Guild Wars 2 Thief PvP Comprehensive Guide

Guild Wars 2 Thief PvP Comprehensive Guide by Lowell

1. Introduction

First things first, you should have some nice music while reading this guide, it’s a wall of text with videos here and there. Welcome to my sPvP thief resource! I will try to cover everything you need to know to play thief in a competitive environment, which mostly means viable builds, how to play them, the roles you can cover with them and  how to be viable in the current meta. This guide will always be a work in progress and I’ll update it regularly. When playing thief, here’s what you can expect:

  • You will deal a lot of damage, but if you want to see big numbers you should try Elementalist and Warrior, they are the real ballers;
  • You will take a lot of damage and have a low health pool, playing without a survival traitline and/or an amulet with survival stats is almost suicidal;
  • You will be the profession with the best mobility in the game and will need to abuse it to be useful;
  • You will trick people thanks to stealth;
  • You will never be alone. If you get kicked from your team/guild, you just need to use your elite spell Thieves Guild, it’s an instant « summon-friend » button;
  • You will at least once go for a 30 acrobatics build, equip a shortbow that you will use to spam Disabling Shot use the utility spells Shadowstep and Roll for Initiative, the healing spell Withdraw and troll the hell out of people, being untouchable and yelling « HOHO, HAHA, HOHO » everytime you dodge something with 1 of your 102123912192 evades.

In the « beta-meta », a lot of people/teams undervalue the Thief profession. I don’t, nor does my team. We strongly believe that the mobility thief brings to the table and the super strong roaming builds the profession has access to make it extremely viable in all levels of play.

You are a strong duelist, a strong team fighter, able to control and secure secondary objectives easily and the best roamer there is. However, your ability to duel and team fight depends on your build… Fortunately, after the latest changes, there are quite a lot of builds that can be played competitively: Hybrid Venom, Condition D/D, Powe/Crit S/P, D/P & D/D.
2. About Me

My nickname is Lowell and I’m a member of Super Squad [SS]. We haven’t set roles yet, but I mainly play roamer! I’ve been competing on video games for a few years and e-sporting Guild Wars 2 is my next goal. I will do whatever I can to get to the top, stay there and share interesting stuff with the community!

Here are some useful links:
My Livestream
Super Squad’s Youtube Channel
My Youtube Channel
My Twitter

I’ll be streaming GW2 all day every day when it finally ships at: and on

Any subscription to my twitch channel and any of the YouTube channels means A LOT. So, if you like what you see and would like to support me and the Super Squad, please press the subscribe button! =3

3. Gamer Mindset

The first thing I want to focus on isn’t directly related to GW2. I want to talk about the mindset you need if you want to win, if you want to get better and if you want the game you play to have a solid, mannered and overall good community.

  • Be mannered! Do not insult your fellow players! Raging from time to time is normal, but do not forget that most of the time you’re raging because you know you could have played better. Insulting your opponents is not going to help. Insulting your team-mates is not going to help.
  • Play to win, even if you are losing! Your opponent has a 300 point lead on your team? So what? Keep playing as if the score was 0-0! The game isn’t over before the « You win » or « You lose » appears on your screen. Remember that when you lose, you can always ask your opponents what you did wrong or what they did better. It is the best way to improve: learn from your opponents, always, for everything. Rivalries should not hinder communication between players/teams. Keep it in mind!
  • Play with your team, even if you are in a pick up group or a solo queue tournament! Everyone can bring something to a team, even a new player who is learning the game. If you have a better knowledge of the game than your team-mates, help them during the match, assign them to roles, tell them when to move from one point to another. Never belittle them, never label them as « useless players ».
  • Be humble! Anyone, and I mean ANYONE, can teach you something. You need to be on the lookout for information, tricks you may have not thought of, builds that could work in very specific situations. If you think of yourself as a high and mighty gaming king who does not have to care about other people, you will miss a lot of good stuff and make other people sad/angry. If you make it to « pro-level », remember that you have not always been there and that helping other people is by far more useful and rewarding than being a jerk to everyone. You think you are talking to a « 14 years old noob »? You may be talking to a future pro gamer who might make e-sports bigger than they are. Respect everyone!

4. Combo Fields

Knowing your combo fields as a thief is very important. Here I will show you a few of those Combo Fields that you have access:

Dark Field:
Shadow Refuge

Ethereal Field:
Throw Gunk (item you can steal from Necromancers)

Poison Field:
Choking Gas

Smoke Field:
Black Powder
Smoke Screen

However, the best is still to come because… you have 4 of the best Combo Finishers in the game:

Cluster Bomb, best Combo Finisher: Blast in the game for 3 initiative

Heartseeker, best Combo Finisher: Leap in the game for 3 initiative

Dancing Dagger, best Combo Finisher: Projectile in the game. It can hit up to 4 targets for 4 initiative.

Leaping Death Blossom, good Combo Finisher: Whirl for 5 initiative

Due to the fact that you can spam these, you’d better know what every combo field in the game does! Here is a list:

Blast. Area Blindness
Leap, Blindness
Projectile, Lifesteal
Whirl, Leeching Bolts

Blast, Area Chaos Armor
Leap, Chaos Armor
Projectile, Confusion
Whirl, Confusing Bolts

Blast, Area Might (3 stacks)
Leap, Fire Armor
Projectile, Burning
Whirl, Burning Bolts

Blast, Area Frost Armor
Leap, Frost Armor
Projectile, Chill
Whirl, Chilling Bolts

Blast, Area Retaliation
Leap, Retaliation
Projectile, Remove Condition
Whirl, Cleansing Bolts

Blast, Area Swiftness
Leap, Daze
Projectile, Vulnerability
Whirl, Vulnerability Bolts

Blast, Area Weakness
Leap, Weakness
Projectile, Poison
Whirl, Poison Bolts

Blast, Area Stealth
Leap, Stealth
Projectile, Blindness
Whirl, Blinding Bolts

Blast, Area Healing
Leap, Healing
Projectile, Regeneration
Whirl, Healing Bolts

5. Traits

I will update this section with every alternative of the « cookie-cutter » trait distribution for a given build type.

5.1 Venom Builds

Any build using Pistol/Dagger in this category can be as effective/better with Sword/Pistol.

