They're pretty weak in a straight fight unless you're approaching a threshold where they'll start to spawn as the next tier of enemies (for example, you're seeing your first few Falmer Shadowmasters or whatever).
Mages you might want to stay away from, perhaps attacking from stealth repeatedly if you're really outclassed, if they're really strong variants or you're a stealth character. Also, they often attack in bulk or with Chaurus support. Before attacking one, and DEFINITELY before charging at one, make sure you know where any others are or if any Chaurus nearby can hit you.
If I could have my wasted days back, would I use them to get back on track...?
Keep searching... keep on searching.