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Alistar build -- tank, support, or in between?

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Senior Member


I'm fairly new to LoL. The first role I learned was support. Then AD. Then AP. Now, I need to learn tank. I tried out some tanks (ok, a LOT of tanks) and didn't like anyone until this loveable bull became free last week. After playing him some, I bought the champion and a skin (oh, wait, those were free. Right. Anyway...) and I'm playing him some more. I don't like tanking, but if I have to be the tank, I like Alistar. I usually (OK, 100% of the time) lane with a carry. I haven't solo'd top, I haven't jungled, just duo-laned. That's fine and all, but most people at my level in normal BLIND games don't follow the meta. There is only a jungler about half the time (and half of that, it's me, and not as Alistar) and virtually noone plays a support (or, if they do, they don't build a support). So here's my MAIN question:

TL;DR: Is a tank's job to stay alive, or to keep everyone else alive? If you said stay alive, then what if there's no support? Does my role change, and now I have to keep everyone else alive?

I play Soraka pretty well, and she's my favorite support, but I understand that if there's no tank then I should probably be a tankier support, and I can still support. But...should I?

Let those questions soak in your mind, and now, let me go through a list of some of the (what I consider) better items for Alistar. I'm more so looking for people to tell me what NOT to get, than what to get. Some of these items I think might be viable are acctually not so great.

Aegis of the Legion: This item doesn't seem to give quite enough HP, Armor, and Resist to be useful as a tank item, but it's a cheap item that I can get if I'm duo-laning without needing a lot of gold. I build it as about my 3rd or 4th item (first "big" item) on Soraka. Is it good on Alistar?

Athene's Unholy Grail: This item is also not too "tanky". It gives slightly lower Resist, no Armor, and no HP and a much higher price than Aegis of the Legion, but at a much higher price, as well as not giving that aura to those around me....or does it? It acctually increases my heal to myself my 16 and the heal to those around me by 8, as well as the mana regen to use it all I want and the CDR to use it even more often. It may seem low, but it adds up...although it's still mostly worthless. However, it IS still good for pushing (something Alistar is good at) and makes his weak attacks a little scarier. Some of the CDR may be lost if I have my CDR maxed anyway (see later items), but that's among the least of my concerns. Oh, let me touch up on the most important part again: I can SPAM my abilities all day every day in team fights and never run out of mana. Can YOUR Alistar say that?

Force of Nature: In a build that would be naturally low on health, HP regen is certainly something that would be covetted and coupling that with high magic resist, it's an all-around great tank item. I think the FoN is a good item to consider if the team is very heavy on AP (as a possible replacement for soemthign else) but in general less important and not something that I should plan on getting often.

Frozen Heart: I'm pretty sure it'd be trolling if a tank didn't get FH. It's the best tank item in the game against AD, and is also a GREAT support item. Not only does it make YOU very beefy, but it makes your team get hurt less when they're around you from auto-attacks. How great is that? The only argument I'd have against it is it's blatent negative synergy it has with AUG (the inevitable excess CDR, and the mana regen reduction from having more mana).

Mercury's Treads: I think this is a must-have item unless the enemy team is low on CC and/or AP, in which case a Ninja Tabi replacement may be in order.

Ninja Tabi: See above.

Randuin's Omen: Ok, this item is one I'm not very familiar with, and haven't used much. Despite having it suggested to me many times, I try to avoid it as I'm not good at using actives. But...it seems pretty legit. It gives a small boost to health, a large boost to Armor, and a large boost to health regen, synergizing well with the fact that my build is somewhat low on health (read: no Warmog's). The CDR may be redundant and may not, but it's small so who cares? This item is expensive, but given the fact it upgrades from the Heart of Gold it helps a bit. The main point of this item, though, is the 2nd passive and the active. I have a few questions though: Do they stack with each other? Do they stack with Rylai's and FH? And is this thing as awesome as it looks on paper?

Rylai's Crystal Scepter: Here's another item that is both tanky AND support-y (although it's expensive, boo). It gives me more HP and makes me heal myself more; slows enemies so my allies can kill while I heal THEM more; AND allows me to push faster and get away easier when they try to gank me. I'm not sure this is a common item on Alistar, but I feel as though it's one I should *most likely* get every game. I don't think you can persuade me NOT to get this awesome item.

Shurelya's Reverie: This is almost purely support. Sure, it can help me get away, but I don't really need it. It's mostly for my allies. Or to help them catch up. But shouldn't the support have this item (if there is one)? Should I get it, too, even if the support has it? The CDR of this item is what makes me say the CDR on every other item might be rudundant -- I plan to get a Shurelya's. Even if it is mostly support, it still seems like a good item; it's cheap; and it upgrades from Philosopher's Stone.

