Thief - Leveling Duelist

The Official API is experiencing issues; skill, trait and item data cannot be loaded at the moment.
Note: Please note that builds will default to plain icons, these may not be as accurate. We apologize for the inconvenience.

The community gave this build a rating, making it top-tier: Great.

Focused on: Leveling.

Designed for:


Leveling Tips

It is strongly advised that you review our Leveling Tips Guide before proceeding with this build.


Thief is a strong solo class. It is unique in the fact that it does not have skill cooldowns on its weapon skills, as other classes do, and is instead limited by its Initiative system.

Thief is one of the only classes in the game which can chain stealth for extremely long durations, achieveing permanent stealth with the Deadeye specialization. It is also the most mobile class in the game. This makes it ideal for activities such as map completion.

The Build

This is a preview of the build you are aiming for. Progression is explained below.

A Note on Weapons

As thief does not have skill cooldowns, generally speaking you should always carry a Shortbow as your second weapon for instant access to high mobility via .

This build defaults to Sword/Pistol due to its moderate cleave damage and extremely high defense via + .

Other combinations which can be very effective are:

  • Dagger/Dagger - High mobility and burst damage, easy access to stealth via . Least defensive option.
  • Dagger/Pistol - High mobility, good damage, easy access to stealth (via + , and the option of using for area blinds.
  • Pistol/Pistol - The highest DPS ranged option. Spam for extremely high burst and Might Might uptime

Each of these combinations requires slightly different traits, which will be listed below.

Skill Bar



Trait and Skill Variants

The Deadly Arts and Critical Strikes skill trees are a must for this build. Acrobatics can be changed to others depending on your preferences. Additionally, when taking a different weapon set than Sword/Pistol, it is recommended to change a few traits:

  • Change Acrobatics to Trickery:




This build is very easy to play. Your auto-attack is where most of your DPS comes from. Use as often as possible.


Against foes that can be blinded:
  • , complete two auto-attack chains, then again.
Against foes that can't be blinded:
  • to avoid major attacks. Dodge and auto-attack otherwise.

If you find yourself struggling beyond level 45, change to for an extreme amount of sustain.


Unlocking the build above will take quite some time, but you should aim to follow the guide below. Note that you should have more hero points than you will need for this build, so do some experimenting and unlock things that seem fun to you. This build a guideline, not a hard rule to follow.

Tier 1

Tier 1 is level 2-10 and during this tier you will be slowly introduced to some of the core concepts of the game, like weapon and profession skills. You will begin with some weapon skills unlocked and will unlock more as you level. At level 5 you will unlock your Profession Skill, Steal, which allows you to gain new skills when you steal from enemies.

is a very powerful tool, and much of this build revolves around it. Use it often.

Through this tier you will unlock more weapon skills. For now, work on reaching the next tier by completing events and map completing. At level 10 you will unlock the ability to swap weapons.

Complete your Personal Story and proceed to Tier 2.

Tier 2

From levels 11-20 you'll be in Tier 2, where you can start unlocking slot skills

Slot Skills are divided into three categories - Healing, Utility, and Elite. You already have a Healing Skill, but now you can begin unlocking Utility Skills.

On reaching Level 11 you'll receive 5 hero points. You can get hero points from levels or completing Hero Challenges in the world, but for the purposes of this guide we will only consider your hero points gained from levels.

To start off, open your hero panel and look under the Training tab. You'll see several options for Slot Skills. Your goal in Tier 2 is to unlock the following skills and any skills that come before them:

You won't unlock much else this tier, so keep exploring until you hit Tier 3.

Remember to focus on Power gear as you level.

At level 20, you will unlock Chapter 2 of your Personal Story. Complete it and proceed to Tier 3.

Tier 3

Tier 3 contains levels 21-30 and right away you will unlock the ability to select Core Specializations and unlock Traits.

Your goal in this Tier is much the same as Tier 2 and 1: Complete open world events, hearts, vistas, and the like while gaining levels. With your main utility skills already unlocked, you will want to focus on unlocking specific traits.

