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Edit: In an attempt to not make a gigantic wall of text, I ended up cutting important information from the question. I have re-elaborated the question for better understanding of the setting. Sorry for the inconvenience.

In the year of 2704, humans have entered an intergalactic war against a species of elementalists (long story short, they are part of a group of humans that got separated hundreds of years ago, whose powers they themselves cannot explain how they achieved). After a long year of losses, they managed to create and mass-produce armor that could resist (but is not immune) to the elements and millions of sentient robots to help them in combat, balancing the odds.

In addition to this, two projects using genetic engineering where conceived. One, called the "War hound Initiative", with the objective to create tamable war animals. The other, called the "Post human Experiment", focused on making both soldiers and civilians physically and mentally stronger. While the former eventually became a failure, leaving mutant wild animals through the universe, the latter was widely approved and helped humans to have not just a fighting chance, but also a chance to win.

Seeing how improving humans gave good results, they decided to recycle the "War hound Initiative" and use animal DNA to continue their artificial evolution. This was the "Therian Initiative". Do note, however, that these "therians" still had look human enough to not be considered abominations. Therians based on dogs and cats still have human faces, for example.

Among some of these creations, we have: Ferals, based on various canines and felines to increase rearing, vision (especially at night) and smelling; Mimics, using the mimic octopus to create the ability to swin under water and to change the subject's skin to match the enviroment; Angels, with bird DNA, creating flying units without the need of a jetpack; And Giants, created from elephant and rhinoceros's genome and are very strong and durable.

Now, considering that they decided to create centaurs to help them out, what type of centaur would be the most combat efficient? Would the classic horse's speed and carrying capacity help create a support unit? Would wemics (upper body of a human, lower body of a lion) be better for stealth purposes and physical strength? Would it be something else entirely? Are centaurs even viable as combat units?

Here is a list of things to consider:

• The centaur will have to traverse many types of geographical and urban landscapes.

• There must be an distinct advantage to the centaur form over, say, just making human with horse/cat legs or creating a new vehicle.

• Most of the military budget when it comes to vehicles goes to developing spaceships. What is employed along ground forces can be taken down by infantry.

• How does centaurs fare against normal infantry, elementalists, giants, and other vehicles. Remember that they are using guns and that they can survive some bullet hits and elemental attacks.

• They cannot look downright monstrous. However, there is no limitation to what can be done, so long as the parameters are reached.

• Finally, disregard things such as "how would such a creature live in society?”. Because: 1) What is necessary right now is to make something capable of fighting; 2) Therians will eventually being fed up with being used like animals and ditch humanity for their lack of ethics while creating them.

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    $\begingroup$ What is the technological level of the human civilization? Is the genetic manipulation done through magic or science? And what can the elementalists field against the humans? As silly as it may sound, depending on the setting, the best defense against fire elementalists, for example, is a firetruck with it's payload of special water... Plus depending on the power of the elementalists, fielding flesh and blood troops might be useless and lead to a slaughter. $\endgroup$ – Sava Oct 22 '18 at 2:27
  • $\begingroup$ Reminder to close-voters: The problem cannot be fixed if the OP is not made aware of it $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Oct 22 '18 at 13:02
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This question is very interesting, but there are many things that went unaddressed.

If your human civilization is capable of creating "angels" with functional wings, the least they have is a quantum f@cking supercomputer with the latest version of BuildlLife, a notoriously hard to use program that only helps out in translating whatever horrifying creature you made into DNA code, but you will be through a literal Hell on Earth by the time you get to that point.

You see, by definition playing God with genes in that level requires you to shed the standard concepts you have about animals, and so stop thinking that a centaur is a horse+human, you'll have to build it from the ground up.

That being said, the best type of centaur for modern warfare:

First, we reduce the size of the horse tremendously, through isometric scaling (the size of an Icelandic horse is just about right), and reinforce the bones with goethite fibers. Second, we modify the human part, decrease fat tissue, remove redundant organs (except for the heart and lungs, you will need to get blood to the brain and comprehensible words out of your mouth) and fill their place with air sacs. Don't forget a segmented spine, like that of snakes, it should substitute a few years from the mandatory yoga class.

Now, time for the specials. I guess there are a lot of furries in the research team if they named their project "Therian Initiative", I don't think they'd bat an eye on horse ears, we could also use a pair of enhanced eyes (hawks, perhaps?). Now, if you want to cross terrains that horses and most vehicles can't, you could either use specialized equipment or...

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The mountain goat's feet are well-suited for climbing steep, rocky slopes with pitches exceeding 60°, with inner pads that provide traction and cloven hooves that can spread apart. The tips of their feet have sharp dewclaws that keep them from slipping. They have powerful shoulder and neck muscles that help propel them up steep slopes.

-Wikipedia

Combat value

Hence you introduced military-grade robots (I wouldn't make them sentient, the last thing we need is a rabid T-34) to the show, there will be some problems, why?

Have you ever seen an animatronic effortlessly pick up and fling an entire table while chasing the nightguard? Poor [Data Redacted], Toy Bonrab once threw a table at him and crushed him flat. May he rip in rest.

Nonetheless, robots are powerful but also have an unusually high civilian casualty rate, perhaps if the commanders have to personally witness Fredbear strangling someone with his own intestines, we could improve it. Not to mention if ISIS hacks one of them, even if the virus just forces the robots to do the safety dance, you are hecking screwed.

