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MexayMember Since 12 Sep 2009
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Guild Wars, Skyrim, Game Design, Playing Bass Guitar.
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Posted Jason Seven on 19 December 2012 - 07:48 PM
Posted Phenn on 22 May 2013 - 10:55 PM
There have been a few questions on the forum here concerning builds for the S/D weapon set. I have assembled a few of the more common builds, and described the play style that best fits with both the build and with S/D.
These are not the only builds that “work” with S/D, and neither are these builds limited to the S/D weapon set. Also, the builds are not designed with absolute min/maxing in mind. Rather, the following offer a good mix of utility, survivability, damage, and (most important in my book) fun. My hope is to provide a resource for anyone wanting to pick up S/D, and needs a place to start.
An Introduction to Sword and Dagger
(Before I begin, I would like to thank Rachmani for his guide that both introduced me to S/D and provided the foundation of most of my experimentation with the weapon set once hitting 80. I suggest anyone looking for a good break down of S/D read through it. Much of what’s included here comes more or less from him.)
Despite is effectiveness in PvP, S/D has often been considered one of the weaker melee-range weapon sets in PvE. Unlike sets with Pistol Whip and Backstab, S/D has no one skill that dishes out spike damage. Its stealth skill is a crowd control, and its evade, up until recently, had major pathing issues.
That being said, S/D remains a very flexible weapon set—able to tackle, control, and damage multiple enemies at once. S/D has strong, inherent survivability skills, and synergizes well with several different trait lines and builds. Perhaps most importantly, you maintain S/D's base damage even when traiting for a different play style due to the hard-hitting AA. Changing builds and play styles is entirely for pacing and survival purposes.
That being said, S/D builds break down into two general categories: Stealth-based and Mobility-based. Again, this isn’t to say stealth-based builds aren’t mobile, or that mobility-based builds don’t stealth. Rather, each has its particular emphasis for survival.
On one final note, every build will take 30 points in Critical Strikes (CS). S/D is a DPS melee set, and the CS tree is far too important to not take a full 30. Trait choices are pretty straight-forward. CS III (Side Strike), CS X (Critical Haste), and CS XI (Executioner) all synergize well with S/D, but CS VI and IX can be situationally helpful.
The following builds will differ, then, in how they spend the remaining 40 points.
The Classic (Leveling Build): 0/30/25/15/0
For leveling, SA V (Infusion of Shadow) and SA VI (Cloaked in Shadow) are absolutely necessary. The first returns two initiative per Cloak and Dagger (CnD) use, and will help in keeping CnD available. The second blinds all foes when going into stealth. This keeps you alive when tackling multiple mobs, and is indispensable in earliest levels. It’s the first trait you should take with S/D when leveling regardless of how you decide to play later in the game.
Other good options: SA I for the CD on Deception utilities, SA IV for ConD removal, and SA VII for dedicated Short Bow fights.
With the classic setup, we only have one major trait slot. The two best choices are: Acro II (Power of Inertia) and Acro III (Vigorous Recovery). The first gives might stacks on dodge, and the second Vigor on heal. Both help in staying up and maintaining damage.
Since the Classic build leans toward the stealth-side of thief play styles, Deception utilities are usually best. Shadow Refuge (iHouse) is indispensable for group play and personal survival. Blinding Powder is an excellent back up, but is a little redundant with a traited-CnD. Shadow Step (ShS) is a mega-version of InfS and is always good for extra condition removal and mobility.
Personally, I almost always have two signets on my bar: Signet of Agility (SofA) and Signet of Shadows (SofS). I like the extra movement speed and the precision. Plus, SofA offers a condition-cleanse and gives back two dodges.
When it comes to heal, Hide in Shadows (HiS) is good—more access to stealth and condition cleanse. But Withdraw works rather well, too, especially when traited to give Vigor.
The play style for the classic build follows a very regular pattern. You will always use Infiltrator’s Strike (InfS) to close the gap to the mob(s). It’s a fast panic button to get out of danger, and it’ll clear a condition.
Once you’re in melee range, you’ll use CnD for the stealth and blind. Then move around behind the mob and use your #1 attack for the 2-second Daze. You’ll follow this up by a full round of AA. Always try to get in a full AA-cycle, as your biggest damage come from the third hit.
When the AA cycle is over, you should be able to stealth again with CnD. Stay behind the mob(s) and use Tactical Strike (TacS) again, followed by AA. This cycle will also generate a rather decent amount of Might thanks to SA 25—I usually maintain 5–7 stacks depending on how long a fight goes.
