The Many Faces of Alistar - by Nicosharp

The gadget spec URL could not be found
Edit - Updated on 12-22-09 to incorporate lastest patch meta.

Intro
The gadget spec URL could not be found
The Cow with the skirt is the great stun king of LOL. He has one of the better stuns in the game, which has a short cool-down time. He is built to tank, and can initiate like no other. A good cow can be 'milked', allowing a carry on his team to grow so much by gift-wrapping him kills.

Purpose of the Guide
Here, we will look at a variety of viable builds for Alistar. This is to explain the strengths and weaknesses of each, and the utility of going a specific route.

Let's go straight into skills
As there are many guides that highlight skills, I am going to do a very brief overview:

Passive - Alistar does extra damage to towers/turrets - Use this to your advantage everytime you can get a hit or two in, do so.

Q - Pulverize - small AOE stun, bread and butter skill, sets Alistar up for his headbutt. Can be used on Minions

W - Headbutt - This is the positioning master move. Headbutt deals a good amount of damage on impact. You fly towards your opponent, and knock them back nearly as far as you fly to them. Important to note: you can only target enemy champions with this skill, also, you can knock people into walls that sometimes causes a quasi-stun.

E - Roar - This is a Aoe heal skill that recharges by 4 seconds everytime a enemy minion nearby Alistar dies. This is fairly spammable, with a small return to HP. Good Synergy with certain items.

R - Unbreakable Will - This is the awesome ultimate of Alistar, that pisses off your opponents. Using it, breaks all stuns and snares, and makes Alistar take much less damage, and he does more to towers/turrets. 

Skill builds (3 options) 
Against most anyone, normal path for me: 
Str: This build focuses on you doing the most possible burst damage to a single enemy champion when you initiate for a gank/team fight etc.
Weak: You lack the ability to farm creep waves with late speccing pulverize, your AOE is less, and your mana use is typically higher (headbutt's scaling mana costs)
1- Q
2- W (or E in a heavy harass lane)
3- W (or E if taking a lot of damage)
4- E (or W if you took E prior)
5- W
6- R
7- W
8- Q
R > W > Q > E

If playing a heal focused team build: requires team work, and a strong pushing strategy. 
Str: This build will allow you to help a minion wave push quickly, to keep immense pressure on a lane and to drop towers.
Weak: Semi Item dependant, as it will require good mana regen. Team focused. Can be countered by quick AOE, and anti-heal items/skills (executioner's calling)
1- Q
2- W (or E)
3- E
4- E
5- E
6- R
7- E
8- Q
R > E > Q > W

If you want to farm quickly, and support the aoe focus of a team comp. 
Str: good for teams with a lot of aoe, and that are able to captilize on the enemies poor positioning.
Weak: Lacks single target damage for most of the game, which will take away from your ability to successfully gank/kill enemies. Requires a team to focus and push with you constantly, or you to be able to farm more than others in lane sometimes neglecting carries.
1 - Q
2 - W
3 - E
4 - Q
5 - Q
6 - R
R>Q>E or W

Masteries - Options:
Alistar as a versatile gank Tank.
0/15/15
3 Resistance, 3 Hardiness, 4 Evasion, 1 Nimbleness, 3 Hardened Skin, 1 Cleanse
3 Perseverence, 1 Haste, 4 Awareness, 1 Greed, 3 Meditation, 3 Quickness
The above spec is my favorite improving Alistars movement, and defense, to increase his overall survivability. This is a happy medium between a full tank, and a sprinting initiator that is sometimes needed in late game battles.

Other Masteries to consider -
Cool-Down Brother
9/0/21
Focus on Cooldown Reduction/ability power/archaic knowledge (headbutts will hurt, and pulvs can kill creep waves when maxed)
*you will want 6% cool-down reduction through runes to hit 15% before the game starts, and then you just focus on maxing at 40% after with a Frozen Heart, or the equivilent (Nashor's Tooth)

The Tank
0/21/9
or 0/23/7
This build allows you to take a lot more damage, and survive more initiating pushes into your opponents.

1 thing to note with Alistar, is to always try and go 9 or 8 in Utility. This is for 2 things, You will always be a laner, and will need the 4 points in Awareness. You are also only able to last hit for gold, so Greed is very nice to have for a little extra gold bump. 4 in Awareness will help you keep up in level as you will often be in lane with other people, as you do not poise a significant threat alone, and are a support tank. This is not necessary, but I do recommend it.

