Alistar Build Guide by PsiGuard
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Thanks to jhoijhoi for the awesome banner!
Hi, I'm PsiGuard and welcome to my Alistar guide. In this guide I will describe two methods of playing everyone's favorite rampaging bull: AP and Support. These builds are a result of experimentation and theorycrafting, and I have found them to be very successful in a variety of team compositions.
This is not a short guide, and I don't refrain from describing my reasons and advice in great detail. If you're looking for a way to build Alistar and don't have time to read my guide, simply consult the builds above. If you wish to learn more about how to play Alistar however, or are surprised at my choice of items, runes or masteries, please read on.
Please don't downvote me without reading the entire guide. If you find my build odd, I encourage you to read the reasons I give before condemning my choice. It is possible that these builds do not fit everyone's play style. If you do not like Alistar or can't use him effectively, don't downvote me for it.
This is not a jungle guide. If you are looking for a way to jungle Alistar, this is not the guide for you. Anyway, I hope my guide is helpful to you and I look forward hearing some feedback.
Thank you to all those who have critiqued or supported my build, and a special thanks to jhoijhoi for the review.
AP Versus Support
Alistar is a very dynamic champion who works well with a multitude of items. Like many tanks and supports, he is not very item-dependant, so your build should always adapt to the enemy team composition, your own team's needs, and the flow of the game. There are two main ways of building Alistar: Support and AP. Let's examine the qualities of each.
+Very high movement speed and roaming potential
+Stronger sustained DPS with Trinity Force
+Useful even when abilities are on CD
+Multiple active items and auras
+Auto attacks have a chance to slow target
+Very high CDR from items and masteries
+Very high armor
+Very high health and mana regeneration
+Gold/10 items help early income
-It's not a tank build
-Lower burst damage from abilities
-Less overall damage output
-Requires a good carry to support.
-Doesn't net kills as often as AP build
+High damage output rivalling an AP carry
+Higher burst than other builds
+Strong gank potential
+Powerful team heals
+Decently low cooldowns
+ Trample and Headbutt slow
+Panic button from Zhonya's Hourglass
-It's still not a tank build
-Slower movement speed
-Benign when on CD or out of mana
-Average regenerative abilities
You need to decide which build to use based on your team composition. If your team has low damage output, or lacks a strong AP carry, you may need to build AP. If your team has strong carries which need support, choose the Support build, it will help your team survive and give them an edge in team fights.
With the arrival of the season two mastery trees, there are a lot more alternative setups available for every role and champion. I have redesigned my mastery trees and present to you what I believe to be the optimal setups for playing Alistar. Feel free to make some changes to the tree if it suits you; there's a bit more wiggle-room in the mastery setups than there used to be.
This setup makes use of all the powerful new masteries in the utility tree. This tree is still very much suited towards supports (perhaps even more than before), and Alistar is no exception. Use this tree to supplement a low-CS, duo bot lane play style. The 9 points in defence will give you a little more bulk early game which you'll need to play aggressively with your CC spells. You can put those points into offence for Sorcery and Arcane Knowledge if you like, but I find that the early defence is much more useful than the small amount of CDR and mPen.
Why not Wealth ?
//I used to use Wealth , but the amount of starting gold it gives you really isn't that useful on Alistar. It's enough for one more potion, which you really don't need. Putting those points in Awareness and Sage , though they aren't the most spectacular masteries, is more useful than one lone Health Potion. Since spamming Triumphant Roar to heal your carry gives a ton of health to yourself as well, the potion isn't necessary at all.
This is a classic AP carry tree with a small twist. The 21 points in offense give you a lot of bonus AP, CDR and mPen (all the things a mage needs), while the 9 points in defence will give you a bit of tankiness so you can still absorb some damage even with the early offensive items. As a melee caster, you're going to be taking some damage, especially early game. The bonus resistances and health from the defensive tree will give you the tankiness you need to do your combos without getting blown up.
Greater Mark of Magic Penetration: These are great marks there are for champions that deal magic damage and I use them in all both builds. With the extra mPen, your abilities will pack a bit more punch. These marks also compliment Sorcerer's Shoes and Abyssal Scepter quite nicely if you are building AP. It's not too bad if you replace these with something like armor on the support build, but I find that Alistar doesn't need the tiny bonus to survivability as much as he does the boost to his damage output.
