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How to Beat DE (and other thieves) 101


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Quick Note: Some of my sentences may come off as seeming negative, but please don't read them as such. I'm trying to type fast before my lunch finishes cooking. I am also fed up with all the hate b/c Arenanet likes unnecessarily giving into it sometimes even tho generally the complainers are the ones posting on forums and not those with praise (which i suspect is many more). This post is meant to be helpful and constructive, and while yes, it should be unnecessary and people should be able to figure this out on their own, I understand that it's not always the case esp due to the vast age-range this game has.

There have been a lot of people complaining about DE thieves and stealth because they are too lazy to or unable to figure out how to beat them themselves, when it is very possible. Why am I doing this? Generally thieves, myself included enjoy thieves because of the problem solving the provide more than other builds. I'm hoping that by me showing the rest of you how to be Deadeyes, you will realize it's possible, and not even all that hard, and by you realizing that you will start to use your noggin on your own to do it instead of yelling to nerf hammer a class that already is very difficult to use and win with. From their, thieves will have to use their noggins to figure out new ways to win, and then the circle continues in a fun cat-mouse game.

CHAPTER 1: PrefaceFirstly, I must preface with a couple Fundamental Truths (queue Hamilton on Broadway soundtrack)

1) When you make a build, it will be strong against some builds and weak against others. There is no build that is all-powerful and can beat others. Thus, if you are strong against ranged, you will usually be weak against Melee. If you are strong against stealth and thus against some rangers, thieves, mesmers, then often you will be weak against engis, warriors, guardians. If you are losing to Deadeyes, it could be due to your build being weak against a certain aspect of their build, but know that they are weak against others. In Fact, Thieves are renowned for not being great 1v1 classes and I can actually win more matchups with my Necro than with my Deadeye. In other words, have comfort that if you died against a DE, your friends with different will probably kill it just fine.2) Player skill is a huge determination in who wins regardless of build. If your enemy is better playing his/her build than you are at yours, generally you will lose no matter what. With that being said, thieves overall are on a balancing act because they don't have room for mistakes. Most builds, you can recover from a mistake and thus take on players slightly better than yourself. Most thieves, if they make 1 slip-up then they are dead. Regardless, if you die, regardless of the build you were against, it's most likely because they are flat out a better player than you. Secondarily, point #1 above takes effect.3) Thieves play differently from your base warrior/guardian/necro/ele classes. Yes they have stealth, but you can use that heavily to your advantage. You just have to understand that because they have a different playstyle, if you want to win against someone of equal skill as you, you must change your playstyle. You can't play against a good guardian the same as you play against a good Thief. Mesmers are also very similar with stealth and teleports. Some ranger builds can also be similar.
4) If you are complaining against thieves, or DE in general, you should break down what it is you are actually complaining about. Is it stealth? Then why are you asking for the nerf hammer on just thieves when rangers also have stealth, esp with traps, and mesmers also not only have a ton of stealth but can stealth and entire team? Is it teleports? Then why are you asking for the nerf hammer against just thieves when mesmers can port just as much if not more, and can port entire teams? Is it burst damage? Then you must understand that pretty much every other class has a higher burst potential than thieves, especially DeadEyes? Mesmers, Guardians, Warriors, you name it. You must understand what it is that gives you trouble before you can learn to play around it or use it to your advantage. Is it that they can attack you from stealth? If you get hit with a high-damage stealth attack, then it's as simple as learning to play against them because they are typically easy to avoid.

