In light of the recent patch I thought it would be be nice to mess with the Sword/Pistol weapon set due to some nerfs and buffs. I know there is a bunch of us thieves out there messing with the newly buffed trickery line so the things here might not be particularly new, just how I choose to run the weapon set.
Difficulty Level: Expert
Roamer, Assassin, Far Point harassment, Mid Point Support, Bunker Killer
Massive Damage (hardest hitting spec I've ran to date), Good Mobility via Shortbow/Shadowsteps, Survival from evasion, stealth, CC, constant healing, and blinds.
Full Lyssa Runes or Centaur Runes
Berserker's Amulet and Jewel
Sword - Fire Sigil
Pistol - Bloodlust Sigil
Shortbow - Fire Sigil
Deadly Arts 10: Mug III
Critical Strikes 30: Furious Retaliation I, Practiced Tolerance VI, Executioner XI
Shadow Arts 0
Trickery 30: Thrill of the Crime V, Bountiful Theft VII, Slight of Hand XII
Heal: Withdraw (always )
Elite: Basilisk Venom (always )
Utilities: Shadowstep, Blinding Powder, Shadow Refuge
Now before I begin, this spec runs extremely similar to my previous S/D & SB Evasion Burst Spec especially when it comes to how I use the Shortbow which is nearly identical so if you want some tips on using the Shortbow check out that thread because I will only briefly be covering it in this guide.
This spec is all out Glass Cannon so for the faint of heart go check out my D/P spec instead . Careful positioning as well as timing is what will make you successful with this spec. Just because it is a glass cannon spec it does not mean its a insta-gib and run away playstyle, I never was and never will be a fan of that kind of gameplay. Though you should run away at times the constant healing and evasion you get from this spec allows you to remain in the battle without getting eaten.
Though it is truly up to you how to use the build, I will show you the way I enjoy using it. The ratio of my usage is about 60% Shortbow and 40% Sword/Pistol. The reason behind this is with the Lead Attacks minor grandmaster trait you will gain 1% damage per initiative and I am an avid user of my auto attacks on both sword and shortbow. So what this means is your 1 skill will hit like a ton of bricks so by all means fire away with that Trick Shot. I generally try to hurt my targets a decent amount with my bow before going in with my sword just because it is a less risk high reward tactic, opposed to going in with my sword more which is higher risk but yields higher reward as well. So switch it up use both weapons accordingly don't just use one set because each weapon has much to offer you.
I will be breaking the guide up into usage of my skills and weapons.
This is at the heart of this build and I will show you why. Every single time I steal i get fury,might,swiftness,vigor, 3 initiative, 2k healing, on top of a daze and some decent damage from mug all under a 21 second cooldown. Awesome?? I think so. The stolen ability is MUCH more useful with this spec just because you have about twice as much access to it. The daze might not seem like much since its only a second but it is great for interrupting it also throws people off of their rhythm. Steal is also the best way to secure a Pistol Whip or Basilisk Venom even on the most evasive targets. Use steal as much as you can and do your best to land it, watch for Blocking skills, blind, Invulnerability, and evasion. Each steal will heal you for a small amount but trust me it adds up and helps you stay in fights much longer than other typical glass cannon specs.
Auto Attacks(1 skill) USE THEM THEY ARE AMAZING. That is all. The last skill in the combo chain (Crippling Strike) inflicts cripple and weakness which is great for setting up more attacks and did I mention that it hits like a tank? When you use Basilisk Venom and either stun them via steal/infiltrator's strike, don't pistol whip because you will just be stacking on more stuns that don't stack in duration so even though you will land some good hits you are better off just using the auto attack chain after the Basilisk stun because it is free and does tons of damage.
Infiltrator's Strike - Although this skill got nerfed and is no longer a stun breaker it still works just fine because you can still cast the shadow return while stunned and will teleport back but you will just remain stunned,dazed,knocked down, etc. Use in combination with steal then pistol whip to close large gaps fast and land nasty damage.
Pistol Whip - Yes this skill got buffed, and Yes its amazing. combine with Infiltrator's strike/steal to secure a landing. It is also nice for avoiding damage similar to how Mesmers use Blurred Frenzy. Though this is your hardest hitting skill it does not mean it should be spammed. A balance between Auto Attacks and Pistol Whips will be much more successful than pure pistol whips only. Great for stopping people from stomping, often leads to multiple kills. Very useful vs mesmers and bunkers because of the stun, aoe, and massive damage.