The Runes:
Alistar benefits from a number of runes. I will run through the options, and my preferences(*):

Red - Armor Pen, *Mana Regen /per level (The mana regen is bad and secondary, but it adds up, and is persistent)

Blue - *Clarity (Mana regen /per level), the other option I could recommend is Magical Resist Runes. Cooldown runes also works here if you are going for a cooldown build. Some people recommend Mana Pool Runes, I don't.
The gadget spec URL could not be found

Yellow/Gold - Few options here: *Mana Regen /per level, Armor (static preferred), Dodge, Health (for Atma's build).

Quints - Lots of options. I currently have 2 preferences here that I switch between - Movement Speed*, Gold per 10, Dodge, Health static*, Mana Regen/per level. There are a lot of good ones.. the Greed may be best, or movement speed as it allows for more gank that ='s more gold.

Depending on the item build you decide to go below, and your mastery spec, your runes should adjust accordingly.

Summoner Skills!:
Top 3 favorite:
1 - Flash - It's back baby! No more fear of cleanse nerfing your 1/2 combo. Get this skill and reduce it's cooldown and you are going to enjoy the ride of assists and kills from overconfident enemies moving a bit too close to you.
2 - Ghost Walk - Vital for ganking, you can setup some amazing kills with well timed ghost walks. Not to mention it is also great for escaping, and is 1 quick mastery point to spec into.
3 - Cleanse - Cleanse is still great for an initiating Champion. Combined with your ultimate, and Mercury Treads if you have them, you will always be getting out of trouble.


Other skills to consider:
Clarity - They made Clarity strong, and with the right build, it can be a great resource to an aggressive Alistar. This skill is a little build dependant (as you want to up your mana pool to support its regen capability), but is still great an a alternative to constant mana regen, which allows you some wiggle room in your item build.
Clairvoyance - This has always been an option on Alistar, it is a great utility skill for a character that is more utility and has summoner skill wiggle room. Good if you spec 21 into utility for a reduced recharge.
Heal - Its good and can really push a minion wave combined with roar, even if you are under aoe pressure.
Teleport - Alistar is slow as hell, this helps a bit, as he can defend towers well if he is there, or push a lane quickly if it is undefended.

If you are team focused 2 other options are Rally, and Promote. I've seen a few Offensive specced Alistar's with Exhaust and Ignite, but that just seems odd to me. Fortify can be good too, if you don't have 1, and are playing very defensively.

The Art of the Item:
This is where the guide explodes, and your feedback is appreciated. I will discuss a variety of item builds, and explain why certain items work and certain items don't.

Start of the game items to consider:
Meki Pendant
Sapphire Crystal
Doran's Shield
Mana Manip
Faerie Charm
Red and Blue Pots - Vision Ward
Cloth Armor
Ruby Crystal
Regrowth Pendant

(I tried to list the items above in the order I consider them as a starter, but this is honestly based upon your build of runes and masteries, and your immediate reactions to the team comp you are facing.)

Items to always think of purchasing:

Mercury Treads - The best boots in the game against some teams. I would suggest going for another pair depending on your build, but always keep this in mind if their stun/and ap damage is crazy.

Mobility Boots - Lets face it, you are a slow grass grazing cow. If you want to gallop like a horse, you buy these bad boys. Consider the other team to have already wet themselves, as the flying cow comes at them to ruin their day.

Catalyst the Protector - If you get one early, it does help you stay in lane for quite some time, and builds into two nice items for Alistar - A Banshee's Veil, or a Innervating Locket. It could be built into a Rod of the Ages, but I am still not sold on AP Alistar builds.

Chalice of Harmony - Always a good item on Alistar, mainly for its ability to keep you spamming heals and your 1/2 combo (Pulv + headbutt). The added Magic resist makes it awesome.

Sheen - Turns your fist into a cannon. A early sheen helps push your gold farming up substantially. 1 Sheen powered attack on a minion usually drops its HP by half, so use this to your advantage when farming. (Not to mention it really hurts towers, and enemy champions as well, and can be built into theTriforce)

Frozen Heart - Is your team facing off against a DPS assassin force? Grab this baby ASAP! The cooldown reduction helps you stun spam a bit more to keep the dps off your dps, and they attack slower, not bad! Its hard to save for, but try your best to last hit till you have enough for the glacial stone.

Aegis of the Legion - If you are the tank, this team buff doesn't hurt. It was nerfed bad last patch, but is still a great item for you and your team when pushing/defending.

