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Dark Souls Board Game Character Guide: The Thief

Joseph is an IT nerd who is a long-time fan of the Dark Souls franchise.

dark-souls-board-game-character-guide-the-thief

"Within the ranks of the Chosen Undead, those Bearers of the Curse and Ashen Ones all, there is not merely one discipline, but a multitude. For all that the redoubtable knights, mighty warriors, noble heralds, and cunning assassins might be most obvious, they are but a few amongst many." — excerpt from Dark Souls: The Board Game Character Expansion Rulebook

Dark Souls: The Board Game

Dark Souls: The Board Game is a dungeon-crawler that uses dice, AI behavior cards, and node-based movement to simulate the tense atmosphere, solid combat, and overall difficulty of the video game franchise that it is based on.

The Characters Expansion adds new armour treasure cards as well as six new starting characters: Mercenary, Sorcerer, Thief, Pyromancer, Cleric, and Deprived. In this guide, I will only be covering the Thief and various strategies and equipment you should look out for while playing the game.

Other Character Guides

The Thief's character sheet.

The Thief's character sheet.

Character Overview

The Thief is a very interesting character. He is fairly fragile, but what he lacks in defense he makes up for in his ability to dodge. A lot of his equipment gives him the ability to dodge attacks instead of trying to block. He's an incredibly nimble character that has the potential to pack a very powerful punch.

There are a few weapons that the Thief adds to the treasure deck that allows him to ignore the target's physical defense. During normal encounters the stamina cost of these attacks may not be worth taking - especially when playing solo - but during boss fights these attacks are amazing. Bosses have weak points depending on the type of attack they are doing, and if you attack a boss in their weak point you can add additional dice to your damage rolls. Bosses tend to have pretty high physical defense, so being able to ignore it and hitting them in the weak point can lead to some huge damage numbers.

His ability, Lucky Break, allows him to remove two black and two red cubes from his endurance bar, and flip his Luck token back to the "ready" side, once per spark. This is perfect for boss fights. You can heal off any or all of the stamina you used to do your attack that ignores physical defense, and any damage you might have taken during the boss's turn. This ability is also great for getting yourself out of some bad situations during normal encounters, but ideally you will want to hold on to it for the boss fights.

Starting Equipment

The Thief starts with four pieces of equipment:

  • Bandit Knife
  • Deserter Armour
  • Iron Round Shield
  • Shortbow
The Thief's starting equipment cards.

The Thief's starting equipment cards.

The armour for the Thief offers one black die for defense against physical and magic attacks, as well as giving you one dodge die to use when attempting to dodge an attack or trap. With only one dodge die your chance of success is only 50%, so dodging should really only be attempted when you have additional dodge dice, or when blocking an attack would still kill you no matter what you rolled for defense.

That being said, his starting shield gives him an additional dice for dodging which makes his chances of successfully dodging an attack 75%. Considering that his starting gear doesn't offer him much in way of defense, dodging an attack with the Thief is often the way to go to avoid damage. Additionally, his shield can be used with a two-handed weapon so you can keep your extra dodge die when swapping weapons.

His Bandit Knife is what you would expect from a typical starting weapon as it has an attack that costs zero stamina and uses one black die for damage. His Shortbow, however, will be his primary weapon of choice early game. It has a range of three nodes, and has a zero stamina cost attack that uses one blue die. It is a two-handed weapon, but since the shield can still be equipped it doesn't really matter. The only reason to use the Bandit Knife is if an enemy enters the same node as you since the Shortbow cannot target an enemy that close.

Unique Thief Treasure

There are five unique equipment cards that you are able to shuffle into the treasure deck when starting with the Thief:

  • Black Hand Armour
  • Shotel
  • Small Leather Shield
  • Covetous Silver Serpent Ring
  • Obscuring Ring
The Thief's unique treasure cards.

The Thief's unique treasure cards.

All of these treasures are incredibly useful and can see use all the way to the final boss.

The Black Hand Armour, requiring 20 Strength and Dexterity, doesn't give you much in way of physical or magical defense, but it does give you a dodge die and two equipment slots. On top of that, it gives you the ability to move two nodes instead of one when successfully dodging an attack. You can use this to get away from a powerful enemy, or position yourself closer to a weakened enemy to finish it off during your next activation.