Headshot - Great on demand fast interrupt use sparingly don't spam because it does little damage. Use to stop stomps, healing skills, or massive attacks.
Black Powder - Now this skill is great but I'm sure we all knew that. I don't use it as much as say a D/P thief but there will be times when it really helps. Versus melee it is nice to cast BP and just sit in it spamming Auto Attacks. What I like to do is ill cast BP do some auto attacks then after a combo ill go right into a pistol whip This makes you hard to hit for a decent amount of time. Casting Pistol Whip right after Black Powder is a waste because you can't get hit while evading anyways so give it a few seconds to expire then cast pistol whip. Like always it is your best friend for stomping. And another neat trick i like to do is if I am on my S/P and want to switch to my Shortbow ill cast a black powder and switch then drop a cluster bomb inside the field to get a quick stealth leading up to the immobilize from surprise shot.
SInce I already covered shortbow usage on my last guide I will only cover this briefly.
With this spec Auto Attacks are very valuable because of the Lead Attacks Trait and I can hit for anywhere from 900-1700 dmg with a single trick shot. The fire sigil will pop all the time so you can easily melt people by just kiting around spamming your auto attack. I don't poison as much as I do on my S/D spec just because I don't have weakness on poison anymore, but i still do it fairly often. I will always poison field my shadow refuge to keep people from attacking me inside as well as poisoning enemy refuge's. Cluster bomb got a range nerf but honestly I don't care, i usually blow up the cluster bomb in peoples faces anyways. If im giving cover fire I make sure to always be in range of my auto attacks just so i can attack in between bombs/poisons. So the new nerf to range didn't affect my gameplay at all.
Having a few “go to” moves never hurts especially when you can do them effectively at a moment’s notice. It will take practice to master them; some are more difficult than others. These are some of my favorites that I do all the time.
Stealth --> Surprise Shot --> Weapon Swap --> Steal + Pistol Whip
(The + means that I cast the 2 skills at the same time or in rapid succession.)
This is a monster combo and it utilizes both weapon sets. Before doing the combo make sure that you are on your shortbow and are able to switch to S/P because if the weapon swap is on CD you wont be able to carry out the combo. I either stealth via Blinding Powder/Shadow Refuge and then immobilize my target holding them still for the Steal + Pistol Whip. This combo is great vs slippery or highly mobile enemies. It is a long combo and requires fast actions so it will take some practice. Although it is long the entire combo can be done in less than 3 seconds.
Stealth --> Surprise Shot --> Steal + Stolen Skill
This combo utilizes the stolen skills that the classes have to offer and maximizes their usage. Basically what this combo does is hold the enemy still while you use the ability on them increasing your chances greatly of landing it and getting the most damage out of it. I will break it up into class. Do not use vs Thieves, Mesmers, Rangers.
Warrior – holds them still to take as much damage from whirling axe as possible. Can also save whirling axe and wait until you know your steal is off of CD and you can pre-cast the skill and Steal to your target putting whirling axe directly on top of them.
Engineer – holds them on top of gunk to stack damage and conditions. Add a pistol whip after you throw the gunk to keep them on top as long as possible. You can also drop a un-detonated cluster bomb on top of the gunk to gain chaos armor.
Elementalist – holds them still so you can land Ice shard stab which does nice damage and applies a 10 chill.
Guardian – holds them still so you can land a long daze with Mace Head Crack. While they are dazed you can either auto attack them or pistol whip.
Necromancer – holds them still while they are feared so they cannot attack and are running in place. You can auto attack them or pistol whip while they are feared in place.
Stealth --> Surprise Shot --> Steal --> Cluster Bomb
This shortbow combo is really strong especially if you detonate the Cluster Bombs in the face of your enemy/enemies. Good vs Necros/Mesmers due to the AoE damage to their pets.
Basilisk Venom --> Steal --> Cluster Bomb
This combo is easy to use and is very effective. Venom will enable you to land about 2-3 cluster bombs, make sure you detonate for more damage, AoE, and bleeds.
