Venomancers, as a caster class, can be customized to be able to wear any of the 3 main armor classes while still remaining a caster. Your three choices:
Low phys def, Very high magic defense, high hp.
STR = (Your level + 8) / 2
MAG = (At least Your level x 3)
VIT = (Remaining points)
AGI = 3
This build can be customized by removing points from VIT and putting them into MAG instead, for higher damage output vs lower survivability.
2: Light Armor
Decent phys def, decent magic defense, low hp.
STR = (Your level + 4)
AGI = (Your level +4)
MAG = (Your level x 3)
VIT = 7+, depending on leftover points.
This build doesn't include enough points to add into con, so unless you get a lot of armor with +hp, your hp will be quite low.
3: Heavy Armor
High phys defense, high magic defense, low hp.
STR: (Enough to wear heavy armor 3-4 grades lower than you - equates to (level - 10 or 20) * 2.5 +2)
AGI: (Enough to wear heavy armor 3-4 grades lower than you)
MAG (Your level x3)
VIT: 3 (Or however many points are left over.)
Which armor is right for me?
Any of these builds are viable with a caster class, and all of them can wear robes as well. If you wish to go purely fox form, you can choose the heavy armor build or light armor build and scrap int to use a lower grade weapon so that you can either keep current with your heavy armor requirements, add to str for additional damage, or add to con for survivability. Honestly though, I would not recommend scrapping your magic tree in favor of fighting only in fox form, as limiting yourself to pure melee physical damage screws you against ranged classes.
Of course, I'm not saying a heavy armor melee fox would be terrible. You would have insanely high pdef in fox form, your hp would be much higher than a heavy armor/robe mix, and your skills should be enough to at least prevent any pure melee character from killing you. Attack damage is weak unless you scrap your int in favor of str, in which case you'd have to use weapons that are a few grades lower than your current level as well as ruin your pet heal. Heavy armor foxes typically get 66 int for the beast class fb19 (id19?) level 22 gold magic sword, or 90 int for the fb29 level 30 starsealer.
I play a light armor fox. Robes simply die far too quickly to anything physical. Heavy armor by itself suffers the same problem except to magical, unless you add a **** ton to con and scrap int. A popular choice now seems to be the robe / low grade heavy armor mix which affords mildly better defenses than light armor at equivalent stat costs, although of course the critical hit percent is lower. Light armor doesn't afford spectacular defenses,with damage reductions ranging from 45%-55%, with physical damage reduction topping off at about 65% in fox form. Having never played a robe/heavy armor mix, I cannot say for sure what the damage reductions are, but as the flat numbers are higher, we can assume it adds another 5% or so to each category.
I have renamed all the skill names in this section, but in other sections I may inadvertently refer to the skill as what it's called in the MY version, so I'll leave those skill names in for your reference.
Mage tree attack skills:
Venomous Scarab: Max it as soon as you can. This is your spammable boring grinding skill. (Envenom Parasite)
Ironwood Scarab: Max it as soon as you can. This takes 25 vigor, armor breaks the opponent and hits for 300% magic attack. At higher levels this becomes a serious spike. (Ironrock Parasite)
Blazing Scarab: Leave it at level 1. DoT spells are pretty pointless when a Venomancer kills before the time even runs out, and you can save your sp for bigger and better things. (Blazing Parasite)
Frost Scarab: Leave it at level 1. 1 fury for a possible chance to slow is ridiculous. (Frostbolt Parasite)
Noxious Gas: Max it when you have the spare sp. Very high damage which hits for 200% magic attack, but has a slow casting time. Useful for building up vigor in HH or an FB, but not so good in normal grinding as it's likely to pull aggro away from your pet. (Mass Parasite)
Lucky Scarab: Max it as soon as you can. This is pretty much your only stun, and although very short at 2 seconds when maxed, has a very quick cast time and a high percentage of stunning. Very useful as an interrupt. (Megalith Parasite)
Parasitic Nova: Don't even touch it. 2 fury for a skill is bad enough especially when a Venomancer desperately needs fury for survival skills, and even worse takes 4 seconds to cast. A 4 second cast time spell pretty much only becomes useful in situations when nobody notices you or is able to react within 2 seconds to throw a stun of their own. Edit: I'm revising my opinion of this skill. It's got a useful stun (seal + paralyze) for quite a long time, so if you can afford to throw away 2 fury for it and you know no one can attack you, it's ok in pvp, while being very useful in situations where multiple monsters decide to mob you and you don't feel like running away, sealing 2/3 of them for 7 seconds is quite nice. (Parasite Nova)
Wood Mastery: Max it as soon as you can. Passive +damage. Nuff said.
