. The randomness of it can be a little annoying, but the fact that it starts at only needing one champion makes it easy to add onto another build. Plus, if the position it sets works for you, you can throw your carry into that spot and just improve on what you already have. Not to mention that I got an Augment that boosted my Socialite score by two, giving me the full buff with only a Seraphine on the field. For the flexibility and creativity it provides, it’s my favorite trait.
But, when it comes to Augments, I have a love/hate relationship with Metabolic Accelerator, so much so that it’s my favorite. It boosts the speed of your tactician pretty significantly, basically doubling your movement speed. You can steal champions that others want easier on the carousel if you don’t have a big lead, and you even heal two health every round. It gives the people on losing streaks a nice boost, which is why it’s my favorite.
Zucker: Even though I’m a dirty, dirty meta-slave and I will do as the Chinese TFT gods command when I need to touch Challenger Elo for my personal clout, I’m a sucker for the weird and wacky. I don’t think Mercenary is as fun a trait as Draconic or Space Pirates were in previous sets, so that’s out. But Colossus? Innovator? Yordle? That’s my s***.
And don’t even get me started on Tahm Kench. I eagerly await the inevitable buff to the River King that brings him in line with the rest of the set’s legendary units. I’ve already had a ton of fun feeding him units like they’re offerings in some twisted satanic ritual.
On a more serious note, I like champions and traits that demand the player change their team’s positioning in some way. Socialite does a good job of that. It demands you think about the hex and whether or not your carry can comfortably start the fight there.
If you could change one thing about the set, what would it be?
Younger: It’s a simple change, but I think you should be able to see your shop before picking an Augment, especially really early in the game where you have a choice at a heart or an emblem.
As for a bigger change, I think item armories should be a permanent feature in the game. Instead of going back to getting 5 item components at wolves or whatever. It would feel much better getting three and having item armories once per stage. It’s information overload when you get bombarded with components at the PvE rounds and player agency with armories is never a bad thing.
Krell: I don’t know about the rest of you, but I feel like Syndicate 3 is… very bad. In what world would I ever want the buff on Twisted Fate (sorry Michael) instead of the early Shaco I got out of an orb? The trait gets a lot better once you get to 5, but I’d gladly trade some of that power to be able to control what unit gets the buff.
Also, make Kai’sa an assassin as well as a Mutant and a Challenger, you cowards!
Czarnowski: The one change I would make, as a Twisted Fate fan, is what Jason said above with Syndicate 3. The fact that it will almost always hit him over more valuable champions like Shaco or Zyra is underpowered as all hell, and basically forces you to build something else until you can get 4-star champions or a specific Augment to give everyone the bonus.
But one other thing to be more specific, Tahm Kench seemed very mediocre for a 5-star champion, some buffs might be in order for him.
Zucker: It’s still a bit early to cast sweeping judgment on the set as a whole, but there’s one thing that’s been bugging me about the Augments that I previously alluded to. I have confidence that our lord and saviour, Mortdog, will balance some of the outstanding Augments, but I personally detest getting traits/spatulas as my first Augment.
As I’ve said, I like to play flexibly. I want the units to come to me. I want to make giant, mid-game, 50 gold pivots. Early traits, and even trait-related abilities, ask you to commit early. Waaaay too early. I think the first Augments should be things that affect the way you play the game. Augments that affect your items, money, XP are all fine, but ones that affect your traits feel like they suck a little bit of the joy out of flexible™ gamers like myself.
What should not make it to live servers?
Younger: I’m all for crazy games where players get prismatic Augments at the start. But, there are certain gold Augments that should probably not be in that tier, Sunfire Board specifically. It’s just not balanced if someone gets that augment at the start of the game.
On the trait side, Chemtechs with their Augments are not very fun to play against. They out-sustain everything and if they don’t, their Augments blow them up and just kill everything in the process anyways. I’m sure it’s just a numbers thing but hopefully they get touched before live servers.
Besides that, everything seems pretty good!
Krell: I’ve seen a lot of people complain about Lux, but that feels more like players not knowing how to handle her — so I don’t want to pick that. But honestly, all the champions I’ve run into feel perfectly fine to unleash upon those foolish enough not to jam endless hours of PBE before the official launch.
What has been a problem are some of the really overpowered Augments, and I have been happy to see them changed liberally throughout the daily PBE patch cycle. After a good two weeks of data, I’m hopeful that every Augment will be in its proper tier without running the risk of torpedoing otherwise winnable games for everyone who didn’t find it.
Czarnowski: As a PBE inside joke I just want to say ZZ’Rot Portal as an item, but they fixed that pretty quick.
But, I’ll take the easy complaint that Jason avoided and say Lux. In my opinion, she shouldn’t make it to live servers the exact same as she is right now. With how good she is, she feels like a 5-star hero more than Tahm Kench does. That can’t be happening in a set where Augments can help make her better in multiple ways.
Zucker: Kai’sa. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Rude…)