Alistar Build Guide by Bambi
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.
Hello everyone. Thank you for visiting my build/guide. I'm here to provide a quick, consice and general build/guide for anyone that wants to learn AP Alistar or ask, "Why AP Alistar." Playing/having a really good Alistar means you have a decent tank up to mid game with no tanking items if you get into early team fights and the ability to literally control any team fight that you get into by protecting your team and giving your team free kills. Let's explore this guide and see what he's made of.
Pros / Cons
Alistar has a fair amount of pros and cons like most champions:
-Early Ganking/Turret Diving Abilities
-Decent AoE Heal
-Underestimated 1v1 Capabilities
-Controls Fights Easily
-Insane Damage Output
-Needs To Get Close To Initiate
-Possibility Of Losing The Team Fight Initiating
-Slow Champion, Especially When Using Ultimate
-Very Mana Dependant
The Runes I use are:
: Use these to get the most damage you can from your skills.
Greater Seal of Vitality: Use these to make yourself tankier the higher level you reach.
Greater Glyph of Replenishment: Use these to help with your mana problems as an AP Alistar.
: Use these to give you the extra damage output needed to get those kills faster, espeically first bloods.
My mastery set-up is 9/0/21. You're putting 9 points in Offense to get that extra 15% Magic Penetration which is really helpful and 21 points into Utility to give you extra Cooldown Reduction and to help aleviate your Mana issues. It also gives your Ghost a nice boost of speed which is good for surprise turret diving, closing the distance and escaping, especially since your ulti slows you down and lowers the cooldown of your Flash
Item sequence is as follows: Doran's Ring x2, Ionian Boots of Lucidity, Sheen, Rabadon's Deathcap and Lich Bane. This is your core build and what you are aiming to obtain before anything else.
I'll explain the necessities of getting these items in this skill order in the laning phase of this guide, but that's generally what you should be following.
For the order of your skills, you want to max out Headbutt first, followed by Pulverize, then Triumphant Roar and of course getting your Unbreakable Will whenever it's availiable at levels 6, 11 and 16.
HEADUBUTT: Why max out Headbutt first? It closes the distance needed to dish out your damaging combo and it keeps your opponents in their place or puts them in a great ganking position with a flash combo if you have a jungler, making them "respect" your presence. "Respect" meaning they won't freely try to harass you as often anymore because of the immediate danger you present as you slowly approach forward. They won't want to eat anything else from you because of how fast you can get to them. Also it helps your allies or yourself escape if things go wrong. Headbutting opponents in any direction accept for the general route that you're using to escape will usually result in a successful getaway.
PULVERIZE: This is second to help get that Headbutt in to toss your enemy into your allies for a free kill. Making the fight 5v5 to 4v5 or even better, early game turret diving 3v2 into 3v1, is always a good thing. It also helps to make an escape for your allies and yourself as well. If you're helping a couple allies escape from a group, pulverize as much of them as you can, starting with the one that has potential to catch up to them quickly like Master Yi or Akali.
TRIUMPHANT ROAR: This is third because it's really useful at its first level of keeping you and/or your allies a bit healthy and pushing. Also, putting more points into this early greatly decreases your damage output and since you're not tanking or supporting, that's a bad thing. Since the mana cost is so low, keep spamming it until you find your way to initiate and keep everyone moving.
UNBREAKABLE WILL: THIS is what makes you so dangerous. You literally can not be stopped, unless you're really that low in health and you usually survive if you do it correctly. I'll discuss more of Unbreakable will in a seperate section near the end.
My Summoner Spells that I use are:
GHOST: I use Ghost for the general purpose of chasing, escaping and rushing to get somewhere. It's pretty natural for any Alistar player to start roaming all over the place and Ghost helps you get to where you need to be faster. It also helps to escape when using Unbreakable Will because it slows you down.
FLASH: I believe this is absolutely necessary on an Alistar. Flash is really good because it allows you to get past everyone to initiate and Pulverize --> Headbutt combo that squishy/carry into your enemy team. It also helps with escaping with Unbreakable Will. Just stand near a wall, let them blow their cooldowns then Flash over the wall.
