[highlight](I've retired this guide, it had a good run but I don't play alistar anymore and don't feel like keeping this updated. Alistar is still a solid jungler and there are lots of other good guides for him now. when I first wrote this, there weren't a lot of guides for jungle ali. Also, the build/playstyle is sortof slapped together after the removal of starks, originally I built him as an aura bot and the style of play in the guide centered around that. But now starks is gone, Alistar, while still good, is just a generic tank jungler. Honestly, I sortof lost interest in Alistar after they removed starks, because he was one of few junglers who could get away with building it, and i liked the unique aspect of having a jungler that transitioned into an aura/cc bot late game. Whatever. )[/highlight] Everyone knows that Alistar's ganks are something to be feared, but the widely held belief that Alistar is otherwise a slow and awkward jungler is simply false. If built properly, Alistar is far above average in speed, efficiency, flexibility and variance of routes. His fast and efficient jungle clearing ability comes from his passive, which scales well with AP and does double damage to monsters. It can be applied by his E which costs only 28 mana, which means he has excellent sustain, speed, versitility and aoe clearing power. For this reason, Alistar does not need mana or blue buff to clear the jungle, although he does need mana to gank. Due to the low mana cost of his e, he can recover well from his blue being stolen or other counterjungling. His fastest level 4 route reaches level 4 in about 3:30 without a leash, which is only seconds slower than the fastest junglers. The possibility of strong level 2 ganks will keep his opponents on edge, because the don't know where alistar is, forcing them to ward at level 1 and play super-defensive in lane even if alistar is nowhere nearby. Because alistar is not gear dependent, I build him as a support for mid game, quickly building aegis of the legion and shurelya's reverie.
This youtube video shows Alistar's Fastest route to level 4, which provides numerous gank opportunities from level 2 on: [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fncq_tDg9AY[/youtube] This route works faster and ends at higher hp when your team applies a little bit of damage to wraiths and then leashes red. (Note on leashing Red: it works better if your side lane leashes, not your mid lane, that will leave the lizard closer to the double golems, and also results in better pathing of the lizard. ) You can optionally gank a lane at level 2 after wraiths --> red (gank either mid or red side lane). If you don't see a good opportunity for a level 2 gank, take triumphant roar instead of headbutt. Head to double golems: triumphant roar -> pulverize while attacking the larger golem. Then kill wraiths again, granting level 3. At level 3, If mid lane is blatantly overextended, you can take headbutt and circle around to gank it, otherwise pick up a 2nd rank in pulverize and head to wolves --> blue for level 4 in about 3:30, after which you should really find a lane to gank. Mechanical notes: a) For killing wraiths, auto attack once then pulverize. If you pulverize quick enough, the big wraith will not get an auto attack off before it is stunned, saving you hp. b) If you plan to use triumphant roar to up your hp after red, make sure to use it before the lesser wraiths die. If they die while roar is on cooldown, the cooldown is reduced, allowing you to open with it on double golems. Triumphant roar --> pulv --> triumphant roar is the fastest way to kill double golems. c) for big wolf, auto -> pulv -> auto -> auto then hit triumphant roar and auto attack little wolves once each. They will all die from your passive. [highlight]Blue Start [/highlight] Wolves --> blue start is aproximately 10-15 seconds slower due to more running around, however it's a great route to use if you plan to gank the blue side lane at level 2. You can kill wolves, then blue, then gank, and by the time you're done ganking, wolves will have respawned for you to kill them again. Take a look at the enemy teamcomp to see who you think is vulnerable to a level 2 gank when deciding whether to start at blue or red. [highlight] Ganking Style [/highlight] As Alistar I'll usually gank very agressively for the first 7 minutes of the game. Alistar's level 2 ganks are the best and you want to keep all of the lane scared. After about level 7 minutes, they will probably have already backed once and will most likely have a ward and the solo laners also have their ultimates. This makes ganking more difficult, although it depends on the matchup. I'll still gank often after 7 minutes, as Alistar is a gank heavy jungler, but it's not the same hyperagressive gaking style of the first 7 minutes. You'll want to secure your buffs when they respawn and keep the other jungle mobs dead to maximize your farm. Don't waste time hiding in bushes waiting for the opponents to overextend; they may know you're there and may be setting up a countergank. If a lane is clearly warded don't bother going there, as if you try to gank a warded lane from behind you're vulnerable to counterganks. When clearing the jungle without blue buff, keep close tabs on your mana bar. You'll want to save enough mana for a headbutt->pulverize combo in case you gank, so if you're medium or low mana, just clear the jungle only using triumphant roar for the passive proc.