The Shotel has two attacks that ignore the target's physical defense. It is a fairly weak weapon, but being able to ignore your target's physical defense really makes up for that. It also gives you a dodge die which is exactly what the Thief wants.

You also get a dodge die from the Small Leather Shield. It only gives you a single black die for both physical and magical defense, but it has an ability that pairs really well with the Thief's affinity for bows. The ability allows you to keep it equipped even when using a two-handed weapon.

One of the best items in the game is the Covetous Silver Serpent Ring. You will need to have 31 Dexterity and 27 Intelligence to equip it, but its ability makes it so that when you complete an encounter you get an additional soul. A single soul may not sound like much, but successful run all the way to the fog gate before the boss will get you four extra souls. If you choose to rest at the bonfire and do it all again before facing the boss you will end up with an extra eight souls total. That's enough for a couple Tier 1 levels, or a single upgrade from Tier 2 to Tier 3, i.e maxing out a stat. You can also choose to use those extra souls for digging through the treasure deck for better gear.

The Obscuring Ring gives you an extra dodge die if you are attacked by an enemy two or more nodes away. There are several ranged enemies scattered throughout the encounters, so you are bound to get value out of this ring even if it is not every single encounter.

Transposed Equipment

After you defeat the first mini-boss you are able to shuffle an additional five "transposed" equipment cards into the treasure deck:

  • Dragonrider Bow
  • Man Serpent Hatchet
  • Royal Dirk
  • Hawkwood's Shield
  • Covetous Gold Serpent Ring
The Thief's transposed equipment cards.

The Thief's transposed equipment cards.

The Dragonrider Bow is a two-handed weapon that requires 34 Dexterity, has a range of three nodes, gives you a dodge die, and has an attack that ignores the target's physical defense. The only downside is that the attack that ignores defense requires four stamina and only uses one orange die for damage. It does have one upgrade slot for you to use something like a Titanite Shard to help boost the damage output, but the potential to do very little damage for your stamina consumption is very high.

The Royal Dirk has a lot going for it. It requires 31 Dexterity and Faith, but gives you one black die for physical and magical defense as well as giving you a dodge die. It has an attack that costs zero stamina that uses one blue die for damage. It even has an upgrade slot to help boost damage. It is a very well-rounded and solid option for the Thief to use well into the late game.

Hawkwood's Shield is arguably one of the best shields in the game. It can be used with a two-handed weapon, and gives a blue die for physical and magical defense as well as giving you a dodge die. It does have pretty considerable stat requirements, however, as you will need 23 Strength, 33 Dexterity, and 23 Faith before you are able to equip it. It is well worth the investment though.

The Covetous Gold Serpent Ring requires 30 Dexterity and 25 Intelligence and has a very unique ability. If your party clears an encounter without opening a chest you may add one card from the treasure deck to your inventory. Normally drawing a card from the treasure deck requires you to spend souls, so being able to get equipment for free is a huge benefit.

Legendary Weapons

When you defeat the first mini-boss you are also able to shuffle five random "legendary" equipment cards into the treasure deck. There are ten legendary cards in the base game and they are:

  • Dragon Tooth
  • Fume Ultra Greatsword
  • Santier's Spear
  • Sunlight Straightsword
  • Avelyn
  • Dark Sword
  • Gotthard Twinswords
  • Drake Sword
  • Moonlight Greatsword
  • Washing Pole
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dark-souls-board-game-character-guide-the-thief

The Avelyn is a very viable option for the Thief. It requires 30 Dexterity and 23 Intelligence, has a range of three nodes, and gives a die for dodging. The appeal of the Avelyn is that its attacks happen three times. So, for example, with its first attack which uses one stamina you will roll a blue die to attack, apply any damage to the enemy, and repeat two more times without using any additional stamina. Its second attack is the same thing but costs four stamina and uses an orange die. This can be a great secondary weapon for when you are too far away from an enemy to attack, and don't want to expend stamina to sprint. It also has one upgrade slot for you to slot something in like a Titanite Shard or even a Lightning Gem to give it magic damage.

If, for some reason, you don't like bows you can still get a decent ranged weapon with the Washing Pole. It requires 37 Dexterity and 21 Faith, and has a range of two nodes. It requires both hand slots to equip, but it does give you one die for dodge rolls. It can be a great secondary weapon for the Thief to use as it has a built-in bleed mechanic on its third attack. It does require four stamina to use the attack, but being able to inflict bleed for that extra bit of damage can quickly change the odds in your favor. It also has two upgrade slots to help further increase its damage output.

