A Beginner’s Guide to Econ in TFT
One of the core fundamentals of Teamfight Tactics is being able to manage your economy. If you have seen our build guides or any build guides, you will notice that often times, you need very specific units to make the best team comp you can.
Many times, players will often say “The hardest part of this build is finding the units” or “I never have enough gold to find my units and then I die.” While this can be true and you can have unlucky games, the best TFT players are able to consistently build the units they want because they manage their economy efficiently.
The single most important aspect of achieving consistent performance in this game is managing your economy and the strategic decisions around it. This article is going to cover the fundamentals and then break down three different approaches for economy management.
If you want to learn other fundamentals that are critical for learning TFT, be sure to check out our Absolute Beginner guide as well.
The Fundamentals of TFT Economy
Let’s start with the basics. If you’re a new player, focus on learning these fundamentals:
- The first few rounds, you’ll gain increasing gold every round starting from 2 gold up until a base of 5 gold per round. Note: With set 3, gold income at the start of the game is much lower than previous sets, so you have to be more selective of what units you buy.
- Starting from round 1-2, you will receive 2-2-3-4 gold, and then 5 gold every round after that.
- You collect interest for every 10 gold you have up until 50. Interest is calculated at the very end of the round and ranges from 1-5 gold.
- So if you have 30 gold when the round ends you’ll get an extra 3 gold. (Here Fiora is sold to reach the 10 gold interval)
- There are win streaks and lose streaks in the game. If you are on either you will gain extra gold. Note: With set 3, streak gold has been increased dramatically, making win and loss streaks much more important to maintain in the early game.
- 2 win/lose streak: 1 extra gold
- 3 win/lose streak: 2 extra gold
- 4+ win/lose streak: 3 extra gold
Knowing the above information, there are three basic ways to play each game of TFT. Knowing what style to take and how to adjust it is the beauty of the game, and what sets apart the master from the good player.
For this article, we won’t go into too much detail but will instead focus more on conceptually giving you the tools you need to be successful. The three main approaches mirror playstyles you would find in other games of strategy (if you are an RTS veteran, now is your time to shine):
- Aggressive Economy: This focuses on power spiking early and win-streaking, punishing greedy opponents, and hopefully solidifying an advantage into late game.
- Greedy Economy: This sacrifices the early game to get you more overall gold, access to higher tier units earlier, and more chances to reroll.
- Balanced Economy: Weaker than both extremes, but with this type of economy, you can win any game if you make good decisions and are favored by fortune.
1. Aggressive Economy
The goal of this strategy is to spend as much gold as possible early on to gain an advantage. That means rerolling to find key units to upgrade and leveling early in order to gain win streak gold.
Reroll aggressively in the early levels to get the units that you want to rank up. This is usually an S-tier unit (check out our TFT champion tier list) you can build a composition around and have already received a few of.
Once you have gotten the units upgraded, you want to level up to put in other units you have ranked up so that you can keep your advantage. An example of this is placing two silver ranked units that you want to later combine onto the board.
The next thing you have to master is making sure that you know when your unit lead is strong enough to carry you for a while, and then to stop spending and start saving. This is something you can pick up with experience.
It’s the first PvP round (2-1) and you have 3 pairs. You win the first round somehow and next round you upgrade 2 units and find a good 4th unit. You then decide to roll a bit to find upgrades and then level up to put in your 4th unit.
Hyper rolling teams are a slightly different example. These builds save up all their gold until after Krugs and look for specific 1 or 2 cost units.
In these builds, the power spike comes during stage 3 if you are able to hit 3 star units. After 3-2, you will save up your money once again to either keep rolling or to slowly level to catch up to the rest of the lobby.
TFT has aspects that can make an aggressive start very potent:
- Due to rolling odds, low-cost units are easier to find at lower levels, allowing you to more easily find upgrades if you spend early. (check the chart for Set 3 below).
- Playing aggressively will allow you to build a win streak and regain the gold you spent while also maintaining a high health pool.
- You will punish greedy economy opponents with your strong team early on. If the speed of the meta is very slow, you can gain an advantage and place top 4 by playing aggressively to counter the meta.
With any strategy, there will be weaknesses involved that can punish an aggressive start:
- If you spend your money early and are unlucky and don’t find upgrades, you may be royally screwed. No money + no upgraded units = Top 8.
- If another player ruins your win streak, you may not gain enough gold to recover in the mid and late game.
- Your team will likely fall off late game, unless you are able to gain enough gold and naturally find strong late game units.
- Win streaking early will allow you to maintain high HP, but this will also mean you may not get the item components you want from carousel, leaving yourself at the hands of RNG.
When should I be aggressive?
