Last week, I discussed the finer points of the Thief Healing Skills, figuring that the first thing any new Thief should know is how to survive. However, knowing which healing skill to use is only part of the equation for survival in the world of Guild Wars 2. In a world full of blood-crazed engineers, howling for the blood of us Thieves, there is one other mechanic that is integral to our continued survival. Not only is it incredibly useful to us, but it is one of the most noticiable things that distinguishes Guild Wars 2 from the legions of other MMOs.
This week we’re talking about the all-important topic of mobility and, more specifically, Dodging.
When I first stepped into my profession of choice, I discovered that for every adventurer, from the most courageous Thief to the lowliest Engineer, movement was more important than it had ever been. You couldn’t afford to stand still and take hits while unloading lead into the enemy, or not roll out of the way when a giant hurled a boulder in your direction. Some fools might tell you that you need to hold your ground, place some bombs tactically, or just focus on firing your rifle. They’d be wrong.
During my first days in Tyria, I realized pretty quickly that dodging was something that every profession should be concerned about and should aim to master. However, once I began to feel more comfortable unloading pistol shots into centaurs and spreading Caltrops in front of my enemies, I quickly realized something.
Dodging is firmly in our pocket.
If one were to head over to the page on dodging on the Guild Wars 2 Wiki, you’d see a series of traits listed that effect this particular mechanic. Gaurdians, Warriors, Necromancers, Mesmers and those poor Engineers all have a single Trait in their vast trees that effect endurance and dodging. Elementalists and Rangers have two.
We’ve got four. But more importantly, I’d argue (and I’m being totally biased right now) that we have the single most useful trait in the entire game: Feline Grace.
Now, I’m not a cat, nor a charr person, but I love Feline Grace. It is a Master Trait in the Acrobatics Trait line, which means you’ll have to wait a while before you have access to it, but trust me, it’ll be worth it. Feline Grace restores some of the Endurance you use in dodging back to you once you complete a dodge. The Wiki says that you get back about a third of a dodge, though I imagine this is probably effected by Endurance regeneration. Without number crunching, this essentially means you’ll be able to dodge three times in quick succession, if not in a row.
That’s phenomenal. Dodging is the mechanic that kept me alive in all those fights, both in Tyria and the Mists, and having one additional chance to dodge gives our Profession even more mobility and survivability.
But that’s only the beginning.
So, let’s say you’re a Thief who has taken enough points in Acrobatics to get Feline Grace, thus giving you three basic dodges. Pretty good. Lets also say that you take my favorite healing skill Withdraw, which gives you another dodge. Sure it’s only a dodge backwards, but since you know that, you can use it when a backwards dodge is needed. Then, as one of your Utility skills, let us also say you take Roll for Initiative (another personal favorite, if only for the name). Now, you have at your disposal five evasive dodges; three ‘controlled’ and two ‘uncontrolled’. Five dodges represent an incredible amount of mobility, which I doubt other classes can match.
But we’re just getting started. Take two other traits in the Acrobatics line: Expeditious Dodger and Power of Inertia. The former will give you Swiftness on evade, while the later gives you Might on a dodge. To my knowledge, and based on my research, there is no difference between a dodge and an evade, so this means that you can in fact dodge to go faster out of combat. Pretty good stuff, getting buffed every time you dodge. I should also make it clear that Expeditious Dodger and Feline Grace are MINOR traits in the Acrobatics Trait Line, meaning you don’t have to worry about them taking up one of your three slots. You get them, if you want them or not, as long as you put the points into Acrobatics. [One Note: I cannot confirm if Withdraw and Roll for Initiative count for the purposes of these Traits, nor the next one. Since they are both Evades, I’d guess that they do, but I’d appreciate conformation from the community]
Yet as good as those two traits are, they pale in comparison to the potential of Uncatchable. Dropping a field of Caltrops every time you dodge, even if they have a smaller radius than their Utility counterpart, is a great trick. It is also has the potential to be pretty damn effective. Imagine fighting a mob, or even a really persistent player, and continually dodging backwards, leaving them a lovely field of spikey balls to walk through as they pursue.
It’s good to be a Thief.
It should be noted that there are many, many more ways to deal with Dodging and Endurance, more than I’ve had time to test or even explore. As a start, I’ve compiled a small collection of skills, traits, and items to keep in mind.
- Haste is a boon that increases our endurance regeneration. Two Thief skills, Critical Haste and Hard to Catch give us the Haste boon in certain situations. They might be worth the slot.
- Like Haste, Vigor also increases endurance regeneration. One Thief skill, Vigourous Recovery, grants vigor upon healing. It is, however, competing for a slot in the Acrobatics tree, which has some of the best traits available to Thieves.
- (WARNING: This may be radically different on Release…) The Rune of the Adventurer’s (6) bonus give you significant Endurance Regeneration when a healing skill is used. There are a ton of Rune combinations out there that have a ton of potential. Once release hits and I get a few more levels under my belt, I’ll likely do a few Rune Reviews for Lock and Key. (Though, honestly, nothing can compete with the Rune of the Pirate for me. You have a chance to shout Yarr… honestly, what beats that?)
So there you have it. A brief introduction to why Thieves are the kings and queens of dodging. I’ve only scratched the surface of this path of thievery, and to be completely honest, it suits my play style so well that I imagine I’ll be playing my Thief with an eye towards Dodging as much as possible. Expect to see many more musings about the importance of dodging and how to best capitalize on this particular strength of our profession. So keep on the look out for blood-thirsty engineers, and keep making your plans. 42/45 Days….
May you never stop moving,