OTHER SPELLS TO CONSIDER:
Exaust EXAUST: This spell is one of two that are useful for securing kills. It reduces damage dealt and slows the opponent. I don't think it's a good spell for Alistar though. You have Unbreakable will if you're trying to escape and if it's against a big group, you can only exaust one. Also, it doesn't really secure kills for Alistar because of his long cooldowns and slow attacks. I'd save it for a support or dps to take and use.
IGNITE: This would be a good substitute for other spells as it secures kills. DoT for 10 seconds based on health and reduced healing is really good, especially when fighting champions like Swain or Dr. Mundo that just never seem to die because of their Health Regen.
CLEANSE: This is a good overall summoner spell to have for pretty much any champion. It gets rid of all common CC effects like stuns, snares, slows, immobilizers, etc., but not things like Mordekaiser Children of the Grave and stuff like that. Alistar really wouldn't need it though, because there's rarely a situation where you'll need a second Cleanse when you already have Unbreakable Will.
CLARITY: Use this if you feel that you have severe mana issues. I don't need it, but some do.
CLAIRVOYANCE: This is a spell that I've been considering having on Alistar. You're usually going to find yourself roaming all over the place and if they have a jungler, you can track them down and get some kills early game. Also, if you go in for ganks, you can see if a particular area is clear that is popular for ganks to make sure you don't get countered. Usually saved for supports, but it's good if someone is at least able to use this.
TELEPORT: I'm not too fond of this spell. It's good. It gets you to places you need to be urgently and it can help set up some good ganks with wards and mushrooms, but it doesn't work out for me or my playing style. Like I said, it's a good spell, but I don't like it.
Overall, I think Ghost and Flash is best on Alistar. Ghost to catch up and escape and Flash to initiate, gank and escape. I think this works best with Alistar. You'll all like this or work with a different combination yourself. This is what works for me.
Laning and Items and Why
Alistar is really good doing a duo lane or solo lane. I'll go over both of them here:
Duo laning with Alistar is a good thing. There are a lot of really good benefits for laning with an Alistar. He can heal consistantly so that your partner can help keep harassing effectively. If tings go wrong, Alistar can protect you with his skills. Don't over do it though, because he has fairly long cooldowns and he may need to use a summoner spell or two to save his own after you. He can help get free kills with a Flash combo especially if they're overly aggressive near your turret. Teach them to "respect" your presence.
A good point about laning with Alistar is that you are constantly pushing. Keep this up. Push to your hearts content. Why? Because as you push and heal, you keep your minions fairly healthy. Push them into the greedy turret and feed the turret making it fed and OP. Doing this reduces the amount of gold your opponent recieves, making it harder for the opponent to get items. Be careful if someone goes missing or if they have a jungler. If you are duo laning and hit level 4 without seeing the jungler, it's probably the right time to slow down and back up a bit until he does appear.
Another good thing to point out pushing with Alistar in a duo lane is if you have to go against a solo lane because they have a jungler. Keep your minions healthy and push that turret down! Get in there with your partner, preferably ranged, and chip that turret down as fast as you can. Use your heals near the turret to keep minions up and to use your passive to help take turrets down. Be careful about the solo getting close to your passive. You don't want to take unnecessary turret damage. Same dangers when there is a jungler. At level 4, back up and wait a bit. If you keep this up, eventually that turret will go down VERY FAST. 10 minutes in is a good time that you take that turret down, assuming you always see the jungler and you constantly push. Once you hit 475 gold, make an opportunity to go back to base and get the extra dorans ring. It'll increase your damage output exponentially early and keep you laning with extra mana regen longer.
Doing a solo lane with Alistar (solo as in top lane because of a jungler) isn't that bad of an idea. Instead of maxing out Headbutt though, you may want to max out instead to help destroy creep waves faster. The faster you destroy creep waves, the longer it takes for your turret to invevitably fall. Maxing Pulverize allows you to do maximum damage to creeps that approach your turret and gives you a fairly good farm. Pulverize, passive, heal, passive. Creeps will usually fall to that. Other than that, don't waste any more mana on attacking the enemy or anything unless they pull turret aggro. It's worth aiming for a kill on their mistake and not getting it because it forces them to back up, allowing you to have space and farm a little more freely. Just keep farming or wait until your jungler ganks or relieves you. Once you're back at base, buy another Doran's Ring and first boots if possible. Go back and do your thing.
