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Teamfight Tactics Galaxies Mid-Season Update First Impressions

Finally, some information on the mid-season update is here and headed to the Public Beta Environment(PBE). Announced on tuesday, a plethora of changes are about to be tested and today I wanted to take a look at each of them and give my first impressions. Keep in mind, everything is subject to change as the official patch is still 2 weeks out. If you’d like to read the official Dev Drop post yourself, it can be found here. What Champions Are Being Removed? Void: The void trait is being removed, and with it go Kha’zix, Vel’koz and Cho’gath. Although this synergy wasn’t popular for long, in the most recent patches these 3 champions teamed up to form one of the most powerful compositions, Kha’zix carry. This change means there is no longer a way to ignore opposing resists, making your frontline more reliable while also reducing situations where your backline units feel helpless. This is likely a positive change, and the replacements for these champions are looking promising.


Valkyrie: Despite Riot Mort’s love for Kayle, Kai’sai, Kayle and Miss Fortune are going back to the champion storage locker. This came as a surprise to me, and I expected to just see Kai’sai replaced as the other two seem to meet the original design philosophy riot had for them. Regardless, with more 4 and 5 cost carries being introduced something had to go, and on a personal level I am thrilled with all of these leaving in place for hopefully more interesting units and traits. Sona: Sona had a weird time this set, being the first spam heal unit introduced to TFT but yet, was only really known for Mana Printer Sona (2 Chalice of Favor + 1 Seraph's Embrace). Sona is being replaced with both new Rebels and Mystics, and hopefully will be revisited in the future but with a more interesting design. One of the issues with Sona was she just existed in fights and it was hard to notice what she was doing unless she was being oppressive, which led to being not very exciting to play with. Sona felt like the biggest miss of this set, and I expect to see Sona return in future sets utilizing her alternating buffs like she does in League of Legends. Kassadin: Kassadin started set 3 as a unit everyone just ignored, due to awkward traits including the pre-rework Mana-Reaver but slowly became a monster. Between buffs to Kassadin, Celestial and Mana-Reaver to this day, Kassadin is likely one of the two strongest 3 cost champions (Competing with Jayce) due to his massive area of effect(AOE) disarm which crippled many compositions. Kassadin is the champion I’m most sad to see go away, and one I got on board with way too late into the expansion. Lux: Nope, they are not replacing 3 cost Lux with 7 cost Lux again, thankfully. Lux saw quite a lot of play this season offering compositions such as Mech-Infiltrators Sorcerer, or serving as extra crowd control for Dark Star’s. Lux was a powerful unit that covered many compositions weaknesses, but will be replaced with other 3 cost units. Sorcerer players don’t need to worry though, as Lux’s replacement is a glorious evolution. Replacement Champions These are champions who will be added to the set, but will only be utilizing traits that already exist. Vayne: Tier: 3 Traits: Cybernetic and Sniper Ability: Final Hour: Vayne focuses for 10 seconds, tumbling away from her target immediately, and every third attack thereafter. Vayne is invisible while tumbling and her first attack after each tumble deals 180/200/240% of her Attack Damage. Cybernetics just gained a massive upgrade, now being able to hit 6 Cybernetics without a 5 cost unit. Vayne is like combining Lucian with Shaco, a carry who can self protect to an extent in fights and when she tumbles, she drops aggro just like Shaco. Vayne will be a premier 3 cost carry moving forward, and will open a lot more decisions in Cybernetic and Sniper builds. One possibility in Cybernetics is instead of playing Ezreal and Lucian late game for Cybernetic and Chrono, instead playing Vayne + Caitlin to grant Chrono to a Cybernetics build without wasting traits. Vayne scales well with attack speed and attack damage items, and a possible item build on her is Guinsoo’s Rage Blade + Deathblade + Quicksilver


