Guild Wars 2 Class Spotlight: Thief
This is the second in a series of class spotlights we’ll be running between now and launch. These write ups are primarily going to be focused on the PvP aspects of the class. We’ll give you some down and dirty strats and builds that worked for us, but keep in mind there are many viable ways to play each class, and balancing is still ongoing so we make no guarantee that this is the be-all end-all strat of choice. If you missed it, check out last week’s Class Spotlight: Ranger.
The thief in Guild Wars 2 fills the roles of the Rogue or Assassin from other games I’ve been told, and for simplicity’s sake, I agree with this assessment. The Thief brings high damage, lower survivability to a fight, dealing death in as small a burst as possible, then running from the counter attack. The thief in GW2 plays much the same, and past experience with similar play-styles will serve well in learning to use the thief.
Strengths: 1v1 against most professions and builds Finishing off fleeing enemies Scouting Extracting themselves from “unfavorable” situations.
Weaknesses: Fighting against greater numbers Immobilize and Cripple especially, but Conditions in general will ruin your day Damage over time and AOE spells will wreck a thief’s small health pool.
Quick Tips: Don’t be afraid to build vitality on a Thief; his base health is the lowest in the game. A thief needs a ranged weapon, either a shortbow or a main-hand pistol. Without this, a Thief is mostly deadweight in a major skirmish, where overlapping AOEs will shred a low-health melee character. Most of a Thief’s defense is his evasiveness; timing the dodges and evasive skills properly will help preserve your valuable health.
The class-specific mechanics used by the thief are Stealth, Shadow-stepping, Stealing, and Initiative. Stealth renders your character completely invisible to the opposing teams, and causes NPCs to de-aggro (Note that NPCs will remain aggro-ed for the duration of a channeled spell, so stealthing after they begin to channel and becoming visible before the NPC completes the channel will not cause them to lose aggro). Allies will still be able to see your name over your character’s head, and your character model will render for them as a blurry silhouette. The thief has various ways of applying stealth both to themselves and their allies. Shadow-stepping is a basic teleport, moving you instantly from one location to another within a moderately large radius. Shadow-stepping will NOT…
- Move you UP a cliff
- Move you DOWN a cliff
- Move you UP a Keep Wall
- Move you Down a Keep Wall
- Move you over a Chasm
In general, Shadow-stepping will only move you to a location you can reach by walking. Stealing is the mechanic unique to the Thief, and can either make or break a fight. “Steal”, bound to the F1 key by default, will cause you to shadow-step to your target and gain a random new skill based on the identity of that target. Stealing from an Elementalist can give you a staff, allowing you to cast a powerful spell that damages and applies a condition to your target. Stealing from a Warrior could give you a rifle that knocks back your target and causes bleeding. The pinnacle of all stolen skills however, is “Throw Gunk”. This skill creates a splash of toxic mud, adding a random condition every second to enemies that stand in it (This will almost always win you a 1v1 fight, as an enemy that is Blind, Poisoned, Chilled, Burning, Weakened, and Crippled will not stand a chance against a rabbit, let alone a high-DPS thief.)
Initiative is what separates the DPS of the Thief from other burst-damage classes. The thief has no cooldowns on his/her weapon skills (skills 1-5). Instead, the thief uses a resource called Initiative, which is consumed when performing skills 2-5. This allows the thief to repeatedly cast the skill most fitting to the situation, whether Head Shot to constantly daze an Elementalist trying to cast Meteor Storm, or Heartseeker Strike on a low health enemy to inflict maximum damage. There is a downside to this style of play; after a thief has used all their initiative, their damage potential is much lower, and they need to fall back and wait for their Initiative to recharge before renewing the attack.
I build my Thief with more of an emphasis on staying alive, rather than the glass-cannon build I expect the majority of players will use at launch. In my time playing the beta however, I found that while I took more damage when fighting thieves, I survived longer and ended /bowing over their corpse.
I start with maxing out the Acrobatics tree, which give Health and extends boon duration. For skills I take the reduced falling damage, bonus move speed when stealthed. The third skill has changed repeatedly because of patches, but at the moment I take “Assassin’s Reward”, which heals me as I use skills 2-4.
I take 15 points in Trickery and Shadow Arts just for the third traits, which are: three more maximum initiative and extended stealth duration, respectively. I take the two major traits that buff my play style.
Lastly, I spend my last points in the Critical Strikes tree, mainly for the new trait that adds 5% of Precision to Vitality. This caters to my plans for building my equipment and weapons.
My build is focused around becoming too slippery and speedy to be caught and killed, while still dealing enough damage to wipe the floor with squishy Elementalists and the like.
For my equipment and weapons stats, I plan to spec: Power, Precision, and Condition Damage.
For 6-0 skills, I keep the default healing spell, as it removes those nasty DOTs, and is a reliable way to hit stealth quickly. For Utility skills, I take Shadow-step, which teleports a fair distance, and breaks out of stuns. I take Shadow Refuge, which gives stacking stealth duration to allies (and self) the longer they are within range, as well as minor healing. Lastly, I take Signet of Shadows and NEVER USE IT. The passive +25% movement speed is just to good for outrunning/chasing the enemy, and its active ability is fairly useless. For the Elite Skill, I default to the one ability that does damage, and with the recent patch adding Stability while it is active, I’m pretty sure it is the best choice for a non-venom based Thief build.
I use duel-wielded daggers as my main, and duel-wielded pistols while waiting to close in for the kill. I tried the shortbow, and found it usually didn’t have the range to hit targets while on a keep wall, so its lower DPS compared to the pistols made it not an option for me. The sword felt like a sloppy, less damaging version of the dagger, and it’s 3 skill is, in my opinion, inferior to the Death Blossom when duel-wielding daggers, so my preference is clear, though I can see both the sword and shortbow as dangerous weapons in practiced hands.
Well, thats about I’ll say on this topic, and I’ve already said more that I was planning. Keep in mind this is not a mainstream Thief build, and is made to match my own playstyle of Traits for Survival, Skills for Utility, and Equipment and Weapon Stats for MAXIMUM DAMAGE.
- By Blue Silence