The more I look at Wizardry 7 and 8, the more I want to play them.
Had you tried different party make-ups through each of your replays for Wizardry 8? I guess I liked how MM6/7 let you do this and potentially make an all-magic party -- it is probably possible in MM3-5 too, but combat magic seemed more situational in those games, so I still needed my Knights and Archers to do most of the fighting.
The unavoidable combat sounds difficult for sure. Thanks for the warning there Can definitely understand how frustrating that can be when you are close to beating a tough boss but then don't make it right at the end.