Auto Chess is one of the biggest custom game modes available for Dota 2 right now—so big that Valve is making a standalone version (opens in new tab), while the original mod maker is building a mobile version for China. And now League of Legends studio Riot Games is moving into the "autobattler" genre with Teamfight Tactics, an eight-player mode in which combatants will buy and draft champions, place them on a hexagonal board, and send them off to do battle until only one squad is left standing.
"We believe in making big commitments to our players and fans, from updating the game every two weeks to creating seasonal events and game modes," Teamfight Tactics product manager Richard Henkel said. "Players have expressed a tremendous amount of interest in the autobattler genre, and we hope League of Legends fans are excited to see the game’s signature art, style, and deep gameplay come to life in this new mode."
The game will take place over multiple phases, beginning with a "shopping phase" that gives players 30 seconds to purchase champions from the League of Legends pantheon, equip them with items, apply level-ups, and place them on the board. After that, combat begins: Your avatar and squad will teleport to your opponent's board to try to wipe out the enemy squad, but if both players are still standing once 60 seconds has passed, they'll each take damage based on the number of opposing champions that remain on the board.
The PvP combat will be bolstered by PvE action—players will face off against three rounds of monsters at the start of each game who may drop equippable items—and while the first draft round will be simultaneous, players will draft in order in subsequent rounds, from the lowest health to the highest.
The champions themselves will be familiar to League of Legends players, with a few Teamfight Tactics twists. Each will have an Origin that grants bonus effects based on the number of champions with the same Origin that you have on your team, and also a Class that will work in a similar fashion, but with different bonus effects. There are five "quality tiers" of champions, with the higher ones being rarer and more expensive to acquire, and they can be combined into more powerful "super" or "ultimate" versions.
The Dota Auto Chess inspiration is pretty clear but in case there's any doubt, Riot tipped its hat to the mod in the Teamfight Tactics announcement. "We've always loved strategy games and recently we’ve gotten into the new auto-battler genre—folks around the office have been playing an insane amount of Dota Auto Chess in particular," the studio wrote. "We love it, and it actually got us inspired to create something new as a mode in League."
Teamfight Tactics will launch as a beta with the release of the League of Legends 9.13 patch, which is expected to go live later this month. Ranked play is expected to arrive "around" the 9.14 patch. Details are up at leagueoflegends.com.