Thanks to Mr. Darkdawn, here I am again about to impart my infinite wisdom unto thee. Today's topic is going to be about Merits and which are best for you, as a career Thief! This guide won't be anywhere near as long as my Gear guide and it's not as clear cut as some of the gear is. Opinions here may be a bit different depending on how you play or how you want to customize yourself. I will tell you what I believe to be the best choices, but in the end it's always up to you to make the decision.
In other words, I don't want to hear you bitching that "something isn't right" because someone else told you different or you want to do it another way. On with the show!
Strength: This is an obvious choice as all melees will benefit from more strength. If you have more than just your Thief you're going to want to chose this as your main attribute merit.
Dexterity: The best choice for a Thief since all your weapon skills and your main job ability are modified by it. This is an especially good choice if you're a race with low dexterity. A nice amount of other melee jobs will also benefit from this since it affects critical hit rate and accuracy.
The Bottom Line: It's really a dead tie between the two as far as I'm concerned. You can't losing choosing one over the other. Personally, I went 3 into strength and 2 into dexterity. I had Ranger in mind when I choose the Strength, otherwise, I would've went full into dexterity.
Daggers: This is the obvious choice, make sure you go the full 8\8 into it. I would suggest this as being one of the first things you choose to merit.
Evasion: Another good one, put 4\4 into this. Especially if you're into solo'ing on your own a lot.
Marksmanship: This one is great if you plan on solo'ing a lot with your crossbow. If you're a hardcore Thief I would strongly recommend putting your last 8\8 into this category. However, if you have other melee jobs it would be better served in another combat skill.
Sword: This is an obvious choice if you're one of the lucky Ridill Thieves. Then again, if you're a Ridill Thief you already know what to merit and did so years ago, what the hell are you doing reading my blog?
Parrying: This is one I've told myself I might try out if I ever cap parrying. Thieves are tied with Corsair, Samurai and Ninja for highest parrying, and we've got the highest Evasion. So with capped\merited Evasion\Parrying I can only assume our survivability would be amazing with solo'ing. But, I'd recommend sticking to the above options.
The Bottom Line: 8\8 Dagger Merits and 4\4 Evasion Merits are a must. The last 8 are all in your hands.
Critical Hit Rate: This should be any melees first choice from this category.
Spell Interruption Rate: Good for obvious reasons. If you're a Melee\Mage user, this doubles on both fronts as long as your melee is in constant use of a ninja sub job.
Enmity Increase: I wouldn't suggest Enmity Decrease as a Thief for any reason since it would have adverse on Trick Attack. However, Enmity Increase on the other hand would help Trick Attack immensely. Since we don't push out the numbers like Samurai and Dark Knights do, I don't think you would be pulling too much hate over tanks. Even if you do, we as Thieves have the ability to duck and dodge a few hits.
The Bottom Line: Critical Hit Rate and Spell Interruption Rate are your best friends here, but if you feel like pulling away from the norm a bit, try replacing the Spell Interruption Rate with Enmity Increase and having a little bit of fun.
Now here is where we get to the meat and potatoes. This is also where things start to get fun for Thieves as a job, because nothing in here is going to affect 'other melee' jobs you might have. This is also where we get to solve a few problems you might noticed in your every day thief life.
Sneak Attack: This should be one of the first choices that crosses your mind. Sneak Attack does more damage than any of your others job abilities and you use it most often. Now, if you're a career thief and you have a decent TP build you should also notice in Merit parties that you get 100% TP way quicker then your Sneak Attack recharges. I got news...this isn't going to completely solve that problem as you get stronger. In most cases it will, but still you'll get a couple times where you hit your macro and WS...and miss Sneak Attack by 1 or 2 seconds. This still a solid choice though.
Trick Attack: You're looking at the same general reasons as above, however, in my eyes the overall effectiveness of this merit is going to be aimed at a more concentrated area. End Game, most specifically, Wyrms with Spike Flails. You are basically useless as a Thief at this point since we're not allowed around back. However, as long as you can gain TP at a constant rate on the Wyrm, you got a nice chunk of WS every 50 seconds here. Combined with a gear set that strengths that and you've got a decent reason to merit Trick Attack.
Triple Attack: I'd recommend this as your first priority in this category and your second after doing your Dagger Merits. For the obvious reasons, Triple Attack is sick. A full Haste build with Triple Attack maxed out and every so often you get this 'mini-hundred first' animation going. It's so gratifying to see.
The Bottom Line: Sneak Attack and Triple Attack are going to be your best friends. If you're in the End Game Scene a lot, Trick Attack might have a nice home with you over Sneak Attack.
Aura Steal: For me, Aura Steal is sitting right on the line between being "extremely situational" and a "novelty". There are so many other jobs who can Dispel easier and more frequently then a Thief can. However, there have been a few times where Aura Steal has saved my ass. A single merit into Aura Steal won't hurt you -- but no more. Additional merits only add an increase in a chance to absorb the effect and the big draw from Aura Steal doesn't come from absorbing the buff, just from dispelling it.
Assassin's Charge: Similar to the above -- because of Assassin's Charge long recast, it's not as useful as it could be. I'd say put a single merit into it and have it for occasions when you really need to pump out just one high damage weapon skill. Like, if you need to stick hate on a Tank for an NM. Otherwise, leave it alone.
Feint: This here is probably the biggest draw to the Group 2 merits. Feint drastically lowers the evasion of a target monster. I'm not sure what the exact amount of evasion down is, but it makes a Thief evade as well as a White Mage. Most people will probably tell you to max this out and if you're into the HNM scene -- or Salvage especially, that's a great idea. The more you can use this in Salvage the quicker things will go. However, I'd recommend only putting three merits into it and I'll explain why with the next one.
Ambush: This merit gives you +3 Accuracy and Ranged Accuracy for each merit, but the Accuracy and Ranged Accuracy is only in effect when you are behind a monster. Which, as a Thief...is nearly always. Full merited you have +15 Accuracy. Now, the reason I recommend this over fully meriting Feint is that you will get far more use out of Ambush. Whereas Feint's greatest use comes in during Boss-type monsters. Most battles with Bosses last long enough for a single feint and are dead before a fully merited Feint is up -- there are plenty of exceptions, but I believe this to be true in most cases. The only great exception is Salvage. If you do Salvage on a regular basis, fully merit Feint. Otherwise, a 6 Minute Recast is going to be fine and you'll benefit in and out of every event with Ambush more.
The Bottom Line: Ambush and Feint are going to be your biggest draws. Aura Steal and Assassin's Charge have their uses, but not as much as the other two. Go full into Ambush or Feint, then spend one each on Aura Steal or Assassin's Charge. If you can't decide which you'd prefer, go full into both Ambush and Feint and forget the other two.
The Final Merit Map
Strength or Dexterity: 5\5
Dagger Skill: 8\8
Marksmanship Skill: 8\8
Evasion Skill: 4\4
Critical Hit Rate: 4\4
Spell Interruption Rate: 4\4
Sneak Attack: 5\5
Triple Attack: 5\5
Aura Steal: 1\5
Assassin's Charge: 1\5