Operation: Flying Brick
When I first started the sword trials, I was convinced that I would only be able to complete the Walk of Echos sword, since farming Empyrean weapon items was quite a task, and progress was slow. To top it off, who wants to make a Paladin/Red Mage/Blue Mage a better damage dealer when you can have a serious job be a better damage dealer? My linkshell apparently, and they even helped me camp against an army of Ninjas to get it too. :)
I have had about 3 months to play around with the level 90 Ochain, and it is very impressive. It has an uncapped block rate, as opposed to every other shield in the game which has a hard ceiling of 65% block rate. It seems to block for about 60% damage reduction, not taking into account Paladin traits or gear enhancing those traits. In addition, with Shield Mastery III, I get back 5 TP per shield block, and blocking so often makes most spells I cast never get interrupted. I was very impressed.
As for Almace, I only have the level 85 version for now, but I am still able to put up impressive numbers compared to any other damage option for Paladin. 'Chant dy Cygne' is a 3 hit weaponskill with a 60% DEX modifier that has a critical chance that varies with TP. In comparison, Vorpal Blade is a 4 hit weaponskill with a 20% STR modifier that also has a chance to critical that varies with TP. In addition, I am now using a base 57 damage weapon instead of a base 35 damage weapon (Joyeuse) and both have a delay of 224. My weaponskills are now usually in the 2000-4000 range in Abyssea depending on what I am fighting, instead of the old 500-1500 damage Vorpal Blades with my Joyeuse. The Aftermath from the weaponskill almost makes up for the loss of 'double attack' from Joyeuse too. I haven't done any serious tests outside Abyssea yet, but I assume the ratio will be similiar.
So, with that said, Emperyeans have been a substantial improvement over existing gear. My next goal is to finish up Ararith's Emperyean Polearm so that she can join in the fun too. :)