Ganking on alistar is pretty simple, you sneak up behind your opponents and headbutt them into your team, then follow it up with pulverize. Works great from level 2 on. Here's a nice map of the paths I typically use to gank: [imgext=http://i.imgur.com/LvRDs.png] On alistar I don't spend a lot of time waiting around in bushes for them to overextend, I just circle around behind them using the path's shown above and either I catch them or I don't. This will catch most opponents even if they're not very overextended, except for the redside lane where it's trickier to get behind them. You can flash behind them from the red-side bush, then headbutt them into your team. For any lane, Flash is great to use to position a headbutt just right, you want to send them in the correct direction. You can also gank from the front after coming out of a side-bush with the headbutt --> quick pulverize combo (see chapter 6), but that's less likely to result in a kill. Sneaking up behind them is more reliable. [highlight]In-Lane Ganks[/highlight] Another type of gank is on a side-lane that you're pretty sure is warded, so you can't sneak around through river. For this gank to work, have your team push the lane a little bit so that the enemy creeps do not have sight of the bushes. You can then sneak into the bushes and wait for an opportune time to use the headbutt --> quick pulverize initation combo. I don't do this very often though because if they expect it, it won't work, and it involves a lot of waiting in bushes which is sometimes a waste of time. But it's just one more type of gank to add to your arsenal. [highlight]Level 6+ Tower Dives[/highlight] after you're level level 6 if they're turret hugging, you can gank them by running around BEHIND the turret, then headbutting them from under the turret to your team. Obviously you'll need to ult during this so you don't die. Tell your team to push the minion wave to the turret first so you don't take unnecessary turret hits before you use headbutt. If you don't feel safe sneaking up behind the turret, you can just "gank" the turret instead. As a minion wave approaches their turret, run strait at them. They now have two options: 1) they can stand their ground and try to kill the minions, and take a headbutt --> quick pulverize combo the face, and probably get dived by your team and killed. 2) they can back off. In this case, you keep chasing them, except not for the kill: basically just zone them off of the tower and prevent them from hurting your minions, then headbutt them away from the tower, then keep running at them until you're behind tower range so you stop taking tower hits and it switches to your minions. Pulverize them if they run back towards you but if they keep running don't bother. You'll probably have to ult during this so you don't die, but this should put them a good ~1000 distance way from the tower and your minion wave, giving your team plenty of time to destroy it.