Think of this as an all-in play. It’s high risk but can be high reward. If you don’t level up the units you were targeting, it can be disastrous.
- If you get a great roll on an early S- tier unit and want to build around it. (See team comps for hyper roll builds).
- If you get great item components (refer to our TFT item tier list) and have a carry like Xin Zhao that you are close to upgrading.
- If you see a lot of people playing slow (this can be hard if you are inexperienced).
- If you feel comfortable knowing when to switch to saving.
- If you are a hot blooded person and want to crush your enemies swiftly.
2. Greedy Economy
This strategy relies on getting to the 50 gold threshold as fast as possible so you can start raking in that maximum interest. From one perspective, being greedy is actually quite reliable, since you can’t always control whether you win or not, but you can ALWAYS control how much you lose.
You want to make sure that you are hitting your interest thresholds as soon as possible. That means you aren’t buying much at all outside of really strong core units that you think you will need.
You don’t want to level up before you reach 50 gold either and have accrued your first interest. This means that when the game prompts you with a message to level up the round with the golems, DON’T DO IT.
Every gold you spend early will cost you time and interest before you hit the threshold.
Be careful though. You want to field a strong enough team to not lose too much HP and to not lose to creeps. Losing to creeps will make you miss out on valuable items. Feel free to equip strong finished items on units you know you are going to sell and use them as item holders before you find your carry.
Also, remember that you can buy units when you can’t reach an interest threshold and then sell them to reach the interest threshold next round. You should be doing this in case you can make a pair into a 2 star unit.
You have three units on the board at round 2-1, 8 gold in the bank, and 2 units on the bench. You quickly assess the upcoming fight and realize that you won’t win by a long shot. You decide to sell everything on the bench, go to 10 gold and continue to lose streak until 50 gold.
Once at 50, you level to 6, pick up Kayle and put your items on her. You start winning, level to 7, and keep rerolling to build around your Kayle all while staying above 50 gold.
Once it looks like you are close to dying, or around 30 HP, you spend all your gold either rerolling or hitting level 8 and then rerolling.
There are several advantages that work in your favor when you are being greedy.
- GOLD! You have more overall gold to work with by the end of the game
- It’s fairly easy to maintain a lose-streak into the mid game since your units will likely be weaker than teams that opted to look for early upgrades.
- If you find lots of natural upgrades, you can both win streak and greed your gold, putting you in great late game position.
- You have priority on the carousel and can pick units/items that fit your plans.
- You have the ability to see what your opponents are building before you commit to a composition.
With more gold, you are more likely to find high cost units in the late game.
Just like Aggressive Economy, playing greedily brings its own problems.
- Even if you are able to stabilize your team in the late game, one bad loss can take what little HP you might have left over.
- Depending on how many players play aggressively, you might take too much damage to even make it to the late game.
- You might not be able to reroll your gold fast enough in the late game to ensure you can stay alive once your HP dips too low.
When should I be greedy?
You can almost always rely on this strategy to get you to a certain point. The difficulty is understanding how to balance your HP loss with your gold gain and when you should spend to go under the 50 gold threshold.
- You have a bad hand to start and can’t really make any 2 star units to contest your opponents.
- You are a bit more experienced and prefer having a lot of gold to make decisions from a late game position with intelligence on your opponents.
- You understand breakpoints with income and levels really well. You never want to level with 2 exp carry over, and you don’t want to miss your income threshold.
- You know how to dump gold fast and can see that moment before it’s too late by assessing your rounds.
- You only want to hard force 1 build every game, and thus play greedily to ensure you find the right units every game.
3. Balanced Economy
This is what most other games would consider a standard opening. You don’t want to limit your options early by committing to an econ strategy, and you want to be able to pick up important units while being able to hit interest thresholds and level at a steady rate.
Unfortunately, this is also the hardest strategy to play, since you have to know what to pick up, what to keep, when to sell, when to level, and when to cross interest thresholds. That’s why mastering one of the other economic strategies can lead to quicker results for you since you are playing a specific strategy really well.
You want to make smart moves to steadily progress in level and economy. Buy strong units, keep pairs, and only level or reroll if you have a specific purpose in mind.
Don’t spend gold early besides maybe one or two rerolls at level 3 to find some good 2-star units. Then save straight to 50 gold, and level up only to put in key units on your bench that you have built and can have an impact with a synergy on the board.
You also want to recognize your win streaks and lose streaks and play accordingly. Leveling during a losing streak when you are below 50 gold makes no sense since you want to keep losing and are in no rush to make your board stronger.
