Remembering how the courier changed throughout Dota 2

Alisa Barladyan
21 Jun 2022
20:06

In the 11 years since Dota 2's release, many gameplay changes have occurred. Every year as new global patches are added, mechanics are getting changed or removed, and the new heroes, items, and maps are added, changed, or removed. Thousands of players from around the world adapt to the new realities of the game. The game wouldn't be as popular if everything remained the same. So here, even the basic things sometimes get upgrades, and the game can change dramatically.

Old-timers remember the very first patches, where there were slightly fewer heroes, the map was completely different, and some things in the game's client worked differently. They remember shrines' introduction, the wealth runes, and how Roshan moved. They are familiar with the introduction of neutral items. Veterans of the game remember all the changes and the times when everything was different with melancholy.

We are bringing to your attention the key changes that affected the gameplay. It will be interesting for newcomers to know how the Ancient was destroyed before, and the "old-timers" will remember when they first downloaded Dota 2 and played on their first maps with a smile.

In this article, we'll look back at how courier has changed throughout the game's history. Today (and always), it is impossible to imagine the gameplay without it. One misuse of this helper can lead to defeat on the map. As with most things in the game, it has undergone some changes. What was the courier like before? How did it come to be what it is now?

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The courier appeared with the release of Dota 2. It is a controlled unit for the whole team with no abilities, and its only function is carrying items for the heroes. In game slang, it was called "chicken," "crow," and "donkey" (this one survived).

The courier was purchased by one of the players of each team. It would cost 225 gold, and it was usually the responsibility of a support. Despite the high cost of the item, its value was extremely high. During the laning stage, it's inconvenient for characters to leave their lanes to retrieve items, as they would lose experience and gold from killing creeps. In local skirmishes on mid or side lanes, heroes would lose health and use consumables to replenish resources. If there was nothing to restore health or mana with, the player must return to the base or die. This is also a loss of experience and gold.

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Purchasing a "chicken" gave heroes support from the base - it allowed them to get items for more comfortable laning without having to leave the line. During mid- and late-game stages, the courier brought the necessary items to heroes for future fights and game completion. The six donkey slots allowed all the characters to buy the necessary items (items for the cores, wards for the supports, smokes, and heals) and go around the whole map at once, passing all the heroes a parcel from the base. The courier could be sent to a secret shop, where you can buy items that are not available for purchase at the base. And if all the heroes were in the tavern, the benevolent helper could install wards across the map by itself.

Starting from patch 6.38, the courier could be upgraded by buying boots (Boots of Speed) for 500 coins and a recipe for 200 coins. This is where the donkey turned into a "chicken." The improved courier no longer moved on the ground but flew across the hills of the map. His movement speed increased, and a speed burst ability was unlocked (the movement speed on the map increased to the maximum for 6 seconds). It had spell immunity and an increased vision to 1800 in the daytime and 800 at night. Nowadays, players would say this is very expensive, but in 2012 this upgrade affected the speed of appearance of items to players. However, in patch 6.44, they changed the order of the courier's upgrades (removed the boots, and the cost was reduced to 445) and added the ability "shield," which gave invulnerability to the courier for 7 seconds.

The enemy team was rewarded for killing the helper. Initially, the killer received 300 gold. Later the entire team received 150 gold.

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The importance of the courier grew with each passing day. Players found ways to use it in different ways. By abusing the "chicken" and using other tricks, the heroes gained their peak form faster and destroyed the opposing team.

The courier became a support and hope for every midlane player. On the center line, the characters played quite aggressively intending to kick the opponent off the lane. The aggressive playstyle required a lot of supplies, and the most popular item for midlane heroes was the Bottle, which restored health and mana simultaneously. When the Bottle ran out of charges, there were two ways to replenish it: picking up a rune and replenishing the bottle or going to the base. To avoid losing precious gold and experience, players of the central lane began to send a courier to the lane when the charges ran out. The courier would return to the base (fly away, if improved), refill the bottle, and return to the center line - and the midlaner was ready to press their rival again, fully equipped. This abuse became so popular that it was fixed in one of the game updates, and now the Bottle can't be filled at the base with the courier's help.

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The midlaner could also use the help of supports - they could send extra heals, teleport scrolls, and wards with the courier. This way, the center lane player wouldn't lose his gold by spending it on midgame items.

