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Moltres is yet another example of a good Pokémon that has never reached the higher levels of play. Moltres hasn't changed all that much over the years, but DP did give it a couple of new moves to play with, such as Air Slash and U-turn. It also brought the items Choice Scarf, Choice Specs, and Life Orb, all of which Moltres can use effectively—Life Orb especially so. Ever since BL was merged with the old UU tier, Moltres has commanded the respect of UU, and for good reason.
Moltres has a large number of things going for it. Save for the 4x Rock weakness, Fire/Flying is a great typing to have; it gives Moltres full immunity to Spikes, Toxic Spikes, and Ground moves, and gives it some valuable Fire, Fighting, Bug, Steel, and Grass resistances. Combined with base 125 Special Attack and base 90 Speed—quite fast by UU standards—it's quite easy to see why Moltres has been nominated for BL not only once, but twice. Moltres has access to powerful moves such as Fire Blast and Air Slash, and some useful moves like U-turn and Roost. And unlike a lot of powerful sweepers, it doesn't die to a gust of wind; Moltres has great 90/90/85 defenses to complement its attacking prowess. To give you an idea of how good those defenses are, at full health, Moltres is capable of surviving a Choice Banded Aqua Jet from Azumarill. Very impressive.
Moltres does a fantastic job at sweeping, either with a Life Orb or a Choice item. Fire and Flying give great coverage, and Hidden Power Grass hits the bulky Waters that would otherwise wall Moltres. Since those three moves give Moltres all the coverage it needs, it is free to use Roost in the last slot. Roost gives Moltres longevity, allowing you to continue to pound your opponent. Alternatively, you can use U-turn to scout your opponent. Moltres can also run a wicked Toxic stall set, which can give your opponent a major headache if he's not ready for it.
Moltres's most popular role is that of a sweeper, and it plays that role to perfection. It has no boosting moves (except Agility), but equipped with a Life Orb and base 125 Special Attack, it doesn't need any. No Pokémon likes taking Fire Blasts and Air Slashes from Moltres, unless they're resisted hits—and even then, they hurt. Moltres is also quite fast, boasting a base Speed stat of 90.
If you're still not satisfied and want even more power, then Choice Specs Moltres is the set for you. Choice Specs Moltres is insanely powerful, being able to 2HKO Milotic with Hidden Power Grass with Stealth Rock alone, and Fire Blast rips apart everything else. Alternatively, Choice Scarf makes for a great revenge killer; amongst other things, Moltres can outspeed and KO a Rock Polish Torterra, a fearsome sweeper in its own right.
If you like to stall your opponents to death, rather than hit them with powerful attacks, you'll absolutely love SubRoost Moltres. This Moltres uses Toxic in conjunction with Substitute and Roost to slowly kill off your opponent's Pokémon. Those Pokémon that are immune to Toxic—mainly Steel-types and Venusaur—are taken care of by Flamethrower. This is also where Moltres's ability, Pressure, comes into play—you only have half the usual PP for your moves to kill Moltres with, as if Moltres wasn't hard enough to kill already.
Bulky Water-types like Milotic and Slowking are the best answers to LO and Scarf Moltres, with their great Special Defense and access to recovery. They can both switch in on any of its moves, even Hidden Power Grass, survive the follow-up move, and kill it with Surf. Just make sure that you keep Spikes off the field, as otherwise Hidden Power Grass can 2HKO. For Specs variants, a specially defensive Milotic works best. Choiced sets are also easier to play around, especially if they use Overheat. Azumarill and Kabutops also do good jobs of keeping Moltres in check. They can switch in on Fire Blast or Air Slash (beware of Hidden Power Grass, though) and use STAB Aqua Jet to seriously dent Moltres.
Chansey is pretty much a full stop to Moltres, with its huge HP and great Special Defense. Even with Spikes, Chansey survives two Modest Life Orb Fire Blasts from Moltres—something few Pokémon can boast about. Regirock is one of the best counters to Moltres you will find. Resistances to both of Moltres's STABs and good Special Defense ensure that Moltres cannot break it easily—even Hidden Power Grass is only a 3HKO. If there is a sandstorm raging, then Regirock is nigh on impossible for Moltres to beat. Using Flash Fire Pokémon, like Arcanine, Houndoom, and Ninetales, also works well to eat at Fire Blast's limited PP. However, be careful—none of them can KO Moltres without resorting to Hidden Power Rock, so they will have to eat an Air Slash if they stay in.
And then, if you can't directly switch in, you can always revenge kill it. Alakazam outspeeds and deals heavy damage with Psychic, Swellow murders it with Facade, and Rotom and Mismagius outspeed and deal large amounts of damage with Thunderbolt. Life Orb recoil only makes their job easier. You can also try slapping HP Rock onto a sweeper—say, Houndoom—and try to catch Moltres unawares.
Moltres is such a useful and powerful Pokémon that it can find a place on almost any team. However, Moltres is a Pokémon that requires the support of its teammates to do its job effectively, not a Pokémon who supports the team.
Being a Fire- and Flying-type means that Moltres is immune to Spikes and Toxic Spikes. However, it also means that Moltres loses half of its HP upon switching into Stealth Rock. Therefore, a Rapid Spinner is essential for Moltres to function properly. Donphan, Blastoise, and Hitmontop are the best Rapid Spinners in the tier. Hitmontop can pull off a guaranteed Spin with Foresight, as well as eliminate Chansey, who is a major headache for Moltres. Blastoise can absorb Water-type attacks for Moltres. Donphan shares a Water-type weakness with Moltres, but can eliminate Ghosts with Assurance before Spinning. Choose whichever Pokémon fits your team best.
In addition to covering up its weaknesses, Moltres's teammates should be able to remove obstacles from its path, clearing the way for Moltres to sweep. Dugtrio comes to mind as a surefire way to get rid of Chansey, Moltres's best counter. Alternatively, you can use Pursuit to wear Chansey down. Venusaur works nicely to beat Milotic, and forms part of the infamous Fire/Water/Grass core. Since Spikes make Moltres's job much easier, Omastar is a good teammate for Moltres. Lanturn can absorb both Water- and Electric-type attacks aimed at Moltres. Azumarill is also a good teammate to take Water-type attacks, and to plow through the special walls that stand in Moltres's way.
Moltres is a fabulous Pokémon that is great for offensive and defensive teams alike. Go out there and use it—you won't regret it!
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