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RIP Nomad Thief: The Magic of Tinkering with Unorthodox Builds


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Hey there, visitors of the thief subforums.

I seldom visit this place myself (let alone post here), but looking through old GW2 footage on my hard drive yesterday reminded me of how I first got hooked/interested on/in thief as a class and perhaps PvP/WvW in general, as well as how it had affected me as a player over the years. If you'd like, feel free to humor this overly long post and/or even reply with your own little story/anecdote below.

Some of you might remember an US uploader of the old days called "Wild Bill." The guy usually uploaded videos of his condition P/D thief roaming about in WvW following the game's release, tacky music included of course. In retrospect, it might seem like nothing special and watching the videos now sure goes to show how much this game has changed over the years—the "vanilla" combat seems to play out in slow motion and everyone was still trying to figure out what worked in WvW combat. However, there was a certain "magic" of discovery surrounding it all or at least that's what nostalgia is trying to sell my reminiscing self.

WB's montages convinced me to solo roam in WvW, and it simply cannot be overstated how terribly it went at first. Countless deaths were had on my end, but I didn't really care about that in a negative sense—it meant I still had things to learn as well as aspects of my build(s) to improve upon. Tinkering, testing, failing, and readjusting was what kept me entertained for countless hours, no matter what.

Approximately 3000 hours of dedicated solo roaming later (for reference: that was shortly before HoT's release), I had been through a lot regarding my setup: from simply copying WB's build(s) to making my own derivatives at first I had also started creating builds entirely from scratch as well. A lot of them had not quite worked as intended, but a select few had passed the "field tests" regularly and been adopted into my repertoire as a result.

Eventually, I decided to test myself by playing "unorthodox" setups like double P/D with Acrobatics as its only defensive trait line and weapon swapping as its main gimmick using Sigil of Ice/Hydromancy/Energy plus Rune of Grenth. It did not always work out perfectly in practise but that was by far the best time I've had so far in my history with this game.

In the same vein, one build I really enjoyed playing was Nomad thief in WvW following the release of HoT. I cannot recall just how many hours I spent tinkering with it, making small improvements here and there with some additional input of some of the friends I had made through my WvW shenanigans until it finally got the axe in a relatively recent balance patch having survived years of indirect nerfs beforehand. Finally, I had lost the inevitable arms race against the game's ever-changing PvP landscape.

Seeing something like a personal build and, by extension, oneself as a player evolve over time has always been the most consistent source of entertainment and joy in this game for me. Was the Nomad setup actually useful in the wider context of WvW? Probably not, no. Did playing all that nonsense make me a master at PvP? Not by a long shot. Did I care about any of that? Not in the least. Yet I could not have spent my ingame time better over those years. Like everything fun, however, it had to come to an end eventually.

So much for my perspective on the matter. I hope those of you who decided to read through all of that did get at least something out of this written trip through memory lane of mine. What videos/builds have made you play/experiment with your character? How far have you come and do your old setups still work? Feel free to share your thoughts if you are so inclined; I mostly wrote up this post for reasons I can't really pinpoint myself, so make of it what you will.

In case anyone wants more concrete "snapshots" of what I was referencing/talking about in the above paragraphs, here are some links:

  • One of WB's old videos:
  • Unlisted example video of my stupid Nomad build in its later stages:
    (timestamp intended)

In any case, take care and don't be afraid to venture into the unknown at times. Who knows, the journey might even make you a better player in the end—failure is the best teacher, after all.

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@"Turk.5460" said:[...] I want that 30s of my life back, please.

Let's not kid ourselves here, we are on an official MMO forum (thief subforums nonetheless)—the implication being that we both waived our respective time's value just by clicking the login confirmation button at some point. You would have spent those coveted 30 seconds of yours on something of comparable "worth" regardless, just how I myself actually sat down to write this reply instead of, say, going outside as well.

You receive a "Thumbs Up" from me despite basically saying that water is wet because it's still more than I originally expected to get when writing the OP, so I'll gladly take it over nothing. At least this means the thread will stay "relevant" a little longer and that might lead to someone feeling like sharing something interesting as I had originally intended.

In fact, if you (or others) are feeling particularly masochistic, here is an entire unlisted playlist of videos featuring the Nomad build (the longest one spans ~20 minutes, cancerous music included!):

. Alternatively, Wild Bill's old videos should have a similar effect on viewers.

Since I am opposed to no-refund policies on a conceptual level, though, allow me to at least present you with an appropriately formal apology in the form of a professionally made image edit befitting the occasion (assuming the embedding function does its job): We are sorry for your inconvenience!

