Even with Stealth Rock littering the battlefield in every match, Moltres sits firmly as one of the top Pokémon in UU. Its plentiful movepool, well allocated stats, and useful resistances are a lethal combination that gives Moltres the tools it needs to tear through teams with ease. Whether it be stalling, supporting, or Choice sweeping, Moltres is capable of performing its role time and time again.
Unfortunately for Moltres, the aforementioned Stealth Rock swiftly clips its wings. Losing 50% every switch in is extremely hazardous, meaning Moltres must rely heavily upon its teammates to reach its full potential. Team support must be taken into account when considering Moltres for your team.
Moltres is one of the most fearsome special attackers in the Underused metagame, capable of OHKOing and 2HKOing the vast majority of the tier with its powerful STAB moves and excellent type coverage. Fire Blast is one of Moltres's strongest moves. To show the power of Moltres's STAB Life Orb Fire Blast, a standard Chansey takes an average of 70% from two Fire Blasts, meaning with support from entry hazards and previous attacks, Moltres taking out the pink blob is a very probable scenario. Air Slash is a great STAB move that is able to quickly take out Fighting-types, in addition to being a great late-game attack due to its high PP and 30% flinch rate. Hidden Power Grass complements Moltres's STAB moves nicely, hitting both Rock- and Water-types very hard. Hidden Power Grass can also OHKO the lesser seen Water/Ground-types Quagsire and Gastrodon. Roost is a great move for Moltres because it can replenish health lost from Life Orb recoil and Stealth Rock (though Moltres should only be switching into Stealth Rock as a last resort), aiding Moltres to further blast away at the opposing team. Roost, coupled with Moltres's Pressure ability, can be used to stall out the PP of moves from weak attackers.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Moltres can also play the role of an extremely annoying staller, aided significantly in this role by its Pressure ability. It can switch in easily on pretty much any purely physical attacker with a base Speed of 80 or below (most notably Absol), and is one of the most reliable counters to Blaziken available. Once it's in, it can proceed to stall out much of an opponent's team, as many of the most intuitive "counters" won't actually help much at all. For example, Regirock can be easily stalled out of Stone Edge PP all too quickly thanks to Roost and Pressure. Chansey can Seismic Toss its Substitutes away, but needs good prediction to hit Moltres with status. Otherwise, it will gladly sit there eating away Seismic Toss' PP with Pressure, as it will have inevitably hit Chansey with a status move that will eat away its HP as well.
Flamethrower and Toxic are Moltres's best options for stalling, although it does have a few other options at its disposal. Air Slash can be paired with Will-O-Wisp for a set designed to counter physical threats. However, Arcanine outclasses Moltres in this role, especially with Intimidate and a lesser Stealth Rock weakness.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Moltres is able to utilize Choice items effectively due to its type coverage, excellent Special Attack, and decent Speed. Fire Blast is always a great move on Moltres, but Flamethrower is a reliable and acceptable move on Choiced Moltres due to the power of Choice Specs or the sweeping ability of the Choice Scarf set. Air Slash is another great STAB move. The choice of Hidden Power is much different on a Choice set because of the lack of versatility and/or power. Hidden Power Grass is probably the best option with its ability to hit Water-, Ground-, and Rock-types very hard, making it a very good general attack for hitting Moltres's counters. Hidden Power Ice is useful on the Choice Scarf set for revenge killing Dragon Dance Altaria, but other than that it does not have much use. U-turn is a fun move to have, wearing down counters and scouting the opposing team by forcing switches. Overheat is available to deliver a fierce blow stronger than a SpecsMence Draco Meteor on anything without the Flash Fire ability. Choice sets are usually used in a hit-and-run manner, and the significant power drop from Overheat reflects that.
A Choice Scarf set with U-turn always makes an effective lead due to its scouting ability and a bit of a surprise factor. Stealth Rock also gets up rather early in the game, so Moltres is free from it on the first turn. Moltres can also scare off Registeel and Steelix leads with its Fire STAB, and prevent Stealth Rock from getting down early. Moltres does not care about opposing Trick Scarf leads like Uxie and Mesprit, and can proceed to wear down the bulky Psychics, either by U-turning or attacking right away. The Choice Specs set does not make Moltres as effective as a lead, but the boost makes Moltres a monstrous attacker capable of taking out many of its counters, provided you use the correct attack. As with any Choice user, keen prediction is needed in order to both blast holes in the opposing team, and conserve Moltres's HP from unnecessary Stealth Rock damage. Be careful about abusing U-turn when Stealth Rock is set up, though, as each switch in will rob it of 50% of its health.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Sunny Day was one of Moltres's best options in Gen 3. Thanks to the improvements in Moltres's movepool and item choices, it is more commonly seen using a Life Orb, using Choice items, and even stalling. Therefore, many doubt the old Sunny Day set's potential. Sunny Day is still an effective option in the UU metagame and if the conditions are right, Moltres will crush the opposition.
Sunny Day benefits Moltres in various ways. Firstly, the shining sun will boost the power of Moltres's STAB moves to the power Choice Specs provides. With a Life Orb, Moltres can actually do more damage with Fire-type moves than if it was using Choice Specs. Secondly, it allows Moltres to use a stronger Grass-type attack in the form of SolarBeam. While some Water Pokemon can switch in on Hidden Power Grass and recover off the damage, SolarBeam will deal a lot more damage and can take down Pokemon other sets struggle with. For example, a defensive Milotic will only take around 35% damage from a Life Orb Hidden Power Grass on average; SolarBeam will 2HKO the same Milotic. And thirdly, the sun will make Moltres neutral to Water. Water is a common type in UU, and most Moltres will be under threat by Pokemon such as Azumarill. By removing this weakness, in conjunction with SolarBeam, Moltres is much more adept in taking out Water Pokemon than other sets.
