Bunker builds are becoming increasingly common lately in tPvP. More and more I’m seeing players’ builds gravitate to one extreme of glass cannon burst or complete tank bunker. So when I first sat down to try and make a good Sword/Dagger Thief build (I first started looking at it because so many Thieves have dismissed it as far weaker than Dagger/Dagger or Sword/Pistol, mostly due to the mediocrity of Flanking Strike compared to Pistol Whip or the Dagger mainhand’s Heartseeker and backstab) I was really pleased to find that I was able to make a build that was incredibly effective at disrupting bunker builds (also effective against non-bunkers but it’s nice to be able to throw a wrench in a carefully played Bunker’s plans).
Click past the jump for more details on the build.
Link to the build:
In case the calculator breaks:
Critical Strikes (30): III, VI, XI
Shadow Arts (30): IV, V, XI
Acrobatics (10): VI
Berserker Amulet/Jewel; 6/6 Runes of the Ogre
Sword – Sigil of Superior Paralyzation
Dagger/Shortbow – Sigil of Superior Fire
I wasn’t 100% sure about the Runeset. Ogre is just solid damage (and the Rockdog is sort of silly powerful) which is why I ended up with it, but I started off for a while with the Runes of Hoelbrak. I found that I didn’t miss losing the 20% condition duration reduction from 6/6 Hoelbrak when I moved to Ogre because of how good Shadow’s Embrace is at countering conditions. Also, don’t be fooled into using the Runes of the Mesmer. 33% more daze duration SOUNDS really amazingly awesome for this build, but in testing I confirmed something I read about Tactical Strike’s daze duration: there seems to be some sort of cap on the duration, and the Sigil gets you to it. Testing the Sigil, Runes of the Mesmer, and then Sigil + Runes of the Mesmer all ended up with the same duration, so I ended up just using the Sigil (it still feels like a significant increase). If ArenaNet ever fixes that bug, I’d just immediately go to Runes of the Mesmer.
Capabilities of the Build
Your basic attack is going to be to open with Cloak and Dagger (use stealth if necessary to close the gap mid-swing) and then Tactical Strike to daze. Cloak and Dagger hits decently hard and Tactical Strike hits about as hard as backstab does if you hit from the front (so not ridiculously hard but nothing to sneeze at). Always try to be behind when you Tactical Strike; it’s pretty generous about what “behind” is, so that’s not too hard and staying in stealth for a second longer to make sure you’re behind is worth it particularly since you’ll get a little more healing.
Once you’ve used Tactical Strike to break stealth you’ll get the Revealed debuff (this was recently changed in the Halloween patch to be applied always when you use a Stealth skill like backstab or Tactical Strike to keep people from waiting til the Stealth buff is about to drop off and then hitting it as it goes off to avoid Revealed, not much change in general for us but it ensure you get the full duration of Revealed everytime). This means you SHOULD NOT use Cloak and Dagger again. A full chain cycle from the sword is roughly the same length as the Revealed debuff (it’s a bit shorter though) so it’s easy enough to do that while waiting it out.
If you absolutely need to burst someone… I hate to say this but spam Dancing Dagger. Particularly with Haste you can just annihilate someone with this. It’ll kill your initiative but at least you can use your heal/shadow refuge or Roll for Initiative to help with that.
If you’re fighting a bunker you’ll want to be mindful of when you’re stealthing and using Tactical Strike even moreso. Against damage it’s generally fine to just use it on revealed cooldown since slowing down their damage is just useful and it’ll mess with their heads, but bunkers (particularly bunker Engineers with their perma-vigor and lower cooldown heal) will figure you out quickly and dodges from your cloak and dagger will kill your initiative incredibly fast. An interrupt on their heal is much more valuable than just general interrupts. Against Guardians be wary of Stand Your Ground’s stability. Flanking Strike can strip it off, but Guardians will typically have one or more boons running alongside it (at least Retaliation since SYG gives that); so you’re gambling your initiative a bit. Still, removing boons is rarely going to be a bad thing so you might as well.
Speaking of which, if you see a potent boon (say a large stack of Might or a long duration Protection) on someone without many other boons covering it, just strip it off. Almost noone expects a Thief to do it since Flanking Strike is pretty mediocre. It misses frequently but bunkers at least are rarely as mobile as your average damage dealer.
Let me know what your thoughts are on this build!