My first 60 games of TFT, not a single win. I thought it was more luck than it really should have been accused of. I changed my strategy by looking at the components of the game. And I looked at what is considered (to me, anyway) a win. And after doing this, I have some new thoughts on this mode, and would like to share a bit for those of you looking for some consolidated feedback.
After reviewing my mistakes, I have gotten into what I'd call a 50-50 winrate (to me that is 4th place or better), with 4 of my last 10 games putting me #1 and #2. Prior to this, I was at about a 70% loss rate (5th place or worse), ZERO #1, rarely #2 (quite the RNG if we're being honest), and the occasional #3 or #4. So this thread might be for you, but I will be generic and brief here and only vomit my ideas if the community seems like they care about this post.
Change #1: I finally grabbed a cheat sheet and studied synergy comps and what I like to call efficient synergy. I find I like efficient synergy and do better fishing (the only real RNG, and even that is not so true) for an efficient comp over a "meta" (think: noble/knights or noble/gunslinger everyone seems to go for).
Efficiency comps are those where 2 champs from one comp also belong to another comp, and at least one of those comps offer a synergy buff with just two people. So look at Void for this example. Here we have 3 Voids needed for a buff, and 2 of them, Chogath and RekSai are also Brawlers. So if you go for a synergy like this, you only need a total of 3 champs for 2 synergy buffs--that's one more Void since Cho/Rek grant brawler buff.
This is one possibility out of many, and you can EVEN WIN BRUTALLY with little or no synergy, at which point you might have focused mostly on only grabbing units that promote level 2 and level 3 units regardless of what they fit otherwise, at which point you are probably focused mostly on gold farming.
The trick here is to look at comps you LIKE TO PLAY, and pick like THREE or more at the time that you can work on in the early game. This is far better and smarter than looking for one magic comp like all yordles to try and get, which turns the game into a slot machine.
Change #2 I found what I think is, for me, a solid balance between leveling elements of the game. In this game you have five leveling elements:
Tier 3 champs (or Tier 2)
Map Real Estate (building a team of 9, or whatever the max may be), so leveling yourself
Building your synergies
I am still TERRIBLE with items, so I am not discussing them anytime in the foreseeable future.
But what I currently do that is consistently working is breaking the game up into three major stages
Stage 1: The Direction Stage. Come to the game knowing where you'd LOVE to be, but ready to play some other strategy if the game is "forcing you" into it. So I love brawler/void/wild or noble/knight/gunslinger starts. I try to pick around that. But if the game is tossing me sorcerers, I will start grabbing and pocketing them instead. This stage ends about the time you get to Krugs. If you don't have one or more Tier 2/3 champs and/or one or two synergy buffs and/or a huge stash of gold (30+) and/or strong lead-in towards one or more of those CONSISTENTLY, you are DEFINITELY making incorrect decisions and will most likely place 5th or worse.
For me, I like to try to have one Tier 2 champ and one or two Synergy buffs and as close to 30 gold as I can keep. When I do this, I more frequently make it to 2nd or 3rd place.
Stage 2: The Development Stage: This stage happens immediately after Krugs and ends after the next Carousel. This is the first time I will start to blow gold trying to buff champs or comps. I also keep tabs on my opponents to see who is pursuing my builds and have recently started to pay more attention to what the game is giving me the most of.
So say I was doing okay getting into a Void/Brawler comp thus far, but now no voids or brawlers of use are really showing up, but now I am getting a ton of yordles, I start grabbing yordles and thinking about who I can work with that is strongest on the map. This is far more complicated than I will explain here, but once you get an understanding of how to DEVELOP what you have vs. what you're being given vs. what your strongest opponents are doing, you will start breaking everything and most likely will win. Remember, while you're trying to improve, win means placing 4th or better so it looks like you are winning about 50% of the time. Then you try to win 1st as much as you can from that mile-marker.
Stage 3: The Last Stand. After the 2nd Carousel, the meta here is to buff as many strong champs and/or synergies as you can. I will typically ignore most every offering except those that promise a better chance at a Tier 3 or additional Synergy Buff. This is not entirely the process, but by tunnel-visioning to that goal, you will see more what you can do and thus what you should do at this point.
This is also the point I will do something "random" like grab a Miss Fortune to try and buff my damage even though she doesn't fit anything I have been doing at this point. I will look for wildcards I can use to block other people from advancing while enhancing my own team for at least one match so I can continue to fish and try to score a win.
This is probably the most LUCK-BASED part of the entire game. If you are still standing at Stage 3, you're probably going to win. But explaining how to get better at Stage 3 is very, very tedious, conditional, and yes, RNG-based to a larger degree. But even with all the luck that starts to apply, whether or not you win is still in your control to a larger degree than it seems.
And that concludes my basic, highly underdeveloped, very incomplete strategy and development. If you are losing way more than you "win" start here, and tweak things you don't do so well with (like maybe gold efficiency) later. But by doing these things to some degree and making a smart effort to improve them, you will definitely see a closer to 50-50 winrate, thus dispelling any view you hold that winning this game is mostly RNG.
To be honest, winning this game might be a lot less RNG than winning your SR ranked games.
Questions? Comments? Want me to expand more? Let me know. I am so addictied to this mode now and look forward to getting better that this might be the mode that makes me start streaming. I need a new hobby, anyway. :D
Happy Team Fighting.