I have done some precise testing with a build aiming to be as slow as possible. Ideally, I would have used Doedre's Malevolence and Shavronne's Revelation to increase the accuracy of my observations by basing them on the mana pool instead of visible animations (50 mana per cast with no regeneration should very clearly indicate actual casts), but alas, I don't have them lying around and they're rather expensive at the moment.

This is the PoB for the build I used to test it:

I reflected Temporal Chains at myself, grabbing all the immediately available curse effectiveness, then swapped to Doedre's Tenure. I additionally used Kitava's Thirst and The Anvil to slow down my cast speed. Because I expected to have added chaos damage from Doedre's Malevolence, I picked up Avatar of Fire, but that can be ignored. I did however pick Resolute Technique to avoid having any crits that would dillute the results.

Feel free to repeat the test with optimal conditions (Curse on Hit with quality in Dialla's Malefaction with +1 gems and level 4 Enhance in a red slot and level 20 23q temp chains in a green one along with Doedre's Malevolence and Shavronne's Revelation if you want to go ALL the way).

I then recorded the whole thing and watched it at 1/5th of the speed.

Here are the results:

The wave of release is triggered the moment the player stops channelling, not tied to an actual cast. This means, that the start of the next channel can begin without pause by ordering it before the previous cast animation has ended, still releasing the wave.

The multiplier of the release wave is multiplicative with the stage multiplier. This has been tested before, but my results confirm it. ghoulavenger made a mistake in his calculations multiplying by 5, when it's 500% more, which means (100% + 500%) = 600% as a multiplier.

A release wave only occurs with at least one stack of the Incinerate stage buff.

The stage buff is increased at the start of every second cast. This means that a full progression goes as following:
100% -> 125% -> 125% -> 150% -> 150% -> 175% -> 175% -> 200% -> 200% -> 225% -> 225% -> 250% -> 250% -> 275% -> 275% -> 300%

This means that the fastest possible release results in
100% + 125% + 750% damage in two cast intervals, resulting in 487.5% average damage per cast interval.

A full progression means an average of 312.5% damage per cast interval (200% + 1800% / 16).

Here's a full overview of the damage per stage I quickly put together:

And the conclusions:
Basically, if you fail to release at 2 casts and release at 3, you will still have more damage than releasing at full stacks, but the damage falls off very sharply after the first opportunity. Up to the 4th cast, the damage remains higher than a release at full stages and the 6th cast has the same damage, but the 8th cast, which is the first to have full AoE, only has the same damage as a regular hit without release at full stages.

That said, it's not that much lower overall and it still does half of its damage on release, so it's probably a stable amount of stacks to get to for clearing. The release also has 2/3rds of the damage of a release at full stacks, so if the damage + the ignite (if you scale fire / burning damage) at that stage is enough to clear a pack, you don't have to worry about the smaller AoE up to that point.

I also added further casts beyond the first 16 to demonstrate the effect of keeping up the channelling beyond 8 stacks / 10 stacks with an enchant. With 8 stacks, the average damage falls off and gets closer to 300% the longer the skill is channelled, but with 9 or 10 max stacks, the damage actually grows the longer the skill is channelled, because the damage multiplier from the stacks is higher than the compensation of the release for getting there.

The limits for that growth at 9 or 10 stages is obviously 325% and 350% respectively.

Single target damage of releasing at the second cast is 56% more than with 8 stacks, 50% more than holding the channel at 9, and 39.3% more than holding at 10.

For the use with Spell Totems (automatic release at full stages) the +1 enchant means a bonus of 2.67% more damage and the +2 enchant means a bonus of 5.6% more damage. Keep in mind, that the death of the totem (from damage, by duration, or replacement) can interrupt the channel at any point in time, and having a longer buildup means the chance to be interrupted at a "lower" average damage is slightly higher. That said, the lowest average damage is 289% at 9 casts, so overall the average damage of Incinerate will always be around 300%, unless it's released immediately at the start or held with 10 stacks (and even 350% isn't that far from 300%). Getting the enchant can however be interesting if you plan to Shock or Freeze.

Very nice testing, DER_PSYCHOPATH. I can see doing small casts and release similar to people with very high flameblast damage doing small casts (stage 3 or so) and release on small packs, maybe relying a bit on Ignite proliferation to finish off a few stragglers.

Otherwise, I'd probably stick to longer channels just to get AoE up. All in all I like the final wave of incinerate, makes moving not punishing to overall DPS. From your testing with the noted exception of releasing at 2 casts (stage 1), no matter when you cast or release so long as the final wave hits you'll do about 300% damage.

I'm curious what are your thoughts regarding hit based, ignite based, or a hybrid for incinerate? From what I played it seemed like scaling the base fire damage with +fire to spells and Combustion gem helped the most in the DPS department.

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