Build Guide by Pelikins
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Unlike most tanks, Alistar doesn't need a whole lot in terms of defensive items to be an effective tank. His natural HP and ulti are about all he needs to belong on the front lines. The problem with Ali is that his defensive nature makes him unthreatening. Proper itemization is necessary to allow Ali to become a major obstical standing between enemy dps and your squishier teammates.
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 behind the opponents and punt one of their supports/carries into a the death squad that is the rest of your team. With flash being your summoner skill, your mobility is decently high. You can either circle around the enemy formation or initiate a fight and flash behind one and headbutt 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.
The ressoning behind this:
CDR us everything to Ali, it is survivability (Ulti/heal), it is offensive capability (awesome ap ratios on abilities), it is defensive capability (stuns, push backs)
HP-Ali's ult will not protect you from true damage abilities. This means Olaf, Cho, and ignites are going to tear you apart unless you have stacked hp to some extent.
AP-awesome Ap ratios on abilities, makes you a threat.
Flash: Flash is a must have for any Alistar. You can flash in and pulverize then aim up a headbutt to punt them to desired location, or you can flash behind them and headbutt them up you lane and pulverize them to stun them in a tower or in an allied gank pack. It of course also is great for escaping when needed (which is necessary occasionally due to most of your survivability being in your ult duration.)
Exhaust: I flip between exhaust and sprint regularly but lately have leaned toward exhaust. Exhaust is great for winning early game lane fights and also has great utility in protecting allies and self from auto attackers like tryn, ww, xin ect. Also since the build is limited on armor (boots can be substituted in but AP armor items are few to come by) Exhaust will help against AD characters which focus you as well. Sprint of course has its uses as well and can help you encircle over extended enemies for ganks ect. But in general I find exhaust to be the better option.
If the other team is stun heavy taking cleanse is suggested.
The main idea of this build is CDR and as such the utility is very promising. Extra mana and mana regen will help since you will use abilities more often and burn mana more quickly. Extra movement speed will help since Ali is inherently slow. Improving sumoner skills will help both offensively and defensively. Again we want this Ali to be feared and sa such getting to AK in the offense tree is highly beneficial.
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.
With the addition of flash this skill is a killer. Flash on to an enemy and pulverize immediately for ganks. A single blow to an equally geared player while laning will do 25%+ (40% is common against the squishier champions) and toss them in the air giving time to line up a headbutt. It is recommended that you get a player to 60% before using flash and completely commiting to a gank as to insure a kill.
Second skill to level is Headbutt. 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. Also breaks crowd control effects.
Triumphant Roar is a great ability. 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. When you do hit level 18 your option to support heal with this build also will open up. Also at this point Ali will be nearly unkillable even without his ult because of this ability, high AP, spirit visage and full CDR.
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 in his ult. We want him to play a supporting role doing major damage while keeping the enemy team tied up.
To give Ali teeth we have full magic pen runes for marks, and quints.
Armor seals will help with early game survivability and open the option of jungling earlier and is recommended because little armor is represented in itemization.
Straight CDR glyphs will help get you to the CDR cap and help early game to win lane fights.
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 but it is best to get items with both offensive and defensive components.
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, headbutt them into a wall. This way you and your partner will be in melee range for the full duration of headbutt's stun. If you can punt them into a tower for additional damage, this is nearly a sure kill.
Grab a fiendish codex which will upgrade to Nashor's tooth. The codex will give extra ap significant CDR and mana regen. This is the best item by far to begin with as the mana regen will allow you to keep up harrass while mitigating enemy harrass. It also gives enough of ap to make you dangerous and the cdr is enough where you can keep an overextended enemy from successfully retreating.
Also grab standard boots somewhere in this time frame when convenient.
At this point your CDR will probably have you going through mana faster than you can replenish it. Grab a catalyst which will upgrade to rod of ages eventually. This will give you the mana to farm affectively and extra survivability.
Upgrade your boots as soon as possible after catalyst. Which boots to take depends on the team. If heavy on a damage type, counter with the appropriate boots.
Next upgrade the codex to Nashor's Tooth. The tooth will give major CDR, give you extra AP, more mana regen 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. The Tooth will get you to 39.85% CDR this is .15% off the cap.
Then upgrade catalyst to RoA which will give you the hp and mana base you at this point are desiring, and give you extra AP.
Next on the list is an Abyssal Scepter. I had a Rylai's here for a while but felt that the aura of this item along with the MR out preforms the health and slow.
Now grab a Will of the Ancients. This will cover the bases for your offensive Auras. It will also help keep you topped of through harass.
My last item of choice is a Lich Bane. the dps increase observed with this purchase as this build is termendous, the increase to mobility is also a great perk.
This, IMHO, is the best Ali build out there. It has a great combination of personal and party utility. I've seen several Ali's build for auras, for survivability, or for damage but in the end, all these builds lack key components which make an affective tank. The team mitigation via CC that this build offers is far greater than passive mitigation achieved by auras. The offensive aura Alistar build lacks personal utility leaving a gimped and underfed tank by mid-late game due to lack of farming potential and has very limited survivability. The straight AP Ali likewise lacks survivability and cannot support teammates as well. Defensively stacked Ali builds can be completely ignored. This build, however,has it all.
Though slightly unconventional, this only serves to give you more of an edge due to them not knowing what you are capable of.