|Req. Town Buildings||
|# of figures||4|
|Melee Attack per figure||6 *|
|Defense per figure||5|
|Hit Points per figure||4|
Holy Bonus +1First Strike
Paladins are a type of Normal Unit unique to the High Men Race. For a Construction Cost of 200, they can be created in any High Men Town housing both an Armorers' Guild and a Cathedral. Paladins are a heavy close combat cavalry unit – one of the strongest in the game. They are almost completely impervious to harmful magic, possess outstanding combat statistics overall, and are surrounded by an aura that enhances the performance of all friendly units in battle.
Paladins require an Upkeep Cost of 4 and 1 to maintain. Failure to pay these costs will result in the unit being disbanded automatically.
Paladins are a group of men (humans) wearing full plate armor – including red-feathered helmets. They are mounted on swift white steeds, and wield lances – long shafts of steel-reinforced wood used for ramming enemies during a charge. Paladins are the devout knights of their chosen deity, and receive divine protection that shields them from malicious magic and other harmful effects. Their very presence on a battlefield inspires their allies to fight harder.
Paladins possess a base Melee Strength of 6. However, since they typically start out as Regulars, and in fact never appear in the game as Recruits, their initial score can be considered to be 7. They also benefit from their own Holy Bonus in battle, raising this even further, to 8. This results in an average "raw" damage output of 8 × 30% = 2.4 per figure – quite impressive for a Normal Unit. But that's not all: the attacks of the Paladins are Armor Piercing, which cuts their opponents' Defense in half while resolving the Paladins' attacks. That is, the target may only use half as many dice on their Defense Rolls as they normally would. As a result, Paladins are capable of injuring even the most well-armored foes – and can often destroy low tier units in a single strike.
Finally, Melee Damage between two combatants is normally resolved simultaneously, but like many other mounted units, Paladins also have the First Strike trait, representing their ability to charge or trample their opponents before they could fight back. This ability triggers whenever the unit performs a voluntary Melee Attack during its own turn, and results in enemy figures slain by the attack not being able to retaliate at all. In other words, the more damage the Paladins do with an attack they initiate, the less they will take from the Counter Attack it triggers. First Strike does not work when the unit is on the receiving end of a Melee Attack though. There are also a handful of infantry units with reach weapons that possess a counter ability called Negate First Strike, which nullifies this effect entirely when engaging them.
Paladins are among the most well-armored Normal Units in the game, possessing a base Defense score of 5 – increased to 6 by their Holy Bonus. They can deflect about 1.8 points from Conventional Damage attacks, on average, and are often able to completely shrug off the attacks of low tier enemies. In addition, Paladins have 4 Hit Points per rider and, if they can keep the initiative and attack only on their own terms, they can minimize the Melee Damage they take by virtue of their First Strike ability.
Paladins possess Magic Immunity – one of the strongest defensive abilities in the game. They never take direct spell damage, and their Defense and Resistance are increased to 50 or by +30 respectively against all other effects that are considered to be magical in nature. The former triggers against Ranged Magical Attacks and Breath Attacks, while the latter protects from Unit Curses, Special Damage, and other combat maledictions, with the sole exception of Poison Damage. However, Paladins also have an initial Resistance score of 8, which is increased to 10 by the combination of their Holy Bonus and elevated starting level, making them practically impervious to that as well.
It may be worth noting that certain Damage Types can still get through the Paladins' protection. Attacks that deal Doom Damage or Illusion Damage are only nullified by Magic Immunity if they come from spells, and both circumvent the Defense boost when they appear as unit attacks instead. Specifically, the Doom Gaze of Chaos Spawns, and the Ranged Magical Attacks of the Illusionist Hero can bypass the Paladins' defenses entirely, although the latter may be prevented by Illusions Immunity. On the other hand, Armor Piercing doesn't reduce the Defense granted by Magic Immunity, as it is evaluated prior to it in the order of resolving effective Defense.
Finally, Magic Immunity is ignored by effects that target the unit's surroundings – for example, Cracks Call, Earth to Mud or Web –, as well as battlefield spells against which neither Defense- nor Resistance Rolls apply – such as Black Prayer, Blur, or Warp Reality. Stasis can suspend Paladins for exactly one turn.
Paladins are faster than most infantry units with their Movement Allowance of 2, and may use this to their advantage to maximize the effectiveness of their First Strike. They also inspire all friendly units – including themselves – in battle with their Holy Bonus, granting them +1 each to Melee Strength, Defense, and Resistance. This bonus does not stack, however – only the single strongest one will ever apply at any given time –, and can thus not be increased by having multiple units of Paladins in the same army.
Paladins are among of the strongest Normal Units in the game. They are superior to any other Melee Attack unit that High Men can muster – although High Men Pikemen technically have a higher total damage potential by virtue of having twice as many figures. Yet, the Paladins' real power lies not in their formidable combat attributes, but rather, their Magic Immunity. This is a very rare ability, possessed innately by a mere handful of units, of which Paladins are the only ones that can be produced in Towns. Being impervious to almost all spells and special abilities that deal damage is arguably one of the best possible traits in the game. For this reason, Paladins are often considered to be the single most over-powered unit in Master of Magic.
Once an emipre has access to Paladins, most other Normal Units become redundant. While they do have some shortcomings, Paladins can perform well in both offensive and defensive roles, and their advantage of not having to worry about the vast majority of enemy magic often outweighs any combat traits that could make other units better in certain situations. On the other hand, Paladins are very expensive, in addition to being the most demanding unit in the game in terms of the infrastructure required to recruit them. As a result, they are usually not available until the later stages of the campaign, and even then, tend to take quite a while to produce in numbers.
