Introduction: Alistar and Roaming
Roaming is an important and often overlooked role on a team. It helps keep all of your lanes farming effectively and pretty much makes it so that you have 3 solo lanes (assuming you have a jungler). The role of a roamer is to keep all of your teammates alive and farming while obstructing the enemy farm or even killing them. Alistar excels at this role, being able to gank effectively as well support his teammates. Below is a rough explanation of how to fulfill this role as Alistar, although one cannot do this perfectly without a good bit of experience.
0/21/9, although 0/9/21 works as well.
Offense: There isn't too much in the offense tree that helps Alistar much, as he really doesn't do much damage.
Defense: Making yourself more durable helps you position better and tank damage better. I recommend going mostly in this tree.
Utility: You can take 21 points in this tree, although I find defense more valuable. Take Good Hands because Perserverance is mathematically bad. Take Awareness and Greed because you won't be getting much gold or experience and you could use more of that stuff.
Boots of Speed, Sight Ward, Mana Potion: These starting items allow you to get to roaming the fastest which is why I take them.
Philosopher's Stone, Heart of Gold: These two help you get gold income while you are roaming between lanes, while also providing some helpful stats.
Boots of Mobility: These boots help you roam the fastest. In general take these.
Catalyst the Protector: Helps keep you healthy and at high mana since you are leveling up later than everyone else. Builds into a Banshee's Veil later.
Aegis of the Legion: A great aura that someone on your team should take; it might as well be you.
Banshee's Veil: One of the best defensive items in the game and it builds from your Catalyst the Protector.
Shurelya's Reverie: At this point you run out of slots so you start finishing your gold items. This is a great support item, especially good on Alistar.
Randuin's Omen: A formerly great, now decent, tank item that builds from your Heart of Gold. Combined with Shurelya's, you can give your team a large positional advantage.
Rylai's Crystal Scepter: Gives you a little bit of extra damage, a good chunk of health, and a slow on all of your moves (and I think your passive too?). In general you only buy this if the game goes really late since you want to keep a slot open for wards.
Other Good Items:
Mercury's Treads, Ninja Tabi, Boots of Swiftness, Ionian Boots of Lucidity: Different situations may merit buying different boots. In general, Boots of Mobility help most while roaming.
Chalice of Harmony: Buy this pretty early if you are broke and are having a lot of mana trouble.
Guardian Angel: A possible alternative for the last slot, especially if someone else got Aegis of the Legion.
Frozen Heart: A great item on Alistar with a good aura and CDR. Sometimes this is an alternative to finishing Randuin's Omen.
Force of Nature: Take this as your last item if you are getting killed by magic damage or especially percentage health based damage ( Amumu, Brand, Kog'Maw, Malzahar, Deathfire Grasp, Madred's Bloodrazor). The movement speed also helps.
Soul Shroud, Zeke's Herald, Abyssal Scepter, etc.: Grabbing Aura items can definitely help out your team. These are situationally good.
Thornmail, Sunfire Cape, Warmog's Armor, etc.: Tank items are generally good at Alistar, these just aren't top priority. You can build other items that will help your team more.
Main thing to remember: What items you build is flexible, as well as the order you build them in.
Roaming: Using Your Resources
Roaming is in my opinion the most difficult role to fill in League of Legends. While roaming, there are many resources that you have. These are: experience and farm, gold, and location. With each of these comes decisions. You must balance the use of each resource. Sections on each resource are below.
Experience and Farm
Despite the fact that you are the roamer, you are going to need at least some experience and farm to get you going. You don't want to end up five or more levels behind as you start to become ineffective. Just remember: your teammates need farm and experience more than you. Try to feed off of leftover experience and farm while teammates have to leave the lane. This should help keep you from falling too far back, while still giving your laners optimal farm and experience. In short: don't take farm from teammates but don't let it go to waste either.
The main dilemma with gold is that you aren't getting that much of it. Most of it is getting pumped out of your Philosopher's Stone and Heart of Gold. Your items need to be progressing while also grabbing wards to keep track of the enemy team. In general, the better you are doing, the more wards you can get. Below is a priority list, rating ward locations from most important to least important. Note that this is very flexible based on their ability to do Baron/Dragon, how much the jungler is ganking, etc.
1. Baron/Dragon: These are the two most important neutral monsters in the game. Baron gives a game changing buff, and both give a lot of money. Keep this warded whenever the enemy might be capable of killing them.
NOTE: You don't necessarily have to place the ward where it has vision of Baron or Dragon. You just need to ward so that you know if they are trying to do it.
2. Small Bushes Near Mid: These bushes reveal many different enemy paths, and make mid almost 100% gank proof. These are best for keeping track of inter-lane movement.
3. Small Bushes Near Sides: These bushes tend to be where the jungler ganks side lanes from. These are important wards, but not necessarily as important as the previous ones.
4. Red/Blue Buffs: If your jungler is getting his jungle stolen, help him out! Also, if your jungler is capable of stealing their buffs, help him out! These are generally the lowest priority wards but may be more important depending on the situation.
Location: The Most Important Resource
You can't be everywhere at once, so you have to choose where to go wisely. You can generally help out every lane in some way, but you have to choose which one to go to. Here are your priorities on which lane to go to:
1. A lane is being ganked: If you are close enough to help out a lane that is being ganked, get there quick to support your teammate. This is the most important time to be in a lane. Not only are you trying to save your teammate, but you are also trying to prevent the tower push that will most likely follow.
2. A lane is being zoned: One of the most important roles of a roamer is to keep his teammates farming and leveling at maximum capacity. Depending on the situation, this could be a good time to either gank or support. Gank if you can outnumber the enemy and ensure the kill; support if your teammate is weak and may die during a gank. Do whatever it takes to keep their laner from farming well and to keep your laner farming well.
3. A lane is being pushed: Your towers are important, don't let them fall! In this scenario is another decision between ganking and supporting. Gank if they are overextending, meaning that you are able to kill them by outnumbering or through use of the tower. Support if it is a strong push of multiple enemies and you simply want to keep your tower alive.
4. A laner needs to recall: You can either try to gank the lane and then let the laner recall or just cover the lane. Either way, this is low priority.
How to Support
There are many ways to support a teammate in trouble. Being in trouble can range from being ganked to having low health. Here's what you can do:
1. Heal your teammate with Triumphant Roar.
2. Deter and interrupt enemies with your Pulverize.
3. Keep enemies off of your teammate with Headbutt.
4. Draw damage away from your teammate. In general, if you get up in people's faces, they start to attack you. Use your tankiness to your advantage and keep them from attacking your teammate.