Alistar Build Guide by Lord Necronomis
Not Updated For Current Season
This guide has not yet been updated for the current season. Please keep this in mind while reading. You can see the most recently updated guides on the browse guides page.
Not Updated For Current Season
The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.
I know what some of you are thinking. Alistar is always banned, there's a lot of guides for him already, holy begeesus that's a lot of wards in the item build list, et cetera. I don't pretend to be a pro, and I don't think my guide is absolutely positively the best that has ever existed. That being said, I've never had complaints about my Alistar play, in ranked or otherwise. When I do get him, chances are pretty good that bottom lane has just won, and it only gets better from there. So, with that being said, this is the build I typically try to stick to on our favorite cow.
Oh, and a side note to anyone who's not 30 reading this? Do NOT kill enemy minions. Don't autoattack them to "help" your ADC CS faster. Don't push the wave when your carry backs. If necessary, stand there and let the minions attack you so that they freeze outside of turret range. Let your carry control the pacing of the creep waves so that you don't get ganked, you don't lose XP, and your carry doesn't fall behind in gold.
For the runes, I know it might look a little weird, but stick with me. That extra 5gp/10 gives you an immediate edge in lane against a support who isn't running likewise. The armor reds and yellow are fairly obvious, I mean, you're playing Alistar. You're going to be in the ADC's face all through laning phase. Minimize the damage you're taking. The MR/lvl blues are there for when you are able to make your way up to mid in laning phase to gank mid. (I'll touch more on that later)
Masteries, I run straight down the utility tree, and only diverge for the 3 points in Hardiness. Why is this? More gold. More CDR. Less time spent dead (and as a support Alistar, if the choice is death for you or death for literally anyone else in your team, you better choose death for you). More FOV for your wards (which, as you can see, I stress warding very heavily). More movement speed for body blocking and initiating. And, last but definitely not least, the XP boosts so you don't fall behind your carry in levels.
Now, my favorite part of Alistar: items.
Firstly, I can't stress it enough. Buy wards. You are a walking ward factory. For heaven's sake, never stop buying wards. Never fill your item slots. Never buy something else over a ward. Never wait so long that your wards are dead before you back to get more. Wards win games. Period. Ideally, you should be getting enough assists, and gold from your gp10s, that you can still upgrade your equipment while keeping this philosophy in mind. If you're about to leave fountain, you BETTER have at least 2 wards in your inventory. If it's past the 20 minute mark, you should never leave fountain without a full stack. If it takes you one more back to get your Aegis, so be it. The extra mitigation is nice in team fights. What's better? Not getting engaged on when you're not ready / grouped. Also, Oracle's whenever fitting.
Okay, so, at start I grab the Faerie Charm, 4 wards, and a single health pot. I expect this is pretty self explanatory, but for anyone not 30 reading this, I'll elaborate. I have the extra gold for the 4th ward due to my masteries, and this starting kit on supports in general is fairly standard. The Faerie Charm is cheap mana regen for spamming your abilities more and upgrades to the ever crucial Philosopher's Stone, the wards are for constant vision to prevent ganks (ward placement is particular, I'll touch on that later, PLEASE READ the ward placement part before you play support) and for dragon control, and the health pot is because they will be poking. If it's you or your ADC that will take damage, make it be you. You have your E and your pot to heal at early levels, and post 6 it shouldn't be much of an issue.
I try to stay in lane either until we've gotten a kill, or until my ADC has enough for his first item (Phage, B.F. Sword, whatever it may be). Because of this, on first back, I'm easily able to my Philosopher's Stone and some more wards. If I'm lucky, I also have enough for my boots. At any rate, that first gp10 you should be getting as early as you can so long as you can also get wards, and backing to do so doesn't hurt your carry.
I'm going to assume you got your boots on that first back. If you didn't, then your build order changes only slightly. Same song and dance in lane for a bit, and again, back when you have enough gold to get at least 3 wards and your Heart of Gold. The HoG gives you much needed health, and is another gp10. Thus, you're now getting 15 extra gold every 10 seconds. If you have both items for 35 minutes, which isn't unheard of, that's an extra 3150 gold you're getting that you wouldn't have otherwise. That's a LOT of wards.
