The Sword, the Shield, and the Holy Spirit
Stormblood Paladin Guide by Ari Aquitane
Paladin is the king of party utility and mitigation. The DPS rotation is relatively straightforward, flexible, and forgiving, but the joy of the job lies in clever optimization of cooldown management and picking the right tool for the job. Paladin is a great main tank as, being the only tank that can block, it boasts the highest passive mitigation of the three tanks. At current gear levels, blocking provides 24% mitigation, higher than warrior’s Inner Beast, and can be guaranteed for every tank buster with Sheltron. Despite its prowess as a main tank, paladin also makes a formidable off-tank by buffing its co-tank’s defenses with Intervention, and providing party-wide mitigation with Divine Veil and Passage of Arms.
With the release of Stormblood, the DPS gap between tanks was closed by a large margin. Paladin boasts high potency attacks, and has a personal damage buff up over 60% of the time. Unlike the other tanks, paladin has no stance-gated abilities and does not rely on its gauge for damage. Holy Spirit is a large boon to paladin’s offensive potential, offering high burst capabilities and a very solid option to maintain uptime while disengaged from the boss. A lot has changed since the release of Stormblood, so we’ve got a lot to cover!
Core Skills and Abilities: Basic Combos
Rage of Halone Combo
Your basic enmity combo. It is your lowest potency combo, so be sure to use it only to gain or maintain an aggro lead.
Goring Blade Combo
Your damage over time combo. Prioritize using this combo over the royal authority combo if goring blade has not been applied and the target will survive for 6 seconds or more.
Royal Authority Combo
Your basic damage combo. Use it as filler while Goring Blade is ticking.
Fight or Flight
Provides a 25% physical damage buff for 25 seconds (60 second recast). Fight or Flight buffs physical damage only, so you’ll want to fit as many of your powerful combo finishers into this window as possible, along with Spirits Within and Circle of Scorn.
Provides a 20% magic damage and healing magic potency increase for 12 seconds, provided you have at least 80% of your max MP (60 second recast). During your Requiescat window, you will be able to cast 5 Holy Spirits.
While in Shield Oath, you take 20% less damage and deal 15% less damage. You will generate 5 Oath Gauge each time you block an attack and 20 Oath Gauge each time you cast Holy Spirit. With Shield Oath, you will deal roughly 25% less damage than you do while in Sword Oath.
While in Sword Oath, you will generate 5 Oath Gauge and gain a passive 75 potency in damage after each auto attack. This can be viewed as a bonus DoT tick and accounts for roughly 10% of the damage you deal while in Sword Oath.
Personal Defensive Abilities
Renders you impervious to most attacks for 10 seconds. (420 second recast).
Paladin was blessed with the most powerful “ultimate” cooldown of the three tanks. Hallowed Ground can be used to completely ignore damage as well as some other detrimental effects. With a whopping 7 minute cooldown, it will scarcely be used more than once during an encounter. * Hallowed Ground will not prevent damage taken from using Cover.
Reduces damage taken by 40% for 10 seconds. (180 second recast).
There’s not much to say about Sentinel, other than that it provides a LOT of mitigation, so it usually does not need to be stacked with anything other than Sheltron.
Increases block rate by 60% for 15 seconds. (180 second recast).
Unfortunately, damage in this game spikes at very predictable intervals, and is otherwise mostly inconsequential. This means that Bulwark is not suited to mitigate tank busters alone, and instead should mainly be used as a “filler” cooldown to mitigate damage between tank busters or as a supporting cooldown for multi-hit busters that cannot be fully blocked by Sheltron alone. Bulwark has the added bonus of more reliably proccing Shield Swipe for extra damage.
Take all damage for another party member, reducing the damage taken by 20%. (120 second recast).