A note on the Support build: Even though I get Trinity Force in my build, mPen marks are still a better option than arPen marks. The mPen marks are designed to give you a stronger harass in laning phase. Alistar has significant base damage on his offensive abilities, making him a pretty mean harasser in lane. You won't often be able to complete Trinity Force, except in long games. By late-game, armor pen runes would be far less effective, since flat arPen is most useful against targets with low armor. Thanks to astrolia for the question!
Greater Seal of Armor: These seals are immeasurably useful against the AD in bot lane that you'll be facing as a support. The early boost to your armor will allow you to be aggressive and use your CC combo without taking too much retaliatory damage. As a support tank, more survivability is a good idea, especially early game before you have any items.
Greater Seal of Scaling Mana Regeneration: Mana regeneration is an important stat, since an Alistar without mana is generally rather useless, especially with an AP build. The reason I chose Greater Seal of Scaling Mana Regeneration over Greater Seal of Replenishment is that Alistar's abilities become more expensive as you level them up. An early Doran's Ring or two, or a Philosopher's Stone should be sufficient until your runes catch up.
Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist: Support Alistar has a good amount of armor, but is rather lacking in magic resist. These inexpensive glyphs will provide a helpful boost to your magic resistance. The scaling glyphs will give you a lot of helpful survivability for when you need to tank the enemy team late game.
Greater Glyph of Scaling Cooldown Reduction: Since the AP builds focus on using Alistar's abilities to maximize his effectiveness, it's important to have as much CDR as possible to be effective in team fights. There isn't much room in the AP build for CDR items without sacrificing Ability Power, so these glyphs, along with your masteries and Ionian Boots of Lucidity or Deathfire Grasp should help your damage output quite significantly.
Greater Quintessence of Gold: I absolutely love gp10 quints on supports. Since you won't be taking CS, you'll have to rely on gp10 from Greed , Philosopher's Stone and Heart of Gold to get your items (assists will help too, as will dragons). 3 extra gp10 from these quints combined with Greed gives you a total of 5 gp10, the same as an entire gp10 item. Having enough gold to buy your items will allow you to transition into a support tank role for team fights.
Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed: Alistar requires a lot of speed to roam and gank effectively. He also needs to get close enough to an enemy champion to do his CC combo. Since the AP build doesn't have as much move speed, these quints are important if you want to maintain your mobility advantage without the MS items from the support build.
Alternative Runes (support)
- Greater Mark of Armor: Some more armor if you don't want offensive marks. These are my preferred alternative marks since the damage in bot lane is predominantly physical.
- Greater Mark of Magic Resist: Some more magic resistance if you don't want offensive marks.
- Greater Seal of Gold: Personally I think armor is more important, but if you can afford to take them you can get yourself a lot of free gold/10.
- Greater Quintessence of Health: A great option for overall survivability in the early game. It's quite useful for some early game aggression, though you'll lose the gold/10 from the core quints.
- Greater Quintessence of Armor: Armor is great against the AD carry you'll likely be fighting in the early game as a support.
Alternative Runes (AP)
- Greater Glyph of Cooldown Reduction: A decent alternative to Greater Glyph of Scaling Cooldown Reduction on the AP build if you prefer more CDR early game. You might not reach your CDR cap by late game though.
- Greater Glyph of Scaling Ability Power: If you have another source of CDR, these runes will give your abilities a bit more punch from around mid game on.
- Greater Glyph of Magic Resist: A perfectly acceptable rune if you're laning against a champion with a lot of magic damage.
- Greater Quintessence of Ability Power: A nice alternative if you want a bit more early game damage for your abilities.
- Greater Quintessence of Armor: If you're laning top against an AD champion, these quints will give you some more survivability in the early game.
- Greater Quintessence of Magic Resist: An optional quint if you find yourself in need of a lot of magic resistance in the early game.
Flash: This is simply the best summoner spell in the game. It is useful on absolutely every champion and is incredibly powerful when wielded by a capable Alistar player. In addition to its numerous chasing and escaping functions, Flash allows to close the distance between you and your enemies instantly, surprising them and allowing you to use your spell combo on them. You can also Flash behind an enemy champion, Headbutt them, then Pulverize to keep them near your teammates longer. Flash is also the best way to initiate team fights as Alistar, which may be necessary if you don't have a good initiator on your team. I highly recommend this spell for both builds.
Ignite: This spell helps compensate for Alistar's long cooldowns and low damage output once his combo is blown. It can net you some early kills and be enough to pick off a few late game as well. Don't forget its usefulness against any healers on the enemy team, since a lot of comps will have a sustain support, an AD with lifesteal and sometimes a regenerator like Vladimir. Best used in combination with a jungler gank to ensure your lane opponent doesn't make it to his tower alive.
