Riot Games' take on the autobattler genre, Teamfight Tactics, has some randomness to it, especially when it comes to item drops. And while recent patches have tried to address and stabilize it for players, a dev took to Twitter to discuss some of the gears turning in the background.
If you're unfamiliar, the "auto chess" genre is all about building up a small army of automated units to beat other players' units. While ranking these units up is important, another major factor is getting them equipped with items that will further bolster their strengths or shore up their weaknesses. In Riot's Teamfight Tactics, you can get these items in two ways: either grabbing one during the shared draft carousel rounds, or as a random reward when fighting the "neutral" rounds against ambient monsters.
One of the major differences between Teamfight Tactics and its current major competitor on the PC, Valve's Dota Underlords, is that Underlords guarantees an item drop after every neutral round, while Tactics only has a chance to drop an item. A recent patch added a consolation, where you get some gold if you don't get any item drops, but randomness still applies—at least somewhat, according to new info from Stephen "Mortdog" Mortimer on Twitter.
Mortimer addressed the question of "why not just always give an item," by discussing the potential to build up gold as a strategy instead of items, and also mentioning that there's a system in place to help those with bad luck. "Getting no items early increases the odds of getting items later," wrote Mortimer. "So yes, there is some bad luck protection! You just have to adapt and play through your weaker early game."
Getting no items early increases the odds of getting items later. So yes, there is some bad luck protection! You just have to adapt and play through your weaker early game- Riot Mort (@Mortdog) July 18, 2019
Mortimer elaborated further, saying later game encounters should always give five gold if you get no items, and significantly tough rounds like the Dragon, Elder, and Herald "ALWAYS [sic] give items."
It's nice to hear that if Riot wants to keep the randomness, there's at least a meter to determine when odds are skewing too far away from your favor. Part of the fun of auto chess games comes in those tense reroll moments, when you're digging through shop lineups to get the last unit you need. But it feels bad when you end up getting wiped repeatedly by one player who got the exact items they need as well, especially if the make-up carousel rounds don't work out either.
As Teamfight Tactics, Underlords, and the mobile challenger Auto Chess all duke it out for supremacy in the gaming industry's latest gold rush, it'll be interesting to see how they adapt and change nuances like randomness over time. I've enjoyed what I've played of Teamfight Tactics so far, though Underlords on my phone is starting to stack up pretty well. We'll see where both stand as the year pans out and the auto chess hype cools a little.