Guide:PLD Ability Guide by Urthdigger
Strategies and information in guides may not work for everyone.
Welcome to my guide for Gladiator/Paladin. Unlike other guides, this won't be focused on endgame. Rather, I will be going through each ability level by level covering the uses they have, and where to fit them into your rotation. This guide is based on the information on 4.0 received from the Media Tour and will be updated accordingly upon release. Likewise, I do not claim to be the best tank ever, and I am always open to constructive criticism on how I can better use these abilities.
- 1 A Realm Reborn
- 1.1 Level 1: Fast Blade
- 1.2 Level 2: Fight or Flight
- 1.3 Level 4: Savage Blade
- 1.4 Level 6: Flash
- 1.5 Level 8: Rampart
- 1.6 Level 10: Riot Blade
- 1.7 Level 12: Low Blow
- 1.8 Level 15: Shield Lob
- 1.9 Level 16: Provoke
- 1.10 Level 18: Shield Bash
- 1.11 Level 20: Convalescence
- 1.12 Level 24: Anticipation
- 1.13 Level 26: Rage of Halone
- 1.14 Level 30: Shield Oath
- 1.15 Level 30: Shield Swipe
- 1.16 Level 32: Reprisal
- 1.17 Level 35: Sword Oath
- 1.18 Level 36: Awareness
- 1.19 Level 38: Sentinel
- 1.20 Level 40: Cover
- 1.21 Level 40: Interject
- 1.22 Level 42: Tempered Will
- 1.23 Level 44: Ultimatum
- 1.24 Level 45: Spirits Within
- 1.25 Level 46: Bulwark
- 1.26 Level 46: Total Eclipse
- 1.27 Level 48: Shirk
- 1.28 Level 50: Circle of Scorn
- 1.29 Level 50: Hallowed Ground
- 2 Heavensward
- 3 Stormblood
A Realm Reborn
Level 1: Fast Blade
Your basic attack, with a potency of 160 and TP cost of 60. This is your basic move, 60% stronger than auto-attacks, and what you will begin all your comboes with. By itself, that's 160 potency per global cooldown (GCD) and 2.6 per TP spent.
Level 2: Fight or Flight
Your first major buff, Fight or Flight lasts for 25 seconds, with a recast time of 60 seconds, allowing you to keep it up almost half of the time. It offers a 25% increase to your physical damage and should be used any time you're using weaponskills. It's best used early and often, with a short recast it's definitely not meant to be saved for special occasions.
Level 4: Savage Blade
Your first combo move. Costing 60 TP as well, this deals 100 potency if used on its own, but when used after Fast Blade (denoted as Fast Blade -> Savage Blade) it increases to 210 potency (3.5 per TP). This leads to a total over 370 potency for two moves, or 185 potency per GCD and 3.08 per TP. This also comes with increased enmity, specifically 3.5x. So, the potency of the attack may be 210, but as far as who the monster targets it will act as if you used a 735 potency attack (447.5 per GCD). This is vital for tanking purposes.
So, to refresh at this point, you should put up Fight or Flight whenever it's available, then use Fast Blade into Savage Blade.
Level 6: Flash
Your Area of Effect (AoE) enmity move. This costs a variable amount of MP based on your level and deals no damage (and thus doesn't benefit from Fight or Flight), but acts like a 600 potency attack for enmity purposes to all monsters around you, while also inflicting them with Blind for 12 seconds. Blinding your foes will help dodge attacks, but the primary purpose is to keep the monsters off your allies. At this stage it's your most effective tool for keeping enmity, but as your MP comes back slower than TP and Flash deals no damage you'll want to use this only as much as is necessary.
Generally when fighting a pack of monsters with your allies you should flash at least as many times as there are monsters before using Fight or Flight and moving into your Savage Blade combo. If your own allies are using AoE attacks you may need to use Flash more often, but this is all a balance between your stats, that of your allies, and the health of your foes so gauging how many times to use this is something you'll learn with practice.
