If you’ve been in Twitch lately, you’ve probably seen TeamFight Tactics at the top of the viewership. More than likely, your favourite streamer has even been playing the Auto Chess genre. Just like Battle Royale a few years ago, Auto Chess has blown up and is at the forefront of Twitch and YouTube.
What exactly is Auto Chess, and why should I care?
Auto Chess ironically enough started as a mod for Dota 2 by Drodo Studio. Just like DOTA was a Warcraft 3 mod, it seems fit that DOTA has spawned its own genre from a mod. Auto Chess released in January of this year and slowly started to take over Twitch. Valve, the company behind DOTA saw the huge growth of Auto Chess and decided to make their own DOTA inspired AC game, DOTA Underlords. Meanwhile Drodo Studios launched Auto Chess.
DOTA Underlords and Auto Chess registered over 8 million players by May. With such a huge following, Riot Games, the minds behind League of Legends decided to get involved too, thus TeamFight Tactics was born.
Launching at the end of June, TFT has slowly been taking over Twitch. Within its first month of Beta launch, TFT was peaking at over 200K concurrent daily viewership on Twitch. That puts it on par with Fortnite.
TFT is huge right now and with ranked mode, more heroes and tournaments on the way, it looks to dominate for the rest of the year.
But what exactly is TeamFight Tactics and Auto Chess?
In the most simplistic terms possible, TFT is a real time card game. I know what you are thinking, “A card game? It looks nothing like a card game” but hear me out. Just like on Hearthstone, Magic and other card games, you decide upon an archetype and build your deck around it.
At the start of a game of TFT all 8 players have a rotating circle of heroes to choose from, with each hero having an item too. All 8 players have to rush to try and get their desired hero before being teleported to your own little island.
Here you will face three rounds of minions to kill and get some gold to start building the foundation of your team. You receive a few gold after each round and if you are lucky enough and item or two. These items can be combined to create incredible power ups for the equipped hero.
Each round in TFT you are offered five cards to buy, each with its own unique traits. Ranging from Noble, Deamond, Sourcerer, Ranger and many more. Hero’s cost from 1 gold to 5. If you manage to buy three of a single hero they will come to make a Silver rank. These have better stats than their base level counterparts and can really change the course of a match. Manage to get three silver tiers of the same character and you will receive a gold tier of that hero. It’s not that simple though as the hero pool is shared by all 8 players meaning you have to be fast and lucky to grab that gold hero you so desire.
As you kill minions you also level up. Then as you level you can also place more heroes on the board. Each level equals one hero space on your board. By the time you finish the PVE round you can place three heros on the board and will have had three draft phases for heroes. By this time you will be seeing what type of build you will be able to go for during the rest of the match. Have you been lucky enough to grab three Nobels? Then a full Nobel build with some Rangers looks good for you.
The complete randomness of TFT is one of its best bits. You can go into a game thinking I want to play Range Glacial and not land a single of either. To survive in TFT you have to think on your feet and adapt to what others are doing. If everyone is going for that Garis then you are unlikely to get a Gold Garis, so it could work out best to go for a counter build.
You have a rather large space to place your heroes in preparation for battle. You tend to want your big tanky heroes at the forefront with your squishy DPS at the back. Your team will automatically attack and use abilities, hence the team Auto Chess.
When the fourth round rolls around, things change up. Instead of battling some little monsters, you will battle another player. Your main aim here is to build a team of hero’s that work together to beat your 7 counterparts teams. If you lose you take damage depending on how many heroes your opponent has and how powerful they are. If you take 100 damage, you are out of the game. Last person standing take the W.
TFT has a great comeback mechanic though in the form of items. After a handful of rounds, everyone is teleported to the rotating carousel of heroes with items. The bottom two players in health have first pick, followed by the next two all the way up to the highest two players having to pick up what’s left.
You can grab that last hero you need or item to complete your build, so this round is a huge comeback for struggling players. I’ve won and lost games on the carousel.
While you’ve been battling and hopefully winning, you will have been building up a tasty amount of gold. Apart from buying units you can also spend your gold rerolling you’re selection of hero’s to try and get what you need. This costs 2 gold and can be really useful, but can also hamper you.
Gold can also be used to level up by buying XP. 4 XP will cost you 4 gold. Managing your economy is key to victory. For each 10 gold you have at the end of the round you will receive an extra gold all the way up to 50 gold. The more gold you have the more you will receive at the end of every round.
Ideally you will land on your desired build early and then focus on leveling up to get more until out for even bigger buffs while getting gold units across the board. With RNG being such a huge part of TFT though, this hardly ever pans out.
Every game can feel so different to the last depending on what units and items you managed to get. One game may be a full Assassin build, your next game a Brawler with Shape Shifters, every game is random and fun.
Just like the random loot in Battle Royals, the random rolls in TFT make gameplay sessions interesting and exciting. Players that can adapt will have a far better time than people who go aimlessly for a single build.
Now I’ve explained TFT I hope you see where I draw my comparison to card games from. While card games may not be for everyone, TFT is a fresh take on the genre and is super fun. I’ve been playing for a week now and play several hours a day. I’m working on perfecting builds and items ready for ranked mode later this month. You can also play with friends, I play daily with 7 other friends. Each game lasts around 30 minutes and is an experience.
I hope you have an understanding now of TFT and Auto Chess and may give it a try!
See you on the battlefield!