This seems like a natural combo, though probably not a popular one. The Nagas you fight in the Snake Pit are essentially Venom Mages, casting Venom Bolt and Poison Arrow along with an assortment of other conjurations and translocations spells. However, neither Nagas nor Venom Mages are particularly popular choices – in the last tournament, only 21 Nagas were won, which puts them towards the middle of the distribution in median terms but in fact far closer to the least played race, (Ghouls, with 11 wins), than the most, (Minotaurs, with 109). Venom Mages were even less popular. In the end, only 14 were won, making them the 4th-least chosen background and tied with notoriously difficult Transmuters and Chaos Knights. Personally, I think Venom Mages are underrated by the community at large. Sure, they lack a 9th-level super-spell like Shatter, Tornado, or Fire/Ice Storm, but their 6th-level spell Poison Arrow is the best single-target conjuration in the game, in my opinion, on account of its high damage and massive range, (full-screen targeting with Vehumet’s aid, and enough damage to 1-shot most high-level enemies that lack rPois). They do face some problems early on because of poison-resistant enemies, but not as much as you might think, and enemies that lack poison resistance tend to go down even quicker than to the other elementalists. Further, worshiping Vehumet, (the natural god choice for a Venom Mage), usually gives quick access to spells that can affect poison-resistant enemies. Overall they’re actually one of my favorite classes, and I’ve ascended 2 already and played several more.
Nagas, however, are a different story. I’ve never gotten one off the ground, let alone ascended one. I just haven’t gotten the hang of their slow speed, because my playstyle tends to focus on taking lots of risks while allowing for quick retreat if things go pear-shaped. Naga Venom Mages also face some additional challenges that other Venom Mages don’t – the standby strategy of poisoning an enemy then retreating while the poison wears down their HP isn’t going to work here, forcing more uses of Mephitic Cloud, which makes a great deal of noise. That’s bad. It wakes up enemies and potentially draws them into the battle, so I try to avoid using it when I have other options. Additionally, many of the threats early Venom Mages can’t take down on account of poison resistance, like ice beasts, wraiths, and the new-and-improved shadows, are best retreated from, which Nagas can’t always effectively do. On the belated bright side, they can use Olgreb’s Toxic Radiance, (the full-screen poisoning spell comparable to Ozocubu’s Refrigeration and Shatter), without fear of poisoning themselves though I’ve never found that particularly effective myself.
With all that in mind, I’ll be playing my NaVM the same way I’d play most VMs: worshiping Vehumet as soon as possible. If I was more comfortable with Nagas I might take a somewhat harder god, possibly Chei, but I’m not confident enough to do so. It’s hard for me to estimate how well I’ll do, since I’m very comfortable with my choice of class and god but inexperienced and possessing a poor record with my choice of species. If I had to guess, I’d say I’ve got equal chances of early death, tragic midgame loss, or glorious victory.
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