Jack-of-all-trades Thief Build

A mug shot of my Thief.
Today I would like to share with you my thief build that I have been using for the past several weeks. The build focuses on a balance between survivability and damage as well as team utility. If you are looking for a glass cannon thief build this is not the place for you. If you are looking for a build that is useful in PvE content, WvW, and dungeons than this may be the build for you.

Sword and Dagger

When I designed this build I started by picking the weapon sets that I most enjoyed using and built around that. For me I had the most fun using the Sword and Dagger together, so I decided to make these my main weapons.

Sword and Dagger is a fun combo that provides a lot of utility. The swords primary ability allows you to Slice, and Slash while following up with a Crippling Strike which applies cripple and weakness. While stealthed you can perform a Tactical Strike which will blind your enemy, however, if you hit from behind you will apply a 2 second daze. Using this ability you will be able to greatly reduce the damage output of the enemy you are focusing on, as well as mitigating their ability to exit melee.

The second ability, Infiltrator's Strike, and Shadow Return allow you to blink to an enemy and immobilize them. This, along with Steal, is this build primary gap closer. Using this ability after you have jumped to an enemy allows you to return to your original location. Although not as useful, using this ability will cure a condition when used and can be great for escaping crowd control. The third ability, Flanking Strike, for Sword/Dagger is not very useful and I do not use it. The ability attempt to move you behind the enemy, but I find this usually fails and I am left where I do not want to be.

The forth ability, Dancing Dagger, allows you to toss a dagger at your enemy within a 900 range. Upon a successful hit you will cripple your enemy and the dagger will bounce to the nearest enemy to your primary target. The dagger will do this 4 times, crippling each target it hits and doubling the cripple on any target it hits twice. This ability is great for gap closing and has resulted in a number of kills for me and my team in WvW.

Finally, the bread and butter ability of this build is the fifth ability, Cloak and Dagger. Whenever you strike an enemy with this ability you will stealth and apply three stack of vulnerability. With this build each time we stealth we will gain regeneration and might. And each time we strike an enemy coming out of stealth we will apply a daze and blind.

Dual Pistols

Our secondary weapons are the pistols, which are primarily used against targets which are difficult to melee or when you are low on health. The primary ability, Vital Shot, applies a bleed each time it hits. Coming out of stealth you will use Sneak Attack, which fires a rapid series of shots which each apply a bleed. The secondary ability, Body Shot, merely applies five stacks of vulnerability. Continuous spamming of this ability will allow you to maintain 10-15 stacks on a single target, which is useful in some PvE situations.

The third ability, Unload, is the bread and butter ability. It merely fires a series of shots in rapid succession doing damage. This is this primary ability I use when I have my pistols up. It is great to combo with the combo fields you and your party place. The forth ability, Head Shot, is an interrupt which applies a quarter second daze. With the thief's initiative system you can rapidly fire off 3-4 of these. This is great for removing stacks of defiant from champions, or interrupting telegraphed attacks, such as Kholer's pull in Ascalonian Catacombs.

The final ability on the pistols, Black Powder, can be extremely useful. When used a combo field is placed where you are standing. Any enemies inside this field are continuously blinded. An enemies hit with a combo finisher fired through this field are also blinded. This can be a great way to turn of an enemies damage for several seconds. It's utility is higher in a Sword/Pistol build, however, as when you use Pistol/Pistol there really is no purpose to being in melee with the enemy to ensure the combo field encompasses them.


Jack-of-all-trades thief traits.
When selecting my traits I had two things in mind, one make tough to I can survive in melee for long periods of time, and two, make me useful to the team through buffs and DPS. I think I found this balance in a 25/0/30/15/0 build.

In the Deadly Arts chain I picked up Mug at 10 points and Improvisation at 20 points. I choose Mug for a lack of anything better to pick. I steal every time it is up, and it might as well do some damage when I use it. Improvisation, however, provides a chance to refresh the cool downs on our skills. Below you will see that I pick two Deception skills which can both be refreshed on a steal about 20% of the time. We also get, Serpent's Touch at 5 points (poison on steal) , Lotus Poison at 15 points (weaken on steal), and Exposed Weakness at 25 points (10% more damage if enemy has condition). Finally, our 25 points in this chain also grants 250 extra power and 25% increased condition duration.

Shadow Arts, imo, is probably the best trait chain the thief has. Healing and Toughness are great together, and the abilities offered in this chain are excellent. At 5 points we get, Last Refuge, a free AoE stealth when we reach 25% health. Often time this will put you into stealth as you are downed saving your life. At 10 points I choose, Shadow Protector, which applies 5 seconds of regeneration to allies we stealth. At 15 points Meld with the Shadows is received which adds another second to our stealth  At 20 points I picked up, Shadow's Embrace, which removes a condition every 3 seconds we are in stealth. This is our primary way of removing conditions and is essential to the build. At 25 points Hidden Assassin takes effect and grants 15 seconds of might each time with enter stealth. Finally, at 30 points I selected Hidden Thief which grants stealth each time I steal. Overall, our 30 point into this chain also gives 300 extra healing power and toughness.

