Alistar Build Guide by Basifrisk
Not Updated For Current Season
Classic - Homogenized, Pasteur
Not Updated For Current Season
You are here, probably during the loading screen of a game, to familiarise yourself with the good old cow. I've made this guide as a fairly in-depth reference for all those wanting to improve at Alistar, newbies and Phreaks alike!
Feel free to PM me any suggestions. If this guide helped you, please remember to hit dat Like button, so more people will use it. First step in world domination.
Champion Summary & Breakdown
With 2 strong CC’s, the ability to tank, and a heal on the side, Alistar has a very simple and pure supporting kit.
Large disruption of enemy team
Can shut down and reposition enemies
Easy tower dives from level 6 onwards
Strong sustain in lane
In built cleanse
No steroid for your carry
No mobility move
My main mastery page for Alistar is 0/23/7. Most people like to build further into the Tank tree than the Utility tree for tanks, especially with the new Tank masteries. I agree that this is useful on Ali, especially the Second Wind health regeneration Mastery. It depends on personal play style - this is something you will have to figure out for yourself.
I do sometimes use an alternative, 0/17/13 mastery page for Alistar, depending on the enemy team composition. (Especially their ADC and support). This gives you some more Gold Income and Experience boosting, which is always useful for supports.
Greater Mark of Armor
Greater Seal of Armor
Greater Glyph of Magic Resist
Greater Quintessence of Movement Speed
Greater Quintessence of Health
I take full Armor reds and yellows, and a mix of Move Speed and Health Quints. (Either 2:1, or 1:2, depending on the weather)
While I used to go for Scaling Cooldown Reduction blues, I now tend to go for Magic Resist. Since Season 2, supports often have to deal with a large amount of magic damage from the opposite duo lane even in the first 10 minutes. Thus flat MR is great. You do lose out on the possibility of Pulverising multiple times in an early fight however.
"Why so much Movement speed, Basifrisk?" you may ask me. Well, with Alistar, you can never have too much movement speed. Mobility is the skeleton key that unlocks 'the door to that rich old lady's house' that is Alistar. It is so very essential to be able to be position yourself in a fight before the enemy can.
Exhaust is a bit more important on Alistar than on other supports, as it helps you close the gap between you and the enemy - a common issue with Alistar support. It also aids your AD carry trade with the opponent AD carry, which is good as Alistar doesn’t have a shield, debuff, or steroid (Unlike most supports)
Flash is also brilliant on Alistar, for more than just the usual reasons. I find that using flash offensively with Alistar is extremely potent,
i.e. when the enemy is pushed up, you can flash behind them, and headbutt them into the turret.
Because these offensive/aggressive flashes are so good, I often get the Distortion upgrade to my boots, instead of Alacrity (Bonus Move Speed) or Homeguard. Points in the Mastermind mastery also help with this. This is also just a suggestion - it all boils down to how you want to play Alistar.
Remember that you have no unit collision after casting an ability. This is great in the middle of crowded teamfights, as well as for clearing creep waves.
||Tip: After pulverizing an enemy, you can walk straight through them to prepare for the headbutt.|
A great AOE stun that can turn the tables in a teamfight. Practice stunning enemies at the maximum range, and remember to position yourself so as to maximise the number of targets. It is difficult to not be trigger happy with this. But you have to try. I have found a lot of success in Pulverising LATER in the fight, instead of stunning the first enemy in range.
||Tip: Use pulverize directly after an enemy such as Twitch has gone invisible close to you.
Tip: If positioned well, Pulverize can damage all/most of the creeps in a wave. This is very useful for pushing and clearing minions.
Tip: I have found a lot of success in Pulverising LATER in the fight, instead of stunning the first enemy in range. Waiting for the perfect time to use an ability is always the right strategy, but it is especially important to keep this in mind with Alistar's Q, as it is so easy to stun as soon as you can.
A very strong tool for securing kills as well as saving teammates. Remember that you can headbutt enemies through walls; even if you think that it may help, it often confuses your team more. This doesn’t mean that you should NEVER headbutt enemies over walls, just that you should more careful when deciding to. Similarly, LEARN how close enemies need to be to a wall for them to be pushed through it. (This also depends on the wall thickness.) Sometimes, headbutting their carry towards your team may not be the best decision. Do not instantly do this every teamfight.
