[Guide]Understanding Alistar, and How he Tanks

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MillitaryBeetle

Senior Member

04-17-2011

Tanking (verb)- The process of helping team mates by prohibiting the enemy from doing damage to the said team mates.

To celebrate Free Alistar Week I have created this build. I have been playing Alistar since before Season 1. I think I know what I’m doing. IF YOU ARE NOT PLANING ON PLAYING ALISTAR, AT LEAST READ THE FIRST COUPLE OF PARAGRAPHS, THEY ARE WORTH YOUR TIME.

Here begins the huge wall of text:

My favorite reactions to this build:
“Alistar sucks tho…”
“Lol, noob…”
“Who plays Alistar anymore?”
“Why don’t you have more tanking items on Alistar?”

Statement #1, that is an utter falsity. Alistar is a very skill intensive hero that with a proper team can decimate most other champions. With this build he fulfils 3 roles.
Stun Tank, Burst Damage(not noticeable endgame but early-mid you have a fair chance of bringing someone to low health), Minor Healing that is good for sustained pushes.

Statement #2 Is also a bold faced lie meant to keep you down. Alistar is a very skill intensive champion with 2 skillshots that can result in a lot of namecalling if not properly used. The combo of headbut/pulverize can stun enemies and send the flying to your teammates who will ravage them in seconds.

Statement #3 was said in a game with an Alistar on each team. Alistar is a timeless champion that can’t be replaced by Shen, Malphite, or Rammus.

Statement #4 is an example of ignorance, IF YOU ARE NOT PLANING ON PLAYING ALISTAR BUT JUST WANTED TO CHECK HIM OUT READ THIS PART AT LEAST. I will explain in depth with the following statement.

ALISTAR =/ RAMMUS

Rammus is a sponge tank, he soaks up damage like a sponge by taunting enemies into hitting him and then he walks away when he gets low on health. Rammus is built for this kind of action, his only purpose is to stand there and get hit while his team kills the people attacking him. That’s why he requires armor items, magic resist items, and all other kinds of stuff.

Alistar on the other hand is something completely different. He is item IDIPENDENT, HE CAN TANK WITHOUT HAVING VIRTUALLY ANY GEAR TO HELP HIM TANK. That is specifically why I this build is focused on COOLDOWNS. Hang in with me.
I bet your thinking to yourself “But Beetle, why the hell does a tank need cooldown items? Those are only for casters.” Well this might shock allot of people but, Alistar is a DISRUPTION tank, HE TANKS BY CAUSING UDDER CHAOS IN THE ENEMIES RANKS. To many people that sounds like its not really tanking, but it is. If you refer to the definition in the beginning that I have made for you, you will notice the following. Tanking is NOT about soaking up the damage yourself, but prohibiting damage from being done to teammates. A method of doing this is in fact standing there and soaking up damage.

However, Alistar is not about that, Alistar capitalizes on his power to influence any battle in his favor. He dictates where the enemy is, who is in the fight, and who isn’t in the fight. This ability stems from his two main spells and your ultimate. Pulverize, an AoE knockup/stun, Headbutt, a single target punt into the direction from which you cast, and Unbreakable Will, a 75% percent damage mitigation spell that lasts 6/7/8 seconds.

The more you are able to cast these spells during a team fight, the less damage your enemies will be doing to your carries AND also be able to cast your ult more than once. Hence by taking more cooldown items, you can cast these spells more often, and so you reduce the enemies ability to fight back even more. HENCE, COOLDOWN ITEMS ARE AKIN TO TANKING ITEMS ON ANOTHER CHARACTER.

-Now that you are in the right midset-
Let’s discuss why you want to play Alistar.
He is a unique type of tank, he plays more akin to a caster type character, but your lack of damage output and your ultimate determine your role as being a tank.

Fun things you can do as Alistar with this build:

-Save allies by using headbutt/pulverize to break a chase, which will usually earn you a thanks from the person you just saved

-Flash into a mob of champions and land a pulverize in the spot you get the most people stun. This often causes so much panic among everyone, they forget their battle plan and try to focus you down, the biggest no-no ever.

-Solo weak 1v1 champs like Katarina, Nunu, Zilean and a host of other squishies(this is only recommended if you are in no immediate danger or have no choice but to fight them)

-Break all champion ultimate’s that rely on channeling, like Nunu’s, Kats, and Miss Fortune.

Not so fun things you can do as Alistar with this build:

-Die a lot because you are the tank and that’s typically what you have to do at the end of the day.