If you would rather forgo using a ranged weapon, or a two-handed weapon, then the Dark Sword can be an interesting choice. It would require you to max out your Strength to use which is not the Thief's preferred stat, but the damage potential can make it worth it. It offers no defense, not even a dodge die, but has two upgrade slots. You can slot in a Titanite Shard for an extra guaranteed point of damage (the blue die's lowest side is a one), and potentially a Lightning Gem for magic damage. Its first attack costs zero stamina and uses just a single blue die, and its second attack costs two stamina and uses two blue dice. Its third attack is quite strong, and its requirement of five stamina reflects that. You can move one node before attacking your target using two orange dice. Whether or not two orange die is enough of a benefit to sacrifice a dodge die — the Thief's primary way of avoiding damage — is up to you.

Legendary Armour

The Character Expansion introduces ten new legendary armour treasure cards. You are still only able to add five of these to the treasure deck after you have defeated the first mini-boss, but you can pick which ones you want to add instead of doing it randomly.

What makes these especially unique is that there are "normal" versions of these cards that start in the treasure deck at the beginning of the game. They are weaker versions of the legendary alternatives, however, so obtaining the legendary version will always be an improvement.

The legendary armour cards are:

  • Catarina Armour
  • Guardian Armour
  • Embraced Armour of Favour
  • Adventurer's Armour
  • Dark Armour
  • Black Iron Armour
  • Black Knight Armour
  • Gold-Hemmed Robes
  • Crimson Robes
  • Havel's Armour

Note: The legendary versions will have an orange flame in the upper right-hand corner of the card, whereas the normal versions will not.

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dark-souls-board-game-character-guide-the-thief

The Golden-Hemmed Black Robes is the best legendary armour for the Thief, but it can be fairly expensive in order to have the levels to equip it. It requires 28 Dexterity, Intelligence, and Faith, so you will need to max both your Intelligence and Faith. If you manage to do that, it will give you one blue die for physical defense, two blue dice for magical defense, and two dodge die. Its ability allows you to recover one stamina whenever you use Lucky Break. One stamina doesn't seem like a lot initially, but often times one stamina is the difference between life and death. It synergizes fairly well with the Thief's ability since it already recovers two health and stamina.

The Adventurer's Armour can be a suitable legendary for the Thief as well. It requires 22 Strength, 32 Dexterity, and 22 Intelligence, and has phenomenal defense. It gives you two blue dice for physical defense, one orange die for magical defense, a dodge die, and two slots for rings. Its ability also gives you an additional dodge die against traps.

Notable Treasures

There are a lot of other normal treasures that the Thief can take advantage of should you come across them, but these are the most notable:

  • Soul Arrow
  • Soulstream
  • Poison Mist
  • Fireball
  • Court Sorcerer Robes
  • Black Armour
  • Drang Armour
  • Kukrus
  • Murakumo
  • Scimitar
  • East-West Shield
  • Eastern Iron Shield
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dark-souls-board-game-character-guide-the-thief
dark-souls-board-game-character-guide-the-thief

Poison Mist is a pyromancy that can be a very fun option if you manage to get it early game. Its second attack is an area-of-effect (AOE) that poisons all enemies in the node that the Thief's targets. You don't have to roll a die to determine if the poison is applied or not as it is applied automatically which gets around the enemy's defense. A lot of the early game enemies only one health, so if you can group them up and then use Poison Mist you can end encounters really early without too much reliance on random dice rolls.

Kukris is a good secondary option for the Thief as its attack costs zero stamina and applies bleed. It doesn't do any additional damage, but being able to apply bleed for free is incredibly useful especially in boss encounters.

Weapon Enhancements

There are also nine other treasure cards you should look out for when drawing from the treasure deck:

  • Sharp Gem
  • Titanite Shard
  • Heavy Gem
  • Simple Gem
  • Crystal Gem
  • Blessed Gem
  • Blood Gem
  • Poison Gem
  • Lightning Gem
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dark-souls-board-game-character-guide-the-thief

The Titanite Shard — which requires no stats to equip — is arguably the most valuable out of the gems, as the extra +1 damage means that you'll break through most of the normal enemies' physical defenses without even having to roll the dice.

