Alistar Build Guide

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Beginner's Alistar Guide

written by LedZepp570

Alistar Build

Table of Contents

  • Introduction

    Welcome, dudes and dudetes, to my Alistar guide and also my first guide on Leaguegraft. Many people underestimate and complain about what is in my opinion great hero. I do agree that Alistar is far from the best tank in the game but I believe he is a very fun and balanced hero and I can see no way of buffing him without making him just another boring or overpowered tank. Maybe I am just short sighted =D. Anyway, I have played a handful of games with Alistar and I hope this guide will help you learn this challenging but very fun hero more quickly and less painfully than I did.

  • Abilities

    [spell=Colossal Strength]
    A pretty decent passive. Combined with Sheen/Trinity Force and your ultimate you will be able to drop towers and inhibitors very quickly.

    AOE stun and good damage. If you are certain you won't have mana problems you can use this to farm. The AP ratio is also 1:1 although I never build Alistar AP and therefore cannot provide advice on that playstyle. The only problem with this ability is its CD.

    P.S.: This ability can also bug out sometimes and knock the enemies to infinity and beyond. I find this usually happens when I hit someone when they are using a blink like ability (like Xin's Charge)

    This skill is pretty amazing. It makes the gameplay of Alistar much more fun and also has a lot of uses. Its AP ratio is also 1:1 and its CD relatively long.

    Triumphant Roar
    MOO. Another great skill. While the healing it does isn't very significant, it is one of the best lane staying skills in the game (mainly because your lane partner also benefits from it). It also helps sustain pushes and triggers your Sheen/Trinity Force proc.

    Unbreakable Will
    An amazing ultimate. When you use it your are pretty much unkillable. However, it is not as easy to use as it seems. Timing is everything as far as this ability is concerned. Use it too early and it is wasted, use it too late and YOU are wasted =D.

  • Masteries + Runes

    As Alistar the Masteries and Runes that you use greatly effect your gameplay and performance. In this section I will try to give you some advice on what to use and show what I use when playing Alistar.


    When it comes to masteries, the tree that has proved time and time again to be the most beneficial for Alistar is Utility. Why? Well, mainly because it gives you mana regenerations which Alistar needs badly and reduce the cooldown on your summoner spells so that flash is ready for the initiation in 80% of the team fights that will take place in a game. I strongly recommend maxing this tree and dumping the rest of your points in whichever tree you wish.

    The Masteries that I use:

    Perseverance 3/3: As I said you need Mana regen and the HP regen doesn't hurt either. Oh and Good Hands pretty much sucks =D.

    [mastery=Haste] 1/1: I use ghost which I find amazing on Alistar. If you use Teleport feel free to take Spatial Accuracy.

    [mastery=Awareness] 4/4: Even if Alistar's mana pool wasn't so small I would still take this over Expanded Mind.

    Meditation 3/3: An absolute MUST HAVE no matter what Masteries you are using.

    [mastery=Utility Mastery] 2/2: If you want Greed then knock yourself out. It's just 1 point. I actually use Greed myself sometimes.

    [mastery=Quickness] 3/3: Movement speed is never bad, especially on Alistar.

    [mastery=Blink of an Eye] 1/1: Self explanatory.

    Intelligence 3/3: CD reduction is also an amazing stat on Alistar.

    [mastery=Presence of the Master] 1/1: Less CD on flash and whichever secondary summoner spell you are using? Yes please. Being called a master is also cool.

    You can dump the rest of your points in either Defense for extra Armor/MR, the dodge and Nimbleness or in Offense for the additional CD reduction and the spell penetration. I find picking the extra crit in Offense
    superior to the small amount of extra AP because it seems to synergise better with Trinity Force. Personally I put 6 points in Defense for Hardiness and Resistance and the other 3 in [mastery=Deadliness] in the Offense tree.

    Well, it doesn't really matter what runes you are using as long as you have enough mana regen (I always have at least 15 mana regen per 5 at level 18 from runes).

    Runes that I use:

    9x Greater Mark of Desolation


    9x Greater Seal of Clarity


    2x Greater Glyph of Clarity
    7x Greater Glyph of Shielding


    2x Greater Quintessence of Fortitude
    1x Greater Quintessence of Vitality

    As you can see my rune setup is far from ordinary. I personally usually prefer X at level 18 runes. As I said your rune page as Alistar is highly customizable to suit your personal needs. You can get Magic penetration Marks instead of Armor pen, Movement Speed quintessences, throw in some CD reduction Glyphs, take mostly flat X runes instead of X at level 18 like I did etc. Just make sure you have enough Mana regen.

