Blown away…? Blown off… GW2 Living Story is not.

I suppose it is fitting that last night in a cold river way up in the Shiverpeaks, my character was attacked by a shark, and to get away, I jumped over it. That is what I’ve been feeling is what has happened to this game as a whole…

I’ve been meaning to hold off on my opinion blogs until after finishing my build guides, but its getting harder and harder to hold back my growing frustrations with Guild Wars 2.

In re:
Kill ten Rats – [GW2] 2013 Plans:

“I think most Guild Wars 2 fans are blown away with the updates.”

Blown away is not how I’d describe it…

I see all the signs of a focus on short term shinies and addictive repetition and no signs on larger plot development. They seem to have completely forgotten their own setting’s lore in favor of chasing context-less quick patches that have nothing to do with this setting.

This is all really starting to bug me.

I’ve actually started playing LESS GW2 as a result.

They can’t even be bothered to put the plot, what shabby little of it there is, into the game. Instead, to have any clue about what is going on, you need to watch SOTG twitch.tv interviews, and read websites.

Everything is episodic – 2 week long chunks that wrap up with little to no impact. After all of this, the impact is going to be a choice between Commander Keen and Random Cat: which will have all the impact of deciding which of two possible fractals they will release first (presuming the idea for the other will make its way in at some undetermined point).

Meanwhile Elona, Cantha, and about a million dragons sit idly by seemingly forgotten… while we play with Steampunk air pirates for… I don’t know why…

But it doesn’t matter what it is…

… Just that its got no relation back to the core Guild Wars lore…

Each of these two week updates, on resolving, neatly leaves us largely where we were at the beginning. Its like watching Scooby Doo – we could play these in any order and they would make just as much sense.
– thus episodic.

They are plotless. You just go in there and have a huge list of achievements to check off. 10-30+ press-F-to-win entries that have all the meaning of… what? Why am I gathering random crystals? Why fix signs? Why approach hologram generators? WHY?
– Maybe there is a why, but other than the signs of Flame & Frost, it was never told inworld. And then we have to run a race that is there for… what? Why am I playing Mario Kart? What’s the story connection? And then I have to meet a series of random Skritt hanging out in caves and mountain tops next to kites… why?

Where the heck is my lore here?

I love the lore of Guild Wars, stop making me feel like its a ‘dumb game’ I am hassled into playing…

Oh I guess I missed that twitch.tv interview… I was too busy looking for the story, the lore; IN THE FREAKING GAME!!!

The living story is a severe disappointment to me. I see no story or plot in it. People tell me things like “But Commander Keen, she’s the next major NPC, and we’re going to vote for her and all this and that…” and I go inworld and wonder where all that is.

Then I remember that to understand what the fuzz is going on round here, I need to log out/tab out and read a website and watch a twitch recording of a livestream Q&A interview…


/facepalmeryallupinthisplace

Ok, so maybe I am blown away, as in, blown off of my love of this game like being rudely tossed down a hill.

Whatever happened to the people who made Guild Wars 1? Can we rehire some of them?

This game plays a lot better, but at least that game had internal consistency and story.

This is a setting that is rich with vibrant lore. Just a few things we’re ignoring:

  • The war between the humans and that charr – that seems frozen at a treaty negotiation in the Fields of Ruin.
  • The mystery of the second Pale Tree
  • The White Mantle still being active.
  • The Dwarves, their ruins, and tales of their last days.
  • The Tengu.
  • The dragons, lest we forget what this game was supposed to be about…

But look back to Guild Wars 1 and there is so much more:

and so much more…

Mostly the more. Frankly I never liked the Dragons plotline, so I’m not awaiting it coming back… but at least it IS core lore, and I’d rather it than… unrelated things that seem out of sync with the setting like sky-hippies.

