[Guide] Bull-dozing with Alistar
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Alistar is well known as a fantastic character for pushing lanes, being indestructible, and having horns. He is unfortunately well known for being extremely slow, having no mana, and totally ruining ganks. He's great early game, spamming Roar, keeping minions and allies alive, pushing when he can, soaking up damage and pushing enemies away. Late game, he becomes less effective at things besides soaking up damage and occasionally punching a tower.
Well, bother that nonsense. We are going to tear some **** down.
So, what, no tanking?
Screw that. People look at Alistar and see a tank who happens to be rather effective at killing towers. Those people build Alistar as a tank, and then he says he sits around not dying, then occasionally shows off some sweet particle effects and doesn't die harder. He occasionally reaches a tower, whereupon he hits it for slightly more than the carry-mode Ashe--earning a rating of a decisive "meh".
I see Alistar as a living wrecking ball, who happens to be alarmingly durable. A bulldozer, who, coincidentally, is in fact a bull. When you play him as such, and play aggressively, the result is balls-to-the-wall awesome action.
Basically, the point is, herein I will propose an aggressive, offense-minded Alistar build, emphasizing his offensive abilities, with his defensive abilities playing a secondary role; in addition, I submit an equally aggressive philosophy and strategy to supplant his normally stalwart mindset. Let's see a quick breakdown supporting my point.
Basically, Alistar is durable enough on his own that your masteries and runes will give you enough durability that you ought to be looking at items that make him more dangerous; a mobile weapons platform--just add the weapons.
(A side note: From here on out, I'm going to refer to the standard combination of Pulverize, walking in front of them, and Headbutting them back towards your allies/minions/tower "the one-two punch". It's his deadliest trick--learn it well.)
After much experimentation, I've found this combination complements Alistar's natural abilities excellently, and allows him to be more than just a sponge.
Marks: Desolation (Armor Pen.). This is the cheapest, easiest way to maximizing your damage versus Champions and Towers alike. 9 Marks get you 20 Armor Pen.
Seals: Shielding (Scaling Mag. Resist) This will alleviate the spike damage that your Roar won't wash away so easily--generally, physical damage won't be an issue unless you're fighting the deadliest of physical fighters (Jax, Yi, Ashe, etc.). This will also reduce the amount of money you have to spend on durability items.
Glyphs: Clarity (Scaling MP Regen.). This is specifically for use with the Chalice of Harmony, your go-to item for long-term Mana-management. After about level 4, you will almost certainly have enough mana to use the "one-two" when you need it.
Quints: Avarice (g/10s). This may seem weird, but the fact is that Alistar is a poor farmer, which means buying specialized equipment is difficult. Avarice runes give a significant boost to your income that can't be reduced by being dead, helps even when you're traveling between lanes, retreating, etc.
If you want to experiement, you could try Swiftness in Quints, since I won't be recommending move3 boots. You could also try going for more of any of the above, to suit your personal tastes.
0/21/9. Make sure to max out both the Armor and Magic Resist masteries, and the mastery for Cleanse (seriously--just keep reading); the rest you can figure out. The 9 in utility is for Greed, for the same reasons as Avarice above. If you decided to take Swiftness Quints instead, consider going deeper into Utility for the 3% movement speed--there's no kill like overkill.
You could make a good case for offense tree, and you could be right--I haven't tested it yet. More news here after testing.
1) Meki Pendant, 1 Health Potion, 1 Mana Potion
Regrowth pendant would normally be the first, but I've found you can actually subsist pretty well on just Roar--don't bother. Start with Meki instead--you'll be needing the mana.
2) Meki Pendant-->Chalice of Harmony
Alistar's classic weakness, aside from low attack speed and intense body odor, is his god-awful mana pool, trying to support two of the best ganking moves and the most spammable ability ever. However, both of his offensive abilities have rather long cooldowns, meaning that while you'll need a heap of mana at once, you'll only need it in one burst, at a maximum of every 15 seconds--and honestly, the opportunity for a gank just won't present itself frequently enough for that to happen. Chalice will ensure you always have just enough mana for your attacks, while also giving you a hefty Magic Resist bonus--you should be set on Resist for a while if you get this early enough.
