Moltres, The Flame Pokémon. One of the Legendary Bird Pokémon. It is said that its appearance indicates the coming of spring. It is a legendary bird Pokémon that has the ability to control fire. If this Pokémon is injured, it is said to dip its body in the molten magma of a volcano to burn and heal itself. Those seeing it are overwhelmed by its orange wings that seem to be on fire. Every flap of its wings creates a dazzling flare of flames.
Moltres, the legend of fire from the first generation. Previously, it was kind of forgettable (like most Fire Pokémon), however it's had some significant improvements this generation. In the 3rd gen, its main problem was the lack of move pool versatility, which, whilst still fairly shallow, has been improved considerably in the switch to the 4th gen. It's also received a reliable healing move (Roost) and benefits greatly from the addition of Choice Specs and Life Orb. However, the main change for Moltres has unfortunately been negative. If Stealth Rock is active (which is highly likely), Moltres loses 50% of its HP each time it switches into play. Basically, Moltres will need Rapid Spin support from its team-mates to function to its full potential. Still, even with Stealth Rock taking a huge chunk out of its viability, Moltres is still a strong choice.
Pressure: costs Moltres's opponent twice as much PP. Moltres isn't a hugely defensive Pokémon but it can use this trait fairly effectively. In particular, with Roost, Moltres can drain Blissey out of Seismic Toss PP twice as quickly.
Choice Specs is the option best tailored to Moltres's strengths. Earthquake immunity and a handful of good resistances allow Moltres to switch in fairly safely (assuming that Stealth Rock is inactive).
Flamethrower and Air Slash are Moltres's most reliable STAB moves. Its other options are somewhat limited however.
Hidden Power [Ice] deals with the common dragons. Hidden Power [Grass] deals with the majority of threatening water types. Extrasensory (from XD) is a bit of a filler but it hits a lot of Pokémon for neutral damage. Overheat gels nicely on a Choice Specs set, switch in, land a powerful hit, switch out. Similarly to Specs-Mence, Overheat would be used for large early hits whilst Flamethrower would sweep later in the battle.
EVs and Nature:
The usual 252/252 set-up is employed. Modest gives a large Special Attack boost, which is further increased with Choice Specs, however Timid is worth a good long look. Timid allows Moltres to outrun Base Speed 100 Pokémon as well as Garchomp (assuming an opposing Speed boosting nature is absent). This is definitely worth consideration, since the speed boost allows Moltres to outrun a lot of key Pokémon.
Sunny Day Moltres is worth a good look, especially if your team can benefit from it. With the addition of Solarbeam, as well as Morning Sun from XD, Moltres can take advantage of the Sunny Day boosts very well. It's not the best user of Sunny Day, but it's still pretty solid, especially since Weather Control is likely to become an important aspect in D/P competitive battling.
Sunny Day understandably forms the core of this set. It removes Moltres's Water weakness, boosts Flamethrower's damage, removes Solarbeam's charge up turn and has the potential to boost Morning Sun from a 50% heal to a 66% heal.
Air Slash is an option for all out offence since it gains STAB. If Morning Sun is inaccessible (or you simply want a healing move that functions well under all conditions and has improved PP) then Roost is also an option.
Item options for this set are varied.
Charcoal has gone from a 10% boost to a 20% boost, making it a much more viable option. STAB, Sunny Day and a 20% boost packs a lot of power.
Hot Rock increases Sunny Day's duration from 5 turns to 8 turns.
Leftovers gives Moltres extra healing. On more defensive Moltres sets this is quite an important boost.
Something to keep an eye out for are the Pokémon who can automatically change the weather with their traits. Notably: Tyranitar, Hippowdon and Abomasnow (since Kyogre belongs in the Uber environment). If they switch in during the use of Solarbeam, they will cut it back to its one-turn charge-up, which can be the opportunity they need in order to KO Moltres.
EVs and Nature:
The same 252/252 EV spread can be employed, but with a recovery move, a defensive spread has some potential
Probably the least effective of the available Moltres sets. It isn't so much that Moltres is a poor defensive Pokémon, rather the fact that it's reliant on its team-mates to provide Rapid Spin to make it a reliable defensive Pokémon.
Two STAB moves and a healing move should all make sense.
Will-o-Wisp is probably the best option here since it puts a major hurting on most of the common physical sweepers (as well as many of Moltres's counters).
Roar is passable but there's very few stat-boosters that Moltres can pseudo-haze effectively, although it can rack up some nice damage with Stealth Rock or Spikes support.
Safeguard blocks status attacks and remains even after Moltres switches out. This move is particularly noteworthy since it messes up Thunder Wave (or Sing) variants of Blissey.