Remember when PandaVille was announced for WoW and people were complaining that there was still so much left in the existing lore… the Titans, The Emerald Dream, the this or that…

Now Guild Wars 2 is like that every 2 weeks…

Context-lacking smack-yo-butt-across-the-stage drop of ‘click F to win’ in bulk… that moves the setting all of nowhere, moves the lore all of nothing, and neatly resolves by the end with a tiny tiny tiny piece to feed into the next part… because they’re all written in isolation so all that team B knows of team A is that ‘Commander Keen is alive at the end and will be ready for a handoff to promote to progress step 3.’

What is the point?

Ok yeah, its a game. Stop caring and just play. But with no lore left, no story and no living in this “living story”, what makes this any different from Pitfall or Pacman?

It took WoW 8 years from launch to give up on exploring its core and background lore and just go “hey, dude, kung fu pandas and ninjas, people would buy that right?”

Guild Wars 2 is less than a year old, and its already reached that point… and we actually more background lore than WoW.

This is just sad.

In a MMORPG, Like Bhagpuss, the ‘G’ is the letter I least care about… Give me the RP, and some MMO, and a world.

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Elementalist Build: Building a better Gandalf

Mallalai

Introduction – Elementalist Theory

Start with my article on tanky build design. This PvE Elementalist build is ‘balanced with a slight nod towards tanky. It is intended for PvE, Dungeons, and perhaps WvW.

While Ranger, Thief, and Guardian suffer from perceptions that they are ‘just like their WoW counterparts’ almost no one mistakes the Elementalist for a ‘DPS Mage’. In fact the class is often dismissed in PvE for not bringing enough under the faulty presumption that DPS is all that matters.

If you’re here, you’re potentially open to being disabused of that notion and finding a role for your Elementalist in PvE. I’ve got that role, but I can’t convince others for you that more than DPS counts. Much more counts, and people will continue to faceplant while believing otherwise. But if the GOP can believe it had a shot at winning the 2012 election by sitting in its own echo chamber for years, and the wingnuts on the right can still believe they’re not crazy despite the rest of the world having all the proof they need… well, people love being in echo chambers.

And the echo chamber that DPS is all that matters in Guild Wars 2 PvE will continue no matter how many people fail at it, all because ‘a random guy on the internet who plays at a pro-level pulled it off in his youtube video’. This isn’t Lake Wobegon, not everyone can be above average, let alone Captain Amazing. The first rule of the top 1%, is that 99% of us are not it. If I go out on a limb here and say you dear reader, suck: I have 50-50 odds of being right. But if I just say “you are not Captain Amazing”, I’ve got 99 to 1 odds of being right. I’ll take that bet.

And frankly, even Captain Amazing still gets one-shot from time to time. Why accept that? How much time is spent ‘running back’ or coordinating running past to skip mobs in all those ‘faster runs’? Often that part takes longer than the actual dungeon run itself. Quite common to see a group spend 10 minutes trying to skip a 2 minute encounter, and 5 minutes running back from a 1 minute fight because you can dodge twice in a row, but not thrice.

Ok to you readers, I’m also a random person on the internet. No reason to trust me either – but do get thinking as you look this over.

There are three sides to the model in Guild Wars 2 PvE: Support, Damage, and Control. The typical Elementalist path in Guild Wars 2 is Support or extreme Bunker control in WvW and sPvP, and thus its lack of popularity in PvE. When brought into PvE it is often assumed you must go Dagger/Dagger to get the most out of the class’ weaker DPS. Or you show up for the Gravelings in Path 1 of Ascalon Catacombs with an Icebow, and then switch back to your other character after that fight. This build looks at going into Control – but not as a bunker. Controlled DPS.

On the surface the Elementalist looks like its namesake from the original Guild Wars, but that class was very strong on DPS and Support, but soft on control and unable to withstand even mild aggro.

Guild Wars 2 has changed the dynamic to be still strong in support, moderate in control (until it flips to bunker where it is near the top in a specialized form of control), and weak in DPS. At least by default.

My iconic role model here is Gandalf, standing on the bridge declaring “You shall not pass!” You’re not the heavy damage hitter, but you can tank something to a degree, and you bring your own brand of amazing to the situation.