Alternatively, you could start with Sapphire and upgrade to Tear of the Goddess, which will work well with his Roar-spamming, but my testing has generally seen this as being a little less useful--it's a bit of overkill early on, but you will eventually run out and be helpless--Chalice has no such weakness. Although Tear has the bonus of building into Archangel's Staff, Alistar just doesn't need an Archangel's Staff, and the Resist on Chalice is a bit more valuable. If you really prefer this item, I would recommend you ditch the Clarity runes for something else, like Celerity--lower cooldowns can take advantage of your unnecessarily over-sized mana pool.
The bull's gotta move to stay aggressive. This is the one spot where you'll have to choose your upgrade carefully:
I need to do some testing, but I'm looking at what happens if Sheen is your first item (starting from Sapphire), and you get Chalice after that. It's a bit longer to wait for boots, but again, the kills will happen when they happen, and it won't just be because of your speed.
6) Agility Potion
If you got the change to throw around, get this, because odds are, if you've been aggressive enough on the towers, the game is probably going to be over before you get another major item. This little beauty will push your crit rate to around 60%, and even further increase your attack speed. Very valuable if you didn't get Berserker's Greaves.
6) (Choose One: )
Skills and Strategy
Start with Pulverize. I normally would recommend Roar first, but having a nasty weapon like this to pull out will save you from early-game hijinks more than you could believe--nobody will stand and fight after getting launched, stunned, then punched for 70. Besides, you bought a health potion for this, right?
Try to lane with another disabler, like Morgana, Ryze, Taric, etc. Singe or Blitzcrank are ideal partners; Fling and Rocket Grab, respectively, are absolutely lethal when combined with your "one-two"--let them get the enemy to you, headbutt them back, then stun them where they land--if they were closer than halfway down the lane, that's probably in turret range, and probably a kill. This is much easier if you're in the middle lane, as there's less distance to be traveled to get in Tower range.
This is ideal situation, of course, but if you have this excellent pairing, you can afford to be even more aggressive--the rewards are far greater, and even if you fail, the enemy will now be terrified of you, which is almost better. Getting to the enemy player can be much more valuable than just killing their Champion.
As a side note, when to use Cleanse: use it when you get stunned/rooted/significantly slowed, immediately, but only if they can actually throw damage at you; sometimes, disablers will throw a "token stun" at you, even when they can't actually take advantage of it, just to remind you that they can and keep you scared. That said, always break out of disables that have damage over time effects, like Morgana's Binding, Ryze's Rune Prison, or Teemo's Traps.
Cleanse cools down so incredibly fast that you might as well fire it very frequently--it'll keep your health far higher, and the enemy far more frustrated. They should begin to understand that you will not die unless they send everyone and everything they got. Alistar cannot be easily harassed, they will have to commit if they want to seriously hurt you. This is "Lesson 1".
Level 2, take Roar, fire when necessary, but you honestly should keep your HP around half--just high enough that nothing can spike you down, but low enough that the enemy might get dumb and try. When they mess with the bull, give them the... well, you know.
Level 3, Headbutt. Now you can inflict some serious damage. From here on out, never be afraid to take the opportunity to give them the "one-two", but don't run them down for it, either--just decide to punch a minion that's a little closer, then the next closest one, then the next... if they don't drop all kinds of hurt on you, and they don't get the hell away from you, "one-two" then go attack the other guy, if there is one--the guy you just launched will definitely be too focused on running, while his partner will be trying to "punish" you. If you start hitting him first, he'll have to fall back, too. Walk away, roar, and carry on. Eventually, they will learn that you will fight them at the drop of a hat, and you will probably win. This is "Lesson 2".
Level 4, take Roar again--you can now heal hard enough that you probably won't need to put any more points in here for a while. Try to time the heals right before minions die so you can minimize cooldown.
