This will cover some of the basics for each of the Paladin dedications and skills. I'll include some basic tactics, racial choices, etc for each. All of the below is assuming no virtues. Virtues will obviously have a dramatic affect on how you play each, and may open up possibilities that aren't otherwise available. This is all entry-level stuff and based on my own opinion and experiences, so don't expect anything too advanced or earth-shattering. I'm sure there are better Paladin players than me that could provide that.
- 1 Defender
- 2 Avenger
- 3 Monk
- 4 Champion
- 5 General Paladin Skills
- 6 Basic Paladin Tactics
- 7 Biggest Threats
Defenders are the shield-dedicant Paladins. The idea behind this dedication is that they always have a shield, and can alternate betwen swords/maces/H2H. Most of their skills are automatic, so they're good for newer players that are still figuring out what to do in PK. Lower PK power ceiling than other options, but they are easily the best tanks of all Paladins, which makes them excellent for ranking up and PVE. If you want to explore or your playstyle leans away from constant PK, this is a great choice.
Strength for more effective shield block. Int for large mana pool and better offensive supplications.
Storm for reliable lag with shield bash.
Elf to use supplications for damage while having strong defense (less effective now that wrath is 2-round lag).
Dwarf would be an excellent tank, but mediocre in other areas.
Human is good because they can take all shield jab edges which arguably gives them the highest ceiling.
Half-Elf or Azure don't do anything particularly well here, but because shield block isn't stat-dependent, they can still defend well enough. Azure could be interesting with the Conviction inherent providing some surprise offense. But I can't imagine that'd work more than once.
Shield Mastery: Huge boost to shield block. It also provides a few other nice affects: - Chance to block dragon breath type attacks. - Chance to block certain area damage (ie, arrows flying out at you in some places). - Chance to "block" bash, and reduce the amount of lag you take. - Bypass opponents shield block skill entirely.
Shield Jab: Think riposte, except with a shield. Several edges can make this very, very nice (ie, causing lag, increasing damage, increasing frequency, hitting all foes, etc).
Flank Attack: Three round skill. Two rounds of build up, (one of which you block melee attacks), one big-damage strike followed by one round of lag on you (none on opponent). Decent for ranking and PvE if you aren't tanking, but otherwise you'll forget about this skill.
Angelswing: Two round skill. Decent damage, and blocks one round of melee from whoever you hit. Hit with mace can cause relatively small -str maledicts. Hit with hand-to-hand can cause silence-effect for a tick. Sword doesn't cause anything special.
Shield Bash: This isn't a shield-ded skill, but you're the one that'll use it most. Potential to cause trip-lag on your opponent, based on size and strength. Not as reliable as the actual trip skill, but it can be decent. Despite the name, it isn't anything remotely close to the bash skill.
This dedication is primarily about melee defense. Great for PvE, not-so-much for PvP. In PK, the best options are shield bash and wrath spam, depending on your build, virtues and purpose. Angelswing can be usable in PK if you want to whittle people down a bit, or cause the silence-affect when hand-to-hand. But it will not seal any kills for you.
Recommend you load up on progging gear (prayer beads, lightning rings, etc), to help augment your offense, since its otherwise pretty lacking.
Overall, while it is doable, if you want to be a PK-monster this isn't the best dedication to choose.
Avengers are the premier offensive paladins. They use two-handed swords and maces to perform their Avenger skills. That means they forgo the extra defense of shield block. But their skills are all offensive in nature (ie, nothing boosts their defense). They can pump out damage faster than any other Paladin and also have more options to lag than most. They've lost their luster with Champions/Monks coming to town, but they still have arguably the highest PK-power ceiling of all when coupled with the right virtues and gear.
Strength for better parry and higher-damage strikes.
Storm and Human have the best strength, so they can do well here.
Dwarves have mediocre strength (22), but great HP and some sweet dwarf-only gear.
Elves are popular, but they're reliant on virtues to be powerhouses. For new players, I'd avoid.
Half-Elves I recommend against. Mediocrestrength, low con and an easily exploitable vuln makes them fragile.
Azure have the lowest possible strength (19) outside of Elves, so they'd already be struggling. Their nifty inherents wouldn't be useful for an avenger who already has plenty of better options in combat.
Strike of Faith/etc - Two-round lag. Once you have all three, this is big, big damage (against unprep'd folks, you can see DEMO/DEVAS/OBLIT regularly.. often better). Has a very remote chance of causing lag/bleeding or hitting multiple opponents. That chance is dramatically increased when edged. But mostly, this is just your big damage skill.