Venom Share Cookie-Cutter Traits: Click Here!
This is the basic trait distribution for a venom sharing build. It will do well in every situation, no trait is useless. You have Mug, which is the only trait you should always take as a roamer if you have to secure secondary objectives such as the Forest Monsters. It is an instant spell that does a decent amount of damage even with a non-crit/crit damage build. You have a decent initiative sustain thanks to Infusion of Shadow and Kleptomaniac, but your initiative pool is small (12).

The build is focused on venoms, so you’ll take a lot of traits to improve those: Quick Venoms, Residual Venom and Leeching Venoms. You also bring Venomous Aura to share those venoms with your team. Anything that applies to your venoms, applies to the venoms you share. Therefore, Residual Venom and Leeching Venoms are team traits as well as solo traits. This allows your team to apply a lot of conditions, to have sustain and deal unavoidable damage through the life steal. You have access to Weakness with Lotus Poison and to team-wide Fury and Swiftness (plus 1 Might stack) with Thrill of the Crime. It is the most well-rounded Venom Share build.

Venom Share against high condition team: Click Here!
The goal here is to get Pain Response to help mitigate condition damage on you. This version gives you more survivability because you invest points in the Acrobatics build (Vitality and Boon Duration). You get Expeditious Dodger and Feline Grace. Together, they almost mean perma-swiftness and 3 dodge rolls for a full endurance bar instead of 2. The choice of the tier 1 Acrobatics trait is up to you, both Power of Inertia and Vigorous Recovery are extremely good. This build sacrifices the extra damage from Deadly Arts and the Boons on Steal from Trickery to focus on survival.

Venom Share + Boon Removal and team Boons: Click Here!
Bountiful Theft is the trait you want. It’s insanely good when enemies run strong support builds that rely on applying boons to themselves or to their allies to be useful: you claim those boons for yourself (and your team-mates) and give 15s of vigor (which is, by itself, enough to make this trait insanely good) to your team-mates on top of the stolen boons. Your initiative pool is also bigger (15) because of Preparedness. You sacrifice the extra damage from Deadly Arts to become more annoying to the enemy team and to give more love to your team-mates (not as much as Fred would, and Akin knows what I’m talking about)

Super Easy Venom Share: Click Here!
Not much to say about this one. It’s the easiest build to start with: lots of dodges thanks to the points in Acrobatics and some extra Initiative sustain thanks to Quick Recovery. A build that allows you not to worry about Initiative management and forgives bad dodges thanks to the amount of dodges it provides? Perfect to learn the build!

No share + Boon removal and team Boons: Click Here!
This is one of the two duel-focused builds. If you know you will not be close to your team-mates often enough to make venom sharing worth it, you should go for one of these. You give up Venomous Aura to get Bountiful Theft and Preparedness that make you a 1v1 nightmare, especially when facing a profession that relies on a specific boon to do well. You still have some decent team support with Thrill of the Crime and Bountiful Theft.

No Share against high condition team: Click Here!
Second duel-focused build! This time, you give up some extra damage and team-wide boons to get the extra survivability from the Acrobatics traitline. Check the « Venom Share against high condition team » build!

Super Easy No Share: Click Here!
The Super Easy build makes its comeback! No Share this time! Nothing new except that detail.

One build to cheese them all: Click Here!
Ok, so this is the regular Venom Share build to which you add Ambush + Ogre Runes for 2 extra pets and the new and improves Sword/Pistol set with the evade on Pistol Whip and your 1st skill chain hitting 3 people per strike.
If your team and yourself play it well, it’s the strongest teamfight supporty build you can bring as a Thief. However, Venoms can now miss so every player needs to make sure that he’ll be able to land as many Venom Strikes as possible during the burst that follows your share.
You can pretty much duel anything in the game with your 4 NPC army.

Keep in mind that every Venom Build is stronger with Ambush, the only reason why I do not put it in all of them is because I think it’s extremly cheesy. For those of you who are still interested, just equip Ambush instead of Ice Drake/Devourer Venom, take the 20% cooldown reduction for Traps in Acrobatics and have fun.

5.2 Sword/Pistol Builds

Sustained Damage – Balanced Version: Click Here!
First Sword/Pistol build! This one invests 20 points in Acrobatics for the extra survivability and initiative regeneration it provides.
For the other 50 points, 20 are invested in Trickery because Bountiful Theft is the best thing after chocolate and 30 into Critical Strikes, mostly for Executioner. Signet Use gives that little hmpf to your signets too!

You’ll be using Infiltrator’s Signet in this build, which means you have 3 instant shadowstep spells that you can use while casting Pistol Whip for an instant stun.
Signet of Agility is simply too good not to take in a melee situation and Shadowstep is extremly versatile since it can be used for offense, defense and mobility.
As for every melee build I’ll post, the choice of the Healing Skill is really up to you. Adapt it to the enemy team and to your playstyle!

Burst Damage – Balanced Version: Click Here!
Well, it’s pretty much the same build, but you’ll be using Haste over Infiltrator’s Signet. The result is a much more bursty build with less chasing power & initiative sustain.

Sustained Damage – Baller Version: Click Here!
You’re the kind of person who lives on the edge? Who thinks survivability is for kids? This build is for you.

You’re giving up the 20 points in Acrobatics and investing them in Deadly Arts to get Mug and Combined Training. Result? More damage, less survivability, less mobility.

Burst Damage – Baller Version: Click Here!
The Sustained Damage version was not enough? Be a man, add Haste to it! This build should be able to please even the manliest Thieves.

5.3 Dagger/Pistol Builds

Sustained Version: Click Here!
Nothing fancy here! You get the usual 30 Critical Strikes for Executioner & Signet Use, 20 Trickery for Bountiful Theft and invest the remaining 20 points in Acrobatics to make it a build focused on sustained damage and survivability.

Signet of Agility and Shadowstep are still your core utilites. Haste brings some extra troll to your Heartseeker spam… and that’s it!

Baller Version: Click Here!
Like every baller version, you are giving up the 20 points in Acrobatics and investing them in Deadly Arts for Mug and Dagger Training!

Stealth Version: Click Here!
This one is a little fancier. You’re giving up the 20 acrobatics points and investing them into Shadow Arts to get some more stealth love with Hidden Thief, Shadow’s Embrace, Last Refuge and Meld with Shadows (the Major traits are mostly preference-based). Therefore, you’ll be using Backstab a lot more than in the other 2 builds.