Now, if you didn't get your boots on the first back, and you can't afford them with the HoG either, they are your next priority. As soon as freaking possible, get your Boots of Speed (and more wards). Next chance, upgrade to Boots of Mobility (and buy more wards). This makes you a prime initiator, makes you awesome for ganking from behind enemy towers, lets you easily body block for the AD and AP carries, AND lets you get out of conflicts once the passive kicks in after a disengage.
Now it's time for the cool items! It's probably also time for lane phase to be over if it's not over already, so the team fighting begins. The first big item we're going for is Aegis of the Legion. It gives you health, armor, magic resist, and an aura that buffs all of your allies by a fair bit. In my opinion, it's the best aura item in the game. If you can't afford this item + wards the next time you back, just buy the ruby crystal + wards. Next back should be the AotL + wards, or just wards until you have enough for it.
More team fighting, more ward buying and ward placing, and eventually you'll get enough gold to get yourself a Giant's Belt. So much health. So good. Oh yea, and wards!
As soon as possible, upgrade that directly into a Warmog's Armor. Massive health boost, great passive health regen. This, coupled with your ultimate, makes you an unkillable CC machine at the beginning of team fights. The more CC you have getting pumped out, the longer your ADC stays alive, and the less time the enemy has to cast abilities or autoattack. That's your job. Either you're peeling for your ADC (ie, keeping the bruisers and assassins off of your ADC), or you're in the middle of the enemy team disrupting their major damage dealers from doing anything.
After this, you keep warding. Never stop warding. Ever.
And if the game goes on long enough, you'll upgrade your Philo into the shiny crown you see above, Shurelya's Reverie. More health, health regen, CDR (putting you above 20% with your masteries), and an active that gives a massive speed boost to you and any allied champion around you. The active only has a 60 second cooldown. Use it every team fight. If you aren't the ones who initiated, use it to either turn the tide, or to run away. There's no reason, ever, to not pop the active every single team fight.
The final item you're going to get is build from the HoG, Randuin's Omen. More health, more health regen, 70 armor, another boost of CDR (putting you at 26%), a passive that has a chance to slow the movement and attack speed of anyone attacking you, and an active that slows the movement and attack speed of every enemy champion with a radius of 500.
I wouldn't say that magic resist is necessary, because one of the big counters to magic is health. True damage and % health damage are still mitigated by the ult. If the games goes this long, and you get fully built, there's really no reason you should be losing team fights. If Alistar gets this big, the only reason you would lose the game is if people aren't focusing the right targets, or your teammates are getting caught out of position. Some people may disagree, but that's my thought.
The skill sequence. Here I'll also talk about what to use the skills for, and when.
Always start with headbutt. In lane phase, it's great to push someone into your turret, or to knock the enemy ADC or Jungler away from your ADC. It does a fair bit of damage on it's own, even without any AP. If you're guarding jungle, and the enemy team invades, headbutt will completely flip the position the enemy team has when they engage, letting your hard hitters rip into the enemy. It also briefly immobilizes them upon landing. Always start headbutt.
Next, you get Pulverize. Probably his most useful skill in the long run, it's an AoE knockup that stuns everyone you hit for about half a second. Doesn't sound like much, but half a second is a long time in a League fight. In lane phase, you can "self-gank" by working yourself into a position behind the enemy carry (either by coming through jungle down from river or by moving through the lane bushes), headbutt the ADC towards your ADC/Jungler/Tower, and then pulverize them once you get in range to do so. A bit of warning, it's not ALWAYS a good idea to do this. You could end up killing your ADC this way. Pay attention to everyone's health, mana, positioning, and damage output. Also keep in mind slows, stuns, exhausts, blinds, and all other forms of CC.
