FFXIV Paladin Guide - No Clemency for Your Enemies!
FFXIV Paladin Guide
There are four FFXIV tank jobs to choose from, and Paladin (PLD) is probably the most straightforward of them. First of all, thematically and visually, Paladin resembles a tank the most. They're the only one of the classes and jobs that's using swords and shields - trademarks of this role in most RPGs. At the same time, the holy warrior in full plate armor feels like the ultimate guardian that will protect their party from all evil.
FF14 Paladins definitely live up to that fantasy, while also being the easiest tanks to play in this game. However, it might still be difficult when compared to playing this role in many other MMORPGs. Final Fantasy XIV is pretty complicated, especially in terms of combos and making use of the loaded skillsets that all the jobs can access. If you are transferring from another MMO, or you have no experience with tanking in FFXIV, Paladin is a perfect job to learn the role.
Tanking in FFXIV
Similarly to other MMORPGs, the main job of a tank is getting all the enemies' attention, taking all the damage while making room for the DPS players to kill the monsters. In Final Fantasy XIV, you can do it by generating enmity (it's an equivalent of Threat or Hate in some other games). Each job in FF14 is assigned to one of the three roles: damage dealer, healer, and tank. The DPS role additionally divided into melee DPS ranged DPS and casters. Sadly, you can't really go for an off-meta build and remain efficient in any other role than intended. As Paladin, you will be only good as a tank.
Usually, tanks have special taunting abilities that allow them to keep the aggro on themselves. Final Fantasy XIV is a bit different in that matter, especially since the patch that implemented Shadowbringers changes. While there still is a Provoke skill that can be used to taunt the enemy, it's more of an emergency tool to use when something doesn't go as planned. This applies to every tank job, so Dark Knight, Warrior, and newly introduced Gunbreaker are also affected. In Stormblood and earlier patches, tank players had to decide between focusing on enmity or on damage - that made min-maxing your rotations more difficult.
FFXIV tank jobs have been updated to have a higher passive enmity generation than the other characters. You just need to land your combos, just like everyone else, and you should be able to keep the boss' attention at all times. It actually allows the tanks to optimize their rotation in terms of damage gain, without having to weave in some suboptimal abilities. As you can see, the general mechanics are really simple.
While tanking is currently arguably easier than it was in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, it can still require a bit of practice. You have to execute your combos, master your rotations, make sure that you keep the aggro on yourself, and, most importantly – you have to stay alive. A good awareness of what's happening with your party (especially the healers) can help a lot. You'll have access to some emergency tools that can prove to be lifesavers in certain situations.
In a raid environment, you can be playing as the main tank or an off-tank. The main tank is supposed to take all the attention and generate as much enmity as possible. For the most part, the off-tank acts as an additional damage source. His main task is to catch any monsters (mostly adds) that target the healers or DPS. They have much more to do when the main tank dies or has to stop tanking for some time. In such circumstances, the off-tank takes the role of the main tank. If it's done correctly, it should be possible to transfer enmity without any issues. Goen is the days of Shield Oath and Sword Oath as the stances that you have to switch between, now you can get increased enmity without a damage loss thanks to the toggle ability - Iron Will.
After all that is said, let's jump straight into some more Paladin-specific stuff!
Basics of FF14 Paladin
As we mentioned, Paladins use swords shields and heavy plate armors. It's one of the original jobs in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, so it requires leveling a specific combat class first. In this case, it's Gladiator. To become a member of this class or later (at level 30) advance into Paladin, you have to go to the Gladiator's Guild in Steps of Thal inside the city of Ul' dah.
In terms of leveling and solo content, they're actually really good and fun to play. Tanks in FFXIV have decent damage output – going through Eorzea by yourself is not that miserable. Furthermore, Paladin currently has a lot of area of effect skills, which is often useful in these situations. You're definitely going to have a better time in solo content than a Dark Knight would.
For the endgame raid content, they're slightly better suited for the off-tank than the main tank role. They have access to multiple defensive utility spells for their teammates. Using some of them might be more difficult with all the responsibilities of the main tank. That being said, they can play that role well too.
After reaching level 35 and learning the Oath Mastery trait, Paladin gets access to Oath Gauge. It is charged with auto-attacks - every landed one provides 5 points, up until the maximum of 100. You can spend it on abilities like Sheltron, Cover, and Intervention – each of them costs 50 Oath Gauge per cast. Iron Will also has its own indicator on a Paladin player's screen, but it only shows whether the ability is on or off. This ability increases your enmity generation with other actions when it's active.