Clairvoyance: This a more situational spell than the other two and requires some map awareness to use effectively. I don't use it every game that I build Support Alistar, but there are many situations where it comes in handy. I usually grab this spell our team's jungler asks for it, so that I can keep track of enemies trying to counter-jungle, as well as give opportunities for my own jungler to steal buffs. Another trick you can do is to use Clairvoyance to spot neutral creeps or an enemy champion, then use Headbutt to dash through the wall. This technique can help to catch fleeing enemies, or make your escape when Flash is on cooldown. This spell takes some game sense to use, but can significantly benefit your team in many situations.
- Ghost: Mobility is great on Alistar. This will help you position yourself for your abilities, and it's great for chasing and escaping.
- Exhaust: Always good to have if your team needs it. Helpful for shutting down that pesky Tryndamere and can help set up targets for ganks. It's a very good option for support Alistar if your AD carry picked up Heal or Cleanse.
- Heal: Since the start of season two, this spell has become quite a popular pick for many champions, especially supports. It's not a very important spell for yourself, but if your AD carry wants you to take it, do so. It's also pretty effective if you use it after you pop Unbreakable Will to give you a monstrous amount of effective health.
- Teleport: A nice spell all around, but not terribly important for Alistar. You might want to take it if you're soloing top against a tough lane opponent.
- Smite: A must-have if you're jungling, in addition to Flash. If you're not jungling, don't bother with it.
- Clarity: You may think that this would be a useful spell for support Alistar, but it's not. Your own mana costs are not so high that you can't manage them. Your lane partner's mana problems are a result of their own inability to manage their mana. If your partner wants mana sustain, pick Soraka. If you're playing Alistar, one of the other support spells is going to be more useful.
- Cleanse: Unbreakable Will has a built-in Cleanse function. The enemy team would be foolish to waste all their CC on you anyway. If you really need this, just get Quicksilver Sash instead. Even with the latest buff, it's still not worth the slot.
Trample (passive): This is Alistar's passive ability. Every time you cast one of your four spells, Alistar stomps on the ground for a few seconds, allowing him to move through creeps and dealing damage to nearby enemy units and structures. This allows Alistar to be a respectable farmer, since Trample deals double damage to minions and monsters. It also deals magic damage and scales off of Alistar's ability power, becoming an AoE DoT slow with Rylai's Crystal Scepter.
- Activating Trample will allow you to pass through minion waves. It's a great tactic for chasing, escaping and positioning.
- Trample scales off of Ability Power. Using abilities to proc Trample with an AP build will let you do powerful area damage during a team fight, or push down a tower very quickly.
- Remember to space out your abilities when possible. This will refresh Trample and give you more procs from Sheen, Lich Bane, or Trinity Force.
Pulverize (Q): This ability knocks nearby enemies into the air, incapacitating them for a moment, then stunning them upon landing. This ability is generally used defensively to disable enemy champions, aggressively to set up ganks, or for major disruption in team fights. Though this ability deals a respectable amount of damage, especially with the AP build, its main function is the knockup and stun, which are available at level one.
- Hiding in brush can allow you to Pulverize enemies before they can escape.
- Using Pulverize after Flash is great for surprise initiations.
- The knock-up component of Pulverize cannot be reduced by tenacity or removed by Cleanse, Quicksilver Sash, Unbreakable Will or Remove Scurvy.
Headbutt (W): This is Alistar's primary damage ability. Alistar dashes forward dealing significant damage to a single enemy and knocking the target backwards. In addition to the damage, use this ability to knock enemy champions out of position, away from team fights, or into your allies. Be careful when using this ability, as the knockback can be helpful to your target if s/he is retreating.
- Headbutt can also be used to dash through some walls, or knock enemies through them. Use wards or Clairvoyance to spot a target on the other side of a wall.
- You can use Headbutt on enemy minions or neutral creeps as a makeshift dash. It's a great way to chase or escape.
- Headbutting an enemy into the wall will allow you to close the distance and set up a Pulverize.
- Using Headbutt on a melee champion with strong CC to knock them out of a team fight can be more effective than targeting a carry.
- Use Headbutt on Jarvan IV when he uses Cataclysm to save your teammates from being singled out.
- Save one of your CC abilities to interrupt powerful channeling ultimates like Absolute Zero, Crowstorm, Requiem, and Death Lotus.
- You can use Pulverize just as you land Headbutt in order to deal the damage of both abilities without knocking the target backwards. This technique is often referred to as the W-Q combo, which is great for chasing or initiating. It takes some precision, so you may want to practice this in a custom game before you start using it in PvP.