Basilisk Venom --> Infiltrators Strike --> Steal + Auto Attacks/Pistol Whip
This combo is nice for covering ground quickly surprising your enemy and landing some good damage.
Headshot --> Steal + Pistol Whip
This is a daze/stun lock combo. Headshot helps Steal land successfully which sets up Pistol Whip.
See http://www.guildwars...on-burst-build/ I use them exactly the same way
World Vs World
After spending a decent amount of time in WvW I have found that this spec is just as effective here as it is in PvP.
Here is my gear set up.
Berserker Weapons same sigils
Full Ascended Berserker Trinkets
Full Valkyrie Armor + Centaur Runes
Mango Pies (70 vitality + Health Regen) or Omnoberry Ghosts (70 precision + 40% chance life steal on critical hit) I'm still testing which I like better
Potent Sharpening Stones for a boost in power
I will usually roam with a teammate and since I have recently transferred I will now be part of a havoc squad. I also solo roam/zerg surf. This spec is really great in WvW because of its extremely high mobility and burst damage. The squishiness isn't a problem at all because I am very slippery. The food does help a lot as well. The open space and vantage points are heaven for the Shortbow and since I'm a Shortbow Main and Sword/Pistol Minor this is amazing for my play style. I easily melt groups of people with shortbow from a safe distance as well as being able to kite multiple enemies at once and emerging victorious. SInce this spec has crazy mobility you can easily disengage so therefore you can avoid zergs and reset/choose your fights. Very strong spec for WvW after a bit of practice. The play style is generally the same as PvP with more emphasis on outnumbered fights.(which are a lot easier in WvW than in PvP)
Like always I encourage you to use this spec in accordance to how you like to play and change things if you must. Post some feedback. I will add onto the guide as I continue to use it but so far it has been great.
1 v X (outnumbered combat)
Whether it is spvp, tpvp, or WvW you will at one point or another be outnumbered. This spec gives you the ability to run away quickly if you choose. A smart player chooses their fights and knows when to retreat. This section of the guide is for those times when you make the decision to stay and fight opposed to retreating.
1v1’s differ greatly from 1vX because in a 1v1 you are only against a single person and a single class with a specific build/weapon set. 1vX’s add a whole different dynamic to the fight because there are many combinations of classes/specs that you will end up facing, that being said much of what I will be saying here is going to be very general.
This weapon is crucial to my outnumbered fights in both offense and defense. A single evade whether it is a dodge or Disabling Shot will negate all damage that is coming at you at that moment, the only time you take damage while evading is if you hit someone with Retaliation. That being said the shortbow in tandem with dodges and Shadowstep can negate a ton of damage. The key to fighting with the shortbow when outnumbered is a tactic I like to call Evasive Offense. Basically Evasive Offense means avoiding incoming damage while simultaneously or consecutively dealing your own. The shortbow is the best weapon for this. Your priorities are 50/50 attack and defense, this can be done by kiting. The shortbow offers many ways to kite your opponent. The stealth skill, Surprise Shot, is a good way to snare an opponent as well as gain distance from them. Disabling Shot not only evades but also lands a hit which snares, the damage is a little less than an auto attack but it is crucial to try and land the hit opposed to just using the skill for the evade. Shadow Shot is a positioning skill, this can be used to get up on vantage points to rain down auto attacks/bombs or to just juke enemies on flat ground. Auto attacks will be the primary source of damage in 1vX’s because it can hit up to 3 opponents which is perfect because you can apply pressure onto all of your enemies instead of just one. Land as many auto attacks as you can while keeping distance and evading damage. Dropping cluster bombs whether far or point blank is essential because they do insane AoE damage. Since your shortbow has a fire sigil on it there will be a constant flow of flame blasts which should hit multiple opponents, this is a very great and much needed damage boost. Incorporate stealth, immobilize, shadowstep with your shortbow skills and 1vX’s will become much easier.