That’s about it! Make sure to watch your InfS, and re-apply it when it drops off. You always want that escape route open. Use Flanking Strike (FS) and Larcenous Strike (LS) when necessary to evade an attack or steal a boon.
As a final note, don’t rely entirely on CnD and blinds to stay up. You do have good dodges, and decent evasion. Use them.
This build pairs well with every other weapon set, so you have quite a bit of freedom with your on-swap weapons. I typical run with Short Bow (SB), however, for its all-around support, damage, and mobility.
Play Style Demo:
The Hybrid: 0/30/20/20/0
For this line we have the same options as the Classic build, sacrificing only the Grandmaster-tier minor trait.
As with the classic setup there are only two good choices for the first slot: Acro II (Power of Inertia) and Acro III (Vigorous Recovery). However, the second-tier in Acro offers some decent traits. Acro IX (Quick Recovery) and X (Assassin’s Reward) both help with survivability. The former provides an extra point of initiative every 10 seconds, and the latter heals you a little bit for every point of initiative spent. Having extra initiative regen will make sure you have CnD available more often, and the heal will bump up your survivability.
Like the Classic build, the Hybrid should make good use of Deception skills and Signets. Because you have a higher initiative regen, you may not find yourself in as much need for mobility utilities (ShS or SofA), and can take some support-oriented skills. Smoke Screen (SmS) provides good support and blind for groups. iHouse is always useful.
Finally, Withdraw works best with this build, especially when traited to give Vigor. Instead of taking a Master-tier trait in Acro, taking both Acro II and Acro III will give you good uptime on Vigor, which means more dodges, which means more Might.
The play style for the Hybrid build is more or less the same as the Classic, but allows you to be a bit more free with your use of initiative. As such, you will have the freedom to use FS and LS regularly, maintain your cycle of CnD + AA, as well as avoid damage through porting (InfS). If you’re running with a group where stacking Might is not an issue, this may be a better setup, and allow you more flexibility.
The Hybrid build allows for great flexibility in weapon choice. The extra initiative makes D/P a perfectly viable choice (given the high cost of BP). Additionally, P/P becomes more viable for the same reasons.
Thoughts on the Stealth Builds:
The S/D weapon set synergizes well with stealth-heavy builds. You may have noticed, however, that I did not include a build that takes 30 points in SA. There is little benefit in the Grandmaster-tier SA traits, and the five points provide much more when used in Acro. Both the Classic build and the Hybrid take advantage of blind-on-stealth for survival while maintaining decent mobility through the Acro line.
I recommend anyone picking up S/D for the first time try on of these two builds to get a feel for the pace of S/D combat. If you’re used to the speed of D/D, the sword can leave you feeling awkward and vulnerable. These builds will help.
(Updated) The Acrobat: 0/30/0/25/15
For the Acrobat build (and for the Jumper below), signets play a much bigger role in our play style than the stealth builds. As such, it is perfectly fine to take CS II (Signets of Power) and CS VIII (Signet Use) for the lower CD on signets, the might, and the init-gain. Reasoning for this explained below.
Depending on where your play style settles, there are to main routes you can go with the traits in Acro. If you chose to emphasize dodges for both Might-stacking and survival, you can take Acro II giving Might on dodge, and Acro III giving Vigor on heal. In conjunction with Withdraw, you’ll have a decent uptime on Vigor, which means more dodging, which means more Might, which means more damage...you get the picture.
The alternative is to take Acro III in the first slot, but take Acro IX (Quick Recovery) in the second to make sure that your initiative stays full. In conjunction with Trickery (Tricks) 15, this will give you a deeper pool to draw from if you find yourself often using InfS, FS + LS, and other initiative-heavy skills.
With mobility builds, I recommend always taking Acro III in one spot or another, as it makes Withdraw extremely powerful. Acro IX is also highly recommended if following the play style described below.
With the Acrobat build, the Tricks tree is primarily important for the minor traits. Tricks 5 gives you three initiative every time you use Steal. This changes how you use it, too. Instead of a simple gap-closer, Steal gives you a burst of initiative that can make the difference when you really need to get a certain skill off. Tricks 15 increases your initiative pool by 3. Both of these minor traits go a long way to increasing both your damage (makes it easier to take advantage of CS 25’s damage boost when initiative is over 6) and your flexibility.
For a major trait, we have several good options. Since S/D performs best from a flanking position, Tricks IV (Flanking Strikes) adds a near-constant 5% damage boost. Tricks V gives several good boons every time you Steal—which you should be able to do more often thanks to the CD-redux from the Tricks line. Lastly, if you find yourself kiting mobs often, Tricks III (Uncatchable) drops caltrops every time you dodge, crippling and bleeding enemies.
