I'm currently doing this setup for combat mods:
Duel - Combat Realism - Hardcore: I like the AI of NPCs with this mod, how managing stamina is so important, and how deadly some hits can be at times.
Deadly Dragons - Loremonger: I like the increased difficulty of dragons and being able to have multiple dragon attacks at the same time.
Skyrim Immersive Creatures: I like how it adds NPC potion usage, more perks and spells to NPCs, lore-friendly diversity, random encounters, etc.
High Level Enemies (SIC Edition): I like how it keeps enemies difficult at high levels.
Stealth Skills Rebalanced - Sneak Basic: I like how it makes sneaking more difficult.
I feel like I may be missing mods that do these two things: 1) make animals smarter, more realistic behaviorally, and a little more challenging (not overly so though); 2) possibly make monsters smarter and a little more challenging. For item #1, I have been following a mod called "Animal Tweaks" and it looks like version 2.0 may cover my needs - make them have strengths and weaknesses, behave more naturally with me and with other animals/creatures. For item #2, I am aware of another part of Deadly Dragons that I can install called "Deadly Monsters". I'm not sure exactly what it covers or if it will conflict with anything. Anyone know?
I'm just not sure exactly what some of the mods I already installed cover... I feel like I have dragons covered - they can get really difficult with Deadly Dragons modification. I'm really not sure if monster behavior is being affected at all by the mods I already have installed - seems like SIC might be giving some of them special perks and spells, but I don't think anything I currently have installed actually changes the behavior of non-humanoid monsters. I don't think Deadly Monsters is going to change that either. Does Duel Combat Realism affect the behavior of anything other than humanoid NPCs?
Does anyone see any problems with my setup, see anything wrong with my plans for including "Animal Tweaks", or have any suggestions - like should I add in "Deadly Monsters" to balance things out better difficulty-wise?
I tend to shy away from mods that require crazy compatibility patches for everything (ie - like Frostfall or SkyRe, etc).
Thanks for the feedback.