CHAPTER 2: WeaknessesDeadeye's: Learning their weaknesses (and they are many). These are not all of them but some that can easily be taken advantage of.1) As said above, they are walking a tightrope. If you force them to make a mistake, you can capitalize and kill them quickly. This knowledge can easily be used against them. Deadeyes (and other classes of thieves) win by discovering the "puzzle pieces" and putting them together sequentially at the correct timing and position. One misplaced piece and it means the end of them. In other words, don't be repetitive using the same combo's over and over. Switch it up, play a new skill and a different time to throw them off or confuse them, stalling them in figuring you out. You don't need long to kill them which brings me to my next point...2) Low health. Yup, thieves often run with 11-12k health, and very few if any have higher than 16k health. All of us necros out there should be smiling at this fact :-) A quick burst can kill them.3) Their defense relies on stealth and evade. "Holy Smokes, but stealth = must nerf now!!!??" NO! Understand it is a different playstyle that requires you to play differently. How are evades and stealths a weakness? for those who haven't figured it out yet, generally speaking, when stealthed or evading, theives can't attack or deal damage. And they are the only class that can't. What I mean is a few things: Rangers and Mesmers, who also have access to lots of stealth (esp with runes) can have their pet, and phantasms attacking you to deal damage while they are stealthed, and mesmers can have clones to confuse you,. Theives can't. If they are stealthed, they are trying to reposition or heal. Use that time to your advantage to also get in free repositioning and free time to heal. Same with evading. Yes there are some skills that attack while evading, but it's essentially just the elite whirly dagger skill, and DE's don't generally bring it. Even Staff #5, the evade frames only last for half of the cast time. Now you are also going to say "but thieves can attack from stealth." I got news from you, anyone who is stealthed gets 1 free attack, and also that attack is very easily dodged, blocked, and can see it coming from a mile away. Most other classes rely on armor, health, and blocks. Usually while all those are in effect, you can still deal damage to your opponent. This weakness is easy to abuse and also shows why stealth is no OP when you use it correctly to your advantage. Also, there are a lot of skills and traits that cause reveal. Use them and it is essentially like stripping a warrior's armor off. They only have 1 skill (with 2 charges) to remove reveal, and it wastes their Elite Skill slot to use it, and has a long 45sec CD. DE's would much rather not have to use it to remove reveal added on to them and it significantly weakens them when they have to. Often it will also already be on CD, which means the thief can't stealth at all. Just be aware, this plays into the Rock-Paper-Scissors concept. You will be helping yourself against thieves, mesmers, and certain rangers, but you may have a skill that isn't as useful against other classes. Know your strengths and weaknesses and who you want to be strong/weak against.4) Generally only have 2 stunbreaks and 1 teleport skill (even tho that teleport skill can port them back, you know exactly where they will appear, which you can use to your advantage).5) They generally do high-damage, low number of attack skills. Unlike Necro Axe #2, or Ranger Longbow #2, a simple Aegis will block their entire skill and tons of damage. Warriors and Guardians that use skills and traits that block are nightmares for thieves of all types, but especially DE's.

