Hi all, Happy New Year.
I am lucky enough to get to play in a game in addition to the main campaign I run, and which I have posted irregularly on our conversion experience. The other game is also 5e, and we are playing in Ptolus. There are four players: a human wizard, a human warlock (who is covering our stealth requirements), a human cleric of light, and me playing a tiefling paladin (handling our tank duties). We started at 1st level.
I chose the paladin more for roleplaying purposes than for effectiveness covering the party damage soaker, though I did want to see how the paladin class plays out to understand it better when I am on the other side of the DM screen. I had no delusions the paladin is a top notch tank.
At first level the Lay on Hands feature came in handy, especially since the party is a bit like cockroaches when the light switch goes on - when combat starts everyone heads off to their own personal bit of excitement leaving the paladin to his own devices. The Divine Sense feature might be a bit misplaced as a 1st level feature; unless your campaign dives right into undead thingies (and ours did not) it is not a feature which has much use. (as of this writing at 2nd level approaching 3rd I have yet to use the feature). The Thaumaturgy cantrip (gained from tiefling race features) has been fun for role playing but not particularly useful in most combats, but the darkvision is always useful. Surprisingly enough the party has yet to 'accidentally' catch me in a fire spell so my resistance there is untested.
Given a suboptimal choice of race and the desire to split my best scores amongst strength, constitution and charisma, my character was not a combat power house. I could bottle up the enemy for a round or two at an opening, but I usually needed to rely on dodge to survive until the party remembered to work together. Paladin at 1st level feels a bit weak.
2nd level for paladin seems pretty big. Since I plan on selecting the Oath of Vengeance for roleplay reasons, I chose the dueling fighting style as it fit the need for extra damage and the lack of interest in being a protection type character. Spellcasting of course is huge but more because of burning the slots with Divine Smite. With the exception of Shield of Faith, Divine Smite tends to be a sounder choice for using a spell slot at this level. In most cases the guarantee of damage after a hit is a better choice than the potential damage, side effect and the risk of losing the spell which requires concentration of most of the spells. Sure, if you have an opponent who is vulnerable to a specific damage type, or happens to be hanging around at the edge or a cliff or raging river to be pushed, or you are desperate to have an opponent be afraid for a round or two while you take care of other business, then Searing, Thunderous or Wrathful Smite can be useful. But mostly, I am finding Divine Smite is the main item in the tool bag. Since paladins have no spell recovery until a long rest - use those smites wisely oh noble (or not so noble) paladin.
With the 2nd level hit points, and the Divine Smites available, I thought I could control doorways and dish out damage. So far, that has not been very effective for me. All it takes is a little turn of the die rolling luck and I am in trouble. Seems the better choice if one must control a bottleneck is Shield of Faith and the dodge action. From there trust your party to recover from cockroach syndrome and get the job done, while you soak up attacks and get the occasional attack of opportunity.
Still just trying out the options and having fun. Looking forward to 3rd level and both the mechanics and roleplay opportunities for Oath of Vengeance features.
The dice never lie.