as you found out, runs dont help you learn how to play.
Play through the game, esp. prophecies. Take all the skill quest you can get (wiki can help a lot)
dont be afraid to use henchmen, they were all there was before nightfall anyway.
I made more than one character to pick up skills for my heroes. pvxwiki is awesome, team builds and player builds
Get the trilogy, nightfall is chock full of good stuff
dont give up! A good build isnt made over night. Enduring axe, or 100 blades are good. Dual elementalist team build rocks and rolls. just pick one that goes well with your style of play