Alistar doesn't really need items, as he can tank fine with just his ultimate and aegis, and his ap ratios are mediocre. For this reason, I build him as a support for mid-game, building aegis of the legion and Shurelya's reverie, and then I either build more support items or transition into an AD build if the game lasts long enough. Starting items: [img=items/boots-of-speed.png][img=items/health-potion2.png][img=items/mana-potion.png] Always start boots, it makes your ganks so much easier to pull off. Replace the mana potion with another hp potion if you plan to start at wolves --> blue rather than wraiths --> red. [img=items/philosophers-stone.png] is a great item to generate more gold and sustain your jungle, so I always build one as soon as possible. Next I take [img=items/boots-of-mobility.png] for easier positioning, better speed and faster roaming. You'll want to be able to move through the jungle quickly so that you don't lose gank opportunities or fall behind on farm, it's also great for positioning ganks and catching opponents who try to run from you. After this, i'll usually pick up [img=items/madreds-razors.png] to improve my jungle clearing ability and dragon/buff control. As my first major item, I build [img=items/aegis-of-the-legion.png]. This gives alistar enough tank stats so that he won't need to waste his ult from harassment, and also gives a great aura to help out your team. This is all the tank gear alistar really needs to do his job well. Great overall item. Next, I finish [img=items/shurelyas-reverie.png], which is a great item to increase my team's mobility and initiation capability, and also gives great regen, hp and cdr. If my team is having mobility problems, I'll sometimes pick this up before aegis. [highlight]Late game damage options:[/highlight] By the time you get to this point it will be late game and the opponents will have high hp pools. [img=items/madreds-bloodrazor.png] surprisingly adds more damage than any other item you could buy at this point, making reasonable assumptions about the opponent's magic resist and hp pools. This item is generally considered bad for AD carries, but that's only because the proc doesn't scale with either armor pen or crit. You don't have any armor pen or crit at this point, so that's not a problem for you. It also conveniently builds out of [img=items/madreds-razors.png], which you bought earlier for jungle clearing. Alternatively you could build [img=items/trinity-force.png], which may be a better option in situations where none of the opponents are running atmogs or they all have high magic resist. Trinity usually does less damage than madred's bloodrazor (depending on opponent's hp pools and magic resist), costs more and dosn't build out of madred's razors. But on the plus side, it adds more utility, with the possible slow and the move speed increase. If you get enough gold, you can build both. Take a good look at your opponents defensive stats before deciding whether you want to build trinity or madred's bloodrazor as your late game damage item. If you see a lot of warmogs or other high hp items, build madred's bloodrazor. If you see a lot of magic resist, build trinity force instead. If you choose to build trinity, you may want to sell madred's razors to get it sooner. If one of your ad champions is carrying hard, you could also build [img=items/the-black-cleaver.png] as your AD item to reduce the enemy's armor. This item doesn't add as much damage as trinity or madred's bloodrazor, but the armor debuff helps your whole team not just you. [highlight]Late game utility options[/highlight] You can build [img=items/frozen-mallet.png] to improve your CC ability and tankyness. This is a good item to buy if your team needs you to initiate fights, as this will allow you to cc better, take more hits, and peel/chase to some extent with the slow even when your cooldowns are down. If your team is in need of a specific aura and nobody built it already, consider picking up one of the following instead of finishing your AD build: [img=items/frozen-heart.png][img=items/abyssal-scepter.png][img=items/will-of-the-ancients.png] Locket of the Iron Solari can be built to counter Aoe damage or Karthus. [highlight]Wards and oracles[/highlight] You should really be buying wards at all points in the game, Alistar is not that gear dependent and somebody should be buying wards, so might as well be you. If you know that a lane you want to gank is warded, you can buy a pink ward to destroy their ward. You can also build an oracle elixer to clear out enemy wards if there are a lot of them.
You can't make an alistar guide without mentioning this combo. I think most people know about this by now but in case you don't: [highlight]If you hit headbutt then immediately hit pulverize, the pulverize will interrupt the knockback, causing your target to be knocked in the air, but NOT knocked back. [/highlight] This way you can initiate with headbutt while keeping your target in place for an easy gank. The timing on this combo is unforgiving, if you pulverize late, you just knocked the enemy to safety and wasted your pulverize and probably annoyed your team. For timing it right, there's two situations to consider: 1) The situation where you are already in range of headbutt when you start In this case, it's fairly simple, just mash W->Q quickly. Due to the spell queue, the pulverize will go off almost immediately after the headbutt. You do not have to wait for the animation to start on the headbutt, just mash q ASAP after hitting w. 2) The second scenario is where your opponent is not currently in range of headbutt and soon will be, or if they're in range of headbutt but might not be shortly. If you hit w when they're not in range of headbutt, then mash q immediately, you'll just waste pulverize without headbutting. In this situation, you have to watch carefully for the headbutt animation to start then mash Q as fast as possible. Although it's simpler if you're in range. [highlight]Keep in mind that just because you can Headbutt->Pulverize, doesn't mean you should.[/highlight] This is often not the best use of alistar's skillset, headbutt is a great peeling abitility and should often be used for that instead of for initiating. And you'll want to hit as many targets as possible with pulverize, not just one. Although sometimes you'll catch people completely out of position or need some kind of gap closer to chase without knocking them away from your team, and this is a good time to use the combo, but be very careful when using this combo for chasing so you don't headbutt then miss the pulverize and look like an idiot.
