During BWE3 I came up with an exciting SP/SD Thief build that focused on great control and mobility (specifically evasion) utilizing the “Trap” class utility skills. Check the following videos for some clips of it in action along with detailed analysis on several situations I found myself in while playing with it. This time I decided to try splitting the videos up into a Basics video that has a lot more detail about the weapon and utility skills being used as well as a separate Advanced Tricks video that goes into some neat tactics I was using last beta weekend as well as a more detailed discussion on the strengths and weaknesses of the build.
Basics Video with Weapon/Utility Skill Details
Advanced Tactics and Build Analysis
Runes of Hoelbrak – (165 Power/+20% Might Duration/5% chance to gain Might when hit (5 second cooldown)/-20% condition duration to you)
This Rune set actually wasn’t my first choice. I really wanted to use the Runes of Adventure which, while having a fairly useless primary stat (for me) of Malice (Condition Damage), have an amazing 6/6 set bonus: “You gain 100% endurance when you heal. (10 second cooldown)” As someone who wanted to run a super, ridiculously evasive Thief, I was disappointed to find that many of the “proc on heal” runes would break once you went down in a sPvP match. That said, the Vigor on heal Major Trait is still quite good and worked alright for me. If I could get the Adventure set I’d have used the Might on dodge trait instead.
I was pretty happy with the Soldier runeset. It’s true that it makes you really susceptible to the weakness condition, but I never felt like my damage was too low. The toughness from the amulet really makes a huge difference in letting you actually take some hits, and since I have both weaponsets utilizing the sword I’m almost always going to be in danger of attack.
Sigil of Superior Battle/Doom – Weapon swap sigils are a no-brainer if you have low crit-rate. I went with Doom and Battle because I felt like I needed pretty liberal poison application to make up for the lack of crit (I don’t want my enemies to heal back whatever damage I manage to do). Battle, of course, is just to increase my damage and goes well with the Hoelbrak runes.
The Sword is a brilliant weapon. It has incredible mobility with Infiltrator’s Strike (potentially more mobile than even the Shortbow, depending on the availability of targets), great sustained damage (for free!), and good burst potential with the Pistol offhand. The auto-attack cripple is also great for controlling your opponent. Since I rely so heavily on the “Lead Attacks” trait (2% more damage per initiative) to boost my damage and make up for my crit, the really powerful chain combo is quite handy. The sword also has a wider swing and so can be used against groups of enemies quite effectively.
I use the Sword in both sets so that I can have access to both the pistol and dagger offhand abilities. I never really got the hang of Flanking Strike (need more practice), but I think it has a lot of potential to dominate melee 1v1 fights. Dancing Dagger is obviously great in conjunction with Infiltrator’s Strike for catching runners, and Cloak and Dagger with the Infusion of Shadow trait is a great, not too expensive, way to protect yourself. C&D right before a stomp is particularly awesome. I didn’t go D/D because I felt like Leaping Death Blossom was a complete waste and didn’t really like the playstyle of Heartseeker spam. Losing access to my Infiltrator’s Strike/Shadow Return would have made me a lot more vulnerable to conditions and stuns as well.
People complain constantly about Pistol Whip, but Tripwire gives you a pretty sure way to set it up (outside of Haste) and you can still use it quite effectively on a control point against a group of enemies (you have the health/evasion abilities to swing at a group for a bit before having to retreat).
Capabilities of the Build
At full initiative, I have a 30% damage bonus, which means I have a constant, passive mini-crit going on for my auto-attacks. Using Pistol whip sparingly (so not just popping Devourer Venom, Haste and then pushing 3 as hard as I can) you can get most of the Lead Attacks bonus on your pistol whips as well, allowing me to get anywhere from 3000 to 5000 damage on a pistol whip without any crits.
You obviously have a great deal of control as well. Tripwire is awesome, even if it does bug out every now and then. Needle Trap is a bit more questionable; I’m not sure if I’d take it again. I definitely used it well and appreciated the easy access to a longer Poison (seemed like my Doom sigil one and steal ones weren’t enough to stop heals with all the condition removal floating around). That said, the immobilize is actually only something like 2 seconds, despite whatever the tooltip says; that means it’s really not that great for control. If I wanted to keep another Trap I might go with the Ambush Trap, as I’ve heard it’s very strong. Otherwise, I’d consider the Signet of Shadows for the increased movement speed (wouldn’t have to waste dodge to keep up swiftness while in combat) and on demand immob, or in a tournament situation I might go for Blinding Powder to allow myself the ability to revive teammates more safely (I feel like Shadow Refuge gives away what you just did too much and most people will just swing at the corpse).
The 0-cooldown condition removal and stun-breaker from Shadow Return is just brilliant. While it won’t save you when you have a whole load of conditions stacked on you, you can usually use Withdraw to remove all the movement impairing ones and then Shadow return to remove at least one of the damaging ones. Withdraw removing Immobilize is also great for preventing a Bola -> generic Warrior combo or to get out of the rare condi damage Warrior’s Flurry.
My favorite tactics I pulled off over the weekend:
– Scorpion Wire -> Pistol Whip (cancel early) -> Tripwire -> Pistol Whip for big burst on an enemy at medium health.
– Cloak and Dagger -> Withdraw -> Scorpion Wire to confuse my enemies a bit.
– The ever popular, use Infiltrator’s Strike without a target while being chased by multiple enemies. Use Withdraw to gain some ground around a corner and then use Shadow Return to pop all the way back and run the other way.
As a last warning, be careful when an enemy stacks confusion on you! Confusion applies damage when you dodge… I learned that the hard way D:
Let me know what your thoughts are on this build!