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Sword'n'Bo...errr Dagger? Wtf?

sword dagger pve

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#1 Rachmani

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 06:08 AM

Hi guys (and gals),

So GW2 is out for quite a while now. Many of you (us) are done with well, likely everything.
Some might even have their precious legendary - certainly not me, though.

You've most likely played D/D. Backstab &/or Condition Damage builds.
You've probably played P/P and spammed unload like you meant it.
S/P, been there, done that.
Some of you might have tried P/D & D/P.
And a lot will have asked themselves whether SB is meant to be glued to your second weapon slot.
But, what separates the boys from the men, the girls from the ladies
have you dared to play...Sword & Dagger? The dreaded Swashbuckler style.

If the answer is yes, I well don't really know what to say, but for the sake of this topic I just assume your answer is:
- No, Sword/Dagger, what's that? I thought only rangers can use that? And why should i play with ranger weapons??? I'm a thief, an assassin, man! Screw you swashranger!

Well, first of all, you play with shortbow too, so shut up on ranger weapons already and secondly, I can't really tell you why exactly you should try it out but I can try!

Basics

Sword and Dagger is generally thought of as the "set with no purpose" - in PvE at least.
Unlike the other sets (with the exception of D/P) it doesn't have a dedicated "spam me harder" attack and its stealth attack is a bit lackluster in terms of damage (well, at least compared to backstab galore!).
So, first question again: Why should one want to play it?
- Answer: Maybe because you're bored as hell, but mainly because it's fun to play and surprisingly effective. Also the build I'll provide is flexible enough to switch to D/D in those very rare "more damage needed" situations so you can stop crying already :P.

What does S/D offer:
- Reliable Daze with a hefty duration
- Build in stunbreaker (infiltrators strike is just really, really good, but you knew that already).
- Boon removal/evade move that does surprisingly high damage - if it lands, which it should (more on that later).
- cripple boomerang AoE
- Stealth skill that hits hard
- hard hitting auto attack cleave

In short, S/D actually doesn't have a single bad skill, all have their purpose, backed up by Swords beastly autoattack. This I have to point out. Sword and Dagger doesn't have a particular spam skill. In fact you use whatever secondary effect is the most useful, although the build I'll post (yeah, yeah, I'll get on with it) takes advantage of stealth, so cloak & dagger is used more often than let's say flanking strike.

The Build

http://gw2skills.net...5IyxmjLHZODCmZA

The build I play (and have played through almost every explorer mode with - though I switched to D/D on some bosses) is a not so classic 0/30/25/15/0 that uses the control of stealth -> AoE blind & Swords hefty daze paired with auto attacks to control whole groups of enemies while dishing out quite some damage.
Crit traits are there for the damage, Shadow Arts for the control & Acrobatics just add that little bit of extra survival. In short, even in full zerker (with 1 valkyrie ring) you'll have around 14k hp & enough dodges to not die at all (except from maybe in arah... perhaps).
Note that hidden assassin adds 2 stacks of might, not one.


Some of you might ask why I didn't put any points in Deadly arts?
Well it's a sword/dagger build. Per definition you're not goind to deal as much raw damage as D/D. Playing a D/D build with S/D will just feel lackluster. By utilizing both daze & AoE blind you bring more to the table though. Add might through stealth & you've got a versatile build that doesn't fall short in terms of damage and still puts S/Ds strengths to good use.
The lackluster deadly arts traits (apart from sundering strikes) did the rest for me. Deadly Arts just screams D/.

I also have a soldier set (same runes) when I absolutely need that extra health & toughness.

The Skills

First of all, what ever you do, whenever possible put one complete auto attack chain between your skills. Auto attack 3 is a beast, especially with 15+ might stacks & completely free of charge - as long as your initiative isn't full. Use it.