Acrobatics is the final chain I placed points into. For 15 points we get one choice which I used on Power of Inertia which grants might each time I dodge. At 5 points I received, Expeditious Dodger, which grants swiftness on each dodge. Also, at 15 points we are granted access to, Feline Grace, which returns endurance each time we dodge. Finally, we also gain 150 vitality and 15% boon duration.

As you can see there are a number of patterns in my trait selection. I have actively gone after abilities that improve my ability to stealth, steal, dodge, and apply might.


At this point I find the skill selection to be very easy. I just continue to build off of the combinations I have made in my trait selections. For my heal, I often switch between Hide in Shadows, and Signet of Malice. Often times I do not need the extra stealth that Hide in Shadows provides and can instead receive more healing from the passive effects of the Signet. These situations mainly arise in PvE content. Hide in Shadows is a must of PvP combat.

After this I have three quick and easy choices. Signet of Shadows passive effects give us the ability to move around the map quickly and get where we are needed fast. Blinding Powder allows us to stealth our allies, which on its own is awesome, but it also will grant them regeneration based on our trait selection. Blinding Powder can also be instantly cast which is great for removing conditions. This ability can also be chained with steal and Hide in Shadows create a 6-10 second stealth. Additionally this ability blinds all enemies around you. You should look for opportunities to use Blinding Powder to save allies from large attacks through your blind, and by removing agro from them with stealth. Remember, thief is the only class that can effectively control who has agro. Make sure you keep these opportunities in mind.

For my third skill slot I pick up Shadow Refuge. In my opinion, this is a must have ability for all thieves. The ability grants over 10 seconds of stealth to all allies that stay in the field until in collapses, which is great for sneaking past those hard to get through sections of dungeons. It also provides healing on its own, and regeneration due to our trait selection. The best use you can make of Shadow Refuge though is by casting it on downed allies. Your ally will be stealthed which protects them from agro and they will receive heals which will help them get back up. Additionally the field will stealth any allies that are attempting to rez the downed ally. Finally, you can use the combo field to steal health using a combo finisher. I usually cast the ability on top of the enemy my party is attacking such that everyone can use the field even if they do not realize it is there.

Finally, in my Elite Skill slot I choose Thieves Guild. Simply put, this skill gives us more DPS and it also provides us with two distractions which can be used in PvP combat and PvE combat. Do not underestimate these two thieves ability to get you out of sticky situations.


You are free to choose whatever gear you want. If you want to do more damage, pick up Power, Precision, Critical Damage, if you want to be tankier than pick up Power, Toughness, Vitality. If you are like me and prefer to be a Jack-of-all-trades then I would recommend Power, Toughness, Healing Power. These three stats build off the three core roles in GW2, damage, control, and support. Your rune selection should reinforce your gear selection.

Sigil choices on your weapons are going to effect the way you play your toon. For my pistols I decided to focus on kiting and healing as usually that is what I am doing when I am using my pistols. Thus, I selected Superior Sigil of Ice and Superior Sigil of Water. The ice sigil allows me to slow my enemies from range to help kite, and the sigil of water provides extra heals.

For my sword and dagger I decided to focus on damage and selected Superior Sigil of Rage and Superior Sigil of Fire. The Sigil of Rage provides me with some nice burst damage via increased attack rate when I first start attacking a new target and the Sigil of Fire gives some of my attacks, Dancing Daggers for example, AoE damage from a flame burst.


This build has the ability enter stealth each time you are able too (keep an eye on that debuff in your bar that only allows stealth every 2-3 seconds). Using this you will be able to reduce enemy damage, maneuver in battle, regenerate allies health, and grant yourself might. You can also stay in melee combat for extended periods of time due to this build high survivability.

This is an excellent choice if you are looking for a build that will make you a Jack-of-all-trades. I think this is what the thief does best and what you should focus on doing when playing a thief. A glass cannon thief build is only good against players that do not know what they are doing and is completely useless in PvE. This build can be used in all aspects of the game and your allies will sing your praises after your AoE stealth saves their ass.


  1. Hey Crush, Karst here :D I was just wondering if your experience with the Flanking Strike skill, as I just started a new thief and haven't yet so far experienced anything bad with it. (My character basically circles the opponent and strikes)

  2. Personally I do not like the Flanking Strike ability. The speed boost from signet of shadows is enough for me to manually circle strafe around enemies. I don't like being moved by an ability and it sometimes places be where I do not want to be.

    For the most part I am using all my Initiative on Cloak and Dagger. With the above build each time I stealth I gain regeneration and might.