Open your Hero Panel under Training again but this time we're going to look at the Deadly Arts Specialization. You have two traits to focus on here:

At Level 30, complete your next Personal Story chapter and move to Tier 4.

Tier 4

From levels 31-40, right away you can unlock your Elite Skill. Elite skills are unlocked at the end of any Skill Line Training and can be very powerful. For our purposes, we'll focus on:

It is worth noting that you will begin unlocking dungeons here, as listed in our Leveling Tips guide. Be sure to consult that section, as dungeons are a valuable source of gold and experience.

At level 40, complete your Personal Story chapter and move to Tier 5.

Tier 5

In this tier we get another choice of trait line at level 45. In this case, you'll want to begin unlocking the Critical Strikes Traitline, aiming for these three traits

You should have these three traits fully unlocked before hitting the next tier, but if not continue to unlock them in the next tier. At level 60, complete the next chapter of your personal story and move to Tier 6.

Tier 6 and Tier 7

The next two tiers, 6 and 7, are mostly the same as Tier 5. You will unlock new dungeons like Twilight Arbor and Sorrow's Embrace, and will be able to complete more of your personal story. During these Tiers you will start getting gear with 3 stats rather than 2, so you should start focusing on bringing up your Power and Precision, generally, with the third attribute being of your choice (avoid condition damage).

Runes and Sigils

By level 60 you will be able to obtain Superior Runes and Sigils, which can alter your gameplay drastically. Find some that you like and that are very cheap and use them in your gear. It is not recommended to purchase any specific runes or sigils until level 80, however, so just use ones that you find or are given by the rewards system for now.

Once you have completed your Tier 7 Personal Story, you are ready to proceed to Tier 8.

Tier 8

Level 71 is where you start getting your first tastes of the end-game. Here we unlock our final Specialization slot, which we'll be dedicating to Acrobatics. Acrobatics further increases our sustain and gives us some much-needed Vigor Vigor so that we can dodge more often.


By this point, you will have most of the maps in Core Tyria unlocked and will have made your way to the Orr maps. These maps, such as Malchor's Leap, have extremely frequent events and you will often find "Event Trains" in their public map chat. Join up with these trains for large group activites that are both highly profitable and grant large amounts of experience.

After exploring Orr and participating in events, you will have reached level 80. From here, proceed into your final Story Chapter, and upon completing it you will be ready for some of the end-game content.

Elite Specializations and Post-80 Content

Just because you're level 80 now doesn't mean the game is over, however. Guild Wars 2's leveling experience is a fun series of exploration, story, dungeons, and learning experiences. Post-80, much of that remains the same. There are more level 80 maps in the game than pre-80 maps, so exploring those and experiencing Heart of Thorns, Path of Fire, and the Living Story episodes will give you more of that unique leveling experience.

You will also want to unlock your Elite Specializations. You can do this in a similar way to your Core Specializations, by obtaining Hero Points, but Elite Specializations require many more Hero Points than Core. The best way to obtain these is to venture in to the Heart of Thorns or Path of Fire maps and complete Hero Challenges there, which grant 10 Hero Points each. You can often find "HP Trains" in the LFGs for these maps or in map chat, which will allow you to very quickly and easily complete these Hero Points.

The difficulty level of maps ramps up considerably from Core to the Expansions, so be ready to get hit hard. You'll want to explore our Open World section for good Core / Basic Builds to level up your Elite Specs.

Fractals and Raids are also unlocked at 80, and if you own the expansions you can jump right into them. Fractals are a lot like dungeons but with a tiered progression system. Higher level fractals can be very profitable and challenging content but require special Ascended gear. Raids, on the other hand, can be an excellent source of Ascended drops and provide rewarding group content to complete with up to 10 players. You can start off raids in Exotic Gear, which is often relatively cheap, so don't be afraid to look for Training Guilds.

From here, your goals are your own. You can seek to conquer the fractal progression, join up with raids, or participate in the massive number of meta events available around Tyria. Whichever path you decide, you'll need a build for it, so consult the other builds on this site to find one that suits you best.

Good luck out there.

Build rating - Not Rated
Only registered users can vote. Log in or Register. (It only takes a few seconds!)
Be the first to rate.