That means bringing an overall package, that can hold aggro in a dungeon, and switch between support, control, and DPS as needed in mid fight.

You have 4 elemental attunements, if you aren’t using all of them in the average pull, you’re doing it wrong.


The Build:

ElementalistTraits

Traits:

20/20/30/0/0

Internal Fire (VI) and Burning Precision (V) in Fire Magic

Internal Fire: You will spend a majority of your time in fire. This ends up happening in any build that doesn’t go heavy support or bunker. It is just that good for damage. With this trait, its even 10% better. Pretty much mandatory for any build that wants to hit hard.

Burning Precision offers a 30% chance to cause burning on a critical hit. Never underestimate Condition Damage. It is very popular to dismiss it, yet it is a great way to do a lot of damage with little effort. This build, like many of those I design, makes significant use of condition damage. With regular critical hits, this trait will be able to apply constant pressure to the enemy.

Soothing Winds (VI) and Bolt to the Heart (V) in Air Magic

Soothing Winds is handy for getting a bit more healing power. You will see constant comments that healing power is useless in Guild Wars 2. Read them, and then smile as those little tiny numbers you spam out like crazy prevent wipe, after wipe, after wipe. Let that echo chamber have its fun while you keep groups up while barely trying. TOO MUCH healing power is a waste. But a little actually does go a long way. With this build, this trait is giving 95 healing power.

That said, you could got for One with Air for more mobility instead of Signet of Air or Quick Glyphs if you rely on the elemental a lot. But One with Air requires shifting to air in mobility moments.

Bolt to the Heart opens up the concept of a burn phase – that moment in the fight where you speed up to finish them off. A 20% bonus to damage is no laughing matter, and gives you all the motivation you should need to focus fire on any enemy that gets low.

Signet Mastery (II), Stone Splinters (VI), and Written in Stone (XII) in Earth Magic

Signet Mastery will keept your signets active, shaving 20% off the cooldown for more spamming opportunity. This is a signet build, but one where you want to be spamming the active play of the signets.

Stone Splinters gives you a bonus of 10% if you get up close. Staff is a ranged weapon. So what is going on with this choice? The answer is that you’re built to take a beating, and get some aggro – so embrace it. Get in there and hit them hard with a big stick, up close and personal.

Written in Stone is a cornerstone of your build. THis lets you spam your signets with abandon without giving up their passive bonuses. And that makes a signet build very worthwhile.

Armor:

Rabid Helm – Mesmer Rune
Berserk Pauldrons – Mesmer Rune
Knight Coat – Mesmer Rune
Rampager Glove – Mesmer Rune
Knight Pants – Mesmer Rune
Berserk Boots – Rune of the Baelfire (+25 Power)

Underwater Armor:
GavBeorn Breather

Weapons:

Rampager Staff – Accuracy Sigil

Accuracy for critical chance. This is almost always a good Sigil to have on one of your weapons, and when you only have one weapon – its often the ideal choice.

Underwater Weapons:
Rampager Trident – Water Sigil
– Going for a little spill off support here as underwater combat tends to be confusing and button mashing for many people. This will let you give your team a little more space to mash random buttons in such a highly skilled way.

Trinkets:

Cavalier Back – Emerald (Knight) Upgrade
Magi Accessory – Ruby (Berserk) Upgrade x2
Magi Ring – Azurite (Sentinel) Upgrade x2
Knight Amulet – Emerald (Knight) Upgrade

Healing

Glyph of Elemental Harmony is your go to heal. While Signet of Restoration might seem better for both the constant healing and this being a signet build, the boon from Glyph of Elemental Harmony is very useful. That said, I recommend trying both and seeing which plays better in the long run. I have been unable to decide.

Utility Skill Choices

We’re going for a signet build, which should have been obvious from the traits. Because of your last trait; Written in Stone, you can spam these to your heart’s content.