Fire Blast is the primary option for a STAB move, but Flamethrower can be used if the accuracy worries you. Roost is useful for the ability to remove its Electric weakness and soften Rock attacks, but Morning Sun can prove efficient as it recovers 66% health in the sun. Air Slash is mainly put in because Moltres's movepool is fairly limited. It can allow Moltres to use the flinch rate to fight its way past slower opponents. Air Slash isn't necessarily needed, as Fire Blast will do a ton of damage on most Fighting-types. If the sun is shining, a Modest Life Orb Fire Blast will OHKO Adamant Hitmontop and Rash Blaziken, and has a chance of OHKOing Mild Blaziken. It is still a nice move to hit Hariyama super effectively and Fire-types for neutral damage.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
This set aims to fuse Moltres's ability to sweep with its ability to stall. Common problems Moltres encounters when sweeping in the UU tier are Chansey and bulky Waters. With Toxic Spikes support, Moltres can use Substitute to stall these Pokemon to their deaths while avoiding status ailments. On the offensive side, Moltres has great coverage with its dual STAB, which is resisted only by Lanturn and Rock-types like Rhyperior and Regirock. However, most Rock-types in UU use Stone Edge as their STAB attack, which leaves them vulnerable to SubRoost Pressure stalling.
Fire Blast and Air Slash are obviously Moltres's dual STABs and hit very hard if unresisted. Flamethrower can be used instead of Fire Blast if you're concerned about accuracy. Substitute and Roost allow Moltres to stall out potential counters like Milotic and Chansey.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Agility or Taliwind can be used on the Life Orb set over Roost to allow for a more fluid sweep late game once Moltres has done its fair share of damage, though having a way to get back the 50% health lost to Stealth Rock damage is much more useful. The lack of recovery also means you must plan your moves carefully, otherwise Life Orb and Stealth Rock will quickly end Moltres's life before a sweep can even begin. Safeguard can be paired up with U-turn if you're in desperate need of status protection, but it's not really the niche Moltres fits in. Extrasensory deserves a mention, but has redundant coverage with more powerful moves in Moltres's arsenal. Roar can also be used on more defensive sets, possibly even over Toxic on the staller set. Roar can help scout the opposing team and build up residual damage for when foes switch out in fear of getting PP stalled. Will-O-Wisp can also work on more defensive sets to cripple physical attackers. Protect deserves a mention as a possible move on stalling sets, as it allows both for Leftovers recovery and a turn to scout your opponent's strategies. AncientPower can be used to quickly take out opposing Moltres and Charizard, but does not have much use outside of that.
Speed EVs can be added or taken from sets depending on what Pokemon you would like to outspeed. Some important benchmarks: 227 (neutral nature, 44 Speed EVs) outruns minimum Speed Uxie and Drapion, 243 (neutral nature, 108 Speed EVs) outruns most common Blaziken, 270 (neutral nature, 216 Speed EVs) outruns 252 EVs neutral natured Nidoking and Toxicroak, 288 (positive nature, 184 EVs) outruns all Milotic and Blaziken, 301 (positive nature, 232 EVs) outruns Hitmonlee and 252 EVs neutral natured Charizard, and 306 (max Speed) at worst ties with opposing Moltres.
Choice Scarf Speeds: 423 (positive nature, 164 EVs) outruns Adamant Torterra after a Rock Polish, and 450 (positive nature, 228 EVs) outruns Modest Scarf Typhlosion and Charizard.
Remember, if you're using a Moltres without Leftovers, making the HP odd means that Moltres can switch into Stealth Rock twice and survive with one HP, given that it has not taken any previous hits. If using a simple 252 SpA / 252 Spe spread, the extra four EVs are better placed into Defense or Special Defense.
Checks and Counters
If you haven't caught the drift by now, the main thing keeping Moltres from being a total team wrecker is Stealth Rock. As long as you set them up, and have something that outspeeds it, Moltres's wings are clipped.
Besides Stealth Rock, Moltres really isn't interested in battling bulky Water-types, most notably Milotic with its excellent Special Defense, and Lanturn, with an additional resistance to Air Slash. RestTalk versions of bulky Water-types can both take hits from Life Orb sets and stall the Sub Toxic set. Azumarill and Kabutops can switch in on Fire moves and a couple of Air Slashes and threaten an Aqua Jet. Water-types are reliable initial switch-ins, but Hidden Power Grass (or SolarBeam on the Sunny Day set) can deal heavy damage to them.
Chansey always remains as a huge obstacle to special attackers. Chansey can cripple the Life Orb version with paralysis and wear it out, or stall Fire Blast out of PP if it comes in healthy (above 70%). Chansey will easily be forced out by the Staller set with poison or stalled out of Seismic Tosses. It is not an easy battle for either Pokemon, as Chansey must predict when Substitutes will be set up in order to status Moltres, and Moltres must predict the same. Clefable's ability prevents poison damage, and can Softboiled away Flamethrowers quite easily.
Altaria can take most of Moltres's attacks with its high Special Defense and Roost off the damage. From there, it can Heal Bell poison status away, set up Dragon Dances, or even use Perish Song to force the Sub Toxic set out. Be careful though, because even specially defensive Altaria can be 2HKOed by Air Slash after Stealth Rock damage.