Soul Shroud: This is where I draw the line. I'm NOT the support. Get your own CDR and mana regen. (No, seriously, if they HAVE enough CDR and mana regen, this thing is useless. I sure don't need it THAT badly. I'd rather get an AUG.)

Sunfire Cape: Eh...I heard it was nerfed to kingdom come. I don't think that's appealing. It's not that much HP. There's items with more armor. 40 magic damage to enemies? Meh, I'm not supposed to hurt them. What if that scares them? They will go fight someone else. I think I'll pass...but...you can try to convince me?

Thornmail: Much cheaper than the FH, doesn't conflict with AUG...but scares off enemies. Maybe for an off-tank, but I WANT people to attack me -- right? No need to discourage them.

Warmog's Armor: But I wants Armor and Resist -- not Health. Um...how to put this bluntly....ME NO IS MUNDOZ. More HP just means a big chunk goes away at once. NOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooo........maybe for an off tank....oh...and it's expensive. :-\

So there you have it. My item opinions in a nutshell. If only it were so simple to always have Rylai's/Aegis/Shurelya's, then the other 3 be whatever is needed (AD or AP) but usually I need both. And where I'm mixing is where I get confused. Plus what if the support has Aegis? I don't need it? Do I EVER want Thornmail? I'm so confused. I also have no idea on the order....and that's the most important thing. I'm new to this "tanking thing" and would appreciate any Alistar pros to give me some good up-to-date advice instead of me reading some stale guide somewhere.

Anyway: Build ideas:

General items (in no particular order):
-Rylai's Crystal Scepter
-Mercury Treads
-Athene's Unholy Grail
-Frozen Heart
-Aegis of the Legion
-Shurelya's Reverie

As mentioned above, Ninja Tabi is a legit replacement for Mercury Treads if they don't have much CC or are more leaning towards the AD side. In an AP-heavy team, Frozen Heart could be replaced with FoN. The main reason I don't use Randuin's Omen is because I don't know how to properly utilize it and don't know enough about it. I could replace either AUG or Shurelay's Reverie with it. Speaking of AUG, I have grown accustomed to ability-spamming, and I don't tink it's necessarily a bad thing. AUG let's me do it. Is it so bad that I use an item slot to help me spam abilities? Spamming helps the team more. Note that an AUG, like a Rylai's, helps me push lanes better (spamming Q and E, stronger Q and E) and I think that's something Alistar excels in. Also, should I worry about what my support is building or if I even have a support? this is my main issue. Are 2 Aegis of the Legion necessary? Is a Shurelya's Reverie on the tank even a good idea?

Sorry if some of my questions sound redundant. Just so many items, so few spaces, so many questions, so few answers! Haha. I thank everyone in advance for any help than can provide me. And may all the other future Alistars learn soemthing from my thread as well.

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Senior Member


Sorry for double post, but, a few afterthoughts.

First of all, sorry for the typos. I've been up all night and I'm tired. Addicted to this darn game!

Secondly, now that I think of it...Randuin's Omen sounds a lot better than Shurelya's assuming you are getting an AUG (although it's more expensive). But here's a new question: is it as good at chasing as Shurelay's? (i.e., what's the range on it basically)

And thirdly, I can't stress it enough, I need major help on the item build order! I know I need Philosopher's Stone and/or Heart of Gold early on, but aside from that, what?!?!?

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Senior Member


Tank is not a role, but a build-type, there's a difference. For example, you can build your champion tanky, off-tanky or squishy. In the case of Alistar, unless there is nobody else to initiate the teamfights (in which case you picked a piss-poor teamcomp and deserve to lose), you want to stay at the back and protect your AD carry. It is very tempting sometimes to charge into the thick of the fight and leave your AD carry behind to fend for themselves. What usually happens when you do this is the enemy assassin/bruiser will run past you and beat your AD carry into the dust.

Instead, you want to stay back and save your cc for when someone jumps on your AD carry. Let you solo top and jungler go after the enemy squishies, that is their job. Your job is to protect the carry. This only applies if you are playing Alistar in the supporting role, and changes if you are jungling with him.

