Assassin Guide by SneakySage

Version: 1.00 | Updated: 09/13/06 | Printable Version

The Complete Assassin Guide
by:  Sneaky Sage
Proud member of The Amazon Basin
Version 1.00  Date: Sept 2006


Introduction to the Assassin
Spells and Skills
The Basics of Killing - Playing the Assassin
My Favorite Builds

Introduction to the Assassin

Assassins are stealthy, silent killers who move through the shadows, 
and strike fear into the hearts of any caster class character.  
Assassins have the ability to shadow step to any foe on the battlefield 
in an instant, unleash a devastating attack and dissappear again to recharge 
or heal, leaving the foe dead or severly injured.  This character is for the 
person who likes to get up close and personal with the enemy and stick a 
dagger in their ribs.  But, assassins are NOT warriors and as such are not
good tanks.  Playing the Assassin effectively takes finesse and patience.

The dagger is the weapon of choice for assassins which allows them to 
string deadly attacks together in a very short time span, killing or 
disabling their foes. A collection of hexes, spells and attack buffs
serve to increase the assassin's destructive power.  These can be strung
together to provide the desired outcome of massive damage to the target,
health and energy degen or bleeding and crippling.  Several spells including
Aura of Displacement allow the assassin to shadow step (teleport) to the 
target even if that target is on the wall of a fort, (can't go over moats, 
canyons, locked walls or barriers) in the blink of an eye. No, this won't
work on Dunes of Despair bonus.

The assassin is also one of the more complex characters to play well.  The 
beginner should study this guide and others on available forums to gain a full
understanding of how to play the assassin effectively.

Spells and Skills

The Assassin's arsenal consists of spells and skills under the catagories of:

Critical Strikes
Dagger Mastery
Deadly Arts
Shadow Arts
No Attribute

The Assassin is a special character who borrows from both classes of warrior 
and caster.  Armor is maxed out at 70 so is comparable to that of a Ranger but
not as high as a warrior.  Yet the assassin attacks the same way as a warrior 
does; up close and personal.  

The assassin energy pool is rather small compared to casters (base of 25) but 
the regen rate is comparable to that of the caster class at 4 pips of regen.  
Armor upgrades are available further along in the game that give a base energy 
pool of 32 and coupled with dagger mods can boost the energy pool to 37.  The 
assassin uses energy similar to the way a warrior uses adrenalin: to unleash 
damage spells, attacks and hexes.  

With a small energy pool to draw from, lesser armor and the requirement to 
attack the enemy at close quarters, you can see why the assassin is difficult 
to play well.  If you've already played your assassin, you've already been 
made to feel like an outcast because no one wants you on their team.  
Assassins die to much and too soon.....This is because too few players
understand the mechanics of how the assassin really works.

Critical Strikes:  This is one of the most important attributes and bears much 
consideration.  For each point spent in this primary attribute, the Assassin 
gains an additional 1% chance to land a Critical Hit.  Plese refer to this 
link for the numbers:

For each Critical Hit that lands, the Assassin gains energy (maximum of 3 per 
critical hit at Attribute level of 13) and deals 40% more than the base dagger
damage.  A higher attribute level only increases the critical hit percent.  It 
is not dependant on using daggers either, and will work with almost any weapon 
or style of attack.  Check this link for a table of Critical Strike:

Dagger Mastery:  This attribute affects the amount of damage you deal out per
attack.  Obviously, having a high attribute level here is important as well.  
This only applies to daggers so it is important you get the best daggers you 
can find.  The max damage output of assassin daggers is only 7-17.  That sounds 
pretty pitiful compared to some warrior weapons like hammers or swords which 
max out in the high 20's or 30's. Please check the numbers here: 

The mechanism which helps increase the dagger damage is called DOUBLE STRIKE.
This concept is not discussed in the official manual but nevertheless is very 
important.  The Double Strike signifies the number of times a dagger strikes 
the target per swing.  Each dagger attack has a chance to trigger a double 
strike (extra hit).  For each rank in Dagger Mastery, you increase the chance 
to double strike by 2%.  With Dagger Mastery set to 16, your chance to double
strike increases to 32%.  Just swinging your daggers at a target counts as an 
attack.  THIS IS IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND.  An Assassin may deal out as much 
damage in the same amount of time as a warrior's base sword damage or any 
other character because of this. 