Before 4.0, Cover was a very situational skill, mostly used as a last resort to save a party member from death. Now that it has the added benefit of reducing damage by 20%, Cover can effectively be used as a second Rampart, and nicely fills out paladin’s mitigation suite. While covering an ally, you will take all damage as though you were attacked directly. This means that only your personal buffs will mitigate the damage, and you will receive any debuffs applied by the attack. Many knockback moves are damage-based, so you can prevent an ally from being knocked back if you cover them. Using Tempered Will for yourself and Cover on an ally can allow you and a party member to ignore knockback mechanics like those in Shinryu and O4.
Blocks the next attack (5 second recast). Costs 50 Oath Gauge.
Sheltron is one of Paladin’s most powerful defensive abilities and should be used to mitigate every large instance of damage you take. With the release of Stormblood, you are now able to block both physical and magical damage, filling a large gap in paladin’s defensive suite. At current gear levels, blocking provides 24% mitigation. This is paladin’s equivalent to warrior’s on-demand mitigation tool, Inner Beast, which provides a self-heal and 20% mitigation. An additional upside is that Sheltron can always be used, regardless of your stance, and you do not sacrifice DPS by using it. The downside is that Sheltron cannot mitigate multiple hits like Inner Beast can, and thus can require excellent timing. Many bosses will continue to hit you with auto attacks during the cast of a tank buster, and these can eat your Sheltron if it’s used too early.
Party Mitigation Abilities
Upon being healed by a healing spell, a protective shield is cast on all other party members totaling 10% of your maximum HP. Duration 30 seconds. Shield duration 30 seconds. (120 second recast).
Useful for raid-wide mitigation. At current HP values, this provides a shield of roughly 5k HP. Despite the wording in the tooltip, HP does not need to be recovered to activate Divine Veil. Keep in mind that only healing spells will proc this shield, not healing abilities.
Passage of Arms
Block all incoming attacks, while reducing damage of party members behind you by 15%. Duration 18s. (120 second recast).
This ability, while powerful, is quite niche. Upon standing in the wings behind you, your party will receive a buff called “Arms Up” that provides 15% mitigation and will linger for roughly 3 seconds after you stop channeling. 15% mitigation for the entire party is very substantial when compared to scholar’s 10% damage reduction from Sacred Soil (which they have to spend a resource on). The 100% block chance translates to roughly 24% damage reduction for you at current gear levels. Since it requires you to stop attacking, Passage of Arms is best used during boss “ultimate” moves in which they become untargetable. For high-damage multi-hit tankbusters, this may be used in place of Sheltron, as it will guarantee that you block all hits.
Reduces target party member’s damage taken by 10%. If a cooldown is active, the damage reduction is increased further for a total of 20% mitigation when used with Rampart, or 30% mitigation when used with Sentinel. Duration 6s. (10 second recast). Costs 50 Oath Gauge.
This ability makes PLD an amazing off-tank. When your co-tank has the boss, this should be used as free extra mitigation for each tankbuster. If you find that you’re capping your oath gauge often, it can also be used as “filler” mitigation to smooth out damage from boss autos. I would recommend making a macro to target the second player on your party list, as this will almost exclusively be used on the other tank.
Absolutely necessary. This allows for tank swaps to occur, and dropping it should only be considered if solo tanking.
I would argue that Shirk is as necessary as Provoke. It allows the tanks to maintain threat while making minimal usage of enmity combos and smoothes tank swaps. For an ideal tank swap, you will want the off-tank to provoke and then the main tank to Shirk. Each tank swap will generate an extra 25% enmity lead for the tanks, so make liberal use of this ability. When a tank swap is not necessary, the off-tank can provoke the boss, and then immediately use Shirk to give the main tank an additional enmity lead.
Not much to say here, other than that you should never be without Rampart. A reliable defensive cooldown with a short recast will always be welcome.
This is a very versatile skill for either personal or party mitigation. If both tanks take Reprisal, it will be up for almost every tank buster or every instance of large AoE damage in current content. Be sure to coordinate with your co-tank so your reprisals aren’t overlapping.
This is your flex slot. I tend to use default to Convalescence in fights I’m unfamiliar with, but it is personal preference. You should bring awareness for fights such as Susano EX or O3S where crits are dangerous or guaranteed. Having access to a bard with Nature’s Minne is more of an incentive to take Awareness, as it is usually more beneficial than stacking Convalescence effects.