Zed: Tier: 2 Traits: Rebel Infiltrator Passive: Contempt for the weak: Every third attack Zed deals 20/40/80 bonus magic damage and steals 25/40/80% of the target’s current Attack Damage. Zed makes his third appearance, this time offering Rebels a new option. Zed gives players the option to deny opposing carries and also allows Rebel compositions to spread their units. At the start of a fight, clumping units around Zed allows for him to jump out of the clump immeditality, allowing your Rebels to spread out more instead of awkwardly being forced to move around the middle unit. Zed’s going to be a powerful option, but one that is much less flashy then previous Infiltrators. Riven: Tier: 4 Traits: Chrono Blademaster Mana: 0/25 Ability: Energy Slash: Riven dashes and shields herself for 300/450/900, then slashes forward dealing 100/150/450 magic damage. Every third cast, Riven leaps into the air and launches a wave of energy that deals 400/600/1800 magic damage. One of the most loved, yet hated champions in League of Legends is finally here and is ready to carry. Sharing the same synergies as Shen, Riven now allows for 8 Chrono builds to exist and allows Blademasters to finally have a strong Tear of the Goddess and Needlessly Large Rod user, as she is designed to scale with Magic Damage. Riven is clearly a powerful unit, but her obvious home is actually in compositions such as Sorcerers that can buff her damage and shielding to even higher numbers. Riven may end up being reliant on having a Blue Buff, but with the right items Riven is going to be an all-star 4 cost unit. New Traits And Champions Battlecast: Battlecast champions, upon dealing or taking 10 instances of damage, trigger a bonus effect based on their current health. If they’re above half health, they deal 75/150/225 magic damage to the nearest enemy. If they’re below half health, they heal for 75/150/225 instead. One of two new traits, Battlecast gives units survivability and damage depending on the situation. Units such as Kog’maw will activate this quickly and repeatedly if protected for additional damage, while frontline units such as Illaoi will be able to keep their health high. Before looking at champions, it is worth noting Battlecast is a trait that can be added to a unit via a Spatula item. Illaoi: Tier: 1 Traits: Battlecast Brawler Mana: 40/80 Ability: Tentacle Smash: Illaoi slams a tentacle in a line in front of her, dealing 125/200/325 damage and stealing 15/25/40% Armor and Magic Resist from each target hit for 4 seconds. Illaoi brings her Tentacles to Teamfight Tactics, stealing stats and encouraging opposing players not to clump their units up. Being a Brawler, Illaoi now allows for players to hit 2 Brawlers with only one cost units and 4 Brawlers no longer requires a 4 cost unit. Illaoi may open up for potential reroll compositions as well, utilizing the synergy between Illaoi, Malphite and Nocturne to get 2 Brawler, 2 Battlecast early on. Don’t expect Illaoi to carry damage wise, but expect to see her enabling your carries while also holding the frontline. Nocturne: Tier: 1 Traits: Battlecast Infiltrator Mana: 50/80 Ability: Unspeakable Horror: Nocturne terrifies his target, stunning them with fear for 2/2.5/4 seconds and dealing 200/250/400 damage over the duration or until Nocturne dies. Nocturne enters this set as the clear replacement for Kha’zix, but with a more utility focused set of traits and ability. Nocturne relies on his Battlecast and items to deal damage for him, and his ability to quickly turn fights in his favor. This isn’t like other Infiltrator’s who have been all about bursting down carries making Nocturne less of a solo carry and instead one who keeps the backline busy. Nocturne doesn’t have as much carry potential as Kha’zix, but likely will be a possible reroll build around once the mid-set update is released.