  • Items

    OK, so this is where all boils down to. The item build. Because items pretty much always define your play style I am going to tell you from the beginning: this is a balanced tank build. By balanced I mean that the priority of this build is to get you good survivability and then damage and more utility so that you can also be a viable tank late game. If you are looking for a more damage or support oriented build you are better off reading one of the many other good guides here on Leaguecraft. So, here it goes:

    I start off with a Sapphire Crystal, a Health Potion and a Mana Potion. The health potion is mainly because you might get injured when face checking the bush and you don't have Triumphant Moo until level 2 or 3 since you should pick Pulverize first.

    When I return I buy a Sheen and Boots of Speed. If I have enough money I buy [item=Heart of Gold] or Glacial Shroud as well. I buy it the next time I return to the base along with Ninja Tabi otherwise. Of course, you can buy other boots too depending on the enemy if you wish. I recommend Mercury's Treads if the enemy team's damage is mostly magical or Boots of Swiftness if they are a tank/support team or if you feel confident about your survivability. Finally I buy a Spirit Visage when I have the money. You can buy a Chalice of Harmony instead of the Spirit Visage if you can't live without being able to use everything as soon it's off CD without running out of mana. If you plan on doing so I would strongly recommend starting off with a [item=Meki Pendant] and the 2 potions. I find it better if you buy the Spirit Visage instead though as it synergises well with your heal and [item=Force of Nature] (if you plan on getting it) and offers you CD reduction which is very useful on Alistar. Plus your mana problems will disappear mid-late game anyway.

    So now you have decent damage, getting good gold every minute thanks to the heart of gold if you got it and to your hopefully competent last hitting abilities and good survivability. You should also have 18-40% or more CD reduction depending on your runes and masteries (be careful not to surpass 40% CD reduction as it is the cap) and your Triumphant Moo heals you for more. This is your core build.

    After this I usually buy Negatron Cloak and then upgrade my Sheen to Trinity Force. If the game hasn't ended by now I buy a [item=Force of Nature] / Banshee's Veil / Sunfire Cape / Atma's Impaler and then upgrade my [item=Heart of Gold] to a Randuin's Omen or my Glacial Shroud to Frozen Heart. I personally only pick Banshee's Veil over the Force of Nature if I went for the Frozen Heart and don't plan to buy a Sunfire Cape soon or at all.

    The example above (after the core build) assumes you are facing a team with a balanced mix of physical and magical damage or a mostly physical damage team. Remember that you are tank and you must therefore counter build, which means buy items after your core build in an order you decide according to the enemy damage dealers.

    Sunfire Cape
    Trinity Force
    Atma's Impaler Personally I prefer buying a Sunfire Cape instead because of the HP and because I find the passive more useful. However, the crit and damage synergises well with Trinity Force and helps you down towers even faster.

    Frozen Heart The CD reduction on this item is amazing. The other main reason to get it is because it offers significant protection against physical damage dealers and the aura is also pretty good.
    Randuin's Omen
    Sunfire Cape
    Aegis of the Legion If you want to buy this buy it early.
    [item=Force of Nature] If you have enough HP and armor this item combined with your Spirit Visage makes you very hard to kill. If you don't, however, I recommend getting a Banshee's Veil instead.
    Banshee's Veil Pretty much the same with Force of Nature as far as magic protection is concerned. Instead of movement speed and regen it gives you HP and Mana.
    [item=Soul Shroud] Mana regen and CD reduction FOR YOUR WHOLE TEAM AND a lot of HP
    Thornmail I recently changed my mind about this item. It is relatively cheap, gives tons of armor and counters those annoyingly deadly ranged carries like Ashe or Kog that your team will have a very hard time reaching if the enemy team supports them well.

    Frozen Mallet Trinity Force is better damage-wise. If you need HP you should get it through other items like Sunfire Cape.
    Warmog's Armor See above.
    Guardian Angel Too expensive for what it offers. If you die in a team fight then all or most of your teammates are already dead and you've lost. If they aren't and the enemy targeted you first you should be able to survive enough for your team to wipe them out. So yeah, personally I don't like it but if you can't live without it knock yourself out.

  • Build Example

    The tankiest Build without Runes and Masteries:


    As you can see this build doesn't focus on getting as many resistances as possible like the builds of most other tanks. Your resistances are still decent but what truly makes you one of the tankiest heroes in the league is your big HP pool combined with the timely use of your ultimate.

    Slightly Less Tanky max CD reduction build without Runes and Masteries:




  • Skilling Order

    Support Build:

    This is the build I prefer. It focuses on maxing your heal first, thus increasing your survivability and support early on. If you feel confident you can pick Headbutt at level 2 instead and try to give your lane partner an early kill by knocking an enemy at your tower with the use of the Flash --> Pulverize --> Headbutt or the Flash --> Headbutt --> Pulverize combo. Note that you MUST take the heal at level 3 if you chose to do so.
    Damage Build:

    This build focuses on maxing out pulverize first and then your heal, thus giving you increased burst early on. As I said above you can pick Headbutt at level 2 instead of the heal.

