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The Thief's Initiative and Burst Mania in Guild Wars 2

Posted Wed, Mar 16, 2011 by Xerin

The Thief, the stealthy assassin type profession in Guild Wars 2, was introduced in two parts. The first was a simple press release followed by an in-depth look on the official site (although it was somewhat hard to find for some fans). The detailed write-up let us in on something very interesting, and worth taking note of. The Thief is a profession capable of extreme burst damage and seems to be propped up to be a little bit different than others.

Burst Mania

While others may be looking at the thief’s ability to steal environmental weapons or stealth, I’m looking straight at Initiative. Here’s the deal. Thieves will get 10 points of Initiative and their skills, excluding their elite, heal, utility skills, and the first weapon skill all cost a set amount of Initiative but do not have a recharge time. This means that you can use skills back-to-back-to-back-to-back for as long as you have Initiative.

This is an amazing mechanic because it is designed to allow the Thief to either go burst crazy (burst damage is unloading everything at once) or go with slow and steady damage. Think about this; say a skill uses three Initiative. You can use it three times before your Initiative bar is almost depleted. Then, the skill would have a simple 3 second cooldown.

The GW2 Thief

Since the first skill is free and uses a recharge time then you would be able to use that ability while your Initiative was recharging. This allows you to wait the 10 seconds or so for your Initiative to refill and being able to deal a large amount of burst damage again. This is much like the original Guild War’s Warrior who whittled away at opponents until their adrenaline was full to launch a spike attack against an enemy.

While we don’t have any information to base how much damage the Thief can output or what kind of skills the Thief can use on which weapons, we do know that this mechanic will be integral to the idea of stealthing up to an opponent and shredding them apart very quickly or in longer fights, keeping your options available and deciding when the best time to use which skill is.

The Lack of Recharge

Of course, there are some skills in the game that also do not share a cooldown, at least from what we understand right now. Necrotic Bite has no recharge time and can be used once the casting animation for it is completed. Traits will also open up the possibility of removing or decreasing the recharge time on skills.

One thing that is important for GW2 players will be understanding that recharge will play a huge role in combat in GW2. For instance, if a skill has a 720 second (or 12 minute cooldown) then once the ability is used not only must you wait out the entire 12 minutes but you cannot remove or change the ability for the entire duration.

Changing skills will be a fundamental part of daily life in GW2 from everything shown to us so far. Adapting to the various encounters will require different skills and different tactics, so having the ability to switch out different skills is key. Thankfully, you can change weapons anytime out of combat. 

Changing skills will be an integral part to day-to-day life in Guild Wars 2 from what we’ve seen so far since each encounter will likely require different tactics. Luckily, you can change weapons even if a skill is recharging when you switch weapon sets.

Overall, the Thief is looking to be an interesting new addition to GW2 and I can’t wait to find out more from the future demonstrations along with more information that ArenaNet is likely to share as development progresses, and they’ve had a chance to absorb some of the feedback from the recent event demos..

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