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This battle I had prompted this question.

In the above battle, Fire Blast missed. Twice. A simple Flamethrower would have ended the battle much sooner.

               +-------+----------+------------------+
               | Power | Accuracy | "Average" output |
+--------------+-------+----------+------------------+
| Flamethrower |  90   |    100%  |     92.8125      |
+--------------+-------+----------+------------------+
| Fire Blast   | 110   |     85%  |     96.421875    |
+--------------+-------+----------+------------------+

Factoring in that accuracy, your average output is barely 3.5 Base Power higher than that of Flamethrower, and Flamethrower isn't prone to sudden bursts of luck.

(Personally I use Flame Burst - you lose 10BP for it, but the ability to hit the other opponent for 1/16th of their HP, bypassing everything from Substitute to Protect is pretty sweet. Can't tell you how many times I've splashed out a Pokémon that Protected! Great for breaking Focus Sash too!)

I also calculated Heat Wave, factoring in hitting two targets your average overall Base Power expectancy on that move is 66-ish per target, so 132 overall. Not bad!

So, why do people use Fire Blast and related moves? Is that little bit of extra power really worth it? Overall, how likely is Fire Blast to one-shot something that Flamethrower would two-shot?

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"Overall, how likely is Fire Blast to one-shot something that Flamethrower would two-shot?" Choices like these are generally not left to probability, they're made very deliberately. Usually someone will run the numbers and figure out that with only X Special Attack EVs they can 1-shot a common counter using Fire Blast and have Y EVs leftover to invest in some other stat, or max Special Attack EVs and nature will come up short of the 1HKO against that specific target. –  Doval May 11 at 17:56
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2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

why do people use Fire Blast and related moves?

Well, this is heavily due to the style of battling. Whether someone likes to play a riskier battle, like I think there's a saying that goes like if 'the more you risk, the more you might gain' (and of course, the more you might lose).

Is that little bit of extra power really worth it?

Re the answer above. It depends on whether someone feels the extra power but trade off accuracy is better. Some people feel they have a lot of luck, and rarely see it miss, some people would make the Pokemon hold a Wide Lens in an attempt to restore some of the lost accuracy.

Overall, how likely is Fire Blast to one-shot something that Flamethrower would two-shot?

That one might be considered too broad. There are various sets (in terms of stat distribution), various Pokemon (typing, base stats, abilities, natures) and various conditions (weather, items, buffs/debuffs) to take into consideration. And 1HKO are not the only things to consider. Fire Blast could 2HKO a Pokemon where Flamethrower would require 3 hits, or 3 hits for Fire Blast against 4 for Flamethrower.


You might want to read this smogon article where parts are discussing about Fire Blast and Flamethrower. It's based on Gen IV data though, but still something you might find interesting.

For instance, let me quote those lines:

Both of the OU Fire-types, Heatran and Infernape, have huge Special Attack stats with which they use to fire off (pun intended) monstrously powerful STAB Fire Blasts. Heatran in particular can even 2HKO certain Pokemon that resist its Fire Blast (such as Salamence).

Even Pokemon that are resistant to Fire-type attacks can and will be 3HKOd by a STAB Fire Blast from the likes of Moltres, Blaziken, Houndoom, and Typhlosion.

Fire Blast: This is probably the most popular Fire-type attack in the game. Amazing power, with passable accuracy (better than Stone Edge, at least) makes this the bread and butter for any Fire-type's moveset, as well as Pokemon looking for Fire-type coverage.

Flamethrower: Here is the reliable alternative to the above option. However, you'd be surprised at how many OHKOs/2HKOs you miss out on when using this move (like Nasty Plot Infernape failing to OHKO Cresselia). However if you feel you can't afford a miss, like on a Pokemon such as Choice Scarf Heatran that may be holding your team together against threats like Swords Dance Lucario, this is an effective move.

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Regarding the Smogon quote... who the hell would use an Infernape against Cresselia? It's stuff like that that reminds me that the people at Smogon are... kinda silly in their battling ways. –  Niet the Dark Absol May 11 at 10:55
    
@NiettheDarkAbsol Might happen, if you don't have any Pokemon left in your party that can more effectively battle a Cresselia, you can get a 'surprise attack' while you opponent thinks he/she can 1HKO your Pokemon (or Infernape is out, your opponent sends out Cresselia thinking it can beat Infernape). –  Jerry May 11 at 10:57
    
Also. I believe that was just meant to be an example. Remember cresselia is primarily a wall, so it's a good choice as the type matchup for a fireblast/flamethrower is neutral too. –  Everywhen May 11 at 11:04
1  
Hm. Fair enough. I think, considering the kind of luck I usually have, I get enough misses with Ferrothorn's Power Whip as it is, I'll stick with safer, less powerful moves! –  Niet the Dark Absol May 11 at 11:12
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This is more of an opinion question, however I will try to answer the question from the Meta point of view.

In most movesets in the meta game, people will choose the less powerful/more accurate moves, because even though they have less BP, they are generally enough to get the job done at a competitive level.

Overpowered moves are high risk, high reward.

People would use these moves (for example) in situations where they have an accuracy boost, or something similar, where they are sure of the hit connecting.

In the Meta, most players prefer to be assured of a 2HKO then risk an inaccurate 1HKO.

To answer the other part of your question, Fire blast is much more likely to OHKO a pokemon than Flamethrower.

But in general, the less powerful variants are better overall as they are less likely to give your opponent a free turn to set up or KO you.

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