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PvE D/D and SB Build; Bow Strings 'n' Backstabs

pve build d/d shortbow stealth

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#1 Kelyth

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 10:05 PM

Introduction
Hi all! New to the forums here, fresh to GW2 (and the entire GW franchise) as well but a bit of an OCD theorycrafter when it comes to MMOs. Another first, this is my debut build/guide EVAR so be gentle and any and all constructive criticism is welcome!


The Build


http://gw2skills.net...WJsyalzKpVjMmaA


Explanation and aim

The build, in essence, functions similarly to most Backstab oriented D/D builds that rely on abusing stealth for big numbers when confronted with a single target fight and dropping back for AoE with the SB and causing hell with some combos. It also has some group viability with its Deception utilities (Shadow Refuge, Blinding Powder and Smokescreen) and, all-in-all, is concerned with stealth as a large part of gameplay.

The beauty of this build is its flexibility, it's not hardwired to be a tightrope style build where deviating from the traits causes you to crumple into a blubbering, shadowy mess, this is explained below in the flexibility section.

Traits and Utilities

The trait spread is 0/30/20/0/20.

Critical Strikes
Minor Traits
Keen Observer: 5% More Crit chance or 90% HP.
Oppurtunist: 20% Chance on crit ot gain 1 Intiative (simply 1i or 2i, 3i hereafter)
First Strikes: 10% More damage when over 6i.

Major Traits
Side Strike: 7% Crit chance when attacking from behind or side.
Critical Haste: 10% On crit to gain Quickness for 2sec (30sec CD)
Executioner: 20% more damage to enemies below 50% HP.

Shadow Arts
Minor Traits
Last Refuge: Use Blinding Powder if you hit 25% HP (90sec CD)
Meld With Shadows: Stealth Skills last 1 second longer.

Major Traits
Infusion of Shadow: Gain 2 Intiative when using a skill that Stealths you.
Hidden Thief: Stealing grants you 2sec of stealth.

Trickery
Minor Traits
Kleptomaniac: Stealing give you 3i.
Preparedness: Increases max intiative by 3.

Major Traits
Thrill of the Crime: Stealing grants you and your allies Fury, Might and Swiftness for 10sec
Flanking Strikes: You deal 5% more damage when attacking from the back or side.

Utilities and Heal

The heal for the build currently is Hide in Shadows (extra stealth, what's not to love?)
The utilities are Blinding Powder, Shadow Refuge and Smoke Screen and the elite skill is Dagger Storm.

How does it work?

Melee
When combat begins you begin with a Steal, this stealths you and allows you to open with Backstab whilst picking up your Steal situational ability, spam your basic attack until the internal CD for Stealth (3 seconds, I believe) is over, hit 5 for CnD, the skill costs 6i but since you're traited for stealth abilities to give you back 2i it really costs 4, hit them with another BS and essentially rinse and repeat with CnD and using Steal when available.

The rate at which you get your intiative back should be rather insane and you can throw in a HS every now and then instead of basic attack.

Use of your heal grants stealth which can supplement your health and ipool because it stealths and allow another BS.

Blinding Powder also stealths while blinding, potentially giving friendlies a breather.

Shadow Refuge should be used to help a downed teammate but can be used to abuse another BS.

Smoke Screen creates a Combo Field: Smoke which when coupled with HS (Combo Finisher: Leap) causes you stealth, effectively allowing you to use HS and BS as a 1-2 combo.

Dagger Storm is predominately an "Awwh SSHHIII--" button but can be used as a Combo Finisher Whirl in your Smoke Screen to unleash Blinding bolts.

Ranged
SB combat for this build is based around group support and laying down Weakness combo via your 4 and 2 abilities respectively. Your Heal and Steal can still be used to boosted your ipool but can be rather hairy in certain situations, situational awareness is key (I.E use Steal on the last mob of a pack so you can replenish your ipool for next pack).

You should be using your Smoke Screen to protect allies in a rough spot as it blinds and can stealth them with appropriate use of Cluster Bomb as a Blast Finisher.

Shadow Refuge is the same as Melee; save it for friends in need because you're their friend (indeed!)

Blinding Powder can be used as an escape mechanism or just to boost your ipool.