Level 8: Rampart
Your first shared role ability. You're limited in how many of these can be set (currently unknown how it scales, but assuming for now it will be one every 5 levels for classes and one every 10 levels for jobs until level 50, like 2.x cross-class abilities), so choose wisely.
Rampart reduces damage taken by 20%, lasting 20 seconds with a recast of 90 seconds. The cooldown is slightly lengthy, but you can likely use this every couple of fights. If you know a lot of damage is coming up soon you can save it, but the cooldown is still short enough that you can feel free to use this whenever it's up to save your healer some pressure.
Level 10: Riot Blade
Your second combo option, this also has a base potency of 100, but when used after Fast Blade it's boosted to a whopping 240 potency, 30 higher than Savage Blade. However, it does not have an enmity multiplier, so it's not as helpful for keeping monsters on you. That said, if you are solo or have a solid lead on enmity you can use this to defeat enemies faster. It's primary use is not the increased enmity, but that it restores MP when used in a combo. So, even when tanking you may often find yourself using this to recover MP after flash spam.
Level 12: Low Blow
Your second shared role ability, this deals no damage but stuns a target for 5 seconds, with a recast of 25 seconds. While this can be used to keep them from hitting you, it's not terribly effective especially as monsters will quickly gain resistance, being stunned for 3 seconds, then 1 second, and then not at all until their resistance wears off. The most effective use of Stun is to interrupt an enemy's weaponskill or spell. This can prevent many deadly or annoying moves from going off, and even many bosses can be interrupted in this manner.
Level 15: Shield Lob
Your ranged attack. This deals 120 potency at a whopping 120 TP (1 potency per TP) to a foe up to 15 yalms away, with a 3x enmity multiplier (So 360 potency). It's less damage, less enmity,and less TP efficiency than your other options, but has advantage of ranged. You should NEVER use this in melee range, but it's often used to either pull monsters that are in a bad spot, or more commonly to get a single hit in as you run up to them.
At this point you'll be entering your first real group content, barring the level l0 guildhests (which don't ask for much tanking). With your toolkit so far, generally you should begin each fight by using Shield Lob on one target, followed by a few Flashes if it's a group of monsters. Pop Fight or Flight if it's up, then do Fast Blade -> Savage Blade to get an enmity lead on targets (cycling through who gets hit with Savage Blade to ensure you have a decent amount on ALL your targets, not just one). Once you have a decent lead, you can change to using Fast Blade -> Riot Blade for more damage. Keep an eye on enmity levels to determine if you should go back to Savage Blade or Flash, and use Fight or Flight whenever it's back up unless the current group of monsters will die soon.
Level 16: Provoke
Your third shared role ability, this ability can be difficult for many new tanks to understand. What this does is place you at the enmity list, meaning it takes the monster's current target's enmity, adds 1 to that, and makes your enmity that number. Early on you likely won't see much use for this ability as your current enmity tools are sufficient to take back hate if an overzealous DPS takes it for a moment. Where Provoke really shines is in 8-man full party content with two tanks, which often have "tank swap" mechanics where debuffs may force the tanks to change who the main target is. In this case, the "off-tank" will use this and begin using their enmity combo to become the "main tank", while the previous main tank switches to combos that create less enmity so they don't take it back.
Level 18: Shield Bash
This attack is not part of a combo and deals a mere 110 damage for 120 TP (0.9 per TP), making it by far your most inefficient attack. On the plus side, it inflicts stun for 6 seconds so you can still interrupt moves without setting Low Blow or dealing with its longer cooldown. However, as it is tied to your GCD, it can be difficult to use on faster moves.
Level 20: Convalescence
Your fourth shared role ability. This increases your own HP recovery via healing magic by 20% for 20 seconds, with a cooldown of 2 minutes. This ability is a bit less useful than buffs like Rampart as it only really helps once you've taken a large amount of damage. Still, it can really help you recover from "tankbuster" moves certain bosses use which inflict an immense amount of damage in a single blow.