Sunfire Cape - If you are going to play aggressive and want to push lane's quickly with or without the support of your team, grab this item as early as possible. It does not offer much to a 5-man team fight but will provide added utility, and over-time, gold gain.

Atma's Impaler - It's not necessary, but does add a lot of damage to your basic attacks
We can also add the 
Last Whisperer and Triforce and Phantom Dancer to this list of utility weapons to think about if you are forced to build DPS.

The Builds:

1) Versatile Gank Tank
0/15/15 mana regen and movement speed runes
a) Chalice of Harmony (from meki)
b) Ninja Tabi Boots
c) Sheen
d) Guardian Angel

2) The Mana Pool (Spamming skills ftw)
0/9/21 (3 points in strength of spirit), regen and armor runes suggested, quints in gold per 10 or 9/0/21 if you go Archangels AP/Cooldown
a) Tear of the Goddess (from 1 Faerie Charm - buy tear as soon as you have the gold)
b) Mobility Boots
c) Forks here - you can go Archangel's Staff straight off, or go for cooldown with a Stinger to a Nashor's Tooth. eventually get Nashor's regardless.
*You want to max cooldowns with this build to spam skills with your huge mana pool. A minor focus in AP is nice here, but don't go crazy, as Alistar benefits more from armor. I've even made this work once with a late game lich bane, pretty fun to do insane AP damage.

3) Cool-down Tank Support (Your lanemate and ganksquad <3's you.)
0/21/9 armor runes and mana regen, quickness quints
a) Mana Manip - Soul Shroud
b) Mercury Treads (Mobility boots work 2)
c) Frozen Heart
d) Aegis of the Legion
e) Guardian Angel (game should be well over by now)

4) The Heal Push (rushing to an early win with the Locket)
0/21/9 or 0/9/21 - might want heal+rally as summoner skills. mana regen runes
more than a list this is your focus - rush to the Innervating Locket. Some people prefer to go Sapphire Crystal first, and get a early catalyst, some prefer mana manip, some do faerie charm and pots. They all work, but save your gold, last hit, and get the locket asap before boots, to push hard with your team. This is a team build strat.

5) Cool-down Rush (maxing cool-down as early as possible)
9/0/21 (may even want to consider clarity as a summoner skill) Runes should include 6% in cooldown reduction.
a) Meki Pendant --> Fiendish Codex --> with Stinger to Nashor's Tooth
Once you have a Nashor's your CD is maxed, and you can focus on items depending on your opponents.
b) Boots of Choice
c) Sheen --> Triforce perhaps.

6) Gank Tank (favorite from last patch)
0/9/21 - Flash + Ghost walk
a) Meki Pendant --> Chalice
b) Mercury Treads
c) Frozen Heart
d) Haunting Guise (can build first - Threw this in for this patch to max cd - Stinger or Brutalizer work too)
e) Guardian Angel or Aegis

7) Sheen Rush (Early Triforce potential)
0/15/15
a) Sapphire Crystal --> Sheen
b) boots
c) either finish boots, are start building a triforce

8) $$$ Profit (focusing on a late game, try this one)
a) Meki Pendant --> Philospher's Stone
The gadget spec URL could not be found
b) Heart of Gold
c) Boots (your choice - id say ninja tabi's)
d) Heart of Gold
e) Heart of Gold (or second Philo Stone)
f) Lots of options. I like to surprise folks by 1clicking a triforce.

There are many other builds to try. A lot of people like to rush a Catalyst on Alistar, but I don't like going that route. Also some go for Cloth Armor first to help tank neutrals.. This works well as you can build a early ninja tabi. Another idea is to rush Haunting Guise, which is a decent item on Alistar. I've also seen a few rush Frozen Heart as a first item.. Crazy, but do what you want and experiment. I hope this helps a few people attempting to play Alistar.

Chalice of Harmony Vs. Tear of the Goddess: Some say Alistar benefits more from Tears mana pool, others argue that Chalice regen is better in the long run and saves you from making trips back to the fountain. This I leave to your own judgement, as runes help lean me to one side vs. the other. Both of these items are great on Alistar, and I recommend that you grab one of the two for most games you play, unless you are rushing a Nashor's Tooth or something.

Early Game Play and advice/tips-

Alistar starts off with decent HP armor etc. 
Always go Pulverize 1st, This helps a ton to initiate lvl 1 battles, and to help your team jungle for an early buff, or even dragon. If you are the biggest tank (no Malphite or Rammus) you should initiate the Jungle creeps when your HP is maxed, if your team is going to kill one for a buff. Start by hitting the golem/lizard with an attack and follow it by a quick pulverize to prevent you from taking extra damage. Your team should be able to help you down it before your HP goes down 2 bars.

