This article is only a guide. Information expressed in a guide is usually more opinion than fact and should be taken as such. Guides are written by players, based upon their experiences, successes and mistakes, and are meant to aid other players. However, there may be differing opinions than those expressed in a guide. Strategies and information in guides may not work for everyone.
A Study of the Paladin Job as it applies to FFXI
Written By: Willriker - Odin Server
Ah yes, the noble knight, protector of all those in Vana'diel that don’t piss him off. Square Enix designed the Paladin job, to be the quintessential tank job. The Paladin is the first one to go into battle and the last one to flee the battle, even if that means death. The Paladin does everything within his power to do two things: Control hate and take as little damage as possible. A Paladin will and should do anything and everything he can to control hate and therefore control the fight. While doing so he/she relies on preparation before the battle and job abilities/spells during the battle to take as little damage as possible or to simply survive what others cannot.
Armed with the heaviest of armor and curative/protective magic spells the Paladin quickly becomes highly sought after in almost any experience point/NM/HNM situation. All this is nice, but what truly makes a Paladin shine is how he/she elevates the skill of controlling the hate of an enemy to an art form. These are the skills that truly set the Paladin job apart from any other.
It is my hope to develop a guide that would answer almost any question a player may have about this job. Of course, this is impossible, but I’m sure that at the very least this will become a valuable resource to many players.
Pros of Being a Paladin
One of the most positive things I can say about Paladin is that it really is a fun job to play. In my opinion, which is biased of course, it is the most fun job in the game. The main reason for this is that it is probably the most active job in the game. While mages sit on the outskirts of the battle and cast spells and your melee members will be almost single-mindedly focused on their Tactical Points meter, the Paladin plays a much more intense role. To start, you need to position the enemy in a way so that cone or area of effect attacks will not hit the weaker members. While doing so you need to establish a strong amount of hate at the beginning of each fight so that only you take damage. Of course, you need to watch your TP meter as well to make use of your weapon skills. Not only that but you need to maintain hate control through out the fight, this is not to be confused with dominating hate, although you can dominate hate (I will discuss that in a bit). To make things a little bit more exciting, you're the one taking damage, so you need to pay special attention to timing your cure spells so they are not interrupted by an enemy's attacks, simply to stay alive. But you also need to use your abilities to take as little damage as possible. Compared to the list of things that you need to do and take care of most of the other jobs might as well be just standing there. It is a very active job, and therefore very fun.
The gear for a Paladin is also the most visually stunning in the game, especially as you get to end game. Don't get me wrong, a Samurai looks pretty damn cool in its own right, but hardly anything beats the appeal of heavy metal plate armor.
Paladins are the only job in the game that effectively uses a shield for more than just its stat bonuses. In fact, we have an A+ rating in Shield. Not only that but, with the appropriate equipment, we can further pump this A+ stat higher than any other job can pump up their A+ stats. Which might not matter too many people, but it's a definite plus in my book. We also get to bash things with our shields.
Curative Magic is also huge, many jobs would need to sub Ninja, White Mage, or Red Mage in the hopes of gaining the survivability we possess naturally. Only Red Mage and Ninja can pull it off. But as soon as you get into an experience point, NM, or HNM environment only Ninja has as much survivability as a Paladin.
Paladin is also quite cheap to level. Well, any job can be expensive to level, but Paladin can be leveled with far less expense than any other job out there. That is, if you want to be cheap about it.
Paladin Artifact Gear is probably the best in the game. A Paladin can take this free gear (it's quested) all the way from 60-73. This is more than half of the career of a paladin.
Any race can make an acceptable Paladin. Different races just need to play the job slightly different. Which is also a plus, because other jobs have developed into a cookie cutter type of a system where race just affects damage dealt not how you play the job itself.
