Good day to you fellow players. What I will be writing in this post is a list (with descriptions) of complaints I have about the Thief class, in addition to areas for improvement, and suggestions for fixes to the complaints I'm presenting (or re-presenting since I'm sure most hardcore Thief fans have made their own shortcomings known). I ask that any responses be constructive - and if you disagree with me, please give a detailed reason why!
PART 1: Traits
For starters, I'm going to address an issue that I have with ANet's mentality on Traits. With every Profession, not just Thief, there are many traits that don't really do anything fun for characters, as well as traits that are literal 'must haves' for certain skill trees. In the end, traits should be the customization of your playstyle to a variety of effects and specializations, not additional flack to throw in a dmg calculator. The former traits are things like '+5% dagger damage', whereas the latter traits are things like 'reduces cooldown on greatsword skills by 20%'. To use some examples of what I consider 'good traits', I'm going to reach into the Engineer tree for some of my personal favorites.
Grenadier: Throw grenades 25% farther, and throw an additional grenade with each grenade kit skill.
Explosive Descent: Take 50% less falling damage, and release a barrage of grenades upon landing.
These two both cater towards grenades, and have two important criteria by which I judge the appropriateness of traits; they allow you to specialize in a playstyle and they are noticeable to enemies/allies as well as yourself.
Many traits (engineers have them too) aren't discernible to anyone but yourself; no one notices your reduces cooldown on 'X' skill, or that you're doing 5% more damage with a certain weapon type. Additionally, they don't effect your playstyle - they quite literally drain the uniqueness out of, and add monotony to what would otherwise be an enjoyable fight.
Now that you know what I'm looking for, I'll begin lampooning our trait tree for all its worth, the results are listed below:
- Combined Training: Dual skills deal 5% more damage.
- Dagger Training: Deal 5% more damage with daggers.
- Quick Venoms: Venoms recharge 20% quicker.
- Panic Strike: When you strike a foe with less than 25% health, you immobilize them for 2 seconds (60-sec cooldown).
I've chosen Panic Strike for elimination simply because it's too niche, too complicated for what it does - and it's a grandmaster trait no less! Firstly, it only procs once every 60 seconds, and only under the condition that the enemy is below 25% health - and you'll never get to /choose/ to use it. Compare this trait to its counterpart, Residual Venom (1 extra venom strike) and you begin to blur the lines between what is playstyle-defining, and what's extra nonsense thrown into a mix of other random-happenings.
Suggestions for Deadly Arts: Quick Venoms should be a minor trait, Dagger Training is useful to anyone who uses daggers, so just roll the 5% extra damage into daggers, or remove this entirely. Combined Training, similarly to Dagger Training, should either be factored into overall damage for all Thieves, or be removed. Panic Strike should be replaced with a trait that suits the tree, I'm thinking Venomous Aura (Applying poison to your weapon does so for all your nearby allies as well) should be moved here.
- Keen Observer: While HP = 90%+, 5% increased crit rating
- Critical Haste: 10% chance to get quickness (2 seconds) on critical hit (30 second cooldown)
- Executioner: +10% damage when enemy has less than 25% HP.
- Combo Crit Chance: +5% dual-skill crit chance
- Fast Signets: 20% signet cooldown reduction...
- Hidden Killer: 50% crit chance while stealthed
- Pistol Mastery: +5% pistol damage
Let's face it, the only skill that Thieves have that benefits overly from swiftness is Dagger Storm, which has a long-ass cooldown. You've already reduced the Critical Haste trait to 10% of our crits, which on a good day means once every 15.6 hits, possibly. You don't need the internal cooldown here. Executioner doesn't fit with the critical strikes tree; make it +10-15% crit rate on an enemy with 25% HP instead. Combo Crit Chance should do this; "When using a dual skill, your crit chance is increased by 10% (doesn't stack with itself) for 3 seconds (no cooldown)". There, now it's interesting! Fast Signets gets rolled into signet skills in general because their active effects aren't really that strong.
Hidden Mastery is a bit of an issue; because it doesn't do anything if you are above 50% crit chance naturally - so it's a nerf in a lot of cases. Well, now I'm making it a grandmaster trait, and its 100% crit while stealthed. Ankle Shots is now a master tiered trait instead. Pistol mastery, pistol mastery, pistol mastery - give it to every pistol, or remove it entirely.
