The Beginner’s Handbook for TFT, Chapter 2, The Fundamentals of Resource Management

Table of Contents

The Fundamentals

Now that you’ve learned the basic concepts at the core of TFT, we can jump into the game, beginning with the introductory fundamentals. Learning these fundamentals should be more than enough for anyone to start playing and seeing success in ranked queue. While many of the topics covered in this section may seem simple, mastery of them is absolutely key when climbing into the higher ranks. 

This section will be split into two halves; resource management and combat. The resource management section will focus on economy, levelling, and health management. Combat will cover units, positioning, itemization, and compositions.

Fundamentals of Resource Management

If I asked a less experienced player; “what are your primary resources?”, most will talk about gold. I like to think of economy not just specifically gold but the resources you have to work with. A healthy economy isn’t simply about how much gold a player has saved, it is how many available resources the player has at their disposal. 

Let’s create a scenario with two players at round 5-3

Player 1: 53 health, level 8 needing 70g to go 9, 19g with a board like this

Player 2: 16 health, level 8 needing 36g to go 9, 62g with a board like this

When looking only at gold, Player 2 has more raw gold to use, however, when we look at the bigger picture of what the player has resource-wise, they have much less to work with. 

Player 1 is running a Guild Ragewing board. All units are 2* aside from Hecarim. With the gold, health, and the current board they have to work with, they have several options:

  1. Rebuild econ to push level 9 at stage 6
  2. Choose to roll for Hecarim 2*
  3. Swap in Shyvana or bard for Hecarim/Varus/Sejuani

Of course, the correct decision is dependent on the situation, however, the point is that the player has the resources available to execute multiple options if need be. 

In comparison, Player 2 is running a full dragon board. None of his dragons are 2* other than Shi-Oh-Yu. The player needs to 2* at least two of their legendary dragons in order to stabilize against the other boards which alone will cost 32g without factoring in gold spent rolling. Here is where things start to break down. Consistently hitting 2* legendaries usually requires the player to be level 9 (exceptions exist). Player 2 has the following options:

  1. Attempt to roll down all gold at level 8. The odds of hitting 4 specific legendaries needed being less than 1% (assuming the benefit that not a single other legendary unit has been bought)
  2. Level to 9 with 26g remaining and rolling. The odds of hitting 4 specific legendaries needed being less slightly over 1% (assuming the benefit that not a single other legendary unit has been bought)
  3. Attempt to hard sell board and hard pivot

Options one and two are both extremely risky statistically speaking and likely to fail. The play with the hypothetical highest chance for success would be a hard pivot. With a 2* Shi-Oh-Yu already owned, player 3 can sell the other dragons and have over 90g to roll for some variation of jade/whisper. The issue with this is that such a drastic pivot has an extremely high skill requirement to execute successfully in a single turn. If the player had more health to work with, the demand for such a drastic single-turn pivot wouldn’t be as great, but with their current health, it is likely that Player 2 will die with a single loss. A player with 40-50 health in the same situation could afford to take longer to stabilize. 

While Player 2 may have the gold to execute a sound decision, due to a lack of other resources (in this case health), it is unlikely that the position can be salvaged. Conversely, a player may have won streaked the early game, and managed to get to stage 5 with 50 health while donkey-rolling the entire time. The board starts to fall off, and now a transition is required. In this situation, the player has health but lacks gold. 

In order to avoid these sorts of situations, we need to learn how to properly manage our economy at all stages of the game.

Gold

If you watch experienced players play TFT, you will find that most players adopt one of three main economic styles into their gameplay. These are aggressive economics, greedy economics, and balanced economics. The style of economics that you apply to your game mostly depends on the situation presented, but also on how you play and view the game holistically. 

AGGRESSIVE ECON

Players spend gold more aggressively in order to maximize board strength and punish others, allowing you to win streak and hold an advantageous position transitioning into the later stages. Playing aggressively can allow a skilled player to totally control the tempo of the match and secure early decisive victories. 

Some drawbacks exist to this strategy that can be extremely punishing, particularly to less experienced players. There is a much higher risk involved with this strategy since you are essentially trading gold for early power. If you aren’t hitting the needed units to stabilize, not only are you transitioning into later stages in a weak position board-wise, but you are also now playing with an extremely weakened (in some cases, unsalvageable) economy. Likewise, it is crucial that players maintain win streaks when playing aggressively, as it is relied upon to recover from the gold deficit. Additionally, when playing an aggressive style, players will often need to have knowledge in pivoting and transitioning, as many strong early comps can fall off in later stages, and if a player cannot leverage the advantages to build a strong late game board, they will often lose otherwise decisive victories. 

GREEDY/MAX VALUE ECON

Players trade health and board strength for gold so that they can push levels as fast as possible and build a powerful late-game board. Usually, this is done by sacrificing units to make interest breakpoints and loss streaking in the early game. If losses are managed well and the player is able to build a strong board, often times they will be in an unbeatable position with capped boards before anyone else. Another added benefit is that since players using this style often play weak boards early, they will usually have carousel items and champion priority. When playing this style, players also have the benefit of flexibility, since they aren’t locking themselves into a comp early. They can assess other players and build a stronger late-game board around what they are going up against. 

The biggest downside to this style is that players must be able to mitigate loss damage as much as possible and know when rolling down is required to stabilize. They must also know how to play their strongest board at any given point, either to take minimal losses or to pivot into a strong board late game. Failing to do these things will result in players bleeding out early and losing the opportunity to capitalize on the econ advantage they built or taking one bad loss late game which results in missing top four.

