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Old May 6th, 2012, 09:31   #1
Bunter
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Reflection on the Thief

Just starting the thread for now.

I played a thief for most of the Beta and I like the class.

I'll try to come up with a post to share my thoughts on the thief in the next day or two.
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Old May 7th, 2012, 00:56   #2
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I spent most of my limited time as a thief, and had a lot of fun although I had very little idea what I was doing.

The profession is the anti-button masher, as I quickly learned that standing there and cycling the numbers did little but get me killed. But while dodging side-to-side can be a part, it's clearly much more about shadowstepping in and out of trouble - so many of the skills bounce you back and forth. I wound up playing a lot with a pistol and a dagger, but much of my time was spent before weapon-swapping. Ultimately, I think dual pistols or a shortbow in one set and two daggers or a sword and dagger in the other set will be the most common way to go.

I also completely failed to really use my F1 steal ability. That's top of the list for practice next time.

Managing both initiative and stamina is tricky - they both deplete so quickly. I'm hoping higher levels and traits will let me address that a bit.

I never got to try PvP with the thief. I imagine it's really difficult to master, but extremely annoying to come up against someone who knows what they're doing with it.
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Old May 9th, 2012, 20:56   #3
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I''ve come to realize I'm not much of an analyst regarding skills/classes etc. I just use the class and see how it feels. I do know that to play a thief, you really have to know what skills you have and what they do. Unlike other classes a thief has no cooldown on it's skill and therefore you can use the same skill over and over using a portion of it's initiative bar each time. Too many uses of the same skill and all your skills become useless as you don't have the initiative to use them. You have to know what skills you have on your bar, what their initiative cost is and judge whether or not you're going to need a certain skill in the near future. This different style of play along with medium armor and the lowest health pool in the game makes the thief challenging to play but at the same time it's great fun once you get the hang of it. The class is at it's best when you have other party members to help share aggro which makes the thief play a lot differently than when you solo. All in all it's a very fun yet at times frustrating class to play.

I primarily used Dagger/Dagger and Shortbow as my skill swaps. The DD is the higher damage set but mainly set for one target but can be useful on up to three targets with leaping death blossom and dancing dagger. The shortbow is the AoE for a thief and while not the best in terms of damage, the #1 autoattack with it's bounce can be used to concentrate damage on a target because if you only have 2 targets in range, it will hit #1 bounce to #2 and then bounce back to #1. The #3 is a nice evade as it cripples the foe in melee range while jumping you back.

I can't comment on PvP use as I'm really a noob when it comes to PvP.
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Old May 10th, 2012, 15:50   #4
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My experience with a thief is nearly exactly the same as Bunter's.

It took me some time to get use to the strategy that you have initiative at the beginning of fights which you use up with skills as the fight goes on. This forces you to have a clear plan on what you want to do, which skill you want to activate and when.

The available skills and their side effects confirms this. I would sum up the thief like this:

  • It is very easy to suck as thief
  • You have to know exactly which skills you want to combine in order to be effective
  • The thief is hard to kill due to the many escape skills
  • Choose a skill and build around that, for instance
    • The bleeder with Leaping Death Blossom (area damage)
    • The annoying hard to kill stealther
    • The poisener
    • etc.
  • The thief shines in group combat. It is more of a hit and run character since you can't take alot of hits due to your low HP.
  • One of the main damage appliers for the thief is bleeding. you can stack many bleedings on a target and use stealth to avoid beeing targeted. A very viable tactic against opponents who ignore conditions or without a "remove conditions" skill.
I think many people will start a thief and then drop it, since you need patience and knowledge to play the class right.

That's my 2 cents for now.

Example of how to use bleeding as damage source in PvE, from 3:00 onwards.

www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=bJqSFOoOyDw#
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Old May 15th, 2012, 16:20   #5
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Thought add some more info following a few hours of play over the Stress Test evening. Hopefully some useful info in what turned out to be a very long post!

Thief

Thief was the first profession I made in BWE#1 but with the world being so new and interesting I wasn’t giving the profession any attention, expecting to be able to just run around hitting skills and winning. As Bunter and Scarto have mentioned that is a quick way to be defeated so after it happened a few times I swapped for a Norn Warrior for rest of BWE#1.

Now with one evening of Stress Test to play I thought I’d go back to the Thief and try and see what it was all about taking into consideration what was mentioned in this thread and what gameplay advice and knowledge I had picked up from BWE#1, suffice it to say it was much more fun.

I played a Human Thief from level 2 to 7. I completed the first few heart quests and skill points around Queensvale and then rather than explore too much more went into Divinity’s Reach and ended up crafting Armor and Weapons.

