My father bought me a Merkur Futur four piece set (razor, brush, bowl, and stand) for Christmas, and after lots of research I finally decided to use it today.
*Whipping up that hot, fragrant lather was very enjoyable. Given, the glycerin soap I have is pretty cheap, so the lather wasn't fantastic. But the smell (peach) and the feel of applying it with the brush was wonderful!
*For the most part, the shave was great. It was not super close because I only did two WTG passes, but it's a presentable shave. Also, the sound the razor makes while cutting the whiskers is very satisfying!
*The Futur feels incredibly solid.
*Oh man did I cut myself up. This is mostly due to my angle and the heaviness of the Futur. I really need to practice wielding this beast. This was at 1.5.
*The bowl that came with the set is shallow and thin. I have a hard time keeping the lather from spilling out everywhere, and the lather doesn't stay warm since the bowl is a poor insulator. On the last pass I had some success keeping the bowl semi-submerged in the hot sink water, which made the lather warm and pleasant.
*That brush smells awful! I can't wait for the wet-badger scent to fade.
All in all, I enjoyed the experience greatly, and I'm happy that I get to do this daily. With more practice and better soaps, I'm sure my utility will only increase. Thanks to all of those who posted reviews and tutorials!