Mid Lane: This is where I suggest you have your Alistar. I'm not saying things like, "You should absolutely have mid ALWAYS," or, "You should never ever lose to mid because I have no problem with it 95% of the time," blah blah blah. It's the better player and team that wins. You're not the best, I'm not the best, you'll lose eventually. Don't let it get you down.
With that said, Alistar is an under rated mid. His combo, Headbutt --> Pulverize (W --> Q,) as an AP Alistar, will cripple and devistate MANY champions he has to go against. Get the runes, buy the dorans ring, and at level 2 when you've mastered the combo, try it out. As you level up, the increasing damage output from that combo will just make your opponent back-up away from you. If they don't, just keep going and kill them.
A lot of times, you'll see an AD Carry like Ashe come against you at mid. THIS IS WHAT YOU WANT! They are so fragile that they could shoot you from a range to harass you at level 1, then as soon as you hit 2, BAM!!!! Combo, 40% health gone. They get scared and back up not wanting to eat another one of those again, allowing you to freely farm waiting for another chance to land another combo. Once you hit level 4, get that heal, recover any health lost, rinse and repeat. Don't stop harassing or go back to base until they do, until they die or unless it seems like it'll go into a stale mate. If it seems like a stale mate, like neither of you back down once you hit 6, push a creep wave to the turret then go back to base. Doing it this way is very important. After knowing you went to base, they should do the same to relieve themselves and buy also.
Once you're back at base, buy your next Doran's Ring and buy your boots if you can afford them. You should be able to afford first boots if anything at the least. After buying these, your next destination shouldn't be back in your lane. Look at what lane will benefit your help the most.
If you see that one lane is pushing really well with the enemey dying, but they just can't reach them, go to that lane. Tell them you're on the way to that lane and have them keep pushing. Don't wait in the brush in the river or the one just before the turret, run to the one past the turret to approach them from behind. Tell them you're coming, pop your ghost, get in the center of the lane so that you don't push the enemy to the wall and headbutt them directly to your team. Your team should be able to take that kill easily, leaving the lane 3v1. If you have to put up a fight, stay under turret fire and pop your Ulti. Pulverize that guy to keep him in place and kill him with your team. Run out and push that turret down with the three of you. If the other one stays to protect that turret, dive him when your combo is up and take him out too, taking the damage from the turret. It's worth it if you die, but getting 2 team kills and a turret at the same time.
If you see your team is struggling a bit and is more towards your turret, tell them you're on the way and go to the bushes in the river. Most likely it's not warded at this stage of the game. Wait for the enemy creeps to hit about 3 at the turret and pop your ghost. Center yourself again and headbutt the nearest champion to the turret and destroy him. You may lose an ally because they may be on the verge of death, but you can help the survivor push and keep him healthy until the other returns, so it's a good way to relieve pressure on your lane and get a bit of gold and exp boost in return.
If neither of these situations are available and it seems pretty even, it's still a good idea to get in to one of the lanes that has the highest probability of getting a kill, like one that has a good stun or something to contribute to a fast kill. This time positioning may be a bit harder for your Headbutt. Use your Flash AND Ghost (normally what I do) and position yourself for an easy team kill.
After that, continue pushing your lane at mid and farm well. If you have no jungler, take time to push a lane to the turret and kill your wraith camp. That's almost an extra 100 consistant gold that you can use. From then on, continue to gank and push. Build your Sheen as soon as you can for added Mana and AP damage output as well as the passive. From there, build your Rabbadon's Deathcap and Lich Bane. After that, the rest of your items are optional.
x2: Getting 2 of these as fast as possible really makes a difference. It will make you look overpowered early game and give you the extra mana regen boost you need.
Boots of Lucidity: Alistar's cooldowns are fairly long, especially on Pulverize. We want to minimize this and this is a good way to do it after your masteries. Why not Swiftness, Treads, etc.? Because you have your Ulti and summoner spells. Your Ulti removes all stuns, snares and slows and gives you added armor and reduced percentage physical and AP damage. You really shouldn't be using Ghost up until this point to escape or if you need to chase someone down, so other boots aren't needed. As for Sorcerer's Shoes, You have increased Magic penetration because of your runes and masteries, you really shouldn't need anymore.
