I make a point of trying to learn something new every day. For the first 5 years using vi, it was vi commands :) Serious point - as you explain nicely above, you can get started and be productive with a dozen or so commands, then spend years learning tricks to hone your experience. Emacs is similar, but I never did like multi-key pressing, YMMV.
As for tuning, I've pretty much stuck with the default .vimrc I get with Debian's packaged version, a couple of adjustments for expanding tabs to 4 spaces (so shoot me tab fans!) and that's it. Probably 'cause vim is pretty new compared to the 25 years using plain old vi, I like the syntax colouring most of the time, but I also turn it off now and then as it can be distracting, especially when it messes up.
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