Alistar Build Guide by KoreanSP
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Mastery Tree Is Outdated
WARNING: These masteries are still using the old tree and have not been updated to the new tree by the guide author. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.
Intro - Who am I, and who is Alistar?
Welcome! I'm known as multiple aliases, been playing MobA games from casual gameplay to the competitive scene but nevertheless, I've always been someone who analysed everything and gave my fair worth of information on it. I play at a high level and always give it my best, and this guide is no exception to my motto. On Mobafire, I'm known as KoreanSP, and I have been playing League for a good amount of time. This is my comprehensive guide to Alistar, the Minotaur.
Alistar is versatile supportive tank. He can be built in multiple ways, the largest being a pure tank or support. A deadly champ to have on your team, he can initiate fights, cause havoc and irrational thinking in the enemy team, and tank towers for many shots. In the lane, he is one of greater partners for many due to his combo-CC. Infamous for many first bloods and massive assist-piling, he isn't someone to ignore.
He can zone lanes, making it easy for your partner. Not to mention a heal that gets the CD cut everytime a unit dies in the lane. Essentially, consistent healing to throw off the strongest of poke lanes. Once his ultimate is up, you can just towerdive any foolish opponent low enough with minor scratches.
He is cheap and often free. It takes a large amount of practice to become exceptional with him, but he is definitely a game changer with a powerful role, often fulfilling both the tank, support, and at times, even a damage dealer.
I would appreciate any criticism on this guide!
Also, this is the first time using extensive BBC coding for me, so please tell me how it is!
I did make all the pictures and banners (apart from the videos and Alistar Skins).
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
- Powerful support
- Exceptional Roaming
- CC-King is what I call him.
- Cheap Heal that is spammable
- Strong ALL game
- Ultimate makes you essentially invincible
- Can variable build, multiple roles can be filled
- Can make big plays - change the game
- 450 IP - Cheap, Often Free
- Support role - least taken role in ranked games
- Amazing pushing ability late game (AoE)
- Requires a follow-up from team
- Can be squishy if underfed
- Often played by others
- Is mana-dependent, spamming skills can lead to no mana
- Lag and ping delay can be detrimental
- Mistakes can be detrimental
- Can be tough to itemize
- Mistakes can be REALLY detrimental
- Lag and ping delay can be detrimental
Preferred Mastery Tree
The 9/21/0 Defense Tree emphasizes some more damage, all the usual defense masteries, as well as specifics in out lasting against enemy AD carries and minion aggro that you'll undoubtedly attract.
Other Viable Mastery Trees
The 0/21/9 Jungling Defense Tree, you get all the jungle masteries, as well as higher sustain with points into Vigor and such. You get longer buffs, and a bit more movement speed to get around faster. The extra mana helps you get to use your blue buff more effectively.
The 0/9/21 Utility-Support Tree is viable due to you being a support. It helps get a bit more gold, a bit more more experience, and faster Flash. Although you give up tankiness, you become more of the 'traditional' support.
Note:In the defense tree, there are two masteries that I'd like to point out. Tough Skin and Indomitable are two really good masteries for the reason that they provide 4 damage off from minions. During laning trades, you'll most likely recieve lots of damage from the minions. These masteries help reduce quite a bit to give you that advantage. If you are freezing the lane, it is the same idea in that you mitigate lot of HP from the minions.
Note:The reason why a more offensive mastery tree doesn't work on Alistar is due to the fact that he as low AP-scaling and even built AP, he is more useful being an offtank with 21 defensive points into the defense tree.
My Rune Choice and Explanation
Current Rune Page
Ability Explanation and Skill Sequence
Lane: Your passive is great for more damage after your combo. It does well against minions when farming or pushing a lane (especially late game). In the lane however, it isn't as used much and will be very minimal.
Jungle: This skill is extremely effective as it speeds up your jungle, even after your Triumphant Roar. It is what makes him a decently fast jungler, and helps clear small camps with ease. It has an internal cooldown, which means that you want to space out your skills to have the largest damage output.