: Get this immediately after boots. Extra mana and AP plus the 100% physical damage boost is really good, especially since it's going to be guaranteed if you use your combo. Combo, auto-attack does crazy damage to your opponent when mid game starts. Get it.
: This item is immediately next. Getting this gives you insane amount of AP PLUS 30%. Watch as your damage just blows them away, especially the AD and AP carries. They won't want to be infront of you for long.
: The icing to the cake of this core build. It gives you good AP that goes well with your Rabbadon's bonus, decent Magic Resistance, extra mana, a bit of movement speed AND a passive that does physical damage based on 100% of the AP you have. It all just synergizes well. Combo, auto-attack plus Lich Bane passive, Triumphant Roar, auto-attack plus Lich Bane passive = GG for the carries. If they're tanky, it'll make them back up.
Now you have 3 more open slots if you sell the Doran's Rings. You shouldn't sell them unless you go back to base and you see you have that little bit of gold left for an item and it can cover the cost. The added mana regen and AP boost helps with everything, even with those small amounts. Anyways, you should have 3 slots left. Use these to build tanky items that will help you stay in the fight longer and help tank things up. Examples are: Randuin's Omen, Banshees Veil, Thornmail and Quicksilver Sash. I'll go over the importance of these items to fill the open slots:
: If you're going against a heavy AD team, this would be the item you'd want to get. Passive to grant AoE slow, slows the movement and attack speed of other champions attacking you and on activation. This is great. Ashe kiting you down? Randuin's will make it all better. Initiating the fight and they all start focusing you? Randuin's will pull you through. It's just so good!
: You would consider Thornmail if they have a lot of AD DPS champions like Yi and ranged carries. About 3 of them, I'd get one to help out the one committed to tanking.
: Arguably the best defensive item you can get. The passive is so good. That bubble has saved my life countless times and still does. Get first among these items if they have a lot of AP users or CC effects.
: The most underated item ever. What's so good about it? Decent Magic Resistance and a second Cleanse? For all you old timers out there, remember the days you could Cleanse Mordekaiser's Ulti, Vlad's Ulti, WW's howling thing and surpress, Malzahar's surpress, etc.? This is where it went! Any of those things, you can activate this item on and it gets rid of them. Also with a short cooldown, you shouldn't have to worry about 1v1 another Malzahar ever again!
These effects plus another reason is why I say to get them. They give you HEALTH as well as the armor and resistance given. Increased Health plus the armor/resistance makes you even more of a threat because now you're tanking it up plus you have your ulti. It will be very hard for you to die. The Thornmail and Quicksilver are for extreme cases, but they're still good options. Someone asked if there were any way to reach max CDR with items. If you really wanted to, You could get things like Frozen Heart or Spirit Visage, but I think the tankier items do best. Up to you though.
One more thing I want to add to this is about counter building. If you're duo laning or laning against someone extremely powerful in terms of let's say AP, go off the track from the build and buy something to help the problem such as a Negatron Cloak early. It reduces AP damage taken by about 35%. If it's physical, buy a Heart of Gold to start up your Randuin's Omen or that middle piece (which is a better choice) of the Randuin's Omen if you can afford it.
Playing Alistar Correctly
Playing an Alistar corretly takes time. You need to learn to do the 1v1 champion combo, Headbutt --> Pulverize. Some people have a hard time doing this. It's really simple. Press W to activate the Headbutt. When you're in range, left click then press Q. It's that simple! Try it out. It does wonders.
