'League of Legends' auto chess comes to mobile on March 19th

'Teamfight Tactics' is Riot's first foray into smartphone gaming.

Riot Games is almost ready to launch its first-ever mobile game. Today, the developer announced that Teamfight Tactics, a League of Legends mode inspired by Dota 2's popular auto chess mod, will be coming to iOS and Android devices on March 19th. The mobile version will be free-to-play and crossplay compatible with the existing PC community. It will also ship with a brand-new tutorial, ranked play, and the space-themed Galaxies expansion announced last month. That includes the free Galaxy Pass and premium Galaxy Pass+ — a take on Fortnite's Battle Pass that, for a limited time, allows players to unlock special cosmetics with experience points.

The auto battler, if you need a refresher, turns the characters from League of Legends — one of the most successful multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) titles in the world — into digital chess pieces. You select a starting champion with your Little Legend avatar and then, at the start of each round, slowly buy and deploy more units on a grid-shaped board. You then face off against one of seven opponents (they're chosen randomly each round) and sit back as your tiny army tries to overwhelm the opposing force (troops fight on their own, hence the 'auto' part). If you can outlast the other seven players, you're declared the victor and win some goodies.

Teamfight Tactics is the first of many Riot titles planned for mobile. The developer has already announced a smartphone-friendly version of League of Legends called Wild Rift that is scheduled to come out later this year. A console version has also been teased, though it's unclear when that will actually be available. In addition, Riot is bringing Legends of Runeterra — a League-themed card game similar to Hearthstone, Artifact and The Elder Scrolls: Legends — to mobile devices soon. (The game actually soft-launched in Singapore last week, if you can't wait for the global release and don't mind changing your device's App Store or Play Store location.)

Riot Games isn't content with mobile domination, though. The company is developing a team-based shooter called Valorant that combines the gunplay of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive with the fantastical abilities and colourful art style of Overwatch. It should be released later this year and is, for now, the only Riot-developed game not set in the League of Legends universe. In addition, the company is pushing forward with Riot Forge, an initiative that allows external developers to make games with the League licence. The first projects are Ruined King and CONV/RGENCE, two single-player adventures with unannounced release dates for PC and consoles.