Short version: A comfortable mouse whose main gimmick will take hours upon hours of dedication on your part to fully exploit.
Like a dork, I looked up the word “naga” in Wikipedia, and it turns out that it refers to “a deity or class of entity or being, taking the form of a very great snake—specifically the King Cobra, found in Hinduism and Buddhism.” That would explain the snake-like logo of the Razer Naga ($80, available now), a new mouse that’s aimed at people who play MMOs, specifically World of Warcraft and Warhammer Online. The biggest feature: 12 buttons on the left-hand side of the mouse.
Unlike last year’s SteelSeries World of Warcraft Gaming Mouse, the Razer Naga doesn’t come with the full Blizzard licensing. If that matters to you you’re a fool. And also unlike said SteelSeries mouse, the buttons here don’t stick like an old Sega Genesis controller after using it for a few hours.
It works, out of the box, with both Windows (tested on Windows 7) and Mac OS X (tested on Snow Leopard). Thank you, Razer. No need for my fellow Mac users to spring for a third-party driver just to use the mouse!
So let’s do this. I tested the mouse using World of Warcraft over a period of two weeks. That may seem excessive, but this mouse absolutely has a learning curve. The documentation that comes with the mouse—I actually read the instruction manual!—says to expect up to 18 hours to get used to the mouse. Yes, 18 hours. As Doug said in our chatroom, you might as well learn Russian.
The mouse’s raison d’être is the 12 buttons on the left-hand side, where your thumb would normally rest. The 12 buttons are designed to replace any number of keyboard keys that you’d use to play the game. You know, 1 is regular attack, then 2 through whatever for your spells and whatnot.
My latest character, an Affliction Blood Elf Warlock, has the following key-mapping:
2: Shadow Bolt
6: Life Tap
7: Drain Life
9: Drain Soul
0: Rain of Fire
These spells and abilities are mapped over to the 1-12 buttons on the mouse.
Razer has created an AddOn for both games that rearranges your on-screen icons, à la Bartender, to better visually correlate the 12 mouse buttons to your spells and abilities. (Here’s a screenshot of the interface AddOn. It’s the squares on the right-hand side.)
As I said, using the 12 buttons effectively will absolutely take you several hours, especially if you’ve been playing the game for a long time. It’s like trying to write your name with your left hand when you’re a righty.
I had gotten used to running close to a mob, then taking taking my middle finger off the “W” key, then hitting 4, 5, 6, 3, and 1 till the mob died. (See the above key-mapping for what those numbers translate to.) Now all of a sudden your left hand stays on the WASD keys, while your right thumb has to navigate the little button patch on the mouse.
After about of week with the new playing scheme, I had more or less acclimated myself. I now quest with the 12 buttons just fine, but I still find myself going back to the ol’ keyboard when PVPing. I find that the frantic nature of PVP doesn’t really lend itself to the 12 buttons. Practice makes perfect, of course, and you may be more patient than I am, but I couldn’t get used to PVPing with the 12 buttons even after several days.
And to allay a fear I read somewhere, no, I really didn’t find that pushing one of the 12 buttons would cause the mouse to move a great deal, if at all. It’s not as if you need to exact an incredible amount of force on the buttons to get them to click.
So it’s a fine mouse, yes, but you really do need to be prepared to fully re-train yourself on how to play the game.
Is it any better than using the plain on’ keyboard keys? Meh, I wouldn’t say so, and I expect that many of you are already used to your current setup. Still, it’s a fine mouse in its own right, and its use to you is 100 percent dependent on your willingness to learn how to effectively use it.