- Reviver's Deception***: Grant 2 seconds of stealth to you and your ally when you revive them. (Special Note for this)
- Shadow's Embrace: Remove 1 condition for every 3 seconds you're in stealth.
- Master of Deception: Deception skills recharge 20% faster.
- Power Shots: +5% damage with harpoon and shortbow
- Venomous Aura (now missing from this tree due to change to Deadly Arts)
Suggestions for Shadow Arts: Shadow's Embrace won't remove for more than 1 condition for most stealth skills. I suggest making the first part of this proc immediately after using stealth, that way going into stealth, and waiting the whole 3 seconds - will give you 2 condition removals. Master of Deception needs to be a minor trait. Power Shots, give it to everyone - or remove it. To replace Venomous Aura, I suggest a trait I'll call.. Back Into Shadow: When using a heal skill at 20% HP or less - your character stealths for 3 seconds and shadowsteps backwards about 900. for 3 seconds. Unlike Hard To Catch, this skill doesn't need to incur a trait-specific cooldown because it's based off of how much HP you have, as well as the cooldown of your heal skill.
- Fleet Shadow***: +33% speed in stealth
- Master Trapper: Trap cooldowns reduced by 20%
- Pain Response: Gain 10s of regeneration and remove bleeding, poison, and burning when struck and health is below 75% (45 second cooldown)
- Hard To Catch: Shadow Step away and gain Swiftness (12s) when disabled in combat (60 second cooldown)
Suggestions for Acrobatics: Master Trapper - why is this in the acrobatics tree? What is this I don't even... How about, Puppet-Shadow: When you evade, you stealth and create a mirror image of yourself (think Mesmer, AND DON'T GET UPSET!) that persists for 2 seconds before disappearing (or being popped by the enemy). Pain Response and Hard To Catch fall into that same category of overly complex traits with crazy requirements - Pain Response now provides Aegis (block next attack) when you reach 80/50/20% HP (no cooldown). This will allow thieves to not be so damned squishy, while not having crazy cooldown/criteria requirements. Hard To Catch, becomes Come Closer: When hit by a ranged attack while out of combat, you shadowstep to the enemy in question. This is more fitting of an acrobat, as well as a grandmaster trait.
- Kleptomaniac: Stealing gives you 3 initiative (move to major trait)
- Flanking Strikes: +5% damage from behind
- Instinctual Response: Blind enemy and stealth when you take more than 20% HP in one shot (60 second cooldown)
- Long Reach: Stealing range goes from 900 -> 1200
- Merciful Ambush: Create an ambush trap when reviving an ally.
- Ricochet: 5% bounce chance to pistol shots.
- Trickster: 20% cooldown reduction on tricks.
- Sleight of Hand: Stealing dazes your target for 1 second.
Instinctual Response now resembles too much of my Back Into Shadow trait, now it does this; "Blind the enemy, pop up behind them, and gain Protection for 8 seconds (no cooldown, because losing that much health at one time *ing sucks no matter the traited benefit!). Merciful Ambush now becomes; Cover Me: "When finishing off an enemy or reviving a teammate, summon a fellow Thief (ala ambush trap but without requiring a trigger). No more than 1 thief out at a time in this manner." This is now a grandmaster trait. Likewise, Sleight of Hand becomes an adept trait - because using a daze once every 45 seconds is straight up crap. Ricochet having 5% chance to bounce is shitty - make it 25-30% or expect no one to ever get this. Also, Ricochet is now an adept trait too.
Part 2: Weapons
HOLY CRAP! Who survived that bitch session huh? I'm full of complaints and put most of the people on gw2guru to shame right? Keep reading! Because I'm not done dissecting this Profession!
Right now Thieves have access to the following weapons:
-Sword (main hand)
-Dagger (both hands)
-Pistol (both hands)
Wow, being a masterful assassin, or a Thief having to survive on the streets must be tough when you are apparently lacking upper arm strength and possibly the ability to.. I don't know.. ADAPT TO SITUATIONS? Herdeederrr, I can hold a friggin lop-ended pistol in my other hand, but a sword is just too much? Okay now I sound like an *, let's move on!
I would like to see the following weapon choices available:
-Sword (both hands)
-Dagger (both hands ((and maybe one in my mouth!?)))
-Pistol (both hands)
It's really not that much, and I'll explain why! Swords currently have... 0 combo potential, which is different from every other weapon in the Thief set. Another sword would give them the option to add this needed utility to an otherwise inconsistent set of sword skills.
