All the Reserve scents are great - Cool, Lavender, and Fern are my favorites, but all are excellent. Are you using a brush or still hand lathering? The Cremo works better with a brush and the Reserve will pretty much need one.

The barrister and mann you suggested

I have a boars hair brush. I just purchasesd some new soap recommended on this sub

What type of boar? A Semogue or Omega or one of those VDH / generic ones?

Cheap boars are awful, but many ones from those two brands (and Zenith) in the $15 to $25 range are OK. (Many swear by boars as their one and only, but I personally favor synths and badgers more - a $15 synth is a lot more pleasant to use than a new boar, and has instant break in out of the box along with no smell to speak of.)

But assuming you have a brand name boar and do not mind its pokey nature, no imminent need to change that up.

Jesus. I meant badger lol. I just pulled off a cold shave with a persona platinum blade in the crusader and was very happy. The barrister soap was a great lube as well. I had a great shave last night. The throats going to need some more practice, but a huge improvement!

Excellent, good to hear!

There's lots of bad badger in the world too, especially the stuff sold at Target and the like, even at fairly high prices. Amazon has the other end of the spectrum, awful badger at cheap prices. Hopefully you're using something like Stirling or Maggard badger?

But a mediocre brush won't ruin a shave, it just makes it a bit less fun. Keep on plugging away, and try to keep the gap the same from day to day on the Crusader so you can eliminate one variable for now.

Glad the B&M worked well for you.

Do brushes get old?

To an extent - depending on cost, you may see significant hair loss over time. A good badger (say $75+) will be good for many years, though sometimes even good brands have QC slips.

Also, if you have hard water and don't keep the brush clean it will get messed up relatively quickly. Never put it away without rinsing thoroughly and gently squeeze the excess water out. (Good to clean after use no matter what water you have, but hard water is especially tough on brushes - and all shaving equipment, really.)

Don't boil 'em, try to keep the splay at far less than a 90 degree angle to the handle.

The sample pack is probably going to have me second guessing the best the whole way through

I really appreciate the follow up.