Headbutt is a great gap closer in certain situations -
1. If the headbutt will push them into a wall.
2. If you are headbutting another enemy in order to get to the target champion.
3. The Infamous W-Q Combo:If you are WITHIN (not on the edge) of headbutt range, and have your Pulverize up, you can combo Alistar's with to ‘ Malphite Ult’ the enemy. (If you target the enemy with W before you are in range, so Ali has to move towards them before the ability activates, the combo won’t work.)
Using Smart Cast obviously makes this combo easier, as you must cast Q at the beginning of the animation.
Many think Alistar is only viable because of this combo. Not so. I have found that this combo is barely EVER the best choice in any situation - partly because makes Alistar worse than useless once you have comboed, partly because of the other options you have - such as popping Exhaust or Flash (which means Pulverise and Headbutt remain available), and partly because I rarely find myself chasing a champion who is out of Q range, while also still having Q and W up.
Another thing to note: this combo is notoriously hard to pull off consistently with a ping above 120.
||Tip: Pulverize helps you get into position for Headbutt. However, being able to headbutt first means you can Pulverize the enemy in a place more favourable for you.
Tip: To initiate a teamfight, you can Headbutt the enemy tank/bruiser to get to the rest of their team. This gives your carries the early advantage. In lane, I often headbutt minions to close the gap between me and the enemy ADC in order to Pulverise them. This is something I find immense success with.
Tip: Headbutt disrupts channeling.
Tip: If there is not enough time to completely flank an enemy, a headbutt from the side is usually just as effective.
E: Triumphant Roar
Brilliant in the laning phase. Just remember that it is quite mana costly. It is also useful during team stand-offs - both for when you are defending a turret, or when you are pushing for a turret. Especially mid-late game, when minion waves are cleared in seconds, Alistars heal is almost permanently up. Don’t forget about it.
Tip: If you heal at the right time, you can screw up the enemy ADC’s last hitting.
Tip: Healing also gives you your passive (no unit collision).
Tip: Stand at the back of your creep wave when healing yourself and your laning partner, so as to not heal too many of your minions.
Tip: Remember to heal yourself whenever you are roaming around the map, and have mana to spare. I see a lot of Alistars walking around with half HP and full mana - this is silly.
R: Unbreakable Will
Makes you the tankiest of tanks, meatiest of meatshields. Like a cleanse, it is better if you use it immediately after being stunned/snared. Many players often forget to use it instantly, and by the time they do, the CC has almost worn off anyway.
Tip: Don’t use it to begin tanking turrets - usually you can get away without using it, and the first few hits from a turret will barely make Alistar flinch. It may also scare away tasty enemies.
Similar tip: Save Unbreakable Will until you know the enemy team is focussing you. If you initiate by ulting, you will just be ignored.
Tip: Plan ahead - if you know that there is going to be a champion who wants to stun you in the next team fight, get the maximum value out of your ult by watching for the stun animation and then instantly breaking out of it with Unbreakable Will. Too often do people take a second to realise they can break out of a stun, wasting half of the potential of Ali's ult.
Max out Pulverize first, solely for the CDR. Max out Triumphant Roar second, as Headbutt doesn’t need the CDR early on and even after the nerfs, Alistar's heal remains surprisingly useful.
Alistar is a melee support after all, so being able tonegate some of the extra poking the enemy laners land on you is vital.
Sometimes putting some early points into Triumphant Roar is fine. Try it out when against a strong poking lane.
As a normal tanky support, there is a large range of situational items that you might build as Alistar.
However, keep in mind 3 stats that are more important for Alistar than they are for most other champions like him:
With all the changes that have come in the this year, it is hard to determine a set build for Alistar. There is such a diverse range of items that are viable, and I believe that most of this decision making must be made on a game by game basis.
Usually my build when playing Alistar includes:
Talisman of Ascension instead of Face of the Mountain as this gives him the mobility he needs in the late game, as well as building out of an easy recipe. The Mana regen is also great for mid game.
Usually the game ends before you can build much further past Upgraded Boots of Mobility, Talisman of Ascension, and Ruby Sightstone. However, if it hasn't, now is the time to go for a nice armor item. (Usually.)
First Tank Item:
Frozen Heart or Randuin's Omen are usually my favourite picks. Both weaken the enemy AD Carry, as well as give you a hefty amount of tankiness. However, building the Chain Vest can also be a hassle, especially when your team is losing.
