Thief is a medium armor profession that focuses on dispatching your opponents quickly and (sometimes) quietly, using evasiveness and stealth as your defensive tools, and using your opponent’s strengths against them. Weapons of the thief include Daggers, Pistols, a Sword, and a Short Bow.
Most of your weapons will offer a mix of power damage and conditions applied, and even purely power damage weapons can be used in condition builds due to some trait interaction.
Your utility skills can be used for more damage, making yourself and your allies invisible, and dodging/reacting to the enemy’s attacks. In this guide, you will learn what it means to become a master of stealth, sneak attacks, and maneuverability with the following topics.
If you don’t know anything about Guild Wars 2 profession, and you maybe are looking for a short comparison, check out our introductory guides:
Thief is a relatively squishy class, thus you will be relying on stealing, stealthing, blinding, and weakening your opponents. Your attacks are based on “initiative” and don’t have a cooldown, and your one-hand weapons create powerful dual-wield skills.
Stealing and Stolen Skills
The Thief’s first profession-specific mechanic is your F1 skill:
In the Open World, the stolen skill you receive will be unique to the type of creature you are stealing from. In PvP and WvW content, the stolen skill you receive will always be the same depending on what profession you steal from. Here are a few that may pop up as you adventure in Tyria:
Another profession-specific mechanic is a resource called Initiative. Normally, every profession in Guild Wars 2 has cooldowns attached to their weapon skills (skills 1-5).
Thief trades individual weapon cooldowns for initiative requirements, which recharges at a static rate of 1 per second, and this can not be changed in any way.
Each weapon skill has an individual initiative cost assigned to it, and you can recast the same skill over and over again until you don’t have more initiative.
Utility skills do not have initiative costs and have individual skill cooldowns, but there are some skills that can help you generate more initiative in case you run low.
Normally, every profession in Guild Wars 2 has three skills associated with their main-hand weapon (skills 1-3), two with their off-hand weapon (skills 4-5), and obviously all five skills with two-hand weapons.
If you are using two weapons, your skill 3 will change depending on both of weapons.
Thieves have the unique mechanic that’s changing weapon skill 3 depending on which weapons you have in your main-hand and off-hand slots.
Dual-Wield skills are usually most powerful from your weapon skills arsenal.
Another source of powerful damage are stealth attacks, Thief’s profession-specific mechanic.
Your weapon skill 1 is normally an auto-attack, but while in
Once you use a stealth attack or another skill that damages the enemy, you will receive the
When using a venom skill, your next few weapon attacks against a target will have a bonus effect. The Venom utility skills are instant cast while the heal and elite venoms have a cast time.
Venom skills are a very popular pick for end-game condition-based builds, and
Deception skills are all about using
Among Deception skills you have two Stunbreaks in form of
An interesting fact about
In Deception skills, one of the greatest strengths in Open World is
Preparations are similar to traps used by other professions like Ranger and Dragonhunter, but Thief instead triggered when enemy will step inside the area, Thieves have full control of activating them with “flip skill” offering much more flexibility. There is no healing Preparation.
Signets have two parts to them: a passive and an active effect. The passive effect will be active as long as the Signet is equipped and not on cooldown.
Once activated, Signet will apply its active effect for a short duration, at the cost of disabling the passive bonus until the cooldown will finish.
Thief’s signets are very good skills used in multiple game modes. For Open World, of the greatest healing skills for a Thief is
Tricks are all skills that help change the position of your opponent or yourself, allowing them to take more damage or deal less/no damage to you.
Due to the “trickery” nature of this type of skill, they are not very appealing in PvE in general, be that instanced content or Open World.
They are used in competitive game modes though,
The Deadly Arts trait line is focused on a mix of power damage, condition damage, and utility. Thanks to the mix of the power and condition enhancements, it’s often selected for most offensive Thief builds.
Condition builds will often use 321 traits in Deadly Arts (
The Critical Strikes trait line is all about power damage, large damage numbers via critical hits, the
Shadow Arts mainly focuses on improving
While most traits are defensive, some offer life stealing (
If you are with a group of people who lack sustain on their builds, you can choose to heal/support them with traits like
This specialization is rarely picked in the end-game PvE as there is usually no real need in using
In Open World you might find it useful in Dungeons to improve your stealthy traversing between objectives, or as a defensive tool when dealing with particularly dangerous enemies.
The Acrobatics trait line is, arguably, your most selfish specialization. Everything here revolves around dodging using endurance, evading using utility, and weapon skills.
In general, Acrobatics is the least used specialization in the game for Thieves because you can gain the same benefits through other more controllable methods.
In Open World, a niche use case might be when fighting a particularly tough enemy with well-telegraphed attacks. Extremely high
Trickery is a great specialization for general Thief play. All minor traits (
The most popular all-purpose setup with trickery is 312 (
Any skill that you can reactivate to return to a previous location such as the utility skill
All of your Venom skills, upon activation, will be applied to up to 4 additional nearby targets. In addition, any conditions that are applied by your allies using your Venoms will deal damage relative to your condition damage stat, not the other person’s. Make sure to activate your Venoms in close proximity (240 radius) of your allies, especially while using
There are some stolen skills that can be utilized in more than the ways listed in the tooltip. In addition, not all of the stolen skills you can generate during a fight with multiple different types of enemies will be useful in your situation. Through practice and repetition, you should be able to get a grasp of which stolen skills are useful and how they can be used in different ways. For example, the stolen skill
Using skills that grant you
Effective use of combo fields and combo finishers (explained in more detail in the Game mechanics guide) can get you out in a pinch, apply buffs to yourself, and harm your enemies in many ways.
While not unique to the Thief, “Blasting Stealth” is commonly done by or with this profession as they have very good access to Smoke Combo Fields. you can use Blast finishers like
You can also give
To supplement your ability to hide in the shadows, Thieves’ movement skills are unparalleled in the game.
This is especially useful in competitive game modes, where taking the enemy by surprise can create an enormous advantage.
If you are ready to start playing this profession, we recommend a starter build that was created to help with the traditional leveling experience of the core profession.
If you are looking for more builds for all game modes, make sure to check your build guides.