I know that some artists don’t like to use actions, preferring to create all effects through Photoshop themselves. However, actions definitely have a place in digital art. They can be both time saving and educational. For those learning Photoshop, actions provide ways of implementing effects that the learner may not know how to. Looking back through the history palette will give some clues as to how the effect was achieved.
If time is of the essence, having some good actions in your arsenal can be very useful.
Here is a list of some very effective actions – photo manipulators should have many of these on their hard drives!