You do have to pay a bit more attention to what skills do over other professions which I think is caused by several of them doing shadow steps either in or out. There is no point wasting these skills when they’re not useful. You also have the option of having no off-hand, except that removes skills 4 and 5 although replaces skill 3 with a different one. I’m not quite sure what the benefit of that is. The only skill that seems to benefit is Twisting Fang – a dagger AoE.
The Thief also uses Initiative with no recharge on attack skills which will have more detail later on. As mentioned this means you can spam which ever kills you like but be warned of their Initiative cost and effects!

It almost goes without saying but skills that shadow step you away are good for getting out of the area when taking damage or you’ve used up Endurance. Shadow steps to get in can put you right in the middle of battle or give the ability to surprise a target.

Unfortunately I only had daggers and pistols to use for most of the Stress Test, although crafted a sword to throw around towards the end. Even so I think the Thief’s skills are fairly limited compared to other professions. However it is the skill in which you can combine them that gives the variety, where as Warrior seems to be all about the damage with only a few having benefits, the ability to mix up conditions, shadows steps and critical hits is fun.
I haven’t used a bow yet so I look forward to trying out those skills too as they sound interesting.

Combat & Initiative

I wanted to note that what I’ve seen with the Thief that is different with other classes is that Skill 3 also changes with your off-hand weapon. With the Ele and Warrior I played it was just skills 4 and 5 that changed. So this mixes up the skill bar giving different options for combat.

Initiative is used as the ‘cooldown’ on Thief attack skills. As has been mentioned in previous posts the attack skills have no recharge but you have a limited amount of Initiative that is used to cast them – think of starting with full Adrenaline for Warrior in GW.
This means you want to know your cost of skills and what order to cast them for maximum efficiency in the attack chain.

You get 12 points of Initiative to start with, although Trickery trait line can increase this to 15. The most expensive skills cost 5 Initiative, with Skill 1 using none.

Attack skills

Stealing
This is the thief’s special ability used by hitting F1. I wasn’t sure exactly what it was or its use so I rarely used it during my few hours of play. To quote from wiki:
Quote:
Thieves are able to steal things from enemies, which they can then use as environmental weapons against them. In terms of game mechanics, the thief does not literally steal an item, but rather creates an environmental weapon based on the creature targeted, which the thief can store for later use. It has also been suggested that the stolen item will be taken from a pool of several possible items for each creature.
First up are the offhand skills that are common for combinations involving those weapons. Details on other changes to the skill bar based on offhand will be detailed below.
Again worth noting is that with no offhand you get a different 3rd skill, but no 4th or 5th skills…

Dagger Offhand
For all primary weapons when used with a dagger offhand it gives the following; ‘Dancing Dagger’ (throw dagger at target for cripple) and ‘Cloak and Dagger’ (stab + vulnerable condition and shadow step away).

Pistol Offhand
With all primary weapons the Pistol offhand provides the same slot 4 and 5 skills. Skill 4 is an AoE blind that effects nearby enemies and Skill 5 is a ‘headshot’ that inflicts Daze on single target.

Dagger
Like the Assassin in GW this is combination best suited to being up close and personal with your foe. In GW it was common to see people arrange their skill bar in order that they would use the skills 1-2-3-4-repeat. In GW2 (at least with the Thief) this isn’t the case, for example skill 2 ‘Heartseeker’ does more damage to a foe the less health they have. So really it is a nice finishing skill, not one you would use straight away.
As mentioned above if you use no off-hand (dagger is a single handed weapon) you get ‘Twisting Fang’ an AoE + Condition but no mention of a 5th skill which is odd.

Dagger + Dagger
Combining it with the dagger offhand replaces skill 3 with ‘Leaping Death Blossom and provides a leaping AoE which can strike nearby enemies 3 times and inflict bleed condition. In addition are the Dagger Offhand skills mentioned above.

Dagger + Pistol
Skill 3 now allows you to blind a single target and then shadow step to them. So this is a good skill to start with, attacking from range as it will reduce initial damage spike from melee. Offhand skills are as above.

Pistol
The pistol shots inflict conditions, skill 1 is bleeding and skill 2 makes them vulnerable. These are a good start to a chain, for example starting running into battle; bleed, vulnerable, -weaponswitch-, blind, dagger attacks. With no off-hand equipped skill 3 is just a rapid fire pistol shot for extra damage however this seems weaker than the alternative coming up…

Pistol + Dagger
With the Dagger the third skill (previously rapid fire) becomes a dual attack shadow step. Stab, shadowstep, pistol shot. Nice for skipping out of danger but maintaining damage. Particularly if facing a melee foe but where you want to stay at range for your pistol shots. Skills 4 and 5 are then same as a Dagger Offhand.