-Get flamed for missing a headbutt on an enemy champion(either knocking them in the wrong direction, or misjudging your dmg output and ending up pushing the champ to safety

-Get flamed for a build that doesn’t follow the perceived norm of tanking.

-Get flamed for not playing Amumu or Shen in ranked

-You suck at farming, and jungling is near impossible for you. It takes you 15 seconds to clear out a wraith camp.

-Skills-

Start by checking out this page. http://www.leagueoflegends.com/champ...r_the_minotaur

All of Alistars stats are right there so lets analyze them.

He has excellent health from leveling up, but a very slow movement speed. This is why most players chose +3 speed boots, or +5 speed boots. However the Ionian Boots are far more useful in teamfights.

Colossal strength – This is your passive, it is only good for taking towers down so you should largely ignore it. I have seen builds that take advantage of this, but split pushing is not something Alistar is good at.

Pulverize – An AOE stun, this is your main tanking ability, as it is the most disruptive and will reap havoc on your enemies. This skill should always be available to you, so make sure when laning that you only use it if your opponents have gone back to base to buy. A few uses of this ability:

Anti-gank protection
Great initiator
Synchronizes best with Flash and Ghost.
Breaks all ults that require chaneling

Headbutt – This positional spell will often dictate who is in a fight and who is not in a fight. If you don’t want Rammus to engage just yet, all you have to do is headbutt him out of the fight and let your teammates finish up. Or if the enemy fiddlesticks has overextended, flash in and pulverize headbutt him into your team.

Uses:
Positioning enemies
Catching up to enemies(be sure to headbutt them against a wall so they don’t get any further away from your team)
Killing off low health champs(that you are ABSOLUTELY SURE no one can kill)

Triumphant roar – This is a minor heal, it is mainly useful to sustain pushes and give you a Sheen proc. This skill is most useful while laning because for every death the cooldown is reduced for one second. Meaning that you can fire it off multiple times for the sheen proc, thus increasing your damage output significantly, against minions and champions alike.

Unbreakable Will – This ability right here is the reason why you should focus on cooldowns, because no matter how much gear you get, you will never be able to surpass the 75% dmg reduction your ult provides. Sit there and ponder that. 75% DAMAGE REDUCTION, YOU CAN SHRUG OFF ALMOST ALL THE ATTACKS IN THE GAME, WHITOUT BUYING ANYTHING. The only downside is that it lasts so little. But that is not a huge deal, because most teamfights only last maybe 20 seconds to one minute, and for most of it your enemies will be too stuned to be able to hit you back.
This ability has a few uses:

Taking down towers(you can take most punishment it dishes out with your ult on, and then retreat.)
Damage boost(only use this if you are desperate and fighting a weak champion)
Breaking stuns and snares, and avoiding deadly combos like Ryzes, and long stuns like Ashe’s

Skill Order

Unbreakable Will>Headbutt>Pulverize>Triumphant Roar

Get a rank of pulverize as you start out, and a rank of headbutt and heal after that. You want to keep your Pulzerize and Roar cheap mana wise because all they do is scale better for endgame, but the mana cost is sooo not worth it. You mainly need Roar for the Sheen proc while lanning(which increases your damage output a lot) so making it more expensive will work against you. If necessary get the heal before headbutt, because some damage dealing lanes are quite destructive.
As headbutt is your least used skill it should be maxed out first so you don’t have to waste mana. It also has the upside that if you are ever chasing an enemy with low health, it is better to have a rank 5 headbutt than a rank 5 pulzerize.
If your lane is quite damage heavy, take on an extra couple ranks of heal because you are going to need to keep yourself and your teammate healthy so that if one of them overextends you have the potential to headbutt them into your tower.

Summoner spells

Take Flash and Ghost, anything else and you are nerfing yourself. The only reason you need these spells is because Alistar sucks at moving and catching opponents off guard is always best for him.

Flash-Pulverize-Headbutt combo is the best thing to do with him.

-Item Builds-

I build Alistar cheap, because he is such a bad farmer. He is slightly above Poppy with his Pulverize but without any gear to help him he is very bad. The smartest way to build Alistar is to get as much cooldown as you can early on to increase your ability to tank and gank.

Sapphire Crystal+hp/mana pot --- This helps you deal with your mana intensive abilities and helps you lane better in the early stages.

