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Skill build:





This is the second guide I write here (The first one was Syaska's Guide to Clockwerk Goblin - DotA Guides). No decent guide on Tauren Chieftain has been wrote, and since I'm a fan of this amazing cow, I've decided to write one. Cairne was god-tier when he was introduced, but Icefrog murdered the poor cow, and he is now a situational pick (And he is getting some love recently). As you may guess during your read, english is not my native language, so feel free to spot any grammar mistake you find. Have a good read, and thank you.

Hero Information

When Tauren Chieftain was introduced (v6.60), he was widely considered as one of the very best heroes, with very good stats and base damage, and the ability to rape entire teams from afar (1500 range spirit, larger ultimate AOE). He was obviously nerfed (and, in my opinion, a bit overnerfed), and fell out of grace. However, he remains a very fun hero to play with, and a valuable asset for any team.

24 + 2.3
14 + 1.5
23 + 1.6

Very good starting stats, especially STR and INT
Long range spells (1000 range on Ancestral Spirit, 2400 on Earth Splitter)
Decent base damage and good animation
Slightly above average movement speed paired with movespeed bonus from Ancestral Spirit
Good laner, especially considering he is a melee hero
Very good aura, increasing both magical and physical damage
Long duration AOE sleep, which can be used at 1000 range.
Not very item dependent, but benefits greatly from many items.
Can deal heavy amounts of physical damage with Ancestral spirit bonus damage and -armor aura.
A well done Echo Stomp+Earth Splitter can win entire teamfights

Below average stats gain
Very constraining mana pool
Skills can be a bit difficult to use: Echo stomp can be interrupted (and goes on cd if interrupted), Earth Splitter is very dependent on Echo Stomp/allied disables.
Natural Order has a pathetic AOE
Relies on team coordination to be really efficient (You may have problems in public games with retards cancelling your sleep)


Echo Stomp
Calls upon the spirit of his ancestors to join him in an earth-shattering echo, rendering nearby foes unconscious. The spirit and Tauren Chieftain both deal 80 damage in the area, the Spirit dealing magical damage and the physical form dealing physical damage. Unconscious enemies will wake if they get hit. If the spirit is separated from you, it will still perform its part of the spell. 1.4 second cast time.

Area of Effect: 475
Manacost: 100
Cooldown: 15 seconds
Duration: 2 seconds
Allowed Targets: Enemy units
Effects: Knocks out units for 2 seconds

Damage type: magical (spirit), physical (tauren)

Using Echo Stomp:
Your pseudo disable, usually used with Ancestral Spirit (Do note that the spirit does not dissapear after casting Echo Stomp) and Earth Splitter. Any unit in the area of the stomp is knocked out for 2-5 seconds. Damage from player-controlled units (Summons, heroes, dominated creeps) will interrupt the sleep. Tower and creeps attacks will have no effect on Stomp duration: 5 seconds of attacks from a tower is no joke and you should abuse this. Echo Stomp is good in ganks/lane fights, but it really shines during teamfights, because it allows you to use your mighty ultimate safely.

Ancestral Spirit
The Tauren Chieftain sends forth his guardian ancestor to bring ruin upon his foes. While separate from the Chieftain, the spirit will mimic his movement and damage any unit it passes through. When it rejoins the Chieftain, it grants him bonus damage and movement speed for each enemy it has struck.

Casting range: 1000
Manacost: 110
Cooldown: 19 seconds
8 seconds
Area of Effect: 275
Allowed Targets: Enemy units
Effects: Deals 120 damage. Gives 3 attack damage and 1% speed per creep, and 10 attack damage and 5% speed per hero.

The spirits movements are Tauren Chieftain's own but mirrored.

Using Ancestral Spirit:
Your bread and butter skill, and probably one of the most versatile spells in the game. It is your main nuke, it gives you 1000 range on Echo Stomp, it grants Cairne movespeed and damage, and the spirit has Natural Order (But, when you cast the spirit, the damage is applied before the magical resistance reduction from your aura). This skill gives you a huge area of influence and makes Tauren Chieftain the only initiator that doesn't need to rush inside the teamfights to unleash his spells.