NOTE: Convalescence, and other increases to “HP recovery via healing magic,” only apply to healing spells (Cure/Adlo/Benefic), and do not apply to healing abilities (Tetragrammaton/Lustrate/Essential Dignity).
Unexciting, but it’s extra mitigation that’s up for nearly every pull. One unfortunate thing about Anticipation is that you cannot parry a critical hit or a move that has been dodged or blocked.
Your last slot is dungeon specific. I tend to default to Provoke for this slot just in case things go south, but Interject can be taken if a mob needs to be silenced, and Reprisal can also provide extra mitigation for bosses. Low Blow should not be considered, as paladin has a built in stun with Shield Bash.
DPS difference in openers is not substantial, so use whichever one lines up best with movement, fight mechanics, or phase timings. If you are the one pulling, Bulwark can be used generate extra DPS and extra enmity via Shield Swipe procs.
Fight or Flight Opener
Typically pulls slightly ahead of the Requiescat opener, depending on your party composition. Also has the benefit of Requiescat being buffed by Fight or Flight. This will be your go-to opener.
This opener will generate a large amount of enmity up front, and I would recommend it over the Fight or Flight opener if you’re pulling the boss.
Preferably, the dark knight or warrior should be pulling, as they do not lose a GCD by changing to their DPS stance, but if you find yourself having to pull AND you do not have a ninja for Shadewalker, you can start the pull in Shield Oath and use the following:
Paladin priority and thought process
Paladin excels in the main tank role through use of Sheltron, and is a solid off-tank through use of Intervention. Though you’ll want the warrior or dark knight to pull, you will want to maintain aggro on the boss as much as possible to proc Shield Swipe for some free extra damage. Your top priority is to always keep Goring Blade ticking, and your damage buffs on cooldown.
Fight or Flight and Requiescat each have a one minute cooldown, and the rotation lines up nicely such that you will never have to hold them for more than a few GCD’s. As seen in the openers above, you will be able to fit two combos in between each application of Goring Blade, and five Holy Spirit casts in each Requiescat window. Depending on your skill speed and latency, you will use Fight or Flight either before or after Riot Blade. The important thing is making sure that your Fight or Flight is up for both Goring Blades.
As for choosing a stance, I would recommend staying out of Shield Oath as much as possible. While in Shield Oath, you passively generate Oath Gauge at a significantly slower rate and lose out on the strongest DoT effect in the game. The mitigation provided from Shield Oath can easily be replaced by coordination of your party’s defensive abilities.
Shield Oath should be used in the following scenarios:
- When aggro is an issue. This usually is the case when picking up adds while the party is bursting them down.
- When tanking multiple sources of large damage that you cannot otherwise mitigate.
- When there is a healer death and high damage will happen soon.
- When you run out of other defensive options.
It will not always be possible to tank everything in your DPS stance, but maximizing your Sword Oath usage is the most surefire way to increase your performance in any fight. I am not condoning that you attempt to jump into a fight that you’re not familiar with, with random people you found in party finder, and stay in Sword Oath for the entire fight, but your DPS is almost as important as your mitigation, and you should always strive to improve in both of these areas.
You cannot block attacks while casting. This means that, during your Requiescat window, you should not rely on Sheltron or Bulwark for mitigation.
Dodge > Crit > Block > Parry
This is the order of checks that occur when you take damage. If you dodge an attack, that attack cannot critical hit and you cannot block or parry it. If an attack is a critical hit, you cannot block or parry it. Lastly, if you block an attack, you cannot also parry it. This makes Anticipation a rather weak ability on Paladin.
It takes 20-25 seconds to generate 50 oath gauge depending on if you cast Holy Spirit. While casting, your auto attack timer freezes, then continues where it left off once the cast is finished. Because of this, you will continue to get in an auto attack between about every two Holy Spirit casts.
