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PLD’s Guide to Tanking

For some time now I’ve wanted to become a mentor to new Paladins. Seeing how being a mentor in FFXI is pretty much useless I figure this guide will do better. For ease of navigation,  read the bold headline and if the information seems interesting, read it!

First and foremost to tank on Paladin, you will need to unlock the job.

Sub-jobs

Now, you will need at the bare minimum two sub-jobs, Warrior and Ninja. Ninja is for endgame(which we’ll touch on later) and Warrior for xp parties. Other subs include Red Mage for solo and certain endgame events (like Jailer of Love), Dark Knight for mostly Dynamis, Blue Mage for supertanking (Divine Might), and Dancer for solo and possibly mid level xp.

Before we get into establishing how to tank, what hate is, and how to build your hate routine you need to understand how to gear yourself, and what stats do what and why.

Vitality and Defense

VIT and DEF to a certain extent lower the damage you take. VIT lowers the cap on your damage taken and DEF lowers the average damage you take. For example, a mob hits me in the range of 30-50 damage. If I were to add more VIT it would lower it to 20-40 damage. If I were to add more defense it would decrease the range of that to something like 20-30 damage.

Now, especially for low levels these stats are important because your average XP Party will be aiming for mobs that are IT++ and hit very hard for big xp. Turtling up, as it’s called, will be to your benefit if you’re going to survive the onslaught.

Accuracy and Evasion

These are two very important stats. Accuracy determines how often you hit the mob. The more accuracy you have the less you miss. Makes sense doesn’t it? This is important for building hate which I’ll explain in detail a little a later.

Evasion determines how often the mob will miss you. However, evasion is a stat you never want to gear for because Paladins evade like a brick wall. There’s an old adage that goes: Paladin’s don’t evade, mob’s miss. This is because Paladins get a C rating in Evasion Skill a.k.a. crap.

Strength and Attack

Strength is similar to vitality in a vein. Where VIT lowers the cap on your damage taken, STR raises the cap on the damage you deal. Also STR is a primary modifier in certain weapon skills like Vorpal Blade and LOL-Savage Blade.

Attack determines how hard you hit the mob, on average. Generally speaking as far as gear choices are concerned, aim for accuracy in any slot you can and add attack or STR where you can’t. The back piece is a good example of having a good attack piece. The reason for loading up on accuracy is, you can get bigger attack boosts from food than you ever can with gear.

Dexterity and Agility

DEX raises the amount you can critical hit a mob and for every two DEX you add, you gain one point of accuracy. Generally you don’t want to aim for this, unless it comes in high quantities. The Hecatomb Armor Set is a great example of this. Absolutely superb for Vorpal Blade.

Agility lowers the amount a mob can critical hit you. For every two points of AGI you gain one point of evasion. Also it’s worth knowing that AGI also effects the amount Parry and your shield activate/proc.

Charisma, Intelligence, and Mind

CHR is only for killer effects traits nothing more.

INT lower the amount of magic damage taken by black magic.

MND lowers the amount of magic damage taken by white magic. Also it boosts the amount of your cure. Should you ever get into PLD/RDM, Mind is extremely important for stoneskin as it boosts the amount your stoneskin can absorb.

None of these stats, MND being an exception, is really worth concentrating on as far as practical gear choices as Magic Defense Bonus and -Magic Damage Taken are far better than INT or MND for magic damage.

HP+

Later on, many pieces you’ll be equipping will have HP+ on them which will raise your maximum hp. This is important for two reasons. The more hp you have, the more leeway your mages will have in keeping you alive. Can’t remember the amount of times where 20hp saved my life.

The other reason has to do with enmity. In a nutshell the higher your max hp is, the less Cumulative Enmity you will per 1 damage taken. (More on enmity and CE below). This is good, but it won’t  make or break you.

And as long as we’re talking about HP, I’ll mention the Cure Cheat here. Basically, the cure cheat is a way to get hate on yourself without having to wait for TP or someone to get damaged. The idea is to throw on a bunch of +HP gear, Cure yourself, then take that HP gear off. Yay free hate!

Magic Defense Bonus and -Magic Damage Taken (MDB & -MDT)

These don’t become important until you’re tanking at endgame but might as well touch on it here as long as we’re talking about stats. MDB and -MDT are extremely important for reducing the amount of, you guessed it, magic damage you take.

-MDT does what it says, it reduces magic damage by whatever percent it says it does. However, it’s imperative to know that -MDT in gear caps at 25%. You can get further -MDT from the spell Shell, up to Shell V, for a total of 50% damage reduction total.