Natural Order
The Tauren Chieftain uses wisdom gathered throughout the ages to reduce everything to its most basic level. Removes base Magic and Physical resistance.

Area of Effect: 275
Allowed Targets: Enemy units
Effects: 20% reduction

The Ancestral Spirit also has this ability.

Using Natural Order:
A very simple but efficient passive: Every enemy inside its range looses 80% of his base armor (starting armor+armor from AGI gain) and 80% of his basic magic resistance (25%): an opponent without hood of defiance will have 5% magic resistance under the effect of your aura. Needless to say, this increases greatly the effect of your spells and physical attacks and goes very well with armor reducing items, especially Assault Cuirass.

Earth Splitter
Using his mighty axe, the Tauren Chieften rends the very earth itself, sending a jagged crack under the feet of his enemies. After several seconds the earth implodes, sending his foes tumbling inwards. Any unit caught in the implosion will take damage based on their maximum life and have their speed slowed for a short time. Implodes after 3 seconds. Deals 35% of a unit's maximum HP.

Area of Effect 300 (width) / 2400 (distance)
Manacost: 175
Cooldown: 100 seconds
Casting Range: 1600
Duration: 3 seconds
Allowed Targets: Enemy units
Effects: Deals 35% of targets maximum hp, and slows 30% for 3 seconds.

Damage type: magical (50%), physical (50%)
The crack extends with a speed of 900, to maximum distance of 2400.
The whole crack implodes 3 seconds after casting.

Using Earth Splitter:
Your almighty "I rape teamfights" ultimate, able to dish insane amounts of damage paired with a great slow. His main drawback is the delayed implosion: you'll usually need Echo Stomp or an allied AOE disable (<3 Enigma). Note that the distance travelled (2400) is superior to the casting range (1600).

Skill builds and justifications

Tauren Chieftain skillbuilds are not really flexible: Ancestral Spirit should always be maxed first (Direct damage increase, and the damage and ms are always useful), and you must get at least two levels of Echo Stomp to be able to use your powerful ultimate. The main question is: Should I max Stomp at level 9, or get aura first? This really depends on the game. You usually want Stomp maxed, because 5 second sleep is no joke when it comes to teamfights, but in some cases (especially in public games), you can afford to skip the last two levels of Stomp.

The cookie cutter:

Level 1: Echo Stomp
Level 2: Ancestral Spirit
Level 3: Ancestral Spirit
Level 4: Echo Stomp
Level 5: Ancestral Spirit
Level 6: Earth Splitter
Level 7: Ancestral Spirit
Level 8: Echo Stomp
Level 9: Echo Stomp
Level 10: Natural Order
Level 11: Earth Splitter
Level 12: Natural Order
Level 13: Natural Order
Level 14: Natural Order
Level 15: Stats
Level 16: Earth Splitter

Explanation: This is the most common Tauren Chieftain build. You get Echo Stomp first because the 2 seconds disable is way more useful than the 120 damage to score a first blood/escape a first blood attempt. Ancestral Spirit is maxed first because it is your main damage source early game (direct damage+ms and damage bonus). This build allows you to dominate teambattles from level 9, and the 5 second sleep is great to help your team during early/mid game ganks.

The aura rush

Level 1: Echo Stomp
Level 2: Ancestral Spirit
Level 3: Ancestral Spirit
Level 4: Echo Stomp
Level 5: Ancestral Spirit
Level 6: Earth Splitter
Level 7: Ancestral Spirit
Level 8: Natural Order
Level 9: Natural Order
Level 10: Natural Order
Level 11: Earth Splitter
Level 12: Natural Order
Level 13: Echo Stomp
Level 14: Echo Stomp
Level 15: Stats
Level 16: Earth Splitter

Explanation: This is the build you may want if your team lacks the coordination to make use of the additional 2 seconds on Echo Stomp (This usually happens in public games). 3 seconds of sleep are usually enough to land good ultimates, and the fast aura increases your team damage.

Item builds
Starting item builds

My personnal favorite. Gives you very helpful damage, a good bunch of hitpoints with regeneration to backup, and you can use the branches to make wand and the gauntlets to get an Urn of shadows. Very solid overall.