Sheen --- Helps enormously with your damage output, it is the best item you can get for yourself for two reasons. #1 your triumphant roar will give you a sheen proc which you can use to last hit a minion thus reducing your cooldown on Roar so you can cast roar again. #2 I’ve found myself in situations where I get trapped by a champ who thinks they can take you down. I do the following: Unbreakable will for the extra physical damage and mitigation, hit with sheen proc Pulverize, hit again, Roar, hit again, Headbutt, hit again. If you were not facing a really good champ then you probably just took him down to half health. You can chase them down if you have time, and when your stun and headbutt come off cd you can use the same combo again.

Ionian Boots of Lucidity --- You are lucky to have this item. In my day these didn’t exist, and they make life as an Alistar player a hell of a lot easier. This is your first boost in terms of ability to tank, you should notice a noticeable drop in time you spend waiting for your stuns to come back online. I used to use the Boots of Mobility for switching in-between lanes as fast as I could.

Alternatives

Boots of Mobility: If you chose to roam Alistar this is a good item because it lets you switch lanes very fast, letting you gank lanes in succession. It is also a great item as you are going into a teamfight because its speed boost is almost like having ghost on. If the Ionaian boots of lucidity didn’t exist I would recommend this.

Mercury’s Treads: If the enemy is loaded with stuns this should be a priority, because if you can’t get your combo across you are ABSOLUTELY AND IREVERSABLY USELESS TO YOUR TEAM. If you are at least able to disrupt the enemy casters even the tiniest bit, your dpsers could easily close in and take down the casters.

Do not want

Boots of Swiftness: It seems like a useful item on the surface but make no mistake, the above is a far better alternative. And in teamfights, flash and ghost is the only thing you would ever need to get close enough to the enemy. If you needed anything more, then im sorry but you have bad positioning.

Kindle Gem --- This is also a newer item that I wish I would have had earlier on. It is immensely useful for Alistar because it is sooooo cheap, and gives you a 10% cd reduction. It has the nice side bonus that it is in fact a tanking item.

After this you can switch up the order of the items. I prefer to take Shurelyas first because the haste on it helps Alistars movement deficiency a lot.

Glacial Shroud --- This is also a cheap item that happens to have tanking involved. The reason I don’t recommend a frozen heart is because it is much to expensive to afford, and the game is over by the time you build it.

Shurelyas --- also a new item, it is sooooo great for Alistar because you essentially get a second ghost spell, with which you can catch up with enemies so that you can stun them. The incidental inclusion of mana regen and health regen also makes this item very beneficial mid game.

IF THE GAME GOES INTO OVERTIME WE HAVE A PROBLEM.

By this time the enemy team will realize the only way to stop you is to build Banshee’s veils, lots of them. They will also start to focus you down heavily, and even your ult won’t be able to save you. This is the point where Alistar needs tanking items badly.

IF THE ENEMY IS A PHYSICAL DPS, upgrade your shroud into a Frozen Heart

IF THE ENEMY IS LOADED WITH STUNS/OTHER THINGS THAT YOU CANNOT FIND A WAY AROUND, Build a Banshee’s Veil asap, you can even ditch the glacial shroud if needed because at this point you need to be able to get your abilities fired so that you can disable the key damage dealers.

Rune Build

Magic Resist per level seals – Alistar’s ultimate is often not enough to compensate for mad caster champions like Malzahar, Ryze and Zilean, so having this as a backup is always good.

Armor pen marks – These I put here for lack of anything better to fill the void with, It allows you to square off against weak and low health champions. Remember that just because you lack damaging abilities, your sheen proc from all the stuns and headbutts you cast will make the enemy feel the pain.

Mana regeneration per level glyphs – Your mana will only start to drag late game if you are timing yourself right. These runes help a lot with your ability to cast spells in rapid succession.

Flat health Quintesences – This helps with early game durability, especially against champion combos like Lee Sin and Lux or Morgana and Ashe.

Masteries
9/0/21
Take the most cooldowns and mana regeneration you possibly can, because these help Alistar with his tanking and with his mana problems.

I hope this build has both explained to non-Alistar players how Alistar is a tank, and has also taught many of you how Alistar is built. I hope to see many more Alistars on the Fields of Justice, because he is far to under represented, but has some of the best abilities in the game.

Before I leave you I have one thing to say to you:

Jesse Perring can use Pulverize to knock-up Baron Nashor. He then uses the Sheen proc to walk to the nearest Nexus and one shot kill it. While all the towers are still up.


