Agentchuck's Centaur Hunter guide
Centaurs are found all through the dungeon happily turning adventurers into pincushions. Playing as a Centaur Hunter gives you the opportunity to repay some of that pain! A centaur hunter is powerful and fast, and although they aren't very skilled with magic, they can make great use of some low-level spells to round themselves out. A centaur hunter can be taken to a 15-rune victory with a fairly consistent play-style throughout the game.
Note that this is not an easy build to play with. You don't have the "run up and smash everything" of the MiFi, and you don't have the "nuke everything from orbit" of the DECj. To be successful, you have to play tactically, position yourself well and be ready to run from a bad situation. On the other hand, playing this way can be very rewarding.
Your Inner Equine
Refer to the Centaur page for more complete information about the species.
As with most races, centaurs lend themselves to some specific playstyles. All of the centaur's strong points lend to becoming a powerful hunter. Some points about their strengths and weaknesses:
- For ranged combat, they have great aptitudes for bows and throwing. A properly enchanted bow is a powerful weapon through the entire game, including The Tomb, Pandemonium and the hells.
- For melee combat, they are slightly below average at everything except unarmed combat. Unarmed combat is viable for CeHu builds as they will have high strength and they have their innate hooves to deliver additional attacks.
- Physically, they have have high HP, but they are bad with armour, shields and evasion. Centaurs are big, fat targets in ranged and melee combat. But, they are very fast. Use that speed to kite and control your opponents.
- Magically, they are below average at everything. In addition a hunter starts with fairly low intelligence. So, magic will be limited to a few low level spells.
- Centaurs have terrible stealth. Don't even try.
As far as raw damage goes, bows are not the most powerful. But they can still do respectable damage, especially once you find a longbow. You can soften up targets as they approach you. And, combined with the centaur's natural speed they can be used to kite your enemies, including dangerous unique casters who can never quite get you in range of their spells. You can find poison branded ammunition and launchers to take down many enemies even faster.
Portal Projectile may be a requirement to make an endgame strategy using a bow. It allows you to smite-target any foe you can see, regardless of friends or enemies in the way. Many dangerous foes will not attack you while there is someone else in the way. This allows you to attack the high-priority targets while only taking attacks from a weaker foe on the front line. Poisonous attacks work very well.
Early on, you'll find yourself relying on arrows for anything intimidating, but this is also the portion of the game where ammunition is most scarce. Never use arrows on rats, bats, and other dungeon fodder. Once you've gotten a few levels under your belt and feel a bit less fragile, feel free to expand the list of enemies you can handle in melee. That being said, being too conservative will get you destroyed. Once you start getting ammunition god gifts, you'll be able to shoot arrows with a bit less caution. By the time you've cleared the Elven Halls and the Vaults, you should have enough arrows for the rest of the game.
As always, there is a wide variety of melee weapon choices available. Having some skill in melee will help you survive if you run low on arrows, and when your skills start hitting 27 you can deal more damage per turn with a heavy 2H weapon than with a longbow. Centaurs have a slightly better aptitude for unarmed combat, but the other choices are also very good. Unarmed combat pairs well in a CeHu build for a few reasons:
- Centaurs do good damage with their hooves in the early/mid game.
- Unarmed combat sees a good boost from Okawaru's Heroism ability.
- By the end game, you will have high strength and dexterity. Using Blade Hands at this point you will be capable of taking down targets like Golden Dragons and Fiends in very few hits.
- You can save TSO's holy wrath branding for your longbow.
- You can save inventory slots to carry more branded ammunition and launchers.
- You can save scrolls of enchant weapon to improve your primary launcher and ammunition, instead of having to spend them on your melee weapon.
Polearms are also worth considering, as a centaur's natural speed makes kiting with reach weapons a very powerful tactic against almost all melee opponents. This admittedly requires you to split your enchant scrolls between at least two weapons, but gives you access to some very powerful 2H weapons. The other weapon types are also valid choices, providing very heavy 2H weapon damage but without the ability to kite.
General Branch Ordering
The general flow of the game:
- Work through the dungeon until you find an altar of Okawaru. Join him.
- Keep an eye out for SInv and rPois.