Shortbow should REALLY be a longbow, based on its skill set. It's a pretty pitiful sight when you see a ranger, a warrior and a thief on top of a tower wall trying to pick off people from a range. Only one of these classes can't hit anyone thats not directly below them - want to take a guess? ...Exactly. I would even go so far as to say that if ANet would move all the shortbow skills to a longbow, they could just scrap the shortbow in general.
Torch is pretty simple. As far as role-play goes, a Thief can use a torch in their offhand to blind enemies in the dark, to create diversions, and of course - to hurt people.
Warhorn; I really just think this would be appropriate as a means for a non-slot skill/trait way of summoning a fellow thieves guild member... that's really my only justification here.
Part 3: Class Mechanics
Part 2 was pretty short, this one might be a bit longer. Basically, there is a lot of contention about our class mechanics - specifically with Steal. Is it good? Is it bad? Could it be better? Would anything else make it OP? Who knows! Here's what I know though:
1. It has the longest cooldown out of any class mechanic
2. It's the only class mechanic that needs to be traited (sometimes heavily) in order to be effective.
3. It has a random outcome (Thief = Gambler class?).
4. It doesn't work with half of the Thief playstyles (shortbow and pistol builds).
Addressing these one by one, and we'll see if we can come up with something more like a class mechanic.
1. We used to have a trait to lower the cooldown on steal, it's gone - and even then it was still 30 seconds on a shadowstep that grabbed a random item. Steals cooldown needs to be 30 by default, possibly even 25.
2. They have attempted to make Steal "okay" by putting traits all over the page for how to make it better. This includes; poisoning the enemy, increasing the range, providing AoE buffs to your party, dealing damage, dazing the enemy, stealthing you, and regenerating initiative. Maybe I missed the memo that said "Thieves aren't supposed to initiate combat (haha initiative...)", but it seems a bit weird to me that we'd be applying poison, dazing the enemy, regenerating initiative at the START OF A FIGHT where it's the least effective. What I would like to see is that when you use 'Steal' you actually end up BEHIND the enemy (who would pick pockets directly in front of a person?)
3. A lot of people (myself included) think that a lot of stolen items are pretty good, even though they're random. A lot of people hate it, because it's never the item they wish they stole. My idea here is simple; the item you steal from the enemy is something that can directly counter them. With elementalists maybe its a silence or confusion item, warriors could get knocked on their ass or stunned, necromancers get feared, etc.
4. Steal should have a different effect with ranged weapons in the main hand (not necessarily offhand because dagger/pistol also likes to be close to the enemy). I'm trying to think of something stealthy/thievey/assassiny about a long ranged variant to Steal... Drawing a blank though (HELP ME OUT HERE PEOPLE!). The only thing I have is that you throw a Link-style boomerang at the enemy and steal the item from them (a special RANGED item perhaps?)
So in the end we'll have this form of Steal:
-25-30 second cooldown (maybe 20 with full trickery points)
-Steal items are counters to the classes they are stolen from, rather than grabbag items
-Stealing puts you behind the enemy (lines up for trait bonuses, makes more sense overall)
-Long range variant to be determined since ranged Thieves don't want to use steal. Maybe a loot-a-rang.
BUT WAIT! That's not all!
Shadow-stepping is arguably a Thief only skill. Additionally, we'll probably never see an actual all-out 'Assassin' character in the game (they rolled it all into Thief). That makes Thieves the conglomeration of Buccaneers, Thieves, Rogues, and Assassins. Now it all makes sense right? The daggers, the stealths, the vanishing powder, backstabbing, wearing an eye-patch, yada yada... Hey hold on a sec, I can poof into a void of shadows and reappear behind my enemy - but.. only if I don't have to magically do so over a hole?
I argue this almost weekly it seems - Thieves should be able to shadowstep over gaps (including infiltrators arrow). Steal, Shadowstep, Infiltrators Strike, Infiltrators Arrow, Shadowtrap, Shadow Strike, Ink Shot, Shadowshot and Infiltrator's Signet are all methods that Thieves have for shadow-stepping. You vanish in a puff of black smoke, and reappear at the target location (for infiltrators arrow its wherever the arrow lands.. supposedly). Yet it seems that in 95% of the situations where this would be USEFUL - it doesn't work properly. You fire an arrow over a ledge only to reappear at the same spot on the ledge, or you shadowstep from ledge to rooftop, only to shadowstep to the ground beneath the rooftop (direcltly in front of a wall usually...).