Mage Tree Miscellaneous Skills:
Bramble guard: Pretty useless except in PvP, so unless you'll be doing some of that don't bother maxing it until you reach level 59 for the next skill. Reflects a % of melee damage back at the attacker.
Bramble hood: Get it as soon as you get level 59. It gives you a damage reduction of 75% as well as a 200% melee reflect. It's a lifesafer in HH if your tank decides to take a piss break and leave a rampaging HH boss that you lured your way. It's also lol in PvP when your opponent has no idea what he's doing and suicides on it. Most of the time however, as soon as your opponent see this skill is cast they'll run away until it times out, which gives you time to lose the cooldown on your hiero, pot some more, or whatever. Takes 2 fury, which is a good reason why you don't want to start your battles with Parasite Nova. Maxes out at level 1. (Bramble Array)
Metabolic Boost: Max it as soon as you can. A decent quick heal is nice, especially since it pushes you up 50% when maxed.
Nature's Grace: Max it when you have the spare SP. This is pretty much a money saving move only, as you use this recover mana. Like Metabolic, it recovers 50% when maxed. (Divine Supplements)
Lending Hand: Get this as soon as you reach level 46. This helps keep Barbarians hold aggro against bosses by spamming Ripping Bite, which in turn allows your damage dealers to do their job without accidentally pulling aggro. (Vigor Switch)
Fox Tree Miscellaneous Skills:
Fox Form: Max it as soon as you can. Even if you're a mage tree only user, this is handy for the 120% increase in physical defense (in other words, it more than doubles it) which allows for a getaway. This maxes out at level 3.
Purge: Max it when you have the money/sp. It removes all buffs from the target, and the more you level it the lower its cooldown drops. Pretty much only useful in PvP, as it's always lol to wipe out their fury (Spark in this version?), or cancel a barbarian's bloodbath and see their hp/accuracy cry. (Banish Malediction)
Amplify Damage: Max it by the time you hit 60. It's one of the priority jobs of a Venomancer in HH to keep the boss Maimed, as the 20% damage increase speeds up the kill drastically. HH is boring as hell without it, although you wont' be finding yourself using it in single mob situations. (Amplify Maim)
Soul Degeneration: Leave it at level 1. I've yet to find a use for this skill, but I suppose it'd be useful against people who run away and sit or something. I've yet to find out if it works against hp pots though since those work by adding to hp regen, which, if it does, would make it much more useful.
Crush Vigor: Get it at level 43. After the target is cursed, they lose 8 vigor points every time they're hit. I've never really had the opportunity to use this, but I imagine it would be useful in a TW against a catapult puller everyone is trying to kill to prevent them from turtling. I don't really see much of a use for it in a 1v1 situation though, although with a fast attacking pet it may be worth it.
