Must Have Chicken
If you never buy the Courier, and don't even use it if an ally buys it, YOU ARE NOOB! Read this guide, learn to use the Courier and you will be one step closer to becoming a good player.
Often referred to as 'chicken', the Courier is an essential tactical asset in DotA. It has evolved greatly since it was first introduced into the game--evidence of its importance.
This guide will cover some basic ideas about the Courier, after which it will move onto how to micro it properly, problems you will experience, as well as advanced uses of the Courier.
1. Basic Facts
2. Courier Abilities
3. Setting Up the Controls
4. Buying Items
5. Upgrading To Flying Courier
6. Problems With the Courier
7. Advanced Uses
1. The Courier is a consumable item that generates a controllable unit. It can carry up to 6 items.
2. It is bought at the Ancient of Wonders. The upgrade to flying Courier is found at Supportive Vestments.
3. A Courier should be bought at the start of every single game. A team needs exactly one.
4. Whenever you go to the fountain, you lose a ton of XP and the opportunity to farm gold. Instead, use the Courier to buy and deliver your items.
5. Supporting heroes (i.e. Warlock, Dazzle, Rylai, Rhasta, Lich, etc) should buy it; or any hero that requires little gold to be effective in the game. Krobulous, for example, has very solid skills and therefore could afford the burden, even though she is a powerful carry.
The courier behaves much like a hero, so it has basic commands like move, stop, patrol, etc and has 6 inventory slots.
Note that it is of type Ancient, and therefore is immune to lots of spells which helps to keep it from dying. The best way to kill the enemy courier is to attack it.
Changes the 3D model used by the courier. I prefer the chicken or the raccoon, so I can see it well. Some people think the opposite, and prefer the penguin which is hard to see.
Transforms the Animal Courier into the Flying Courier. Requires the recipe.
Transfer Items(T) - Moves towards your hero and hands over all items, then goes back to town.
Return Home(E) - Sends the Courier back to town.
Drop Items(D) - Drops all inventory items to the ground. If the Courier is in town, the items go to the circles of power instead.
Burst(R) - Gives a 20 second speed boost to the Flying Courier. 40 second cooldown. Always use this to speed up item delivery.
Shield(C) - An impenetrable shield surrounds the Courier, protecting it from all damage and spells for 7 seconds. 20 second cooldown. Use this after the Courier has finished delivering items or whenever its in danger.
Disassembles items in it's inventory. Only works for some items (i.e. Ring of Basilius).
PlayDotA provides detailed statistics for the courier, such as health, ms, etc:
Statistics for Animal Courier
Statistics for Flying Courier
Setting Up the Controls
The first thing you need to do after you create the Courier, is to share it with your allies. The shortcut to this is F11, which presents to you a list of players you can share it with. If you are in a pub game it would be unwise to share with the entire team. Instead, ask who wants it and give it to the people who answer you.
Next thing to do is to create control groups. In the examples to follow, I will be using the following control groups:
1 = Your Hero
2 = Courier
To configure these, select the corresponding unit, such as your hero, and press Ctrl + 1. These shortcuts will be useful throughout the entire game, allowing you quick access to either unit.
In case an ally buys the Courier and gives you control, immediately set up the control groups.
Note: If a player switch occurs (-so), you may have to re-share the Courier.
Suppose you are in lane, a few creep waves have gone by and you have accumulated a little bit of gold, say 600. This is a great opportunity to buy items. Try getting used to buying items early because the extra stats and regen help you dominate your lane.
Execute the following sequence:
1. Verify your gold and think about what you are going to buy
2. Move your hero a bit closer to the tower so he is safe from a gank
3. Double press 2 quickly. This will move the camera to the Courier
4. Buy your items as fast as possible. They are automatically placed inside the Courier
5. Double press 1 quickly to go back to your hero (safety step)
6. Type the following: 2, T, R, 1 => instructs the Courier to deliver your stuff and moves the control back to the hero. 'T' is the transfer command and 'R' is for the speed boost
Go back to farming and gaining XP. But keep a close eye on the Courier's progress in the mini-map as you don't want to risk it being killed by the enemy. When you see him approaching, retreat a little and stop moving so he can pass the items to you safely.
This is a dangerous moment in the game. You can't afford to lose the Courier and the items, so you have to make sure your enemies aren't tower diving. At the slightest sign of danger, press 2 and tell the Courier to hide in the forest or go back to base (shortcut E).
Upgrading to Flying Courier
To upgrade your regular Courier to a flying one, place the Flying Courier scroll into it's inventory, select him, and click the 'upgrade to flying Courier' ability.
In high level games this is always recommended. In this case all 5 people will be using it, so the extra movement speed pays off. In a pub, however, with a maximum of 2 or 3 people 'maybe' using it, it is hardly worth upgrading.
Either way, never upgrade it at the start of the game. This is completely senseless, as nobody will be using it that early. Furthermore, you don't have to be in town to buy the upgrade.
If you are the primary support hero, buy the upgrade as soon as you can, ideally before anyone needs to use the Courier.
Problems With the Courier
1. Someone else is using it - If you have voice communication with your team, have them notify when they are going to use the Courier. If everyone does this there shouldn't be many conflicts. In a pub, however, the best thing to do is wait for the Courier to go back to town, and then use it.
2. Someone left items in it - Press 'D' to drop all items. They will go to the top of the circles of power. Imagine your teammate's Ultimate Orb is on the damn thing and you get it killed while delivering a Bracer recipe... you will never forgive yourself.
3. Someone left the Courier in the middle of nowhere - Press 'E' to send it back to town.
4. The Courier is delivering more items than will fit in your inventory - sell something at the side-shop or drop something. If you drop an item at the moment the Courier approaches you, he will pick it up then take it back home. Sometimes this doesn't work properly because he can't guess which items you actually want to keep.
5. It is delivering a complicated recipe and command 'T' won't work - Sometimes the courier can't assemble the recipe, and I haven't yet figured out the pattern. It would be great if the recipe was delivered correctly, but sometimes it fails Drop the items next to the hero and pick them up in a more old-school fashion.
6. The Courier has been killed! - Shrug... buy a new one. Better luck next time.
1. Bottle Refill - Empty bottle? No runes? Give the bottle to the Courier to refill at the fountain.
2. Consumables - Sometimes sending an extra clarity or healing through the Courier might be better than returning to the fountain.
3. Scouting - particularly for checking Roshan, runes or during a push so you can see where the enemies are hiding.
4. Warding - Send the Flying Courier ahead before placing wards in dangerous locations.
5. Counter-warding - Use the Flying Courier to give you vision on top of cliffs so you can spot enemy wards without having to walk up the ramp.
6. Multiple delivery - If you can communicate well enough with your lane-mate, both of you should buy items at the same time to save the Courier some walk time and therefore free him up to serve other lanes
In dangerous situations, remember to use the Shield ability (C) to protect the little guy. Also remember to drop any items at the town (D) before exposing the Courier to danger.