Triumphant Roar (E): This is Alistar's heal ability. It heals you for a small amount, as well as half that amount to nearby allies. Every time a nearby enemy unit dies, Triumphant Roar's cooldown is reduced by 2 seconds, allowing you to cast it very often. This ability is used most effectively to heal yourself and allied champions, push lanes and turrets, and damage groups of enemies with Trample. It is also a useful ability for proccing Sheen, Trinity Force, or Lich Bane.
- Triumphant Roar is a great way to proc Trample in team fights, as well as giving Sheen, Lich Bane or Trinity Force procs very often.
- Spamming Triumphant Roar is a great way to push down towers. It will keep you and your minions healed up while Trample deals damage to the tower.
- Triumphant Roar may only heal for a small amount, but it can save your life, or the lives of your allies. Use this ability often to keep your allies sustained in a team fight.
Unbreakable Will (R): Alistar's ultimate is what allows him to tank champions and towers so effectively. Even with few defensive items, an Alistar who's used Unbreakable Will is very difficult to kill. In addition to the massive damage reduction, using this ability also functions like Cleanse, removing crowd control effects other than suppression. Use this ability when you are focused, ganked, or when you are tanking a tower. The Attack Damage bonus shouldn't be ignored either.
- Unbreakable Will is a great way to initiate a tower dive alone or with teammates.
- The bonus AD can help you deal a lot of damage in team fights, or push a tower down very quickly.
- Don't just use Unbreakable Will when you're low on health. It's more effective to activate it just before taking a lot of damage.
- Unbreakable Will can allow you to survive delayed spells like Hemoplague, Ace in the Hole, and Requiem.
- Unbreakable Will only lasts a few seconds, so be sure to get yourself out of harm's way before the effect ends.
- Unbreakable Will does not make you invulnerable. You'll take a lot less damage, but you are not immune to killing blows, true damage or massive burst.
- Beware of true damage. It can punch straight through your high resistances. Ignite is a common danger, as well as some champion abilities like Hiten Style and Hextech Shrapnel Shells.
It's important to remember that there is no optimal skill order for Alistar for every game. All of his abilities should be used and all of them become more powerful as they level up. Keep in mind that all of Alistar's abilities also cost more mana to cast as they are leveled up.
In general use these two skill orders to guide you. Remember to always adjust your skill sequence based on your lanemate's needs if you're playing support.
1. Support Build - > > >
Max Pulverize to lower the cooldown on your CC combo as well as getting a bit more burst damage. Triumphant Roar should be prioritized second to fill a supportive sustain role in the early mid game. Headbutt levels aren't as necessary as you won't need to be a main damage source and the cooldowns on Q and W line up nicely when you max Q.
2. AP Build - > > >
Focus on leveling Pulverize and Headbutt as much as possible to maximize your damage potential. Maxing Q first will allow you to get both skills off of cooldown at roughly the same time, which lets you W-Q more often and comes in handy for jungler ganks. Put a point in Triumphant Roar whenever necessary.
Keep in mind that your starting skill is entirely situational. Do not spend your first skill point until you know which one you'll need. Pulverize is great for leashing and jungle defense, since it has a long CC and hits multiple targets. Headbutt is great if you have the positioning for it and it's a fantastic defensive tool against a lone enemy. Pick the skill which is the most appropriate to start the game with. You could start with Triumphant Roar first, but usually only if you or your lanemate take a bunch of damage at level one and don't have time to recall.
A general rule of thumb to follow when choosing which skill to prioritize is to pick the skill that you use the LEAST but will help the MOST. For example, I often try to keep Triumphant Roar at a low level to keep the mana cost low. Having Triumphant Roar at a low level allows you to use it often without sacrificing mana, healing you, your minions and your lane partner while keeping Trample going. As soon as your ally needs it, level up your heal. Do not bother increasing your heal if you and your ally are barely getting damaged. As soon as your ally becomes so harassed that he/she is forced to play passively, that is when a stronger heal is required.
This is a very strong start for a support champion. The Faerie Charm will help with some mp5 and build into a quick Philosopher's Stone. Your two Sight Wards will be used to fend off early ganks and reveal one of the lane bushes if it's necessary. You can use the Vision Ward to contest an enemy ward if you see where they place it. You can clear their ward at dragon to create ganking opportunities (tribrush is also an option) or you can clear a ward in your own bushes in the lane so you can use them to zone.