Sometimes (i.e in public games), noone will get a chicken (or even worse, they buy it but they don't share). In decent games, you shouldn't be the one getting the courier, but to tell the truth 170 gold is not the end of the world and it is just great to have one.

If you expect heavy amounts of physical harass, stout shield can be a very valuable asset. Considering Vanguard is very viable on TC, the stout shield is not wasted, and it'll make your laning phase easier.

Magic stick as a starting item is viable if you expect to lane against some spell spammer (Bristleback, Batrider). Note that Wand can be purchased in the side shops: considering the item is quite cheap, it's usually better to buy it as soon as you get 200 gold.

Even if it was recently nerfed, Ring of Basilius is still great to have, especially if you are trilaning. Start with a Ring of Protection, ang buy a Sobi Mask as soon as possible in a side shop. This will grant you armor against harassers and the nifty brilliance aura.

Core items
Your core is not very costly (the items come in small and cheap pieces), but it grants you survivability and enhances your offensive abilities.
Power treads are just great for Tauren Chieftain, because they can give him both cheap early hitpoints and some mana pool. The IAS is not bad either, considering the damage you can get with Ancestral Spirit. Arcane boots are another viable choice, especially since Treads (and Phase) were nerfed: They give you a very extended mana pool and a way to replenish it, but no survivability.
Wand, even after the 6.69 nerf, is still an amazing item, especially for those STR casters (including TC). It is cheap, it gives some early stats, and the mana/HP burst is just too good to pass up. Urn is another amazing cheap item: HP, damage, mana regen and the amazing active that can be used to heal you and to help during ganks: You just love this item.
Vanguard is very good after treads, and totally needed after Arcane boots. It comes in cheap and useful pieces (stout shield and Ring of Health are great laning items), it makes you very tanky during those crucial mid game fights.

Viable luxuries

In many games, you won't be able to buy these items. But if you are owning/the game is lasting/you are playing -em, then buy these:
Hood of Defiance is a good item on Cairne, increasing your durability quite a bit against nukers. But in my opinion, you should aim for Hood only to get its awesome upgrade: Pipe of Insight. Pipe is almost never wasted is organized games, and it totally rapes some heroes (Lich, QoP, SK).

Perhaps the best luxury you can get, for three reasons:
- The synergy with the -armor aura and your skillset is just insane. Paired with Natural Order, you rip into any opponent (assuming he doesn't have Shiva or AC) like a knife into butter, and icing on the cake it also increases Earth Splitter damage.
- The armor bonus is very valuable: you had raw hitpoints with Urn/Vanguard/Treads, now you have the physical damage reduction.
- Cuirass is one of those item you can afford not to finish: Hyperstone or Platemail are great on their own.

Epic boost to your hitpoints, cool regen, and some damage. A good item, but when it comes to survival, you are usually better with a Pipe or an armor item like Shiva or AC. Still a decent luxury.

Black King Bar should be considered when angry people in the opposing team are trying to prevent you from casting Echo Stomp (and Stomp is almost always necessary to get a good Earth Splitter). It also gives some nice stats (+34 damage, +190 HP).

Shiva's Guard is another great item for Tauren Chieftain. It gives your more than enough mana, a nifty +15 armor, and the blast is devastating after your ultimate. A good (and cheaper) alternative to Assault Cuirass.

Some mana, some damage, some armor. The bonuses alone are nice to have, and the active is great against some heroes (Crixalis, physical DPSers, and unfortunately, against you, but this is another story).

Infinite mana, +10 AGI/STR, and the hex is just invaluable to have. A superb item on many heroes, and Tauren Chieftain is no exception.

Stygian Desolator is actually a good item on Cairne, considering the obvious synergy between Natural Order and corruption. But compared to AC, Deso is clearly inferior (on TC), because you need to hit your targets: this prevents Deso from working with your ultimate, unlike AC aura.

Debatable choices

Linken's Sphere on Tauren Chieftain is not really bad, but BKB is just superior, because you need a complete magic invulnerability during crucial teamfights, and the spell block is just not enough (Exceptions: Doombringer and Vengeful Spirit).

