There is no perfect cycle IMO.
It all depends on your goals. What i find optimal might not be for the next guy. You're right, if you load up on 5 compounds there really is no way to tell what is working or what is causing you problems. That's why i always suggest new guys use one compound like Test, which is the easiet to control IMO. Then the next cycle add another compound or switch to something else. After a few cycles you will know what works and what doesn't, you will know why you get certain sides and why you should use certain compounds.
After using for over 10 years i still recommend the same things and i have the experience to prove it with blood work. Many people bash Test based cycles, but i can tell you from many years of experience there is a good reason why they say Test is the best. There are many health aspect that people do not think about, they only think about results. What good are results if your health values are wrecked? This is why i always recommend Test only for a first cycle; easiest to control, easy to manage sides and it has a very positive reaction to your HPTA.
Everyone has their own opinion, but again you are correct when you say the only way for you to know is to try it yourself. There are compounds that i won't touch that many people claim should be used with every cycle, there are AI's i refuse to use yet others use them every cycle. We all have our own favorites, but most of mine are based on blood work and my body's reaction to these compounds. I see no point in ruining my health for a little extra boost in the gym. Your health stays with you forever, your internal organs will not always take the abuse.
Just my .02