Note:With Rylai's Crystal Scepter, this becomes an AoE slow. In team fights, this can be pretty effectiveness, keeping everyone a bit slower for your team to catch up.
Lane: This is part of your W-Q combo. One of the strongest moves in terms of reliant CC, it knocks the enemy up - essentially 'stunning' them for a short period of time. It will cancel all channeled/channeling skills. It does a hefty amount of damage and is key in playing Alistar effectively. It isn't a very tough skill to master. Later on in the game, you will use it to farm lanes when necessary.
Jungle: You'll use it as your main damage source. You can clear the camps with using your Pulverize, Triumphant Roar, and Trample. When ganking, if you can try to get to the enemy without needing to headbutt, use this skill first to set it up.
Lane: This single spell is one of the hardest things about Alistar. It can ruin a gank, or it can make a gank successful. Ideally, it is combo'd with your Pulverize to have the most effectiveness for a periodic CC-chain. The enemy is knocked back quite a distance which means that if you mess up the angling, it can backfire. The spell takes quite a bit of practice and to master it takes a lot of skill.
Jungle: This spell shouldn't be used while clearing the jungle. It can knock back a creep boss (usually a Blue or Red Buff) and can reset it. The only reason you'd purposely do it is when you are counterjungling and wanting to prevent the enemy/delay him.
This skill makes jungle Alistar so potent. It strikes fear into lanes as you can easily displace an overextended champ to your favor, often netting the kill. In conjunction with your Pulverize, it can be a certain kill or a guaranteed Flash burn in ideal cases.
Note:This skill can briefly 'stun' the enemy if the enemy is knocked back to a wall. This can be used to your advantage to extend the CC-chain.
Lane: This is your heal, and is great for sustain wherever. It also heals your allies (opponents, summons, champs) by half the amount. As a support, you usually want this first as you should be able to constantly throw off any damage from them by your constant heals. The CD is lowered by a second everytime an enemy minion dies. This can be used to use your heal multiple times within seconds. However, this burns mana very fast, and healing should only be done when you need it. This skill can accidentally push lanes, so be cautious - you can heal your minions too much.
Jungle: This spell actives your passive, hence it is a good source of both damage and healing. It can give you a bit of sustain in the jungle, especially as creep camps die, you can heal faster.
This spell is powerful for the reason that it makes you very tanky. It lowers damage, and provides dual resists for a short amount of time. You can tank towers, tank AP burst-casters, tank AD carries, and so on.
You can initiate WITH this spell or initiate, and then use this spell. It can make the enemy's focus on you null and mere scratches. You also have extra attack damage which means you can use this spell for 1v1 situations, small skirmishes, or pushing towers. Although the damage isn't a large focus of the spell, it should not be ignored.
Due to the large portion of damage that is reduced, you can bait yourself when you are low then use your ultimate to make sure you escape alive.
Skill Sequence Reference
Recommended Summoner Spells & Explanations
Flash is useful for the reason that it has multiple benefits and uses. It can be used for: Alistar and is part of his gameplay. This skill is what makes a jungle gank be so deadly, pull off huge plays, or get an easy first blood in the lane. It is so versatile and can define playstyles.
Exhaust is amazing for supports due to lane partners usually being an ranged AD carry with Heal and Flash. Using it with your combo makes it a near death, especially if it early on under a tower. The current meta revolves around the AD Carry, so using this on their AD carry, or any fed carry such as their AP carry, lowers their damage output for a few seconds, long enough for your team to get the advantage.
Smite is necessary if you are jungle Alistar. Doesn't matter who you pick, if you are jungling, it is 100% needed. It is used to secure objectives and buffs, as well as speed up the jungle and counter jungle effectively. Don't be afraid to use it while holding a lane, especially if you are going back for items after. It gives extra gold and a free creep.