Dagger Storm = "Awwwwh SHIIII--" button, same as melee except you can use Smoke Screen and Choking Gas to create WTFDAGGERTORNADOWITHBLINDSANDPOISON. Legit. :cool:

Stats and Gear
You're primarily looking for Precision/Power/CritDmg or Toughness. Not that concerned with survival stats, the build offers plenty by way of Stealthing and aggro dropping as well as a few Blinds and you can always dodge.

Critdmg and toughness are grouped together because if you have enough power and precision and you feel you're hitting hard enough you can chuck up some survival stats because passive survival never hurts.

A mix of Berserker's and Knight's Jewelry is a good place to start.

As a rule of thumb I'd prefer Toughness over Vit because I think about it this way; what would burn faster, an A3 piece of paper or a wet piece of A4 paper? Increasing your theoretical HP on a dodge class is usually more effective than simply spamming your healthpool as far as most games go but I could be proven wrong considering I don't have any hard math just personal preference.

As for weapons I'd aim for Sigils of Superior Might and Fragility on my daggers to buff Power and to synergise with the vulnerability caused by CnD spam. For my SB Sigil of Superior Might to synergise with the above. Alternatives for Dagger are Rage, Force or Blood and for the SB Air or Bloodlust.

Runes on Armour are of the Thief primarily for the extra 10% damage from behind or Eagle for the added Critdmg and synergy with Executioner.

It's also plausible to have more survival oriented Runes if you're a cautious thief!


Flexibility

Here's my most favourtie part about this build, it has room for plenty of flexibility in the trait options, my personal preference is the above because I see the thief as a primarily Melee character with support capabilities in Ranged combat and on the side, but this build can be modified in many ways. I'll list a few below to elaborate.

Like to be a support Thief? Pick up Master of Deception and Shadow Protector in Shadow Arts for that added oomph for your utilities.

Like a ranged Thief more than melee? Pick up Furious Retaliation in Critical Strikes, Power Shots in Shadow Arts and Intial Strikes in Trickery for that extra pull on your bowstring.

Like a more signet based Thief? Pick up Signet Use and Signet Power in Critical Strikes and swap out your utilites for signets for some might stacking Rambo action.

Even something as simple as swapping Executioner to Hidden Killer, for that certainty of crits, can change playstyle. (I'm not sure if casting Cluster Bomb from stealth with the SB causes a cluster* of crit on the opposite end using Hidden Killer, if anyone knows please comment below!)

Final Statement

The Thief is a versatile class, this build is evidence of that. It's not a BE-ALL-END-ALL build and not the only wait to play the Thief, it's simply a showcase of how simple trait selections can diversify your playstyle even with the same gear and stat allocations.

Give it a try and see what you think, and for you experienced thieves out there leave any feedback below and I'll gladly discuss anything with you! :D

As an end note, I'm just going to let you guys know that I've not actually played GW2...I don't mean that as a troll statement, the game just happened to come out while I'm on a 6 month vacation...so you can see, if you go through, areas where I say "what I'd aim for" etc and why I want people's feedback on the spec also to gather how much of my knowledgeof the game is accurate. Flame if you want, where you will, I'll mostly ignore it.

And yes, the fact that I put this at the end of the post is entirely deliberate! ;)

Edit Typos, general layout etc

Edited by Kelyth, 19 September 2012 - 11:22 PM.


#2 The Shadow

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 12:18 PM

The build makes sense. I can't test this as I don't have access to GW2. I'm not entirely sure though, that it's worth investing so heavily into Shadow Arts/ Trickery while forsaking Deadly Arts completely. Flanking Strikes from the Trickery line is great. But it's not as good as 5% (un-conditional) Dagger Damage in Deadly Arts, specifically when you consider the fact that Deadly Arts boosts your power as opposed to your condition damage.

As for 20 Shadow Arts. I just think that "Meld with Shadows" isn't particularly useful, and nor is the 2s Stealth on Steal seeing as it's only activated on steal. Infusion with Shadow is great though. It's not particularly "needed" but it does indeed help with spamming CnD. I ran this on my old build.