Through experimentation, I have found Doran's Ring to be a strong starting item for AP Alistar. The extra health allows him to take some early punishment, the mana regeneration gives him more sustainability until your mp5 seals catch up, and the Ability Power gives a little more punch to your abilities. I often add a second or third Doran's Ring early to compensate for the increasing cost of Alistar's abilities.
Mobility is pretty important for Alistar, so starting with Boots of Speed isn't a terrible idea. You'll have money for a couple sight wards, which can be very helpful to your team. The early movement speed will allow you to be more aggressive with your positioning and can open up more opportunities to set up your CC chain. With this start, you won't have any mana regeneration, so be sure to use your abilities judiciously.
This is the most survivable start available and is something to consider if you're playing support Alistar (AP top Ali can start Cloth 5 pots if necessary). If you expect to take some early damage in lane either due to a tough opponent or if you plan on early aggression, consider taking armor to help you tank better in the early game. It can delay your gold items a bit, but sometimes it's worth the sacrifice if you know you're going to need the extra armor.
These are the three builds that I consider to be the most effective way to play Alistar. These items are by no means set in stone, and are susceptible to change or rearrangement on a game-by-game basis. Always adapt your build to your team's needs, the enemy team composition, and the flow of the game.
The Support Build
This is my personal favorite way to build Alistar. The support build is a set of cheap, tanky items that round off Alistar's stats nicely, as well as providing a number of useful auras and actives to help your teammates. This build uses two gold/10 items, so it can be purchased without need for a lot of CS. If you use this build, go to bottom lane to support a ranged DPS. Pick up Philosopher's Stone and Heart of Gold early on to get your income going, since you won't be getting many last-hits.
Boots of Mobility: Great for positioning, chasing, escaping, roaming, ganking, and getting around the map. Mobility is important on Alistar, so these boots are designed to get you in and out of fights quickly. Alistar doesn't rely on different boots, so I use these for a huge boost in utility. Use bushes to get the passive in action.
Aegis of the Legion: A truly powerful and inexpensive item that should be present in every team. I buy this almost every game as Alistar, since the stats it provides and the aura it offers are beneficial to both you and your team. The only time you should not get this is if some one else on your team (usually a tank or support) plans to build it or has built it already. If some one else on your team has Aegis of the Legion. Skip this item and fill its slot with one of the optional items.
Shurelya's Reverie: This item builds out of your Philosopher's Stone and boasts a multitude of stats. The health, CDR, and regenerative abilities all benefit Alistar greatly, and the active will help your team initiate, chase and escape with ease. This active is also very helpful to Alistar, as it allows him to easily get into melee range to use his abilities.
Spirit Visage: This item helps to round off CDR, MR, and gives some extra survivability and sustain. Your heals will be a lot more effective on yourself, and the other stats are a great bonus for such a low price. You can always pick this up earlier in the build if it's necessary.
Randuin's Omen: This is a great defensive item with a lot of beneficial stats to Alistar. The passive will slow any auto attackers who target you, and the active works great in combination with Shurelya's Reverie. Simply activate the Reverie, run into range with your team, use your spells, then activate Randuin's Omen to slow everyone as they recover from your Pulverize. This is a devastating combination that will give your team a significant advantage in team fights.
Trinity Force: Despite Alistar's supportive focus, he needs some damage output to be a threat in team fights. Since the passive works off of Alistar's high base damage, the proc will go to good use. The movement speed is a great asset, and the Zeal and Phage components also help you chasing ability and your DPS.
The AP Build
This used to be how Alistar was played by most people. His AP ratios were ridiculously high, but have now been nerfed to a more reasonable level. Despite the nerfs, this build is still viable and will work well when your team needs you to do more damage. This build is more expensive and doesn't contain any gold/10 items, so you may have to get creative if you want to get enough gold. This build can work in bot lane, but is easier to get if you are in a solo lane or you're jungling.
Ionian Boots of Lucidity: Since this build has less CDR than the support build, these boots are a necessity. An AP Alistar on cooldown is fairly useless, and these boots can be built for some fast CDR without sacrificing strong AP items.
Rabadon's Deathcap: Alistar needs a lot of AP fast if you want to do any significant damage. This item will increase the AP from other sources, so it's core in any strong AP build.
Lich Bane: Because Alistar only has two offensive spells, a Lich Bane should be present in every AP Alistar build. It effectively doubles his damage output thanks to the passive, gives a whopping 80 Ability Power, some helpful magic resistance, and a lot of necessary movement speed. Since Triumphant Roar is usually pretty spammable, you can use it to proc Lich Bane's passive when your other abilities are on cooldown. Lich Bane is also helpful for last-hitting and pushing down towers.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter: This item provides both health and Ability Power, as well and making your Headbutt and Trample SLOW! It's a very good caster item and Alistar is no exception.
