As we near the one month mark since we started our journey through Tyria, I think it is not only an appropriate time for reflection, but a convenient one. For me personally, as I’ve run through Spakrfly Den and the Ruins of Orr with Mrell, I’ve learned thing about this profession. Things I believed would be lacking are more powerful than I ever thought, and tactics I would have sworn would be my standbies are in a corner gathering dust. At the same time, I think there are still things that we can note that the Thief lacks.
This week, I’ll discuss a few of the things that surprised me in this first month, and a few of the things that I’d like to see in the future.
What Has Worked:
Steal - I gave Steal a lot of crap during the months leading up to launch. I thought it was underpowered, wouldn’t be used much, and generally would have a hard time living up to the role as our Professions signature ability.
I can firmly say that this is not the case. Steal has not only become one of my principle abilities, but one I look forward to using. I began my adventures simply using steal when I needed a shadowstep, or when I wanted a little something extra in my bag of tricks, and it did just that. As you are leveling, it is a great tool, but once you hit 80, and have a full compliment of trait points to make use of, things get interesting. I’ve made it my goal to play the Support Thief successsfuly, and Steal has become a key part of that. By taking both Thrill of the Crime and Bountiful Theft, I’ve been able to transform Steal into a Buff Cannon, jumping into the middle of a melee, Buffing myself and my allies, and then laying into the enemy with Sword and Pistol. As I move forward, I keep feeling I may even devote more resources towards stealing in the future. Regardless, it’s a great mechanic that has played out wonderfully.
Melee and Ranged: I also had reservations about the differences between Melee and Ranged combat in Guild Wars 2, mainly from a survivability stand point. With the Thief being a particularly fragile Profession, I was worried we might not be able to hold our own in close combat.
Boy was I wrong. The issue of our survivability still remains, but we have more than a few ways of countering this. Mainly through our signatures; Stealth, Shadowsteps and Blindness. Through the use of these three elements, we can effectively escape, hit and run or even stand and fight in almost any situation. We do this VASTLY differently from the other Professions of GW2, but that doesn’t mean we can’t pull it off. Blindness in particular seems a particularly effective way of us managing a close combat situation, though this does make the dredge our worst enemy.
Stealth: Speaking of stealth, I should mention just how beautifully Arena Net has managed this mechanic. Back in the old days, when a Rogue went into stealth, you were a silent stalker, slowly following your pray and waiting for the right moment to strike. Stealth in Guild Wars 2 functions more like the antics of one Kurt Wagner, a.k.a. Nightcralwer. It a means for confusion, escape and movement. Combined with a liberal use of Shadowsteps, you become a factor that causes havoc in WvW or sPvP, and can create some rather hilarious NPC Mob movements.
Just like Initiative, Stealth is a resource that you have to manage. Knowing when to activate a stealth ability and how to use it becomes an art (and one that I freely admit I haven’t yet mastered). Every time you use stealth you get the feeling that you are on a timer (because you are…). You feel tense, under pressure, and every move you make counts for everything. It is a wonderful challenege and something I didn’t expect at all.
What Happens Next:
Stealth and WvW: Like I said, I have not mastered stealth in any way as of this point in time. However, I think that this mechanic, perhaps more than any I have seen yet, promises to be a turning point in WvW. With coordination, timing and the right combination of Thieves, Mesmers and (though I hate to admit it) Engineers, You have the possibility of moving sizeable numbers of people through enemy lines without them knowing a thing.
I’ve done this on the small scale, but I cannot wait to see it done with more than a few people. Even being able to get three people past an enemy group unseen can be enough to cause havoc. Two Thieve using Stealth to get behind an attacking force, and then using bladestorm is a great means of causing confusion and stalling the enemy. Sure, maybe you’ll die, but in WvW, it is an objective based game. So respawn and get running…
New Skills: One thing that I am very anxious to see implemented, addressed or handled in some way by Arenanet is the creationg of more Utility and Elite Skills. I have a deep love of many of the utility skill in our arsenal, Scorpion Wire being my favorite, followed closely by the Sginet of Shadows and Shadow Refuge, but I’d love to see more. We are going to continue to gain levels and skill points as the game continues, and while the Shard of the Bloodstone looms large, I’d love to see a few Profession specific events or stories that would unlock a new elite, or perhaps even utility skill. It is a system that lends itself beautifully to continued expansion, and I hope ArenaNet builds on this.
Support: As an article I posted about a week ago makes clear, I think the claims that Thieves can’t accomplish any of the roles possible in this game is a stupid claim. While the damage dealing Thief will always be a staple of groups and parties, I would love to see more and more Thieves embrace the idea of playing the Profession in a more support-minded way, or even as a means of healing. The first time I see “Support Thief LFG CM Ex” on Map Chat, my Kleptomaniacal heart will sing.
What do you want to see going forwards? I am always looking for input and suggestions as to where I should be focusing this column, and those who read it are always the ones best suited to telling me that. Make your thoughts known in the comments below, or voice them in the Thief Forums here at GWI.
May your Thefts be profitable,