However, reaching the post 80 game, I’d found the conditions build a little lacking for multiple reasons – largely because Power/Precision builds are more all-rounded for the different activities that one can do at 80, which I’ve detailed in this other thread.
I switched over to power/precision AFTER crafting my Carrion Exotics (Armor only), so I could say that I did try Conditions at the end game. However, after some pondering, I began to wonder if I did the build justice.
First off, I’m going to commit blasphemy and say this: Shortbow is NOT good for a condition build.
*ten thousand arrows fly towards me*
Poof *shadow refuge* Poof
Now that’s over, please read on.
Death Blossom and Cluster Bomb (AOE Damage)
I’ve always wonder about one thing – most condition builds center themselves around Death Blossom, which is by far one of the best, if not the best AOE bleeding skills I’ve seen. Each iteration of DB, gives 3 bleeds per mob. Shortbow’s (2) gives 1 if the thief doesn’t detonate, and up to 3 stacks if the detonation is perfect. However, DB gives a much longer bleed duration than the Shortbow Detonation bleed. I’m no longer specced in Conditions at the moment, but if you are, take a look at your skill bars and see the difference in bleeding damage between DB and Cluster Bomb.
Thus the question – if it was in terms of AOE damage, in the right circumstances, why would any conditions thief use shortbow over DB? Especially when the most effective use of Cluster Bomb is basically at shotgun distance for speed detonations? The answer is simply – control of your character’s movements and possible convenience during dynamic events, at the expense of damage.
Among the activities that a thief can be doing at 80, the most frustrating thing is probably running dungeons – or at least, the most challenging activity. In a dungeon, it is often that pulls are either a few mobs (possible 3 silver ranking ones) or a mob of normals.
And often, they’re spaced far apart in a fight that Death Blossom could probably only hit one at a time, which hardly seems efficient use of initiative for one target.
What I think most players have done so far, is to either mix a 6 piece Carrion Gear (Condition Dmg/Vit/Power) with either Berserker’s (Power/Precision/Crit Dmg) or Rampagers (Precision/Condition Dmg/Power), so that they can go into stealth and backstab with dual daggers to deal decent damage since they have some crit and power.
This is essentially a condition dmg glass cannon build – comparable to the full berserker gear choice with one difference – this thief has more HP. However, having a larger HP pool with no extra mitigation (toughness) is pretty much worthless – as far as heals go in this game, it is as one poster has stated, ‘delaying the inevitable (death)’.
Some might argue that DB has built in evasion – and I can tell you that a mistimed landing (I have no idea how to ‘time’ a DB landing in a boss fight), will still kill you, evasion or not.
A Balanced Condition Thief – A Theory about Gear
A large part of having a balanced character in GW2 lies in how the player chooses the gear. Carrion gear is pretty much a must for any conditions thief. 6 pieces of armor will put one at about 16k HP. The question is, what are the other pieces to go for?
Full Carrion Armor/Chrysocola Jewellery – This is the highest HP, highest condition dmg combination. However, with no toughness and no healing power, the thief is essentially an ice cube – that huge HP pool would slowly melt down due to the incapability of heals to keep up, while he deals good bleeding damage. Not recommended
Carrion armor/Coral - Second highest Condition Dmg combination. Essentially a glass cannon with its focus half in direct damage and half in condition dmg (why play conditions if you’re going to split halfway?). Meh.
Carrion armor/Ruby – Same as Coral. Some would say it gives you a decent split between bleeding your enemy and backstabbing him for direct damage. I would think that with only half of Berserker’s that crit % wouldn’t be consistent enough to depend on. Imo, a failed glass cannon.
I feel that the problem with all the above, is that it focuses too much on damage. Yes, I know GW2 doesn’t have a holy trinity, and everyone wants to go DPS. The problem is that, using either of the combinations above is more of shoring up weaknesses rather than synergy and survivability.
This is going to sound wacky, but I recommend:
Carrion Armor/Sapphire Jewellery (Healing (main stat)/Power/Toughness).
Obviously, this is not about damage. In fact, I’m pretty sure that your damage will be lessened to a significant degree. I do not recommend this as your first set of gear as fighting solo would take much longer, however, I believe this combination provides the ultimate utility in dungeons, which I’ve said, the most taxing activity in the game imo.