In the early game you’ll often find yourself holding many pairs. In most scenarios, you will want to start making interest as early as possible. In this picture, I sell Malphite, Caitlyn, and my Fiora pair to hit 10 gold, and put in Kai’Sa. I already have 2 losses built into my streak, so I don’t want to roll or level up. I can continue losing to build up more gold.
At this point in the game, I find an upgraded Mordekaiser in the shop. Building this unit will make my team a lot stronger, so I have two options.
Buy Mordekaiser and hope I continue to lose, or buy Mordekaiser and level up to try and start a win streak. Playing a balanced playstyle means you will have to think about these decisions constantly, and making the correct one will not always be easy.
Flexibility and ability to win most games.
- Being able to lean more towards a greedy or aggressive economy at any point based on your rolls and your opponents can be very powerful.
- Keeps your options open for different unit opportunities during the early to mid game.
- Can lose streak or win streak depending on the game state.
- You have the tools you need to stand up to aggressive opponents while still somewhat keeping up with passive opponents in the late game.
- Once mastered, you will quickly adapt to any meta or patch changes
While being an “ideal strategy,” the ideal decisions aren’t always made.
- While you have the best of both worlds in terms of aggressive and greedy playstyles, you also suffer both weaknesses.
- Making the wrong decision can ruin your economy making it extremely difficult to recover.
- A semi-aggressive start that flops will make it extremely hard to recover.
- A semi-greedy start can lose too much HP before you are able to recover.
- By not fully committing to a strategy, you may find yourself in awkward situations where full commitment would have resulted in a better result.
- Being able to adapt constantly to enemy boards, given units, items, etc will be a very steep learning curve.
When should I be balanced?
This strategy is like a swiss army knife. If you know how to weave between different options, you can easily be successful with this strategy in any situation.
- If you are experienced and understand the different conditions that you can take advantage of at different critical rounds.
- If you have a reasonable start, but not stellar and don’t want to commit to anything just yet.
- If you have a strong grasp of all the different compositions in the game and can switch between them based on the rolls you are getting.
- If you are good at scouting opponents and building appropriately.
Bonus Advanced Tips
Ideal strategies often are reactions to the meta.
If you’ve been playing TFT throughout set 2, or throughout any set really, you might have been in a situation where one patch you just can’t seem to win, whereas another patch you were dominating.
You understand what strong team comps are and try to build them, but have trouble adjusting. What you might not have realized is that economy playstyles often adjust with what meta comps are strong.
In set 2, patch 9.24B was a patch where late game units like Amumu and Nami were built into almost every comp. Units like Olaf, Kha’Zix, and Brand were all very strong.
Because of this, players often played semi-greedy and prioritized gold and leveling to hit these high level units. Players often leveled up to 7 and 8 earlier and didn’t roll much before then.
Contrast patch 9.24B with 10.1, where Azir and Sivir along with blademasters are some of the most potent carries in the game. Because of this, games have become a lot faster.
More players roll down at level 6 to look for strong 3-cost units. As a result, slower comps that revolve around 4 or 5 cost units may have trouble keeping up.
With this in mind, players should try to learn the ins and outs of playing both greedily and aggressively as they will adapt faster to meta changes in their playstyle.
Playing for Top 4
Some games you just won’t find the items you need and the champs that you need. Because of this, lots of players will often opt to ditch their basic leveling or rolling strategy and just decide to all in.
You just hit level 7 and roll down but fail to find upgrades on half of your team. You proceed to lose a round or two and fall down to 30-40 HP or lower. While you could continue to build your economy to eventually hit level 8, you can instead decide to continue rolling to ensure you are at least able to make top 4 or even 5th or 6th place.
Some games test your ability to practice loss mitigation. Rebuilding your economy and praying you high roll units can be a strategy that will net you a higher placement, but some games you have to learn when it’s time to cut your losses and try to mitigate the LP loss you are likely to receive.
Correct decision vs. Optimal decision
Sometimes, you may make a decision that will be the wrong one in hindsight. Maybe you are at 8 gold and decide to sell your Fiora pair when a Lucian and Fiora pop up in the shop immediately after..
In these situations, don’t tilt as the decision you made may have been the most optimal one at the time. Had Lucian not shown up in the shop, your decision would have been correct.
Hindsight will always make you question your decisions, but try to review your decisions as optimal rather than correct in hindsight.
These are the major ways to think about economy. I provided you with the basics but the beauty of a game like this is all the different opportunities that present themselves.
Autopiloting the same strategies and relying on memorization will get you nowhere, but mastering the fundamentals and understanding how to build on them with a style that works is a sure path to victory. Good luck out there!
We hope you enjoyed this economy guide! For team comps, tier lists, champion info, and more, be sure to check out our TFT site!