When off-tanking, you can generate extra Shield Swipe procs through use of Cover and Sheltron. Covering the main tank provides extra opportunities to block, and the extra mitigation can help smooth out damage. Combine this with Bulwark for more an even more reliable setup. If you find that you’re sitting on gauge that you won’t need soon, Sheltron can be used on raid-wide AoE damage to guarantee more free procs.
THE HOLY SPIRIT
All large incoming damage should be mitigated with Sheltron, or intervention if you are not tanking the boss. Cooldown rotations are fight dependent, and good ones require coordination among multiple members of a party. That said, personally, while learning an encounter, I will start by mitigating with Rampart first, as it is my lowest cooldown ability and will be up soonest. This provides you with the most leeway in later portions of the fight if things get hairy. You will have to coordinate with your party in order to maximize your defensive coverage. In Stormblood, every role gained some form of defensive utility in the form of their cross role abilities. Here is a small summary of the defensive options your party has at its disposal.
Lowers target’s strength and dexterity by 10% for 10 seconds. (120 second recast).Feint should be used to lower damage dealt by physical tank busters or large physical-damage AoEs. If each of your melee take it, they can mitigate every tank buster provided they are 1 minute or more apart.
Increases HP recovery via healing magic by 20% for self and nearby party members for 15 seconds. (120 second recast).Mantra should be used for large party-wide AoE damage. Currently, it shines most in O4S, where healers regularly need to ensure that the party is at full HP.
Reduces physical damage taken by a party member by 20% for 10 seconds. (150 second recast).Palisade should be used to lower damage dealt by physical tank busters, or during periods of high single target physical damage.
Bard: Nature’s Minne
Increases HP recovery via healing magic for a party member or self by 20% for 15 seconds. (45 second recast).Nature’s Minne is a targetable Convalescence. This should be used on the main tank as often as possible. Having a bard in your party is a good reason to not cross-class Convalescence, as Nature’s Minne can be used almost twice as often.
Adds an additional effect the song currently being sung. Mage’s Ballad Effect: Increases maximum HP by 15%Army’s Paeon Effect: Reduces physical vulnerability by 10%The Wanderer’s Minuet Effect: Reduces magic vulnerability by 10%Duration 30 seconds. (180 second recast)Troubadour is an odd ability with a significant cooldown. It is useful for mitigating party-wide damage, provided the aspect of the damage lines up with aspect mitigated by the bard’s current song.
Lowers target’s damage dealt by 10% for 5 seconds. (90 second recast).Dismantle is effectively a third Reprisal at the party’s disposal. It can be used to mitigate tank busters, but is likely more valuable when used on party-wide AoE damage.
Lowers target’s intelligence and mind by 10% for 10 seconds. (120 second recast).Addle should be used to lower damage dealt by magical tank busters or large magical-damage AoEs. In fights with multiple magical tank busters, you can alternate using Apocatastasis and Addle for extra coverage.
Reduces a party member’s magic vulnerability by 20% for 10 seconds. (150 second recast).Apocatastasis should be used to lower damage dealt by magical tank busters. In fights with multiple magical tank busters, you can alternate using Apocatastasis and Addle for extra coverage.
Increases a party member’s damage by 5%, and reduces the damage they take by 5% for 15 seconds. (90 second recast).Devotion is unreliable and should not be counted on for mitigation. If you happen to be standing nearest the egi when the Summoner casts Devotion, consider it a nice pat on the back for all of your hard work.
I will omit a section on healer tools, as I feel there is too much to cover within this guide. Of all the members in your group, your healers should be most aware of the mitigation that they personally bring to the table. Be sure to coordinate and communicate with them to ensure that you are not over-mitigating in some areas and under-mitigating in others.
Special thanks to my FC Order of the Blue Garter on Excalibur, my long time friend and co-tank Zirn Vheo, and the rest of the members of my static: Thanatos Grimm, Shega Ace, Betta Fish, Jailbait Bryn, Jeepers Cc, and Cat With-rabies. Thank you all for helping me constantly push myself to learn and improve. Stay humble, stay hungry.
– Ari Aquitane