Teamfight Tactics fell into an ugly cycle of an overpowered team comp dominating the ranked ladder and then being nerfed into the ground. First it was Nobles, then Shapeshifters, then Wild Assassins, and so on. But Riot is looking to fix this going into Set Two: Rise of the Elements.
TFT lead designer Stephen “Mortdog” Mortimer shared some takeaways from the autobattler’s Set One in the Nexus today, asking to be held to a “higher standard” for balancing champions and the game.
“Over the course of Set 1 we tried a variety of tactics—such as nerfing multiple aspects, a single aspect in a big way, or a single aspect in a small way—and we learned what works and what swings things too far,” Mortdog said. “So in Set 2, hold us to an even higher standard for balancing the game so that a wider variety of comps can win in a given patch.”
Mortdog broke down the future plans for champion balance into three points based on lessons learned from Set One’s trial period.
“Trait tax shouldn’t be as severe”
Many players would hold on to weak champions, like Fiora, Lissanda, and Mordekaiser, to use them for a powerful trait bonus. Keeping an underwhelming one-cost Mordekaiser to achieve the Phantom bonus, which severely damages one enemy unit at the start of a round, was a common occurrence.
This also limited the types of team comps that players were willing to run because they didn’t want to hold on to the weak champions, according to Mortdog.
“Even bad champs should have a fantasy”
Weaker champions should still be viable given the right circumstances. Although every unit shouldn’t have the potential to dominate the board, Riot plans to open up situations to allow for untapped power.
Imperial Assassin Katarina, for example, is a subpar three-cost unit. When paired with items like Jeweled Gauntlet, however, the Sinister Blade can wipe out the opponent’s board and carry the game. Mortdog said that this is a healthy example of champion versatility that will be expanded on in Set Two.
“Champions shouldn’t be overloaded”
Certain units are able to do it all. Pantheon has a built-in Morellonomicon, stun, and deals area of effect (AoE) percentage health damage. Akali’s ability can crit without the help of a Jeweled Gauntlet and Dragon Shapeshifter Shyvana gets a free Dragon’s Claw from her trait, a Red Buff on auto attacks, and a burn effect. All three of these overpowered champions influenced their own meta, creating an unhealthy dynamic that needed to be balanced.
Set Two will keep these sorts of champions in check during the design process, according to Mortdog.
Fans eager to jump into Set Two: Rise of the Elements will be able to do so in early November.