Level 5, take Headbutt--it scales damage a little better, and it can be used to kill a foe you're chasing in the soon-to-come brawl.
Level 6, take Unbreakable Will, and ascend to building-bashing godhood. For the rest of the game, whenever Will is cooled down, you need to make reaching a tower with a minion wave your number one priority. The second you get within reach of a tower that's notshooting you, immediately pop Will and start pummeling the tower. Yes, it's nice to have it to get you out of a stun or something, but until Heimerdinger rears his ugly head, nothing can repair towers, and you can hurt them harder, faster, and more than anyone else--and, conveniently, nothing can hurt you enough to stop you from pummeling it until you feel like stopping. So, "Lesson 3" is, the enemy team can't afford to let you live.
From here on, focus on pumping up Pulverize and Headbutt (preference to Headbutt, for the moderately-better damage during chases), Will when you can, and just keep hammering towers. As long as the enemy team is scrambling to "stop" you, you have the advantage, particularly with all your escape mechanisms. Generally, this means you won't be moving with your entire team unless
Above all, don't die unless you take a building or a person or two with you, but if you have to choose between escaping and finishing a tower, unless the tower is rather low, you might as well finish the job--you don't know when the next time you'll have this chance will be.
This is still under testing, of course, but if anyone wants to test playing an aggressive Alistar and let me know how it goes, it'll help me touch up things a bit. All in all, hope you enjoyed the (massive) read, and enjoy the bulldozing!
I Am Armed With the Knowledge of the Horns
Killer guide! I'm new to the game, so it's enjoyable to see an unconventional take on a hero that jumps out to a newbie as a cliche tank. Fun stuff!
Hmmm I love Alistar, so I'll rip off some of your ideas and give it a shot. The tear makes a lot of sense when spamming E.
Added bonus - Ali is usually ignored 'til the end of the team fights due to massive HP and low damage output; doing more damage means people might focus your tankiness a little bit more!
Alistar, in conventional builds, is a comparatively passive tank--a few disruption abilities to protect allies, but nothing so dangerous as to provoke attack. As you noted, this is an alternative that brings him to the same level as, say, Kayle or Taric--you can't afford to let them live--except here, it's not because he'll heal/protect his allies too well--it's because he'll kill you dead and wreck your buildings.
(Also, the Tear of the Goddess isn't actually my idea--that came from shedim's Alistar guide. I tested it, and there's just no better way of maintaining your mana over a whole game, so I made sure to mention it in my build.)
This is a great guide.
I read through every word, yet I've never used Alistar. I recently got a friend to play and he struggled to figure out which champ to learn first. He tried Alistar and loved it, and I told him I'd try to find a guide or something to help him figure out ability priorities, strategies, and item builds. This is exactly what I needed.
Heck, it kind of makes me want to give Yi a rest and try Alistar ;)
i laughed heartily
If you're all about intimidation with your "one-two" (Pulverize and Headbutt) you might want to consider going for Sheen as well.
It's fairly cheap, gives you more mana regen and mana (which although you already have a big deal of that, can't hurt) and that wonderous proc, which on Alistar who's normal damage, is insanely profitable.
All in all, though, a wonderous guide. Good job, sir. You win a cookie.
awsome guide, what about a trinity force?
I play Allistar as a wrecking ball as well. So I have a question for you.
Im always undecided between Tear and Chalice. You make a good point about Tear, its a great item. But the phenomenal regeneration that chalices provides can not be ignored. A large mana bar is good for pulling off your combo, but I often find that I am continually using skills. When I take tear, while I can combo my skills, I find I rarely actually have the mana to do this. More importantly, Chaclice, with its immense regen when you are low on mana, nearly guarantees you have that clutch heal or headbutt to make an escape or to save a teammate.
So, why take tear over chalice? Isnt being able to actually use your skills more important then being able to combo once, maybe twice and deal with slower regen.
tear will not only help early but end game you will see the benifits more so then any str8 up mana regen item.
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