[img=skills/alistar/p.png] [highlight]Trample[/highlight] This aoe damage passive is what makes Jungle Alistar fast. Does aoe damage to everything after you cast anything, and does double damage to monsters. Make sure that you do not chain your spells together too quickly when jungling, you'll want to wait 3 seconds after casting to make full use of the damage from this passive. [img=skills/alistar/q.png] [highlight]Pulverize[/highlight] Great aoe damage for clearing the jungle, and also great aoe CC. I max this first for more damage and reduced cooldown. I also take this at level 1 because it's his best aoe, and also best for level 1 teamfights if one happens. In teamfights it's usually a good idea to save this for an opportune time when you can hit more than one enemy or catch a carry out of position. [img=skills/alistar/w.png] [highlight]Headbutt[/highlight] Dash to a target and knock them away! This is what makes alistar alistar, and knowing when to use this ability separates the good alistars from the mediocre. This has several uses: 1) A poor-man's gap-closer when using the headbutt -> quick pulverize combo (see previous chapter) 2) Use to to knock an out of position enemy into your team, to make them even more out of position. 3) remove annoying enemies from a fight, by knocking them far, far away. 4) peeling enemies off of your carry. Use #3 or #4 is typically the best use for this ability for teamfights. You can save it to nullify annoying ults such as kennen ults, fiddlesticks ults, warwick ults, nunu ults, katarina ults, etc, etc, etc. Or just use it to get rid of an annoying additional enemy for a few seconds while you focus down the other targets. Tired of rammus? Send him over a wall! Does that MF think she can come to the fight 5 seconds late and clean up? Nope, knock her away while your team clean up. Kennen ults and dashes to your team? Send him back where he came from! Is that annie about to drop a bear on your team behind you? send her flying! This ability is great for removing an opponent from the fight so you can focus fire some other target, or just getting rid of people who annoy you. Another thing I should mention about headbutt: headbutting a champion into a thin wall will knock them over, but headbutting a champion into a thick wall will stun them against the wall. I usually max this ability 2nd, after pulverize, to reduce its cooldown. I take the first rank in this right before my first gank at level 2, 3 or 4. [img=skills/alistar/e.png] [highlight]Triumphant Roar[/highlight] This is alistar's heal which gives him jungle sustain and only costs 28 mana at rank 1, making it an awesome ability to proc his passive for efficient jungle clearing. Take this ability at level 2 unless you plan on ganking at level 2. I max this last, because 30 extra hp for 13 mana doesn't seem like a good deal to me and I have other things to max. This spell is mostly used to proc alistar's passive, the heal is just a secondary effect. If you max this first, your jungle sustain will suffer because 10 extra mana per rank is a lot. I usually max this last, but if my team is having sustain problems, i'll put some more points in this mid-game for better healing. [img=skills/alistar/r.png] [highlight]Unbreakable Will[/highlight] This is alistar's ultimate which makes him very hard to kill. Obviously you should use this ability if you start to take focus fire. It also gives an attack damage steroid which is often overlooked, so you can use it pre-emptively for the bonus damage in situations where you expect the fight to end in less than 7 seconds. It's also great for tanking towers during a dive.
