Alistar Build Guide

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Alistar - Balanced Tank Guide

written by OutdoorPlumbing

Alistar Build

Table of Contents

  • Introduction

    This guide is for constructing Alistar as a balanced tank for ranked play. Please only post comments that are geared towards that; if you have comments regarding an AP or DPS Alistar, post them on the appropriate guide.

    Alistar is a solid tank, but works best when you have a team that you can rely on and knows how he's played. I tend to play him when I'm organized with friends; in normal games with people I don't know I might lean towards a different tank choice.

    v1.0.0.105 No Alistar changes. Guide currently up to date. (11/23/10) Though it should be noted that when they remove Flash, this guide will be changed slightly, as Alistar's ability to initiate will be hindered immensely.

  • Abilities

    [spell=Colossal Strength]
    Handy for early game laning, because it means getting a few hits on the tower really means something. However, into late game you will likely be pushing with a group and with his slow attack speed, this isn't very useful for a tank build. A more Attack-Speed-heavy build would benefit more from this trait.

    This skill is important in utility more than damage. It's a group knock-up that you will use regularly to initiate, save your teammates, or kill creeps. It has a very small range (200) and a lengthy cool-down (15) so precision with this skill is a must.

    This skill is the important part of the 1-2 combo with Alistar, and it will be maxed first. It has a lengthy cool-down (12) as well, and it is somewhat buggy. Lag can cause Headbutts to launch foes in unintended directions, and Headbutting too close to a wall can sometimes send a foe through the wall. It doesn't happen every time, so it's not something that can easily be used to your advantage. Be aware that it can happen though.

    Triumphant Roar
    Important in the laning phase; more important if you or your team are getting poked by the enemy. Mostly helpful to keep you alive because you get the full effect, but still beneficial to your allies and the wave. Handy when pushing because enemy creep deaths lower the lengthy cool-down (12) by 2 each time one dies.

    Unbreakable Will
    This is useful for both pushing and escaping. The 75% reduced damage will often save you, even from towers, and the CC removal when you use it is basically a free Cleanse / Quicksilver Sash. I prefer to reserve this and use it primarily for the CC removal and damage reductions, though others will tout its importance in pushing.

  • Summary

    {x9) (x9) (x9) (x3)
    Summoner's Spells:

    Items (in Order):
    -> [item_icon=Heart of Gold] -> -> -> [item_icon=Soul Shroud] -> ->

    [item_icon=Force of Nature] OR


  • Masteries + Runes

    There are 3 things that Alistar needs throughout the game: mana regeneration, cool-down reduction, and magic resistance. Alistar has excellent growth in Armor (14.5 base, +3.5/lvl) but will need magic resistance because this item build (and most builds) do not provide enough. Speed and mobility are very important, so this is rounded out with Move Speed Quints. We will be getting a good deal of CDR from his item build (you'll cap if you actually finish it), so it is more important to get the MR from runes.

    Greater Mark of Warding (x9)
    Greater Seal of Clarity (x9)
    Greater Glyph of Shielding (x9)
    Greater Quintessence of Swiftness (x3)

    Masteries also help by getting an extra 6 MR, a dodge chance, and then the beefed up Flash and Ghost which are important to this build. It is also important to have Greed to improve Alistar's weak gold income. The masteries support the same principles as the rune build.

    Masteries 0/9/21

    The masteries and runes are built around being a tank and creating utility for carries and others to get kills; that is why we specifically avoid popular things like Magic Penetration.

  • Items

    Recommended Item Path (with item preference breakdowns if you can't buy outright):

    0. Mana Manipulator
    1. Ruby Crystal --> Cloth Armor --> [item=Heart of Gold]
    2. Boots of Speed --> Boots of Mobility
    3. Null-Magic Mantle --> Spirit Visage
    ( . Ruby Crystal --> Leviathan)
    4. Giant's Belt --> [item=Soul Shroud]
    5. Guardian Angel
    6. Warden's Mail --> Randuin's Omen
    7. [item=Force of Nature] OR Banshee's Veil

    Always start with the Mana Manipulator. You can speed up production into the Soul Shroud if you find that you're being focused by burst DPS heroes. On my first trip back, I tend to get the HoG and the Boots - you're not going to catch anyone early game and you're beefy enough to escape even when you're slow, so HoG has priority.