Going slightly off topic for a second here. It was addressed by ArenaNet in an AMA they did on Reddit, that the Guardians Scepter skills were being re-addressed. The problem was that it was their only 'ranged' weapon, and that it wouldn't go over gaps. It turned out that the skills were designed to travel along ground, and not in the air as every other projectile is. They corrected this, and now Guardians have a long range weapon. What I'm asking, is for our shadow-step skills to get the same treatment. We're the projectile, and should not be restricted to land on which to travel. But that's not all I'd like to see.
Going back to Steal. You shadow-step to your target when you use it. The same goes for Shadowshot, Infiltrator's Signet, and Infiltrator's Strike. Of these skills, all but Infiltrator's Strike has the range required to do something such as.. reaching an enemy that's up a wall. I argue then, that using these skills should allow you to reach an enemy on a wall, and bring you up to them. This would give Thieves a definite place in WvW, that currently exists as "not as good as a warrior at melee combat, not as good as a ranger at ranged combat, not really good at anything in wuvwuv in general actually". That's it, thats our official spot in wuvwuv. Thief translates to "Bring something else" in wuvwuv. Being able to attack enemies up a wall is paramount to strategizing anything in wuvwuv aside from "attack the gate en masse until it comes down". It doesn't guarantee a successful tower siege, it doesn't even guarantee a kill - but it does guarantee that Thieves will have a valuable place in wuvwuv - which arguably has a place for everyone else (AoE'ers, tanks, long-ranged, etc).
Part 4: Stealth/Invisibility
It's long been argued that Thieves are NOT Assassins. Thieves are NOT Rogues. Thieves shouldn't get stealth, Thieves shouldn't get permanent stealth, it's impossible to balance, blah blah blah. However to this, I bring up the argument; What is a Thief?
Some say that a Thief is a highway-man, a thug, a mercenary, a pickpocket. They just try to get by, and do so by being unethical/immoral street urchins. While this is no doubt a big part of being a Thief, it isn't the end-all of the Profession in Guild Wars 2. Thieves fill a number of roles, largely due to eliminating the need for separate classes somewhere down the line. We have pistols, because they don't want to make a pirate class. We have stealth, because they don't want to make an assassin class. We have shortbows, because they don't want to make a rogue class. Everything we are, and everything that we can ever be - is in our concept, our design, our potential.
Stealthing is a sensitive subject in every MMO. How should it be implemented though, always varies. In WoW we had permanent invisibility - it was on until we were discovered or decided to not be in it anymore. DAoC had temporary invisibility, 30 seconds or so on a long cooldown.
My personal favorite stealth though, is the 'Spy', from Team Fortress 2. You have a certain amount of time to stealth, and when it runs out it has to recharge. You can use it whenever you want, but you have to be quick about it because it doesn't last long. I believe that it is within this incarnation of invisibility, that we'll find the desired middle-ground of Guild Wars 2 Thief stealth mechanics.
Mechanic #1 of Thieves, Steal. Mechanic #2 of Thieves, Initiative. Mechanic #3 of Thieves, Strategic Invisibility.
*NOTE* This is NOT permanent invisibility. It is VERY LIMITED in Combat.
It has it's own bar, that has enough time in it to be stealthed for 30 seconds. It takes 1 minute out of combat to regenerate all 30 seconds. In combat, it only regenerates at 1 second per 3 seconds of combat (90 seconds to fully recharge). Additionally, while in combat you can ONLY use Strategic Stealth when it is at a FULL BAR. If you CHOOSE to use this full bar of stealth in combat, the entire bar will be drained and you will ONLY get 5 seconds worth of stealth (cancelled upon normal circumstances such as choosing to use an attack).
This incarnation of stealth is literally a strategy and survival skill. You only use it outside of combat when you want to set up an opening/initiate. You only use it inside of combat when you want that extra backstab/whatever, or want to run away. It's a get out of jail free card that will require skill to utilize properly, and will not guarantee a victory or a kill.
This is my proposition for stealth, and this entire article is my proposition for re-working Thieves. I've got similar ideas for most all of the classes I've played, but alas I am not an ArenaNet developer, and I can only pitch ideas.
Let me know what criticisms you have of this, and keep in mind that I would expect the same re-work treatment of every class, especially the culling of shitty traits.
Thank you for reading, if you managed to get this far! It means a lot to me !
Edited by LoreChief, 13 August 2012 - 07:19 PM.