BALANCED ECON

Combining aspects of both aggressive and greedy econ, players play flexibly with their econ, playing more aggressively at certain points and passively at others. While this style is the hardest to master, it is generally the strongest style of play and will net the most wins long term. While not always dictating lobby tempo, players can play aggressively enough to punish the weaker players while not being punished as hard by those playing highly aggressively, and while they may not have the same econ as a player who greeded the lobby, they will still be in a position to push levels earlier than the aggressive players. In the different stages, balanced players can punish both other econ styles and It is less reliant on win/lose streaking. Additionally, players who are good at playing a balanced style will be less impacted by major meta changes (such as a fast 9 late game meta changing to an early reroll meta) as they are more flexible. The two big downsides to playing a balanced economy are the high-skill floor and the lack of excelling at a specific strength. While you won’t be punished by aggressive players as much as someone greeding econ, you won’t have the same early strength and as such won’t have the same strength in mid/late game transitions, and while you aren’t as punished as a greedy player, you will still be outpaced in econ in the mid and late stages. Because of this, while you won’t see balanced players going 7th or 8th regularly, they will often be stuck coming 4th-6th, especially if less skilled. 

AggressiveGreed/Max ValueBalanced
EarlySpend heavily to punish others and control tempoSacrifice health + board power to make 50g ASAPPlay strongest board and spend only as necessary
MidUse early advantage to rebuild econ and push levelsPush levels and stabilize in order to have a capped board late Play strongest board spending for rolls when necessary to keep tempo while otherwise looking to level when possible
LateTransition to a late game comp if board is falling offCapped board going into the late gameFinalize board around LVL 8-9 
ProsTempo control
Punish others early
More health to play with 
Win streak
More flexibility late game / able to adapt to other players’ boards
Carousel priority
Priority on higher tier units
Loss streak
Punish greedy players
Less punished by aggressive players
Keep pace with the lobby tempo
Flexible
Able to adapt to meta
ConsHigh-risk, high reward
Can fall off late game
Highly streak dependant
High skill floor
Can be punished too hard early
One bad loss late game can mean death
Doesn’t excel at the strengths of the others
Suffers the downsides of both
Highest skill floor

Leveling

When talking about economy, we also have to bring up leveling since both are so closely linked. Depending on the economic style you play, you will likely fall into certain leveling patterns. While no global rule exists for optimal leveling, the following patterns are the most common. 

Leveling terms: Slow roll – roll excess gold down to 50 each round, Open fort – Sell all units on board to make interest threshold, Pre-level – preemptively buy XP to automatically level up on the following round

SLOW ROLLING (2 COST)

Save Stage 1 > Stage 2

3-2 level to 6

3-2 > 4-7 slow roll each round. If board is too weak, you can roll down at 3-2 and again at 4-1 to stabilize

5-1 roll down until desired unit is upgraded to 3* and then level to 7

SLOW ROLLING (3 COST)

Save Stage 1 > Stage 2

3-2 level to 6, if losing, roll for 2* core units to stabilize

3-2 level to 6, if winning, slow push levels

4-1 level 7, then slow roll to 3* core units

Stage 5/6 push level 8 for final board and continue rolling until units are upgraded

HYPER ROLLING

Open fort Stage 1 > Stage 2 to make 50g by 2-7/3-1

3-1/2 roll down all gold to 3* your 1 cost carries

3-2 > 3-7 rebuild econ

4-1 if carries are not 3*, roll down again

4-2 + rebuild econ and push levels

AGGRESSIVE LEVELLING 

Valid strategy if you are confident in win streaking

1-3 pre-level for 4 

2-3 pre-level for 5

3-2 level 6 

STANDARD LEVELLING

1-3 pre-level if you have 2 cost pairs and/or looking for specific 3 cost

2-3 pre-level if win streaking, otherwise continue to save

3-2 level 6, roll if multiple pairs / looking to stabilize

4-1/2 level 7, roll to stabilize if win streaking can continue to push levels

5-1 level 8, roll for late game board, if hard win streaking can continue to push levels 

5-6 – 6-5 level 9, once your level 8 board is stable, look to push level 9. Once level 9, roll all gold for final board

What Style Should I Play If I’m New?

There is no one specific style that is best for new players (or any player for that matter). Econ management can differ depending on so many variables. With that being said, for new players, it is advised that you choose a specific comp and then learn the optimal economy patterns for that comp (we will talk much more in-depth about this shortly). This will allow you to learn the ins and outs of a single econ style, and from there you can build on those skills and improve econ to round out your game. 

Health Management

Health is a crucial resource, which becomes more and more valuable as the game goes on. It is the only resource that the player cannot directly affect (units and augments that regenerate health can be an exception). While there are no specific strategies for managing health, there are some rules of thumb that you can apply to help better preserve health. 

As previously mentioned, damage dealt to players scales as the game goes on, so taking damage becomes much more punishing in later stages. With this in mind, there are certain health thresholds that players should consider. 

In stages 2 and 3, players should either look specifically to win streak and save health or lose streak and sacrifice health early. Lose streaking is most valuable in the early stages as you will take lower damage than in later stages. 

If players are taking heavy damage going into a new stage, it is advisable to either level, roll, or both in order to stabilize. This is because at the start of a new stage, player damage increases, so it is advised that you stabilize at these points to maintain as much health as possible. 

At any point, if players are >20 health, all gold should be rolled down to try and salvage a higher placing.

Conclusion

Learning and improving on resource management is arguably the most important factor in early improvement and mastery of these concepts will help you drastically in climbing the ranks. In part 3 of this guide we will cover the fundamentals of combat to help round out your game.

On behalf of myself and the team at TFTGuides, I hope this guide has been informative. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this guide and what you guys are interested in learning about next.

Good luck on the ladder

– Dom

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