For a Paladin, getting a party is really easy, that is until you reach around level 73 where the various burn parties begin to rule the EXP/Merit scene. With other jobs you often hear horror stories of looking for a party for a week or more. This is not the case with a Paladin, for the majority of a Paladins career it's incredibly hard not to get at least 2 invites every gaming session. Heck we even get invites while we are in an experience point party!
Cons of Being a Paladin
However, Paladin is not without its flaws. The number one thing that pissed people off is dying. Ok, listen, you are the only one in party who is taking damage. Mistakes will happen, a mage will fumble and not cure, a link will be introduced by someone being stupid or even a pop; the puller will bring back a mob too strong for your party. Deal with it. This is the life of a Paladin, so don’t get angry over it. You will die, you will delevel, it will happen. And it will never stop happening. In fact when the shit hits the fan, your number one responsibility is to keep the rest of the party alive. This may even include grabbing the attention of an enemy and running into an area where they don’t want to follow, in effect committing suicide. Consider your self warned… this is to be expected. In fact I cannot tell you how many times if had other paladins brag about dying. It's in our nature, when you got a dragon two inches from your face don't expect to come out of the encounter without a scratch.
If you are looking for a Paladin to deal damage, you are in the wrong job. A properly equipped Paladin can be a force to be reckoned with, but that is not until end game. And even then, it will be marginally worse than an unmerited DD job. For the vast majority of your career you will do no more than 0-20 damage in an experience point party setting. Also, you will do far less damage than any melee when soloing.
Farming really sucks for Paladin. It takes entirely too long to kill anything. So you really need to sub Thief. When you do kill something you want something for it. Other jobs farm much faster. So when you hear that someone was making 100-200k an hour just farming mobs, keep in mind you will not have nearly as much success.
Paladins are not sought after for Burning Circle Notorious Monsters either (more often than not BST’s or Ninjas are preferred). Between this and slow farming, making money as a Paladin can be quite difficult, until end game. You will have to discover ways to make gil that does not involve you and your sword. Don’t worry there are plenty.
In the PRO’s section I mentioned that survivability is a great feature of Paladin; this is not to be confused with being able to kill enemies. As Paladin you will not be able to solo enemies like a Red Mage or a Beast Master.
A Paladin has trouble getting around Vana'diel. Without a leveled sub-job of Thief, Black Mage or White Mage, he or she will have to rely on somewhat costly items just for mobility across the vast expanses of this game (however, with the introduction of the outpost warp system this has become much less of an issue).
While you learn how to deal with physical damage like no other job in the game, magic damage will make your day very unhappy.
A Paladin is only as good as the team he belongs to. If your mage backup does not know how to maintain a Paladin, or if your melee cannot even dent your adversary, you're in big trouble. More often than not this will make a Paladin use Invincible for hate and attempt to zone the enemy.
These make a very interesting Paladin. A Galka Paladin is truly awesome; many Japanese linkshells prefer a Galkan or taru Paladin in endgame material above the other races. You have more vitality and hit points than any other race. But this does not come cheap, Galka also have the 3rd highest mind and the least Magic Points. Many Galka Paladin’s compensate for this with items that exchange hit points for magic points. But they still come up with the short end of the stick in that department. The good news is that you take the least amount of damage and get the most HP, the bad news is that you need to learn how to squeeze the most hate you can out of your magic points because there is very little to waste. With the introduction of Auto Refresh this has become much less of an issue. However, it is not the end all answer to living with this problem.
Many people think that Elvaan make superb Paladins. They have almost as much vitality and hit points as a Galka, but they have a little bit more magic points. The extra MP allows a little more forgiveness for MP usage. That and the added strength the Elvaan has really does help out on the damage side of the equation, you will have to deal with crap agility and dexterity though. But hey, as Paladin, the only part of your life that would impact is raising your shield skill. Elvaan is a definitely a viable choice for Paladin.