Other Viable Spells
Teleport: Useful with getting faster items and wards. Great if you plan on doing a lane gank unexpectedly. A triple gank with your jungler could be an easy kill. Pair it with Revive and then scream "TSM!" everytime you pull off a big play. /sarcasm
Ignite: Sometimes a strong pick, especially if your team lacks it, or it is a kill lane. Always make sure to tell your partner if you are taking it or not, otherwise you might lack a necessary Exhaust or Heal.
Clairvoyance: Strong pick for supports, essentially a free ward for 3 seconds anywhere on the map. Although you miss out on other useful skills. If your team asks for it, or you enjoy using it, by all means.
Heal: If your partner is takes another skill over Heal, you can take it instead to help him survive tower dives and such. Great for baiting if the enemy doesn't suspect you being the sudden healer.
Item Build & Explanations
Basic Support start, gives you 3 health potions, 3 wards, and the mana regen piece for your Philosopher's Stone.
Aggressive Support start, gives you 1 health potion, 1 ward, and movement speed. Great for early lane aggression.
Jungle start. Gives you speed to gank, and health pots to sustain and survive jungle camps as well as be healthy for the ganks.
Quick Philosopher's Stone. Best if you are going for a fast return, then a lane gank afterwards.
You need more mana in the lane? Decent item. Although, don't upgrade it to Soul Shroud. It is great for AD-caster carries, such as Ezreal or Corki.
Useful if the enemy is likely to pick the three-ward start. If you have lane dominance, you can use this ward to prevent any key wards from them (especially for your jungler to gank). Buy 1-2 depending on the situation.
The Right Boots
My favorite boots on Alistar, they are powerful and give plenty of speed. They are great for ganking and in the lane, as you should wait for the opportune time to pop up, in which you should have plenty of speed.
Thesegive plenty of Tenacity and MR. Useful against lots of CC. However, Tenacity does not stack. Don't buy more than one Tenacity item.
Strong while jungling to lower damage, but you are already tanky so you can avoid these.
These boots are largely personal favor based. I don't like them much, and you get near max CD, if not max, anyway.
The Philosopher's Stone gives the sustain you need, as well as an useful GP10. It will be upgraded shortly for a better item.
The Heart of Gold is another GP10, gives you more health, and is built into a Randuin's Omen, a really strong item. Some players prefer getting this AFTER their initial boots.
The Kage's Lucky Pick is another GP10 that is more than likely sold later on. It gives a bit of AP, and you can skip it if you don't need it - but the current meta for supports and supportive junglers often revolve around the triple GP10 for a better late and midgame.
You get Shurelya's Reverie from your Philosopher's Stone, and it gives more sustain, health, CDR, and an active that speeds you up greatly, and your teammates. It acts like a 'mini-ghost' and lets you run, get to position, initiate, and so on.
A Sheen helps with damage and ganking, as you will proc it when you use your skills. It gives mana and a bit of AP, and later on will be built into another item. As a support in the lane, you can CHOOSE to get this item, however if you are behind, I'd advice against it.
If you are in the lane, you want a Frozen Heart to help out greatly in teamfights and have one of the strongest debuffs in the game. If you are jungling, you want a Randuin's Omen can slow the enemy down when you gank, and cripple them for you to unleash your combo.
A Chainmail of Armor
This is an amazing item to get for the reason that it gives off essentially the most armor in the game, lots of CDR, lots more mana, and an unique passive that wrecks AD carries and AD-based comps. A great item to get for him. The mana and CDR is great as you spam your spells a lot in the lane, with no blue.
When you are jungling and you gank, this item makes sure that they are slowed enough for you to get near to them. If they turn on you, you will be tanky enough with armor, health, and some regen. Your passive AND active wrecks AD carries and AD-based comps, and this item is fantastic for small skirmishes too.
You can get both, or just whether or not you are jungling or in the lane. Both are fantastic items, and together, they will make you near invulnerable to AD champs. You have a huge teamfight presence and both of them have easy-to-build components. In my experience, getting one then deciding to get the other later on is better, since you can always change your mind. Building them together or at the same time spends too much time on just armor, and not magic resist.
