The thief is capable of dishing out tons of damage, but as a tradeoff they aren't as hardy as other professions in Guild Wars 2. What this means is that they need to drop their foes as quickly as possible. While you can certainly take the glass cannon approach and focus on backstabbing as the cornerstone of your build, an alternative method for quick disposal of enemies is through inflicting condition damage. In particular, today we'll be taking a closer look at one specific condition, Bleeding.
Bleeding is the thief's jolly good friend in Guild Wars 2. As a condition that stacks intensity rather than duration, you can stack bleeding on a foe up to 25 times. The more you stack, the more damage the bad guys take per second. There are also ways to increase the amount of damage done with bleeding and to increase the time that the opponents will bleed.
The most direct way to inflict bleeding upon your enemies in Guild Wars 2 is through your weapon skills. Some require initiative but inflict a lot of damage, while others require little to no initiative but inflict less bleeding. Below are the weapon skills that inflict bleeding.
- Cluster Bomb - Shortbow weapon skill that fires a cluster bomb that hits target area for 3 bleeding.
- Twisting Fangs - Dagger spinning attack (with no offhand weapon) that hits nearby foes and causes 1 bleeding.
- Death Blossom - Dagger weapon skill (with dual daggers) that is an evasive attack over the heads your target and hits nearby foes causing 3 bleeding.
- Vital Shot - Basic pistol attack that's good when you're low on initiative and causes 1 bleeding.
- Sneak Attack - Pistol weapon skill that must be used from stealth and causes 5 bleeding.
- Piercing Shot - Basic harpoon attack that causes 1 bleeding.
- The Ripper - Harpoon attack that must be used from stealth and causes 3 bleeding.
- Deadly Strike - Spear weapon skill that must be used from stealth and causes 1 bleeding.
The thief also has a pair of downed and drowning skills that they can use to cause bleeding:
- Venomous Knife - Must be used from stealth and causes 3 bleeding.
- Diving Knife - Drowning skill that inflicts bleeding.
There are only two utility skills that the thief can get in Guild Wars 2 that will inflict bleeding:
- Caltrops - Utility skill that drops caltrops in an area and causes 1 bleeding when foes walk into them.
- Dagger Storm - Elite skill where the player spins in place throwing daggers and hitting foes nearby and causes 1 bleeding.
There are a number of traits that enhance bleeding. Spending points in the Deadly Arts trait line will increase the duration of bleeding. If you wish to increase the damage done by bleeding, you can increase it by spending points in the Trickery trait line.
- Exposed Weakness - Minor grandmaster trait that adds 10% damage if the foe has a condition.
- Pain Response - Major trait that removes bleeding when you are hit and below 75% health.
- Uncatchable - Major trait that drops caltrops whenever you dodge.
Certain items that a thief steals from their foes can cause bleeding when used. However, I would not rely upon said items to cause bleeding as the item stolen depends upon the enemy you steal from.
As you can see, there are quite a few skills and traits that impact bleeding for the thief. What this means is that there are numerous ways to incorporate bleeding into your playstyle if you wish. I personally like using Caltrops as enemies rush me, followed by several Death Blossoms, and then dodging to drop more caltrops with my Uncatchable trait. If you increase your initiative by unlocking the Preparedness minor trait, which adds 3 additional initiative, you can open up a fight with three Death Blossoms. Then you can steal from your foe, which will regenerate you three initiative through the Kleptomaniac minor trait, and you can inflict another Death Blossom within a second.
All in all, there are a lot of ways to play around with inflicting bleeding in Guild Wars 2, and it's an incredibly useful tactic to use in combat. The main thing to remember is that there are few sweeter joys to see your foes bleeding like mad as you're dancing around them, except perhaps a room filled with gold and treasure.