The side lanes usually have 2 heroes, and supports provided carries and offlaners with comfortable conditions for the initial build of strength. Nevertheless, when the courier was free, top and, bot heroes delivered heals, items, smokes, and wards for themselves.

The more skilled players learned to scout territory with a "chicken." An improved courier could fly up to the hills and provide the vision for wards, the opponent's movements, and the appearance of Roshan. This risky maneuver was a key advantage before the next fight.

The team planned how to move the courier. The loss of the helper affected the timing of the characters' items, and the team's actions could be restricted. In the professional scene, if a side was left without a courier, it couldn't pass through the smoke and place wards or kill its opponent with impunity. Players began to use heroes capable of killing couriers and remaining undetected. They picked Nature's Prophet and teleported to the enemy base, where they waited for the courier and killed it. Roamers could be waiting for it between tier-2 and tier-3 towers.

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In patch 7.00, the Monkey King was added. Players of all positions immediately loved the Monkey King because his abilities were quite versatile. But true connoisseurs of the hero found a unique mechanic that allows you to confuse your opponents and seize the advantage at the very start of the game. Monkey King could transform into map objects, consumables, and a courier with his built-in Mischief ability. Like the latter, the hero gained the highest speed in the game and was able to move around the map. He could place wards faster than others and stay in the fog of war, it became easier for him to block creeps, and sometimes he baited the opposing team's heroes and confused them. Thinking it was a courier, the enemy went to get gold for his team alone but encountered resistance from Monkey King and his company and went to the tavern. This trick helped one of the popular streamers on Youtube, NoName, achieve a high rank.

But the players weren't always using the "chicken" for the right reasons. In Patch 6.20, the game developers allowed the purchase of an infinite number of couriers, which negatively affected games with toxic people. If one couldn't make the right move or began to fight in the chat, selling all the items and buying couriers with all the money became a powerful argument. Opponents met a whole swarm of "chickens" and killed them, replenishing their wallets with gold along the way.

In patch 7.09, the cost of the courier was reduced from 200 to 50. But in regular games, players continued to fight over who had to buy such a valuable helper on the map. The midlane's constant use of the courier prevented sideline heroes from being able to replenish their resources and items, which caused conflicts. Gabe saw all this and genuinely wanted to help Dota 2 fans resolve the problem. But no one knew how generous he would be and how he would change the team communication.

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In patch 7.23, the developers gave each player a free courier. Now the "chicken" was upgraded with the leveling of its owner. At level 5, it could fly. At level 10, it got a speed boost. At level 15, it could set your wards. At level 20, it got a shield, and at level 25 could use your items. Health, movement speed, and gold bonus per minute also increase depending on the level of the courier's owner.

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Pay attention to the mini-map. Almost all players use a courier at every stage of the game.

This change has completely turned the gameplay upside down. Now every hero could deliver the necessary items and consumables to himself at any time so that he could explore the vast territory more often. The courier's life became less valuable economically. For now, the entire team received a measly 25+ (5 multiplied by the hero's level) gold for its kill. Now a toxic ally couldn't kill your helper because of his displeasure. The Bottle trick was fixed, and the midlaner doesn't abuse the courier anymore.

In patch 7.24, installing wards at level 15 was prohibited as well as using items at level 25, and the chicken's functionality was limited to delivery and scouting. In patch 7.27, the couriers started to move slower when carrying consumables because the resources of the heroes at the time seemed endless. And with patch 7.29, they couldn't use the vision inside Roshan's pit.

But most importantly, Dota became a more individual game when the personal courier appeared. Having only one chicken for the whole team pushed the team to coordinate their actions constantly. Now every player in the team of five has become more independent because one of the crucial points of the team's communication is gone.

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Every player strives for perfection by exploring new items, hero abilities, or changing the map landscape. With the evolution of gameplay, gamers found new opportunities in Dota. The proper use of the courier allowed teams to grab an advantage on a single stage of the game, flip maps in their favor, and even win entire tournaments.

The "chicken" is still being changed today, and we'll see its evolution in the new patches, too. How will it affect gameplay? Nobody knows. But the courier's history in the game shows us that there are always new opportunities.

Source: cybersport.metaratings

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