Remember that Steal will give you 5 initiative when you use it, so try to never use it with more than 10 ini!
Smoke Screen + Heartseeker is my favorite way to access Stealth, but in this one the choice of the Utility Spells depends on what you like the most, Shadow Refuge is just as good, Shadow Trap too, etc.

5.4 Dagger/Dagger Builds

Backstab Baller: Click Here!

Gimmicky stuff at its finest. You’re using a normal Baller build and your main goal in life is to destroy people with the basic Weapon swap (Sigil of Intelligence), pre-cast Cloak & Dagger + use Assassin’s Signet, Steal, Backstab, Heartseeker to death. Of course, you can mess around with the combo. If you know for a fact that you will land your Backstab and are willing to take the risk of not getting a crit on it, use the Signet for that.
You could take Hidden Killer over Executioner, but I feel like the second option is way more solid, you’ll be using Heartseeker a lot. A lot.
Those few differences aside, it’s a normal melee build.

Leaping Super Immortal Death Troll Legendary Unicorn Blossom: Click Here!

Ok, be ready because not everyone can play something as awesome as this build. You need to realize that people will get mad at you, that you will make little girls cry and that people will think of you as some kind of rare mythical being.

If you are ready for that, start spamming Death Blossom and your dodge keybind while outhealing the few damage most builds will be able to deal on you.

This build is all about Signet of Malice + Assassin’s Reward with some Initiative regen (Quick Pockets, Kleptomaniac) and tons of dodges (Energy Sigils) and crazy ammounts of toughness + good Healing power & Condition damage.

You’ll get quite a lot of Might Stacks by dodging all day (Power of Inertia), so feel free to change the armor runes if you think you have enough damage without Runes of the Undead.

6. Weapon Skills

I’ll do a short overview of every weapon’s spells. For build specific uses, please check the Weapon Sets section.

6.1 Dagger

Backstab is your basic « I’m a Thief and I’m stealthed so I’m going to hurt you if I get your back » type of spell. It’s an extremly good burst if you can land it and is wonderful paired to stuff such as Intelligence Sigil / Assassin’s Signet. Hey, you’re a Thief, don’t tell me you expected to get rid of the gimmicky stuff!

Double Strike, Wild Strike, Lotus Strike is your 1st slot skill chain. It does good damage, applies poison (and weakness if you have Lotus Poison) and regenerates some endurance, even though it’s not THAT noticeable in my opinion. Very good 1st slot skill!

Heartseeker is a spammable execute spell. Yes. Spammable. Execute. Oh and a Leap combo finisher. As you probably know, it’s kind of bugged right now and misses a lot for no reason. As soon as that bug gets fixed, a Thief with main hand dagger is going to be a devastating force in any setup.

Death Blossom gives you a short evade, applies some AoE bleeds, does poor direct damage and costs quite a lot of initiative. Therefore, some builds will almost never use it (= only to avoid stuff you know you won’t be able to dodge) while some others will use it as their main skill, but I’ll detail that in the weaponset/build section.

Shadow Shot does some above-average damage, blinds your target and makes you shadow step to it. You gotta love this skill guys! You can shadowstep to enemies standing on ledges, stick to almost any target’s melee range, blind big bursty spells such as Eviscerate and Flame Touch. You need more? Ok, it’s a Combo finisher projectile.

Dancing Dagger does good damage, can bounce on 4 targets, cripples and is a Combo finisher projectile. Its cast time is now faster and it does not get obstructed for no reason as often as it used to. Very good skill!

Cloak & Dagger is a melee strike that does good damage, applies vulnerability and makes you vanish in stealth. It’s an awesome skill, but missing it in a fight will often make it hard for you to win it because of its high initiative cost. When fighting against Mesmers, Rangers, Necromancers or anything that summons NPCs, remember that you can land your C&D on them! Spells such as Steal, Infiltrator’s Signet and Shadowstep do not interrupt your cast times, so you can use C&D before any of those to be instantly stealthed when you reach your target.

6.2 Pistol

Sneak Attack is a very good stealth skill, a mini Unload with less direct damage and a lot of bleeds. Extremly good to unload Venoms, but a lot more risky now that they can be dodged! Only use it as a Venom dump if you KNOW that your target will not be able to dodge/evade it. Nothing special to say about it except maybe: do not get it reflected to yourself!

Vital Shot is your average 1st slot spell, there is not much to say about it. It does mediocre direct damage and applies a good bleed, that’s it.

Body Shot is a decent vulnerability applier, but as long as engineers will apply 15-20 stacks with AoE spells, any other source of vulnerability will seem meh I guess!

Unload is as straightforward as possible: a channeled spell that does good damage at range. Due to the ammount of projectile breakers and reflections that are used at the moment in tPvP, I don’t think relying on this spell is a good idea, which is why I don’t like the Pistol/Pistol set.

Shadow Strike is your «I need to create some distance» spell. It recently got nerfed! Now, you need to hit the melee part of it to shadowstep away from melee range. It takes away the whole spell-anticipation side of it, but let’s face it: it was too strong! It’s a balanced spell now and thanks to this nerf, Pistol/Dagger is not mandatory in some builds anymore, it’s just one of quite a few viable choices!

Headshot is… amazing. It’s the ranged interrupt everyone wants to have, you can interrupt heals, stomps, revives, elite spells and big AoE spells (Barrage / Meteor Shower) extremly easily due to their long cast time. Be careful not to waste your initiative on targets who are under the effect of stability!

Black Powder pulses 1 blind per second to any opponent who stands inside it. It makes stomping and reviving easy (by blinding melee range CC’s), negates AoE spells such as Chaos Storm for your whole team (they count as player attacks, so blinding the AoE field is the same thing as blinding the Player who created it). Oh and it’s a Smoke combo field. Basically, it’s amazing.

6.3 Shortbow

Trick Shot is a great 1st slot spell thanks to its decent damage, bounce and 20% Combo finisher projectile.

Cluster Bomb is one of the greatest hybrid AoE spells in the Game and, if you do not detonate it, a Combo finisher blast. It has an awful travel time, so you should simply use the spell in melee to get rid of it!

Disabling Shot is a low damage evade that cripples your target. HOHO HAHA HOHO, it’s an amazing spell, but its initiative cost went up recently… so its awesomeness went down! You can evade stuff when you are immobilized thanks to this spell.