This can partially be prevented if you keep a handful of organic supervisors/commanders nearby, who could be connected to the drone units and sense if one of them goes AWOL. It'd also be ideal for the aforementioned commanders to be orphans since if they have no family, nobody will cry after them.

Centaurs would be the best suited for hauling around large packages, and you can give them a Panzerschrenk or this beauty, or an M249 SAW, perhaps even an M2 Browning, I've seen that being fired by a single person from the hip, with the extra mass and four legs, a centaur maybe could use it all alone.

As far as movement goes, they could learn (or have preprogramed) gaits other than the classical three, gaits like:

  • Tölt: This is known for its explosive acceleration and speed; it is also comfortable and ground-covering.
  • "Flying" pace: Fast and smooth, the flying pace is a two-beat lateral gait with a moment of suspension between footfalls; each side has both feet land almost simultaneously (left hind and left front, suspension, right hind and right front). It is meant to be performed by well-trained and balanced horses with skilled riders. (or a single well-trained centaur)

You also, mentioned giants, but as I don't know the sizes, I'd just say last time Ainz brought out the Gargantua (a 30 meter stone golem) against me, I shot the bastard in the hip with my MAUSss, the whole thing fell down and literally exploded into a hundred million pieces wiping the rest of Ainz's army out. So yeah, no Gundams for you.

I don't know what your elementalists can do, but if they are just half the power of Magicka wizards then nuke the planet, there's no saving it!

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  • $\begingroup$ Educating yet hilarious. $\endgroup$ – Sebastian Morfin Nov 7 '18 at 3:53
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The conventional model of a centaur is not brilliant, it is necessarily heavy on the forehand and would be sluggish to respond relative to a conventional mounted cavalryman. Once you start adding armour and weapons to the "human" half this problem becomes even worse.

The power of most quadrupeds comes from the back legs, the front legs support and the back legs drive. If a horse is heavy on the forehand they can't get the power and maneuverability of a well balanced animal. They will also get tired faster.

What this means is that your centaurs, while perhaps able to transmit their reactions faster from "rider" to "horse", will not be able to respond as quickly as you might expect.

The fact that centaurs don't work is no reason not to put them in, just accept their innate weaknesses.

  • They'll be slower and tire more easily than a mounted cavalryman.
    Consider that after a charge across a field, the man on a horse will still be fresh even if the horse is tired, your centaur has to do both jobs.
  • They will need a complex diet in large quantities, unless you leave the horse digestion so they can eat grass which will make them cheap to feed but they'll need to spend a lot of time grazing. Either way, they'll need to eat a lot.
  • The human throat is not large enough for horse scale lungs, so airflow may be an issue
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I believe centaurs will make RIDICULOUSLY good cavalry

Think about it. Not only can the guy riding on the centaur into battle hold a weapon, but his steed can hold a weapon too. In addition to this, the steeds are (presumably) sentient, so they will have a better idea of where to go and will be less panicky than regular horses.

However, I have a question: why stop at modifying humans?

If you're going to genetically engineer creatures together, why stop at only creating human hybrids? Sure, centaurs, minotaurs, and angels have their uses, but then you'd have to deal with all of the moral dilemmas that creating sentient life would bring: is it ok to force these beings to fight for you despite their objections? Is it even ok to create these beings in the first place if all you want to use them for is battle? Instead of focusing on human hybrids, try creating less sentient creatures such as hippogriffs or pegasi and NOT have to deal with the NAAHP (National Association for the Advancement of Hybrid People).

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I think the biggest and simplest advantage, is that a centaur can carry much heavier equipment than a normal soldier. Not only can they put a large portion of it on their back, they also have two free hands which can be used to trigger the weapon. Think of something heavy like a machine gun, gattling guns, or rockets. A centaur would be able to carry the gun alone while having some mobility and most likely be able to fire from the hip with some supporting mechanism on their back (so they won't need to setup a stand or lie on the ground to fire). They can carry more ammunition, more supplies and more equipment than a single soldier counterpart.

Basically a centaur takes the role of a motorcycle squad. They are good for scouting a location, setting down a forward base of operations and suppressing troops. However once the heavy equipment arrives, they are obsolete and switch to a more support oriented role, carrying goods around, taking wounded troops back, scouting for enemy locations.

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These centaurs have 3 advantages: speed, carrying capacity, weight.

A full horse would have disadvantages and you cant use the Centaur directly as you'll need things like alternative breathing tubes for the lungs and specialized bloodvessles and probably multiple hearts to handle the pressures for pumping up the torso etc. But hey you are building these things so lets assume you've thought about it.

These centaurs likely tire faster than humans as they arent optimised for it. But when you look at what these centaurs can do theres one task they would be perfect for: hunting big battlefield targets. Their legs allow them to stand still for a couple of hours waiting for a target. Then their speed allows them to close the distance (when necessary). Their weight and build allows them to handle recoil much better and carry lots of ammo for it as well. Small groups of these will be attached to companies and tasked with carrying the company mortars, as they can drag a simple cart with ammo and supplies with them no problem while current mortars often depend on solid logistics to have a decent ammo reserve. Another group carries light anti-tank weapons aimed at taking down IFV's, giants and other large targets. Another group carries the heavier anti-tank weapons (make sure they are long enough at the back to prevent the horse-as being in the killzone of a recoilless rifle or similar), including shorter ranged weapons they'll carry towards a tank while running. And another group carries heavy machineguns into battle, using the continuous fire and belt-fed from their backs to keep enemies behind cover as their allies advance.

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