The item and the stats it gives are decent, the active is fun to use, but it is way too difficult to actually have results, like pushing opponents inside your ultimate or using it on yourself to hit people with your spirit. Still a nice way to get an escape mechanism.

Dagger is kind of countersynergistic with TC: unlike the other initiators you don't want to jump inside the fights (it would make it easier for the opponents). You'll still get the defensive side of the item and the ability to chase/surprise opponents, but Dagger is clearly not that great.

A very popular item among pub players using Cairne, Lothar isn't completely rejected, since it gives you an escape mechanism (even if quite unreliable), and the 125 damage backstab hurts. But you are not really a DPSer, and the invisibility isn't going to help against any decent team. Still very good in low level games, obviously.

Quoting my previous Clockwerk guide: "If the game turns into a push/backdoor fest, get Boots of Travels. Simple as that.". Not needed in a vast majority of the games.

You have two main problems: Mana pool and durability. Phase boots won't solve any of those problems. Phase ability is nice and the damage is good to have during early game, but you already get plenty of damage and movespeed from Ancestral Spirit.

The necrowarriors have their uses (pushing, counterwarding, giving you the pretty nice auras), and the stats Necrobook gives are quite handy, but you have to micro your summons constantly to avoid interrupting Echo Stomp too early, and you don't really have any long lasting disables that goes well with the summons.

Rejected items

Getting Dagon on TC can only mean one thing: you want to ks people. Your job is not to steal solo targets.

Let your supports get these: this is not your job.

You are not a DPS machine: You get items like Desolator or Cuirass because they give you -armor.

Doesn't work with your ultimate.

Sparkles will interrupt Echo Stomp, and make it way harder for you to land a good ultimate. Try to convince your teammates that Radiance is not a cool item, and eventually flame them.

Gameplay walkthrough

Early Game

Unless you are playing against complete retards, TC is not a good enough soloer to take the mid lane (unless you are dual laning mid, obviously). A melee solo mid needs to have either (or both) a cheap lane control spell (Rocket Flare for Clock, Axe+Pig for BM, Tidebringer for Admiral) / good rune control (and the ability to abuse these runes). Ancestral Spirit is not spammable, and you are not a runewhoring monster like Rattletrap or Rexxar.

Trilanes (even after the 6.69 XP nerf) are, in my opinion, still viable (but only if your supports know what they are doing. I've seen many trilanes fail horribly because of the lack of coordination.), and Tauren Chieftain is a decent trilaner, even if you may have problems scoring a fast first blood.

Note that you should always be the one scoring last hits (Supports should be pullling or pressuring opponents if possible, but never competing for creep gold.). Try to deny as much as possible if you are facing a single hero, and get Urn as soon as possible.

If you are facing another trilane or a dual lane, note that Echo stomp is just great to bring down an opponent while his allies are stunned. Let your allies initiate with their disables, cast Ancestral Spirit in a way that will affect as much enemies as possible, and use Echo Stomp.

I've listed the best trilane partners (note that many of them are decent dual lane allies):

Long range stun, armor reduction, and damage buff. You like everything Vengeful Spirit gives you (She lacks some harassing power due to her low range, but nobody is perfect)! She is great in any trilane, but she is also a strong ally later in the game (-armor goes quite well with Natural Order, and Command Aura is just 1337 with the huge bonus damage you get from Ancestral Spirit).
Note that she is also an absolute pain to face. Level 2-3 swap basically prevents you from using Echo Stomp in a teamfight.

Frost Nova was nerfed quite hard at early levels, but Rylai is still an amazing support hero, especially for STR casters like Tauren Chieftain.
Even if her attack damage and animation are a bit pathetic, her range is great (unlike VS), and she gives you both the disable to aim Echo Stomp (Frostbite) and the slow to hit people with your huge axe (Nova).
She also grants you Brilliance aura, which is just amazing considering you constraining mana pool (with a CM on your team, you can actually spam your spirit a bit).

