Let's try to spice up the forums with a little rating game. It'll go by week. Week 5 will be...the Thief!
White Mage: 8 Ranger: 7.8 Blackbelt: 6.61 Red Mage: 5.58
Rate (out of 10) in:
Solo Ability Partying Fun Factor
And then of course, average them together for an overall. I'll start.
Solo Ability: Right...they can't even begin to try to solo a boss. It's also hard to solo train where there is magic when using a thief. 4/10
Partying: Well, I'd say they're pretty good in parties until you get to the Ice Caverns. After that though, what do you want from thieves? Their Silent Retreat ability? I suppose Pressure Attack helps around ToTE though. 7/10
Fun Factor: I've never been able to really get into a thief. 4/10
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Solo - They're really not build for it, although they do have higher armor than most people give credit. They actually have a slightly better rating than a dragoon. And the fact that they can boost their dodging and force critical hits, you'd think they'd do better. But the fact remains that in most cases, even with the dodging and crits, they still get hurt too much without being overleveled to be effective soloers, save kreland. Perhaps with the hits = damage boost, they're better but I haven't put it to the test, to be honest. They did not go very well in many cases, and the fact that you need a very, very specific build for very, very specific playing styles in many cases to make a useful thief, they take probably some of the most effort out of all the classes to solo. 3/10
Partying - Again with the builds, although in a party you have a bit more leaveway. You can make an agi only thief, combined with a fast2, or something, and have a total decoy even as far as early PoP, or even titans (Yes, I'm aware of the chances of dodging, but I also remember that when the hit system had a minimum of 25% chance to hit, people would still miss like 40 times in a row. So I'm sure even just a 40% chance to dodge would yield a good deal of damage avoided ). The biggest factor in how useful the thief will be in a party really lies with the party. For str build thieves, they'll be as strong as knights, just about, who aren't using skills (although backstab could push the point because of the crit), and so useful on boost heavy parties. Agi build for parties that can easily spare a fast, more so with smaller parties as it boosts how often the thief will be hit.. It's really up for grabs, enough that it's lmost situational, and can't be rated high at all. 3.5/10
Fun factor - There's a lot of work to go into a good thief, way too much. Hopefully it'll be kind of different with V8, which will boost how good they cn and could be, but at the moment, if you're spending too much time working on how to build and play, enough to rival playing itself, I don't think you're getting a ton of enjoyment from the class. I don't think I would be, personally, so I tend to not play thieves at all other than just to say 'Yes, I have one.' and still use my knight or something else instead. 4/10
The drive to massacre and annihilate, the compulsion to destroy your opponent... Such wrath is power for the soul! By eliminating your foe, you attain your first sublimation of that drive. It is this very sublimation that draws out the hidden powers within oneself! But, clinging to reason.. suppressing your wrath and desire, makes releasing your true power a dream within a dream for you. - Grahf
Urgh, where to start... OK, how about being the frailest class in the game? Yes, Thieves have a slight edge in terms of defense compared to BMs and BLMs, as well as a very minor edge compared to WMs and Dragoons. However, that goes out the window for two reasons; Jump minimizes the amount of time a Dragoon ever has to worry about their below average defense, and the three mages have Forcefield, Barrier and/or Shield in order to improve their durability well past that of a Thief.
So then if Thieves are dead last in terms of durability, what about damage? Well, Thieves aren't all that good at that either. Guaranteed crits for 1 MP is good, but having nothing but pig stickers available for the last stages of the game hurts. Mage-class strength growth and only one ability that actually increases the amount of damage you deal (Pressure Attack) hurts. In short, Thieves are far more weak than they have any right being.
So, durability is in the gutter, damage isn't that far above durability... what about a Thief's ability to avoid damage? Well, early on it's fairly good. Hide makes it hard for most monsters early on to consistently hit a Thief, more so if the Thief adds a point to agility every now and then. Later into the game though, Hide's utility as anything other than a gateway to backstabbity goodness dies. Increased evasion does squat against magic damage, and with HP growth not much higher than a BLM or WM, it doesn't take much to end up done like dinner.
I can't in good faith give Thieves anything past a 2.5/10.
Pickpocket can be handy when it comes to gathering gold for your gear... and eventually other partymember's gear. Silent Retreat is by far the best skill to have when a party wants to get from one point to another as quickly as possible (whether or not doing so is a good idea is another topic altogether). Past those two things though, there's really nothing that stands out about Thieves past very high natural accuracy, with or without Hide.