Fox Tree Attack Skills:
Fox Wallop: Leave it at level 1. Takes 25 vigor to slow casting time, which, while it sounds useful against mages, is inferior to just physical attack spamming. Robe mages die in enough normal hits that there's really no point wasting time slowing down their casting time. (Foxy Drub)
Befuddling Mist: Max it as soon as you can. A fan aoe that, when maxed, drops target accuracy by 70%, it's useful for keeping yourself alive in melee fights against something with a naturally poor accuracy rate like a warrior or a werebeast. (Hexmist Attack)
Stunning Blow: Max it when you have the spare SP/money. A paralyze (cannot move, but can still attacK) move that takes 1 vigor, it allows you to hold a ranged class down so you can rip into them with physical hits, or hold a melee class down to allow yourself a getaway into human form for magic attacks. (Enlace Drub)
Leech: Max it as soon as you can. This skill is god. Each use gives an 80% chance of recovering hp, even if it misses. When maxed, this equates to 600 hp. Very good at keeping you alive. (Life Depriver)
Consume Spirit: Leave it at level 1. It drains 10-20% of your hp to return 400-200 mana. Useless.
Malefic Crush: Don't bother with this, for the same reasons as Parasite Nova. Although the casting time isn't quite as stupid at 3.3 seconds, taking 2 fury for a bit of added flat damage isn't really worth it, although the mana drain could come in handy in a duel against a warrior / werebeast.
Melee Mastery: Max it as soon as you can, added + damage passive skill.
Skills Usable in Either Form:
Swimming Mastery: Get it as soon as it's available. Cheap passive skill for swimming faster. Why not?
Soul Transfusion: This skill is god. Get it as soon as it is available at level 29. It takes one vigor to exchange your HP and MP percentages. If you keep your mana bar full, it equates to having a second hp bar. If you're grinding and run out of mana, you can Divine Supplements -> Intersoul Switch -> Metabolic Boost to regain full mana without using a single pot. Needless to say, this is pretty godly in PvP too, and is one thing you should always try to have the vigor for. With hp/mana hierograms and intersoul, you can prevent yourself from getting spiked during your first hiero break. I cannot stress how important this skill is to Venomancers. (Intersoul Switch)
Summer Sprint: Max it as soon as you can. It adds movement speed. (Celerity Wind Walk)
Pet Heal: Max it as soon as you can, for obvious reasons. Keep your pet alive.
Pet Revive: Leave it at level 1. Kind of a waste of sp, unless you really feel the shorter chanting time is necessary.
Pet Taming: Leave it at level 1. HP of a monster you're trying to tame seems to matter more than the level of the skill.
Venomancers are best known as a pet tamer class. Here's all the info on pets that you want to know. There are multiple classes of pets, each with their own stat attributes that typify the class. Pets gain stats automatically through their growth chart (which can be seen by opening the pet backpack and clicking "detail" on a pet). Pets in perfect world work on a Pokemon system (holy **** did he say pokemon?) The lower the original level of the pet is, the better its stats will be when its leveled up. In other words, a level 2 wolf, when trained to level 40, will have better stats than a wolf caught at level 40. Pets also have a loyalty system - the higher their loyalty, the more damage they'll do in battle and the more exp they'll earn per kill. Killing monsters of equal level or higher will give a pet 10 base exp. At 500 loyalty or higher, they gain 150% exp, so killing a monster of equal level or higher to the pet will give it 15 exp. You can increase a pet's loyalty by feeding it (which you have to do anyway every 5 minutes, else its loyalty drops.)
Golem: High physical defense, decent magical defense, high hp, high attack. Great as a tank and is used by virtually every Venomancer. There is a bit of debate over whether it's better to get the level 17 Molten Lava Crystal or the level 18 Fiery lava Rime, both of which can be caught near Ground of Logging (who knows what it'll be changed to in this version) by Etherblade city.. The stat difference is extremely small with the Molten Lava Crystal having a slight advantage over the Rime in stats, but the Rime starts off with the skill crustaceous, which is useful for a tank. Basically, if you wish to save a bit of money pick the Rime, otherwise the Crystal has better stats.
Sawfly: Decent magical / physical defense, low hp, high attack.. Great as a pk pet for the high attack and the ability to fly. Used by a large majority of Venomancers for pk'ing. The lowest level of these is the level 8 Petite Sawfly by Bamboo Village.