More recently, I've been running Tricks V (Thrill of the Crime) for the Fury and Swiftness. The mobility that having a decent amount of Swiftness provides is helpful with our play style, and Fury is always good. With the high-mobility this build makes use of, I've found it hard to capitalize on Flanking Strikes regularly.
The utilities in this build follow the general pattern established above. SofA and SofS are both excellent choices—particularly SofA which refills your endurance on use. More dodges in a dodge-based build are always welcome. For this build, SofA is always recommended.
Since you’re also working with a deeper initiative pool, Roll for Initiative (RfI) is very strong. It’s a good stun-break, will refill by half your initiative pool, and creates a good gap if you need a breather. Combined with Withdraw, you can put some serious distance between you and mobs in a matter of a second.
In conjunction with RfI and SofA, Infiltrator's Signet is invaluable. It provides just one more way to "stick" to your target, grants init on use, and gives Might. The combo turns it into a mini-Steal, and works in similar ways.
Finally, the Deception utilities are still strong with this build. Though not buffed through points in the SA line, they still offer good utility (iHouse and SmS), survival (BP), and mobility (ShS). You can’t go wrong with one or two of them on your bar.
The primary difference between the stealth builds and the mobility builds is, well, one relies on stealth and the other mobility. Though this may sound obvious, in practice it’s important to distinguish between the two.
In the Acrobat build, there is no set rotation of skills. You will not want to rely on CnD + TacS to lock down enemies and take them out. For the Acrobat, TacS should be used on a as-needed basis whenever a stun would help. But with this build, don’t try to spam TacS.
Instead, you’ll want to maintain Might stacks through consistent dodging, and use your dodges as your primary means of avoiding damage (obvious, maybe). Additionally, the 25-point minor trait in Acro adds 10% damage whenever your endurance is not full. This means you want to keep your endurance bar around 3/4 at all times. The damage boost is noticeable.
Lastly, always remember to get in a full rotation of AA as often as possible. Your damage is going to rely on you being able to get in, hit hard, and get back out. Becuase you have higher initiative pool, you can use FS + LS to stay in melee range, evade, and keep up the AA cycles.
My most recent iterations of the Acrobat build have changed up my play style a bit. I run dual S/D with sigils of energy on both daggers, allowing for an unprecedented number of dodges (I've had 8 back-to-back). I've also worked in the basic principles of the Jumper build to maximize survivability and DPS.
So I offer the following new tips:
1. Use your ports. Porting in and out with InfS, using Withdraw to gain distance, using Steal and InfSig to close gaps all create a dynamic mobility that allows you to take on multiple mobs with little to now issue.
2. Be liberal with your dodges. You DO have a lot. If you run dual S/D like I do, you'll have even more. So feel free to use your dodges to position yourself, gain distance, and--as always--avoid damage. The key difference between this build and the Jumper is the sheer number of dodges at your disposal.
3. Use Dancing Dagger. This skill gets overlooked since its nerf, but it's still great. At a low-ish init cost, you can spam it if you're trying to stay alive by kiting. I often use it right before I port in, and the combined damage from DD and InfS is pretty hefty. I always throw a DD when I can, simply because it adds to DPS without costing too much. The cripple also gives you breathing room when you're evaluating your next pass.
As with the stealth builds, the mobility builds work well with any weapon set on-swap. For the Acrobat build, I use P/P and focus on boon-removal and boon-steal (the linked build has this set up). The SB, as always, is a strong choice for the added mobility. Off-hand pistol becomes viable due to the larger initiative pool, and Black Powder (BP) isn’t as costly. For this reason D/P is also a strong choice.
As I mentioned above, with recent iterations of the build, I've been running dual S/D with energy sigils for the extra dodges. D/P continues to be potent, however, and SB is always a good choice.
Play Style Demo:
(Updated) The Jumper: 10/30/0/0/30
We take ten points in DA for the boost to Steal alone. DA III (Mug) is a decent increase in damage, and now heals for a small amount. Because we’ll be taking 30 points in the Tricks line, Steal will be up quite often, and plays a significant role in this build.
If you’re hurting for survivability, you can drop these ten points into SA for the blind-on-stealth, or in Acro for Vigor-on-heal. But since this build is a full glass canon, I stick with Mug.
As I mentioned above with the Acrobat build, the Jumper build relies less on flanking for DPS. As such, any of the Signet-buffing traits become far more viable. CS II and CS VIII are great.
The Trickery line minor traits make this build what it is. The Jumper build revolves around having a large initiative pool full at all times, and Tricks 5, 15, and 25 get us there. More on this in the play style section.