The carrion armor obviously provides the offensive part of the build – bleeds. At a HP pool of 16k, you would have a nice buffer for taking hits due to the wild jumping of Death Blossom. Increased toughness lessens that damage you take, and increase healing power actually means you’d be able to keep yourself healed despite that big HP pool.
In Dungeons – You have a nice HP pool. You have reasonably high healing power coupled with toughness, which in combination with that 16k HP, means you have a very high chance of surviving most screws up in boss encounters, and what’s more, your increased healing power means you revive your downed party members much faster.
In short, you’re that tanky, undying healer, who can still kick ass with your bleeds (although I think that most groups appreciate you for your revival ability rather than dmg, given how much HP every boss has).
Now, the question is how do we make a build that synergizes with what we have?
The answer is in the traits and weapon choices. Remember at the start of the post, I mentioned that short bow wasn’t good for condition builds (obviously, it is still the go to weapon for Dynamic Events). The reason why I said that was because I feel Pistol/Dagger is what condition builds should be using for single targets, with D/D as the AOE set.
Let’s lay down the trait selections –
30 Shadow Arts/30 Trickery/10 Acrobatics
Before anyone starts yelling that I’m crazy for not going for Deadly Arts, hear me out. Deadly Arts, while providing a decent amount of power and increased bleed duration, doesn’t have traits that truly synergizes with a condition build imo.
Shadow Arts Traits –
Infusion of Shadow (recovers 2 initiative using a skill that stealths you)
Patience (Regain initiative faster in stealth – 1 init every 3 seconds)
Shadow’s Rejuvenation (Regenerate health while in stealth)
Merciful Ambush – creates ambush trap while reviving an ally (which you do quite often in a dungeon)
Trickster – Tricks recharge 20% faster
Hasten Replenishment – Receive 4 initiative while using a heal skill
Power of Inertia/Fleet Shadow – one is good for a dps boost, another good for mobility, since this build uses stealth a lot.
Other stuff you get:
Stealing gives you 3 initiative.
Increases maximum initiative by 3.
Increases damage by 1% per initiative.
Gain 2 seconds of swiftness on evade.
Use Blinding Powder when your health reaches 25% (90-second cool down).
Stealth skills last 1 second longer.
Gain might for 15 seconds when you go into stealth.
For single targets – (Pistol/Dagger)
You CnD (which costs 4 init due to traits) going into stealth which triggers the following:
1. Might buff for 15 seconds.
2. Patience returning 1 initiative
3. Regen from Shadow’s Rejuvenation
4. Meld with Shadow (extra 1 sec of stealth)
5. Increased movement speed (from Fleet Shadow)
Followed by an auto attack from pistol, instantly stacking 5 bleeds. Rinse and repeat, (3) to get away from the mob when needed.
Death Blossom Spam, followed by CnD for you to hide in stealth while they bleed.
Keep in mind that whenever you’re stealthed, you get one stack of might, you’d be healing, and you have a choice to trait for condition removal while in stealth.
Shadow Refuge is an obvious choice for any thief – every time it pulses, you’d get one stack of might. You’d heal for a high amount, not to mention that you’d normally only trigger it when your party is downed – healing power from sapphire pieces would mean you revive them much faster.
Caltrops – No explanation needed.
The third slot is a free slot.
This is largely a conceptual build of how I would play as a conditions thief if I were to go back to being one – I’ve not tested it and I probably won’t bother. Obviously, sigil choices and rune choices would be another can of worms.
The idea of the build is basically to lay out as many bleeds as you can, while being able to take some hits, and retreat into stealth for all of its benefits – which as laid out above, is quite a lot. Sapphire jewelry provides substantial power, which means that 5 hits from stealthed pistol auto attacks would hit reasonably hard too – in fact, as the fight progresses, you’d be hitting harder and harder – largely due to the number of might stacks you’d be getting going into stealth, while remaining a pretty much un-killable healing machine (which would be particularly efficient if you empty your initiative stacking 20+ stacks of bleeds on a boss, and then spend time reviving your party members in Shadow Refuge – giving you all the bonuses above), which imo is a very wacky but effective way to go about building a conditions thief.
Also, I can’t believe I actually found a use for going 30 into Shadow Arts
Disclaimer: Please note that this is a very niche/themed build – it will not do well in everything, but rather, it would excel at only one thing – dungeon party play, or the solo world exploration. It would be crap in dynamic events where mob tagging is the priority.
Edited by Larkenis, 01 October 2012 - 03:30 PM.