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I'm looking to see which of these moves are better overall, I personally think it comes down to Flamethrower vs. Heatwave as I simply don't like Fire Blast's accuracy (although Magma Storm which has lower accuracy somehow hits more often) and although I like power in attacks I still like usage and accuracy...

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1 Answer

7 votes

The answer to this question is context-dependent. Heat Wave is the worst of the three you listed, but the other two both see use depsite the massive overlap of Pokemon that learn them.

Fire Blast is almost always the best option for Fire-type Pokemon that get dual STAB. This is because it's viable to use a secondary STAB on these Pokemon, which you can choose to be more reliable than Fire Blast. For example, offensive Salazzle always uses Fire Blast because it also has Sludge Wave.

Fire Blast is good for Pokemon that require maximum power to perform their role properly. Fire Blast is the more threatening attack for wallbreakers to use, so it is usually the first preference. For example, wallbreaker Ninetales uses Fire Blast despite not having dual STAB.

Flamethrower is good for Pokemon that don't necessarily need maximum power, but need something to ward off defensive counters. These are usually set-up sweepers or offensive utility Pokemon. Clefable is a very good example of this.

Flamethrower is a source of consistent damage for defensively-orientated Fire-types. However, many of these Pokemon, including Torkoal and Heatran, prefer options with more utility like Lava Plume (which has the best chance to burn).

Heat Wave is used on Pokemon that need a way to hit Steel and don't learn a better move for that. Many Flying-type Pokemon fit this description.

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To add to this, I'd like to mention that STAB Heat Wave is good for Doubles, but shouldn't be used in Singles over Flamethrower or Fire Blast if the options are available for the user. Heat Wave is slightly stronger than most spread moves, making it good if you prefer net damage as opposed to higher damage on a single target. (note: moves that hit both targets do 25% less damage than normal) Of course, this then leads onto the question as to whether you prefer net damage, or higher damage onto a single target. The latter can be risky in its own right because Protect is a very popular/important move in Doubles.

On another note, Flamethrower isn't necessarily a bad choice for offensive sets. I think Flamethrower is the superior choice over Fire Blast when running a set with Calm Mind, because consistent damage output is especially important the longer you stay switched in as you gradually boost your stats. Chandelure with Substitute + Calm Mind is a great example of this. Asides from this, it's mostly down to preference for accuracy vs power. I usually run Fire Blast on offensive sets.

This is all assuming this discussion is within the competitive battling scene. In-game (single player story campaign), Flamethrower should always be used because of its higher PP.
Yeah I probably should have at least mentioned that Heat Wave hits multiple targets. I only play singles formats (could you tell?) so I guess it slipped my mind.
I don't mean to discredit Flamethrower as an option on offensive sets at all. CM sets are an example of what I termed a 'set up sweeper' in my answer, because their role is primarily to clean up late-game. CM Clefable is more specifically what I was referring to in my example; historically, it has always used Flamethrower (though Wishpass Clefable is more popular currently). A more relevant example in today's metagame is NP Hydreigon which also uses Flamethrower over Fire Blast.
So... Heat Wave's power is reduced even if used in singles?
No, it's just a worse move than Fire Blast and Flamethrower. 10% lower accuracy plainly isn't worth the marginal power boost in comparison to Flamethrower.