Level 24: Anticipation
Your fifth shared role ability. This increases your parry rate by 30% for 20 seconds, with a recast of 60 seconds. It's not quite as effective at reducing damage as Rampart, but it has a shorter cooldown and alternating which one you have up can help ensure you usually have some form of mitigation available.
Level 26: Rage of Halone
This is it, your first three step combo. Like most combo moves it has a mere 100 potency when used by itself and costs 60 TP, but when used after Savage Blade it deals an 270 potency (4.5 per TP) and has a whopping 5x enmity multiplier (1350 enmity potency). For the full Fast Blade -> Savage Blade -> Rage of Halone Combo, that's 640 potency and 2245 enmity potency for 180 TP over 3 GCDs (213.3 potency and 748 enmity potency per GCD, 3.5 potency and 12.47 enmity potency per TP).
This changes several things. First off, your enmity combo now deals more damage per GCD than your Riot Blade combo, relegating that strictly to emergency MP recovery. Second, this combo is now more effective at single targets than Flash. Your rotation remains much the same as level 15, but now you can simply keep doing your Rage of Halone combo even when you have a lead on enmity instead of switching to Riot Blade.
Level 30: Shield Oath
Your first job ability, and a bit of a game changer. This is a 'stance', a buff that you put on once and then it stays up forever until you take it off, replace it with another stance, or level sync (which removes all your buffs. Remember to put this back on when doing lower level dungeons!). What this does is reduce the damage you take by 20%, and increase your enmity dealt by 2.7x while unfortunately decreasing damage by 15%. This enmity multiplier is additive to existing multipliers (so Fast Blade would see a 2.7x enmity multiplier while Savage Blade sees a 6.2x multiplier), though the decrease in damage means you won't be doing QUITE the full multiplier in enmity, but it's still a noticeable improvement.
Generally, you should keep this up all the time. However, if you have a decent lead on enmity and don't need the extra mitigation you CAN turn this off for the extra 15% damage. Putting it back up requires using a GCD and MP, so try and make sure you have enough of a lead that you won't need to turn it back on before the fight is over.
Level 30: Shield Swipe
Your "counterattack", this deals 150 potency with a 3.5x enmity multiplier (525 enmity potency) and inflicts pacification (enemies cannot use weaponskills) for 6 seconds for no TP cost and can even be used while your GCD is on cooldown (Typically referred to as off global cooldown, or oGCD)! However, it has a recast time of 15 seconds and can only be used after blocking an attack. The short duration of pacification means it is mostly useful for interrupting attacks (if it says they are "readying" an attack it's a weaponskill, if they begin casting it's a spell), but being able to use it only following a shield block limits its usefulness for this purpose. Generally you should simply use Shield Swipe whenever it's available for the increased damage and enmity.
Level 32: Reprisal
Your sixth shared role ability, this lowers a single foe's damage dealt by 10%... but unfortunately for only 5 seconds with a recast of 60 seconds. Used randomly it would only lower maybe one or two auto-attacks, hardly worthwhile, but this really shines when used on strong enemy moves like tankbusters or area attacks. A good rule of thumb for fights you don't know is if it takes a while to charge, it'll likely hurt, so use this if it can't be stunned.
Level 35: Sword Oath
This is another stance like Shield Oath and the two cannot be used at the same time. All this does is add 75 potency to your auto-attacks (with a small adjustment based on weapon delay). While this seems like a rather minor ability, all this free damage does add up over time, and it's better than simply toggling off shield oath in circumstances where you want to do extra damage or allow another tank in the party to be the main tank.
