Centaur Warrunner is the most manly of all centaurs. Calling him a tank would be a true understatement. He can shrug off punishment and then turn it against foolish enemies. Even the most dangerous of heroes should be careful when going toe to toe against Centaur: it could spell their own doom.
If your team needs someone to man the front lines and take a beating, Centaur is your man man/horse hybrid thing.
Just don’t feel bad for him. He excels in being beaten up. Here's why.
From a quick glance at his abilities, Centaur looks simple. But to take full advantage of this hero does require some knowledge of when and why to use his abilities. The saying “quick to learn, hard to master” applies here.
Hoof Stomp is a AoE ability with a relatively small 315 radius. It deals damage, as well as hefty stun duration for good measure. Each level adds 50 damage and 0.25 seconds to the stun duration. With the cooldown remaining at a static 13 seconds across all levels, this makes it available for those all important ganks and team fights.
Double Edge doesn't cost mana: it sacrifices health. It mini stuns and damages the target while also forcing you to take the same damage. The recent 6.75 patch also introduced an 190 AoE effect around the targeted enemy: you can now deal massive damage to groups of clumped enemies. It should also be noted that you can’t kill yourself with this skill, which can make Centaur still dangerous at low HP.
Return makes Centaur force his enemies to think twice when attacking him. It’s a passive skill that allows Centaur to counter all attacks made against him with physical damage, scaling off his strength. This also takes into account damage from structures such as towers, making him taking the damage all the more important. Similar to Axe, the ability damages the enemy when they begin their attack, not when it hits. At level four it returns 22 damage + 50% of your total strength.
His ultimate, Stampede is a new addition by Icefrog, replacing his old ultimate Great Fortitude. It grants you and all allied units on the map max movement speed for a duration of five seconds at max level. Not only that but if you or your allies come into contact with an enemy while under its effects, they take damage + 2x your current strength and are stunned for 1.25 seconds. It should be noted that enemies can’t be struck more than once and it does not affect magic immune enemies. With its low mana cost and cooldown this ability can be used repeatedly for many situations. It can be used to initiate into a fight, saved some allies from a gank or turn a retreat into a victory. All in all it’s a very powerful ultimate if the coordination is there to maximize its effectiveness, usually resulting in multiple simultaneous ganks from all three lanes.
Centaurs role is that of an initiator, with the possibility of carrying with the right items. Laning him in either side lane with a ranged hero is optimal, especially if that ranged hero can harass and disable the enemy. When you hit level two your first blood potential increases dramatically thanks to Hoof Stomp and Double Edge. Bear in mind though that Double Edge will eat your health if you spam it, and could leave you at a disadvantage if you’re not careful. Special mention goes to an early magic wand to cancel out the damage at level one.
When skilling Centaur the norm is to either max out either Hoof Stomp or Double Edge first. Regardless; you should have both of them at max by level nine, as well as skilling your ultimate at the usual levels.
When picking which one I usually defer to what I’m up against and who I’m laning with. Hoof Stomp is handy against mobile enemies such as blinking heroes or those with high base movement speed. Double Edge is great to nuke down enemy heroes while compensating the damage you take with regen. Skill Return is levelled last as it scales off your strength, which will make more of an impact after you have bought a few strength increasing items.
Talking about items, lets have a look on how you should spend that gold. Start the game with a set of Tangos, a Salve and a Gauntlet of Strength. With the remaining gold you can either choose to pick up three Ironwood Branches or a Stout Shield. You will want to make a Magic Wand regardless but picking up a Stout Shield to eventually make a Vanguard can be risky. Vanguard is only really effective in the early-mid game, so you would need to rush it to get some use out of it. If you think you’re going to get harassed early it might be worth picking up.
Don’t forget to turn your Gauntlet of Strength into a Bracer to buff you up in the early game. You can if you want turn it into some Drum of Endurance if no one else is. Phase boots are great for catching up to enemies and enable you to land your Hoof Stomps with ease. Your first major item is either a Hood of Defiance or a Blink Dagger, whichever is more useful first. A Hood of Defiance will reduce the damage you receive from Double Edge, not to mention the 30% reduction to magic damage from other sources. Since you’re going to be initiating into fights a Blink Dagger can help you land as many enemy heroes in the tiny AoE of Hoof Stomp as possible.
Since you will be in the thick of things, upgrading your Hood of Defiance to a Pipe of Insight can be a huge addition to your team fight effectiveness. With your natural thick skin you will have plenty of time to activate the team wide spell protection before the enemy has a chance to nuke you down. A Heart of Tarrasque is your first luxury item to work towards on Centaur, but it’s so useful I almost always build one. The extra 1060 health and 2% health regeneration just makes you better at your job, which is to take damage for the team. After that an Assault Cuirass is a great item that also benefits your team while making you even harder to take down thanks to the extra armour. Last but not least is a Radiance, taking advantage of your longevity in fights you will be able to stack some considerable damage thanks to the aura. You should aim to have this built before 30 minutes however, otherwise it's a waste of gold due to its decreased effectiveness.
Special mention goes to the hot debated Blade Mail. While some people think it’s a natural pick up on Centaur, effectively turning him into a reflective death ray, It can actually be counter productive. Any good players will stop attacking you when you activate the Blade Mail and therefore your role of taking the damage for the team is all but lost.
Also don’t fret on buying a Gem of True Sight for the pesky invisible heroes. Your large health pool will increase your chances of hanging onto it in team fights while making you a prime target for the enemy to focus. You want that remember.
Heroes to fight alongside this mighty Warrunner are those that have ranged disables and stuns. Crystal Maiden, Vengeful Spirit and Ancient Apparition are great to lane with while having other abilities that improve your effectiveness. Naga Siren, Luna and Enigma are great to have in your team composition to also take advantage of their stuns. Heroes that can pull enemies into each other are also a favourite. Dark Seer and Magnus can help you land a perfect Hoof Stomp while prolonging their stun duration.
Don’t forget heroes who can cast various heals and buffs. Omniknight and Dazzle are great laning partners as well as helping in team fights. They both have a heal (Purification/Shadow Wave) that also damages enemy units nearby. It synergises perfectly with Double Edge. Also in their arsenal are abilities to keep you alive in team fights (Guardian Angel/Shallow Grave) which allows you to reflect more damage and get off one last Double Edge for a potential kill.
Enemies of Centaur are those with HP removal and that deal damage in percentages. The one hero the Warrunner fears the most is Lifestealer. His Feast ability makes him nearly unkillable, while he steals up to 7% of your current HP with every attack. He also can dodge your Hoof Stomp with his near instant Rage ability, rendering him magic immune. If there is a Lifestealer on the enemy team, don’t pick Centaur.
The Centaur Warrunner is a really powerful hero, one that should rarely die in the hands of a competent player. His success however relies on that of the enemies knowledge of how he works. If the enemy is happy to wail away at your huge health pool, they’ll usually end up killing themselves. The smart ones will either ignore you, or disable you. I always love playing a game of bluff. Seeing an enemy think you’re an easy target when you're low on health is enough to warm the cockles of my heart.