Kog’maw: Tier: 2 Traits: Battlecast Blaster Mana: 0/30 Ability: Barrage: For 3 seconds Kog'Maw gains infinite Attack Range, 90% Attack Speed, and his attacks deal 5/7/9% of the target's maximum health as magic damage. Kog’maw is a clearly powerful 2 cost carry, synergizing his increased Attack Speed with both Battlecast and Blaster. Kog’maw gives Battlecast compositions something to protect early on, while also allowing for 4 Blasters to now be playable without a 4 cost unit. Kog’maw does have issues with Mystic and Dragon’s claw, two things that may be popular moving forward, but without those, no one will survive a Kog’maw with items for long. I expect some form of Brawler Battlecast Blasters to be strong moving forward. Cassiopeia: Tier: 3 Traits: Battlecast Mystic Mana: 0/25 Ability: Noxious Blast: Cassiopeia launches her fangs at the nearest enemy that isn't poisoned, causing them to take 1000/1500/3000 damage over 12 seconds, and reducing the effectiveness of shields used on them by 50%. Cassiopeia is the only tier 3 Battlecast unit, but she is a powerful one. With such a low mana cost, Cassiopeia applies a burn effect that can quickly take down most champions. At tier 1, Cassiopeia is dealing 83.3 damage per second quickly passing most 1-star champions while also reducing the effectiveness of shields. This is the first time we’ve seen additional counterplay to shields, but this will help deal with things such as a 3-star Poppy if she ever becomes problematic again. Being a mystic, expect Cassiopeia to be splashed into many compositions such as Protectors. Viktor: Tier: 4 Traits: Battlecast Sorcerer Mana: 0/80 Ability: Death Ray: Viktor burns a path between the two enemies who are the farthest away from each other, initially dealing 25/40/100% max health damage, then 1 second later dealing 250/400/1000 damage in an aftershock explosion along the same path. So far on the Public Beta Environment, Viktor has been one of the most powerful units whose numbers will certainly be going down before patch 10.12 goes live. Viktor allows Sorcerer compositions to have even more reach to the enemy backline, and massively punish players who group their units together. He also grants Battlecast a strong Magic Damage carry that’s well worth protecting. Expect Viktor to be one of the premier 4 cost units moving forward, and one that if found early on will be worth building around, who certainly puts Vel’koz to shame. Urgot: Tier: 5 Traits: Battlecast Protector Mana: 40/100 Ability: Fear Beyond Death: Urgot fires a drill at the farthest enemy in his attack range, reeling them in and dealing 2000 true damage repeatedly until they die when they reach him and reducing his mana cost by 10/20/60 mana. The tier 5 Battlecast unit, Urgot is a monster. Urgot has the ability to kill any unit with ease, including the Mech and currently even ignores Guardian Angel. Urgot is going to be a clear top unit moving forward, who will round out Battlecast compositions nicely while granting Protector a strong late game carry. Urgot also has the same effect a champion like Gangplank or Lulu has, where he will be able to put into most builds at level 8 or 9 for a power spike, regardless of if his traits are used or not. A unit that kills whatever it targets is a scary option for Riot to release, but is a unique design we haven’t seen before. Astro: Reduce your Astro Champs’ mana cost by 30. There are only 4 Astro champions, but champions receiving a mana cost decrease is always going to be a powerful option. Astro will likely be a trait splashed into compositions who want at least 2 of the units for their synergies, and with the additional traits being Vanguard, Mystic, Sniper and Brawler that’s not a hard task. Expect builds like Vanguard Snipers to throw in a third Astro or compositions to put Astro in early and transition out of it in their final build. Nautilus: Tier: 2 Traits: Astro Vanguard Mana: 70/100 Ability: Impact Crater: Nautilus erupts the ground beneath his target, knocking them up and stunning them for 3/3.5/4 seconds, and dealing 100/200/400 magic damage. Enemies adjacent to the target are also knocked up and stunned for half the duration and dealt half the damage. Nautilus becomes the sixth Vanguard to enter the Galaxy, allowing for 4 Vanguards to be found without a 3 cost unit and the 6 Vanguard traits has been added. Nautilus serves as a very strong frontline unit who will keep anyone who comes near him busy for long enough for your team to capitalize. I expect Nautilus to show up in a lot of compositions early on into the game, and will likely be run as the fourth Vanguard in any composition looking for 4 Vanguards such as Vanguard Snipers. Nautilus also will instantly use his ability if the Astro trait is active, putting a frontline unit like Gangplank very behind on casting his ability.


