I should have published this guide earlier because it's what I would consider a beginner fundamental guide.
Understanding how to control your economy in-game is going to help you win more rounds in a half. I see it all the time in lower ranks, people buying Spectre and half shields every round. There's absolutely no need to do this and you should NOT be doing this. Your goal as a team every half is to have as many full buy rounds as possible. You don't want to start a round and be at a disadvantage because you force-bought SMG's and half armor and you're up against rifles, heavy shields, and full utility.
Let's start with the basics of how the economic system works in VALORANT.
You start every half with 800 credits
For each kill, you receive 200 credits
If you win a round you receive 3000 credits
If you lose a round you receive 1900 credits
There are also loss bonuses. If you lose 2 consecutive rounds you receive an additional 500 credits (2400). If you lose 3 consecutive rounds you receive another bonus of 500 making it 2900.
When you are an attacker and plant the spike, everyone on your team receives 300 credits. This is why you see a lot of professionals planting even after they win the round from eliminating all the defenders.
If you save (staying alive with your weapon) you only receive 1000 credits in the next round. So make sure you decide whether it's worth it to save or not. If you have a rifle + heavy shields + utility, it's probably worth it to keep your weapon and armor into the next round. If you have a Sheriff and nothing else, it's best to go and die so you receive the full amount of credits in the following round.
The maximum amount of credits you can have is 9000. If you're coming close to this amount and someone on your team has a lower amount of credits make sure to buy them to level out the total team credits.
If you suck at math, no problem because in the buy menu it will tell how many credits you'll have for the next round. It plans for the worst so it assumes a loss. If you win the round you'll have more credits than what's displayed.
Pro-Tip! If you accidentally purchase the wrong weapon you can right-click it to sell it back. I wish this feature existed in Counter-Strike when I was playing. I can't tell you how many times I accidentally bought the wrong weapon and was stuck with it.
Now that you have the basics, I'll cover what you should be buying on each round.
These are the most commonly purchased items on pistol rounds.
Frenzy + Utility. An example would be Frenzy + Cloudburst on Jett.
Ghost + Utility. An example would be Ghost + Devour or Leer on Reyna.
Light Shields + Utility. An example would be Light Shields + 2x Shock Bolts or 1 Owl Drone on Sova.
All Utility. There aren't many agents where I would recommend buying all utility over an upgraded pistol or light shields but Sage is an agent where I personally buy the Barrier Orb and both Slow Orbs. Her utility is insanely strong on pistol rounds.
If you lost pistol round. SAVE on the second round so you can have a full buy (Rifle + Heavy Shields + Utility) in the 3rd round.
If you won the pistol round, invest! Common purchases for the second round are.
Spectre + Heavy Shields + Utility if you have credits
Bulldog + Heavy Shields + Utility if you have credits
Marshal + Heavy Shields + Utility if you have credits on maps like Breeze, or if you think the enemies are full saving. Marshal 1 shots a person in the body with no armor.
Guardian + Heavy Shields + Utility if you have credits on maps like Breeze, or any map that has long-range gunfights.
I would prioritize purchasing a weapon and shields before utility in lower-ranked games.
Third Round "The Bonus Round"
If you won the pistol round and the second round, depending on how many of you died in the second round you want to try and "bonus" here. A bonus round is basically investing minimally and trying to steal this round to set yourself up economically for the next few rounds.
If 3 or more of you stay alive with your second-round weapons then you should bonus. The players who stayed alive would drop their upgraded pistols (Ghost, Frenzy, Sheriff) to the teammates that died in the second round. If there are no upgraded pistols then the players who died will buy an upgraded pistol and armor. The key point in this round is to make sure you still have enough money for the 4th round to fully buy (Rifle + Heavy Shields + Utility) even if you lose. If you win this round then you're going to get upgraded weapons from your enemies and a good stash of credits in your bank.
Another pro-tip. If your team is bonusing, try and do something aggressive or set up Crossfires, Contacts, and Baits because you're at a gun disadvantage. You don't want to take long-range 1v1 gunfights with your Spectre vs a Phantom/Vandal. You need to do something if you want any chance of winning the bonus round, and when you have SMG's think about strength in numbers.
If you lost the first 2 rounds then this is your first full buy round (Rifle + Heavy Shields + Utility).
Rounds 4 - 12
For the remainder of the half, if ALL of your teammates do not have a minimum of 3300 credits to buy a rifle + light shields, you should save. Even if you have 3300 it may not be enough to buy. If no one on your team has utility it's best to save. Utility can help you win rounds. If you have money but not quite enough to buy rifles, you may want to invest in a half buy (Spectre or Sheriff + shields) and try to win a round when your enemies think you're saving, but ALWAYS make sure you have enough credits for the coming round to full buy.
Remember the goal every half is to have as many full buys as possible.
That's it for the basics of the credit system in VALORANT!
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