One of the central ongoing challenges in Wasteland was the interaction among combat, healing, and auto-saves.
The healing/constitution system:
Wasteland basically had negative HP. If a hit does enough damage to take you to less than 1 HP, you go unconscious. While unconscious, you can't do anything, and you won't be attacked. However, you still heal over time as normal. After a few rounds of battle (or a few hours of gameworld time after battle ends), you will return to 1 HP. If your whole party goes unconscious, then time just leaps forwards until someone heals to 1 HP, and combat resumes.
However, there were several "levels" of unconscious. I don't know how hard the hit had to be... I think it had to take you to at least -8 HP or so, but if you took a bad enough hit, you'd skip UNC and go right to SER - serious. Serious was like unconscious, except you don't heal over time. Instead, you get worse over time. That's a huge problem.
There were consecutively worse levels of CRT - critical, MOR - mortal, and COM - comatose. Each one was about -8 more hit points or so, I estimate, maybe more or less. Below COM was a skull, meaning permanent death.
Each level was increasingly difficult to heal. A player with Medic skill could take a person from SER to UNC, and could raise an UNC person to 0 (still UNC), but only time can wake them up. A player with higher Medic skill could also take on a CRT and raise them to SER or UNC. Only a player with higher levels of the advanced Doctor skill could heal MOR and COM. A recruitable NPC named DR MIKE SCOT came with a 5 in Doctor, which was invaluable. Alternatively, you could go to a doctor "store," of which there are only a handful in the entire game, and heal at a certain $/HP rate no matter how bad off you were. But you had to get out of combat first, and walk to the store before time killed you. If all party members dropped to SER or worse, the game ended and exited back to the DOS prompt. Starting it up again would drop you at your previous save.
Combat: As other threads have detailed, combat in Wasteland was extremely turn-based and iterative. You give every party member a command, and then they each attempt to execute that command in turn during a single round of combat. You can't change a character's orders until the round ends, which kind of stinks if you told them to attack someone and the target died before they got a chance. Anyway, what frequently happened in Wasteland is that you would be roaming and exploring and you'd find yourself in combat with a group of enemies too tough for you. In order to run, at least one party member has to make it through to the end of the round in which a run order was given. And even then, you only run one step. In order to heal during combat, the healer has to stay conscious long enough during the round to perofrm the heal, and then hope it succeeds the skill check.
For the reasons above, you often find yourself stuck in combat. Every round results in everyone unconscious. You can't run. Eventually someone takes a bad hit and goes SER, but it's tough to stay conscious to heal them. Eventually your SER characters get creamed by the auto-passage of time while waiting for another character to wake up so combat can resume. Which brings us to:
The auto-save: Wasteland only had one save slot. It wasn't even really a "save slot." The game files were overwritten by whatever was in memory every time a disk load occurred. Which basically meant that any time you entered or exited any location, or radioed for a promotion, game files were permanently overwritten with the current game state. In later years it occurred to me that I could have perhaps made various copies of the game files at various states to effect multiple save slots, but as smart as I was and as good as I was with computers, that never occurred to me back when it would have helped.
Anyway, this led to a couple of bad situations. The first, which thankfully was less frequent due to the design of the game, was when you walked into a building and immediately encountered a fight that you couldn't win. The game has already saved. If you yank the disk or flip the power switch, you're still going to be right back in this battle when you restart. Your only option is to run back out the door you came in. But if one of your party takes a SER or CRT or worse hit during the round, and then if you answer "yes" when it asks if you want your party to run back out the door, well then you're saving the game again, this time with a character on a death clock. So you answer "no" and you wait for everyone to die or else reboot (you can't quit during combat) and try again.
Only this time, you spend 10 minutes getting knocked UNC over and over and can't make it out the door. Finally you get a chance at the door again, and dang it, you've got a CRT character again, too. You're weary at this point, so you take the risk. You exit so you can get on with game, and now you've saved the game with a CRT character. You try your Medic skill, but it won't work. You try it 60 times just to make sure there isn't a small chance, but no dice. Now you've got to try to take the shortest possible route to a doc shop and hope you have enough money. And that means more moving in and out of buildings, and more saving, until 5 steps before Dr. Quack's Emergency clinic, you lose your character.
You can just hire another NPC. There are several good ones in the game. Or you can go back to HQ and reroll a fresh newb. But for me, when I've got a dead character and no way to get back to a previous save, it always seemed like the best option was to start over completely. I didn't like NPCs and their refusal to cooperate sometimes. And a newb character would just make it even harder for me to win battles.
The other scenarios is actually very similar, but more frequent. That's when you don't necessarily save yourself right into a battle you can't win, but you nevertheless end up in a battle you can't win and you really don't want to go all the way back to your last save. And the same frustration and decisions follow.
Most of this is viewed these days as obsolete and inferior game mechanics leading to unecceasry frustration for the player. For the most part, I agree. But the whole design of it was ingenious at the time regardless, and the challenge it presented really made you feel like your decisions mattered a whole lot. And the better your characters got and the further you got into the game, the less of a risk it was.