Third, you're going to get your Triumphant Roar. A low mana-cost, low cooldown AoE heal. Use it to keep you and your carry from being pushed out of lane. Use it to save your carry if they look to be about to die from poison or some such. Use it, if you're clever and have good timing, to deny the enemy carry CS. In team fights, dragon/baron, or when pushing towers, hit your E whenever it's up. Constant heal to your team, and it procs your passive (dealing magic damage to all enemy units, champions, and structures around you, and giving you the ability to ignore unit collision, ie, move through minions instead of around them).
At levels 6, 11, and 16 I pick up a rank in my Ultimate, Unbreakable Will. It increases his AD by 90 at max level, gives you 70% damage reduction across the board, and if you're CCed when you cast it, acts as a cleanse. Fantastic ult, designed for being front and center during team fights.
I max my W, Headbutt, first. Some people like to max his heal first, but the Headbutt you'll be using more often during lane phase, and scales off level very well for damage. Next, I choose my heal, so as to not be useless as a healer. Late game it's still minimal, because you won't have any AP, and it wouldn't scale too well off AP anyway, but it can save lives, even at max level + full build. Finally, I get the Q up. Yes, it does almost as much damage as his W does, but you're not using it to harass, you're using it to tell the enemy to sit down, shut up, and take it. It's pure utility in function, and the utility does not increase with levels.
Obviously, grab your ult at every possible level.
I say always grab exhaust / flash. Exhaust is necessary to have when fighting any ADC, and I personally really like it when my carry has ignite for securing those near-miss kills. So, I say the support should grab exhaust. Flash is an absolute must for engaging, and can be used for some really clutch disruption when paired with his Q and W. If you're not summoner level 12, so you don't have flash, grab ghost instead for the move speed boost for engaging/chasing.
If you really wanted to be adventurous, you could grab teleport instead of flash, but you'd need to make sure there were wards everywhere, at all times. Your jungle, lane bushes, river bushes, enemy jungle; everywhere. Alistar could then teleport behind enemy lines, come out of unexpected places, and shift a team fight into your team's favor. Also, in lane phase, it can be used for self ganking and ganking top lane / mid lane from top jungle. However, this is not a safe pick. It's a gamble, and I only advise doing this if you a) really know what you're doing, and b) your teammates know what you're doing and agree to it. And agree to it. And agree to it. Please, for the love of all that is holy, do not run teleport if your ADC does not know / want you to.
Alistar's entire purpose is to be there for teamwork. If you're not saving carries, pushing enemy carries out of their team, healing teammates and minions through tower pushes, AND initiating team fights, all while keeping good ward coverage, then you are bad and you should feel bad.
I jest. Kind of. In all seriousness, all of that is on your. Alistar support is not boring. It's not "sit back and watch everyone else fight." You make or break team fights. You, and you alone, can be the deciding factor in a crushing victory and a horrid defeat.
Firstly, ganking. Support Alistar should gank mid. End of story. You don't need to run up there every time the enemy mid is pushed, but you need to gank mid. If you are ganking mid from time to time, that does a LOT of things. 1) More pressure on the enemy mid 2) less pressure on your jungle 3) allows jungle to gank top more since he's not worrying about mid as much 4) keeps the enemy jungle out of bottom as much because he need to pay more attention to mid and top, and 5) This is the most important one: If your mid gets ahead, then they are going to start roaming and ganking, since they are center of the field and play the biggest part in early game map control. Gank mid lane. It wins games.
Also, I'll touch on ward placement here. During laning phase, your most important ward is right at the corner of blue team jungle ramp and dragon bit. You should be able to know the place, because there's a dark gray, almost black rock right there. Make sure there is a ward directly on top of that rock at all times. There, you can see if someone enters or leaves blue bottom jungle, you can see a good chunk of dragon pit, so notice if anyone is attempting dragon, and you can see the easiest and most common entrance to bottom for ganks. Three huge things, all with one 75 gold ward.