At level 2 if your HP is still relatively high, grab headbutt. If your team hasnt gotten a kill, and you are in lane, and havent had to use ghost walk, let your lanemate know you are going to setup a kill. Wait in the brush, or for an opponent to get a little greedy (they always do), and quickly activate ghostwalk while moving to their location. Pop Pulverize as soon as you are in range, and run behind them. Headbutt them towards your Ally, and continue to kill. At lvl 2, this should be a easy kill. Pay attention at the load screen to see who has cleanse, and try to focus on those that dont, or get someone to waste their cleanse early.

At lvl 3, if you haven't taken roar yet, grab it. You can now keep you and your lane mate at decent health while last hitting minions. Try to always heal you and your laner by getting close to them. As a sidenote: Try not to heal your minions if you are up against a decent lane. You want your minions to die, as you always have an advantage when you fight closer to your tower. The advantage is you can last hit more freely, and avoid tricks from your enemy champions to bait you into their tower range, or a bad location.

At lvl 6-7 you should have headbutt to lvl 3-4 by now (unless you are doing some funky heal strat) and your ghost walk should be back up. One of the coolest things I have done, and recommend you try, is to setup a gank mid. Tell your mid laner, to let the other mid laner push a bit. setup all the way back in the enemies jungle by the ghost minions. Run through between their towers, activate your ult, and ghost walk, and line up to headbutt the mid laner as soon as you are in range. Run to where they fly (always out of turret range), and pulverize them. This should be more than enough time for your dps in the mid lane to kill them. Enjoy the congrats, and go buy some items.

When using Pulverize: if you wait for your minions to engage their minion wave, you can run in the middle of the ranged and melee minions and pulverize. If you position well, you can hit all 6 (or 7 with siege) minions allowing you to get an extra hit, along with the minion wave. This allows your minion waves to build up as you heal them, and slow down the enemy wave.

Defensive Headbutts - This game is heavily item centric and if you deny your opponents gold, you are winning. Once your mana is full, or you have decent regen, think about using your headbutts to push enemy champions back. You do this for a few reasons:
1) It pisses them off
2) you are knocking them out of xp range
3) you are keeping them from last hitting something they may want to last hit. 
4) you are protecting a teammate (save him from dying, and them recieving a bounty)
5) you are protecting yourself (some heroes have skills that will snare you if they are in range, headbutt will sometimes knock them just far enough away to get you out of trouble.)
If they continue to move forward for the last hit, pulverise them and slap em twice. This will slowly wittle down their health until they realize the cow can not be milked for free!

The '1-2 punch', the '2-1 punch' and how to use both effectively:
Both of these skills in combination is what differentiates a good Alistar from a bad one. 
The easier combo to grasp is the '1-2 punch'. 
To do this: 
position yourself, using normal movement, ghost walk, or flash to get right next to your opponent. 
Use pulverize to stun them and knock them in the air. 
While they are stunned, angle yourself to headbutt them in a direction that is beneficial for you and/or your teammates(or a tower) to wail on your enemy.
Immediately headbutt them (if you get good, you can sneak a normal attack in before the headbutt).

'The 2-1 punch' is a little more challenging as you will be initiating with a headbutt, and adding in a stun while flying at them. There is the mid-air way to do this and then the standard way. The mid-air way is to line-up a headbutt, and click the skill, right as you are about to connect with the headbutt, hit pulverise. This should result in the enemy champion flying back, and being stunned at the same time, taking both packets of damage, and keeping them still where they land for a second. The lazy easy option is to headbutt them, and run to where they land then pulverize them there. This is not as effective, as they can run anywhich way before you close range to stun. 
There are a few tricks at bottom and top lane for the 2-1 punch I should note:
If you are at the edge of the inside of brush at the bottom or top lane closest to there tower, and they are defending a creep wave, have a friendly champion bait them to move forward. There is a wall on the opposite end that is your target to make a enemy champion sandwich. You want that champion to be in line with you and that wall. If the champion gets close enough so that you can headbutt him into the wall, run out of the brush to do just that, and ping for your friend to initiate right away. What should result is a quick headbutt into the wall, causing a mini-stun, and you are right in range to follow with a quick pulverize and two-three hits. This with a ally in range usually results in a quick death or even a first blood.
Comments