Level 36: Awareness
Your seventh shared role ability, this makes enemies unable to deal critical hits to you for 25 seconds, albeit with a 2-minute recast timer. This is a defensive cooldown whose effect may not be noticed for most fights and can only be kept up for a little under a quarter of the time. That said, certain bosses have buffs that increase or guarantee crits for themselves, and for those fights this is the single biggest survival tool you have. Slightly situational, but a godsend when it's needed.
Level 38: Sentinel
Reduces damage taken by 40% for 10 seconds with a 3-minute recast timer. This is definitely a move you want to save for highly damaging situations like boss fights or large pulls.
Level 40: Cover
This allows you to take all the damage a party member would have received for 12 seconds, with a recast of 2 minutes. This is largely useful for adds that ignore enmity and boss moves that target a random party member. This does have a limited range of 10 yalms though, so it won't help your healer or ranged DPS unless they get in close.
Level 40: Interject
Your eighth shared role ability, this will silence a target for 1 second, with a recast of 30 seconds. This is purely an interrupt, albeit one that only works on spells (when the foe "begins casting x"). While this seems more limited than Low Blow at first glance, many bosses are immune to stun while being susceptible to silence. In addition monsters build up resistance to the two statuses separately, so you can use this for spells and save stuns for their weaponskills. A very situational skill, but practically required on certain fights.
Level 42: Tempered Will
This will cure bind and heavy and prevent knockback or draw-in effects for 10 seconds. Certain fights may try to prevent you from moving out of damaging AoEs, or alternatively push or pull you into them (or even knock you off the edge of an arena!) This skill will prevent all of those shenanigans, but a lengthy recast and short duration means you must plan ahead for their use.
Level 44: Ultimatum
Your ninth shared role ability, this skill works exactly like the skill Provoke listed above, but on all enemies within 5 yalms of yourself with a recast of 90 seconds. This skill is largely for recovering after death. When KOed, you immediately lose all enmity, but your allies retain whatever they accrued during the fight. If someone can Raise you, this will allow you to get all the enemies back on you instead of watching helplessly as they strike your party members down one by one. Useless unless you die, in which case it is VERY useful.
Level 45: Spirits Within
This oGCD attack deals a 300 potency attack for no cost with a recast of 30 seconds. However, the potency decreases as your HP does. Try to weave this between your weaponskills during your combo whenever it's up, unless you've just been hit with a heavy attack.
Level 46: Bulwark
This increases your block rate by 60% for 15 seconds, with a 2-minute recast. An relatively minor source of damage prevention, this can help proc a Shield Swipe, but due to its low duration you'll only be able to get one counter out of it.
Level 46: Total Eclipse
Your first real AoE attack, this deals 110 potency to all nearby foes for 110 TP. Against single targets it's very inefficient, but the AoE nature means its efficiency rises as you face more opponents. At 3 opponents it surpasses your Rage of Halone combo in damage per GCD, and at 4 opponents it's more efficient TP-wise at 4 potency per TP. On any group of 4 or more foes once you cement your enmity by spamming Flash, you should now switch to Total Eclipse rather than doing your Rage of Halone combo. On groups of precisely 3 foes you could use this a few times before swapping to the more efficient Rage of Halone combo to mildly increase the damage done. Never use this on 2 or less foes.
Level 48: Shirk
Your final shared role ability, this 2 minute cooldown ability gives 25% of your enmity to a target party member. Useless in light parties (except for trolling uppity DPS), this is mostly to make tank swaps easier by allowing the former main tank to give some of their enmity to the new main tank to help cement their lead.
Level 50: Circle of Scorn
This is an oGCD AoE attack (holy acronyms Batman!) that deals 100 potency to all targets around you, while also inflicting a Damage over Time (DoT), with a recast of 25 seconds. This is your first DoT, and generally they deal massive amounts of damage per GCD and resources spent, but only if they last long enough before the enemy dies. They deal damage every 3 seconds. In this case, it deals 30 potency over 15 seconds, or 5 times over the duration for a total of 150 damage (250 including the initial damage from the attack). As this is an AoE attack the total damage of the attack is further multiplied by however many enemies it hits, making it one of your strongest abilities even if it weren't completely free to use. Furthermore, all of this has a 3x enmity multiplier, meaning all told this is a free 750 potency attack enmity-wise to every single foe it hits. Try to use this whenever possible, preferably with Fight or Flight up and aim to hit as many monsters as possible (if you know adds may be spawning soon in a boss fight, you may wish to save it for them unless they die very fast).
