The Deadeye is the Elite Specialization of the Thief profession in Guild Wars 2. I found this spec clunky from the start since it comes with too many hoops in order to perform something meaningful. The recent update to this Elite spec and the Thief profession did not address their many issues. Although, it still managed to improve some features in the Deadeye 2.0.
A lot of the underwater skills were buffed signaling that the next expansion will have something to do with underwater combat. We’re not finished dealing with Kralkatorik to even start talking about the next expansion. The stealth attack of each underwater weapon has been significantly buffed. Deadly Strike (spear) gets 66% damage boost and The Ripper (harpoon gun) gets 325% damage boost for example. These damage boosts are only significant when fighting a boss since anything else melts on regular attacks. The main problem with Thief is not the damage output rather it is survivability. The Deadeye Elite spec shines with these updates and I guess we’ll find out how useful these buffs are.
A lot of changes were to get rid of splitting skills between different game modes and it’s a significant buff mostly to PvE. So my PvE experience has now been significantly improved and gives less work for ArenaNet updating several sets of skills. I think they are starting to realize that too much control is really stupid and it’s not fun. The skills that I actually use are Infiltrator’s Strike, Cloak and Dagger, Shadow Strike, Hide in Shadows, Signet of Shadows, Dagger Storm, and Thieves Guild. All these skills were buffed which improved my experience that the Thief profession is not as clunky as before. So, how are these changes matter to the Deadeye spec?
The Deadeye was completely reworked and it would not be fair to compare it to its previous form. Though it is important to remember what the Deadeye used to be in order to understand these changes. The main problem with Deadeye is the Deadeye Mark. This skill replaced the Steal skill and it is the main source of its clunkiness. Applying Mark to each of my targets every time one dies when fighting multiple mobs is the biggest pain in the ass. It ruins the Thief’s rhythm so I find myself not bothering with Marking anymore unless against targets that has lasting power. This decision is a self-inflicted gimping since I am not taking advantage of the stolen skill every time the Mark resets. It’s really not a problem marking targets if the skill didn’t have a casting time. The Core Thief’s Steal skill is instant cast that can be used even when disabled or hard CC’d (e.g. immobilized). I am wasting 1/2 a second for each target I Mark and it adds up when in a long fight. This issue has not been addressed but there are many skills saw a lot of improvements. Oh, yeah, the Kneel mechanic is bad too.
Both DE Mark and Kneel are still horrible. I’ll ignore them for a bit and focus on what changes they’ve made that either improve or made the Elite spec even worst. According to the Devs, they focused on the Malice Complexity, Rifle Flexibility, and Trait Synergies. It is always amazing how disconnected the Devs are from their creation since the most common things that are happening is that they seem to play a very different game. They make changes that players often do not agree on and they seem to have missed the mark in the case of the Deadeye as always. Yeah, pun and all that.
Malice was never complicated. As a Deadeye, once I apply the Mark, Malice just do its own thing – “set it and forget it” kind of thing. It gives damage boost depending on its level. Nothing complicated about that. So the update addressed this mechanic by making it complicated by creating hoops for the Thief to jump through. Yeah, face palm, right? Malice passively increases at 1 point every 4s or 1 point every 2s if I’m attacking the Marked target before Deadeye 2.0. It now requires the Deadeye to actively hitting the target using skills that cost Initiatives to gain Malice points. This is an improvement for my P/P build since I’m spamming Unload with a high chance of crits. It has a potential of granting 2 Malice points per Unload. It is unfortunate that my condition build is nerfed with this change since typically it had a very low critical hit chance. There is also a conflict when using my stealth attack with the P/D weapon set since it drains all Malice point per stealth attack. Power/Crit build loves this change but Condition based builds were hosed.
The Rifle is a very good weapon with horrible weapon set. The most egregious skill is Kneel. This mechanic forces a profession that relies on stealth and evasion to be a sitting duck. It is counter-intuitive. The Deadeye Rifle standing skills are mostly waste of Initiatives and the Kneel skill has a high cost of self-immobilization. Why in the world would any Thief want to immobilize themselves? I wouldn’t understand. The changes didn’t really make the Rifle more flexible since all they did was move things around. What Rifle needed is a rework on the standing skills and the Kneel mechanic. I’ve mentioned several times in the forum that Kneel should be a stance that can be toggled on and off. The Deadeye will only kneel when not moving and the Kneel skills will automatically replace the standing skills if the Kneel stance is active just like swapping weapons. They can use the Kneel skill as long as the Deadeye chooses not to move. Once the Deadeye moves, the skills will revert back to the standing skills. The Deadeye will not kneel if the Kneel stance is not active when they are not moving. This will give the Deadeye the flexibility it needs and remains nimble and evasive since mobility is part of their defense mechanism.
