Innocuous, But Vital: The Town Portal Scroll

As we all know, Dota 2 is the direct sequel to DotA Allstars, quite possibly the most popular custom map in the history of WarCraft III: The Frozen Throne

A lot of mechanics that we now take for granted were actually born out of the WarCraft III engine; things like attack modifiers (then known as “orb effects”), the six-slot inventory, orbwalking, and even the trick where you drop all your stat sticks before using a consumable to make the most out of it—all of these came from the original custom map.

But one thing that has stood the test of time, even through the transition to Dota 2, is everyone’s favorite sub-100 gold item: the Town Portal Scroll. Known affectionately as “TP scrolls”, the concept was taken straight from WarCraft III itself, but with a few twists. For one, the original TP scroll would affect not only the hero that used it, but all friendly units around it at the time of casting. Every single one would be teleported back to base after the channeling was completed.

town portal scroll image

In Dota 2, however, a TP’s effect is limited to just the one hero that uses it. Creeps, summoned units, and other friendlies would not be included in the teleportation effect. This means that every single hero on your team will have to carry his or her own scroll, if you wish to teleport en masse to defend a tower or save one of your teammates from a gank. No additional assistance otherwise.

The most important distinction, though, is the fact that WarCraft III TP scrolls made the caster completely invulnerable while channeling the effect. This meant that any attempts to kill the hero before he could teleport to safety were exercises in futility—though it was possible to attack regular units trying to escape with the hero. In Dota 2, your hero is entirely fair game—and enemy heroes can even prevent you from getting away with stuns, disables, or just straight up kill you while you’re immobile.

But regardless of their differences, the fact remains that the TP scroll is an absolutely vital component of Dota 2. It saves you a huge amount of time going to and from different areas on the map, and can even be a strong deterrent against gank attempts against your own team. On the other side of the spectrum, it can be used to quickly get yourself out of trouble, especially if you really know your juke spots.

Heroes should never be without one at all times. And we mean at all times. Over the years, IceFrog has made it so that there are less and less available excuses for not having a TP on hand. For one, the price has been reduced to just 50 gold—a huge delta compared to its old cost of 135 per piece. More recently, the introduction of the Backpack allows heroes to carry TPs without sacrificing valuable inventory space—which, in turn, allows them to still keep the benefits of stat-boosting equipment or have important active items at the ready.

Not even professional teams are immune to this rule. Recall, three years ago, the game between Team Secret (the one with Artour “Arteezy” Babaev in it), and Cloud 9 (yes, that Cloud 9) at DAC 2015. Despite picking off Clement “Puppey” Ivanov as they were pushing the Radiant base, Cloud 9 are caught with all five pairs of pants down as Arteezy and Gustav “s4” Magnusson went for the split push.

With not a single TP on their heroes, Cloud 9’s only choice was to run back to their base all the way from the Radiant side, which bore no fruit and ended in absolute disaster.

So you’ve probably heard this a million times before, but there is more to TP scrolls than just carrying them around. Since each building in the game has an “available” radius in which heroes can target their TPs, it’s important to note how you can use this and the surrounding terrain to your advantage—particularly when teleporting to a lane tower. Too many times have we seen even experienced pub players mess this up, either by being greedy, or simply neglecting to look where their cursor is before starting the teleportation channeling.To illustrate, refer to the following screenshot, which shows the radius indicator of a TP scroll:

tp scroll

The yellow circle indicates how far from the center of the tower you can place your teleportation point, while the clear circle with the white outline is where the teleportation point will be at precisely. Note that the clear circle is of that size because of the TP animation, which will give away the position that you’re trying to jump to.

The last point is the key here. Because there will be at least 2.5 seconds of channeling time when you TP (plus additional time for every other hero teleporting in with you within a 25 second window), there is more than enough time for your opponents to either disengage, or set up a trap for you accordingly. Think of it like a beacon or a huge “KILL ME” sign with neon lights and loud music included.

The takeaway here is to simply pay attention to your TP placement. Using the image above again as an example, imagine that the Dire creep wave is just outside of the tier 1 tower’s attack range, and that your supports are in the lane waiting for a rotation from you, the midlaner. There are two ways to go about teleporting to the tower, and they mostly depend on how quickly your supports can use their abilities on the target.

If it will take a bit of time for them to walk over and cast their spells, it might be better for you to take the outer edge of the TP radius. This will allow you to conceal your TP animation, since it will start under the cover of fog and the trees. Then, your supports can run towards the target a moment before your animation completes, and hold it in place until you arrive. Combo your abilities with theirs as the situation calls for it, and you should have yourself a successful gank. The same logic applies for defending the tower from a push.

Of course, if your supports have already begun engaging the target, it would be wise to opt for a more aggressive placement of your TP. Essentially, you’d be cutting off the target’s escape route by teleporting further from your tower. Be careful, though—this can backfire if you and your teammates have no knowledge that the enemy hero has backup, so be sure to check the minimap and count how many enemy heroes are still in their lanes before pulling the trigger on an aggressive position.

And that’s pretty much it. IceFrog is generous enough to give everyone a rather large area to teleport to, and the choice of where you’ll land exactly. Use it. It could very well make or break your next gank attempt. And as a final reminder, never leave the base without at least one TP scroll. Unless you want to look like Cloud 9.


* FirstBlood® is NOT AFFILIATED, AUTHORIZED, LICENSED OR ENDORSED by Dota™, Dota 2™, Steam™, Dota 2™, the Dota logo® and Steam™ are trademarks of Valve Corporation.

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