Abyssal Scepter: This item gives magic resistance and Ability Power. The magic resist debuff aura will help you and your team's casters. Void Staff is an acceptable replacement if the enemy team has a lot of MR.
Zhonya's Hourglass: This item gives 50 armor and a whopping 100 Ability Power. As AP Alistar, you are more prone to being focused since you do so much damage. Pop the active on this baby when you're near death and watch as your teammates tear apart your foolish opponents.
Generally, these items should only be substituted into the Support build, since the AP build is a lot less flexible. Any pure defensive items you take will severely cripple your damage output, but Support Alistar is no good if he's dead. Take a look at both team compositions before choosing a situational item.
Ionian Boots of Lucidity are the classic support boots. These will give you a nice amount of early CDR, allowing you to replace Spirit Visage with another item.
Mercury's Treads are strong boots on any champion and come in handy against teams with a lot of CC. If you can live without them and rely on Unbreakable Will, it's usually better, but there will be some games where these boots will be necessary.
Ninja Tabi are a fast, cheap counter to teams with a lot of strong physical autoattackers. If you notice that the enemy team has three or more champions that rely on autoattacks, pick up these boots for a fast lane advantage and more survivability in team fights.
Banshee's Veil doesn't fit very well into either build, but it's still a good option if you need some survivability against magical damage. If you get CDR boots, you can replace Spirit Visage with this item quite easily, though it's more expensive.
Force of Nature is a great MR item, but its heavy price tag makes it a difficult buy for a support champion. If the enemy team has a lot of magical damage, DoTs and/or poke spells, you may want to invest in the high amount of MR and health sustain. Most games try to opt for a cheaper item if you can; you shouldn't need to build FoN very often.
Frozen Heart gives a ton of armor and CDR, which means you must remove some CDR from your build to fit it in. If the enemy team has a huge amount of physical damage, you can combine this item with Randuin's Omen to seriously cripple their damage output. I wouldn't build it unless absolutely necessary since it doesn't fit easily into a support build.
Locket of the Iron Solari is a similar, but cheaper alternative to Randuin's Omen. If you need some fast armor, you may opt to pick up this item early and build Randuin's later. Both items build out of a Heart of Gold, so you may want to build a second HoG for your Randuin's after you complete Locket.
Quicksilver Sash is a very situational item on Alistar. Unbreakable Wills performs a very similar function, so most of the time this item should not be necessary. If there are several strong CCs or other debuffs on the enemy team that you can't cope with, you can pick up this item to remove all debuffs once every 60 seconds.
Abyssal Scepter is occasionally seen near the end of support builds due to its mix of AP, MR and an aura. It works well if there are a lot of casters on either team and the AP will give your combo a bit more punch.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter is another AP item with a utility passive. The health and AP will improve your survivability and damage in team fights, while the passive slow procs on Trample and Headbutt, giving you a bit more disruption power after initiation.
Morello's Evil Tome is a fairly situational support item, but it can be necessary if the enemy team has a lot of health sustain with champions like Warwick, Dr. Mundo and Vladimir. If your team doesn't have enough Ignites or other healing debuffs to deal with their sustain, you can help using the active Grievous Wounds debuff.
Will of the Ancients is a great item to have on a team with a lot of spellcasters. The spellvamp applies not only to AP mages, but physical spells as well. If your team needs a WotA and no one else will build it, you can pick it up to give your team (and yourself) some more spell damage and sustain.
Zeke's Herald is nice to have on a team with several autoattackers, though it usually falls to the support to pick it up. You'll get some CDR and health, but the only other benefit is the aura you provide to your team.
The following is a very quick warding guide taken from Soraka - The Babysitting Queen. Thanks Summoner for letting me use this section! It is the responsibility of everyone on the team to ward the map, but it is especially important for supports to do so, in order to leave as much gold as possible for the carries.
Buy wards whenever possible, and watch for when allied wards by dragon or baron are going to expire. Make sure that dragon is warded once it has spawned, and ward baron constantly late game. Warding allied buffs is a good way to prevent counter-jungling.
Note: This is assuming you're purple. Simply mirror the positions if you're on blue side.
These show the best, non-situational (i.e no lane brush wards) positions to place wards, assuming you are winning as the purple side.
Mirror the positions of the wards if you need defensive wards in your jungle as well.