Another huge ward during lane phase is in the enemy's lane bush. Once the jungler notices that you have river warded all the time, the next thing they'll try is probably to push the lane, let their jungler enter the lane pushes, then let you farm and push back. Next thing you know, you have one pissed off Olaf yelling at you and trying to smack you with all kinds of lightning and axe-like products from behind. Nobody wants that. So, ward the enemy-side lane bush. If the jungler tries to be sneaky like that, you'll see, and can either call for assistance from mid/jungle, or poke at him from a distance. It's better to lose a small amount of CS and Experience than to die, and lose a lot of CS, XP, and your tower.
The third key point to ward during lane phase is whatever entrance to jungle you have on your side of the map that is easiest to reach (except tri-bush on blue side. Your ward in river should be able to see that entrance). If the first two types of ganks are failing, the jungler might get clever and try to dive you from behind. If you have that entrance warded, you can see him coming and start heading to base (don't back, just run). Sure, he'll probably still get some hits on you, but it's better he hits you there than where his teammates can join in.
As much as I stress warding, it's not just your job. Jungle should ward. Mid should ward. Top should ward. You by far need the least gold, so you can be nice and ward up river to mid's bottom bush, but you are not expected to. You can't be in all those places at once without leaving your ADC to rot alone in bottom lane. Don't try to be the sole warder, and definitely don't volunteer to be. If the other lanes aren't warding, and they're getting ganked a lot, then they need to either ward, or ask for help from jungle. Preferably both.
After laning phase, wards become even more important. Don't decrease the number of wards you're laying. Triple it. Ward baron if jungle isn't. Ward dragon if jungle isn't. Late game, jungle won't be warding a lot, he's expected to be adding a bit of damage, and usually also be a bit beefy. He needs items. Also, ward EVERY entrance from jungle, all the way from top lane to bottom lane. Do so wherever it's safe. If you're getting pushed back and losing, then ward your blue, red, jungle bush opposite blue wall, tri-bush, and wraith ramp. That way, no matter where they enter from, you know, and can move accordingly. If you're about even, and typically meet in middle, ward so that all of the river is visible, and make sure two of those wards are in the tiny bushes near baron and dragon so that you can see in there during team fights. People love hiding in those bushes. If you're pushing the enemy, then ward their jungle as you would ward yours. You've now made their jungle into your jungle, depriving them of much needed buffs, jungle creeps, and since you control that side, probably CS and XP as well. If you can regularly ward and control that side of the map, then you continually increase your advantage in the game. And an advantage that leads to creating more advantages is what they call snowballing, my friend. Snowballing is a good thing.
Once they are constantly locked in their base, this is NOT the time to stop warding. Keep wards in their jungle, and also ward in the shadowy spots on your side of the two tress in their base. You need to be able to see where they're moving around without having to enter the base. Vision is never a bad thing.
If you follow all these rules to teamwork, then you can safely say that you've done your job as an Alistar support. Does this mean that you've done everything you could? Definitely not. We all can always play better. And we all will always make some mistakes in a game.
Pros / Cons
-Very hard to kill
-Some of the best CC in game
-Built for sustaining a push
-Little to no damage output late game
-No ranged abilities
Long story short, Alistar is a fantastic support. He works well with high early-game damage carries by bullying the enemy around, and he works well with weaker early game to later game hyper-carries by keeping the enemy off of them. He adds a boat-load of CC to team fights, a major asset in pushing down towers, and he's naturally tanky even without the items (high base health, 70% flat damage reduction). He takes a lot of getting used to with mechanics, because it's not unheard of for new Alistar players to, say, Pulverize outside of range, or Headbutt an enemy in the wrong direction (or Headbutt the wrong target, say, a Skarner. Ew).
And yes, he is banned a fair bit, but that seems to be passing as his jungle play has been nerfed, and appears to be getting even weaker with the Season 3 changes. Even without that, there are usually stronger bans.
At any rate, let me know how this guide works for you, and keep me posted on how your games go. Feedback is appreciated, and I'll try to keep the guide updated as much as possible.