Looks can be deceiving, but that's not the case with Honchkrow. Being the mob boss-looking bird that it is, it looks like it would have some pretty high stats to take advantage of. Honchkrow's base 125 Attack stat is the best thing about it, and when used in combination with powerful STAB moves such as Brave Bird and Sucker Punch, it makes life very difficult for those who play against it. Dropping down from BL last generation, Honchkrow has only gotten better in this generation because of its Dream World ability: Moxie. Honchkrow can also use moves such as Superpower and Heat Wave with Moxie, making it even more threatening. This is nothing but good news for Honchkrow, but bad news for the rest of the metagame, as the Rock- and Steel-types that were once strong checks to Honchkrow, such as Registeel and Rhyperior, now fare much worse against it. Sacrificing Pokemon to Honchkrow is now much more dangerous, because it can completely sweep teams after it gets an Attack boost or two.
That being said, Honchkrow has some pretty crippling flaws. While it boasts one of the most powerful priority attacks in the game in STAB Sucker Punch, it is extremely reliant on the move to hit faster opponents, of which there are many in the UU metagame. Zapdos, Raikou, Shaymin, Cobalion, and others are all faster than Honchkrow, and have enough bulk to take a Sucker Punch and hit Honchkrow back hard. While this issue can be somewhat fixed with paralysis support, Honchkrow's over-reliance on the move makes it rather predictable. Also, Honchkrow's only noteworthy defensive stat is its high HP; while it helps to mitigate Brave Bird recoil, Honchkrow's poor defenses leave it unable to take a hit, and it will fall to most decently-powered STAB attacks. This means that Honchkrow has to KO everything in its path in order to sweep, which is a tough task before any Attack boosts are attained. While Honchkrow has a very threatening movepool, it suffers heavily from four-moveslot syndrome, making it unable to use all the right moves in all the right places. Nevertheless, Honchkrow is a major threat in today's metagame that every team should have a solid answer to.
This is Honchkrow's flagship set, striking fear into the hearts of every player and threatening offense and stall alike. Once Honchkrow can get a kill or two, it becomes almost impossible to stop as it can destroy every Pokemon that doesn't resist Brave Bird, kill all fast offensive Pokemon with Sucker Punch, and obliterate all Rock- and Steel-types with Superpower. If you can open up a spot on your team to fit Honchkrow, its downfall will be by its own hand most of the time, as opposed to your opponent's. Honchkrow hits brutally hard, and you can't allow it to kill anything on your team, as otherwise, you'll fall prey to the mighty bird. Brave Bird and Sucker Punch are the two main moves on the set, making use of Honchkrow's semi-unique STAB combination. Generally speaking, Brave Bird finds more use against slower opponents, as they tend to be bulkier, while Sucker Punch finds more use against faster ones. Brave Bird is capable of 2HKOing almost all physical walls in UU that don't resist it, with Gligar being the rare exception. Sucker Punch is also a very good move for Honchkrow, as it can KO most faster threats with the move before they can hit, especially the numerous fast Psychic- and Ghost-types in UU such as Azelf, Froslass, and Mismagius.
While Brave Bird and Sucker Punch form the core threat of Moxie Honchkrow, Superpower is a fancy toy that is very beneficial as well. What would seem to be solid counters to Honchkrow, such as Empoleon, Rhyperior, Registeel, and Bronzong, are all hit hard by Superpower, leaving them unable to stop Honchkrow's sweep. Superpower is also useful against Snorlax and Porygon2, with the former causing Honchkrow to take ridiculous amounts of recoil if using Brave Bird, and the latter boasting extremely high Defense due to Eviolite. However, Heat Wave is another long-lost friend for Honchkrow, and can be used as well, most notably hitting threats such as Cobalion, Escavalier, and Ferroseed harder. It's generally not necessary though, as the latter two are hit hard by Brave Bird anyway, and Cobalion outspeeds Honchkrow and takes little from Sucker Punch.
Instead of Heat Wave, Roost is the preferred option in the last slot. While it will rarely be of use, it is wonderful for healing off the damage taken from Life Orb and Brave Bird, and no other move is generally needed anyway. It is best used when your opponent tries to play around Sucker Punch and tries to lure Brave Bird, but with Roost you can stay one step ahead. Substitute is a good move in Honchkrow's repertoire that works well in conjunction with Roost, as it is good for avoiding status and decreasing Honchkrow's reliance on Sucker Punch. However, Substitute can also be used with Heat Wave to break walls effectively. Heat Wave is the better option in tandem with Substitute because Superpower makes Honchkrow's sweep harder to attain in a shorter period of time, and also makes Honchkrow's already frail Substitutes easier to break. Pursuit is another good option in the last slot as an easy way to get Honchkrow's sweep started, as Honchkrow can trap a weakened Xatu or Slowbro to get its first Attack boost, and then it will be all downhill for your opponent from there. However, if you don't use Roost, then Honchkrow's sweep will often be cut short by Life Orb and Brave Bird recoil.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Honchkrow's main problem is that it isn't particularly fast, nor particularly bulky. This makes it very reliant on Sucker Punch to do its dirty work, and sometimes it just can't get the job done before a couple of Attack boosts are gained. This set attempts to fix Honchkrow's Speed problem, as, by holding a Choice Scarf, Honchkrow can outspeed the entire metagame. Honchkrow doesn't function like a typical Choice Scarf user that revenge kills Speed-boosting sweepers, because it's not fast enough to outspeed Pokemon such as Dragon Dance Kingdra, Quiver Dance Venomoth, or anything that's been passed a Shell Smash. This set functions more similarly to other Choice Scarf users with Moxie, such as Krookodile and Heracross, trying to set up a Moxie sweep by outspeeding the opponent and hitting them with a powerful STAB move. For Honchkrow, this move is none other than Brave Bird, its most powerful STAB move. It gets good neutral coverage on most of the metagame, and along with Night Slash as a secondary STAB move, is only resisted by Steel-type Pokemon.
