Rift: Paladin

The Paladin is a strongly defensive, tanking oriented soul. It's very viable both as a main soul for tanking, or as a secondary or tertiary soul for a build oriented around a different soul. This soul has many powerful tools for keeping both single target and ae aggro, especially when bolstered with an investment in the other tanking souls.

Unlike other games, paladins receive very little healing, and it's all pretty much of the "OH SHIT!" variety, with long cooldowns, so you won't be seeing paladins keeping their groups up for 5 minutes when the healer goes down like you might in a game like EQ2.

Notable Root Abilities -

Aggressive Block (0 Points) - Outside of doing a bit of damage and threat, this ability also raises your block by 10% for 15 seconds (with a 15 second cooldown). This is definately something you'll want to be using right off and keeping up during fights.

Retaliation (2 Points) / Disarming Counterblow (20 Points) - These account for two of the three reactive blocking abilities the paladin soul has. Both cause damage/threat, while Disarming Counterblow also disarms the opponent and cannot miss/be dodged/be parried. Neither are on the GCD, but note that using Disarming Counterblow will reset both, while using Retaliation will not, so it's often useful to hit Retaliation first, then Disarming Counterblow. If you have points in the Karmic Resolution talent, using these abilities will also heal you for 15/30% of the damage you do. Outside of the obvious benefits, these are also quite useful for building up attack points quickly since they are off the GCD.

Face Slam (6 Points) - Outside of doing a bit of damage, this ability interrupts any spells being cast, and is also off the GCD. This is a great ability for interrupting high damage spells and heals etc, and can also serve to build up attack points quickly as it is of the GCD. This is an ability you'll definately want on an easy to reach keybinding for quick reaction time when you see a mob casting something nasty.

Touch of Life (8 Points) - This is the classic "Lay on Hands" ability - it will completely heal the target, and has obvious "OH SHIT!" applications. It does however have quite a long CD at 10 minutes. This is another ability you'll absolutely want to have on an easy to reach keybinding, for obvious reasons.

Shield Throw (10 Points) - This is a ranged forced threat ability, and is extremely useful, both for quickly pulling mobs to you that have broken away from a pack, as well as opening a single target encounter with, giving you breathing room to establish aggro.

Sweeping Strike (12 Points) / Judgement (14 Points) - These are the early on, bread and butter paladin ae attacks. Sweeping Strike hits up to three targets, while Judgement is a force target on up to 10 enemies. While Sweeping Strike is useful early on for ae pulls, there are much better abilities further into the paladin tree as well as from other souls, while Judgement continues to have obvious uses. I often like to use Judgement after I've grabbed a large pack of mobs to give me some room to throw down other ae's without worrying about mobs peeling. It does however have a 1 minute CD, so it's not something you can rely on being available for every pull.

Shield Charge (18 Points) - This is one of my favorite abilities, and also one that gives healers palpitations due to potential OOR issues. It sends you charging towards your target, does a bit of damage and threat and roots them for 2 seconds. If I know I don't have to worry about wandering adds I often like to pull with this. It's also very useful if you do happen to get adds on someone far away from you, so you can swoop in quickly to handle the problem, as well as getting quickly to a mob that has peeled, if Shield Throw is down.

Scales of Justice (26 Points) - This is a finisher which puts a debuff on up to 6 mobs, which harms them when they next attack. This does not directly add threat, but I did notice it was quite helpful for ae aggro, as well as a bit of extra dps.

Light's Decree (32 Points) - This is quite simply an incredible ability. It works at range, does both damage and threat to up to 5 opponents, and causes any single target abilities to do an ae for 12 seconds.

I do not personally plan on taking any of the deeper root abilities - other than Impassable Guard (blocks all attacks for up to 10 seconds) they seem pretty lackluster to me. Impassible Guard seems quite good, but I'm not sure at this point it's worth the losses one would have to take to other areas to get it.

In addition to these root abilities, the paladin also gets the ability to rez as well as buff endurance (much like 900000 other souls seem to get :-p).

Notable Talents -

Stalwart Shield - Increases block by up to 10% with 5 points. A must have.

Defender - Increases armor by up to 10% with 5 points. Also a must have.

Aggressive Guardian - Increases threat by up to 20% with 2 points. Get it. Get it now.

Hardened Will - Reduces damage from spells by up to 9% with 3 points. I was actually hesitant to get this, as I feel it's better to go all out if you want to tank casters, but I did not personally care for the other available abilities.

Unyielding Defense - Damage is reduced by up to 20% when blocking, with 5 points. A no brainer.

Vengeful Wrath/Karmic Resolution - Vengeful Wrath increases the damage of your reactive blocking abilities by up to 30% with 3 points, while Karmic Resolution heals you for 30% of the damage done (and you must invest in Wrath to get Resolution). I'm not that hot on the reactive damage buff, but I think Karmic Resolution is worth taking. I haven't had a chance to look at this too deeply with a parser, so I may change my mind on this.

Balance of Power/Tip The Balance - Balance of Power damages enemies for 160% of weapon damage when attacks are blocked, while Tip The Balance heals you for 100% of the damage done, with 3/2 points spent, respectively. You'll be blocking a ton as a paladin, so this goes off quite often. I noticed a huge difference in tanking multiple mobs once I got this, although it's obviously not as useful against single targets. I will also need to do some parsing to see exactly how much is being healed, but so far I'm liking this ability quite alot.

Reverent Protection - This ability is a finisher that wards the group for X amount of damage for 30 seconds. I'm sort of torn on this - while it has obvious uses, the CD is quite long at 3 minutes, and it was doing about 900 during the last beta. I just noticed now that the enhanced talent for this now increases the ward (it used to just increase the time it lasted), which might be worth getting, but again that CD is so long, and mobs are already hitting for 1k that I'm not 100% sure on this. On the other hand, you don't really get very many OH SHIT! buttons as a paladin, and it's useful both keeping yourself and the group alive.

Shield of The Chosen - This is a self buff that increases your block by 5% as well as increasing your armor rating. A must have.

Paladin's Reprisal - This is the top tier ability for paladins - it is a reactive block, which hits up to 10 enemies for some damage in addition to causing threat and stunning for 3 seconds. Overall I liked this ability, especially at a single point investment, but the CD is fairly long at 1 minute.

A couple of other abilities I think might be useful are Light's Hammer for the stun, as well as being another ranged ability you can use while a mob is inc, Paladin's Devotion (breaks stun, fear, disarm, and confuse) which has obvious applications, although I haven't had issues with these effects yet, and Martial Shield, which gives you a 25% chance to gain an additional attack point when you block.

You can also probably tell by this that I'm not big on taking dps increasing abilities as a tank. While obviously having more dps is always nice, this is not the core competance of the soul, and I view spending points in these areas as a waste. After getting some of the better ae aggro tools, I haven't had any issues with aggro, and if I got to the point where I felt like I was reaching diminishing returns defensively or that more dps was needed to hold aggro, I would probably slot in more dps oriented plate rather than spend precious points on these talents.

- This is a great tanking soul, with all the tools you need to hold both single target and ae aggro (although the better ae aggro abilities don't come until later on).

- The better AE aggro tools don't come until later on in the tree. I also probably wouldn't want to go all out with this soul - I think your points would be better spent in other souls. Additionally there really aren't many OH SHIT! buttons available, but this seems to be the case with other tanking souls as well.

Written by: Kazue