Infiltrator's Strike - should always be up, unless you know you won't need it - stunbreak + condition removal are just too good
Flanking Strike, the tricky one - Simply put - it rarely misses. Its second hit just takes a little while. Don't interrupt it. Still, flanking strike is probably the most difficult of our skills, but when used properly it's worth it.
a) Timing! Make good use of its build in evade. It might take you a while, but you can use it to evade big AoE attacks (or normal swings) just as if you were dodging. But this time it's a dodge that hits almost as hard as a backstab.
B) Placement! If you just hit flanking strike you'll probably end up infront of the boss/the mob and will sooner or later get attacked and/or hit by its cleave. To avoid that place yourself on the left side of the boss (don't worry, you're still flanking) and flanking strike him. You'll end up on the right side of the boss - still not in cleave range. Just walk back during auto attack.
c) Boon removal! Use it. There are bosses (and certain mobs) that utilize boons. Just get rid of them. Great for removing retaliation for example.
Dancing Dagger - I use it on groups of easy to kill mobs that don't really need to be blinded or interrupted. It deals very good damage on 2+ mobs & adds a little bit of control via cripple.
Cloak & Dagger - with the energy return when stealthed skill & blind on stealth it's - at least in this build - probably the skill you'll use the most. Still not as exclusive as with D/D though, and for sure not as your "Unload". It's very good for what it does (vulnerability, solid damage etc) and will keep you alive as a bonus to the control/damage it brings.

Some words on Cloaked in Shadows
Cloaked in Shadows deserves to be mentioned, for it changes the way stealth "feels".
Many of you probably were irritated when they found out that attacks that started (in animation or because of channeling) before you entered stealth would hit you as if you weren't stealthed at all (the irritation was probably caused by WoW stealth that worked differently). Cloaked in Shadows changes that, as the blind hits the mob on entering stealth. Any attack "in the making" will get affected by blind and have no effect on you (unless it's a pure AoE). So not only do you have a partial black powder effect but you also greatly increased your survival - stealth is a true get away now. Combined with Sword's Daze you can solo mobs that would otherwise probably kill you. Rule of thumb - unless the mob has "defiant" you'll kill him - not that you would need to solo him but still... . I'm actually only slightly exaggerating here. Oh, and watch out for ranged mobs.

General playstyle:

This build is not for the pure DPS junkies out there. That's D/D territory (although with all these might stacks the build can be played as D/D too, should you need some more damage. Like when killing that certain high priestess...). Instead, what you get is control and a chance to actually use 5/5 weapon skills - without gimping your damage too much. You can (and should) play in full berserker gear, your crits will hurt and with all that might so will your noncrits - although i have to admit that hidden assassin is imo targeting P/D builds, shame they don't get more attention. Using all the skills you have you'll retain a good portion of /P control but get stealth on top of it (flanking strike does roughly the same damage as PW) allowing you to keep a much lower profile - you just don't get the same attention as S/P - and a lot of stuff to do providing a - much needed? - break from all too serious backstabbin'.
I won't bother you with damage comparisons, instead I'd say:
Give it a try, you probably have the gear for it already (of course you don't need runes of strength... ruby orbs, runes of divinity, scholar whatever are more fine too - my gear was just socketed with strenght runes already) and a sword from your S/P time. A respec is 3 silver 50 copper. Might not be for everyone, but you'll see, it's fun to play and adds a layer of gameplay that D/D doesn't have.

That's it for now, I might edit some bits and pieces around. Feel free to comment (and to try it out - not just because you were bored like me) and add anything that comes to your mind.
Even GTFO D/D IS KING!

#2 Khlaw

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 06:36 AM

I've always liked S/D.  It's a fluid play style with inherent survivability.  Not the best DPS, granted, but a nice change of pace.

#3 Korra

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 08:16 AM

I have been playing it for the last month and i can say S/D is the best set out there.

#4 shadowstorme1122

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 08:43 AM

I think the main reason that S/d is not a common set is bec its skill 3 is somewhat a dead botton as the 2nd attack of skill 3 has a high miss rate.  If only the 2nd hit will land 100% i think alot of people will use the s/d set.

For me its a very complete weapon set, though somewhat behind in dps just guessing since we don't have a dps meter.