Aquabarrier Dharma: A rare pet that spawns every 12 hours. Fairly low physical defense, decent magic defense, decent hp, low attack. Useful as a pk pet due to it's extremely fast speed and it's starting skill of level 4 ripping bite, but really shines in HH / FB when luring from a large group of mobs is necessary.
Frog: The little frog is another rare pet that spawns every 12 hours. High phys defense, high magic defense, good hp, low attack. Venomancers that decide they need a magic tank use these for bosses with high magic attack that a golem simply can't live through at the same level, such as Styxserpent in id69.
Flying pig: Yet another 12 hour spawn pet. High physical defense, high magic defense, high hp, low attack. Very good as an air tank, although hardly ever used, as tanks are really only needed in dungeons which only allow ground pets, and the low attack of the pig make it a pain to level.
Dodo Bear: The little dodo bear and great dodo bear are both 12 hour spawn rare pets, and have surprisingly different growth charts, as they appear to be considered different classes of pets. In general, the dodos have high hp, high physical defense and high magic defense, with low attack. At level 80, the great dodo bear is worse than the little dodo bear in nearly every category, but by level 90 due to its growth chat being different, it overtakes the little dodo bear in both defense categories while the little dodo remains ahead in attack. Many Venomancers use dodos as well due to their starting skill of Doodoo, which stuns the opponent, useful simply because a Venomancer does not have enough stuns with just Megalith parasite.
Eldergoth Marksman: Decent physical defense, decent magic defense, decent hp, and high attack. Mostly used for luring as it is one of the few pets with a ranged physical attack. Also good as a tank against ranged mobs that kite you.
Bearing in mind I don't know the names of the skills in this version... here ya go.
Bash: Basic high damage skill, low cooldown, steals/keeps aggro easily.
Elemental bashes: Summon Storm, Poison sting, Fire orb, Frost sting, Sand raise - high damage skill converted to elemental damage. Not too useful PvE, but supposedly decent in PvP against high p.def classes like WR/WB. Also steals/keeps aggro easily.
Frighten: Lowers physical hits by a certain % for 15 seconds, with a cooldown of 30 seconds. I basically use this against physical bosses that I can't sustain a heal against for too long, and can bring up health back to full. At level 4 it decreases attack by 32%.
Crustaceous: Lowers all damage by a certain %, lasts 15 seconds with a poor cooldown of 60 seconds. Useful against bosses that cast magic if they suddenly decide to cast twice in a row and kill your pet, or useful against enemies that are pure physical in a Frighten -> Crustaceous -> Frighten combo. Also useful against group aggros when you know you can't heal until your golem has hit every one.
Bluster: Draws aggro, not terribly useful unless you're in a situation where the mage or archer has suddenly pulled aggro and you need to get it back to save them >>
Embrave: Heals a small percentage of hp with a fast cooldown. I think it maxes out at level 3 with 12% heal and 10 second cooldown. It's not terrible, and decent for bosses that you can't outheal, but I personally don't use it.
Armor Break / Howling: Drops physical defense/magic defense respectively. Personally I don't bother with either. Even though pet armor break is better than WF ironrock, having it take up an entire slot when you can only have 4 skills per pet kinda sucks. Howling just makes it easier for you to pull aggro from your pet.
Ripping Bite: Causes bleeding damage over time, doesn't pull aggro like bashing does since aggro seems to work with instantaneous damage better, and with a cooldown of 15 seconds bashing spam actually ends up doing more damage than ripping. However, in PvP this skill is bugged and while all other attacks suffer a 75% damage reduction, bleeding damage doesn't. A must for pvp pets.
Decelerate: Drops enemy speed hugely for 5 seconds, with a cooldown of 10 seconds. Very useful for kiting/chasing in PvP, although questionable in PvE since the majority of the time, your pet will be tanking for you anyway.