On the one hand you can pick any three utilities, but on the other hand, one of them comes way out on top for damage and another way out on top for mitigation.

Signet of Fire is the most important of your utility skills – it provides 180 precision, which gives you a bonus of 8% to critical chance. That is a major bonus. Do not remove this from your utility bar, and do not click it, unless you absolutely must and no other utility can be sacrificed. You might notice a trend if reading my builds – if there is a utility that always gives precision, or a trait, I get it. It is the best place to buff this up just a little bit more, and lets your weapons and armor do things other than just ‘zerker’.

Signet of Water cures a condition every 10 seconds. That is not fast, but it is better than nothing. Don’t dismiss Chill in PvE either – not only is the reduction to skill recharge very powerful against bosses, but the movement reduction is very handy against adds. You active condition removal is found in Healing Rain – Don’t forget it.

If you still have trouble with condition damage pressure, put Cleansing Fire into place (if human, Prayer to Lyssa can be better).

The third utility slot changes constantly. The only regular there is Signet of Air because in the open world that’s great for exploring, and in cities just getting around. It is still useful in fights as a blind with a damage component. But this is the most common Signet for me to swap out when the situation calls for some special ability.

Elite Skill

I’m really not a fan of any of the elite skill choices.
Glyph of Elementals is however, quite handy for the earth elemental. Unlike every other pet in Guild Wars 2, the Earth Elemental can take a beating AND tends to be an aggro hog in PvE dungeons. In other words, its a pocket tank on a cooldown. Very useful in boss fights or fights with a lot of adds.

Resulting Stats Summary

ElementalistStatSummary


Playstyle

This is a ‘balanced’ dungeon build leaning towards tanky. You will have moderate aggro, and can take a boss hit or two. But don’t get overconfident with that. You should be ok having about 30-40% of boss aggro time.

Your success relies on switching attunements constantly and changing your role back and forth between support and control while still keeping up a lot of damage.

I will often open with Flame Burst and then as they get close to me, hit Burning Retreat, positioning to get NPC mobs to walk through as much of the line as possible. You can spam Lava Font on mostly still mobs, but Meteor Shower is best saved for when you’ve got them standing in one spot.

Air is tricky, but Gust can be used to keep some distance. However remember that most of the time you want them relatively close to you for Stone Splinters to do its thing. Out of combat using Windborne Speed can be handy, and makes a credible argument for using One with Air and thereby dropping Signet of Air.

If there is a large stack of adds, you get to show off your control skills by dropping Static Field into them. That is an excellent way to really slow the enemy’s damage output down and open them up to attack.

Magnetic Aura is extremely useful in a ranged fight. Get in between the enemy and the softer member of your group and hit this. Earth is going to be mostly about opportunities to cast Eruption and Shockwave for heavy condition pressure and, when used on enemies lacking defiant – mobility control.

I alternate between saving water for crisis moments and staying in it for periods of time. Judge this by your group. If they have trouble handling incoming damage, switch in to water and spam it into the crowd of melee – where you can hit both enemies and allies. And the benefit of staying close now becomes not just Stone Splinters, but constant self healing.

This is a jack of all trades build. That’s not a bad thing. You’re settling for decent to good in every field. TO play that means you need to be staying in the thick of the battle – right on the edge of melee – and constantly swapping around as the situation demands. You are not stand in the back support and ranged, and you are not the dagger/dagger run in there and hit had and fast. You are steady and reliable, but hard hitting.

Its a style that gives you more options than too much specializing.

And what about when soloing? The common comment is that staff is very weak when solo. This is part of why the build has the toughness it has – you can take the hits when solo, but you still do good damage. Enemies will not go down as fast as they would on a dagger / dagger – but when you can solo more than one veteran at a time, while in melee; a slight delay is not all that bad.

And if it gets tough, pop into Earth, drop your elemental, and let it tank for you while you heal up (and your water heals work on the elemental too).