#5 Rachmani

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 01:28 PM

Flanking strike actually doesn't miss that often. But you really have to wait for it to hit. Its 2nd attack will hit right at the end of the animation. If you get too eager to push a button before, you'll interrupt it.
DPS wise it's a bit complicated to mesure just how much you're behind, but I'd say, there are 2 ways of dealing damage as S/D.
First option is C&D into Tactical strike. In that case you deal considerably less damage from stealth (half the damage) but gain a little bit back through auto attack.
Second option would be flanking strike instead of C&D. Traited for they both cost the same amount of initiative, but flanking strike hits harder (the second strike & C&D deal roughly the same amount of damage I think). The main advantage of C&D is the following backstab though and it effectively comes down to backstab vs sword auto attack. Again Backstab wins by a rather large margin if you're fast an well positioned or a not so large margin if not.
From feeling I'd say D/D is probably 20-25% ahead, including better suited dps traits (30/30/10/0/0 D/D vs 0/30/25/15/0 S/D) and about 15% when comparing the same builds both using D/D.

#6 Red_Falcon

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 02:33 PM

I like S/D but I won't use it until Anet fixes Flanking Strike.
Using it would show up in their stats and they would think it's fine. It's not fine having a skill that's pvp-unviable.

#7 Rachmani

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 04:35 PM

Update: With the recent patch, the build got a bit stronger PvEwise, as Tactical strike received a 10% damage buff.

#8 Ravrohan

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 10:30 PM

View PostRachmani, on 16 November 2012 - 04:35 PM, said:

Update: With the recent patch, the build got a bit stronger PvEwise, as Tactical strike received a 10% damage buff.

Only if you only ever used dancing dagger for a cripple and not the damage.  Tactical strike may be up 10%, but it never really hit to hard anyway, meanwhile Dancing Dagger is down 50%.

#9 Rachmani

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 01:12 AM

Fair enough, but I really didn't use dancing dagger that much. Tad too expensive for my personal taste - although its damage was great 'til yesterday. I guess a build with better initiative regen got hit harder.
Still you're right, 50% damage reduce is a lot.

#10 johncurse124

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 09:03 AM

View PostRachmani, on 17 November 2012 - 01:12 AM, said:

Fair enough, but I really didn't use dancing dagger that much. Tad too expensive for my personal taste - although its damage was great 'til yesterday. I guess a build with better initiative regen got hit harder.
Still you're right, 50% damage reduce is a lot.

But cloak and dagger costs 6 initiative without the shadow arts traits and 4 (the same as dancing dag) with the shadow arts traits, so how is it too expensive for your tastes when it could (prepatch) literally gib 2 mobs with just a few tosses?

Not that it matters now since ANet decided the best way to tone down the backstab burst build was to nerf the holy crap out of dancing dagger and clusterbomb (lololol WHAT?!)

#11 Ravrohan

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 04:20 PM

View PostRachmani, on 17 November 2012 - 01:12 AM, said:

Fair enough, but I really didn't use dancing dagger that much. Tad too expensive for my personal taste - although its damage was great 'til yesterday. I guess a build with better initiative regen got hit harder.
Still you're right, 50% damage reduce is a lot.

I run with 15 trickery and with acrobatics over shadow arts, so the hit was pretty harsh.  Dancing dagger was crucial for my bursting on 2 enemies.

#12 Rachmani

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 03:45 PM

View Postjohncurse124, on 18 November 2012 - 09:03 AM, said:

But cloak and dagger costs 6 initiative without the shadow arts traits and 4 (the same as dancing dag) with the shadow arts traits, so how is it too expensive for your tastes when it could (prepatch) literally gib 2 mobs with just a few tosses?

Not that it matters now since ANet decided the best way to tone down the backstab burst build was to nerf the holy crap out of dancing dagger and clusterbomb (lololol WHAT?!)

I don't farm much (more likely at all) anymore. So whenever I fight, it's mostly dungeons. Actually Arah mostly (and some fractials now). With most of the mobs there you're better of locking them down and focusing one, so I really didn't need it that much. But still, as I said damage was very good. Any S/D Build that included Quick Recovery got probably hit pretty hard - although damage was probably too high for what it did, and ain't exactly low now. So for me, it's ok.

View PostRavrohan, on 18 November 2012 - 04:20 PM, said:

I run with 15 trickery and with acrobatics over shadow arts, so the hit was pretty harsh.  Dancing dagger was crucial for my bursting on 2 enemies.