A vast majority of Paladins are Humes. Although to be fair, the vast majority of any job is Hume as well. As a Hume Paladin you enjoy the middle road of everything; decent hit points, decent magic points, decent strength, decent agility, and decent vitality. The key word here is decent; you won't excel in any of these aspects without highly a specialized equipment setup. Then again you won't suck at them either.
Paladins of this race are few and far between. Heck there are more Taru Paladins in Vana'diel than Mithra Paladins. Mithra enjoy a higher agility and dexterity than any other race. Therefore, they will have an easier time leveling their shield/parry skills. But on the down side they are not known for their vitality or strength. Meaning they would take a little bit more damage than another Paladin, assuming same equipment and level. Heh, like that would ever happen anyway.
The magic points that a Taru Paladin enjoys make all the other races truly envious. That is, until we see how many hit points Taru Paladin have. If a Taru Paladin is not aware of this and equips items that exchange some of those magic points for hit points he/she can be in a bit of trouble. But like I said, with the correct equipment a Taru Paladin can also take a beating with the best of them.
The Road to Becomming a Paladin
The fastest path to becoming a Paladin, from start, is as follows. Start off your game play as a Thief and get to level 18, at this point you can get access to a sub-job quest (don’t worry by the time your level 18 you’ll know all about the sub-job quest). Once you have this job leveled, and the sub-job quest completed it is time to go back to your hometown and begin to level Warrior job (P.S. Make good friends with provoke, you're going to need it as Paladin). You must level Warrior, there is no way around it. If you plan on becoming a paladin you MUST have a leveled Warrior sub-job available. Do not worry, I’ll get into the reason why in the section about sub-jobs for Paladin.
The Paladin Job is an extra (or advanced) job, and as such it required you to advance to level 30 in order to access the quest that unlocks the Paladin Job. But, I highly suggest taking this opportunity to level Warrior out to 37. Because your sub-job will always be half of your main job level, assuming of course that the sub-job is leveled high enough to be half of your main job level. And since the maximum level a main job can attain is level 75. 75 divided by two (rounded down of course), that means the maximum level your sub-job can attain is level 37. If you stuck with this and got to 37 Warrior, your life will be much happier later on, due to the fact that you will never have to level your sub-job ever again. Take my word, leveling a sub-job is not the most enjoyable thing in the world to do. Once you have reached 37 Warrior, or 30 Warrior for those impatient people out there, you now have access to the quest that unlocks the advanced job of Paladin.
The first quest, A Squire's Test, requires you to talk to Balasiel (F-7); he is in the upper walkway of "Watchdog Alley". Balasiel will send you to King Ranperre's Tomb to retrieve a Revival Tree Root. Now for you speed demons out there that want this done quickly you can buy this item on the Auction House, real cheap too. Or you can go hunt hounds in West Ronfaure until the root drops, (they only spawn at night). Bring this back to Balasiel and the quest will be completed, your rewards will be a Spatha and access to A Squire's Test II (of course they don't tell you about access to this quest when you finished Squires Test I)
The Second Quest, A Squire's Test II, is a little bit more involved. You will need to talk to Balasiel again; this time he will send you to Ordelle's Caves to collect him a Stalactite Dew. You cannot buy this on the Auction house, as it is a key item. You will need to head out to La Theine Plateau and enter the caves at (H-7). Once inside hug the right wall until you come to a large room with two "???". One will be in a pool of water; the other will be in the center of the room. You will need to examine the ??? in the water then examine the ??? in the center of the room as soon as you can, if you are too late you'll just have to try again. Additionally, you need to unequip your weapons when you examine the ???, or you will not receive the Dew. There is one problem though; the room is filled with funguar, and they will aggro you. If you're lucky, you'll be able to get a higher level character to clear part of the room for you, if not you'll need to employ your own skills. (Silent Oils) Once you've obtained the Stalactite Dew, return to Balasiel to complete the quest. Your rewards will be A Squire Certificate and access to A Knight's Test.