Pistol + Pistol
I really liked the idea of running dual pistols and shadowstepping around foes unleashing damage and it doesn’t disappoint. Starting with the first two pistol skills it then swaps the skill 3 single rapid fire for a dual rapid fire (same Initiative cost). So you’re getting double the damage there. Offhand remains as is with Pistol Offhand. Notice that skill 4 is a shadow step to the target, not so useful if you want to stay at range.

Sword
I only had limited experience with the sword as I crafted one close to the end of play. Skill 1 gives you an attack combo of Slice -> Stab ->Final Strike with the final strike also causing cripple. This is an encouragement to complete the Skill 1 combo. Skill 2 is interesting as a dual skill which involves the shadowstep/return combo. First use ‘Infiltrator’s Strike’ to shadowstep and strike foe, after which the skill changes to ‘Shadow Return’ and can be used to return to previous position. I’m not sure if the skill times out and resets though. Using Sword alone; skill 3 is a simple Stab attack.

Sword + Dagger
In addition to skills 1 and 2, skill 3 becomes my favourite skill – Flanking Strike. With this skill you can evade the target but also stab them in the back twice! So whatever your foe you will move round to their back and begin attack from that side, very good on single targets as they can’t react to it. As before skills 4 and 5 are the dagger off-hands, although I didn’t get much chance to try them I think the combo of shadow steps with the sword could be very strong.

Sword + Pistol
In this case the third skill becomes a pistol whip which stuns the foe and then gives a rapid sword attack. Again, with the other pistol off-hand skills being able to inflict blind is useful when in melee range and daze is always good for another condition.

Shortbow
Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to play with shortbow, as I crafted one but it ended up requiring level 10 so I was too low level and then my participation in the beta ended abruptly with loss of internet connection. There is no offhand as the bow is a two handed weapon. This gives 5 new skills:
Skill 1; Trick shot can bounce an arrow of nearby foes. Skill 2 is a ‘cluster bomb’ which also has the dual use of being able to detonate the bomb in mid-air so expect a learning curve trying to judge the timing on that one. Skill 3 provides an evading leap to get out of danger but also functions as a Cripshot to slow down the target. Skill 4 provides AoE poison, and finally Skill 5 suggest the ability to target an area to shadowstep to where you can inflict AoE blind.

Stealth

Stealth is the special ability for the Thief which appears to make you invisible to foes, they use this state when using dodge and it can also be triggered through other skills.
While in stealth you do get attack abilities based on your primary weapon. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to stay ‘stealthed’ for very long, and when I was it was usually to run away or heal so wasn’t thinking about attacking.

Dagger – ‘Backstab’ Leap at your foe striking for double damage if you hit from behind.
Pistol – ‘Sneak Attack’ A rapid fire that causes bleeding.
Sword – ‘Tactical Strike’ Bash your foe with the hilt of the sword causing Blindness. Dazing if you hit them from behind.
Shortbow – ‘Surprise Shot’ Shoot an arrow that Immobilizes your foe.

Harpoon Gununknown
Spear – ‘Deadly Strike’ Attack from Stealth, Bleeding and Weakening your target.

Under Water

I had no experience of underwater combat in the time I played. Hopefully this can be updated later. I expect it to be similar to how other professions play, however there are some conditions and shadowstepping involved so it will be interesting how that plays.

Utility Skills & Traits

Now of course there are an awful lot of other skills: Deceptions, Signets, Traps, Tricks and Poisons. Also traits including the likes of Acrobatics and Trickery! I could describe these but I’d just be copying and pasting from the wiki and that isn’t interesting, hopefully this can be expanded on through future BWEs and when the game launches.

Looking through the traits it just seems a shame that they’re so tied to one particular attack skill combination. Deadly Arts of Daggers, Critical Strikes for Pistols. I’m still eager to find out how Attributes + skills + traits stack and what kind of differences there are.

Conclusion

My gameplay was summarised in the skill options above. I managed to do a fair bit of attack and evade once I worked out the use of skills. Still coming up against multiple foes is a big no-no for the Thief and can quickly lead to disaster. They’re very good with 1v1 combat and I think their utility skills and AoE will suit going up against groups with the backup of allies.
They seem to be able to inflict quite a few conditions fairly rapidly so that bleeding clip posted above will be interesting to watch and also the combination with a Mesmer as I think Ivan mentioned there was some Mesmer skills that could trigger off conditions supplied by the Necromancer.
Overall I had a lot of fun with it just playing solo, and I’m very eager to play it some more and am seriously considering making it my first choice profession at launch of the game.

Last edited by bsoltan; May 15th, 2012 at 16:30. Reason: modify
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Old May 16th, 2012, 09:17   #6
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Thumbs up

Thx bsoltan for this summary, great work.
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Old May 16th, 2012, 15:18   #7
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I'll elaborate a bit on stealing. First, when you steal you shadowstep to your target and steal is replaced with some random skill based on the creature/profession. The ability will have some useful effect, they definitely aren't useless, but the real benefit from stealing can come from Traits. The Trickery line is almost exclusively boosts to stealth, with various other traits in the other lines: Deadly Arts has a few traits that add conditions/damage, Shadow Arts has one that stealths you when you steal (very useful as you might imagine) and Trickery has many effects, gaining boons, gaining initiative, increasing range and a few others.

