While I hope you enjoyed Tentral’s musings last week, I’m back in the saddle of ‘Lock & Key’, and this week I’d like to do something a little bit different.
As we get closer and closer to launch, I want to start changing ‘Lock & Key’. This week, instead of discussing the background of a certain game type, or continuing the Tricks of the Trade series (the last of which will be released next week.), I wanted to take a step back and ask some critical questions about how the Thief Profession works. I hope some of them will lead to debate (either in the comments or on the forums), or at least make you aware of some things to keep in mind as the release date draws nearer. Then, we’ll start digging into some really interesting topics once we finally get our hands on the game…
On to the questions!
- Does Steal Deserve its place as our Profession’s Signature Ability?
Of all the discussions I’ve seen on the Thief forums, be they fan or official, the topic of Steal and its effectiveness is perhaps one of the most often raised. Steal has been designed as our F1 ability, shadow-stepping us to a foe, and stealing a random item from them which we can them use. In the arguments I’ve seen about this ability’s use, there tends to be two major trains of thought.
The first refers to the random nature of the ability. Many people feel that the fact that the item you steal is random (or at least semi-random and draw from a set of possibilities) makes this skill less useful . The second train of thought seems to revolve around disregarding the use of Steal as a…well, steal, and instead focusing on its utility as an additional Shadowstep.
I’m of two minds here, which I suppose puts me somewhere in the middle of this debate. I don’t think that the random element of this skill is an issue. I’ve seen far fewer complaints about the randomness of Steal as the Beta Weekends have come and gone. A lot of the randomness of Steal is going to be countered by play time. Once we learn what each stolen item does, we’ll soon know what it is at a glance. Some people have even started making records of all the possible items you can obtain from a Steal.
However, when a key class ability is forgotten over and over, or is used for a secondary function rather than its primary one, that strikes me as a problem. I know I’ve forgotten to use Steal many times while fighting an enemy, and when people either use Steal for the shadowstep, or look instead to trait into it into a powerful ‘attack’ (which can be done), to me this suggests an issue. Unlike the randomness issue, I’m not sure that these particular aspects of the mechanic will be completely fixed by continued play. I’ll admit that simply forgetting to use Steal can likely be solved by paying more attention, but a mechanic that must be specifically traited to be considered useful? This strikes me a particularly
My Answer: No, with some reservations. The skill deserves a re-visitation after the first month of play. I’m not exactly sure what could be done to make it as integral to our profession as the Elementalists different Attunements, or the Necromancer’s Death Shroud. Right now, it simply feels like one of many tools at our disposal, not something that should be our favorite tool.
2. What is the Thief’s role in WvW?
This question was actually sparked by an interesting discussion in the GWI Thief forums. The author of the post in question felt the WvW was prohibitive towards Thieves, forcing them to take a shortbow and pigeon-holing them into a very specific role in the WvW group. As much as I felt his concerns were unfounded, I couldn’t help but realize that Thieves were, for the most part, stuck taking the shortbow. It is our only reliable source of AoE damage, has one of the best escape moves in the game, and is just about the only thing in our arsenal that can hit anyone on the walls of a tower or a keep. Without it, we are severely hampered.
So, where does that leave us? The more I think about this issue, the more I feel that we have been cornered into having only two options; Shortbow or Non-Shortbow. If you choose to take a Shortbow, then continue on as normal. You can contribute to the fight , both in an attack, and a defense. I’d suggest using the skills that you are most comfortable with.
However, if you have a particular hatred for all stringed weapons, then I think your options are considerably fewer. You can, however, fill the all important role of support. In WvW, being in charge of supply running, war machine construction, and laying down traps and fields to provide stealth to the group, is all incredibly important. Scouting will also be an incredibly valuable part of WvW, and with our high mobility, as well as our numerous ways of applying stealth, I think it is safe to say that we will fill this role particularly well, and while the shadowstep of the shortbow might be a nice way of escaping enemy patrols, I don’t think it is a necessity.
The last part of WvW combat that I think those Thieves who forgo the shortbow will find particularly worthwhile is raiding and yak-slaying. Supply is the lifeblood of WvW. Cut that off, and your enemies will starve, and be unable to outlast any protracted siege. With our high single-target damage output, as well as the ability of throw on bleeds and vulnerability, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that a couple of Thieves could take down a Dolyak quickly in a hit and run attack.
My Answer: As is appropriate in Guild Wars 2, we can play our class in a number of ways. However, we are in fact severely impacted by the use of the shortbow…damn weapon, shootin’ arrows and going *twang*.
3. What is the Thief’s greatest weakness?
You mean besides copious amounts of wealth, a blade, and few scoundrels that need offing?
Originally, I was going to ask what our best weapons was (I’m still sticking by my twin Pistols..), bu then I got to thinking. Up to this point, I’ve discussed our strengths and most of our abilities, but I haven’t really said what we need to look out for. No, I don’t mean an Ettin’s club, and no I don’t mean Engineers, (though both are dangerous, and and have the personality of a stump…). I mean to say what is the one biggest mechanical problem with our class.
I’ve already mentioned Steal in this article, but I don’t think that that particular mechanic is our weak point. It may be less effective than some of us think it should be, but this isn’t severe enough to be called our principal weakness. Nor is our weapon selection, nor even one of our skills.
If anything, to be completely corny, our weakness is our strength. As I’ve argued in the past, I think that more than any class, the Thief is about hit-and-run tactics, moving fast, and mobility. We rely on being able to dodge, to re-position ourselves while in Stealth, and we are good at it. At the same time, we are not what you’d call tough. I believe the term ‘glass cannon’ fits us quite nicely, and in a game where the glass cannon can dodge out of the way of an attack that would shatter it, that’s not a half bad title to hold.
Until you can’t dodge. Until you can’t run. Cripple, Chill, Immbolize. These are things that we must fear. Take away our ability to move, to dodge, or to reposition, and what are we? We are Fighters with a limited weapon selection and a few tricks up our sleeves.
My Answer: Our greatest weakness is our reliance on mobility. Without mobility, we loose a huge part of what makes us Thieves, and what makes us effective fighters.
I hope that you’ve found some of the discussion here helpful and interesting. I rather like this format, so If you have a particular question about the Thief, or simply an issue you’d like to see discussed more in depth, leave something in the comments below, or head over to the Q&A topic in the Thief Forum
May the shadows hide you,