I see a lot of people using paladins as solely combat units on the interwebs but is that the best use for them?
Yes, they are the best combat unit in the book, bringing the survivability that Death Cultists and Purifiers do not have as well as the ability to give out a beating, with free halberds and WS 5 .
Paladins have a well documented weakness however, in St 8 weapons that ignore their armour and these weapons are fairly abundant in close combat, such as powerfists, thunderhammers and Power Klaws. So with such threats common place in close combat, is throwing them head first into enemy lines the best use for these costly units?
I suggest not, but rather that board denial is the most effective use for paladins.
Take the following unit,
Moderately expensive for the a unit that can tackle anything an opponent could field. Coming in at 335 points, this is the unit I most often use in my armies.
At range, paladins are at their most survivable with very few weapons capable of removing the unit wholesale in fewer than two or three turns and so, project a threat range that denies the enemy access to a 24" radius bubble without suffering serious damage.
In addition, not rushing paladins into combat allows you to pick and choose where you strike, choosing units that have few weapons that can instant death them, allowing the stave to shine by absorbing .
Counter assault is another possible option. Allow an opponents combat unit to assault a sacrificial unit and then counter assault with the paladins which will neuter that units potential to affect the battle at very least.
When using paladins in this manner opens up the most effective use of Draigo as well. Ranged, strength 8 and AP 2 or better weaponry does not often come in more than single shots unless you're facing ravagers, vendettas or the massively expensive predator annihilator, and draigo can shake off these single shots making the unit survive far longer.
Forcing your opponent to shoot anti-tank weapons at the paladins has another benefit for your army, making your vehicles survive longer. Grey Knight vehicles already shrug off 1/3 or all penetrating hits, so reducing the amount of shots your opponent has at penetrating your vehicles, reduces the chance of suffering irreparable damage.
Rushing paladins into combat is tempting but there are better ways to use them.
Denying your opponent access to areas of the board, drawing fire away from tanks and counter assault are all superior uses for paladins than rushing head long into combat. This does not mean however, that a landraider or stormraven are bad choices though, because these effectively increase the area of the board threatened by paladins and also increases the versatility in applications that the paladins can be put to.