Saturday, May 5, 2012

State of The Thief

Having played close to 30 hours last beta almost exclusively as one class, I would like to give you my review of the thief profession.  Overall, I really enjoyed some parts of the profession, but I felt that some core mechanics were in need of some refinement.  Its a work in progress, but I must at the onset confess my love of the Shortbow. It was my least favorite weapon  going into the beta, but my impressions have changed quite dramatically since playing.

To start off, the thief is already shackled with one of the fewest amounts of weapon sets to choose from. When you actually take a look at what weapon sets were effective in the last beta  you come down to 3: Dagger/Dagger, Pistol/Pistol, and the Shortbow.  The rest fell to the wayside as being useless and ineffective; they were quite frankly useless in most PvP environments.

Dagger/Dagger was a pretty common weapon set among thieves, and for good reason.  The most popular archetype among the thief is the "assassin" pedigree, and with some mild adaptations you can certainly fulfill this role. The most commons builds that were effective:  Backstab/immobilization builds, Leaping Death Blossom builds, and a haste/heartseeker build.  The only problem, was that these often led into two-to-three weapon-skills-being-used builds that were a little simplistic.  However, when you combine these specs with utilities, the class becomes moderately complex.  All were certainly viable in their own right, and I have only little complaints other than to say in its current iteration, Cloak and Dagger is almost useless.  Its very easy to miss mobile opponents, and has too much of a risk to use by costing us roughly half our initiative (depending on traits) to use.  While from the press beta, the move needed a nerf, I think we can all agree that it was nerfed a little too harshly.  

The Pistol/Pistol was pretty effective for several reasons, mostly attributed to the single move Unload.  The biggest failing of this weapon set was the lack of quality animations.  It was quite boring to play or watch, and looked quite like this:  "I fired a gun, I fired a gun very fast, I fired a gun."  Part of the flavor of a class, is it's animations.  Whether that be reining fireballs to the ground, or shattering an illusion into phantasmal butterflies.  Some may argue, that its a thief, its supposed to be subtle.  Let's be serious, any thief willing to use Unload is not exactly the subtle-archetype. 

The shortbow was simply wonderful.  Being our only main, ranged AOE weapon, it was the weapon of choice for WvW.  Surprisingly, it still could be used in smaller fights.  While there are many complaints of the shortbow having too low of damage in 1v1 fights, I found that it was still viable to use.  The mobility alone, made the shortbow quite useful.  You could use a spammable disengage-like move that crippled your foes, as well as a shadowstep, albeit an expensive one in the form of Infiltrator's arrow.  These could be combined to kite or stall your foes, before jumping in with a dagger/dagger build or continuing your lead onslaught with pistol/pistol.

Steal, has been harped on by so many, but for good reason.  It's essentially a 40 second cool-down shadow step to your enemy.  The item that you steal is really of no consequence because you don't have time to look at what you grabbed in the fast-paced environment of combat.  You just kind of spam the button twice, and  rely on it only for its shadowstep.  I'd like to see steal standardized, so that we always get the same thing, or at least the same thing each time we use steal.  Steal is too RNG for it to have a place in the Guild Wars 2 environment.

Stealth was extremely useful.  I actually loved the short-term duration of stealth, and was quite fun to use.  It enforced a good amount of skill into stealth builds that relied on making efficient uses in 3 to 4 second windows.  The class was extremely capable of escaping fights, as well as jumping around the fight at will.  Even non-stealth builds were very useful which I think we can all agree is refreshing in the MMO genre.

Overall the profession is in need of some work, but has the potential to be competitive in both PvP and PvE environments.  I enjoyed the class in its rough state,and I loved how much fun the class was to play.  In future betas, I will certainly be coming back to the Thief to see how much has been changed.  


  1. Perfectly agree with you, with basically everything. It's a fun profession, but needs a lot of changes and a complete rework of Steal.

  2. Thanks for the comment! Yeah, I think most of my complaints were pretty common throughout the thief community. I'm sure ArenaNet has some changes in store, so we will see what happens. There's a lot of really interesting suggestions going around for Steal, and I'm kind of excited to see what happens with it. Thanks again.