Turns out I had a backup copy of UW in, not shockingly, a subdirectory called "backup" in the UW directory on my laptop. I think I had simply corrupted some files or something because the backup played fine. Playing as a mage wasn't terribly different from playing as a fighter, though--except that virtually every skill is obviated by magic. The exception is combat! Most of the offensive spells are ranged, and the others like flame wind and sheet lightning seem kind of random in their effectiveness. One thing to keep in mind during the game is that a decent number of the harder quests can be ignored until later in the game, when they become almost comically easy. My favorite example is Rodrick, whom I ignored until I'd fully explored levels 5 and 6. Then I took him out with two fireballs. The gazer in the mines was also very easy with a couple of lighning bolts.
Here's a few random thoughts for some of the spells:
--detect monster, much like the tracking skill, seems pointless when there's a save game feature. The rune of warding also seems pretty dubious.
--You get a lantern early enough in the game that there's not much need for most of the light and night-vision spells, unless of course you want to ditch the lantern. I might have late in the game when I had to lug around those talismans, but instead I just dumped them by the level 8 staircase.
--poison could be a good spell, but it's too hard to tell what its effect on the target is.
--Remove trap and the equivalent skill are the most worthless in the game. I can't even remember any traps that they worked on.
--By contrast resist fire may be the best spell in the game because fireballs are so incredibly powerful and those fire elemental in level 7 really blast you with them.
--Open is of limited utility when the only doors that open with it are ones you can bash to bits with your fist anyway. The same goes for picklock as a skill.
--gate travel could have made life easier in a few places (like going all the way back up to see Shak) but I never really bothered to use it.
--I could have sworn there was part of the game where telekinesis was required, but apparently I was wrong. Must be remembering most of the other Ultimas :-P
--ally and summon are cool in concept, but it's a bit of a nuisance that the creatures don't start attacking immediately. It's also kind of pointless since they attack you after beating the enemy.
--invisibility doesn't seem to be all it's cracked up to be. Monsters don't seem to have much trouble seeing me.
--reveal is a weird one. Is there anything invisible out there? It's hard to know where to cast it unless you know something is invisible!
--Fly is very helpful in navigating big areas quickly, especially on level 8 when I want to go back to the stairs.
-flame wind and sheet lightning seem kind of inconsistent. I enjoyed using flame wind to blow away a gazer and four goblins during the trek to the key of courage, but sometimes it didn't seem to do much of anything.
--Sheet lightning and tremor were even less effective. I don't think the few times I used them that they hurt anybody!
--roaming sight is a lot of fun but very hard to control.
This time I also played as a mace user, but there's a lack of great maces. Maybe I should play as a ranged weapons user instead! That might be impossible. lol, or maybe unarmed!
As I mentioned a year or two ago, when I first wrote about the game, the thing I wish most were different is that the major quest items, the talismans, are almost all useless. I don't know exactly what I'd have them do, but it's annoying to lug around a bottle of wine I can't even open.
Enough ranting! I enjoyed replaying the game. I think I'm going to go amuse myself with roaming sight. I can get the same sort of effect from the Underworld map viewer out there, but it's not as fun because roaming sight also shows the items and creatures.