Level 50: Hallowed Ground
Your "ultimate" ability of the original ARR game, this nullifies ALL damage (save for certain "wipe" moves for failing mechanics) for 10 seconds... every 7 minutes. This is definitely something to save for emergencies or plan well in advance. However, be careful when using this: There is a slight delay between using ability and it actually taking effect. This can lead to Hallowed Ground going on cooldown and still dying from a subsequent attack so try to use it before the last second.
Level 52: Oath Mastery
The first trait that's not just extra stats, this gives you your job-specific gauge, the Oath Gauge. Now when you land weaponskills and auto-attacks in Sword Oath or block attacks while under Shield Oath your gauge will charge to spend on abilities. This increases the usefulness of Bulwark to help charge the gauge in Shield Oath, though PLDs who relied on swapping oaths to maximize DPS may have difficulty using this as changing between them will HALVE your gauge.
Level 52: Sheltron
This guarantees a shield block for the next attack and even restores MP. It's quite useful for tankbusters to help further mitigate the damage as it's almost always available, but it does cost 50 points of your Oath Gauge so keep an eye on that.
Level 54: Goring Blade
At long last, another combo ability, and one that follows Riot Blade at that. Goring Blade costs a mere 50 TP, deals 100 potency out of combo but when following Riot Blade it deals 250 potency with a further DoT that deals 60 potency every 3 seconds for 21 seconds, for an extra 420 damage. That's 670 damage if it lasts the full duration, or 13.4 potency per TP, making the full Fast Blade -> Riot Blade -> Goring Blade combo deal 1070 damage (356.6 per GCD, 6.29 per TP) making it your strongest and most efficient attack so long as you have a lead on enmity.
That said, another note on DoTs: Using it again before the duration runs out means you simply refresh the duration rather than apply it again. With this in mind, you should only start this combo if Goring Blade has 9 seconds or less left. So, for single targets like bosses you should now do your Rage of Halone combo to get an early lead on enmity, do your Goring Blade combo, then you should usually be able to get in two more Rage of Halone combos before needing to reapply Goring Blade, though this will shift a little over time as the two aren't in sync.
Also, now that you have a new more powerful combo it changes when you should use Total Eclipse. Now cycling between them with Goring Blade does more damage up until 4 or more foes, and is more efficient TP-wise unless you're fighting 7 or more foes (and starting at 3 foes you will not be able to apply it to every foe before it runs out on the first).
Level 56: Divine Veil
This places a buff upon yourself for 30 seconds that, by itself, does nothing. However, once any healing magic is cast on you the buff will be consumed to create a barrier on all allies within 15 yalms for 30 seconds that nullifies up to 10% of YOUR max HP. So, if you have 20k maximum HP, the next 2000 damage that hits any ally within the next 30 seconds will not touch their HP. This is largely useful if you know an upcoming large AoE attack is coming so you can shield your squishier teammates, but you should probably use this alongside a text macro to ask your healer to help out as currently you cannot trigger it yourself. As a bonus, it should be noted that for many enemy attacks if the damage is reduced to 0 via barriers it will nullify any additional effects like knockback or debuffs.
Level 58: Clemency
That macro from the last ability lasted you all of 2 levels, welcome to your second spell, Clemency. You can cast this on any party member within 30 yalms to toss a 1200 potency heal their way, which is IMMENSE (Most strong heals are around 700 potency). However, the MP cost is similarly exorbitant and you don't have a lot of it, so don't expect to replace the healer. As a bonus, it will heal yourself as well for 50% of the HP healed if you use it on a party member. Finally, and perhaps the more plannable use for this spell, is that you can use it to trigger Divine Veil to shield the party without bugging your healer.