MDB is very similar to -MDT. For every +1 MDB you reduce a bit under 1% MDT. So for simplicity 1 MDB = ~.9% -MDT. What’s nice about MDB is it doesn’t cap. So after you have capped your -MDT, add in MDB in every other slot you can for further magic damage reduction.

Shields and Shield Skill+

Your shield is extremely important. So important I put a big fat picture right before this section just so you would notice. Get a shield asap and glue to your arm. Now it’s important to know there are 5 different types of shields categorized into sizes, Size 1 – 5. Also, for every point of defense on a shield you get an additional  +0.5% damage reduction.

Size 1 shields, Buckler Shield

These shields block the most often, but reduce the least amount of damage. The Clipeus is a great example of one these that are good to use. It has the highest defense for its level. Try to get a Size 2 to hold you over until you can get a Kite Shield at 28, which is Size 3.

Size 2 shields, Round Shield

These shields block less often than a size 1, but reduces more damage than it too. These are ok for lower levels or skill ups but generally speaking don’t reduce enough damage to be effective.

Size 3 shields, Kite Shield

These shields are a Paladin’s bread and butter. Get one of these whenever you can. It blocks less than a size 2 shield but as a Paladin you cap out the activation rate (~65%) and reduce the most damage overall with this size.

Size 4 shields, Tower Shield

Viable shields, as they reduce more damage than a size 3 shield. However, they don’t proc as often as a size 3 so generally it’s best to just stay with a size 3. As a side note, Tatami Shield is a cool guy and doesn’t afraid of anything.

Size 5 Shield, Aegis

Size 5 Shield

This is the only size 5 shield. It’s the Paladin relic and will take an extreme amount of effort and gil to get. It’s a size 5 shield because it’s in a league of it’s own. It blocks as often as a size 2 shield (~80%) and reduces damage like a size 4 shield.

Shield Skill+ pretty much does what it says it does. Your shield skill determines how effective you can block with your shield. As a rule, try to keep your shield skill capped as often as you can.

Also, at level 35 you get Shield Mastery. Basically if you block with your shield while you’re casting a spell, you can’t be interrupted. Cool right?! This becomes extremely important in endgame.

Hate and Enmity+

Now pay attention because knowing the ins and outs of hate is paramount to your job as a Paladin. The more you understand hate, the more effective you can do your job and understand your environment. Now there is a very technical side to hate which I will only touch on briefly because I don’t want to lose anyone.

Now in general terms there are two forms of hate: Spiked or Instantaneous hate (Volatile Enmity, VE) and Constant or Gradual hate (Cumulative Enmity, CE). Combining both together is your Total Enmity or TE. Spiked hate or VE is generated by activating certain job abilities like Provoke or Sentinel but decay at a static rate. Spiked hate is usually a big part of hate at once but it will wear off, so remember to use these in sticky situations when you need hate back immediately.

Gradual hate or CE is generated by dealing damage and spells like Cure or Flash (or Enfeebles for when /RDM or /DRK). CE does not decay, but will be lost when the mob does some action on you like hitting you or taking a shadow away. This is why it’s imperative to gear for accuracy and shield skill because you want a steady stream of CE coming in because you will be losing it as the mob hits you.

There is also the hate list. Basically anyone who has done an action on the mob is on the hate list. Now if you’re not on the hate list, it won’t matter how many job abilities you activate because you haven’t done anything to gain the mob’s attention yet. To get on the hate list you can either damage the mob in some way (even if you miss). Or help someone (cure them) that’s already on the mob’s hate list.

If you want a more technical look at hate check out Kanican’s Blog. He’s quantified each spell and ability on a list broken up by job. A short example, Provoke generates 1800 VE. VE decays at a rate of 60VE a second. In 30 seconds all VE will be lost. Don’t get too bogged down in the numbers, look at it more to see how much Enmity you’re actually generating with each ability than make FFXI a math game.

Enmity+ is a multiplier. For every +1 Enmity, every action you do its enmity will increase by +1% to a cap of 50% in gear. Sentinel has +100 enmity when activated. So, for every action you do the enmity will double. Macroing enmity+ into your job abilities and spells will increase your effectiveness as a Paladin and increase your hate threshold.

Hate Routine

As a Paladin it’s good to get a routine going with your job abilities and cures to keep a constant stream of hate to keep the mob’s attention on you and not your party. My general routine in XP is Flash the mob coming in, Voke, Cure, Voke, Flash, Cure etc. Notice however that I’m always doing something, especially in between vokes. This is because you need to keep a constant stream of hate going because while you’re getting hit, you are losing hate.

Secondly, get a feel of what’s going on in your party. Do you have really strong DD’s? Is your backline overcuring? Are you fighting IT++ mobs? These are all things you should observe and be aware of.