EVs and Nature:
The EVs were very hard to decide on for this move set. A defensive set would obviously want Max HP and EVs in one of its defences, but how to distribute them can be difficult. Obviously, Special Attack shouldn't be neglected, since Moltres offers very nice offence. Shooting for a 330-350 Special Attack stat should be reasonable.
As for defensive EVs, it's somewhat at matter of 'what's left'. Either defence can be boosted but for the sake of example, physical Defence has been used. Speed EVs are worth a little consideration. 222 Speed sets it above Adamant Tyranitar, 240 above Adamant Metagross, 241 above Timid Magnezone, and 244 above Jolly Tyranitar.
Fire Blast, Ancient Power, Agility, Substitute, U-Turn, Aerial Ace, Steel Wing, Sky Attack, Protect, Life Orb, Choice Scarf, Petaya Berry, Powerful Herb.
Fire Blast is an option over Flamethrower on any move set. In particular, on the Sunny Day set, a Modest Moltres using Fire Blast with a Sunny Day and Charcoal does about 45% damage to the standard Blissey, which is a very significant chunk of damage.
Ancient Power is pretty much Moltres's only other special move that hasn't been mentioned. Base 60 power is weak, even when its super-effective it only just outmatches a STAB Air Slash (so even against opposing fire types it isn't particularly significant).
Agility gives a nice boost to Moltres's Speed (which is admittedly, fairly average), but it does cost an important turn.
Substitute is always an option. It blocks status attacks and can be used to activate pinch berries.
U-Turn, Aerial Ace and Steel Wing are probably the only viable physical moves available. Even then, they're only loosely viable and barely enough to form a Choice Band set. U-Turn is nice for scouting an opponent attempting to switch and can score some cheap damage as Moltres switches out. Aerial Ace gets STAB. Steel Wing hits Rock types (and the less important Ice types).
Sky Attack is a one off move that can be used with Powerful Herb. It's a Base 140 attack with STAB, so it can put a big hurting on an unsuspecting opponent, although it'll most likely require some EV investment into Moltres's Attack stat. Considering that it costs an item slot, its worth is questionable.
Protect can stall an extra turn of Leftovers recovery and chains nicely with Pressure for extra PP draining.
Life Orb is an item option and Moltres can offset the 'recoil' damage with Roost. A 1.3x boost is quite helpful.
Choice Scarf is always an option for catching opponents by surprise.
The Peyaya Berry is Moltres's best pinch berry option. It's a nice little boost that can be forcibly activated with Substitute, but Life Orb + Roost is probably a better overall combination than Substitute + Petaya. Powerful Herb can be chained together with either Solarbeam or Sky Attack to drop the one turn of charge up, although it's a one off item.
Moltres, whilst a pretty decent Pokémon, isn't an example of a top tier threat. Even though it has a large Special Attack stat, its offence is fairly predictable: Air Slash and Flamethrower possibly accompanied by Hidden Power and/or Extrasensory. In the case of Solarbeam, most of the time a Sunny Day beforehand will give away that it's in use.
The hands down best Pokémon for countering Moltres is Heatran. It's immune to Fire moves, resists Air Slash and Solarbeam, and resists the two Hidden Powers it frequently uses (Grass and Ice) as well as Extrasensory. Short of a surprising Hidden Power, Moltres can't touch Heatran.
Rock types resist both of its STAB moves, have a 4x super-effective STAB move and have the potential Special Defence boost from Sandstorm. Rhyperior and Tyranitar are the main bulky ones, although both need to watch out for Will-o-Wisp and super-effective Hidden Powers (as well as the Sunny Day-Solarbeam combination). Some lesser used Rock types ideal for the job include Lunatone and Regirock, as well as a few with 4x fire resists such as Magcargo and Omastar.
Flamethrower is Moltres's core move, so: Fire, Water and Dragon types are decent counters. They don't resist Moltres's Air Slash however. Several have good enough Special Defence to pull off the job, such as Dragonite and Milotic (who both have recovery moves as well). Thick Fat Pokémon, Snorlax in particular, have a makeshift Fire resistance through their trait.
And of course, it's inescapable when a Special Attacker is the subject. Blissey counters Moltres pretty easily (although it does get hurt by Sunny Day sets and can be out stalled by a defensive set).
Repeated beatings aren't particularly effective when Moltres is using Roost (although Roost opens up the opportunity to surprise Moltres with Earthquake) and it was mentioned in the overview, but Stealth Rock destroys Moltres's viability. If Stealth Rock is active, Moltres pretty much can't reliably switch into the battle.
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