Bard: Tier: 3 Traits: Astro Mystic Mana: 0/90 Passive: Bard gains 8/18/90 additional mana each attack Ability: Traveler’s Call: Bard launches a meep onto his owner's bench which can be sold for 1 XP. Passive: Bard gains an additional mana each attack. Bard’s already been nerfed on PBE, and for good reason. Bard is a unique champion who serves as a Space Pirate like champion except for experience, allowing players to quickly get to level 8 or 9 without spending too much gold. This is a terrifying champion to add to the game, but due his lack of offensive power Bard is an investment and can’t just be played every game. For those who like going to level 8 or 9, consider playing Bard with 3 Astro’s and having him hold items using Tear of the Goddess or Recurve Bow for maximum meep collecting. One strategy that is worth considering is on the Neeko verse, if you find an early Bard using both Neeko’s on him and trying to gain as much experience as possible. Giving up a free 2-star Gangplank or other carry is definitely costly, but the potential pile of experience might be worth it. Gnar: Tier: 4 Traits: Astro Brawler Mana: 0/100 Ability: GNAR!: Gnar leaps towards his target and transforms into Mega Gnar, throwing nearby enemies, dealing 200/300/1500 damage and stunning them for 2 seconds. While in Mega Gnar form, Gnar gains 750/1250/2500 Health and 100/175/400 Attack Damage and becomes melee. Gnar returns from set 1, and is just as much of a power house as before. The replacement for Cho’Gath, Gnar takes over fights when he transforms and making sure he doesn’t hit your carries is going to be vital. Potentially only costing 70 mana, I expect Gnar to be a strong stand alone unit and will likely be played in any composition wanting either of his traits, but can also be played just as a strong frontline if needed. Astro’s are shaping up nicely, and if Gnar has anything to say about it, you’ll be seeing a lot of this trait. Teemo: Tier: 4 Traits: Astro Sniper Mana: 0/80 Ability: Satellite Traps: Teemo scatters three traps around the nearest enemy. When an enemy is close to a trap or after 3 seconds it explodes, hitting nearby enemies for 175/250/600 damage, knocking them down and massively slowing them for 4 seconds. The bane of League of Legends players, Teemo has finally snuck past the Teamfight Tactics security guards. Teemo now gives Snipers even more flexibility, making 2 or 4 Sniper substantially easier to hit, and now allows them to have a strong Magic Damage user. Due to his traps scaling with the Sniper Bonus, Teemo will punish anytime who decides the best plan is to all jump on him, as they will feel the full wrath of his bombs. This unit looks weak on the surface, but expect Teemo to be showing up quite often and I can confidently say, he hits a lot harder than it looks. Paragon: Ally Star Guardians basic attacks are converted to true damage. All other ally basic attacks are converted to magic damage Janna: Tier: 5 Trait: Paragon Star Guardian Mana: 50/130 Ability: Howling Gale: Janna summons five tornados which fly forward in a large cone. Tornados grant allies they pass through 50/100/500% attack speed for 5 seconds, while knocking up and stunning enemies for 1.5 seconds. Janna is one of a number of Tier 5 units who has their own unique trait, in this case Janna comes with Paragon. Designed as a utility unit, Janna gives compositions ways to deal with opposing units who are stacking resists, such as allowing Blasters to more easily kill Vanguard units. Of course, with Star Guardian’s Janna increases there damage substantially but expect to see Janna serve as a tech unit when compositions are in need of her, instead of a 5 unit cost to build your composition around. Janna’s ability does disrupt fights massively, and can quickly turn them in your favor Trait Changes: Chrono: Grants 15% Attack Speed every 8/3.5/1.5 -> 8/3.5/1.5/0.75 With the addition of Riven, 8 Chrono is now a trait that exists. Although it likely won’t be something players chase, the option is nice to have and may see play if someone hits multiple Force of Natures. Dark Star: Now has break points 2/4/6/8 instead of 3/6/9 and now buffs Dark Star champions when any champion dies, not just Dark Star’s. This is a massive buff to Dark Star, a composition that didn’t feel great to play before and lacked options. This makes splashing 2 Dark Star or playing only 4 a viable option, and instead playing higher quality units. Expect Dark Star to show up a lot more often with this change, and should overall be a positive change for the game. Mech Pilot: All pilots are getting buffs, but when the Mech dies, pilot’s will come out damaged This is a shift in power level of the Mech, making the Mech and units stronger but making it feel more rewarding to defeat the Mech. Many expected this to be removed entirely, but this slight rework along with the removal of Demolitionist Spatula should make this easier to balance and less horrible to play against. Sniper: Now has break points 2/4 instead of 2. With the addition of 2 new Snipers, this makes sense. Giving players a reason to play 4 Snipers was needed and should be enough to make it a viable composition. Expect to see many players trying builds with Vayne, Caitlin, Jhin and either Teemo or Ashe combined with a strong frontline for the rest of the season. This was already a powerful composition, and only gets better due to new champions, trait changes and less Infiltrator's one-shotting your important carry. Vanguard: Now has break points 2/4/6 instead of 2/4 Also gaining another Vanguard, the possibility of 6 Vanguard’s exists and should be rewarded. Currently granting 750 armor, 6 Vanguard’s will become near invincible against physical damage dealers. Janna is a counter to this if it becomes prevalent, but adding a 6 piece synergy opens up new options for players which is always a good thing. Champions: Ezreal: Ezreal will be able to cast much sooner, but deal less damage


Ezreal entered this set as a utility blaster, who took too long to cast to have a major impact. Although his ability is powerful, players typically avoided him unless they wanted both his Chrono and Blaster trait. With a shift in his power, Ezreal will hopefully be better at doing what he’s supposed to do; making abilities cost much more to many champions.


Syndra:

If Syndra kills her target, extra orb’s will move to a new target


This is a big buff to Syndra, who often overkilled enemies or used her ability on someone with almost no health. Syndra will likely need some help due to the removal of Seraph’s Embrace, but this is a pretty large quality of life change and with the addition of Janna, Syndra may be primed to return as a premier carry for Star Guardian’s.


