While the achievement of the first 30 levels of your Thief in Guild Wars 2 are in many ways your lengthy introduction to the game (and have been readily experienced during the three beta weekend events by many of us), the first 40 represents something slightly different. You’ve reached unknown territory. You’ve journeyed into zones you’ve never seen before, and started delving into a whole new layer of Traits.  You are starting to see the depth and complexity of Guild Wars 2 where ever you go in the world.

But how to do it?

This week, I’ll examine three leveling builds, and how to go about constructing them.

Many of you have probably already reached the end of this journey from level 1 to 40, while others of you are just starting, or finding this guide as you plan a new journey with a freshly created Thief all your own.   Arena Net originally proposed that this game could be played in many different ways and was largely a flexible experience.  For the purposes of these three leveling guides, I’ve assumed you have been leveling mainly through PvE, and haven’t been going too far out of your way to get skill points.

To me, we seem to have three main styles of play while leveling. I’d like to correspond them to one of each of our personal story choices:

My talents lie in the art of stealth, infiltration, and escape. I do not draw attention to myself. To protect my identity, I hide my face behind a mask of darkness.
 An Anonymity build focuses on evasion and stealth. Your goal here is to be able to dive into combat, unleash a flurry of attacks, then vanish in stealth. You are the ultimate hit a run operative.  You’re going to focus on making your Stealth more powerful with your traits, as well as your mobility.

My Anonymity Build

Leveling Guide:

1-10: Really Learn how to use Hide in the Shadows. It is a great way of acquiring stealth, and it is given to you for free.  Get your hand on a second dagger, and if you can a shortbow, and start unlocking the weapon skills. Go kill stuff until you unlock your first Utility Skill slot. I’d suggest Infiltrators Signet, for the Shadowstep.

Keep practicing with stealth, and make sure you are using steal. Once you unlock weapon swapping at level 7, make sure to be using this to unlock all your weapon skills and start setting up combos.  Fill out the rest of you first tier of Utility skills with Blinding Powder (My personal favorite way to get stealth.), Roll for Initiative and any other two you like. You’ll likely have enough points stored to make it to second tier of skills by now. Pick up Shadow Trap first.

10-20: At 11, You’ll get your first trait point. Start putting your points into the Shadow Arts tree.  The second tier of Utility skills is pretty sparse for you, but make sure to pick up Haste. At 15, you’ll get the first Minor Trait for the Shadow Arts tree, which gives you a nice bit of survivability. You’ll also likely get into the third tier of Skills. Shadow Refuge or Signet of Shadows should be top of your list. Keep working towards your third utlitiy slot unlock, and start putting point either into Acrobatics, or stick with Shadow Arts for now.

20-30: By now, you’ve unlocked most of your Utility Skills. You should start saving at about level 20 for your first elite. Make sure that you have at least 10 points to spend when you hit level 30. As for your traits, complete the first tier of both the Shadow Arts and Acrobatics tree. I think Infusion of Shadow and Fleet Shadow are good first Major Traits to work with for the stealth minded Thief.  Other than that, keep exploring. Once you hit 30, choose whichever Elite skill you’d like. None of them really do much for this build.

30-40: Final stretch. No equipped with your complete repertoire of buttons to use, and with two Major Traits at your disposal, you can start doing some fun things. Pump the next ten trait points your earn into Trickery, and take Flanking Strikes as your Major Trait.

I mean business. I’m the bruiser, the muscle, the bear you don’t want to poke. My headband keeps my vision clear, no matter how physical I get.
  A determination build is all about brute force. You want to do as much damage as you can. None of this worry about stealth or shadowstepping. Give me a sword and let me at them!

My Determination Build

Leveling Guide:

1-10:  Start your adventure. Get your hands on a pistol and a sword asap. That little dagger won’t do! At level 5, get Scorpion Wire. Can’t let those enemies getting away, now can we? Make sure to take Assains Signet and Tripwire in the same tier.  Other than that, I leave the other choices to your personal preference.
      Once weapon swapping becomes an option, start alternating between the Sword/Pistol Combo, and the Dual Pistols, or Shortbow. I’d suggest saving or finding a few skill points to get the Signet of Malice as your primary healing skill.

10-20: Once you hit the second tier of Utility skills, grab Skale Venom, followed by Haste and Caltrops. At 11, start putting your trait points in the Critical Strikes tree, working towards either Signets of Power of Furious Retaliation. When you unlock your third utility skill tier, make sure to grab Shadowstep. Other than that, there isn’t a lot that is necessary, though I’d always suggest taking Signet of Shadows.

20-30: Start saving for the Elite. As for your second tier of traits, I think you could go a number of ways. Acrobatics is always useful, and Power of Inertia could be very helpful for this build. At the same time, Deadly Arts give you straight power, which you want. I’d probably suggest putting your next ten points in Deadly Arts, but it isn’t the be all end all choice. When you do get your Elite skill, Pick up Thieves Guild and start saving again, you’re going to want 30 points as soon as you can get them.

30-40: Keep saving your Skill Points, as you are eventually going to want to get Daggerstorm. Put your next tier of Skill points into Either Acrobatics or Deadly Arts, whichever one you didn’t go with last time. It probably time to jump into WvW and bash a few Invaders skulls in at this point, so you might want to do that…

A mask draws attention, and an uncovered face allows people to identify you. I prefer a more subtle subterfuge. A drawn hood lets me blend into the crowd, and no one knows I was there.
  This subterfuge leveling guide is all about control and support.  Your goal here is to be the character that isn’t necessarily on the front lines. You are going to provide the backline defenses and interrupts that will let any group succeed.

My Subterfuge Build

Leveling Guide:

1-10:  Find a pistol quick. The number 4 skill, Headshot, plays pretty heavily in my own Control build. Having a daze available is very handy.  I think weapons are a little less important in this build, though  I’d suggest the Sword/Pistol combo, as it gives you two Dazes to work with.  Once you start getting skill points, Grab Blinding Powder and Scorpion Wire. The Control/Support Thief relies on blindness rather heavily, and Blinding Powder also gives you a means to grant stealth. Scorpion Wire can pull an enemy out of fight, save an ally, or interrupt. It remains one of my favorites.

10-20: As soon as you have access to the second tier of Utility skills, grab Ice Drake Venom (for the Chill), Caltrops, and Signet of Agility. Your trait acquisition should focus on others, oddly enough. Shadow Arts is a good place to start. Shadow Protector is a fantastic skill (particularly in conjunction with Shadow Refuge. Talk about a Healing Bomb), and the passive healing power boost can really help if you are acting as a medic. Trickery is another good direction to go. Thrill of the Crime can be a great way of buffing your entire group.

20-30: Here’s where you get the big gun of the Thief Support build: Shadow Refuge. Get it as soon as you can and learn it inside and out. Make sure to pick up Devoruer Venom (Immobilize is VERY useful) and Smoke Screen as well. Keep building into Shadow Arts or Trickery. Once you unlock your Elite, I’d say Basilisk Venom is the way to go, as it functions as a superb stun.  At 30, start running dungeons, as this is where you can truly begin to shine.

30-40. Keep on running AC until complete! Acrobatics is the next trait line to build, as it will increase the duration of your boons, thus helping you and your allies even more!

I hope this has been helpful to those of you leveling a thief anew, and even helpful to those of you already leveling a thief. Next week, I think we’ll take things in a little different direction, and talk about stories.

May your journey be blanketed in shadows,

By Wormwood