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Xienwolf

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Senior Member

04-17-2011

Interesting thoughts. One question I have is about the runes:

If you run flat CDR Seals (2.65 CDR) and CDR per Level Glyphs (8.62@18 CDR), plus go 9/0/21 Masteries for another 9% CDR, you are at 20% base CDR at level 18. Add in only a single CDR item and you have max.

When looking to build CDR heavy on a champion in the past, I found that this was pretty ideal for me, as it allowed me to only use 1 item slot for CDR, and all the others for my main job. Since most CDR items sucked at my main job, this seemed to help me far more than runes built for that role.


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Dane Dread

Senior Member

04-17-2011

Good guide. I really like Alistar but don't play him much since he does rely on a team knowing how to work with him and understanding that he isn't a soak tank. Alistar wading in first usually means he has to burn his ult immediately and won't be around to save your butt with cc later in the fight because he's going to melt once the ult goes down.


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deribou

Senior Member

04-17-2011

THANK YOU. Alistar is not useless.
Thank you for rushing sheen. I saw an Alistar who got a doran's ring, then a hextech revolver......
Needless to say we destroyed him. Don't build Alistar ap, just get the sheen and run with it.
Currently main Alistar (low elo, sorry -.-) but I do disagree with you on certain points

1. I don't think you should need the Ionian boots. If say, you go 21 in the utility tree, you get 6% cooldown reduction from there. Add that to a Spirit Visage (10%) and a Frozen Heart (20%), that's already 36% cooldown reduction. You could either make up the remaining 4% with the cooldown reduction mastery in the offense tree (gives 3% cooldown. Are you really gonna worry about the last 1%?) or blue cd runes. The only thing I could see in Ionian boots is if you wanted early cooldown reduction, but I prefer having other boots with more useful stats (boots of mobility/swiftness for roaming, merc treads for cc reduction).

2.Runeswise, I actually get flat armor seals and flat magic resist glyphs, as well as getting 6 in the defense tree. This gives me +19 armor and mr at level 1.
Why this instead of mana regen runes? Well, if you're more tanky, you'll take less damage. Less damage = less spamming roar. Less roar = no need for that much mana regen. I honestly don't get any mana regen items or runes, and I almost never run out of mana. Use mana pots if you're that desperate =.=

3. Alistar is a SURPRISE backdoor person, and his passive does help (albeit, not really that much). He does not need a wave of minions in order to backdoor. I take teleport instead of ghost simply because he gets around the map slowly, and backdooring His ult means you do even MORE damage to towers + you can tank them for a good 8 seconds.

The rest of your guide summarizes how Alistar should be. These are just my opinions, so I may be entirely wrong ):


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TheCowGoes

Senior Member

04-17-2011

You mention that Alistar has a bit of a farming problem, and I agree. When I run Alistar, I start with a regrowth pendant and upgrade that in to a philo stone ASAP. Running teleport can help you get it faster if ya like, I don't find much uses for ghost in my style of play honestly.

After that I build for what I need, confident I will not leave the lane for HP/MP purposes until I have 1000+ gold or rip their tower down. I usually don't turn it into a shurelya's until late game, but doing that can be very, very handy. Sure, rushing a philo's stone means the farming's a little worse/delayed until you get a sheen, but if you have serious luck or good lasthitting skills it won't matter too much. Plus champs that like to get their farm on or early kills love you as a 2v2 partner, I find the terrible farming doesn't bother me much. Watching the enemy champs in my lane cower behind their tower means they're not getting much farm either.

Excellent guide, everyone's favorite cow has been getting a little bit more love lately. I love how people keep finding viable builds to fit their style that seem to work just as well as everything else's.

Edit: I guess 1000 gold is a tad conservative, in retrospect. In most games I'm blue pilling at anywhere from 1500-3000 gold. Why? Because Alistar's *very* item-independent early-game. If I can pull down their tower, a philo stone and lvl 1 boots are all I need to say in lane(s) until I know where I need to take my item pathing. The 3000 gold came from an assist-rich roaming spree I managed to score a few games, but I don't count on getting that lucky every game.

Plus with the MP regen from a philo stone you can lvl Q and E without dropping too quickly, and the higher ranks of Q can score you 1-4 minions per wave. A decent amount if you have to share it with somebody.


