DotA 2 Key Concepts: Couriers, Side and Secret Shops


Learning to play a new MOBA is tough. You have to learn a brand new item shop with different item costs and builds. DotA makes it even more difficult by introducing different shops throughout the map with unique items. Oh, and there is a courier that can shuttle all your items around for you. In this article, we’ll be looking at the role of the courier and the contents of the side and secret shops.

The Courier


Purchasable at level 1, the courier is a mule that can be moved around the map to transport items purchased from the shop. The courier costs 100 gold and only one person on the needs to purchase the item. A support player will most likely pick this item because they will not need as much gold during the game. After the 3 minute mark, a flying version of the courier is available for purchase for 150 gold. This will accelerate your item acquisition dramatically.

Everyone on your team can manipulate the courier. Courier etiquette is extremely important. If your team’s carry is about to get a key item, allow them to get use the courier first.  Delaying your item pickup will help the team out in the long run. In the early first few minutes of the game, the mid lane carry will most likely pick up a Bottle item so try to not use the courier before then. We will get into Bottle in the next installment of DotA Key Concepts.

Be careful with your courier. When a courier dies, the opposing team’s heroes get 175 gold each. The courier will re-spawn in your base after 3 minutes and all items that were currently on the courier will not be available until it has re-spawned.

Let’s talk about some of the other shops in the game were you can purchase items with your courier.


Side Shops

While you won’t likely purchase anything from the Side Shop with your courier, it is an option and an important location in the early laning phase. Located on the upper left and lower right sides of the map, they are easily accessible from the respective team’s safe lane. We’ll talk about lanes soon. The Side Shops contain items that help carry you into the early/middle of the game such as Boots, Magic Stick, and Blink Dagger.

Side Shops carry Town Portal Scrolls, allowing you to teleport to any allied structure on the map! This is a great tool to help an ally out or escape from your enemy.

The DotA 2 Wiki page on the Side Lane shop breaks down the items you can finish solely using items from the shop. Keep this in mind if you are playing in the safe lane.

Secret Shops

Located in two fixed locations on the map, there isn’t much that is secret about these shops. While some Secret Shop items such as Energy Booster are in the Side Shop, there is a larger inventory here. Items that are only purchasable at a Secret Shop are labeled with a small “s” on the bottom left corner. You may have already seen this while looking at item recipes.


Using your courier effectively will be very important in buying Secret Shop items. Move your basic items and recipes the courier and then send it to a secret shop to finish it!

I hope you understand the item buying process in DotA 2. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you promptly!


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