So you're looking to be a Cavalier? You like riding around on a white horse wearing that shiny armor? You'll have to work at it. This is a profession that requires not only a strong arm and skilled blade, but also a virtuous heart. The only way you'll get to that point is through rote and lash. Only after this will you be ready to defend your allies in battle and deliver holy vengeance on those who threaten the land. And, yes, call a horse from the heavens.
So why play a Cavalier?
With your other defender counterparts enjoying the benefits of feat support and refined optimization exercises, what does the Cavalier bring to the table? Why forsake the faithful, mass-punishing but aura-less Paladin in exchange for this new variant?
* You discourage enemy movement better than other Paladins. Sure, other Paladins do a bang-up job of making the act of attacking their allies a bad idea for enemies, but they aren't exactly who you turn to when you want to keep foes rooted to a certain place. You, on the other hand, can make it sting when some knave doesn't want to stay near your weapon's reach.
* You constantly threaten multiple enemies with punishment, by default. Other Paladins have to select several encounter and daily powers to keep multiple foes threatened with punishment reliably. You, on the other hand, come straight out of the knighting ceremony a constant, walking threat to multiple foes, regardless of what powers you select later in your career.
* You don't have to mark. As long as you're in position, i.e. right next to your enemies, and your aura is active, you are a threat. No spending a minor action and having to keep a target engaged with a challenge. This means you're more ready to act than other defenders who use marks.
* You are still a master of mounted combat. In fact, Paladins in general owe their mastery of riding into battle to your example. And while other Paladins have to spend one of their utility power selections on getting that level-scaling mount, you get it as one of your class features in addition to the typical 4e power progression. And, of course, you can upgrade your mount later on into things like celestial tigers, pegasi and silver dragons.
Red: A trap, obsoleted by something else, or just plain crap.
Purple: Situational at best. Substandard in most cases.
Black: Not bad. You could do worse.
Blue: Definitely consider it, at least.
Sky Blue: A gift from the Astral Sea itself. Cherish it.
Gold: Mandatory. Not just the best. Mandatory. A very rare rating.
This Handbook covers the following sources:
PHB - Player's Handbook
PHB2 - Player's Handbook 2
PHB3 - Player's Handbook 3
DP - Divine Power
E:HFL - Essentials: Heroes of the Fallen Lands
E:HFK - Essentials: Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms
FRPG - Forgotten Realms Player's Guide
MM - Monster Manual
MM2 - Monster Manual 2
AV - Adventurer's Vault
AV2 - Adventurer's Vault 2
D XXX - Dragon Magazine, issue XXX
DA XX - Dragon Annual, year XX
MOTP - Manual of the Planes
PHBH - Player's Handbook Heroes
MP - Martial Power
MP2 - Martial Power 2
AP - Arcane Power
PP - Primal Power
EPG - Eberron Player's Guide
DSCS - Dark Sun Campaign Setting
PHR:D - Player's Handbook Races: Dragonborn
PHR:T - Player's Handbook Races: Tieflings
HoS - Heroes of Shadow
AoE - Area of effect, often denotes a burst or blast attack.
AP - Action Point
BBEG - Big Bad Evil Guy (typically a Solo or an Elite)
DPR - Damage per round
DS - Divine Sanction. A type of mark attached to many of the old Paladin's powers that deals automatic radiant damage at no action cost if it's violated. Cavaliers have access to some of these old Paladin powers to complement their Defender Aura.
ED - Epic destiny
MAD - Multiple-attribute dependency. Otherwise known as stretching your ability scores too thin. Typically a designator for a build needing three or more ability scores to function.
MBA - Melee basic attack
NAD - Non-AC Defense (Fortitude, Reflex or Will).
OA - Opportunity attack
O-Paladin - The original 4e Paladin, which will get referenced a few times here.
PP - Paragon path
Punishment stacking - Using multiple action types for punishment against the same triggering attack. Cavaliers can do this to some extent, although they're not quite as consistent or good at it as the O-Paladin. Abilities and powers that Cavaliers can use for punishment stacking will be referred to as punishment stackers.
Radiant Mafioso (or Radiant Soldier) - A character built around creating vulnerability to Radiant damage, greatly increasing not only his own damage, but in many cases his allies' as well. All Divine characters, Cavaliers included, have a capacity to become this type of character, thanks to things like at-will powers with the Radiant keyword, Radiant weapons, the Power of the Sun domain feat and the Morninglord paragon path. A full party of this type of character makes up the Radiant Mafia (or Radiant Army).
THP - Temporary hit points.
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RuinsFate for the awesome title pic.