Essentials thief: don’t get MAD, get SAD!

After some strange experiments among the 4e Player’s Handbook classes, WOTC settled down and mostly published Dual Ability Dependent (DAD) class builds – ones that required a strong primary ability for attack rolls and damage, and a secondary ability that provided bonuses for various class features and powers. Most of the Heroes of the Fallen Lands classes follow this pattern.

The thief is an odd exception:

Ability Scores
Determine your ability scores (page 38), ensuring that Dexterity is your highest score. […] Strength and Charisma are also important to a thief, so consider making one of them your second-highest ability score.

At first glance, the Thief looks like a MAD (multiple ability dependent) build, since it has powers that reward both Strength and Charisma. On closer inspection, the thief is actually pretty SAD (single attribute dependent). There are no class powers that use Strength or Charisma. Strength and Charisma are used in a bare handful of optional at-will tricks and utility powers, none of which dazzle me.

Since a thief only really requires Dexterity, it’s probably the best Essentials class for humans, who only get one attribute boost. Oddly, Thief is the one class build in Heroes of the Fallen Lands that doesn’t suggest human as a compatible race.

I’m working on a human thief build that uses Con as a secondary, because hey, I guess I’m THAT boring. Plus, extra healing surges and hit points never hurt!

Speaking of thieves, here’s my review of thief powers:

Instead of attack powers, the Heroes of the Fallen Lands Thief class gets at-will “tricks”, move actions that let them dance around the battlefield as well as getting other useful benefits.

  • Acrobat’s Trick: It’s like they saved the best for first! This trick lets you move your speed -2 with a climb speed of speed -2 as well AND it gives you a +2 power bonus to your damage roll that increases by +2 per tier. The damage alone would make this kind of a default choice for the rogue whenever it could take advantage of it and still get sneak attack, but the climb speed is a very nice bonus.
  • Ambush Trick: A nice trick for getting combat advantage when no other avenues present themselves.The enemy must have no allies adjacent, but this is definitely one of those tricks I can see coming up a few times a battle and being very useful when it does.
  • Escape Artist’s Trick: Sheesh. So many nice tricks. Being able to shift two is great for setting up flanks but being able to shift two at the end of your turn is just an added fun bonus for extra mobility!
  • Feinting Trick: This trick makes me sad because it implies there are times the rogue won’t have combat advantage. I would prefer that NEVER happen and even though it’s occasionally inevitable, I would rather do everything in my power to avoid it, including taking Ambush Trick over this one, than take a power that mitigates the loss of such a potent ability for an attack.
  • Sneak’s Trick: An interesting power that makes it easier to hide and set up sneak attack after sneak attack. It doesn’t really support my style of play, which is to get in the enemies’ face and do as much damage as possible, but I know a few people who would really appreciate being able to slip into hiding VERY easily.
  • Tactical Trick: Another useful ability for getting combat advantage. It gives you combat advantage against enemies that have at least one of your allies adjacent to them and gives some nice mobility to boot. I’d have to do some thinking to figure out which of these tricks is most useful for sustained combat advantage, but this one packs enough utility to make it a decent choice, I think.
  • Thug’s Trick: Hmm, a nice trick for locking an enemy into a flank, which means more combat advantage, since the enemy provokes an OA if they shift out of the flank, which will have sneak attack due to the new rules changes! A decent power.
  • Tumbling Trick: Shift 3 + strength modifier damage to a different adjacent enemy makes this a very solid choice. With the shifting you’re very likely to get a flank in, and the strength modifier damage can really pile up. If I went for a rogue with strength as my secondary (or my primary), I’d most likely grab this trick for when it comes up, since I like to dish out a lot of damage period, even if it’s not all against the same guy.
  • Unbalancing Trick: A shift 2 and knocking someone prone if you hit is nice, but I’m not super impressed by knocking someone prone. They’ll probably get up so combat advantage isn’t guaranteed, though if you’re flanking it’s a good way to keep them flanked, so this is a another decent pick.

All in all my favorites are Acrobat’s Trick and Tumbling Trick for their straight up damage and mobility. The other ones are all pretty decent (aside from feinting trick), so I’d probably try to make sure I have at least one power that includes shifting and at least one power that gives me a good way to get combat advantage in a pinch.

More Essentials thoughts…


3 Responses to “Essentials thief: don’t get MAD, get SAD!”

  1. DMZ says:

    That’s RAD! I’ll think about that as I go to my PAD, dressed in PLAID.

  2. Moon DM says:

    I think D&D is just a FAD.

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