- Work through the Lair, the Mines and the Dungeon. Proceed with caution and when things start to get difficult or you come across a too powerful unique, backtrack and do a bit more on the other branches.
- Continue with the first three levels of the two primary Lair branches (Shoals, Snake Pit, Spider's Nest, or Swamp), the first two floors of Elf, Vault 1-4 and deeper in the dungeon. Remember to backtrack when things get hairy.
- You'll probably want to focus on the two primary Lair branches and Vault:5 for the three runes to get into Zot.
- Skip Crypt and the demonic branches until you clear Zot.
- Work through Zot very carefully. At this point, if you have the right resists and are confident in melee, work through the Slime Pits as well. Consider putting off Zot:5 if you don't feel confident doing it.
- If you want to go for a higher rune count, then possibly clear out the orb chamber, but don't get the orb. Convert to The Shining One and start training Invocations.
- Clear the Crypt completely. Use an amulet of faith to speed up piety gain. If you still haven't maxed your piety, dip into Hell.
- When your piety is maxed, enchant a good demon weapon or a longbow with holy wrath at an altar. Remove any amulet of faith at this point.
- Get the 5 pandemonium runes, then banish yourself and get the abyssal rune. Summon angels to help take care of the tougher pandemonium lords. Apportation is immensely helpful in ninjaing runes. The four pandemonium lords each present their own challenges:
- Cerebov: A few angels and abjuration can bring him down, but his castle is generally configured so that you can used controlled teleport to steal the rune without him being able to respond much. Your speed comes in very helpful here. Don't try to just walk past him, though - either kill him or use controlled teleport to ninja the rune.
- Mnoleg: With Abjuration he's trivial, without it ninjaing the rune is generally a better idea (controlled teleport is preferable but it is doable without). Make sure you have mutation resistance, both for Mnoleg and the hordes of neqoxecs on his level.
- Lom Lobon: He can inflict a lot of damage but he's pretty squishy, at least comparatively. Summon a couple of angels and bring him down, or apport the rune and be done with it. Make sure you have at least rC++ and some source of rElec.
- Gloorx Vloq: He's the hardest Pan lord for most players, and centaurs are no exception. Your speed isn't much use here - Gloorx and all his executioners can easily outrun you. Fortunately, he isn't that resilient, and you and a few summoned angels can usually bring him down. Be very prepared to heal and teleport if things get nasty. Controlled teleport can help in stealing his rune, but his level setup generally makes this somewhat difficult.
- Demonic runes: You may find this randomly, but they are guaranteed in three particular vaults. Don't even bother with the hellion island vault - you don't have the means to inflict damage on them fast enough before they kill you. The draining boxes vault may or may not be doable - it only sometimes contains a door to the rune, and otherwise you need LRD, Shatter, or a wand of disintegration to get in. The smiting vault is by far the easiest - lure the nasties out of the central chamber, haste, and run for it - your speed is very helpful in avoiding being smitten to death. You can controlled teleport through this vault as well, though this will take numerous tries.
- Clear Tomb with careful play, well managed angelic allies and a source of abjuration (either the spell or a rod). Use your speed to keep greater mummies out of sight until you can lure them around a corner or up the stairs, one by one. Having the Recall spell can help keep your angelic allies alive while doing this, easing the strain on your piety. Use your angelic allies to kill mummies other than greater mummies: only greaters are worth enough XP to make it worth taking their death curses. An amulet of stasis and ring of sustain abilities will greatly reduce the curse misery.
- Tackle the hells. Consider switching to Zin before doing this: he blocks Hell effects entirely. As a centaur, you need this somewhat less than other characters, since your speed means you endure less Hell effects while traveling. Zin is for more defensive-minded players, TSO for more offense minded ones. The hells each present their own challenges:
- Tartarus: Possibly easier with TSO, since you'll be immune to the numerous draining effects. Ereshkigal is nasty but not too resilient - but don't expect to outrun her. Have a source of abjuration handy.
- Dis: Generally pretty tame, and you can easily outrun Dispater and steal his rune. Or summon a few angels, abjure his summons, and bring him down.