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Greyfeld

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Senior Member

04-17-2011

"Udder chaos" made me chuckle :P


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MillitaryBeetle

Senior Member

04-17-2011

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xienwolf View Post
Interesting thoughts. One question I have is about the runes:

If you run flat CDR Seals (2.65 CDR) and CDR per Level Glyphs (8.62@18 CDR), plus go 9/0/21 Masteries for another 9% CDR, you are at 20% base CDR at level 18. Add in only a single CDR item and you have max.
That is a very good point indeed. I guess I never thought about putting the runes on Alistar to make him better at what he does, but in hindsight, I do however think that flat health runes are better for Alistars early game, simply because you will not always have the pleasure to lane with a Sion, Renekton or Pantheon who actually know what they are doing. And early game is usually what determines an outright defeat from a resounding victory.

I also did not know there was a cool down maximum, so i thank you for that.

Quote:
2.Runeswise, I actually get flat armor seals and flat magic resist glyphs, as well as getting 6 in the defense tree. This gives me +19 armor and mr at level 1.
Why this instead of mana regen runes? Well, if you're more tanky, you'll take less damage. Less damage = less spamming roar. Less roar = no need for that much mana regen. I honestly don't get any mana regen items or runes, and I almost never run out of mana.
It's basically just a different approach to what im doing, I take cooldown to stun enemies so they can't do damage to me(by way of them being stunned) but I do suppose it has great merit in the fact that you could essentially not worry about being taken down in lanning phase, thus leaving you room to get some other kind of Quints.

Quote:
Plus with the MP regen from a philo stone you can lvl Q and E without dropping too quickly, and the higher ranks of Q can score you 1-4 minions per wave. A decent amount if you have to share it with somebody.
Philosophers stone is indeed a very attractive item for any Alistar player, but getting assists is more of where Alistar get's his gold from. However you will not always get this chance so philo's stone is a great item to use if you can't get kills off of your lane.

Thanks to all of you for checking out this guide, I'm thinking about adding on a teammate/enemies segment to the post, because it is usually half the battle of playing Alistar. This would just include who to take out of a teamfight first, and who you should lane with early game. I thought the guide would drag on too much then so i just skipped it. Do you guys see any merit in the idea?


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TheCowGoes

Senior Member

04-17-2011

I think deciding when to use his abilities on whom is a huuuuuge part of what Alistar is. I can't tell you how many times I've been raged at for knocking away enemies chasing down my 1/8th health ally (or following their advice and knocking the chaser straight into them -_-'). Explaining when to use AOE stun as opposed to a single-target displacer, or when to ult for best effect would be nice.

So yeah, a bit of focus on teamwork applications would be nice. A few questions I sometimes struggle with go something like this, because they're so situational: Should Alistar knock away the chaser gunning for your half-health squishy or Q and W him towards your ally to turn the tables on him? Should he get the caster in the far back or the halfway tanky DPS next to the tank? Will knocking the tank away from the battle be more effective than knocking a squishy forward? Should he tower-dive or no (a section on tower-diving would probably be very helpful, at least -- he's got a bi-polar relationship with towers, it seems)? And so on and so forth. Some of them just come with time, but others are harder to learn.

One thing I'd like to mention is that Alistar has an amazing early game if you have the right mindset -- setting goals with Alistar can be fun. I'm determined never to start roaming until their tower is rubble, sometimes feeding my ally at least three kills before I get out, and so forth. With his early game kit, I find I can usually meet them, and it scares the enemy just a wee bit to see such an aggressive CC'er like Alistar dominating early lane. He has huge lane presence with anyone that can drop a halfway decent combo early game. The psychological aspect of getting mashed into Leblanc's combo and held there at lvl 4 is quite powerful, and it should be all you need to keep 'em tower hugging just that little bit more. It's pretty funny to watch 'em sweat when you follow your minions to the tower, ult, and start eating chunks of their tower. Most fidgit for about a half second before half-heartedly throwing some damage at you, then run.

Most people advise against pushing up to their turret early game, but I find that Alistar's perfect to do just that. Everything in his kit helps him fight with or against tower presence and keep minion waves going strong. Would you say that's bad against organized opponents?


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deribou

Senior Member

04-17-2011

Quote:
Excellent guide, everyone's favorite cow has been getting a little bit more love lately. I love how people keep finding viable builds to fit their style that seem to work just as well as everything else's.
So, seeing everyone's opinions here on Alistar and different ways to play them, I am VERY interested in seeing different Alistars in action. Anyone here wish to add each other and see?


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Gigarayzor

Senior Member

04-18-2011

I stopped reading when I read UDDER CHAOS. You have my upvote, sir. I will now read the rest.