This change to the Deadeye is a big mess. Not only that it changes how Malice works but it also changes how malice interacts with other traits and skills. Malice used to increase damage dealt per Malice points by 3% damage per point. Malice no longer grants damage boost. Malice originally grants 15% base damage boost and 21% damage boost with Maleficent 7 at max level. They changed that by granting a flat 10% damage boost against the Marked target. They rolled in this damage boost with Iron Sight’s damage reduction bonus and made the trait an auto-pick. For that I am grateful. The cost of this change is massive – Revealed Malice is no more (replaced by Malicious Intent) which is another nerf to my Condition based build. I now have to rely on Fire for Effect to gain Might stacks.
Stacks of Malice used to grant bonuses to a lot of skills and traits. Malice after the Deadeye 2.0 now only feeds into stealth attacks. It is a very restrictive use of Malice which makes it negligible for builds that are not built around stealth. The biggest winner of this change is Death’s Judgment. Death’s Judgment replaced the useless Rifle stealth attack that I don’t even remember the name of showing how useless it was. I won’t even bother looking it up or linking to it. It never existed anyway. I want to talk about Death’s Judgment anyway .It no longer cost Initiatives, deals a lot of base damage, deals even more damage per Malice point, and now have a shorter casting time from .75s to .5s. It is also unblockable. The only caveat is that it now drains all Malice points so it loses having the ability to use Death’s Judgment consecutively. Some players would like that one back but I don’t. It was never practical use it DJ more than once since it drains a lot of Initiatives.
Backstab will never be the same again without Deadeye. Backstab gained a huge benefit from this change also by consuming Malice points to boost the Backstab damage by 10% per Malice point. This means when I Backstab someone with a full stack of Malice my Backstab deals 50% more damage. My Backstab will hit for 70% more damage if I have Maleficent 7 picked. This is a massive buff to any build using dagger main hand. I’m not a dagger main hand user and this makes me want to dust off my D/D power build. A lot of players are whining about Death’s Judgment being unblockable and overlooking how insane Backstab is.
Malicious Sneak Attack
They really need to rename this skill. Anyway, this skill received the worst end of the stick. Not only that this change is counter-intuitive to P/D weapon set it also can’t possibly take advantage of Malice properly. P/D is all about stacking conditions at a rapid rate and uses stealth to apply a large stack of Bleed. Sneak Attack after the Deadeye 2.0 will consume the Malice stacks prematurely leaving nothing for Maleficent 7’s maximum proc. I was advised to use Fire for Effect due to the Might stacks and the additional new Fury stacks. One thing I do not like is that when the game dictates how I should choose my traits. However, this is not a bad coerced choice since Malice stacks no longer improve damage and it’s more difficult to get to max stacks anyway without crits. The worst part of the change is also its best part. They’ve changed this skill to also apply Torment in addition to Bleed since it no longer gains a bonus from Malice stacks. The only benefit it receives from Malice stack is the Torment duration adding 1 second per Malice point. A single tick of 5 stacks of Torment at 1 Malice point is the damage boost that probably makes up for the loss of damage from Malice. Malicious Intent ensures that there is at least 1 point of Malice to consume.
Effects on my builds
I do not use Rifle that much and it’s very situational for me due to the clunkiness of the weapon skill set so that change didn’t really affect my builds that much. The change on Malice buffed my P/P power build and nerfed my P/D condition build – nerfed at least for now. I need to rework my P/D build to accommodate these changes. I obviously no longer need Maleficent 7 although the boons I get from it are very tempting. They rolled Perfectionist into Maleficent 7 meaning I can no longer get those boons if I picked another Grand Master trait. I am forced to pick Fire for Effect for Might and Fury and it’s really frustrating not having access to the Perfectionist buff any longer. The Protect, Regen, and Vigor from that trait were great. I have to tone down my Bleed stacking from stealth as the new trade-off is if I want the buffs from M7 and let Malice build up by spamming Body Shots. This is a major playstyle change which also means that I need to change my Runes once again since Trapper Runes will no longer be beneficial. I need to figure out if going back to Thorns Rune is the best or looking for a Rune set that improves Torment. I am yet to decide on this but I am leaning towards Torment since it is easier to apply than Poison. So I’m wondering if it will deal more damage.