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Most Important Paladin skills
We're not going to talk about every single ability, just the ones that will be the most important for your success as a tank. Remember that not all the skills are given just for getting to the specific level. You might have to complete a quest to access some of them.
Weaponskills and combos
Fast Blade – a 200 potency combo opener.
Riot Blade – use it after Fast Blade to restore some MP.
Goring Blade – when used after Riot Blade, it inflicts a powerful 21 seconds damage over time.
Rage of Halone/Royal Authority – use it after Riot Blade as the combo finisher. When you get access to the Royal Authority, it will provide additional potency and access to Sword Oath stacks.
Atonement – a powerful attack with a potency of 550. Requires Sword Oath to be used.
Total Eclipse – an AoE combo opener with a potency of 120.
Prominence – an AoE attack that gets extra potency when used after Total Eclipse. If you have access to Enhanced Prominence trait, it will also restore MP.
Shield Bash – an attack that stuns the target for 6 seconds.
Shield Lob – a ranged attack. You will often use it to pull mobs.
The weaponskill combos look like this:
DoT/Goring Blade combo: Fast Blade->Riot Blade->Goring Blade – you should always keep the DoT on the boss, use this combo when it's close to running out.
Royal Authority combo: Fast Blade->Riot Blade->Royal Authority->3x Atonement – the Sword Oath stacks generated by Royal Authority don't last that long, so you should instantly use them on the three Atonements. It's a very efficient combo in terms of potency.
AoE combo: Total Eclipse->Prominence
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Damage Spells and Abilities
Fight or Flight – this ability provides a 25% buff to all your physical damage dealt. You're going to use it during your weaponskill rotations. It has a 25 seconds duration and 60 seconds recast timer. You want to weave in two Goring Blade casts within a single duration of this buff.
Spirits Within – an attack with a potency of 370 when you're full HP (it gets lower the less HP you have). It has a 30 seconds cooldown, and it restores MP.
Circle of Scorn – an AoE ability that inflicts DoT to nearby enemies.
Holy Spirit – a single target spell with a potency of 350.
Holy Circle – an AoE spell with a potency of 250.
Intervene – a targeted gap-closer that deals with damage and lets you dash to your enemy. It can hold up to two charges.
Requiescat – a single target ability with a potency of 550. If you have 80% or more MP, it will also provide you a 12 seconds buff that increases your spells' potency by 50% and lets you cast them instantly (it's not literally "instantly," but they get the shortest possible cast time). This ability has a 60 seconds recast timer.
Confiteor – a powerful AoE spell with the potency of 800. It can only be cast when you have the Requiescat buff. It also consumes this status.
All of your spell combos are based on utilizing Requiescat. You only want to go for them, if you have full MP and Requiescat is ready. Always make sure that you're able to cast Confiteor before the buff runs out. Missing out on this spell is a colossal damage loss.
Single target combo: Requiescat->4x Holy Spirit->Confiteor
AoE combo: Requiescat->4x Holy Circle->Confiteor
Defensive spells and abilities
Paladins have access to a huge number of defensive and utility skills. That's what makes this job great in both the main tank and off-tank role. An experienced Paladin player, who knows the possibilities and limits of their character, can help out in difficult situations as an off-tank. This role provides them with more freedom in using all the different spells and abilities as they're necessary.
Iron Will – a toggled ability that vastly increases your enmity generation. You should always keep it on as the main tank. If you're playing as an off-tank, you should usually turn it off. Challenging the main tank in terms of taking aggro will only generate chaos and create more room for errors that your party can make. However, when the main tank dies, or he cannot absorb damage anymore, you should activate Iron Will immediately. It works like a tanking stance.
Sheltron – gives you a 100% block chance of the next incoming attack (resulting in something close to 20% damage reduction). It costs 50 Oath Gauge and has 5 seconds recast timer. Use it to mitigate tankbusters (strong attacks used by some bosses). Make sure not to cast anything during you're hit, because you can't block when you're casting a spell.
Sentinel – a 10 seconds buff that reduces damage taken from all sources by 30%. It has two minutes of cooldown.
Cover – it's an ability that lets you take all the damage for a party member. It costs 50 Oath Gauge, lasts 12 seconds, and has a 120 seconds recast timer.
Clemency – a powerful healing spell with a cure potency of 1200. It can sometimes save your or a party member's life but don't use it too often. It's a loss of MP and DPS. It ought to be used only in an emergency. Of course, you can't replace a White Mage, but this skill can save you or a teammate on rare occasions.
Hallowed Ground – a 10 seconds buff that makes you immune to almost all attacks. It has a 420 seconds recast timer. You should use it mostly as a panic button when your healers are either dead, disconnected or entirely out of MP.