Level 60: Royal Authority
Just in case you weren't doing enough damage, you now have another high damage combo to use when nothing needs Goring Blade. Royal Authority is another combo that follows Riot Blade, dealing a massive 360 damage for 60 TP when used in a combo (6 per TP). The full Fast Blade -> Riot Blade -> Royal Authority combo deals 760 damage over 3 GCDs for 180 TP (253 per GCD, 4.2 per TP).
At this point, your Rage of Halone combo should only be used when you need more enmity on one or two targets. Once enmity is established, apply Goring Blade to them then do your Royal Authority until Goring Blade needs to be reapplied and repeat.
Level 62: Intervention
The first of the new Stormblood actions, Intervention allows you to reduce a party member's damage taken by 10%, and further adds half the effect of Rampart and/or Sentinel if you have them active. It lasts for 6, though it can be recast ever 10 seconds. However, the biggest cost is that it consumes 50 points from your Oath Gauge. This appears designed for an off-tank in sword oath to use (as they didn't have much use for sheltron, the only oath gauge ability thus far) to reduce the damage the main tank takes for tank busters, but it could also see some use against strong moves that target random party members.
Level 64: Holy Spirit
At 430 damage in a single GCD, this is your most potent single target attack in terms of potency per GCD spent. It even has a range of 25 yalms! However, due to a casting time you can't use it while running to your next target, and a massive MP cost means you'll need to make use of your riot blade combos to keep using this potent ability.
This spell synergizes well with your DPS combos, both of which restore MP. So when DPSing (either once hate is cemented or as the off-tank) you should start with Holy Spirit, apply Goring Blade, then spam Holy Spirit some more until Goring Blade needs to be reapplied or you run out of MP, whichever comes first. Then swap to doing Royal Authority alongside keeping Goring Blade up until you have enough MP for Holy Spirit, in which case you should use it between combos.
For main tank paladins, it should be noted that in shield oath this restores 20 points to your Oath Gauge, so use it between combos as you have MP.
Level 64: Divine Magic Mastery
Another trait, this one halves all your MP costs (so Holy Spirit is already halved by default) and prevents interruptions via damage taken, allowing you to cast as much as you please even if main tanking. This doesn't change much about how you play, but it does allow you to be more free with spells when not off-tanking.
Level 66: Enhanced Cover
Simply prevents 20% of the damage received when using cover. Apart from the obvious benefit of making existing Cover uses easier, this can also be used while offtanking to essentially reduce the damage taken from the boss by 20%, at the cost of switching who the healer must heal for the duration.
Level 68: Requiescat
Another potent DPS ability, this oGCD has no cost and a 1-minute recast, and deals 350 potency in damage. The catch is that as your MP decreases the attack becomes less effective. As a bonus, if your MP is 80% or higher it will increase the potency of Clemency and Holy Spirit by 20% for 12 seconds. With this new ability, you should start your DPS phase with Requiescat, then burn Holy Spirit until out of MP. Swap to Goring Blade and Royal Authority until MP is at least 80%, by which time Requiescat should hopefully be up, and repeat.
Level 70: Passage of Arms
By far your flashiest ability, this can be used every 2 minutes for no cost. For 18 seconds you will block literally everything you can, and any allies in a cone behind you will have 15% damage reduction. This can be used as a version of Sheltron that works for multiple hits, but the secondary effect is a bit more situational as allies typically do not stand behind the tank. This will most likely be useful for powerful AoEs with lengthy telegraphs like those used by the primals.
As an off-tank, the secondary effect becomes more vital: You'll likely be standing alongside the other DPS, and in a prime spot to shield them all before a large AoE attack occurs.