While it's certainly not as powerful as Charizard, Magmar remains one of the most foolproof responses to Grass-type Pokemon in general, with its Vital Spirit letting it switch into the Spores and Sleep Powders that pester almost every team. Its decent Special Defense, alongside its good set of resistances and ability to use Eviolite, also let it take their STAB attacks extremely well. Meanwhile, Magmar's offensive stats are still high enough for it to pose a threat, with a powerful Fire Blast dealing severe damage to frail sweepers and Fire-weak targets, and base 93 Speed letting it outspeed much of the unboosted metagame. However, while Magmar is definitely capable as an offensive Pokemon, it's certainly not as overwhelming as its older brother, lacking Thunderbolt and thus having difficulty against Water-type Pokemon as a result. Furthermore, aside from its Vital Spirit and access to Eviolite, it's actually outclassed by the faster and more versatile Simisear; thus you must ensure that you're using Magmar to its strengths, or you shouldn't bother using it at all. Overall, while Magmar doesn't come close to the level of power that Magmortar once provided, it can still fill an important role within the tier, and shouldn't be underestimated.
With this set, Magmar fills the role of a bulky tank that specializes in removing Grass-type Pokemon with as much certainty as possible. Common Grass-type tanks such as Vileplume, Exeggutor, and Tangela have next to no chance of breaking through Magmar before it can kill them with its STAB attack of choice. For instance, with the given HP investment and Eviolite equipped, standard Vileplume can't hope to destroy Magmar's Substitute in one hit, while a Psychic from even Choice Specs Exeggutor will never OHKO Magmar, even after it's switched into Stealth Rock. Importantly, its Vital Spirit ensures that Spores and Sleep Powders, the tools that Grass-type Pokemon love to use to get around their usual counters, are completely ineffective, and allows Magmar to protect its teammates from sleep moves by switching into them directly. In combination with Magmar's naturally high base Speed, this makes it very difficult for Grass-type Pokemon to do anything at all when faced with the flaming duck, forcing them to either switch out or be defeated.
Meanwhile, Magmar retains several qualities that make it useful on teams outside of this specific niche. Resistances to Bug-, Fire-, and Ice-type attacks, alongside its access to Eviolite, let Magmar take even powerful neutral special attacks extremely well. For instance, Life Orb Haunter can't 2HKO with any of its attacks so long as Stealth Rock is kept off the field. Furthermore, Magmar certainly isn't a sitting duck, as its Fire Blast holds a lot of power and can OHKO a lot of frail targets, such as the aforementioned Haunter and Swellow, while Lava Plume threatens anything that attempts to switch into Magmar with a crippling burn. Once Magmar switches into battle, it can set up a Substitute against bulky opponents to block status moves or weak attacks, and then proceed to either burn targets directly with Will-O-Wisp or hit them hard with a STAB attack or coverage move. Overall, while Magmar isn't a conventional choice for a Fire-type Pokemon, it is by far the best candidate for countering Grass-type Pokemon, and still retains a lot of utility in other situations.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Here, Magmar aims to follow more directly in its older brother's footsteps by running an all-out attacking set, being fast enough to outspeed the majority of the unboosted metagame, but losing power and bulk in comparison. With a level of power slightly higher than Choice Scarf Magmortar, it still has enough power to secure KOs on slower offensive opponents, as well as faster ones that try to switch in, while retaining the ability to switch between moves. However, while Magmar is certainly a capable attacker, it must be remembered that Vital Spirit is the only real reason for using it over the faster and more versatile Simisear, making it a good offensive response to sleep moves, which many teams can struggle to deal with. Thus, offensive Magmar is just as valuable as a pivot into Grass-types as a general revenge killer, and you should ensure that it sees significant use as the former to avoid being outclassed.
Magmar can run a Life Orb or Choice Specs equally well, with both items being important for increasing damage output. When using a Life Orb, Magmar can opt to use Substitute to play around Sucker Punch users, such as Skuntank, and Golem, scoring a free hit on them one turn later. On the other hand, Choice Specs can be used to minimize recoil damage and maximize power. Overall, while Magmar isn't the best Fire-type attacker in the tier, it's still extremely competent, and its ability to switch into sleep moves gives it a useful niche for teams that require it.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
While some may be tempted to use an Expert Belt on offensive Magmar to help minimize the residual damage it takes during battle, it's generally not worth using as Magmar's super effective coverage is not as good as its evolution's, and it highly appreciates the extra power when using Fire Blast on neutral targets. Likewise, Leftovers can be used to recuperate health lost through the use of Substitute, but Eviolite has much greater defensive utility overall, and offensive sets prefer using a power boosting item due to Magmar's modest Base 100 Special Attack stat. Likewise, while it can seem like a good idea to use Flame Body to deter opponents, such as Samurott, from revenge killing it with contact attacks, Magmar's primary niche within the tier is using Vital Spirit to check the users of sleep moves. Without its signature ability, you're better off using Simisear or Rapidash as your speedy Fire-type Pokemon instead. Additionally, Magmar can run a fully specially defensive set, which boasts fantastic bulk, but can be worn down fairly easily due to its lack of recovery, making Flareon the better choice in general.
