I remember once playing with a party containing Mage, Priest, Alchemist, Psionic, Bishop, and I don't remember what the sixth character was (Bard maybe?). You may be used to area attack spells not being effective, but that changes when you have several characters firing them at once. With physical attacks, your characters generally kill the enemies one by one, but with spells, they tend to all die at once.
Also, remember that instant death spells work very well against low level enemies with high HP.
It is rather unusual that the game tends to favor focused, rather than balanced, parties. I have heard that a party of ranged attackers also works rather well.