Conclusion

This is my balanced build. The closest I go to the absolute middle of the line as a Jack of all trades. It is great in normal dungeons. Not the speed runs, but the PUGs where you don’t know how many people will be good and how many won’t. You can hold such groups up pretty well. That’s really what most runs will be anyway. Even in speed run dungeons – the people doing them are frankly, not all as good as they think they are. Which means this is a great build for anything other than a ‘premade speed run team’.

Its good soloing, you don’t need to be ‘at the top of your game’ as you can take the hits, but you do enough damage that you can get stuff done.

Its great in World v World. Its a wide open field there in regards to what you will have on your side and what will be on the other side. You put out very solid AoE pressure, and can support the moderately skilled to excellent members of your team. And if somebody notices you there – you can take a few hits.

Your weakpoint is condition damage. Very low vitality on the build, so you need to be always ready to hit Cleansing Fire or Healing Rain

Thief Build: The Bandito – Bruiser

Raven Mistkeeper

Introduction – Thief Theory

Start with my article on tanky build design. This Thief build is about midway between balanced and DPS.

Just as I noted in my last build guide that the ranger is NOT a World of Warcraft Hunter, the thief is NOT a World of Warcraft Rogue. There is a tendency by a lot of people to map classes and professions across different games as if they were the same. That works when a game has copied another – which has been the sad fate of many recent MMOs. But Guild Wars 2 is not a WoW clone. It has its own design history.

The Thief began as the Guild Wars: Factions Assassin. It appears to have then undergone a series of questions and corrections goals. Chief among them being first, how do we make this class able to survive if it fails to kill its target after the initial burst of instants. The second critical question appears to be, how do we prevent this class from being able to reliably one-shot any target, saving that only for unwitting victims, but still very strong in quick-burst attacks.

To that end thieves occupy a couple of spots in the tactical battle. There is the well known ‘assassin role’ – strike from surprise, hitting hard, and vanishing away. Stealth builds are everywhere and appear to be the primary way thieves get played.

Then there are ranged archer builds designed to apply area pressure – used to stay at a distance and harass in a skirmisher fashion.

This blog presents another option. Not an uncommon one, but not the usual either. A bruiser or thug build. Its going to feel a bit like a warrior. But the ‘analogy’ is different. Where the warrior is a soldier or fighter on an ancient battlefield, the bruiser is like a gangland or barroom tough. You come in and hit hard and fast in small scale combat, and use some distraction tricks to avoid being taken out.

The icon for this is the Mexican Bandito of the Southwest, with a bit of Zorro thrown in. Or maybe ‘The Man with No Name’ of Fistful of Dollars. This is a shoot them in the eye and stab them in the gut while chewing on their nose and jabbing a spiked heel into their boot build. Save the stealth for the ninja turtle backup.

So with that in mind, I build to be strong in multi-target melee, and single target ranged. You jump in and hit a crowd, and then jump back to blast a singular victim.

The caveat here is that one of the two chosen weapon sets is known to be weaker, and I cannot really disagree with that – but I stick to it anyway.

Dual Pistols – the ranged option. The problems with this set are found in the #2 skill having a high initiative cost for what it appears to deliver, and the #3 likewise to a lesser degree. That it is all single target is also an issue, but this build is meant to turn that into an advantage.


The Build:

ThiefTraits

Traits:

20/20/0/30/0

Sundering Strikes (VI) and Combined Training (X) in Deadly Arts

Sundering Strikes applies constant vulnerability pressure. With a crit chance above 70%, the odds of having this apply more than once per 10 seconds are very good. It may even be able to trigger more often than the 1-second cooldown. With Sword in melee, this can end up applying Vulnerability all around you thereby given a damage boost to your entire team. An alternative option of Mug or Potent Poison both rely on frequent use of Stealing – which can be problematic if trying stay at range.

Combined Training is the first of two traits designed to boost up your dual wield skills. As I will note later, this build relies very heavily on using both the sword/pistol and the pistol/pistol dual wield skills. A 5% damage bonus to these skills goes a long way here.

