My long since ex-husband bought me MM1 as a surprise gift in late 1987. I loved it, but I got frustrated with it and took an extended break from it until April of 1988. Then I sat down and finished it in about two weeks.
Almost 25 years later, I still haven't finished off 2! It's on my to-do list, and I'll be bringing over my characters from mm1 to make it easier.
I have to admit that I was always endlessly amused by the random encounters in both games. Really, why ARE four Lesser Devils, a Locust Plague, and three Sorcerers traveling together? It sounds like the start of one of those bar jokes! :D Eventually I started to think of it logically (the Sorcerers summoned the Devils, and they were all attacked by the Locust Plague, now everyone is attacking my party).
I think I did attack and win out over the Big Encounter in Portsmith. disintegration is your friend...when you're the one casting it ;)