Learn to use your Headbutt properly. You're going to have a hard time or a bad day eventually. It happens to the best of us. You may Headbutt the enemy away, over a wall, Headbutt the wrong enemy (aka tank,) not do the Headbutt at all... Your teamate will call you noob and all that, but it happens. We can't be 100% all the time, but it's imperative that you learn to use it correctly. When headbutting to the team, do it directly at them, not near them. When chasing someone down with your team, but you can't seem to hit them to your team, hit them to the wall, wait, Pulverize. That should be enough for your team to get to them. Know how much damage you're outputting with your headbutt and last hit that champ that seems to be getting away. Not much people know this, but if you can estimate a good amount, but they still have some health left, like one physical attack left, stay still and Alistar will hit auto-attack them as they are being headbutted away, giving you the kill. You can also have Ghost active, headbutt them into nothing, run up and pulverize them to stop them in their tracks. *A note about about Headbutt into the wall, they are not stunned. They're still flying, but flying against the wall. Keep that in mind*
Learn when to do Pulverize --> Headbutt combo to your team and when to Headbutt --> Pulverize to kill. LEARN THE DIFFERENCE! Don't be greedy and try to get the kill yourself if it means they'll get away. A secured kill is better than you being greedy and having them potentially get away. Some examples for determining when to use Headbutt --> Pulverize is:
-When they're about to die
-When you CAN NOT reach them in any other way such as team stun or no summoners to use up.
-When you want to hold them against the wall, Headbutt and do a delayed Pulverize
Learn how to save your teamates. Sometimes sacrificing yourself will ensure the safety of your turret and prevent excessive to damaging pushing from your opponents. Get in there, combo, eat up the damage, ulti and attempt to get out of there. Tell your teamates to B so that they don't die trying to save you. That's what you're there for right now right?
ALWAYS SPAM YOUR HEAL! It can mean the difference between life and death between you and your teamates, even if it's a little bit.
A lot of people think it's easy to use this, but it's not as easy as it looks. There are certain times to use this and when you use it will determine success or failure for your team.
The general way you should be using this is when you initiate with a Flash and combo to your team. So that you can soak up the focus fire that you'll create from them protecting themselves while your team devours the poor target. Then you can continue to fight with your team in a good 5v4 fight because you should still be fairly healthy after your ulti and heals. Your team will have your back to. PUSH IT!
Waiting last minute to activate Unbreakable Will is not always the best choice. Sometimes it's best to use it as soon as you get into that sticky situation. If you come out like you wanted to, you'll end up with more health than you would have had if you waited and you have health to spare to defend and wait for reinforcements.
Try your hardest to wait until you've soaked up all the stuns and slows and immobilizers and all that before you activate your Unbreakable Will. It will help you escape a bad situation or it'll help your team greatly because now they have nothing to throw back at your team to immobilize them.
Another way is to use his ulti to do early turret dives like I said earlier. DO NOT ULTI UNTIL YOU HEADBUTT THEM OR IF YOU FAIL AND PUT YOURSELF IN DANGER! Your ulti slows you down and shouldn't be used until you take turret aggro. If you get slowed down, you may not be able to get the right angle for a Headbutt.
The last way I'll list is for the noble cause of saving your team. Let's face it, you have the tools necessary to hold back an entire enemy team long enough for your team to get out of danger. Get in there and Pulverize everyone and run away. When they're up and chasing you, wait until they at least blow everything on you and Ulti. Head butt someone back and use up your spells to get the hell out of there. By the time your ulti goes down, you have one last chance to Pulverize. If you make it, good for you. You can help defend while everyone went to base to heal, buy and load up to defend. If not, you gave your team a good opportunity to stop them from pushing harder than they intended, esepecially if it meant you die and prevent an ace for the other team.
All in all, Alistar is usually a good pick to have in a team ALL THE TIME. He really is tanky, has an ulti to make him extra tanky and help your committed tank, great initiator deals massive damage and can help everyone stay healthy and keep pushing. He's just too good to pass up. If you're thinking Riot is going to nerf him anytime soon because of his damage output, you're wrong. He's just like every other champion out there with spell combos. He just bursts them all in one.
Thank you all for taking time in looking into my guide/build, AP Alistar's Unbreakable Will of The Cow. Oh, if anyone asks what kind of runes you're using, tell them, "I only use 3 Quints. BIG. COW. D*CK.
If you want to see me in action with Alistar to see how I do things or have anyquestions, add me on LoL or ask in the comments. My handle is BAMBl (the l in my name is an L.) I'll be happy to try and help or explain things if I can. Good luck and please try it out before voting!