[highlight]Summoner Spells[/highlight] [img=summoners/smite.png][img=summoners/flash.png] For summoner spells I really wouldn't consider anything other than smite/flash. Smite is of course a must for jungling if you don't want your baron/dragon kills jacked, and if you also want to jungle fast. Flash is just really key to alistar's positioning, it makes him much more of a threat as he can always flash --> pulverize --> headbutt target into your team. also sometimes you'll want to flash to position yourself at just the right place to headbutt someone to where you want them to go. Great spell for ganking. Also good for escaping. [highlight]Runes[/highlight] I use a focus set that's geared mostly for jungle speed and efficiency. I do this because I don't think it really matters too much what kind of stats you put on alistar for mid game, he can make use of any stat, ap, ad or whatever, so for runes/masteries I mostly focus on whats best for the jungle. Marks: Attack speed: Junglers do a lot of auto attacking, so you'll want these to auto attack faster to kill things better. Seals: Armor: Standard for all junglers Glyphs: more CDR is great for mid-late game. AP is probably faster in the jungle but only by a couple of seconds. Quints: AP: Alistar has a great AP ratio on his passive, which procs everytime he casts a spell and does double damage to minions. It's .1 per second for 3 seconds, doubled, so .6 ratio total per cast. If you get two casts (one from triumphant roar, one from pulverize), that's a 1.2 ratio total, and it's aoe. Pulverize also has a ratio, .5. Giving him a 1.7 total ratio from his skill rotation. This makes it worthwhile to use AP runes for faster jungle clearing, and they also make your ganks deadlier. Of course his runes aren't that particular, you can use whatever you want. Most of the time when I jungle him I actually use the same runepage as the one I have for Jungle Maokai (see http://www.solomid.net/guides.php?g=6644 ), which is slightly different than this but it still works fine. [highlight] Masteries [/highlight] Masteries are 19/11/0 for fast and efficient jungling. The 11 in defensive is mandatory, [highlight]do not skip indomitable or bladed armor[/highlight]. The 19 offensive is more flexible. A lot of people underestimate just how good indomitable or integer damage reduction in general is for jungling... if lesser wolves and wraiths are hitting you every second or so for 8 damage, that -4 per hit from indomitable/tough skin really adds up. Just watch the jungle video and try to count how many times the jungle mobs hit you and then multiply that by 4, that's how much health you save from just those 4 points in defensive. If you tried this with 21/0/9 you would die and even 21/9/0 is super-low hp. Integer reduction is also great for ganking lanes because you can basically ignore the minion waves, the minions hit you for almost nothing. And bladed armor does so much damage, you'll be much slower without it so don't skip that either. I like 19 offensive because it provides the fastest and safest jungling. Where you put the points offensive is also flexible, if you prefer to focus on a stricter AD or AP build rather than the hybridy support build I have, you could focus the offensive points more on one aspect rather than both. Full defensive should also work for jungling but it would be slower and ironically more dangerous because you would kill slower thus taking more damage overall.
12/30/2011: Guide Released. 12/30/2011: modified runes/masteries for more CDR. 1/1/2012: Added Ganking section. 1/9/2012: re-added that one mana glyph. 1/9/2012: Updated jungle video for new CDR runes/masteries, also changed skill order on double golems: triumphant roar -> pulv -> triumphant roar is a little bit faster. 1/9/2012: Cleaned up jungle phase chapter. 1/10/2012: Expanded the masteries section. I see some people skipping indomitable so i wanted to point out that it's a must-have mastery. 1/30/2012: RIP Stark's fervor. I'll have to find a new build next patch. D: 2/1/2012: Ok so with the removal of stark's fervor and the nerf to will of the ancients, I'm honestly not sure what I want to build now, so many options. AD, AP, or maybe the new aura items are worth it. Starks was really core to my playstyle as alistar (basically just follow around the team with auras and massive cc and watch the AD carry go legendary) I'm going to have to try out some new things and then revamp this guide. This guide should be considered in need of a revamp, although I can't commit to any time frame on how soon it will revamped. 2/5/2012: I think they stealth-buffed Alistar's mana regen. Either that or I'm crazy. Removed the flat mana glyph as it doesn't seem to be needed anymore. 2/5/2012: Updated item build for starks removal. 2/5/2012: Updated "Introduction" chapter. 2/5/2012: Deleted "Transition to support" chapter. Playstyle changes due to removal of starks made that chapter totally outdated. With removal of starks and the nerf to wota, I don't usually buy aura items except for aegis. I also get shurelya's sooner which makes me a better initiator than with the previous setup and my build is beefier than before. 3/1/2012: re-wrote "ganking style" section of jungle phase because re-reading it, it didn't make a lot of sense. I think I've explained it better now. 3/1/2012: So they nerfed alistar's mana costs on E but jungle mobs now return mana... nothing changed.