Deadly Arts:  This attribute improves the duration and effectiveness of attack
skills, hexes,and spells.  These skills can add damage to other attacks and 
count as Lead, Offhand or Dual attacks.  So far, not too many assassins use 
these skills.  Some are very useful but if you want to max out your damage and
energy regain rate, not too many points can be spared to make these attacks 
very useful.  I'm sure there are those out there who have learned to use these 
attacks effectively and will want to dispute my feelings regarding Deadly Arts.

Shadow Arts:  These skills mostly deal with defense and health regen. 
Obviously you need to have some siginificant points in this attrubute as well.  

No Attribute:  Aura of Displacement (teleport) is here along with speed boosts 
and a few others.

The Basics of Killing - Playing the Assassin

As you've already seen, the Assassin uses daggers and special abilities to 
attack targets quickly and deal out massive damage, then retreat to heal or 
recharge. With high points in Dagger Mastery, Critical Strikes and Shadow Arts,
the Assassin can, with the right skills, deal out a lot of damage in a short
amount of time, regain energy and continue to attack while others are 
recharging. But how do we play this character to the fullest?

The first thing to do is max out Dagger Mastery.  There are some who disagree
with this concept and indeed, there are some attack sequences and instances 
where you want Critical Strikes to be higher than Dagger Mastery.  That one
attribute alone increases the damage output the Assassin can deal.  
It affects only daggers and directly increases the damage level of skills and 
spells. I like mine at 16 (12 + 4) in most instances. 

The next most important attribute to increase is Critical Strikes.  Because of
the way the energy increases, the most efficient attribute levels are at 3, 8
and 13.  Higher than 13 will not increase the rate of energy regain but 
increases the percentage to double strike.  

Leftover points should be put in Shadow Arts for healing and escape/defense or
your secondary profession. 

The next thing to look very carefully at is the sequence of attacks.  These 

LEAD ATTACK, OFF HAND AND DUAL.  A lot of Assassin attacks need to be in this 
order.  Many spells specify that they MUST follow a lead, offhand or dual 
attack to work. When the proper sequence is followed or the correct condition
induced, the spell will light up on your skill bar meaning it is primed for 

Other spells do not require a certain order even though they are listed as 
offhand or dual. Palm Strike, an elite skill is an offhand skill but does not
require a lead attack to be used first. Pick your skill bar to accomplish what
you want.

I am always interested in using Critical Eye which gives you an increased 1-7% 
chance to make a critical hit when attacking. Couple this with a strong attack
sequence like: Jagged Strike, Fox Fangs and Death Blossom. Add something like 
Flashing Blades (increased chance to block incoming attacks), Death's Charge
or Aura of Displacement to shadow step to target foe, Shadow Refuge to heal 
yourself and Rebirth (monk secondary) to revive your henchies or teammates,
and you have a workable build.

LEARN TO KITE.  Running away is one of the best defensive skills an Assassin
has.  Since you have to get up close and personal, learn to spot when you are 
getting ganked and losing health fast and start running.  In GvG, one of my 
favorite techniques is to auto kite.  I line up my character with the target
and a safe area and press the R key to start running towards the target.  
When in range, unleash an attack then hit the X key to turn around and R to
start running again. 

Don't forget that when you are not using a spell or attack buff, you are still
causing damage and gaining energy by simply swinging your daggers.  That's 
when you can score double hits and increase your energy gain.

One more thing to consider:  Try using Major or Minor Runes instead of Superior
ones.  Health is a big deal with the Assassin.  I'd rather have 75 more health
points than deal an extra 5 points of damage.
My Favorite Builds

The build I like the best so far or PvE play is The Vigorous Blade. A/Mo with 
attribute levels of DM 14, CS 13, Healing Prayers 10 with Shiro's Blades 
(vampiric) alternating with Gold (non-vampiric) daggers and energy armor.