Templars Defense - Most important thing to remember is that this skill requires your enemy to be wielding a weapon. If they're unarmed, its entirely useless. Also, some of the different options do not work with every weapon (for example, Mid Slash doesn't work with daggers/whips. There are about 10 different options with this skill. You can get by using only three of them, but once you know them all you can make use of almost each.
Here are the ones I personally use:
Mid Hiltsmash - Causes 2-tick blindness. 1-round skill, which is huge. This can quickly turn around a fight that you're otherwise losing.
Mid Slash - This is your main lag move. Lags like trip.
Low Crescent - This is an alternate lag move. Not as reliable as Mid Slash, but it works with some weapons that Mid Slash doesn't.
High Deflect - This is your OTHER alternate lag move. Again, not as reliable, but if the first two options don't work, try this one.
Low Spinthrust - With a sword, this causes Bleeding. With a mace, it can lag. 2-round skill.
High Slash - Maledicts str and dex. I believe it's around -6/-6 at her, but not positive. 2-round skill. 2-round skill.
Mid Cross - Almost exactly the same as High Slash. 2-round skill.
High Spin - This maledicts dex (something like -8ish at hero?). Best thing about it is that it's a 1-round skill, so you can also use it like a sword spec would use jab.
Strongly recommend you play around with the other skills though, and see if you can uncover some different use.
NOTE: There's a pervasive misconception about how Templar's Defense moves stack. Some people say they don't stack at all. That's not entirely true. Each type of templars defense maneuver can only cause an affect once. However, each different maneuver can be affecting someone simultaneously. For example, someone can be bleeding from the Low Spinthrust, blind from the Mid Hiltsmash, and have -STR/-DEX affects from multiple different moves simultaneously. HOWEVER, the same move doesn't stack. That means that High Spin can't be done repeatedly to reduce dexterity down to 3. It'll cause a -Dex affect once, and that's it. Basically, its best to think of TD as 10 separate moves. Use the ones that are most useful to your current situation.
Avengers are all-offense, all the time. Protracted fights aren't your goal, you usually want to go in, wreck someone's face in a few rounds and be done with it. Many, many people can be beaten by mid slash/mid slash/strikeoffaith/co 'call lightning'. Throw in a hiltsmash/disarm, or some bleeding or stat loss, or whittle them down with high spin if the above doesn't work. If you have virtues, that only opens your options up more.
Monks are the unarmed Paladins. Fortunately, they aren't limited to the typical H2H skill. They can change their damage nouns, so they still have the ability to hit vulns. Monks are offensive in nature, with mediocre/poor defense. They do very very badly when facing multiple opponents, but really shine in one-on-one fights.
Wisdom and Dexterity
Elf and Azure make the two best, as the two races with the highest dexterity and wisdom respectively.
Half-elf would do very well also with 21/21. High int is also helpful to ensure you have adequate mana pool.
Dwarfs are popular due to the high HP.. but I don't really get it.
Don't recommend Storm or Human. Low dexterity and low wisdom (especially for Storms), doesn't give them much in the way of strengths. You're welcome to experiment though.. who knows what you'll find.
Transcend - Basically, this changes the damage noun of your hand-to-hand skill. Spear/knife are the two you get by default, which just changes H2H from blunt to piercing or slashing. Once empowered, you'll get more options that cover almost every vulnerability out there (Fire, Cold, Holy, Light, Electricity). No drowning, but everything else is there, so you can ensure you're hitting a vuln on everyone that has one. This become options automatically as you level (I believe a new one opens up every 5 lvls).
Avoid - This is your only defense. Never turn it off, ever. Uses up mana (something like 1-2 mana per "avoid"), but only when you avoid something. If you don't, it doesn't cost anything. I know some monks that insisted on toggling avoid off when sleeping to recover mana. That's entirely unnecessary and very, very dangerous. Strongly recommend you set up a trigger to turn it back on when you die. That caused me more deaths than I care to admit.
Intensify - Three unblockable hits per round, for 3 rounds. That's 9 unblockable hits. It also significantly boosts your defenses across the board. There are a couple of very major drawbacks to this. The unblockable hits could hit anyone that's aiming at you, not just the person you're aiming at. So if you're fighting a necro army, you might not hit the necro at all. Also, you're lagged for the duration of the skill, while your opponent is not. IF they're smart, they'll just flee and wait for it to wear off, then re-engage. That said, it is phenomenal for fighting mobs (especially tough mobs that are otherwise hard to hit). If you're clever, you'll automatically intensify every time you see someone miss a bash, since you know they'll eat all of it (and most likely die as a result).
Respond - Combination of disarm/grapple/weaponbreaker. Pretty reliable, and usually not expected.