Pistol Mastery (V) and Combo Critical Chance (IX) in Critical Strikes

Pistol Mastery is needed to make using the main-hand pistol worthwhile, and has the added bonus of aiding the offhand pistol’s minor damage. Without this trait, the Pistol is unwise even against single targets.

Combo Critical Chance is the second dual wielding trait, giving duel skills a 5% bonus to critical chance. This makes the build’s normal 73% critical chance bump up to 78% when duel wielding. Every bit counts towards pushing that up.

Alternative traits like Ankle Shots, Side Strike, and Signet Use might at first seem good, but this is an in your face shoot them in the eye and stab them in the gut build. None of that standing to the side or running around. And using your signets means losing their passive bonuses – so don’t unless its an emergency.

Power of Inertia (II), Quick Recovery (IX), and Assassin’s Reward (X) in Acrobatics

What you really wanted in this trait line is the three passives: Expeditious Dodger, Feline Grace, and Fluid Strikes.

Power of Inertia, when combined with all of the above passives should be a giant clue that dodging constantly if what you want to be doing – even when there is nothing to dodge…

Quick Recovery is about damage sustainability. The thief is meant to hit hard and fast and then run for it while regaining initiative. You’re planning to hit hard, somewhat quickly, and then stand there and hit again. Your tactic is to keep hitting them until they fall over, and that takes being able to get your initiative coming back in as fast as you spend it. 2 every 10 seconds sounds like nothing… until you’re fighting something big, nasty, and slow to fall down. I’ve pulled this trait off my list many times, only to decide I actually did need it after all.

Assassin’s Reward is how you stay up when facing them down. People can look at the numbers on heals like this and say they’re not worth it. But then you run out there and spam out initiative like crazy and this thing becomes the difference that gets you over the edge.

Armor:

Rampager Helm – Thief Rune
Rampager Pauldrons – Thief Rune
Knight Coat – Thief Rune
Rampager Glove – Thief Rune
Knight Pants – Thief Rune
Rampager Boots – Thief Rune
– While this play style is not about getting to the side or behind your opponent, there is not better rune set for you. Perhaps swap the last rune for another at your discretion.

Underwater Armor:
GavBeorn Breather
– I have this slotted with a Superior Rune of the Orrian for +28 Condition damage for no reason other than that dropped for me and was Souldbound…

Weapons:

Rampager Sword – Force Sigil
Berserker Pistol – Accuracy Sigil
-Swap To-
Rampager Pistol – Force Sigil
Berserker Pistol – Accuracy Sigil

Accuracy for critical chance, Force for a damage boost. Note that I only have two pistols and one sword equipped. When I swap to sword, it retains the offhand I had in pistol, so you do not need to buy 3 pistols (as I was doing until about level 50 when I realized this).

Underwater Weapons:
Rampager Harpoon Gun – Force Sigil
Berserker Spear – Accuracy Sigil

Trinkets:

Soldier Back – Ruby (Berserk) Upgrade
Berserk Accessory – Emerald (Knight) Upgrade x2
Berserk Ring – Coral (Rampage) Upgrade
Berserk Ring – Ruby (Berserk) Upgrade
Berserk Amulet – Emerald (Knight) Upgrade

Healing

Hide in Shadows is your go to heal. While Signet of Malice might seem better for the constant healing, you are already getting that from your trait Assassin’s Reward. What you really want here is the ability to drop yourself off of the aggro table for a second or two. Not long term, you’ll be getting right back in there. But timed well this is useful for trading aggro with someone else. You are NOT looking at it as a way to go into a long term sneak around stealth – just a quicky shift up to the situation.

Utility Skill Choices

You won’t be changing one of these ever if possible, and the others as the situation calls for it.

Signet of Agility is the most important of my utility skills – it provides 180 precision, which gives you a bonus of 8% to critical chance. That is a major bonus. Do not remove this from your utility bar, and do not click it, unless you absolutely must and no other utility can be sacrificed.