To hit Steel-types, look no further than Superpower. It's great for hitting threats such as Empoleon, Cobalion, and Registeel, as well as Rock-types such as Rhyperior. The Attack drop from Superpower is remedied by Moxie; as long as Honchkrow keeps killing things with it, its Attack will never drop. In the last slot, Drill Peck is the primary option to provide Honchkrow with a Flying-type STAB move without recoil, and can be used to clean effectively once Superpower has broken through all of the Rock- and Steel-types. It's as powerful as Brave Bird after only a single Attack boost, and overall is a better move to use late-game so Honchkrow doesn't kill itself with Brave Bird recoil. Pursuit is another good option in that slot, as due to its newfound Speed, Honchkrow can trap several Pokemon that it couldn't before, such as Azelf, Froslass, and Mismagius. However, it doesn't really add to the set's purpose. Hidden Power Grass is another option over Drill Peck, and is more of a revenge killing move, as one of the few Speed-boosting sweepers that Honchkrow can outspeed is Rock Polish Rhyperior, and Hidden Power Grass hits it hard. It serves no other purpose, however, because Swampert and other bulky Water-types take a lot of damage from Brave Bird.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Honchkrow has a bunch of other options it can utilize, but most of them aren't any good. Honchkrow has a couple of moves that can boost its Special Attack such as Nasty Plot and Calm Mind. Nasty Plot would be better suited for Honchkrow because of its awful bulk, and you'd probably want to use a mixed Nasty Plot set to incorporate Sucker Punch, because otherwise, Honchkrow can't take on faster opponents at all. That being said, a bulky Calm Mind set consisting of Calm Mind, Dark Pulse, Rest, and Sleep Talk employs the conventional mono-attacker, but RestTalk is bad in BW due to the sleep mechanics. While Moxie is clearly the better ability, Honchkrow can take some slack off of its teammates with Insomnia, making it a good check to threats such as Roserade and Lilligant that use Sleep Powder along with their Grass-type STAB attacks. Perish Song and Mean Look form a lethal combination, but Honchkrow typically won't last long enough to stall out the turns for Perish Song. Payback might seem like a good choice due to Honchkrow's low Speed, but Honchkrow can't take a hit in the first place, and it will be extremely weak against slower opponents. Honchkrow has the movepool for a defensive set; Thunder Wave, Toxic, Haze, and Whirlwind would make for a great set, but for now that role is done better by something with better defenses.
Checks and Counters
Zapdos is generally the best all-purpose counter to Honchkrow, with physically defensive variants obviously being ideal. Physically defensive Zapdos has the bulk to switch into Brave Bird easily, and can use Roost to avoid Sucker Punch before it KOes with Discharge or Thunderbolt. Even offensive Zapdos is a strong check to Honchkrow, as it can take a Life Orb-boosted Sucker Punch after Stealth Rock. Rhyperior is a similarly strong check, as it can take all of Honchkrow's attacks comfortably bar Hidden Power Grass; it's not even 2HKOed by a Life Orb Superpower thanks to its immense physical bulk paired with Solid Rock. It can even use Rock Blast to beat Substitute variants of Honchkrow. Gligar is immensely bulky with Eviolite, and can even take two Life Orb Brave Birds after Stealth Rock. If Gligar can land a timely Toxic, it can force Honchkrow to its doom; Taunt has a similar effect by preventing Honchkrow from using Roost, so it succumbs to Brave Bird recoil.
When attempting to check Honchkrow, the main order of business is finding a way to avoid Sucker Punch. Of course, faster Pokemon that resist the move such as Cobalion and Heracross are ideal when dealing with Honchkrow, but Choice Scarf Honchkrow gives both of them a run for their money. Shaymin, Raikou, and Crobat are other Pokemon that have the bulk to take a Life Orb Sucker Punch and retaliate, but in Shaymin's case, it must be carrying Hidden Power Ice to significantly damage Honchkrow. Mismagius is a good check that can use Will-O-Wisp to burn Honchkrow, thus avoiding Sucker Punch despite its weakness to it. It can also use Substitute to put Honchkrow into a checkmate position, but like many of Life Orb Honchkrow's checks, it loses to the Choice Scarf set. Porygon2 is a decent check to Honchkrow that can't really switch in, but can beat Honchkrow all the same; it can take a Life Orb Superpower thanks to Eviolite, and then KO Honchkrow with Discharge, Thunderbolt, or Ice Beam; it's also a full stop to the Choice Scarf set, as the standard defensive set can avoid the 2HKO from Superpower. Because the Choice Scarf set lacks the raw power of the Life Orb set, bulky Water-types are good checks as well. Milotic, Suicune, and Swampert can all check Honchkrow somewhat effectively thanks to their well-placed stats; the former can use Toxic to stall Honchkrow out, while the latter two can use Ice Beam or Ice Punch to bring it down. While having one of the aforementioned checks to Honchkrow will certainly help you, sometimes you'll just have to play around it to win. You can try to force it into using Brave Bird and making it take a lot of recoil damage, or stall out Sucker Punch's PP by using non-attacking moves. The main thing to remember is that Honchkrow must be stopped before it can acquire too many Attack boosts, because it can snowball into an OHKO machine very quickly.