Screamshock: Gives a chance to interrupt the enemy's skill... at level 5 this interrupts 100% of the time, but it's hard to time right since you have to hit them while they're in mid chant. It's made especially hard since in PW there's a skill usage delay of like, 1-2 seconds.
DooDoo: Gives a chance to stun for 3 seconds, and increases attack speed as well. This one can't be bought at any of the pet npc's, and must be gotten through the dragon palace event or any other treasure box digging event. If you want a pet that already starts with the skill, dodo bear and great dodo bear have them.
There's a host of other rare skills that can be gotten at events that I'm not sure are worth it or not, such as Sharp Claw, which increases attack power for an hour, Blessing which increases hp, Exorcism which adds m.def, Solid Shell which adds def, reversal shock that acts like bramble, blood imbibe (the skill a lot of mobs have where you see red dots flow out of you into them, draining your hp), and a mana drain.
Which skills should my pets have?
These are the skills my pets have... whether you wish to follow this setup is up to you, but personally I like the way I've done their skills.
Golem: Bashing level 5, Crustaceous level 5, Frighten level 5, Bluster level 1
Sawfly: Bashing level 1, Ripping Bite level 4, Decelerate level 4, planning to learn either Frighten/Screamshock, and if I can get these skills, Sharp Claw/Doodoo.
Aquabarrier Dharma: Bashing level 1 (Going to drop this for something else, maybe an elemental bash or frighten), Ripping Bite level 5, Armor break/howling (going to drop these for Frighten/Screamshock/Decelerate)
Now then, let's get into the actual gameplay.
The roles of a Venomancer:
Lure everytime the situation demands it. Cases like these are rooms with patrols that'll attack you if you try to kill something inside, or even just rooms where 4-5 mobs are gathered together. Get a fast pet to lure.
Bosses that require luring:
HH 2-x Party mode: these require you to lure one moving Asura out of a group of half a dozen non moving ones. Sending a golem in will get it ***** before it can even reach the right one. A note on Asura: if your tank decides it isn't in his best interests to catch Asura and let him charge towards you... bramble array immediately. On my light armor fox Asura in even 2-1 hits with fire for about 6000 damage at level 70. After 1 attack the werebeast should realize you won't go down that easily and he can pick the boss back up.
FB69: Steedphiz and Gaurnob both walk figure 8's in the last chamber of this dungeon, and it's up to you to pull them to the lake room. It's best if you can get an EA movement buff before doing this one as they both walk rather fast, and while you should be able to reach the lake without getting hit once, it's better to be safe than sorry. Try not to pull these into your priests, as they have a close range physical AoE that'll **** robe classes.
FB79: Pirate Monarch and LingYung stand right next to each other. Easy lure compared to the other two, but thought I'd mention it.
Anything Else: There's not too many others that absolutely require you to lure, but most are in rooms filled with smaller mobs that you may want to clear by luring before starting.
Role against Bosses:
Keep amplify maim on the boss if it's a higher level one. Amplify maim causes 20% additional damage to anything the boss is hit by. Vigor switch the tank everytime the skill becomes available. Keeping the tank filled with vigor allows him to continue spamming ripping bite, which pulls a lot of aggro towards him, which in turn allows the damage dealers to do their job. Since vigor switch has a minute long cooldown, all your extra vigor should be going to keep the boss Ironrock parasite'd as well for the armor break. One thing to make a note of: In HH, all bosses have a 75% damage reduction. All people hitting will be doing significantly less damage, but the devs forgot to include this for the pets, who hit full damage on HH bosses. What this means is your pet will be stealing aggro even through ripping bite, so make sure to turn all skills off (This can be done by right clicking the skill that's highlighted in white) and using normal attacks only. If your werebeast isn't filled with enough vigor to continue using ripping bite, the pet can still steal aggro even if it's not using skills and get 1-2 shotted.