    If you are deviating from this build, finish your Soul Shroud at this point and then deviate.

    The Spirit Visage helps with your CDR, much needed MR, and even makes your Roars a little more potent for you. A good early grab.

    Some people will say skip the Leviathan. I find that on Alistar: you have a good deal of life, you have "immunity" escape skills, you initiate team fights (usually) by hitting a number of champs, and therefore you wind up with a lot of assists and only a handful of deaths. Will you reach 20 stacks? Unlikely. Is an extra 200 or so HP handy with the CHANCE of getting it higher? I think so. It's important to have it by the end of the laning phase so that you can get stacks. Realize that you "break even" on snowball items at 6 stacks, so it usually winds up being worth it on Alistar.

    The Soul Shroud will help with your cooldowns, and the GA is about essential for any tank - even with the nerf. Randuin's is great on Alistar because after you toss everyone up, you hit Randuin's and then they can scarcely get away. Makes priming a Headbutt even easier. I prefer to leave Randuin's until the end so that I can milk the HoG for all it is worth.

    For your last item, it's situational, but it should almost always be an MR based item, unless you're playing a team that has no AP attackers (rare in ranked play).

    Other Useful Items:
    Aegis of the Legion
    Quicksilver Sash

    Situational items - the Aegis is good if you're in a team that really doesn't understand the value of getting their own Armor or MR items. Also, as of the current patch the Aegis will stack auras on allies (not on carrier), so it's not necessarily bad for 2 people to have them. No one expects the Quicksilver Sash, but adding an ACTUAL Cleanse to your bag of tricks is awesome for when you're ult is on cooldown. And also, the extra MR is great.

    Elixirs. I don't really do elixirs on Alistar - his gold intake is so low that it is much more important to get your core items (Soul Shroud, BoM, HoG) and then continue trying to get gold to fill out your build. You should be getting some money from assists, but you'll need to put that towards your items. You're better off with real HP rather than temporary HP.

  • Skilling Order

    Pulverize should be gotten first, while Headbutt will be maxed out first. At level 3 you'll have a rank in each, which should be enough to keep your life up unless you're getting severely poked. After Headbutt is maxed, max Pulverize, then Roar, taking your ult when it's available.

    The gist of it: Unbreakable Will > Headbutt > Pulverize > Triumphant Roar

    If you and your lane mate are getting beat up a little too hard, you can take an extra Triumphant Roar at 4, but I would leave maxing it until the end - the damage from Pulverize and Headbutt maxing quickly will be more important. Pulverize becomes usable for farming later, and Headbutt damage helps ensure carries will die when they get to your team missing a good chunk of life.

  • Summoner Abilities

    Flash and Ghost

    These are hands down the best choices for Alistar. If you choose to take different summoner abilities, you do so at your own peril. Mobility is incredibly important to Alistar, and these 2 give him the most possible. With Cleanse nerfed into the ground, these are the only viable mobility summoner spells.

  • Build Example

    I tend to go for Force of Nature as my closing item (though in recent memory I haven't ever gotten it built - you just are unlikely to get that much money or have the game go that long). The extra move speed and MR make you a mobile force to be reckoned with. Below is normally how far I will get in the build when it ends.[builder=Alistar/c48d00f31ad4412a196c4bdefb700101]For disable heavy-teams, I would favor a Banshee's Veil, and I would even push it up in my build order, but first get the Soul Shroud, Heart of Gold, and Boots of Mobility.[builder=Alistar/fae7adf09cff04bf07cf38db8cb63ba3]

  • Working in the team

    General Strategy
    The technique with Alistar is simple, and threefold.