Common item for Alistar, it gives benefits to many stats, and gives you a stronger off-tank presence. Gives a stronger Sheen proc as well.
Another common item for Alistar, although less picked than a Trinity Force. It is useful for more AP and mana, and the Lichbane proc.
One of my personal favorites, it helps your AP carries do more damage, as well as you, and gives you important Magic Resist and AP.
Although not a highly desired item on Alistar, it is great for double WotA comps like another Vladimir or Rumble. Never a good item to get if your team doesn't have another Wota.
One of my personal favorites, it gives you an active similar to Guardian Angel, but arguably better. It gives armor and lots of AP, and is fantastic to initiate with.
Gives your CC more slow and AP. More damage, more slow, more CC. Good!
A very unexpected item on Alistar, but it is used to lower the armor of enemies for your team to hit even harder. It gives you damage, and attack speed - leads to faster split pushing and works great with a Trinity Force. Not too viable in most situations.
Strong mana item, and gives plenty of AP, and some MR. Although not that useful as you don't need mana to that point, nor does the item give much anything else.
More magic resist, more movement speed, and more health regen. A fantastic item all around, and decently cheap. A huge source of MR, I'd suggest you buy it.
A second life, dual resist. You can force battles in YOUR favor due to this item. However, since you are a tank, you would be focused last in 'ideal' situations, therefore with that logic, this item isn't good. In actuality, you can bait their shots, and often, they will have to focus you to peel you off their carries.
Against FED AD carries, this item is the boss. Otherwise, DON'T GET IT. It isn't worth the buy, rather just a Frozen Heart or Randuin's Omen would outclass it by far.
No. It sounds appealing, but there are much better items all around. The damage is minimal, and you don't stick right next to them the whole time.
Good in certain cases, but usually not. No smart Mordekaiser or Malzahar will ult you, and you'll be tanky enough for most CC. You won't need this item.
You are already tanky, but it is great against fed AP Burst-casters, or those with lots of CC that are preventing you from unleashing YOUR CC.
Although some people swear by it, I dislike the item as a whole, and on Alistar, I feel like it is completely a waste. You don't need flat health, nor regen. It is much better to spend your time on resists or HP-Resist items.
Great to support fed AD-carries on your team, but generally not that good for average games, you can choose better picks. Especially if you have a support that isn't you. In the current meta, this item is powerful nevertheless.
It is a fantastic item, especially for supports, offtanks, and tanks to take. It gives a strong aura that is well worth the price, but if your team is ahead by far, it is unnecessary to get.
Keep in mind these factors when buying your final items :
- Magic Resistance
- Both Team Compositions
- Offensive capabilities
- Fed Champions
This item is a necessary for a supportive tank, especially one who roams. You will clear the wards across the map often, and it is quite necessary to do so. If you die, you waste 400 gold, therefore avoid dying with this item. Even if you are worth nothing, the enemy has killed off 400 gold, which is a gain.
Early Game - It is powerful yet comes with a risk. You gain map dominance, but put in a huge risk of wasting gold.
Mid Game - It is necessary to fight for map dominance and win in the 'ward-battles' that occur between supports.
Late Game - To take Baron or Dragon, or any objective for that matter, it is 100% needed to check the area free of wards.
As Jungle Alistar, your goal is to not get fed, but rather have your teammates get fed. You want to carry from the jungle through methods of helping your entire team get fed. Get the kills for your lanes, let them snowball and dominate. You are powerful because your presence can dominate a game completely to your team's favor.
1) Start off at the Wolves. Ask for assistance from your allies.
2) Kill the Blue Buff with a leash and perhaps assistance.
3) Gank after you have Blue. You should, depending on the side you are on, have two ideal lanes to gank. Everyone else should be level 1 and squishy enough to kill. Gank. Even if you fail, you should either burn their flash, or at least make them be more cautious in their lane.
