Ask Pineleaf: How do you use a burglar in a skirmish?

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Burg - Flax

Ludkeg asks:

I haven’t played much on my Burglar, but it seems trying to use stealth for a sneak attack in a skirmish doesn’t work because my soldier is always drawing aggro and starting the fight.  Am I missing something, or does the very nature of the skirmish setup negate the power of the Burglar?

By luck, this question came just as I was preparing a new series where we would look at how each class operates in solo skirmishes. It’s so nice that the burglar is at the start of the alphabet.

In this series, we will look into the following:

  • Which skirmishes are most suitable for the class?
  • Which soldiers work with the class?
  • Are there any particular stances that work well with solo skirmishes.

The reason I am emphasizing “solo” here is because the larger the skirmish group, the more you will fall under the guidelines for general grouping and the less under skirmishing.

Stealth

First we’ll start with Ludkleg’s main question: how useful is a burglar’s stealth in a skirmish?

As Ludkeg noticed, if the enemy sees your soldier, they see you. As it is virtually impossible to get within melee range of an enemy without the enemy spotting your soldier, stealth and soldiers don’t mix. Therefore, if you wish to use stealth effectively, then you need to dismiss your soldier.

I am sure there are some first-class burglars out there that can complete Icy Crevasse at level without a soldier but I am definitely not one of them. Therefore, I will continue to summon my soldier and avoid stealth while running a solo skirmish.

Oh, in case you were thinking of dismissing your soldier so that you can pick the pockets of the enemy mobs – forget it. I have already tried it and never got anything. It is possible I was just unlucky but I think that it is more likely the nature of skirmish mobs.

Therefore, I don’t routinely use stealth in a skirmish. Oh, I may occasionally use Hide in Plain Sight to get out of a tight spot but I don’t consider that a routine skill.

I’m not saying that stealth is totally useless in a skirmish but I find it more useful on my warden than I do on my burglar.

Stance

The burglar has three stances, as listed below.

Mischief

  • -30s Riddle Cooldown (the reason I use this stance)
  • +5 Riddle duration
  • -25% Tricks Power Cost
  • +10 Non-enrage Tricks duration (form 30s to 40s)
  • Unable to use stealth

Quiet Knife

  • +3% Positional damage
  • +3% melee damage
  • -10% perceived threat

Gambler

  • +5% damage bonus on gambles
  • -848 to trick removal resistance (I presume this scales with level)
  • +5% Evade chance

Since stealth is out, the main disadvantage of Mischief is irrelevant. Therefore, I generally run in Mischief for the shorter Riddle cooldown.

The Mischief stance is the key to my strategy while playing the burglar. I find an enemy mob (generally a lieutenant or archer that is nowhere near any friendly NPCs) and keep them confused while I fight everyone else. The last thing I want is to fight a pack of mobs while a Blood Rook is clawing my face.

I also find riddles useful for getting into a better position against an enemy. Stuns work nicely if I am already close but riddles are better when I need to close in first.

Yes, you can riddle in any stance, but Mischief allows the Riddle to last longer and for me to renew the Riddle if required.

Soldier

Speaking of distractions, you soldier can work as another wonderful distraction. This means that the best soldier to use is one that can survive long enough to be a useful distraction.

I tend to prefer an archer or an herbalist. Yes, I realize that this is no great surprise to most readers. I want to avoid the rather chaotic melee types and the brittle sage, which leaves me with two choices. The real question is whether you want to emphasize offense or defense.

Defenders

I also like to use defenders as distractions. They are wont to go after everything anyway (especially a certain pair of twins in Ford of Bruinen), so I might as well work with them. I thus recommend staying near them. Whenever I forget to do so (all too often), I find myself running back to the defenders anyway to get the last few mobs.

Skirmishes

I find offensive skirmishes better for my burglar than defensive skirmishes. It is tough to set up a good riddle when you have a group of mobs running at you in an erratic pack. With an offensive skirmish, I can choose my Riddle targets carefully.

My top recommendation for the burglar is Thievery and Mischief. First, the title is just too fitting. It also has a reasonable mob density for a burglar. Finally, you can fall back at the counterattack points (since there are no defenders) and wait for the enemy to settle before starting your fight.

I have heard that some burglars dismiss their soldier, enter stealth, and sneak by the enemy during the Auction Hall counterattacks. I’ve only tried this once (to test if it really works while writing this article). Personally, I prefer to kill off the counterattack. If you plan on doing this, remember that one of the encounters is tied to fending off both Auction House counterattacks.

Conclusions

When running a skirmish, I feel more like a trickster than a burglar. Fortunately, that’s probably more like my playing style.

If you have any captain questions, this is the time to send them, as we will be looking into captains next week.

May your shield protect you and your spear never break,

Pineleaf Needles

6 comments

  1. Would you even know a burglar was there? They are so stealthy and tricky 😀

    Have fun

  2. I played a burglar quite frequently back in the early SOA days, before the 3 stances really came about…

    Sometimes I think about trying it again, and this topic is one I often think about when considering making a new burg.

    Awesome insight into the skirm situation, as always! Thanks!

  3. knowfere /

    My main is a burglar and I run with the Gambler trait line but use stealth ALL the time. If I’m really wanting the stealth bonus on a skirmish mob, I have no qualms letting my archer or warrior soldier take the aggro while I stealth up behind. Or it is possible to set up the mob with distract and run up fast enough with a surprise attack just before my archer reaches aggro radius. Something that occurred to me just now-Share the fun-does anyone know if this does not work? I shall try it when I get home from work.

  4. Lilikate Buggins. /

    Interesting article….Time to get my Burg to level 20.

  5. Andang /

    Great tips for any Burglar!

  6. Kaleigh Starshine /

    I have to believe that we Scouts (Burglars) are the worst suited of the classes to solo skirmishing, and by a great degree. There are many reasons for this, but two of the most compelling are:

    1. Virtually every single fight within a solo skirmish is one against many. Scouts are the only class that has no, or virtually no, ability to damage multiple foes at once. Thus, the battles last longer, with more time for foes to hurt us.

    2. This is compounded further by the fact that Scouts lose half of their damage dealing ability when striking foes that are facing them, a virtually certainly save for maybe the first strike against foes that have went to attack our soldier or one of the npcs that may be helping.

    With regards to skulking, it is possible, if your soldier friend is an herbalist, to sneak up to Encounter foes and strike them just before they notice your friend. Also, on defensive skirmishes, one can hide between waves and let the foes run to any npcs or your soldier and strike at them that way.

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