Something like that? http://gw2skills.net...h6EP5fgs6ZcVWFA
If so, you got hit hard, as I guess it was your main damage source - apart from auto attack.

Edited by Rachmani, 19 November 2012 - 03:43 PM.


#13 Phenn

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 04:20 PM

Since this build seems to be highly trait-dependent for survival, how viable is it while leveling? It seems that Cloaked in Shadows is key, so lvl 40? How would you go about leveling trait-wise before then?

I'm asking because I re-rolled my thief (decided I didn't like my floppy-eared friend that much after all), and this build looks like a welcome departure from my traditional DB-spam.

Any thoughts would be great!

EDIT: Now that Blinding Powder is on a 40-sec cooldown, is it any more viable as a utility for farming?

Edited by Phenn, 19 November 2012 - 04:21 PM.


#14 Rachmani

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 11:33 PM

I switched weapons every 5 levels or so. There is no particular must have lvl build that I know of - as thief. Unlike let's say warrior 5 sigil greatsword. DB probably comes close, but others aren't bad either.
In that sense. Sword auto attack is a beast, so I guess you could lvl with it just fine. To be honest, I don't know really. "Back in the day" I thought of S/D being quite terrible. Until, well I tried it out ;).

#15 Phenn

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 12:39 AM

Thanks for the input. I'll have to give it a go. I had a lvl 65 DB/Conditions thief, and kinda wanna try something different.

#16 Rachmani

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 04:18 AM

In terms of stealth skills I have but one rule.
Never ever more than 1 utility stealth skill. You already have CnD & the heal for stealth. Any other would just get in their way (through revealed) and there are other options. To me stealth is either crucial and you use a weapon set with CnD and trait accordingly so you'll be stealthed whenever you need it anyway.
Or it isn't - in that case you pick utility skills for their utility and not for stealth alone.
Either way I think Blinding Powder is rather bad. Especially compared to Shadow Refuge. I remember using it during leveling though, but I honestly can't tell you why :D.

#17 Eliirae

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 04:38 AM

Blinding Powder = Blind.  Shadow Refuge = Stealth.  Different situations for each.

#18 Rachmani

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 05:27 AM

View PostEliirae, on 20 November 2012 - 04:38 AM, said:

Blinding Powder = Blind.  Shadow Refuge = Stealth.  Different situations for each.

No, Blinding Powder is both a stealth and a blind.
The build I posted blinds on stealth, so Blinding Powder is double dipping.
While leveling you don't necessary blind on stealth (well at least not until lvl 40, but I'd say it's more important than infusion of shadow while lvling), so you might consider blinding powder.
But if you get too many stealth skills on your bar - and you'll probably have hide in shadows, shadow refuge (and CnD, of course) - they'll likely "clip" through revealed or you don't really use them. Clipping is bad - so you use another skill, not using skills is bad too, so you use another, more useful skill.
Either way, you probably don't want to get rid of shadow refuge & Hide in shadows, as they are without alternatives for what the do, but you probably still want a blind. So you end up skipping Blinding powder and using signet of Shadow for its shorter CD, better usage on range & the 25% runspeed bonus. Also - following the build (which you might or might not during leveling - as I said I switched builds like my underpants) - you could skill signet use instead of critiacal haste which would get further use out of Signet of Shadows.
That's why I - personally - can't find a real use for Blinding Powder, despite the CD decrease.

Edited by Rachmani, 20 November 2012 - 05:27 AM.


#19 Phenn

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 04:40 PM

Thanks for that breakdown ^

I gave the concept a go yesterday--albeit at level 13 it's really just getting used to the weapon set and not the build per se. So my question is really one of weapon use and not build implementation.

How exactly do you use the sword in combat? Seeing as the Auto Attack is the only PBAoE damage dealer, do you round up enemies, blind, spam AA, stealth, daze, etc.? I was finding myself getting lost in my attack sequence and couldn't figure out a good rotation/pattern. Do you primarily focus on knocking out individuals one at a time while doing a little damage to all? Or is there something I'm missing for AoE?

Thanks for the help--I'm realizing DB spam-thief really gimped my ability to manage multiple targets... cest le vi.