4) Clear your Wraiths.
5) Kill the Red, use Smite. At this point, look for a ganking opportunity.
6) Go back to Wolves, clear.
7) Either return back, or look to gank again. If you do decide to gank again, check their jungle afterwards, you might be able to counter-jungle at this point.
Blue Buff should be up around 7 minutes 20 seconds, so make sure to give it to your mana-reliant champ. It is usually your mid, or your top. In the case both don't need it, take it yourself. You are REALLY good with blue as well.
Constantly pressure your lanes, a large part of playing a jungle Alistar is psychological fear - you force them to play more passive or risk death. When deciding to gank, make sure you are aware of wards. It is KEY to be cautious of the enemy Flash. You can accidentally knock them AWAY from you, if they manage to Flash behind you.
Brief Guide to AP Alistar
Recently, I have been testing out the viability of an AP Alistar. As strange as it seems, it was played often in Season 1 after, what I recall, Dreamhack tournament. AP Alistar was played there to excellent efficiency. Since then he was nerfed several times, notably his AP ratios that made him seemingly a bad champion to pick for the AP role. He had other nerfs such as damage decreases, mana increase, and so on. Nevertheless, he was still commonly picked for the support and jungle role, moreso then jungle role.
I'm here to bring back that 'AP Alistar' craze. Realistically put, I just want others to learn and experience its power. I believe it takes just one competitive tournament to show others how powerful AP Alistar CAN be.
+ Powerful CC all game
+ Great AoE damage
+ Powerful lane presence
+ Is not squishy
+ Easy Farm
- No Range - harrassed in lane
- Weak 1v1 Damage
- Reliant on Jungler
- Long CD's
These masteries provide you:
- Arcane Knowledge - More Damage
- Proper defenses in the lane against any AP opponent as well as minion-damage reduction
- Swiftness and Runic Affinity - More speed to juke and gank, as well as longer Blue Buff, a necessity.
The Utility Tree can be used as well in a 9/0/21 Utility Tree set-up.
I pick these runes for optimal strength in the lane. You have defense against minions and AP opponents, as well as have more AP and Magic Penetration.
This is your basic start, you have speed to juke and roam early, while having pots to sustain yourself from eventual harass.
More health, AP, and importantly, early game mana-regen. You put yourself liable to losing the lane hard if you can't get the dominance with this item. However, it can help you snowball hard if you likely to win the lane.
The Right Boots
My favorite boots on AP Alistar - provides magic penetration which, since you do almost all magic damage, is great.
Tenacity against Heavy CC teams, and more MR to survive. Great against Veigar or AP Sion.
Speed to gank with, makes you a fearful AP roamer with lots of damage potential. Only if you roam a lot during the lane phase.
These items provide you the damage that you need and sustain. The Rabadon's Deathcap is a must-get for almost every AP carry, and gives you a lot of damage.
The Hextech Revolver is for sustain and to build into a WotA - this is largely my preference from the many games I have played. I feel that with a lot of AoE, spell vamp is fantastic.
The Sheen is for damage - fantastic item for Lich Bane.
The Kage's Lucky Pick is to get more gold, and is a common item in today's meta for mid laners. You can opt to not get it if you don't like it. I often get it, and occasionally turn it into a DFG if I desire the damage.
If you need more CC and health then Rylai's Crystal Scepter would be good. In the case you are initiating, or find yourself in a bad situation often, or just need more armor, get Zhonya's Hourglass.
If they have little MR, or you need more MR yourself, Abyssal Scepter is a great pick for not just you, but your whole team. If the enemy is heavily stacked with MR, or if your team already has an Abyssal Scepter, a Void Staff would be a great pick.
This item is fantastic on AP casters just because you have plenty of AP. It is a great item to get, and it is likely that you will get Kage's Lucky Pick. Although you can do without it, I often get it to compliment my burst and overall damage. The Athene's Unholy Grail is a decent item too, with its magic resist and mana regeneration/AP boost. You also get assists very often, making this a great item. Get it with an early Chalice. You can replace whatever item that seems fit - the Will of the Ancients, Abyssal Staff, or Zhonya's Hourglass are all viable items to be swapped.