The Third Quest, A Knight's Test, is the only quest that you might need some help with. You can solo this part with the help of Prism Powders and Silent Oils. Once again head back to Balasiel, the will tell you some riddles. You need to find the answers to these riddles. Two of these answers are up on the second floor of the guard towers in Victory Square. No, not on top of the Auction house, but rather one on each side of the Auction house. On top of these towers you will find Cahaurme who will give you the Book of the East, and Baurise who will give you The Book of the West. Now comes the difficult part, you need to head to Davoi. Davoi is located in the southern most part of Jugner Forest. Once inside, attain sneak and invisible, head forward to the big open area, then take the right hand path out of that area. Follow this path till you come to a river. Fall into this river and take a left, follow the river until you see a "Disused Well" it may be guarded by a jelly so some caution is warranted here. Examine the Disused Well to obtain a Knight's Soul. Then return to Balasiel to complete the quest. Your reward will be a Kite Shield, and access to the extra job Paladin.
A Basic Rational (Experience Parties pre-74)
There are two reasons a party wants a Paladin to join them. The first reason is that you have the ability to control/dominate Hate. A close second is that you will not take as much damage as the other party members. Remember these two things. Make sure that you accomplish both at the same time; this is what is expected of you. Below I have listed the important stats for a Paladin and provided the full reason on why they are important.
This is the single most important stat for a Paladin. Get as much of this as you can. Forsake everything else go for +Vitality Equipment. The reason for this is rather simple. The more Vitality you have the less potential damage you take both on the high end and on the low end of the range. If at any point you notice that your damage is relatively constant but seems a little high you have too much defense and not enough Vitality. So, sacrifice SOME defense for additional Vitality, it will reduce the amount of damage taken.
The role of Defense in FFXI is similar to Vitality in that it allows you to take less damage. The way in which it accomplishes this is somewhat different. While Vitality reduces the high and low end damage you take, your characters defense rating is what determines if an enemy will hit you at the high end of the potential damage or the low end of potential damage. Obviously, you want the low end and the more defense you have will bring the average damage you take closer to the low end of the damage range. If at any point you notice that the damage your taking is all over the place, swinging wildly, you need to add defense, trying not to sacrifice Vitality if you do not have to, to accomplish this. Defense will stabilize your damage intake to a steady range of values.
When we are talking about Hit Points we are directly talking about survivability. There are many adversaries in Vana'diel that possess rather explosive attacks. As you can imagine, these attacks can do major damage. Quite probably the most prominent of these attacks is the Goblin Bomb. These bombs have the ability to one shot an unexpecting player. Not only can they do up to 80% of your maximum hit points in damage (just an estimate to get the point across don’t flame me over it) but this is also combined with the fact that as Paladin you are taking its normal attacks as well. So you will hardly ever be at 100% Hit Points during a battle. The only way to survive such a situation, assuming all attempts to stop the goblin from throwing the bomb have failed, would be to have enough Hit Points to survive the attack. It may sound like this situation is uncommon, and if you think that... Well you’re obviously new to FFXI. Therefore it is not uncommon for a Paladin to wear +Hit point items. Of course Vitality and Defense come first though. For the most part you will find yourself with enough Hit Points to survive this type of an assault in a normal experience point party especially with your full Artifact Armor.
When a White Mage looks at MP he/she sees cures spells, when a Black Mage looks at MP he/she sees well a dead adversary, when a Paladin looks at MP he/she sees a crap load of potential hate. This is the nice good long lasting very strong hate too. Yeah sure, many people say magic points are great for a Paladin because they can cure themselves. Well they are only half right. Aside from the Provoke ability, a Paladin develops almost all his/her hate from his/her magic points. The job of main tank cure belongs to other party members; the job of the meat shield only belongs to the Paladin. It just happens that the Paladins spells cure at the same time.
