Simplified, the model pipeline could be story -> concept/design -> modeling -> stages that depend on the end use like: materials/textures, rigging, animation, lighting, rendering.
Sculpting, metaballs, blocking, skin modifier, etc. can be used for designing something or as a preparation for technical modeling. Main purpose is to get the forms (distinct from shape, which is the outline or external boundary of an object), proportions, or even the looks/style when designing.
The technical modeling part comes later in the pipeline and its purpose is to turn an existing design into a usable 3D model. Its structure fulfils requirements that come from the purpose of the model and the pipeline stages before that. The end result from the modeling stage can also be multiple models for various purposes, even if there is only one final model at the end of the process.
Edit mode tools as you call them are used with the understanding of what is being modeled (design, references), forms, requirements, and what those mean in terms of model structure. Combining the needed structure and available tools result to number of options/workflows to choose from. It’s possible to build a model structure with only handful of tools (extrude, move, cut, merge) but there are hundreds, including modifiers, which can affect your workflows by giving more options and making the modeling more efficient.
Sculpting -> retopology workflow breaks the modeling process to multiple steps which is good for complex designs. First understanding the forms/proportions/design, and then concentrating on the structure that better approximate the forms and take other requirements into account. That’s only one workflow though.
If you’re designing you shouldn’t be doing technical modeling part since there is no design to model yet, and it’s only waste of time to put a lot of thought in structures at that point. But if you’re not familiar with the different aspects of topology, model structures and different requirements for them are also unknown, and working with that in edit mode also feels difficult and unfamiliar.
That’s all natural because there is so much to learn: polygonal modeling basics, requirements from the end uses (still images, animation, game, 3D printing, other), requirements from the other pipeline stages (texturing, rigging, animation, rendering), topology which is a vast subject, and having to learn some tools after that seems quite a small step for a man (or a woman).