Jhin:

Attack Speed now scales with star level


Jhin’s passive converts bonus Attack Speed into Attack Damage, making it impossible for him to attack faster. Due to this change, Jhin can actually begin attacking faster without extra items, and with this and the changes to Dark Star’s and Snipers, Jhin looks ready to be a carry again. Although a minor change, this will be noticed over the duration of a fight depending on how large of a buff this is.


Aurelion Sol:

Fighter ships now drain enemies’ mana.


Aurelion Sol was already a unique 5 cost unit, but now gains a throwback to set 1’s Demon trait. This will make it much more likely players can just play Aurelion Sol without needing Rebels as this gives additional counterplay to the opposing enemy carries such as Gangplank. Depending on how much of a drain this is, expect Aurelion Sol to show up a lot more often, both in Rebel’s and as a stand alone unit.


Ekko:

Ekko now casts sooner, and attacks a number of times instead of every enemy once while also slowing the attacks of enemies hit.


A massive buff to Ekko, a champion many would say has been underwhelming so far. Ekko struggled to be useful when only a few champions were still alive in a fight, and now should feel like a much more well rounded unit. These are big changes to Ekko, but were needed as Ekko had become a champion many avoided.


Items:


Infinity Edge:

Now grants the holder 100% critical strike chance but does less bonus damage


A mini rework to Infinity Edge, this item now is less random and should be more viable on more champions moving forward. This does pair even better with Jeweled Gauntlet now, allowing champions to Guarantee a critical strike on an ability, something that can be abused by champions such as Gangplank, Ekko or Viktor who already deal a massive amount of damage.


Rapidfire Cannon:

Your attacks can’t miss


This is a revert to a change made in previous seasons, and with the increase of dodge chance on items and champions such as Shen and Graves, this is needed. Currently there is no way to guarantee your attacks will hit, and as ways to dodge increase an effect like this is needed. This won’t be game breaking, but may be a viable item on carries moving forward who seem to struggle to close out fights, or feel destroyed by Graves.


Seraph’s Embrace:

Replaced by Blue Buff, which is: After each spellcast, the holder’s mana is set to 20.


Although a minor rework, this basically means that you cannot stack Blue Buffs, as multiple will just repeatedly set your mana to 20. This is a good fix to a problematic item, but means certain champions will likely need to see a change to there mana in order to remain viable.


Demolitionist’s Charge:

Replaced by Battlecast Armor


This is a massive change, as many players felt like Demoltionist’s charge lead to very unfun games that had little counterplay. This was evident by Demolitionist’s Charge on Kai’sai, stunning the entire enemy backline without much effort. This item was extremely hard to balance, and something had to be done and this is a good change. Battlecast Armor should serve as a powerful option for certain champions as well but should result in a more fun game overall.


Galaxies:

No new Galaxies in patch 10.12 but Lilac Nebula will be removed. In the future patches, a new Galaxy will be added and one will be removed each time.


Lilac Nebula was considered one of the least fun Galaxies by many players, as the champion you received determined a lot of the game from the start. With the addition of Gnar, Viktor and Riven, this galaxy was likely going to be even less fun and seems like the correct one to remove at first. I’m thrilled to never play against Rageblade Kayle or Infinity Edge Irellia at stage 2-1 ever again.


Systems:


Tier 3 Champion Pool:

Tier 3 Champion pool now includes 18 instead of 16 copies of each champion.


This enables 2 players to possibly 3 star a Tier 3 champion, something players have wanted for a while. This seems like a change that could be removed in the future, but with the addition of more 3 cost carries, this change makes sense in order to make them easier to find.


Champions now sell back for full value:


A massive change, players should now feel free to upgrade any and all champions as there is no longer an economic downside to this. This will give players even more reason to just play their strongest board constantly, and on the Star Cluster Galaxy expect many players to just take Tier 3 champions in order to sell them for a massive 9 gold. I’m not a fan of this change, as figuring out the balance between your economy and your strongest board was a key skill point previously, and now there is less factoring into that.


Neeko’s help will always work now:


Neeko’s help has always taken a champion out of the existing champion pool, meaning if none remained this item did nothing. Many players didn’t enjoy this, and so now if there are no champions left in the pool one will be created for you. This is an overall positive change and should lead to less players hoarding a unit from their opponent to deny Neeko, while also leading to less feel bad situations.


Concluding thoughts:


There’s a massive amount to unpack here, and even more changes have been made on the PBE in the time this article was written. Expect to see a full rundown once the patch goes live in 2 weeks, but until then hop onto the PBE and test out some of the new champions, traits and items! Have any thoughts on anything Teamfight Tactics related? Let us know in the comments or on the official Backlash Twitter.




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Timothy Chambers

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