I did some structured PvP with the Thief and went for a few of the Steal traits (stealth on steal, +3 initiative on steal, gain 10s fury, might or swiftness) but I can't say how useful it was...cause I forgot to steal very often. I was aiming for a build with lots of stealthing and high crit, daggers for weapons. It was a good plan, but I was too laggy and couldn't position myself correctly so I couldn't do much. Therefore, I switched to a bow and found myself a lot more useful. Hopefully the lag was not on my end, because I would prefer to be stabbing people in the back, but it is nice to be able to wield ranged weapons as well and remain useful.
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Old May 27th, 2012, 21:21   #8
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Here a video with a thief tuned for backstabing.

He got off a 15k backstab .. wow .... I've seen a video with a 20k backstab but on stationary practise mobs.

Downside he only had around 14h HP though.

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Old May 27th, 2012, 21:47   #9
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The way he uses a couple of seconds of stealth to sneak around behind obstacles and then stay out of sight makes me wonder if Charr and Norn thieves will be at a disadvantage compared to smaller races who can hide behind shorter obstacles more easily.

I hope not, since I kind of wanted my thief to be a Norn. Did anyone play thief in PvP and get a feeling for how much character size factors in?
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Old May 28th, 2012, 13:11   #10
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I pvped as thief and yes size plays an important role. As a thief you do NOT want to be targeted. In the midst of group fights most people will go for the biggest targets simply because it is far easier to keep track of them. It is very annoying to keep track of small characters in group battles.

Another factor which I ' ve seen alot in videos is that the ability to run around a corner and hide behind objects (tree, crates, pillars) will save you countless times because as a thief the opponent will not know whether you are just hiding or whether you are stealthing.

If I see a warrior low on health I will keep on following him until I can down him, since I know he doesnt have any skills to hide. If I see a thief running away low on health I will also follow and hopes he makes a mistake but if I lost sight of him I won't search long for him whereas with the warrior I will search for him.

For the skill which teleports you a short distance when you are down, size definitely plays a role. Sometimes I got lucky and got teleported behind objects and was not visible instantly which allowed me to heal up and stealth away.

I personally will not create a thief as Norn or Char simply because these races are too big.

If you can live with this disadvantage (imo) go ahead with your Norn thief. Most important is that you have fun and enjoy your character.
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Old May 28th, 2012, 17:03   #11
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Looks like my decision to play an Asuran thief will be quite helpful. But I wouldn't worry about playing the Norn--size is a help, but if you are good enough it won't hinder you too much.

Also, unless my lag goes away i'll be giving this a try in PvP next time around.
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Old June 11th, 2012, 23:54   #12
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Played a thief for less than hour. At the beginning I really didn't like the playstyle, neither in melee, nor with dual pistols. The initiative mechanics is very similar to WoW's rogue energy.

Generally speaking, I found the thief very fragile and it didn't get enough useful mobility and healing in return. Melee is unforgiving in GW2 (esp. against stronger targets) and I didn't have enough panic buttons to feel confortable. But that could be because I didn't unlock the right utility skills.

I finally settled for pistol + dagger. It's easier to combine range cripple, teleport away or stealth and you can kite and shoot efficiently.
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Old June 12th, 2012, 02:08   #13
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Dagger/Dagger is the build I played the most. They added evasion to the #3 skill so now you not only do damge, cause bleeds, you evade attacks while doing so. This skill also jumps you over the target so you can flank attack at times. I got my thief up to level 40 this weekend and had some great fun with her in WvW. The #4 dagger/dagger skill "dancing dagger" is a ranged cripple that hits up to three targets, it was great to chase after someone and cripple them. After I applied the cripple, I would go past them and set a trap which inflicted a five second immobilize and allowed the rest of the SoF group to come up and finish them off if I couldn't do it myself.

Frog, at lower levels the thief is a difficult class to play and especially solo. Once you get up in the teens in levels or go with a group you'll love the class. It just takes time to learn the skills and when to use them.
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Old June 12th, 2012, 03:20   #14
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From my little bit playing the thief, I've decided that its one of the easiest classes to screw yourself over with. The initiative system is pretty cool, but if you're new or not careful, it allows you to blow all of your cool down on the wrong skills and wind up in a really bad position.

I need to play it more before I can really comment, though.
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Old June 12th, 2012, 10:14   #15
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From my little bit playing the thief, I've decided that its one of the easiest classes to screw yourself over with.
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