Guild Wars 2

Thief Changes May 11th: Trickery Nerfed?

For those who have not seen the updates coming the 11th, the Wiki lays it here: https://wiki.guildwars2.com/wiki/Upcoming_changes_and_features/2021-05-11

With all the changes coming the 11th, it's a good idea to think of these as more of a frame another elite spec will be inserted into. Some of these changes definitely shake up certain professions, but I'll be focusing on Thief. It's the one profession I play most and I'm going to come at this from a SPvP perspective.

TLDR: Devs have given thief a little help in the condi department, but don't expect to be outdoing any professions that are known for condi damge. From a pvp standpoint, the changes are not huge to thief aside from one. If I'm reading it correctly, Preparedness in the Trickery spec will no longer add 3 Initiative to your pool, but instead adds 150 expertise. Detonate Plasma was also nerfed, though I can't personally tell how big of an impact that will make for thieves in raids.


The patch blerb:

Thief has had some of the least build diversity in PvE gameplay for a while now, and it's overdue for some improvement. While we're happy with the power damage roles currently available for thief players, we'd like to bring back thief condition builds as another option. In this update, we're improving the conditions applied by daggers and short bows, and we're adding more condition-related power to the Trickery specialization by giving it a source of expertise and a multiplier to bleed damage.

Notably, we're also reducing the maximum targets of the stolen skill Detonate Plasma, which affects thief boon-build compositions in a few specific raid encounters. Now that we've added additional sources of quickness to the Scrapper specialization, we believe it is the appropriate time to also bring the thief boon-build role in these encounters down to match, providing boons including quickness for half of the raid squad. This will allow for less squad role shuffling in these encounters—if a squad still chooses to utilize a thief boon build, they will only replace one quickness provider.

So, right off the bat we see that the Devs intend these changes to buff Condi to provide the class with diversity. I can't speak for the Detonate Plasma change since I don't raid, so if someone who's done thief raiding would like to speak to that go ahead.

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The Breakdown:

Detonate Plasma (Stolen Skill: Reduced maximum targets from 10 to 5.)

Again, can't speak to this one! Seems like another reason not to bring thief into a raid, but I don't know the scene well enough.

Dagger)edit)

Wild Strike: This skill now also inflicts 2 stacks of bleeding for 3 seconds in PvE and 1 stack in PvP and WvW.

Free Bleed on main combo. It will help to keep a little pressure between the Death Blossoms and venom spikes. A nice addition.

Short Bow)edit)

Trick Shot: Reduced animation length by 0.2 seconds. This skill no longer deals increased strike damage to poisoned enemies. Instead, it applies 1 stack of bleeding for 4 seconds when striking poisoned enemies.

Surprise Shot and Malicious Surprise Shot: These skills now additionally apply 3 stacks of bleeding for 5 seconds in PvE and 1 stack in PvP and WvW.

Choking Gas: Increased poison duration from 2 seconds to 3 seconds in PvE and WvW only. This now matches the duration in structured PvP modes.

Short Bow is now more of a condi weapon than a strike weapon, but still retains good strike damage through the use off cluster bombs. Regardless of damage changes, the shear utility Infiltrators Arrow is too good to pass up for most builds and we will still see SB used by most thieves.

Trick Shot is seeing a buff to firerate (About 0.95-0.75 if the wiki is to be believed). The bleed will be nice for condi thieves trying to harassing contested points they can lay Choking Gas on. This change more than others cements SB as a condi weapon.

Surprise shot getting only one bleed stack in PvP? It feels like they added this just because they added the three bleed in PvE. They did mention this was in addition to the immobilize, so it's still got that utility. It's a little strange they didn't make the damage condi Torment with it's change since that would synergize (Extra damage while not moving). Nice, but not game changing.

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Choking Gas: I didn't honestly realize that PvE and WvW had a worse duration than SPvP. Now it's the same for all modes. Looks like it was meant to help consistently apply bleeds from Trick Shot in PvE.

Deadly Arts)edit)

Improvisation: The cooldown of this trait has been reduced from 20 seconds to 15 seconds.

A nice QOL for thieves with steals on CDs of less than 20 seconds and utilize this trait. It still shares it's Major Grand Master slot with Potent Poison and Executioner , so I still don't expect to see it much in sPvP aside from highly niche builds, like DE Mark condi.

Trickery)edit)

Preparedness: This trait now increases expertise by 150.

Bewildering Ambush: This has been reworked and renamed Deadly Ambush.

Deadly Ambush: Stealing also applies 3 stacks of bleeding for 10 seconds in PvE and 3 stacks for 6 seconds in PvP and WvW. Bleeding inflicted on foes deals 25% more damage.

Trickery is seeing either a major change or minor change strictly dependent on Preparedness.

Preparedness: This one could be major. My current interpretation of this is that the +3 to initiative is being replaced by the expertise buff of 150. If this is the case, this is a nerf/rebalance to a nearly always required spec. This means an overall reduction in the amount of weapon skills one can use. On the bright side, thieves using this spec will see a slight increase to all conditions, including the non-damaging ones like Immobilize and Cripple which can give that extra precious split second to finish a target off. Is that worth losing the 3 initiative? I hope I'm simply misinterpreting.

Deadly Ambush: We had our confusion on steal taken away for three stacks of bleed and an overall buff to bleed damage. It'll suck that we can't apply confusion as an extra condition a target has to cleanse through, but the extra bleed damage synergizes well with P/D, D/D, and SB skills. A fine rebalance in my mind.

Deadeye)edit)

Binding Shadow: This skill now reveals the caster if they are using stealth when the skill begins. Reduced the aftercast animation from 0.25 seconds to 0.08 seconds.

It's a nerf, but one I agree with. It sucks to be on the receiving end while out of seemingly nowhere and then getting burst into oblivion if you're reaction wasn't immaculate. Reduced after cast is nice though.

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Speculation/Hopes for EoD Elite Spec for Thief.

Dare Devil is a bruiser/tank spec with access to better cleave, damage mitigation, stuns, and special dodges. Martial Arts/Ninja flavor. Borrows from Warrior Utilities.

Dead Eye is an damage spec that has utilities that have increased potency against marked targets, fantastic ranged strike damage, and upgraded stealth attacks. Sharpshooter/Gunslinger flavor. Borrows from Elementalist Utilities.

Speculation: I think this new one will be a support spec of some sort of better access to conditions, based on what other professions have and don't have. Each elite spec usually touches on Tank, Damage, or Support without overlapping within the profession.

Hope: It would be cool to see a minion/clone based thief, where spending a certain amount of initiative summons a thug who attacks your target with the same weapon you have equipped (at a far lower rate than the player). Your steal skill becomes 'mob' instead causing each thug to use a stealth attack on the target, then despawn and provide the player thief with a stolen item. I could see off hand torch or warhorn being the class weapon with mobbing theme. Though, this is not likely to happen!

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What's everyone else thoughts?

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