- Cocytus: Nastier, and even with conservation you can expect to lose a lot of potions. Antaeus may not be particularly fast, but there are usually a lot of Ice fiends on his level, and their melee attacks are nasty unless you have rC+++. Not to mention the unending stream of torment they throw your way. If you have rC+++ and rElec, kiting him with arrows is a lot less painful than attempting to kill him in melee. A source of flying will make this a lot easier in his watery stage.
- Gehenna: While Asmodeus himself is none too horrible, most of the maps make it difficult to get the rune without confronting him. You may be able to apport the rune on one map, but be prepared to summon angels and bring him down. Also note that hellions appear all over this Hell - having Portal Projectile or some other smite-targeted attack is a good idea.
- Finish Zot:5 if you haven't yet, grab the Orb, ascend!
Okawaru is your friend for most of the main game. He provides some things you will need to survive:
- He provides you with a lot of branded and enchanted arrows as well as the occasional piece of armour. He is likely to gift you an enchanted barding at some point, which can be otherwise hard to come across.
- Heroism is an easy ability to get from Okawaru. It gives a bonus to all your physical skills, and pairs well with unarmed combat. It will also help with the accuracy and speed of your bow attacks, especially if you are wearing a shield.
- Finesse is tremendously powerful. You can attack faster (2x) than if you were hasted (1.5x). Attacking twice as fast is very important for bows and unarmed combat as they sometimes require a lot of hits to bring down large foes. With finesse you can often hit an enemy 3 times for every step they take towards you.
Remember that Okawaru constantly loses interest in you. Use your abilities sparingly, kill as often as possible and sacrifice every corpse you don't have to eat. Also remember you will lose piety if a summoned ally dies. Summon Butterflies is a last resort.
The Shining One
The Shining One is a great choice for the extended endgame. Switch after you have cleared everything (including Zot) except for the crypt, the tomb, the hells, and Pandemonium. Okawaru will sometimes attack you with giants, but that isn't much of a threat at this point. Max out your piety in the crypt and then create a longbow of holy wrath at an altar. With that bow and portal projectile, you can deal serious hurt to anything you can see.
Remember that TSO hates poison. Throw away all your poisoned ammunition so you don't accidentally incur penance.
Focus training Bows, your weapon skill, and (after you've gotten a few levels under your belt) Fighting until they are maxed out. Spend some experience on spellcasting and the spell skills (especially Translocations) required to get your core spell set to excellent. Remember to put some effort into Traps (level 10-12 is good) before you start blundering into Zot traps.
Training Armour is a painful process for centaurs, but by the mid-game you may want to get a few levels to reduce the spellcasting penalty of your armour, and if you choose to increase your dexterity instead of your intelligence, leveling up Dodging a bit as well may be worth the effort. Still, you'll get much more immediate results maxing out your HP and your damage output.
As you are primarily a physical attacker, you will have a lot of spare MP most of the time. There are a few low level spells that are very useful:
- Portal Projectile is a must. It allows smite targeting for ranged attacks. Wait... what's that in your hand? It's a bow. It also increases your accuracy and can cast it as fast as you can attack with your weapon, meaning it pairs with finesse and heroism.
- Swiftness is also a must. You use your speed to control the flow of combat.
- Blink is a bit random, but still very useful. Pair with teleport control when possible.
- Apportation allows you to retrieve your ammo without walking over to get it. This allows you to retrieve your ammo without waking up more monsters.
- Repel Missiles is very useful as you will often be at range. It will also help somewhat to conserve your scrolls/potions.
- Flight can be very handy in some cases.
- Summon Butterflies creates an instant shield that you can fire and walk through, but will slow down your enemies. Remember that Okawaru hates seeing your butterfly allies die.
- Abjuration is very useful, but unless you have it at a decent power you will probably waste a lot of turns casting it before you abjure anything. Sometimes it's better to get it from a rod, since Evocations has other benefits.
As you progress through the game, there are some higher level spells you can work towards.
- Haste is always useful. In addition, after you switch to TSO, you can haste your angelic allies. Hasted angels are ridiculous. Of course, if you find a wand of hasting, that saves you a lot of training.
- Blade Hands is useful if you are using unarmed combat. In the mid-game, you may find that without it you cannot generate enough damage on some enemies. With this build, blade hands can deal a staggering amount of damage per turn.
- Condensation Shield is nice to have in some places. It gives you a shield without slowing down your attacks.