When you lose hate

Personally, I save my important job abilities (in xp) like Sentinel, Rampart, and Warcry for when I lose hate. Yes you’re going to lose hate. So it’s important to keep these abilities active to grab it back. However, one thing I notice every Paladin do when they lose hate is they completely forget about COVER. They’ll flail around trying to get hate back all the while someone’s dying.

General Tips for XP

At 35, once you get Cover just save it when you lose hate, wedge yourself between the mob and the person getting smashed and cover him. I’ll illustrate:

[Mob–> <–You] <–Person]

The arrows are the direction everyone is facing.

Now, I want to emphasize that at times it is ok to lose hate for awhile. It’s going to happen eventually so accept it now and move forward. Generally, in XP there two or three circumstances where losing hate is ok. If someone is sub ninja or even main ninja, it’s ok for them to take  a few hits. They’ll have 3 shadows up for you to get your groove back so it’s ok to be bit looser with these people.

If there’s a Thief in the party they’ll probably be wanting to do a SATA+WS on you. Usually this is at the beginning of a fight. Someone else besides the Paladin will voke the mob while you line up behind it like this:

[Thief–> [Paladin–> [Mob–> <–DD]

Any who, once the SATA goes off you’ll have hate pretty much on lockdown the rest of the fight. Now if it’s mid fight you’ll probably notice someone trying to get hate off you and a thf main or someone /thf get behind you. Let the other person get hate so the person behind you can fire off a huge WS and plant hate right back on you.

If you have a co-tank. Let him/her share your burden. You’ll both be keeping high hate thresholds but eventually you’re going to run out of shadows so let your partner help you out. Remember this game is all about team work.

General Tips for Endgame and Events

When people are depending on you and possibly another tank the normal hate routine needs to be modified. In events you’ll need to spike your hate from the get go so the mob’s attention is locked on you. I’ve found the most effective way to do this is as follows:

1.) Get on the hate list (banish 1 works well)

2.)Sentinel

3.)Flash

4.)If you have 300tp at the beginning of the fight, Spirits Within

If you did all this hate will be locked solid on you for a good while until you can get comfortable in a routine. Notice however, I saved Flash for after Sentinel. As you know Sentinel doubles the enmity of every action you do after you activate it. This way, you get the double the benefit of Flash.

Low levels  (1-37)

Now that you understand (I hope) what the hell is going on. Onto leveling!

From 10-37 you’re going to suck. It’s just the way it is, War/Mnk is far better due to more damage output and counter. Don’t let this discourage you though. For gear at these levels, pretty much just get whatever has the best defense on it that you can afford, and accuracy if you can get it. You can find a gear guide here. Some things to mention that are noteworthy are:

Mighty Rings, get two of em if you can, if not VIT rings are ok till Venerer’s.

Power Sandals are an easy quest to Davoi.

Warrior’s Belt +1 is a worthwhile investment until Tilt Belt at 40 and Life belt at 48.

The Eisen/Kamph armor set at 29.

And Beetle Earrings +1 (nq work on a budget)

Mid Levels (37-65)

About now you’ll be wanting to concentrate more on DD type gear. Acc, Atk, then STR. Put Acc in any slot you can, followed by Attack, and STR in any other slot as a general rule. Lower levels this isn’t as easy but by the time you hit 59 you’ll be able to have a decent DD set put together.

Now remember, the ideal situation to DD PLD in, is where you’re fighting VT-Low IT mobs. If your party decides to fight IT++ turtling up is ok. However, I would first try to recommend an easier camp.

Here’s some noteworthy gear:

Can be quested.

In 6 more levels though it’s imperative you get two of these

Tilt belt at 40 then Life Belt at 48.

The most imperative piece of gear at this level is Haubergeon.

In fact, personally I wouldn’t even continue leveling till I had one of these it’s that damn good.

High Levels (68-75)

By now you should get the point on how to gear yourself appropriately for whatever situation. Make sure you harass all of your friends for one of these:

I will note at these levels DD really come into their own and can rip hate off you when they wish. That’s why DD PLD is imperative to constantly generating that CE to give yourself more leeway in hate.

Endgame

PLD/NIN Tanking

Read this first.

PLD/NIN Beginners Tanking Guide by ScarShiva

I’m going to assume you read that guide and have a basic understanding of the concepts ScarShiva outlined. Basically, PLD/NIN works by keeping your shadows up. If you don’t keep them up, then it doesn’t work. Simple right?! Well Dynas, how do I keep my shadows up? Well I’m glad you asked as there’s three things you can do to effectively make yourself a blink tank.

1.) Haste

2.) Shield skill+ gear

3.) Ichi to Ichi, Save Ni

First, you need Haste to lower your flash and utsu timers as much as possible. This is imperative and key to pld/nin.