Techniques against each armor class:
Against Robe classes:
Laugh. Fox form and hit normal attack on them as your pet goes in with ripping bite. They die. If they're doing far too much magic damage to you (in the case of you using light armor/heavy armor) send your pet at them and just run away while your pet tears into them with ripping bite. If you're against a robe class who decides to try to take out your pet before it can get ripping bite in (not hard, most pets die in 1-3 hits from any class. Try to spot this by moving to the opposite side of them as your pet and see if they turn to follow you or if they stay facing the pet), unsummon during their casting time. I think this might bug the pet if you do it right as it's about to die though. An archer targeted my fly with Tshock, and after unsummoning during the tshock animation and resummoning, the pet stayed frozen in place instead of attacking, while the archer, who continued trying to hit the fly, missed every shot. Watch out for a priests sleep, although if they're taking the time to sleep you your pet can ripping bite them. If the caster class is kiting you, you can spend 1 fury to hold them in place with enlace drub. Try to end the battle before this runs out (not hard with ripping bite), because unless you started off with full fury you may not have enough for intersoul switch.
Against Light classes:
I prefer to fox form against archers unless I have the starting advantage, in which case I'd use magic attacks. Staying in human form though can get you owned very quickly. Outcold -> normal attacks hurt badly enough, and what's worse is if the archer decides to collig bolt, outrange you, and rip into you with normal attacks. Pets can be repulsed and collig'd as well, and losing a ripping bite gimps you seriously. Against light armor magic classes, pop on your robes if you have the time and megalith -> kite or fox form to enlace while your pet ripping bites. Against fist warriors and archers... your accuracy is going to fail. Mage form is a viable option against fist warriors as you can kite, but against archers not so much. Because of this, you may choose to socket your weapon with an accuracy stone or two and take advantage of the accuracy boost fox form gives.
Against Heavy classes:
Be sure bramble guard is up. If you're against an axe warrior / fist warrior, kite them until you feel they're close enough to begin lion's roaring you. At this point, if you have the fury you can bramble array before you get stunned and either watch them waste a stun or suicide on you. If you don't have the fury, fox form and see if you can get a hexmist before you get stunned. Once you're stunned, be prepared to sit around for awhile hoping not to get screwed. Ripping bite isn't quite as useful against heavy armors as it is against light/magic, but it'll still be quite the damage dealer. So if you wish, you can have your pet stop moving right before the warrior stuns you so that it doesn't get caught in the AoE, and can continue to hit him while he stunlocks you. A werebeast is lol. Don't bother fighting one unless you have a high crit rate or high damage ability. Ripping bite doesn't do enough, and you can't really out damage his hiero with magic attacks, let alone physical hits. Best you can pray for perhaps is an amplify maim -> run -> mage form -> nuke with megalith/ironrock while the fly keeps up bite. Don't be fooled into thinking werebeast damage sucks. Bloodmalefic axes or the gold 90 hh axe with berserk are more than enough to kill you as fast as a warrior would. Against a spear warrior: fox form immediately. Spears with backthrust can't be kited too well, and if you try you'll get long range *****. Otherwise just live through his stuns and hope your hexmist/life depriver can make you outlast him.
Basic strategy against any class:
If they're priest buffed, debuff them with Banish Malediction. Otherwise, save banish for their inevitable fury burst, and debuff it away right as they use it. Bramble guard should always be up unless you're 1v1'ing a mage/priest and know they won't have any backup coming. Yes, this includes bramble guarding even against archers. Some of them don't pay attention, and when you hug them they start wing attacking, which gets reflected. Ripping bite is essential to PvP, so make sure all your pets that you plan to PvP with have it. Pets with high speed are necessary as well. Even a sawfly that moves at 8m/s can be kited and killed without ever getting a ripping bite in, so imagine you trying to send a 5m/s golem at someone. <_<'
Good luck with your Venomancers, and feel free to post here any other questions you may have about this huge wall of text.