  • Summoner Abilities

    Flash A must have on Alistar. It allows you to initiate and set up your Stun --> Headbutt combo. Can also be used to escape.

    Ghost An amazing spell on most champions. Allows you to escape, chase, can offers you more mobility in a team fight and gives you the ability to quickly intervene in nearby team fights.

    Exhaust Good for chasing and shutting down a carry. Can also save a teammate's life.

    Ignite If you want to play more aggressively this can be deadly when used correctly and can also reduce the effectiveness of heals. It can be effective but I do not recommend this for Alistar. You're a tank after all. It is better if a dps on your team gets it.

    Clarity If you want to use your abilities without the fear of running out of mana early but still don't want to give up the Spirit Visage for a Chalice then this is the spell for you. It is also useful for your team as it can sustain pushes and give more lane staying power to your partner.

    [spell=Fortify] If you feel you don't need any of the above spells to supplement your flash you can use this for the extra team utility and so that the towers do more damage if you headbutt an enemy at them.

    Clairvoyance Self explanatory.

    Teleport The extra mobility on the map can help you farm and allow you to intervene in some fights. You can also use this to prevent backdooring.

  • Farming

    A lot of people say Alistar is a horrible farmer. Well, he certainly is no Mordekaiser but he can farm decently if the player has some last hitting ability. His base attack damage is quite big and combined with Sheen can make farming very easy. Later in the game you can also use Pulverize to farm minion waves without running out of mana. Buying a Sunfire Cape also helps. Just be careful to not last hit too much in the laning phase and let lane partners with less damage early on farm too.

  • Headbutt and Combos

    Because of the so many ways this ability can be used I felt I should make a seperate section for it.

    1. It can be used in the iconic Pulverize --> Headbutt combo to knock squishies into your team and turn a 5v5 in a 4v5.

    2. In the laning phase you can hide in the bushes and headbutt an enemy squishy against the wall then follow up with a sheen proc and pulverize. If you have ignite or exhaust use it too. If your lane partner moves in to help it can easily result in a kill for your team.

    3. It can also be used to save teammates being chased. Headbutt the enemy away and follow up with a pulverize to stun them. You can then escape with ghost or flash if necessary.

    4. If an enemy over extends you can catch them off guard by flashing at them, stunning them and headbutting them at a nearby tower. You can follow up with an ignite or an exhaust and randuins if you have any of them. If a teammate helps you as well it can easily result in a kill.

    5. This use of the skill requires very good reflexes or luck :D. When a champion uses a blink like ability at you like Pantheon's stun or Xin Zhao's charge and you headbutt them before the moment of impact (when pantheon is in the air for example) they will actually be knocked behind you in a way similar to that of Singed's fling. You will still be hit by the ability however.

    6. You can also use headbutt to last hit enemies running away. Sometimes the headbutt will be followed by an auto attack that will be powered by Sheen if you have it. It usually happens when I right click the target before using headbutt or when I right click them just slightly before the moment of impact when Alistar charges at the target. While I am not sure yet I will test it out some day and post the results.

    7. Another frequently underestimated use of headbutt is using it to knock enemies through a wall. For example, you can use this to knock an enemy Amumu through a wall in a team fight taking place in the forest thus protecting your team from a lot of damage or to knock an enemy through the wall in your base if you are under siege, resulting in a kill with the help of your team.

    8. Last but not least you can use headbutt to harass in the laning phase if you have enough mana.


    While I have probably already mentioned these combos I decided to list all of them here for convenience.

    ( Flash -->) Pulverize --> Randuin's Omen(If you have it) --> Headbutt: Your bread and butter. Use it to initiate team fights and headbutt an important squishy champion like Sona or Ashe into your team. If you have Ignite or Exhaust it is good to use it on them as well to make sure your team finishes them off. If you have Randuin's it is best to use it after you stun because it slows most of their team (if you used the combo correctly) and gives yours a significant advantage in the fight.

    ( Flash -->) Randuin's Omen --> Headbutt --> Pulverize: While this is harder to use than the first combo it is a lot more effective if done correctly because not only does this put the enemy in a position they really do not want to be in but it can keep them in it for an additional 2 seconds. More than enough time for your allies to finish them off. The major drawback of this combo is that it can easily go wrong because of latency or failure to correctly predict the movement of the enemy and it also requires you to be closer to be executed correctly.

    Headbutt --> Sheen/ Trinity Force proc --> Pulverize --> Randuin's Omen: You can use this combo to smash an enemy against a wall in a way similar to that of Poppy's Charge and Stun them while also dealing decent burst. Particularly useful in the laning phase when you can use it while waiting in the bush. You can also use this combo to save an ally being chased (without the Sheen or Trinity proc of course). If you have Randuin's or Exhaust it is good to use them too since they work well in this combo.