Building the conventional tank item Locket of the Iron Solari instead is also a viable choice. I have been building this much more lately, especially if Magic Damage on the other team is prominent. This item has a great build recipe, and the end result is a tank item which is strong in any situation. Additionally, the MR means you shouldn't have to build a specific MR item until much later
Aggressive/Gold Advantage Items:
If you feel as though the game does not require you to become as tanky, Twin Shadows is a great item on Alistar. As I have said, movement speed is key. All the stats are extremely useful to him.
Another slightly unpopular item is Mikael's Crucible. If you have quick reaction speed, the active of this item is extremely powerful cast on both yourself or your AD Carry. The Mana/Mana regen given from this item also allows you to build things like Thornmail or Randuin's Omen instead of a Mana+Armor/Health item.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter is an extremely extremely aggressive item to build. However, it is good fun, and synergises well with Alistar's passive. I do not buy this often at all, but when I do, it's great.
What I barely ever build on Alistar:
- Warmog's Armor - Alistar's innate health is very strong anyway, and after building and , it is more useful to buy armor and MR, especially to utilize his heal to it's full potential.
However, Warmogs is still a great item against mixed damage and true damage heavy teams. I sometimes purchase later in the game, after all the utility items.
- Sunfire Cape - This can be a very awkward item to build for a support. Also, Alistar benefits from items that give more Utility stats, such as mana regen and CDR.
Alistar synergises well with AD carries who can quickly follow up on his CC, making an aggressive kill lane. Otherwise, Alistar is just another minion waiting to be farmed.
With Alistar, there is no real middle ground. Pretty much every time you go in to fight, you aim to kill. Trading as Alistar is far to costly - his Pulverize and Heal take out a chunk of his mana. Because of this, he does not contribute much to an ADC such as Caitlyn or Sivir.
AD Carries paired with Alistar usually need to be reasonably independent - able to trade and/or escape bad situations, as Alistar himself cannot provide much help when his Q is on (long) cooldown.
This leads us to several ADC's - Graves , Ezreal , Vayne , Corki and Tristana .
Alistar performs well with champions who:
Veigar, Jayce, Riven, Shyvana, Nidalee, etc.
Specific Lane Counters
As we have already established, Alistar is easily harassed in lane. There are several key supports which are very difficult to play against, and I will talk a little about some of them.
General Laning Phase
As mentioned in the Champ Breakdown, Alistar has a lot of weaknesses, or inadequacies, as a support in the Laning Phase.
EVERY support champion has a way to damage Alistar before you get into range to Q.
Many people have the view that Alistar is tanky enough to constantly take this harassment, and so play him accordingly - they stay up front and attempt to 'zone' the opponents'. I feel that Alistar has been nerfed far too hard for this to work, even with full tank masteries, runes, and a Doran's Shield to start with.
Therefore, you must play very carefully with Alistar for 90% of your time in the lane.
Playing Safe In Lane:
Exploit brush control.
Heal yourself and your carry.
Stay away from the opponents.
Occasionally fake aggressiveness to scare the enemies back.
Then, when your AD carry and/or jungler is ready, wait for an opening, and go in.
It is usually better for the jungler/AD to initiate, so you can get in a position to both the enemy laners, then one in the direction of your choice. However you may be called upon to initiate and so here are a few pointers.
Initiating a Lane Kill:
Flash into Q
Somehow walk close enough to them to Q
Sneakily walk along the opposite side of the lane than the enemy AD, until you can W them into a wall.
Walk up to them and auto-attack them, soak up some of their abilities, then Q
Tip: If you have enough HP and Mana after pushing a lane and/or killing the opposing laners, it is a good idea to go up and gank mid. Most Alistar ganks should result in a kill, unless the enemy Mid Laner has great positioning. The ability to gank and roam well is something most supports do not have.
Tip: If your lane is at the point where you feel like you are useless, e.g. against a pushing Caitlyn Soraka, try roaming. A roaming Alistar will help the team more overall, and all your ADC loses is a small heal.
Mid-to-late game is where Alistar thrives the most.
What To Do:
Pick fights where a few (any number below your group) enemy champs are even slightly out of position, as you are able to capitalise on this a lot more than most teams, as well as secure kills.