Out of the two Town Buildings necessary to create Paladins, the Cathedral is the more expensive one. It costs a formidable 800, and is the last structure in the religious line. Consequently, a City must already have all the previous buildings to construct it – the Parthenon, the Temple, and the Shrine, as well as the Builders' Hall, raising the total cost to 1,560. Fortunately, all of these structures contribute to the settlement's economy, and as such are generally a worthwhile investment, which means they tend to be built in every High Men Town eventually.
The same is not true, however, about the other building required by Paladins: the Armorers' Guild. This is a purely military structure, as are most of its prerequisites – the Fighters' Guild, the Armory, the Barracks, and the Smithy. Although even the combined Construction Cost of 700 of all of these structures is less than that of the Cathedral alone, unless an empire has large amounts of excess Gold, these buildings are generally not worth maintaining outside of settlements dedicated to training troops. As a result, the recruitment of Paladins is typically restricted to such Cities as well.
In battle, Paladins are powerful close quarters combatants. Their attacks can be devastating to lower tier enemies – including Fantastic Units –, and they don't go down very easily either. However, while well-defended, they are far from being invulnerable, and will need to exploit their mobility as much as they can to survive against tougher foes. Fortunately, Paladins are faster than most infantry, but many high-end units – especially summoned ones – can still outmaneuver them. Since the Paladins' First Strike does not trigger when they are merely Counter Attacking against an enemy assailant, trying to keep the initiative is imperative if they want to reduce the damage they take.
As noted above, Paladins have little to worry about enemy Special Attacks, as most of these are magical in nature, and will bounce harmlessly off them. Similarly, Ranged Magical Attacks can only ever pose a risk to Paladins if performed by Heroes, and even then, they need Illusion, Chaos, or an extremely high damage potential to get through Magic Immunity. However, this ability offers no protection against Thrown-, Ranged Missile- or Ranged Boulder Attacks – even if the attacker wields magical or otherwise enchanted weapons –, and Paladins still need to watch out for opponents possessing these Attack Types, and possibly try to prioritize them as targets.
One notable weakness of Paladins is their inability to voluntarily engage flying enemies. This not only prevents them from exploiting their First Strike against such foes, it may also make victory in battle completely impossible. Granted, this will almost never happen in the latest official version of the game, where computer-controlled flying units are programmed to attack the enemy regardless of the expected outcome. However, this is no longer the case in the Community Patch. There, the AI can actually exploit this tactical advantage, and will almost never perform suicide attacks against the Paladins. As a result, attacking flying armies with Paladins alone may be a futile exercise, unless their shortcoming can somehow be overcome through magic.
Paladins can also perform a support role in battle. Their Holy Bonus provides a decent attribute boost, and is one of the few such effects in the game that applies to Normal- and Fantastic Units alike. Naturally, the bigger the army that the Paladins are part of, the greater this benefit becomes. On the other hand, since Ranged Attacks are not improved by this ability, a mostly ranged army may need to weigh the defensive bonus against bringing along an extra ranged unit instead for additional damage. However, in most cases, Paladins can double up as melee guardians in this situation, and are probably worth including unless the ranged troops are also skilled in hand-to-hand combat themselves.
- This unit never takes Conventional spell damage.
- This unit defends against magical non-spell damage as if it had 50 – including all Breath Attacks and Ranged Magical Attacks.
- This unit gets +30 on all Resistance rolls – meaning it can never fail them –, with the exception of those made against Poison Damage.
Holy Bonus +1
- During combat, this unit provides +1, +1 and +1 to each and every friendly unit, including itself.
- Holy Bonus does not stack: if there is more than one unit providing a Holy Bonus, only the highest one will take effect.
- Whenever this unit attacks an enemy target (whether with a Melee- or Counter Attack) the target's Defense rating is temporarily assumed to be 50% lower than it really is.
- This ability also halves the bonus granted by most magical and conditional protections, although it has no effect on immunities or the benefit bestowed by City Walls.
- Whenever this unit makes a voluntary Melee Attack against an enemy target, it delivers its Melee Damage before the target does, as opposed to resolving it at the same time. Therefore, defending figures slain by this damage do not get to retaliate at the unit.
- This ability does not work when the unit is Counter Attacking against an enemy assailant.
The following table illustrates how Paladins improve with Experience. Any properties that are not listed here are not affected by Experience in any way.
|Level Icon||Level Name||EP||Melee***||To Hit||Defense***||Resist***||Hits|
|Recruit||(Not available for this unit)|
|Regular||20 - 59||8||30%||6||10||4|
|Veteran||60 - 119||8||30%||7||11||4|
* To achieve this level, either the Warlord Retort or the Crusade spell must be in play.
** To achieve this level, both Warlord and Crusade must be in play simultaneously.
*** These values include the bonuses from the unit's own Holy Bonus ability, which are always in effect during combat.
Average Damage Output
The table below details the average amount of "raw" damage that each Figure in an Paladins unit will deliver based on Experience Level. It can be used in comparison to the target's Defense rating to approximate the chance of hurting that target. The values take into account the unit's own Holy Bonus, as it will always be in effect during combat.
Paladins may be recruited in any High Men Town that has a Cathedral and an Armorers' Guild already built. The Construction Cost of this unit is 200. Paladins may also appear as Mercenaries, provided that the player has a presence on Arcanus. In this case, they cost between 400 to 600 to hire per unit, based on their Experience – or half that much for Charismatic Wizards.