Paladins are high saves, high AC, and high hit points. Depending on their class, they can serve either as a tank or DPS person. They are well rounded defensively and do adequate DPS.
A paladin is able to use healing wands from Cure Light Wounds to Cure Serious Wounds. It is recommended that a paladin carry around wands or potions of cure serious wounds for healing, as well as a wand of lesser restoration. Divine favor is a good spell to use for improving DPS, as is the Divine Might enhancement. Paladins should mostly focus on offensive enhancements, such as the Knight of the Chalice tree, as they are good defensively, although a defensive enhancement here and there is ok. In general, the paladin is played similar to a fighter of a corresponding build. Smites should be used whenever facing a boss opponent, or when nearing the end of a quest. Typically, 2 handed weapons are ideal regardless of your fighting style, although a sword + board style can be used if it is necessary to go on the defensive.
Mid and high levels
At Paladin level 14 (one spell) and 15 (two spells), a Paladin will be able to use Level 4 Spells as Zeal for an extra 10% chance to doublestrike and Holy Sword for more and harder hitting critical hits. Zeal combined with Holy Sword, Divine Favor and Divine Might are staples of the Paladin DPS. Mid and high levels are ideal levels to start focusing on investing in defensive enhancements that boost your AC, PRR and perhaps saves. Sword and Board users will shine at these levels, as will two-weapon fighting class, due to the progression of granted feats. If a paladin can obtain a way to boost their positive spellpower, spells such as cure moderate and cure serious wounds can be better than using potions and possibly scrolls/wands if a paladin does not have access to heal scrolls or enhancements to boost wand and scroll effects. You will definitely want to invest in enhancements and gear to boost the effectiveness of lay on hands, as well as prepare or carry spells/scrolls that can raise allies from the dead.
Intimidate tends to be more important and useful at these levels. Being able to distract a monster and possibly make them stand still while you melee them is a great way for your party to deal damage. Don't forget to use enhancements and equip gear to boost your hate so you can successfully keep the monster focused on you. It is a good idea to invest in additional smites if you have not at lower levels, or secondary attacks from different enhancement trees if you are a multi-class paladin in order to help sustain your DPS.
Variations of paladin builds
Paladins are a good class to multi-class both to and from. They can offer a variety of defensive benefits and enhancements that few classes offer. A few examples of class builds that use paladin as their primary level can include but are never limited to:
12 Paladin/6 'insert class name here'/2 monk or rogue
18 Paladin/2 Fighter
If investing in a multi-class build, it is a good idea to invest in classes that boost your offense or open paths previously unknown to you. Rogue and artificer levels offer access to search, disable device and open lock, vital skills that can get you past areas you otherwise could not get through. DPS class splashes such as fighter or monk are a great way to boost a paladin's DPS by giving them access to either enhancements or (Mostly) feats that they otherwise would not have. Taking a level in wizard gives access to a wizard's bonus feats, as well as HP enhancements. Cleric levels are unique for their enhancements and ability to boost turn undead attempts. While Multi-class paths are more forgiving than before, they do require time and planning to pull off right; research each class and each set of enhancement trees to find out what might work well for you!
Stay close to the party. Ideally the party should always stay close together, but Paladins have Aura of Good for a fair bonus to AC and Saves and with enhancements, the Paladin Aura can improve and give larger AC and Saves benefits to the party. It is best to put them near the front of the group, though behind the scout of the party. If monsters run past the paladin and are pursuing less defensive party members, a good intimidate will buy time and distract the monster. If you use active combat feats such as cleave, try to cycle your active combat feats so that you use ones with a fast cooldown first, followed by longer ones, with normal combat attacks in-between using feats. It is ideal to use a smite or other attack that uses normal attack animations when you make your third, slow attack, to compensate for the slight DPS drop, especially for sword and board as well as Two-Handed Fighting users. And when you are not in combat, keep an eye on your HP and top up as needed; it can be easy to get in a couple of fights and not pay attention to your HP bar.
If a party member is dangerously low on health, it can be a viable idea to use a Lay on Hands on the party member; it does not require line of sight, works very quickly, and usually restores a large amount of health when used. It does not apply a penalty to healing if used on warforged.
The real "tactics" in any game, is in the planning. No I don't mean having a dry erase board with X's and O's, I mean using the right tool for the right situation.
- Bless - Caster Level equals Paladin level so this starts off lasting at least 4 minutes. OK group buff if there's no one else to provide morale bonuses.
- Cure Light Wounds - Although, Paladins rely on wands to heal, this spell can save lifes - at least in Reaper difficulty where you have to keep your friends alive and do not have the time to switch weapons many times.
- Divine Favor - +1 Luck to hit and damage, increases by +1 per 3 CL.
- Lesser Restoration - For Paladins this is a first level spell.
Go check out the equipment section.