Guild Wars 2 – Thoughts on Thief Balance (Post January 26th Patch)
What’s up everybody! We’re gonna have a little review of the Thief buffs that occurred in the January 26th balance patch. Now, overall I can’t complain. The buffs were all positive. I’m going to go over how the buffs augment current play styles for the better.
Let’s start with Acrobatics. Technically, Acrobatics did get buffed but it feels pretty much the same line as before but a bit better. Which means if you were using it before the patch chances are that it makes your build just a bit better as well. The one thing I don’t like about the new Acro line is Instant Reflexes which is a new major adept trait. In my opinion, the trait is decent in functionality but has too long of a cooldown to make it worth slotting.
Now, I know there are some people that think Acrobatics is useless or still useless after the patch. For thief meta builds this is probably the case. However, there are 4 builds I can think of that can use Acrobatics fairly decently:
- Bunker Thief
- Sword/Dagger with Critical Strikes
- Staff Jumper and
- Condition Double Dagger
For the most part, these are not really meta builds, more like niche builds people play. Bunker because you want to survive as long as possible and you’re not too worried about doing damage. S/D with CS because of the Acro healing synergy +with CS high damage thresholds. Staff jumper and D/D Condi for longer durations of dodging and a safety net with Hard to Catch & Don’t Stop.
The last two are questionable since you’re probably giving up damage in Deadly Arts for Acrobatics but I think it’s a personal preference at that point.
Damage In Fights
Speaking of damage, let’s talk about Thief damage shall we? Lack of damage isn’t the main problem for thieves. It’s surviving in fights. Thieves are not meant for extended fighting at the moment. They’re meant to hit hard, hit fast and get out. What sucks is that you can’t stay in sustained fights unless you’re tanky, use stealth and re-engage if you can, or have a bunch of dodges. And maybe that’s the way ArenaNet wants it. This is why I think thieves got the speed buffs to melee auto attacks among the other skill buffs; to inadvertently improve thief survivability and potency in fights.
Let’s take a Dagger/Pistol build for example. This is a standard meta build. This build got buffed in a few ways if you think about it. Aftercast on Black Powder is gone, Basilisk Venom is unblockable, Withdraw has 10% more healing to names few things. Even a base thief can run the skills I mentioned. Putting it all together for an opening engagement makes it so that after you channel Basilisk Venom you can hit your burst with Heartseeker + Steal as long as your attack lands that is. You get a few more auto attacks in while your target is locked up thanks to the attack speed increases. Withdraw if you get hit up and you can quickly stealth disengage using the Black Powder + Heartseeker combo, then rinse and repeat.
With these buffs you can see how Dagger/Pistol has become better at damaging and eluding opponents. You can add on skills like Bandit’s Defense to increase your survivability.
Staff Auto Attack Buffs
Last but not least is staff auto attack buffs. I think these buffs were made mainly for increasing the allure of bringing a thief to raids. I think thieves do the highest power DPS now. I personally love running thief in raids when possible even before the patch. However thief still lacks in other departments that other professions can fill. We’ll see how it goes.
That’s pretty much sums it up, overall I think everything was very good. It’s possible that survivability (especially to conditions) and build diversity are the things that need to be addressed down the road.