Choking Gas is a Combo field poison. You will mostly use it to stack long duration Poisons to anyone who stands in a point, but the most awesome thing about it is the ammount of Weakness you can apply thanks to Lotus Poison and Blast finishers (Cluster Bomb)!

Infiltrator’s Arrow is a ground targeted shadowstep-type spell with a point blank AoE blind that allows you to engage a fight, leave a fight and turns you into the best roamer in the game because of the shortcuts it allows you to take on every map!

6.4 Sword

Tactical Strike is a 2s daze. With Mesmer runes and Paralization Sigils you can virtually perma-daze your target. If anything, that skill is too strong =p

Slice, Slash, Crippling Strike is your 1st slot skill chain. Every hit can hit up to 3 targets, does extremly good damage and the 3rd one applies cripple and weakness to your foes. Good? Very good.

Infiltrator’s Strike is as good as ice-cream. The first part of the spell is a shadowstep to your target with a 1s immobilize on it that allows you to setup skills such as Flanking Strike, Cloak & Dagger and Pistol Whip easily. After using it, its 2nd part becomes available for 10s. It makes you return to the place where you were standing when you used the first strike and removes one condition from you. Remember that you can use Infiltrator’s Strike without a target, it allows you to have a safe spot to return to before entering a teamfight (the top of a ledge, etc). Due to the high cost of the combo, the spell is not spammable: use it carefully!

Flanking Strike does decent damage and removes a boon on its first hit, but it has a somewhat clunky, long and predictable animation that makes it a very easy spell to dodge. It’s awesome when it hits, but not enough to make me fall in love with the Sword/Dagger set.

Pistol Whip is extremly good after its buff. It does a lot of damage if you can land the entire flurry, has a short cast time for the stun component and a long flurry during which you evade attacks. That evade makes Sword/Pistol one of the best choices for any type of build, except Backstab ones of course.

7. Weapon Sets

I will update this section with every weapon set used for a given build type.

Venom Builds:

Pistol / Dagger: Venom builds work thanks to Leeching Venoms. Therefore, you need a weapon set that keeps you safe and still allows you to unload a lot of strikes in a short ammount of time. The Shadow Strike nerf hit decreased this weapon set’s effectiveness, but it is still good.

Safety is what Shadow Strike is the best at. As long as you keep your initiative for it, you will be able to kite any melee. Remember that you need to hit the melee strike to shadowstep away! Therefore, try to dodge melee crowd controls, they will destroy you! It’s an extremly good way to get away from melee while you are immobilized.

Sneak Attack is a mini Unload, with hybrid damage, that allows you to make a Venom burst. This spell and Vital Shot are the main reasons why a Venom build should be played with hybrid damage: you apply lots of bleeds on top of your Spider Venom.

Cloak and Dagger is the skill that stealthes you- Therefore, it can be used defensively and offensively which makes it a better choice than Shadow Strike if you have enough initiative to use it, are not immobilized and are not facing an enemy with many point blank AoEs.

Those are your main tools!

Body Shot is most of the time a spell you won’t be able to invest initiative on and Dancing Dagger is extremly good but costs a lot. I’d suggest only using it if you can get it to go through combo fields or if you absolutely need a cripple!

Sword / Pistol: It’s potentially the strongest set you can bring as a Venom build after its buffs. It brings a strong evade that does quite a lot of damage even with a Shadow Arts heavy build, a gapcloser that immobilizes, interrupts, blind zones and auto attacks that can hit 3 targets per strike to spread your venoms!

The Slice combo hits 3 targets/hit and now one hit only uses 1 venom stack, so you can get 3x leeching proc per strike!

Infiltrator’s Strike is the perfect way to get in and out of fights and immobilizes your target if your shadowstep-strike hits.

Pistol Whip gives you the survivability you need to stay in fights thanks to its evade and deals quite a good ammount of damage, even without +crit and +crit damage. It’s also an extremly good way to unload your Venoms during a teamfight if you can hit multiple targets with it.

Headshot provides you with interrupts, which is always good!

Black Powder creates blind zones (and a smoke combo field), which allows you to cover team-mates who are being focused, get easy stomps and smooth revives.

Shortbow: This weapon is the best friend you will ever have. Yeah, better than Jimmy who always shared is lunch with you when you were kids and Sharon who introduced you to the person you are now married to.

Infiltrator’s Arrow will give you all the mobility you need.

Cluster bomb is one of the greatest Venom dumps in the game when used at melee range.

Trick Shot is always good for its bounces.

Disabling Shot gives you much needed extra-evades.

Choking Gas, is amazing for point control, to keep targets poisoned and weakened.

Melee Direct Damage Builds

Sword / Pistol: As usual, one of the strongest melee weaponsets. Extremly good damage, good survivablity, a gap closer with immobilize on it, an interrupt and an AoE blind. What else could you possibly want?

Tactical Strike is a nice, but not very accessible, daze in this build.

The Slice combo is one of the strongest 1st slot spells in the game and will deal enormous ammounts of damage in teamfights.

Infilitrator’s strike is one of the best ways to get in and out of fights and a very nice way to setup Pistol Whip.

Pistol Whip will be one of your most used spells. It’s a short duration stun with a short cast time and a high-damage flurry that makes you evade everything while channeling. Simply amazing damage output in teamfights.

Headshot provides you with interrupts, which is always good!

Black Powder creates blind zones (and a smoke combo field), which allow you to cover team-mates who are being focused, get easy stomps and smooth revives.

Dagger / Pistol: It will be your juggernaut weaponset, the one that will allow you to stay on anyone’s face and deal massive damage.

Backstab hits like a truck as long as you’re on the side / back of your target. You will have access to quite a lot of stealth with this weaponset, regardless of the build you play. Therefore, make good use of your Backstabs!

The Double Strike combo does hard single target damage, gives you some endurance back and poisons your target (= weakness aswell if you have Lotus Poison which you should have in most MH Dagger builds). It will be one of your main damage sources.

Heartseeker is your execute-like spell and it has a nice leap on it which allows you to close small gaps with it. Try not to use it before your target gets under the 33% mark, unless you have a lot of initiative that you can spend safely. It’s a leap combo, abuse those nice combo fields people drop… and even your own! With Black Powder / Smokescreen it’s a nice way to enter Stealth by yourself without using Hide in Shadows or Cloak and Dagger.

