[Guide] Alistar - Being Purple has Never Been This Cool

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TiberiusAudley

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Adjudicator

01-27-2010

Preface: Alistar is my main champion I play these days. He suits my playing style the best; he's a sufficient tank, but most of all he is an epic support champion. His strengths are quite obvious just from playing him, but this guide will help you capitalize on those strengths.

Note: I am a fairly high (Not Top 500, but still high) Elo player and this guide is written based off a SOLO-QUEUE ALISTAR. If you are in lower elo, there is a chance the build will be less optimal, because teammates are much harder to corral the lower you are in the ratings. However, if you convince them to follow you, and play Alistar well, you'll be pretty happy with the final results.

Pre-Game: Masteries and Runes.

Masteries

Right now I run a 0/0/24 Mastery set-up for my Alistar, with points in:
3 Perseverance, 1 Ghost Mastery
4 Awareness, 4 Expanded Mind
3 Clarity (the 0.33 mana regen per second one), 1 Utility Mastery
3 Swiftness, 1 Flash Mastery
3 (Reduced Cooldown)
1 (Reduced Summoner Spell Cooldown)

The points in Expanded Mind are superfluous.
If I were Summoner Level 30, my points would be either a 9/0/21 or 0/9/21 build.
Offensive Choices:
3 Crit, 1 Archmage's Savvy
4 Sorcery
1 Archaic Knowledge

Defensive Choices:
3 MRes, 1 Armor
4 Evasion
1 Nimbleness

OR
3 MRes, 1 Armor
3 Strength of Spirit, 2 Evasion


Note: If you can't tell, I recommend the summoner spells FLASH and GHOST for the purposes of this guide. You can get away with having only one of these if you'd like to squeeze in a Clarity or Teleport for better support or map mobility. Be sure to adjust your masteries accordingly.


Runes

HP Quints. Always.

Marks: These are up to you. Critical Chance or Magic Penetration are decent choices.

Seals: HP or Dodge. I prefer Dodge because they suit me better when switching to play a Jungler instead.

Glyphs: Either Mana, Mana Per Level, or Flat Cooldown Reduction. Cooldown Reduction is my preference here, but the Mana can give you a better lane presence in terms of more heals/pulverizes.



Skill Order

One of my favorite things about Alistar is that there isn't one specific build order for his skills that's better than the other. Any order can generally work, but 1, 6, 11, and 16 are set in stone.
1) Pulverize
2) Headbutt (Or Heal, if taking heavy harassment.)
3) Heal (Or Headbutt if Heal at 2)
4) Headbutt or Heal if you're low on mana, Pulverize if still full.*
5) Any.
6) Unbreakable Will
7) Any.
8) Any.
9) Any.
10) Any.
11) Unbreakable Will
12) Any.
13) Any.
14) Any.
15) Any.
16) Unbreakable Will
17) Any.
18) Any.

Note: You should generally lean toward Pulverize when leveling up skills, but be warned you ARE raising your mana costs if you are leveling up a skill. If you're needing that skill soon and low on mana, don't level it up. Pulverize is generally the skill you'll need the most often, so you don't want to jack its cost up.
Headbutt is the highest single-target damage gain per level, but Pulverize is the better AoE damage. Heal is generally the last thing I level up, but I have two points in it by Level 7. (Everything at Level 2 when I play.)



Items

There are only two required items for Alistar's arsenal, and the build order is fairly important.

Opening:
Sapphire Crystal, 2 Health Potions
(or)
Sapphire Crystal, 1 Health Potion, 1 Mana Potion.

Item Build:
Sapphire Crystal -> Sheen*
Boots
Boots -> Mercury Treads or Speedies

This is the end of the required portion of Alistar's arsenal. When it comes to boots, you'll want Treads MOST of the time, with the Speedies being if your opponents have literally no decent movement-impairing CC (or just one, which your Ult can ignore).

I'll explain why Sheen is so important in the TL;DRL2PRTFM section of my guide.

