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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.
Tank-One who mitigates incoming damage for less survivable team mates.
Unbreakable Will- I are tank hear me roar
In other words, unlike most tanks, Alistar doesn't need a whole lot in terms of defensive items to be an effective tank.
The key to success with this build is to force quick, decisive battles and that isn't as hard as it may sound.
Big hulking, sneaky cowman. The idea is to get inbehind the opponents and punt one of their supports/carries into a the death squad that is the rest of your team. With flash and sprint being your mobility is very high. You can either circle around the enemy formation or initiate a fight and flash behind one and charge it. While doing this chances are you are going to get focused/ cc/ ect. Take the tools necessary (cleanse, sprint, flash, merc treds, quicksilver sash) to do this. It will vary from team to team depending on the amount and types of cc the opposing team has. Those of you familar with playing Trynd will really like this type of Ali tanking. Its quick, dirty, in and out. You must clear the enemy focus before your ult runs out else you are going to die. But if done well, this is both effective and dificult to counter. Once you do this, or if this is not possible, you play guard dog for the dps/supports. Who ever they focus, you use an ability to peel them and bring down the pain on them as well. All the while, spam your heal to mitigate harass. Do this until one over commits, if one never does you can push them into their tower and whittle the tower down.
The stats you are going to max are CDR, HP, and AP. Some spell pen, attack speed, and mana are in the itemization to round out the character effectively.
Your first skill to level is Pulverize. This skill will allow you to farm effectively, is an effective stun/disable and scales really well with AP (1:1). Not to mention it is an AoE ability which is extremely effective against clumped melee.
Second skill to level is Charge. This skill will allow Ali to dash to a fight, is very effective at protecting squishies, scales well with AP (1:1) and can be used to punt enemies into your team's range for focus.
Unbreakable Will is of course your ult and should be kept at max available level. Use this ability when being focused. It makes you nearly unkillable. It allows you to tank towers on dives early on and push down towers late game. It is important to play defensively while this is on CD as it is your main source of mitigation.
Triumphant Roar is a great ability for a different playstyle of Alistar than the one being displayed here. It's cheap and on a low cd so even at a low level it can semi-effectively harass heal. But I recommend only taking one level of it until late game simply because it does not fit the flank-tank-spank play style represented here.
This is an initiator tank build. It is designed to pick a target, get to that target and move it to a position where it can be focused. After this point the battle is already won. This being said, Ali has all the survivability he needs late game in his ult. But we want him to have teeth.
This is why I got full magic pen runes for glyph, marks, and quints.
Armor seals will help with early game survivability and open the option of jungling earlier.
Alistar is all about his abilities. His ult makes him nearly unkillable and is on a relatively short cd, his q and w scale well with AP, have stuns associated, and have short cds. His e is useful for some mitigation. This is why cdr is so powerful. It allows you to control and support the battlefield. getting to 40% CDR is paramount.
Of course, you need some defensive stats as well if you want to tank effectively.
Start with a Doran's Ring. The mana regen and ap give Ali the ability to harass and farm early on. The hp boost allows for a more sturdy Ali as well.
Also grab a hp pot. Since you wont even have the option to heal until level 4 it is nice to have a little health insurance.
You can win lane battles fairly easily with Alistar if you have the right lane partner. It is best to be able to use q to pop them up in the area, circle around behind them and punt them toward your tower. This is most easily done if you have a stunner to lane with. Eve, Sion, Cho, and other characters that offer a stun/disable and decent damage are best for Ali to lane with. If available, charge them into a wall. This way you and your partner will be in melee range for the full duration of charge's stun. If you can charge them into a tower for additional damage, this is nearly a sure kill.
Now you hopefully are about level 6 and have a kill (or atleast an assist). Go back and grab a ruby crystal. If you can afford to upgrade it to a catalyst do so, if not grab boots instead.
Return to the lane until mid game ganking begins. When you can afford it, up grade to a Rod of Ages.
After getting a rod you can effectively jungle if available. You can easily destroy creep waves if a lane is overwhelmed. Getting lost in the jungle often opens gank opportunities. The golem buff is very nice when doing this as you can keep to full hp and the CDR is nice when ganking.
Up grade your boots as soon as possible after getting RoA. Which boots to take depends on the team. If heavy on damage type, counter with the appropriate boots. If they have a lot of squishy champions or if you've scored a few kills already and are ahead on levels or gear get sorc shoes to heighten your advantage.
At this point, if ever an enemy begins pushing a tower, you can use the opportunity to try and get a kill. Flank behind them, charge them into a tower and stun them in the towers fire. If he is supported by one teammate you can usually ult and still do this successfully (depending on their cc ability). If you can punt them into several friendlies this is just as effective.
Next item to get is a spirit visage. The CDR/gold is very good on this item. Also it gives some MR, HP, and now your self healing is 20% more effective.
Next grab a fiendish codex which will upgrade to Nashor's tooth. The tooth will max you CDR, give you extra AP, and 50% AS. the AS increase will allow you to do devistating amounts of damage when pushing towers, will significatnly increase your dps while ulting and will help you farm gold very effectively.
With the addition of the tooth, you are now a hulking tyrant. Your ult will be up every engagement and even if you aren't able to punt one of them into a gank setting you can win every team fight simply because they wont be able to deal damage to any of your teammates as long as you are around.
The final Item of importance is Rylai's Crystal Scepter. This last peace will truly make enemy carries cry; keep the other team slowed between stuns and hence their melee will never get to damage anything. Additionally, anyone you punt towards teammates wont have a chance to recover.
Your last item option is (as always with tanks) dependent on your opponent's. You may like the extra speed/mr/hp reg from a Force of Nature, or perhaps additional damage via sunfire cloak or even Abyssal Scepter. It all depends on the opponents damage type, both team's mobility, and general strategy.
If the game goes extremely long (not likely) you can sell the visage and pick up and Randuin's Omen.