Shadow Shot is your big gap closer that allows you to teleport onto ledges, does nice damage and blinds your target. Try not to use it only to close gaps, remember that it’s insanely good to blind big damaging spells with obvious animations such as Eviscerate!

Headshot provides you with interrupts, which is always good!

Black Powder creates blind zones (and a smoke combo field), which allow you to cover team-mates who are being focused, get easy stomps and smooth revives.

Dagger / Dagger: It’s your stealthy melee set. I think it’s slightly inferior to D/P because it’s not as reliable. Still a viable set!

Backstab hits like a truck as long as you’re on the side / back of your target. You will have access to quite a lot of stealth with this weaponset, regardless of the build you play. Therefore, make good use of your Backstabs!

The Double Strike combo does hard single target damage, gives you some endurance back and poisons your target (= weakness aswell if you have Lotus Poison which you should have in most MH Dagger builds). It will be one of your main damage sources.

Heartseeker is your execute-like spell and it has a nice leap on it which allows you to close small gaps with it. Try not to use it before your target gets under the 33% mark, unless you have a lot of initiative that you can spend safely. It’s a leap combo, abuse those nice combo fields people drop… and even your own!

Leaping Death Blossom costs a lot of initiative, gives you a short evade, does mediocre damage and applies bleeds. In a direct damage build, I wouldn’t use it unless you’re trying to avoid some big spell while being immobilized.

Dancing Dagger is a spell that you will learn to love with this weaponset, because its cripple is priceless, it does good damage, bounces up to 4 targets and has a 100% combo finisher projectile on every bounce. A spell worth your initiative!

Cloak and Dagger will be your main way to get stealth, but it costs quite a lot of initiative so do your best not to miss it!

Shortbow: This weapon is still the best friend you will ever have.

Surprise Shot is an average Stealth skill and you should not have to use it very often.

Trick Shot is always good for its bounces and does ridiculously high damage with power/crit builds.

Cluster bomb is one of the greatest AoE direct damage spells in the game when used at melee range.

Disabling Shot gives you much needed extra-evades.

Choking Gas, is amazing for point control, to keep targets poisoned and weakened.

Infiltrator’s Arrow will give you all the mobility you need.

Unicorn Builds

Dagger / Dagger: is simply your best melee option

Backstab, just like most other spells, will not be extremly useful with this build. It’s just a nice damage upgrade that you can use.

The Double Strike combo is still good with the Unicorn build because of the poison it applies! You will not use it THAT much though.

Heartseeker might be used for its leap combo part, but that’s it.

Leaping Death Blossom will be your main spell. It will heal you for crazy ammounts, deal a nice ammount of condition damage, and add one evade to all those you already have! Use and abuse it!

Dancing Dagger will not be used extremly often, but the cripple & 4 times combo finisher can be useful.

Cloak and Dagger is going to be used only if you really need to get stealthed. Otherwise, you should just keep spamming LDB.

Shortbow: Ranged option! I think it’s a little inferior to the double D/D option if your only goal is to bunker on a point, but it’s still good!

Surprise Shot is an average Stealth skill and you should not have to use it very often.

Trick Shot is always good for its bounces and will heal for a lot.

Cluster bomb is going to be your main spell: main healing source, main damage source when you explode the cluster bomb.

Disabling Shot gives you some extra-evades.

Choking Gas, is amazing for point control and every of its pulses activates SoM!

Infiltrator’s Arrow will give you all the mobility you might need.

8. Accessories

I will update this section with every rune, sigil and amulet/jewel combination used for a given build type.

Venom Builds

2x Lyssa 4x Nightmare Runes is my favorite setup. It gives you 20% extra duration on every condition you apply aswell as some condition damage. Due to the ammount of conditions you bring with Venom Builds, it’s the superior choice if you’re not running Venom Share.

6x Ogre or 4x Ogre 2x Lyssa gives you an extra pet to share Venoms with. Paired with Ambush Trap and Venom Share, it’s simply the best choices you can make.

6x Adventure will be your best friend if you decide to run the healing skill Withdraw and the enemy team has more than one glass cannon. It basically gives you 2 more dodges every 15 seconds.

Leeching / Bloodlust + Leeching is my favorite combo for Shortbow + any set in Venom Builds. It gives you 975 damage and heal on your first hit after a weapon swap to Shortbow and 975 damage and heal on your first hit after a weapon swap to your dual weapon set aswell as +50 power on each kill. The Leeching can now be missed, so make sure you hit your 1st strike!

Amulet + Jewel:
Carrion Amulet + Soldier Jewel gives 798 condition damage, 644 power, 644 vitality, 75 toughness. You can’t play a Thief with no points in Acrobatics + no Vitality Amulet if you do not want to be an easy kill. When you realize that, Carrion Amulet is the most offensive choice you can make and allows you to dish out an extremely good amount of condition damage. I use a soldier Jewel for the extra vitality and toughness, because I hate playing with less than 2300 armor.

If you invest 20 or more points in Acrobatics, running a Carrion Jewel becomes less risky!

Soldier’s Amulet is a perfectly fine choice if you are not confident in your ability to dodge/avoid big bursty spells that would require a lot of toughness to tank, if your team does not need the extra damage or if you’re running a melee weapon set.

Melee Direct Damage Builds

6x Divinity still feels like the strongest option for a roaming build to me. A very nice boost to base stats and a lot of extra critical damage is the kind of thing that makes roamers happy.

6x Adventure will be your best friend if you decide to run the healing skill Withdraw and the enemy team has more than one glass cannon. It basically gives you 2 more dodges every 15 seconds.

Blood / Bloodlust + Blood is my favorite combo. You will have a lot of crit chance and both your weapon sets will attack fast / hit multiple targets which means Blood Sigils will basically proc on cooldown. After the buff to stack-based sigils, Bloodlust feels extremly good for roamers.

Amulet + Jewel:
Berserker’s, Knight’s and Soldier’s are all good choices and depend on the situation you’re facing.

Berserker’s: You’re roaming and mostly enter fights that have been started by someone else. You’ll finish those extremly fast.

Knight’s: You’re teamfighting a lot and the enemy team is mostly condition based or you’re not being focused by the enemy’s glasscannons.

Soldier’s: You’re teamfighting a lot and are the focus of the enemy’s team.

Regardless of your Amulet choice, you should pick a Berserker’s Jewel (unless you’re aiming for middle grounds such as Berserker’s Amulet with Soldier’s Jewel for a slightly more tanky glasscannon).

