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Intro: The udder destruction that Alistar can bring to his enemies alone is enough to spur interest in playing the bovine behemoth. Alistar is also rarely played which spares the user the hackneyed sight of seeing heroes like Ashe or Yi on the battlefield. Despite what the 'difficulty' bar on his profile says, Alistar has great versatility and it takes skill to do well with him.
Cutting to the chase: Runes Red
Armor penetration: Excellent for ensuring your fists travel deep into the enemy position (good for turrets, creeps and even heroes) Yellow Dodge: Any hit they can't land on you (this included creeps) is that much more opportunity for you to hit back Blue Cool down reduction: Alistars spells are incredible and they scale ability power very well. So if a late game Yi is chasing you, pulverize, knock back, run, rinse and repeat. But you need good Cooldowns for that.
Items I often try unconvential and unorthodox builds for heroes to see how they pan out. As far as alistar is concerned, I suggest going attack speed and overall improvements (like Cooldown reduction etc.) Attack speed is one of Alistars greatest follies. Boosting this will allow your ultimate to be that much more effective and will greatly help farming and pushing.
That said what should you do early game? Dorans shield or Dorans ring: While these items dont build into anything later on, they are useful as they give health, regen (mana of health depending on what item you prefer) and bonus AP or armor. You also have the option of selling this much later on if you need to free up space.
Dorans shield is recommended and Dorans ring can be found under Magic-> Mana Regen
Outside of this I will just suggest some builds you want to try. What order you get items and which items you get will come out of your own experience.
Attack Speed Items you should consider (These items can be found under Attack > Attack Speed) Sword of the Divine This sword gives a very good attack speed percentage increase. It also does an additional 100 point magic damage on the 4th hit which is really nice is someone is foolish enough to take that many hits from you. Moreover if you click on the item and activate its active, it gives you a bonus 30 armor penetetration and doesnt allow your target to dodge attacks for 5 seconds (this ability has a 40 second cooldown I believe) Last Whisper Again, gives you damage, attack speed and armor penetration Malady Lifesteal, attack speed and can infect your target
Mana regen, Mana and CDs There are a variety of items you can try here. I still really like frozen heart. Its recommended, gives CD, mana, and a ton of armor. Soul Shroud is good but I rarely go it. Nashors tooth helps out with this area and with attack speed so it is a really nice item. You can consider assembling this item early on and buying something else instead of dorans. Boots Mercury treads in my opinion is the most versatile as it gives magic resist and makes you a lot harder to kill by reducing the length of disabling moves. Again there is room for experimentation. Other Stuffs As far as health is concerned you can try getting sunfire cape, frozen mallet or even warmogs. I leave this area entirely up for experimentation. I once tried getting 3 sunfires just to do passive damage and not have to attack at all. I avoid suggest too much stuff as I'd like the user to decide for themselves what suits them.
Summoner Spells Flash is a necessity, no arguments for me. It makes you so much scarier and can help you escape too. General strat is to flash in, stun, knockback into turret or allies. You can throw ignite on them too if you have it.
Other possibilities to experiment are Smite, Ignite, Cleanse or maybe even Ghost. You may even want rally when you attack towers; it is purely preferential.
General Strat You should aim to make yourself tough enough to solo towers and really bring their health down. Slowly take out one turret at a time. Build up creep waves by healing them, killing opposing creeps. Do this enough times and the creeps can do significant damage even without you being present. During your ultimate you are virtually unstoppable and if you go dps and overall improvements, you can actually kill off their dps if they try to solo you! (This is especially true when you have your ult up and you just clicked on sword of the divine, they wont expect that massive amounts of damage and how little damage you just took). But overall, you play the classic role of a tank but with an edge. You are a scary tank and an aggresive one. You alone if left attended can bring ruins to a lone hero or base. That is image that Alistar should brand into his opponents mind.
Thank you and I hope this for informative and accurate.