CHAPTER 3: How to winHere are some tips to win1) Firstly know your enemy. you must understand how DE's and other thieves work to beat them. In order for a thief to have a chance at beating you, they have already done this research, which in turn, makes them a better player than you, going back to my point above. You need to get your skill level up to theirs, do some research, and understand how their skills work2) DE's particularly need to keep distance or they will die. You have 2 options: Also play a ranged class build, or close the distance. You will need skills that "leap" you to your target quickly or allow you to dodge roll a bit more to your target. If you don't play a strong ranged build and can't close the gap, then your build is the paper to their scissors. But don't worry, if you want to keep playing it, know there are plenty of rocks destroying their scissors out there. If you do want to change your build to fight DE's better, then do what I said, add mobility; every class has access.3) They have 2 stunbreaks generally. The first will be Shadow step which can break stun twice. Use this skill against them. Fellow Necros: often we play builds that are just fodder to DE's, that's just the way it is, again rock-paper-scissors. But if you want, you can still beat them. Use Spectral Walk at their original location they shadow stepped from, or place a Wurm minion there. Know that thieves only have 15sec to teleport back. Then dodge roll towards their new location pressuring them. You can force them to shadowstep back, using their other and probably last stunbreak on CD. Then you teleport right on top of them. Freeze/Stun/KD them and use AOE (like Reaper Shroud 4) to burst them down and kill them right there. It's vicious, cruel, and awesome lol. Their other stunbreak skill will either Blind you or they will dodge roll directly backwards quite a distance, so it will be obvious when they are on CD.4) As mentioned above, Use skills that block or provide aegis. Even blocking a single attack will save you and cost them precious time that they often don't have, forcing them to put more utility skills on CD. With that the case, they are easy peasy lemon squeezy to kill, or at the very least, force away (which is still a win in my book).5) They rely on stealth. Remove it and it's like removing armor from any other class. There are 2 ways to do this. Bring skills and traits that do it yourself (warriors, if you are sick of thieves and mesmers stealthing, then use magebane tether and its as close to an instant-win as you can get). The other way is in WvW, fight near enemy Sentries and I think towers. They will also apply reveal for you, and is really the bane of any thief. The fact they apply reveal is sooo frustrating haha.6) Know that while stealthed, they can only move so far, tho they will have extra speed due to a trait. Using terrain around you will force them in a certain direction that will be obvious to you even if you cant see them. As always, use terrain to your advantage.7) Avoid their stealth attack. Their best damage comes from their stealth attacks. Firstly, you must recognize that other classes can have higher burst than a thief's stealth attack, but you will still want to avoid giving them the advantage of connecting. If playing against a dagger thief, it's as simple as not standing still or facing the same direction. They need to hit you in the back. It can be as easy as placing marks on top of your self and running around sporatically in your mark (esp the one that Fears them), putting up skills that block and provide aegis, running around sporatically (way more effective than you would guess, esp with Swiftness), or simply a well timed dodge. If you are facing a DE, their stealth attack isn't stealthed! WHAT!!? that's right, when they use their stealth attack, firstly they are revealed, secondly, the attack 'winds up', and thirdly it fires. You have tons of time to see it coming, eat a sandwich, and then dodge the bullet. And against dagger thieves how do you well time a dodge? This leads to my next point.8) Understand how long their stealth lasts for. Firstly, assuming they are running the Shadow Arts Traitline is a safe bet. Also i'm going to list some numbers in this paragraph, but it's best for you to fact check it as i'm going of the top of my head and i'm not 100%, I apologize. It's actually really easy to figure out when they will try to use a stealth attack. Like REALLY easy. DE thieves gain stealth upon dodging, but for only 2 seconds. If they are at range and higher health, they are probably just using it as a hail-mary to hit you with a stealth attack. When they unstealth, dodge that attack. Easy. If they are at lower health or you are pressuring them hard up close, they will need to burn their 2nd dodge roll to gain an extra 2 seconds (2+2=4sec) of stealth. Count in your head if you don't feel like looking around hard. Their elite will only give 3 sec of stealth per charge. Blinding Powder gives 4 sec. If a thief puts down a shadow field, like sniper's cover, using blinding powder will give 6 sec. The Shadow Arts healing skill will give 6 seconds, but a lot of thieves don't run it and if you learn the animation, it's easy to tell when they used it. Shadow Refuge is a different animal and used for entirely different reasons than other stealth skills. The stealth lasts a while and it's probably not worth guessing for a dodge and just moving quickly, dodge sporadically after 4 seconds, and most likely the thief just used it to run away. Also use this time to heal up and put up other defenses. The thieve is generally either trying to reset the fight (allowing you to reset yourself), or running away, in which case count it as a win. D/P thieves can stealth using Pistol 5 and dagger 2 to leap through stealth field. DE's have something similar with rifle+kneel+4+unkneel+4. Sniper's cover provides a smoke field and unkneel rifle 4 does a leap. It is extremely initiative intensive and is easy to see (you can see the smoke field AND when a DE uses the unkneel 4 skill to leap through it, a flash of red appears showing exactly where the DE leaped to, even when already stealthed! When a D/P uses their smoke field, bomb it because they will try to use it more than once. Against DE, you should also bomb their smoke field because they will also try to use it more than once, but it will be obvious when they don't because you can see their leap skill even when "stealthed"!!! Use this to your advantage to know EXACTLY where the thief is and bomb that location with AoE. Stealthing using this will give the thief 3 seconds of stealth if they do it once. If they use the smoke field twice it can be up to 14 sec stealth but you will know exactly where they are making it dangerous for them. (how 14 sec? Kneel4+Leap is 3 seconds. They dodge roll back to the smoke field is +2sec. Blinding powder on the smoke field is +6 sec. Leap back through, if they have enough initiative at the last second, will add 3 more sec). If they do the full 14 sec combo, you will know exactly where they are the entire time and the stealth will be pointless if you bomb the area.

KEEP IN MIND: The rock-paper-scissors game. If you bring skills that provide Aegis, they will be strong against builds like DE's that rely on high damage, low-number of attacks to win, but will be a wasted slot for builds that do low-damage, high-number of attacks to win. Bringing high-mobility skills will be wasted against other builds that don't have high mobility, unless you are trying to get away. Bringing skills causing Reveal may also weaken you against classes that don't stealth. Think about who you want to win against and avoid builds you are weak against.

Remember, stop complaining against classes/builds that are actually easy to kill if you learn that you must play differently for different builds and often adjust your own build to not be susceptible. Learn and accept the rock-paper-scissor style GW2 pvp has. If you want to be less susceptible to stealth or ranged builds, adjust your build and playstyle accordingly. Do research on how other classes work and improve your own skill level. Also, I apologize I didnt' mention some classes much, particularly Revenants and Engineers...I just don't know much about those classes. I'm an engineer IRL and like to keep work/play separate so I don't even want to understand them, and I've just been too lazy to look up Revs because I don't see a lot of them roaming solo in WvW. If you see me In-Game and are playing one of them, you'll probably be able to kill me since I don't know how your build works very well. Give me a courtesy bow or kneel after you do please!

I hope this helps everyone in their Thief Encounters. Much of this can be applied to mesmers as well and some stealthy ranger builds.

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Also Note: A good Reaper can only lose to a DE when the DE sits in stealth for the shroud to decay. It will take most of his dodges and stealth skills to do that, so you can slam him when he is revealed. All professions applying heavy pressure will be able to act similarly to a Reaper killing a DE. Use Pulls, Teleports, etc. Make them burn their stunbreaks and you are golden.

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