A Thief in Guild Wars 2 is a dangerous entity. They can dish out tremendous damage with their various weapon sets and are maddeningly mobile. Whether it be sword, dagger, pistol, or shortbow, a thief can open up a can of massive damage, disappear into the shadows, and re-emerge to shiv you some more. They have some unique abilities, such as the ability to steal or using stealth, but the main focus a thief can do in Guild Wars 2 is drop an enemy quickly. To do that, they have to rely upon a little something called Initiative.
Initiative is the lifeblood of the thief in Guild Wars 2. Unlike most other MMOs, the various attacks that the thief has to use in combat in Guild Wars 2 do not have any cooldown timers. Instead, a thief can use any weapon set attack as much as they wish as long as they have the sufficient initiative to do so. Every attack requires a certain amount of initiative to use, with the better (and cooler) attacks requiring the most initiative. The most basic attack (in the first weapon skill slot) for each weapon set does not require any initiative to use so you can use them to your heart's content. The amount of initiative used in an attack is shown if you mouse over the attack on your hotbar.
A thief starts out with a base amount of 12 initiative in Guild Wars 2, which is shown on your hotbar as a row of diamonds directly above your weapon skills. This can be expanded to a total of 15 initiative if you pursue the Trickery trait line. Once you start using your initiative, the used initiative will be represented by those diamonds going dark. They will light up again when it regenerates. A thief's initiative refreshes itself at a rate of roughly 1 per 1.6 seconds. However, there are other skills and traits that can help you replenish your initiative on a faster scale. The quicker you can replenish your initiative, the more quickly you can rain down damaging blows upon your enemy. Below is a breakdown of the skills and traits that impact your initiative.
Starting at level 11, players can begin to spend points on the various trait lines. A thief has a total of five trait lines to pick from. For more information on traits, read our handy guide. Below are the various traits that will impact your initiative.
- Opportunist - Minor trait - 10% increased damage when initiative is over 6
- First Strikes - Minor trait - Critical hits have a 20% chance to restore one initiative (1 second cooldown)
- Signet Use - Major trait - Gain 2 initiative when activating a signet. Reduces signet recharge by 20%
- Infusion of Shadow Major trait - Gain 2 initiative when using a skill that stealths you
- Patience - Major trait - Regain initiative faster while in stealth
- Quick Recovery - Major trait - Gain 2 initiative every 10 seconds
- Quick Pockets - Major trait - Gain 3 initiative on weapon swap while in combat
Kleptomaniac - Minor trait - Stealing gives you 3 initiative
- Preparedness - Minor trait - Increases maximum initiative by 3
- Lead Attacks - Minor trait - Increases damage by 1% per initiative
- Initial Strike - Major trait - Attacks with the first weapon skill slot have a 7% change to regain 1 initiative
- Hastened Replenishment - Major trait - You receive 4 initiative when using a heal skill
Skills that Impact Initiative
A thief begins to accumulate skill points once they reach level 5 and gain one per level thereafter. However, there are so many useful skills that you will want to earn additional points to grab them all. Luckily, Guild Wars 2 offers players the chance to earn additional skill points through the use of skill challenges. Below are the skills that a thief can get that will impact initiative.
- Infiltrator's Signet - Passive: Regenerates one extra initiative every 10 seconds. Active: Shadowstep to foe
- Roll for Initiative - Evade backwards to regain initiative and recover from crippled, chilled, and immobile
As you can see, there are quite a few skills and traits that impact initiative for the thief. No matter what your playstyle in Guild Wars 2, every thief requires initiative to function at their deadly best. Who wants to use their base attack over and over again? Nobody, that's who. I'd rather be flipping over my enemies, causing them lots of damage and to bleed, using my Death Blossom attack with my twin daggers as opposed to using my mundane Double Strike. Fortunately, the skills and traits that impact initiative are varied, so any thief should be able to pump up their initiative regeneration no matter what playstyle they choose to use.