Moltres, The Flame Pokémon. A legendary bird Pokémon. As it flaps its flaming wings, even the night sky will turn red. If this Pokémon is injured, it is said to dip its body in the molten magma of a volcano to burn and heal itself.
One of the first legendary trios, Moltres has been a fairly popular Pokemon that always seems to be shifting in viability over the years, never having one consistent location like its counterparts Articuno and Zapdos. Competitively, Moltres has had a hard time, lacking tools to stand with its brothers in standard play and constantly facing competition with Charizard who is faster and has a lot more options to choose from. However, Moltres stands out in its home tiers with its massive power and good coverage, highlighting just how dangerous an offensive Fire-type can be. Currently Moltres resides in Smogon UU and finds itself barely squeaking by in similar tier levels in other formats, but it maintains a niche in standard play as a defensive pivot that isn't weak to Fighting- and Ground-type moves like Heatran.
Typing - Moltres’ typing is the main reason it can run with the big boys. Fire/Flying grants resistance to Fairy, Fighting, Fire, Grass, Steel, and Bug, and also provides a Ground immunity, which lends to a great defensive typing outside of the Stealth Rock weakness. This allows Moltres to check powerful threats such as Mega Charizard Y, Mega Mawile, Scizor, Mega Pinsir, Garchomp, Kommo-o, and Tapu Bulu, giving it a lot of utility. In combination with moves such as Will-O-Wisp and Roost, this allows Moltres to have the longevity Heatran wishes it had.
Power - While no longer as impressive as it once was with most Legendary Pokemon and some Megas boasting absurd base stats these days, 125 is still strong even with little investment. In combination with Moltres’ high base power STAB options in Hurricane and Fire Blast, the fire bird turns out to be a powerful wallbreaker and otherwise still packs a punch for defensive sets.
Typing - Moltres’ typing however is a double edge sword. Weaknesses to Water, Electric, and quad weakness to Rock, namely Stealth Rock, is a huge issue that keeps it down. This means while Moltres can pivot into foes such as Landorus Therian and Weavile, it can't outright check them as Landorus with Stone Edge decimates it while Choice Band Weavile will force a Roost. This also makes Moltres weak to Tyranitar who doesn't care about most of Moltres’ moves bar Will-O-Wisp, and can OHKO with Stone Edge or Pursuit its U-Turn or switch. Keldeo and Terrakion can easily revenge kill Moltres but neither can switch in due to Hurricane and Will-O-Wisp respectively.
Speed - Moltres has a poor Speed tier at base 90. This makes it very easy to revenge kill as even with a Choice Scarf it can't outrun a +1 Salamence, Landorus Therian, Volcarona, or Garchomp, while a neutral Speed nature offers a chance for Pokemon such as Greninja, Tapu Koko, and Mega Aerodactyl a way in as Moltres can't stare them down one on one.
Pressure - Opponents uses 2 PP instead of 1 - Great defensively as it can quickly wear down the count on moves such as Fire Blast and Hurricane, and it provides solid utility overall on something with good recovery.
Flame Body - 30% chance to burn on contact - This is also good as Moltres checks Steel-types such as Mega Scizor and Mega Mawile very well, and a stray burn can be particularly nasty for them.
-U-turn / Defog / Agility
Item Attached: Flyinium Z
Ability: Flame Body
EVs and Nature:
252 SpA /4 SpD / 252 Spe
Modest / Timid Nature
Fire Blast and Hurricane are the primary moves Moltres will use as both are high base power STABs, plus Hurricane has a high confusion rate when it hits. Roost is nice to help keep Moltres around even with hazards cause it can switch into Scizor with ease and Roost up damage. Last spot is flexible, U-turn is nice to maintain offensive pressure as it can just switch out on something coming in such as Mega Aerodactyl. Defog can bring utility to the team but Moltres isn't the best primary Defogger for your team however. Finally Agility can let Moltres clean up late game.
The offensive spread is straightforward, and Flame Body is chosen since the 30% burn chance is more likely to make a difference than Pressure burning PP on an offensive set. Flyinium Z is the preferred Z-Move here so that Moltres has a reliable Flying-type STAB for one turn, and Flying-type in general is a very deadly offensive type.
