While a lot of meta builds such as Glint Shiro, Fire Weaver, Spellbreaker, and Condition Mirage are scheduled to receive extremely heavy direct nerfs in addition to the general across the board damage nerfs listed in the preview, thief and Daredevil are currently my vote for the strongest builds in ranked and in ATs the problematic aspects of thief+daredevil are not being touched at the moment.
In that order of priority.
Infiltrator's Strike and Infiltrator's return has been a sore spot for players for literally years now. Even thief mains such as Vallun have suggested nerfing Infiltrator's Strike and return by 300 range. I don't think I'm out of line by suggesting this skill chain needs some adjustment both in this current environment and in the new landscape presented by the balance patch preview where mobility for builds has been nerfed across the board.
Right now Infiltrator's Strike and Infiltrator's Return combined cost 5 initiative for the equivalent of 2100 units of travel, swiftness, immobilize, and a condition cleanse. 5 Initiative is effectively a 5 second cooldown. At its face that much movement for that much initiative should show how out of tune the skill chain is. While I expect thief to have a very hit and run play style the way Sword 2 on thief is set up gives them basically unlimited capacity to hit and run.
And with Infiltrator's Return at only 2 initiative, even absolutely terrible thieves with no understanding of initiative management are going to be able to abuse the skill to always escape combat. Just statistically speaking the odds that even recklessly spamming will put you at below 1 initiative is very unlikely. So at most a thief player in danger only needs to wait one second to have the initiative to retreat potentially 1200 units of distance.
If I was in charge of balance I'd lower the cost of the Infiltrator's Strike down to 2 initiative and increase the cost of Infiltrator's Return to 4 initiative and the cast time on Infiltrator's Return to 0.5 seconds up from 0.25 seconds. This gives a slight decrease in value on the skill in general but not catastrophically so. As I said all that value for only 5 initiative on the skill chain is simply too much. And most importantly it makes it more difficult for thieves to dump all their initiative recklessly and have an escape route with Infiltrator's Return. And if they do use Infiltrator's Return, with a 4 initiative cost their capacity to immediately go on the offensive again is significantly reduced. And with average latency you would need to be a reaction time god to even hope to interrupt a 0.25s cast. At 0.5 second cast time on Infiltrator's return it still makes thieves very likely to escape combat, but not have functionally unstoppable capacity to escape combat.
Escapist's Fortitude is being nerfed in terms of the healing. But right now the trait is absolutely busted in terms of condition cleansing. At a 1 second ICD, and the fact that sword thieves both SD and SP are reaching literally 30 seconds of evade across the first minute of combat, this effectively is a condition cleanse every 2 seconds when taking into account the cleanse, the ICD, and their capacity to evade. That is ridiculously out of tune with other trait based condition cleanses. Compare:
Engineer Transmute: Convert 3 conditions ever 48 seconds = a condition cleanse every 16 seconds
Warrior Brawler's Recovery: 1 condition cleanse every weapon swap on discipline = 1 condition cleanse every 5 seconds.
Mesmer Sympathetic Visage: 1 condition transferred to Phantasm on summon, the shortest cooldown of which is 12 seconds traited = 1 cleanse every 12 seconds.
Mesmer Auspicious Anguish: 2 condition cleanses when casting Distortion = 1 cleanse every 25 seconds.
Revenant Cleansing Channel: 1 Condition Cleanse on Legend Swap = 1 condition Cleanse every 10 seconds.
Smothering Aura: 1 cleanse on aura 2 cleanse on aura detonation, with focus Fire Aura that's 3 cleanses every 20 seconds = Cleanse every 6.666 (repeating of course) seconds.
Cleansing Sigil: Cleanse on weapon swap or every 9 seconds based on elemental attuning or engineer kit swap.
Even when you take into account that daredevils aren't evading every second, they still have a realistic capacity to evade every 2 seconds across a minute of combat which is still out of this world in terms of condition cleansing. Regardless of the healing nerfs, Escapist's Fortitude deserves a 4-5 second ICD to put it more inline with other trait based cleanse traits or it should be changed to a cleanse on activation of a true dodge roll. This will put it more in line with other trait based condition cleanses as well and the healing on the trait wouldn't be out of line or require a nerf either.
Again this is another trait being nerfed in the wrong way, or at least not to the degree it needs to be. Right now Smoke Screen effectively functions as an invulnerability field against a variety of builds. Currently at 7s duration on a 25 second cooldown it's at 28% uptime for a blinding field that also destroys projectiles. It's currently scheduled to go up to a 35 second cooldown which puts it down to 20% up time. This is a solid enough change but it isn't enough considering it is a blind field that is literally as big as most conquest nodes @ 240 units giving it massive advantage against both ranged and melee attacks. Compare:
Feedback 240 radius 6 second reflect on a 32 second cooldown = 18% uptime on JUST countering ranged attacks and not melee attacks.
Wall of Reflection 10 second duration 30 second cooldown = 33.33% (repeating of course) uptime on JUST countering ranged attacks and not melee attacks.
Either: Nerf the radius so it doesn't encompass an entire conquest node similar to both Black Powder and the way the skill functioned before or
Increase the cooldown further due to how this utility counters both ranged and melee attacks potentially up to 40-45 seconds.
It both gives thief stacks of Spider Venom while stealthed and provides life steal when they strike an enemy with a venom. This trait has enabled seriously degenerate builds, namely permanent stealth one shot DP thief. It has this problem where it both gives a benefit for using certain utilities and clearly wants to encourage a certain playstyle (Venom Thief), but it also freely gives said combo so that any build can reap the full power of said trait. It's akin to getting the bonus healing from Monk's Focus without actually taking a single meditation.
Remove the automatic stacks of Spider Venom while stealthed, forcing thieves who want to benefit from this trait to have to take at least one venom utility skill.
The balance patch notes have been updated.
- Concealing Restoration: Reduced stealth duration from 2 seconds to 1 second.
- Rending Shade: Reduced number of boons stolen from 2 to 1.
- Assassin's Signet: Increased cooldown from 20 seconds to 30 seconds.
- Leeching Venoms: Reduced maximum stacks of spider venom provided by this trait from 6 to 2.
- Malicious Backstab: Reduced power coefficients from 1.2/2.4 to 0.9/1.8
- Smokescreen: Increased cooldown from 35 seconds to 45 seconds
Best Dressed Memser NA.