If you are jungling Alistar, then yes, you want to be initiating the teamfights and disrupting the enemy AP and AD carries, while the support protects your AD carry. But no matter whether you are playing support or jungle Alistar, your most important item is the Shurelya's Reverie. This item is pure gold! With it, you can initiate effectively without having to burn flash, or safely disengage from a bad teamfight. This is generally the first major item you get. In terms of builds, if you are going support, you would go something like this:

Start with faerie charm + 1 pink ward + 2 green wards (plus health pots)
Philosopher's stone
boots of speed
Heart of gold
merc treads/ninja tabi/boots of mobility (roaming Alistar only)
Philosopher's stone -> Shurelya's Reverie
Aegis of the Legion

By this time the game is usually over, but if it drags on, consider items like Randuin's Omen (only if you are doing very well and have the gold for it), Zeke's Herald, Iron Locket of the Solari, Will of the Ancients (again, only if doing very well and you have 2+ AP champs). Basically you want to try and stack as many aura's and active effects that help the entire team as possible to make up for the fact that you do next to no damage. Jungle Alistar is built pretty much the same, although you will probably be ahead in the build compared to support Alistar due to early game ganks.

Hope this helps.

EDIT: Just a quick note about Shurelya's. It is a much better item than Randuins for chasing/escaping. The range of it is larger, and it costs a lot less than Randuin's making it a better choice for supports and junglers who generally have less income than solo laners. I have tried rushing Randuin's instead of Shurelya's and what I found was that while building it, I just didn't have enough gold for the wards that I needed at the same time early on in the game. Also, if you are jungling and your support buys Shurelya's, you should buy it as well, and vice versa. Why? Because of the active effect.

You will quite often see teams getting 2 shurelya's and chaining their active effects together. So, instead of getting just 3 seconds of burst speed, you get 6 seconds. Alternatively. You can use 1 Shurelya's for the initiation, and the other for disengaging if you need to. Just make sure you coordinate with the other person so that you don't both activate them at the same time.

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Senior Member


Thanks for the advice. I read a "Randuin's Omen vs. Shurelya's Reverie" thread, but it was outdated. RO got nerfed a lot since then. Even then, though, many seemed to prefer Shurelya's Reverie. You make some good points though. Like I said, there's not always a support or a jungler. I've also never jungled as Alistar (in fact, I've never jungled in a PvP game with anyone besides Fiddlesticks) so I don't know how well I would do but in any case, I think Shurelya's sounds like a pretty solid choice item. And, after all, I've never built an RO before, and never really had trouble with my armor being too low or anything.

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Instead, you want to stay back and save your cc for when someone jumps on your AD carry. Let you solo top and jungler go after the enemy squishies, that is their job. Your job is to protect the carry. This only applies if you are playing Alistar in the supporting role, and changes if you are jungling with him.

Umm...Alistar is a tank/initiator regardless of whether he is playing support or not. If he's jungling or playing solo top, all that means is he has some farm and can set up his rune page and items differently. With his ult and two different forms of CC, he's ideal as an initiator and not playing him that way is kind of silly. Sure, you want to protect your carry, but if you can catch the enemy team at a big disadvantage (like their carry out of position), then go for it. You can even tower dive initiate with the ult of his. A flash into the tower + headbutt towards your team = a dead enemy carry, and with your ult you have the beefiness to survive. That's often a teamfight won right there.

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Usually Alistar is going to play bottom lane support. He will use his AoE efficient healing to keep everyone in decent shape. He will try to headbutt someone against a wall when possible for the mini-stun, plus knockup for aggression.
He can also use the headbutt/knockup combo if lucky/practiced though your AD can rarely take good advantage if you rush right at the enemy.

As such, he will get minimal gold. So he will start with Faery,wards,pots. He will then get Philo stone and Heart of gold.
THESE ARE NOT NEGOTIABLE. Philo gives great sustain for both health and mana, plus the GP effect. HoG really toughens you up even more.

From here, he will focus mostly on support/aura items.

Aegis is quite good. For 2k gold it gives you right at 2k gold worth of stats...AND lets you share about 500g worth of them with the team. Very efficient, especially since Ali is on the front lines and sharing the aura with everyone regularly.

He will likely want Ionic Boots for CDR. Its just a lot better than other options. You dont care about Tenacity so 850 for 25MR is a huge waste of money. Hes got great armor options so tabi are out.

Frozen Heart is fantastic if they have autoattackers and AD which they should. The extra mana helps Ali stay in the fight. CDR is awesome, and the armor is huge of course, as is the aura.

An ALTERNATIVE is your Shureyes Reverie. It also gives you CDR, the team speedboost effect, and increases your health. This is good if their team is more balanced. I would NOT get both Heart and this though as you waste the CDR.

The heart of gold can be upgraded to the new Locket which gives you modest armor, some health, and the 5 second SHIELD effect for the whole group.