#20 Rachmani

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 05:27 PM

Sword Auto attack is a beast, so I think it's fair to say, that your skills won't do more (or much more) damage than that.
As I've said before, I don't know about leveling as S/D, but here is how I fight with S/D, in PvE, dungeons and while struggling with my girlfriend.
- Number one rule: What ever you do, if you don't have to interrupt, evade, whatever RIGHT NOW, you always want a full chain of auto attack in between your skills. Auto Attack 3 does a ton of damage and you're initiative regeneration will be good enough to get on like that forever. "Rotation" is always" 3x auto attack (1 chain), Skill, start again. Also, as it happens 1 chain just lasts long enough so you can hit CnD after that with revealed being gone by the time it hits.
- Rule number two: You don't have a set rotation, anything you MUST hit in order to deal good damage (like D/D has, for example). Instead you have your auto attack to rely on and your skills to make fights easier for you. You use them as means to control a fight and to survive, so to speak (and to deal that extra bit of damage)
Some sort of break down:
Single target mobs: AA chain, CnD -> tactical strike, rinse and repeat. Infiltrator's strike as stunbreak (I usually always have it up) & flanking strike as boon removal/evade. Dodge accordingly.
Multiple low HP mobs: AA chain, DD, rinse and repeat (this one got hit pretty badly by the patch, but I think it's still good enough).
Multiple Dungeon mobs (silver frame): Infiltrator's strike, AA chain, CnD -> tactical strike, rinse and repeat. Against boon heavy, or mobs with ugly cleave, alternate between AA chain, CnD & flanking strike. As I stated in my first post, I use flanking strike as an AoE evade too (on Champion giants in Arah explo for example). Quite good, once you got the timing.
Bosses: A mixture of the three. I mostly make sure I get rid of all defiant stacks, so I (or someone else) can interrupt big attacks, or I just don't pay attention at all... depends on the boss really. Infiltrator's strike is king here. Use it as a long range evade of doom really. Great skill I have to say (and I didn't like it at first). Also, If you know you can melee savely, equip S/D & D/D so you can switch between control/evade & backstab galore just as it pleases you.

In general: I'm more of a "kill focus target" kind of player, so I tend to round up enemies and focus them with a "bit" of Sword PBAoE (it's actually quite hefty for an auto attack). CnD keeps you alive here - what you can do is wait a split second so mobs turn their back on you and tactical strike one. To me, most of the fun farming comes from not getting hit. And this build kind of reflects that. I don't think it's the best for fighting multiple weak mobs, but shines fighting strong single enemies (I soloed the Mad King, the Champion troll in Frostgorge Sound, the champion quaggan in frostgorge sound, the groundkeeper in orr, the last twenty-something% off of the seering cauldron effigy - with my random team mates playing dead instead of running - and some other rather tough fights that way - many of them could simply be killed from range of course :D, but you get what I mean) & groups of 3-4 stronger mobs. For multiple weak foes you're probably better of switching to shortbow.

Edited by Rachmani, 20 November 2012 - 05:29 PM.


#21 wolfpaq777

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 05:47 PM

I have to say, having read this post, I now go back and forth between S/D and D/D.  

Personally I'd prefer to have those 15 points in deadly arts so that my D/D auto attack still weakens, but thanks for pointing out how awesome sword is.  Being able to spam daze is incredible.  i also like how the auto attack from sword cripples, which makes it much less likely that mobs reset when hopping in and out of stealth in solo PvE (it's perfect that the sword auto attack sequence takes just as about as long as the revealed debuff).  It makes soloing veterans insanely easy.

I'm only level 66 and I haven't had a chance to do dungeons yet, but all indicators point to this being awesome.

Edited by wolfpaq777, 20 November 2012 - 05:48 PM.


#22 wolfpaq777

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 06:54 PM

View Postjohncurse124, on 18 November 2012 - 09:03 AM, said:

nerf the holy crap out of ... clusterbomb


View PostRed_Falcon, on 15 November 2012 - 02:33 PM, said:

It's not fine having a skill that's pvp-unviable.

Sigh.  I wish people would stop talking about pvp in the pve forum.