Lina Inverse is another decent trilane partner, but she is a situational pick.
She gives you heavy burst power (especially after some levels) and a constant 1.6 seconds stun, but:
- She doesn't have any strong support ability later in the game (no spell enhancing your damage like Maledict or -armor skills, no heal or aura, no long lasting disables like hex).
- Like Echo Stomp, Light Strike Array is unreliable and usually needs a partner to stun first. If you plan to trilane with Lina, make sure the third member of the trilane is a reliable disabler like Vengeful Spirit or Witch Doctor. Because of this, and unlike many of the heroes I listed here, Lina is not a good dual lane partner.

Another superb ally for Cairne. A decent stun (even if the nerf on the first cask hurts quite a bit since TC needs to cast Stomp), and a heal. The fact Vol'jinn is also great at harassing (amazing attack damage, range and animation) is the icing on the cake.
Later in the game, Maledict enhances your damage (Care: like any Damage over Time spell, Maledict will interrupt Echo Stomp), especially if you manage to use your ultimate on a cursed target, or if you are close enough to apply aura to the poor victim.

Lion, even if he is also a good mid solo, is great to have in any trilane. He gives you heavy burst damage (There is no hero in DotA that can survive a Lion+TC combo at levels 6-9), reliables and long lasting disables (Impale stun isn't constant, but unlike Lina's stun, you can hardly miss it. And Hex is just invaluable later).
Lion is a 600 range hero, with decent damage and animation: You love him even more.

Kel'Thuzad is not as good in offensive trilane as Lion, Witch Doctor or Vengeful Spirit, and he is very situational overall, since he is more a defensive/AOE orientated pick
But he is just insane when it comes to harass (spammable nuke, nice attack/range), his AOE slow goes quite well with your skill set, and he gives you nice amounts of armor early/mid game.
His ultimate is also devastating when used just after Earth Splitter.

Venomancer, with his cheap and efficient level 1 spells (Gale+passive), is one of these heroes designed for trilanes. His wards also grant some pushing power (something that Cairne lacks).
The main problem with Veno is the fact all his spells will interrupt Echo Stomp! Veno is the epitome of Damage over Time, and Tauren is not really a fan of DoT heroes in his team. If you plan to use this guy along with TC, you'll need a good coordination to avoid critical mistakes.

Jakiro's spells are all decent at level 1, and his heavy AOE skillset can wreck havoc when paired with a good TC ultimate (Macropyre+Dual Breath+Icepath after Earth Splitter is no joke). He also gives you some pushing power with Liquid Fire.
But, like Venomancer, THD likes DoT, and you'll again need some serious coordination to be efficient. Also note that Icepath isn't exactly the best (and the most reliable) disable.

Mid game
This is the time for the first teamfights, and you should have at least Treads and Urn.
Mana management is the key
Your mana pool is not large enough to sustain a careless use of your spells. You must use your spells only when you can have a real impact: Don't harass with spirit, and avoid overkill (don't use Stomp when you are ganking a low HP hero with VS and Sven...).

Do not underestimate the damage from Spirit

Ancestral Spirit can give you insane amounts of damage, and hits from a buffed Tauren will hurt really, really hard. If you manage to hit 5 creeps (a creepwave) and 2 heroes with a level 4 Spirit, you'll get an amazing +140 damage.

Abuse Urn of Shadows
Urn of Shadows is an amazing item. Make sure you are the only one buying it in your team (common problem in public games), and try to get it as soon as possible. It gives you a 200 damage nuke during ganks, a nifty heal after sucessful teamfights, and the stats are just great. Try to use your charges; a 10 charges urn may be cool looking, but you get no bonuses at all, and you waste precious heals/nukes.

Try to use your spells from the fog or out of disables range

Contrary to Nevermore, if you get interrupted when you cast Echo Stomp, you'll loose the mana and the spell will go on cd. To avoid that, and to increase the chances of a successful gang/teamfight, you should always try to surprise the enemies, so they can't stun you. Use trees, hills, or wait for the opponents to use their disables/be disabled.

Cast spirit behind the opponents during a gank

Basic rule: when ganking a lonely hero and assuming you don't have disablers with you, try to cast spirit in his escape route. This will greatly increase your chances to stun him.

Late game

You should have some survavibility items, and your spells are now maxed. This is the era of 5v5 teamfights!

