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Supporting with the Mad Cow (tanky lategame)
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A lot of times in ranked games you will be forced to play a support even against your own will if you are one of the last two picks, and I myself have learned to actually enjoy sometimes playing a support. I main Soraka, Taric and Alistar as supports because I really love the fact that each of them have decent to amazing heals all the while providing good support with some CC or auras. Support characters are easy to play but actually quite hard to master as they are required to do everything that none of the other characters do.
Alistar was actually the first champion I ever played in League of Legends, and I used to play him as a tank back in the day, once I got to ranked though, I started playing him as AP when players like Shushei made AP alistar popular. Now that they have nerfed Alistar's AP ratios though, I find Alistar much more viable to be played as a supporter in the bottom lane along with an AD carry. The thing about Alistar is that he can fulfill almost any role, whether it be tank, AP carry, support, roamer, jungler. However in today's metagame I feel like he is best used in a support role, either in the bottom lane or as a roamer (not to say that he isn't viable in other positions, I just feel like this is what he does best nowadays).
This build guide will focus on a supportive laning phase (for the most part babysitting and not roaming), whilst becoming more tanky lategame even able to deal some damage and turn the tides of a teamfight with good use of his abilities.
- has some of the best utility in the entire game with all his abilities
- ult makes him almost invincible
- has malphite's ultimate, except he can use it every ten seconds
- has a strong aoe heal
- able to gank very well
- amazing in teamfights as he can completely zone out the enemy carry with his abilities and survive due to his tankiness
- a lot of times your team will not have a tank and Alistar is one of the only supports who can fulfill the tank role well
- quite fun to play, not that hard either
- early game you won't be tanky at all
- mana reliant early game
Greater Mark of Scaling Ability Power x9
I prefer to go with AP runes because this is what his abilities scale with and as a support character I don't see myself needing magic penetration as my main objective is not to deal damage.
Greater Seal of Scaling Mana Regeneration x9
These runes are essential to have better laning sustainability early on as he tends to run out of mana quite easily.
Greater Glyph of Scaling Cooldown Reduction x9
These runes are very important in order to maximize your ability to spam your gamechanging skills.
greater quitessence of fortitude x3
There are really a lot of options here, but I like to go with added health to give me some more survivability early on in the game as this could be the difference between failing to run away and running then headbutting my enemy away so I can successfully escape.
For my masteries, I like to go 0/9/21 as I will be building more tanky lategame and I need the utility masteries for reduced cooldowns and CV.
Alistar's passive is not a bad passive but it definitely isn't as overwhelming as his other abilities. If you went full AP or decided to jungle then this passive is what makes building Alistar this way viable, however seeing as you are going the support/tank route, this passive won't be as helpful.
One of the reasons why Alistar is considered by many as OP is because this ability has an AOE stun that can be used for multiple purposes. It is very good at ganking, however you may also use it farm and proc your passive. It's a very reliable form of CC too and can change teamfights as well as help you and your allies escape.
Another one of Alistar's abilities that make him OP. Although this ability does not stun, it will knock the enemy back and this is what is very important. With this ability you are able to either shove their carries into your teams range to be focused or push them away so they may not deal their damage. It is another great form of CC that can simply be spammed. It can also be quite useful at simply harassing your enemy. It's best when used to shove the enemy into a wall as this will actually proc a mini stun.
This ability is best early game because lategame I don't notice the heal as much, that's one of the reason's why i max this first after getting my headbutt and pulverize upbut also since I am building support it is very important in the laning phase. Spam this spell if you need to bring someone's health up.
This ability will basically make you invincible when you activate it. The main thing you want to do is predict when the enemy is about to focus you and then activate it as soon as you believe that they will unleash their damage on you as this will basically negate their damage on you for that period of time. I wouldn't save it for when you're very low because it is possible to actually kill you in this situation.
I like to level pulverize first just in case of a level 1 fight. I then like to level Headbutt since the combo of headbutt and pulverize is quite deadly. I get those two abilities strictly for the CC they do, after this though I max my heal spell for lane sustainability (for both my carry and myself).
The headbutt + pulverize combo
This combination is essential to anybody who plays Alistar. It's basically a Malphite ult that can be spammed every ten seconds and very easy to master. What you do, is you headbutt someone and as soon as your headbutt spell procs you press q so that he is immediately stunned instead of being pushed far back. This short stun is often enough to allow your teammates to reach the enemy and deal what damage they may.