The shortbow does majority of the work but the Sword/Pistol also has a crucial role in 1vX. This weapon set has the most control over any thief weapon set. With that in mind, what better way to secure a down or stop someone reviving then a nice wholesome Pistol Whip to the face. With this spec I almost never stomp people in 1vX fights unless I really need to or I feel like I can get away with it while taking minimal damage. Instead when I have an enemy downed and I see the other enemies or enemy going in for the revive I go and burst them down instead, preferably when they are around the downed enemy. If you are not stomping it is very crucial that you maintain damage onto the downed opponent for a few reasons. The less health they have in downed state the longer it takes for them to be revived. Downed enemies should also be used as bait for Sword autos/Pistol Whip. You have ample access to interrupt skills: Steal, Tactical Strike, Pistol Whip, and Headshot, use these skills to stop a revive at all costs. Stopping the revive is where the Sword/Pistol weapon set really shines because it not only interrupt revivers but it can deal large burst to them as well putting you in a major advantage.
KEEP PRESSURE ON ALL OF YOUR ENEMIES. If you are just focusing one person and ignoring the others you aren’t getting anywhere, you need to make sure to put damage into everybody you are fighting. I will switch targets a lot in fights just to distribute my damage. This applies more on S/P than shortbow because the shortbow will hit other enemies as long as they are near your target, even though S/P cleaves its radius is small. Know all the downed state abilities for all the classes because in order to win 1vX battles you will have to deal with enemies in downed state while other enemies are still fighting. The shortbow is also a great way of testing your opponents survivability by the amount of damage you are dealing, this is very useful because it will help you in prioritizing your targets. Getting that first enemy down is essential to 1vX strategy because it causes enemies to do things they normally wouldn’t want to do. Either they revive and leave themselves vulnerable or they let their teammate die (given you are dealing damage to the downed person). Sometimes you cannot stop the revive (not enough initiative, steal on CD or the enemies did a good job at securing the revive.) regardless what happens keep up the Evasive Offense and you should be fine. You want the enemies to attack you because Evasive Offense uses their aggression against them because of the kiting and sustained multi target damage/pressure.
This is a situation that you will often find yourself in. First thing you need to do before anything is to size up your opponents and the situation. Take note of your enemies’ classes (engineer, warrior, mesmer etc) as well as what they are doing. Also be aware of the situation you are in. For example, it’s probably not very smart to engage your targets if all your skills are on cooldown. My general strategy is either A. pick a target and go in hard with a Infiltrator’s Strike + Steal + Pistol Whip and land as much burst as I can before the enemies converge on me, then I will retreat back with infiltrators and play shortbow until someone downs. B. I open with shortbow landing bombs and autos while kiting around keeping constant damage and pressure while avoiding theirs, I will wait until someone is low then I will either point blank cluster bomb them for the down or switch to S/P for the down. In a nutshell you want to down an opponent and use them as bait for the other opponent.
This is a very tough battle and in PvP it is very difficult to walk away with 3 enemies in the dust, but it can be done. You essentially want to use the same strategies above with added caution. If you hope to win or even survive an engagement like this you need to utilize the map to its fullest. You need open space, plain and simple. You will not be winning 1v3’s in a tight area. You need to keep distance and rain down as much damage as you can with your shortbow. Keep the usage of S/P to a minimum unless you see good opportunities. You need to be flawless with your evading as well as your pressure/damage. Land as many steals as you can and pop your heal as much as you can to keep you in the fight longer because this is in every case a losing fight for you in the long run. These fights will either end with you running away, dying or killing 1-2 people then running away. It is going to be tough to come out of these engagements with all enemies dead, I myself have only done it a few times in PvP. (WvW this is much easier because of the ample amounts of space you have as well as the gear and or upleveled factor) If you manage to escape the fight only killing one opponent this is a good victory because pulling off a single kill in a 1v3 is no easy task. Escaping with 2 enemies dead is awesome. Escaping with all enemies dead is amazing and you have full right to gloat and boast after that.
1v4 or more
Unless you are in WvW you will probably not be able to last long in a fight like this. Don’t bother with them or land some damage from a safe location. You can also go in and do some heavy damage then retreat. This is helpful for your team because that is less damage they need to deal. Don’t expect to get away with a kill.
In conclusion awareness is key to winning 1vX fights as well as all of the strategies I posted above. Every battle is different so play and judge them accordingly. Keep a cool head and play smart and you will start winning outnumbered battles before you know it.
Peace and Love
Edited by Tessa Avery, 08 October 2013 - 08:03 PM.