Defy - Meh, just an extra armor-based defense, similar to metal armor use.
Ascend - Kind of a poor man's retreat and dash. Far more limited than either, but it does provide some utility.
Anticipate - This is simple. Whatever you think your enemy is going to do, anticipate it (ie, "anticipate bash"). Gives you a dramatically improved chance of avoiding getting hit. Recommend you anticipate bash against orcs and other bashes, anticipate flurry against sword specs, pincer for axe specs, sleep if you're walking up to a necro/AP, etc. Note, assassinate can NOT be anticipated. Don't expect it to save you.
First, an important note. Monks should probably be going sword/shield until around lvl 25-30. Before that, avoid doesn't work well, their offense will be a joke, and they don't have the HP to survive very long.
When it comes to PK, you're kind of a paper tiger. You can put out a ton of damage, but your defenses (apart from intensify) are only ever just "ok". Lag is your biggest enemy, so make sure you anticipate whatever lag move they'll use. In general, you're poor against groups.. intensify is nerfed the more people you're fighting, and anticipate loses its luster when you don't know what the enemy (or enemies) are going to do. Try to stick to one-on-one when you can
Typical fight is going to start with you anticipating their scariest move (usually their lag, or their burst damage move) and setting transcend to whatever their vuln is. Mid-fight, you don't want to scare them off with intensify right away. Maybe do respond, flamestrike, whatever. Your goal is to wait until they lag themselves for 2-3 rounds (ie, a missed bash or missed flurry), then intensify. That'll usually finish someone off.. but if it doesn't, be ready with a 'call lightning'.
Oh, and just stay away from necro's with armies. Either summon them away, or avoid altogether. Defenses don't hold up well against that many attackers.
Champions use polearms and staffs. These Paladins are not quite as offensive as Avengers or Monks, or as defensive as Defenders. But they do it all fairly well. They're by far the best in group fights (both fighting groups, and leading groups), so really shine in cabal wars.
Dexterity, Wisdom and Charisma.
Two schools of thought here:
Some people prefer storm giants. They make the best use of polearms due to distance.
I prefer to focus on charisma/dexterity/wisdom to make the most of the Champion skills. For that reason, I really like Elf for this dedication.
Half-Elves, Azure and Humans can also do well.. They're all middle-of-the-road in the important stats but without the exp-penalty of the above two races. Champions are kind of a jack-of-all-trades dedication anyways, so these average-across-the-board races can work pretty well.
I'm not sure how a Dwarf would do. They don't seem to have any strengths here apart from HP. But who knows what you might find.
Bat - The skill everyone loves to hate. Less than half a round to bat, so about half the time you can do two bats in one round. Bat can provide very minor maledicts (which do stack), plus it can lag (which means it can potentially permalag). Many, many fights can be won with bat-spam. It also gives a very, very unreliable passive disarm/koteagashi/etc protection. Nice bonus when it does kick in, but don't count on it to save you.
Fend - Kind of a suped up feint. Feints everyone attacking you. It also has potentially to strike people hitting you (even if you aren't targetting them), and cause lag. Lag is more reliable the more people are hitting you. Lag on enemies is slightly longer than the lag on fend itself, so it's also possible to permalag. Use it on a necro with full zombies/shawtabbies/etc and you'll almost guarantee permalagging them. Some people believe this is strength-based, but I'm not convinced. As an Elf, I was able to use it to great effect.
Maneuver - This one can be mean. Basically, it gives you a moderately reliable (successful probably 2 out of 3 times) ability to move enemies in a direction of your choice. They're resting next to the Watcher? Walk in and maneuver them into it. Standing next to a death trap? Maneuver them to their doom. Can also be used to maneuver your allies out of gangs, when they might be permalagged (just be careful.. it can cause damage).
Marshal - A few different options with Marshall. Marshal Rally - This is basically haste and +12-ish hit/dam for around 8-10 rounds at hero. It affects your entire group, so it can quickly turn the tide of group fights. This is what really wins most champion fights, and turns someone with third attack and no dual wield into an offensive powerhouse.
Marshal Phalanx - Super-defense. Makes doing things like tanking the Empire council pretty trivial.
Marshal Forefront - Potentially rescue everyone in your groupmate from everyone they fight. Can also stop people from redirecting to them (rarely works, from what I've seen).
Marshal Regroup - Group retreat. Has a cooldown of a few ticks.
You have a lot of options here. The typical fight will start with a marshal rally. Then start with lag (bat for single folks, fend for groups). Bat can be used to initiate, so be ready if they run. You can also make use of terrain with maneuver.. I'll leave those ideas to you to figure out though.