Flash is an absolute necessity on Alistar as the combo of Flash+Pulverize will just wrecks havoc on the enemy team.
As a support character, you need clairvoyance to help with map control. It's important to master your clairvoyance spell as this will be a great asset to your team. Generally when I spawn I will CV the enemy base to see what items the enemy is getting and to see if anyone is going top or bottom. The next CV I will use where I think their jungler starts, in almost all cases this is near their blue, I do this to see whether or not the jungler is being protected by his team. Usually, if I feel like we are not likely to get ganked at level 1, then I will save my next CV for when the blue spawns at 1.55 to make sure to see the jungler doing his blue. From here on I will attempt to track the enemy jungler with my CV. Doing this is quite easy, the next CV will be between the enemy red and their wraiths, and then the CV after that will be between the double golems and enemy red. After this the next CV should be at the bush of the lane closest to their red spawn side. Finally after this just attempt to guess where their jungler will be, it really isn't that hard once you get used to jungling paths.
Also use your CV to help out with ganks, if your jungler ever ganks someone, help them out by CVing the bushes so that they can't run away through the bushes. Use CV whenever you belive somebody may be doing Baron and Dragon. Use CV to make sure going through certain bushes are safe. Use CV whenever you suspect a gank. There are just so many uses to CV that it's an absolute necessity on any support.
Ionian Boots of Lucidity + Philosopher's Stone + Heart of Gold + Aegis of the Legion
Generally there's 3 sets of starting items I like to use
This is generally a good item of choice if you intend on babysitting and don't see the need for early wards as it provides you with extra health and mana regeneration. I usually get this if I'm not worried about getting ganked early.
Faerie Charm + Sight ward x3 + Health Potion x2
Good overall starting items that give you early wards against early ganks as well as some health pots to heal yourself up if you lose some hp early on. Basically you can ward the enemy jungle early in case you want to gank their red and still have enough wards to protect your own lane. This builds into a philosopher's stone.
Faerie Charm + Sight Ward x2 + Vision Ward
This is also a good starting set of items as you will get your early wards to protect your lane whilst you will also get a pink ward in case you want to ward dragon and make sure that they don't have a ward there if your team goes for an early dragon. (Of course, save the pink ward for later when you believe a dragon fight or something will come soon).
General Item Explanations
Ionian Boots of Lucidity
These are important boots as your main goal will be to shut down the enemy team via CC (not necessarily to do damage). The more you are able to spam your abilities the easier this will be to accomplish. Sometimes though, if the game goes on for a long time or if the enemy team has a huge amount of CC I will either switch my boots for Mercury's Treads later, or start off with these boots.
Great item that gives a good amount of health and mana regeneration but will also allow to get a good amount of gold without having to farm at all.
Heart of Gold
Another Gold per 5 item from which any support will benefit as you get extra health and free gold. Just remember that later on, you may want to sell your gold per 5 items for more lategame items.
Aegis of the Legion
Overall just a great item that will make you much more durable whilst at the same time providing a great aura that gives extra AD, MR and armor to your entire team.
From here the items are situational, however what I usually do is build at least one tanky item. If I am still not tanky enough then I continue with my tanky build, otherwise i will get some AP damage items.
Simply the best armor item, especially on Alistar as it will reduce his cooldowns, give him extra mana and armor all the while reducing the attacking speed of all enemy champions within Alisar's radius. This is my first item after Aegis if the enemy team is predominantly physical damage. In most cases this is my preferred item as it also helps tanking turrets.
Force of Nature
This is one of the best tanking items overall as it gives an amazing health regen bonus + it also gives you an amazing amount of MR. In addition, you gain movement speed which is just so vital to being able to get in range to use your abilities. This is my first item after Aegis if the enemy team is predominantly magic damage.
In some games, there are those casters who are simply fed and a single burst can shut you down. This is why in this case you build a Banshee's Veil so that he is unable to burst you down that quickly. This is my first item after Aegis if the enemy team has a fed caster who is able to nuke you down in a single burst.
If I believe I am tanky enough to take some abuse, then i will build this to get extra AP whilst still gaining some armor. I get this vs physical teams.
