Is Thieving the new Cooking?
For a long time Cooking used to be the go-to skill when people wanted some quick experience, needed something to do while they AFK other things or simply needed to get their first 99 cape (or trim for that matter). It was most likely the simplest and easiest skill in all of the Gielinor to train. Just buy some fishes, cook, sell and repeat. In best case scenario you could even make some money with it.
This quickly lead to people more or less despising the Cooking skill. 99 Cooking skill cape (especially the not trimmed one) became sort of a status symbol for newcomers in the game. Which is quite funny - considering every 99 skill takes a decent amount of time - and even longer back in the days having 99 skill was a huge achievement. No matter which skill was it. Oh, do the times change?
Ever since this game has become progressively easier all around, when it comes to training your skills. Everything is made easier, more afk and quicker to train. On top of that you get handed tons of bonus experience almost everywhere you go. Ever since then more and more skills have become like cooking. Simple - buy some ingredients, afk while you make them and sell them. In best case you make some profit. Quickly skills like firemaking and fletching reached similar status as cooking. The easy skills.
Now I don't mean to say that firemaking, fletching or cooking are the absolutely easiest skills to train. I personally find skills like dungeoneering, prayer, combat skills and such even easier to train. They are faster and more enjoyable. Of course that is personal preference and alot of it has to do with the fact that I have trained those skills enough to know how to do it right. And I have enough money in the bank to not have to worry about it.
Since singular 99's are not really that big of a deal in the current era of RuneScape, we've turned our eyes into 120 capes. While 120 capes - no matter which skill - are relatively hard to obtain, there is a trend already where 120 capes such as cooking, firemaking or fletching (maybe even defence or magic capes) aren't really held as "that big achievements". Now with the new Elf City update, I'm going to go out on the limb here and say that Thieving has become the easiest skill in RuneScape. To go for a 120 cape that is.
I tried testing some Thieving rates yesterday. If someone here hasn't tried Thieving in Elf City yet - let me just say that it's extremely afk activity. The XP rate is atleast on par with dwarf traders and we can only expect that to rise with the introduction of the remaining four clans. Biggest problem with current Elf City thieving is the fact, that sometimes you get caught by all clans in less than 20 minutes, which basically blocks you out from Thieving anything in Elf City for a short while. This might not sound like much at the moment, but in the worst case scenario it can mean up to 100k XP less in an hour. Well, worry not - even in worst case (and 99 thieving) it's still over 250k xp/hour. Guaranteed. In best case it's somewhere between 350k-400k xp/hour. Assuming you can keep thieving on constant rate. When the Elf City is complete, I'm certain you can create an optimal thieving path where you can constantly keep thieving the ones that give the best XP rates. Expect 400k+ xp/h in the future.
Now 400k xp/hour might not seem like that much. Granted - you can get more experience with similar AFK rates doing some other skills. Or higher XP rates with less AFK chances. But the difference with Thieving and all those other skills is that generally in RuneScape faster experience costs money. So assuming you didn't have any money to begin with, you would have to first spend time to gather money - and then use the money on skills to gain proper experience rates. With Thieving this is completely opposite. In the Elf City you're not only making the best Thieving xp/h rates, but you're also making money.
Of course, this is not the fastest way to make money in the game, but it's still rather decent. According to my calculations yesterday you can make anywhere between 4-5 gp/xp. Probably even more when the Elf City is complete, depending on what kind of drops the remaining clans will have. 4-5 gp might not sound much, but when you are already making over 300k xp/hour, it quickly adds up to 1,2m-1,5m gp per hour. Again - it's not the best there is - but you need to look at the full picture here. It's 1,2m+ gp/hour doing one of the most AFK activities in the entire game, that yields one of the best hourly XP/rates in the game. Notice a pattern here? In every way it's a win-win situation. You get quick XP, you get to AFK and you also make some money.
With that being said, my estimation is that the amount of 120 Thieving capes and the amount of 200m Thievers we will see in the future is going to skyrocket in next few months.