As noted above, Thieves can't take damage well without outside help. They can't really deal damage well without outside help and almost every bonus point put into strength. Bloody Murder is handy, but so is Divide. Backstab is basically 200% normal damage (occasionally more on the rare occasion it acts as a mortal wound), but any other class that lands a crit/MW will get the same bonus on top of any actual damage modifier(s) their ability would have (Jump's 75%, Slash's 60%, Pummel's ~50% due to bonus hits, etc).
At best, Thieves can fill in for another melee class and do decently. At worst, all they'll be good for is absorbing some damage or running away if a non-ambush goes terribly wrong. I'd be generous if I gave anything higher than a 3.5/10.
Honestly, the only classes I have less fun playing as are Dragoons and Knights (more so Dragoons than Knights). There's just so little available for a Thief to do; you either Hide and Backstab (occasionally Defend/Rest-ing if you got focused during a round), or using Pressure Attack for a few rounds. Two attack options, and one can't be used until near the end of the game. I don't know about anyone else, but when there's pretty much only one thing available for use until some time around fighting Geyzer, there's something wrong.
It's just not fun at all to me to play as a Thief. 2/10.
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I'll have to disagree with what people are saying about soloing bosses. They, surprisingly, can hold their own against Vallatio and Kaug, without being overpowered. With the right build. Otherwise, and on a general note, there just isn't enough going for the Thief to really solo effectively though. So for the most part, I would have to agree with Taka and Reap.
This is where things get fun, as I type this up. I doubt any of you here have really gotten into a really high-leveled, end-game Thief, because things are always different at PoP. Hell, I'm still learning the extent of usefulness Sur Realis has to offer. I think the best thing I can do to convey how they actually, honestly, seriously are useful (and people can vouch for me here!) is go over the skills they have.
Backstab Bloody Murder Pressure Attack
At first glance, this looks like a very small list, but in this list are an infinite number of possibilities.
Bloody Murder is handy, but so is Divide.
Divide doesn't have shit on Bloody Murder. Divide costs 5 MP, a very steep price with the Knight's maximum 13 MP. This means that Divide is only useful when directed at large, buffy enemies, Titans. Maybe Thunder Dragons, but nothing else in the game really warrants the steep price of Divide. Not only that, it is based on the Knight's chance to hit, which means it's not at all damned useful on smaller enemies, like Middle Demons. Good luck Dividing those!
But Bloody Murder? Bloody Murder is an amazing tool. It costs a mere 3 MP, at the price of it being entirely luck based. 80% chance to work on a small, 40% on a large. But forget the larges, 80% on a small? Four out of five times, Bloody Murder will succeed in one-hitting a small monster. When dealing with Middle Demons, this is amazing. Not only this, the Thief has a maximum MP of 15, allowing five uses of Bloody Murder in one go: And missing costs no MP.
And Pressure Attack? Sure, it is only a +50% boost to damage, but it also puts the enemy to sleep. This can save parties in a pinch, if there is one too many Titans, or if someone is about to die. Sur Realis was the reason some battles have been won at Titans, thanks to Pressure Attack.
And Backstab? It practically equates to a reliable Retort that often Crits. (Critical will add damage alike Retort, Mortal Wound something close to Retort Crit). Sure, it may not have an infinite number of ways to stack on damage (Jump Boost3 DragoonFury gayness), but it is one of the game's few reliable sources of damage, even if it's not a very high number, you always know the range it will land in. It is amazing in large parties, where mobs often go with living with a mere 300 or 400 HP left.
And all this coupled with the Thief's tendency to go first?
I used to agree, Thief is the worst class, but now I say it is a very useful class, that often goes under-appreciated.
Just ask Kain. I proved to him that Thieves are bad-ass, yo.
Despite having only 3 skills, I will have to say for parties that Thieves are easily a solid 7.5/10.
Fun Factor --
This would be a rather subjective section: For me, I love playing my Thief. For only having three skills, she has many options and possibilities that can, in all seriousness, make or break a battle. Of course, this is something that only really comes in the higher-ToTE-levels, so I can understand not many people finding Thieves fun.
Overall, I would have to say 5/10. They aren't the best class, lord no, but they are a step above, I'm going to say it, Black Belts, and often times Red Mages.
And it's so easy when you're evil, this is the life, you see, the devil tips his hat to me.