    Setup Artist. Run up next to an enemy champ, Pulverize them into the air, take two steps past them (easily doable, even without boots) and when they land Headbutt them back to your allies or your tower. This is what you will spend most of the game doing. It is important to be aware of how your allies work and don't do things like knock enemies out of ults (Gangplant, Nunu, Morgana), closer to escaping allies with low health, or into a better situation to use their own abilities.

    Team Fight Initiator. The second aspect of your job is to be an initiator. Charge into enemy groups or tower, and once the first CC hits you (or several, if they are weak CCs and/or you have the HP for it), use your ultimate to break the CC and either Pulverize/Headbutt a foe, or pull back and let your carries mop up while the opponent focuses you. Spam Roar.

    Savior. As allies are fleeing, you should be staying at the back of the group. With your Boots of Mobility, it is easy to Pulverize/Headbutt a foe AWAY from your fleeing ally, then get the 5 seconds to Movement 5 so that you can scurry away as well. And if that doesn't work, you also have Flash and Ghost to save you and them.

    Early Game

    In the laning phase, you'll want to either lane with another stunner (Sion, Kennan), a super burst DPS char (Ryze, Akali) or another healer (Taric, Soraka). In any of these situations, your tower should take minimal damage and you should be able to keep the pressure in your lane with minimal difficulty due to Triumphant Roar and the threat of you knocking attackers back into your tower.

    Stun Lane: Your efforts should be to Pulverize/Headbutt an opponent into tower range so that your ally can stun them their and you get an easy kill. Also, you can have your ally stun them, you run behind and headbutt them to a tower, and then as they flee Pulverize them into the air (towers still shoot them while they are in the air).

    Burst Lane: Go after the squishiest hero in your lane and Pulverize/Headbutt them to the tower or to your ally. They should be able to devour them. Beefing up Headbutt first helps ensure they take a lot of damage before getting dropped in front of your burst ally.

    Heal Lane: This lane probably won't get a lot of kills, but you're super difficult to gank (even with a jungler coming to aid) and often you'll find yourself pushed all the way to the opponents' tower. In this lane, you want to make sure you have map awareness since you will often be away from your own tower. Once minions push up, you can also easily EXP deny by standing near the rear of the minions and scaring away enemy champions.

    Mid Game

    At this point, you should have your Boots of Mobility, which makes you a threat all over the map. You'll want to watch for teammates in need, enemy champs that are out alone, and heavy pushes in any lane. You should never stray too far from your allies because you're only as strong as the damage they can deal out. Your job is to mostly be a menacing threat - keep heroes away as towers go down, scare off carries, and make sure you dominate the dragon.

    Late Game

    With the recent changes to tower aggro, Alistar is an even better initiator. At level 3, Unbreakable Will gives you 8 seconds of carnage with near invincibility and the tower won't help your opponents. You will be charging into the fray first, pulling back after your ult cools, and then guard the way for your allies to escape if need be. Here is a sample situation:

    Most of the way through the build with a decent number of stacks, Alistar has ~3000 HP. You charge in, taking the first hit from the tower(~200), and a couple of CC abilities(~500 with your MR), leaving you with about 2300 health. Pop your ult, Pulverize a foe, and over the next 8 seconds it will take over 9000 (!) points of damage to kill you. You will maintain tower aggro because you charged in first. Your carries are now free to rush in and attack who they please with no consequences. After a few seconds, you back to the outside edge of the tower's range and then step out once your ult is down. Juke back in if you need to so you can disable your foes (or kill them, if possible). You will find this strategy works well, and if executed properly will typically net your team a few kills with minimal deaths.

  • Closing Thoughts

    Getting good with the Pulverize/Headbutt combo takes practice. Keep practicing, eventually you'll get a good feel for how close you need to be to Pulverize, and where you need to stand to get the best direction on Headbutt.

    There is one important thing I must address - don't try to finish people off by chasing with Headbutt. You have no Magic Penetration, so even a little bit of MR will ruin your plans. You're a fast bull - instead of chasing and Headbutting, follow them to get close (if they turn to attack you, then your allies can catch up) and then Pulverize/Headbutt them back. Never Headbutt during chase unless they have < 100 hp.

    Good luck, and thanks for reading.

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