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While I find myself utilizing most of the roles in various combats, I've never really found a use for the Sentinel role. The game heavily emphasizes winning battles fast, and Sentinels just seem to drag a battle out. I've tried having a paradigm with a Sentinel and a Medic or two for when I need to heal during a battle, but I prefer just having a Commando and two medics since a lone Sentinel sometimes struggles to keep the chain gauge going, while a Command does not.

Am I missing something? Are there party builds where it makes sense to use a Sentinel on a regular basis? Or are there battles where it is more efficient to use a Sentinel than to try to deal lots of damage and use Medics to heal as needed?

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If it's anything like the first game, there are some harder enemies where SEN-SEN-SEN may be the only way to live through certain attacks comfortably. –  Shinrai Feb 9 '12 at 20:44
    
@Shinrai Interesting. I completed the first game without ever needing to do this, but I didn't defeat all the optional bosses on Pulse, so maybe that is where I would've needed it. –  bwarner Feb 9 '12 at 20:48
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2 Answers 2

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While in most normal battles, and many early boss battles, heavy offense might work okay, most boss battles and specialty battles (like the big game at later levels) are tuned around the use of the sentinel.

The first battle where you can see this in action is Gogmagog in New Bodhum -003 AF-. If you haven't been grinding CP and you just stick to Slash & Burn (COM, RAV) Assault or Double Trouble (COM, COM), the battle is doable, but it's hectic. Your HP will dip down significantly every time he uses his "Swipe" ability, and if you're not fast enough, you might even need to potion up.

But, if you take the half a second to switch to Twin Shields (SEN, SEN) as his "Swipe" ability lands, most of the damage is negated. Switch back right after the damage numbers come up and you're back in business. If you juggle properly, the battle is much easier and you'll still get a 5-star rating.

This same strategy will play out in many, if not all, boss battles: a hectic battle with lots of potting (or even retries) becomes much easier if you time a defensive paradigm shift right when the boss is about to unload.

The key is that the paradigm system is meant to be used all the time in battle: unless you're grinding, you should be paradigm shifting in a battle a lot to maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. Switching to a defensive paradigm for a few seconds will always be much more efficient than trying to recover after a damaging attack by switching to a healing paradigm after the fact.

So while you likely don't need a dedicated sentinel, being able to switch to a paradigm just as a really devastating attack hits is a big deal and can make or break a battle, particularly in the later stages of the game. Keep a monster with SEN in your paradigm pack, and have Tortoise (SEN, SEN, SEN) in your paradigm deck for those "oh crap" moments.

And even in your healing paradigms, taking one slot for a sentinel is not a bad idea: there are only a few things immune to "Provoke", and a sentinel can keep itself alive with "Mediguard" (for when the sentinel starts out at an HP deficit) and "Steelguard" (for when it doesn't).

If you do add a sentinel to your healing paradigms, Combat Clinic (MED, MED, SEN) makes the enemy focus on the sentinel while the other allies heal up, while Solidarity (COM, SEN, MED) does the same thing, but lets one character focus on maintaining the chain gauge while you recover.

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So basically, ignore all the Sentinel abilities, and just switch to an all Sentinel paradigm temporarily to mitigate special attacks? –  bwarner Feb 10 '12 at 13:53
    
Great answer, but it might be helpful to specify the jobs for each Paradigm you've listed. These are pretty obvious, but I always have trouble remembering the names so maybe some other people will have trouble even with these. –  Shinrai Feb 10 '12 at 15:32
    
@bwarner Most of the sentinel's abilities are about survivability, so depending on where you are in the ATB gauge, letting one round of Sentinel abilities go through is not a bad idea. I updated my answer to include the situational use of "Provoke" and "Mediguard", though. –  user3389 Feb 10 '12 at 18:49
    
@Shinrai Good call: added. –  user3389 Feb 10 '12 at 18:50
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I would like to add that there are areas where you can get some good sentinels. at the beginning of the game its good to try to get a Pulsework Knight, he can be found in Bresha Ruins-005 AF in Echoes of the past. You dont need any specific way to level your knight, just give him some potent bolt, and you should be fine. Now once you reach The Archylte Steppe-Year Unknown you can find Pulsework Gladiator around grave ridge in windy weather which to me, he is one of the best sentinels you can get in the game. You can type in Pulsework gladiator build on google, and you'll find a great build for him to help you out throughout the whole game. If you can't catch him there is always Major Moblin which he can be caught in the Steppe as well, he can be found in Stonestump Wasteland near the goldent cactuar thats surrounded by a tornado in windy weather or on clearwater marshes. There's also Bunkerbeast, but I forgot on where he can be caught. Hopes this helps on whoever is trying to get a good sentinel.

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