1. Vigorous Spirit (monk healing spell gives you +15 health points per hit)
2. Critical Eye (assassin spell that gives increased chance of making a 
critical hit and increasing energy)
3. Golden Lotus (returns 10 energy if you are under an enchantment i.e. 
Vigorous Spirit)
4. Palm Strike (E) strikes for 5-65 damage
5. Death Blossom (strikes for 15-40 damage and deals that amount to all 
attackers in vicinity)
6. Orison of Healing (monk)
7. Mend Ailment (Monk. Gets rid of annoying conditions like crippled, blind,
8. Rebirth (monk)

There is almost NO energy management problems with this build and it keeps the
healing constant.

Another favorite with Assassin only skills:

Poison Blade Assassin

1. Aura of Displacement
2. Golden Lotus
3. Entangling Asp
4. Falling Spider
5. Twisting Fangs
6. Sharpen Daggers
7. Critical Eye
8. Shadow Refuge

An A/Me build I tried for awhile:

Illusion Mastery 11
Dagger Mastery 16
Critical Strike 8

1. Illusion of Weakness
2. Critical Eye
3. Kitah's Burden
4. Golden Lotus
5. Palm Strike (E)
6. Death Blossom
7. Flashing Blades

One of my favorite builds for Alliance battles:

A/Mo  Cruel Assassin

DM 16 (12+4)
Healing Prayers 9
Deadly Arts 8 (7+1)
CS 8 (6+2)

1. Sharpen Daggers (Enchantment, all of your ctitical hits cause bleeding for
5-15 seconds)
2. Critical Eye (For 10-35 seconds you have  a 1-7% chance to land a critical 
3. Aura of Displacement (E) (Enchantment. Shadow step to target)
4. Golden Lotus Strike (Lead attack for 5-20 damage and if you are under an 
enchantment like Aura of Dis, you gain +10 energy)
5. Entangling Asp (Deadly Arts.  Must follow a lead atk, tgt is knocked down 
and is poisoned for 5-20 sec)
6. Falling Spider (DM. Offhand, must strike a knocked down foe and does 15-35
dmg and poisons foe for 5-20 seconds)
7. Twisting Fangs (DM. Dual attack, must follow offhand attack, strikes for 
10-20 damage and foe suffers from bleeding and deep wound for 5-20 seconds).
8. Healing Breeze or Orison of Healing or Mend Ailment (monk)

This build deals massive bleeding and poison.  Often, after unleashing this
attack on that poor, unsuspecting mesmer, necro or ranger and running away,
they will run off and simply die 20 seconds later from their wounds.  Another 
favorite technique is to unleash this attack on one of those casters in a mob
then run away letting the group chase you.  With the warrior up front hacking 
at you, keep running until you are getting critically low on health then 
double-click on Aura of Dis to remove it.  You instantly teleport miles back
to where you initiated the spell and leave the mob scratching their heads as 
to where you went.  This has caused me great satisfaction many times!

A good PvP build:

I watched this build work in a very highly ranked Guild.  The concept was to 
take the Assassin (or 2) and go gank the enemy's base killing archers and 

A/Mo or any other profession

1. Critical Eye
2. Sharpen Daggers (Enchantment. Causes tgt foe bleeding for 10-35 seconds)
3. Expose Defenses (DA.  Hex.  Tgt cannot block or evade your attacks)
4. Iron Palm (Tgt foe suffers 5-50 damage and if suffering from a hex is 
knocked down, i.e. Expose Def)
5. Falling Spider (Must strike a knocked down foe, causes 15-35 damage and 
poisons for 5-20 seconds)
6. Twisting Fangs (Strikes for 10-20 damage and foe suffers from bleeding and
deep wound for 5-20 seconds)
7. Seeping Wound (E) (Hex. For 5-20 sec, if tgt foe is suffereing from 
bleeding or poison, suffers -2 health degen)
8. Shadow Refuge (SA. Self healing spell)

This build was deadly against NPCs.  The assassin would teleport in close, 
unlease the full attack bar, then teleport out again and heal while the NPC
bled to death.  Nice work.


GuildWiki for reference to their tables.
Kalandraf for his indepth analysis of the Assassin and the effects of Dagger 
Mastery and Critical Strikes.

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Copyright 2006

In game my name is: Sneaky Sage (AB)  Assassin/Monk  Protector of Tyria/Cantha.
I will be happy to answer any questions or provide advice.