Unicorn Builds

6x Undead will give you some extra toughness and decently upgrade your damage output. It’s my personal favorite.

Energy / +condi damage/kill + Energy / +condi damage/kill is my favorite combo. Energy Sigils will add more dodges to the build, which will allow you to bunker even better and the stack-on-kill sigils will either buff your damage output or your survivability, depending on your choice.

Amulet + Jewel:
Shaman’s is the best choice in my opinion. It will give you much needed toughness, condition damage and bonus healing.

You’ll most of the time run a Shaman’s Jewel aswell, but feel free to adapt the Jewel to your needs! If you need some Vitality, Carrion’s Jewel is a good choice!

9. Secondary Skills

I’ll describe the healing, utility and elite spells I use for a given build type and list the other viable options.

Venom Builds:

Healing Skill – Hide in Shadows: Stealth for extra burst, stomps, revives, survivability? Check. Powerful heal? Check. Extremely needed Burning, Poison and Bleeding removal? Check. The main reason why I bring this spell is the condition removal, since I cannot bring Shadowstep unless the enemy team runs ridiculous CC, such as 5 hammer warriors. The fact that it allows you to unload a full Spider Venom with Sneak Attack (= burst damage and burst heal) almost makes it a no brainer.

Utility Skill – Spider Venom: You need Venoms to share with Venomous Aura and preferably venoms that work for a lot of strikes to make Leeching Venoms more useful. Spider Venom is a no brainer: 6 stacks when traited and applies poison which is the strongest condition in the game after immobilize.

Utility Skill – Devourer Venom: 2 Venoms is the minimum to justify bringing Venomous Aura and this one has 3 stacks of the strongest condition in the game if you trait for the extra stack on every poison. No brainer!

Utility Skill – Ice Drake Venom: Unlike the tooltip says, this Venom applies a 1s chill per stack, not a 6s one (if it did, it would be the most overpowered spell in the entire game). 4 stacks when traited? Good enough. If you need, for any reason, to use a 3rd utility that is not a Venom, this one is the Venom you’ll give up. However, keep in mind that there are very few situations that justify not bringing 3 venoms.

Alternative Utility Skill – Ambush:This trap summons one of the two thieves from Thieves Guild when it is triggered. If you summon the melee one, you hit the jackpot. In my opinion this is the strongest utility in the game for solo play if you summon the melee Thief. If you run it with Venom Sharing, you’ll be playing a build almost as ridiculous as Spirit Rangers. I strongly believe something will be done to change it! On a balance scale from 1 to 10 where 5 is the best balance you can achieve, a regular Venom Sharing build would be around 7. A Venom Sharing + Ambush Trap build is 9.

Alternative Utility Skill – Shadow Refuge: If my team does not have enough crowd control to prevent stomps, instant rally spells such as the Warrior’s Battle Standard or stability spells to help stomping people, I bring Shadow Refuge. If you use it, you make ANY person in a team fight as hard to stomp as downed Thief who can use Smoke Bomb. I’d use it over Blinding Powder because it’s a ground targeted spell with decent range. Do not use it for its healing, it’s mediocre at best right now.

Alternative Utility Skill – Shadow Trap: This spell allows you to have an insane map control. You can keep a point while fighting on another one in a map as small as the new Legacy of the Foefire map. Or you can just use it for an extra 5s stealth during a team fight, both are good.

Alternative Utility Skill – Shadowstep: Sometimes the enemy team just brings THAT much crowd control and THAT many conditions. When this happens, the double stun breaker from Shadowstep and the 3 condition removal it offers is priceless.

Alternative Utility Skill – Signet of Agility: When the enemy team has too much damage and wants you dead any dodge and condition removal you add to your build can be a game changer. This spells gives you both on a 30s cooldown!

Elite Skill – Thieves Guild: It summons two thieves. The melee one deals insane amounts of damage and uses Scorpion Wire when it gets in range of your target. The ranged one does a low amount of damage and randomly uses Black Powder. If you share your Venoms to your two thieves, it makes you the second strongest duelist in the game, just behind a condition ranger using Spirit of Nature.Why don’t I use Basilisk Venom? Because on BWE3 it has a 3s cast time, which makes it only usable before a fight or in stealth, otherwise any enemy can interrupt it EXTREMELY easily.Why don’t I use Dagger Storm? Because I have not run into any team comp that would make it more useful than Thieves Guild. If an enemy team were to bring 4-5 projectile based builds, I’d use Dagger Storm for the 8s projectile reflection.

10. Using Steal

Steal teleports you to your foe and makes you steal an item from them. It can be dodged, blocked, blinded, evaded, so try not to miss it! It also deals damage thanks to the trait Mug and can be used while stunned. The item you get from stealing depends on the profession you use Steal on. In a team fight, I’d say that the best target would be a Necromancer or a Ranger. Here is the what you can get:


  • Blinding Tuft: It gives you 3s of stealth and blinds nearby foes. It’s very good.
  • Drink: You take no direct damage for 3s after using this spell. It would be crazy if it did not have that long cast time Still very good!


  • Skull Fear: A 3s AoE fear with a short cast time. Arguably the best item you can steal.
  • Throw Gunk: This item shines when you immobilize someone in the Gunk. If you manage to do it, it’s one of the best items you can steal.


  • Shoot Rifle: This is an awesome steal if you are fighting a warrior 1v1 on a point and need to take him off the point to neutralize it. You just have to knockback him with the Rifle and to immobilize him outside with Devourer Venom.
  • Whirling Axe: It’s the highest AoE damage item you can steal and it’s easy to land. Very good!


  • Rusty Scrap Strike: 10s of Bleeding and Poison with 13s of Weakness (remember Lotus Poison) makes it a very good item. However it’s a lot harder to land than some other, because it’s a melee item.
  • Throw Gear: 2s stun 900 range This spell is a 2s stun with 900 range. Sounds crazy, right? Well, it has a long cast time and a long travel time, it’s easy to dodge/interrupt. Not as sexy as it sounds, but still good. Try to use it as a follow-up to another stun or on an immobilized target.


  • Consume Ectoplasm: Well, that one is easy. All the boons in the game for 10s on a 1s cast time. One of your best steals.
  • Torch Strike: 10s burn + damage Does decent damage and applies a 10s burn which makes it an extremely good damage steal if you run an hybrid build. Like all the melee stolen items, it’s hard to land compared to the others.