OTHER GOOD ITEMS:
Innervating Locket**
Aegis of the Legion
Sheen -> Trinity Force
Soul Shroud
Banshee's Veil
Thornmail.

**: This is the only other item I usually get on Alistar. The rest are if a game drags on, in order of importance.

Important Purchases:
Sheen
Boots
WARDS
WARDS
WARDS
WARDS
Maybe Oracle's Elixir.

I will go over why Wards are so important for Alistar in the next portion of my guide.


TL;DR: Learn to Play, READ THE FRICKIN' MANUAL!

You'll want to buy your items quickly if you intend to go straight to lane. The sooner Alistar's in lane, the sooner his lane presence begins.

Alistar lanes best with...well, anyone with damage and another disable. My favorite combo is Alistar+Sion because of their extreme amount of health as well as the two stun lane.

Other good choices: Ashe, Twitch, Poppy, Taric, Soraka, Kassadin, Karthus, Heimerdinger, Dr. Mundo, Fiddlesticks, Anivia, Annie, Ryze, Blitzcrank.

Out of these, I would recommend someone your team needs to get fed. Your main carry is actually a good choice for laning with Alistar if you have someone like Karthus, Twisted Fate, or Sivir on your team trying to reach 6 quickly for an early Ult. If you do choose to lane your Ashe or Twitch with Alistar, be sure they have Exhaust, as it will be needed for the extra disable time.

If your carry is in a different lane, you'll want your lane partner to be someone who can help you completely shut down your opponents' lane combo, be it through disables or simple pushing ability.


Alistar's Pulverize+Headbutt combo is one of the greatest ways to get first blood in the game. A careless opponent won't be ready for the flash+Pulverize, and after that happens, there's nothing much they can do about the headbutt into your teammate who finishes off the damage combo.

The most basic way to land this combo is simply to Pulverize the opponent, walk behind them, then Headbutt them.

Sometimes, an enemy champion will be low on health and your flash/ghost may be on cooldown but your headbutt/Pulverize would combo for enough damage to net the kill. If this is the case, Headbutt your opponent, and as you are lunging toward them, press your Pulverize button. Both skills will land, dealing the damage for both of them and netting you the unexpected kill.


You'll want to be careful if you're losing in your lane, but extremely aggressive if you're winning it. Don't go for unnecessary stuns if you're pinned under your turret. Likewise, don't sit there and attack creep if your opponents are behind their creep line scared. Walk past their creep to scare them away, sometimes so far as to leave EXP range.

Use your Heal as often as necessary. With the Sapphire Crystal and good runes, you'll have enough mana to stay in your lane until phase 2, which starts when one condition is met:

Once you reach 860 Gold, you can return to base. Note the word CAN. If you are still dominating your lane or would leave the lane unoccupied by leaving it, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR LANE. Stay (alive) and keep your presence there to keep pressure on your opponents. Note: It's optimal to try to reach Level 6 before leaving your lane.

So, why 860 Gold? Once you reach this amount, you can finish your Sheen.

What does Sheen do for Alistar?

Three VERY important things.
1) The ability to farm more effectively. Sheen allows him to hit creeps that are a lot higher on health for the last hit. This allows him to use his Heal more. This procs Sheen more, which allows him to last hit more. Etc.

2) The ability to deal damage to enemy champions in lane. It's a simple combo. Q, Punch. W toward your teammate who should have/use a disable. Punch. E. Punch. You can do this combo as early as Level 3, and it deals 80 + 134 + 90 + 134 + 134 = 572 damage (before armor/magic resist). This is just the damage output from Alistar, and if your teammate's disable is a stun, you don't have to worry about the opponent flashing away.

3) The ability to take advantage of his passive. When you're at a turret, Pulverize the creeps, Punch the tower, Use your Heal, punch the tower. Alistar's passive modifies the Sheen damage.


If you have 1210 Gold or more upon your return, buy boots.
If you have 1300 Gold, buy a Sight Ward. Place it either near one of your opponents' buff creeps or in the river above/below mid (preferably below, to watch Dragon).