Everyone lists Agility as an important stat for a Paladin, yet they don't really say why it is important. Gaining shield and parry skill-ups are easier with the introduction of +Agility equipment. But even then there are many more factors that a Paladin can address to help him/her to level this skill, +Agility items are just one of these factors. If you wish to learn more, I have includes an entire section of this guide purely dedicated to leveling your shield and parry skills. As the over all gear set-up for a Paladin goes I would only use these items in lower levels. Especially since during the lower levels it is all too easy for your shield level to become gimped.
Experience/Merit Parties (Post-74, optional but highly advised)
Yeah, yeah, you can’t get merits until level 75, I know that and you know that. But these stats are important to a Paladin at 74 as well. If you were to set up a standard party (tank, healer, support, and 3 damage members) you will see something like 6k exp per hour. Now at about this time (if not sooner) most of your melee will decide to turn to a burn party. In a burn party everyone, except healer and support, is a tank and a DD. These burn parties can get 10k – 15k+ experience points per hour. As an end result… Paladins just aren’t needed to exp anymore. At least not as a tank, if a Paladin were to tank these enemies it would actually draw down the exp per hour. As a Paladin you have 2 choices to get to level 75 and or merit. You can trudge along at 6k exp per hour, with a party that you somehow by the grace of god put together yourself (because no one would invite you). Or you can roll with the punches and join in on the burn parties as a DD. Paladins can DD. All they need is the gear for it, and possibly sub ninja (optional). The ninja sub would be to keep a company sword in your main hand and a joy toy in the off hand. This will dramatically increase your TP and keep you moving at about the same Damage over Time as other DD in your burn party. If you can get the enemies to con as Low Evasion you have enough accuracy, if you can get enemies to con as Low Defense you have enough attack, the rest of your gear should be strength modifiers. When choosing gear for DD purposes it would be wise to prioritize in this order (remember this order may change slightly due to player style, sub job, and race.):
As you have figured out by this point in the game, if you can’t hit the enemy... well you're doing no damage. This Statistic is very important in that fact. Get as much of it as you can economically afford. Remember you're not a true DD so there is no need to go crazy with your budget. Buy simple and cheap things like an Amemet Mantle (normal quality) and farm the materials for an Optical Hat. Both of these are cheap. Hell, the hat is almost free if you farm the materials. In general, about 18-20 points worth of accuracy is needed if you use accuracy enhancing foods; this amount of accuracy will help you hit almost 95% of the time on VT experience enemies.
This is another attribute that Paladin is severely lacking in. Like I said before, don't go broke over it! I really don't see a DD paladin setup (I'm not talking bout the best setup, simply talking bout an effective setup) costing more than 2-3 million on my server. You should look into getting about 19-20 points worth of attack if not a little more.
Your Strength has a direct impact on your damage dealt; if you're a career Paladin AND went through CoP you probably won't have a Rajas Ring. That's fine, buy a cheap +STR ring, you don't need to go for the Flame Ring if it's outside your budget but a +4 or more strength ring will do wonders. Again you have the strongest Base Strength out of any job in the game so you don't need to go nuts but you will need more than you have to be effective. A true Paladin DD will have traded off almost all of his/her Vitality gear for Strength gear. Some even have +50 Strength in addition to what they get naturally.
The Special Fights (Straight-up End Game Tanking)
The Hit Point issue truly affects end game tanking, where you can get hit with up to 1500-1600 damage in a single blow or a rapid combination of blows. In these fights you'll find that you should have every scrap of HP you can get your grubby hands on. Vitality is important, but not nearly as important as Hit Points. After all, if you are dead... your Vitality didn't do much for you. The reason for this is discussed later in this guide. One end game fight will be enough to prove it to you.
This is not to say that Vitality is not important, it will reduce the damage you take. The only problem with Vitality is that you cannot have enough Vitality. I mean, it's physically impossible to load up on so much Vitality that you laugh at Gods or HNM. The old school guys tried this; after all, after 75 levels it's your first instinct. Lets just say that those guys wear a lot more +HP gear for these fights than +Vitality gear. (With the exception of those guys with full Koenig, which gives HP and Vitality.)
