The other day, Sean Punch put up a great series of tips for spellcasters:
Dungeon Fantasy Tips for Superior Spellcasters
But he missed a small but vital trick:
Trading energy for skill for area spells - Don't forget you measure your distance penalty for an area spell to the nearest edge of the area. You can make an area spell bigger, and thus closer to you, to ensure a good effective skill. A few extra points of energy for a larger spell can mean a slightly better chance at overcoming the resistance of targets in the area.
My players use this one all of the time, trading off recoverable energy for an easier chance at getting off a critical spell. For cheap area spells that depend on a good margin of success, such as Awaken, this is a vital tactic to know. Add this one to your repertoire.