Assassin’s Signet gives you 180 power. Power is important, but second to critical chance for you. This will boost your attack from 2966 to 3146 – not a trivial change.

The third utility slot changes constantly. The only regular there is Signet of Shadows because in the open world that’s great for exploring, and in cities just getting around. In a fight that utility is less useful as you have so many other blinds, and the mobility is not major enough for getting around given Shadow Step.

For fights, slot the third utility to best benefit the particular situation. Good choices are Scorpion Wire for pulling and Shadow Refuge if you are running with zerkers (who tend to faceplant a lot, so you will need to spend time rezzing them while they complain that you do low DPS because you’re spending 2/3rds of the fight rezzing them…). For added DPS many of the choices work.

Elite Skill

Dagger Storm is amazing in PvP and WvW. It makes you immune to projectile attacks while being channeled, so if you don’t have aggro you can spam this one in packs of adds. In WvW, you can use it when defending territory while in a zerg. Because people are mentally trained to think of a thief as a sneaky dagger heartstriker, they often pay me no attention as I destroy them with this… Maybe thinking “that’s so foolish, somebody else will get her” only they all decide that and so none of them do…

Thieves Guild is handy in melee fights, where you don’t get the defensive benefits of Dagger Storm. As long as your two thieves don’t get aggro and don’t stand in AoE, they provide a nice bonus.

Basilisk Venom is not so useful in PvE – it wears off too fast and as you’re not trying to sneak away, has less uses.

Resulting Stats Summary

ThiefStatSummary


Playstyle

This is a ‘balanced’ dungeon build leaning towards damage. You will have moderate aggro, and you can be two shot. One-shots are not a major risk, but active mitigation play is required.

Your crit chance is the key to your success. With good power and a high crit, you will see damage numbers spike up often. Do not forget about your conditions.

Headshot on both melee and ranged options is your friend – blind may only block the next attack, but well timed can save you or an ally. I often tab over to someone beating down a teammate, hit Headshot, and tab back.

Black Powder is tricky. Save it for when in melee against large groups. Even if you lack aggro – this can take a LOT of pressure away from whoever has it.

You want to spend as much of your time as possible in melee, spamming Pistol Whip. But remember that it can root you for a time – so use it carefully in crowds. If you attract too much aggro, try Black Powder for a moment, and if you must…

Swap to Dual pistols, pick your primary target, and get back. Unload. Unload on pistols is your friend. Spam it. Hit Body Shot now and again to apply ten stacks of vulnerability – but remember that you already get this from traits.

This is the purpose of going for the single target ranged option – to apply heavy pressure to just one target, letting your ‘threat’ / ‘aggro’ on others drop down until you can safely re-enter melee. In a pure ranged fight, your goal becomes taking out the weakest link among the enemy as fast as possible, and used targeted applications of Headshot to reduce pressure at key moments.

Your heal has a short term built in stealth. If you attract too much aggro you can heal, step back, and wait a moment for someone else to take over before using pistols to single target attack for a time.

And what about Stealing? Steal is one of your gap closers. Use it to quickly move between targets. Infiltrator%27s Strike is also a good gap closer, but runs the risk of sending you back to where you were if you hit it again. However once on a target, you can use the second step in its chain, Shadow Return for reliable on demand condition removal.

Conclusion

This is the most ‘damage focused’ build I have, and yet it is still in the realm of balanced for good survivability. It is pretty common for me to find myself having higher armor than even many guardians in groups I dungeon run with – due to the over-popularity of the ‘zerker’ playstyle. As a result I have found myself ‘saving people’ often. A dead toon does no DPS, so I often end up having more damage done in a fight than the zerkers.

Thief is normally played in an attempt to mimic some fusion between the WoW rogue and the Guild Wars 1 Assassin. This direct, in your face, build style is often a surprise to those who encounter me – that in itself is an advantage in PvP, and often secures my spot in PvE dungeons.