  • Ice Shard Stab: A melee range 10s Chill. Hard to land, but very strong.
  • Use Scepter: Time to wear a hat and unleash the Harry Potter that you’ve been trying to hide for all these years. Magical steal, which means random steal. You have a 50% chance to do a 2s melee range single target stun and 50% chance to do a 10s AoE burn around you. Both are extremely good if your build is hybrid.


  • Use Staff: Harry Potter is never over! 50% chance to apply a ranged 1s stun that bounces between 3 targets. 50% chance to throw a fireball that will deal a good amount of damage and inflict a 5s burn to a single target. One of your best steals in a team fight, if you are lucky that is.
  • Mace Head Crack: Back to the melee stuff. This one is a melee range 4s daze. It’s one of your best steals if you manage to land it.


  • Healing Seed: Time to unleash the… GARDENER in you! Always dreamed to plant a tree? Guild Wars 2 will allow you to do it! The Tree is a Combo Field: Water, pulses 5 times, gives Regeneration and removes 2 conditions with every pulse. Oh did I tell you that it worked for all your nearby allies? It has a cast time that roots you while using it, but it’s still one of the very best items you can get.
  • Throw Vine: Makes you throw a vine (for real!!) that immobilizes your target for 5s. It is easy to dodge if you throw it from far away, so try to throw it to a target that is close to you. A 5s immobilize is insanely good to take down the target your team is focusing during a team fight.

11. Your Role in a Team

No matter what profession and what build you are playing, there will always be one role that you can fulfil better than the others. It will mostly depend on your build for a profession that has many viable ones. As of now, thief is king at one of them.

Roaming: This is what you do better than any profession. So what does roaming mean? It means that you will spend most of your time running around the map, either turning the tide of team fights or back capping points. This is EXTREMELY important. If you want to be useful, your team needs to announce how many players they are fighting, where the fight takes place and tell you if one of the enemies leaves it.

You NEED to know how many players of the enemy team are in a team fight and where the said fight takes place at all times! If you do things like that, it will become extremely easy to know when you can back cap an enemy point for free, where you are the most needed to win a fight, if you can take care of a secondary objective safely, etc.

When you jump into a fight, make sure that you do not stay any longer than needed to. If the rest of the map is safe, then you can stay until the enemy is stomped. However, if you are needed at different places at the same time go to the first one, make sure your team-mate will win the fight by taking away some HP from his target, applying conditions on it and giving some boons to the player you’re supposed to help, then leave for the second place ASAP.

Do not spend more time than needed at a given place, that’s the most important rule.

12. Shortbow Shortcuts

Here are the 3 maps! Every red line is a path you can take with Infiltrator’s Arrow (or any other teleport). I will add a video showing them all @ release!

12.1 Battle of Kyhlo

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You can also use Infiltrator’s Arrow from the middle of the Clocktower to the roof, but I did not really know how to represent it clearly D:

12.2 Forest of Nifhel

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12.3 Legacy of the Foefire

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13. 1v1 Matchups

You can win against any of the Elementalist builds that are the most played at the moment, including Izkimar’s, fairly easily. However, most of them will take some time to take down, enough time for the Ele to get support from his team. Keep in mind that any mistake means death because you’ll get bursted down. You just need to dodge/avoid the obvious stuff. If you get hit by any crowd control from a scepter/dagger Elementalist, you are most likely dead. If you can equip a Soldier Amulet for this match-up, you should do so (except if it’s a support/tank Ele).

It’s a very easy match-up for you as long as you do not try to stay on a point. As soon as the warrior gets close to melee, you just Shadow Strike away from him. He will eventually die, even if it will take some time. If you do not keep your initiative for Shadow Strike and try to melee him, make sure you have a stun breaker, because most warrior builds can take enough HP away from you in 1 crowd control to make any comeback extremely hard.

Once again, a match-up that should be alright as long as the Guardian is not running a Spirit Weapon or a triple Meditation build. If he takes out a Spirit Hammer focus on dodging the Hammer combo more than the Guardian itself. As long as you keep his stacks of burning under control, you will be OK! If he’s playing with an off-hand focus, you need to destroy the Shield of Wrath or avoid its burst. Do not let a Guardian spam his sword’s auto-attack in melee, it will destroy you. Any glass cannon guardian that runs a triple Mediation build, will be pretty much impossible to defeat 1 on 1, unless your Thieves’ Guild cooldown is available / you’re playing with Ambush Trap.

If the Engineer is running a power build, the match-up is extremely easy. Do not get hit by a double Jump Shot or you’ll be in trouble! However, if you are facing a condition Engineer, you’re facing one of your hardest match-ups, one of the few that can defeat you. The main problem with them is the insane amount of conditions they’ll apply to you. Any condition removal you can get is good to take and will still not be enough to be safe. There’s no big key ability that you can/need to dodge. It’s all about a lot of small condition spells with a very short cooldown. The Frost Grenade is the one you need to dodge the most. Good luck.

A Power Ranger (even the Red one) will be no problem for you! If he’s using a greatsword or a sword, do not let him melee you, play exactly how you’d play against a warrior and remember that you can use his pet to gain Stealth. If you’re fighting a condition ranger, be it a Trap ranger or a Spirit ranger, your goal is to make him use his elite spirit, to kill the spirit and to run away. I’m not even joking, dueling a condition ranger who’s playing with a wolf and a hyena as pets, who uses his Spirit of Nature and winning is impossible if he’s on the same skill level as you are. It’s even worse if he’s running a Spirit build, because he can use the spirits as meat (yeah spirits have meat too) shields to block your projectiles. He has the best 1 on 1 in the game. You don’t. Get over it.

As usual, a Power Necro is easy to duel. A lot of his damage is undodgeable, so focus on dodging the Wail of Doom from his Warhorn. Against a condition Necro who runs a condition control build (Plague Signet, Corrupt Boon, etc) you’re in for a good fight. I’d say your chances of winning are around 50% if you manage to dodge most of the marks he sets on the ground and burst him when he’s not sitting on them. There’s no coming back from a Mark burst. Playing with Pain Response/Signet of Agility makes things easier. Good luck.