Chase enemies (even those you think are kiting), for longer than you normally would. If you have a responsive team, you should be able to tank any consequential damage and CC them long enough for your team to catch up and kill them.
If you get into a sticky situation, use your Unbreakable Will, and run away. They are usually too smart to chase you. Alistar's ultimate has a relatively short cooldown, especially when you build CDR, (as I recommend).
Gank often the split pushing lanes of thine enemies, for Alistar's cray CC will wreck face. This partly why I build so much Move Speed, so I can be anywhere on the map.
A good strategy is to have your teammate(s) come from YOUR team's side, while you flank deep into the enemy territory. This basically ensures that the victim won't escape your headbutt.
Vision, vision, vision.
I can't stress this enough. If you have any experience in the support role, you know how important this is. With Alistar however, it is EVEN MORE vital. If the enemy teams assassin/bruiser sneaks behind your team and turns up to give your AD Carry a hug, you are in big trouble; unless you are within Headbutt range, you can't really do jack. But imagine if you saw the enemy coming unlike almost any other support, you could rush in, and turn the situation into a juicy 1v5.
Similarly, a good guideline for playing Alistar is:
When the enemy team is the aggressor, and has more territory/control, stay close to your carry. This basically grants your ADC invincibility; if the enemy carry gets too close, Headbutt them away. If the enemy bruiser wants a hug, [pulverise]].
When your team is the aggressor, and has more territory/control, roam as far to the front as humanly possible. There is barely anything that can go wrong, especially once you have Talisman of Ascension and possibly Twin Shadows.
At this stage you will be be playing most of the game in each teams bases. There are a few strategies that can be employed with Alistar in these situations.
Unlike in the lane or jungle, you have a lot of room on each side of you. Use this to your advantage by flanking the enemy, to the point where either;
you can one of them into your team/away from their team (this could also be into the Nexus, Inhibitor, or even a turret),
they are forced to retreat, easing the pressure on your team.
Pop Dat Active:
Don't be stingy with your Talisman of Ascension, and always be on the lookout for opponents that you can pick out or who want to pick your ADC.
Being quick with your fingers may turn the game in your favor. Instantly popping a Mikael's Crucible in order to keep up with a fleeing ADC may be gamechanging, as well as Exhausting the enemy APC the moment you know they are about to combo.
Keep on movin':
When your Q and W are on cool-down, don't bother auto attacking enemies. Rather, use the time to get into position, whether that is by continuing to run forward, past the fight, (to gain a head start on any enemy running away), or by retreating to your ADC.
Vision, vision, vision.
Exactly the same as the mid game, except also think about removing the enemy's vision on you - buy oracles and pinks. Alistar is pretty safe roaming around by himself clearing wards. Remember to be with your ADC when you suspect that they will be the target for assassinations.
Most of the things I will write here are just reiterations of snippets of other parts of the guide, as I have basically surmised how to teamfight with Alistar already.
Some Key Pointers:
Remember to position yourself so as to maximise the number of targets when using your .
While saying this, also be sure to NEVER WASTE YOUR STUN ON AGGRESSIVE BRUISERS ALONE. All this does is gives the other team the green light to come in and eat all of you. If this bruiser/assassin/tank is posing a serious threat, use your W instead.
Playing Alistar is a fine balance between protecting your allies and shutting down the enemy carries.
The choices you make in either direction are very situational - does the enemy team have a fed assassin? Are your carries capable of avoiding being squashed the moment you stop holding their hand?
Mix a fine cocktail of both:
1. Don't let the enemy carries hang around the edges of the battle where they are in prime position to turn tail if the fight goes south. Get in their face. Disrupt their channelling. Heal yourself. Cause havoc.
2. Q or W anyone threatening your carry. Heal your carry. Pop a Mikael's Crucible if necessary, or maybe a Talisman of Ascension.
For the sake of chapter accuracy, I will say this again.
Initiating with Alistar is strong, but no where near as good as entering an teamfight that has already begun.
Here are a few good strategies when you DO want to be the initiator:
- Aggressively Flash into their unprepared team.
- Talisman of Ascension and/or Twin Shadows and charge.
- W-Q Combo
- W the enemy tank/bruiser in order to reach the enemy carry.
This isn't meant to be a Jungler Ali guide, but I'll talk a little about it.