Note: Late game or mid game, make sure you Clairvoyance objectives before you go to lay wards at them. If you get caught, you can cost your team the game or an important objective and set your team back!!
For a more detailed guide on warding, click here.
Since Alistar fills the Support role best, your job should usually be to babysit one of your carries in the bottom lane. I've had great success laning with Ranged DPS carries like Ashe, Caitlyn and Vayne, as well as nukers like Ryze and Annie. Make sure you are paired up with some one who can dish out a lot of damage, or you may be zoned. Range always helps as well.
There are a few exceptions to the carry rule. You can combine your CC with another champion's like Blitzcrank, Singed, or Maokai for devastating chain disables. There are only a few champions that this will work beautifully with, so you should usually look for a ranged carry to babysit.
The reason for the AD carry+Support bot lane is that AD carries rely mainly on items to boost their damage output, while AP carries need levels quickly to max out their abilities. Ranged DPS champions are also fragile, especially early game. They benefit more from a protective support than a mage would. AP champions often have a lot of burst damage and usually a CC ability or two. This allows them to perform more effectively and safely in a solo lane than most AD carries would (though there are exceptions). No matter which type of carry you lane with, remember to leave them most of the minion kills.
Support Alistar is much less gold dependant thanks to his two gold items and less item dependant role. Your goal in laning phase is to make sure your lane mate gets farmed and fed by leaving most of the last hits to them, harassing, setting up ganks and initiating. Lurking in the brush by the lane is a good way to zone your enemies, as they can only check the brush (you Pulverize), or walk past (you Headbutt towards your ally then Pulverize). Use the brush to break champion and minion aggro, allowing the passive speed from Boots of Mobility to activate, giving you more agility for positioning. Remember that your Boots of Mobility allow you to roam very well, so feel free to leave your lane if your lane mate doesn't need the support to give them more experience. Help some one get a jungle buff, or look for a gank opportunity in mid. You don't need items to be helpful to your team.
As AP Alistar, you need to get as much gold as possible without hurting your carry. Keep an eye out for any last-hits that your carry is going to miss, roam for ganks, and cover other people's lanes when they return to base. You won't have any gold items, so you might have to be creative in order to keep up with your build. DO NOT USE PULVERIZE TO FARM! The only time you should use Pulverize on minions is to quickly push a lane. If you want to farm a group of minions, use Triumphant Roar to proc Trample, then walk over them and last-hit when they get low. It is usually preferable to take a solo lane when building AP, so you'll have enough farm to complete your build. Another option is to jungle, but I won't cover jungling in this guide.
(This section is assuming you build Alistar as a support. If you use an AP build, you can use the same techniques, though your item set will be different and your damage potential will be significantly higher. Don't forget to use Zhonya's Hourglass if you have it.)
I do not build Alistar as a pure tank. His abilities and a few items are usually more than enough to keep him alive. In an ideal team composition, you will have a dedicated tank and 2-3 carries. Usually someone on your team like Ashe or Malphite will be the initiator (with Enchanted Crystal Arrow or Unstoppable Force), but sometimes you will be forced to engage the team fight.
If this is the case, wait for one of their carries to overextend, then Flash forward, slam them with Pulverize, target one of their carries (probably the AP carry) and Headbutt them toward your team or towards a nearby wall. If Flash is on cooldown, the active on Shurelya's Reverie or an initiation from the jungle can also work.
After the two teams engage, activate Randuin's Omen, then use Triumphant Roar along side your other abilities to proc Trample and your Sheen, Lich Bane or Trinity Force. Use Unbreakable Will if you become focused to remove any CC effects and give you massively increased attack damage and resistances. Remember to keep using Triumphant Roar for more item and Trample procs and to give your team an edge during the fight. Dishing out as much disruption and damage as possible during a team fight can prevent and distract enemy champions from targeting your carries, so spam away. Just make sure you make use of your Sheen procs between abilities.
If your team is losing the fight, call for a retreat, but stay close to your carries, using all of your abilities and items to prevent them from chasing. Do not retreat before your carries do. Pulverize and Headbutt the closest enemies away from your carries and use Triumphant Roar to keep them alive.
If your team emerges victorious, be careful not to Headbutt fleeing enemies away from your team or into the jungle, as you may end up helping them escape. Headbutt an enemy into a thick wall, or wait for the passive on Boots of Mobility to activate to close the distance. Another trick you can use is to Headbutt an enemy and hit Pulverize the instant your Headbutt lands. This takes some precision, so you may want to practice this technique in a custom game first.