He can do everything you can. What annoys you annoys him. You need to get inside his head, dodging his usual steal and follow-up burst combo is the first thing you can try to do. If there’s a big sign of « HEY I’M GOING TO STEAL NOW », like the application of a Devourer Venom, or if you get immobilized from a distance, do not even think: swap to your Shortbow and start using Disabling Shot right away. During the fight, when all the venoms are on cooldown, dodge every Cloak and Dagger he tries to land, if he lands one get away from him during the stealth duration to prevent his burst. If he manages to land 10+ bleed stacks on you use Hide in Shadows to remove them and make sure you dodge his next stealth burst. NEVER let him sit in melee with a shortbow and spam Cluster Bomb or you’ll be dead before you know it. Always a fun match-up when both thieves are on the same level. Oh, if he’s running anything else than venoms, destroy him from far away.

Okay, this match-up is always fun/frustrating depending on what kind of person you are. You will need to try and play with the line of sight of his Illusions/Phantasms as much as possible regardless of the kind of build he’s running (Power or Condition Damage). The bleeds his illusions can stack (1 bleed/crit) is insane when added to his own spells and the immunes, dazes, extra conditions he can get from shatters. Most Mesmers also run 2 ranged 2s Stuns, but the Magic Bullet is rather easy to dodge. Be careful with that. If he’s a Condi Mesmer and manages to get 5+ confusion stacks on you limit the use of your spells to the minimum: Shadow Strike and/or Disabling Shot. Remember, a good illusion is a dead illusion. Kill them with your Shortbow before he shatters them, as much as possible that is. Very interesting match-up!

14. Teamfights

As a roamer, most of the time you’ll jump into fights that have started some time ago. Try to adapt to your team and focus the target they are on. You need to share your Venoms to as many people as you can. Force your team to understand that part of your build! The moment after you share Devourer Venom is perfect for a fast target swap. An immobilized target is an easy kill.

If you are actually there at the beginning of the team fight, you should try to let your melee player(s) call the target you need to focus. You can swap targets anytime, they can’t. Adapt to them.

Another good thing to do is to keep in mind the amount of dodges your enemies, all of them, have used and to have an estimation of the time they need to recover a dodge bar. It is extremely hard to do at the moment because of the amount of time people have had to train, but if your team has a « team fight leader » he should practice it.

If your team is running a « swap and spike » strategy, do it during a Venom Share.

As for the rest, dodge/evade/out-range the obvious stuff such as the Baller-All-In-Burst Warriors and Elementalist have, try to keep the conditions under control and… GET AWAY FROM CROWD CONTROL AS IF IT WERE A JUSTIN BIEBER FANBOY TRYING TO TELL YOU HOW AWESOME BIEBER IS.

15. Down State

As soon as someone, anyone, enters down state, the fight shifts to a new phase. What a lot of players still do not understand at the moment, is that Downed State is one of the most important mechanics in Guild Wars 2. Stomping and Reviving is by far more important than bursting someone down. Let’s take a look at the different scenarios you can face.

You are downed!
Avoid enemy stomps as long as possible, which means a very long time as a Thief. Only teleport away / vanish in stealth when the enemy is getting near the end of his stomp’s animation. If you can teleport safely closer to a team-mate and get revived, do it!

A Team Mate is downed!
Your goal is to rally him. You can do it by stomping an enemy before your team-mate is stomped or by reviving him directly. Do the safest thing. If you might get interrupted while stomping your opponent and not while reviving your ally, go for the second option. If it’s the other way around, go and stomp your opponent.

An Enemy is downed!
Your goal is to stomp him. The easiest way to do it as a Thief is to « Stealth Stomp » him, it prevents most of the interrupts/crowd control mechanics other professions have from being used on you. You’ll only be weak against AoE crowd control. The other possibility is to get Stability from one of your team-mates and go for the stomp. That will leave you weak to direct damage. The safest thing to do is to have Stealth and Stability at the same time when stomping, but life is not perfect do not rely on this scenario to stomp people. Keep in mind that you can dodge the crowd control from downed players. They usually have a long cast time, except for the ranger’s and the guardian’s which you need to anticipate.

If you know that for some reason you will not be able to stomp the enemy during a team fight, keep damaging him and poison him so that the people who might try to revive him need more time to do so. It will be extremely helpful for your team-mates who are trying to stomp him before he gets revived.

If you know that no one will be able to stomp the downed enemy before he gets revived, deal as much damage as possible to the player who’s reviving him or if it happens because you just lost a team fight, run away. Do not get the enemy’s team score any higher than necessary. Do not engage lost fights.

Everyone is downed!

16. Tips

Winning a team fight is cool, but keep in mind that finishing it is what really matters. If the enemy can keep pouring players to the point to prevent you from capturing it, you’re not winning. Therefore: (stealth) stomp!

You can pre-cast Cloak and Dagger before getting in melee range of your target.

Steal does not interrupt your channeling, you can start a Cloak and Dagger from far away, Steal to your target and get instant stealth if you time your C and D right! It’s also an extremely good burst to finish off targets, stealing Forest Monsters (Svanir and Chieftain) is easy thanks to that!

You can use Shadow Strike without a target to make it an amazing escape spell on flat ground (cheaper than Infiltrator’s Arrow).

You can use Stealth and Infiltrator’s Arrow together to get some easy back caps on unwary enemies.

Using multiple Venoms at once is usually a bad idea because you’ll reduce the effectiveness of Leeching Venoms. However, sometimes making sure you can share your Venoms is more important than Leeching Venoms is. The most common situations that will lead you to overlap Venoms are:

  • You know that you might not be in range of the players/NPC with whom you want to share your Venoms anymore before the fight is over. Starts being useful when you can share to 2+ people;
  • You just got rallied and are going down soon;
  • You need to immobilize/chill your target because it’s running away, but already have another Venom applied on your weapon;
  • You’re not paying enough attention to your Venoms.

17. Final Comment

This is my very first real guide, so it might be lacking a few things here and there. If you want to see anything added to it or if you have any specific question that is not answered by the wall of text above, feel free to ask it and I’ll add one more brick to the wall.

I hope this was somewhat useful for you and that you’ll fall in love with the Thief, just like me! (Hey, I love it enough to play a boring ranged build!)

I welcome feedback and constructive criticism. So, if you want to provide some, don’t hold back!
I’d just want to thank my team, Super Squad, for being awesome, Frozire and Khalija  for helping with the design & formating of the guide and each and every reader for… reading!

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