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.
This page contains two builds - click the Alistar portraits at the top to see them!
Here is a link to a video showing me using this build in a game:
<< Youtube >>
Right off the mark, with this build, don't expect:
a) A large number of kills
b) OMGWTFBBQ Damage
Instead, what this build does, is make you an unstoppable force who not only charges into the thick of it, but gets the team there too! I would argue that this (or a similar variation) is the best build to go support Alistar available.
My thinking behind this build is that Alistar has a lot of strengths, and only one of them is his high AP ratio. To me, his greatest power is his ability to bring enemies who don't really want to be where the action is, up to the armpits in a bog of team destruction. His other great power is that he can break all CC and tank for a while - this pretty much means that you don't need to worry about Mercury's Treads at all, therefore you can focus on speed, which is right at the core of this build.
Here is an idea of how matches tend to pan out - my defeats were solo queue letdowns, with the most recent one being a Zilean on our team stacking movement speed and charing down middle lane to get killed...
This is the real reason I posted this build - since I could not find any build which really suited me. I tried out AP, and it was satisfying to take out a whole minion wave in a single Pulverize, but I barely ever got enough items, and I was far too easy to kill.
I then tried hybrid, which was actually fairly good, but I didn't really feel that the extra survival offset the reduced damage, since the cooldowns of skills left me sitting in the middle of the fight like a lemming.
The key to me was becoming tank and support - but the problem was gold. This build is designed so you can build endgame items by the end, and be tough all the way through the game.
The start is strange, and often gets people shouting at me who don't know what i'm doing - you basically wait for 5 extra gold at the start - this allows you to get 2 items Cloth Armor Faerie Charm which really help you stay in lane long enough to get Philosopher's Stone and Heart of Gold. It is this phase of the game when you need to be focusing on last hitting minions - which is why you should get heal first, so you can extend and get those hits as your laning partner applies pressure.
As you progress, you should pick up boots - this should be no problem now that you have the heavy cash flow, you can start applying some pressure of your own and punting enemies into turrets! You should take a look at the other team/lane - if melee heavy, get Chain Vest, otherwise get Negatron Cloak. If they are balanced, get Negatron Cloak, since at this stage you will be lacking in Magic Resistance.
Now, once you have Avarice Blade, build some expensive stuff! Run into the wraith creeps at top and bottom and Pulverize them for some easy gold, but don't waste time on others - this is the part of the game where you can be running in to help allies, knock enemies away, get focused and Unbreakable Will & Ghost out of there!
Once Force of Nature has been built, rush Shurelya's Reverie, since this will allow your team to chase down and kill enemies or flee from a desperate situation - this can then combo with Randuin's Omen in both scenarios, and make people who hit you when fleeing under your ultimate also get a slow on them.
Avarice Blade floats for most of the match, just for a little bit extra until you (probably don't) manage to get Youmuu's Ghostblade, which is a massive item for turret kills. You could build this before Warmog's Armor if you feel that you don't need any more flat health, but that will depend on the enemy team entirely.
Greater Seal of Scaling Mana Regeneration grants much needed mana regeneration, since this build doesn't give you any bonus mana - since I don't put any points into defence, Greater Seal of Evasion isn't as effective, but is the best alternative.
Greater Mark of Armor and Greater Glyph of Magic Resist both give you essential early game defenses which allow you to be more pushy and get the minion last hits, and most importantly, stay in lane until you have the 1300 gold to get the gold production items.
In spite of the nerf, I still favour Greater Quintessence of Health for the early game advantage to get out of danger by the skin of your teeth. A suitable alternative might be Greater Quintessence of Magic Resist or Greater Quintessence of Replenishment for reasons mentioned above, and the fact that you will have plenty of armour, but not so much magic resistance.
The only question here really would be: "why not defense tree?"
The answer, quite simply, is that the Utility and Offensive trees provide cooldown reduction ( Sorcery , Intelligence ) for the ablility to just do everything faster - which is essential for Alistar. The Utility tree also provides mana regeneration from Meditation and Perseverence as well as reducing your key lane-slayer skill, Flash's cooldown with Blink of an Eye and Presence of the Master . The extra duration on Ghost provided by Haste is also extremely useful when you are running to an ally's aid, getting to defend a turret, chasing down a foe... or any other reason you may have to use it!
In my opinion, these bonuses completely outweigh those provided by the defensive tree, particularly if the alternative is to not have any of them.
With this build, you aren't going for the gank in the bushes, since you need to get the second item at the start, so you do best to get Triumphant Roar at the start to allow you to push for minion last hits and keep your ally in lane longer. Remember that you don't necessarily want to heal your minions all the time, since the nearer they are to your turret, the more easily you will be able to Pulverize and Headbutt them into your turret when you get the skills.
Pulverize second to defend yourself and allies at this stage, if they decide to jump in and go for a kill.
Next, analyse your laning - if you feel that you have the upper hand, get Headbutt and start going for kills with your turret and Flash. If you are struggling, get Triumphant Roar to keep you alive, and delay Headbutt for level 4.
From here, the damage of your Pulverize and Headbutt is irrelevant, they are there to help allies get the kills by stunning and moving opponents - so max out Triumphant Roar as fast as possible, picking up Unbreakable Will as often as possible.
The skilling is based around the priorities:
1) Unbreakable Will
2) Triumphant Roar
4) Headbutt (with exception of Rank 1 at level 3 or 4)
Probably not the most in depth description people have ever seen, but it really does work! Here's a link to my latest match where I followed this build to the letter - make particular note of the match duration time + my minion kills + my item count.
Gold Per 10 is the way forwards!
This was a response to a comment about the usefulness of Avarice Blade and Youmuu's Ghostblade - This modified build gives you more early/mid game survival with slightly reduced early/mid damage, keeping the gold bonuses.
Late game is buffed by boosting Ability Power and support by adding slows to your attacks with Rylai's Crystal Scepter and an area effect magic resist debuff to help your team score kills from Abyssal Scepter. This is at the cost of reduced max health (though I figured that without minion kills and because it was late game, Warmog's Armor wasn't reaching full effect anyway).
Like said, Youmuu's was designed to help turret killing, and though you lose the attack speed, you can get auto attack damage increases from a % of your Ability Power (can't remember the figures though). And in the end, if you can tank the enemy team and turret, your team can do the work on the turrets.
The magic resistance from Abyssal Scepter is also rather a nice addition since Magic Resistance is lower than Armour - but if they are lacking in magical damage (or you feel that they have too much crowd control), grab a Banshee's Veil.