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The Price of Progress #10: Recreating and Refining Darkness

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It has come to my attention that the Thief needs some serious loving. As a potential remedy to this, a few cohorts of mine sat down and punched out some preliminary findings in terms of class deficiency, and it seemed like an appropriate topic for the blog. While reading this, I would like you to cross reference what was written with what class you play, and ask yourself if there is any room for improvement in the imbalance department. ANet can't fix the problem if they don't know what's wrong. I hope you enjoyed the tournament play i posted, and I also hope you take something useful away from this redesign.

Condition Removal

Currently the only source of condition removal and real stealth Thieves have is Hide in Shadows. The problem is that this skill does not remove crowd control effects. Other classes have condition removal such as 10 second automatic removal passives for rangers, debuff removal for Mesmers, multiple condition removal skills including “Shake it Off” as well as a heal/condition removal for Warriors, Guardians have even more, Engineers have elixirs, Necromancers have group condition removal that isn’t their designated heal (which also removes conditions), and Elementalists have many.

Thieves are strictly limited to using Hide in Shadows for condition removal. I’ll give you the average combat scenario with Hide in Shadows:

1.) Conditions put on you via on hit effects, someone uses one of many immobilize effects

2.) You enter stealth, heal goes up, conditions off

3.) You’re still immobilized, and they know that, so they keep attacking you, applying more conditions and negating most of the benefits of your heal. It might as well not be a stealth

Because of this, most Thieves have defaulted to Withdrawal for the evade and heal on a 50% lower cool down, effectively making stealth and condition removal nonexistent. I’m aware that Shadow Refuge is technically a stealth, but the skill is extremely under powered as a whole, and I will touch on that later in the article.


1.) Currently, traps have little to no use in PvP. The trap mechanic in the context of Guild Wars 2, forces you to use them in a defensive way. If you use a trap offensively and it misses, you’re already down one cooldown before the fight starts. Traps need to be replaced with skills that have an active impact on fast engagements, as professions in Guild Wars 2 are much more mobile than they were in Guild Wars.

2.) Am I saying defensive cooldowns are useless? No, they’re absolutely necessary. Am I saying traps are marginally less effective than they were in Guild Wars 1? Yes. There was a basic and undeniable boost in mobility from GW1 to GW2. There are separate levels of elevation and various routes of access to all of the maps that are currently in place/being tested, and traps are wasted cooldowns entirely.

Proposed Changes in Class Mechanics

F1: Crack Armor: Apply several stacks of vulnerability to the target, applies 10 seconds of protection to self. This helps with our survivability, and enables us to weaken a single target, making them more vulnerable to our attacks. Which is what the thief is all about.

F2: Steal Weapon: Daze the target for 2 seconds. Applies Might or Fury to self and grants a class specific item just like current

steal. This allows us a control option, as well as the random item. Only usable in melee range.

F3: Shadow Recluse: Enter stealth for 10 seconds when not in combat, 3 when in combat. This would grant the element of surprise when out of combat, but ensure that it isn't too powerful during combat. Allows for adequate positioning and proficient gap closing without the target just waiting for you to Shadowstep to put you in the ground.

F4: Shadowstep: Teleport to Target. Shadowstep would be removed from steal, and would be its own class mechanic, allowing room for a decision making process before, during, and after the Shadowstep itself.

Flaws and Proposed Skill Fixes Pertaining to Mechanic Changes

Shadow Refuge

- Shadow refuge heals for effectively nothing, (200 or so per second in the AoE)

- Gives enemies a small designated area to AoE

- Doesn’t break channeled spells once you enter it

- If it’s used offensively, everyone takes a few steps back and wait a few seconds for it to go away. (That’s being generous; they would really just run past you.) The skill is

Suggestion: Provide a signet that grants some form of condition removal, as well as adding condition removal to withdrawal and/or immobilize removal on Hide in Shadows. The reason I’m suggesting adding both, is because there is not a single class, Thieves aside, that do not have a condition removal spell outside of their heal.



Cool down: 15 —> 20 Seconds

My only suggestion for Withdraw will remain adding bleed/burn removal. If it’s added, consider bumping the cooldown up to 20 seconds.


Hide in Shadows:

Cooldown: Same = 30 Seconds

Add Immobilization removal.