Given the points above, if I was to revise your build but maintain it's purpose and keep points in Trickery/ Shadow Arts.. I'd change it to something like;

http://gw2skills.net...WJsyalzKpVjMmaA

It might be even worth forsaking Thrill of the Crime for the additional 10% damage on 25 Deadly Arts and simply using Steal for Kleptomania as opposed to using it to initiate combat. Making it look like this:

http://gw2skills.net...WJsyalzKpVjMmaA

Just my revised build based around my personal opinions/ preferences while trying to maintain yours.

#3 Nihlus Duskstalker

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 01:52 PM

View PostKelyth, on 19 September 2012 - 10:05 PM, said:

Smoke Screen creates a Combo Field: Smoke which when coupled with HS (Combo Finisher: Leap) causes you stealth, effectively allowing you to use HS and BS as a 1-2 combo.

I attempted to do this early on in the game and it didn't work. Using Heartseeker through Smoke Screen would stealth me, but when it connected, it would take me out of stealth and put the revealed debuff on me. The only way I could work this into a backstab would be to HS through the smoke screen in such a way that I would intentionally miss with it, but that seems like an expensive stealth (from both an initiative and time perspective) considering there are so many other ways to pull it off and Utility slots are valuable real estate in this game.

Since you already have Shadow Refuge and Blinding Powder, I would swap Smoke Screen for either Signet of Agility or Signet of Shadows. Signet of Agility gives bonus precision, which'll synchronize well with Opportunist, Critical Haste, and any Crit Proc Sigils. At 80, it'll give you 90 precision, which comes out to a little over 4% crit chance. Signet of Shadows is dangerous in that once you start using it, it's hard to take off your bars. 25% run speed is huge. If you're a charr it makes the run on all fours animation look less ridiculous. And although the run speed is mostly a quality of life change, the on-use blind is very useful on fights when you're not moving around a lot.


View PostThe Shadow, on 20 September 2012 - 12:18 PM, said:

It might be even worth forsaking Thrill of the Crime for the additional 10% damage on 25 Deadly Arts and simply using Steal for Kleptomania as opposed to using it to initiate combat. Making it look like this:

http://gw2skills.net...WJsyalzKpVjMmaA
I think this is quickly turning into the standard max-damage Backstab build, as I've seen a lot of people running with slight variations on this. The 5 points in Trickery would be flex points to move around as you see fit. I actually like Meld with Shadows. I know you ideally want to Backstab out of stealth immediately to maximize your DPS, but sometimes mob movement can make this tricky and 1 extra second can give you that time to pull it off. Also it helps when you need to Cloak & Dagger stealth past enemies.

I have, however, been considering survivability and the Shadow Arts talent Cloaked in Shadow, which blinds nearby enemies when you go in stealth. Considering how often this build goes into stealth, this would be super useful in both solo or group settings. However, to get this you'd have to give up the virtual 10% flat damage increase from Exposed Weakness, which might be too much for some.

Edited by Nihlus Duskstalker, 20 September 2012 - 01:54 PM.


#4 The Shadow

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 02:13 PM

View PostNihlus Duskstalker, on 20 September 2012 - 01:52 PM, said:

I have, however, been considering survivability and the Shadow Arts talent Cloaked in Shadow, which blinds nearby enemies when you go in stealth. Considering how often this build goes into stealth, this would be super useful in both solo or group settings. However, to get this you'd have to give up the virtual 10% flat damage increase from Exposed Weakness, which might be too much for some.

This is exactly my issue with Shadow Arts. It's not a bad trait tree inherently. I just don't see it as being more useful than the inherent advantages of going with a different trait line. Same opinion for Trickery. In PvP obviously my views of the different traits trees would change dramatically.

I do indeed like the idea of blinding enemies with stealth.. and I have indeed toyed with that trait in particular.. However.. How useful is it when you're already evading the majority of attacks by simply being in stealth and losing aggro? From a solo standpoint.. not that useful. I  would consider it to be an invaluable  trait in a group setting however... But then you'd have to respec every time you join a group or go back into solo play and essentially be wasting time/ lowering DPS and trait towards a defense that isn't really needed. As such, I find it more convenient to stick with what I know will work un-conditionally in both settings... This may not be ideal for everyone though.

Edited by The Shadow, 20 September 2012 - 02:31 PM.