Again, if I believe that I am tanky enough, then I will build an item to get extra AP. It really just becomes a toss up of whether I want to get extra armor or extra MR.
You can simply harass the enemy with your headbutt skill and run back behind your creeps in safety then heal if you lost any health. If the enemy hero wants to battle and your hero is in a bad position then you may headbutt him away. If you are getting ganked, then headbutt them away or pulverize them to delay them.
It's also possible to be very aggressive with your headbutt and pulverize abilities if you believe you carry can defeat the enemy carry in battle. If you can get in range to pulverize them, then you can easily walk past them and headbutt the carry back into range of your carry, sometimes it's worth using flash to get into pulverize range if you believe it's a sure kill.
Another good way to be agressive, is to headbutt the enemy carry into a wall so he gets mini stunned and then when he starts to run pulverize to stall him. Finally, you can't forget to use your deadly headbutt+pulv combo. Simply use this combo if they are trying to run away and you can't reach them otherwise as it will stall their escape.
NOTE: If there is a level one fight, then flash + pulverize their team to win it.
Mid Game I like to go roaming a bit as this is when I usually go back to base often to buy wards and my other items so often they will not be expecting a gank. Simply put, Alistar is one of the best gankers out there as he has an absolutely devastating skill set even when you don't deal much damage. Try to come at the enemy from behind and push them into your teammate(s). Remember to use your combos whenever available
Also remember that at this point you should start constantly warding the map. Dragon should always be warded early-mid game and Baron should always be warded lategame. I'll have a section on warding later on in the guide.
If teamfights start out at this point, you don't want to stay in the middle of it for too long as you usually aren't that tanky yet at this point. Generally, you want to use your CC to disable the enemy and then run back to safety. Ult whenever you feel like the enemy will start to focus you. Also if any bruisers decide to dive onto your carries, headbutt them away and keep them away with pulverize. Don't forget to spam heal whenever somebody needs health and to proc your passive.
Note: mid to late game is usually a good time to get an Oracle's Elixir to make sure that they have not warded baron or any other ward hotspots.
Although Headbutt + Pulverize is still a great combo to initiate, this late in the game, I simply find it easier to flash into their team, pulverize and then immediately use my ultimate so that I don't take any immediate damage. Once their team has been stunned you need to either headbutt their carry into your team or headbutt the enemy bruisers off of your carries.
As Alistar, you want to surprise the enemy team with your initiate so it's actually very useful to flash over a wall when they least expect it. Also, if you are in a bush and then flash into them, their team won't expect that either. At this point you should also be able to tank turrets like a boss, especially with your ultimate, so sometimes it is a good idea to tower dive if the right opportunity arises.
Generally, early game I can only help out with warding bottom lane and dragon for dragon control and to ensure that you don't get ganked early, but as the game progresses, it becomes important to have wards all around the map.
(IDK who to give credit to, but I've seen this map given in many guides before...)
As a general rule, if your towers are down, then ward your own jungle for safety and if the enemy towers are down ward the enemies jungle to know where their team is going and from where.
It gets complicated lategame when both sets of towers are down, in this case, it's best to use your own judgment based on who you believe has the advantage and which team will be invading which jungle more. If you think you will be invading more, then go ahead and try and ward their jungle as long as it's done safely (use CV in advance to make sure nobody is in those bushes).
Also as a general rule, try to always keep baron and dragon warded as they are two extremely important PVE minions that may decide a game as they both give a good amount of gold and baron nashor gives a huge buff.
Early game, when you don't yet have an Oracle's Elixir, it is best to ward dragon and baron buff with a pink ward so as to make sure that they do not have it warded. If they do have it warded then you will immediately get your money back when you destroy that other ward. Later though, you want to get an Oracle's Elixir whilst safely roaming around and destroying their wards to make sure that you vision is superior to theirs. Sometimes you may even want to get an early Oracles if you notice that they are getting a high amount of wards or their team is running a teleport strategy where they ward the bushes in your lane so they can surprise gank you.
Also building support Alistar as AP is kind of counter productive since the idea of AP Alistar is to actually get kills, whilst the idea of support Alistar is to assist your team in getting kills.
If you guys have any comments, criticism, or questions please leave them and I'll happily reply to you.