Be careful when trying to initiate a teamfight

After the nerf on Ancestral Spirit cast range (1500 to 1000), Tauren Chieftain is no longer able to use his mighty combo safely. You'll probably have problems to initiate alone: TC benefits greatly from other initiators (Enigma, ES, Tide), and long range disablers (Kunkka, Clockwerk). Black King Bar is also an amazing item against those pesky heroes trying to interrupt Echo Stomp. Note that with some long lasting AOE disables in your team (Kunkka, Enigma, ES), you may want to cast Earth Splitter before using Echo Stomp.

If you feel you'll get initiated first, stay behind

Since you need the enemies to group to be really efficient, you may want to stay behind, waiting for the opponent mistake (assuming your allies are not retards). A good counter-initiation can be absolutely devastating, considering most enemies will forget to spread when they smell blood.

Ancestral Spirit gives sight

This is especially useful when you want to check Roshan without taking risks.

Teamplay is the key

Like many teamfights heroes, you rely very much on proper teamplay and coordination to be efficient. Ask your allies to avoid buying Radiance, and tell them to wait for Earth Splitter before waking the heroes under the effect of Echo Stomp.

Noticeable synergies

Besides the strong lane partners listed in the Gameplay section, several heroes can wreck havoc when paired with Tauren Chieftain.

Heroes with armor reducing skills

TC, as a hero with his armor reducing aura, can reduce opponents armor to nothing when paired with others armor shredders.

Dark Seer

You just love Dark Seer, because, when it comes to teamfihts, he can easily make sure you stomp a good bunch of heroes. Surge and IonShell are both great spells on Cairne.


You start casting Echo stomp in a teamfight, he uses his ultimate: you can't be interrupted. A supportive Silencer is also a decent lane partner.

Ancient Apparition

Even if Cold Feet can be quite problematic to use along with Echo stomp, you just love AA skillset: A vortex that slows and reduces magic resistance (With this and Natural Order, you can bring opponents down to 0% magic resistance), a damage buff that synergises with your aura, and his ultimate+Earth Splitter equals rape.

Heroes with high AOE damage

You have your almighty combo, and they have other devastating spells.


They jump first, making sure you can safely follow with your own combo. Life is just much easier with them, especially Enigma.

Nukes with a good casting range

When you are applying your -magic resistance aura on someone, it's rapetime for those guys: they can dish insane amounts of magical damage.

Annoying opponents

Long range interrupters

They can make your life a hell: with their long range spells, they prevent you from using Echo Stomp properly, and without Echo Stomp you are in serious trouble for Earth Splitter

Heroes with +armor skills/Armor items

Natural order doesn't reduce the armor from those skills/items. They effectively reduce the damage from your physical attacks and from your ultimate.


He may be one of your most valuable allies, but he is also a very gay opponent. Curse of the Silence destroys you during the laning phase, and Last Word/Global Silence are just devastating anti-Cairne skills in teamfights.

Clockwerk Goblin

Amazing hero =). He prevents you from staying hidden in teamfights, he can interrupt you when casting Echo Sstomp even when you are behind your allies, he rapes you early/mid game and you can't channel anything when Battery Assault is on. Forcestaff is actually amazing against this pesky goblin.

Magic immunity/Hood of Defiance

Let your carries fight the heroes with magic immunity. Hood of Defiance reduces your effectiveness against a single hero, Pipe of Insight is even worse because it reduces your overall impact.


GosuGamers DotA | Replay: vs DTS
Grand final of the MYM pride tournament, amazing teamplay by DTS and great Tauren Chieftain played by Artstyle. Recommended replay!

Thanks to everyone who read that guide, I hope it was a good read. Feel free to comment and to spot the grammars/code errors.
Thanks to Icefrog for his amazing map (moar buffs to TC? =D)
Thanks to all the PlayDotA Garena group players.
And a final thanks to my former clanmates and friends: Elha), DaboO, C4mille, God, Niko-. You guys are awesome!

Cairne Bloodhoof the Tauren Chieftain
Author: Syaska
Map Vers.: 6.69

Syaska's Guide to Tauren Chieftain

I have an axe to grind

Date Posted: 09/28/10
Last Comment:11/05/2013
Total Votes: 93
Current Rating: 8.31
Views: 266257

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