#5 Kelyth

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 02:22 PM

Shadow, you make a good point about Deadly Arts and gathering up that extra Power and the 5% Dagger damage not to mention the Vuln on crit, that actually seems entirely more practical than investing so deep in Trickery, however the 5% from Trickery would apply to SB (albeit requiring you to be smarter with positioning) do you think it would be worth it in that regard? Is it worth attempting to balance your traits for both ranged and melee in your experience?

View PostThe Shadow, on 20 September 2012 - 12:18 PM, said:

The build makes sense. I can't test this as I don't have access to GW2. I'm not entirely sure though, that it's worth investing so heavily into Shadow Arts/ Trickery while forsaking Deadly Arts completely. Flanking Strikes from the Trickery line is great. But it's not as good as 5% (un-conditional) Dagger Damage in Deadly Arts, specifically when you consider the fact that Deadly Arts boosts your power as opposed to your condition damage.

As for 20 Shadow Arts. I just think that "Meld with Shadows" isn't particularly useful, and nor is the 2s Stealth on Steal seeing as it's only activated on steal. Infusion with Shadow is great though. It's not particularly "needed" but it does indeed help with spamming CnD. I ran this on my old build.

I admit that, on review, the build is heavily reliant on stealth as it's main survival mechanic and potentially excessively so...I've seen you be a big advocate for the Acrobatics tree with it's ability to give you near constant Swiftness and Might stacks in the past, do you see that as something quintessential for thief gameplay even when running a build like this?
Oh, and thanks for giving it a good read through, I appreciate it!

View PostNihlus Duskstalker, on 20 September 2012 - 01:52 PM, said:

I attempted to do this early on in the game and it didn't work. Using Heartseeker through Smoke Screen would stealth me, but when it connected, it would take me out of stealth and put the revealed debuff on me. The only way I could work this into a backstab would be to HS through the smoke screen in such a way that I would intentionally miss with it, but that seems like an expensive stealth (from both an initiative and time perspective) considering there are so many other ways to pull it off and Utility slots are valuable real estate in this game.

Since you already have Shadow Refuge and Blinding Powder, I would swap Smoke Screen for either Signet of Agility or Signet of Shadows. Signet of Agility gives bonus precision, which'll synchronize well with Opportunist, Critical Haste, and any Crit Proc Sigils. At 80, it'll give you 90 precision, which comes out to a little over 4% crit chance. Signet of Shadows is dangerous in that once you start using it, it's hard to take off your bars. 25% run speed is huge. If you're a charr it makes the run on all fours animation look less ridiculous. And although the run speed is mostly a quality of life change, the on-use blind is very useful on fights when you're not moving around a lot.

That's unfortunate to hear about HS bumming you out of stealth before you can get the BS, I thought that'd be an extremely potent combo. I never meant that Smoke Screen should be used solely for that purpose just mentioned it as an added benefit of popping one out, but you make a good point that is abit wasteful for a utility and you can potentially better yourself by swapping to signets. Signets seem powerful for individual use and can certainly spice up your game my only question is do you think a thief that simply plays well individually and provides a little support is better than one that aims for all out support utilities?

And that's good to hear about the Charr run animation, it was the only thing putting me off starting one over a Sylvari! Although after seeing that the Sylvari cultural sets made me look like a Vegetarians lunch I'm reconsidering hahah!

#6 Kelyth

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 02:37 PM

Also, do either of you know if the combination of Hidden Thief, Infusion of Shadow and Kleptomaniac results in Steal giving you 5 intiative?

I know you can't test anything in-game at the moment, Shadow, but just if you had any previous knowledge.

#7 The Shadow

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 02:50 PM

View PostKelyth, on 20 September 2012 - 02:22 PM, said:

Shadow, you make a good point about Deadly Arts and gathering up that extra Power and the 5% Dagger damage not to mention the Vuln on crit, that actually seems entirely more practical than investing so deep in Trickery, however the 5% from Trickery would apply to SB (albeit requiring you to be smarter with positioning) do you think it would be worth it in that regard? Is it worth attempting to balance your traits for both ranged and melee in your experience?

I admit that, on review, the build is heavily reliant on stealth as it's main survival mechanic and potentially excessively so...I've seen you be a big advocate for the Acrobatics tree with it's ability to give you near constant Swiftness and Might stacks in the past, do you see that as something quintessential for thief gameplay even when running a build like this?
Oh, and thanks for giving it a good read through, I appreciate it!