Now, Alistar can either return to his lane at this point, or he can attempt to gank. You should have your Ult, which means Tower Diving is also a potential choice.

Regardless of what you choose, you should take note of Sheen Point #2 up above for maximizing your damage output in a gank.

Try your best to only return to base when you have to (Out of mana, low health, or dead).

On your return, upgrade/purchase one item per trip unless you have a ton of gold.

On your first trip back, choose your boots. If you have >90, but <475 gold left over, buy a few Sight Wards. Follow the same rules of placement as before. Before placing, consider your teammates' positioning and attempt to ward areas that will give them advance warning of incoming gank groups (without running into the gank group yourself). Note that it is generally best to place Wards inside brush so you get vision inside that brush.

If you have >475 gold, buy either a Ruby Crystal (if you need health) or a Mana Manipulator (my preference.)

On each trip back after this point, buy one or two more ingredients of the locket, and use your leftover gold to buy Sight Wards.

If your opponent has a Stealther, try to buy Vision Wards or Oracle's Elixir instead of Sight Wards. If your opponent is obviously placing wards near where you're placing yours, buy Oracle's and kill their wards.

After you finish the Innervating Locket, you're free to build anything you wish, because Alistar really doesn't need more than those three items to be effective. Several games I play as Alistar are won before I can even finish my Locket. If your team doesn't have an Aegis of the Legion, that should be your first choice.


Now, back to playing style.

When using Pulverize mid-to-late game team fights, always try to do one of two things:
1) Hit the entire enemy team, or as many as possible.

If they're spread out too much to hit more than one person, option 2 should be your choice:
2) Pulverize the BIGGEST THREAT on your opponent's team. This is usually the carry, but can also be a nuker. Do not waste your Pulverizes on Singed, Cho'Gath, Dr. Mundo, or champions that you won't be able to kill during the duration of the stun.

Note: Generally, since you are Alistar, YOU SHOULD BE THE ONE INITIATING TEAM FIGHTS. Convince your team to follow you, flash+Pulverize all of them, and headbutt the carry back to your team.

If you get stunned while attempting to initiate, USE YOUR ULT. Don't let yourself die. Your Ult will cleanse the stun and allow you to finish initiating while also letting you shrug off the damage.


Headbutt Tactics
If your opponent has a Katarina, Fiddlesticks, or Nunu -- DO NOT USE YOUR HEADBUTT UNTIL ONE OF THESE ENTERS THE BATTLE. The PRIMARY job of Headbutt in that case is to interrupt their abilities. If you hear a dagger unsheathing, the sound of thunder, or a Yeti Groan FIND IT AND HEADBUTT IT IMMEDIATELY. Early game, headbutt Fiddle out of his Life Drain, as well.

If any of these have already bought Banshee's Veil (ouch), save your Pulverize as well. Headbutt and upon connect, immediately press Q. This will clear their spellshield AND stun them, but cost you two of your cooldowns in the process.

If you don't have people to Interrupt, Headbutt is primarily to be a "send a carry toward your carry" to help net the quick kill, but this isn't its only use.

The second priority for Headbutt is to KEEP CARRIES AWAY from your Carry. Play defensively with Headbutt, because Alistar is the Fullback while your Halfback is Carrying. Keep the damage dealer off your carry so your team can win the team fight.

There are three other good uses for Headbutt. The first is to intercept an initiator attempting to get the jump on you. Headbutt a Powerballing Rammus to prevent him from slowing your team, or Singed to prevent him from tossing your carry.

The next way is to block a skillshot. I can't count the number of times I've seen an Ashe Arrow or Blitz Hook coming and headbutted someone to lunge my Alistar into the way and protect a fleeing ally. It's really crazy.

The final way is to get an AoE away from your entire team. Crowstorm got off without being interrupted? That's fine. Punt that ******* away from your team.


Triumphant Roar

Things to know:

1) It allows both people in the lane with Alistar to mostly ignore getting Health Regen, as long as they're still able to kill creeps.

