will toss in my 2c -
went through an exhaustive study of which gear to acquire for hobbyist lighting for the last month or so, and ended up with 4 options:
1. follow strobist guide with a pair of lp180's + PW's and various shoe-mount speed rings, etc.
2. get a pair of 600-ex-rt's with trigger and various shoe-mount speed-rings (i.e. chimera ob2 kit or profoto 3' octa)
3. go straight to big lights with paul buff einsteins and that accessory system (including battery option)
4. go with bowens gemini 500's and their mod system (including battery option)
i threw out most of the flash havoc chinese stuff i.e. godox to avoid reliability issues and accelerated product release schedules (e.g. each spiral adds more features and refines the previous iteration making me always want to upgrade - bleh).
most of the compact portable good stuff is out of my price range. speaking of which, the 600-ex's cost too much for my intended use cases, so they got dropped from the list. i then realized that speed lights were not what i was looking for, in general.
even though i really liked the bowens gear with the pulsar card and trigger, they cost more than the buff stuff and offered less features. i get the feeling the bowens is more reliable though after doing some research.
i ended up with 1 einstein e640, 1 matthews medium maxi steel kit stand, 1 matthews 10lb. boa bag, 1 buff omni reflector, 1 51" PLM soft silver & diffusion fabric, and the cyber commander with the newer receiver for the e640 chassis. total was around $1050 inclusive. i feel this is a solid kit to grow with and build upon. i'll most likely get the vagabond mini soon so i can start using the omni outdoors.
in my situation, i'll mostly be balancing adequate ambient light. if i wanted to do studio-type portrait stuff maybe i'd have gone a different direction.