Interestingly, Magmar's base 95 Attack stat lets it go mixed or physically offensive to a degree of success. However, while using physical attacks on Magmar isn't necessarily a bad choice, there are several reasons as to why going specially offensive is generally the best choice. Firstly, Magmar's two best physical STAB attacks are Flare Blitz and Fire Punch, the first of which exaggerates Magmar's weakness to residual damage to ridiculous levels, and the second of which lacks the power to OHKO frail neutral targets. Secondly, while Cross Chop is useful for hitting special walls, such as Lickilicky, slightly harder, it's much worse than Focus Blast against targets such as Regirock and physically defensive Milank, and it's not much more accurate. Finally, while ThunderPunch is still an effective move against most Water-types, it stands no chance of breaking through Alomomola, unlike Hidden Power Grass, which can 2HKO when Magmar uses a Life Orb. All of these factors combine to make Magmar's physical offense generally inferior to its special offense, and with the lack of one-dimensional walls such as Blissey and Cryogonal within the tier, there is little point in using mixed sets.
There are a few other niche moves that Magmar can also use, but probably shouldn't. Belly Drum can be used to skyrocket Magmar's attack stat, but it exacerbates its vulnerability to priority moves (and the occasional faster Pokemon) far too much for it to be viable. Flame Charge can be used to boost Magmar's Speed, but again, it doesn't provide insurance against the likes of Skuntank, and it's an extremely easy attack for opponents to switch into. Clear Smog can be used to prevent bulky boosters such as Calm Mind Musharna from setting up against it, but as Magmar lacks any recovery options, they can just as easily wear it down with repeated attacks. Sunny Day is an interesting choice, as Magmar can set up the move when it switches into the likes of Vileplume and Tangela, and using SolarBeam significantly improves its coverage against Water-type Pokemon. However, it faces competition from the likes of Rapidash and Charizard, which have higher Base speeds and can become larger offensive threats via Flash Fire and Solar Power, respectively.
Checks and Counters
Unlike its older brother, Magmar can be fairly easily countered, as it lacks the former's access to Thunderbolt and massive base 125 Special Attack stat, and it can only use three coverage attacks at once. For instance, Grumpig is an absolute full stop, taking pitiful damage from all of Magmar's attacks, and being able to remove burns from Will-O-Wisp via Heal Bell. Flash Fire Pokemon such as Flareon and Lampent are also excellent responses in general, taking nothing from its most powerful attack and being able to either dispense Wishes with impunity or strike back with STAB Shadow Ball, respectively. Frillish is another hard counter; although it can be hit for somewhat decent damage by Hidden Power Grass, it can use Recover to easily offset Magmar's damage output, and it can strike back with either Night Shade or Scald to wear Magmar down over time.
Furthermore, several Pokemon become excellent checks to Magmar depending on what Hidden Power type it chooses to run. Without Hidden Power Grass, more commonplace Water-type Pokemon such as Samurott and Gorebyss can easily switch in and threaten Magmar with their respective STAB attacks and boosting options, although the former must watch out for Will-O-Wisp if it lacks a Lum Berry. If it lacks Hidden Power Rock, opposing Fire-types can switch into Magmar's STAB attacks and threaten it with their coverage moves; Charizard boasts a resistance to Focus Blast while Rapidash can outspeed and deal severe damage even with a resisted Flare Blitz, especially if it switches into a Fire-type attack. Without Hidden Power Ice, Altaria becomes a full stop to Magmar, taking almost nothing from its attacks, healing its HP with Roost or Rest, and bypassing status effects through Natural Cure. Furthermore, it can quickly become a problem as it sets up with Dragon Dance or fires off Draco Meteors for free. Likewise, without Hidden Power Electric, Swanna and Mantine can switch into Magmar fairly easily and proceed to set up.
Finally, it's fairly easy to revenge kill Magmar with faster physical attackers. Swellow and Tauros can easily OHKO Magmar with their STAB attacks if it lacks Eviolite. Priority attack users can also stop Magmar with ease; Samurott and Carracosta can cool its jets with their Aqua Jets while Skuntank and Cacturne can use Sucker Punch to deal with Magmar. However, be aware that Magmar can, and often will, use Substitute or Will-O-Wisp to provide protection against Sucker Punch, so it's not a foolproof method by any means, compounded by the fact that none of its users can switch into Magmar's Fire Blast safely.