Watching my brother-in-law play Skyrim lately, I'm left wondering how he manages to get anything done in the game with his playstyle. He almost always plays a nord using heavy armor and a 2h weapon, and bashes the crap out of everything around, drinking healing potions like they are water. Its effective, but I run the numbers through my head and I keep thinking how effective his playstyle could be if he just tried the crafting part of the game too. He laughs at me when I play, stopping to pick flowers and harvest buterflies, and spending a half hour crafting potions, enchanting stuff, and smithing armor, but then he sees how much more effective my archery with a frost-enchanted, blacksmith-upgraded bow is, after I drank one of my fortify archery potions. For the cost of one soulgem, some iron and a few ingredients that I found for free, I was doing more damage that he was with his 2h weapon, and out of range of taking damage.
Comparing the two characters as they reached level ten, my sneak skill was around 50, while my crafting skills were in the high 20s, low 30s. Archery was pretty good, and my only other remarkable skill was destruction at 40. His character had gotten 2h weapons, heavy armor, restoration (after I convinced him healing himself was a good use of the magicka he never used) and archery to a good level. The real difference was in the matter of gold.
He earned gold by completing quests, and looting the gold off of corpses and out of chests. He would keep any high value stuff and sell it, but often spent all his money on potions, and weapon and armor upgrades. On the other hand, I play like a klepto. I pick up everything until I'm overburdened, and drop something. Then I slowly replace less valuable items with more valuable ones, until I can sell it all off. Add in the fact I'm in light armor, and I can carry a lot. Finally, because I make my own potions, enchant my own equipment, and can make my own weapons and armor, I don't have to pay outrageous prices for them.
Oh, also....potion of speechcraft.....YES PLEASE!
Equipment was another big difference. His gear was plain, unenchanted or enhanced, He had armor, and a weapon, no other slots filled. On the other hand, my character had an enchanted necklace and ring she had made, enchanted boots, and all her armor was enhanced (and until it had been replaced by found elven armor pieces, made herself).
Now I will say this, in a straight fight between the two, his character would probably win at this level. More HP and better armor would sieze the day. But, allow me a chance to sneak around and critical hit with my enchanted bow, followed by a firebolt.....now that would make things decidedly in my favor.
I strongly recommend not ignoring the crafting parts of Skyrim. Sure, they can be boring if that's not your thing, but they make you powerful. And power is all that matters in the realm of adventuring.