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Alistar Build Guide by deribou

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League of Legends Build Guide Author deribou

A Tanky, DPS guide to an Alistar

deribou Last updated on July 1, 2011
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Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

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.


Brute Force
Improved Rally

Offense: 0

Strength of Spirit
Veteran's Scars

Defense: 6

Mystical Vision
Presence of the Master

Utility: 24

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Alistar can, and most of the time, is played as a tank. He CAN tank, don't get me wrong, I just think BUILDING pure tank on him isn't viable.

Now to move on.

If you build Alistar starting with a health crystal, doran's shield, doran's blade, etc, I will shoot your balls off. Now read on.

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What is Alistar?

Alistar, is known as many to be a tank/support/roamer, and sometimes AP caster. He can be played as those. His role is generally to cause havoc in team fights with his great crowd control abilities, helping your teammates get easy kills in the beginning part of the match, and of course, saving your teammates.

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What counters Alistar - why not to pick him in certain situations.

However, there are several problems with Alistar in general. One is that he is easily kited. If say, you pick Alistar, and the enemy team picks Ashe/Vayne/Janna, or the like, you are royally screwed. They can keep damaging you without getting in range of your skills (Ashe's slow arrows, Vayne tumbling in and out). Getting kited is a HUGE problem for AP caster Alistar. If your enemies are smart, they'll just keep kiting you outside your ultimate, as you are squishy, and your health will drop in no time.

If you build him tank/support, getting kited is still a problem. In addition, after you use your abilities, you will be ignored by smart players, and you will do close to no damage afterwards.

A hard counter to Alistar is any champion with true damage. One thing that makes Alistar such a great champion is his ultimate - 75 % damage reduction for 6/7/8 seconds. This gives you the ability to tower dive at level 6, bait your enemies into thinking they can kill you, etc. However, true damage goes through your ultimate. Champions like Vayne, Olaf, and Cho gath will most likely kill you if you forget that.

One more thing is that any abilities or champions that are immune to crowd control will make Alistar cry. Spell shields from Morgana, Nocturne, Sivir, Poppy or Olaf's ultimate will make you weep in pain as they wreck your team.

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So what? Why should I pick him?

When you do pick Alistar is if you're fighting any team that doesn't seem to be able to kite you well, or ignore your abilities. Alistar is a great counter to champions like Nunu, Katarina, Xin, or Jax. Why? Either those champions do all their damage in one skill (Nunu/Kat), or rely on being uninterrupted to put out damage. Also, he's just a great pick in general, excluding his weaknesses in the above chapter.

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Alistar's skills.

Pulverize - This ability knocks up and stuns enemies around you. It has a rather small radius, please use it only if you know you will hit.
Headbutt - This ability knocks your opponent back. This is the reason positioning is important on Alistar.
Triumphant Roar - This heals. Woohoo. Use it for sheen proc. Use it to sustain your health.
Unbreakable Will - Reduces incoming damage by 75%. Gives you 60/75/90 damage for 6/7/8 seconds. Trololol. What damage? (unless facing olaf, chogath, vayne, or ignite)

Pulverize is used to interrupt enemies, or stun them. Headbutt is used to interrupt enemies, pin them against walls, or push a single enemy towards your allies (so that they can kill you)

My preference is to get the ultimate when I can, get one of each skill, and then max headbutt and pulverize first. I find that headbutt and pulverize can hit squishies for quite a bit early on, but only if you take advantage and max them first. Heal is secondary to that, unless you like getting kited.

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Roles. (Also, a comparison between tanky AP and tanky DPS)

In my opinion, Alistar is best played as a tanky dps, or a tanky mage, with maximum cooldown reduction. Why is that?

First of all, if you build straight tank (HoG, Warmogs, Sunfire Cape, FoN), after you CC you will be ignored, and useless. USELESS. The enemy will not be scared of you, especially end game. You're a ******* BULL. Do something besides CC. Kick ***.

If you build straight AP/DPS, you will be squishy. They will kill you, or kite you in ultimate form. You're supposed to be scary, not get killed.