2) It allows Alistar to freely proc Sheen, which means more farming for Alistar. Which means more uses of Heal. The skill synergizes amazingly with Sheen.

3) It allows Alistar's team to recover minor amounts of health after a fight or gank, which allows them to push.

4) It allows Alistar to recover creep health, which gives them another hit to survive from a turret, which means another hit HE can get in on the turret...which, when used with his passive, and Sheen...well, we've discussed this already.

5) Late game, when he has Locket, it allows one overlooked effect: It allows Alistar to restore his team's mana very quickly at little cost to his own. This means longer pushes, which means more damage to turrets. And regardless of what the game actually plays like, the objective is still to kill the turrets. Eventually.


Unbreakable Will

Things to know:
1) It can be used while stunned. If you're trying to walk toward opponents to set up a Pulverize, and you get stunned, NO PROBLEM! Why? Reason #2.

2) It clears all disables on him. So after you get stunned and cast the spell, you're able to move again and can continue to set up your Pulverize.

3) The damage reduction comes AFTER your armor and magic resist. Usually, you'll already have about 30% reduction from those stats anyway. Then that remainder is reduced by 70%. If you DO build Alistar as a tank (or if you have someone nearby with Aegis/Shatter/Consecration), Alistar's Ult is made even more effective.

4) It adds 60 more base damage. Remember the Q+W+E combo with punches between each one I mentioned earlier? Yeah... That really starts adding up for Alistar when his Ult is on as well. On top of that, that bonus damage is affected by his passive, as well. He can really pummel towers with this on. And tank them, if necessary.



Keep all of this in mind when playing Alistar and you'll find yourself being an entirely underestimated threat to the enemy team. Don't be scared, but always make sure your team joins the stampede.

One final note:

Try not to KS your allies when you have an ensured kill (only take the kill if your ally is out of position to finish.)

Playing Alistar isn't about flashy stats. It's about getting the job done. And he does, consistently. No champion in the game supports AND tanks better than Alistar, and on top of that, he can dish out some decent damage with Sheen. Thanks to his Passive, he also deals some nice damage to turrets along the way.

Thanks for reading, and good luck in your Alistar endeavours.


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Maggeus

Senior Member

01-27-2010

You just copied the build I use since I've began playing with Alistar.

...
Wait, no, I really use exactly this build, with the exception I'd never take Innervative Locket.

That means I like this build. You deserved a cookie, sir.

EDIT : I'm going to try with Innervative, and verify by myself if it's interesting with my playstyle.


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Dansu

Junior Member

01-27-2010

About the comment about being purple... You obviously have never seen Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, played with Wario, ate a grape, or seen an old group called the California Raisins. Those were the days - the purple days.


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zanitonium

Member

01-27-2010

I'm not sure about this build. You don't have any mention of chalice, frozen heart or atma's all three items are amazing on al. The locket is a pos...
You headbutt the yeti and katarina doing their ult which is silly... if they're doing their ult they are usually in the middle of your team, your STUN would be much more effective as it would interupt and disable them, allowing your team to hold thier ground and focus them.

I dont know man, can't take your word on much else, but whatever.


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nicosharp

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Senior Member

01-27-2010

Decent build Tib, and a good general write-up on how to play Alistar throughout the game. The tougher thing to do is to teach someone new to a initiator, how to initiate. This is especially critical when its late game, and the people you really need to kill are countering your initiation with veils. I guess this just comes with time, and map awareness.

I am still not a fan of builds that get Innervating Locket anything but first, and have a team composition centered around it. If you wait to build this until after sheen, its too late for your team to really benefit from its aura, as it is negligable late game. Also there are much better items to lean towards once you have a sheen that provide similiar stats. For example - Soul Shroud. HP, MP regen (aura) and 15% cooldown reduction (aura!).

I can't believe how many Alistar guides have popped up this week and last. Sorry I am guilty of throwing up one to accompany my original yestersday as well.


