Your argument that fan of flames being the only useful level 1 spell is just ridiculous.
Please re read the topic name and my original post. I never said anything like that.
My point is that considering damage focused spells FoF is a clear winner.
I was wondering why is that the aoe spell deals more dmg per target than a targeted spell and is easier to hit because rolls vs reflex rather than deflection.
Yeah, thats been answered already, but to be perfectly clear: There is NO reason beyond poor system design, play testing, and balancing.
Thats it in a nut shell. Now.. if you are wondering WHY there was poor play testing and balancing.. I can speculate:
There was like NO "Design Paper" made for spell performance metrics, meaning all the spells were made by simply "Winging It" and then adjusted based on how the developers "Felt" they were being used and/or performing; rather then using solid MATH based metrics to determine spell damage.
For instance, lets take the minor missile spell, and use it as a "Math" metric for making other spells.
Minor Missile (unmodified by stats, grazes, crits, etc, just the base) does 1D10+9 Damage per missile. Each Missile is effected by DR. Each Missile gets a separate attack Roll. Hits a single target.
Max Damage to a Single Target = 19x3 = 57 Damage
Now, lets use that as a baseline for making an AoE. Assuming we want the AoE to be equal we have a few options:
Set Amount of damage done to Area, split evenly among targets in the area no matter how many targets there are. IE, the AoE will do 3D10+27 Damage, split among all targets affected, meaning the more targets the less damage each target takes, but this also means that if there is only 1 target IT takes the full max potential of 57 Damage.. Just like the minor missile spell.
This give you the same damage, but now you have the "utility" of splitting that damage among multiple targets. But wait, what about the attack rolls? Say there were 3 targets in that area, each had a separate attack roll to take their portion of the damage. IE, the damage is split BEFORE rolls are made, and only dealt in appropriate portions.
Now, both of those abilities are "Equal" they have the same effect, do the same damage, so why would you use one over the other? Well, thats where the AoE Range and Target Range of the spells come into play. Its also about how many targets are going to be effected.
If both spells are going to hit 1 target, then the missile spell is better. Why? because 3 chances to hit is better then 1, or worse, depending on your accuracy. If you have low accuracy, its safer to use the missile for 3 chances to do at least SOME damage, but if you have high accuracy its better to use the AoE for a single attack roll for more damage. but what about DR? Again, if the target has low or NO DR, and accuracy is equal, then missiles is better since you are more likely going to score more damage overall.. but if the target has HIGH DR 20+, then the AoE is better because it does larger "Single" damage.
So there you go.. two spells, same damage, balanced, USING MATH. Both has situations where one is preferable to the other.
But.. since PoE didn't do that, and went with "traditional" "winging it" spell designs, a LOT of the spells do not balance out mathematically, with some spells being clearly superior in almost all situations.