You can get these items if seemingly fit. If against a heavy AP burster, or AP assassin, or a heavily CC based team - a Banshee's Veil can do wonders, especially since you aren't as tanky as a regular tanky Alistar. A Guardian Angel can help you wreck more havoc even after you die the first time, and it makes you a hell of a target to focus due to your ultimate and dual resists/revive passive.
Brief Analysis on what you do
AP Alistar should be played as a team player. Some people prefer to go Headbutt over Pulverize and capitalize on his damage output, which before his nerfs, was a powerful thing to do. However, he should now be played as a way to help your team snowball, as well as a way to provide team CC, AoE damage, and even tanking to some extent with the help of your ultimate.
In the lane, you want to just last hit and trade as equally as possible. Early on you might be zoned a bit, but the strength in AP Ali is that you can make a gank from your jungler be extremely potent. You should be able to equalize the laning phase through a method of trading and ganks, even if you do get out last-hit'ed or harasses. Just make sure to tell your jungler to be aware if he isn't.
Now, KoreanSP - what if the ganks don't work, or the enemy mid is really strong and outplaying me? Simply put, you should be able to sustain the harass with your heal, and protect your tower with your AoE. Once mid game comes around, and team fights occur - the enemy mid shouldn't be able to match your team fight dominance. You have not only CC in an AoE output, but also a displacement spell to your favor. You can also get assists from the heals to your team, and if you get targeted - simply just press your ultimate to shrug off damage.
As you enter late game, you should not be a very powerful tanky-AP caster. You can set up kills for your team, deal plenty of damage constantly (AoE + passive), and even protect your AD carry by peeling the enemy off him.
Blue Buff is fantastic on you - your Triumphant Roar will go off CD very fast with minions dying, and you can use this to your advantage by healing yourself extremely quickly. You also have semi-long CD's on your Q and W, so the CDR will really benefit you.
Combo Moves & General Tips
Infamous W-Q Combo
Some people smartcast their Headbutt, I really hate that. I prefer spamming my Pulverize while Alistar is in the process of Headbutting them. Of course I miss sometimes, but I'd say 80%+ of the times, I get it perfectly.
Red Dots: Best ward spots, they work to prevent counter jungling, protect buffs and objectives, as well as give clear vision to lanes of incoming ganks.
As a support-tank, it is YOUR role to support. YOUR role to get wards. YOUR role to clear wards. Although the point of what I'm saying is not that you are the only warder, it is that you are the MAIN warder. No matter how good you are, if you don't ward, then you are bad to me.
In the Future...
Hopefully I'll get a few more things out in the future, but I'm awfully busy soon.
-Enemy Champ analysis section
Perhaps. Perhaps not. Let us see.
If you've read this guide, please do give me your criticism and comments, as well as don't forget to vote!
Build Variation is key to being a better player. Don't be a metasheep or afraid to try out new items, new runes, new masteries, new gamestyles. Please try out my build before you negatively comment or downvote, you might be surprised!
If you're new to the game, don't be afraid to ask questions or leave a comment. Either myself, or perhaps other viewers will answer your questions, and if you hate my build, want it to burn in hell, or you think _____ is stupid, and so on, by all means comment and give me a reasonable answer. I take pride in my guide, and I'm always susceptible to change and updates.
I hope this encourages you to kick some major arse as a cow.
Also thanks to JhoiJhoi's Guide on How to Make a Guide and the few videos. Another set of thanks to the viewers and all the constructive comments (especially rivalkaz's comment).
Do check out my other guides! Thanks all!
The Great Barrier, an Alistar Support Guide
Feeding Your Team With Milk
Alistar - Rampaging Through the Twisted Treeline
Milchkuh?-Träum weiter!! [S3 ready (German)]