I personally prefer building Alistar as a tanky dps with maximum cooldown reduction. The reasoning behind this is so that you're tanky enough not to be focused (and if they do, your carry should be kicking their *** while you use your ultimate), while being able to deal decent amounts of damage to everyone except their tank.

Tanky mage works, and is also extremely viable. This guide only explores tanky DPS.

I feel that if you are solo queueing as Alistar, then building tanky DPS will have the advantage.

This is because the core tanky DPS build (frozen heart, mercury treads, spirit visage, trinity force) is 9595 gold total. It gives you maximum CDR, your damage output, and tankyness is easier to obtain, than say, building tanky AP.

Keep in mind that the only offensive item in the core build for tanky DPS is the sheen, followed by a trinity force.

When building tanky AP, you must obtain cooldown reduction, tankyness (health, armor, magic resist), and have a decent amount of AP to deal damage. To me, it seems like it would cost a chunk of gold that you may or may not get to spend that game.

My own problem with tanky AP is that I have yet to find a balance between tankyness and AP, while being cost-efficient (meaning, I will be able to get these items quickly for their effectiveness).

This is the reason for my preference for tanky DPS.

Keep in mind that DPS Alistar is still doing somewhat of a sustained burst. You want to take advantage of your triforce procs while using your skills (i.e. try to space them out so you can use all of your procs).

Tanky AP has it's own advantages over DPS.

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My build is Sheen -> Mercury Treads -> Spirit Visage/Glacial Shroud -> Trinity Force/Frozen Heart

When you start off, you should buy a sapphire crystal, and two potions (health/mana). You can buy a ward if you want, in place of those. Buying a sapphire crystal increases your pitiful mana pool, so you can use your skills a little more often before you recall.

Rushing sheen first is important for Alistar to deal damage. His skillset allows you to render the enemy immobile, and includes a heal for you to use the Sheen proc. You should be able to fit in two sheen procs while attacking an enemy.

Headbutt the enemy against a wall. Sheen proc. Pulverize. Normal Attack. Roar, Sheen proc.
Why isn't he dead yet?
(Answer: Ally is dumb/ You are attempting to kill Olaf after level 6/Vladimir trollpooled)

Mercury treads is taken next. You want to be the one doing the CC. Reduce the incoming CC by 35%, make them wish they didn't CC you.

Spirit Visage gives health and magic resist, Glacial Shroud gives mana and armor. Both give cooldown reduction. Get whichever one first that you think will suit facing the enemy team (i.e if that ashe is wrecking you, grab the glacial shroud first).

Trinity Force/Frozen Heart should be completed next. Frozen heart gives you a nice boost in armor and cooldown reduction from the glacial shroud, and its passive reduces enemy attack speed by 20% (if that ashe is STILL wrecking you, get it).

Trinity Force is gotten because that sheen's ability to do damage is fading. Alistar has a good base damage amount. Trinity force gives you movement speed (important for positioning), an on hit slow (good for making sure the enemies can't run away, because they're scared ****less of you), a small amount of health/mana/damage/AS/AP/crit chance, which is nice, and improves the sheen proc for even MOAR damage.

Let's say, in a teamfight late game, you pulverize their entire team, and headbutt that annoying veigar into your team. That ashe still needs to die right?

You have a trinity force proc available from the headbutt. Your base damage is 120, so the proc multiplies it by 2.5. That makes it 300. Triforce gives you 30, so you get 330. You ultied, so that gives you an extra 90 damage, having a grand total of 420. Now, say with the small amount of crit chance, you even crit. Your damage is doubled (as nito pointed out, the proc doesn't crit), so that's another 150 added damage. In total that's 670 damage, with a single hit. (including your arpen runes and a squishies' armor, say it actually is reduced to around 500-600. That's still a huge, unignorable amount.)

This is why trinity force = good on Alistar.

After that, what you build on Alistar really depends on the enemy team.

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Situational Items.