For the major traits, we have a few options. Because 30 points in Tricks reduces the CD on Steal, those traits affecting Steal are quite viable. When running solo, Tricks V (Thrill of the Crime) adds Might, Fury, and Swiftness which can boost your damage quite well. (Also, Steal can be used out of combat for the Swiftness when running open world.) When with a group that’s providing boons, however, Tricks IV (Flanking Strikes) is an excellent flat-damage increase.
For the second trait slot, the boon-strip from Tricks VII (Bountiful Theft) synergizes well the boon-steal of LS, and also provides Vigor which we lack by not taking points in Acro. Again, with the high up-time of Steal, this can be very strong.
Other options for the second slot are Tricks VIII (Trickster) if you want to make use of RfI, or Tricks IX (Initial Strike) to add another layer of initiative regen.
Most of this build has been modified with the buff to the Trickery trait line in the 6/25 update. As such, the Jumper has become molded around Steal nearly entirely. I recommend the full compliment of Steal-buffing traits: Tricks V, Tricks VII, and now Tricks XII.
As with the Acrobat build, the Jumper build has quite a bit of flexibility when it comes to utilities. Again, I will always suggest SofA and SofS. RfI is also very strong with this build for the reasons mentioned above in the Acrobat section.
My personal favorite is Shadow Step. Not only does it keep with the general theme of “jumping” around the map, it is made super-powerful in conjunction with InfS. Between the two, you can gap-close huge distances in a very short time span. Additionally, having InfS up on one side of the battlefield and ShS up on the other means you be wherever you’re needed most instantaneously.
The Deception utilites are also helpful, as explained above—you just can’t go wrong with iHouse. This is the only build where I’ll make a recommendation for Elite skill, as well. Because this build capitalizes on the power-house of the Sword’s AA, Basilisk’s Venom is actually quite strong. Not only will it lock down mobs long enough for a full AA-cycle, it also IGNORES DEFIANT. This is huge when you sweep in to interrupt a group-wiping attack or something of the sort.
Finally, Withdraw is the only heal you should take with the build. It’s a gap-creator, initiative regen, and CC remover. The Jumper build dies if it ever gets locked down, and Withdraw keeps that from happening.
What makes the Jumper build glass canon-ey are the 25-point traits in CS and Tricks. The former adds 10% damage whenever your initiative pool is over 6, and the latter adds 1% damage per point of initiative in your pool. This means that, whenever your initiative pool is full, your AA has an automatic 25% damage increase. When combined with Executioner and Flanking Strikes (remember, you should always be attacking from behind or the side), you’ll have a total 50% boost to your AA damage.
This is huge. It means that you do not need to use any initiative-consuming skill to do decent damage. In fact, you want to conserve your initiative as much as possible to keep your damage high.
The actual play style is relatively straight-forward. You’ll want to stand behind or to the side of your enemy, and cycle through AA as much as possible. Avoid using initiative-consuming skills unless absolutely necessary.
Finally, the name “Jumper” comes from this play style’s way of avoiding damage. Since you’ll have no points invested in SA or Acro, blinds/dodging/etc. are harder to come by. Instead, you’ll use InfS exclusively to avoid damage. Port into the mob, use AA, and when the mob winds up to attack, port back out. Rinse. Repeat. InfS is a low-cost mobility skill that shouldn’t hamper your damage, but allows you to completely avoid attacks, clear conditions, and give you some breathing room.
This creates a pace of battle that is crazy-fast, then sloooows down as you evaluate your next pass. Then you port back in, attack, and back out again. You need to be constantly aware of your surroundings and the flow of battle. I typically look for low-health enemies to go after, or any mob that’s chasing a ranged party member.
When combined with the port of Steal and the port in ShS, you can “stick” to your enemy almost indefinitely, and always have a way to get out. In WvW this is great for catching runners or other “slippery” classes, and I have a blast doing it.
As a final note, the Jumper build is very squishy, and if you get locked down you’ll most likely go down. The key to survival for this build is to simply not be there for the incoming attacks. The Jumper build also works great with a party where someone else has aggro and you can whale away on the enemy. It takes time to learn, but it’s a blast to play.
With the 6/25 changes to the Trickery line to benefit Steal, it becomes a powerful tool. Not only are you able to abuse it for the boons, the stun comes in handy as well. You already have a stun on TacStrike and Basilisk Venom, and one more helps with the "port in and lock 'em down" play style.