'Tis all I can do.

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Hmm, I remember video of a "Ninja Nurse" build for WvW back when you could invest in all 5 traitlines. I believe the player used Nomad gear. I also believe the traitline change killed his build... no longer being able to take Shadow's Embrace along with a Stealth-on-falling damage trait.

I'm just now getting into making Nomad gear. Hoping to find a current "Ninja Nurse" build.

Wish I could find that video again. It was a joy to watch. He would single-handedly save a battle inside a keep... climbing up stairs just to drop into Stealth, surviving all sorts of AoE's, slowly but surely reviving the fallen. There wasn't much the enemy could do to stop him.

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Was gonna say the real ninja nurse nomad's build never really got nerfed.

This is more or less just a troll build dedicated to doing nothing but be annoying. In which case... good riddance imho. These builds contesting keep WP's for hours on end wasn't fun to be against because it couldn't be dealt with.

P/P Cleric's+Dwayna's venoms skirmisher back in the day... now THAT was a fun build.

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@Kageseigi.2150 said:[...] I also believe the traitline change killed his build... [...]

While the fundamental changes to the orginal trait system were, as a whole, necessary, a great many builds and setups died the day the patch hit as collateral damage. It is one reason why many of my older setups had to be discarded too, but the whole thing about stat bonuses being linked to certain trait lines had also caused its fair share of pain when making new ones, as I am certain many people would agree.

@DeceiverX.8361 said:[...] This is more or less just a troll build dedicated to doing nothing but be annoying. In which case... good riddance imho. These builds contesting keep WP's for hours on end wasn't fun to be against because it couldn't be dealt with. [...]

Now, nowhere did I or anyone else claim that the example build I used in my OP was the epitome of awesomeness in terms of playstyle and purpose—the focus of the OP was instead on the iterative building process and/or motivation behind its creation with it merely filling the role of an illustrative example. If I had had videos of older more "combat-oriented" setups, I would have linked them as examples instead, but I figured that the example itself would not be that important. It is true that the "loss" of this build was one thing among many that prompted this thread's creation to begin with, but that's all there really is to it. Again, I wanted to focus on the whole "have an idea, make a first version, test it, adjust it, repeat"-heuristic leading to interesting results and examples thereof, not necessarily perfect ones.

@DeceiverX.8361 said:[...] P/P Cleric's+Dwayna's venoms skirmisher back in the day... now THAT was a fun build. [...]

If you feel like it, why don't you go into more detail about it for those of us who aren't as familiar with this particular setup as you are? I am sure others would appreciate it as well. If you additionally happen to know a little more about how it came to be, that would also be a welcome read.

@Turk.5460 said:[...] I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings. :(

Don't sweat it mate, it's all in good fun around here (I hope).

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P/P Cleric's Dwayna's venoms was a build I personally made and ran for a while to mess around. This was before the trait shakeup in 2015 so this was old skool.

The fundamentals were to maximize healing and sustain without camping stealth. I believe the traits were 30 SA 25 Acro 15 Tr with SA being used for Leeching Venoms, SE (being the best cleanse thief had) and pre-rework Rejuv, Acro for perma-vigor and excess dodges with the old FG, and Trickery for initiative with Preparedness. There may have been 5 points in DA for the poison to cut enemy heals but I can't remember.

Utilities were HiS (full heal with the healing power), Spider venom + Skale Venom (max hits/lowest cooldowns for leech procs), Shadow Refuge (pulsing heal and stealth if needed for cleansing or to projectile finish the dark field with unload for lifesteal heals/siphon damage), and Dagger storm (also as a finisher and back when stability was stronger).

Most of the fight consisted of using BP for the blind field to deny any melee pressure and projectile finishing it to keep re-applying blinds. BP also used to pulse blinds twice as fast because if used well it could negate virtually any melee engagement. For ranged foes, Dagger storm was usually sufficient to deny the initial bombardment, use HiS if damaged to walk to them, and lock them down with Body Shot into BP. If they kited and tried to make a trade, I'd pop Skale and unload and mid-cast unload just as the venom expired, pop Spider venom to cut heals and maximize the DoT because poison did not stack intensity back then. Overall, with Healing power/power main stats, the unload would deal around 6-9k damage from the combined hits and leeching and heal for about 12k. SA's stealth on steal would let me continue to apply pressure with Sneak attack and slowly DoT them to death by grinding away and just out-sustaining their damage.

With Cleric's toughness secondary, the build couldn't be bursted easily by power builds and CC was rarer so it didn't need a stunbreak and I'm pretty sure I ran HtC back then as well.

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