Passage of Arms – a cone-shape AoE that creates a zone where your party members take reduced damage. The effect is created behind you.
Divine Veil - a party-wide barrier that's activated with an HP recovery spell.
Provoke – places you on a top of the target's enmity list, useful for taking over the aggro.
Shirk – transfers 25% of your enmity to a target party member. Use it when you have to get rid of the aggro.
Rampart - this cross-class tank role action reduces your damage taken by 20% for 20 seconds.
Low Blow - a tank role action that serves as a single target stun.
There are also a few more actions that fit this category, but these are the most important ones.
Tank Mastery – a 20% reduction of damage taken. It also increases your maximum HP and the attack damage.
Oath Mastery – this trait unlocks your job gauge. It lets you generate 5 Oath Gauge with each landed auto-attack.
Chivalry – restores MP when you use Riot Blade and Spirits Within.
Rage of Halone Mastery – transforms Rage of Halone into Royal Authority.
Divine Magic Mastery – reduces MP cost of your spells by 50% and prevents casting interruptions when you take damage.
Enhanced Prominence – restores MP when you use Prominence.
Enhanced Sheltron – increases the Sheltron's duration to 6 seconds.
Sword Oath – unlocks the Sword Oath stacks generation with Royal Authority combos. At the same time, it enables the Atonement ability.
Enhanced Requiescat – lets you instantly cast spells when Requiescat's active (without this trait, it only provides extra potency).
Full rotations and playstyle tips
As a Paladin, you're going to want to use the weaponskill rotations much more than anything else. The spell rotation is powerful, but it's based on a relatively long-cooldown Requiescat, and it requires a full MP bar. At the same time, it's a bit more flexible than the weaponskill one, because it's not relying on combos.
As we mentioned, it's crucial to optimize your Fight or Flight usage with Goring Blade. In general, damage over time skills carry the most potency, and if a bonus is active as you perform the attack, the whole DoT duration will get the extra damage. If your Fight or Flight is off cooldown, you're going to want to weave it in your DoT combo, between Riot Blade and Goring Blade.
An example of a single target opener can look like this:
Shield Lob->Intervene->DoT combo (Fast Blade->Riot Blade->Fight or Flight->Goring Blade)->Royal Blade combo (with the three Atonements)->DoT combo (Fight or Flight should still be running) ->Requiescat->4x Holy Spirit->Confiteor. Then you go back into weapons combos. You can weave in Spirits Within for extra damage when you can. Intervene can also be used this way, but only if you're certain that you're not going to need the gap-closer anytime soon.
Meanwhile, an AoE opener would be:
Total Eclipse->Circle of Scorn->Prominence->Requiescat->4x Holy Circle->Confiteor->Fight or Flight->AoE weapon combo used repeatedly. You want to weave in Circle of Scorn every time that it's off cooldown. The same goes for the AoE spell combo that should be used when Requiescat is available. Save Fight or Flight until after your spell combo, because it won't amplify the magic damage. You're going to use it really often in dungeons and main story quests.
Explaining the correct timing to use the defensive cooldowns is quite tricky. In general, it always depends heavily on the situation you're in. Make sure that you remember what all your abilities do. Usually, they act as a means to save the situation when things go wrong. If you're going to play as the off-tank, you will likely get some opportunities to use them.
Abilities like Sentinel and Hallowed Ground can let you survive longer when tanking. Cover and Intervention can help you keep an ally alive. The heal from Clemency can be extremely valuable when your healers are dead or unable to keep up with all the damage that your team is taking. Overall, remember about all the parts of your skillset, and some opportunities to use those cooldowns will probably present themselves at specific points.
Paladin in FFXIV
Tanking in FF14 can be more enjoyable and engaging compared to many other MMORPGs. You're going to do much more than just standing in the frontline, getting hit, and spamming a taunt ability. As you can see, Paladin has access to multiple combos, as well as some nice situational cooldowns.
Learning to use all of these tools can be really satisfying. The basic mechanics of tanks might have been simplified, but you still need good focus and a fast hand to play at the highest level. It's also a great job if you want to start learning a tank. That, alongside the wonderful world building and great animations, is what keeps the players locked in as they face all the challenges that they can find in Eorzea. Final Fantasy XIV is famous for its friendly and welcoming community full of nice people. Besides combat activities (PvE and PvP), you can also develop various crafting and gathering classes.
Of course, a strong tank is not everything that matters, you will also need healers (White Mage, Scholar, Astrologian) and DPS players (Red Mage, Black Mage, Summoner, Ninja, Dancer, Bard, Machinist, Monk, Dragoon, Samurai) in your party.
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