The jumper build works well with any on-swap weapon set that has a hard-hitting AA. For this reason, SB offers a great combination of decent damage and maneuverability. For single-target, however, D/P is by far the best on-swap weapon set for the Jumper build. The Dagger AA hits hard and fast, and with a high initiative pool, you can keep BP up. For my purposes, I always have SB on swap when I’m running with the Jumper build.
Play Style Demo:
Thoughts on the Mobility Builds:
The Acrobat and the Jumper builds offer a different S/D play style than the stealth builds. Their strengths lie in evasion and dodging, and simply not being there to take damage. These builds are faster-paced and more user-sensitive than the stealth-builds, but have the potential for a higher payout in the damage-realm. The traits offer good flexibility across weapon sets, and synergize well with varying on-swap sets.
Both of the mobility builds are less forgiving than the stealth-based builds, but can provide a very fun alternative. I recommend that anyone who wants to try something new or different give them a test-run.
There you have it! Four of the more common and tested S/D builds. As I said above, they aren’t meant to be the end-all-be-all of S/D, or even the thief class in general. But they offer a good place to start for anyone looking into picking up S/D for the first time, or wanting to try something new.
I encourage the other thief-users out there to give these builds a go, and let me know how you tweak them for your own play style. If additional builds rise out of these, or if I’ve missed an obvious variant, I’ll happily include them as well. Feel free to ping me in game, too: Phenn.5167.
(And thanks to Loperdos for working through the correctness of the comments/advice/descriptions!)
Posted MisterB on 18 May 2013 - 10:14 PM
Posted Lycrus on 25 May 2013 - 06:01 AM
Posted Guardian of the Light on 25 May 2013 - 06:00 AM
Posted Warmaster Bacon on 25 May 2013 - 05:30 AM
Posted ben911993 on 17 May 2013 - 01:29 PM
I'm normally not big on conspiracy theories, but I don't think it's any coincidence that in the interim between GW1 and GW2, Nexon purchased some 15% of the shares of NC Soft (or was it ANet themselves?), and ANet hired Cristin Cox to oversee the monetization of GW2, and now GW2 is a significantly more cash driven game than GW1. Cristin is already well known for having ruined Maplestory, and I wouldn't be too surprised if it were actually at NC Soft's "suggestion" that ANet hired her. Why would a company that had such a successful model with GW1, with a very limited cash shop, suddenly go overboard with it in GW2?
I have to agree with Duderino: it seems NC Soft forced GW2 out early in an attempt to rescue a sinking ship. And now they're taking the lifeboats with them. GW2 is only just in the past 2-3 months starting to head in the right direction with content and updates, but it's still far too gold/cash-centric than I care for.
I was in a thread in the videogame generals section of 4chan yesterday (no, /b/ does not comprise all of 4chan; there's more to it than that), and someone jokingly posted something along the lines of:
"Just $15 a month and you can be a premium GW2 member, receiving benefits such as:
--800 gems per month!
--early access to new content!
--free costumes/cosmetics from the Black Lion store!
--a monthly package of boosters and other consumables!"
And a few other benefits.
It's scary just how believable that post was. GW2 is being ruined by its cash driven stance. I much preferred the system of GW1 where I could just pay $7 and get the costume I want, no rng, no gambling, just me playing dress-up with my characters.
Posted Senatic on 28 May 2013 - 09:37 PM
Posted Bloodtau on 26 October 2012 - 06:18 AM
Thanks for the responses!
Actually no, it's not. THEY sent out two copies, you didn't physically break into their office and take one.
Don't be such a nancy about it. You got two copies, take advantage of that. A-net enjoy screweing people over it seems, so vise-versa is fine.
Posted Naut on 26 October 2012 - 02:51 PM
Posted Gli on 26 October 2012 - 02:38 PM
Posted Gli on 26 October 2012 - 02:22 PM
However my Asura did get a 72 hour ban for looking up Eir's skirt, which was justified and well worth it.
Posted Linfang on 26 October 2012 - 02:17 PM
However my Asura did get a 72 hour ban for looking up Eir's skirt, which was justified and well worth it.
Posted Gli on 26 October 2012 - 02:14 PM
Posted Gli on 26 October 2012 - 02:10 PM
I wonder how much of a difference it would make just having a GM visit these places once a day with Dhuum and setting hi on them all. As I am a ranger with a brown bear too I just ran like hell before I got grouped in with them.
I just report and delete the gold sellers messages, tempting as it is to tell them to *off I don't want to be seen to communicate with them in any way
I'm on Gandara as well, and as I travelled from the southern entrance to the zone with my ranger and found myself running right through a naked bot cluster, my first thought was: "holy crap, I hope no one saw me!"