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Beegly Boogs

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Senior Member

01-27-2010

TLDR = Head butt, Pulverize, Flash, Sheen, SUPPORT ITEMS.


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nicosharp

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Senior Member

01-27-2010

Bagga = pro - True Story


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TiberiusAudley

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Adjudicator

01-27-2010

Quote:
Originally Posted by nicosharp View Post
Decent build Tib, and a good general write-up on how to play Alistar throughout the game. The tougher thing to do is to teach someone new to a initiator, how to initiate. This is especially critical when its late game, and the people you really need to kill are countering your initiation with veils. I guess this just comes with time, and map awareness.

I am still not a fan of builds that get Innervating Locket anything but first, and have a team composition centered around it. If you wait to build this until after sheen, its too late for your team to really benefit from its aura, as it is negligable late game. Also there are much better items to lean towards once you have a sheen that provide similiar stats. For example - Soul Shroud. HP, MP regen (aura) and cooldown reduction.

I can't believe how many Alistar guides have popped up this week and last. Sorry I am guilty of throwing up one to accompany my original yestersday as well.
Innervating Locket is a good item on Alistar.
Innervating Locket is a terrible FIRST item on Alistar.

Buying Locket as your first item on Alistar completely inhibits your ability to deal damage and/or farm effectively, meaning you're going to be a pretty useless cow most of the game. Buying Locket late is used to prolong pushes after a team fight. Locket is an item for PUSHING, not for anything else. It recharges your team's mana, lowers the cost of your healing, and boosts the amount you heal.

Getting Sheen first is almost a MUST if you want to be useful at all.

To those wondering about the lack of Chalice: Stop wasting your mana. You don't need that much Regen. The Frozen Heart is better used on one of your team's Nukers, and Atma's is a good item if you want some more offense (Note: Atma's becomes a good deal at 975 HP. After that, you're getting damage at an undercosted rate.)

Quote:
You headbutt the yeti and katarina doing their ult which is silly...
The reason behind this is that your stun should be on cooldown already -- Kats and Nunus don't initiate with their Ults (usually), so there's a good chance your Pulverize will be on cooldown. Use your AoE Stun to AoE stun. Use your Headbutt to break a channel. It keeps you from wasting damage potential. Plus, Kat will simply Shunpo back in. And actually, I'm not entirely sure a target moves when you interrupt a channel with Headbutt.


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Dragonmount

Senior Member

01-27-2010

I generally go..

Sheen
Treads/Swiftness
Soulshroud
Banshees
and then a situational item.. Aegis, GA, etc.


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nicosharp

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Senior Member

01-27-2010

Quote:
Originally Posted by TiberiusAudley View Post
Innervating Locket is a good item on Alistar.
Innervating Locket is a terrible FIRST item on Alistar.

Buying Locket as your first item on Alistar completely inhibits your ability to deal damage and/or farm effectively, meaning you're going to be a pretty useless cow most of the game. Buying Locket late is used to prolong pushes after a team fight. Locket is an item for PUSHING, not for anything else. It recharges your team's mana, lowers the cost of your healing, and boosts the amount you heal.
I think you missed the point.
The POINT is: Innervating Locket is CR@P late game. The stats for the price, and the aura is BAD late game. if you are not going to do a 5-MAN PUSH STRAT, you should not build Locket ever. There ARE better items for the PRICE.

Items and skills that "prolong" team fights and pushes is another way to say, you need more time to do your job. If you want to 'Push', or win teamfights get items that provide better immediate value, like aegis, or Triforce, and dont waste 3k'ish gold on a locket, that you won't have until post lvl 12.

There is only one exception, and if you are good, you know what a 5-man push strat is.. Ali is there as a heal and mana battery and leads the charge on tower pushes.. These comps start pushing at lvl 4-5 as a 5man squad, and win games by lvl 11. Doing this you can effectively have a completed locket by lvl 8, it is just enough to lead the team through to the end. No other items are needed when running this comp, and never is the locket needed under other circumstances