I made a post a while back on a different thread about how traiting towards 2 sets at once isn't a particularly good idea, at least not for me. The sets in question were D/D and P/P. I'm of the opinion that finding a perfect balance is simply not possible. In relation to your build specifically, I think it's wiser to focus on D/D as opposed to SB. The reason for that is, it's my understanding (from your explanation) that since your build is heavily centered around stealth it's also more geared towards using Dagger and falling back to SB when you need to.. As such, I think it would be counter-productive to rely too heavily on positioning and SB, though still important, when the majority of your DPS, survival and time will be spent relying on D/D.

Well, yes, as you're aware... I'm probably the biggest advocate of the Acrobatics trait line ever to use GW2Guru and play GW2 in general. I think it's simply amazing as it (for me) covers all the issues with speccing into Acrobatics, as opposed to say.. Deadly Arts inherently.. It also does so cheaply. Do I think it's essential? Well.. I personally wouldn't want to be without it. But at the end of the day, if you're getting the survival and DPS you need through different means and it suits your playstyle better then by all means, achieve (essentially) the same goal via different means. Whether or not it's actually better doesn't really matter much. Aside from that, it is highly personal in the sense that people will simply play better and have more fun when they get to play with what they want to play with.

And no problem, it was a good read.

As for your latest post. It should give you 5 initiative.

#8 Kelyth

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 03:25 PM

View PostThe Shadow, on 20 September 2012 - 02:50 PM, said:

I made a post a while back on a different thread about how traiting towards 2 sets at once isn't a particularly good idea, at least not for me. The sets in question were D/D and P/P. I'm of the opinion that finding a perfect balance is simply not possible. In relation to your build specifically, I think it's wiser to focus on D/D as opposed to SB. The reason for that is, it's my understanding (from your explanation) that since your build is heavily centered around stealth it's also more geared towards using Dagger and falling back to SB when you need to.. As such, I think it would be counter-productive to rely too heavily on positioning and SB, though still important, when the majority of your DPS, survival and time will be spent relying on D/D.

Well, yes, as you're aware... I'm probably the biggest advocate of the Acrobatics trait line ever to use GW2Guru and play GW2 in general. I think it's simply amazing as it (for me) covers all the issues with speccing into Acrobatics, as opposed to say.. Deadly Arts inherently.. It also does so cheaply. Do I think it's essential? Well.. I personally wouldn't want to be without it. But at the end of the day, if you're getting the survival and DPS you need through different means and it suits your playstyle better then by all means, achieve (essentially) the same goal via different means. Whether or not it's actually better doesn't really matter much. Aside from that, it is highly personal in the sense that people will simply play better and have more fun when they get to play with what they want to play with.

And no problem, it was a good read.

As for your latest post. It should give you 5 initiative.

I see what you mean, it does come down to individual preference and I do enjoy the melee element more so focusing on that is the best route, having no actual game time myself I'm essentially trying to gauge where the value of set balancing lies and it's worth. I'll have to check for that post you mentioned, seems like I can get some good info there about that thought.

And Acrobatics certainly pays out quickly for relatively low trait input, at the end of the day it is providing the same results just through a different outlet and, as you say, that all comes down to personal preference. I'll have to explore Acrobatics more and mix-up a few more builds on the editor, I was honestly expecting Acrobatics to be the trait line that would have more Sword-centric traits but I'm sorely disappointed at the lack of Sword love on the thief as a whole...guess it might get some changes in the future though...S/P is the only style that is semi-viable with Pistol Whip but facemashing 3 over and over just doesn't seem appealing in the slightest. *End of rant*

Thanks for the clarification on Steal!

#9 Fizzgig

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Posted 22 September 2012 - 08:45 AM

So how has this build been working out for you Kelyth?

#10 Kelyth

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Posted 22 September 2012 - 12:57 PM

So far,  considering I've not played the game yet, I'm still hopeful that it will be the one spec that suits me the most, from my own personal preferences I can say that it should suit my playstyle the most. But as Shadow and Nihlus have pointed out there is room for improvement on my traits etc and fine tuning the build accurately.

Overall, though, I'm happy with the philosophy behind it and will stand by my views on the Thief.




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