You will find MonksChi Blasting for 1000+ damage, Black Mages being tossed into the mix simply to blow their MP as fast as possible, Summoners using 2 hours, White Mages spamming cures like there is no tomorrow, etc... Yet you are supposed to hold hate. Let's face it that's no small task. Do yourself a favor and load up on the enmity gear. It serves like a hate multiplier. And will help you earn a good name with an overall faster kill on a dragon or something. XD
The Special Fights (Kiting)
This just may be the single most important stat you can have. The whole goal of kiting is to minimize the damage you take to nothing at all. The down side of this is that you need to run out of (attacking) range from the enemy. Since you are not staring the enemy straight in the face it becomes harder to keep hate. A single Provoke won’t last long, especially with the DD players in your alliance. A provoke that was buffed with +enmity gear will have a greater effect
Since you are running, it's pretty hard to get enough distance to cast a Cure III and get running again before you get hit. It is extremely helpful to have Crimson Legs to help you get out of range of the enemy. This combined with using the terrain to trip up your following beast… It will help A LOT.
Let's face it; there are not many enemies soooo brutal that they must be kited. So you will not get a lot of practice doing this until your link shell has gained a certain level of respect for your abilities as a tank. So you will get hit while kiting, you will mess up. King Behemoth will hit you with a freaking Meteor! Your only chance to survive is to have enough raw HP to survive until you’re bombed with a cure.
The Damage Curve
For a moment, let's hold your Vitality and Defense constant. As you fight lower level enemies, you will notice the damage you take to be little to nothing. As you fight the highest level enemies you approach a point where there is a definite chance you will be one shoted... lots of damage. The reason for this is that, just like when a melee attacks a mob, first the enemy's accuracy is compared to your evasion, next the enemy's attack is compared with your defense, finally the enemy's Strength is compared to your Vitality. As the level of your opponent increases; so does its accuracy, strength, and attack. You will need to equip appropriately. Remember, there is no one single setup that is so good for tanking that you will forgo other pieces of equipment. A prime example of this is that during the airship fight you will need almost 2 full sets of equipment, one traditional meat tanking, and one high evasion setup. There is almost no time when an evasion setup is the best choice for a Paladin, but this is one of them.
Obviously if the enemy's accuracy is not high enough to beat your evasion you will dodge the attack. This is great, as long as your shield and parry are also leveled to maximum. You cannot level your shield or parry skill unless you actually get hit. Another thing to note is that a Paladin does not have the best Evasion in the world to begin with. Some compare it to throwing a tennis ball at a brick wall... you just won't evade an attack very often.
Since you won't evade an attack all that often, even with +evasion gear unless the enemy has a gimped accuracy and is also enfeebled to hell, you will need to focus on Vitality and Defense to withstand the blow. It would be extremely helpful to know what you should focus on, Defense or Vitality.
While doing damage you have an advantage on figuring out if you need to increase your attack or accuracy, simply by examining the enemy and seeing if it tells you if the enemy has high evasion, high defense, low evasion, or low defense. As a tank you do not have this luxury. You need to be much more observant when determining whether you need to focus on Vitality or Defense in your equipment setup versus that enemy. How to determine if you need more of defense or Vitality or an average amount of each is what I will attempt to discuiss in this section.
This is extremely important to understand. The question that is asked is, "How do I know if I have enough Vitality and Defense?" If you read the above sections you will have understood the interplay between the Vitality and Defense; in this section I will discuss how they affect the damage you take in a broader scope. I will lump Defense and Vitality into one category, and show you a few graphs to get to hammer the point home. There are no numbers in these graphs; I did that on purpose… It is not my intention to have you take any numbers literally; they are merely to show the THEORY. Also note that I have not taken into account critical hits, because the only way to reduce the amount of those you receive is by adding AGILITY.
