Thursday, April 19, 2012

Class Highlights: Thief

Thieves have always been an interesting bunch, and Guild Wars 2 is no exception. Thieves specialize in the traditional model of stealth, burst damage, and  mobility, but surprisingly are also capable of sustained fighting, support of allies, and control of the battlefield. Read more after the break!

The most drastic change from the typical rogue-archetype is that thieves do not have permanent stealth.  In Guild Wars 2, a thief has limited stealth that lasts for various small amounts of time, generally 3-5 seconds.  In stealth you can still be damaged by aoe effects, but the damage (unlike WoW or other mainstream MMOs), will not kick you out of stealth.

The second major change, is generally true for all classes of Guild Wars 2.  However, this mechanic plays a huge role for thieves.  Thieves have access to ranged and melee weapons and can utilize two weapon sets at a time. One Handed weapons can be mixed in matched one MH, one OH that attribute to a total of 5 weapon skills.

The weapons are as follows:

Main-hand: Sword, Dagger, and Pistol
Off-Hand: Dagger, Pistol
Two-Handed: Shortbow

This is not including the two aquatic weapon sets.  Each of these specialize in various aspects of gameplay, and can be combined in unique ways to adapt to any battlefield.

From the Wiki:

"Short-bow: ranged, mobile weapon that specializes in AOEs, and one escape/initiation move.
Sword:  Flanking sword attacks provide extra evasiveness and controls enemy movement.
MH: Dagger: Jump on a foe, attack quickly, and inflict many conditions on them.
OH: Dagger: Gives access to skills that allow quick escape through stealth (melee) or cripples (ranged).
MH: Pistol: Ranged Shots that leave enemies vulnerable following repeated attacks.
OH: Pistol: Ranged weapon used for quickly retreat or to daze the target by a shot to the head or pistol whip."

Thieves are also the only class with a resource mechanic (ignoring life force for necromancers for some fairly obvious reasons), called initiative.  Every thief has a minimum of 10 initiative, with a maximum of 15 from a single trait.  ArenaNet claims that the main strength of the class is the fact its burst ability.  Initiative combined with short cool-downs on moves, provides thieves just what they promised.  However, to be a fighter archetype, you will need some sustainability and will need to receive that from traits.

There are 5 different trait lines, each providing various benefits.

Deadly Arts: Specializes in increasing overall physical damage as well as amplifying poison and venom damage and duration.

Critical Strikes:  The name really says it all.  This tree will allow you to strike critically doing 150% damage plus the bonus of an attribute called Prowess)

Shadow Arts:  A tree line that provides some major defensive and offensive benefits to stealth.  You can remove conditions while in stealth, gain initative, add boons allies, and gain offensive bonuses in stealth.

Acrobatics: Very specialized in enhancing the thief's movement.  Additionally, the tree can allow you to attack faster by providing initiative when weapon swapping, vigor when healing, and haste when disabled. 

Trickery: Essentially is essentially amplifying the steal ability.  Stealing can provide initiative, boons to allies, extra damage, and add conditions on to enemies.   

As you can see, the thief in Guild Wars 2 is no longer just about damage.  Thieves are capable of controlling the battlefield by cloaking allies, laying down traps, and supporting allies with buffs through traits.  The "Support Thief" is not just an empty promise by ArenaNet either, they have mentioned in several interviews the excellent capability of the profession to help allies.  Even one of the devs runs a support thief (can't remember his name at this moment).  However, if you want to play the assassin archetype they have given you the capability of doing so.  While many question short duration stealth, I am fully in support of it.  The "rogue" is no longer so reliant on strong openers, but is able to slip in and out of stealth and have sustainability.  In the last beta, many people in the press even pointed to thieves as being overpowered. Of course, everything is subject to change, but its nice to see thieves off to such a great start.  Be prepared, the rogue you saw in WoW is very different from what you are about to see.

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