If your team emerges victorious from the fight, spam Triumphant Roar to heal up your team and push down a tower. Baron or Dragon is also an option.
If you've managed to surmount my wall of text, congratulations! I know that my guide is rather long, but I hope that some parts of it prove useful to you. If you appreciated my guide or approve of my build, feel free to hit the Like button up top. Please leave any comments, questions or suggestions below and I will try to get back to you. I appreciate criticism, as long as it's constructive. If you've read my whole guide and STILL want to dislike it, please let me know why so that I can fix the problem.
This is my first guide, but I hope you learned something useful. Good luck in your future Alistar games, and I look forward to hearing your feedback.
Hall of Fame
This section isn't designed to prove the viability of the build. I've included in my guide more for fun for myself and my readers. Show me a screenshot of a great game you've had using my guide and I'll post it here for everyone to see.
My Alistar games:
Send me a screenshot of a successful Alistar game using my guide, and I'll add it here.
07/03/11 - Guide created.
07/04/11 - Deathfire Grasp added to viable items, a lot of minor editing, and added icons to all abilities and items.
07/04/11 - Substituted Frozen Heart with Spirit Visage to reduce wasted CDR and buff magic resistance. Build should still work the same, but the Randuin's Omen active is going to be more crucial without the Frozen Heart Aura.
07//05/11 - Added Warding Section. Split AP and Support items into separate sections for better readability. Added Tips and Tricks section.
07/08/11 - Added alternate AP build due to Patch 1,0,0,121.
07/10/11 - Adjusted skill sequence to be a little more focused. Changed some formatting to improve readability.
07/11/11 - Updated Skilling Sequence section of the guide to show a more focused skill order. Other minor changes and edits.
07/14/11 - Changed all references to Trample into Colossal Strength to show tooltip.
07/16/11 - Adjusted some formatting and added mastery icons. Added Abilities section
07/28/11 - Now Colossal Strength finally had its name changed to Trample. More work for me....
07/31/11 - Mastery tooltips are in (yay)! Tooltips added to the mastery section.
08/04/11 - Moved change log to end of guide to be less distracting.
08/10/11 - Reordered some sections of the guide. Added some more color.
09/02/11 - Changed all references about Aura Support build to just say "Support." Since the loss of Frozen Heart, there really aren't enough aura items to deserve the title. Added Eleisa's Miracle to Other Viable Items - Support Build
09/26/11 - I've majorly reworked the guide, including the builds, formatting, and most of the sections. I've added a third build with high damage output to compensate for Alistar's AP ratio nerfs.
10/05/11 - Added in the Headbutt- Pulverize trick.
10/09/11 - Changed some formatting and added a bit to the Runes section.
10/18/11 - Added Hall of Fame.
11/16/11 - Made some changes and additions to the Summoner Spell section. Changed the masteries and wrote a new Masteries section to reflect the recent change to the mastery trees. These setups are not final, so keep an eye out for future updates or changes. Feel free to experiment with them if you like.
11/26/11 - Made a few changes and additions to the Runes and Masteries sections.
12/25/11 - Removed the third (offensive AP) build, changed the starting items section, adjusted the itemization and masteries of the support build and the masteries of the AP build. Fixed a small discrepancy with the skilling order.
1/3/12 - Removed Wealth from the support masteries and put the points into Awareness and Sage .
1/14/12 - Added a couple alternative runes.
1/30/12 - Fixed a lot of things in the Summoner Spells section and moved a few into different categories.
1/31/12 - Changed Zeke's Herald to Zeke's Herald and added Locket of the Iron Solari to Situational Items.
4/3/12 - Rearranged the utility tree.
4/28/12 - Replaced Greater Seal of Scaling Mana Regeneration and Greater Quintessence of Health with Greater Seal of Armor and Greater Quintessence of Gold and adjusted the Runes section accordingly. Removed some of the alternative runes that weren't very viable options. Split the alternative runes into support and AP categories. Removed Soul Shroud and Boots of Swiftness and added Ionian Boots of Lucidity to Situational Items. Changed the core skill sequence for the support build and rewrote some of the Skill Order section.
5/4/12 - Changed the descriptions in the runes section a bit to be more favorable towards armor marks. Changed the starting items and added a new alternative start in the Starting Items section.
5/10/12 - Rewrote and reformatted the Situational Items section, also making some changes to the listed items and their organization.
5/14/12 - Moved up Pulverize in both skill sequences to be maxed first and updated the skill sequence section. Updated the Abilities section. Added Spoiler tags to the Hall of Fame. :)