Utility Skill Changes


Shadow Refuge:

Cooldown: From 60 —> 50 Seconds

Upon entering Shadow Refuge, become stealthed. Shadow Refuge will pulse 5 times, once every 1.5 seconds. Every other pulse will remove a condition and heal for 200, starting with the SECOND pulse. Upon leaving Shadow Refuge, remain stealthed for 5 seconds, but receive no pulse benefits.

Explanation: Giving people a reason to stay AND a reason to leave, presents decision, not choice. Thought provoking and mechanically sound is what we’re aiming for. “If I stay, I’m fairly safe. If I leave, I might be able to do enough damage to kill him.”



Cooldown: Same 30 Seconds

You throw a wire around your opponent’s legs, tripping them to the ground for 2 seconds. Upon standing, the enemy gains swiftness for 3 seconds.

Explanation: One thing Guild Wars 1 did better than any other MMO, was give good skills drawbacks to make you think. ANet is a smart company, and is in the business of presenting decisions. Introduce a little complexity, in contrast with the current F1 Doubletap meta.



Cooldown: From 45—> 120 Seconds

Calls in a fellow Thief on top of your target, causing you to Shadow Step back 15 feet.

Explanation: Sticking with the “traps are not for GW2” theme, these are some suggestions with what I feel to be appropriate balance, having played the Thief extensively through all of the prior Beta Weekends, Stress Tests, and now Alpha.


Shadow Trap:

Cooldown: From 30—> 40 Seconds

Throws a blinding dust cloud on top of your enemy, teleporting you to the other side of the cloud, and blinding your enemy for 3 seconds, causing you to stealth.

Explanation: Traps are wasted skills, and creating relevant abilities from the ashes will introduce new interactions, some foreseen, some not. Decisions become present here.


Needle Trap Replacement Suggestion: Signet of Death:

Cooldown: 125 Seconds

Passive: Removes a condition every 10 seconds, starting when the caster has a 2nd condition placed on him/her.

Active: Resets all class mechanic abilites F1-F4. Signet of Death's passive is inactive during cooldown.

Explanation: This gives Thieves passive condition removal, but gives us the option to sacrifice it for a long period of time if we want our class mechanics back faster. It prompts the decision of control, or survivability, and if you take control, you lose your survivability for a lengthy period of time.


Build of the Week! (Elementalist) : "Jack of all Trades"

20 Fire Magic

  • 20% chance to cause burning when attacked with melee
  • Deal 10% more damage when attuned to fire
  • Damage at your location when attuning to fire
  • All your fire weapon skills recharge 20% faster

20 Air Magic

  • Move 10% faster while attuned to air
  • Move faster the longer you are attuned to air
  • Strike your target with a bolt of lightning when attuning to air
  • Deal 10% more damage while attuned to air

10 Earth Magic

  • Gain extra armor while attuned to earth
  • Deal 5% more when within melee range of your target

10 Water Magic

  • Regenerate health while attuned to water
  • Remove a condition from yourself and your allies when you attune to water

10 Arcane Magic

  • Attunement bonuses linger for 5 seconds
  • Elemental Attunement

Do not rely on condition builds to carry your team to victory. They will be fixed, and the "spammy" feeling of conditions will transitively be gone. Leave any comments, questions or concerns in the comment section below, as I would love to ascertain some perspective from outside sources on class balance. That's about it for this beta weekend. I wish you the best of luck in your future warring of guilds, and as always, fight for the user.


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Have you shared this awesome blog with the Pokemon crew?

I have. :) It was originally shown to those guys, but cited nothing except suggestions, so i shared it with the public.

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immobilize is a condition not a cc, any condition removal should take it off, same goes for fear, however knock downs and stuns are not conditions and will not be removed by a condition removal

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immobilize is a condition not a cc, any condition removal should take it off, same goes for fear, however knock downs and stuns are not conditions and will not be removed by a condition removal

If this were true, hide in shadows would remove it. It does not.

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I agree with your assertions on Traps currently. As a Ranger, when debating over defensive group support or traps, I elected the former. Our traps that are intended for gap-management are just not reliable as most players can easily choose a different route to get to you and avoid it entirely. I would sooner use Winter's Bite or any number of Shortbow skills to manage distance.

Traps used offensively on the other hand, also prove somewhat irrelevant. They are generally avoidable, and even if you do walk into that Flame Trap, the damage is pertty negligble and the burning condition will get removed anyways. The idea of a Trap Ranger was rather popular on some forums, but only to compliment a condition based damage build. I still think the mechanic itself is just a remnant of what is "expected" for the Ranger archetype.

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