- Substitute / Toxic/ Will-O-Wisp
Item Attached: Leftovers
EVs and Nature:
252 HP / 4 Def / 252 Speed
Finding its home on Stall teams, Roost is key to help Moltres stay around and check threats such as Tapu Bulu and Cobalion. Substitute works hand in hand with Roost as it allows Moltres to dodge status moves and helps stall out Pokemon it would otherwise struggle with such as Tyranitar, Kyurem Black, and Mega Aerodactyl lacking Aqua Tail due to their low PP attacks. In lower tier formats, Substitute isn't needed as much and can be switched out for Toxic for damage on tanks, while Will-O-Wisp can cripple physical threats trying to switch in safely. Roar can also be considered as it prevents Pokemon such as Lum Berry Haxorus from boosting on it. Defog is mandatory in standard 6v6 formats as it helps keep hazards out that can be set by threats that force out Mega Sableye. Flamethrower is the only attacking move but is key to checking Mega Mawile, Cobalion, and Breloom.
The given EV spread optimizes Speed so that Moltres can set up a Substitute on as many foes as possible. Dropping the Speed to 240 EVs and adjusting to 208 HP / 60 Def allows Moltres to take a Thunder Punch from Mega Mawile, though this is not relevant in all formats. You can also drop Speed slightly more depending on the format if you really want to optimize for more bulk, but that's up to you.
Choice Specs - As stated in the cons Speed section, Moltres isn't a great Choice Scarf user, however Choice Specs is different. Choice Specs Moltres is one of the best wallbreakers in lower tier formats as not much can safely take a hit from that STAB combination. Blissey is the best option but needs to be healthy to safely take it on, and Assault Vest Snorlax is decent with Thick Fat for Fire Blast, but Hurricane is the real killer of the set and punches holes for teammates like Mega Pidgeot.
Hazard Control - Does this need to be said? Losing 50% health from Stealth Rock sucks, especially without Regenerator like Ho-Oh. Latios and Latias are good Defoggers and can check Terrakion and Keldeo quite well, while Starmie is in a similar spot with Rapid Spin. Rotom Wash and Rotom Cut are great defensive options as they help check some of the big threats that Moltres can be worn down by, such as the Mega Charizards and Garchomp, while having Defog and Volt Switch to keep the tempo on your side.
Flying-types - Recent gens have shown that Flying is a very spammable type and Moltres helps pave the way for other users of this type. Mega Pidgeot comes to mind here but Moltres can also help Z-Crystal users such as Salamence and Gyarados in standard 6v6 as it naturally beats Steel-types such as Ferrothorn and Celesteela with its Fire typing, and it also wears down Rock-type threats with Hurricane or Will-O-Wisp.
Gyarados - Mega Gyarados is on of the best checks to Moltres due to typing and use of Taunt to prevent Will-O-Wisp. This with its high Special Defense means Fire Blast barely tickles and Hurricane generally doesn't hurt too much, all while threatening with a powerful Water-type STAB.
Rock-types - Most Rock types have a good match up into Moltres due to its STAB combo and quad weakness to it. Tyranitar just beats offensive sets, not taking much damage and threatening Pursuit or Stone Edge. Mega Aerodactyl can look for easy switch-ins on Moltres and apply pressure with its high power and good coverage as well. Finally while neutral to Hurricane, Terrakion is another answer to Moltres as it can look to boost or set up the rare Substitute and threaten from behind it.
Stealth Rock - Yeah, Stealth Rock is bad for Moltres. This really doesn't need a detailed explanation.
Locations in Games
Trade from Red/Blue/Yellow.
Trade from FireRed/LeafGreen.
Snagged from Cipher Boss Greevil in Citadark Isle (XD)
Trade from FireRed/LeafGreen.
Roaming Sinnoh (Platinum)
Trade from Platinum, Heart Gold & Soul Silver (Diamond/Pearl).
Transfer from Generation IV.
Black 2/White 2:
Transfer from Generation IV.
Sea Spirit's Den (If Froakie picked as Starter)
Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire:
Trade from X/Y.
Trade from Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon.
Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon:
Ultra Space Wilds
Let's Go, Pikachu!/Let's Go, Eevee!:
Route 1, Route 2, Route 3, Route 4, Route 7, Route 8, Route 10, Route 11, Route 12, Route 13, Route 14, Route 15, Route 16, Route 17, Route 18, Route 19, Route 21, Route 22, Route 23, Route 24, Route 25, Victory Road.
Moltres has made a few appearances in the anime. Most notably, it is used as the symbol for the Kanto Pokémon League