Something that I have noticed is that it is common for Ferals to take the Incarnation talent, despite the superior dps of the Soul of the Forest (SotF) talent in the same tier. It’s been well established since Mist of Pandaria went live that SofF provides the highest DPS of that talent tier. Popular sources where players can find information about how to gear their character (Official Forums, The Fluid Druid, Icy Veins, Elitist Jerks, Noxxic) all recommend SofF over Incarnation stating that it gives the highest dps. So why do players still take the talent? To give the research I’ve done some context, I’m going to do a compare and contrast of the SofF and Incarnation talents, weighing up the pros and cons of each one and then discuss reasons why players chose the talent.
Each talent operates in a different manner and have several factors can could influences a players decision. I’ve found four main factors that are defining of the each talent.
|Incarnation||Soul of the Forest
|On use ability||Passive ability|
|Change in appearance||No change in appearance|
|Emphasis on burst damage||Emphasis on finishing move|
|More management timing other burst spells||Less management – more consistent play|
Incarnation – Pros & Cons
Each talent favours a certain kind of play style. Incarnations big points are its burst potential and its transformation of the regular Cat Form model. However, due to its timing and burst nature, its usage is limited and the full dps potential of the talent can be lost. The effectiveness of the talent is also increased by taking the tier 6 talent Nature’s Vigil to boost its burst potential.
- Large dps number while active. When used with Berserk, Ravage‘s damage per energy is extremely high and hits really hard.
- Looks cool. The armoured Cat Form model looks great is and a good visual effect for a class that doesn’t get the same benefit from armour models or transmog as other classes.
- Lines up with Berserk & Nature’s Vigil for high burst damage output.
- Situational usage. It is best used on cooldown however if not used on cooldown and saved for burst phases, it becomes an overall dps loss.
- Long cool down. Fights that fall short of finishing at 3 minute intervals result in a dps loss from not being able to use the ability another time.
- On the GCD which is difficult to macro and affects output with Berserk. If macro’d
together, you lose 1 sec of Bersek when the GCD triggers, a dps loss.
- Loses effectiveness after Berserk ends. Berserk reduces the energy cost of abilities
by 50%. Incarnation allows the use of Ravage. When Berserk is not active, Ravage’s energy cost is higher compared to other combo point generators; Shred, Mangle & Rake. Continuing to use Ravage after Berserk has ended leads to slower combo point generation and an overall dps loss.
Soul of the Forest – Pros & Cons
The biggest strength of SotF is its ability to create a smoother rotation from gaining more energy. There are less “lulls” and GCDs with nothing to press. This talent synergizes very well with the tier 6 talent Dream of Cenarius. However it gets it’s strength form finishers. Low level gear and mobs with low health can make it difficult to use the talent to its fullest.
- Highest dps talent.
- Works with any other talent choices.
- Smoother rotation from higher energy gain.
- Passive. No macro’s required or forgetting to use the ability.
- Works at full potential in most situations and not effected by the encounter duration.
- It’s strength is dependent on using 5 combo point finishers. This can be difficult at low gear levels (where CP generation is low) and when mobs die faster than combo points can be generated.
- Potential to energy cap. This is most prominent when used with the Dream of Cenarius talent. The energy refunded from using finishers plus spending GCD’s on Healing Touch’s instead of spending energy on damage abilities can cause you to energy cap.
Note – Energy capping is bad because while your energy is capped, you are unable to generate energy. Feral dps is constrained by energy more than GCDs. For example, if your energy is capped for 4 seconds, that’s a potential 40 energy that has been lost and could have been converted into a Shred.
- No definitive change. This is important to some people. Selecting a talent is meant to be significant. With incarnation, is changes your appearance and alters your play style. Soul of the Forest only makes your regular play style more fluid.
Based on experience and the advantages of the talent, SotF is the clear winner in my opinion. There are just too many issues with Incarnation to make it a viable choice. I sent this question in to the most recent Feral Druid Roundtable on the Team Waffle Podcast. The hosts echoed the same arguments I’ve made here.
One thing that I think I am underestimating the desire for people to see big dps numbers from burst. While looking through various forums researching this topic, I came across several posts by Tinderhoof, a prominent and respected member of the Feral community. He made some comments which are similar to my views on Incarnation;
“In general a lot of Ferals end up picking Incarnation because at the start of a fight with the crit buff, Pot, Berserk, and sometimes Lust you will jump out ahead on the meters. It looks really cool at the start. The problem is after those first 15 seconds when Berserk drops you only get maybe 3-4 more Ravages if you ignore everything else. After that you start to drop like a rock.”
~Tinderhoof, The Fluid Druid Forms
I think the armoured Cat Form may have a large influence on peoples choices. I have had a similar experience. During Cataclysm, Frost was the strongest Death Knight dps spec. But I liked to play Unholy and didn’t like Frost. What drew me to play Unholy was the permanent pet. So I can understand the draw of Incarnation. However one key difference is that the Death Knight was an alt and my Druid is my main. Other players, like me, I think would be inclined to make choices for max throughput over fun on their mains and make fun choices on alts. Low representation could mean that people prefer Ferals as alts. But it also could mean other things.
It is hard to say exactly why people make their decisions. Blizzard has stated on several occasions that few players search for information outside the game. This could be why I’ve noticed people with the talent. The number of people I saw which promoted me to write the post was really small, and they came from LFR, major cities and world bosses. Places you are more likely to find the types of players Blizzard is referring to.
What are your thoughts on the Incantation talent? Do you use it and if so, where and when? Are their specific encounters you have found it useful or is it is better in PVP or challenge modes? Are big numbers the major reason why players chose Incarnation? Let me know what you think. You can leave a comment on the post, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow me on twitter @Elamari_ or like and comment on the File Under Feral Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/FileUnderFeral.
<Naenae> Frostmourne, US