As you can see in this graph there are two lines. The line on the top represents the maximum damage you will take, the line underneath that represents the average damage you will see. The minimum damage you will take is denoted by the bottom line. You will also notice that the more you increase your Vitality and Defense the less damage you will take. Please note that if you attempt to make your own graph, which is kind of pointless and very time consuming, a level 20 enemy would have a different graph than a level 80 dragon. The numbers for damage taken would change, but the general pattern still remains the same.
Why do these graphs look like they do? Well the general shape of the graph is determined by your vitality. The more Vitality the less damage you take. It’s that simple. But you will not see a single number appear on your screen every fight; you will see a number that ranges between the two black curves. The amount of defense you have determines how close (on average) the damage you receive will be closer to the bottom curve. I mean, the more defense you have the more your average damage taken will approach the minimum possible, but it will not go below the minimum possible curve. The less amount defense you have the more you will notice the average damage you take to increase, but the maximum damage you take will not be above the maximum damage possible curve. To illustrate I will show you two more graphs, the first will be for more defense added, and the second graph will be for less defense added.
Note: other ways to decrease damage taken, such as shield blocking, parry, evasion, stun and the gambit of other ways to reduce damage are not discussed here; that is in a different section.
To recap, as you can see defense effects the average damage taken in quite a unique way. The more defense you have the more you will see your average damage approach the minimum allowable. While if you are in need of more defense you will notice the average damage you are taking to approach the maximum allowable.
So, what does this mean for you in game play? If you notice that you were taking damage at a relatively steady rate, the values were not jumping around erratically, add defense to bring the average damage taken closer to the minimum allowable. Once the average damage taken becomes relatively steady once again you know that you have enough defense for the situation.
On the other hand the amount of Vitality you have equipped directly raises or lowers the damage curves themselves. Obviously, the more Vitality you have the lower the curves get, meaning lower damage taken. While the other side of the coin is also true, the less vitality the higher the curves get, meaning more damage taken. What follows are my final two graphs on this topic. One will be for more Vitality than average; the other graph will be for less Vitality than average.
If you were able to understand the concept, as I view it, of defense. Then the concept of how Vitality effects the damage curve will be much easier to understand. While defense brings you closer to the minimum damage allowable, Vitality lowers both the upper and lower allowable themselves! How does this information affect your game play? Well if you notice that the damage you are taking is relatively consistent, defense is nice, and then it is time to add more Vitality to your equipment mix. The addition of even more defense will not have very much of an affect in this situation. But the addition of more Vitality, even at expense of some of the defense you have would have a greater effect on how much damage you receive.
Also, there is a "capping" effect with defense and Vitality. As you can see, the first 50% of the defense and Vitality added in this graph have a huge effect on the damage taken. While the latter 50% of the defense and Vitality added have much less of an effect. Note: to not take that 50% stated above as a fact in game. It is just an arbitrary number I thought up to get this point across. This is the main issue that holds Paladins back. It is far too easy to reach a point where adding an additional 5 Vitality will just not have a great effect on your game, in terms of damage taken. To put it this way, in full Koenig armor while taking Faust it has been reported that the damage reduced per hit was only about 20-30 damage less than tanking it in Adaman armor. Which over time will add up to less cures, but I for one believe that gear this difficult to obtain should have a vastly better effect than that. I’m sure that it shines better against higher level enemies than Faust though. You can test this out for yourself without Koenig too. Go out and remove all your gear against some higher level too weak enemy, notice how much you take in damage, then add all the vitality and defense you can. You’ll notice only a 10-20 damage difference. Now you may not have the balls to do it, but to a mob your exping of and attempt the same test. You’ll notice a huge difference in damage you receive. The people who are familiar with this phenomenon insist that this is what really needs to be addressed in order to truly “fix” the Paladin job, making it the single best tank in the entire game once again.