    Burst Combo: DO NOT use this on just ONE guy in team fights. You do not want to waste all your spells just for some burst. Only use it on one guy when you are fighting 1v1 or when you really NEED to burst someone down (like a squishy chaser) as long as you're not in a team fight.

    Pulverize --> Sheen/ Trinity Force proc --> Triumphant Roar --> Sheen/ Trinity Force proc and repeat. You can also add headbutt if you can use it to slam the target against the wall or put them in a position that helps your team if you are in a team fight. If you are taking heavy damage you can use your ultimate too. Remember: If you are using this combo in a team fight always hit multiple targets with your pulverize.

  • Team Fights

    Now that we have learned what items to buy and how to farm the gold for them it's time to learn how to use them and our abilities. As Alistar you want to turn team fights in your team's favor by headbutting key enemies (mainly fragile carries like Ashe) and drawing attention to yourself while still doing decent damage.

    The damage part is mostly taken care of by your items (Sunfire Cape and Sheen/Trinity force procs). The rest is usually taken care of by your iconic combo, Flash --> Pulverize --> Headbutt. You flash into the enemy team and stun them all with pulverize, doing decent AOE damage and additional damage if you have a Sunfire Cape. Then you position yourself and headbutt the enemy fragile and preferably ranged support or carry into your team so that they can be easily focused down. If you have Randuin's Omen you should also use its active immediately after the Pulverize so that the enemy you knock into your team has even less chances of surviving and because slowing 3+ enemies' movement and attack speed by 35% in the beginning of a fight should give your team a significant advantage. If all goes well the person you headbutted will die before their team can move in to help them, thus turning the fight in your team's favor. You can then proceed to start DPSing other enemy squishies down with Trinity Force/Sheen procs from your heal (which you should always be using as soon as it's available in team fights) and your other abilities when their CD is over (burst combo). After the initiation you should always target those that are the most squishy and dangerous to your team (note that good support champions like Sona can sometimes be more dangerous than a dps) and use all the CC you have on them (randuin's, stun, headbutt, exhaust etc).

    The next thing you need to know is timing your ultimate. What many new Alistar players do is use their ultimate too early. In team fights be aware of the situation you are in and only use your ultimate when you know the enemy is going to attack you and try to burst you down or when you are fighting near an enemy tower and need the extra suvivability.

    The above scenario is assuming you and your team gets the jump on the enemy. When they get the jump on you, however, the team fight plays out very differently. What you want to do once you see the enemy coming is not panic and quickly assess the situation. Are they moving in to attack you or are they going for your teammates? If they are going for you it is best to use your ultimate before they can burst you down (it can happen late game even through all your resistances) and hold your ground, using your Burst Combo (make sure to use pulverize on more than just 1 person) to deal some damage and keep the enemy focused on you while your team escapes or wipes out their squishies. If you need to escape as well you can then ghost away.

    If they are going for your teammates what you want to do is charge the enemy and hit as many of them with pulverize as you can and immediately follow up with Randuin's Omen's active if you have it. But before you do so, take a look around. If you see an enemy champion with an AOE ultimate approaching your team or if they have already used it (Fiddlesticks, Amumu, Rammus, Galio, Nunu etc) quickly headbutt them away and then proceed to stun and slow as many enemies as you can. If done correctly your team will be able to escape or reposition themselves and the enemy might either retreat or try to focus you down. If go for you just use your ultimate and either tank them if your team stays and fights or ghost away. If your team fights you can also use your (Flash -->) Pulverize --> Headbutt combo or your (Flash -->) Headbutt --> Pulverize combo on an enemy squishy if it's available. You can also use the burst combo but you must as always make sure your pulverize hits more than 1 person.

    As you can see the above scenarios require you to have a decent team. Alistar is a hero that requires a good team to be effective the most. If you have 2 or more good damage dealers or support champions on your side you can expect to win the game with some teamwork but if your team doesn't have any good dps or is inexperienced (happens in solo queue) you cannot carry them to victory by yourself.

    Note that the above scenarios are the 2 general types of team fights that can happen. The team fights will almost never happen as in the above scenarios above and therefore you should always keep a cool head and use your combos when you see fit to turn the fight in your team's favor.

  • Summary

    So, that is all guys! I hope you enjoyed reading my guide. I hope I have helped you learn how to use this amazing champion effectively. All comments and constructive criticism is welcome. I will be checking this guide from time to time and updating it after I get more experienced with this champion, after patches and hopefully after the feedback of readers. May the force be with you =D

    Honorable mentions:
    Reep's posts and videos taught me the Headbutt against the wall combo and significantly helped me with the item build.

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Submitted by LedZepp570

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