The Blood Gem is extremely rare — only one copy — and is great against bosses. The gem, which requires at least 15 strength, makes it so that the weapon you have it equipped to inflicts the bleed status on an enemy that you hit. It doesn't deal any extra damage until that same enemy takes damage from another source, in which case the bleed status activates and inflicts an additional three damage. Afterwards, the enemy is cured of the status and you can reapply it.

The Poison Gem is another extremely rare gem with only one copy. It requires 15 Dexterity and, when equipped to a weapon, inflicts the poison status on an enemy that you hit with an attack. It doesn't deal any additional damage until the end of that enemy's activation when it deals one damage. Just like with the Blood Gem, once the enemy takes the poison damage they are cured of it and you must reapply it.

Be careful when equipping gems as once they are equipped you cannot remove them from a weapon. Typically you want to wait until after the first mini boss — if you've managed to draw any of the gems — as you are bound to get better suited weapons to upgrade.

Art from the "Dark Souls: The Board Game" rulebook.

Art from the "Dark Souls: The Board Game" rulebook.

Strategies & Loadouts

There are a couple different builds you can make with the Thief, but below is arguably one of the best.

  • Royal Dirk w/ Titanite Shard OR Bleed Gem
  • Hawkwood's Shield
  • Black Hand Armour w/ Covetous Silver Serpent Ring and Covetous Gold Serpent Ring OR Obscuring Ring
  • Avelyn w/ Titanite Shard OR Simple Gem (in backup slot)

This build gives you two black dice and one blue die for physical defense, two black dice and one blue die for magical defense, and three dodge die even when your backup weapon is equipped.

The weapon choices available to the Thief aren't all that appealing. The Man Serpent Hatchet, with its ability to ignore a target's physical defense, can be a really tempting weapon to use but it really wants to have an additional upgrade slot. That's why the Royal Dirk is used instead. The lack of an extra upgrade slot is made up for by having extra defense, specifically an extra dodge die. You can go with a Titanite Shard for more consistent immediate damage, or a Bleed Gem for more damage in the long term.

Hawkwood's Shield is almost too good. Typically shields that can be equipped with a two-handed weapon offer poor defenses, but this shield gives you blue dice for physical and magical defense as well as a dodge die. There's really no other shield choice for the Thief that beats this one.

The backup slot can also be the Dragonrider Bow as you don't lose any dodge die by using it instead. The only reason that the Avelyn is used here instead is due to the value you get from expending four stamina. Even though the bow can ignore a target's physical defense, the Avelyn will have more consistent damage due to being able to attack three times. The Simple Gem is an option if you value having a lower stamina cost than the extra bit of damage that the Titanite Shard provides.

The Black Hand Armour is used mainly for its ability although the extra dodge die is nice. You will be dodging a lot with the Thief, so being able to move an extra node and thus opening up more options for you is useful. Ideally the two rings you will have equipped are both the serpent rings as they give a lot of value to you and your party long term, but you can substitute the Obscuring Ring for the gold serpent ring if you know you are going into an encounter with a lot of ranged enemies.

Levels Required

In order to equip everything for this setup you will need to have a total of 9 levels:

  • 2 Strength
  • 3 Dexterity (maxed)
  • 2 Intelligence
  • 3 Faith (maxed)

Good Luck!

As there are so many cards in the treasure deck trying to find a specific build, much less a specific card, is going to be extremely difficult. Just use what you can, and hold off on using any of the gems until after you've defeated your first mini-boss at least. That way you will have a better assortment of gear to choose from and make a better decision.

I would recommend using the souls you collect from completed encounters to draw from the treasure deck first before leveling up. That way you don't level up Intelligence and Faith, for example, and then get a really good weapon you want to use that requires Strength and Dexterity.

Hopefully this has helped give you a better idea on whether or not playing the Thief starting character is right for you or not. Feel free to comment below if I have missed something, or if you have found an even better gear combination than the ones I have listed above!

"You may be remembered either as Lords of Cinder yourselves, forever joining the Soul of Cinder, or as Ashen Ones, ushering in an Age of Humanity where the curse of undeath is at last lifted—but chaos will ultimately consume all." — excerpt from Dark Souls: The Board Game Core Rulebook

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