Eventually people will get wise to the above though, so you need to mix it up. Polearms provide some extra options. Open with a charge for big damage (and possible lag). Do a slice early on (polearm slice bleeding is significant), that way if they escape with low health they might still succumb to bleeding. As always, call lightning is your friend.
General Paladin Skills
Shield Bash - Covered this briefly under Defenders, but any Paladin can use it. It can cause trip-like lag. Based on strength and/or size, so giants will get the most use out of it, but its an option, especially for defenders or monks that don't have any other lag abilities.
Lay Hands - Can't be used on yourself, but it provides a very good healing affect on allies (including mobs). Cures a good amount of HP, but also can eliminate blindness/curse/disease/poison and a handful of other things. There is a cool-down timer.
Flamestrike - 1-round fire-damage supp that you get very early on. Damage is pretty varied, you can expect anywhere from MUTILATE-MANGLE at hero (assuming no vuln). Lower at low levels. But it's only 1-round with low mana cost, so it still has some use.
Wrath - This used to be a Paladin's bread and butter. Less so now that it became a 2-round supp. But it still does beefy Holy damage (can hit OBLIT/ANNIHILATE against unprotected, non-vuln PCs). It can also cause curse, and allows you to track teleports (see below skill).
Track the Wicked - This works in conjunction with Wrath. When tracking an enemy and they teleport, you'll get a glimpse of the room-title that they teleport to. Sometimes its useless, sometimes not. With an edge, you can also potentially block their teleport when tracking.
Call Lightning - In my opinion, this is the most powerful generic paladin supp in your arsenal for sealing kills. Can hit someone anywhere in the area. Damage varies based on level and current weather conditions, but it can go anywhere from around DISMEMBER to DEVAS. Can also be changed to holy (instead of lightning) damage, with an edge.
Crusade - It's another bless-affect, but it affects the whole group. It also significantly improves regeneration when in combat. Basically it means that if you're in combat, you'll regeneration as if you were asleep. Great for ranking/exploring.
Righteousness - Makes you 100% immune to holy attacks. Lasts a long time and costs very little (though it does cost mana when you're hit by holy attacks). Easy to forget to put this up, but if you do and die because of it, you can be sure that Imms will make fun of you on your PBF for it.
Sanctify Room - You know those annoying no-recall rooms that are all over the place? Sanctify Room makes them recall-able. There's a 100% chance that as a post-lvl-40 Paladin, some poor schmuck will ask you to save them from an Avalanche in the Jade Mountains at least once every other log-in. That's the cost of the enormous Paladin power.. get used to it.
Basic Paladin Tactics
- Seriously.. use call lightning. A lot. I can't stress this enough. Every time someone flees from you writhing/convulsing, your next action should be calling lightning. Not 'where' or an attempt to chase. Call lightning and try to catch them before they word/teleport. It won't always kill them, but a lot of times it will.
- Get empowered. I know priests don't require it anymore, but true Paladin goodness comes from virtues. You'll probably get them around lvl 30 and at (or close to) hero, as long as you're doing the right things within your religion. They make a big difference and can dramatically change your tactics.
- Read the Paladin Code. Mechanically, Paladins have a lot of inherent power. Their biggest restrictions are RP-related. Do it the right way and your rewards will probably be better and you'll also probably have more fun.
- Fly. Lag is your biggest enemy. It doesn't matter how good your defense is, if you're permalagged by two clowns tripping you, you're going to die.
- Enlarge/reduce against bashers. Even if you're a giant, you can expect people to enlarge and try to bash you down.
- Shamans. Dispel and energy drain will destroy you really quickly. Be cautious and ready to flee/quaff. Most of these fights will end up as a draw (one of the two running away safely). But the Paladin has a far better chance of dying here than the Shaman.
- Assassins. They can lag you about 15 different ways, which is very bad for you. They can also kotegashi, which destroys every Paladin except Monk. Oh, and assassinate.
- Thieves. They probably won't kill you, but they can annoy the crap out of you and there's nothing you can do about it since you can't chase them or lag them enough to seal the kill. And if they're not alone, they can be an utter nightmare.
- Orcs. Orcs are scary because if they can bash you, you're probably dead. They can also wear you down quickly with bloodskins, or spinebreak until your protections fall. Hit them hard and fast and end it quick, or you're in trouble.
- Neutral Outlanders. Paladins are built to fight evil. Non-evils that want to kill you can be a pain because they bypass a lot of your strengths. Depending on the class, some of these are scarier than others. But none of the Neutral Outlanders that would actually attack a Paladin are going to be easy fights.
Almost everyone else, you're probably the odds-on favorite to win.