Originally, I was too lazy to put this in. Generally, most games will be over before, or by the time you complete your "core" build. However, here are some items to consider, if you do get the extra cash.

Banshee's Veil. This items gives you a hefty chunk of health, mana, magic resist, and a nice little shield to protect you from nasty casters. Buy if you see Karthus, Veigar, Brand, Annie, etc.

Phantom Dancer. I personally buy this item, because it makes you move that much faster, gives you more crit chance, and attack speed. A cow hitting at 1.4 AS looks pretty funny. I wouldn't recommend this item if you are not comfortable with playing Alistar.

Aegis of the Legion. This is a nice little item that gives a little bit of everything on defense, as well as an aura for your team. If you can't figure out what you want, or if the enemy team's damage output is rather balanced, this item is a great choice.

Thornmail. So is that Ashe still somehow critting 700's on you? Even after you bought that Glacial Shroud and upgraded to Frozen heart to reduce her attack damage, is she fed out of her ***? Then buy this.

Abyssal Scepter. Now, I know you're thinking, "Hey, isn't that a DPS guide? What's with this item?" .... Well, this item's quite good, almost too good to pass up. It gives you more magic resist, if you really need it. It debuffs the enemy team's magic resist, so that helps your entire team. AND it gives you a nice chunk of..... AP? Think about it this way. Even though you're building DPS, all your abilities scale off AP. It'll make your Headbutt/Pulverize combo that much more dangerous to the squishies you're aiming for.

Infinity Edge.

Just kidding.

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Summoner Spells.

I prefer taking Flash and Teleport. Teleport enables you to get around the map faster, while Flash helps your positioning for headbutt/pulverize.

Flash in particular is extremely useful on Alistar.
You can flash behind an enemy, and headbutt them to your allies.
You can flash to someone in trouble and pulverize the enemy.
You can flash to an enemy that is perfoming a SUPER ultimate (Katarina/Nunu) and pulverize/headbutt them.
And most of all, you can use it to run (only occasionally, as you shouldn't be running. They should be running.)

A good Alistar will know when to flash, and when flashing doesn't work.

Other summoner spells like ghost, exhaust, clairvoyance, ignite can be useful as well. Don't take the other ****.

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I take armor penetration reds, armor yellows, 4 magic resist blue, 5 flat cd blue, and one move speed quint, one health quint, and one armor penetration quint.

The armor penetration runes help your sheen procs hit that much harder early game, as well as helping you late game.

Flat armor/magic resist/health runes makes you less squishy in the beginning. This means you don't need to spam roar as often, saving your mana for more important things (like killing people).

The 5 CDR blue is for capping your cooldown reduction at 40%. Frozen heart and Spirit Visage give you 30% CDR. Your masteries give you another 6%. The CDR blue give the remaining 4%.

The one movement speed quint is for moving. You like moving.

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I use masteries 0/6/24. The 6 in the defense tree is for even more armor and magic resist. Combined with your runes, you should have around 37 armor and 49 magic resist at level 1 (and 570 hp). This makes you a god early game. That is good.

The 24 in utility is for the movement speed, cooldown reduction, mana regen, and most importantly, summoner spell cooldown reduction. You can nao spam Flash/Teleport more frequently. That is good.

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What not to do as Alistar.

Don't ****ing try to kill with Alistar's headbutt, unless you're building AP or if they have around 50 hp.
Don't buy a health crystal as a first item.
Don't fail flash.
Don't use your ultimate if you aren't taking damage. Start taking damage first, and then if you're sure the tower/enemy team is focusing you, THEN use your ultimate, and laugh.

^I have faced enemy Alistars, and I swear to god. they fail really hard (sometimes. headbutting my allies to safety is funny.)

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I feel like building Alistar as a full tank, or full support, or full ap/dps, is not making the most of Alistar's potential, as he will either be ignored, or he will be squishy. Having a mix of both while maxing cooldown reduction makes Alistar much, much scarier.

Feel free to comment on why this build is unviable/ what you think could be done with Alistar better. I don't mind.