#23 Ravrohan

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 09:31 PM

View PostRachmani, on 19 November 2012 - 03:45 PM, said:

Something like that? http://gw2skills.net...h6EP5fgs6ZcVWFA
If so, you got hit hard, as I guess it was your main damage source - apart from auto attack.

Same stat setup, a couple of different trait choices.  It depended on what I was doing.  It was my main vs 2-3 trash mobs, but flanking strike hasn't let me down, so it was and still is my main source of damage on bosses.

#24 Phenn

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 06:21 AM

View Postwolfpaq777, on 20 November 2012 - 05:47 PM, said:

I have to say, having read this post, I now go back and forth between S/D and D/D.  

Personally I'd prefer to have those 15 points in deadly arts so that my D/D auto attack still weakens, but thanks for pointing out how awesome sword is.  Being able to spam daze is incredible.  i also like how the auto attack from sword cripples, which makes it much less likely that mobs reset when hopping in and out of stealth in solo PvE (it's perfect that the sword auto attack sequence takes just as about as long as the revealed debuff).  It makes soloing veterans insanely easy.

I'm only level 66 and I haven't had a chance to do dungeons yet, but all indicators point to this being awesome.

Definitely agree. I had no idea what the sword could do until stumbling upon this 'ere build. Can't wait to put the build together. Leveling is going to be a completely different experience from my other characters!

#25 Gaaroth

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 12:58 PM

probably in pure DPS  terms D/D is better but is pretty hard to have a constant damage output in GW2 since there's no flippin healers to heal your ass while you stay under foe's feets, so you can't dps 100% of the time.
with that in mind i think S/D is really good in terms of real dps because allows you to make damage while evading damage, better than D/P (my second favourite set so far)

also make this test folks: compare the total damage (all non crit) of a full #1 sword chain and a pistol whip...the former is something like 75% of the ladder...lulwut? xD

#26 Ravrohan

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 10:29 PM

View PostGaaroth, on 21 November 2012 - 12:58 PM, said:

also make this test folks: compare the total damage (all non crit) of a full #1 sword chain and a pistol whip...the former is something like 75% of the ladder...lulwut? xD

Don't say that to openly.  Anet will notice and nerf our auto attack.

#27 BnJ

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 11:32 PM

View PostRavrohan, on 21 November 2012 - 10:29 PM, said:

Don't say that to openly.  Anet will notice and nerf our auto attack.

Don't even joke about that shit man!

#28 Ravrohan

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 12:09 AM

View PostShroomhead Fred, on 21 November 2012 - 11:32 PM, said:

Don't even joke about that shit man!

You know, sadly, I wasn't :qq:

#29 Dreleth

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 04:01 PM

I've been using S/D for PvE and PvP for awhile now too. It's a lot of fun, plus it's pretty great! I've been using the sigil that increases the weakness duration/daze duration and it's pretty good for keeping up the daze and the weakness on a single target (not counting bosses, it's still a 1s duration but still useful). The now "unblockable" first strike on flanking strikes helps a bunch on the mobs that block, and I mean a lot! Especially if I need to rip some boons off of the mobs like stability/might or the buff the archers get in CM that makes them block.

I just feel that S/D is a really strong and underrated PvE spec for thieves. I won't stop playing it though! :)

(I use a 0/30/10/15/15 build http://intothemists....EE;129B5;02;02h )

Edited by Dreleth, 27 November 2012 - 04:04 PM.


#30 Elr3d

Elr3d

    Asuran Acolyte

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 01:55 PM

I've been playing Sword/Dagger for ages and it's awesome. The amount of defensive tools it offers is awesome and transform a Thief into a walking wall of bulkyness if you have the right stats and traits while still dishing out a lot of damage.

It really shines in WvWvW, where most people expect sort of a glass cannon when they see a Thief, and it's often too late when they realize they won't kill you easily.

In dungeon it's great for being that guy that withstand everything and stunlock the focused monster while the rest of the group turns it into fine dust.

Here is the build I'm using, it's Dacromir's build, it's all stealth oriented and very survivable.

http://wiki.guildwar...s/Thief/Acrobat

Now, S/D isn't a popular set among other Thieves, but it's fine for me, I feel special. :3




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