Secondly, there’s Shield skill+ gear and by extension Reprisal.

Eventually, your shadows will go down at one point. When this happens you hit what I affectionately call the Oh-Shit Macro. In this macro you put every conceivable piece of shield skill and damage reduction gear you have available to you. This will save you while waiting for your utsu timers.

Not only though is shield skill+ nice for these situations but you need to keep some in your Utsusemi: Ichi macro. Let me say this again. Put Shield Skill+ gear in your Utsusemi:Ichi macro.

Casting Ichi is slow. It’s slow to the point that shield mastery will save your ass time and time again. Do not neglect shield mastery. It is your friend. Love him. To be more specific, I generally keep my Gallant Leggings in my Ichi macro at all times and take a small hit in haste. Another good choice is shield torque and buckler earring.

Lastly, is the way you cast Utsusemi. You’ll want to rely on casting Ichi. Ichi can overwrite itself. So when you see that second shadow wear off, start casting ichi again. Ideally, you would cast Ichi all day long until the mob is dead. This is the real world though and not everything happens that smoothly so let me diagram here so we’re all on the same page.

Ideal situation:

Cast Ichi, cast Ichi again, repeat till mob is dead.

Realistic Situation:

Ichi, Ichi, Ni, Manually cancel shadows, Ichi, etc.

So we get Ichi can overwrite itself. Ni can overwrite Ichi as well, but….

What happens if you cast Ichi while Ni is up, and don’t manually cancel your shadows? You get left with no shadows. Yep you’re screwed. Ichi cannot overwrite Ni. So keep an eye out, and try to stick to casting Ichi only. Save Ni for when your stuck in that oh crap situation and cannot get Ichi up at all.

If  you can grind these concepts in your head then you can tank anything on Pld/Nin.

Dynamis

Ideally be PLD/DRK but PLD/WAR and PLD/RDM both work fine.

If you’re new to Dynamis know this: NEVER USE DoT SPELLS (dia, poison, etc.)

Generally on PLD in Dynamis you’ll be keeping hate on the mobs that are slept, so they don’t eat the mages’ faces. The idea is, get on the mob’s hate list then spike your hate and maintain it. You can cure the sleepers or claim the mob somehow by voke, bind, or some other non-damaging method. Then hit a job ability to spike your hate whether that may be: Rampart, Soul Eater, or w/e then maintain that hate till the mob is dead. Congratulations, you now know what the fuck you’re doing.

PLD/DRK

I will freely admit I have not personally done this, but the theory is simple enough. The reason PLD/DRK works so well is because you have access to more abilities that spike your hate (Last Resort, Soul Eater, and Stun) and non-damaging spells that put you on the mob’s hate list and build CE (spells like Sleep and Aspir).

Throughout most Paladin’s careers they’ve relied on building VE and maintaining it constantly. It’s still important to build VE, but /DRK gives you some CE tools as well so you’ll want to focus on spamming the cheapest most effective spells you have. The most cost effective spells are going to be Poison, Bio, Aspir, Sleep, Bind, and Stun.

Now, Aspir and Sleep are the only two spells that build CE (along with cures), the rest are for cheap VE, Bind being the best. What you’ll want to concentrate on is Flashing, Binding, Sleeping, and Stunning.

Stun is very special. Think of it as Flash really, It’s on the same timer, has the same hate as Flash, even costs the same amount of mp. So spread it out with Flash and your hate building spells.

PLD/RDM

Pld/Rdm is very similar to Pld/Drk with some notable exceptions. No access to Stun, Aspir, or VE job abilities. However, you gain one more CE spell and cheap and spammable VE spells. Also don’t forget Stoneskin and Phalanx. /Rdm has many uses, one of them being solo.

Pld/Rdm relies on Stoneskin and Phalanx for damage mitigation. You’ll want to pack as much MND and enhancing magic skill as possible into Stoneskin to get the maximum out of it. Enhancing Magic Skill is the only thing that effects Phalanx however. Also, Aquaveil is always nice to have up at the start of a fight.

As far as hate building goes you’ll rely on your native PLD job abilities for spike hate but for spell spamming you’ll have a few more options than /DRK. Bind, Blind, and Barspells will be your VE spells. They’re quick to cast and easy on the mp cost so use them liberally. Sleep, Dispel, Flash and Cures are your CE spells. Rotate them as often as you can. Dispel is on a nice 10 second timer though so keep that in mind.

Resources

Beginner’s Guide to PLD/NIN Tanking by ScarShiva

PLD/RDM Guide by Enghorr

FFXIClopedia for everything you ever wanted to know about FFXI

Enmity by Kaeko

PLD Gear and Food Guide by NCCoda

Tanking with DD Gear by Dracoth

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